Hogan's Alley was a cultural hub before the city demolished part of it and erected viaducts under the banner of "urban renewal." The Hogan's Alley Society wants a long-term lease to build a cultural centre honouring its past.
Hogan's Alley was a cultural hub before the city demolished part of it and erected viaducts under the banner of "urban renewal." The Hogan's Alley Society wants a long-term lease to build a cultural centre honouring its past.
When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The old cliché says a picture is worth a thousand words; Piapot First Nation figures seven more won’t hurt. The Cree nation north of Regina is using photo-billboards with short, seven-word phrases to remind its members to stay COVID-safe through the pandemic. Each of the four, double-sided billboards feature images of band members doing safety protocols to stop the spread of the coronavirus: A young toddler wears a racoon face shield while munching on a snack; a middle-aged man wearing a mask readies his hands for a squirt of hand sanitizer; and, among others, a girl is washing her hands while wearing her pink Barbie mask. “I’m so glad we decided to use band members (as models), instead of just strangers on the signs. I think when people see themselves out there, their family sees them, and then they’ll share it more,” Piapot communications manager Kristin Francis said. Piapot’s leadership has been keen to educate the community’s members about the dangers and safety measures of COVID-19, she said. Each sign’s image has one of two phrases written beside it: “Be Safe Our Lives Depend On You,” and “Be Safe Your Community Depends On You.” The signs went up in mid-January, placed at high-traffic locations — the main roads into and out of the community, near the band office and at the First Nation’s main crossroads. “It would be the last image they would see when they’re leaving … if they see familiar faces, it would make you think about your own children, and your Kokum and Moshum (grandma and grandpa),” Francis said. Piapot leadership gave her creative control to design the billboards, she said. Part of the goal with real, physical signs is catching elders’ attention. “Chief (Mark Fox) was adamant about it: (They) don’t have social media ... so they’re not seeing all the communications out there.” Piapot’s total recorded COVID-19 infections is still below 100; 88 people in the community have caught the virus, based on numbers Francis provided. As of Monday, there were zero active cases in the community. One band member has died after testing positive for the virus. The band has 688 members living on reserve. Fifty-two band members have been vaccinated with both doses, while another eight have received their first doses, Francis said. Band administrators have kept Piapot’s school and office closed since November, when a viral outbreak was declared there. Data from Indigenous Services Canada shows COVID-19 infections in Saskatchewan First Nations have consistently been at or greater than 242 infections per week through the first two months of 2021. The lone exception is last week (Feb. 21-27), when ISC recorded 24 cases; infections have been declining slowly since a mid-January high of 663. Francis said administrators are now busy disbursing payments of $150 to all 2,550 band members, as part of financial relief efforts. It’s the second such payment Piapot leadership has given out. She said they’re eager to open the community’s youth centre, which is to host virtual Cree and craft-making lessons for Piapot’s kids. email@example.com Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
TORONTO — Some Ontario seniors braved frigid temperatures Monday to get a COVID-19 vaccine as several regions in the province moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public. With the broad launch of a provincial booking portal still two weeks away, some local public health units used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. In York Region, where bookings opened Monday morning for shots that could be administered as early as the afternoon, dozens of seniors and their caregivers lined up outside a sports centre to get the vaccine. Some huddled together for warmth - a winter weather advisory was in effect for the region - as the line to enter the centre in Richmond Hill moved slowly. Hassan Abbas Kara was saving a place in line while his grandmother waited in a car. “I don't want her to wait in the cold, so it’s a little thing I can do right now to help her," he said. Atta Hussain, 82, said the process was "beautiful" and well organized, and expressed relief after receiving his shot. "We thank everybody who is participating," he said. York Region said its vaccination clinics were fully booked just two hours after they started taking appointments. A spokesman said approximately 20,000 appointments were made Monday across five locations in the region. Clinics were also offering shots to those 80 and older in Windsor-Essex County, and to those 85 and older at a hospital in Hamilton, where officials warned of long wait times amid high call volumes to its COVID-19 hotline. Hamilton's top doctor apologized for backlog on the phone line and asked people who don't live in the city to not call about appointments. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. "Some of them are already vaccinating the over-80-year-old people that are living within their regions," Elliott said Monday. "I think that's something that we should be celebrating not denigrating." Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he's happy some public health units are offering shots already, but argued it could cause issues later when health units that have already started making appointments on their own systems have to switch over to the provincial one. The province also said Monday that it has asked the federal government for guidance on possibly extending the intervals between the first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months. It pointed to British Columbia's decision to do so and said there's growing evidence suggesting intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses can be safely extended. Monday also saw two Ontario regions - Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka - return to lockdowns as a result of rising COVID-19 cases. Restrictions on businesses and gatherings were loosened in seven other health units: Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. Municipal officials in Simcoe Muskoka raised concerns about pressure on small businesses and the effects of yet another lockdown on the public during a public meeting with the health unit on Monday. The region's top doctor said he's heard concerns about the strict measures from people in areas with fewer cases. Dr. Charles Gardner said he'll be in touch with the province's chief medical officer about whether a full lockdown is required for the region. In Thunder Bay, which entered a lockdown after reporting more COVID-19 cases in February than all of 2020, a local hospital reported it was expanding its COVID-19 and intensive care units to meet the needs of the community. Meanwhile, a spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the Public Health Agency of Canada was reviewing a funding application for an isolation site in Thunder Bay after the city said it could no longer afford to keep it running. Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths from the virus on Monday. - With files from Cole Burston This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Tofino, BC - Robert Stanley was in Tofino when he heard about the house fire that claimed the life of an Ahousaht First Nation member last week. He had traveled from his home on Flores Island to attend a nine-day Captain’s Boat Camp. The loss weighed on him heavily and his first impulse was to drop-out of the course and return home. It didn’t feel right for Stanley to be so far away from his grieving community. Before he could follow through, members from his nation encouraged him to stay, saying, “there was nothing he could do.” Emotionally tapped out and disinterested, he struggled through the beginning of the in-class marine training. It wasn’t until he was out on a boat during a practical session that Stanley started to feel more at peace. “The water soothed my heart,” he said. Along with four other Nuu-chah-nulth students, Stanley was taking the boat camp to get his certifications to be a captain on a small commercial vessel. The $3,000 course was offered to 16 Nuu-chah-nulth participants from Ahousaht and the regions of Tofino and Ucluelet at no cost. It was limited to those geographical areas due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Funded by the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the course was facilitated by Uu-a-thluk, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s fisheries program. Selected on a first-come-first-serve basis, 11 participants signed-up and will walk away with certifications for Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP), Small Domestic Vessel Basic Safety (SDV-BS), Restricted Operator Marine Radio Licence (ROC-M) and Marine Basic First Aid. Stanley works as a commercial fisherman and has been driving trollers since he was 11 years old. No stranger to the water, he never uses a map for navigation. Instead, he relies on the traditional markers his grandfather taught him, like the top of Lone Cone Mountain. He enrolled in the course to renew his certificates so that he could run his brother’s boat. While he has no trouble maneuvering through local waters, Stanley said he “loved the practical training” that allowed him to practice his skills. Joe Titian also traveled from his community of Ahousaht to attend the course. Although he has been on boats since he was nine years old and started commercially fishing at the age of 12, he needed to renew his certificates to run a water taxi for his brother-in-law. As he pulled out of the Tofino marina, the 63-year-old quoted Dolly Parton and said, "Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain; but there can't be a rainbow without a little rain.” Relying on his fellow classmate, Brianna Lambert, for navigational directions, Titian continued driving out into rough seas up the Tofino Inlet. Datum Marine Services instructor, Marla Barker, guided them through a “person overboard drill” where Titian had to demonstrate a high-speed turn to rescue a fallen buoy, they covered anchoring and docking a boat, along with slow-speed maneuvering. After catching up with the other participants who were on different boats, the rain stopped as the skies parted. A vibrant rainbow emerged that arched across the inlet. It was like the ancestors were comforting the students in an embrace. As the day ended, the group gathered on a dock in Cannery bay. “You guys showed a lot of courage for hanging in there,” said Ed Houlihan, a Datum Marine instructor. While Stanley said he couldn’t wait to get back to his family and community, he was proud to have made it through the course. “It’s what my community wanted,” he said. Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
Gaming revenue, left over from previous years, will be used to fund additional capital projects around the city. Due to the reduced funding this year, several projects that would otherwise have been recommended were instead classified by city staff as “recommended but insufficient funding.” These include an $890,000 upgrade to the RCMP facility on No. 5 Road, where the emergency power system has failed a number of times in recent years due to hydro power failures. “It seems to be that if the power goes out for our community safety building, the RCMP are possibly without proper resources for a few hours at a time, so it seems to me that this is something that really needs to happen, not just kind of needs to happen,” said Coun. Alexa Loo. Additionally, $500,000 has been earmarked for replacing the the Hamilton Community Centre’s HVAC system, and the same amount for a city-wide sidewalk and street light replacement program. The city has just over $1.9 million remaining in 2020 gaming funds, but does not anticipate any additional funds this year due to the temporary closure of River Rock Casino during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
EDMONTON — Alberta is lifting more economic restrictions tied to COVID-19 while delaying others. Premier Jason Kenney says low intensity group activities, such as Pilates, can resume in fitness centres, and libraries can open at 15 per cent capacity. But he says loosening measures for retail shops, hotels and community centres can't happen yet. "While our hospitalizations are dropping ... active cases have levelled off recently. And the testing positivity rate has risen a bit," he told a news conference Monday. "We have also observed a small increase in the daily number of new variant cases and that is worrisome too. "That is why we have to proceed cautiously while still moving forward." This is Stage 2 of a four-stage plan to reopen the economy announced by Kenney a month ago. In Stage 1, restaurants were able to reopen for dine-in service, gyms were allowed to resume one-on-one fitness training and some restrictions were lifted on youth sports. Some medical experts, including the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, warned the province last week against further loosening public-health measures. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Rough estimates from Newfoundland and Labrador's elections authority indicate it could be April before a winner is declared in the province's chaotic pandemic vote — almost two months after the original election day. Elections NL spokeswoman Adrienne Luther said Monday she expected her office will begin counting votes later this week, and last election's experience indicates it could take a while. "There's no easy way to estimate a date of conclusion because it's entirely dependent on how many (mail-in ballots) we get back," Luther said in an email. The provincial election was derailed in February by an outbreak of COVID-19 in the St. John's metro region. Voting day was Feb. 13, but less than 12 hours before the polls opened, Elections NL cancelled all in-person voting after health authorities announced a provincewide lockdown. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by March 12 in order to count. Mail-in ballots take a lot of time, Luther said. Elections NL staff must verify the name and address of each ballot, she added. On average, her office opened and processed about 5,000 mail-in votes a day during the 2019 election, she said. "An estimate right now is that it will take approximately 20 straight days — we will be working full weekends — to do around 100,000 votes," Luther said. And that's on top of the 68,000 ballots that are already in the Elections NL office waiting to be counted, she said. Those ballots were cast before the outbreak upended the election and chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk has said there are at least 12,000 mail-in ballots among them. Luther's office anticipates about 120,000 people requested a mail-in ballot before the Feb. 19 deadline. Some of those may have requested ballots for several people in a household, and some may not be returned at all. "Historically, we have had a very high rate of return on (mail-in ballots) but this election has been anything but predictable," Luther said. If Elections NL maintains its rate of counting about 5,000 ballots a day, then it will take at least 24 days to count 120,000 ballots, not including the ballots received before the vote was delayed. That means residents of the province could have to wait until April to learn who won the election. In the meantime, Chaulk is finalizing the process and protocols for scrutineers to oversee the process, Luther said. "At this point," she said, "one scrutineer per party will be permitted in the building where counting will take place." Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey, who called the election on Jan. 15, has said in previous interviews his government will remain in "caretaker mode" until someone is declared the winner. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for a group of British Columbia churches that are challenging the province's COVID-19 rules prohibiting in-person religious services argued Monday the orders reflect a "value judgment." Paul Jaffe says the provincial health officer's orders allow secular gatherings such as in-class education and food distribution for people in need to continue, while discriminating against the churches and their congregants' right to freedom of religion. He told the court his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. Jaffe also argued the province has not provided medical justification showing that the virus is spreading through church services and posing a greater risk to the public than other activities that remain allowed, including outdoor assemblies over matters of public interest or controversy. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news conference last month that churches were operating with safety measures in place throughout the summer and fall, but as the pandemic worsened, so did transmission in faith settings. Henry and the province have said they are confident the health orders are in accordance with the law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Hearings over the churches' petition are set to continue Tuesday. Jaffe works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that's also asking the court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 each for the alleged violations of the health orders by the churches. B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson dismissed an injunction request in February by Henry and B.C.'s attorney general, whose lawyers argued churchgoers who are breaking COVID-19 rules would be more likely to comply with a court order. Hinkson said he did not condone the churches' conduct and he was satisfied with the province's argument that the public could suffer from transmission of the virus where people are unsafely attending gatherings. But he said during a hearing that the province was putting the court in an "impossible position" before the churches' own petition is heard this week. Hinkson said he was also concerned that the administration of justice could be brought into disrepute if an injunction was granted but not enforced if the Crown found it would not be in the public interest to prosecute people who refused to adhere to it. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
NICOLET. Le Courrier sud a appris que Dominic Massé se porte candidat pour le siège #5 actuellement occupé par Michel Paradis. Ce dernier a annoncé récemment qu’il ne se présentait pas. Le tumulte des derniers mois aura servi à confirmer mon grand intérêt à m’impliquer encore plus pour ma communauté, en faisant partie d’un conseil de ville inspirant et innovant. L’intérêt était déjà là depuis un certain temps, mais avec l’âge de mes filles, disons que la disponibilité est plus réaliste maintenant», précise d’entrée de jeu Dominic Massé qui a également discuté avec ses proches, la mairesse Geneviève Dubois et d’actuels conseillers municipaux dont Michel Paradis avant de prendre sa décision. «J’ai décidé d’officialiser ma candidature dans le but de pouvoir concrètement mettre l’épaule à la roue. À l’aube de son 350e anniversaire de fondation, l’identité de Nicolet est en pleine transition. Je souhaite pouvoir y apporter mon dynamisme, ma fierté et mon implication directe pour contribuer à la qualité de vie des citoyens en travaillant à les rendre encore plus fiers, bienveillants et mobilisés», ajoute-t-il. Notons que le Nicolétain d’origine est père de 2 filles de 11 et 13 ans. Employé de l’École nationale de police du Québec depuis 24 ans, il a été nommé «Passionné du bénévolat» dans le cadre de la Semaine québécoise de l’action bénévole en 2019. Dominic Massé est actuellement membre du Comité consultatif culturel de Nicolet qui avait entre autres comme mandat, la rédaction de la politique culturelle adoptée par le conseil de ville en décembre dernier. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Health Canada approved its third COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, authorizing the jab made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University after a lengthy review of clinical trial details. AstraZeneca was the first to apply for approval in Canada last October and was greenlit earlier in many jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, Mexico, India, and the entire European Union. But Health Canada sought further data from the company before authorizing the new vaccine. Here's what we know about the AstraZeneca product: WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO APPROVE? Health Canada's regulatory team had been reviewing AstraZeneca's application since Oct. 1, 2020, and was undergoing its final assessment of clinical data as of late last month. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in January the review was "a bit more complicated'' because some volunteers in AstraZeneca's trials only received a half dose at first. IS IT RECOMMENDED FOR POPULATIONS OVER 65? The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Monday it does not recommend the AstraZeneca product in people 65 or older "due to limited information on the efficacy of this vaccine in this age group at this time." In large clinical trials, the vaccine was not tested on enough people over the age of 65 to draw statistically meaningful conclusions. Health Canada said Friday that real-world data from countries already using the product suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. NACI says doses of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna should be prioritized for older age groups and other "key populations" at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The panel's advice helps provincial governments determine how best to use the vaccines available to them but provinces can make their own calls about what to do. HOW EFFECTIVE WAS THE VACCINE IN CLINICAL TRIALS? Data from clinical trials suggested AstraZeneca was 62 per cent effective against acquiring the virus when two full doses were given 28 days apart. That compares with the 95 per cent efficacy from the clinical trials of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the other two vaccines currently approved in Canada. A real-word study published last week showed the AstraZeneca vaccine was 94 per cent effective in preventing hospitalization after the first dose. The findings were based on data from nearly 500,000 people who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Scotland. DOES IT WORK AGAINST THE NEW VARIANTS? A group of experts on immunization working with the World Health Organization is recommending the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine, even in countries where variants emerged as dominant. That guidance comes after a small study in South Africa suggested AstraZeneca's vaccine was only minimally effective against the variant first detected there, causing the country to halt use of the product earlier this month. South Africa said it would instead give the still-unapproved Johnson and Johnson vaccine to front-line health workers to see how it protects against the more contagious variant that's dominant there. Oxford University, who helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine, has said researchers were tweaking their product by inserting a genetic sequence from that specific variant. AstraZeneca's vaccine has some promising early data suggesting it works against another variant first detected in the U.K. Findings based on swabs taken from around 500 volunteers in trials between October and January showed a 74.6 per cent efficacy rate against that variant. HOW DOES THE VACCINE WORK? Unlike Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which use messenger RNA (mRNA), the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a non-replicating viral vector, using a weakened chimpanzee cold virus as a vessel. Scientists stripped the genes from that virus, which isn't harmful to humans, and replaced them with the spike protein gene for SARS-CoV-2. Once injected, the vaccine shows our bodies how to produce the immune response needed to ward off future infections from the COVID-19 virus. Non-replicating means the virus won’t actually reproduce throughout the body. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO THIS VACCINE? Oxford-AstraZeneca can be shipped and stored at regular refrigerator temperature, unlike Pfizer-BioNTech which requires ultra-low freezers to hold its product before it's injected. Moderna's vaccine is somewhere in the middle, needing a regular freezer to keep the injections at about minus 20 C. From a global vaccination standpoint, the low cost of AstraZeneca's vaccine — about US$4 per dose — gives it another advantage. AstraZeneca, which says it aims to manufacture up to three billion doses in 2021, has pledged to make their product available at cost around the world until at least July. The AstraZeneca vaccine forms the bulk of the stockpile acquired so far by the U.N.-backed vaccine-sharing effort known as COVAX, which aims to deploy coronavirus vaccines to people globally. WHEN CAN WE EXPECT A ROLLOUT TO BEGIN IN CANADA? The Canadian government has already procured 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and a rollout can be expected to begin shortly after the first shipments arrive in the country. Canada will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX by the end of June. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in early February he believes most of those 20 million doses — enough to inoculate 10 million people — will be delivered before Canada Day. The government has said it plans to vaccinate the majority of Canadians by September. — With files from The Associated Press This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Donwood Park public school is temporarily shutting its doors because of a COVID-19 outbreak that include four cases of variants or concern. Erica Vella has details.
ASHFORD, Conn. — A police investigation into the fire that tore through the Hole in the Wall Gang camp for seriously ill children in Connecticut could not determine the cause but found no indication it was set intentionally, officials said Monday. The Feb. 12 fire at the Ashford camp, which was founded by the late actor Paul Newman, destroyed buildings including a large wood-frame structure that was made to look like the centre of an old western town. The investigation was closed with the cause of the blaze listed as undetermined. “Due to the catastrophic damage caused by the fire, the exact area of fire origin could not be identified,” Connecticut State Police said in a news release. “It is the opinion of investigators that the fire started in one area, however, and quickly spread through the buildings that comprised the camp’s Main Street area and housed the wood working shop, the arts and crafts area, the camp store and the cooking zone.” The camp plans to replace the lost structures with a larger, single-level complex. The camp was built in 1988 to accommodate about 300 children each summer. The charity now serves about 20,000 kids a year on site and through community and hospital-based programing. The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida officials are recommending that the state's antiquated unemployment processing system be replaced after a review confirmed what had long been known: a broken system full of glitches that was incapable of handling the unprecedented deluge of jobless claims spawned by the coronavirus outbreak. The state's Department of Economic Opportunity is recommending that the current system, known as CONNECT, be discarded and replaced with a more robust and modern system that employs cloud-based technology that could allow the system to more nimbly respond to increased demands. The department, which oversees the state's unemployment system, is asking lawmakers for $73 million over the next two years to modernize the system that left hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians without unemployment checks for weeks and sometimes months. The director of the agency, Dane Eagle, told lawmakers Monday that Florida was not alone in its struggles. “We are far behind in where we need to be,” he said. “Florida is not the only state to experience these challenges." But as the unemployment rate surged when businesses closed, Florida was among the slowest states — if not the slowest — in getting unemployment checks to those with no other income to pay mortgages, rents and other necessities. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who likened the benefits claim system to an “old jalopy” breaking down at the Daytona 500, ordered the inspector general to investigate. The Economic Opportunity Department launched a review of its own, and the results were presented Monday to the legislative select committee on pandemic preparedness and response. The report makes clear that the system was neither prepared nor responsive at a time of crisis, when some 1.3 million Floridians, at the peak of unemployment in April, tried to access benefits through online portals that continually crashed or phone systems that only added to frustrations. The long awaited inspector general’s report could be released in a matter of weeks. The inspector general’s findings are current being reviewed by economic opportunity officials. The CONNECT system prompted concern from the start. Soon after the online portal launched in October 2013, it was beset by system crashes that prevented people from claiming benefits. Despite previous audits that identified numerous glitches, many of the problems were never addressed. Those same system failures prevented people from accessing the system. Critics warned that the system was doomed to fail. “Unfortunately, as it turns out, we were absolutely correct," said Democratic state Rep. Evan Jenne, the House minority co-leader. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.1 million people have filed unemployment claims in Florida. The state has paid out more than $23.1 billion in benefits — less than a fourth of that from the state's reemployment assistance program. The rest of the funds came from federal pandemic relief packages, some of it earmarked to supplement meagre unemployment checks and to provide benefits to gig workers and others who were not eligible for traditional state benefits. The state's electronic portal was initially unable to process claims filed by freelancers and other independent contractors, adding to confusion, frustration and anger. The state eventually put in place a parallel electronic system to handle claims from nontraditional workers. In fact the state's electronic portal was so overwhelmed that state officials reverted to filing claims on paper forms. As part of its just-completed review, the Department of Economic Opportunity is also asking lawmakers for authority to establish an Office of Accountability and Transparency, but it was unclear in a presentation submitted to the pandemic committee exactly what its role would be. In addition, it wants to create a Reemployment Assistance Modernization Strategic Planning Office to oversee the modernization effort. The new money requested by the Economic Opportunity Department adds to the $39 million COVID-19-related outlays in its current year budget. The $73 billion being requested for the next two years would nearly double the department’s budget during the same time period. A more modest $8 million is also being requested to supplement the department's typical annual budget of $41.3 million in the three years after. Before the pandemic, the Reemployment Assistance System budget was about $12 million annually. Meanwhile, the state’s Unemployment Benefit Trust Fund has been dramatically depleted. Its balance is now just $777 million -- less than a fifth of the $4 billion it had before the pandemic. Bobby Caina Calvan, The Associated Press
Friends and family say Cindy Ha leaves no one behind, making sure to help those in need across the city with a smile on her face. Ha runs her family's Vietnamese restaurant, Au 14 on Prince Arthur Street West. She is also a mother of two girls. When she isn't busy with family and work, she helps Montrealers in need as one of the Borderline Girls, a social media page on TikTok and Facebook that she started with her friend Chacha Luciani. "We provide food and everyday essential needs," said Luciani. "But most importantly, to let [those in need] know that we are here for them, and try to put a smile on their faces." And she's been doing so throughout the pandemic, almost every week. Her friends say it is no small feat. "She hands out cooked meals, in hundreds, providing for families and friends, along with coffee and doughnuts," said Tania Chiniara, a friend of Cindy's. But Ha's actions don't stop at the Borderline Girls. Many of her friends say she's always trying to make someone's day better. "Cindy to me is one of the most generous people I know," said her friend Trinh Nguyen. "She worries more for everyone else than she does for herself." Another friend echoed Nguyen's sentiment. "She is selfless, always putting others ahead of herself," said Melissa Chin. "She's hilarious! And always puts a smile on my face. To me she's just such a great friend, and is always there for me." Ha's husband, Helder Pires, says she is always trying to make others smile. "I know she doesn't do what she does to get attention," Pires said. Her nominator, Esteban Fernandez, felt strongly about recognizing Ha for the work she does. "I've seen her go out in all kinds of weather, with a smile," said Fernandez. "I felt it needed to be mentioned at a wider audience, because she deserves a kudos." Cindy Ha handing out prepared meals to Montrealers paid for with the proceeds of her homemade mask sales. Ha said her drive to give back to the community comes from her grandmother's legacy. She passed away in 2019, leaving behind boxes of textiles. Ha and her family used the material to make masks to sell at the restaurant. The proceeds from that goes to local charities and organizations. "It's all to keep her memory alive in me," said Ha. "She also did a lot of community work." Ha said she was speechless after hearing the recognition from her friends and family. She added that as she does her work, she's trying to create a community that helps one another, while spreading love and kindness. "We think that in times like these, it's a bit hard," said Ha. "Everybody needs some smiles, some love, and some care, so we try." Do you know someone who has made a positive impact on you, your loved ones or friends? Submit your nomination here.
A new directive issued in response to "buttergate" could make it hard for dairy farmers to keep up with demand for the staple ingredient, according to experts, who suspect that the controversy may be rooted less in fact than media frenzy. Last week, Dairy Farmers of Canada asked its members to find alternatives to palm supplements in cattle feed while a working group looks into consumer concerns that butter has become harder as a result of such additives. The move came after media reports linked a purported change in consistency to the common practice of bolstering cows' diets with palm byproducts. Dairy Farmers of Canada maintains that palm supplements are safe and notes they are federally approved for use in livestock feed. The recommended suspension of these supplements won't cause shortages Canadian-made dairy products, the lobby group says, due to the supply management system that limits production to keep prices stable. But animal science experts warn that ruling out palm-based feed supplements based on questionable claims about their effects on butter's consistency could cost Canadian dairy farmers and potentially lead to an increase in imports. Professor Adam Lock, who studies dairy cattle nutrition at Michigan State University, said farmers have used palm oil and its derivative, palmitic acid, to help cattle meet their energy needs for decades, and there are no alternative feed supplements that are as efficient and economical. He harbours serious reservations about the scientific merits of "buttergate," which has spread to become an international media sensation. Lock believes the Dairy Farmers of Canada's denouncement of palm supplements is a misguided response that could cause significant challenges for the association's members. "It seems like rather a knee-jerk reaction," Lock said. "It's dangerous and wrong to try and blame any potential changes in milk fat and quality (on) ... a single group of feed ingredients when we know there are so many factors that affect milk fat composition." "Buttergate" proponents believe that dairy farmers are adding more palm supplements to cattle feed to keep up with pandemic-fuelled demand for the baking ingredient. In their view, an increased palmitic acid content of butter would increase the melting point and make it harder to spread at room temperature. But Lock said there's no solid data to support this hypothesis. Lock said the chemical composition of milk is too complex to pinpoint a single fatty acid as the reason for changes in a product's properties. Palmitic acid is one of the most common naturally occurring fatty acids in butter. Feed supplements only cause a slight increase in their abundance, Lock said, and this is offset by changes in other fatty acids. For farmers, he said, a minor increase in palmitic acid content can be crucial to meeting butterfat quotas, but the difference is nutritionally negligible in terms of human consumption. Palm oil is the world's most-consumed vegetable oil, and can be found in products ranging from soap to cookies. But some critics say the Canadian dairy sector shouldn't be supporting palm oil production practices that lay waste to the environment. Lock suggested these concerns may be overblown. Many feed supplements use palm byproducts, which cows can digest but aren't suitable for direct human consumption, and may be otherwise wasted, he said. Jake Vermeer of Vermeer's Dairy Ltd in Camrose, Alta., said he's consulting with his cattle nutritionist about alternatives to palm supplements and is confident he'll find a way to adapt without compromising production or quality. Vermeer said satisfying customers is his farm's first priority, but he's still waiting to hear from Dairy Farmers of Canada's working group about whether "buttergate" is backed up by science. "I think the cows are the ones that will have to suffer in this, as palm oil is definitely a great energy source for them," he said. David Christensen, a professor emeritus of animal and poultry science at University of Saskatchewan, said while he also has questions about the theory behind "buttergate," he's far more certain that the Dairy Farmers of Canada's directive is going to have negative repercussions for milk producers. Without palm oil or its derivatives, Christensen said dairy farmers are left with few options to meet their quotas. Farmers could alter their feeding programs but there's no supplement as effective as palmitic acid in boosting milk fat to meet the requirements for butter, he said. Alternatively, Christensen said producers could work more cows to maintain operations, but that may not make economic sense for some farmers. Ultimately, Christensen said imports will compensate for any shortfall in the Canadian butter supply, but farmers are bound to face greater costs to produce the same amount of milk fat. Eric Baumann, who operates a dairy farm near Athens, Ont., said he's sticking with palm supplements because the practice is compliant with federal safety regulations, and he believes it's best for his cattle and his bottom line. "Getting mad at dairy farmers about the use of palm oil is like getting mad at the garbage person for the amount of waste that is produced," Baumann said. "The garbage isn't there because of the disposal service, and palm oil byproducts aren't created because of dairy farmers." Lactanet chief operating officer Daniel Lefebvre, who advises Dairy Farmers of Canada about animal nutrition, said the elimination of palm supplements will likely create challenges for milk producers who may not have the capacity to meet their quotas. But ultimately, he said, losing markets because of consumer backlash poses a greater risk to the dairy industry than these disruptions to farmers' operations. "The reaction of the consumer, fuelled by some media hype that was not based on facts, caused too much of a threat to the dairy industry that they couldn't not do anything," said Lefebvre. "The unfortunate situation is that it's not facts and science that prevailed but public perception." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Artificial intelligence chip designer Wave Computing Inc said on Monday it has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following an auction of the company and will rebrand the firm as MIPS. The company traces its origins back to MIPS Computer Systems Inc, cofounded more than 35 years ago by Stanford University professor John Hennessy, who is now chairman of Alphabet Inc. MIPS was the commercial home of an earlier academic effort to create an architecture for computer processors that remain in wide use today by firms such as Intel Corp's Mobileye self-driving car unit. Wave Computing filed for bankruptcy in April.
TORONTO — The show must go on at the Stratford Festival, but this summer it'll be happening outdoors. Organizers say they've made tentative plans for "about a dozen" live productions held in-person at the renowned southwestern Ontario festival between late June and the end of September. The plays and cabarets will take place beneath two canopies, one at the Festival Theatre and the other at the new Tom Patterson Theatre. The idea was inspired by the original tent where the Stratford Festival first performed in the early 1950s. Under the outdoors model, the festival's organizers expect to seat up to 100 people in "socially distanced pods," double the usual number of audience members who could be seated at the indoor theatre. The full slate of plays and cabarets will be announced in the spring. The plan will keep the Stratford Festival in operation throughout this summer after COVID-19 forced the entire 2020 season to be cancelled, leading the organization to dip into its endowment and secure a line of credit to stay afloat. Stratford Festival's executive director Anita Gaffney says this summer's schedule is designed so that it can be modified to either shrink or grow in size, depending on provincial and community health guidelines. She added that it's "only through significant and thorough advance planning that we can put in place the safety measures that will be essential for any eventuality." Performances will be streamed online for those who cannot attend in-person shows. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The White House is making it abundantly clear it has no plans to share America's COVID-19 vaccines with Canada or Mexico. Press secretary Jen Psaki has been indicating for weeks that the Biden administration would not allow the export of doses manufactured in the U.S. any time soon. Today, with Mexico planning to explicitly ask for help, Psaki ruled the possibility out entirely. She says President Joe Biden is focused first on making sure the vaccine is available to every American. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was expected to ask Biden directly for doses when the two meet virtually later today. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly stopped short of making a similar request in his virtual meetings with Biden last week. "No," Psaki said today when asked whether the U.S. would be willing to share its supply of vaccine doses. "The president has made clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are available to every American. That is our focus." Psaki hinted last week that the White House position could change later this year once more Americans are vaccinated and the doses are no longer in such short supply.Johnson and Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine began shipping out today after it received emergency authorization over the weekend from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That now makes three vaccines that are available in the U.S., along with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Health Canada has yet to approve the Johnson and Johnson shot, but gave the green light last week to a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Island restaurants and retail owners are willing to tough it out once again as the province enters another shutdown, but warning signs are beginning to appear that some Island companies may not survive. On Sunday, the province announced a 72-hour circuit breaker that left non-essential businesses closed or limited. One of Charlottetown's long-standing retailers is again seeing signs of distress in local businesses. "I think you're going to see some stores closed for the long-term over this," said Joseph Dow, owner of Dow's Fashions on Great George Street. "The longer this lingers on, the harder it gets." Dow is a second-generation merchant in Charlottetown, now running the men's fashion store his father started in 1962. He's offering online shopping, but looking out the store's front window, he sees plenty of empty parking spaces. Joseph Dow continues to pay his staff during the 72-hour shut down, even though the store is closed. Some of them have been with the company 20 years or more. "Be nice to see the restaurants busier and more traffic downtown for sure," said Dow. Restaurants are once again laying off staff, having been ordered to close their dining rooms and offer takeout or delivery service only. Red Island Hospitality, which runs several downtown eateries and pubs, has laid off dozens of staff. "It's pretty tough," said Jeff Sinnott, co-owner. "The reality is we just can't use everybody for a limited amount of work." Jeff Sinnott readies a floor for refinishing inside Hunter's Ale House. The restaurant is down to a skeleton staff, and its owners are doing maintenance during the shutdown. Monday morning, Sinnott was sanding the hardwood floor in one of his restaurants, getting it ready to be varnished and refinished during the shutdown. Just three staff were on duty, of the 12 to 15 who would normally be at work. Sinnott estimates business has dropped 80 per cent as a result of closing all dining rooms and offering takeout only. He said the slide started even before Sunday's announcement by the government. "Even on Saturday, we had quite a few reservations cancelled. There is fear out there," said Sinnott. Provincial support announced The province is relaunching P.E.I.'s emergency payment for workers program as of Tuesday. Islanders who have lost their incomes or had their hours reduced by 12 hours a week between Feb. 28 and March 14 because of new COVID-19 restrictions are eligible for $500 in help from the provincial government. It is what it is. — Joseph Dow, Dow's Fashions The province is also relaunching $100 grocery gift cards for workers laid off from Feb. 28 to March 14, and rolling out a $1-million fund for Islanders who must take time off work due to illness and don't have paid sick leave. Dow continues to pay his staff during the 72-hour shut down, even though the store is closed. Some of them have been with the company 20 years or more. "And you know, they count on their wages. So for the next little bit, yeah, I will be paying them," said Dow. "Look, I didn't think it would happen again, but it is what it is," said Dow. "And it can change in a heartbeat." More from CBC P.E.I.