Austin paws at a snowman's torso moments after it was built. Talk about a great guard dog!
Austin paws at a snowman's torso moments after it was built. Talk about a great guard dog!
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.
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
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
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
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.
It's time-out for sports in red zones of New Brunswick. According to the province's red phase of recovery, all organized sports have been cancelled and gyms and fitness centres are closed. For minor hockey players, for example, that means no games, no practices, and no off-ice training, explained Nic Jansen, the executive director of Hockey New Brunswick. And at this point in the season, Jansen said tournaments are probably not going to happen. "Yeah, I think that's certainly a possibility," he said. "In the end, I think it'll be a decision that Public Health makes, but I think that's definitely a possibility." Jansen said Hockey New Brunswick had been waiting on direction from Public Health officials about whether tournaments could resume in yellow. With most of the province now in red, and only a few weeks left in the regular season, it's looking less and less likely, he said. Meanwhile, hockey continues in Zones 5, 6 and 7, under orange restrictions, which means teams can continue to practice together, but there are no games. That's only allowed in the yellow phase. Jansen encourages young players to stay active and do what they can to keep up their skills. "I think if you're fortunate enough to have access to a backyard rink, by all means, get out, use it." In a season that's been unusually mild, backyard rinks and ponds are a little hard to come by, but Jansen said players can continue to work on their skills in their basement or driveway. "And it doesn't have to be hockey. It can be any type of physical activity. Just get outside and play and enjoy the outdoors," he said. Basketball Things have "pretty much shut down everywhere," said Tyler Slipp, Basketball New Brunswick's director of operations. Red restrictions have meant an end to all basketball activity, and those regions still in orange are operating under strict rules that prohibit games and impose physical distancing restrictions on players. So although players in Zones 5, 6 and 7 can continue to practice together, they have to stay two metres apart. Slipp said that means no scrimmages and no defensive drills — leaving a lot of shooting and dribbling practice. He said it's not ideal, especially in a season already hard-hit by COVID restrictions. Since schools haven't allowed outside organizations to use their gyms since the pandemic began, minor basketball leagues across the province had a hard time finding space to run their programs. "I'm still just really sad for all the kids that didn't get a chance to play because of the lack of facilities this year," said Slipp. Last summer, Basketball New Brunswick started working on a project that would help players train on their own through an online program that will launch this Saturday, said Slipp. It was announced less than two weeks ago and 90 young people have already signed up, he said. While it was developed to address the historical short-comings identified in New Brunswick's provincial teams, Slipp said the program can help young players continue to work on their individual skills during the pandemic. He said the Gold Medal Performance Program includes strength and conditioning, nutrition, and sports psychology. Soccer While normally thought of as a warmer-weather sport, soccer continues year-round for many elite players, said Younes Bouida, the executive director of Soccer New Brunswick. But for those in red zones, winter soccer has come to an end. Bouida said many of the elite programs have switched to online tools to keep teams connected and give players at-home programs to stay active and work on their skills. Those in orange zones, meanwhile, continue to be able to practice together, although they have to stay two metres away from each other, which is definitely better than the options available to teams in red zones, said Bouida. School sports and activities All school sports, including intramural sports, are cancelled in red zones. So, too, are all after-school clubs and activities. "Masks are required to be worn during physical education and only activities that are conducive to physical distancing, such as yoga, dancing and moderate walking, are permitted in high school and strongly recommended for K-8 students," explained Education Department spokesperson Tara Chislett in an email Wednesday afternoon. What orange will bring Under the orange phase of recovery, teams are permitted to practice as a group, but the activities are limited to "skills and drills." Scrimmages are prohibited and players are expected to stay two metres apart at all times. Gym, fitness facilities, and yoga studios may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan with additional public health measures, including: Two metres of physical distancing, with masks, in low-intensity fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, and stretching; and three metres of physical distancing for high-intensity activities such as spin, aerobics and boot camp. active screening and record keeping of patrons. closed locker rooms/common areas. Yellow Sports teams can continue to play, following their operational plan, and tournaments or larger events may be permitted, subject to the approval of a plan. For most teams in yellow, it was business-almost-as-usual, but with added COVID precautions like screening and proper hand hygiene. Red The only activity encouraged in the public health messages is "Exercising alone or with persons in your bubble." Maritime Junior Hockey League On Monday, the Maritime Junior Hockey League announced that seven games would be postponed as a result of Zone 4 going into the red phase of recovery. In a press release, the league said the postponed games would affect the Edmundston Blizzard and Grand Falls Rapids. No further releases have been issued since Zones 1, 2 and 3 went red, but the league's director of communications James Faulkner confirmed by email Wednesday that teams in the orange zones can continue to practice together. All activity has stopped for those in red, said Faulkner. National Basketball League of Canada The National Basketball League of Canada announced in November that it would postpone its season. According to the league's website, the tentative start date is now March 12. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League The league announced Monday that it would postpone regular season games "following meetings with government and Public Health officials of the three provinces of the Maritimes Division." Those in red zones, however, will not be allowed to practice together.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 725,495 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 725,495 confirmed cases (68,413 active, 638,620 resolved, 18,462 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,744 new cases Wednesday from 68,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 182 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,309. There were 196 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,034 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 148. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.12 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,778,780 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (eight active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 280 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,042 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 493 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,570 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,564 confirmed cases (23 active, 1,476 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 198,764 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,025 confirmed cases (318 active, 694 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 21 new cases Wednesday from 1,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 40.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 189 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 27. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 130,711 tests completed. _ Quebec: 247,236 confirmed cases (18,436 active, 219,592 resolved, 9,208 deaths). There were 1,502 new cases Wednesday from 7,554 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 217.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,541 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,792. There were 66 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 394 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.66 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 108.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,678,168 tests completed. _ Ontario: 244,932 confirmed cases (26,467 active, 212,897 resolved, 5,568 deaths). There were 2,655 new cases Wednesday from 52,531 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 181.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,850. There were 89 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 395 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,758,500 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,893 confirmed cases (3,137 active, 23,968 resolved, 788 deaths). There were 153 new cases Wednesday from 1,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 229.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,200 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 35 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 444,550 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,112 confirmed cases (3,702 active, 17,184 resolved, 226 deaths). There were 241 new cases Wednesday from 991 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 315.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,091 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 299. There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 324,668 tests completed. _ Alberta: 118,436 confirmed cases (10,565 active, 106,387 resolved, 1,484 deaths). There were 669 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 241.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,818 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 688. There were 21 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 116 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,020,119 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,412 confirmed cases (5,744 active, 55,564 resolved, 1,104 deaths). There were 500 new cases Wednesday from 2,817 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 113.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 73 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,036,509 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 18 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,203 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 30 confirmed cases (six active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 211 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,882 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,018 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Millions of us have been living with severe restrictions and orders to stay socially distanced. But this can lead to 'touch starvation'. Find out more. View on euronews
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.
Recent developments: Renfrew County has had its second COVID-19 death. Quebec's premier is expected to speak at 1 p.m. ET. What's the latest? Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 180 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and six more fatalities, marking the deadliest day of the pandemic since late May. Renfrew County's health unit is reporting the second death in its area from COVID-19. It has just five known active COVID-19 cases. WATCH LIVE | A Quebec pandemic update starts at 1 p.m. ET: How many cases are there? As of Thursday, 12,674 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,056 known active cases, 11,203 resolved cases and 415 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 22,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 22,000 resolved cases. One hundred and eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 147 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Places such as Kingston have started to take patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Schools can reopen to general in-person learning Monday in the areas of eastern Ontario with lower COVID-19 levels — not in Ottawa nor communities under the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. There is no return date for them. WATCH | Ottawa parents react to the at-home learning extension: Child-care centres remain open. Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials say there are signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread and there's been some talk about what it will take to lift them. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Local health units have said they've given more than 29,800 doses, including about 22,000 in Ottawa and more than 7,300 in western Quebec. Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. That's already happened in Ottawa. That, and Pfizer temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, means some areas can't guarantee people will get a second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks. Ontario's campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August. Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public. It said before Pfizer's announcement people will get their second dose within 90 days. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites will reopen Monday. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had more than 130 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 240 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
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
Ontario's plan to vaccinate the populations of its most remote First Nations communities against COVID-19 faces many challenges, but Indigenous leaders say that earning the trust of the people must be a priority. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 of Ontario's 123 First Nations, said that the most obvious hurdle of Operation Remote Immunity is geography, as those remote communities may not have an airstrip and must have their winter roads built in time for the vaccine to be delivered. But he said that even more important than the physical logistics of delivering the vaccine is ensuring that Indigenous people are willing to accept it. "Making sure that communities are aware of the vaccine, that they understand the vaccine and why it's important so they can consent to getting the vaccine is part of the challenge," said Fiddler. All 31 remote First Nations that are participating in Operation Remote Immunity are part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, so Fiddler and his staff have been working with Ontario's vaccine task force as a liaison between the individual communities and the government. Communication has had to flow both ways before the vaccines start arriving on Feb. 1. "We're creating material for distribution with our health authorities, creating pamphlets and social media, making sure everything is translated into Ojibway, Ojicree and Cree," said Fiddler. "So our elders can really understand the information that's being sent to them. "Once they do understand it they can give it serious consideration before giving their consent." Fiddler said that making sure everyone understands what's in the vaccine and why it's important to take it is necessary for First Nations people who are living with the trauma of Canada's colonial history. "It's not just the vaccine itself, it's the whole history of the sad, sometimes tragic past of health care and how it's been delivered in our communities," said Fiddler, adding that historically there has been a two-tiered system where Indigenous people received inferior health care. "That's what we're up against. It's a massive undertaking and it's a challenge we know that we have to address as part of this rollout." Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who is on the province's vaccine task force, said she was also aware of some reluctance by First Nations people to take the vaccine. She pointed to a history of medical experiments being performed on Indigenous people from the 1930s to the 1970s. "We do know that in the past vaccines were tested in First Nations communities," said Archibald, who added there is no mechanism for polling First Nations populations about things like vaccine hesitancy. "The trauma and experiences from residential schools have left our communities in a state of hesitancy when it comes to trusting Canada." A spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said that the administration of vaccines has already begun in Ontario's larger First Nations communities, starting with long-term care homes in Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawks of Akwesasne, Oneida Nations of the Thames, and Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. Vaccinations have also begun at the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, with a focus on hospital and long-term care and chronic care staff and residents. Spokesman Alex Puddifant said Ornge, the province's air ambulance corporation, is leading the operations for the 31 fly-in First Nation communities, transporting the vaccine from hub cities in Northern Ontario to the reserves. Partner organizations including, Northern School of Ontario Medicine and Queens University, will help provide nurses and paramedics to administer the doses. Fiddler said that NAN is playing a supporting role, ensuring that communities are ready when the vaccines arrive with interpreters, drivers, and a co-ordinator to make sure that all of the residents in a territory consent to the vaccination and receive their dose. Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, said that she and her team know they'll have to build trust with patients who are, or are directly related to, residential school survivors. "Taking a patient-centred approach that's different in Northern Ontario with First Nations communities will be important," said Verma. Indigenous Services Canada reported on Tuesday that there were 428 active cases of COVID-19 among Ontario's First Nations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
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.
China struck an optimistic tone toward President Joe Biden's new administration on Thursday, saying "kind angels can triumph over evil forces" and playing down early irritants as the result of an atmosphere poisoned by Donald Trump's term in office. Bilateral relations worsened dramatically during Trump's tenure. Biden, who took office on Wednesday, is expected to maintain pressure on Beijing but with a more traditional and multilateral approach.
Can COVID-19 vaccines be mixed and matched? Health officials say both doses should be of the same vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines rolling out in the United States, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world so far require two shots given a few weeks apart. In the U.S. where Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being distributed, health officials say the vaccines are not interchangeable. In England where shots by Pfizer and AstraZeneca are available, officials also say the doses should be consistent. But in the rare event that the same kind isn’t available or if it's not known what was given for the first shot, English officials say it’s OK to give whichever vaccine is available for the second shot. Since the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines work in a similar way, they say a mismatched dose is better than partial protection. But without any studies, vaccine doses should not be mixed, said Naor Bar-Zeev, a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins University. If people do happen to get a different vaccine for their second shot by accident, Bar-Zeev said it is likely “to work fine and likely to be well tolerated," but evidence is needed to be sure. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had the virus? If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again? How quickly do I need a second vaccine shot? The Associated Press
Pickleball has become so popular in Stratford, P.E.I., a wait-list had to be created at the town's recreation centre, says Coun. Steve Gallant. "It started a couple years ago. We started with 30 people participating in pickleball. Now we are up around 130-135," said Gallant, who also chairs the town's recreation committee. "It's a great workout. It gets your heart rate up," he said. "If you can stand, you can play it. Anybody of all ages can play it." During the summer there are eight outdoor courts, but games move inside during winter, he said. The game is a mix of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton, played on a regulation size badminton court. The low-impact sport is also popular with seniors. "What I tell them is ... you take a Ping-Pong table, smash it onto the floor and that's how you start playing," said Bruce Fitchett, who has been playing the sport for eight years. "It's just a big giant game of Ping-Pong. That's what I like to describe it as," Fitchett has watched the sport grow —- especially during the pandemic because it is a sport where distance is easily maintained, he said. "With this pandemic we've got three groups of 32 playing pickleball here in Stratford," Fitchett said. While pickleball is busy in Stratford, Fitchett said several communities have courts and those interested in playing should call their local recreation centre. The best part of pickleball is the "camaraderie and friends" you can make while playing, said Fitchett. Rosemary Matthews was introduced to the sport while visiting Florida. She said she and her husband were snowbirds and started playing on P.E.I. around 2014 when they stopped traveling to the U.S. That is a situation other pickleball players find themselves in — people who would typically be playing the sport in Florida are playing it on P.E.I. because of pandemic travel restrictions. "We're even seeing an increase this year," she said. "I don't know if there are too many people who are snowbirds who haven't been coming here, but certainly we are seeing an increase," Matthews said. While the Stratford location is all booked up for pickleball, Matthews said she is hoping to soon start sessions teaching people how to play. Pandemic protocols are also in place, such as wiping down all equipment between games, Gallant said. More from CBC P.E.I.
Some Ottawa parents and teachers are questioning the sustainability of virtual learning as in-person classrooms stay closed with no end in sight. On Wednesday, the Ontario government announced school boards within seven public health regions in southern and eastern Ontario would resume in-class learning on Monday, but boards in Ottawa weren't among them. The province did not say when schools in Ottawa might reopen, only that Ontario's chief medical officer of health will "continue to review the public health trends and advise the government on the resumption of in-person learning," according to a spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce. Both the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board say they have not been told when in-class learning might resume. Eastern Ontario's French public school board says virtual learning will continue for its students until at least Feb. 10. 'I'm at a loss' While she doesn't want to put her children in an unsafe situation, parent Neelam Charania said she's "exasperated, frustrated, tired." "At this point, with the information that we have, I'm at a loss. I really don't understand," Charania said, who has two children attending Half Moon Bay Public School. "They miss school. They miss going to play with their friends and I think that they learn better in an in-person environment." "It would be really nice to know how to start planning for safe reintegration or what the measures will be like," said parent Malaka Hendela of the announcement. She said she worries how students, parents and teachers are coping when there's no indication of when schools will reopen. Plan is 'unsustainable': Teacher Meanwhile, teachers are having to pivot again, now having to prepare even more lessons that will have to be taught online. "The amount of time that I am putting into putting my stuff online is unsustainable. It really is," said Rachel Inch who teaches at Broadview Public School. "A lot of time and energy is spent converting things to make them doable online. So without knowing an end date, it's a daunting task. It sort of feels quite heavy." St. Leonard Catholic School teacher Krista Sarginson said she's not sure how much longer her students are able to keep up either. "I'm seeing that my kids are struggling a little bit. They were really looking forward to going back," she said. While Sarginson commends the government for being cautious when it comes to public health, she described the ongoing school closure as "death by a thousand cuts."
Three landowners from Black Point in Pictou County took their fight over rocks on a beach to Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday. The judicial review is examining the province's approval of a rock retaining wall on James Beach. Legal costs are being covered by a $15,000 crowdfunding effort. "It has been worthwhile for me ... to see the community come together and protect our beautiful beach," said Maryn Lynn, one of the applicants who owns property on James Beach. Wayne and Helen Chisholm built the armour stone rock wall at James Beach, northeast of New Glasgow, in 2017. It crosses the width of the beach, before turning 90 degrees and running parallel to the water. The base of the wall sits in more than a metre of water at high tide, and it's been repaired and expanded as it's damaged by the ocean. After community complaints, the province determined the wall is legal, because Nova Scotia landowners are allowed to replace existing retaining walls even when the shoreline has moved farther inland. The Chisholm family declined to comment Wednesday. Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry won't comment while the case is before the court. Hoping for a reassessment A judicial review can't order the wall to be changed or removed, but it could send the matter back to the minister of Lands and Forestry if the approval process is found lacking. "We're hopeful that at the very least, the government will take another look at this decision," Lynn said. "This is not about erosion protection, because all of the people in our neighborhood do erosion protection," said Beth Skerrett, another applicant. "We're very much in support of erosion protection. The problem for us is the beach access. So having beach access to walk along the front of any beach in Nova Scotia is really the core of this issue," Skerrett said. Erosion and accretion The lawyer for the applicants, Jamie Simpson, said legal arguments hinge on where Crown land ends and private land begins. Normally, all land below the mean high water mark is owned by the government, allowing public access to the entire length of a beach. If the shoreline moves, so does that boundary. Simpson says aerial photographs dating back to the 1990s show those kinds of shoreline shifts on James Beach. "Sometimes land is added to the sand spit, and sometimes land is taken away.... We see erosion and accretion happening over the scale of years and decades," Simpson said. If private land is suddenly ripped away, Simpson said landowners have the right to fill it back in. But on James Beach, he argues that's not the case. Simpson said the government never gave a "cohesive, logical argument as to why the boundary hasn't moved." "The minister has to come up with a more robust way to make these decisions, not to make what appears, from the outside, to be something of an arbitrary decision," he said. Provincial significance Lynn and Skerret say their legal challenge could resonate for all Nova Scotia beaches. "I think this issue is very important if we consider climate change, which is not going away," said Lynn. "This is about whether or not the general public, and not just coastal property owners, will have access to the beach below the ordinary high water mark." Skerret added: "Today is not whether it was a good decision or a bad decision for this family to build the wall. The decision here is, did the government make the right decision by allowing them to build the wall where they built it?" Justice Deborah Smith reserved her decision at the close of Wednesday's hearing. MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic is about to force another big break from tradition in the House of Commons: MPs using an app on their smartphones or laptops to cast votes remotely. Party whips are still discussing some unresolved details, the most important of which is ensuring Canadians will be able to see how their MPs vote, in real-time, as they click yea or nay. But government whip Mark Holland is optimistic that all parties will give unanimous consent to proceed with the voting app when the Commons resumes Monday after a six-week break. Traditionally, MPs who support a bill or motion are asked to rise in the Commons and then nod their assent as their names are called, one by one, by the clerk. The same procedure is then followed for those opposed. That changed last fall as the Commons adapted to the need for physical distancing and restricted travel to curb the spread COVID-19. Votes by videoconference were introduced, allowing MPs for the first time to vote virtually from remote locations. However, they still voted one-by-one in response to a rollcall so Canadians could witness how each of them voted. Inevitable technical glitches meant a single vote could take up to an hour to complete, during which all MPs were required to stay glued to their seats and on camera. That's about to change — again. In a bid to speed things up, the Commons administration has developed a voting app, using combined facial and fingerprint recognition technology, to facilitate secure, one-click voting. Rather than a rollcall vote, Holland said the plan is to allow a set "time window" — around 10 minutes — in which MPs can register their votes. As always, a list showing how each MP voted would be immediately available after the results are announced. But Holland said the administration has also been asked to come up with a way to let onlookers know what's happening in real-time as each MP registers his or her vote. "It's a little bit different than what people are used to," Holland acknowledged in an interview. He said the administration opted for the time-window approach because it's easier to manage technically and faster than conducting a rollcall. It allows an MP who's having trouble connecting or other technical problems to work it out with Commons staff, without holding up voting by everyone else. It also means MPs can resume doing other work as soon as they've voted. "It means we can get done in 10 minutes what would have taken an hour and if we have eight or 10 votes in a row, suddenly all of that time is freed up to do the work that I think people elect us to do," Holland said. NDP House leader Peter Julian said his party supports the use of the voting app to increase efficiency while minimizing the number of MPs in the Commons as the second wave of COVID-19 ravages the country. But he said it's critical that constituents be able to see in real-time how their MPs are voting. "That's a fundamental principle of democracy. Canadians need to know how their members of Parliament are voting," he said in an interview. "Knowing it after the fact is fine ... but it needs to be in place for when we are (in the process of) voting ... This is how democracy functions, with transparency." Bloc Quebecois House leader Alain Therrien said in a statement Wednesday that his party supports using the app. But he stressed the Bloc also believes the Liberal government must get unanimous consent before deploying it. Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell, whose party has been the most reluctant to depart from traditional procedures during the pandemic, declined to comment. Holland said it's "looking really positive" that the government will get unanimous consent for a motion to be introduced as the first order of business Monday. The motion would reinstate until the end of June the hybrid Commons format adopted last fall — a small number of MPs in the chamber while most participate virtually — with the voting app feature to be added as soon as possible. While the app has been tested with each MP individually and with each party caucus, Holland does not expect it to be used immediately by the Commons because it still needs to be tested with all 338 MPs using it simultaneously. That can't be done, he said, until use of the app is approved. Because there was no agreement among parties before Christmas on how the Commons should resume in the new year, all MPs are theoretically scheduled to be back in the chamber Monday. But Holland said party whips are discussing how to keep the number of MPs to the bare minimum needed for quorum: 20, including the Speaker. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press