Frontline P.E.I health-care workers were among the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as the province began to administer vaccinations.
Frontline P.E.I health-care workers were among the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as the province began to administer vaccinations.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
2020 became the year of the pandemic. Newfoundland and Labrador has managed to keep the cases of COVID-19 low, but the restrictions still affect everyone. Now there's a vaccine delivered in record time. Our series Beyond 2020 will examine the people and issues that are going to dominate the year ahead. One of the founders of St. John's digital security company Verafin says his company's huge deal with Nasdaq late last year is just the beginning for Newfoundland and Labrador's technology sector. Brendan Brothers's company, which helps to detect activity like fraud and money laundering, was bought in November by the global tech giant in a deal worth $2.75 billion US. It's a deal that Brothers says will pave the way for other tech companies and continue to grow the industry in the province. "The one thing that comes out of a deal like the Nasdaq-Verafin partnership here is that I think it creates some fuel in the ecosystem, which has already been bubbling here for quite some time," he said. "You need, I think, a story like this to be able to set an example for other businesses that are going to start here, that are going to start to thrive here, that are going to come out of all the incubators that we have." Momentum growing in tech sector Brothers said those incubators, like Memorial University's Genesis Centre, along with a few recent success stories, are helping inspire future innovation and development. "I think back to when we started our business back in 2003 and we started at the Genesis Centre, but the Genesis Centre was really small at that point in time and there weren't examples like we have right now," he said. "Now there's this group of companies, CoLab, Mysa, all these great examples of companies that are doing interesting things, building great products and services. And it's by everybody starting and being successful that we start to create this momentum." With that momentum now growing, Brothers said the sky's the limit for technology in Newfoundland and Labrador. WATCH | The CBC's Peter Cowan sits down with Verafin's Brendan Brothers: "The benefit of software is that you're only limited by what you can think.… It's not something where you're tied to a natural resource or you're tied to a place; you're really only limited by what you can actually think and imagine and try and find a problem to solve," he said. "If you look at the number of people that are employed in technology in the province, a significant portion of them are within technology businesses like ourselves. But technology people are also required across every other business as well." But to meet the coming demand he expects, Brothers said, there'll need to be increased interest and capacity to train people at the province's university and colleges, for both the continued growth of Verafin and for the founding of new companies. "Verafin alone, we've added 100-plus people for the past several years, and we plan on hiring 200-plus more in the coming years," he said. "We need a pipeline, not only of people to work within these businesses, but I think probably more importantly, a pipeline of people who are going to take a chance and start an entrepreneurial venture and actually jump in and try and create something." Brothers said the pandemic has shown that there is room for tech growth across Newfoundland and Labrador. He said Verafin has had people working remotely around the province and across Canada for about 10 years. "If 2020 has taught us anything, I think it's the fact that you can probably work on any problem from anywhere…. I think what we've learned this year is how to engage and work together regardless of where you are," he said. This is a great opportunity to create more success here. - Brendan Brothers While Nasdaq is a company with offices all over the world, Brothers said he's committed to keeping Verafin based in St. John's. He said he wants Verafin to create "the world's most effective crime-fighting network," but is hopeful for the growth of other local startups as well. "We're trying to catch bad guys. We're trying to stop money laundering. We're trying to stop fraud. It's a problem that is evergreen, it never goes away, so I think as long as we're still having fun and we're excited about what we're doing within Verafin, I think we'll continue to focus on that," he said. "But I think broadly, this is a great opportunity to be able to create more success here.… As long as we continue to invest and as long as we continue to create the structures where people can try, succeed and or fail and try again, then we will be successful at the end of the day." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes provinces should set targets for vaccinating inmates in provincial jails — something half of jurisdictions have yet to do. The Correctional Service of Canada has started vaccinations for federal prisoners who are older or considered "medically vulnerable." But, as of last week, provinces had yet to start giving shots to inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences in provincial jails. "Prisoners are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that would make them very susceptible to serious illness and death as a result of COVID," said Abby Deshman with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Because of a limited vaccine supply, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people in correctional centres get inoculated behind those in long-term care homes, seniors 70 and older, critical health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities. British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said that, as of last week, prisoners and staff are scheduled for vaccination in the second round of inoculations, with estimated start dates between next month and June. Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec didn't provide a timeline for when inmates will receive their shots. Newfoundland and Labrador said its inmates will be part of the second phase of its vaccine distribution, but didn't specify dates. Saskatchewan said the ranking of vulnerable groups is still to be determined. The Northwest Territories and Yukon planned to start giving shots this week. Nunavut didn't respond to inquiries. Deshman was part of a research project that tracked COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons. It found that since Dec. 1, there have been at least 1,962 infections among staff and inmates — more than all of the cases reported from last March until November. “We should have targets for immunizing key vulnerable populations, regardless of who they are," she said. “If those targets need to be adjusted, if they cannot be met, that needs to be publicly communicated and explained.” She noted some politicians, including federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have pushed back against early vaccinations for federal inmates. Justin Piche, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said there are far fewer older prisoners in provincial jails than in federal prisons, where one out of five inmates is 50 and older. He said rhetoric from leaders that pits one group against another isn't helpful. “Prisons are among the congregate settings that are seeing significant transmission," he said. “You have prisoners who are getting COVID-19 at higher rates. You have prison staff that are going in and out of there on a day-to-day basis, going back to their families, going back to their communities." The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers believes it's wrong that Ottawa didn’t vaccinate correctional staff along with prisoners, and instead left it up to provinces to decide where staff fall in the vaccine line. "It’s completely foolish," said national president Jeff Wilkins. “We have (Saskatchewan Penitentiary), for example, which has seen quite an extensive outbreak. Our members are getting burnt out." As of last week, Manitoba listed provincial and federal correctional health-care workers as eligible to be vaccinated. Wilkins wants to see correctional officers inoculated along with long-term care staff. "In some areas, we’ve seen the rates of the institution be much higher than the community.” Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, questions why doses were sent to institutions in Atlantic Canada, which have no active COVID-19 cases, while inmates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at higher risk. Latimer is also concerned about what she says is solitary confinement-like measures being used to contain the novel coronavirus. “It’s a very, very harsh correctional environment right now," she said. "We’re probably going through the worst period in terms of general corrections, at least on the federal side, in the last 50 years." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
MENDON, N.Y. — Three National Guard members on a training flight were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a farmer's field in western New York. The craft, a UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter, crashed around 6:30 p.m. in Mendon, New York, a rural town south of Rochester, officials said. The circumstances were under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would take part. Photos of the crash scene posted by local news media showed the aircraft wreckage burning on a snow-covered field. The helicopter flew out of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport, and was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, according to Eric Durr, public affairs director of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags on state buildings would be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to pay tribute to the troops. “National Guard members are our citizen soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and I extend prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of these honourable heroes," he said in a statement. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said at a news conference that witnesses who called 911 reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the aircraft was flying very low. There were no survivors of the crash, he said. Baxter called the three guard members who perished “great Americans.” “Keep them in your minds and your prayers,” he said. The Associated Press
Police in Moscow on Thursday detained several allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, including his spokeswoman, for making calls online to join unauthorised street protests to demand his release. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, was detained at the weekend and later jailed for alleged parole violations after flying back to Russia for the first time since being poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent. He accuses Putin of ordering his murder, which the Kremlin denies.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in a crowded Baghdad market on Thursday, killing at least 32 people in Iraq's first big suicide bombing for three years, authorities said, describing it as a possible sign of the reactivation of Islamic State. Islamic State claimed early on Friday that two of its men blew themselves up in Tayaran Square in the centre of Baghdad, according to a statement posted on the group's Telegram communications channel. Reuters journalists arriving after the blasts saw pools of blood and discarded shoes at the site, a clothing market in Tayaran Square in the centre of the city.
What a difference a day makes in the outlook for the Canadian economy. Earlier this week, some economists were predicting that the Bank of Canada's Tiff Macklem would cut interest rates again when presenting Wednesday's Monetary Policy Report. But while Canada's chief central banker warned that a resurgence in the effects of the pandemic was sending the economy further down, prospects for a vaccine-led recovery meant Canada would see a sharp return to growth later this year and next. And while borrowers did not benefit from the "micro-cut" some had predicted — what Macklem carefully described as reducing already low rates "to a lower but still positive number" — perhaps more important for ordinary Canadians was his assurance that the bank-set interest rate would not rise. Startling transition to growth And that reassurance came despite the central bank's outlook of a startling transition from a shrinking economy in the first three months of the year to extraordinarily strong growth of four per cent in 2021 and five per cent next year. In a previous meeting with reporters at the end of last year, Macklem based his forecast on the assumption that a vaccine would not be widely available until 2022 and that the economy would be scarred by the impact of the virus on jobs and businesses. But this time, there was no talk of scarring. "Certainly the earlier-than-expected arrival of the vaccine is a very positive development," the Bank of Canada governor said. "But we're starting off in a deeper hole." Some economists have suggested that a strong rebound of the type Macklem and the bank's Governing Council foresee would lead to a new burst of inflation that would require the bank to raise interest rates. There have been worries, including from the real estate industry, that a hike in the rock-bottom rates that have allowed Canadians to afford large mortgages would lead to a sudden slowdown. But Macklem offered several reasons why that was unlikely to happen, for a while at least, and probably not until 2023. For one thing, any decision to reduce stimulus would begin with a slow winding down of the Bank of Canada's quantitative easing (QE) program. Currently the bank is still going to the market and buying at least $4 billion worth of government bonds every week, effectively releasing that cash into the economy. Macklem expects that to continue. Another reason why the bank feels it won't have to raise rates — the same logic for why it can continue QE — is the deep hole Macklem mentioned. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus money from the Canadian government — plus the $900 billion US COVID-19 relief package already approved south of the border and the $1.9 trillion pandemic plan unveiled by newly installed U.S. President Joe Biden — the battered North American economy has lots of climbing to do. Still lots of slack in the economy Economics tells us that inflation does not kick in until the supply of goods, services and labour is used up such that people competing for those things start to bid up the price. But with so many unemployed, buildings empty, lots of raw material and plenty of money available to borrow and invest, the Canadian economy is not likely to reach those capacity limits until 2023, Macklem said. Inflation numbers out Wednesday showed prices rising at the slowest rate since the financial crisis of 2009, plunging in December to an annual rate of 0.7 per cent — well outside the central bank's target range of between one and three per cent. The Bank of Canada expects that number to bounce back this year to an ostensibly comfortable two per cent, but as Macklem described, that will be deceptive. "This is expected to be temporary," he said. "The anticipated increase in inflation reflects the effects of sharp declines in gasoline prices at the onset of the pandemic, and as those base year effects fade, inflation will fall again, pulled down by the significant excess of supply in the economy." As well as being an unequal recession, this has been an unusual one in that those who kept their jobs have been building up a savings hoard that some have suggested will be released in a deluge of spending once the lockdowns end — as everyone heads out dancing and partying like in the Roaring Twenties. Asked if a rush of spending was likely, Macklem once again explained why, even if it happens, a return to the days of the Great Gatsby is unlikely to unleash inflation. As retail experts explained in early December, those who have money to spend have been saving on services while continuing to spend plenty on goods. And even if we spend more on dancing, services do not lend themselves to a burst of excessive consumption. WATCH | Bank of Canada predicts wealthier households will hold on to savings: "If you don't get a haircut," Macklem said, gesturing to his own longish style, "when you go back to getting haircuts, you don't get extra haircuts." All that said, Macklem was clear to point out that with so many uncertainties, the bank's outlook is not a foregone conclusion. The economy could recover faster. "That would be a good thing," he said. A rising loonie, which would allow Canadians to spend more on imported goods and trips abroad, may slow the recovery as Canadian exports get pricier. And with an unpredictable and evolving virus, things could stay bad for longer, too, in which case the Bank of Canada has tricks up its sleeve, including micro-cuts, to add a little more stimulus if that turns out to be necessary. Someday the low interest rate party will be over, but for now, Macklem sees the most likely path as a strong if choppy and protracted recovery and continued rock-bottom borrowing costs until 2023 — or until a full recovery happens. Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 41,760 new vaccinations administered for a total of 692,899 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,828.264 per 100,000. There were 18,975 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 907,515 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 76.35 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were 2,400 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,684 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,910 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 37.257 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 71.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,344 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,175 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.402 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 39.89 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 10,207 new vaccinations administered for a total of 174,260 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.365 per 1,000. There were 16,575 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 237,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 13,784 new vaccinations administered for a total of 237,918 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.197 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 85.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,514 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,265 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.717 per 1,000. There were zero 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 43.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,658 new vaccinations administered for a total of 27,233 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.095 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 92.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 2,928 new vaccinations administered for a total of 95,243 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.636 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 94.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,756 new vaccinations administered for a total of 98,125 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.122 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero 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 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 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 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,545 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 65.718 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 42.42 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. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing list of music industry professionals to monetise their older work by selling valuable tracks and albums as the global health crisis has all but shut down earnings from live concerts. London-listed investment firm Hipgnosis announced a discounted placement offering of its ordinary shares on Thursday along with the deal, which is at least the fifth for the company this month after agreements with Shakira and Neil Young.
Fredericton's City Motel on Regent Street is one step closer to becoming affordable and supportive housing. The City's Planning Advisory Committee approved the project, put forward by the John Howard Society, at Wednesday night's meeting. The plan will see the hotel suites on the third floor of the building converted into 20 affordable, or Housing First, units. The second floor will be converted into 12 peer-supported units, for people who require more help, said Jason LeJeune, the project manager for the proposal. "Peer supported housing would be for people that require a lot of supervision and help and support. There would be two people with lived experience -- the peer supports that live on that floor with the 12 residents -- they're provided salary and free housing to live on-site," LeJeune said. There will also be addiction offices, mental health offices and social work offices on that floor, said LeJeune. The lower floor will initially become a 24-bed emergency homeless shelter. "The long term ambition of the John Howard Society is to continue to monitor the needs of the community in terms of shelter use and convert that over to affordable housing that is unsupported over time," said LeJeune. When the shelter is operational, it's possible it will replace the out of the cold shelter run by the John Howard Society at 332 Brunswick Street, which will then be converted into office space and longer-term housing. The John Howard Society applied for federal funding for the project through the Rapid Housing Initiative. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has $500 million available for projects such as this across the country. The application deadline was Dec. 31. John Howard should know next month if it was successful. At a previous council meeting the City waived building fees for the project and promised bus passes for tenants.
Donald Trump could have spent his final weeks in office boasting about his Republican administration's achievements and trying to solidify his status as the most significant voice in the party and possible front-runner for the presidential nomination in four years. Instead, the 45th president of the United States focused on fuelling conspiracy theories in a futile attempt to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 presidential election. In doing so, he departed the White House on Wednesday still under the cloud of his supporters' riot in the Capitol building. He returns to private life as the only president to have been impeached twice, and with some senior members of a now significantly divided Republican Party seemingly turning their backs on him. "It was just an unmitigated disaster of missed opportunities and terrible judgment," said Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist and former adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He said Trump had an opportunity to spend these past weeks becoming the most successful lame duck president in history, by helping with coronavirus relief negotiations and supporting a defence policy that included raises for troops. But Trump didn't play a constructive role in either file, he said. Missed opportunity in Georgia Senate races Trump could have also tried to help Republicans win the two Senate run-off races in Georgia earlier this month instead of sabotaging the campaigns by casting doubt on the electoral process with unfounded fraud allegations, Jennings said. The Republicans ended up losing both run-offs and control of the Senate. "And, of course, he could have decided not to incite a violent insurrection at the U.S Capitol," Jennings said, referring to the article of impeachment against Trump that is expected to go to the Senate for a trial. "When you consider all of the things that he could have done, it could have been a lot different for him." Trump's behaviour was particularly counterproductive if you consider that he clearly wants to continue being involved in politics, Jennings said. "Everything he did in the lame duck period drastically diminished that possibility." Had Trump conceded the election back in November, he may have been remembered as a disruptive but consequential president, said Matthew Connetti, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington, D.C. For Republicans, the Trump administration's list of achievements would include tax cuts; deregulation; brokering diplomatic deals in the Middle East; and, perhaps most importantly, the appointment of many conservative judges, including three Supreme Court justices. "He would have been the undisputed front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination. But that's not how things turned out," Connetti said in an email to CBC News. Impeachment trial looms Although he is out of office, Trump faces the possibility of an impeachment trial and conviction in the Senate and a vote to bar him from running for office again. "Trump's refusal to concede, his increasingly desperate and dangerous attempts to overturn the election, his incitement of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and his decision not to welcome Joe Biden to the White House or to attend Biden's inauguration nullified a record of policy accomplishments," Connetti said. Trump still has a large base of supportwithin the Republican Party and among the conservative grassroots. Millions of his supporters agree with the baseless claims that the presidential election was rigged and stolen. Still, there are clear signs Trump's power within the party has diminished since the riot in the Capitol. At his departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, only about 300 people were in attendance. His guests included his family, outgoing White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and other current and former aides, the Washington Post reported. But there were notable absences among top-ranking Republican officials. McConnell, who has been openly critical of Trump's role in the U.S. Capitol riot, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were no-shows, having opted to attend church with Biden before heading over to the inauguration. Perhaps the most significant absence was that of Trump's vice-president, Mike Pence, who also attended Biden's inauguration. (Pence's spokespeople had previously said logistical issues would prevent him from attending both events.) Trump had blamed Pence for refusing to block congressional certification of the electoral college votes on Jan. 6 — a power Pence never actually had at his disposal. The New York Times reported that aides had tried to get more officials to come to Trump's departure, but many were still upset over his post-election behaviour and how it overshadowed the administration's achievements. Some of his aides who had been with him the longest said they did not even watch the send-off on television, the paper reported. WATCH | Trump delivers his final address as president: At the national level, the Republican Party is now split in two, said Michael Cornfield, a political scientist at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management in Washington, D.C. "And the traditional Republican Party went to [the inauguration]. But the loyalists came with him to the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base." Connetti said there will always be a segment of the population that continues to believe Donald Trump was a great president. "But it is a minority," he said, "and now the Republican Party, as a result of Trump's actions since November, is in a state of civil war."
Joyce Obaseki has never been to Calgary, and she's never been charged with a crime. So she was floored when Toronto police contacted her in 2002 to tell her there was a warrant out for her arrest after skipping bail in Calgary. The Toronto woman says she explained to police there had to be some mistake, and the officers realized someone had likely impersonated Obaseki. Investigators then asked her to take a look at the photo of the woman who was arrested and charged with credit card fraud using her name. "I went in and they showed me the picture, lo and behold, it was someone I know," Obaseki told CBC News. "I said, 'Oh my God, Christee.'" Obaseki says she recognized the woman in the photo immediately as Christee Imuya, a classmate from her high school days back home in Nigeria — who Obaseki knew had also moved to Toronto. She says police told her not to contact Imuya and to steer clear of her in the future. CBC News reached out to Imuya for comment on this story but did not receive a response. "I never got a call from police ever since," said Obaseki. "So I thought the situation was dealt with by police." Turns out, for Obaseki, it wasn't. Nearly two decades later, Obaseki discovered that she and Imuya were still considered the same person in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), the national electronic police database maintained by the RCMP. In practical terms, that meant that for roughly 18 years a CPIC search on Obaseki would show that she was also known as Imuya, and that she'd been charged with, but not convicted of, several criminal and immigration offences. The RCMP, who confirmed Imuya fraudulently used Obaseki's name, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre told CBC News they don't receive reports about false identity cases like Obaseki's very often. But that fact isn't of much comfort to Obaseki, who believes the CPIC record affected her family's ability to visit her in Canada. "That is the most painful part for me,"she said. "It affected me and my family." Shock, embarrassment and pain Obaseki tried to bring her sisters and mother to Toronto to visit from Nigeria multiple times, but the visitor visas were always denied. Until last year, she thought it was just because her family didn't qualify. She found out about the CPIC record just before she was supposed to be interviewed as a witness in an immigration appeal hearing for her sister, whose husband was trying to sponsor her to come to Canada. CBC News has reviewed a copy of the results of a CPIC search an immigration official did on Obaseki in February 2020. The record identifies Obaseki as the same person as Imuya. It lists credit card fraud and theft charges, which were all later withdrawn, and one charge that ended with a peace bond. The record also lists immigration charges that ended in an acquittal. WATCH | How Joyce Obaseki felt when she found out about false criminal record: As part of the immigration appeal for Obaseki's sister, her family obtained transcripts from Obaseki's past attempts to bring her mother and sisters to Toronto on visitor visas. In one of those transcripts, an immigration official references Obaseki's "issues with respect to fraudulent credit cards in Calgary." "The shock, and the embarrassment and the pain, how do I explain that to my family?" said Obaseki. "It robbed me of my credibility. Somebody with such a long list of criminal records, would you invite such a person to your house?" Name removed from CPIC record this month Once Obaseki found out about the record falsely identifying her as Imuya she got to work trying to figure out how to remove her name from Imuya's charges. After months of going back and forth with police, Obaseki hired a lawyer to help her last fall. In November, Obaseki received a report from the RCMP confirming that the fingerprints she submitted to them do not match "any immigration-related file or existing criminal record" in the police service's national database. The following month, Obaseki's lawyer emailed a complaint to the RCMP with the record of the fingerprint search to prove that Obaseki and Imuya are not the same person and to ask that Obaseki's name be removed from the record. The RCMP had to explain the situation to Calgary police and get their permission to remove Obaseki's name from Imuya's record because the 2002 credit card charge and use of Obaseki's name came from Calgary police. 'Up until then, it was hell for me' Earlier this month, Obaseki received confirmation from the RCMP that her name had been removed "from the criminal record belonging to Christee Imuya," according to a letter from the RCMP. "It was a huge, huge relief," said Obaseki. "It was like some heavy body lifted off my shoulders. Up until then, it was hell for me — I don't sleep at night. I think about it every day." In a statement to CBC News, RCMP spokesperson Robin Percival said the service is "pleased that the matter was resolved." Percival also explained that individual police services are responsible for verifying a person's identity before submitting biographic information to the CPIC database. Unless there's a fingerprint match to an existing record in the database, the RCMP says it can't confirm the identity of the individual. Obaseki says police told her that when Imuya was first fingerprinted in 2002, she used Obaseki's name, which is why the initial CPIC record had her name attached to it — and why Obaseki's true fingerprints were required to clear her name. Anyone who believes they have been falsely attributed to a criminal record can submit a fingerprint-based civil criminal record check that "will verify that their fingerprints do not match the fingerprints of the criminal record created under their name," according to Percival. Warrant for Imuya's arrest outstanding in Alberta While she's relieved that her name is no longer on Imuya's record, Obaseki still has questions for Imuya and wants her to be held accountable for the effect she's had on Obaseki's life. "I want her to face the consequences," said Obaseki. "She cannot be walking free, and then I have to suffer all this loss, my family has to suffer this. "I'm hoping to get justice." Calgary police told CBC News the service issued a warrant for Imuya's arrest for impersonating Obaseki in 2002. The warrant remains outstanding in Alberta.
MONTREAL — Enterprise software company SAP Canada will open a new research and development office in Montreal for its SAP Labs division and plans to add 30 new employees as part of the expansion. The company said in a new release Thursday that its decision to open the new office, located at Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal, indicates its commitment to the Quebec market, which it views as a world-class technology hub. “With this new office in the city, we are cementing our position as one of Montreal’s leading employers and a key player in Canada’s growing digital economy,” said Cindy Fagen, managing director of SAP Labs Canada, in a statement. SAP Canada’s new employees will be part of a unit that builds custom technology for consumer-facing businesses. The investment brings the company’s total workforce in Montreal to 1,000 employees, SAP Canada said. While Toronto remains Canada’s dominant tech hub, Montreal has attracted increased investment from technology companies in recent years, especially in the field of artificial intelligence. The Quebec government has devoted a lot of money in its efforts to attract high-tech jobs to the city, announcing in 2017 that it would spend $100 million to lure artificial intelligence startups and research initiatives to the area. The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, which manages several public insurance and pension plans in the province, has also invested in startups with prominent presences in the city, including Lightspeed POS Inc. and Nuvei Corp. SAP said it is working with Montreal International, an agency that helps businesses invest in the city, on the expansion. SAP’s announcement comes as many companies re-evaluate their office expenditures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some choosing to reduce their physical footprint in favour of implementing more flexible work-from-home policies. SAP Canada expects to move employees into the new office in September. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said in a statement that SAP Canada’s investment will play an important role as the city looks to recover from the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The city can keep counting on its exceptional workforce in the digital sector, which is key to the city’s economy and it will certainly play a critical role in its economic recovery,” Plante said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:LSPD) Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
Angelo Caloia's lawyer and son were also found guilty and handed prison sentences.View on euronews
A mother from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., is urging people to take COVID-19 — and the health measures in place — seriously, as her son fights for his life. Myrine Kakfwi, 30, has been in an intensive care unit in an Edmonton hospital for the last three weeks. Every day his mother Dolly Pierrot rubs lotion on her son's feet and hands, and massages his legs as he lies on his back in his hospital bed. "We have been talking to him, telling him not to give up and telling him how many people are praying for him. His dad plays music for him and we pray with him," she said in a Facebook post. Not just a bad flu It was over a month ago, on Dec. 5, when Kakfwi told his mom from his home in Edmonton that he thought he had COVID-19 — he was coughing and felt he had a bad flu, Pierrot told CBC News. "I was immediately worried and I was really concerned for him," she said. Just a few days later, on Dec. 7 she heard from her eldest son that Kakfwi was taken by ambulance to the University of Alberta Hospital. Pierrot says that was the same day Kakfwi was diagnosed with COVID-19. "I just wanted to know how serious it was, if he was OK," she said. "My oldest son said that Myrine was coughing up blood." Pierrot says she was also concerned for her eldest, since he was in contact with Kakfwi and was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton to be put in isolation. Luckily, his COVID-19 test came back negative, she said. Pierrot says the hospital then told her that Kakfwi was admitted and being treated in isolation. "He came in with a collapsed right lung and they said that he had ... double pneumonia," Pierrot said. It wasn't until about a week before Christmas that Kakfwi seemed to be recovering. "He was FaceTiming us, he was talking to us," Pierrot said. "He was really regretful that he didn't take COVID-19 seriously. He said he was just not being careful." Suddenly offline But as the days and hours passed, Pierrot said her son's health seemed to deteriorate again. "He was just not making sense," she said of Kakfwi when he was speaking to the family. "And then all of a sudden, he just went offline and we couldn't get ahold of him." They tried calling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day but still no answer from her son. "I kept calling U of A and nobody seemed to know where he went," Pierrot said. By Dec. 27 she was in contact with the intensive care unit and found her answer. A doctor called Pierrot and told her Kakfwi was "seriously" ill. "He said that he was admitted into ICU … and he had double pneumonia and he had a couple of bacteria in both lungs and he was placed on a ventilator." 'You need to come down' She asked the doctor if she and Kakfwi's dad should travel from Fort Good Hope down to Edmonton. The doctor said they should come immediately. Pierrot said her local MLA, Paulie Chinna, and the Yamoga Land Corporation helped her make travel arrangements. They landed in Edmonton the next morning. When they arrived at the hospital, they were allowed to see Kakfwi right away, she said, and were given 24-hour access to him. The doctors told them Kakfwi no longer had COVID-19, but the after effects were keeping him unwell. Kakfwi had a CT scan on Monday, where doctors found another infection in one of his lungs. One of his lungs has also been leaking air, so a specialist is going to see if a valve can be inserted to close up the leak, she said. "So he's been … fighting back for the last three weeks," Pierrot said, adding they're taking it day by day. Right by his side Pierrot said she and Kakfwi's dad have been staying at a hotel, and splitting their time between there and the hospital. She says everyone has been rooting for a quick recovery for her son. "The doctors told us that he's young and so they're really pushing his body hard … they're not giving up on him" Pierrot said. And neither are his parents. "As long as he's fighting, his dad and I are fighting right along with him, and we're not going anywhere, we're going to stay here and be with him [for] the whole thing." Message to others Pierrot says she is sharing her son's story in hopes that people will take COVID-19 seriously. "It's real, it's dangerous," Pierrot said. "It spreads so quick and so easy, we just have to be so vigilant with sanitizing and wearing your mask and staying home." She said the family has received an abundance of support through messages, phone calls and donations from the community of Fort Good Hope. "Which is really comforting to know that people do care about each other and we feel so supported here," Pierrot said. "Just amazing how people pull together and rallied behind us... it just really helps us stay strong throughout this."
It is too early to say when the national coronavirus lockdown in England will end, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, as daily deaths from COVID-19 reach new highs and hospitals become increasingly stretched. A prevalence survey, known as REACT-1, suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the government has said that the impact of national restrictions introduced on Jan. 5 was not yet reflected in the numbers. England's third national lockdown has seen bars, restaurants and schools mostly closed, with Johnson attributing a steep rise in cases at the end of last year to a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first detected in England.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 21 ... What we are watching in Canada ... CALGARY -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling for the federal government to impose economic sanctions against the United States in response to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden's "gut punch" decision to tear up the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion. Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn't consult with Canada first before acting but saved his strongest criticisms for federal Liberals, whose statements in response to Biden's actions Kenny characterized as too accepting. "If the U.S. government refuses to open the door to a constructive and respectful dialogue about these issues, then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country's economic interests," he said. The lack of a strong response sets a precedent that could allow other members of Biden's government to call for other "retroactive" permit revocations for existing pipelines, Kenney said. Part of Keystone XL has been built but it is not complete, nor is it operating. Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed. The 1,947-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. From there it would connect with the company's existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast — one of the world's biggest oil refining hubs. --- Also this ... CALGARY -- WestJet Airlines will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. Transport Canada lifted its grounding order for the Max on Wednesday after approving design changes to the plane and requiring pilots to undergo additional training. WestJet executives will hold a press conference after the morning flight between Calgary and Vancouver. The event is part of a campaign to reintroduce the Max to service while assuring the public that the plane's safety issues have been addressed. Air Canada is expected to follow suit on Feb. 1. Air Canada has already said it will offer passengers booked on a Max the option of changing their flight at no extra charge. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON -- If Joe Biden's decision to kill off Keystone XL is supposed to sound the death knell for Canada-U.S. relations, you wouldn't know it from the newly minted president's call sheet. The 46th president's first phone call with a foreign leader comes Friday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be on the other end of the line. "I expect they will certainly discuss the important relationship with Canada, as well as his decision on the Keystone pipeline we announced earlier today," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. "His early calls will be with partners and allies; he feels it's important to rebuild those relationships and to address the challenges and threats we're facing in the world." Deep in the stack of leather-bound executive orders Biden signed on his first day in the White House was one to rescind former president Donald Trump's approval of the US$8-billion cross-border pipeline expansion. The project, first proposed in 2008, has been bouncing around the White House in various forms of limbo — stalled throughout Barack Obama's two terms before being outright cancelled in 2015, then twice resurrected by Trump. Trudeau, who has been careful to point out that Biden's campaign had already promised to block the expansion, did so again Wednesday in a statement that was more celebratory than scolding. "While we welcome the president's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president's decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," the statement said. Trudeau welcomed Biden's other moves, including rejoining the Paris accord, a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and reversing the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... World leaders welcomed into their ranks the new U.S. President Joe Biden, noting their most pressing problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require multilateral co-operation, an approach his predecessor Donald Trump ridiculed. Many expressed hope Biden would right U.S. democracy two weeks after rioters stormed the Capitol, shaking the faith of those fighting for democracy in their own countries. Governments targeted and sanctioned under Trump embraced the chance for a fresh start with Biden, while some heads of state who lauded Trump’s blend of nationalism and populism were more restrained in their expectations. But the chance to repair frayed alliances and work together on global problems carried the day. China, whose U.S. relations nosedived due to widespread frustration in Washington over its human rights record and accusations of technology theft, expressed cautious hope about the change in the White House. “China looks forward to working with the new administration to promote sound & steady development of China-U.S. relations and jointly address global challenges in public health, climate change & growth,” China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, tweeted. Biden “understands the importance of co-operation among nations,” said former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, who left office in 2018. “As a matter of fact, if we don’t co-operate – all nations – to fight climate change, then we will all perish. It’s as simple as that." French President Emmanuel Macron and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama were among those welcoming U.S. attention to climate change. After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Biden reversed the move in the first hours of his presidency Wednesday. --- On this day in 1992 ... The Supreme Court of Canada began its review of David Milgaard's murder conviction in the death of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. The high court quashed the conviction a few months later and Saskatchewan decided not to retry Milgaard. --- In health news ... A new study links the fitness level of Canadian children to that of their parents. The StatCan analysis suggests a child's aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility all correlate to that of their parent. But there were differences when it came to the sex of each parent and child involved. Boys whose parent had "excellent" cardiorespiratory fitness had better cardiorespiratory fitness than boys whose parent had a "poor" cardiorespiratory fitness level. Girls whose parent had "excellent" flexibility had higher flexibility than girls whose parent had "poor" flexibility. But the correlation in cardiorespiratory fitness was only seen significantly in mother-and-son pairs; while a significant flexibility correlation was only seen in mother-son and father-son pairings. Grip strength was associated in all duos except father-son pairings. The study was based on data from the ongoing Canadian Health Measures Survey, and draws from a sample representative of children aged 6 to 11 years and their biological parents. --- ICYMI ... A massive snow sculpture on a St. John's lawn depicting former United States president Donald Trump drowning in a sea of blue is drawing visitors. The sculpture depicts Trump with his arms up, mouth open and hair aflutter, while his signature red tie floats out before him on the blue-painted snow. Co-creator James Keating says the snow carving is "huge" and "tremendous" and represents Trump “drowning in controversy." He and his 16-year-old son, Ashton Keating, had been working on it for a few days. Keating estimated they put about 10 hours of work into it and said they made sure it would be ready for Joe Biden's inauguration as U.S. president on Wednesday. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the call between Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau would take place Thursday.
COVID-19 restrictions are interrupting training and certification programs for lifeguards in Ottawa, raising the possibility that public pools, beaches and water parks will be understaffed this summer, one safety advocate warns. Indoor pools are closed during Ontario's current lockdown, postponing the training and testing would-be lifeguards need to be certified. According to Perry Smith, programs director for the Lifesaving Society in Ontario, that could lead to a shortage of trained personnel when those aquatic facilities reopen. "At some point those will be reopened and they take in some cases hundreds of lifeguards to supervise," said Perry. "We recommend that when the stay-at-home mandate is lifted, that people continue with their training as soon as they can, so they don't get into a situation where … they're not able to get the training they want going into the summer," said Perry. Between mid-March and Boxing Day, when Ontario's 28-day lockdown went into effect, first aid training and lifeguard certification was allowed to continue, albeit with safety protocols including smaller classes, frequent cleaning of equipment and the some online elements. That restricted capacity, creating a backlog that's now getting worse. According to Perry, the City of Ottawa has had lifeguard staffing problems in the past, with too many lifeguards gunning for choice outdoor jobs at water parks, public beaches and summer camps, and too few settling for indoor posts and teaching swimming lessons, according to Perry. You don't want your beachfronts or your swimming pools with not enough staff available to provide the services. - Perry Smith, Lifesaving Society In order to attract more young people to the field, the Lifesaving Society recently reduced the age requirement to start training, Perry said. "So they can get their training when they're 15, and then when they turn 16, then they can be employed as a full lifeguard." He's encouraging would-be lifeguards to get as much of their training done online as possible, "so when the pools are open, then they can continue their training and complete it." Perry is also urging municipalities including Ottawa to do whatever it takes to have pools and programs ready to go. "You don't want your beachfronts or your swimming pools with not enough staff available to provide the services," he said. But the City of Ottawa doesn't appear concerned that the stalled lifeguard training and certification process will lead to shortages months from now. "The city does not foresee any issues with staff lifeguards for the upcoming summer, and will proceed with the hiring process as per usual," said Dan Brisebois, director of citywide programs, aquatics and specialized services. In a statement, Brisebois said the city will continue to monitor the effect of COVID-19 on municipal pools and other city-run amenities.
Coal mining is already having an impact in Alberta's Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry's presence in one of the province's most beloved landscapes. "They've been very active up there," said Kevin Van Tighem, who lives near one of the areas now heavily leased for coal exploration. The United Conservative government's decision to revoke a policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976 has convulsed the province. Petitions opposing the move have gathered more than 100,000 signatures. Popular Alberta entertainment figures have come out against it and area ranchers and First Nations are trying to force a judicial review of the decision. Documents from the Alberta Energy Regulator show that permission has already been granted for hundreds of drill sites and kilometres of roads threading through critical wildlife habitat and land previously untouched by mining. "The day after the coal policy was rescinded we started seeing applications for exploration," said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. "Before we've done any real assessments of the impacts, we're seeing these companies have some potential pretty big impacts on that land." Documents filed with the regulator give some sense of what's already been permitted. Cabin Ridge Coal, operating 50 kilometres north of Coleman, Alta., is putting in 197 drill sites on land once protected by the coal policy. It plans 15 new access roads and 19 "reactivated" roads — abandoned for decades and now being refurbished. The exploration plans require nine new stream crossings. Elan Coal, north of Blairmore, Alta., has been permitted for 456 drill sites that include 66 kilometres of new roads and 29 kilometres of reactivated roads. Montem Resources, active south of Coleman, has the OK for 71 drill sites with an unspecified length of "new and existing access." Almost all of the drill sites are on grizzly bear range. Mountain goat and sheep habitat will be affected. Company plans detail how environmental impacts are to be reduced by careful construction and timing work for when it will cause the least disruption. They suggest the amount of land directly disturbed will be small — less than 100 hectares for Cabin Ridge. That's not the whole story, said Van Tighem, a former chief superintendent of Banff National Park. Wildlife steer clear of active roads and drill sites by up to 500 metres, he said. Roads cut into hillsides — no matter how well built — are "erosion traps" and roads that run uphill are "sluiceways" for run-off that would normally feed streams, he said. Mitigation measures aren't all they're cracked up to be, he added. "They're not ever as good as (companies) promise and not as consistently applied as the government would lead us to believe." Morrison points out that at least twice since the coal policy was revoked, companies have asked for exemptions to rules that prevented them from operating during sensitive times for wildlife. "Both exemptions were applied for, granted and work started within a day or two," she said. "That doesn't scream rigour to me as far as decreasing impact." Peter Brodsky, spokesman for Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said the government takes public concern seriously. This week, it paused all lease sales on formerly protected land and cancelled a small number of them, refunding $80,000. "The department will be working with Alberta Environment to determine next steps to best address the concerns that have been raised," he said in an email. "We will not choose between protecting the land for future generations and providing economic opportunities. We need to — and will — do both, in a measured and environmentally responsible way." Area rancher Gordon Cartwright looks up into the hills on his neighbour's land and recalls what a geologist told him last summer about what his neck of the foothills looks like. "He said, with the intensity of the operations and the drilling, it looked more like mining preparation than exploration," Cartwright said. "That activity's pretty damaging. A lot of these soils are highly susceptible to erosion and are hard to revegetate. "You would have thought consultation would have happened before you start opening up the country and creating that kind of disturbance." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press