Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam bursted out laughing after hearing how a reporter pronounced Malachi Flynn’s name.
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam bursted out laughing after hearing how a reporter pronounced Malachi Flynn’s name.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska state senator sought an apology Thursday from Gov. Mike Dunleavy for a scathing letter in which he accused her of misrepresenting the state's COVID-19 response and said his administration would no longer participate in hearings she leads. Sen. Lora Reinbold during a news conference called the reaction by Dunleavy, a fellow Republican, “outlandish” and said the Feb. 18 letter was an “attempt to intimidate those who question him and his administration and to silence those with opposing views.” Jeff Turner, a Dunleavy spokesperson, listened to the news conference, held in a Capitol corridor. In an email later, he said Dunleavy “will not be retracting his letter” to Reinbold. Dunleavy has been working from home while recovering from COVID-19. Several bills that are key parts of Dunleavy's legislative agenda, including proposed constitutional amendments and a proposed change to the yearly oil-wealth check residents receive, are in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Reinbold chairs. The committee also has been designated to hold a confirmation hearing for Dunleavy's attorney general nominee, Treg Taylor. Reinbold did not say whether she might seek to compel testimony from the administration. But she said she will not meet with Dunleavy "until he withdraws the letter and issues a formal apology. That is my first step, and that is what I'm hoping for.” Senate President Peter Micciche, who leads a majority Republican caucus, said he hopes Reinbold and Dunleavy resolve the dispute. “We’re all grown-ups here and the public expects us to be professional and get our work done on time,” he said in a statement, adding later: "However this works out between those two individuals, the Senate’s business is going to get done in a legal and timely manner – including hearings on the governor’s appointees.” Micciche has said he expects Senate committees to take a balanced approach. Reinbold, who has held hearings highlighting views of those who question the usefulness of masks and criticize the effects of government emergency orders, said Thursday she has brought a “diversity of thought” to the committee that has gone against the Dunleavy administration's “fear-mongering” COVID-19 message. Reinbold and other lawmakers saw Dunleavy as overstepping in issuing pandemic-related disaster declarations when the Legislature was not in session. But she also has taken aim at health restrictions imposed by local governments and the Legislature, such as mask requirements, and raised concerns with COVID-19 vaccines. She was appointed in November, when Dunleavy used the state's emergency alert network to warn of rising case counts, ask Alaskans to consider celebrating the holidays differently and said he would require masks at state work sites. He also urged groups to meet remotely and encouraged people to use online ordering or curbside pickup. Dunleavy at the time said hospitalizations and sick health care workers were reaching “untenable levels.” In a social media post, Reinbold said Dunleavy “wants us to dramatically change our lives, in other words, basically to help frontline workers, that have supposedly been gearing up to take care of patients all year. Things aren’t adding up.” She said Thursday some of the information she had requested from the administration included data on hospital capacity. The state health department has long posted online data on available hospital beds and hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The department last fall, including around Thanksgiving, was reporting weekly highs in hospitalizations. “The bottom line is, we as Alaskans want to know why the disaster was extended over the Thanksgiving" holiday, she said, adding that seeing the data on hospital capacity that played a role in a disaster declaration around that time was important. “We need to be able to ask the tough questions.” Dunleavy, in his letter, said Reinbold had made “many superfluous inquiries" and that her “baseless, deleterious, and self-serving demands on government resources amounts to an abuse of public services and will no longer be endured.” The state's last disaster declaration expired in mid-February. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 6:55 p.m. Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus, can begin booking on March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will available starting March 10. --- 5:50 p.m. Alberta is reporting 331 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths due to the illness. The province says 33 more cases of variants have been detected, bringing that total in Alberta to 541. There are 245 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 47 of them are in intensive care. --- 5:35 p.m. British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed to first responders and essential workers in the province. Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C.'s immunization committee should have the distribution plan in the next few weeks, and until then, the vaccine that arrives will be used in hot spots where COVID-19 infections have flared. The province has another 564 cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths, for a total of 1,376 people. Henry says another 46 cases of variants of concern have been uncovered, bringing the total cases of variants that originated either in the United Kingdom or South Africa to 246. --- 3:50 p.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. They say the man initially tested negative but was tested again after developing symptoms. P.E.I. has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 3:25 p.m. Health officials in Saskatchewan say there are another 169 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths. There are 146 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care. The province says its seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 148. National data shows Saskatchewan leads the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita. --- 3:15 p.m. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his province will be delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations against COVID-19. He says people will get their second shot four months after the first, which falls in line with a recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee. Saskatchewan health officials are expected to speak at a COVID-19 briefing this afternoon. Earlier in the week, Moe said delaying the second doses for up to four months would mean every adult in the province could be immunized at least once by June. --- 2:35 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Health officials say three new cases are in the Edmundston region, and that the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are 36 active known infections in the province and three patients are hospitalized with the disease, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory as the B.1.1.7 mutation. --- 1:45 p.m. Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed in some Ontario pharmacies starting next week. Health Minister Christine Elliott says most doses of that vaccine will go to pharmacies in a pilot project. The Ontario Pharmacists Association's CEO says the pilot will begin at 380 sites in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex. Ontario has said it will prioritize people between the ages of 60 and 64 for the AstraZeneca doses. --- 1:35 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 51 news COVID-19 cases and two deaths. Northern regions continue to be hardest hit. High case numbers in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation have prompted the chief and council to ban public gatherings and require people to stay home except for shopping, medical care and work in essential services. --- 1:30 p.m. Alberta's Opposition NDP is calling for an immediate public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer. It also wants today's planned reopening of the plant put on hold. The plant was shut down in mid-February, after an outbreak that has caused three deaths and infected more than 500 employees. The company says Alberta Health has given it a green light to start a gradual reopening with slaughter operations today. Cutting room operations can resume tomorrow. --- 1 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today. Health officials say four new cases are in the eastern health region, which includes St. John’s, involving people between the ages of 40 and 69. Three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. The fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. --- 12:45 p.m. Nunavut is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today. All the new cases are in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 and the only place in Nunavut with active cases. Arviat has been under a strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed. The community's hamlet council also ordered a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to curb the spread. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says contact tracing is ongoing in the community. There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat. --- 12:30 p.m. Health Canada says a decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be announced in the "next few days." The word came today from Dr. Marc Berthiaume, director of the regulator's bureau of medical sciences. Once approved, the J&J product would become the fourth vaccine available for use in Canada. It was approved last weekend in the United States. --- 12:15 p.m. Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says nearly 400,000 people were vaccinated in Canada in the last seven days. He says that's the most in a single week since immunizations began on Dec. 14. Njoo says more than two million doses have been administered now, with about four per cent of Canadians getting one dose and almost 1.5 per cent now vaccinated with two doses. --- 12:05 p.m. Nova Scotia is lifting some of the restrictions in place in Halifax and surrounding communities as COVID-19 cases decline in the region. Officials say rules that came into effect on Feb. 27 limiting restaurant hours, prohibiting sports events and discouraging non-essential travel in and out of the area will end on Friday at 8 a.m. Rules for residents of long-term care homes remain unchanged, but those living in care facilities may only have visits from their two designated caregivers. Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the Halifax Regional Municipality and neighbouring areas until March 27. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including four in the past 24 hours. Health officials say hospitalizations rose by eight, to 626, and 115 people were in intensive care, a drop of five. The province says it administered 16,619 doses of vaccine yesterday, for a total of 490,504. Quebec has reported a total of 290,377 COVID-19 infections and 10,445 deaths linked to the virus. It has 7,379 active reported cases. --- 10:50 a.m. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say all three cases were identified in the health region that includes Halifax. Two cases involve contacts of previously reported infections while the third is under investigation. Nova Scotia has 29 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 994 new cases of COVID-19. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 298 of those new cases are in Toronto, 171 are in Peel and 64 are in York Region. There were 10 more deaths in Ontario since the last daily update and more than 30,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Baldy Mountain Resort is again speaking out against snowmobilers who use the ski hill as their own personal playground after an incident occurred while WorkSafe BC was conducting an inspection on the mountain. WorkSafe BC was on site following the death of a 70-year-old employee on Feb. 26 and during that inspection on Feb. 28 “snowmobilers came over the top of the hill and ripped down Burn Baby Burn right in front of them,” Baldy resort stated in a Facebook post Thursday. Motorized recreational vehicles using the mountain has been a longstanding issue at Mount Baldy. “It’s been an issue since Baldy re-opened. In the past two years we’ve been pushing the point of non-authorized, motorized vehicles are not permitted on the foot trails or on the hill,” said Caroline Sherrer, operations manager at Baldy. Not only does the unauthorized use of motor vehicles wreck the trails, keeping the Snowcat busy and unable to groom other trails, snowmobilers on the mountain are a safety issue, Sherrer said. “It’s also a danger. There are people out there walking, doing snowshoeing at moonlight at night. Sometimes you can’t hear these snowmobiles when they are in the trees and they come around a corner,” Sherrer said. Signs posted at all access points on the mountain make it clear motorized vehicles are not allowed, and barriers erected at Baldy entry points have been taken down in the past. “We had our investigators up here and (the snowmobilers) literally didn’t go down the Baldy trail they cut across and went up another trail right in front of the investigators. There are signs posted in every access point, they’ve been torn down. Barriers have been destroyed and we have to rebuild them. It’s destructive, it’s trespassing and it’s vandalism, plain and simple,” Sherrer said. “We don’t want someone to get hurt. That’s the reason we have been so adamant about this. We just don’t want to see a tragedy on the hill again.” Sherrer said there is an ongoing discussion in local snowmobiling groups that believe recreational vehicles have the right to access the land. “They feel they have a right to be on the hill because it’s ‘Crown land,’ but this is a recreational area that we have boundary access to, and we are the ones who are liable and responsible for this area,” Sherrer said. “We have spoken to the RCMP about it. They’re willing to come up, but need proof. Unfortunately, we don’t always get that proof or if we get proof it’s not clear enough prove who it is.” There are incidents of snowmobilers using the mountain three or four times a month during the ski season, Sherrer said, noting the latest incident, which occurred in front of WorkSafe BC inspectors was “especially egregious.” “It’s regularly. Would I say every week? No. But I would say probably at least three or four times a month. This week alone was twice,” Sherrer said. “This is a huge safety issue for us.” Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
“I want to say something to the three of you today,” Saskatchewan Justice Gerry Allbright told the grieving family members of murder victim Mark Douglas Jonson, 61. “Mark Jonson is not just a name to me. He was a person loved. I have a picture of Mark in front of me,” said Justice Allbright, adding that the victim’s daughter and two sisters brought Mark to life through their compelling victim impact statements. “He was a man who was loved. He was a man who cared about others in society and he cared about those who were down and out,” said Justice Allbright in Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench March 4. “Without you sharing those heartfelt and true comments with me I would not nave been able to see the man behind the photograph and I’m thankful for that and I’m sorry for your loss,” said Justice Allbright. Victim impact statements were read by Jonson’s daughter Lydia Holteniuk, and his sisters Lynette Jonson and Myrnel Williams. The three appeared by phone. Myrnel said her brother Mark Jonson taught her a lot – including his difficulties - during his life. “Sometimes the best teachers are people whose pasts have been a bit flawed because they can understand the human experience.” Lydia spoke about how painful and difficult it was to have her father brutally murdered. The court heard that Jonson was a generous and kind person who would help anyone. Jonson’s family said he struggled but was overcoming the challenges in his life and still had dreams to fulfill. A judge and jury trial for Nicholas Buck was previously scheduled to run Feb. 22 to March 5, 2021, but, instead, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder March 4. In July 2019, twenty-three-year-old Buck was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the death of Jonson. Battlefords RCMP found Jonson deceased in a home on the 1500 block of 100 Street on July 5, 2019. RCMP Major Crime Unit North and North Battleford Forensic Identification Services investigated the murder. They issued a warrant for Buck’s arrest on July 11, 2019. He was arrested two days later. Police also arrested David Keller, 28, on July 11, 2019. Keller’s judge and jury trial is scheduled for October 2021 in Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench. North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Steven Laroque said Jonson died the night of July 2 or the early morning of July 3, 2019. Laroque said there are several aggravating circumstances including the brutal nature of the senior’s murder in his home where he had the right to feel and be safe. For mitigating factors, Laroque said Buck is young and was victimized as a youth. “Gladue applies in this case, which requires special consideration.” Laroque said Buck cooperated with the police and confessed. In addition, by pleading guilty he spared the family from going through a lengthy trial and helped move the case through the court system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Defence Brian Pfefferle reiterated the significant Gladue factors present in Buck’s situation. “He has had a difficult life and was born into tragic circumstances,” said Pfefferle, adding that Buck suffered abuse, poverty and racism. A clean-cut looking Buck appeared by CCTV from the correctional centre wearing grey prison attire. Gone were the dreadlocks in the 2019 police-issued photo. Justice Allbright asked Buck if he had anything to say before sentencing, telling Buck that he is soft-spoken and to speak as loud as he can. Buck held his head slightly down throughout the proceedings but stood up when he delivered an apology to the victim’s family. “I’m not apologizing because I have to, I’m apologizing because I’m sincerely…” Buck said as he struggled to get more words out, many which were inaudible between his audible cries. Justice Allbright acknowledged Buck’s apology before sentencing him. “Buck’s background is a troubled background. The other side is the gravity of the level of violence visited on this poor man. “I sentence you to life without eligibility for parole until you serve at least 12 years,” said Justice Allbright. “In life everyone makes mistakes, some mistakes are very tragic,” added Justice Allbright. “You know well the tragic mistake you made that day when you caused the loss of life of Mr. Jonson. “You have then made some good decisions since then, the lengthy statement to police about your involvement in this matter, you come before the court entering a plea of guilty acknowledging the terrible harm your actions have caused and you have expressed remorse to the family members. I truly hope that your life proceeds in a way that can bring some honour to the memory, in this case, to Mark Jonson. “You have had a difficult upbringing and background,” added Justice Allbright. “That should help you to go forward from here. One of the family members said sometimes the best teachers are people whose pasts have been a bit flawed because they can understand the human experience. You, Mr. Buck, will hopefully follow in that, the very wise words the family member said.” firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Alberta Parks have issued a joint avalanche warning for a large portion of Alberta’s mountain parks. As Jackie Wilson reports, recent warm weather has created the dangerous conditions.
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state health officials came under deeper scrutiny amid revelations that seniors in a wealthy enclave in Key Largo received hundreds of life-saving vaccinations as early as mid -January, giving ammunition to critics who say the Republican governor is favouring wealthy constituents over ordinary Floridians. The revelations were the latest example of wealthy Floridians getting earlier access to coronavirus vaccines, even as the state has lagged in efforts to get poorer residents vaccinated. DeSantis pushed back Thursday, saying a local hospital — not the state — was behind the vaccinations of more than 1,200 residents of the exclusive Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, and that the state “wasn't involved in it in any shape or form.” Despite the governor's denials of quid pro quos, the charges of favouritism were amplified by money pouring into the governor's campaign coffers from wealthy benefactors with ties to communities awarded vaccination sites — like the one in Key Largo. One resident of Ocean Reef, Republican former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, last week gave the Florida governor's campaign committee $250,000. Revelations about Ocean Reef residents getting vaccinated were first reported by the Miami Herald. The inequitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines is becoming a public relations challenge for the governor. As of Wednesday, nearly 3.3 million Floridians had received at least one shot of the two-step vaccination process, about three-quarters of them 65 or older. But less than 6% have been Black — about a third of their share of the state's population. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried joined Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in calling for federal officials to probe the DeSantis administration’s vaccine distribution programs. “If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,” Fried said Thursday at a press conference in the Florida Capitol, calling on the FBI's public corruption to launch an investigation. “Give campaign contributions big dollars, get special access to vaccines -- ahead of seniors, ahead of our teachers, ahead of our farmworkers and so many of our residents here in our state of Florida who are scared and who are wanting these vaccines.” Citing reporting from the Herald, Fried noted that DeSantis in February had his biggest fundraising haul since 2018, when he was running for governor. In asking the U.S. Department of Justice to look into matter, Crist, a former Florida governor, asserted last week that DeSantis were benefiting "political allies and donors, over the needs of higher-risk communities and existing county waitlists.” Both Crist and Fried are considering campaigns to oppose DeSantis in next year's gubernatorial election. Other Florida Democrats, including the top Democrat in the state Senate, Gary Farmer, joined in the call for a federal investigation. "The exchange of hard-to-get vaccines for political contributions is nothing short of criminal," Farmer said in a letter dashed off to acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson. During a Thursday news conference, DeSantis expressed no misgivings about the early vaccinations at the exclusive Key Largo community. “If you are 65 and up, I am not worried about your income bracket," he said. “I am worried about your age bracket because it’s the age, not the income, that shows the risk.” A spokesperson for the governor called the controversy “a manufactured narrative with political motivations.” “Leadership matters and because of Governor Ron DeSantis’ commitment to ensuring vaccine access to all seniors – regardless of background, income or zip code – millions of seniors have received the vaccine, resulting in over 50 per cent of our state’s senior population being vaccinated, the highest in the nation,” said the spokesperson, Meredith Beatrice. The Republican Party of Florida came to the governor’s defence, calling the controversy “another bogus conspiracy theory.” “It doesn’t matter what party you belong to, whether you are rich or poor, if you qualify for the vaccine, you can get a vaccine,” said Helen Aguirre Ferre, the state party’s executive director. The Ocean Reef Club, a senior community in Key Largo, had more than 1,200 homeowners vaccinated through their second dose by late January, according to a message to community members by the management obtained by the Miami Herald. Those vaccinations came at a time when “the majority of the state has not received an allocation of first doses,” the management noted. Officials from Monroe County, home to Key Largo, said the affluent club’s medical centre received the vaccines through the Baptist Health hospital as part of the governor’s program to vaccinate communities with a populations of people 65 and older. County spokeswoman Kristen Livengood said the allocations were co-ordinated through Baptist and the state of Florida. In recent weeks, other reports have surfaced of wealthy retirement communities getting exclusive access to vaccine doses through pop-up vaccine sites. Democrats have criticized him for choosing those places, but the governor’s office has noted that more than half of them have been in Democratic stronghold counties of Broward and Palm Beach. Supporters of DeSantis say he has also co-ordinated clinics with faith-based groups in underserved areas. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat and the state's director of the Division of Emergency Management, said the administration is working “diligently” to increase vaccine access in underserved communities. After Publix was made the sole distributor of vaccines in Palm Beach County in late January, the mayors of predominately Black farming communities in the area urged the governor to reconsider, and the state set up a vaccine station shortly after. While critics point to disparities in vaccine distributions as a call for more outreach into underserved areas of the state, including in communities of colour and impoverished neighbourhoods, DeSantis noted that "demand was relatively tepid in FEMA sites in Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville. The governor said the four sites had the capacity to administer 12,000 doses but only vaccinated 6,500 people. —- A previous version of the story erroneously reported the donation amount given by former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to the Florida governor's campaign committee. —— Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. ____ Calvan reported from Tallahassee, Florida. Associated Press writer Anila Yoganathan contributed from Atlanta. Bobby Caina Calvan And Adriana Gomez Licon, The Associated Press
Mark Nichols is taking mandatory Curling Canada isolation in stride ahead of the Brier. He's lapping it up, actually. On his second day of quarantine, he walked 5K in his Calgary hotel room. "12 steps from wall to door," he counted. "That's a lot of laps." It took the Olympian an hour, pacing past his bed, through the room's seating area, and back —something to keep moving while Team Gushue looks to win its fourth Brier in five years. "It's tough at times," Nichols said when asked how isolation will affect his mental game, adding he feels ready. "We've been preparing for this for a long time, whether it's visualization or meditation or anything like that," he said. "This team has done a lot to kind of get to this place. We're ready for it." 'We're ready for it' The Brier takes place from March 5 to March 14, but Team Gushue — the defending champions, playing as Team Canada — plans to bunker down for the curling season. There's mixed doubles, two grand slam events, and the world championships for whoever wins the Brier. Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue, left to right, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker hold the Brier Tankard trophy after defeating Team Alberta in the 2020 Brier curling final.(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) "It could be 55 days in this hotel and out on Day 56 if everything goes as planned." Nichols said, adding that with the required safety protocols, if the team were to win worlds, it wouldn't make sense to leave the hotel between tournaments. Curling Canada mandates two weeks of relative isolation for curlers and coaches in their home province before flying out to an event. For the last three days, people aren't allowed to leave their homes or have contact with their families. Teams have to test negative for COVID-19 four times: before arriving in the host city, upon arrival, the following day and, again, either two or three days after that. Participants have a check-in every day to disclose any symptoms. They're restricted to their individual hotel rooms and they're not allowed visitors. Teams each have a car. They're only permitted to drive to the rink and back. It's a minute-long drive and stopping anywhere other than the arena isn't allowed. Keeping up the 5K But once they're on the ice, Nichols said, the game will feel much the same. They're used to downtime between matches and hanging out in hotel rooms. This season will just be an extreme version of that, with more time spent doing hotel room laps. "If that's the worst thing that happens here, I have to walk 5K back and forth, and we're still winning, then that's a good thing to do," Nichols said. "If it distracts me from what's going on around, then that's a good thing." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MONTREAL — A Universite de Montreal education professor has been charged with a sexual offence involving an 11-year-old child. Police in Longueuil, Que., south of Montreal, said Thierry Karsenti, 52, was arrested Feb. 23. He faces a single charge of sexual interference and is due in court on Friday. Karsenti, who is also the Canada Research Chair on information and communication technologies in education, allegedly committed the offence in 2015, according to a release issued by police. Police said Karsenti also goes by the name "Thomas." They said there could be other victims from a period between 2015 and 2017 and want people who may have information to come forward. Karsenti has been suspended indefinitely from his role at the university, according to Universite de Montreal spokeswoman Genevieve O'Mera. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74 and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus can begin booking March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of AstraZeneca will available starting March 10. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said while AstraZeneca is just as effective as the others, due to incomplete data it recommends it not be given to those over 64. Shandro says for that reason, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to adults 50 to 64 who don’t have a severe chronic illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Gananoque and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands are again asking local businesses for their business chronicles. The fourth edition of the project aims to showcase local businesses through social media, websites and investment campaigns. Any business, whether home-based, just starting out or well established, is welcomed to apply, said Amanda Trafford, business development co-ordinator for the town of Gananoque. "What we are doing is using the businesses to tell the story of our communities," she said. The chronicles are funded by the Rural Economic Development (RED) program through the provincial ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Along with having the businesses advertised on social media, the information and website catalogue is also used to attract new businesses to the area. "Like every other community we are trying to attract new business," said Trafford. "By using our businesses, we can tell the story of why it’s good to do business here." Trafford said the chronicles are another way to showcase a positive quality of life for a business despite being in a rural setting. Terri Dawson, the owner of the Green Gecko shop in Lyndhurst, said she also took away that the chronicle is about showing off the community. "You're not always trying to push advertising," said Dawson. "What you're trying to say is look at this great business community we have here. "You could be a part of this too." The businesses involved will also receive a free professional photograph for their use in promoting the business, something Dawson said was greatly welcomed. "I really appreciated that I was given a print-quality copy of the photo because I've used it in other promotion of my business," she said. "Most businesses are not budgeting for a professional photo of you taken so it's a real bonus." Dawson, who was a part of the first round of business chronicles, said she found the process simple and straightforward. "Because you're the one filling out the information… you make sure that you are highlighting the things you really feel are important," said Dawson, whose store sells items "from down the road and around the world." McKenna Modler, project coordinator for RED, said that over 30 businesses have been chronicled in the first three editions, dating back to 2018. Each business is found on either the town or township's chronicles webpage, depending on the location of the business. Modler said if a business is interested in joining the chronicles, the owners can email her at email@example.com or visit either the town or township versions of the chronicles webpage. The deadline is March 31. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
As Cowessess First Nation sits on the cusp of asserting its rights under C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, Mi’kmaw Nations in Nova Scotia are leaning toward asserting their rights for their children and families through their existing Treaty and Aboriginal rights. Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Nova Scotia/Newfoundland Regional Chief Paul Prosper explained their different journeys toward the same goal—taking control of the wellbeing of their nations’ children and families. They were speaking on March 2 at the third of five virtual gatherings hosted by the AFN on Child and Family Services and Self-Determination. “Our coordination agreement is draft-ready to sign,” said Delorme. Those signatures will come from Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller, Saskatchewan First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Minister Lori Carr, “and myself on behalf of Cowessess. It’s not signed as of this hour. We’re just working on some final technical stuff.” Whether it’s the federal or provincial government that has the financial obligation to the First Nation is “kind of grey in the act,” said Delorme, and that is the hold-up at this point. When the funding does come, it will be a one-year commitment to allow Cowessess to get a better understanding of its funding needs. “On April 1, in less than a month, Cowessess will have coast to coast to coast jurisdiction over our children and prevention for our families. It’s not reserve-based,” said Delorme. He explained that Cowessess First Nation was moving forward with asserting its jurisdiction with a single coordination agreement with its home province of Saskatchewan, although 126 children living in other provinces had been identified. “Cowessess is going to do this. We’re going to do it well. But if any province challenges us, we’re prepared to answer. We’re prepared to educate, but this is not a negotiation. We are already asserting,” said Delorme. In February 2020, Cowessess First Nation ratified the Miyo Pimatisowin Act (MPA), affirming its rights and jurisdiction to act in the best interest of the child. “If anyone ever challenged it from a colonial perspective, we didn’t go outside the goalpost of the (Bill C-)92, but the Miyo Pimatisowin Act is custom to Cowessess,” said Delorme. The MPA is only one part of the work Cowessess undertook. They created the Eagle Woman Tribunal Council, their own judicial system which will oversee the MPA; created Chief Red Bear Children’s Lodge, which will serve as their child and family services agency; opened Sacred Wolf Lodge, a 10-bedroom facility which began as a home for females aging out of the system and is now a prevention place for families; and formed a variety of committees to examine finance, interprovincial needs and data, and legal aspects. Before entering into coordination discussions with Ottawa and Saskatchewan, Cowessess began exploratory discussions with the two levels of government in June 2020. “We were very technical in that word ‘exploratory’ because we didn’t officially launch our coordination discussion. No rights holder in Canada at that moment were doing coordination agreement discussions,” said Delorme. Official coordination agreement discussions were launched in August 2020 and consisted of four months, with at least 10 hours dedicated weekly, to the topic with “minimal complications,” he said. “Cowessess never gave up jurisdiction. We were just colonized and now we’re asserting,” said Delorme. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw is now in the second phase of a three-phase approach in their child welfare legal regime and are presently drafting their law. That process is being led by the Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq (MKK), an initiative launched in 2018 prior to the federal government beginning to draft and discuss Bill C-92. MKK was formed to address gaps that impacted Mi’kmaw family, children, youth and communities in the 25 legislative amendments the province adopted to the Children and Family Services Act in 2017. The work of the MKK was both interim and long term, said Prosper. “The interim process was to work with the provincial legislation to seek as much gains as we can to that amendment process, but our larger, longer-term goal was to develop a Mi’kmaw law for Mi’kmaw children and families,” he said. That law will apply to Mi’kmaw children throughout Nova Scotia, both on and off reserve. MKK also began to consider the implications of C-92 when it was introduced. “(MKK) sought to build Mi’kmaw-specific child and family law which will depart from provincial and federal legislation. When you’re departing from legislation … it’s always an important consideration and it’s something certainly that we don’t take lightly. With it comes a huge responsibility,” said Prosper. MKK has undertaken a meticulous, lengthy process to both develop Mi’kmaw child welfare legislation as well as policies and protocols to support the implementation of that legislation. MKK is engaging and re-engaging with working groups, rewriting and revising as input requires, said Heather McNeill, legal advisor for MKK. “Once it’s all done, when we get to the third stage, and we think that we have a final product that everybody’s had a look at then we’re going to take it to the assembly to seek ratification, but only after the assembly and leadership review it and then we will have our Mi’kmaw laws developed under the legal regime,” said McNeil. She pointed out that they have a five-year funding agreement with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) which began in 2018 when MKK started doing its work with the province. That five-year timeframe is still in place to undertake the work, she said. “My understanding is leadership … don’t want to forego any options with respect to which regime that they would fall under, whether it be the act itself or just to have full recognition outright on the basis of our existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights, so there’s two potential streams in that scenario,” said Prosper. “There is a process by which we are looking to enact our law and we’re mindful of timelines, but we’re also mindful of ensuring that our leadership and our communities are ready for this,” he added. AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who is also the social development portfolio holder, noted that in December 2020, ISC had received letters and documentation from 26 Indigenous groups representing more than 80 communities expressing their intent to assert their jurisdiction over child and family services. “This represents a significant step forward not only toward reducing the number of First Nation children and youth in care but toward increasing the over all well-being of our children, families and communities in our nations as we work toward reconciliation and self-governance and self-determination for First Nations,” said Hart. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
SEATTLE — Forward Fredy Montero is returning to the Seattle Sounders nearly a decade after he last played for the club. Montero signed a one-year contract with the Sounders on Thursday that includes club options for two more seasons. It will be the second stint in Seattle for the 33-year-old, who was with the Sounders from their inaugural season in 2009 through 2012. Even after nearly a decade away, Montero is still the club record-holder with 60 goals across all competitions. “When good players return to Seattle, it speaks to the strong culture that we’ve built. I’m looking forward to bringing him into the group and seeing what he can contribute to our attack,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. Montero was Seattle’s leading goal scorer the first three years of the team's existence. He scored 47 times in MLS regular-season games during his four seasons with the Sounders. After leaving Seattle in 2012, Montero played for Millonarios in Colombia and Sporting CP in Portugal where he scored 27 goals over three seasons. Montero spent one season playing in China, but has spent three of the past four seasons with the Whitecaps sandwiched around a one-year return to Portugal. Montero will provide depth for a Seattle attack that faces questions following Jordan Morris’ loan to Swansea City and a subsequent knee injury that will require surgery and end his 2021 season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Thursday approved a $6.6 billion plan aimed at pressuring school districts to return students to the classroom before the end of the school year. The bill does not order school districts to resume in-person instruction and it does not say parents must send their kids back to the classroom if they don’t want to. Instead, the state will dangle $2 billion before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share of that money only if they offer in-person instruction by the end of the month. School districts have until May 15 to decide. Districts that resume in-person learning after that date won’t get any of that money. “We need to get the schools reopen. And I know it’s hard, but today we are providing powerful tools for schools to move in this direction,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who pleaded with his school district to accept the money and offer in-person instruction. Most of California's 6.1 million students throughout 1,037 public school districts have been learning from home since last March because of the pandemic. Frustrated parents and politicians have been clamouring for schools to return students to the classroom for months. But many school boards have been reluctant, facing opposition from teachers unions worried about coronavirus safety protocols and citing surveys from parents saying they are not comfortable sending their kids back to class in-person. “As a former math teacher for 13 years, we know that that’s the place we need our kids to be, but we’re afraid because you’re asking to put our own lives at risk and to put our families' lives at risk,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a Democrat from Bell Gardens in Los Angeles County. Nearly every lawmaker voted for the bill on Thursday, but many did so reluctantly, arguing it's too weak. The bill does not say how much time students should spend in the classroom, prompting fears some districts might have students return for just one day a week and still be eligible to get the money. And while the bill requires most elementary school grades to return to the classroom to get the money, it does not require all middle and high school grades to return this year. Republicans in the state Senate tried to amend the bill to say schools must offer at least three days per week of in-person learning, but Democrats in the majority rejected it. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill into law on Friday. Newsom faces a potential recall election later this year, fueled by anger over his handling of the fallout from the pandemic. He has travelled the state in recent weeks touting his efforts at reopening the economy, including a visit to an elementary school where he read to students as they sat behind plexiglass barriers on their desks. Scott Wilk, the Republican leader in the state Senate, said the bill was simply an effort by Democrats to give Newsom political cover so he can “get parents to believe he’s doing everything he possibly can for them.” “The truth is (this bill) doesn’t do anything to reopen our schools. ,” said Wilk, who voted for the bill along with most other Republicans. The bill has two sets of rules districts must follow to get the money. The first set applies to school districts in counties where the coronavirus is widespread. The second set of rules applies to districts in counties where the virus is not as widespread. To get the money, districts governed by the first set of rules must offer in-person learning through at least second grade by the end of March. Districts governed by the second set of rules must offer in-person learning to all elementary grades, plus at least one grade in middle and high school. However, the Newsom administration late Wednesday changed the standards that dictate which counties must follow which rules. The new standards mean most counties will have to follow the second set of rules requiring districts to offer in-person instruction for more grades. Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez criticized that decision as “a little dishonest.” Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers, went further, saying he was “deeply concerned to see the goalposts already moving on this reopening plan just days after its unveiling.” “This change risks the unintended consequences of delaying return to classrooms and further eroding Californians' trust,” he said. The bill also includes $4.6 billion aimed at helping students catch up after a year of learning from home. Districts could use the money to extend the school year into the summer or they could spend it on counselling and tutoring. All districts would get this money, regardless of whether they offer in-person instruction. But the bill stated that districts must use at least 85% of that money for expenses related to in-person instruction. Adam Beam, The Associated Press
The Town of New Tecumseth has hired a new Director of Ad-ministration Services and Clerk. Pamela Fettes will take over the position effective March 22, 2021. She will fill the vacancy created when the former clerk retired at the end of 2020. Ms. Fettes’ previous experience includes the past eight years with Clearview Township as the Director of Legislative Services and Municipal Clerk. “We are excited to welcome Pamela to the Town of New Te-cumseth,” said Mayor Rick Milne. "Her experience, expertise and knowledge of Simcoe County and our growing community will be an asset to the Town. Council and staff are looking forward to her leadership in the important role of Director of Administration Se-vices and Clerk as we continue to move the Town’s administration forward.” Under the Corporate Services division, as the Director of Admin-istration Services and Clerk, Ms. Fettes will lead the Town’s admin-istrative services which includes customer service, the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement area, licenses and permits, the preparation and circulation of Council documents, records management, requests for information under the Mu-nicipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the conduct and administration of municipal elections. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
OTTAWA — With a federal budget in the offing, premiers are stepping up the pressure on Ottawa to immediately boost health-care funding by at least $28 billion a year.They held a virtual news conference Thursday to reiterate their demand for a big increase in the unconditional transfer payment the federal government sends provinces and territories each year for health care.The federal government this year will transfer to the provinces nearly $42 billion for health care, under an arrangement that sees the amount rise by at least three per cent each year.But the premiers contend that amounts to only 22 per cent of the actual cost of delivering health care and doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent.Starting this year, they want Ottawa to increase its share to 35 per cent and maintain it at that level, which would mean an added $28 billion, rising by roughly another $4 billion in each subsequent year.During a virtual first ministers' meeting in December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told premiers he recognizes the need for the federal government to eventually shoulder a bigger share of health-care costs. But he said that must wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sent the federal deficit on track to exceed an unprecedented $381 billion as Ottawa doles out emergency aid, including at least $1 billion for vaccines and $25 billion in direct funding to the provinces to, among other things, bolster their health systems.Quebec Premier Francois Legault, chair of the premiers' council, stressed Thursday that the pandemic-related expenses Ottawa has incurred are "non-recurring." He pointed to studies that suggest the federal government could quickly eliminate its deficit, and even return to surplus, once the pandemic is over while provinces would be mired in debt.The premiers argued they need stable, predictable, long-term funding for their health systems, which were already under strain before the pandemic hit and will be even more stressed once it's over and they must deal with the backlog of delayed surgeries, tests and other procedures.Manitoba's Brian Pallister said wait times have been a problem for decades and are destined to get worse as Canada's population ages. But he said the pandemic has made "a bad situation much, much worse.""The post-pandemic pileup is coming and it's real and its impact on Canadians and their families and their friends is real too," he warned. "The time is now to address this issue and to address it together."Pallister accused Trudeau of ignoring the problem of wait-times and the real life-threatening impact on people. Five years ago, he said he told Trudeau a true story about a woman with a lump in her breast who had waited for tests and referral to a specialist, only to be told in the end that it was "too bad we couldn't have caught this sooner.""He looked across the table at me and said, 'I'm not your banker,'" Pallister said."We don't need a banker. We need a partner."Trudeau has offered to give provinces immediate funding for long-term care homes, provided they agree to some national standards. Long-term care facilities have borne the brunt of deaths from COVID-19.But Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Ottawa's latest offer would provide just $2,500 per person in long-term care — a drop in the bucket compared to the $76,000 it costs his province each year for every long-term care resident."The math doesn't work," he said.Legault ruled out conditional transfers for long-term care altogether as an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. He said each province and territory has its own health-care priorities and their "jurisdiction must absolutely be respected."When universal health care was adopted in Canada, British Columbia's John Horgan said the cost was originally shared 50-50 between Ottawa and the provinces. The steadily declining federal share has led to ever more challenges in delivering health care, exacerbated now by the pandemic."Our public health-care system is at risk," Horgan warned."COVID has brought (the challenge) into graphic light. It's stark, it's profound and we need to take action."Saskatchewan's Scott Moe said Canadians deserve a well-funded health system "that is supported by both levels, both orders of government in this nation, not one that is propped up by almost entirely by the provinces and territories."Trudeau's minority Liberal government is poised to table a budget this spring, which could theoretically result in the defeat of his government should opposition parties vote against the budget. Legault said premiers have already talked to opposition parties to solicit their support for their health funding demand. He said the Bloc Quebecois and NDP support the demand, while the Conservatives agree in principle with the need to increase the health transfer but have not specifically agreed to the $28-billion figure.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Worried about continuing threats, the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police appealed to congressional leaders Thursday to use their influence to keep National Guard troops at the Capitol, two months after the law enforcement breakdowns of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. Yogananda Pittman told the leaders in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that the board that oversees her department has so far declined to extend an emergency declaration required by the Pentagon to keep Guardsmen who have assisted Capitol officers since the riot. Pittman said she needed the leaders' assistance with the three-member Capitol Police Board, which reports to them. She said the board has sent her a list of actions it wants her to implement, though she said it was unclear whether the points were orders or just recommendations. The letter underscored the confusion over how best to secure the Capitol after a dismal lack of protection in January and biting criticism for law enforcement's handling of the invasion. And it came came as authorities spent the day on high alert, primed for a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the building again, two months after Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors in an insurrection meant to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The list in the letter to lawmakers included a partial removal of the imposing fence encircling the Capitol grounds starting Monday and a drawdown of the Guard to 900 troops from the current 5,200 remaining in Washington. Police want to keep the fence indefinitely. In her letter, Pittman said she would ask for a drawdown of the deployment “based on the threat environment and physical and operational security capabilities.” Earlier Thursday, The Associated Press reported the Pentagon was reviewing a Capitol Police request to keep up to 2,200 Guardsmen at the Capitol another 60 days. A statement from the police said Pittman had formally made the recommendation to the Pentagon. A similar dispute had erupted between the Capitol Police and its board before Jan. 6 and even as rioters were storming the building. The Capitol Police Board, comprised of the House and Senate sergeants at arms and the architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force. Steven Sund, the now-former Capitol Police chief, has testified to Congress that he wanted to request the Guard two days before the invasion following reports that white supremacist and far-right groups would target the building to disrupt the certification of Biden's election victory over outgoing President Donald Trump. Paul Irving, who served on the Capitol Police Board as House sergeant-at-arms, denied that Sund asked him to call the Guard. Sund has testified that he asked repeatedly for the Guard to be called as rioters stormed the building, breaking police lines and running over officers unequipped to hold them off. He ultimately called the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard just before 2 p.m., who in turn testified that the request for help was delayed by the Defence Department. The request was not approved until after 5 p.m., as hundreds of rioters marauded through the building and left without being arrested. Five people died in the riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a Trump supporter shot by police. On Thursday, despite the warnings of new trouble, there were no signs of disturbance at the heavily secured building. Nor was there evidence of any large group heading to Washington. The most recent threat appeared to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that former Trump would rise again to power on March 4 and that thousands would come to Washington to try to remove Democrats from office. March 4 was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. But Trump was miles away in Florida. In Washington, on one of the warmest days in weeks, the National Mall was almost deserted, save for joggers, journalists, and a handful of tourists trying to take photos of the Capitol dome through the fencing. Online chatter identified by authorities included discussions among members of the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group, concerning possible plots against the Capitol on Thursday, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Members of the Three Percenters were among the extremists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. But federal agents found no significant increases in the number of hotel rooms being rented in Washington, or in flights to the area, car rental reservations or buses being chartered. Online chatter about the day on extremist sites was declining. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, was briefed by law enforcement about the possible threat and said lawmakers were braced for whatever might come. “We have the razor wire, we have the National Guard. We didn’t have that January 6. So I feel very confident in the security,” he said. But those measures aren't permanent. Some states have threatened to pull their Guardsmen amid reports that some troops had been made to take rest breaks in parking garages or served spoiled food. Other Guardsmen have said they have been given good meals with accommodations for those on vegan or halal diets. In Michigan, which sent 1,000 troops, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she did “not have any intention of agreeing to an extension of this deployment.” Meanwhile, Trump continues to promote lies that the election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges and Trump's former attorney general. He repeatedly told those lies on social media and in a charged speech on Jan. 6 in which he implored thousands of supporters to “fight like hell.” Many of those supporters eventually walked to the Capitol grounds and overran officers to breach the building. Trump was impeached by the House on a c harge of incitement of insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Trump's election rhetoric continues to be echoed by many national and local Republicans posting online messages about voter fraud and questioning the legitimacy of Biden's victory. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cited “a years-long trend of false narratives fueling violence.” “On the specifics of today’s threats, the FBI and DHS have warned that the threat of domestic violent extremism, particularly racially motivated and anti-government extremists, did not begin or end on January 6 and we have been vigilant day in and day out,” she said Thursday. ___ Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Alan Fram, Mary Clare Jalonick, Colleen Long, and Lisa Mascaro in Washington, and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report. Lolita C. Baldor, Lisa Mascaro And Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
To say this has been challenging year for hockey players, coaches, and league executives may be an understatement. With league play cancelled, travel for-bidden, and disruptions in ice time and availability, it has been a diffi cult season all around. For the past week, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association has been celebrating the people who have been on the front lines of hockey in the Province trying to keep the game going in some fashion during this current pandemic. With strict rules and regulations in place to keep everyone safe, it has been a season of uncertainty. The OMHA dedicated its third annual “Thank a Volunteer” week (February 22 – 28) to the coaches, parents, offi cials, and administrators who went above and beyond the call of duty this year to keep as many people as possible involved in the game in whatever way they could. The volunteers, who are so important to the sport, had their stories highlighted in a campaign running all week on the OMHA’s social media channels .“What’s incredible to me is that volunteers all over the province have found new and creative ways to offer some form of hockey in a safe way in the middle of the global pandemic,” said Ian Taylor, Executive Director of the OMHA. “It speaks to the love they have for our game and the benefi ts it provides our children.” Volunteers have been even more im-portant this year due to the challenging situation faced by not only hockey but all organized sports.“ "Hockey was a tool for these kids,” said Adam Syring, coach of the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs. “We kept the game going as long as we could because it was an outlet for their mental health, to be able to get out, be active, and get their minds off of COVID, the pandemic, and everything we were hearing in the news. When the kids did get the chance to be with their teammates, you could see hockey made a world of difference.” As part of Thank a Volunteer Week, the OMAH announced two award winners. Jane Kelko, from Essex, Ontario, is the winner of the Patricia Hartley Adminis-trator’s Award in recognition of her de-cades of exemplary service in the fi eld of hockey administration. Kelly Hastings, of Collingwood, is the winner of the Development Award. This award honours his years of outstanding contribution to hockey development, helping run minor hockey initiation pro-grams for thousands of children in the area. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Just when you thought it was safe – the Ontario gov-ernment and the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit has issued another lock-down to the region that became effective on Monday, March 1. Calling it an “emergency brake,” the lockdown was imposed locally as well as in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. The decisions were made “in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions,” according to a state-ment issued by the Province. “While we continue to see the number of cases and other public health indicators lowering in many re-gions across the province, the recent modelling shows us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures to protect Ontarians and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With COVID-19 variants continu-ing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the prog-ress we have made to date.” The statement went on to say “variants of concern continuing to spread, the number of patients requiring hospitalization and intensive care may rise once again if public health measures are not relaxed carefully and gradually. The actions of everyone over the coming weeks will be critical to maintaining the progress communities have made across the province to date.” Local medical officers of health continue to have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and municipalities may enact by-laws to target spe-cific transmission risks in the community. “Quickly implementing stronger measures to inter-rupt transmission of CO-VID-19 is a key component of the government’s plan to safely and gradually return public health regions to the Framework,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Due to data and local context and conditions in the Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay Districts, it was necessary to tighten public health measures in these regions to ensure the health and safety of the region at large and stop the spread of the virus.” To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, ev-eryone is strongly urged to continue staying at home and limit trips outside their household and between other regions for essential reasons only Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times