Quebec's premier held a rare joint news conference alongside the opposition leaders to underscore the severity of the COVID-19 situation in the province and urge residents to follow public health guidelines over the holidays.
Quebec's premier held a rare joint news conference alongside the opposition leaders to underscore the severity of the COVID-19 situation in the province and urge residents to follow public health guidelines over the holidays.
TORONTO — A growing number of Canadian tech businesses are promising to allow their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on company time. At least 35 tech companies in the country, including SkipTheDishes, Borrowell, and FreshBooks, have signed a new pledge from the Council of Canadian Innovators vowing to let their staff slip out of work to get the shot. They say they are keen on giving workers the time because vaccinations are more important than business as usual. The signatories will try to tackle misinformation by providing reliable information from public health agencies about vaccine safety and efficacy to employees. They are promising to share information with staff about where, when and how people can be vaccinated, as soon as the shots are available to the wider population. Canada has so far administered just over 738,000 doses of the vaccine to health-care workers and long-term care home residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
La pandémie et la pénurie de main-d’œuvre ont eu raison d’un autre commerce de la région. La quincaillerie Tremblay-Laroche, établie depuis plus de 25 ans à Saint-Gédéon, ne rouvrira après avoir fermé ses portes le printemps dernier, faute de personnel. Le bâtiment situé au 223, rue de Quen, a été mis en vente. Le personnel restant et l’inventaire ont été transférés à la succursale de Métabetchouan-Lac-à-la-Croix, qui elle aussi vit des heures difficiles en ce qui a trait au personnel. « Malheureusement, on est obligé de fermer la succursale. Deux employés sont partis pendant la première vague de COVID le printemps dernier pour d’autres magasins et on n’a pas été capable de les remplacer », explique le propriétaire, Marc Tremblay. Pénurie de main-d’œuvre Marc Tremblay s’explique mal le fait que malgré un taux de chômage élevé, il soit si difficile de combler des postes aux deux succursales. En deux ans, même les ouvertures de poste pour le magasin de Métabetchouan-Lac-à-la-Croix n’ont pas pris preneurs. « On a de la misère à combler malgré le fait qu’on dise qu’il y a beaucoup de personnes qui ne travaillent pas. Je ne comprends pas grand-chose là-dedans. Avec toutes les annonces qu’on a faites, on n’est pas capable de combler les besoins. On a essayé de toutes les manières. On a fait des parutions Facebook et ici au magasin et on ne réussit pas… », déplore-t-il Année mouvementée L’été dernier, les Québécois se sont adonnés aux travaux de rénovation. L’équipe de plus en plus restreinte du groupe Tremblay-Laroche a été mise à rude épreuve. « L’équipe a dû mettre les bouchées doubles. Avec deux personnes en moins, ça paraît. On a comblé le stock de Métabetchouan avec l’inventaire du magasin de Saint-Gédéon. Ça n’a pas été une année rose », ajoute Marc Tremblay. Questionné à savoir si une lueur d’espoir régnait toujours pour le magasin de Saint-Gédéon, le propriétaire a affirmé qu’il concentrait dorénavant ses efforts sur le magasin de Métabetchouan-Lac-à-la-Croix. « On ne se fait pas d’illusions. On a mis le bâtiment à vendre », souligne-t-il. En novembre 2019, le groupe Tremblay-Laroche, alors affilié à BMR, avait quitté cette bannière pour joindre le groupe Castle en raison de désaccords. « BMR nous imposait des choses qu’on ne voulait pas. On ne se sentait plus chef dans notre propre magasin. Ils nous laissent acheter et faire ce qu’on veut », avait expliqué à l’époque Marc Tremblay. Plus d’un an plus tard, il se dit « très satisfait » de ce changement.Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
TORONTO — After a 10-month investigation, a task force commissioned by the Ontario government has issued a range of sweeping recommendations to reform the province's securities regulator. The Capital Markets Modernization Task Force's 70 recommendations include major governance changes to Ontario Securities Commission, such as establishing an adjudicative body within the OSC to rule on alleged securities act violations. The task force also recommends expanding the agency's mandate to augment its regulatory function, and changing its name to the Ontario Capital Markets Authority. The task force was commissioned in 2019 by Ontario's finance minister, with the goal of encouraging growth and competition in the province's capital markets. In the report, the task force decried the lack of new securities issuers in Ontario, which they warned could lead to fewer head offices and fewer investment growth opportunities in the province. Over the course of its investigation, the task force met with more than 110 different stakeholders as it was developing its recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
A Nepean retirement home where 10 people have died from COVID-19 is the first in the city to begin vaccinating residents and staff against the illness, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says. "As part of Phase 1 of the COVID vaccine rollout in Ottawa, Valley Stream Retirement Home was identified as a high-risk retirement home and the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was made available and administered to staff, essential caregivers and residents on Jan. 17," OPH confirmed Thursday. OPH finished administering the first vaccine doses to residents in long-term care homes in mid-January, but Valley Stream is the first high-risk retirement home to be offered the same opportunity. At a news conference on Wednesday, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said that while second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be delayed for some, one high-risk retirement home and one "congregate home with older adults" would still have a chance to receive first doses of the vaccine. In total, 51 of Valley Stream's 134 residents have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began on Jan. 2. Thirteen of those cases are now considered resolved. Another 27 staff members have also tested positive, 10 of which are now resolved. Jennifer Rose's 80-year-old father Richard Currie lives at Valley Stream, but has tested negative so far. "I'm obviously grateful and thankful that they're getting vaccines, and [with] my dad still testing negative, I'm happy he's getting that protection," Rose said, adding she's sympathetic to families that haven't been so lucky. "I just find it's so hard for the families that did lose somebody to this," she said. "They were close to being able to get that vaccine. It's just heartbreaking that it was almost within their grasp." Cleaning protocols enhanced Revera, which owns numerous long-term care facilities in Ontario and across North America, said it's working closely with OPH to maintain proper protocols and limit the spread of the virus at Valley Stream. "We are doing enhanced cleaning at Valley Stream, frequently disinfecting high touch surfaces like handrails and doors, common areas and staff rooms," the company's chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, wrote. Collins said all residents are being monitored and tested if they show symptoms, while staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts. Visits are restricted to essential caregivers, as well as essential visits for palliative residents. "We recognize how difficult these measures are for residents and their families, and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we put these precautions in place for the safety of our residents," Collins wrote. According to OPH, the recent delay of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "did not impact the administration of vaccines at Valley Stream." Earl Brown, professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, said while it's important to administer the second dose within a specific period of time after the first shot, giving more vulnerable people a single dose may prove the best option — as long as that second dose isn't too far behind. "It really comes down to maximizing your benefit," Brown said. "So numbers-wise, it generally has tended to favour spreading out the first dose and getting the second dose in somewhat of a timely manner. " But while the two vaccines both report higher than 90 per cent effectiveness in stopping the virus, Brown said it's believed they're less effective for older people. "I think the unknowns loom larger with this group."
The Town of Strathmore has reinstated license fees for Strathmore-based businesses in 2021 after waiving them last year, but a rebate could be enacted later in the year if needed. Under the town’s business license bylaw, all businesses are required to hold a valid business license, costing a fee. But this fee was waived for Strathmore-based businesses by town council in February 2020 to attract new businesses to Strathmore and support existing ones. Whether the town should again waive fees for local businesses in 2021 was discussed by town council during the Jan. 13 committee of the whole meeting. Mayor Pat Fule said he brought the issue to the meeting after being contacted by multiple residents concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. The 2021 to 2023 operating budget council passed in November 2020 included about $100,000 in revenue from business fees in 2021. Therefore, if council was again to waive business license fees, the town would need to either raise property taxes or make a transfer from reserves to offset the revenue loss, said Mel Tiede, the town’s director of corporate services, during the meeting. Another consideration in the decision is that the Strathmore Wheatland Chamber of Commerce (SWCC) is funded by licensing fees from SWCC-member businesses, noted Councillor Bob Sobol. The town has already billed more than $60,000 in business license fees this year, said Tiede. Approximately 80 businesses have already paid for licenses. Invoices for business fees are mailed out during the first two weeks of December, with fees due and payable by the last week in January of the current calendar year. Councillor Melanie Corbiell proposed extending the due date for business licensing fees. However, Doug Lagore, the town’s interim chief administrative officer, recommended council stay a decision for now. “If we find that the businesses have to remain shut down for a good portion of the year, we could look at a rebate program sometime during the year if there is a big impact,” he said. “But I think it’s premature at this time. Let’s see what the impact of COVID will be during the year, and deal with it at a later time.” Councillor Lorraine Bauer suggested businesses challenged by the licensing fees could be exempted on an individual basis. Council decided to keep licensing fees in place for now, and the presentation was accepted as information. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Like most residents at her care home in Berlin, 43-year-old Kristina Lang agreed to receive the coronavirus vaccine when her turn came, but not without trepidation. "They only said 'It's a vaccine and nothing will happen', but on TV, people were warned against the side-effects," said Lang, who uses a wheelchair. She is one of 102 residents at the home.
The company that runs a limestone quarry on the Port au Port Peninsula is headed to trial, after pleading not guilty to numerous charges surrounding the 2018 death of one of its workers. A lawyer for Atlantic Minerals entered not guilty pleas in Stephenville provincial court Friday to all 10 charges the company faces under the province's Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to provide workplace procedures and failing to ensure safe workplace procedures were followed. The charges stem from the death of a 55-year-old worker at the quarry in Lower Cove on July 31, 2018. The man, a long-term employee of the company, was fatally injured after an incident during conveyor maintenance. Six days are being set aside for Atlantic Minerals' trial in Stephenville, starting June 14. A supervisor with Atlantic Minerals also faces two charges in relation to the death, of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and failing to provide safety information and instruction. On Friday, the supervisor's lawyer, Andrew May, said his client was not ready to enter in a plea, but that a future not guilty plea was an "unlikely event." That matter has been set over until March. If the supervisor pleads not guilty, he will appear at the same trial as Atlantic Minerals. Atlantic Minerals is headquartered in Corner Brook. According to its website, the company has 130 employees at its Lower Cove operation. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Midland's top staffer says more clarity around enforcement means sterner action by the town against those that disobey stay-at-home orders. "I know there's been a lot of discussion with the health unit around educating people," said CAO David Denault. "The education can only go so far. I think you're going to have to enforce much more strongly. The health unit itself is getting around to some of the areas where we've heard some of the complaints, like the malls. "Unfortunately, we're going to have to start patrolling areas like the toboggan hills and rinks," he added. "If people don't listen, we're going to have to ticket them. If numbers continue to rise as they're predicting, I think there will be a sterner side to enforcement." Until now, said Denault in his update to council this week, the approach was to educate and then enforce. Since Nov. 15, he said bylaw has issued 282 tickets and done 12 tows (non-COVID related). "We really don't want to do that to the public," said Denault. "But to be efficient and make sure we're taking care of our services, we need to do this. Please make sure you move your vehicles so we can get around and take care of the facilities." Coun. Jon Main wanted to know what the town planned for warming centres, considering public buildings are closed due to the stay-at-home orders. "Unfortunately, a lot of our warming centres are municipal facilities, which are not open," he said. "Is it our responsibility to provide warming centres?" Denault said that is one facet municipalities are struggling with. "It is one of the opportunities we have with the rec centre," he said. "We have been able to accommodate some individuals that have come there during frigid times. We'll continue to do that. We'll make sure we connect with our organizations in the community to understand that can be done. The more traditional facilities just aren't able to open." At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Bill Gordon also asked what had become of the YMCA's request for town support in reopening its facility. "I know the YMCA had approached us without a financial ask, but with the indication that there would be something coming," he said. "It looks like we attempted to reach out to them and do something that didn't work out so I wonder if we could talk a little bit about that." Denault said all municipal CAOs had met up with the YMCA to discuss what they would need and to share with them options their municipalities may be able to bring forward with council approval. "There were no offers made," he said, adding he couldn't share any numbers due to a request of confidentiality by the Y. "At the end of the day, the YMCA determined they could best address their needs on their own. "We did leave them with the option that if they do require some assistance from the municipality, we can be engaged to help out," said Denault. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
HALIFAX — The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation. Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. The inquiry has also appointed a community liaison, a mental health expert, an investigations co-ordinator and an expert in charge of research. "We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the commission said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the commission in order to fulfil its mandate and we want the best people to help us in this process." The other team members include: — Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women. — Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S. — Mental health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction. — Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia's mental health and addictions program. The independent federal-provincial inquiry, which has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents, is expected to produce an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is looking at ways to strengthen the vetting process for the next governor general after his choice for the job — Julie Payette — resigned yesterday following reports she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall. Trudeau faced multiple questions from reporters today about the vetting process he followed in appointing Payette back in 2017, and the red flags raised by former employers about her behaviour. "Obviously the vetting process that was in place was followed, but obviously we're going to also look at ways we can strengthen and improve the vetting process for high-level appointments," he said outside his home at Rideau Cottage, not far from Rideau Hall. "We are looking right now at processes that can be strengthened as we move forward and we will have more to say on that as we make decisions." WATCH | Trudeau is asked why Payette wasn't thoroughly vetted before being appointed GG In an unprecedented move, Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, resigned Thursday after an outside workplace review of Rideau Hall probed allegations she had belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff. "Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed," the former astronaut wrote in her statement. A senior government source (speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly) said about 100 public servants took part in the outside review. The report concluded it was an overwhelmingly toxic and poisonous workplace and the two people at the very top, Payette and Di Lorenzo, were responsible for it, the source said. PM and Queen spoke today The source also said Payette received parts of the report that pertained to her on Monday and that the clerk of the Privy Council and Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc had a tense conversation with her on Tuesday. Speaking from prepared remarks, Trudeau said he spoke to the Queen Friday morning and let her know Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner will fulfil the duties of the governor general — her representative in Canada — on a temporary basis. He said a recommendation on Payette's replacement is coming. Trudeau was asked repeatedly today about his decision to not use a selection committee in 2017, something his predecessor implemented. "We will continue to the look at the best way to select people for the vice regal appointments. It is an important role for Canadians and we'll look at how we can improve it," he said. WATCH Jagmeet Singh on Payette resignation Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell said this could have been avoided if Trudeau hadn't shunned the Harper-era committee. "This is all sad, but it's so Justin Trudeau's style," he said. "He thinks that he knows better than anybody else, than the special committee created by the Conservatives. But we were right at that time. We made the right decision, he did the wrong decision and unfortunately, today we paid a price for this mess." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh suggested other parties be brought into the process of selecting the official 30th governor general. "The system is deeply problematic in that the federal government, whoever's in power, can choose who they want," he said Friday morning. "I think there would be a great benefit in having a better system...so that the selection is not just a government appointment, but it's something that is done in a manner that is more fair." Questions about annuity Payette will collect a six-figure annuity for the rest of her life, a tradition critics are calling into question given the report on the Rideau Hall workplace climate — a report LeBlanc said came to some "disturbing" and "worrisome" conclusions. Under the Governor General's Act, former vice-regals are entitled to a lifetime annuity — which, according to the 2020 Public Accounts, amounts to $149,484. They are also entitled to a lifetime expense program for office and travel expenses. Documents obtained by the National Post in 2018 show that each former governor general is allowed to claim up to $206,000 per year under the program, which has existed since 1979 and is based on the notion that governors general never truly retire. "This country has very clear rules and regulations and processes and procedures in place to follow in these cases of reporting expenses, or indeed on annuities for governor generals," Trudeau said Friday. "Those processes will be followed, but obviously we're always open to having discussions on changes that need to be made moving forward." A spokesperson for the NDP said that if there's a way to cancel Payette's annuity, New Democrats would support it since Payette failed to provide a harassment-free workplace for her workers. WATCH | Trudeau is asked about the annuity Julie Payette will receive after her resignation "With respect to the annuity, I think that Canadians, rightly so, are concerned that given this report and how horrible the workers were treated, that this doesn't sit well with people," said Singh. In a statement, the outspoken Canadian Taxpayers Federation called on the Liberal government to change the way former governors general are paid. "With the resignation of Julie Payette, now is the time for this government to ensure that taxpayers are not on the hook for the expense accounts of former governors general," said Aaron Wudrick, the advocacy group's director. "Two years ago, the prime minister said he would 'review' this program. Nothing has happened since. It's time to save taxpayers money by scrapping this outrageously wasteful program." In 2018, following reports that Adrienne Clarkson had billed more than $1 million in expenses since leaving the viceregal job, Trudeau called for more transparency. "These are people who've stepped up and offered tremendous service to this country but Canadians expect a certain level of transparency and accountability, and we're going to make sure we're moving forward in a thoughtful way," he said. A spokesperson for the Privy Council said the final cost of the Quintet Consulting review was $393,367.13, nearly four times higher than the original value of the contract. The original terms of reference of the contract did say the amount could change depending on how long the review took.
The real estate market saw “exceptional” sales activity in the Waterloo Region last year. Home sales in 2020 exceeded the “6,000-unit threshold for only the third time in our history,” said Nicole Pohl, President of Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS in a media announcement. December also marked “the sixth consecutive month of record home sales in Kitchener-Waterloo,” she added. KWAR reported a nine per cent increase in residential home sales compared to 2019. Sales rose five per cent over the five year average and 11.6 per cent above the ten-year average. December 351 home sales were the highest ever recorded by the group, with 42 per cent more home sales compared to last year. This included 204 detached (up by 46.7 per cent), and 63 condominium-style semi-detached, townhome, apartment and detached units, which were up 34 per cent. KWAR reported 3,899 detached residential units sold in 2020 (up 8.1 per cent), and 804 condominium units (up 19 per cent), compared to last year. Sales also included 450 semi-detached homes (up 6.8 per cent) and 1,346 freehold townhouses (up 7 per cent), they add.“On a year-to-date basis, the average sale price of all residential properties sold in 2020 increased by 16.1 per cent to $612,521 compared to 2019,” they report. “Detached homes sold for an average price of $719,203, an increase of 16.9 per cent compared to 2019.” Low inventory was reported to be a factor in Waterloo Region, much like the rest of Ontario. The average time on market remained less than one month through most of the year, KWAR reported. The average days on market for homes sold in 2020 was 16 days, compared to a 5-year average of 27 days. For context, the average time of residential homes on the market between 2011 and 2015, KWAR reported, averaged 4months. “Looking to the year ahead, we should expect more of the same” Pohl predicted. “Real estate continues to be one of the shining lights supporting the Ontario economy, so we do not expect to see any significant efforts to try to cool the market. Buyers should continue to expect stiff competition in Waterloo Region.” Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times
CORNWALL – COVID-19 infection numbers are continuing to slowly decline in the region as provincial lock-down and Stay-at-Home measures remain in place. Since Monday, the active case count has decreased by nearly 100 people. The province announced Wednesday that students in seven health units, including neighbouring Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit will return to in-person learning on January 25th. Students in this region will continue to learn remotely for now. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said Thursday that keeping students in the region learning remotely for now was the right call. "I think it was the right call, looking at the numbers," he said adding that he thought schools could reopen soon. "Despite the fact that [the numbers] are going downwards, we're still pretty high in the Red Zone." According to the province's COVID-19 colour-coded restriction framework, the Red-Control zone is defined as a rolling seven-day average of 40 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Roumeliotis said he was encouraged the region is going in the right direction. The seven-day average for new cases peaked on January 9th with 152.2 per 100,000 people. As of January 21st, the average was 84.1 per 100,000 people. Roumeliotis said the determining factor in schools returning to in-person learning was that the region had to be clearly in the Orange-Restrict zone, or below 40 cases per 100,000 people. "If the trends continue, we can be there by the time [the province] re-evaluates," he said. The provincial Stay-at-Home order is in place until February 11th. As of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's January 21st update, there are 544 active COVID-19 infections in the region. Locally, South Dundas has four active cases, and 24 cases overall. North Dundas has 12 active cases, 51 cases overall. The City of Cornwall continues to have a highest number of active cases with 226 people infected. The city's tally of overall cases stands at 597. In all, there have been 2,297 COVID-19 cases in the EOHU region since the pandemic began. Currently there are 15 facilities listed by the EOHU as having a COVID-19 related outbreak. None of those facilities are in Dundas County. Roumeliotis said that of those 15 facilities, most have been declared as being in an outbreak due to staff contracting the virus. Only three facilities have residents who tested positive. GlenStorDun Lodge in Cornwall and a Long-Term Care Home in Lancaster are two that have residents who tested positive. At the Lancaster LTC home, at least nine people have died from COVID-19 related illness. The region's death toll has increased to 48. More people have died in the second wave of the pandemic in the EOHU region than in the first. There are 23 people hospitalized, six are in intensive care. Nearly 1,600 people have been vaccinated so far in the EOHU, but due to production cuts by Pfizer, deliveries of the vaccine will stop for a week. The health unit plans on pausing its vaccination plans once its own supply has run out, and will restart once new shipments are received. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
BRUCE COUNTY – Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce medical officer of health, addressed Bruce County council on Jan. 14 with an update on the COVID-19 situation including vaccinations. Arra said the most recent projections locally indicate the surge in cases over the holidays is over, and numbers are heading back to where they were, “with four to six or seven” cases per day reported. The surge had been expected, due to holiday gatherings. The situation across the province is completely different, Arra said. It shows a gradual but steady increase that does not corelate to the holidays or current lockdown, and is presently about 3,000 per day. “Fifty per cent of hospital ICUs are at capacity,” he said, adding that this is expected to continue for four to six weeks. As for the vaccine, “Today (Jan. 14) we received 200 doses.” Another 800 doses are expected to arrive the last week of January. Both are going to the long-term care sector, said Arra. That includes residents, staff and essential caregivers. The priority in the province, he said, has been “hot spots” – which Grey-Bruce definitely is not. County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, asked if it is true the general public probably will not be vaccinated until April or May. Arra confirmed it, stating the province plans to vaccinate in three phases, with the first phase, for the most vulnerable, completed by March, the second phase for essential workers following that, and the third phase being everyone else. “It’s estimated phases two and three will not be completed,” he said, and will end when the pandemic ends, when herd immunity is achieved. County Coun. Robert Buckle, mayor of South Bruce, asked if the vaccination will provide lifetime immunity. Arra answered that no one knows the answer to that one yet. At present, it seems likely the vaccine will be “somewhere between the flu and measles,” and will last between one and three years, rather like pertussis. County Coun. Luke Charbonneau asked when the vaccine “will be in arms” and why the stay-at-home order was needed in Grey-Bruce. The answer for the first part was easy – immediately, or as soon as is practical. The second part was more complicated. Strict lockdowns have proved effective in other jurisdictions, such as Australia and France. While the numbers in Grey-Bruce remain relatively low compared to the rest of the province, meaning a lockdown wouldn’t have been needed here “if we were an island.” However, the fact is we are not an island. Arra said others would have come to our area, bringing COVID-19 with them. Before the lockdown, hockey teams from outside the area were beginning to rent ice time here. Arra responded to a question from Warden Janice Jackson, mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, by saying it’s the Pfizer vaccine (the one that must be stored at extremely cold temperatures) that’s coming to Grey-Bruce, and all of it will be used as soon as possible, since more is coming by the time the second dose needs to be administered. , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Frontline health care workers in Strathmore had a bit of extra time following their long shifts last week thanks to an initiative to provide them with a free meal. The meals were provided by the Calgary Health Foundation, a charity that raises money for health care across the City of Calgary and surrounding communities. The initiative, called Feed the Frontline, started after the organization started to receive requests from the community for ways to show gratitude to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, explained Valerie Ball, director of marketing, communications and community engagement with the organization. “I think over the last couple of months, health care workers have been tirelessly putting everything that they have into providing care and fighting COVID-19 and ensuring that we are taken well care of,” said Ball. “So, people just really wanted a way to give back and give thanks.” The meals, from Sunterra Market in Calgary, were offered to staff members working in hospital and community health centres, in Calgary and 16 surrounding communities, said Ball. “It’s just to give them a night off, after everything they put into work every single day, whether it’s to fill their belly and rejuvenate or maybe spend some more time with their family.” Feed the Frontline provided health care workers in the region 21,000 meals in total, including 325 meals to health care workers living in Strathmore. The meals are a welcome relief, said Shayla Noel, a pre-triage screener at the Strathmore Hospital. “We do get pretty busy and it’s exhausting some days, so to be recognized is just touching,” said Noel. “I know everyone who is being recognized is very appreciative.” Work in the hospital has been busy, but everyone can still be seen, said Jarrett Fawdry, Strathmore Hospital site manager. “COVID is an old hat now – with our enhanced infection prevention and control measures, we’re very comfortable inside with what we’re doing to protect our patients in the community.” With meal prep and cooking out of the way for a night, Fawdry said he would spend some extra time with his kids, while Noel said she “might go to bed early.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Friday he wanted it known that he had no plans to commit suicide in prison, as he issued a message of support to his followers on the eve of protests the authorities say are illegal. Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying home for the first time since being poisoned with what the West says was a military-grade nerve agent that Navalny says was applied to his underpants by state security agents. The 44-year-old lawyer, in a Moscow prison pending the outcome of four legal matters he describes as trumped up, accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering his attempted murder.
Malgré lui, le propriétaire du Centre du sport Lac-St-Jean Mathieu Tremblay se retrouve incapable de faire arriver au pays les trois travailleurs étrangers qu’il a pourtant embauchés il y a un an. Il ne manque que l’autorisation du gouvernement fédéral qui selon lui, tarde à apposer sa signature. La main-d’œuvre se fait si rare dans le domaine des mécaniciens de véhicules récréatifs que le Centre du sport Lac-St-Jean a entamé des démarches il y a trois ans pour recruter des travailleurs étrangers. En décembre 2019, ces démarches ont pratiquement porté fruit. Trois Philippins, deux mécaniciens et un conseiller aux pièces ont donc été embauchés par l’entreprise spécialisée dans la vente et la réparation de VTT et de motoneiges. La pandémie et le manque de reconnaissance du secteur d’emploi sont venus compliquer les choses. « Tout ce qu’il manque, c’est une signature du gouvernement fédéral », assure Mathieu Tremblay. Secteur peu reconnu Il déplore que certains domaines tels que la mécanique automobile et la mécanique industrielle aient plus de facilité à recruter des travailleurs étrangers, malgré la pandémie. « Je pense que les domaines de la vente de véhicules récréatifs et la mécanique de véhicules légers ne sont pas reconnus à leur juste valeur. On n’est pas un sous métier. À l’échelle du Québec, c’est un secteur qui vend 200 000 véhicules chaque année », soutient-il, rappelant que cette pénurie de main-d’œuvre ne touche pas que l’entreprise jeannoise. Pénurie de main-d’œuvre Malgré des affichages de postes partout au Québec, l’aide d’Emploi Québec et l’embauche d’une agence de placement, l’entreprise n’a pas été en mesure de pourvoir les postes vacants. « Des mécaniciens, c’est pratiquement impossible à trouver aujourd’hui. Dans une région comme la nôtre, pratiquement tout le monde a un véhicule récréatif. C’est sûr qu’avec moins de personnel, les réparations et l’entretien prennent plus de temps. » Mathieu Tremblay connaît bien les Philippines. Ayant lui-même voyagé à deux reprises dans ce pays, il a adopté deux enfants qui y sont originaires. L’embauche des trois Philippins est une agréable coïncidence qu’il souhaite bientôt voir se réaliser. « Ils attendent, ils se posent beaucoup de questions. Ils ont hâte de venir ici. Ce sont des professionnels. Au niveau de la main-d’œuvre mécanique, ils sont réputés au niveau international. »Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
In this David and Goliath story, David threw a dozen rocks, but couldn’t knock the giant down. David Strachan, treasurer of the Midhurst Ratepayers Association, who fought against the Geranium company’s plans to build two large subdivisions in the small village 10-minutes north of Barrie, is still bitter. “If we’d have thrown lots of money at it in the first place, we might have stood a chance,” Strachan said after news of the bulldozers arriving on-site at the Carson Road subdivision was released last week. But after fighting the good fight and raising more than $250,000 for legal fees and professional planners to oppose 2,500 new homes in their neighbourhood, Strachan and company realized their 12-year battle is over. In 2008, the initial plan for the Midhurst Carson Road development was approved by the township and later by the Ontario Municipal Board, the County of Simcoe, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, and several provincial agencies in 2014. It took five more years for the environmental assessment to be approved by the ministry of the environment, conservation and parks in 2019. Water and storm water management work was approved in 2020. Last December, council gave the green light for Phase 1 of the subdivision of 342 homes to begin. A bulldozer sits on the former farmland at the top of Anne Street North, where snowmobilers currently race through a small tract of trees that will remain standing. Inside the cold work trailer, site supervisor Dominic Palombi hunches down inside his coat and pulls out the site drawings of the new subdivision that will be his work address for the foreseeable future. "We start building Monday (Jan. 25)," he said. “We’ll start with the sewers for the subdivision and we’ll start building the sales office there,” added Palombi, pointing to the snow-covered field. “It’s going to be big.” Stretching between Carson Road on the south, along Wilson Drive on the west and near Snow Valley Road on the north, Palombi’s not wrong. There are expected to be more than 340 detached and semi-detached houses available to preview schematically at least this summer, said Geranium spokesperson Cheryl Shindruk. “We expect 2,500 units approximately at full build,” she continued, explaining the Doran Road site will be built along Carson Road in the future. Shindruk won’t comment on the lengthy timeline it took to push the subdivisions through the roadblocks, other than to say “development approval takes the time it needs to take.” President of the Midhurst ratepayers group, Sandy Buxton, said it wasn’t a case of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard), but also to save Minesing Wetlands which border the property. Also at stake are the Hine’s Emerald Dragonflies, which only nest in a few places in Canada, including the Springwater wetlands, she said. “It’s a very fussy animal in terms of the habitat it requires,” said Buxton. “It’s a fragile beast … which is classed as an endangered animal, not just provincially but also federally.” Nicole Audette, Springwater’s communications officer, said it was just one of many requirements that had to be satisfied before the work project could be approved. “The completion of the environmental assessment was a significant condition that needed to be satisfied to ensure the Midhurst developments could be serviced with significant consideration for the environment,” said Audette. It also included jumping through a slew of technical hoops, such as engineering design, species at risk assessments and environmental impact studies, in addition to requiring securities to ensure funding will be available to complete work in accordance with municipal regulations. As soon as weather permits, tree clearing and the installation of services including the watermains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and a stormwater management pond will begin. For more information, visit www.springwater.ca Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
A framed arrangement of quilt blocks made of material from masks, gowns and scrub caps is now on display in the lobby at Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH). The unique piece reflects the fabric of a community that came together to make masks, gowns and scrub caps for hospital staff shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Through the donation of fabric, buttons, pipe cleaners, elastic, thread and financial contributions by the community, the Campbellford Mask Makers sewed and donated close to 2,000 pieces to the hospital in a time when Personal Protective Equipment was in short supply, the hospital noted in a news release. CMH called the artwork a “piece of COVID history.” “We will be forever grateful to this community for helping to protect our staff and patients during the early days of this pandemic,” said Paul Nichols, chair of CMH’s board of directors. “These quilt blocks are a testament to the caring, giving and compassion of volunteers in Trent Hills and the surrounding area. They represent the collaborative efforts of a great many individuals who participated in the making and donation of masks, caps and gowns to CMH during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020.” Cathy Redden, co-ordinator of the Campbellford Mask Makers, said the project exceeded the group’s expectations and was a meaningful experience for many of its participants. “This project had results that reached far and beyond our goal of providing the hospital with needed supplies,” Redden said. “It gave many of us a reason to get up and dressed in the morning. While short in its duration, this project had a lasting impact on the surrounding community, our hospital and those who have participated in it.” CMH also gave thanks to Campbellford’s 2777 Northumberland unit of the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. and all of the community members who made masks, provided material or supported the project through financial contributions. “CMH staff are forever grateful to be part of such a wonderful community,” the release stated Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The Alberta government has relaxed some of the public health measures enacted in December to stop the spread of COVID-19. Despite these changes, Alberta’s case numbers and hospitalizations remain high, and continue to pose a threat to healthcare system capacity, said Health Minister Tyler Shandro, during a Jan. 14 government press conference. “When we introduced new mandatory health measures in December, we did so with a goal to limiting as much in-person interaction as possible, and the point was to minimize exposure to the virus,” said Shandro. “Today, we can’t entirely ease up on this goal, but we can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities.” As of Jan. 18, outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed. Personal and wellness services are also now allowed to reopen, by appointment only. This includes a variety of businesses, including hair salons, barber shops, aesthetics, manicure and pedicure businesses, reflexology, piercing and tattoo shops, among others. Maximum funeral ceremony attendance was increased to 20 people, but funeral receptions are still prohibited. Trends of the virus will be assessed to determine if restrictions can be eased further. “I want to stress to everyone that while we are actively looking at what restrictions we are able to ease, over the weeks ahead, in order to make any further changes we need everyone’s cooperation to stay within the rules,” said Shandro. “If we continue to see case rates, hospitalizations and our ICU admissions continue to slow down and go down, we will continue to open things up.” School reporting changes The province is also changing how cases in schools are reported. As of Jan. 18, a school with one to four cases of COVID-19 will receive an “alert” status, while if more than five cases are detected, a school will receive “outbreak” status. There will be two categories of outbreaks, for schools with five to nine cases and for 10 or more cases, and the “watch” status will no longer be used. This change is to terminology only and will not affect how AHS is supporting schools or responding to cases. The province will continue to report schools on the COVID-19 school map when two or more cases are identified. Parents will still be notified if there is a single case in their child’s school. As of Jan. 18, across the province there are two outbreaks (both five to nine cases) and 29 alerts in schools, according to the COVID-19 school status map. However, none of these schools are in Strathmore or Wheatland County. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times