Canada's premiers are calling on Ottawa to ramp up its supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, fearing their province will soon run out of doses. David Akin looks at what's holding up the distribution of the shots.
Canada's premiers are calling on Ottawa to ramp up its supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, fearing their province will soon run out of doses. David Akin looks at what's holding up the distribution of the shots.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "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., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Qu’est-ce qui provoque la marée ? Et où va l’eau ?
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to ban all non-essential flights to Canada.Legault said Tuesday he's worried that people travelling to vacation destinations will bring new variants of COVID-19 back to the province.While the premier said it may be difficult to determine which flights are essential, he said it's clear that flights to sun destinations are non-essential.His comments came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the day urged Canadians to cancel any plans they have for an international trip in the near future. Trudeau warned the federal government could at any time, and without warning, enforce new restrictions on travellers returning to Canada.Quebec on Tuesday revised its COVID-19 vaccination schedule as a result of the expected slowdown in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments.The Health Department said it would lower its target of administering 250,000 doses by Feb. 8, to 225,000 doses, adding it expects to have received 1,203,100 doses of approved vaccine by March 29.Last week, Canada learned production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be reduced over the next month in order for Pfizer to expand its facilities.Quebec says it will maintain its plan to deliver booster shots within 90 days of the first injection.The vaccination announcement came as public health authorities in the province reported the lowest number of new infections in a single day since early December.Quebec today reported 1,386 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 55 additional deaths linked to the virus, including 16 deaths within the preceding 24 hours.The number of hospitalizations rose by nine from the day before to 1,500, the Health Department said, while the number of people in intensive care declined by five from the previous day, to 212.Quebec has reported 245,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,142 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.Health Minister Christian Dube on Monday boasted the province had met its target of vaccinating 75 per cent of long-term care residents, with the remainder expected to be inoculated by Jan. 25.Officials say people living in private seniors residences across the province are next in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island's premier says public health orders should soon be eased across the province because of its low COVID-19 infection rate. "At a time when other jurisdictions are experiencing tightening restrictions and increased lockdowns, we are in the very fortunate and enviable situation to be looking at the days ahead to see an easing of restrictions within our borders," Dennis King told reporters Tuesday. But King said it won't be until at least mid-February before the Island re-enters the Atlantic bubble, which allows residents to travel freely between regional boundaries. "At this time, as a province, we are not comfortable moving forward with re-entering the Atlantic Bubble," King said. Health officials in Prince Edward Island reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison said the new cases involved a woman in her 40s who is a contact of a previously reported case, and a woman in her 20s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada. She said there are now seven active reported cases on the Island. Morrison, however, said she's concerned by the situation beyond P.E.I.'s borders. "The situation in Canada remains concerning, with over 715,000 cases and 18,000 COVID-related deaths," she told reporters. "Since Jan. 1, New Brunswick reported 372 new cases, Nova Scotia 60 new cases, P.E.I. has had 12 since Jan. 1, and Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new infections. "Our friends and neighbours in New Brunswick are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19, reporting 89 new cases in the last three days. They currently have over 300 active cases — the most since the pandemic began," she said. P.E.I. has reported 110 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. Indoor private gatherings are limited to members of a household plus ten people, while most businesses are still required to operate at 50 per cent capacity. The restrictions are scheduled to remain until Jan. 25. Morrison said that as of Monday, 5,910 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered on P.E.I., including 1,407 second doses. "By the end of this week, everyone living and working in long-term care and community care facilities will have received their first dose of the vaccine," she said. "They will start receiving their second dose next week." Morrison said the anticipated slowdown in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will have very little impact on the Island. "The Pfizer slowdown means that we may not get a shipment of the product for one week, on Jan. 25. That shipment contains 975 doses. However, we will get two shipments of that same amount in the middle of February," she said. "Given the fact that we have been holding back the second dose of vaccine, and we expect the increased supply in February, we are confident that we have enough vaccine to continue with our original plan." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. — By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton. The Canadian Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says all long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will receive vaccinations by Feb. 15 despite a shortage of Pfizer vaccines. As Morganne Campbell reports, the backlog is causing a delay in the province's rollout plan.
Merritt City Council has voted unanimously to join the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention. The CMNCP is active across Canada as a network of communities who seek to share the best practices and build capacity to reduce and prevent crime, as well as fostering community safety and well-being. In Dec. 2020, the Merritt Community Policing Office requested that the City make a request to join the CMNCP. The fee, which amounts to approximately $650 for communities with populations under 500,000, will be paid for by the City. This network includes major centres such as Vancouver and Montreal, but also includes smaller communities such as Williams Lake, in total representing an estimated 40% of the Canadian population. Because the City of Merritt would be the official member of CMNCP, a resolution from council is required to join. The decision came at the regular council meeting of Jan. 12, where council voted to write a letter of recommendation for Merritt to join the CMNCP and pay the membership fee, the funds for which would be drawn from the unused 2020 conferences budget. “This membership will allow us to share ideas and best practices with many communities in Canada,” said Marlene Jones, Community Policing Officer Coordinator. “In the past our crime prevention partnerships were primarily with BC organizations, but we believe that there are many great programs throughout the country. Our team and subsequently our community can benefit from these shared ideas, training, and contributing to the conversations.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford appealed to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden today for help securing more COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario. Ford expressed frustration about a delivery slow down of the Pfizer-Biotech shot that will see Ontario receive no doses next week and thousands less over the next month. Ford appealed to Biden to share a million doses of the Pfizer shot, which is manufactured in Michigan. He also expressed frustration with Pfizer executives about the delays and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ramp up pressure on the company to deliver more of the shots to Canada. Ontario says its weekly deliveries of the Pfizer-BioTech COVID-19 vaccine will be cut by as much as 80 per cent over the next month. The federal government says shipments are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. The province still expects to meet its goal of providing the first dose of the vaccine to all of its long-term care residents, workers and essential caregivers by Feb. 15. That goal has already been achieved in COVID-19 hot spots including Toronto, Peel Region and York Region. A total of 224,134 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the province. Ontario reported 1,913 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said that due to a technical issue at Toronto Public Health, there was likely an underreporting of cases today. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nominations are now open for the Province’s highest honour, the Order of British Columbia. The award recognizes and honours British Columbians who have demonstrated an outstanding achievement or excellence and distinction in a field that benefits the people of BC or elsewhere. The Order of British Columbia was first established in 1989 by Lieutenant Governor David Lam, under Premier Bill Vander Zalm. Then, as now, British Columbians are encouraged to nominate inspiring individuals who have created a lasting legacy in their field. “Every year, we have the opportunity to recognize British Columbians whose legacies improve our lives, lift our spirits and support our communities,” said Janet Austin, B.C.’s lieutenant governor, who is responsible for the Order of British Columbia. “I encourage you to nominate those exceptional individuals who exemplify the best of British Columbia.” All nominations are reviewed by an independent advisory council, which is chaired by the chief justice of BC. The nomination deadline this year has been extended to Apr. 9, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All nominations must be received by the Honours and Awards Secretariat by the ninth to be considered for 2021. In addition to the Order of BC, citizens may nominate individuals for another of the Province’s honours, the Medal of Good Citizenship. This award recognizes exceptional long-term service and contributions to their communities without expectation of reward or remuneration. The medal reflects acts of selflessness, generosity, service and contributions to community life. Unlike the Order of BC, there is no deadline and nominations are accepted year round. “In a global pandemic that has turned our lives upside down, so many people in our province have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others," said Premier John Horgan. “Now, more than ever, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate some extraordinary contributions and achievements by British Columbians.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole seeking to have MP Derek Sloan expelled from caucus after accepting a donation from a white supremacist.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
LONDON — A collection of teeter-totters that briefly allowed children on both sides of the US-Mexico border wall to play together has won a prize from London’s Design Museum. The three hot-pink seesaws were installed through the slats of the wall, with one seat in the El Paso, Texas suburb of Sunland Park, New Mexico, and the other in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The artwork was put up on July 28, 2019, and removed from the politically charged border barrier after less than an hour. The Design Museum named the project Tuesday as the overall winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year competition for 2020, which considered 74 projects by designers from around the world. Teeter-Totter Wall was designed by California architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello with help from Colectivo Chopeke, an artists’ collective in Juarez. “It encouraged new ways of human connection and struck a chord that continues to resonate far beyond El Paso in the USA and Juarez in Mexico,’’ museum director Tim Marlow said in announcing the prize. “It remains an inventive and poignant reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that seek to divide us.” The teeter-totters were installed amid the heated debate over U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the almost 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. “We thought this would be a moment to show to the world a very important reality of the border, which is that the border isn’t a desolate place where no one lives,” Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, told a university publication in 2019. “This is a world where women live and children live and that we can use play as a kind of vehicle for activism.” Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Mono Council once again had to deal with the ongoing debate as to who is responsible for enforcing regulations in the matter of resident Mark Bates’ request to have Council enforce the Town By-law concerning lighting interfering with a neighbours enjoyment of their property. This issue was previously discussed at the last Council Meeting, where the consensus was that, as the issue involved neighbours in a condominium complex, the condominium board should be responsible to enforce their own regulations regarding the matter. At Tuesday’s Mono Council meeting, Mr. Bates returned and indicated that the board was unwilling to enforce the regulations and asked Council to enforce the Town by-law to correct the problem. CAO Mark Early, at that meeting, said that he would refer the matter to the Town solicitor for a legal opinion. Subsequently, the opinion provided indicated that the issue should be dealt with according to Provincial regulations, by the condominium board and not the Town. However, as the issue was not dealt with, Mr. Bates had once again con-tacted the councillors and Councillor Fred Nix raised the question to the CAO. Upon hearing the solicitors response, Mr. Nix appeared satisfied though he stated that they were still receiving emails from Mr. Bates.The latest of these emails was presented to Council during the Public Question Period and in it, he requested that as the neighbour was still in non compliance, could Council please notify the condominium board of the solicitors response and request that they deal with the issue. Mayor Ryan referred the question to the CAO and Mr. Early replied that the condo-minium board had been made aware of all of Councils discussions and decisions on the matter but that he could certainly notify them of the solicitors and Councils latest response. Councillor Nix then asked what the solu-tion would be should there be a conflict between the Town rules and by-laws and the condominium rules, who should pre-vail? Mr. Early responded that based on his understanding and the solicitors response, it would be the condominiums responsibility to resolve the matter so that there was con-sistency within their subdivision. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
January 19 is National Popcorn day! This snack food is ubiquitous to many forms of entertainment, like movies (of course!), sporting events, midways, and outdoor festivals, to name a few. Popcorn is one of those snack foods that seems to be a huge hit with just about everybody, although people might have some very different preferences in the types of popcorn flavours that they enjoy. Some love the sweeter side of things such as caramel or toffee-coated popcorn, some like to keep it simple with butter and salt, and some are much more adventurous. Give the Chicago mix a try, a mixture of caramel corn and cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn (it might sound strange, but try it. Seriously!). Or satisfy a more “refined” palette by tossing your popcorn with truffle oil and parmesan cheese. Contrary to what various cartoon characters have taught us over the years, not every type of corn will “pop” in the way that produces popcorn. There is only one variety of corn that “pops” this way, Zea Mays Everta. However, there are around 100 strains of this type with different characteristics. What makes the Zea Mays Everta variety so unique? The crucial aspects are an extremely rigid and almost nonporous outer shell on the kernel and a bit of water with soft granules of starch on the inside. As the popcorn kernel is heated to the right temperature, the water trapped inside turns to steam and the granules of starch gelatinize. As the kernel continues to get hotter, the pressure within it builds until it finally bursts and essentially turns inside out. The gelatinized starch rapidly expands when this happens, then cools and solidifies almost instantly to form the “popped” corn we know and love. Popcorn has been around for a long time; archeologists have found popcorn remnants that were about 3,600 years old. You can celebrate National popcorn by enjoying your favourite popcorn snacks. Make some popcorn balls, have a movie marathon complete with hot buttered popcorn, or even try making some popcorn crafts for something different. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Rank, Book Title by Author Name, ISBN, Publisher 1. Bridgerton Collection Volume 1 by Julia Quinn - 9780063045118 - (Avon) 2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424105 - (Avon) 3. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424037 - (Avon) 4. The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - 9781538747292 - (Grand Central Publishing) 5. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn - 9780062424075 - (Avon) 6. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 9780062424112 - (Avon) 7. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - 9780062424082 - (Avon) 8. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn - 9780062424136 - (Avon) 9. Daylight by David Baldacci - 9781538761687 - (Grand Central Publishing) 10. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher - 9781488076749 - (Graydon House Books) The Associated Press
A huge dump of snow at Marmot Basin kicked off this year’s Jasper in January and staff are continuously monitoring conditions as well as keeping up with COVID protocols. Lasting until Jan. 31, Jasper in January includes virtual and private events at the ski resort along with deals on lift tickets. Although COVID-19 has altered the format of the festival and the overall operations of Marmot Basin, staff say the recent snowfall has proven to be a significant boon. “The recent snowfall has been fantastic - we've had 29 centimetres in the last two days - and conditions are absolutely superb,” said Alyssa Golbeck, active content producer, said in an email on Jan. 14. “I can personally attest to the fact that there is still tons of powder and there is some really great skiing up here right now.” Although Saturdays and weekends aren’t as busy as last year, there is a steady flow of skiers from Monday to Friday. With that pace, staff are managing COVID protocols with the visitors. “Business has been good,” said Brian Rode, vice president. “We are now seeing quite a few people who haven’t been to Marmot for a number of years or who haven’t skied for a number of years. Right now, we’ve had more skiers visit this year than last year.” He attributed these numbers to Albertans staying closer to home and the warmer weather. Chalets run at 15 per cent capacity, and Rode said people have been patient and complying with health restrictions. “Outside, people wear masks and naturally spread out when they’re skiing,” he said. Upon arriving to work, staff must sign in and declare they have not come to work with symptoms. “All of our supervisors are talking with and monitoring the staff. Our staff body is healthy,” Rode said, noting staff have a personal responsibility to monitor their health. Golbeck said the avalanche team has been hard at work the past few days, and staff were able to open much of the upper mountain on Jan. 14. Rode said Marmot Basin’s safety team monitors conditions regularly “to ensure all of the runs are safe to ski, without any risk of avalanches occurring.” “To do that, they’ve got patrols in place,” he said. The team makes sure the main runs are ready to use first thing in the morning, then the higher runs are tackled later. Factors to monitor include the amount of snowfall, wind, temperature and moisture content. “All of these affect the type of snowpack we have,” Rode said, adding any runs with an avalanche risk are kept closed until the ski patrol team checks the conditions. They do ski cutting, or “traversing the slope” as Rode called it. “Without fail, they do it in such a way so you can traverse from point to another,” he said. “They ski across the slope. That knocks the air out of it. They start at the top at a safe point - a rock outcrop (for example) - and ski across to the other side. That will give them a good sense of what that slope is like.” That measure sometimes releases the snow without having to use explosive charges. For slopes higher in the alpine region, explosive charges are thrown in and detonated, which knocks the risky snow down. “All slope angles are charted on every single run - 91 of them - some long and (some) short,” Rode said. “Below the treeline, the runs are risk-free of avalanches. The slopes above the treeline, where there’s a risk of avalanches, if the slope doesn’t avalanche, they’ll continue to monitor it, looking for trigger points.” Slopes are only opened once staff determine them as safe. While the scenery may be beautiful, Rode noted boundaries are in place for a reason. “If people stick to runs that are open and don’t go into areas that are closed, they’re safe,” Rode said. With avalanche control, there are temporary closures, but there are other areas around the mountain, outside the ski area boundaries, that are permanently closed. “We don’t patrol those areas,” Rode said. “Some areas are closed because they’re caribou closures. It’s illegal to be in that area.” Rode warned the public not to duck under any ropes or enter these closed areas. “Not only are you putting yourself in danger and the ski patrol team in danger, you’ve established a trail that other people may follow,” he added. Rode said people went outside the boundaries twice this year so far. “We sent a ski patrol in,” he said. “They knew where (they) were going, and that they’d have difficulty going through a particular area.” Wearing snowshoes themselves, the team brought in a pair of snowshoes for the wanderer to wear out. “Often, a person will report to ski patrol that one of their buddies ducked under,” he said. “That’s typically what happens. Invariably, we can determine where they’ve gone.” Rode recalled there have been incidents where it’s dark before people get back to safety, such as one incident a few years ago where a male didn’t get out until the following day. Marmot Basin is also posting a series of videos about avalanche safety at the hill this week, which can be viewed on its Facebook page. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Quebec Premier François Legault says no exemption from the province's mandatory overnight curfew will be given to people who really are homeless, despite calls to do so from advocates and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. In a news conference Tuesday, Legault said he's concerned an official exemption could encourage people to "pretend" to be homeless. He said police forces have already been told to use their judgment when it comes to fining homeless people and said he fully trusts they are being fair. "Right now, the police are doing a very good job," said Legault. "They're using their judgment and if we change the rule and say 'you cannot give tickets to somebody who says they are homeless,' you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Legault was responding to calls made by Plante earlier today. She said the curfew has added unnecessary stress to already struggling homeless shelters in the city. "The [curfew] has a direct impact on the homeless ecosystem, both on those who are homeless and on those who work with them," said Plante. "I want people to feel safe in Montreal. I don't want to exacerbate their vulnerability." Plante's pleas come just days after the death of Raphaël André, a homeless Innu man whose body was discovered in a portable toilet in the Plateau, Sunday morning. André, 51, had spent Saturday evening at The Open Door, a Montreal drop-in centre just steps away from where his body was found, but couldn't stay as the shelter was forced to close at 9:30 p.m. following an outbreak of COVID-19 last month. It used to be open 24/7. "Like many Montrealers, I'm deeply shocked by what happened to Raphaël André," Plante said. Plante claims the city offered to work with the shelter from the start, and was willing to help build extra walls to better separate clients. It offered to help get the shelter larger cleaning crews. But according to John Tessier, an intervention worker at the Open Door, that simply isn't true. Tessier says the shelter added physical barriers to the shelter, hired extra security and implemented new measures to make sure clients could keep two metres apart weeks ago, but he says public health officials have yet to respond to their calls and emails and to give the green light to reopen the shelter at night. "We've invited them in to come see what's been done. We've sent them pictures and we've had no response to any of that," said Tessier. "The fact that somebody passed away within a stone's throw from our building is traumatic, it's disheartening and if it was up to us, we would just stay open right now." In a statement, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal said it had provided the Open Door with training sessions on public health regulations last month. The regional health authority said it will continue to work with the centre so that it can reopen at night. "We are happy that the Board of directors of the Open Door has decided to take a few weeks to implement these measures before opening again at night," the statement says. "The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, [Montreal Public Health] and the Service régional de l'itinérance will continue to assist the organization during that period." Mourning a 'good friend' Annisee Papialuk has been a client at the Open Door for some 13 years now. For her, the shelter's overnight closure coinciding with the province's mandatory curfew has been next to impossible to navigate. "When it closes down during the night, it's really hard for us to find a place. We end up sleeping on the street and workers kick us out so it's hard," said Papialuk. "If there was a place for us homeless people, I would love to go." André was a friend of Papialuk's and she says her anxiety over staying in the streets at night has been worse since his death. "He was a good friend, a tender man, never argued with anybody. He didn't deserve to be seen like that," she said. Legault unrealistic about police, advocates say Upon hearing Legault's claims that police forces have been acting fairly in giving out the curfew fines, Jessica Quijano, co-ordinator of the Iskweu project at the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal, grew frustrated. "That's just not the reality. … Police do not have a positive relationship with the homeless community," said Quijano. Quijano said Montreal's homeless population already deals with racial profiling on a regular basis and the introduction of this curfew has only made matters worse. She said the city and province have both been too slow to provide homeless people with the resources they need during the pandemic, and she says André's death last weekend is just one example of that. "We warned public health. We warned the mayor. We knew people would die," said Quijano. "The non-action is sending a message that those people's lives don't matter." More shelter spaces coming, Plante says Plante said that while the city and province have added hundreds of beds in homeless shelters in recent months, there is still work to be done. "There are a lot of beds but there are nights where there are no beds, so we need to work to create more options," Plante said. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them." Plante said the city will be announcing the addition of 100 more beds in the next few days.
Skoflek Electric is a Merritt-based electrical company which offers both residential and commercial services. Company owner Bela Skoflek and Head Electrician Bryan Tolmie tackle electrical projects big and small in the Nicola Valley, providing quality workmanship at a price that won’t break the bank. Already a working electrician, Skoflek found himself feeling unfulfilled with the direction his life and career were taking. When he suddenly faced a huge personal hurdle, he decided it was time to make a change. “My goal in the trade was always to get to the point of having my own company,” said Skoflek. “The catalyst that actually made me follow through was getting sick. I was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years ago. At that point I re-evaluated where I was at and where I wanted to be.” Although Skoflek made a decent wage as a certified tradesman, he felt that there was more to life than punching a clock for someone else. “I was at a pretty good point in my career, had full time work with a local contractor, but still didn't feel fulfilled,” explained Skoflek. “Working long hours, making good money, but sacrificing time with my son and family. I was off work for nearly a year doing treatment and used that time to plan the company. I didn't have much money, but I had time. So, I got the extra education I needed, came up with a company logo and design, learned about bookkeeping, taxes, etc.” Skoflek beat lymphoma and was able to return to work after finishing his treatment period. It was at this time that Skoflek launched his company in Sept. 2019. “It was terrifying and exciting all at once,” said Skoflek. “It was a slow start but I had enough to make overhead. I had learned to live a bare bones lifestyle while sick. My first jobs were from friends and family who were supporting me, something I will forever be thankful for, and my focus was to provide quality work without price gouging.” Through word of mouth from satisfied clients and the use of social media marketing and advertising, Skoflek began to see requests for his services increase and his business become busier. “Word of mouth and Facebook marketing helped me start getting new clients and my mission stayed the same, quality work, reasonable rates. Everything snowballed from there, but I maintained the low overhead lifestyle,” said Skoflek. “This allowed me to pour all the income back into the company. Getting better tools and equipment to streamline work. Radio ads and better marketing to bring in more customers. Soon it became bigger than I could handle alone.” Suddenly, Skoflek Electric saw its first expansion, bringing in Bryan Tolmie to help shoulder the workload. “Bryan joined the team, and he was a perfect fit,” said Skoflek. “He had ample experience in the trade and is great with client interaction. We were very like-minded.” Both were of the same opinion that they should be a solid company providing reliable work at reasonable rates, and that family should always come first even alongside business responsibilities. “We are able to achieve this by streamlining workflow and keeping overhead low,” explained Skoflek. “The end goal of every job is to have the customer satisfied with the work performed, it has never been about money. I am able to take my son to school and pick him up every day. That's what it is all about. Going forward we want to sustain the same mindset and grow it. We want to help Merritt grow and give back to the community that fostered our company.” When it comes time to relax and blow off steam, the lifelong Merrittonian still keeps up with his favourite hobby – skateboarding. “I usually go around two times a week in the summer,” said Skoflek. “The non-competitive aspect is what drew me to it, I was never big on team sports. Skateboarding was a way to do something together with friends while everyone is doing completely independent things.” That ability to be successful and have fun independent of others has helped Skoflek build a business others have already come to trust in the less than two years since he started. If you are in need of an electrician, you can contact Skoflek Electric at 250-315-3507, or find them on Facebook at ‘Skoflek Electric’. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
The Trump administration has determined that China has committed "genocide and crimes against humanity" by repressing Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, in an embarrassing blow to Beijing a day before President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office. Pompeo said he made the move - which is certain to further strain already frayed ties between the world's top economies - "after careful examination of the available facts," accusing the Chinese Communist Party of crimes against humanity targeting the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities since at least March 2017.
La pandémie et la crise économique qui en a découlée n’ont aucunement affecté l’industrie de la construction résidentielle à Laval. Si bien que les mises en chantier ont explosé de 68 % en 2020. Voilà ce qui ressort des données compilées par la Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement (SCHL) rendues publiques le 18 janvier. En chiffres absolus, l'organisme national responsable de l'habitation au pays y a recensé 2851 nouvelles constructions au cours de la dernière année, soit 1157 unités de plus qu’en 2019. Pour mettre le tout en perspective, les 4 autres grands secteurs de la région métropolitaine de recensement (RMR) de Montréal totalisent une hausse de 957 unités en 2020, ce qui représente une augmentation de 4 % des mises en chantier. L’île de Montréal (+14 %) domine ce groupe devant la Rive-Nord (+5 %), la Rive-Sud (-6 %) et Vaudreuil-Soulanges (-12 %). Reste qu’en 2020, l’ensemble de la RMR de Montréal a vu sortir de terre pas moins de 27 274 propriétés, en hausse de 9 % comparativement à l’année précédente. Il s’agit du niveau d’activité le plus élevé depuis 2004. À l’échelle du Grand Montréal, les mises en chantier locatives ont crû de 20 %, les quelque 16 000 unités recensées constituant près de 60 % de toutes les nouvelles propriétés dont on a coulé les fondations l’an passé. À Laval, par exemple, ces unités locatives ont carrément doublé pour atteindre le cap des 2400 logements. Ce type d’habitation compte à lui seul pour 85 % des nouvelles constructions en sol lavallois. «Un niveau de construction jamais vu depuis la fin des années 80», souligne la SCHL en évoquant ce segment de marché dont la proportion était inférieure à 15 % il y a une dizaine d’années à l’échelle métropolitaine. «Le nombre de mises en chantier d’appartements locatifs dans la RMR de Montréal en 2020 est aussi important que la somme des mises en chantier locatives des quatre plus grandes RMR du Canada (en excluant Montréal), soient Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary et Ottawa-Gatineau», note également au passage la Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement. Fait intéressant à souligner, cette hausse considérable relève exclusivement du marché traditionnel des appartements locatifs. On en donne pour preuve le recul des appartements enregistré au niveau des résidences pour personnes âgées, lesquels sont passés de 2000 à 1300 entre 2019 et 2020 dans le Grand Montréal. Longtemps reconnu comme le fer de lance de l’industrie de la construction domiciliaire à Laval, la copropriété continue de perdre du terrain avec un repli de 24 %, ce qui porte à 204 le nombre de nouvelles unités de condominium recensées l’an dernier. Les 50 maisons jumelées et en rangée construites en 2020 accusent pour leur part une baisse de 18 % par rapport à 2019. Quant aux 183 maisons individuelles qui se sont ajoutées au parc immobilier lavallois, elles sont en hausse de 17 % comparativement aux 156 de l’an passé.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.