Canadians are a truly curious bunch: it wasn't the typical questions like 'how to make money' or 'how to lose weight' that topped their queries this year, it was something way more slimy.
Canadians are a truly curious bunch: it wasn't the typical questions like 'how to make money' or 'how to lose weight' that topped their queries this year, it was something way more slimy.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said at a press conference on Thursday that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has determined that the time between the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines could be extended, up to 42 days.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is heading into the sitcom world with WandaVision, which will release on Disney Plus on Jan. 15, the weirdest but most creative way we’ve seen fan-favourite couple Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany).
NEW YORK — Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang officially entered the race for mayor of New York City on Thursday, joining a crowded Democratic primary field that includes longtime elected officials and veterans of the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is barred by the city charter from seeking a third term. “It is here in New York City that my passion for uplifting people, for wanting to move our country forward, got started,” Yang said at a campaign launch that was streamed on YouTube because of the coronavirus pandemic. “And now that we are facing this historic crisis I am aiming to unleash and channel that energy for a human-centred economy right here in New York, my home!" Yang’s proposal for a universal basic income won him a national following during the 2020 Democratic primary campaign before he dropped out of the race in February. He brings high name recognition to the mayoral race but has no record of involvement in local politics. More than two dozen people have filed with the city's Campaign Finance Board to run in the June 22 Democratic mayoral primary, which for the first time in city history will be determined by ranked choice voting, a system that lets voters rank candidates in order of preference. The contenders include City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, banker Ray McGuire, former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia and former U.S. housing secretary Shaun Donovan. Yang has lived in New York City since attending law school at Columbia University in the 1990s but has spent much of the coronavirus pandemic at his family’s weekend home about 85 miles (136 kilometres) north of the city in New Paltz, New York. Critics pounced when Yang explained his absence from the city by asking a New York Times reporter, “Can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?” Fellow mayoral candidate Dianne Morales, a former non-profit executive, tweeted: “I spent all of 2020 in NYC, living with THREE generations under one roof, AND running a campaign from home.” Wherever the candidates are physically located, the mayoral campaign has so far been conducted largely via Zoom and other online platforms because of the pandemic. The winner of the Democratic primary will be the strong favourite in the November general election because Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city by a wide margin. Republicans who have said they are considering running include Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. Karen Matthews, The Associated Press
A Chatham-Kent man passed away from COVID-19 on Thursday morning. He was 91 years old and living alone until he contracted the virus and was sent to the hospital. Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), gave an update to reporters at the municipality’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing. Active cases of COVID-19 have risen to 124 after CK Public Health reported 14 new cases and 9 recoveries. One new individual is also hospitalized at CKHA making a new record high in terms of hospitalized COVID patients. Nine people are admitted in hospital with COVID-19, six are residents and three come from neighbouring counties. None of the patients CKHA took in from Erie Shores contracted the virus, Marshall added. “We very often have individuals who come to our hospitals to seek care ... there aren't hard and fast borders when you look at the western borders and our northern borders and particular people choose to come here versus going to another hospital when they're essentially sitting in the middle of between different choices,” she said. Two individuals have been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) one of which is using a ventilator to assist with breathing. Two of the individuals are in the progressive care unit (PCU) which Marshall said is a step down from the ICU. Five individuals are recovering in the COVID unit. Last week Marshall announced that staff from the surgical program were being redeployed into the ICU. The overall process of the move has been stressful on staff who are currently receiving additional training in critical care. “I think all of us would recognize that when you are moved in terms of your work site – whether it's the people that you work with or the familiarity of your unit or your tasks – it is difficult for staff and I would say that in general overall in the organization we continue to identify that working in healthcare right now is a very stressful,” she said. This is the largest number of COVID cases CKHA had to deal with since the onset of the pandemic. Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said he expects we will continue to “deal with a substantial surge” of new COVID-19 cases before things get better. “Many people did not take the public health advice seriously with regard to (holiday) gatherings and so forth, so this kind of creates a perfect storm. So it may get worse before it gets better, but I'm hoping that the lockdown measures, the fact that the holiday period is over, and that vaccine … has already started to be applied in Windsor will have a beneficial effect on these numbers,” he said. Colby added that the proportion of those people needing to be hospitalized in Chatham-Kent versus the new cases is relatively low so it is unclear what kind of surge the hospital may see in the following days. Overall, medical, surgical and critical care occupancy is sitting at 74 per cent for CKHA. The ICU and PCU alone are operating at 100 per cent occupancy. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
The Windsor-Essex region reported 216 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as a new provincial stay-at-home order took effect. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said there have been four additional deaths of seniors in the region. Within Windsor-Essex, about 2,800 people have active COVID-19 cases. There are 111 people in hospital — 18 of them are in ICU, and an additional 196 suspected cases are in hospital. Forty-six outbreaks are active in the region, an increase of one since Wednesday. They include 20 at long-term care and retirement homes. Ahmed said the health unit is on track to have all initial vaccinations complete at all homes by early next week. New stay-at-home order takes effect A second state of emergency over surging COVID-19 cases was declared by the Ontario government on Tuesday. An emergency alert was sent to cell phones after 10 a.m. on Thursday telling the public that the stay-at-home order is in effect. The order means that people are only permitted to leave their homes for essential reasons such as buying groceries, picking up prescriptions or daily exercise. There are many other exceptions, including an exemption for people experiencing homelessness. Ahmed said message from the province is loud and clear that they want people to stay home and work from home as much as possible, though employers will bear some responsibility for deciding who is essential. "We'll have to wait and see how it eventually plays out in terms of the mobility, in terms of people's desire to work from home versus the businesses' need to have them at work," he said. COVID-19 outbreaks in Windsor-Essex Since the pandemic began, there have been 10,494 COVID-19 cases recorded in Windsor-Essex and 241 deaths, according to WECHU. Two outbreaks are active at Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette campus, and Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario is also in outbreak. A new school outbreak was declared at Sandwich Secondary School, which has been closed since prior to the holiday break along with all others in the region. Queen Victoria Public School also remains in outbreak. Outbreaks are active at 21 workplaces: Four in Leamington's agricultural sector. Four in Kingsville's agricultural sector. Four in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector. One in Leamington's health care and social assistance sector. One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. One in Windsor's food and beverage service sector. One in a personal service setting in LaSalle. Three in public administration settings in Windsor. One in a retail setting in Essex. There are 20 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities: Richmond Terrace in Amherstburg with two staff cases Chartwell Royal Marquis, with one resident case and one staff case Harrow Woods Retirement Home, with five resident cases and one staff case Seasons Retirement Home in Amherstburg, with three staff cases Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with 17 resident cases and five staff cases Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with two staff cases. Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with 30 resident cases and three staff cases Chateau Park in Windsor with four staff cases. Leamington Mennonite Home with six staff cases. Brouillette Manor in Tecumseh, with three staff cases. Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 51 resident and 11 staff cases. Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with 11 resident cases and eight staff cases. Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 43 resident cases and 25 staff cases. Sun Parlor Home in Leamington, with eight staff cases. Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 111 resident cases and 52 staff cases. The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with 24 resident cases and 10 staff cases. Extendicare Tecumseh, with 82 resident cases and 55 staff cases. Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 94 resident and 60 staff cases. The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 150 resident cases and 118 staff cases. Country Village in Woodslee, with three resident and three staff cases. Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 53 resident cases and 25 staff cases.
The good news is there’s a vaccine for the coronavirus, and it’s in the province. But health officials are cautioning it won’t likely be in most people’s arms in this region for several months yet. Earlier this month, the Province outlined its plans to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which were approved by Health Canada at the end of last year to combat the coronavirus. And while essential health workers and the most vulnerable are receiving shots now (about 60,000 doses have been delivered), the rollout to the general population will take some time yet. As of January 3, 24,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been distributed in the province, and 1,600 of the Moderna vaccine. Six hundred and thirty-nine doses of the Moderna version were sent to Interior Health, which includes the West Kootenay. Officials say the speed of the rollout depends on just how much vaccine is delivered to them over the coming months. “The deliveries will continue to arrive on a routine basis and speed up over time,” says an official with Interior Health. “The most important thing of note to share is that vaccine is arriving, and will continue to arrive, to vaccinate the phase one priority populations. After that, eligibility expands to the next groups and so forth.” When you get the shots (two injections are needed for both vaccines) depends on where you fall in the priority list. Right now, the groups targeted for the first round of vaccines are: residents/staff of long-term care and assisted living residences; individuals in hospital or community assessed and awaiting a long-term care placement; essential visitors in long-term care and assisted living facilities; healthcare workers providing front line hospital care in ICUs, medical/surgical units, emergency departments, paramedics; remote/isolated First Nation communities. The priority populations will get the first dose of the vaccine by late January, and get their second dose about 35 days later, says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. About 150,000 people should get the protective shots by the end of February. “It is a monumental task, and there are many months to go on this,” she told reporters earlier this month. “It’s constrained by logistics and how many vaccines we are receiving. But we are optimistic and focussed intently on protecting people in long-term care and assisted living as soon as we possibly can.” Again, Henry cautioned the rollout is contingent on vaccine production and delivery, and the timetable will be modified according to the amounts they receive from the manufacturer. It won’t be until late February or early March that the second phase of the rollout begins. In that round, the focus starts on seniors in the community aged 80+. Also on that list are homeless people, prisoners, mental health patients, adult group home residents and staff, long-term support recipients and providers, as well as community doctors and hospital staff. Mass vaccination of the general population won’t really start until March. The speed of its rollout will be dependent again on how much vaccine is delivered to BC. The plan is to vaccinate population cohorts – once the 80+ group is completed, they’ll move on to 75+, then 70+, etc. However, “…a detailed approach and methodology is being developed – more detail to be provided mid-to-late January,” says Henry. The scale of the vaccination effort is impressive: in phase one, between December and March, officials expect to distribute 792,000 doses of the vaccine. Compounding the complexity of the rollout is the nature of the vaccine. The Pfizer version needs to be stored in special, ultra-cold freezers (to -80°C). There are only a handful of those in the province, and none in the West Kootenay. That means locals here will be getting the Moderna vaccine (which can be stored in normal fridges). Again however, officials caution that they won’t know the exact number of doses available for rollout until three to four weeks ahead of delivery from the National Operations Committee overseeing country-wide distribution. As for where and when you go to get the shots in your community, and how you’ll be notified, that is still being worked out. The logistics for storage and delivery of the vaccine is underway now. You’ll get word on distribution here in the Valley Voice and other media. In the meantime, Henry says its important people not let their guard down. “This virus doesn’t know that we haven’t seen our friends in months. It doesn’t know that it’s our grandmother’s birthday,” she said last week. “This is our riskiest time right now. We cannot let our guard down as vaccination is just beginning. This is our winter, but we know spring will come.” John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
ATHENS, Greece — Police have used tear gas to disperse crowds at a rally in Athens organized to protest plans to set up a state security division at university campuses. Mass gatherings are banned under current lockdown rules imposed because of the pandemic, but members and supporters of student and left-wing groups joined a rally Thursday near parliament in central Athens. Greece’s centre-right government scrapped a decades-old ban on police entering university grounds, arguing the measure had been frequently exploited to organize violent protests and even criminal activity. The government plans to set up a campus police division and limit entrance to university grounds to students, academic staff, employees and guests. Under the proposed changes, university entrance requirements will also be amended and time limits will be set for the completion of degree courses. Free access to university areas is seen by many Greeks as an important source of political dissent and which allowed resistance to be developed against authoritarian regimes in the past. The main left-wing opposition party, Syriza, is backing the education protests and has described the proposed reforms as undemocratic and aimed at making universities “sterile and unfree.” The Associated Press
Cobden – Whitewater Region will soon have a new fire chief from within the ranks when the acting chief completes his contract in a few months. Deputy-Fire Chief Jonathan McLaren takes over as chief early in the spring. Guy Longtin, who was appointed acting fire chief last March, completes his contract at the end of May. Chief Longtin, who was chief in Renfrew previously, stepped in to assist the fire department twice following the departure of the previous two fire chiefs at different times, once in 2017 and again in 2020. In the second instance, Deputy-Chief McLaren took over the chief duties until Mr. Longtin was hired. “Guy has saved our bacon twice now,” said Chief Administrative Officer Robert Tremblay at the last meeting in December. “I thank Guy for a steadying hand and thank Jonathan for stepping up. “Our fire department is progressing in a great direction,” he added. Chief Longtin said he is leaving the department “in the best financial situation” it has been in for a long time. As well, he said, the deputy-chief has shown good leadership and “he’ll be chief next year.” He reviewed the restructuring of the department, providing an organizational chart. He noted there will be one fire chief, an administrative assistant, two deputy-chiefs, and then several captains, lieutenants and firefighters. It’s hoped some day the complement of firefighters will be 100, but currently it sits around 75 members, Chief Longtin said. The structure shows the fire chief will work 20 hours per week, each deputy-chief 10 hours per week, and the administrative assistant 13 hours per week, he noted. Chief Longtin said the five stations responded to a total of 100 incidents in the past year. Station 1 (Haley Station) attended 18, Station 2 (Cobden) attended 30, Station 3 (Foresters Falls) went to 9, Station 4 (Beachburg) attended 23 incidents and Station 5 (Westmeath) answered 20. Mayor Mike Moore, who had been deputy-fire chief and a firefighter for many years, but resigned his position in July 2017, noted the average number of calls is about 125 each year. It has reached as high as just over the 130 mark, he added. “The majority of the calls are on Highway 17,” he said. He recalled there were 32 extrications in one year on that highway about seven years ago. As part of the council report, which was delivered during the ZOOM meeting, Deputy-Chief McLaren reviewed the Fire Master Plan recommendations. There are 59 recommendations in the plan and of those, 20 are completed. He then reviewed those that had been acted on since it was last discussed. When questioned about ice and water rescue, Mayor Moore said that discussion “has been shelved many times.” He agreed it’s time “for the fire committee to make a written decision.” The traffic on the river is not slowing down, if anything, it’s increasing, with kayaks on the water in December, he added. Deputy-Chief McLaren said there is a huge training aspect for this type of rescue and will cost the township a lot of money. “We are not talking about responding to normal lakes and rivers,” he said. “The Ottawa River is an exceptionally powerful body of water.” Mr. Tremblay said the emergency plan can be reviewed and information as to who can respond in an ice/water situation can be included in it. The next step for the department is to post internally for the deputy-fire chief and administrative assistant positions.Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Pikwakanagan– At only 14 months, “Lil Kev” Verch doesn’t understand about SMA2 or the approval of the miraculous $2.8 million one-time drug which will give him a needed gene to be able to crawl and walk, but it is clear from his quick smiles he understands about the unconditional love of his family who rallied around him to find funding for the drug. “We will be so grateful to one day be able to see him take his first steps,” his mom, Dana Pearce, said on Sunday. “He loves his sleigh and wagon, and we pull him, but he can’t move around on his own right now.” Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a rare genetic disease affecting one in 10,000 children. It causes the loss of nerve cells called motor neurons in the spinal cord and attacks the muscles causing weakness and atrophy. The earlier a child is diagnosed the better for treatment. Dana explained while now children in Ontario are tested at birth for SMA, this only began 10 months ago. Kevin’s disease went undetected for many months. “He was able to roll over and clap and wave but at six months he started to lose the milestones he was achieving,” she said. It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for the tot’s parents since finding out about his diagnosis on Boxing Day and then realizing his best chance for an active life was a drug called Zolgensma, which was not funded through OHIP. At an astronomical cost of $2.8 million, the family realized it would take a miracle or an unbelievable amount of fundraising to pay for the drug. However, just a few days after starting the fundraising campaign, the family received the news the drug would be given to Kevin through a funding program called Jordan’s Principle which ensures no First Nations child is left behind with health care needs. “This replaces the gene he is missing,” Dana said. “There is no cure for SMA, but we are told this is the best option for him.” Kevin’s mom, and dad, Brody Verch, had realized several months prior to their son’s first birthday in November he was losing strength in his lower limbs and trunk. While at six or seven months he could sit independently and play, reach for toys and grab them, he was slowly losing that ability and it was clear something was wrong. The family, who are part of the First Nation community of Pikwakangan, first went to the local Health Centre and from there medical appointments progressed until Lil Kev was seen at CHEO. It was on Boxing Day when his parents received the call telling them he had been diagnosed with SMA Type 2. “It was something very hard to hear,” his mom said. From this shock diagnosis the family quickly rallied together to find out as much as they could about the disease and what would be their child’s best chance for treatment. Fortunately, he is part of a large extended family full of support for him, including his grandparents – Jess and Tim Verch on his dad’s side and Mark and Joanne Pearce on his mom’s side – as well as his great-grandmother, Jamie Sarazin where the family lives. Lil Kev is named after three of his grandparents – Kevin, John and Garry. SMA Type 2 Kev has SMA Type 2, with Type 1 being the most severe. His mom explained those with Type 1 can have breathing and choking problems as well. Because of SMA, Kevin was unable to crawl, walk or stand, and when he received the diagnosis at CHEO a plan was put in place to quickly combat the disease. The first plan was to administer the drug Spirnraza if it was approved by OHIP for the treatment. That drug is also very expensive at a cost of around $375,000 a year and would need to be administered several times in the first year and continually every four months for the rest of his life. “He received the first shot on Thursday,” his mom said. At that point they did not know if Kevin would receive approval for Zolgensma. Realizing Zolgensma was still the best chance for the child, the family had launched a GoFundMe page last week trying to raise $2.8 million for the treatment. It seemed like an incredible, impossible amount but they realized time was of the essence since Zolgensma needed to be administered before he turned two. The fundraiser took off like wildfire, raising over $87,000 in less than a week. Dana said she was amazed and so thankful for the people who contributed and shared his story. While many supporters were local since Dana is from Deacon and Brody is from Pikwakangan, some were total strangers. “We are so thankful for people who wanted to help,” she said. “There are people we don’t know their names, but they helped us. There is support of people who know his story and just wanted to help.” Jordan’s Principle The family had heard about Jordan’s Principleas one possible funding avenue and pursued this as well to ensure Kev had the best chance of receiving the drug. His grandmother, Jess, had been working closely with the First Nation and speaking with the decision makers at Jordan’s Principle about the funding, so she was the first one to receive the news on Friday when he was approved. “We’ve been in a whirlwind of emotions and now we’re in the clouds winning this lottery,” she said. Dana said they were all so emotional to find out Kev would receive this much needed drug. “It was something we thought might not happen,” she said. “Then this miracle happened. We did not expect this day to come so soon. We are so grateful.” The fast approval was something which would not have been possible without the support of the First Nation, they stressed. The work of Dale Booth, Kerry Andrews, Chief Wendy Jocko and the Algonquins of Pikwakangan First Nation made a huge difference in making what they felt was impossible possible. “The outreach, the true family that our communities have made us feel was heartfelt and beyond putting into word just how loved and cared for we were to help us get through this,” Jess said. “If you don’t know exactly what Jordan’s Principleis please take the time to Google it and read Jordan’s story,” she said. “Because of one family, God bless them, our prayers have been answered. It truly is a beautiful, wonderful, overwhelming story and principle that was created.” Jordan River Anderson was born with multiple disabilities and was in hospital from birth until his death at five. Federal and provincial governments could not agree on who should pay for his home-based care, so he never left the hospital. Following this the House of Commons made a commitment First Nations children would get the products, services and supports they need when they need them. Acknowledging her amazement at how the story of Kev had moved so many people and spread so quickly so far, in an online post Jess encouraged Brody and Dana to “hold Kevin in your arms and give him a squeeze for each and everyone because this county and beyond had all eyes on him to help Lil’ Kev.” Short Wait for Zolgensma Before he receives Zolgensma, Kev needs to have an antibody test to make sure he can receive the drug, but his medical team doesn’t anticipate an issue and he should receive the drug within the month. “With SMA, the quicker they are treated the better,” his mom said. Now with the funding obtained they have closed the GoFundMedonations. Dana said the family is in contact with GoFundMe about how to proceed with refunds or with the possibility of forwarding funds to another SMA child in need since the family did receive the $2.8 million through Jordan’s Principle. Despite the funding of Zolgensma, Kev’s family still has the reality of physiotherapy and other costs ahead. “We have a long journey ahead of us, but we are hoping for the best for our Lil Kev,” she said. “All my dedication and time will be toward him with physio to help him. All Brody’s side and my side of the family are doing everything we can for him.” Kevin’s story was featured not only locally but through media in Ottawa as the family reached out to have his story told in the hopes of securing funding. Dana said while she was quite nervous at first, it was important for her to do whatever she could to help her son. Sharing her story very publicly showed her the compassion and care of so many in the community, strangers and also made her aware of others in need. “Thank you to all our family and friends who have helped out with trying to fundraise, sharing and donating for our little Kev,” she said. “It has really helped us keep our heads up and to stay positive that this day would come. We didn’t think that this day would come so quickly, but miracles do come true.” The family is also grateful for the staff at CHEO and acknowledge what a wonderful resource this is so close by. From personal calls from specialists to the efforts made on behalf of the family, including allowing both Dana and Brody to be with their son despite COVID-19 restrictions at the hospital, they are grateful for the compassion and care they have received. Many of the extended family have had their own positive experiences at CHEO being treated including Kev’s grandparents. His grandfather, Tim, was treated successfully for a brain tumour as a child at CHEO. He noted he never passes up on an opportunity to give back to CHEO. “It is a great place,” he said. “Whenever anyone asks for donations for CHEO I always give because I know.” Undoubtedly, one day Lil Kev will be able to tell the story too of how he was treated for SMA2 there and the $2.8 million miracle drug which made a difference in his life, as well as relating the wonderful story of the family and community which rallied around him. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Canadian forward Tyler Pasher is back in Major League Soccer, signing with the Houston Dynamo from the USL Championship's Indy Eleven. The 26-year-old from Elmira, Ont., scored 23 goals and added six assists in 50 appearances for Indy Eleven -- the sixth-most in the USL Championship since 2019. Pasher, with 10 goals and two assists in 15 appearances, was named to the 2020 USL Championship All-League team following an abbreviated 16-game season. “Tyler is a player we’ve been tracking closely over the last year and we are pleased the timing was right to add him to our roster,” Matt Jordan, Houston's senior vice-president and GM, said in a statement. “His ability to take players on and put up numbers, along with being naturally left-footed, make him a good fit for our group and system.” A former Canadian youth international, Pasher has yet to earn a senior cap but was called into camp in both 2015 and 2017. "Tyler is a relentless worker on both sides of the ball and he fits really well into our game model,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said. “We feel that we added a player who is going to be successful and going to contribute in the attacking third." Pasher spent seven years with Newcastle United as an academy and reserve player before returning to Canada in 2010 for two seasons with Toronto FC’s academy. He wore the captain's armband after coming off the bench in July 2012 as an 18-year-old in a TFC friendly against Liverpool. He went on to play for Finland's PS Kemi in 2013 and Michigan's Lansing United, in the National Premier Soccer League, in 2014. He signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2015) and Swope Park Rangers (2016). The five-foot-nine 150-pounder made his MLS debut with Sporting Kansas City, Swope’s parent club, in 2017. He signed with Indy Eleven following the 2017 season. Houston now has 24 players under contract for the 2021 MLS season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) will be receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine much sooner than anticipated as cases among its membership continues to increase. As of 4 p.m. Jan. 13, emergency operations centre (EOC) director Brittany Cleminson said 26 members had tested positive, with nurses from Three Corners Health Society conducting more than 100 tests. “For context, we understand that there are approximately 77 cases in the Cariboo Chilcotin health coverage area, with that, we anticipate that we may receive some additional positive cases over the next few days,” Cleminson said. On behalf of the WLFN EOC, Cleminson said she was excited to announce WLFN has received a commitment from Interior Health (IH) to supply the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to WLFN elders in the Williams Lake area. “Plans are currently in motion to prepare the vaccine delivery and distribution,” Cleminson said, expressing gratitude to IH medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema and IH executive director Lisa Zetes-Zanatta. “This could occur as quickly next week.” WLFN Chief Willie Sellars said by IH stepping-up it will alleviate a lot of pressure on not only leadership and EOC staff but their community. “It really is encouraging to hear,” Sellars said, noting WLFN has been lobbying hard for vaccinations for a while. “Because of our location and not being remote, it has been very challenging to get uptake on our asks but with the outbreak, it has expedited the delivery,” he said. The WLFN community of Sugar Cane is located fewer than 10 kilometres south of Williams Lake where a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Jan. 13 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. If the vaccination process had not been expedited, Sellars said WLFN would likely not have been eligible to receive the vaccine until March. “To take care of our elders and those with immune-compromised systems is definitely at the top of our priority considering what is going on in community,” Sellars said. “I think the response from Interior Health is right on the money — let’s get these people vaccinated and put them out of harm’s way.” Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
The curfew will come into force on Saturday and last for "at least" 15 days.View on euronews
The updated Fire Response Billing Policy comes after a number of complaints were made to County Council about high bills received by residents after fires on their property. The policy is very similar to what was already being accomplished under the Fire Operations and cost recovery bylaw. The policy includes a section stating that landowners can request an adjustment to their balance by council, who can waive all or a portion of the bill if the fire was started due to a reason outside of the landowners control. This is basically what had happened previously, but is now written into the policy. The policy has been reviewed three times in this one term of council (four years). Reviewing policies is an important job of council, especially as concerns come up from citizens that the policy may not be working for the community. Council also discussed other topics at the January 11th county council meeting, including the provincial restrictions announced in December being extended longer than initially planned. There is a flavour around the council table for a more geographical approach to restrictions rather than province-wide mandates, and they asked administration to make sure this concern is voiced in the next meeting with Alberta Health Services. Administration presented a report to council that included good news that an Xplornet broadband project will be going forward after federal funding was approved recently. Councillors asked questions regarding the sequence of events that will now occur and the sites on which infrastructure will be built. Administration will bring forward answers to these questions as the process becomes more concrete over time. Also included in the report were further details on a development decision appeal that will be held on February 10th via zoom regarding the Payne Lake campground. Council voted in favour of a proposal to request Alberta Community Partnership grant funding to hire an individual by contract to investigate regional fire and emergency services. This is being done in cooperation with other municipalities in the area and is being spear-headed by the Town of Cardston and their administrative intern, JD Haitsma. Since December 14th Cardston County has been rotating Administrative staff Monday through Thursday, with the Administration Office being closed on Fridays. This will continue as the pandemic restrictions have been lengthened. Appointments can be scheduled for matters that cannot be resolved by phone or email. There was much discussion at the meeting about the definition of a fair weather road. Shawn Pitcher is laying a bridge across a fair weather road and county access road to better approach his property, and this has caused some concern to county residents. The County did not seem concerned about having any more liability on this road than on all other fair weather roads that are only used during a few months of the year and usually only by residents who own property around the area. Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
VANCOUVER — Power has been mostly restored in southern British Columbia affected by this week's powerful windstorm. An update from BC Hydro said lights were back on for 220,000 customers affected Tuesday and Wednesday on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Lower Mainland and the southern Interior. The Crown utility said electricity was flowing again for 97 per cent of its customers and was expected to be restored to the remainder by the end of Thursday. The utility said crews were travelling by barge to Gambier and Keats islands in Howe Sound to restore power there and its contractors were co-ordinating with FortisBC to handle remaining outages in the southern Interior. Hydro's website showed about 3,000 customers were still without power early Thursday, although the number was dropping quickly. Environment Canada posted wind warnings for Haida Gwaii, the central coast and northern Vancouver Island as another storm loomed. The weather office said gusts of up to 100 km/h were forecast for those regions throughout the day before easing and moving into the southern Interior by evening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada’s two largest provinces are now under significant restrictions to curb surging cases of COVID-19 and a professional group for emergency doctors is calling for more transparency around vaccine distribution. Ontario’s stay-at-home order came into effect Thursday as the province reported 62 more deaths and 3,326 new novel coronavirus infections. Among added measures is a requirement for people to wear a mask inside businesses and restrictions on the size of gatherings. All non-essential retail stores may only open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Premier Doug Ford has said everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips. The number of COVID-19 cases, including the new United Kingdom variant, are increasing rapidly in the province. But Ontario has so far avoided bringing in a curfew like one enacted in Quebec last weekend. Hospitalizations continued to rise in Quebec to 1,523, with 230 people in intensive care. The province also reported 2,132 new cases and 64 more deaths due to COVID-19, including 15 in the past 24 hours. Health Minister Christian Dube was expected to provide more details about Quebec’s vaccination campaign later Thursday. The organization representing emergency doctors is calling for a clear description of who is being prioritized for first doses and why. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians said Wednesday in a statement that many members in areas with limited human resources have not been vaccinated, while urban providers who have less patient contact appear to have received shots. The group also wants priority to go to those directly caring for patients who are critically ill or suspected of having COVID-19. The statement said communication so far don't support claims that the vaccine rollout will follow an ethical framework. Many doctors don’t know when they will be vaccinated and the association said that needs to change. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. — By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg The Canadian Press
Le dossier du développement et de l’optimisation du réseau ferroviaire au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean suit son cours alors que se profile à l’horizon la création d’une future régie intermunicipale dont la mission pourrait être, entre autres, l’aménagement d’une nouvelle desserte dans le secteur de Larouche. Les élus de la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay ont manifesté leur intérêt au projet de régie intermunicipale à l’occasion de la première assemblée virtuelle du conseil de l’année 2021, mardi, à la suite de la présentation faite plus tôt par Claude Asselin, directeur du comité de maximisation du transport (CMAX Transport) créé par Développement économique 02. Selon les informations transmises, le CMAX a franchi l’étape de la réalisation de la conception préliminaire du projet d’optimisation. Il y aura lieu de procéder aux prochaines phases de conception détaillée. La prochaine phase est la validation des aménagements destinés à améliorer le flux de transport dans la perspective de réalisation des grands projets, comme c’est le cas pour Métaux BlackRock, qui prévoit le transport de grandes quantités de minerai provenant de Chibougamau. Invité à faire le point, M. Asselin a mentionné que le CMAX est présentement en période de consultation et d’information auprès des MRC, entre autres pour le tracé du secteur de Larouche. Selon le maire de la municipalité, Réjean Bédard, l’étude déposée en est encore à l’étape préliminaire, mais il est question de mandater une firme d’ingénieurs afin d’analyser la possibilité d’aménager une desserte ou une voie d’évitement dans le cadre d’une étude de faisabilité. « Larouche est touchée puisqu’il s’y trouve déjà une petite zone de transbordement appartenant à Résolu », a déclaré M. Bédard. Cette zone se situe tout juste à l’est du parc industriel de Larouche. En ce qui a trait à la création d’une régie intermunicipale, en collaboration avec l’ensemble des MRC de la région et la communauté de Mashteuiatsh, M. Bédard a mentionné que cette nouvelle entité serait utile comme intervenant officiel auprès des gouvernements supérieurs afin de solliciter du financement pour l’amélioration du réseau. Il est connu que le réseau ferroviaire régional comporte certaines problématiques, entre autres dans le secteur de Jonquière où le partage des rails doit être fait entre le chemin de fer d’intérêt local (CFIL) du Roberval-Saguenay et de celui du CN. L’étude de faisabilité vise à valider le corridor ferroviaire étudié en avant-projet, dont l’objectif est de permettre une circulation fluide, efficiente et sécuritaire sur les réseaux ferroviaires traversant les MRC de la région. La future étude devra confirmer la conception proposée, incluant l’emplacement des zones intermodales et la conception des ouvrages d’art nécessaires ainsi que les coûts reliés. Soulignons que dans la résolution adoptée mardi acceptant le tracé dans le secteur de Larouche, la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay fait part de son intention de n’accepter aucun autre tracé sur son territoire en référence au projet de QC Rail, dont l’objectif est de relier le secteur de Dolbeau-Mistassini à la Côte-Nord, en passant par le nord.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Malgré l’annonce officielle de sa démission l’hiver dernier, on a appris avec stupéfaction, mardi soir, que le maire Marc Demers n’a jamais quitté son poste au conseil d’administration (CA) de l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM). L’information est sortie furtivement à la toute fin de l’assemblée du conseil municipal, échappant à l’attention des partis d’opposition. Ça s’est passé lors des échanges entourant l’avis de proposition de David De Cotis à l’effet d’instaurer la gratuité de la passe mensuelle d’autobus de la STL pour les jeunes lavallois de 12 ans et moins. Débattant de la proposition, le conseiller municipal et président de la Société de transport de Laval (STL), Éric Morasse, la jugeait «caduque» considérant que pareille mesure est enchâssée dans la refonte tarifaire adoptée lors de la dernière séance du CA de l’Autorité régionale, laquelle entrera progressivement en vigueur à compter du 1er juillet. «[C’est] un cheval de bataille de notre maire Marc Demers en tant que membre du comité exécutif de l’ARTM», a-t-il déclaré au sujet de la gratuité du transport collectif pour les moins de 12 ans. «Comme monsieur Morasse l’a expliqué, monsieur le maire a un siège sur le CA de l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain, [il] s’est déjà positionné en faveur de cette mesure», a renchéri le conseiller de Laval-les-Iles et membre associé du comité exécutif, Nicholas Borne, celui-là même que M. Demers avait identifié pour lui succéder en mars dernier. Par voie de communiqué le 9 mars 2020, le maire Demers annonçait qu’il avait remis sa démission à titre d’administrateur de l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM) au président du conseil d’administration, Pierre Shedleur. «Cette démission deviendra effective lorsqu’il sera remplacé au conseil par un autre membre élu de Laval», écrivait-on. La raison alors évoquée: Marc Demers souhaitait «se consacrer davantage aux intérêts de la population lavalloise». Il renonçait du coup aux émoluments de 20 000 $ par année attachés à cette fonction. Au cabinet du maire, on explique la volte-face de Marc Demers du fait que Laval aurait perdu son siège advenant sa démission. «Je vous confirme que M. Demers avait bel et bien l’intention de démissionner de sa fonction au conseil d’administration de l’ARTM, indique son porte-parole, Alexandre Banville, par courriel. Pour que Laval puisse toujours jouir d’une bonne représentation à cette instance, nous souhaitions proposer la candidature de M. Nicholas Borne». Précisons ici que le CA de l’ARTM est formé de 15 membres dont 8 sont désignés par la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), nommément les 5 élus composant le conseil. «Malheureusement, la recommandation de la CMM était de refuser le remplacement de M. Demers par un élu autre que le maire de Laval […] Conséquemment, dans le plus grand intérêt de la population lavalloise, M. Demers est demeuré en poste.» À la CMM, on informe que le maire de Laval et les mairesses de Montréal et Longueuil sont nommés d’office au conseil de l’ARTM et qu’aucune délégation de pouvoir n’est autorisée. «Il n’est pas possible pour un maire de déléguer un élu de son équipe pour le représenter au conseil de l’ARTM, nous écrit Julie Brunet, conseillère en communication à la Direction générale de la CMM. Vous devez savoir que la Loi sur l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain ne prévoit pas de mécanisme de remplacement temporaire de ses administrateurs». Une règle «archaïque» qui «fait preuve de bien peu d’empathie», estime le porte-parole du cabinet du maire de Laval. «Alors que M. Demers limite ses activités pour des raisons familiales et de santé, il n’est toujours pas possible de se faire remplacer, et ce, même temporairement et pour des raisons extraordinaires.» Information corroborée par le conseiller aux affaires publiques et relations média à l’Autorité régionale, Simon Charbonneau, qui souligne au passage que le conseil de l’ARTM tient ses séances à huis clos, tel que le prévoit sa loi constitutive. Jusqu’à mardi soir dernier, le chef de l’opposition officielle, Michel Trottier, prenait pour acquis que Nicholas Borne siégeait au conseil de l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain à titre d’élu lavallois. «Question de transparence, la moindre des choses aurait été de corriger le tir», a commenté M. Trottier. Au cabinet du maire, on n’a pas jugé bon publier un nouveau communiqué pour informer que le maire demeurait en fonction. «Dans sa lettre de démission que vous relatiez avec justesse au printemps dernier, M. Demers indiquait qu’il souhaitait quitter aussitôt qu’un remplaçant lavallois serait désigné», fait valoir M. Banville. Cela dit, il ajoute que l’Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain n’est pas le «dossier le plus chaud à l’hôtel de ville», évoquant la crise sanitaire qui allait éclater peu de temps après. «Avec la pandémie, la relance économique et le soutien à nos milieux fragilisés, les premiers efforts de M. Demers et de son équipe sont orientés vers la population lavalloise et une digne représentation de cette dernière dans toutes les instances pertinentes», termine-t-il.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
WASHINGTON — Deputy Defence Secretary David Norquist has been asked to serve as the acting secretary of defence for President-elect Joe Biden until a permanent Pentagon chief can be confirmed by the Senate, U.S. officials said Thursday. Officials said Norquist agreed, and that other defence officials were told of the selection on Wednesday evening. Biden has chosen retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as his defence secretary, but Austin must receive a waiver from both the House and Senate to be considered for the job. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters not yet announced. Under the law, a retired service member must be out of the military for seven years in order to be named defence secretary. A Senate confirmation hearing on Austin could be held as soon as Jan. 19, but there could be no vote until a waiver is approved. It's not clear how long it will take to get a hearing or congressional approval on the waiver, and a number of lawmakers have expressed concern about having another recently retired general in the top Pentagon post. Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis was President Donald Trump's first defence secretary. Norquist is a longtime federal adviser, particularly on financial matters. He has been deputy defence secretary since July 2019, but previously served as the Pentagon's comptroller. He also previously served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Homeland Security. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
What was once a dream has come true for staff at Caledon Meals on Wheels: Their very own kitchen has been developed and now open to all their clients in the community. Caledon Meals on Wheels’ (CMOW’s) mission in Caledon is to provide not only healthy and readily available meals, but education on nutrition and a variety of different initiatives including hot and frozen meals, and grocery and wellness programs. The organization has a long list of values, including client and community focus, accessibility, collaboration, innovation, quality, accountability and sustainability. CMOW has proved to be more than just meals for the community. As of January 11, a new chapter has begun with the opening of their very first kitchen, which has been secured in the newly renovated kitchen at the Albion Bolton Community Center. “It’s been a dream of ours for such a very long time to open our own kitchen, but never seemed to within our reach. It was much easier to work with our outside suppliers like the Vera Davis Centre and Caesars Banquet Hall to prepare our meals since they were already in the business and had the expertise and experience,” said Executive Director Christine Sevigny. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, CMOW, along with several other organizations, were forced to make necessary changes to adapt to safety measures for themselves and the community. Some of these included changes with their suppliers. “We were left with two options: look for another supplier under challenging circumstances or open our own. We explored all options, hoping to find a great supplier like we have in Lord Dufferin for our Orangeville clients, but when that didn’t work out, we kept coming back to our dream of opening our own kitchen,” said Sevigny. With the help and support from the Town of Caledon, Region of Peel and Brampton Caledon Community Foundation, the team at CMOW has been able to put in new necessary appliances. CMOW has also hired an experienced team to run the group, who all bring their own skills to provide nutritious and delicious meals. Staff at CMOW have been working to prepare for the opening of their very own kitchen this past year and are excited to get delicious meals out into the community. “Having our own kitchen gives us more control over the menu and the price of the meals. We want to make sure our clients are getting nutrition, taste and quality at an affordable price. Because we are a charitable organization, we have some wiggle room, we don’t need to make a profit on our meals, and we can also utilize volunteers.” says Kim Pridham, Client and Volunteer Services Supervisor. The kitchen is located in the Albion Bolton Community Centre at 150 Queen Street S, in Bolton. To learn more about Caledon Meals on Wheels programs please visit cmow.org or call (905) 857-7651. Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
The race has begun to build up the population’s immunity to the coronavirus to try to stem the rise of the disease. Interior Health has reported it has begun vaccinating ‘priority one’ individuals in the region. Right now, that means the rollout is taking place at seniors’ and long-term care homes in the Okanagan. Here in the West Kootenay, healthcare workers have received their first shots. (To see how the rollout will take place, see front page article.) “As vaccine deliveries continue to arrive, and immunizations accelerate throughout our region, we must not lose focus on following the public health guidance that prevents the spread of COVID-19,” said IH President and CEO Susan Brown after the first long-term care residents were vaccinated in an Oliver care home earlier this month. “Adhering to that guidance, combined with COVID-19 vaccine, will help bring an end to this challenging pandemic.” A case map for December 27-January 2 had some good news for Valley Voice readers, with no cases reported in that period in the Arrow Lakes or Kootenay Lake subregions, which includes most of this paper’s readership area. However, in that same reporting period there were seven new cases reported in the Nelson subdistrict, which includes the Slocan Valley from Slocan City south, and one each in the Castlegar and Trail regions. Still, that doesn’t mean the virus is far away. The Province reported 1,475 new cases from last Friday to Monday, including 217 in the Interior Health region. As of press time, there are 5,220 active cases in the province, with 358 people hospitalized. There were 22 deaths provincially over the weekend. The Interior Health region had 36 people hospitalized and nine in intensive care, and two deaths, for a total of 40 in the region since the pandemic began. Revelstoke continues to be a concern. The community bordering on the Arrow Lakes subregion saw nearly 30 new cases over the Christmas period. “Interior Health has identified increased COVID-19 activity in the Revelstoke region and reminds all residents to maintain their efforts to prevent community transmission. There is no specific source for the new cases,” says an IH release. “It is for this reason all residents and businesses are reminded of the importance of COVID-19 testing at the first sign of symptoms in addition to keeping social bubbles small.” If you are concerned you have been exposed to or may have contracted COVID-19, you can get tested at either the Trail or Nelson hospitals. However, you must book online for a test before attending either facility, and ensure you are following the prescribed prevention procedures.John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice