The RCMP have opened a criminal negligence investigation into thedeath from COVID-19 of a worker at an Alberta meat plant. An outbreakat the Cargill meat processing plant near High River, south ofCalgary, in May affected 950 essential workers.
The RCMP have opened a criminal negligence investigation into thedeath from COVID-19 of a worker at an Alberta meat plant. An outbreakat the Cargill meat processing plant near High River, south ofCalgary, in May affected 950 essential workers.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
The role of Canada's vice-regal has been held by a wide variety of people, from British nobles to military leaders to humanitarian advocates. Here is a list of all those who have served as Canada's governor general since Confederation: — Viscount Monck: 1861-1868 Lord Lisgar: 1868-1872 Earl of Dufferin: 1872-1878 Duke of Argyll: 1878-1883 Marquess of Lansdowne: 1883-1888 Earl of Derby: 1888-1893 Earl of Aberdeen: 1893-1898 Earl of Minto: 1898-1904 Earl Grey: 1904-1911 Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught: 1911-1916 Duke of Devonshire: 1916-1921 Lord Byng: 1921-1926 Viscount Willingdon: 1926-1931 Earl of Bessborough: 1931-1935 Lord Tweedsmuir: 1935-1940 Earl of Athlone: 1940-1946 Viscount Alexander: 1946-1952 Vincent Massey: 1952-1959 Georges Vanier: 1959-1967 Roland Michener: 1967-1974 Jules Léger: 1974-1979 Edward Schreyer: 1979-1984 Jeanne Sauvé: 1984-1990 Ramon Hnatyshyn: 1990-1995 Roméo LeBlanc: 1995-1999 Adrienne Clarkson: 1999-2005 Michaëlle Jean: 2005-2010 David Johnston: 2010-2017 Julie Payette: 2017-2021 This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan says the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations will start to slow in the province as it marked the deadliest day yet of the pandemic. Health officials said Thursday that 13 more residents have died, nine of whom were 80 and older, for a total of 239 deaths. The Ministry of Health reported 227 new infections in the province and 197 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. It says 91 per cent of the vaccine doses received to date have gone into the arms of critical health-care workers, long-term care staff and vulnerable seniors, for a total of more than 29,000 shots. But the ministry says vaccine supply will run short because there are no new deliveries coming next week. A ministry spokeswoman says the province is still figuring out how it's going to adjust its vaccine rollout in light of the supply interruption from Pfizer-BioNTech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Oct. 2, 2017: Julie Payette is sworn in as Canada's fourth female Governor General, taking over from David Johnston. Nov. 1, 2017: Payette takes on fake news and bogus science, criticizing climate change deniers, believers in creationism and even horoscopes at a convention on science policy, rankling some critics but earning plaudits from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau January 2018: Payette appoints as her top adviser Assunta Di Lorenzo, a close friend and corporate lawyer with no prior experience in protocol or the governor general's operations. October 2018: One year into her tenure, Payette has attended 195 official events compared to more than 250 for the last two governors general, raising questions around her work ethic. She also breaks with a tradition that saw previous governors general visit all provinces and territories in their first year, as she skipped Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon. July 21, 2020: CBC News reports that Payette had yelled at and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit amid a toxic work environment. July 23, 2020: The Privy Council Office says it will launch an independent review of allegations that Payette mistreated past and current employees at Rideau Hall. Aug. 7, 2020: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says public office holders should be mindful of how they spend taxpayers' money following a CBC report that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on designs and renovations to Rideau Hall, some allegedly at Payette's personal request, for privacy, accessibility and security reasons. Sept. 1, 2020: The Privy Council Office announces it has hired Quintet Consulting Corp., an Ottawa-based consulting firm with a history of reviewing harassment allegations on Parliament Hill, to conduct a third-party probe into workplace culture at Rideau Hall. Sept. 2, 2020: Trudeau comes to the defence of the embattled Payette, saying Canada has an "excellent" representative for the Queen and that now is not the time to replace the former astronaut at Rideau Hall. Jan. 21, 2021: Payette resigns ahead of the expected release of the third-party investigation report, a move unprecedented in the history of Canadian governors general. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, explained on Thursday that with the emergence of more COVID-19 variants that are more transmissible, more people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
The Canadian government anticipates that at least 95 per cent of the Canadian population will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the third quarter of the year, between July and September.
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
“If I ever got a chance to speak to the Biden administration, I would plead my case,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, president of Natural Law Energy (NLE). That “case” would be the value in continuing the United States’ portion of the 1,897-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline which travels from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Montana and South Dakota, ending in Steele City, Nebraska. Yesterday, in his first day in office, new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor Donald Trump’s Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. NLE, a group of three Alberta and two Saskatchewan First Nations, has been working towards a $1 billion investment in the TC Energy-owned Keystone XL pipeline. “It's a disappointment, right? It really is because it's going to affect many First Nations, even the tribes in the United States. It's going to affect them because TC Energy was almost close to actually signing up joint venture partnerships with those in the United States side,” said Francis. He says chairmen of the Nebraska tribes have told him that Biden wants to create jobs and this pipeline meets that goal. First Nations involvement was recognized by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a scathing address late Wednesday afternoon that condemned the new U.S. administration for rescinding the permit and not respecting its closest ally and trading partner. “Let me also point out that TC Energy has made tremendous progress in bringing on board First Nations on both sides of the border as potential equity partners,” said Kenney. However, not all U.S. tribes support the pipeline. The Native Organizers Alliance applauded Biden for his decision. “Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all,” said NOA executive director Judith Le Blanc. Earlier Wednesday, in anticipation of President Biden’s decision, Calgary-based TC Energy shutdown its operation. Kenney said that shutdown had cost 2,000 people their jobs. Francis admits Biden’s actions were not unexpected. In fact, the too-close-to-call November U.S. election had dampened some of the activity undertaken by NLE. Late last year, NLE hired consultants Price Waterhouse Canada to round up investors for the $1 billion investment. Investors were found but nothing was finalized. “(Price Waterhouse has) done their job on that. But really it was, of course, the election. That's what they were waiting for also,” said Francis. Also of note were preliminary talks with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. The Crown corporation created by the Alberta United Conservative Party government offers loan guarantees from $25 million to $250 million for Indigenous-led natural resource projects. “Say the project and partnership was at the point they were ready to paper the deal, we would not be in a position to offer a guarantee at this time, because there is a huge risk in respect to the way the American election may go. We don’t want to put Alberta taxpayer dollars at risk,” AIOC CEO Alicia Dubois told Windspeaker.com last October. Trump’s approval of Keystone XL came after outgoing President Barack Obama nixed the project. Biden had promised to cancel the project should he win. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer money in the Keystone XL pipeline. The Biden administration is saying no to the project now, says Francis, but he is a “glass is half-full” person. He believes Biden’s decision is political as the new president is “getting away from everything Trump has put his stamp on.” “I'm not going to give up on it because, really, Keystone XL is going to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly pipeline that is. We just have to go back to the drawing table and really re-evaluate what have we got to do to make it even more environmentally friendly?” said Francis. He believes that part of that discussion with the Biden administration has to include the science around the pipeline that makes it environmentally safe and the ongoing need for oil. Francis is hopeful there is a future for Keystone because “it really is such a big project that it could mean, in every community that we have signed up, it'll make an economic difference.” In the meantime, Francis says NLE remains involved with TC Energy. “Whenever there is something, a project that is available, if they are going to approach us to see if we have interest and, of course, we're going to show interest, because any economic development or project that we can actually put our hand on to make it more green, more environmentally friendly, we want to be there to back it up,” he said. While Keystone XL pipeline is a set back for Nekaneet First Nation, it is not the only project driving the economics for that Treaty 4 Nation. “I’m always involved with the province (of Saskatchewan). I’m always talking to them in every which way,” he said. Francis said he has received band member approval to develop a section of land along a 1.5 km-stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. He says investors are committed to a gas station in that area and there are talks about a possible Tim Hortons franchise. However, since COVID-19 hit, development has stalled. NLE members also include Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and three Alberta First Nations: Ermineskin Cree, Montana, and Louis Bull Tribe. Each member was to share equally in the benefits from the Keystone XL pipeline project. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Alberta has now lost 1,500 people to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last March. On Thursday, the province reported 16 more deaths and 678 new cases of the illness. Active cases in Alberta have been declining steadily for the past month and are now half what they were in mid-December. But though the number of people in hospital has declined slightly, that metric has lagged well behind. On Dec. 13, active cases peaked at 21,178. The latest update, released Thursday, reported 10,256 cases. Hospitalizations in Alberta peaked on Dec. 30, when there were 941 people being treated for the illness, including 145 in ICU beds. Across the province, 726 people are now being treated in hospitals for the disease, including 119 in ICU beds. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said that's one reason the current restrictions must remain in place. "In a year that has already been extremely difficult, I am proud of the sacrifices and community spirit that Albertans have shown to produce these encouraging numbers," Hinshaw said Thursday at a news conference. "At the same time, we are not in the clear just yet. That is why no additional measures are being eased at this time." WATCH | Dr. Hinshaw explains why restrictions aren't being lifted Thursday While cases are falling, Alberta still has the second-highest active case rate per capita in Canada, she said. "While our hospitalization numbers have decreased significantly from the peak, they remain high," Hinshaw said. "To put this in perspective, despite the progress we've made, there are just as many COVID patients in hospital today as there were on Dec. 8, the day that our current restrictions were first announced." The health system is still under significant strain, she said, and the province has to do what it can to ease that burden as quickly as possible. "We need to continue driving community transmission down. That is why it is essential that we keep the current measures in place for a little while longer, and why we all need to make good choices and to rigorously follow all the orders in place." Any decision to ease or lift restrictions would have to take into account new cases, the positivity rate (which was 4.8 per cent on Thursday), the R-value and hospitalization and ICU numbers, Hinshaw said. "The team that I work with, we look at those numbers on a daily basis, and we do have regular discussions with elected officials about the meaning of those numbers and about that planning and what our recommendations are about what we might be able to move forward to." The regional breakdown of active cases reported on Thursday was: Calgary zone: 3,962 Edmonton zone: 3,561 North zone: 1,383 Central zone: 931 South zone: 405 Unknown: 14
Premier Blaine Higgs has confirmed there is a single case of COVID-19 at CFB Gagetown near Fredericton. Cases on the military base fall under federal jurisdiction, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said she did not have any information about the Gagetown case when asked about it at the COVID-19 briefing Thursday. Higgs said the province has had discussions with the base commander, and officials have visited the site to understand the base's isolation protocols. He said the case is "under control." "We know we've had a number of people come back after tour," he said. "I do understand there is a single case. There's been tracing done." Higgs said isolation protocols at the base are "very rigid." Forces don't provide case numbers at local level In an email Thursday night, Base Gagetown's senior public affairs officer, Capt. Jamie Donovan, said "We can confirm the Premier's comments are accurate." Donovan declined to release any further details about the case, citing operational security and privacy reasons. He noted that the Canadian Armed Forces rigorously apply COVID-19 public health measures and work closely with public health authorities. "Cases of COVID-19 amongst CAF members are reported to the provincial or territorial public health authority in which they occur, in accordance with provincial or territorial requirements, and are included in provincial or territorial case counts," Donovan said. At Thursday's briefing, Higgs said a number of people have come back from tour recently but did not specify from where. "They've been very diligent," he said. "I have a very high-confidence level with their ability to contain it." Oromocto Mayor Robert Powell said there has been some concern in his community because it's close to the base and military members do have to travel, but it hasn't been keeping him up at night. "They travel a lot, some of them are over in Latvia now and then holidays and Christmas," he said. "But they've been doing a great job so far." Powell said he has not been briefed about this case but did hear about it "through the grapevine." He said this is the first case he's heard of at the base since the beginning of the pandemic. Powell said he's never been told if there's been a case in the town of Oromocto, since the province only announced cases by health zone, so not being told specifically about the CFB Gagetown case is nothing new. According to the Department of National Defence website, 884 cases of COVID-19 have been found among members of the Canadian military. Forty four of these cases were active as of Jan. 18. The website does not provide a breakdown of where the cases were found.
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
TORONTO — Ontario's COVID-19 numbers are showing improvement, but it's too soon to say if that's the start of a downward trend, one of the province's top doctors said Thursday. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health, said the provincial case rate has started to decline for the first time since November – sitting now at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people – although that figure is still high. The average per cent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests has also dropped – down to 5.3 per cent from 6.3 per cent last week – and 26 of the province's 34 public health units have seen case rates decline, the government said. "We're seeing some improvement," Yaffe said. "But we do need to see more data to determine if those decreasing rates are a real trend." The positive numbers come a week after Premier Doug Ford's government imposed a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order to bring soaring rates of COVID-19 under control. Schools throughout much of southern Ontario remain closed for in-person learning because of high community transmission and the government has not provided a timeline for a return to class. Yaffe warned that there are still 1,533 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province and 388 in intensive care units. The province is also reporting 15 cases of the so-called U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, with four that have no travel history, indicating there could be community spread of the more contagious strain. "We do certainly expect to see more as our laboratories test for this, and for other variants," she said. Yaffe also noted that a yet-to-be identified variant has been found in six cases at a Barrie, Ont., nursing home where 122 residents and 69 staff have been infected. Nineteen residents have died. She said the province is working with the local health unit to identify the variant and take action to halt the outbreak at Roberta Place. "We know there is a mutation in there ... that's associated with increased transmissibility, about 56 per cent more transmissible," she said. "We don't know which mutant it is." Ontario reported 2,632 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford continued to express frustration at COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer amid a production slowdown at the company. "It's absolutely critical that Pfizer steps up to the plate and not leaves us behind the eight ball, which they have," he said Thursday. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week and nothing the next week. The federal government and Pfizer have said shipments of vaccine are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. Canada's doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine are coming from a factory in Belgium that is being upgraded to ramp up production in the coming months. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — Julia Letlow, the widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, described herself as “both full of grief while also having hope for the future" as she registered Thursday to compete for the congressional seat her husband was unable to fill because of his death from COVID-19 complications. After filing her paperwork for the March 20 election, Julia Letlow faced reporters at the same podium where she stood with her husband six months earlier when he signed up for his bid to represent northeast and central Louisiana. This time, she stood alone. She pledged to continue Luke Letlow's vision for the 5th District, defended her own accomplishments and talked of the respect for public service she shared with her husband and wanted to pass along to their two young children. “We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose how to respond. Today, I choose to continue to move forward. Today, I choose hope,” said Julia Letlow, 39, a Republican who lives in the small town of Start in Richland Parish. Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41, only weeks after winning a runoff election for the congressional seat and days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said she knows the issues of the poverty-plagued district from travelling with her husband during the campaign and because of Luke Letlow's tenure as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who stepped down after three terms and endorsed Luke Letlow for the job. Abraham now is supporting Julia Letlow for the seat in the special election. “I wouldn’t have done this without his blessing,” Julia Letlow said of Abraham. Julia Letlow has never run for office “besides sixth-grade president" but said she often had conversations with her husband about the possibility. She dismissed suggestions she was riding her husband's political coattails or trying to capitalize off sympathy to get the congressional job, saying she has her own experience to qualify her for the position. “While Luke and I were a dynamo team and I miss him every day, still you’re your own individual person with your own qualifications and accomplishments in life, and I feel like I am very well qualified to run for this 5th Congressional District seat,” Julia Letlow told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “Look at my qualifications. Take a look at my bio. Make your decision there.” She has a career in higher education, with a Ph.D. in communication. She's on leave from her job with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she works as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach. Six other contenders so far are vying for the congressional seat on the March ballot, including two who ran last fall. One of them, Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, said Wednesday he’s worried about Julia Letlow’s two young children. Guillory said if Julia Letlow wins the congressional seat, “those kids could lose two parents.” Julia Letlow responded that she's running because of 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Jacqueline. “I hope to illustrate for them the power of fortitude, resilience and perseverance," she said. Her campaign platform remains similar to her husband's priorities, with a focus on job development, expanded access to broadband internet and support for agriculture industries. She said she intends a bipartisan approach, “while staying true to my conservative ideals and values that I hold dear.” Asked if she thought President Joe Biden was properly elected to the office, Julia Letlow paused. Then, she said she believes Biden “is the legitimate U.S. president." When pressed, she said she does not have the continuing concerns that some Republicans have cited about fraud. She noted those allegations were litigated in many court cases, where no widespread voter fraud was found. “I have faith in our election cycle, I do,” she said. “I have faith in our democracy.” The sprawling 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, including the cities of Alexandria and Monroe. It's one of two congressional seats on the March ballot. Voters also will fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat, which is open after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the position to work for President Joe Biden’s administration. The signup period for both races wraps up Friday. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is drafting legislation around the sale of used police vehicles and equipment, after a man driving a replica RCMP cruiser killed 22 people last April. Justice Minister Mark Furey told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the legislation will regulate how police vehicles are decommissioned, which will include, he said, ensuring they are stripped of equipment and decals. "We are certainly aware of the previous circumstances and the most recent circumstances," Furey said. The minister made the comments a day after the Mounties said a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have driven a vehicle that looked like an unmarked police car and pulled over drivers. The vehicle in question, a white 2013 Ford Taurus, is similar to the car Gabriel Wortman used during his 13-hour, deadly rampage in northern and central Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020. Furey noted that under current law it's illegal to impersonate a police officer. "When it comes to police articles and decommissioned police vehicles there is certainly some work to do to fine-tune that legislation and the ability to mitigate and prevent, as best we can, access to this equipment that is used to mock-up police vehicles." he said. Furey said there are no plans to ban the sale of decommissioned police vehicles despite calls by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives to prohibit those sales. He said RCMP and municipal police services have been consulted and are in support of the government's draft legislation. Furey is recommending the Liberal government table a bill during the next sitting of the legislature. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
A doctor at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax says pregnant women should talk with their doctors and weigh the risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine given the lack of data available right now. Pregnant women were excluded from initial clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which means there's no information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for them. Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, said there's no blanket recommendation telling Canadian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not to get immunized, but "theoretical risks" should be considered. "It's really a case-by-case basis, individual decision of that risk," he told CBC's Information Morning on Thursday. "If somebody is not seen coming into contact with people with COVID-19 and they're pregnant, they might be able to afford to wait several months and get the vaccine as soon as they deliver." Women working on the front lines of the pandemic may have different considerations, he added. "If somebody is in a position where they are much more likely to be exposed, then that individual risk might be more from the COVID-19 and a woman might choose to get the vaccine during pregnancy, and we're seeing both of those situations and both of those different types of decisions," Halperin said. Early research released in December from the University of British Columbia shows that pregnant women are at higher risk of being hospitalized if they do get the virus compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. Researchers cautioned that their study is preliminary and only included data from cases in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. Data could be available later this year Halperin said at this point there are no red flags that the COVID vaccines themselves are harmful to a mother and baby. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which provides advice to the federal government, recommends that approved COVID-19 vaccines may be provided to people excluded from clinical trials, "if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks for the individual." "The biggest risk is if somebody, a woman, had a fever with the vaccine, which you can get and if it were a high fever, fever itself can be harmful, not all the time, but occasionally to the fetus, so it's that type of risk that we're looking at," Halperin said. That could be a small risk compared to the risk of getting COVID-19, he added. Halperin estimates it could still be six to eight months before data about how pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the vaccine is available. "There are women who are getting the vaccine and we'll be collecting data from women who do receive the vaccine in order to see how they respond to the vaccine and to ensure that it is safe," he said. Halperin advises women trying to get pregnant to take a similar approach and weigh the risks. "If one gets the vaccine, one should wait about a month or six weeks before getting pregnant … even theoretically there wouldn't be lasting risks so one doesn't have to not get pregnant for a year, just for a matter of weeks." He said at one time pregnant women weren't involved in clinical trials at all over concerns about harming the fetus. "That's no longer considered to be ethically sound because we need to use vaccines in pregnant women, and therefore we need to get data from clinical trials from pregnant women, but they're still excluded from the initial studies," Halperin said. Studies involving pregnant women and children are only done once the vaccines are deemed safe for the general public, he said. More vaccines on the horizon People who are immunocompromised also weren't part of the initial clinical trials for the vaccines, and Halperin said it's a good idea for them to talk with their health-care providers about the risks of getting immunized. "Right now, there are very few exclusions to getting vaccinated," he said. "People who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines in the past … should take care with immunizing." Halperin said more vaccines will be available to Nova Scotians in the months ahead. The U.K. was the first country to approve the new AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and Halperin expects Canada won't be far behind. "Hopefully within a month or so, we'll have maybe four vaccines and further ones a couple of months beyond that." MORE TOP STORIES
Like many elderly folks vulnerable to disinformation, her newfound views came from a trusted family member.
When Andrea Andersen learned who would be representing the Liberal Party in her district of Torngat Mountains in the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election, she was angry. She posted on Facebook about the news that Devon Ryan, who lives in Labrador West, would be running as the Liberal candidate in Torngat Mountains — a district he does not live in, and has not visited. "I'm sure he's a nice guy. I know he's been in the political scene for a while getting experience, but I do want to state: this is white privilege and this is colonialism," Andersen, who grew up in Makkovik, told CBC's Labrador Morning, on Thursday. Ryan first ran for a Liberal nomination in his home district of Labrador West, but conceded to Wayne Button. Ryan then put his name forward to be the Liberal candidate in Torngat Mountains, a district with a largely Inuit and Innu population along the north coast of Labrador. He was declared that district's candidate on Jan. 17, and faces Progressive Conservative incumbent Lela Evans of Makkovik, and New Democrat Patricia Johnson-Castle, who lives in Nain. This isn't even just for the Liberals — this is for any party, especially if they're wanting to parachute someone in. - Andrea Andersen Andersen said she has spoken with some community leaders who live in the district and were approached by the Liberals to run but, she said, no one wanted to. "The Liberal party did put effort forward to try and get someone from the district to run against Lela in the Liberal seat, but no one wanted to run against her because she is doing such a good job," said Andersen, who added she considers herself bipartisan. Andersen worries that having Ryan on the ballot is just for the sake of getting him experience in politics, rather than actually representing a district he's never lived in. "To me, as a young Inuk person, if they're putting Mr. Ryan in for him to gain experience, then why didn't they do that to another Indigenous youth?" she said. Andersen said she "feels bad for Mr. Ryan" being put on the ballot and taking up a seat in the district with little experience. "The Liberal party is throwing him into hot water. There's so much within the Torngat district that doesn't apply to a lot of the other places that he has experienced within the province," she said. "I think he is running for personal gain to build a resumé or I'm not really sure, but that's at the expense of using the Innu and the Inuit communities of Labrador," she said. The district has a long list of serious and ongoing issues that need addressing, Andersen said — including lack of access to health care, a housing crisis, limited transportation, food insecurity and high cost of living — as well as issues specific to Indigenous communities. "Having a white person come into an Indigenous area, it's going to create lateral trauma for the local people to have to re-explain our struggles and our hardships and our basic necessities that we lack, that the province fails to provide our region in everyday things like internet and access to water and housing," Andersen said. "To take the time out of our day to explain to him over and over again the things that we are lacking, it just goes to show that there needs to be more effort put into our region, so that other people who are from the region feel more supported to be able to run for a political seat. And this isn't even just for the Liberals — this is for any party, especially if they're wanting to parachute someone in." Candidates in federal and provincial elections are not required to live in their ridings or districts. Liberal Leader Andrew Furey, who lives in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, is running in the west coast riding of Humber-Gros Morne, while the NDP candidate for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, Holly Pike, lives in Corner Brook, and PC Ethan Wheeler-Park lives just outside Corner Brook and is running in the district of Burgeo-La Poile. Visiting district next week In response to concerns Andersen raised on Labrador Morning, Ryan said he's looking forward to getting into the district next week to talk to people on the campaign trail leading up to the Feb. 13 provincial election. "I've always had a passion for politics and the democratic process, but I've always had a passion for Labrador above anything else," Ryan said. Ryan added he's worked in several government departments, including health care, travel and justice, and that's experience he hopes can help the Torngat Mountains. "I bring knowledge that can help Indigenous communities at the table," he said. "Right now I'm really focused on the positives that I can bring to the district. I feel both my experiences [and] my political knowledge can really play a factor in this district right now. My willingness to learn, my eagerness to get out into the community and speak to all the constituents in the district, and I really, really look forward to it." Ryan said he's heard a lot of concerns about access to travel — something he said he's experienced in his hometown, as well — as well as the high cost of goods and services in the Torngat Mountains. Evans said she doesn't personally have a problem with Ryan running against her in the district, even though he doesn't live there. "Elections are about choice, so people will cast their ballot and vote for whoever they want to represent them, so the Liberals putting him in is not a huge problem for me," she said, adding that in years prior, it wasn't uncommon for the parties to run parachute candidates in the district. "I know some people are offended because I don't think he's ever been to the north coast, to the district, so people are questioning that. But the good thing about elections is, when they vote, they can vote either for him or vote for me," said Evans, in an interview prior to the NDP candidate being announced. Evans said casting a vote is a statement about who you want to represent you. "I don't think we should be dictating who can and cannot run, because that takes away from the democratic process," she said. "Don't vote for your friends, don't just vote for a party; vote for who's going to actually help your district, who's going to make a difference." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador