Relenting to public pressure, including from victims’ families, the federal government is replacing the review panel into the Nova Scotia mass shooting with a public inquiry, which will require people to give evidence under oath.
Relenting to public pressure, including from victims’ families, the federal government is replacing the review panel into the Nova Scotia mass shooting with a public inquiry, which will require people to give evidence under oath.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Greek coastguard officials recovered the body of one man and rescued 27 people from a rocky beach on the island of Lesbos after they apparently arrived by boat from Turkey, authorities said on Tuesday. The influx of refugees and migrants to Greece fell by 80% last year compared to 2019. Turkey hosts more than three million refugees and migrants and more than 90,000 are also in Greece, mostly housed in overcrowded camps while waiting for their applications for asylum to be processed.
MADRID — Atlético Madrid appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday to suspend Kieran Trippier’s ban for breaching betting rules. Atlético filed its appeal to CAS a day after FIFA rejected the Spanish club’s attempt to keep the ban imposed on the defender by the English Football Association from being applied worldwide. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. Spanish league leader Atlético succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier’s 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. As it stands, Trippier would miss nine more games, including the Champions League fixture against Chelsea in the round of 16 on Feb. 23. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Reports that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion are reverberating in Saskatchewan.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
LANSING, Mich. — Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county. Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanour counts of wilful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors. “Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors. The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defence in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the former Republican governor. Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism. The city, under Snyder-appointed emergency managers, used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water was blamed by some experts for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which killed at least 12 people in the area and sickened dozens more. ___ White reported from Detroit. Ed White And David Eggert, The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's coast guard says three men reported missing after a group of migrants were rescued in a remote part of the Aegean island of Lesbos have been found alive and well. A search and rescue operation was launched Tuesday morning after 24 people were found on the southern part of the island, while the body of one person was recovered. The three missing men were found in a coastal area later and were in good health. The group was believed to have arrived by boat from the nearby Turkish coast. The short but often perilous journey from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands has been one of the most popular routes into the European Union for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Mideast, Africa and Asia. Many make the journey in unseaworthy and grossly overcrowded inflatable dinghies or other boats. A 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey stipulates that new arrivals be held on the islands pending deportation back to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece. The deal has led to massively overcrowded refugee camps on the Greek islands. The Associated Press
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
When President Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 2017, he promised an end to “American carnage,” a bleak and dysfunctional nation he had insisted that he alone could fix. Closing out his presidency exactly four years later, Trump leaves behind an even more polarized America, where thousands are dying daily from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is badly damaged and political violence has surged. Trump didn’t create the bitter differences that have come to define American life.
New Brunswickers living near the Nova Scotia border are calling for changes to travel restrictions they say are leading to missed medical appointments and confusion over custody arrangements. The province rolled out tighter rules on Jan. 8, including new isolation and testing requirements. Now residents of border communities are required to isolate after crossing for medical care in Amherst, N.S. Megan Mitton, the MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, said the changes are making life difficult for people in the area. Her office is getting constant calls and emails from people seeking help navigating the rules. "Everyone involved is frustrated that the rules continue to be unclear, continue to be inconsistently enforced, and don't take into account the reality of what people are experiencing here," Mitton said. The communities of Sackville and Amherst — about 20 minutes apart — have long been intertwined. Residents typically go back and forth for work, school, to see family, or visit the hospital. But the pandemic has made those frequent trips much more challenging, confusing and sometimes impossible. Cancelling medical appointments Angela Forrester lives near the Nova Scotia border in Port Elgin, N.B. and normally goes to Amherst for banking and buying groceries. Before the tighter rules, she was able to get a medical pass to travel for physiotherapy, massage therapy, doctors visits and tests at the hospital. Forrester applied for approval to attend an appointment when the changes were rolled out, but was forced to cancel because she didn't get a response in time. She finally heard back from the New Brunswick government telling her she could go — but only with self-isolation upon her return. "I'm probably going to start to be in pain because my job is very physically demanding and I need these appointments," she said. "Living along this border has been an extra level of frustration." Mitton said she's hearing from others who are also cancelling appointments, going to the emergency room or scrambling to try to transfer care to Moncton. "Sometimes people have waited a year and a half for an important medical test, and now they don't know what to do and how the rules are going to impact them," she said. Some people hadn't heard the new rules had gone into effect and received isolation orders after attending a regular appointment in Amherst. "Living along this border has an extra level of frustration." - Angela Forrester, resident of Port Elgin, N.B. A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, which enforces travel restrictions, said people travelling to Nova Scotia can follow "work isolation" when returning to New Brunswick. That means isolation can be shortened by a few days with two negative tests on day seven and day 10-12. Forrester owns a pet grooming business and estimates she's losing about 30% each month without Nova Scotia customers. Daily cross-border commuters are permitted to enter New Brunswick without isolation, but they need to go directly to work and can't make any stops. With the border closed, Forrester applied for a work pass to be able to work as a pet groomer in Amherst and was approved on Sunday after several unsuccessful tries. Confusion over testing rules Under the new restrictions, weekly testing is required for children in custody agreements or entering New Brunswick to attend school. But Sackville doesn't seem to have a testing site, requiring travel to Moncton at a location with limited hours. That's a problem for Amanda Furlong. Her 6-year-old son visits his father in Oxford, N.S. She doesn't have a car to bring her son to Moncton and isn't sure how she could get him there each week. "With kids they don't understand at all, they don't know what's going on," she said. "So it's not fair to them." Furlong said she called Public Health to try to figure out the new rules for her son crossing the border last week, and didn't hear back. He's returning Tuesday. It is unclear if parents of children crossing the border also need to get tested. A Public Safety spokesperson did not respond to a question asking for clarification. Mitton, the area MLA, said the rules designed for Quebec and Maine don't meet the circumstances of people living near Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. She wants all residents with essential reasons to be exempt from isolation and mandatory testing. "The burden that's being put on families to have the weekly testing when there's not even a testing site in our community, that's really difficult," she said. Nova Scotia has only 25 active cases of COVID-19 and Prince Edward Island has 10, as of Monday. 'A world away' Nicole Burke lives in Sackville, just minutes away from her parents in Fort Lawrence, N.S., the first community on the other side of the provincial border. "It's one highway exit away and it feels like it's a world away when these regulations are in place," she said. The change has been noticeable for the esthetician, who has seen a big drop in clients since the Nova Scotia border closed. As a single mother, Burke said her parents are her support system for taking care of her eight-year-old daughter. She said the new rules are confusing and she's not sure if her daughter would be allowed to cross. Even if the province approves cross border travel, weekly testing is required for childcare. "It's causing her anxiety to think when she's going to be able to see her grandparents again," she said. "Tears come to her eyes and it's heartbreaking."
Indian hyperlocal courier startup Dunzo has raised $40 million from existing investor Google and others, it said on Tuesday, after seeing a surge in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many Indians stayed indoors for much of 2020 because of the health crisis, Dunzo and food-delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy recorded a fresh surge in popularity. Naspers-backed Swiggy also runs a hyperlocal courier service.
The COVID-19 pandemic could be the catalyst for much-needed reform of the World Health Organization just as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 forced urgent changes at the U.N. nuclear agency, an independent review panel said on Tuesday. The panel, set up to investigate the global response to the coronavirus, said the WHO is underpowered, underfunded and required fundamental reform to give it the resources it needs to respond more effectively to deadly disease outbreaks. "We are not here to assign blame, but to make concrete recommendations to help the world respond faster and better in future," the panel's co-chair, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told a news briefing.
Police officers in Saskatchewan have been on the front line of enforcement when it comes to the province's public health orders, responding to everything from the violation of an isolation, to ticketing those at large anti-mask rallies. But despite the fact they're dealing with the public and facing volatile situations involving the virus, front-line police officers are nowhere near the front of the line when it comes to priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. Rick Bourassa, chief of the Moose Jaw Police Service and president of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP), says police agencies don't want to muscle their way into priority spots, but says it's important officers are prepared as they take on more duties around public health orders. "The front-line people are not only involved in public safety, and ensuring that moving forward, but we are the front-line responders to non-compliance and monitoring during this pandemic," he said. "So police officers across the province are quite knowingly putting themselves at risk." Bourassa says police services understand the imperative of enforcing those orders — as it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 — but that enforcement can sometimes involve officers being in "close and prolonged contact" with infected people. "And in our environment, we don't have time to stop, slow everything down, put on the full personal protective equipment; it's very much moving quickly to keep other people safe." Vaccine keeps both officers, public they serve, safe: SACP Bourassa says there has been good dialogue between police services and local health authority officials. But he says he'd like to see more opportunities for discussions directly with provincial officials in charge, as most of that communication has been done through intermediaries and various government agencies. "In order to keep spread of the virus from increasing, as we work toward compliance of people who aren't complying, and in order to just maintain public safety, our members need to have the tools," he said. "And one of those tools is to have been vaccinated." He said officers are doing everything they can to keep safe while on the job, but notes policing can be unpredictable and there have already been instances where resources were "severely limited" due to close contacts and exposure. "In some situations, other police agencies, other officers, have had to come in because there just wasn't the police capability to respond. We're very concerned about that," he said. If further, larger exposures take place, it could leave services shorthanded. Some law enforcement agencies have already seen the virus enter their ranks, with outbreaks ongoing at a unit of the Saskatoon Police Service and the Prince Albert Police Service. Those who represent front-line officers say while members are not complaining about new duties, there is some frustration with the fact they've been left out of priority, especially when those new duties involve dealing with people already disregarding health guidelines. "If they're disobeying that health order, they really probably don't want to obey police either," said Casey Ward, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers. He says officers take no issue with the fact those on the front line of the health care sector have been prioritized for vaccines, as they're at highest risk, but he wants more consideration given to the hundreds of officers on provincial streets everyday. Ward, who is also president of the Regina Police Association, says he's seen entire shifts "decimated" as a result of the virus, noting its police who are called when hospital staff and security are met with hostility, rather than adherence. "I don't think a lot of people understand how much we are dealing with people that are affected with COVID-19," he said. He said he'd like for those making the decisions around vaccination at the provincial level to see first-hand what police are dealing with. "I'd love for the minister to come out and actually see how exposed our members are," he said. "I'm sure the elected officials probably wouldn't even feel comfortable coming out, seeing how exposed they would be on a night shift, what our members are putting up with." Ward said he's willing to meet with stakeholders from the province to discuss how the role of a police officer has changed during the pandemic and why law enforcement services should be offered priority vaccination. "We want to be considered in this and have a voice at the table when it does come out to be able to lobby and to put us in where we deserve to be," he said. "We're not saying we need to be right at the front, we totally understand that, but I think if we all sat down, I think people would understand right away." Ministry following national recommendations CBC Saskatoon reached out to the Ministry of Health about the concerns raised by Ward and Bourassa on Monday, but a response was not received by deadline. An earlier statement from the Ministry of Health indicated it's following direction from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization when it comes to its vaccine rollout. "Each province, including Saskatchewan, is using these recommendations to determine prioritization," the statement said. The province's delivery plan details how the first phase is set to focus on immunization of those at higher risk of exposure or serious illness. This includes health care workers and elderly residents in care homes, as well as seniors over 80 across the province and seniors over 50 in the north. Phase 2 of the province's vaccination is set to begin in April when additional priority groups will be identified for vaccination alongside the general population. "The Ministry of Health will provide updates on the availability of vaccines as the situation evolves, noting that vaccine approval and availability is established by the federal government," the statement explained. As for the province's police services, Bourassa says they've been able to continue with their regular duties patrolling city streets, even with the added weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the "vast majority" of Saskatchewan residents continue to do their part. "People have been very, very good with doing all the right things," he said. "We have to get through this period — it will be a short period — and the more we follow the rules, the shorter that period will be." "We'll get through this together," he added.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden has given himself an imposing to-do list for his earliest days as president and many promises to keep over the longer haul. Overshadowing everything at the very start is Biden's effort to win congressional approval of a $1.9 trillion plan to combat the coronavirus and the economic misery it has caused. But climate change, immigration, health care and more will be competing for attention — and dollars. Altogether Biden has laid out an ambitious if not always detailed set of plans and promises across the range of public policy. Drawn from a review of his campaign statements and a recent memo from Ron Klain, who'll be his chief of staff, here's a sampling of measures to expect right away, around the corner and beyond: WEDNESDAY, after the inauguration, mostly by executive action: — Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining Paris climate accord. — Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining World Health Organization. — Ethical standards for his administration and an order prohibiting interference in the operations of the Justice Department from other parts of government. — Start of a process to restore 100 public health and environmental rules that the Obama administration created and President Donald Trump eliminated or weakened. — Start of a process to rejoin the deal restraining Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. — Executive action to end travel restrictions on people from a variety of Muslim-majority countries. — Executive action to protect from deportation people who came to the country illegally as children. — Executive action to make masks mandatory on federal property and when travelling out of state. Others will be asked to wear masks for 100 days. — Steps to extend pandemic-era restrictions on evictions and foreclosures. — Legislation to go to Congress proposing to repeal liability protections for gun manufacturers and tightening some other aspects of gun control. — Immigration legislation to go to Congress as part of an effort to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and to codify protections for people who came illegally as children. — Education Department to be asked to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions with student debt. ___ THURSDAY — Executive action laying out new steps to expand virus testing, protect workers and set new public health standards. ___ FRIDAY — Directive to agencies to take unspecified immediate action to deliver economic relief from the pandemic. ___ BY FEB. 1 — Executive actions to strengthen “buy American” provisions. — Executive actions to address climate change. — First steps to expand access to health care, for low-income women, women of colour and other segments of the population. — First steps to reunite families still separated at the Mexican border. ___ BEYOND (some may be tried sooner) — Ensure 100 million vaccines have been given before the end of his first 100 days. — Ensure 100 federally supported vaccination centres are up and running in his first month. — Expand use of the Defence Production Act to direct the manufacture of critical pandemic supplies. — Win passage of a $2 trillion climate package to get the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. — Seek passage of a “Medicare-like public option” to compete alongside private insurance markets for working-age Americans; increase existing premium subsidies. — Eliminate certain corporate tax cuts where possible, by executive action, while doubling the levies U.S. firms pay on foreign profits. — Make a plan within 100 days to end homelessness. — Expand legal immigration slots. — Freeze deportations for 100 days, then restore the Obama-era principle of deporting foreigners who are seen as posing a national security threat or who have committed crimes in addition to the crime of illegal entry, thereby pulling back the broad deportation policy of the Trump years. — Halt financing of further construction of the wall along the Mexican border. — Within 100 days, establish a police oversight commission to combat institutional racism by then. — Reinstate federal guidance, issued by Obama and revoked by Trump, to protect transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. — Ensure taxes are not raised on anyone making under $400,000. — Restore Obama-era rules on campus sexual misconduct and a policy that aimed to cut federal money to for-profit colleges that left students with heavy debt they can't pay back. — Support legislation to make two years of community college free and to make public colleges free for families with incomes below $125,000, with no repayment of student loans required for people who make less than $25,000 a year and, for others, no repayment rate above 5% of discretionary income. — Support increasing the national minimum wage to $15. — Try to win passage of a plan to spend $700 billion boosting manufacturing and research and development. — Establish a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court. Darlene Superville And Will Weissert, The Associated Press
A new poll suggests Ontario Premier Doug Ford's popularity has dropped in the last three months, along with his government's approval rating, and a market research firm attributes the decline to the province's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, however, continues to be Ontario's most popular party leader and his popularity is still higher than it was before the pandemic knocked the province off course, according to the survey released Tuesday. In an online poll entitled "A New Year Brings Old Politics to Ontario," Abacus Data has found that only 39 per cent of respondents have a positive view of the premier, while 35 per cent have a negative view. Ford's personal popularity has plummeted seven per cent over the past three months, according to the survey. When it comes to the Ontario government, 10 per cent strongly approve of it and 34 per cent mostly approve, while 21 per cent mostly disapprove and 10 per cent strongly disapprove. Twenty four per cent feel neither way. There has been a decline of eight percentage points in the government's approval rating over the past three months, the poll suggests. Pollster David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, told CBC Toronto this week that he believes the decline in numbers can be attributed to the government's handling of the pandemic's second wave. He said the numbers are clearly trending in the wrong direction for Ford and his Progressive Conservative government. "The overall picture that we're seeing in this poll suggests that over the last few months, both the government's approval rating and views of the premier have taken a hit, I think largely because of some mistakes or decisions that the government has made, specifically around COVID-19," Coletto said. Coletto noted that Ford is still viewed more positively than negatively and continues to have more people approving than disapproving of him. "But I think the longer this pandemic has gone on and the more challenging it actually has become to manage this crisis and deal with the second wave, the more toll it has taken to how people feel about this government and the premier specifically," he said. Ford's approval still higher than before pandemic The PC party, however, can take some solace in the finding that Ford is still getting higher approval numbers than he did before the pandemic, he said. In late 2019 and early 2020, more than 60 per cent of Ontarians had a negative view of the premier. Coletto added that Ford's rivals are not reaping benefits from the decline in his popularity. Feelings about NDP Leader Andrea Horwath are mixed, with 27 per cent having a positive view, 27 per cent having a neutral view and 28 per cent having a negative view. Thirty-eight per cent don't know enough about Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca to have an opinion of him. According to the poll, if a provincial election were called today, 34 per cent of Ontario residents would vote for Ford and the PC party, 29 per cent would vote Liberal, while 25 per cent would vote for the NDP. Colletto said he thinks the downward trend in numbers for Ford and his government are tied directly to what the public thinks of the government's pandemic approach. 37% think government in control of situation Only 37 per cent believe the Ontario government is in control of the situation right now, a drop of 25 percentage points since October. "The belief that the province has a clear plan, is providing consistent advice and guidance and is generally making the right decisions have all dropped significantly in the last few months," the poll suggests.. Sixty-one per cent of Ontario residents, for example, continue to believe the government is making public health "the priority." Twenty-seven per cent believe the premier has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes, an increase of 10 percentage points since October. "I think the reason that, despite the numbers softening, the premier remains more popular today than he was prior, is because at the core, far more people believe that the premier's intentions remain sound, that despite some mistakes that have been made, most people believe that he's either doing a really good job or there's some mistakes, but at the end of the day, he's doing the best that he can," Coletto said. "And that is what gives him, I think, some latitude with the public to make mistakes, to change course here and there, but at the end of the day, people have a good sense that he's doing what he can in a very challenging situation." As for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Ontario residents give the premier a little more slack. Twenty-two per cent believe Ford has done a good job, while 53 per cent believe he has made mistakes but has done as well as can be expected, while 25 per cent believe he has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes that could have been avoided. According to the survey, 43 per cent say vaccine distribution is going either well enough or very well, while 57 per cent say it is going poorly or very poorly. 75% say holiday trips 'completely unacceptable' Not surprisingly, the poll suggests 75 per cent of residents believe that holiday trips taken outside of the Canada by politicians and health-care leaders are "completely unacceptable." Nine in 10 residents have heard about the Caribbean vacation taken by Rod Phillips, former finance minister. Of those aware, only 37 per cent believe the premier handled the situation well, while 49 per cent believe he handled it poorly, with 14 per cent suggesting it was largely out of his hands. Coletto said he was not surprised by the "overwhelming anger and disappointment" over the trip and the general reaction that it was unacceptable. But he said it has had less of an impact on the government than pundits might expect, although it might have weakened trust in elected officials. "It hasn't cratered support for the government or approval rating for the premier," Coletto said. "And that, I think, continues to remind me and us that the people are looking at government today and all the actors in government through the lens of COVID and how they are trying to make people's lives better and protect people from from this virus." Nearly 900 residents surveyed in January The poll concludes that "a lot of the fundamentals" are declining for the Ford government. "His personal reputation, assessments of his government's leadership, and assessments of his handling of COVID-19 have all been in a steady decline over the past few months. However, vote dynamics are largely unchanged," the poll says. Abacus conducted the poll 793 Ontario residents recuruited online from Jan. 8 to 12, 2021. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.48 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
Despite a glitch in text messaging for the Brandon vaccination site, COVID -19 vaccinations took place as planned Monday morning. Joanna Robb, who works at Shared Health’s Westman Regional Laboratory, was the first to be vaccinated yesterday morning. Kirsten Boyce, Robb’s co-worker, was the second. They booked their appointments without issue early last week. Both say no one in their workplace had any issues with booking their appointments. The two, along with others in their workplace, work with body-fluid samples, primarily screening for cancer and pre-cancerous changes. “We’ve already started to see body fluids coming through where it says COVID-positive,” Robb said. As to how they felt about being vaccinated, they both said they were happy to receive the vaccine. Robb said she’s the one in the lab following all the daily numbers. She has a co-worker with family in Saskatchewan who hasn’t seen her parents since the summer. Robb has three children, including a daughter in Grade 12, who is experiencing a tumultuous final year in school. “Everything is just upside-down and to just have this hope that the vaccine is actually happening here in Brandon, now, it’s hopeful. It’s definitely moving the right way. If we could just give everyone a vaccine, like the Amazon dropoff, that would be great,” Robb said. “If there was just a way for everyone that wanted a vaccine, if they could get one … But, we have to be patient and wait.” However, Robb acknowledges how amazing it is that one year after COVID-19 began its spread, vaccines are being deployed. “It’s happening,” she said. “We’ve discussed it amongst ourselves, co-workers, and we talked to our clinical microbiologist — I always say he’s my panic button. If he panics, I panic. So, as long as he’s keeping his calm demeanour, I’m always good. Everyone was working for the same goal. I have confidence in it.” Boyce said her experience was also “easy peasy.” “Seeing how we just heard that they’re paring things back for now, I’m just so, so grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the people that actually gets it so soon. I’m super excited to get this done. I was talking with my family last night … My brother is like, ‘I have major vaccine envy,’” Boyce said. The province is not taking new appointment bookings, due to Pfizer announcing a slowdown in vaccine production, but all appointments currently booked will be honoured. Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday afternoon at the province’s daily COVID-19 update they are recalibrating the coming weeks as a result of that announcement. Robb said the flow through the various stations at the Keystone vaccination site went smoothly. Neither Robb nor Boyce felt the effects of the text issue, which sent the address of the Winnipeg vaccination site for their Brandon appointments. They both knew where they were booked. PetalMD, the company being paid $436,400 to manage COVID-19 screening services for the province, made that text mistake, and were lambasted in emails between provincial employees. “Per Adam’s note — we are now creating a process where we are checking PedalMD’s work. This is the same organization used by over 37,000 doctors across Canada. They are the largest, most reputable player in the space. They have now done this to us — twice. We are going to put them on training heels,” wrote Paul Beauregard to a list of several government employees. In the email thread, contractual penalties are discussed. NDP leadership has an issue with the government and PedalMD. They say this is one more glaring example of mistakes being made during the pandemic. “I think that this is another mistake in the vaccine rollout from the government. I think the average Manitoban probably understands that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it does seem pretty odd that the government seems to be making so many mistakes so many times when it comes to the vaccine rollout, whether it was wasting doses or long waits on the phone, trouble booking appointments, and then, now, messing up the messaging of the addresses a few times,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “In the emails, you see the government admitting themselves that they’ve made some mistakes, more than once. They’ve done it again. It causes concern, because at the end of the day it was health-care workers and other people at the front of the vaccine line in Brandon, who are caused unnecessary stress and confusion.” The province, via a spokesperson, admitted appointment reminder texts were sent with an incorrect address to 558 people with vaccination Monday appointments at the Keystone Centre. “The human error was quickly addressed by a followup text. Government is conducting a review to ensure the service provider is held accountable and that the mistake does not occur again. People with appointments are asked to keep them as scheduled,” the spokesperson stated. The Brandon site is set to deliver its vaccines as planned, two trays with 1,170 vaccines per tray. Both Robb and Boyce have appointments for their second mandated dose. As for possible reopening plans after current critical code red public health orders expire Friday night, Dr. Brent Roussin said more information would be forthcoming later in the week. MONDAY’S COVID-19 UPDATE The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw four additional deaths listed, none from the Prairie Mountain Health region. The province reported 118 new cases, as follows: • 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; • 46 cases in the Northern health region; • seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region; • nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and • 45 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent in the province, and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 27,629, with 773 deaths or 2.8 per cent. The province reports 3,108 active cases, with 23,748 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The province has advised the active case count is less, and that number will better reflect the correct number soon. The province also reported 135 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 289 hospitalizations. Twenty-three people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 12 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 35 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 203 active cases, with 1,567 recovered. There are 13 people hospitalized, with one patient in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 66, with 821 recovered and 19 deaths. On Thursday, 1,322 tests were completed, for a total of 453, 481 since February, 2020. » Source: Province of Manitoba PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH OUTBREAK NUMBERS As of Jan. 18, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 43 total cases, 14 staff infected, 29 non-staff infected, 30 active cases, nine recovered, four deaths. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 32 recovered, five deaths. • St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: one total cases, one staff infected, 0 residents infected, one active case, 0 recovered, 0 deaths. • Dauphin Regional Health Centre medicine unit: No information Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of Manitoba VACCINATION UPDATE To date, 17,751 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 15,607 first doses and 2,144 second doses. Manitoba’s focused immunization teams continue to immunize residents at personal care homes across the province. First doses of the vaccine will now be given to all eligible residents by the end of January, more than a week ahead of initial projections. Last week, teams visited 10 personal care homes, and all consenting and eligible personal care home residents were immunized with their first dose. This week, residents at 51 personal care homes will be immunized throughout the province. All new appointments were paused on Jan. 15 due to the uncertainty caused by the Pfizer vaccine supply disruption. However, Manitoba has revised its updated projections based on new forecasts received from the federal government detailing the revised vaccine delivery schedules. Manitoba will release additional details on the next steps of its immunization campaign later this week. » Source: Province of Manitoba Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun