Rough water, huge waves crashing against the rocks on the coast in Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Rough water, huge waves crashing against the rocks on the coast in Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.
NEW YORK — With homebound nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and amid a storm of criticism for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with top awards going to “Nomadland,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Crown” and “Schitt's Creek.” The night's top award, best picture drama, went to Chloé Zhao's elegiac road movie “Nomadland," a Western set across economic upheaval and personal grief. Zhao, the China-born filmmaker of, became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. She’s only the second woman in the history of the Globes to win, and the first since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl” in 1984. “'Nomadland at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” said Zhao, accepting the awards remotely. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you." With a cancelled red carpet and stars giving speeches from the couch, Sunday's Globes had little of their typically frothy flavour. But they went on, nevertheless, with winners in sweats and dogs in laps, in a pandemic that has sapped nearly all the glamour out of Hollywood. Facing scant traditional studio competition, streaming services dominated the Globes like never before — even if the top award went to a familiar if renamed source: Searchlight Pictures, formerly the Fox specialty label of “12 Years a Slave” and “The Shape of Water” now owned by the Walt Disney Co. Amazon's “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — one of the few nominated films shot partly during the pandemic — won best film, comedy or musical. Its star guerilla comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen, also won best actor in a comedy. Referring to Rudy Giuliani's infamous cameo, Cohen thanked “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius.” “I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping," said Cohen. Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher). “The Queen's Gambit” won best limited series, and best actress in the category for Anya Taylor-Joy. “Schitt's Creek,” the Pop TV series that found a wider audience on Netflix, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O'Hara also took best actress in a comedy series. Chadwick Boseman, as expected, posthumously won best actor in a drama film for his final performance, in the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — a Netflix release. Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully, emotionally accepted the award. “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” said Ledward. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring.” Apple TV+ scored its first major award when a sweatshirt-clad Jason Sudeikis won best actor in a comedy series for the streamer's “Ted Lasso.” The NBC telecast began in split screen. Fey took the stage at New York's Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes' usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other. “I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy," said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.” They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said. In a production nightmare but one that's become familiar during the pandemic, the night's first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You're doing me dirty!" Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday's Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.” Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association appeared on stage to pledge change. "We recognize we have our own work to do," said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” Whether those statements — along with a diverse group of winners — did enough to remedy anything remained unclear. The moment the show ended, Time's Up sent letters to both the HFPA and NBCUniveral demanding more than lip service. “The Globes are no longer golden. It’s time to act,” wrote Tina Tchen, the group's president. COVID-19 circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside. Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari" (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She's the reason I made this film,” said Chung. “'Minari' is about a family. It's a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It's a language of the heart," said Chung. “I'm trying to learn it myself and to pass it on." John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen's “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") won one of the biggest surprise Globes, for best supporting actress in a film, while, sitting on the couch next her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and with her dog, Ziggy on her lap. Some speeches were pre-taped. The previously recorded speeches by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the wining “Soul" score went without hiccup even though presenter Tracy Morgan first announced “Sal" as the winner. Even if speeches sometimes lacked drama without Hollywood gathered in one place, representation was a common refrain. Pointedly referring to the diversity of the HFPA, presenter and previous winner Sterling K. Brown began, “Thank you. It is great to be Black at the Golden Globes,” he said. “Back.” Jane Fonda, the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree, spoke passionately about expanding the big tent of entertainment for all. “Art has always been not just in step in history but has lead the way,” said Fonda. “So let’s be leaders.” Other awards included Pixar's “Soul” for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot"; Aaron Sorkin ("Trial of the Chicago 7") for best screenplay; and, in the night's biggest surprise, Andra Day ("The United States vs. Billie Holiday") for best actress in a drama, besting Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman") and Frances McDormand ("Nomadland"). As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. The Academy Awards will be held April 25. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
(Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit) Tough new COVID-19 measures kicked in at midnight, meaning Prince Edward Islanders are waking up to a world where some things are no longer possible — at least for the next 72 hours. The P.E.I. government's so-called modified red restricted measures are meant to curb outbreaks of COVID-19 in Summerside and Charlottetown. As of late Sunday, 17 new cases had been confirmed in the past five days, with more than 190 close contacts identified so far. Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief public health officer, provided a long list of possible exposure sites and dates during a briefing Sunday afternoon. They appear below, along with a list of where COVID-19 testing is available. Exposure sites and times Islanders are strongly urged to seek a COVID-19 test if they were at any of the following locations at the times given, even if they do not have symptoms. Note that the province said on its Facebook page Monday: "When we list an exposure location and time, it's only for those specific times. If you were there before or after that time, you would not be considered a risk for exposure." Testing locations and hours After a busy weekend that saw about 6,632 tests for COVID-19 collected — 2,250 at Three Oaks High School in Summerside alone — provincial public health officials are looking for more swabs. Here are the times and places of today's testing clinics for people who may have had exposure at the above sites as well as for anyone experiencing symptoms: Charlottetown Park Street clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Montague Legion Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m Summerside Slemon Park Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. O'Leary Health Centre Clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Health PEI announced changes for testing sites this evening because of potentially bad weather on Tuesday. Stratford testing site at Stratford Town Hall will be open for people aged 19-29 who work in the food service industry, meat and fish processing plants, call centres, transportation and delivery or any long-term care staff who are not vaccinated and do not have symptoms until close at 8 p.m. tonight. It was previously open only to 19- to 24-year-olds working in that industry today. Three Oaks High School testing site is available for 25- to 29-year-olds who work in the food service industry, meat and fish processing plants, call centres, transportation and delivery or any long-term care staff who are not vaccinated and who do not have symptoms until 6 p.m. This clinic was also previously open today only to 19- to 24-year-olds. Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. Chris Scott, chief meteorologist with The Weather Network, said Canadians can count on some sunny days to put a bounce in their step after a long winter. "There's going to be some challenges. We're not out of the woods for winter, but we've certainly put the worst behind us and there's some really nice days ahead," said Scott, adding that people should get out and enjoy the sunshine when the daily forecast calls for it. The Weather Network predicts that March will bring extended tastes of early spring to Ontario and Quebec after a particularly wintry February. But Scott said the province should brace for a period of colder weather in mid-spring before more consistent warmth sets in. The Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia, with lower-than-average temperatures in the offing for the first half of the season. An above-normal snowpack will make for excellent skiing conditions but also a heightened risk for spring flooding when warm weather finally arrives, Scott said. The Weather Network's outlook suggests March will be dramatically warmer through the Prairies, but indicates western parts of the region will struggle to reach consistently mild temperatures. The network said it's concerned that drought conditions south of the border could become more widespread and affect southern parts of the region by the start of the growing season. Scott predicted temperatures exceeding seasonal norms in Atlantic Canada, but said the region is still at risk for high-impact, late-winter storms. In Northern Canada, colder than normal spring temperatures are expected for southern Yukon, while eastern Nunavut will be warmer than usual. "There's going to be good days (for outdoor activities) in every part of the country, you're just going to have to pick your battles," Scott said. The meteorologist did have good news for most of Canada's largest river valleys, predicting they would be spared disastrous floods in the months ahead. Scott said the Red River Valley in Manitoba, the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys in Ontario and Quebec, as well as the Saint John River valley in New Brunswick likely won't have to contend with dangerously high water levels in March and April. "That's because we don't have the tremendous snowpacks that are the antecedent condition that you need to get really severe spring flooding," said Scott. "That's really good news in places, especially in Eastern Canada, that have been hit with floods." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday stood by an unidentified Cabinet minister against calls for him to step down over an allegation he raped a 16-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. The accusation has created a cloud over the 16 men in Morrison’s 22-minister Cabinet and is feeding complaints of a culture within Parliament that is toxic for women. The allegation was contained in an anonymous letter sent to the prime minister’s office and to three female lawmakers last week. The letter contained a statement from a complainant that detailed her allegation of a rape she said occurred in New South Wales state in 1988. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, reported the allegation to police before taking her own life in June at age 49. Morrison said the Cabinet minister “vigorously and completely denied the allegations.” Morrison said he forwarded the letter to police and discussed the allegation with the federal police commissioner. Morrison said he did not intend to take any further action. “We can’t have a situation where the mere making of an allegation and that being publicized through the media is grounds for ... governments to stand people down simply on the basis of that,” Morrison said. The Ministerial Code of Conduct states a “minister should stand aside if that minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.” Some within the government argue that because the complainant is dead, her allegation is no longer under official police investigation because a conviction is unlikely. Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, a minor Greens party lawmaker who received the anonymous letter, said the minister must step down pending an independent investigation by a former judge. “It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire Cabinet,” Hanson-Young said. She said the accusation erodes the belief that the government takes sexual assault seriously. Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, who represented the complainant when she took her accusation to police, said the allegation cannot be resolved through the criminal justice system because she has died. The minister should step down while some independent inquiry investigates the evidence, Bradley said. “His position is pretty clearly untenable and he should step aside or be stood aside until this matter can be addressed and resolved,” Bradley said. The disclosure comes two weeks after Morrison apologized in Parliament to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a more senior colleague in a minister’s office two years ago. Brittany Higgins quit her job in January and reactivated her complaint to police after initially not pursuing the case because she felt it would have affected her employment. The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was fired for breaching security by taking Higgins into a minister’s office following a night of heavy drinking. Three other women have made sexual misconduct allegations against the same man since Higgins went public with her complaint. A government staffer who alleged she was raped by the man last year told The Weekend Australian newspaper the attack wouldn’t have happened if the government had supported Higgins’ initial complaint. Morrison responded to Higgins’ public complaints by appointing government lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political parties to investigate Parliament House culture, improve workplace standards and protect staff. Hammond and opposition Labor Party Sen. Penny Wong also received anonymous letters about the 1988 rape allegation. Wong said she met the complainant in 2019 and the complainant detailed her allegation against the man, who was not in Parliament in 1988. “I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police,” Wong said. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whom Morrison replaced in a power struggle within the ruling conservative Liberal Party in 2018, said the complainant wrote to him in 2019 seeking advice on what she should do with her allegations. Turnbull described her allegations as “pretty harrowing” and said Morrison should remove the minister. Turnbull said he had sent the woman's email and his reply to police in the woman's home state of South Australia in expectation that they would be used as evidence in a coroner's investigation into her death. An investigation has not yet been announced. Morrison said that before he was told of the rape allegation last week, he had heard “rumours” that an Australian Broadcasting Corp. investigative reporter was “making some inquiries” about a rape around November last year when the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast its “Inside the Canberra Bubble” investigation. The program accused the Liberal Party of tolerating and condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour. The program exposed an extramarital affair between Population Minister Alan Tudge and a female adviser in 2017. It also alleged Attorney General Christian Porter had been seen “cuddling and kissing” a female staffer in a Canberra bar, which he denies. The government has condemned the program. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has asked the ABC board to explain how the program was in the public interest and complied with the state-owned broadcaster’s obligation to produce accurate and impartial journalism. Minister for Women Marise Payne on Monday described the recent allegations of sexual misbehaviour as a low point of her 24 years in Parliament. “This is most definitely the most difficult, most confronting and most distressing period of my work life in this environment,” Payne told Sky News. “But distressing for me is meaningless in comparison to those people who have had to endure issues around sexual assault, the experience of sexual assault or harassment in its many forms, and we want to make sure that that stops now,” she added. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Britain on Monday appealed for a mystery individual infected with a highly transmissible Brazilian variant of the novel coronavirus to come forward, more than two weeks after they tested positive but failed to give proper contact details. Britain said six cases had been detected of the "P.1" variant identified in the Brazilian city of Manaus, against which current vaccines appear to be less effective. Two were in South Gloucestershire in England and three in Scotland.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
NEW DELHI — India is expanding its coronavirus vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk. Among the first to receive a vaccine on Monday was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Those now eligible include anyone older than 60, as well as those over 45 who have ailments such as heart disease or diabetes that make them vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness. The shots will be given for free at government hospitals and will also be sold at over 10,000 private hospitals at a fixed price of 250 rupees, or $3.40, per shot. But the rollout of one of the world's largest vaccination drives has been sluggish. Amid signs of hesitancy among the first groups offered the vaccine, Modi, who is 70, got a shot at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science. He received the vaccine produced by Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech — which has been met with particular skepticism. He appealed for all to get vaccinated, tweeting afterward, “together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” The drive, which began in January in the country of 1.4 billion people, has recently taken on even more urgency, since new infections have begun to increase again after months of consistent decline, and scientists have detected worrisome variants of the virus that they fear could hasten infections or render vaccines or treatments less useful. Scores of elderly people started lining up outside private hospitals on Monday morning. Sunita Kapoor was among them, waiting for a vaccine with her husband. She said that they had been staying at home and not meeting people for months to stay safe from the virus — and were looking forward to being able to socialize a bit more. “We are excited,” said Kapoor, 63. Many said that they had struggled with the online system for registering and then waited in line for hours before receiving the vaccine — problems that other countries have also experienced. Dr. Giridhar R. Babu, who studies epidemics at the Public Health Foundation of India, said that long waits for the elderly were a concern since they could pick up infections, including COVID-19, at hospitals. “The unintended effect might be that they get COVID when they go to get the vaccine,” he said. Even though India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs, things haven't gone according to plan. Of the 10 million health care workers that the government had initially wanted to immunize, only 6.6 million have gotten the first shot of the two-dose vaccines and 2.4 million have gotten both. Of its estimated 20 million front-line workers, such as police or sanitation workers, only 5.1 million have been vaccinated so far. Dr. Gagangdeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at Christian Medical College Vellore in southern India, said the hesitancy by health workers highlights the paucity of information available about the vaccines. If health workers are reticent, “you seriously think that the common public is going to walk up for the vaccine?” she said. Vaccinating more people quickly is a major priority for India, especially now that infections are rising again. The country has recorded more than 11 million cases, second in the world behind the United States, and over 157,000 deaths. The government had set a target of immunizing 300 million people, nearly the total U.S. population, by August. The spike in infections in India is most pronounced in the western state of Maharashtra, where the number of active cases has nearly doubled to over 68,000 in the past two weeks. Lockdowns and other restrictions have been reimposed in some areas, and the state's chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray, has warned that another wave of cases is “knocking on our door.” Similar surges have been reported from states in all corners of the massive country: Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Gujarat in the west, West Bengal in the east, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in central India, and Telangana in the south. Top federal officials have asked authorities in those states to increase the speed of vaccinations in districts where cases are surging, and to track clusters of infections and monitor variants. “There is a sense of urgency because of the mutants and because cases are going up,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India. He said that the consistent dip in cases over months resulted in a “reduced threat perception,” leading to vaccine hesitancy. “The (vaccination) drive began when perception was that the worst was over, so people were more hesitant,” Reddy said. Others have also pointed out that the reticence to get vaccinated was amplified, at least in part, by the government's opaque decision making while greenlighting vaccines. But experts say that allowing private hospitals to administer the shots — which began with this new phase of the campaign — should improve access. India's health care system is patchy, and in many small cities people depend on private hospitals for their medical needs. Still, problems remain. India had rolled out online software to keep track of the shots and recipients, but the system was prone to glitches and delays. The federal government will decide which hospitals get which vaccine and people will not have a choice between the AstraZeneca vaccine or the Bharat Biotech one, confirmed Dr. Amar Fettle, the nodal COVID-19 officer for southern Indian state Kerala. The latter got the go-ahead by Indian regulators in January before trials testing the shot's effectiveness at preventing illness were completed. But opening up the campaign to private hospitals may allow the rich to “shop” around for places that are providing the AstraZeneca vaccine — an option that poorer people wouldn't have, said Dr. Anant Bhan, who studies medical ethics. India now hopes to quickly ramp up vaccinations. But the country will likely continue to see troughs and peaks of infections, and the key lesson is that the pandemic won't end until enough people have been vaccinated for the spread of the virus to slow, said Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University who advises West Bengal state on the virus response. “Don’t use a trough to declare success and say it's over,” he said. ___ Associated Press journalists Krutika Pathi and Rishabh Jain contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Aniruddha Ghosal, The Associated Press
Unable to find work, Ahmed Farea has sold everything including his wife's gold to feed and house two young daughters in one small room. Elsewhere in Yemen's capital Sanaa, widow Mona Muhammad has work but struggles to buy anything more nutritious than rice for her four children amid high prices. And in a nearby hospital, severely malnourished children receive lifesaving nutritional drinks.
Former Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi says he believes he was surveilled by Canadian intelligence while he lived in Montreal.
ISLAMABAD — The United States wasted billions of dollars in war-torn Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles that were either abandoned or destroyed, according to a report released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog. The agency said it reviewed $7.8 billion spent since 2008 on buildings and vehicles. Only $343.2 million worth of buildings and vehicles “were maintained in good condition,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which oversees American taxpayer money spent on the protracted conflict. The report said that just $1.2 billion of the $7.8 billion went to pay for buildings and vehicles that were used as intended. “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects," John F. Sopko, the special inspector general, said in his report. The U.S. public is weary of the nearly 20-year-old war and President Joe Biden is reviewing a peace deal his predecessor, Donald Trump, signed with the Taliban a year ago. He must decide whether to withdraw all troops by May 1, as promised in the deal, or stay and possibly prolong the war. Officials say no decision has been made but on Monday, Washington's peace envoy and the American who brokered the U.S.-Taliban deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, was back in the Afghan capital for a tour of the region. Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government have been holding on-again-off-again talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar but a deal that could bring peace to Afghanistan after 40 years of relentless war seems far off. After Kabul, Khalilzad will travel to Qatar's capital of Doha and neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, to push anew for progress in the Doha talks and a cease-fire to end the relentless violence. Analyst Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal said the findings by SIGAR are not surprising. The reasons for the financial losses include Taliban attacks, corruption and “throwing money at the problem without considering the implications,” he said. “It is one thing to build a clinic and school, it is another to operate, maintain, and in many cases defend this infrastructure from Taliban attacks,” said Roggio. "Additionally, the West has wildly underestimated the impact of Afghan corruption and in many cases incompetence. It was always a recipe for failure.” U.S. agencies responsible for construction didn't even ask the Afghans if they wanted or needed the buildings they ordered built, or if they had the technical ability to keep them running, Sopko said in his report. The waste occurred in violation of “multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively,” he said. Torek Farhadi, a former adviser to the Afghan government, said a "donor-knows-best” mentality often prevailed and it routinely meant little to no consultation with the Afghan government on projects. He said a lack of co-ordination among the many international donors aided the wastefulness. For example, he said schools were on occasion built alongside other newly constructed schools financed by other donors. The construction went ahead because once the decision was made — contract awarded and money allocated — the school was built regardless of the need, said Farhadi. The injection of billions of dollars, largely unmonitored, fueled runaway corruption among both Afghans and international contractors. But experts say that despite the waste, the need for assistance is real, given the Afghan governments heavy dependence on international money. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan also greatly impeded the monitoring of projects, with shoddy construction going undetected, said Farhadi, the former Afghan government adviser. “Consult with the locals about their needs and sustainability of the project once the project is complete,” he urged U.S. funding agencies looking to future projects. “Supervise, supervise, supervise project progress and implementation and audit every single layer of expenditure.” Going forward, Roggio said smaller, more manageable projects should be the order of the day. To build big unmanageable projects that Afghanistan has neither the capacity nor technical expertise for after 40 years of relentless war “feeds into the Taliban narrative that the government is corrupt, incompetent, and incapable of providing for the Afghan people,” he said. Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press
Russia has identified a policeman as a suspect in a criminal investigation into a flight data leak that could have been used to out jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's alleged poisoners, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday. Investigators suspect a police major in St Petersburg of accessing an official database and selling air passenger data of a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow last August that Navalny was on board the day he was poisoned. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, collapsed on the flight in a near-fatal poisoning in Siberia with what many Western nations said was a nerve agent.
LOS ANGELES — Just like in her career, Jane Fonda used the Golden Globes’ platform to speak on deeper issues calling for greater diversity in Hollywood while praising the “community of storytellers” as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award. While wearing an all-white suit, Fonda raised the Globes’ highest honour above her head Sunday before commending storytellers for their vital role in troubled times. She said stories let us “have empathy, to recognize that for all our diversity, we are all humans.” “We are a community of storytellers, aren’t we, and in turbulent, crisis-torn times like these, story-telling has always been essential,” Fonda said. The actor and social activist went on to call for Hollywood’s leaders to try to “expand that tent” for more diverse voices. Fonda, 83, said there’s another “story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry, about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, who is offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” Her acceptance speech earned applause from Viola Davis, Glenn Close and Andra Day, who won best actress for her role in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday." Fonda was one of the few honorees to accept an award in person at the ceremony in Beverly Hills, California. In a video package, Ted Danson called Fonda “confident and independent” while “Captain Marvel” actor Brie Larson referred to her as a “real life superhero.” Kerry Washington and Laverne Cox also paid homage in the video that offered several clips of Fonda's activism and critically-acclaimed film roles such as “Klute,” “Coming Home” and “The Electric Horseman.” Tina Fey and Amy Poehler presented Fonda the Globes’ version of a lifetime achievement award. Fey — who starred alongside Fonda in the 2014 film “This is Where I Leave You” — called her a movie star who is “open, generous and a hardworking actor.” The DeMille award is given annually to an “individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.” Past recipients include Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and Lucille Ball. Fonda is a member of one of America’s most distinguished acting families. She is the daughter of Oscar winner Henry Fonda, who died in 1982, and sister of Peter Fonda, who died in 2019. “He would be very proud of me,” she said backstage about her father. “I feel that he is here. I feel his spirit.” Fonda made an impact off-screen by creating organizations to support women’s equality and prevent teen pregnancy and improve adolescent health. She released a workout video in 1982 and was active on behalf of liberal political causes. For her on-screen efforts, Fonda has been nominated for five Academy Awards and won for the thriller “Klute” and the compassionate anti-war drama “Coming Home.” Her other prominent films include “The China Syndrome,” “The Electric Horseman” with Robert Redford, and “9 to 5” with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. She stars in the Netflix television series “Grace & Frankie.” Fonda gained notoriety in the 1970s when she travelled to North Vietnam during the height of the anti-Vietnam War protests and posed for photos next to an anti-aircraft gun. She fell under hefty criticism for her decision — one she repeatedly apologized for — to pose in the photo that gave her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” In 2014, Fonda was given a lifetime achievement award by the American Film Institute. She launched IndieCollect’s Jane Fonda Fund for Women Directors, an organization aimed to support the restoration of films helmed by women from around the world. Fonda was arrested at the U.S. Capito l while peacefully protesting climate change in 2019, an action dubbed Fire Drill Fridays. For her 80th birthday, Fonda raised $1 million for each of her nonprofits, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and the Women’s Media Center. She also serves on the board of directors and made a $1 million donation to Donor Direct Action, an organization that supports front-line women’s organizations to promote women’s equality. Fonda’s book, “What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action,” released last year, details her personal journey with Fire Drill Fridays. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
(Ka’nhehsí:io Deer/CBC - image credit) For Onowakohton Rusty Nolan, the people's fire in Kahnawake, Que., has become a second home. It's where he feels a sense of comfort, comradery and unity and is able to show solidarity to First Nations across the country facing injustices. "It's a symbol of our resistance," said Nolan. "It's a symbol of who we are, our strength, and lately it's been a place to give us a little bit of hope." The fire, which is located in a green space at the foot of the Honoré Mercier Bridge, was lit on Feb. 8, 2020 when community members blockaded Canadian Pacific Railway lines in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs' ongoing opposition to the Coastal GasLink project in northern B.C. Even though the barricades have since come down, the fire still burns a year later. The people's fire, housed behind this wooden structure, was moved to a green space at the foot of the Honoré Mercier Bridge when the railway barricade was dismantled on March 5, 2020. Nolan, who is one of the firekeepers, said being there evokes a sense of pride. "It's like we're on standby for Wet'suwet'en. We didn't want to give up. We didn't want to go home," he said. "I feel like I'm letting people know that I'm there and they can sleep tight at night. It's a nice big warm fire that is spreading positive vibes far." The fire is moved to its new location March 5, 2020 after the dismantling of barriers that halted rail traffic south of Montreal for more than three weeks. Ongoing fight Roxann Whitebean, a filmmaker in Kahnawake, was asked to read a letter last year to a crowd of reporters on behalf of the people of the fire, explaining the decision to take down the blockade. She said the fact that the camp is still up and the fire is still going sends a powerful message. "It's still a solidarity fire burning for the Wet'suwet'en, and I'm happy that people are still going and that there's a level of visibility there," said Whitebean. "Their fight is ongoing so we have to remind people that they are still dealing with this." A delegation of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs walks toward the Longhouse to meet with members of the Kahnawake branch of the Mohawk Nation in February 2020. The hereditary chiefs still oppose the pipeline, and the support has not gone unnoticed. "It's a continued fight and I really appreciate the fire is still on with the alliance we're building with Kahnawake," Wet'suwet'en hereditary Chief Woos said. "We stood up to create awareness, and that awareness has been a highlight of what is actually out there which is racism. The message that I get to Indigenous people is to continue to stand up against this racism." A place for solidarity In addition to showing solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs throughout 2020, the people's fire also helped raise awareness locally of the Black Lives Matter movement, 1492 Land Back Lane, and the plight of Mi'kmaw lobster fishers. The show of solidarity is something Whitebean said the people's fire has been doing for well over a decade and will continue to do. "Even when the physical structure comes down, the people still carry that same love within their hearts to want to make social change and to try to better our nation and and amplify the voices of people who are dealing with injustice within their communities," she said. As for Nolan, he said he just wants people who pass by the camp to know that it's a place of solidarity, unity and peace rather than harmful stereotypes often portrayed in media when Indigenous people use blockades to raise awareness of injustices. "We're Mohawks. We're still here. We're not going anywhere, and we're here for peace," said Nolan. "The fire is still there because our issues are neverending. Every time our fire is lit, it lasts longer and longer. It just seems like our resistance is becoming brighter and brighter."
(Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit) The chief of Eskasoni First Nation says a local man has been wounded in a shooting that locked down the community Monday morning. Eskasoni RCMP responded to a call of a shooting around 10:25 p.m. Sunday at a home on Mountainview Drive in the Cape Breton Mi'kmaw community, according to a release. A 53-year-old man was wounded and taken to hospital after someone shot him through a window, police said. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny lives just eight houses away from the shooting scene, and said he was one of the first people to arrive. He drove the injured man to a nearby ambulance station. Denny said the victim is Leonard Denny, a family member and the CEO of the local Crane Cove Seafoods. The Crane Cove Seafoods building in Eskasoni on March 1, 2021. Chief Leroy Denny says the shooting victim is Leonard Denny, the CEO of Crane Cove. About two hours later, the RCMP responded to a second report of shots fired in the community. They were initially concerned that the two incidents were connected, and residents were asked to stay in their homes with doors locked. But police found no evidence of this second incident. Just before 8 a.m., RCMP tweeted that they believe this was an isolated shooting. Spokesperson Cpl. Mark Skinner said there was "no longer a risk to the public," and people could now leave their homes. Chief Denny posted on social media early Monday morning that the shooting happened on Mountainview Drive, and people should stay away from that area. This information also went out via the community's Everbridge alert system. Denny also said that, "for precautionary reasons," all businesses under the umbrella of the band would be closed on Monday. This includes all schools, the band office, health centre, Crane Cove Seafoods, and fitness centre. There was a heavy police presence in the area throughout the day on Monday, including police dog services and forensic identification. RCMP at the scene of a shooting on Mountainview Drive on March 1, 2021. Police are continuing to search for the suspect, and do not believe that this was a random incident. Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to immediately contact police at (902) 379-2822. Anonymous tips can also be made to Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), crimestoppers.ns.ca, or the P3 Tips App. MORE TOP STORIES
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou's U.S. extradition hearing resumed in a Canadian court on Monday with defence countering prosecutors' claims that Meng misled HSBC about the Chinese telecom company's relationship with its affiliate while doing business in Iran. As five days of hearings in the British Columbia Supreme Court started, the defence drilled into the alleged sanction violations that led to Meng's arrest. The daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is accused by the United States of misleading HSBC about her company's business arrangements in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
Bitcoin's 300% price surge since October has revived China's grey market in cryptocurrency trading, putting regulators on alert over financial risks and capital outflows as volatility spikes. China shut down its local cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017, smothering a speculative market that had accounted for 90% of global bitcoin trading. Onshore investors now trade bitcoin on platforms owned by Chinese exchanges that have relocated overseas, including Huobi and OKEx.
(Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit) Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter McIsaac, who has been on sick leave since the summer of 2019, says he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and will not be returning to work. "It's a work in progress," he said Friday in an exclusive interview with CBC News. "I'm doing a lot better than I was. "I'm feeling much better. I'm in a much better place." He said he wasn't in a great place when he went on sick leave. "It was something that was happening over a period of a long time and it just hit a point where my wife stepped in and she recognized some of the stuff I was going through and it was time to take care of Peter." McIsaac's wife, Lydia, is a mental health nurse. The chief, who is 61, said it was difficult accepting the diagnosis. It was also difficult dealing with bouts of depression and having to leave policing after 35 years on something other than his own terms. 'I didn't realize I was suffering' He started in 1986 as a patrol officer in the coal-mining town of New Waterford. McIsaac said cops couldn't show any weakness back then. "I've been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder for 25 years, they tell me," he said. "I didn't realize I was suffering ... for the many years that I had been, until it hit a point that I sought the treatment and help that I needed so badly, and it was bad. "It was very disappointing for me. I was very ashamed. For me, I thought this was something that happened to someone else because I considered myself not only physically tough, but I always considered myself mentally tough." On Tuesday, staff told Cape Breton regional councillors during an in-camera session that McIsaac would not be returning to work and that the municipality would need to post the chief's position internally. McIsaac said he intended to go back to work for the longest time, but only lately his health-care providers convinced him that was not a good idea. McIsaac says he comes from an age when police officers would have been considered weak if they admitted they were negatively affected by the job. "I've investigated everything from a barking dog complaint to a double homicide and everything in between, so to think that I would be some type of superhuman individual that wouldn't be affected by this stuff is absolutely ridiculous," he said. "I realize that now." But that realization was a long time coming. In fact, he said, some of his therapy had to stop because it was too traumatic to deal with all at once. "I come from an era of policing where you just wouldn't share this stuff because it was considered weak," McIsaac said. "Matter of fact, back in my time when I was hired, you would probably be outcast from the police service, never hired, never be promoted, and you would probably have to move on to another career." The chief said the police service has much better workplace supports for PTSD than it used to and said he has been getting excellent care. "I don't know if all doctors operate like this, but I think I've got the best and they've helped me so much that they've probably saved my life." I'm hoping that by actually talking about it today that others will seek the help that they need and if they don't, I guarantee them it will get worse. - Chief Peter McIsaac The chief said he considered simply walking away from his job and not talking about his sick leave, but decided he had to speak out. "I know police officers who I've worked with my whole career are going through this and probably been impacted worse than I have. So I'm hoping that by actually talking about it today that others will seek the help that they need and if they don't, I guarantee them it will get worse." McIsaac said policing has changed drastically over the span of his 35-year career. He said New Waterford had a lot of drinking establishments when he started. "Look, you had miners who worked hard and played hard, and I think cops back then were hired more for their brawn than their intellectual ability and it had to be that way because they had to keep order." However, within three years, there was a changing of the guard as older officers retired. McIsaac says when he first started policing in New Waterford, cops had to start cracking down on drinking and driving. McIsaac said he quickly found himself as an acting sergeant and soon there was a crackdown on drinking and driving. "When I first started ... you took your life in your hands if you were going down Plummer Avenue and within about two years we led the province in the amount of impaired driving cases." He said policing has come a long way, with more specialized training in forensics and particular aspects of investigations. McIsaac became Nova Scotia's representative on the national chiefs association and developed relationships with big-city police chiefs across Canada and the U.S. Those connections brought in outside resources that helped solve the two longstanding, but unrelated, homicides of Harold (Buster) Slaunwhite and Brett MacKinnon, something that is a source of pride for McIsaac. CBRM budgeted $1 million for renovations to the former Sydney Mines town hall to modernize it and convert it into the north division police headquarters. He said he is also proud of the regional police department's efforts to have the municipality create modern divisional offices by renovating the historic Sydney Mines town hall and building a brand new office in downtown Glace Bay. He also said creating a strategic plan and implementing the trunk mobile radio system helped modernize the force. McIsaac was also faced with several challenges during his tenure as chief. One was the continuing controversy around the death of Clayton Miller, a New Waterford teen who died in 1990 after an outdoor drinking party. Supporters of the Miller family gathered outside the Sydney hotel where investigators met with the parents of Clayton Miller in 2015. His parents and their supporters have always said police were somehow involved in his death, but the cause has been ruled accidental after several reviews, including one three years ago by the province's Serious Incident Response Team and chief medical examiner. McIsaac was an officer with the New Waterford department, but was never implicated in the case. Still, he and his family have been accosted by people who believe the death has been covered up. He said it was simply a tragedy due to a deadly mix of young people, alcohol and cold temperatures. "You've got to be sympathetic to the family. Anybody who loses a child .. under any circumstances, the grief that any parent must feel, I can't even fathom it. "However ... that thing has been investigated more than any other thing that I can think of in my policing career, by several other agencies, including the RCMP and the last one was done by SIRT." Acting Chief Robert Walsh had a hand in crafting the terms of reference for a study into the police department's efficiency. That report is expected sometime in March. Not long after McIsaac went on sick leave, CBRM received a consultant's report on the municipality's long-term viability. One of the recommendations was to study the efficiency of the police service. The report said the municipality has more police officers per capita than any other similar-sized Canadian jurisdiction. The efficiency study was commissioned with the help of the acting chief, Robert Walsh, and was due last November, but CBRM staff say it is now expected to be delivered sometime in March. Walsh and CBRM officials have argued that some of the service's 200 officers are not paid for by the municipality. They are funded by the province's Boots on the Street program, Membertou, the regional centre for education and the RCMP highway patrol. Officials have also said the police service needs that many officers to cover the large regional municipality, to backfill up to 40 officers who are off sick at any given time, and to keep the crime rate low. McIsaac said he agrees on both counts. McIsaac says the force's next chief needs to focus on the staff and on the people of the communities they serve. He says they may pay a price, though. "Go and ask the union membership right now, do they think they have enough members, because they are working shorthanded just about every day. People are getting burned out. It's probably some of the reasons why some of them are not working. "And the only reason our number is what it is, is because 30-plus are there because of outside resources or money allocated from somewhere else." McIsaac said he has one piece of advice for whoever becomes the next chief. "Don't think it's about you, because it's not. The last person you should think about is yourself. You're going to pay a price for that, but it's about the people that work for you. More importantly, it's about the people that you serve and it's all about community. "I've probably paid a personal price for it myself, and my family paid a price for it, because there was lots of long hours and days, nights, evenings, weekends and vacations that we forego because of my job, but I can honestly say I gave it every ounce of my energy and ability and my knowledge and experience to try to make this place and our community and our organization better, and I have no regrets and I can walk out the door knowing I left it in good shape." MORE TOP STORIES
As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp-up in Canada, one of the country's largest stadiums is taking in a long line of elderly, while provinces enlist dentists, midwives and chiropractors to help meet the expected rush for jabs. A slow rollout of vaccines has recently dented Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's popularity, with the lack of domestic production being blamed for Canada trailing many other developed nations in its vaccination drive. Montreal's cavernous Olympic Stadium, which once hosted young athletes during the 1976 summer games, on Monday saw thousands of octogenarians donning folding chairs and canes as they waited in a snaking line for jabs.
News publishers need to work towards a deal with major tech platforms such as Facebook that will benefit both sides, the chief executive of British newspaper group Reach said. "We would obviously think that the publishers need to get a better deal and a far more transparent look at how platforms operate," Jim Mullen said on Monday.
(Jacques Poitras/CBC - image credit) People's Alliance MLA Michelle Conroy doesn't care how much money the government saved by partnering with a private company to build two new nursing homes in Miramichi. "I really could care less about the almighty dollar," said Conroy, who represents the Miramichi riding. "It's not worth it. The care of the seniors should be of the utmost importance." Conroy said seniors' care should not be privatized. "From what I have seen in the last couple of years, I don't believe it is the way to go at all." It was one of the issues that Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson raised last week when she released her report. She said the province should do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether public-private partnerships are more economical than the traditional non-profit model. Liberal MLA Lisa Harris stands behind the decision to partner with Shannex to build two new nursing homes in Miramichi. That issue also surfaced in her 2016 report as a recommendation after the province entered into an agreement in 2008 to open 216 new nursing home beds. Last week, Adair-MacPherson said the province still hasn't done it. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch said the analysis has been done, although maybe "not in the way the A.G. wanted it done." Nor, he said, is the answer as clear-cut as she might have wanted. Fitch said there are too many factors at play to decide on one approach for every project in the future. Liberal MLA Lisa Harris, who represents Miramichi Bay-Neguac, was the minister responsible for seniors and long-term care in September 2017when the province signed an e agreement with Shannex to build 240 beds in Miramichi. She stands behind the decision to partner with Shannex. Harris This chart prepared by the auditor general shows the proportion of New Brunswick's population 75 and over. The number is expected to double in the next 20 years. "At the time, it was the way to go, and I still believe that it's a good model," said Harris. In her report, Adair-MacPherson said the decision "was supported by an analysis completed by the Department of Finance and Treasury Board." Harris said, "From the data that we had, it was the best option and the most efficient option for the taxpayer." For a cash-strapped province desperate for more nursing home beds, "we're able to build more nursing homes without coming up with millions of dollars of capital money." While the Department of Social Development declined to provide details about the 2017 agreement to build the new facilities in Miramichi, Shannex did respond to some questions. "The construction of our Miramichi communities was fully funded by Shannex," said Isabelle Landry, a senior communications manager with the company. She declined, however, to reveal the total cost of the project. 2 new homes, 28 additional beds Harris doesn't like the idea of coming up with a set approach to building new nursing homes. She said it makes more sense to look at individual projects on a case-by-case basis rather than try to develop a default approach. "You always have to look at all options," she said. In that deal, Shannex built two new homes — Losier Hall, which opened in October 2019 with 159 beds, and Bridgeview Hall, which opened in June 2020 with 81 beds — and increased the number of beds in the area by 28. Between 2009 and 2017, plans alternated between fixing up the two aging homes and replacing them, which ended up costing the government millions of additional dollars. This exhibit prepared by the Auditor General shows the distribution of private and non-profit nursing home beds by region as of March 31, 2020. According to the auditor general's report, by the time the two new homes opened, the province had already spent more than $11 million "in repairs and financial assistance" for Mount St. Joseph, a facility owned by Catholic Health International. Despite all of that government money, the facility was later abandoned. Harris insists that it was money well spent. Although all of the Mount's residents moved out, the building is being re-purposed as a home for people with dementia. Roughly half of the facility's so-called memory-care beds are now filled. Officials with Mount St. Joseph did not respond to a request for information. Quality of care Harris supports the auditor general's call for an in-depth look at the quality of care being provided by the province's long-term care homes, "regardless if it's a private home or not." Adair-MacPherson said her department had planned to look at the quality of care being delivered to nursing homes, but that was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once restrictions ease, she said, it will "conduct a future audit at the Department of Social Development focusing on this aspect." Conroy said many community members were against the deal from the beginning. And, she said, their initial concerns have materialized. An exhibit prepared by the auditor general shows the number of nursing home beds by region from March 2015 to March 2020. She said she's talked with residents and staff who moved from "the Mount," as it's known locally, to the new facilities. While staffing was always a concern, Conroy said workers are "stretched thin," and residents are often left waiting far too long for someone to respond when they ring the bell for service — and many simply don't ring the bell because they don't want to be a burden. She said the testimonials from residents and staff are a lot more powerful than any cost-benefit study could ever be. "No company is going to do this … and not want to profit from it," said Conroy. "Senior care should not be privatized." 60 new beds announced In her report, Adair-MacPherson said the government is failing to keep up with the demand for nursing home beds. She said the waiting list continues to grow and the plan to increase beds is about two years behind schedule. On Thursday, the government announced that it would build a 60-bed home on the Acadian Peninsula. A news release about the calls for proposals said the project is part of Phase 2 of the province's 2018-2023 nursing home plan, which addresses two primary issues: aging infrastructure and the need for additional beds. The plan includes the construction of more than 1,000 new beds, including both nursing home and memory care beds. "This government is committed to providing the right kind of care at the right time," said Fitch. "The development of this project is a priority to address the need for nursing home beds in the area." Construction of the new nursing home could begin as early as this fall and open in 2023. There are currently 70 licensed nursing homes across the province, and they contain a total of 4,925 beds.