This pet raccoon isn't going on a diet anytime soon and he lets his owner know while trying a piece of cabbage. Hilarious!
This pet raccoon isn't going on a diet anytime soon and he lets his owner know while trying a piece of cabbage. Hilarious!
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A group of Indigenous youth called on supporters to block a Vancouver intersection leading to the port in protest of an elder who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for anti-pipeline actions in 2019. For most of the day March 3, the police held off traffic around the intersection of Hastings St. and Clark Drive in east Vancouver where police say 43,000 vehicles pass through daily. But in the evening they moved in to disband the blockade, arresting four adults for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway, both criminal offences, according to a police spokesperson. Those arrested were released that night under orders to appear in court. The blockade, organized by a group called the Braided Warriors, was peaceful. There were elders, youth, and many non-Indigenous supporters gathered in the intersection. People were sitting on blankets reading, chatting in small groups, all wearing masks. A sacred fire was lit in the centre of the intersection, and people sat around it in picnic chairs. The mood was peaceful and somber, punctuated occasionally with songs and chants. RELATED: Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester RELATED: A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer The Braided Warriors shared on social media that they were there in solidarity with elder Stacy Gallagher who had been sentenced the night before to 90 days in prison. A police spokesman says the group marched from the courthouse to the East Vancouver intersection late Tuesday following the sentencing. The Braided Warriors shared an update mid-Wednesday that Gallagher was released on bail, but the blockade continued until VPD moved in. After police broke up the blockade, the protest moved to the nearby jail as they awaited the release of the four who were arrested. RELATED: Arrests at anti-pipeline protest call Vancouver police actions into question In February the Braided Warriors coordinated a protest in the lobbies of two insurance companies who are backing the Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension. That protest went on for three days before being disbanded by police on Feb. 19, where four people were arrested. Arrests at that time are under investigation for allegations of aggression and violence. The Braided Warriors said they would file complaints with the UN Human Rights Tribunal with regards to the treatment from police. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Three of the cases are in the Edmundston region, while the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are now 36 active cases in the province and three patients are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory to be the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. Mass testing clinics have been set up in the Miramichi area to determine if there has been any further spread of the virus. Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been 1,443 confirmed cases in New Brunswick and 28 COVID-19-related deaths, This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
HALIFAX — Premier Iain Rankin says Nova Scotia should have enough COVID-19 vaccine to give all residents at least one shot by the end of June. Rankin told reporters today following his first cabinet meeting as premier that his estimate is based on new federal government guidelines about increasing the interval between first and second doses of vaccine. He says he will likely have more details about the province's plan at Friday's COVID-19 briefing. The province is to get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week, which will complement Nova Scotia's vaccine supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Health officials are also announcing that restrictions on restaurant operating hours and sporting events will be lifted in Halifax and its surrounding regions on Friday morning. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today, all in the Halifax area. Two involve contacts of previously reported cases and the third is under investigation. The province has 29 active reported cases of the disease. Residents of long-term care homes in the Halifax area are still limited to receiving visits from two designated caregivers. Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the region until March 27. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
The temporary pandemic shelter Tipinawâw at the Edmonton Convention Centre on Jasper Avenue will remain open until the end of April, city council agreed unanimously at a meeting Thursday. The extended operations will cost $2.2 million, an amount available in a COVID-19-specific fund set aside in the city's stabilization reserve. This is in addition to the $8 million the city invested in the shelter last fall. The 24/7 shelter accommodates 300 people a night, with meals, laundry, shower facilities, as well as counselling and housing services. Three agencies have been contracted to run the shelter since October: Boyle Street Community Services, the Bissell Centre and the Mustard Seed Society. The Bent Arrow Society helps with cultural programming and counselling. Mayor Don Iveson said there's a clear need to continue the operations through the end of the spring. "I don't regret at all establishing this facility," Iveson said. Indigenous elders gave the facility the name Tipinawâw, a Cree wording meaning shelter from outside elements. From October 2020 to mid-February, nearly 4,200 different people accessed daytime services at the facility, and about 2,300 people used the overnight shelter, says a city report. At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Scott McKeen asked about security at the shelter — saying he's received emails from residents concerned about what's happening in the area. Rob Smyth, deputy manager of citizen services, said there were some "significant challenges" early on and the city has been working with police and private security to increase presence around the facility. Temporary encampments have cropped up around the shelter, Smyth noted. "It's not perfect, but we certainly have tried to increase our activity to make it as safe and secure as we possibly can," Smyth said. A second temporary 24/7 shelter at Commonwealth Stadium is being run by Hope Mission, while a third near 99th Street in the Ritchie neighbourhood is operated by the Mustard Seed. @natashariebe
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Toronto police have confirmed that a man who was arrested and charged for allegedly performing an "indecent act" in Whitby this week is one of their officers. According to a news release from Durham police, officers were called to the McKinney Centre at around 8:40 a.m. on Monday. Police say a man was seen by a young female "committing an indecent act" while standing outside his vehicle. Police did not state her age in the news release. A witness attempted to confront the man, and that's when he drove off at a high rate of speed through a nearby parking lot, police say. Officers found the vehicle and the man was arrested. Police say that 33-year-old Whitby man Ryan Walters has been charged with performing an indecent act in a public place and dangerous operation of a conveyance. He was released on a promise to appear in court. Toronto police said Thursday that Walters has been a Toronto police officer for six years, and is based at 51 division. He has been suspended with pay.
1. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “Believe IT” by Jamie Kem Lima (Gallery Books) 4. “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin) 5. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth (Tiger Tales) 6. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 8. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 9. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney (Candlewick) 10. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Dell) 11. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 12. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 13. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 14. “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 15. “Dr. Seuss's ABC” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 16. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books) 17. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 18. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 19. “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers) 20. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 21. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 22. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery) 23. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 24. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 25. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) The Associated Press
Two months have now passed since nominations for candidacy have been open to those interested in running for local government. The Lethbridge library recently ran a program leading up to Women’s History month in March, called ‘So You Want to Run for Office: Women in Local Government’ in which interested participants could ask questions of women currently serving in local government position; Jennifer Handley (Mayor of Nanton), Heather Caldwell (Councillor in Coalhurst), Tanya Thorn (Councillor in Okotoks). Another free presentation is coming up with the Lethbridge Library called ‘So You Want to Run for Office: Experiences in Local Government’ which will involve panelists who have served even closer to home, including Trevor Lewington (Mayor of Stirling, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge), Lance Tailfeathers (Former Councillor, Blood Tribe), and Julie Friesen (Councillor in Medicine Hat). The presentation takes place on March 9, 2021 at 7:00pm on zoom, and features Dr. Paul Fairie from the University of Calgary, and Lisa Lambert (University of Lethbridge). This session will cover a variety of topics surrounding running for office, including campaigning and the Municipal Governments Act and where to find more information on doing so. Interested parties can find information on the Lethbridge Public Library webpage and follow the steps to register. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
A nearly $4 million investment into Newmarket-Aurora will help victims of human trafficking access the services and supports they need to recover. On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced an infusion of $3.8 million over the next five years to two Newmarket-based organizations: BridgeNorth and Cedar Centre. Their community-based programs will help the organizations create two new programs “to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.” “These new programs will help more people who have experienced sexual exploitation heal and rebuild their lives,” said Minister Dunlop in a statement following the virtual announcement. “Victims and survivors of human trafficking need specialized, trauma-informed supports to help them recover. Providing more dedicated services for children and youth will help address critical needs in this Region.” With their share of the pot, BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth, providing supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration. Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation. “Our government has made it a priority to end human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from this terrible crime,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health. “We are proud that this investment will create new critical programs in Newmarket to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with the help they deserve and support their recovery.” Last week’s announcement is part of Ontario’s $46 million investment to increase supports, with a special emphasis on survivor-led programming. “Voices of survivors and those with lived experiences are being heard,” says Cassandra Diamond, Survivor and Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years, we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today, because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.” Added Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre: “We are very excited by this opportunity and humbled by the trust in us to work in partnership with the government to provide this critically-needed service for children and youth who are at risk of, or have experienced human trafficking in York Region.” More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police Ontario-wide are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
HALIFAX — A compensation agreement has been reached between Glen Assoun and the Nova Scotia and federal governments for his wrongful conviction and the almost 17 years he spent in prison. Nova Scotia Justice Minister Randy Delorey said today the recently signed deal is confidential, and Assoun's lawyers Sean MacDonald and Phil Campbell said the amount of the settlement and its details are not being released. Assoun's lawyers, however, praised the two levels of government for the settlement, and Campbell said federal Justice Minister David Lametti had done all that can be expected. Campbell says he hopes the deal serves as an example for similar cases in the future. Assoun lived under strict parole conditions for nearly five years after he was released from prison, before a Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling in March 2019 reversed his 1999 conviction for the murder of Brenda Way in Halifax. The 1995 killing has never been solved. Assoun suffered mental illness in prison, and he said he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required the insertion of stents — small mesh tubes that are placed in a narrowed coronary artery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two 16-year-old males have been arrested in Surrey, B.C., in connection with a drug cache site and dial-a-dope operation running out of a condo tower in the 10700-block of University Drive. Surrey RCMP say they began investigating suspected drug trafficking in the underground parkade of the Whalley building early last month and quickly became aware of a unit associated with the dealing. A search warrant was executed on Feb. 25, leading to the discovery of a drug cache and packaging site, along with the two teens. One of the teens is reported to have been carrying a loaded handgun at the time of arrest. Bulk and pre-packaged quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and MDMA were seized, along with $11,000 in cash, the handgun and a loaded pistol grip shot gun. Police say neither of the suspects have any known connections to the Lower Mainland gang conflict, which has resulted in the death of a number of youth and young men in past months, including a 14-year-old boy. Both teens have been released from police custody and charges have yet to be laid. Anyone with information on drug trafficking in Surrey is asked to contact RCMP at 604-599-0502.
RCMP are asking witnesses to a violent incident to come forward, after a man was discovered seriously injured outside a Richmond, B.C., shopping mall Wednesday afternoon. Police were called around 2:40 p.m. PT to the parking area on the north side of the Lansdowne Centre, where the 40-year-old man was found lying injured on the ground, according to an RCMP statement Thursday. The Vancouver resident was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition, police said. RCMP say the incident does not appear to have any criminal connections, and there doesn't appear to be any risk to the public. Anyone who might have witnessed Wednesday's incident is asked to contact the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they want to remain anonymous.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Thursday approved a $6.6 billion plan aimed at pressuring school districts to return students to the classroom before the end of the school year. The bill does not order school districts to resume in-person instruction and it does not say parents must send their kids back to the classroom if they don’t want to. Instead, the state will dangle $2 billion before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share of that money only if they offer in-person instruction by the end of the month. School districts have until May 15 to decide. Districts that resume in-person learning after that date won’t get any of that money. “We need to get the schools reopen. I know it’s hard, but today we are providing powerful tools for schools to move into this direction,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who pleaded with his school district to accept the money and offer in-person instruction. Most of California's 6.1 million students in 1,037 public school districts have been learning from home since last March because of the pandemic. The bill passed both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday by overwhelming margins. But many lawmakers criticized the bill as too weak. The bill does not say how much time students should spend in the classroom, prompting fears some districts might have students return for just one day per week and still be eligible to get the money. Republicans in the state Senate tried to amend the bill to require schools to offer at least three days per week of in-person learning, but Democrats in the majority rejected it. And while the bill requires most elementary school grades to return to the classroom to get the money, it does not require all middle and high school grades to return this year. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill into law on Friday. The bill comes as Newsom faces a potential recall election later this year, fueled by anger over his handling of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Newsom has trumpeted the back to school proposal as evidence of his commitment to getting students who have studied mostly online since last March into classrooms again. But Scott Wilk, the Republican leader in the state Senate, said the bill was simply an effort by Democrats to give Newsom political cover so he can “get parents to believe he’s doing everything he possibly can for them.” “The truth is this bill doesn’t do anything to reopen our schools. I believe with or without this bill, school districts that want to reopen will and school districts that don’t want to reopen won’t,” said Wilk, who voted for the bill along with most other Republicans. The bill has two sets of rules districts must follow to get the money. The first set applies to school districts in counties where the coronavirus is widespread. The second set of rules applies to districts in counties where the virus is not as widespread. To get the money, districts governed by the first set of rules must offer in-person learning through at least second grade by the end of March. Districts governed by the second set of rules must offer in-person learning to all elementary grades, plus at least one grade in middle and high school. However, the Newsom administration late Wednesday changed the standards that dictate which counties must follow which rules. The new standards mean most counties will have to follow the second set of rules requiring districts to offer in-person instruction in all elementary school grades. “It’s a little dishonest what’s happening,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat from San Diego, who voted in favour of the bill. The bill also includes $4.6 billion aimed at helping students catch up after a year of learning from home. Districts could use this money to extend the school year into the summer or they could spend it on counselling and tutoring. All districts would get this money, regardless of whether they offer in-person instruction. But the bill stated that districts must use at least 85% of that money for expenses related to in-person instruction. Adam Beam, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions of dollars planned in short-term transit spending to help municipalities further green their bus fleets. The hope is that the $2.75 billion in traditional grant money will dovetail with the $1.5 billion an infrastructure-financing agency is supposed to invest toward the same cause. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the grant money is supposed to help cover the upfront cost of purchasing electric buses to replace the diesel-powered ones rumbling through Canadian streets. She says federal funding has helped cities buy 300 buses and the government hopes the funding will help them add 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years. But she acknowledged there are added costs that need to be addressed, including having charging stations on transit routes and in existing depots. The Liberals are hoping cities then turn to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance the cost of the remaining work. The bank's chief executive, Ehren Cory, says the energy savings expected from not having to buy diesel could, for instance, be used to pay off a low-interest loan from his agency. "It's quite a from-the-ground-up reinvestment and the savings will pay for a lot of that, but not for all of it," he said, via video link. "That's why the combination of a grant from the government, a subsidy, combined with a loan against savings together will allow us to get the most done, allow us to make wholesale change quickly and do so at minimal impact to taxpayers." Garth Frizzell, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, welcomed the funding as a way to speed up work in cities to replace diesel buses. "We are already putting more electric vehicles on our streets, and this major funding to electrify transit systems across the country will reduce GHG emissions, boost local economies, and help meet Canada’s climate goals," he said in a statement. McKenna made the same connections multiple times during an event Thursday in Ottawa, where she stood near the city's mayor, Jim Watson, with Cory and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne joining by videoconference. Joanna Kyriazis, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, noted that the investments could help the country's six electric-bus manufacturers scale up to compete internationally. “As Canada develops its battery supply chain — from raw metal and mineral resources to our North-America-leading battery recycling companies — we must build the market for electric vehicles and their batteries at home," she said in a statement. The Liberals are promising billions in permanent transit funding as part of a post-pandemic recovery, including $3 billion annually in a transit fund starting in five years. Cities have seen transit ridership plummet through the pandemic as chunks of the labour force work remotely. Demand for single-family homes well outside urban cores suggests some workers are expecting remote work to become a more regular fixture of their post-pandemic work lives. McKenna said her thinking about public transit hasn't been changed by that shift, saying her only thought is that Canada needs more and better systems. It's up to cities and transit agencies to set routes and priorities, she said. "The reality is many of our essential workers have no other option than to take public transit. And I think we've recognized how important it is for people to be able to get around in a safe way," McKenna said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) 55 Plus Activity Centre, located in Greater Napanee, is receiving an influx of funding to support the health and well-being of local seniors during COVID-19. The organization helps seniors remain independent, in their homes and active within their community by providing quality, integrated services. MPP Daryl Kramp has announced that SOS will be receiving $42,700.00 for 2020-21 operations and maintenance and also a grant of $7,995.52 for a total of $50,695.52, according to a release from his office, dated Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021. “This is a local organization which has helped multiple generations of local seniors stay in touch and engaged for many years and that says a lot about the community it serves,” said MPP Kramp. “These funds will be important both as they operate now and as they look forward to resuming their important in-person community roles.” Kramp says this year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home, and support projects such as: According to the release, the seniors population in Ontario is the fastest growing age group. By 2023, there will be 3 million Ontarians over the age of 65. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility says the past year has been especially challenging for Seniors. “Given the social isolation that COVID-19 has brought to many seniors, it is important that we look to programs that will keep them safe and connected,” said Minister Cho. “Our government’s investment in Seniors Active Living Centres helps older adults stay virtually engaged with their friends, family and communities while combatting social isolation during the pandemic.” This year’s ongoing funding has supported the application of safety control measures against the spread of COVID-19, and provided more remote and virtual programming, according to the release. Learn more about Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) on their website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Ontario’s police watchdog has found that a Peel Regional police officer acted lawfully in the November 2019 shooting of a teen police say was in the process of robbing a Mississauga bank. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) ruled that there is no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer committed a criminal offence when he shot the armed 16-year-old in the lower back. According to the SIU, the teen had demanded cash from staff at an HSBC location on Dundas Street East, and the officer confronted him while he was masked, armed with a firearm and carrying a backpack full of cash. “I am unable to reasonably conclude that the (subject officer’s) resort to lethal force fell outside the limits of legal justification,” SIU director Joseph Martino wrote. The suspect suffered significant internal injuries in the incident. According to the SIU account, the officer and three other officers were in the area shortly before 4 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2016, when a motorist alerted them to the robbery nearby inside the Chinese Centre. The SIU states the teenager, donning a hooded-jacket over his head and his face covered with a black t-shirt had walked into the bank brandishing a semi-automatic pistol. A bank employee offered up some cash and coins to the teen, who took the money and demanded more, states the SIU’s report. The officers entered the bank with their firearms drawn, prompting the teen to run toward the west wall of the bank. The subject officer fired a single shot striking the teen in the lower mid-back. Still standing after being shot, the teen dropped his firearm, then was taken to the floor and handcuffed. Police later discovered that the weapon was not loaded, “which is of no consequence,” Martino wrote. “It was an actual firearm which the subject officer would have had every reason to believe was loaded and ready to be fired in the hands of the (teenager).” Martino made special note of the fact that although the gunshot wound to the teen’s back could suggest he was facing away from the officers, he had ignored police commands to remain still and posed an immediate risk to people in the bank. The subject officer declined to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of his notes, as is his legal right. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star