Pascal Siakam had his game-winning shot rim out for a second-straight night as the Raptors blew another lead Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Pascal Siakam had his game-winning shot rim out for a second-straight night as the Raptors blew another lead Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol. As darkness fell, there were no reports of any clashes. Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. Crowds of only a dozen or two demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty. Some protesters said they were there to back President Donald Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or decry government overreach. “I don’t trust the results of the election,” said Michigan protester Martin Szelag, a 67-year-old semi-retired window salesman from Dearborn Heights. He wore a sign around his neck that read, in part, “We will support Joe Biden as our President if you can convince us he won legally. Show us the proof! Then the healing can begin.” As the day wore on with no bloodshed around the U.S., a sense of relief spread among officials, though they were not ready to let their guard down. The heavy law enforcement presence may have kept turnout down. In the past few days, some extremists had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap. Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said he hoped the apparently peaceful day reflected some soul-searching among Americans. “I would love to say that it’s because we’ve all taken a sober look in the mirror and have decided that we are a more unified people than certain moments in time would indicate,” he said. The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when far-right Trump supporters galvanized by his false claims that the election had been stolen from him overran the police and bashed their way into the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote. The attack left a Capitol police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested over the insurrection. Dozens of courts, election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have all said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential race. On Sunday, some statehouses were surrounded by new security fences, their windows were boarded up, and extra officers were on patrol. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend. Tall fences also surrounded the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days. U.S. defence officials told The Associated Press those troops would be vetted by the FBI to ward off any threat of an insider attack on the inauguration. The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and members of the media. Tensions have been running high in the state since authorities foiled a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. At the Ohio Statehouse, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow. Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol. "I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed that authorities "continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.” Utah's new governor, Republican Spencer Cox, shared photos on his Twitter account showing him with what appeared to be hundreds of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers standing behind him, all wearing masks. Cox called the quiet protests a best-case scenario and said many ”agitating groups" had cancelled their plans for the day. At Oregon's Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies. Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.” At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants. He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump. “All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said. At Nevada's Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign. “Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read. More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden's inauguration. Some legislatures also cancelled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week. Even before the violence at the Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus lockdowns. People angry over the death of George Floyd under a Minneapolis police officer's knee vandalized capitols in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. Last last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures. Amid the potential for violence in the coming days, the building's first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard was brought in. "The state capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that. It breaks my heart.” ___ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio; Gillian Flaccus in Salem, Oregon; Mike Householder and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; Marc Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report. David A. Lieb And Adam Geller, The Associated Press
Windsor's city council will table a report on naloxone use by first responders on Monday, but one councillor says he's disappointed to find police were not included as officers are often the first on the scene of a drug overdose. Coun. Kieran McKenzie first asked the city to look into the implications of first responders, including police, carrying naloxone, in December 2018. Naloxone can save lives when administered to someone who has overdosed on opiods, he said. He said the report contains a lot of a "good information," but he's a bit disappointed overall. "I think it's fair to say that we didn't take a look at whether or not it's appropriate to equip our police service with naloxone," he said. In an email statement to CBC, the city says, "police answer to the police services board so that's why they likely weren't involved in a council report." McKenzie said he understands that "the police service or oversight of the police services falls within the jurisdiction of the police services board, made up of community members as well as members of council, but it's still the same municipally delivered service. It's a service that I think most residents would associate falls under the jurisdiction of city council." He also said the report lays out the case that "it is appropriate for first responders, fire, I would argue, police as well as EMS, to carry and administer naloxone in the field when it is appropriate to do so." The report states that drug-related overdoses and deaths "continue to be growing problem in North America. Of particular concern is the use of opioid drugs due to their potency and their highly addictive," adding that the "annual rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario increased 285 per cent from 1991 to 2015." "In 2018, there were 220 (preliminary statistic) opioid-related Emergency Department visits in Windsor & Essex County (WEC). In 2019, there were 249 opioid-related ED visits in Windsor & Essex County (WEC), which is 3.2 times greater than the 78 opioid overdose ED visits in WEC in 2007," the report continues. It argues that "naloxone is an effective tool in reversing the effects of opioids and preventing an overdose death, provided it is given shortly after an overdose of an opioid occurs," but the administering of the drug by firefighters does not occur with often. Not frequently used by firefighters, says report "A poll of major fire departments in Ontario show that 2018 usage across all major departments averages less than 10 doses annually per department," the report states. "Follow up polling for the year 2019 indicated an increase among the largest departments and those responding to combined rural and urban areas. Other departments reported low levels of usage." It said actual usage of naloxone by fire services is dependent on a number of factors, including arrival time, type of drug used, the condition of the patient. The report explains that it takes up to eight weeks to train the entire department on how to administer naloxone and it requires medical oversight by a doctor. Data in the report did not include police services. It says the local health unit and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) support the use of naloxone by first responders as a harm reduction measure. McKenzie said he will ask why the report did not focus more on police, though he acknowledges progress is being made with that service. "It's my understanding that that is happening already to some extent," he said. Some WPS units carrying naloxone Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno said in October that three Windsor police units were to be equipped with naloxone within a year. A spokesperson for Windsor police confirmed that officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — now have access to the drug. Mizuno's announcement came days after CBC News learned that Windsor police officers were the first to arrive on scene of a drug overdose without naloxone in-hand on at least 14 occasions last year. "I just I think that there needs to be a clear articulation from council that we support adding that service level. And we support adding that service level robustly in a way that is both safe for all of the first responders, the police themselves, but also can add an additional layer of protection for folks in the community," McKenzie said. He said he doesn't know what is going to happen at Monday's meeting with respect to the report, but believes it could spark an interesting debate and hopes there will be enough support to pass the motion.
When the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in Canada, Ketty Samel and her 76-year-old husband Morris believed the end to the long months of isolation was in sight. Since last March, the Thornhill, Ont., couple has been hunkering down in their home. "We're living in fear. For me to go to a grocery store right now, I'm in a total sweat. I'm stressed, I walk in and I walk out. I grab whatever I need off the shelves and that's it." Under Ontario's vaccination rollout plan, Samel, 71, and her husband will be vaccinated in Phase 2 — a phase that could begin as early as March, according to government officials, and will continue through to July. It's a tiered system by age groups, starting with those 80 years of age or older, then decreasing by five-year increments. "They've told us from the beginning of this pandemic that we were vulnerable. [After] long term care we were the next vulnerable population," said Samel. "And all of a sudden we're expendable. That's our feeling." The Ontario Ministry of Health says the roadblock to vaccinating more people faster is supply, which is expected to increase in Phase 2. But in the meantime, some are questioning whether everyone getting a dose in Phase 1 is as vulnerable as seniors in the community, with figures from Public Health Ontario showing that more than a third of COVID-19 deaths are adults over 60 who aren't in long-term care. Federal guidelines The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends adults 70 and older to be part of the first stage of immunization rollout, alongside residents and staff in seniors' congregate living settings, health-care workers, and adults in Indigenous communities "where infection can have disproportionate consequences." Actual plans vary by province. In Ontario, Phase 1 of the rollout involves vaccinating all residents, staff, essential and other workers in long term care and retirement homes, health care workers, adults in First nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of adult chronic home care. Seniors in the community aren't slated to be vaccinated until Phase 2. This discrepancy between federal guidelines and Ontario's planned rollout is one that 76-year-old Toronto resident Brian Corcoran calls frustrating. "We're not considering elderly people. They don't have that criteria in Ontario," said Corocoran. Corcoran, like many other seniors in Ontario, has called his local health clinic to try to find out when he'd be vaccinated, only to be told staff have received no direction. "By having the seniors in limbo is not good for a lot of people. A lot of people will get depressed. A lot of people will be isolated." Corcoran said he believes in the importance of vaccinating seniors in long-term care homes and front line workers first, but said he doesn't understand why older adults like him aren't included in the first phase after them. It's a sentiment shared by Samel and her husband. "If we should contract COVID, it's most likely that we are going to end up taking up a hospital bed and end up not surviving. That's the bottom line," she said. 'The numbers don't lie' According to Public Health Ontario's figures as of Friday, there have been 5289 COVID deaths in the province. A closer look at the numbers show that of the estimated 5289 deaths, 96 per cent — 5064 people — are aged 60 and over. (The majority — 3137 deaths — have been seniors in long-term care homes, but nearly 2000 estimated deaths have been seniors not in long-term care.) Those figures are prompting some medical professionals and advocates to call for Ontario's vaccination plan to look more closely at older adults. "The numbers don't lie," said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals in Toronto. "And yet our government is basically following a kind of a plan that I don't actually think really follows the science." Sinha questions why some essential workers in hospitals — who don't interact with patients — are being vaccinated before older adults. "The science says that when 96 per cent of the people dying in this pandemic are people older than 60. Why would you make that population wait until April, that 3.5 million people, and start vaccinating 1.5 million essential workers months in advance of that?" Sinha pointed to other countries — such as Israel — that he said have already vaccinated more than 70 per cent of its population over the age of 60 in a matter of weeks. Each province has its own timeline for vaccinating seniors. In British Columbia for example, only those 80 years of age or older who live in the community will be vaccinated before April. In Quebec, the provincial government plans to start vaccinating those 70 years and older by February 15 with the hope that all Quebecers over 70 will get vaccine by April. In Alberta the plan is to start offering vaccines to seniors 75 and older by February. Some seniors' advocates say older adults must be prioritized regardless of where they live. "There is great risk to people who are living in their own homes. They're still visited … by caregivers, by their own family," said Bill VanGorder, chief policy officer with the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) "And we know how bad community spread is right across [Ontario]. Why would we not want to vaccinate them just as quickly as possible first?" WATCH | Why some provinces are delaying 2nd dose of vaccine against recommendations: Ministry response CBC News reached out to the Ontario Ministry of Health to ask why older adults aren't part of Phase 1 and why the province hasn't moved to vaccinate them sooner. In a statement it said the province has the ability to ramp up its capacity to vaccinate more people, but the problem is supply. "We continue to urge the federal government to deliver more COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible to keep up with Ontario's capacity to administer." It added: "As the province continues to receive more doses, we will continue to expand locations across the province to vaccinate our most vulnerable and over time every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized." For Ketty Samel and her husband, that's not good enough. They've started a letter-writing campaign to the provincial government. "They've told us and warned us that we are so vulnerable," said Samel. "If we're so vulnerable, why is nobody looking at this?"
Miramichi Youth House has stepped up and started the process to bring a homeless shelter for adults to the Miramichi. The group's mandate is to provide services to youth ages 16 to 19. The youth house, running under executive director Samantha Fairweather, provides overnight shelter beds, low cost housing and an outreach program. But Fairweather, like many others working in the sector in Miramichi, sees a desperate for services for adults. "Unfortunately, it just seemed that nothing was being done, nothing was coming to life," she said. "So that's where we were inspired to create the project manager position." Fairweather applied to Reaching Home, a federal grant program, and received funding to hire someone. Kaitlin Carroll left her job as a social worker with Horizon Health to become the project manager of the homeless shelter. "It was something that I felt very passionate about," said Carroll. She said exact numbers are hard to come by, but working with different agencies in the region, she estimates there are anywhere from 40 to 80 people experiencing homelessness. "We have folks sleeping in wooded areas in tents, cardboard boxes (and) other types of shelters, sleeping in condemned buildings, cars, breaking into places to stay warm, bank vestibules." said Carroll. And then there are the people who are less visible, those who are couch surfing. "That is the urgent need that is boiling over in our community," said Carroll. She said Miramichi Youth House receives calls on a weekly basis from people looking for a place to stay. After doing a survey of the province and country to see what has worked in other centres of a similar size, Carroll decided the place to start is a six to eight bed shelter, set up in a retrofitted house. The shelter would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Carroll said the Department of Social Development has made an NB Housing unit available, but Robert Duguay, director of communications with the department said the location is still up for discussion. "We are still having discussions to determine how the province can support this initiative," he said. "The type of support will depend on the specifics of the project, funding by other levels of government, as well as stakeholders and the needs identified within the community." Carroll said funding is the barrier every step of the way. She said operational costs are covered, but salaries have not, and Carroll said a number of grant requests have been written and different groups in the Miramichi region have been approached. She'll know by February if the applications were successful, so the best case scenario is the shelter is open in March. "We're ready to press the go button," she said. It can't happen soon enough for Patricia Michaud, executive director of the Miramichi Emergency Centre for Women. Her shelter would normally have 12 beds for woman and children fleeing domestic violence, but since COVID restrictions came into affect, only seven spaces are available, and they are all currently full. Michaud said the shelter receives five to 10 calls a month from women who fall outside her mandate, and she can't accept them. "It's horrible and we hate doing that," she said, adding that exceptions are sometimes made but it depends on how much space is available. "There's always been someone trying to open up something, trying to get a homeless shelter because we've helped them with stats and things like that, but it's never come to fruition," said Michaud. "It's desperately needed." She said she's spoken to Carroll, and has seen how far the project has come in a short time and is hopeful it will happen. But Carroll isn't stopping at a shelter because she understands it's not a solution to the problem. The next step is affordable housing. Miramichi has a 1.3 per cent vacancy rate, much lower than Campbellton's, a city of comparable size, whose vacancy rate is 4.2, according to Statistics Canada. "There's a lot of luxury townhouses and apartments, but not a lot in the affordable housing range," said Carroll. She said it's too early to go into details, but the group is also working on two affordable housing developments, one on each side of the Miramichi River.
In 2006 Brian and Anne Marie Sewell got married on the top of a mountain in March. They made the 12-kilometre trek up Turtle Mountain, near Grand Bay–Westfield, along with their closest friends and family who were willing to go the distance on their snowmobiles and ATVs. Anne Marie had her wedding veil on her snowmobile helmet for the ceremony at the summit. Brian wore his best blue snowmobile suit. With a million-dollar-view stretching all the way to the Bay of Fundy, they each said, "I do." Today, they live at the foot of that mountain in an off-grid log cabin. The peak where they were married is visible from their living room window. At the time of the ceremony the furthest thing from their minds at the time was the possibility of wedding crashers. But both say if they did it all again that wouldn't be the case. There's just too many people. Where they would see a lone hiker pass by their home on the mountain trail, they now see dozens every weekend. "Ten or fifteen years ago you would see the odd person on the road," said Anne Marie Sewell. "But since this year, the pandemic in March, it started in the spring, I would say hundreds." The couple noticed an uptick of hikers two years ago. But they can only describe what they see now as an "explosion of people." Both point to the pandemic as being directly responsible for the hundreds headed past their home and into the woods. "Oh, definitely," said Anne Marie Sewell. "And I think it's great young people are getting out into nature." The trail to a once remote destination has been turned into a highway for those hungry to go somewhere within the limitations placed on them by the pandemic. Herd of hikers The Sewell's aren't alone. Long-time hikers and outdoorsmen have found themselves suddenly not-so-alone in the woods. Jennifer Spinney said she's likely hiked most of New Brunswick's trails. She tries to get out in the forest every day, traversing about 50 kilometres a week through the woods. Being isolated, with only her dogs for company, is the big draw for her. But now that's no longer possible. "There are some trails that I've always banked on being the remote ones, where you're not going to see anyone," said Spinney. "That's changed this year." She names Coac Falls in Upper Queensbury as a spot that used to be favourite for being alone. "The last time I was there I think there were five cars there," said Spinney. "And often that was one that I banked on being solo." Online traffic Most of the trails in New Brunswick are free to use and open to the public, so getting an accurate idea of just how many people are taking to the woods is difficult. But the popular Hiking NB website suggests how many people are looking for directions, and where. "Since the pandemic started the web traffic has pretty much doubled," said James Donald, the owner and creator of the website. His site has more than 800,000 page views in the last 12 months. Last year it was around 450,000. He said trails like Turtle Mountain, which used to be considered too remote for most, are suddenly hotspots as New Brunswickers have spent most of the last year unable or unwilling to leave the province. "People are looking for ways to get out," said Donald. When he's out for a hike, Donald said it's not uncommon to come across a trail head now with 30 cars parked. And with winter weather he said the traffic hasn't slowed down. It just shifted to different destinations. Donald said the cold temperatures are now drawing people to "ice features" including frozen waterfalls, the ice-caked gorge of the Parlee Brook amphitheatre, and the Midland ice caves. And that's been good for the businesses catering to those new at going deep into the woods. Booming business Like most businesses at the start of the pandemic, the Radical Edge in downtown Fredericton had an uncertain future. "It looked pretty bleak," said Kaylee Hopkins, a manager at the Radical Edge. "We didn't have a lot of people coming in." Fast-forward almost a year later and the outdoor adventure store often has a lineup outside on weekends, as the 25-person limit inside has been reached. "It's pretty wild," said Hopkins. "People just want to get out and move." Tents, sleeping bags, and outerwear have all been hot items this past year. She said she has witnessed large amounts of people on the trails this year. But, they don't appear to be springing for new shoes. "We didn't see a lot of traffic in out footwear," said Hopkins "So, it's interesting to see what people are wearing when they're hiking and doing all their outdoor adventures." Leave no mark While some lament the dwindling isolation, the consensus is that it's worth the sacrifice to have more people experience the outdoors. "It's good to know that other people have caught on to the 'love of the woods' or the 'love of hiking,'" said Spinney. "Personally, I like being alone in the woods, so sometimes I'll drive further to get to a place where I know I'll be alone, but that's not a bad thing." And for the Sewell's, who have had to occasionally rescue a hiker who has gotten lost along the way, or had a vehicle stuck in their driveway, they're more than happy to share the natural beauty of where they live. "We enjoy that other people enjoy what we like," said Brian Sewell. "We just hope that they pick up their garbage."
OTTAWA — During his only supper on Canadian soil, Donald Trump told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and their fellow G7 leaders that their table was incomplete. Come 2020, the American president promised to fix that by inviting Russia's Vladimir Putin to his G7 dinner. It was June 2018, four years since Russia had been expelled from what was then the G8 after the Kremlin's invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in February 2014. The Russian occupation of Crimea remains the worst breach of Europe's borders since the Second World War, but on the eve of the Canadian-hosted G7 in Quebec's scenic Charlevoix region, Trump tweeted about wanting to bring Russia back into the fold. Behind closed doors, Trump pursued it with his fellow leaders, recalled Sen. Peter Boehm, who was in the room then as Trudeau's chief G7 organizer, known as a sherpa. "Well, you know, we should have President Putin at the table. And when I host, I'm going to invite him," Boehm, in a recent interview, recalled Trump saying. So went the discussion among the some of the world's most powerful leaders on how to strengthen international co-operation — with the then leader of democratic free world embracing an authoritarian dictator. As the Trump presidency ends in ignominy, the focus is on his Jan. 6 incitement of the insurrectionist mob that stormed Capitol Hill leaving five dead and numerous more exposed to COVID-19. But his warm embrace of authoritarian strongmen around the world, from Putin to North Korea's Kim Jong Un, has also been a hallmark of the Trump presidency, one that played out behind closed doors during his only trip to Canada. Trump never paid an official bilateral visit to Canada, but when he visited for the G7 leaders' summit, he openly displayed his fondness for Putin over a feast of duck breast, Canadian lobster and beef filet, mushrooms and spelt fricassee. Trudeau, Boehm and their fellow Canadians wanted to host an incident-free summit that included Trump, in part to avoid embarrassment but mainly to do no damage to the efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement — which weren't going very well. Only a week earlier, Trump's commerce secretary imposed punitive sanctions on Canadian steel and aluminum in what Wilbur Ross all but admitted was a negotiation tactic. "Of course, I was working for (Trudeau), but I thought he did a pretty good job in maintaining the flow, showing due deference and keeping the discussion going" when Trump took the G7 leaders' conversations in unforeseen directions, said Boehm, now the chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee. That left it to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to challenge Trump on inviting Putin back to the G7. "This sparked some discussion with a few leaders saying that they did not think this was a very good idea, chief of whom was Angela Merkel," said Boehm. A day later, the iconic photo of the stern-faced German chancellor at a post-dinner meeting leaning into a seated Trump emerged, but as Boehm recalled there was more to it than the cropped version that Berlin released. "PM Trudeau is there. I'm in it. There's various versions of that," said Boehm. "But that was the last discussion point, was on the rules-based international order. And that's where there was a difference with the U.S. delegation. The leaders were involved in trying to bridge that difference, which was eventually done." The next day, Trump left the summit early and would later withdraw his support for the G7 communiqué, the agreed-upon closing statement. He tweeted insults at Trudeau from Air Force 1 after the prime minister reiterated his past criticism of Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs — arguments the president had already heard. The explosive finish to the summit obscured the controversy of Trump reaching out to Putin, as Trump jetted off to North Korea for his historic meeting with the reclusive Kim. Sen. Peter Harder, who was the sherpa for prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, in earlier summits said it was "a tragedy in Russian history" to see the country kicked out of the G8 and the blame for that falls squarely on Putin. Russian "insecurity" led to actions in Crimea "and still continuing actions in Ukraine that are repugnant to democratic values and reflect a more traditional authoritarian-bent Russian history," Harder said in an interview. Harder was at Harper's side for his first meeting with Putin at the G8 summit in the Russian leader's hometown of St. Petersburg in 2006. "He's a forceful presence. And he was a proud host," said Harder, the deputy chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee. In discussions, Putin was seized with the threat of homegrown terrorism because of the carnage he was dealing with in Chechnya and was a spirited participant in discussions on climate change, African debt relief and battling polio and malaria in poor countries, said Harder. All of that changed when Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, likely because he was threatened by NATO's accumulation of new members that used to be behind the Iron Curtain, he said. Putin's thirst to consolidate power within Russia made him a full-fledged authoritarian, but it is still a country that must be seriously reckoned with by Western leaders. "Russia's global power is not what it once was because its economic strength has been eclipsed by so many markets and countries. But it still is an important nuclear player," said Harder. That makes the return of steadier hand in the White House under Joe Biden, all the more crucial. "We've forgotten that nuclear proliferation is an important challenge for our time. The risks of nuclear engagement have not gone away, and they need to be managed regularly," said Harder. "By leadership." Despite Trump's 2018 bluster in Quebec, his G7 dinner with Putin never happened. Neither the did the American-hosted G7 summit that was scheduled for the summer of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the United States under Trump, saw to that. Despite the fiascos of the 2018 Charlevoix summit, Boehm said he had good working relations with his American counterpart and his team of dedicated public servants. "There is certainly some scope for rebuilding morale in the U.S. foreign service. That's what I'm hearing. And they might be on track to do that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada's North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The researchers spent several summers sampling migratory Arctic char — the variant of the fish that moves from fresh to saltwater and back again — in rivers across the region, from its northern reaches in the Torngat Mountains all the way south to the tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The study then analyzed the fish's genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and "may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic." "What we think we're seeing with this data is that we can expect there to be declines in this region for decades to come, essentially. That we expect that we will be losing those migratory [southern] populations," said Kara Layton, a study co-author and an associate professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Predicting that the char will shift northward falls in line with already known science, said Layton. "We have seen this already in things, like plants and birds and that, so we know these sorts of trends, and this loss of the southern range contraction is happening elsewhere," she said. Scientific research on Labrador's Arctic char stocks is fairly thin, with study co-author Ian Bradbury saying the new work has helped map out the char's DNA and fill in some blanks about population, past and present. But overall, there's no solid understanding of just how many fish are out there. "We've started to scratch the surface in understanding which populations are going to be vulnerable, of Arctic char in Labrador. But I still think there's a lot of unknowns in terms of understanding how many individuals we have there and what the magnitude of these changes that are coming actually will be," said Bradbury, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John's. Labrador is predicted to warm much more than the island portion of the province, according to provincial climate data that shows Nain could be 7.3 C warmer in winter by 2050. With the new Arctic char knowledge assembled and published, Bradbury said it gives both scientists and communities information to help direct work around the species in a rapidly changing world. "It's something that I think really does further stress the need to mitigate climate change impacts, and it does give us something that we can start to monitor, so that we can start to prepare for these changes as they occur," he said. 'Crying' for more science: harvesters Arctic char is a highly prized traditional food in Inuit communities, such as the five within Nunatisavut territory on Labrador's north coast. The only commercial fishery for Arctic char in Newfoundland and Labrador is based in that region, where the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative holds the distinction of operating the province's northernmost fish plant, in Nain. The head of the co-op said he doesn't get any comfort from the study's findings that his region's char could fare better than its southern counterparts. While Keith Watts welcomes the new research, he said far more of it needs to be done. "We've been crying and asking for more science from DFO, because it is their responsibility, for quite some time — decades," said Watts, the co-op's general manager. Watts said the co-op's annual harvest is well below the DFO-set quota, taking only up to 40 per cent of what's allowed. People in Nunatsiavut can also fish their own Arctic char through the Inuit domestic harvest program, but as Watts said that amount is also largely untracked, he's concerned about increasing commercial fishing in the face of so many unknowns. "We're not comfortable with the fact that there's not enough science on the abundance of the species. We don't want to put it into jeopardy," he said. From a business standpoint, the co-op's small catch doesn't make the Arctic char fishery viable, Watts said. The co-op offsets those losses from more lucrative species, as well as subsidies from the Nunatsiavut government, to ensure people can buy the fish either in Nain or the co-op's storefront in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "Arctic char is very important to Nunatsiavut people and always has been, and always will be. Because of the decline of other things, such as caribou, and food insecurity in the north coast, Arctic char is very important," said Watts. Labrador: 'at the forefront of climate change' That cultural importance is not only cultural, but also ecological. Labrador's Arctic char live throughout the entire region's coast, which means they've adapted to very different temperature conditions, that Layton and Bradbury said can vary by as much as 10 C from its southern to northern edges, or what they call a "steep environmental gradient." That range in latitude, in a rapidly warming world, means an uncertain future for Labrador. "It's a region that I really think is going to be at the forefront of climate change impacts," said Bradbury. As such impacts happen, the char could act as a bellwether for Labrador's larger biodiversity, and better understanding how Arctic char have evolved to their current surroundings by looking at their DNA could help. "We know that its a really, really important species, and one that can tell us a lot, I think, about climate impacts more broadly," said Bradbury. As Watts and the co-op call for more science to be done, there is more research in the works. The Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat is setting up a char-counting fence in the Fraser River, which empties into Nain Bay. Watts said the work was delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Bradbury said he'll continue the study's work, with more genetic sampling of char to come in summers ahead, in the hopes of refining their predictions and figuring out how many fish the future holds. "I think the only way we're actually going to start to get at that is through continued monitoring, and being in Labrador, and using some of these new approaches to start quantifying changes as we see them," he said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
David Pontone's voice still shakes as he recalls having to crawl out of Toronto's Humber River Hospital on his hands and knees. "The pain was unbearable," said Pontone. "To be able to walk properly was impossible." It happened on April 18, 2018, but involved a lengthy battle for his family to obtain video footage of the event. The 45-year-old had gone to emergency, complaining of excruciating pain in his legs. Pontone also told medical staff he took medication for bipolar affective disorder — a mental illness that causes severe depression and episodes of mania — but that he'd been stable for seven years. He says that disclosure affected his treatment. "They thought I was faking it because I was bipolar," Pontone told Go Public. "There are no words to describe what I went through that night." One of Canada's leading psychiatric experts says overlooking serious physical health issues in people who struggle with mental illness is a widespread problem — and that it can severely shorten their lifespans. "We are failing this population miserably," said Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, psychiatrist and physician-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital. WATCH | Video shows man crawling from hospital after calls for help dismissed: "They go in for a broken leg and get sent to psychiatry to check their head." Pontone says he hopes sharing his story will prevent others from experiencing an ordeal like his. "I was mistreated. Misjudged. It should never be repeated, with any person," he said. When Pontone arrived at emergency he was seen by a doctor who ordered an MRI but also referred him to an on-call psychiatrist after learning about his mental illness. In medical records obtained by Go Public, the psychiatrist noted that "anxiety" seemed to be Pontone's most dominant symptom — despite Pontone having said he was in a great deal of pain and had been suffering from increasing leg pain for a month. Another note says the reason for Pontone's visit is "bipolar" — not his inability to walk. When the MRI didn't find anything unusual, the psychiatrist discharged Pontone. "As soon as they got the results … they took off the blankets and started saying, 'Come on, get up! You're fine, there's nothing wrong with you!'" said Pontone. 'Totally helpless' Video cameras at the exit captured Pontone as he was ordered to leave. The footage shows Pontone lying on the hallway floor, struggling to stand. As he gets to his hands and knees and crawls toward the exit, a nurse walks next to him, escorting him out. Passersby stop to look at the spectacle, but the nurse encourages Pontone to keep going. "The nurse kept saying, 'You're a big boy! You're strong! Come on, big boy, stand up!'" said Pontone. "I've always been a gentleman, but I was angry. I felt totally helpless." It took Pontone about 20 minutes to reach the exit. A security guard later helped him to a waiting taxi. He says the doctors had made him think his pain was "all in his head," so a few days later, he made his way to CAMH, where a psychiatrist immediately determined that his suffering had nothing to do with his mental health. An ambulance took him to Toronto Western Hospital in downtown Toronto, where a neurologist diagnosed Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. Five weeks later, the family met with Humber management. They hadn't seen the video yet, but chief nursing executive Vanessa Burkoski had screened it and told them she was disturbed by what she saw. She apologized, and told the family they could have the video once people's faces had been blurred for privacy. In a follow-up meeting two months later, the family viewed the video for the first time. "They let him go, like a dog, outside," said Pontone's mother, Lucia. "Nobody should be treated like that." "It's hard to understand how the hospital thought this was OK," said Pontone's sister Laura. "It was humiliating. It was not OK." Pontone wanted a copy of the video, but in spite of Burkoski's earlier assurances, the hospital now said it couldn't hand the footage over, in case Pontone unblurred the faces of other people. The hospital took the matter to Ontario's Privacy Commissioner, stating it didn't feel comfortable giving Pontone the video and that a cybersecurity expert would have to be hired for about ten hours to use multi-layered obscuring technology, so Pontone couldn't unblur the faces later. It also said Pontone would have to pay the cost and sign an agreement, promising not to share the video. The Pontones met with Toronto personal injury lawyer Harrison Cooper, who offered to work pro bono after hearing about his ordeal. "In Canada we pride ourselves on evolving to understand mental illness," said Cooper. "And we don't want incidents like this — where someone who has a mental illness isn't treated the same way someone without mental illness is treated." The fight took two years to resolve. The privacy commissioner ruled Pontone could have the footage if basic blurring was done, stating that Pontone had shown no indication he wanted to reveal other people's faces. The hospital paid for the blurring and shared the footage. Hospital 'deeply troubled' Go Public requested an interview with a spokesperson for Humber River Hospital, which was declined. In a statement spokesperson Joe Gorman said the hospital was "deeply troubled" by Pontone's experience and that the staff involved "were dealt with accordingly." "Every patient at Humber River Hospital deserves compassionate, professional and respectful care from our staff," Gorman wrote. Go Public has learned that the nurse who escorted Pontone out of the hospital was fired. Gorman wouldn't say whether any of the doctors were disciplined. 'Diagnostic overshadowing' Stergiopoulos was not involved when Pontone visited CAMH. But she says it's so common for health-care professionals to blame mental illness for people's physical health concerns that there's a term for it — "diagnostic overshadowing." She recalls, several decades ago, "having to take a patient of mine with serious mental illness to the oncologist who had refused to treat her just because she had a mental illness." "It was through advocacy that I managed to get her into treatment and she was treated successfully," she said. "And to see that persist so many years later, it's really heartbreaking. I think we can do better and I think we should do better." A 2019 Lancet Psychiatry Commission reviewed the findings of almost 100 systemic reviews that examined the presence of medical conditions among people worldwide with mental illness. It found that people with serious mental illness have a life expectancy that's up to 25 years shorter than the general population. "The statistics are indeed shocking," said Stergiopoulos. "And what is most shocking is that they're persisting despite us knowing about these issues for many years now." She says several factors can be behind the shortened life expectancy for people with mental health issues — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a lack of disease prevention services — but a key reason is stigma and discrimination by health-care workers. At the root of the problem, says Stergiopoulos, health-care professionals see physical and mental health as separate. "This is flawed and we need to do a better job at seeing people as human beings." Pontone spent almost four months undergoing intensive rehabilitation, but considers himself lucky to be able to walk again — Guillain-Barré Syndrome can worsen rapidly and attack the organs. It can also lead to full-body paralysis and possibly death. His mother hopes that speaking out will benefit other people with mental illness who need help with a physical problem. "I want the hospital to change the way they look at mental health," she says. "So that this doesn't happen again."
CAIRO — The death toll from tribal violence between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province climbed to at least 83, including women and children, a doctor’s union and aid worker said, as sporadic violence continued Sunday. The ruling sovereign council met Sunday and said security forces would be deployed to the area. The deadly clashes grew out of a fistfight Friday between two people in a camp for displaced people in Genena, the provincial capital. An Arab man was stabbed to death and his family, from the Arab Rizeigat tribe, attacked the people in the Krinding camp and other areas Saturday. Among the dead was a U.S. citizen. Saeed Baraka, 36, from Atlanta, had arrived in Sudan less than two months ago to visit his family in Darfur, his wife, Safiya Mohammed, told The Associated Press over the phone. The father of three children rushed to relieve a neighbour amid the clashes in the Jabal village in West Darfur, when he was shot in his head Saturday, his brother-in-law Juma Salih said. Baraka's wife said the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum phoned her to offer condolences. The embassy did not return phone calls and emails from AP seeking comment. The violence led to local authorities imposing a round-the-clock curfew on the entire province. Besides the 83 killed, at least 160 others were wounded, according to Sudan’s doctors’ committee in West Darfur. It said there were troops among the wounded. It said clashes subsided by midday on Sunday and the security situation started to improve. The committee is part of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded a popular uprising that eventually led to the military's ouster of longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The clashes pose a challenge to efforts by Sudan’s transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur, where most people live in camps for the displaced and refugees. Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy and is being ruled by a joint military-civilian government. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is deeply concerned” about the violence and “calls on the Sudanese authorities to expend all efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring an end to the fighting,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said. The bout of violence came two weeks after the U.N. Security Council ended the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s mandate in the region. The UNAMID force, established in 2007, is expected to complete its withdrawal by June 30. It also puts into question the transitional government’s ability to stabilize the conflict-ravaged Darfur region. Salah Saleh, a physician and former medical director at the main hospital in Genena, said clashes renewed Sunday morning at the Abu Zar camp for internally displaced people, south of the provincial capital. He said most of the victims were shot dead, or suffered gunshot wounds. Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in Darfur, said there were overnight attacks on Krinding. He shared footage showing properties burned to the ground, and wounded people on stretchers and in hospital beds. Authorities in West Darfur imposed a curfew beginning Saturday that includes the closing of all markets and a ban on public gatherings. The central government in Khartoum also said Saturday a high-ranking delegation, chaired by the country’s top prosecutor, was heading to the province to help re-establish order. A database by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, showed that inter-communal violence across Darfur region doubled in the second half of 2020, with at least 28 incidents compared to 15 between July and December 2019. West Darfur province experienced a “significant increase” of violence last year, with half of the 40 incidents reported in the entire Darfur region, OCHA said Sunday. Samy Magdy, The Associated Press
France is expanding the eligibility for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Around 6 million people can now have the jab. Those over 75 can have their first dose along with anyone in a high-risk group, such as those with serious health conditions.View on euronews
BRUSSELS — Women in Europe doing jobs requiring the same skills as jobs done by men are still being paid significantly less, according to a study by the the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The major trade union organization, which represents 45 million members in 38 European countries, compared wages in two countries from Western and Eastern Europe — Germany and Romania — looking at women working in the sector of household appliances and men working in car manufacturing. The organization looked at several criteria including skills, physical effort and responsibility. It compared full-time workers of the same age and with a permanent contract working for medium-sized companies. In Germany, ETUC said, women in the white goods sector earn €865 less per month in gross income than men making cars, for jobs requiring similar skills. In Romania, where wages are significantly lower, the average difference in net income is €244, ETUC said. “Comparing the pay of women and men in the manufacturing sector shows clearly how women are paid less even when their jobs require the same levels of skill and physical effort as those of men,” ETUC deputy general secretary Esther Lynch said. “The COVID crisis has also exposed the deep-rooted bias behind wages for professions dominated by women, with carers and cleaners recognized as ‘essential’ despite being amongst the lowest paid.” Last year, using data from the EU's statistical office, the trade union organization said women would have to wait for another 84 years and the next century to achieve equal pay at the current pace of change. ETUC called on the European executive commission to quickly come forward with its pay transparency directive. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had planned to present measures to introduce binding pay transparency measures in the first 100 days of her mandate, but the proposals have yet to be unveiled. “Quality is more important than speed in this case,” EU commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. “We'll come forward with proposals in the coming months." The Associated Press
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament has passed decisions made by a major ruling party meeting where leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent and established plans to salvage the country's battered economy. The North’s Korean Central News Agency said Monday that members of the Supreme People’s Assembly during Sunday’s meeting unanimously supported the development plans for the next five years that were revealed during the Workers’ Party congress that ended last week. The assembly also approved a major reshuffle of the Cabinet, which Kim had criticized over failures in economic policies. KCNA said six of the Cabinet’s eight premiers were replaced. North Korean premier Kim Tok Hun, who has led the Cabinet since August after his predecessor was sacked, said during a speech at the assembly that “serious mistakes” were observed while the Cabinet implemented the previous five-year development plan that ended last year. Reports and images from state media suggested Kim Jong Un did not attend the assembly. State media also didn’t mention a reshuffling of the State Affairs Commission, the government’s highest decision-making body that is led by Kim. Meetings of the Supreme People’s Assembly are usually brief, annual affairs that are intended to approve budgets, formalize personnel changes and rubber-stamp policy priorities set by Kim and the ruling party leadership. During the party congress, Kim called for accelerated national efforts to build a military arsenal that could viably target Asian U.S. allies and the American homeland and announced a long wish-list of new sophisticated assets, including longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, spy satellites and tactical nuclear weapons. But it’s unclear whether North Korea is fully capable of developing such systems. While the country is believed to have accumulated dozens of nuclear weapons, outside estimates of the exact status of its nuclear and missile program vary widely. The North showcased some of its most advanced strategic assets during a nighttime military parade on Thursday, including what appeared to be a new ballistic missile that is being developed to be be fired from submarines. In an article published last week on 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, analyst Michael Elleman said that the new missile was similar in size with another submarine-launched ballistic missile the North rolled out during a parade in October. He noted that the new missile, which the North designated as “Pukguksong-5,” had a payload shroud that was slightly longer than the previous one. “These dimensional similarities indicate North Korea is still in the process of settling on a specific design for its next-generation SLBM,” said Elleman, who projected the Pukguksong-5 to have a possible range of around 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) when completed. But “there have been no reports of North Korea ground testing large solid-rocket motors recently, another indication that the Pukguksong-5 design remains on the drawing board," he said. Analysts say Kim, with his repeated hardline comments, is trying to pressure the incoming U.S, administration of Joe Biden, who inherits stalled nuclear talks from President Donald Trump that imploded over disagreements over sanctions and disarmament. Kim also used the congress to announce new national development plans for the next five years to salvage his broken economy. Some analysts say the prolonged sanctions combined with pandemic-related border closures and natural disasters that wiped out crops last year are possibly setting conditions for an economic perfect storm in the North that destabilizes markets and triggers public panic and unrest. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness's spread. The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada's handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here's what they had to say. John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says. "That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate," he says. No such tests have been approved in Canada yet. "We've been saying this all along, so it's not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine." Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day. "We haven't seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection." He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don't cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots. Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus's incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security. Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments' support for people suffering in the crisis should continue. He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important. "Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better." David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker. Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada. "Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September," he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they've mostly sat unused. "Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There's a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them," he says. Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall. He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they're used properly. A federal advisory panel's report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says. "I'm happy to see we're slowly shifting from the point of view of 'Should we use rapid tests?' to a point of view (of) 'How can we best use them?'" More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says. "We still don't have enough capacity to test everyone so we'd have to use them in a strategic way." Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise. He says the late lockdowns in Canada won't be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading. "Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome." He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges. "If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens," he said. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada's COVID-19 therapeutics task force: Canada's federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard. "There's a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It's greatly impacted the efficiency of the response," he says. The problems in long-term care homes are examples. "Quebec is screaming they want money but they're refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care," he says. "I think it's heinous." He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation. "It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble," he says. Sheppard says he doesn't think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic. "Remember that we don't have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds," he says. "There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings." He suggested that the current immunization campaign's goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct. "The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the 'susceptibles' in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
The Quebec government is investing $19 million into educating, recruiting and training workers for the information technology sector — a sector that has been stretched even thinner by the pandemic. With an unprecedented number of people working from home, IT specialists have been in higher demand than ever before. The sector was already suffering from a workforce shortage before COVID-19 made landfall, with 6,500 positions left unfilled. The government's most recent investment aims to fill roughly 4,500 of those posts, ensuring some 900 companies are able to staff crucial IT roles. Labour Minister Jean Boulet said the funding will also help retrain those who've lost their jobs since March. "During the pandemic, many young people, women, immigrants lost their jobs," he said. "They've become extremely affected by the pandemic, and we have to help them get re-qualified or upscale their capacity." The recruitment campaign began in December under the motto "On cherche du mode," or in English, "We are looking for people." Of the investment, $15 million will go toward offering financial support to businesses in the IT sector, assisting with recruitment outside of Quebec, according to a government announcement. Another $4 million will help unemployed people get into short-term training programs at the college or university level. That investment is expected to give 500 people a career boost. The initiative is in addition to other actions aimed at attracting workers into fields such as visual effects, computer animation and video games, the province said. 'Upsurge in career changes' This funding comes at a time when an increasing number of people, many well into their career, are changing fields, according to Pier-Samuel Goulet-Côté, admissions counsellor at Collège O'Sullivan de Québec. "What we have noticed since the start of the pandemic is really an upsurge in career changes," he said. His school has hybrid classrooms set up that allow students to come in person or attend classes from home. "I would say that we are riding the wave since we offer a lot of online training," Goulet-Côté told Radio-Canada. He said a large proportion of students who enrol in IT programs are mid-career workers who want to upgrade or simply change jobs. For a 45-year-old who has a career, a house, a car, and children, it's not easy to dedicate so much time to schooling, Goulet-Côté said, but this government program could help. If companies want to recruit and retain IT professionals in the current job market, he said, they will have to do their part by offering training and skill development.
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Aid was reaching the thousands of people left homeless and struggling after an earthquake that killed at least 84 people on an Indonesian island where rescuers intensified their work Monday to find those buried in the rubble. More rescuers and volunteers were deployed in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the magnitude 6.2 quake struck early Friday, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson. He said nearly 20,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 900 people were injured, with nearly 300 of them still receiving treatment for serious injuries. A total of 73 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene, said Didi Hamzar, the disaster agency's director of preparedness. He said rescuers also managed to pull 18 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed houses and buildings. Mahatir, a relief co-ordinator for volunteer rescuers, said his team was trying to reach many people in six isolated villages in Majene district after the quake damaged roads and bridges. Aid and other logistic supplies can be distributed only by foot over the severe terrain, said Mahatir who goes by one name. In a virtual news conference, Hamzar said that three helicopters were taking aid supplies Monday to four cut-off villages in Majene. In other hard hit areas. water, which has been in short supply, as well as food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks. The military said it sent five planes carrying rescue personnel, food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers. Volunteers and rescue personnel erected more temporary shelters for those left homeless in Mamuju and Majene. Most were barely protected by makeshift shelters that were lashed by heavy monsoon downpours. Only a few were lucky to be protected by tarpaulin-covered tents. They said they were running low on food, blankets and other aid, as emergency supplies were rushed to the hard-hit region. Police and soldiers were deployed to guard vehicles carrying relief goods and grocery stores from looting that occurred in some areas, said Muhammad Helmi, who heads the West Sulawesi police’s operation unit. Jati said at least 1,150 houses in Majene were damaged and the agency was still collecting data on damaged houses and buildings in Mamuju. Mamuju, the provincial capital of nearly 300,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. The governor’s office building was almost flattened and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. The disaster agency said the evacuees are in dire need of basic necessities — blankets, mats, tents, baby food and medical services. The disaster agency’s chief, Doni Monardo, said authorities were trying to separate high- and lower-risk groups and provided tens of thousands of anti-coronavirus masks for those needing shelters. He said authorities would also set up health posts at the camps to test people for the virus. People being housed in temporary shelters were seen standing close together, many of them without masks, saying that they difficult to observe health protocols in this emergency situation. West Sulawesi province has recorded more than 2,500 cases of the coronavirus, including 58 deaths. Indonesia has confirmed nearly 908,000 cases and almost 26,000 fatalities. Many on Sulawesi island are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated Palu city in 2018, setting of a tsunami and a phenomenon called liquefaction in which soil collapses into itself. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is lined with seismic faults and is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. ____ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
JERUSALEM — Israeli military aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip early on Monday in response to two rockets fired from the Palestinian territory, the military said. In a statement, the military said fighter jets hit Hamas military targets, including sites for digging underground tunnels, some of which stretch into Israel. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the airstrikes. There were also no reports of damage or injury from the rockets launched. It was not immediately clear who fired the rockets. Hamas maintains an unofficial cease-fire with Israel, but Israel holds the group responsible for any fire emanating from Gaza. Hamas meanwhile accuses Israel of failing to honour its truce obligations, which include easing a crippling blockade on the Palestinian enclave, and allowing for large-scale infrastructure and job-creation projects. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized power of the coastal enclave in 2007. While no major confrontation has occurred since 2014, there are often cross-border skirmishes and flare-ups between the sides. While militant rocket attacks and Israeli retaliatory artillery and aerial strikes are frequent, they have largely been subdued in recent months due to the coronavirus outbreaks in both territories. The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo parlours today as the province relaxes a few of its COVID-19 restrictions. Starting today, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said last week that Alberta can't entirely ease up, but that it can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that easing rules now will act as a test case, and that COVID-19 case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. Since early December when COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, outdoor gatherings were banned and restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. Alberta reported 750 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 19 more deaths. Hinshaw said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world, and she said funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk for transmission. Shandro said last week that hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and pose a threat to the province's health system capacity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Public Health reported 26 new cases of COVID-19, affecting five zones, on Monday and 304 active cases across the province. The department did not hold a public update, but the new cases break down as follows: Moncton region, Zone 1, seven cases: three people 30-39 three people 40-49 an individual 60-69 Saint John region, Zone 2, nine cases: three people 19 or under two people 20-29 two people 30-39 two people 60-69 Fredericton region, Zone 3, seven cases: two people 19 or under two people 30-39 two people 40-49 an individual 60-69 Edmundston region, Zone 4, two cases: an individual 20-29; and an individual 60-69. Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 50-59. All of these people are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation. One person is in hospital, and 174,195 tests have been conducted, including 1,487 since Sunday's report. As of Monday, Public Health has received 11,175 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and administered 7,732 doses, with 3,443 held for the second of two required doses. A total of 1,862 New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated so far. In a news release Monday afternoon, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, warned that although New Brunswick cannot shut COVID-19 out completely, "we must do everything we can to prevent it from spreading within our province." "We have kept the avalanche of cases out of New Brunswick so far. We must act now to keep this virus from doing even more damage than we are already seeing, especially with transmission now in workplaces." 20 cases linked to Nadeau poultry plant The Nadeau Ferme Avicole slaughterhouse in Saint-François-de-Madawaska has closed its plant until at least Friday because of a COVID-19 outbreak, director Yves Landry said Monday. New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health Jennifer Russell confirmed that at least 20 cases are linked to the abattoir outbreak, according to Radio-Canada. Landry said he is aware of 16 confirmed cases at the plant, and the other four cases are connected to those individuals. Most workers at Nadeau Ferme Avicole come from the Edmundston and Clair region in New Brunswick, with about 25 workers coming from Quebec and two from Maine, Landry said. The plant is minutes from the New Brunswick-Maine border. A first mass screening at the plant was carried out on Friday and another clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, Landry said. The closure will make it possible to carry out a thorough cleaning of the installations and to complete the search for close contacts. Landry said poultry destined for the slaughterhouse in Saint-François-de-Madawaska will be redistributed in other slaughterhouses, including that of Sunnymel in Clair, but also in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. In December, the two New Brunswick slaughterhouses processed chicken following the closure of a plant in Nova Scotia battling a COVID-19 outbreak. Another Quispamsis school confirms a case The Anglophone South School District is reporting a case of COVID-19 at a school in Quispamsis. In an email to parents, superintendent Zoe Watson said a case has been confirmed at Quispamsis Middle School. Watson said the district is working with Public Health to contact students who may have come in contact with the infected individual. She said if parents weren't contacted directly, it is safe to send their children to school. On Thursday, a case was reported at Kennebecasis Valley High School, which is also in Quispamsis. Four other schools in the province confirmed COVID-19 cases over the weekend. This includes two more schools in the Anglophone South School District, Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield and Millidgeville North School in Saint John. Two schools in the Anglophone East School District have also announced confirmed cases: Riverview East School and Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough. When will Air Canada service return? It's complicated A former executive says it may be a while before Air Canada service resumes at the Fredericton airport. Last week, the airline announced service to Fredericton would be temporarily suspended starting this week Duncan Dee, former chief operating officer of Air Canada, said Monday that with travel restrictions put in place by the federal government, vaccine delays and several health zones in the province either returning to red or on the cusp of it, flying into New Brunswick isn't an easy sell. "The situation is certainly far from ideal for a return to air service into Fredericton," Dee said on Information Morning Fredericton. Even if the pandemic were to end tomorrow, Dee said, service wouldn't be able to start up again immediately. "Aircraft that have been sitting around and not flying, not being operated for some time, have to undergo maintenance and safety checks before they can return to service and that takes time," he said. As well, he said, pilots who are not flying a minimum number of takeoffs and landings a month have to undergo training to get back to service, and airport staff may have had their security clearances expire while they were off work. "Those have to be renewed," Dee said. Currently, the only airport in the province seeing any Air Canada flights is the Moncton airport. Dee said the airline will probably evaluate a return to Saint John and Fredericton based on how well flights in Moncton do. "If they look at the situation and see that they're able to serve the New Brunswick market through just the one airport in Moncton, then they're going to have to seriously consider whether or not it's worth the expense of opening up service in Saint John and Fredericton again," said Dee. COVID-19 numbers increase over weekend Public Health reported 63 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, including a single-day record of 36 cases on Sunday. Thirty-one cases were recorded in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, with 11 of them linked to an outbreak at Nadeau Poultry in Saint-François de Madawaska. The increase forced the province to move Zone 4 back to the red phase, with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell warning that more regions could be moved back as well if the record trend doesn't reverse. "We're at the maximum of what we can deal with in the short term," she said at a media briefing on Sunday. As of Sunday, there were 292 active cases in the province with one person in hospital. Saint Johner in China says it's mostly back to normal A Saint Johner living in China says life has basically returned to normal in the world's most populous country and the first to report cases of COVID-19 more than a year ago. "Aside from everybody still wearing masks, which is mostly voluntary at this point," said Samantha Kim Dean, who lives in Chongqing, about 1,100 kilometres northwest of Hong Kong. COVID-19 was first detected in China in late 2019. This eventually led to a national lockdown that lasted months. Things have changed a lot since then, "Everything's open," Dean said. "All the kids are back to school, they've been back for a while. Movie theatres are open. Restaurants are in full swing. So we're pretty much back to normal where I am." That's not to say the virus is gone in China. There have been several smaller outbreaks of COVID-19 recently in the northeast of the country and China's National Health Commission said Friday that 1,001 people were being treated for COVID-19. Part of China's success with tackling the coronavirus may be related to its totalitarian form of government, which can quickly and forcefully react to the disease. "They're pretty quick with cracking down on it," said Dean. "The contact tracing is extremely fast and everybody gets free testing done. So, yeah, they're pretty fast at containing any small breakouts that happen." Dean said the Communist country has higher rates of compliance with government orders but also has a more collective mindset. "Overall, it was this, sort of, you know, 'we're in this together. If we all do what we're supposed to do now, then we'll be free soon,' which is kind of what happens," said Dean. She said if she could give one piece of advice to New Brunswickers it would be to wear masks. "I know it's a huge nuisance and some people don't think it works," Dean said. "And there's a bunch of debates within, you know, different communities online and things like that. But it seems to work. And if we find out in 10 years that it didn't work, then, you know, that's not a huge inconvenience to wear it." Public exposure warnings for two flights Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights: Dec. 31 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 11:23 a.m. Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
A 29-year-od Wha Ti man accused of murdering another man in Yellowknife this month has a long and increasingly violent criminal history. Morin Lee Nitsiza, also known a Morin Mike Nitsiza and Moran Nitsiza, was arrested Jan. 10, two days after another man was found dead near the downtown homeless shelter and sobering centre. According to court records, Nitsiza has been in almost constant trouble with the law since he was a teenager. He has been convicted of assault, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, sexual assault, sexual interference, break and enter, and theft and robbery. In 2011 he was expelled from school for threatening to kill the principal of the Wha Ti school he was attending. In a background report prepared for his sentencing for making that threat, a probation officer noted, "Morin indicated he had no plan to follow through on his words and further states, 'That's just not in me. I may have the courage to fight someone but not to stab or kill someone.'" In early 2018 Nitisza was convicted of slashing another man with a knife in Sombe K'e Park in Yellowknife.The same year he was convicted of breaking and entering a downtown convenience store. According to a background report prepared for his sentencing on the break and enter charge, Nitsiza said he was black out drunk and had no memory of the robbery. "Morin is hopeful that he can establish a healthier lifestyle following his sentence," noted another probation officer in a report prepared for that sentencing. Two attempts at residential treatment According to the background reports, Nitsiza's parents split up when he was five years old. His mother took him and his siblings to Yellowknife. He was placed into care a few years later, after his mother lost her job and started drinking excessively. He remained in foster care the rest of his adult life. A doctor who examined Nitsiza when he was an infant, noticed he was very slow to develop motor skills and suspected he was suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, according to one of the background reports. He was formally diagnosed with FASD when he was four years old and, again, at the age of 16, according to the reports. Nitsiza has never been employed. He began smoking cannabis and drinking when he was 14 and dropped out of school after he was expelled. "I got tired of going to school and seeing the same faces," he told a probation officer. Nitsiza attended two residential counselling programs, according to the probation officers' reports. He was at Ranch Ehrlo in Regina in 2007. "He went AWOL numerous times (13 in total) and did not complete the program," noted one of the probation officers. He committed a robbery while he was in Regina taking the program. From February 2009 to August 2010 Nitsiza attended the PLEA program for troubled youth in Vancouver. He was kicked out of the program when he was charged with assault with a weapon. Nitsiza is currently being held a the North Slave Correctional Centre on the murder charge. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 17.