Quebec Premier Francois Legault says most of the province's COVID-19 restrictions will be extended past Feb. 8. Legault said the situation in the province has improved in recent weeks but hospitalizations remain too high.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault says most of the province's COVID-19 restrictions will be extended past Feb. 8. Legault said the situation in the province has improved in recent weeks but hospitalizations remain too high.
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) COVID-19 levels are declining from the devastating peaks of the second wave across much of Canada, but experts say the threat of more contagious coronavirus variants threatens to jeopardize our ability to prevent a third wave. Canada has close to 850 confirmed cases of the variants first identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, with at least six provinces now reporting community transmission — meaning there's probably a lot more spreading beneath the surface than we know. But as variant cases increase, overall COVID-19 numbers have dropped steadily in Canada, with just over 31,000 active cases across the country, and an average of about 2,900 new cases and 54 deaths daily. "Overall, we're still doing well," Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said during a news conference on Tuesday. "But things could change rapidly." So, is Canada destined for a third wave? Or will we be able to adequately respond to the threat of variants spreading across the country to avoid one altogether? Parts of the country that have seen notable declines in cases have recently moved to reopen non-essential businesses and lift lockdowns in the face of fast-spreading variants, despite public health officials cautioning against doing so. WATCH | Federal modelling warns COVID-19 cases will rise with variants: Is a 3rd wave in Canada inevitable? Much like the first and second waves of the pandemic in Canada, the situation varies greatly across the country for a number of different reasons — ranging from geographic and demographic to political. But even provinces and territories that have had fewer COVID-19 cases are still at high risk of devastating outbreaks, overwhelmed health-care systems and severe outcomes for vulnerable populations if variants spread rapidly. Tam said Newfoundland and Labrador is a cautionary tale for the rest of Canada, where an outbreak of the variant first identified in the U.K., also known as B117, led to a spike in new cases in the community during a time when public health measures were "less stringent." "Provincial health authorities knew something was different when cases escalated over a matter of days, even before laboratory evidence confirmed the presence of the B117 variant," she said. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with Toronto General Hospital, said variants have made it hard for anyone to predict the likelihood of a bad third wave of the pandemic in Canada with any degree of confidence. "When you factor in variants of concern and you factor in not enough immunity in the population to protect ourselves, it's clear that a third wave is certainly a possibility," he said. "But I wouldn't say it's an inevitability." Storm clouds are pictured above a shipping vessel moored in English Bay in Vancouver on Jan. 25. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist with Toronto General Hospital, says a third wave of the pandemic is possible but not inevitable. Bogoch said the likelihood of a third wave depends on how Canadians respond to the loosening of restrictions and the increase in opportunities to mingle together and get into situations where the virus can more easily be transmitted. "It also completely depends on how the provincial governments and the public health authorities choose to reopen their provinces and their ability to rapidly react to a rise in cases," said Bogoch, a member of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force. "It doesn't mean you have to stay locked down until everyone is vaccinated. It just means that as places reopen, they have to be extremely careful, proceed very slowly and be able to rapidly pivot if there's any indication that there are cases plateauing or rising." What is the likelihood of a 3rd wave in Canada? Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says that based on what we know right now, a third wave is "mathematically inevitable" in Canada because of three key factors. The first is we know what third waves typically look like from previous pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which saw a brutal third wave during the winter and spring of 1919 — around the same point of the pandemic we're in now. Deonandan said societal behaviour is another factor that could lead to a more severe third wave if variants drive outbreaks as restrictions lift and Canadians don't strictly adhere to public health guidelines. And the third factor is variants, which Deonandan said could be the driving "mechanism" for a devastating third wave in Canada given the extent to which they've already spread in recent weeks. But he said the likelihood of a bad third wave could change with two major caveats. "The first is: It is avoidable with sufficient public health response and precautionary action, but our history shows us that most governments are unwilling to do the hard public health response, and most populations are unwilling to tolerate that level of action," he said. "The second caveat is of course vaccination." The good news is that vaccines have not only been shown to be effective in the real world in reducing severe outcomes from COVID-19 but also in potentially curbing virus transmission. A nurse prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on Dec. 22. Experts say we may not be able to vaccinate enough of the population fast enough in Canada to adequately slow the spread of variants in time before they take over. But the catch is we may not be able to vaccinate enough of the population fast enough in Canada to adequately slow the spread of variants in time before they take over. "It's a race against time. We want to get the vaccines out there now, before variants get in," said Dr. Anna Banerji, a physician and infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "I really believe that we can get on top of this if we get people vaccinated and then make modifications to the vaccines as we need to." Banerji said even if Canada has a third wave, it likely won't be as bad as previous waves because she feels Canadians have learned tough lessons in the pandemic — such as in December, when people gathered over the holidays and cases skyrocketed. WATCH | How vaccines can keep up with coronavirus variants: "People see that our individual actions have an impact on the outcome, and so I think while people may feel disempowered, they're realizing that their behaviour really does count," she said. "Once we get the vaccines out, things will change and we'll start opening things up. So I'm still optimistic for the future, even if there's a lot of fear out there." How bad could a 3rd wave be in Canada? Deonandan said that while Canada may not be able to completely "vaccinate our way out of a third wave," it could look completely different than waves we've seen in the past. "What might happen is that our third wave is very high in cases but not as high in deaths, because we have done a pretty good job in vaccinating our long-term care centres if nothing else, and that's where a large proportion of our deaths come from," he said. "But hospitalizations might be a different matter." Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said once those at highest risk are vaccinated, including seniors living in the community and in long-term care, hospitalizations will likely decrease. "But people are going to worry if we open up, we're just going to get tons of cases," he said. "Yes — but they're not going to be severe." Chakrabarti said if Canada sees a smaller third wave, or "wavelet," the health-care system might be able to "absorb" the impact of COVID-19 better than previous waves and avoid becoming completely overwhelmed. A nurse tends to a patient suspected of having COVID-19 in the ICU of a Toronto hospital in May. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says if Canada sees a smaller third wave, or 'wavelet,' the health-care system might be able to 'absorb' the impact of COVID-19 better than previous waves. South Africa recently saw a notable decline in COVID-19 cases despite the variant first identified there driving a spike in transmission, which could bode well for other countries hoping to control that variant from spreading. But experts caution that a decline in cases could be short lived, as evidenced by countries hit hard by B117, such as Portugal, Spain, Ireland and the U.K., that later saw an even greater spike in cases driven by the variant. If Canada is hit by a third wave, Bogoch said it's likely that community-dwelling seniors and racialized communities will be disproportionately harmed. "We know how to prevent this from happening. We have the tools that work, we know how to do this, we can prevent a third wave," he said. "There's no reason to have a third wave. There's no reason to have another lockdown. This is not related to the virus, and we have enough information about how this virus is transmitted. This is truly based on policy." Deonandan said while he agrees that a third wave could be prevented, he's all but convinced Canada is destined to face one because of a lack of political will from parts of the country that are already pushing to reopen. "It's highly likely. I think we could do heroic things to avoid it, but we won't," he said. "But what is uncertain is what the hospitalization and death toll of a third wave will be — it might not be as severe."
(Radio-Canada - image credit) Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to make public all documents related to how his father handled the aftermath of the PQ's provincial election victory in 1976. In an interview with CBC News, St-Pierre Plamondon said his party will table a motion in Quebec's National Assembly calling for the documents to be turned over. "The demand we will make in the National Assembly through a motion will be specific to that event," he said. St-Pierre Plamondon's call comes after CBC News revealed the existence of once-secret U.S. State Department documents that shed new light on how Pierre Trudeau's government responded to the sovereignist PQ's rise to power in 1976. In a telegram dated Dec. 22, 1976, little more than a month after René Lévesque became premier, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Enders said Trudeau may be taking a more aggressive approach to dealing with the fledgling PQ government. Enders said Paul Desmarais, head of Power Corporation and one of Quebec's top business leaders, told him Trudeau had suggested that Desmarais "make it as tough as possible" for the PQ government by transferring jobs out of Quebec and increasing unemployment. Power Corporation says it didn't move jobs out of Quebec at the time. The State Department records were declassified several years ago and recently republished as part of the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series. Canadian federal cabinet minutes for the period have been made public — but it is not known how many other memos, letters, telegrams or other documents concerning that period remain behind closed doors. Pierre Trudeau turned over extensive records to Library and Archives Canada but much of that collection remains closed, with access granted only to researchers who have the permission of his estate. Assessments vary on how much weight to give the U.S. State Department documents. Jean-François Lisée, who scoured thousands of U.S government documents for his book In the Eye of the Eagle — and who went on to lead the PQ — said the documents are a bombshell that reveal how far Pierre Trudeau was prepared to go to counter the sovereignist government. Former Trudeau cabinet minister Marc Lalonde, meanwhile, said the ambassador's account of his conversation with Desmarais didn't agree with what the government was telling business leaders at the time, or with his own conversations with Desmarais. The U.S. State Department documents say Paul Desmarais told the U.S. ambassador Pierre Trudeau had suggested he make things tough for the new PQ government in 1976. Ted Johnson, a former Trudeau aide who went on to become an executive with Power Corporation, said he doesn't believe Trudeau would have suggested that Desmarais move jobs out of Quebec. "The idea that Pierre would have been suggesting that people engage in that kind of subterfuge — keep your framework but move things out — I can't imagine him ever suggesting that," said Johnson, who serves as vice-chair of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. St-Pierre Plamondon, however, said he believes the telegram sent by Enders is an accurate account of what Desmarais said. "The human brain, the memory is not designed to have accurate memories of facts that happened 40 years ago," said the PQ leader. "That's why documents are more useful." Plamondon said the documents also cite specific unemployment figures. "That doesn't look like something that has been cited out of context — especially when it comes to American diplomacy, because Americans had no interest in the promotion in the independence of Quebec," he said. "They had no interest in inventing information." While some dismiss the documents as old history, St-Pierre Plamondon said they are typical of a political attitude toward Quebec that persists — a willingness to weaken Quebec's economy in the name of national unity. "Fear was a determinant factor in how the (federalists) won the two referendums and that fear is induced by measures like moving jobs away from Quebec (or), threatening to do so," he said. Bloc Québécois MP Stéphane Bergeron, who raised the issue in the House of Commons Tuesday, said he was "a bit scandalized but not really surprised" when he read the State Department documents. "For a number of years we have had indicators that the federal government deliberately doesn't favour — even goes so far as to disadvantage Quebec's economy," he said, adding the documents offer proof. Bergeron said the federal government's economic discrimination against Quebec has continued over the years in everything from shipbuilding to textiles, and in what he called Ottawa's failure to stand up strongly for the supply management system. Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at email@example.com.
(Submitted by the Bennett family - image credit) John Bennett and his family take a picture before quarantining. It's a nightmare scenario for many families in Newfoundland contending with the latest rise in COVID-19 numbers: Parents testing positive and having to divide their home for self-isolation, all while taking care of young children. For one St. John's family that's already a reality. John Bennett's 10-year-old son, John, has cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease. Last week, Bennett, his wife Gillian, and their other son Noah, 6, all tested positive for COVID-19. Bennett initially booked a swab after visiting Bigs Ultimate Sports Grill in Mount Pearl, around the time the B117 variant started its spread through the metro region. While his first test came back negative, Bennett said he and his wife developed symptoms a few days later. "She just wasn't feeling all that well — a little bit under the weather," said Bennett. A day after her test, she got the result: positive. Bennett said the news came as a shock to his family, and soon after, he and his two sons got tested as well. Bennett's returned positive that time, though both of his sons' results came back negative. Noah was tested again on Monday, and the result came back positive. The Bennetts have two boys, John and Noah. John, the oldest, has cystic fibrosis. Right away, the family tried to divide the house, with Bennett's sons, wife, and himself each taking separate parts of the home. But having young kids, especially one with a lung condition like cystic fibrosis, made staying apart a challenge. "It feels like a bit of a yo-yo effect. At one moment you're feeling OK, the next minute emotions are kind of all over the place," said Bennett. "You're trying to take care of yourself, you're also trying to take care of your kids, your wife, and then trying to figure out some logistics of all living in the house together." Cystic fibrosis heightening anxiety Bennett's foremost worry at the moment is John falling ill, too. Since the pandemic began last year, Bennett said, they've learned a little more about how the virus affects those living with cystic fibrosis. "I'm certainly not minimizing it whatsoever, but from what we've seen over the last year, it doesn't necessarily have a bigger impact," Bennett said. While there's no evidence to show conditions like cystic fibrosis make individuals more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, people with the condition may be susceptible to more serious symptoms. Meals delivered by friends and family have been a big help, says Bennett. Bennett described his son as healthy and active, a kid who diligently follows a cystic fibrosis treatment regimen. The uncertainty of the virus, however, is still a cause of concern. "It's been worrying. We don't want him to have it," Bennett said. "But if he does have it, and sometimes I guess you just have to mentally prepare yourself for those things, we'll deal with it the best we can." John was tested again this week and his results came back negative: welcome news for Bennett and his family. For the time being, Bennett said John is in isolation with plenty of games to keep him entertained. "He's been in kind of his own isolation mode; he's got his Xbox, and he's got some friends online that just kept him company and whatnot." A father's advice? Get tested While they never expected the pandemic to hit so close to home, Bennett said, they shared their story over social media in order to keep friends and family informed, and encourage others to get tested. "I tested negative and had some symptoms probably three or four days after. Hindsight is 20/20. I should have probably gotten retested," said Bennett. His overall message is no matter how mild your symptoms may be, he hopes others take them seriously. Bennett, whose family has been vocal about John's condition in the past, said they've received overwhelming support. "All of the support from family and friends to be quite honest with you has helped us get through this," he said. "Messages of support, food being dropped off, snacks being dropped off. Just the outreach has kind of left us sometimes a little bit speechless." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Italian brands Missoni and Fendi kicked off the first day of Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, with designers once again forced to swap the buzzing catwalks for digital presentations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for its zig-zag "Fiammato", or flamed, pattern and colourful designs, Missoni was the first fashion house to stream a video of its latest womenswear, blending clothes for autumn/winter with those for spring/summer. Filmed at Milan's Assago Forum, a venue that has been shut for months, models re-enacted social gatherings from bowling games to catch-ups with friends.
(Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit) Although Pink Shirt Day is this coming Friday, that didn't stop some students who are out of school this week in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., to celebrate the day a little early. Last Friday, students at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School posted reminders to be kind throughout the community in honour of the day that is celebrated nationally with people wearing pink shirts to show they are against bullying. "The kids have come up with some great ideas and some great positive words and blurbs and quotes to be put out there. Together we've all created some pink ice bricks, put some posts in them, so these positivity signs spread kindness throughout all of Ulukhaktok," said Sandra Summers, a teacher at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School who, along with her fellow teachers, is on professional development this week. Two students from Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. show the signs they made to celebrate Pink Shirt Day. Each sign the students made were in English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases of kindness. Summers and Kathy Blouin both teach kids in composite classes of grades two to four. Pink Shirt Day started in Nova Scotia in 2007 with one small act of kindness. For the teachers, it was important that the kids be educated about the day and celebrated it even though they aren't in school. "It fits in really well with our health unit right now with mental health and emotional well being ... our goal is to bring kindness to these kids and then for these kids to then go on and spread kindness throughout the community." 'Our words are powerful' The pink signs were written in both English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases like "throw kindness around like confetti" and "kindness is among us." Students worked on it throughout the week, and posted them throughout the community on Friday with help of the RCMP. "So ideally, when somebody when someone walks into the Co-op or the Northern [store], they are going to see one of the signs and it will make their day," said Summers. Eight-year-old Sarah Joss said she had fun making the sign but was really looking forward to "bringing kindness around the town." "Our words are powerful, they can make people sad or happy." With bright smiles, the kids delivered the messages with their classmates and teachers. "The biggest thing we want them to take from this is we want to inspire them to inspire others," said Summers. "We want to let them know if they are in a tough situation that they can always choose kindness."
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 48,362 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,602,365 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,227.957 per 100,000. There were 152,100 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,003,810 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 79.97 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,771 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 16,458 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 31.431 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 24,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 67.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,020 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,630 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.316 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 13,045 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 4,826 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 27,966 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.657 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 47,280 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 35,015 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 12,084 new vaccinations administered for a total of 365,978 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 42.771 per 1,000. There were 107,640 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 509,325 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 16,252 new vaccinations administered for a total of 585,707 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.874 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 683,255 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,605 new vaccinations administered for a total of 63,970 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.456 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 84,810 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 612 new vaccinations administered for a total of 62,342 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 52.87 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 59,395 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 105 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,216 new vaccinations administered for a total of 180,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.062 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 205,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,628 new vaccinations administered for a total of 224,354 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.72 per 1,000. There were 44,460 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 287,950 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.91 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,250 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,423 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 321.655 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 71.02 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 2,297 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 34 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,011 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 181.041 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 15,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 45.53 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. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Vahid Salemi/The Associated Press - image credit) The rulings of a court in a rural corner of northeastern Iran have brought together a Who's Who of Canada's legal profession to denounce the mistreatment of members of a religious minority who are being driven from their homes. One former prime minister — Brian Mulroney — three former attorneys-general (including Jody Wilson-Raybould and Irwin Cotler) and four former Supreme Court justices are among those who signed their names to a letter calling for justice for the Baha'i residents of the village of Ivel, where 27 families were recently evicted from their homes. The letter was also signed by several former provincial Supreme Court and appeals court judges and professors of law. Cotler said it was the "punitive and predatory" nature of Iranian court rulings against the Baha'i that struck a chord with Canada's jurists, along with the judges' use of openly discriminatory arguments. The Iranian courts' claim that they were following Islamic law in confiscating property from non-believers has been rejected by many Muslim groups outside Iran, including the Canadian Council of Imams. "I think that what was so outrageous here was the judicial complicity, brazenly acknowledging that they were engaged in this persecution based solely on what they called 'the perverse sect of Bahaism,' which is known to all the signatories to be a peaceful religious minority," said Cotler. "I might add that in this legal process, the Baha'is' counsel were not allowed to see any evidence against them, not allowed to adduce any evidence, not permitted to make any representations. In other words, [the ruling was] not only an abandonment of due process, [it] adds to the entire shocking legal and judicial complicity in this." Crimes of faith Cotler said Ivel's Baha'is have suffered years of official persecution. "There've been a series of home raids, assaults, confiscations, arrests, imprisonment," he said. "In 2020 we saw an alarming new chapter — two courts sanctioning the confiscation of their property based on religious belief." The confiscation was carried out by members of a state-affiliated organization called Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order (EIKO) that answers directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The U.S. Treasury Department accuses EIKO of controlling "large swaths of the Iranian economy, including assets expropriated from political dissidents and religious minorities, to the benefit of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian government officials." The Canadian letter is addressed to Iran's chief justice, Ebrahim Raisi, who is in charge of Iran's investigation into the destruction of Flight PS752 with 176 people on board. Raisi is often touted as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp fired two surface-to-air missiles at Flight PS752 killing all 176 people onboard on Jan, 8, 2020. Iran's Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi is in charge of Iran's investigation of the aircraft's destruction. A history of persecution "The Baha'is have been persecuted since the inception of their faith in Iran in the 19th century," said Winnipeg Baha'i Payam Towfigh. He said that persecution caused him to leave Iran for Canada, while his parents already had been exiled internally in the country because of local hostilities. "Right after they got married in the 1940s, they moved to a village close to Ivel named Damghan, which had a number of Baha'is there," he said. But local mullahs incited the village's Muslim population against the "heretics" living among them, he said. "A few of the Baha'i were murdered. My father ended up in jail because of the Baha'i belief that he had," he said. "After a year or two they had to leave at night because some of their neighbours told them there were rumours they were going to come and burn their house down. So they had to leave town in the night." Since the Islamic Revolution, said Towfigh, the persecution has become national and organized. "It's no longer just local religious leaders inciting the population against the Baha'i," he said. "Now it's systematic and it's the leader of the country." He said the estimated 300,000 Baha'is across Iran have watched their situation grow worse. "Over the last couple of years, Baha'is have lost their shops, their stores, they've been kicked out of their homes," he said. "Government agents feel very comfortable coming to their homes at night and just taking them away to jail. "What really we are worried about is that this is a test case that could now be replicated and copied around Iran." Change of heart unlikely While Cotler said he believes the letter to Iran from some of the best-known legal minds in Canada "is unprecedented," he's "not sure that Chief Justice Raisi will pay attention." With little hope of a change of heart by the Islamic Republic regime, Cotler said the letter-writers intend to pursue their case in international courts and to call on the Canadian government to use Magnitisky sanctions to punish those who have benefited from the expropriations. Foreign Minister Marc Garneau has tweeted about the evictions, but the Trudeau government — which doesn't have diplomatic relations with Iran — has taken no substantive actions. Canada has used Magnitsky sanctions against Russia, Venezuela, South Sudan and Myanmar, but no Iranian official has been subjected to the measure. The U.S. Treasury Department, meanwhile, has sanctioned Raisi as an individual. Towfigh said he has no illusions about the letter changing hearts and minds within the regime. "I am certain that they will dismiss it," he said. "From what I've seen in the past, that will be the posture they will have." But he said it's still a worthwhile effort, for two reasons. "The more important one is the effect on the Baha'i who are in Iran right now, when they see and hear that they are not forgotten," he said. "Because the authorities — not only in Iran but under all of these despotic governments — want to remind oppressed individuals that everyone has forgotten about you, you may as well give up, change your religion. So this brings hope and reminds people that the world has not forgotten about them. "Secondly, Iran may dismiss this but they are still mindful of their image in the world. Prominent people bringing this up in the United Nations — I personally believe it does have an effect on their behaviour."
(CBC - image credit) Despite early signs of overheating in Canada's housing market, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem so far has no plans to raise interest rates until the economy and employment are back on track following the slump caused by COVID-19. Speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, Canada's top central banker said that the economy would continue to need monetary stimulus, likely until 2023, even though there are already signs it could be distorting the residential real estate market. "In that low-for-long world, there are risks that housing could get carried away, so that is something we will be looking at very carefully," Macklem said in response to a question from a member of the remote audience. Some observers have already expressed worries that the Canadian housing market is rising at an unsustainable pace, leaving critics — including some in the real estate industry — nervous of a boom, followed by a devastating bust once interest rates finally start to rise. Women and youth hardest hit But while Macklem also expressed concern, he said that even though the bank predicts the economy will begin to surge by the end of this year, high unemployment among Canada's most vulnerable groups means the economy will continue to need a helping hand. "Because women and youth hold so many of the jobs in the hardest-hit sectors, they have borne a disproportionate share of the job losses," Macklem told his audience, and he said that many of the jobs that have disappeared will not come back. Already, long-term unemployment — measured as people who want to work but have not found a job in more than 26 weeks — is currently holding at more than half a million people, a level not seen in the economy in 30 years. Macklem said failure to get those people into jobs will lead to what he called "labour market scarring." In other words, it would result in permanent damage to the Canadian workforce. He suggested that while the bank is holding rates at rock-bottom levels, in return employers in his audience need to contribute by helping to train the types of employees they needed. That applied especially in the digital economy. WATCH | COVID-19's unequal economic recession in Canada: Low-wage jobs were hit the hardest. Not only did technology-related employment not fall as far, but the demand for tech workers has bounced back to levels higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And he said that employers must help create their own workforce in an economy that is increasingly digital and automated. "Technology is no longer a sector," Macklem said. "It's every sector." But he said that rebuilding the workforce and the economy in that new form will be a process of months and years, and he reiterated that there is little fear of inflation and thus rate hikes because there remains plenty of slack in the economy. Beware 'extrapolative expectations' But just as low rates have led to increased borrowing by businesses that has helped spur expansion and share prices, low mortgage rates have made it easier for prospective homeowners to bid up the price of houses. So far, Macklem said, the move toward bigger houses further away from city centres has not been speculation so much as the need for more working — and learning — space for employees who no longer have to commute to the office. Part of the evidence for that is that larger, more distant homes are rising in value, whereas inner-city properties are attracting fewer buyers and renters. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. But there are signs that the practical motivation for rising prices may be changing to the kind of speculative frenzy seen in 2016 and 2017 that the government tried to quell with tax measures and stress tests some of which were relaxed last year. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolative expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price rises we've seen recently go on indefinitely, and they're basing their decision on those kinds of assumptions," he warned. And while he did not describe what kind of actions he would take to stimulate jobs without overstimulating housing, Macklem said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. "When we see people starting to buy houses solely because they think prices are going to go up, that is a warning sign for us," he told the audience. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
The social network's commitment to the news industry follows Google's $1 billion investment last year, as technology giants come under scrutiny over their business model as well as the proliferation of misinformation on their platform. Facebook on Tuesday restored Australian news pages, ending an unprecedented week-long blackout after wringing concessions from the government over a proposed law that will require tech giants to pay traditional media companies for their content. The brief blackout shocked the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the tech giants.
GLASGOW, Scotland — Neil Lennon resigned as manager of Scottish club Celtic on Wednesday with the team a distant second behind Glasgow rival Rangers. Celtic was in pursuit of a 10th consecutive league title but is 18 points behind Rangers in a turbulent season punctuated by a 1-0 loss to struggling Ross County on Sunday. "We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously," Lennon said in a statement. “I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.” Lennon began his second stint as Celtic manager in February 2019 after Brendan Rodgers left to take over at Leicester and led the team to two league titles. Assistant coach John Kennedy was named to take over on an interim basis. “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the quadruple treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies,” Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said. “Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.” Lawwell said it is a “sad day” to see Lennon leave. “Neil is a man of quality and decency," he said, "he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The largest outflow on record for Cathie Wood's ARK fund was not enough to stop the firm from increasing its bet on Tesla Inc after the electric carmaker's stock closed below $700 for the first time this year on Tuesday. Wood, whose $26.6 billion ARK Innovation exchange-traded fund (ETF) was the top-performing actively managed U.S. equity fund tracked by Morningstar last year, bought $171 million of Tesla shares, pushing its weight to about 10% of the fund. The sell-off triggered heavy trading, with $5 billion of ARK Innovation shares changing hands on Tuesday - more than double the previous session's volume.
(CBC - image credit) Data from Elections NL requested by CBC News this week is raising red flags for opposition party leaders, who say a record-low turnout would threaten election results. Elections NL estimates there have been 120,000 requests for mail-in ballots, in addition to the 68,259 special or advance ballots already received. If all those ballots are returned, it would equal a 51 per cent voter turnout rate — a historic low for Newfoundland and Labrador, which during its last election in May 2019 saw 60.7 per cent of eligible voters mark a ballot. The current lowest voter turnout, 55 per cent, came in 2015. "The right to have unimpeded access [to vote] … is absolutely central to the legitimacy of government," said PC Leader Ches Crosbie, in reaction to those numbers, in an interview Tuesday. The Tories have repeatedly pointed a finger at Liberal Leader Andrew Furey for triggering an election prior to widespread vaccine availability. Crosbie contends Furey ought to have pushed back his 12-month deadline to drop the writ, or at the very least, waited until summer. "That negligence, that's why we are where we are right now," Crosbie said. Furey wouldn't do an interview, instead sending a statement through his campaign office. "Our Liberal team is hearing from many voters who are looking forward to voting, and we hope this will contribute to a good turnout," the emailed statement said. "While it is too early to know what the voter turnout rate will be, our party hopes that Elections NL's work to navigate this unprecedented election will allow voters to safely cast their ballots." Furey has previously said that when he called a January election, he did so based on epidemiological modelling, which did not account for the current COVID-19 outbreak throttling the province. That outbreak led Elections NL to postpone election day, and cancel all in-person voting. It had originally been scheduled for Feb 13, just one day after the province's top doctor ordered strict lockdown measures to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus variant. Turnout not yet certain Elections NL said because it had a wide array of application methods — including fax and phone — not all its requests have been processed, and it can't yet supply a final total. But Crosbie is betting on a portion of mail-in ballot requests not making it back to Elections NL in time for the March 12 deadline. Factoring in spoiled, late, and unreturned ballots against the number of requests, Crosbie thinks it's "simple mathematics to see that the voter turnout is likely to be less than 50 per cent." When questioned directly, Crosbie wouldn't go so far as to say his party would challenge the election results, but called the prospect of legal action "almost inevitable." NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie are expressing concerns over the estimated voter turnout rate. "The whole situation — things being made up, ad hoc, that affect voting rights [that] are constitutional in nature, invites litigation," he said. "It's such a mess." He also wouldn't say whether he would accept an argument for illegitimacy if the PCs were to win. "Whoever emerges from this," he replied, "is going to have a dubious mandate to get things done." Meanwhile, NDP Leader Alison Coffin stressed the tasks directly ahead of the electorate. At the moment, she said, anyone who did get a ballot should focus on submitting it in time. "Then we can figure out the ramifications of everything that's happened," she said. Given the obstacles voters face, however, she's not shocked to hear about Elections NL's data. Much of what happened, she said, could have been examined and managed by the Liberals to address types of access. "I think it would have been the responsible thing for the Furey government to look at modernizing the Elections Act," Coffin said. While Coffin says her party has not yet decided on whether they'll pursue a legal challenge, the NDP are asking for online feedback to reform the Elections Act once a government has been formed. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Joanne Valiquette used to love going out for walks and having visitors to her North Bay apartment. But now the 68-year-old is afraid to even go into the halllway of the Lancelot Apartments, which has become the centre of a COVID variant outbreak in the city. "It really hit close to home when it's in this building. It is scary," says Valiquette. "So I'm afraid to go out to to do my laundry or to go through the lobby downstairs." So far, over 40 tenants of the building have tested positive for COVID, about two dozen of them a confirmed case of one of the new fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus. Two of Valiquette's neighbours have died. "I have a feeling it's never going to end. We're never going to have freedom again," she says. "It's going to be like this maybe for the rest of my life." Over 40 tenants at the Lancelot Apartments in North Bay have tested positive for COVID-19, about 26 of them for one of the new variants. Two people who lived in the building have died. The Nipissing and Parry Sound districts are now approaching two months in lockdown and the health unit has extended the stay-at-home order until at least March 8. Unlike Toronto and Peel, which remain shutdown because of a high number of COVID cases, the North Bay and Parry Sound areas aren't re-opening in order to stop the spread of the variants. "It is nerve-racking. You feel like you're one swab away from a disaster," says Jamie Lowery, the CEO of the city-run Casselholme nursing home. "You're always wondering... if somehow it will get into your home." One visitor to Casselholme did test positive for a COVID variant and then there were 12 more positive COVID tests this week— two staff and 10 relatives of residents. Lowery says about half of them were re-tested and it came back negative. The health unit says that doesn't mean they don't have the virus and are consulting with experts about the test results. But Lowery says public health is refusing to re-test the remaining half dozen, mostly spouses of one of the long-term care residents. "I'm very upset," he says. "These are seniors. And every time you cough or sneeze or feel a headache, in your mind, you're like 'uh oh.' They're quite worried." Jamie Lowery, the CEO of the Casselholme nursing home, would like to see the health unit release more information about the spread of variants in North Bay. Lowery would also like to see the health unit sharing more of what it knows about how the variants are spreading in North Bay. Others took that frustration further, marching in the street outside the health unit office calling for an end to the lockdown and chanting "Chirico has got to go" referring to medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico. "I was surprised and disappointed by that. I think he's done an outstanding job," says North Bay city councillor Chris Mayne. "I think he's actually saved lives in our community by being prudent and I think most people in the community appreciate that." A few dozen protesters on the streets of North Bay this week called for an end to the lockdown and laid blame on medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico. Chirico has been the target of criticism for the past month, after the health unit went over and above provincial restrictions and ordered tobogganing hills, skating rinks and snowmobile trails in Nipissing and Parry Sound closed. That ban was lifted this week, while the stay-at-home order continues. Robb Noon, the mayor of the small town of Callander just south of North Bay, says public health is "showing leadership" by "making the tough decisions" but says they need to explain their thinking to frustrated citizens. "If we don't have anything to go by to understand that, it just leads to speculation. You never see a light at the end of the tunnel. You have no clue," says Noon. "The public is so thirsty for more information." Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey says he has yet to get an explanation why his town and others over an hour's drive from the variant outbreak in North Bay can't re-open along with the rest of northern Ontario. "There are a number of very upset people. They are certainly questioning the lockdown. There are businesses that are suffering," he says. "Why penalize absolutely everybody when you could isolate the severe situations?" No one from the North Bay-Parry Sound Public Health Unit was made available for an interview for this story and Dr. Chirico has not been made available to speak with CBC for several weeks now.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. There are 852,269 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 852,269 confirmed cases (30,677 active, 799,830 resolved, 21,762 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,760 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 80.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,693 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,956. There were 40 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 367 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 52. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 23,880,652 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 955 confirmed cases (375 active, 576 resolved, four deaths). There were 15 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 71.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 35. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 183,360 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 115 confirmed cases (one active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 0.63 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 99,303 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,613 confirmed cases (20 active, 1,528 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 2.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 316,029 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,424 confirmed cases (76 active, 1,322 resolved, 26 deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 9.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 232,291 tests completed. _ Quebec: 283,666 confirmed cases (7,880 active, 265,456 resolved, 10,330 deaths). There were 739 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 91.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,479 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 783. There were 13 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,127,867 tests completed. _ Ontario: 295,119 confirmed cases (10,296 active, 277,939 resolved, 6,884 deaths). There were 975 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 69.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,383 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,055. There were 12 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 165 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 24. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,578,867 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,551 confirmed cases (1,212 active, 29,453 resolved, 886 deaths). There were 76 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 87.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 620 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 89. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 521,439 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 27,923 confirmed cases (1,530 active, 26,017 resolved, 376 deaths). There were 126 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 129.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,094 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 156. There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 19 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 560,268 tests completed. _ Alberta: 131,603 confirmed cases (4,516 active, 125,234 resolved, 1,853 deaths). There were 267 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 102.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,265 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 324. There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 62 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 41.91 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,353,608 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 77,822 confirmed cases (4,733 active, 71,753 resolved, 1,336 deaths). There were 559 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 91.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,539 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 506. There was one new reported death Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 22 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,876,985 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. 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 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,071 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (five active, 37 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 11.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,026 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 351 confirmed cases (33 active, 317 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 83.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 28 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,462 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Advocates say migrant and undocumented workers should have access to COVID-19 vaccines.The Migrant Rights Network is calling on all levels of governments to guarantee that access.The group is expected to make the call in a news conference today along with doctors and labour leaders .They say they are concerned that thousands of migrant and undocumented workers will not get the vaccine because of their immigration status.The group says government vaccination plans do not include measures that would guarantee safe access to the shot for the workers.The Ontario government has not said if temporary foreign workers employed on the province's farms would have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Human rights campaigners hope the landmark ruling will set a precedent for other cases.View on euronews
Bruce Springsteen was fined $500 on Wednesday after the rock 'n' roll legend pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming alcohol at a federally run New Jersey beach in November, and prosecutors dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges. Springsteen, 71, whose songs have chronicled life in his home state of New Jersey and its shore scene for more than 50 years, entered his plea in an online arraignment before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Anthony Mautone in Newark. He admitted to downing "two small shots of tequila" on Nov. 14 at Sandy Hook beach, part of the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area, where alcohol consumption is prohibited.
A German court sentenced a former member of President Bashar al-Assad's security services to 4-1/2 years in prison on Wednesday for abetting the torture of civilians, the first such verdict for crimes against humanity in the 10-year-old Syrian civil war. The higher regional court in the western city of Koblenz said Eyad A. had arrested at least 30 anti-government protesters at the start of the conflict in 2011 and sent them to an intelligence facility where he knew detainees were tortured. The verdict gives hope to the 800,000 Syrians in Germany who say they were tortured in government facilities after attempts to establish an international tribunal for Syria failed.
MULGRAVE – One might say it was an ambitious plan, to create a meal delivery service to support older, vulnerable adults in Guysborough County experiencing challenges related to food security during the pandemic. Given that the county is geographically large and has a population of whom half are more than the age of 55, the idea took some planning to get off the ground. But with government funding – from the federal New Horizon Program, N.S. Dept. of Communities, Culture and Heritage Program and N.S. Department of Seniors – the board of directors of the Mulgrave and Area Medical Centre and a project advisory committee got Community Food Connections on the road delivering meals free of charge to the kitchens of more than 160 program participants. The original program funding was expected to last until the end of February, but last week Medical Centre Board Chair Al England told The Journal that funding had been secured to keep the program running until the end of June, which “will allow for a greater impact with respect to those that are utilizing the program – or there may be others that may be in need as well that could find some benefit in signing up for the program. “We are really happy with that aspect of it, really grateful to our provincial and federal partners in respect to the overall funding of the project … the extension will allow us to exhaust the funds that were provided … There’s still a lot of concern, a lot of caution; people are fearful and anxious,” said England noting that along with providing quality meals, the program also offers a chance to socialize for people who may be reluctant or unable to leave their homes. The program started delivering meals to homes across Guysborough County – District of St. Mary’s, Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Town of Mulgrave – in November. England said they have delivered more than 4,100 meals; mainly to program participants identified by project advisory committee members who work with older adults and suggested the names of those who would benefit the most from the program. To be eligible for the program, participants had to be 55 or older, a resident of Guysborough County and have difficulty getting to a grocery store due to health or transportation challenges, mobility issues, financial concerns, or other barriers and difficulties. Brent Lundrigan is the program coordinator and spends a lot of time on the road delivering meals from the hub location in Mulgrave to areas as far afield as Liscomb and Canso. He delivers frozen meals to program participants and manages intake of people eligible for the program. Since November, Lundrigan, a native of Mulgrave, has become familiar with a lot of back roads and brought smiles to many as he made his deliveries across the county. For more information about the Community Food Connections program, call Lundrigan at 902-777-5685. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Australia's Fortescue Metals Group has apologised to an Aboriginal group for clearing land on a heritage site while flouting a government condition for representatives of the community to be present when the damage took place. It is the week's second such incident, despite pressure on Australian iron ore miners to show they have improved practices to manage important sites after Rio Tinto destroyed two sacred rock shelters for a mine expansion last May. Fortescue had state government permission to clear the land in the Weelamurra Creek area registered as sacred to the Wintawari Guruma people, on condition that community elders were present to perform salvage and cultural rites, four documents reviewed by Reuters showed.