With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to get the pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympics this summer with ample coronavirus protection. In a speech opening a new Parliament session, Suga said his government would revise laws to make anti-virus measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its virus caseload manageable with non-binding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing and for people to stay home. But recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes toward the anti-virus measures, and doubts are growing as more contagious variants spread while people wait for vaccines and the Olympics draw closer. Suga said his government aims to start vaccinations as early as late February. “In order to restore sense of safety, I will get the coronavirus pandemic, which has raged worldwide and is now severely affecting Japan, under control as soon as possible,” Suga said. “I will stand at the frontline of the battle while I get the people's co-operation." Suga pledged to achieve the Olympics as “a proof of human victory against the coronavirus." “We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world," he said. Recent media polls show about 80% of the Japanese public think the Olympics will not or should not happen. Suga said the vaccine is the “clincher” of the pandemic and hopes to start vaccination when Japan's Health Ministry is expected to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer, one of three foreign suppliers to Japan, as early as late February. But the pace of inoculation could be slow, as surveys have shown many people have safety concerns. Suga later told reporters that he created a new ministerial post to ensure smooth delivery of safe and effective vaccines, appointing Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono to double as vaccine minister. Suga also said in his speech, just two days ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, that he hoped to meet the new American leader soon to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and to co-operate on the pandemic, climate change and other key issues. Japan has confirmed more than 330,000 infections and 4,500 deaths from COVID-19, numbers that have surged recently though they are still far smaller than many other countries of its size. Suga on Jan. 7 issued a state of emergency for the Tokyo area and expanded the step last Wednesday as the surge in infections strained medical systems. But he has been criticized for being slow to put preventative measures in place after the new surge began, apparently due to his government’s reluctance to further hurt the economy. He kept the state-subsidized “Go To” travel promotion campaign active until late December, which critics say misguided the public when people needed to practice more restraint. Suga in Monday’s speech made no mention of the “Go To” campaign, which was designed to support the tourism industry devastated by the pandemic. The state of emergency — covering more than half of Japan’s 127 million people — asks bars and restaurants to close by 8 p.m., employees to have 70% of their staff work from home and residents to avoid leaving home for nonessential purposes. It's set to end Feb. 7 but could be extended. One of the proposed changes to anti-virus measures would legalize compensation for business owners who co-operate with such measures and allow fines or imprisonment for those who defy them. Suga's government also plans to revise the infectious disease law to allow authorities to penalize patients who refuse to be hospitalized or co-operate with health officials, Economy Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, in charge of virus measures, said on a NHK public television talk show Sunday. Health officials believe a growing number of people are defying instructions from health officials to self-isolate or be hospitalized, spreading the virus and making contact tracing difficult. Opposition lawmakers and experts are cautious about punishment for the patients, citing human rights concerns. They also say such punishment is pointless when hospitals are running out of beds and forcing hundreds of people to wait at home. ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness's spread. The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada's handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here's what they had to say. John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says. "That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate," he says. No such tests have been approved in Canada yet. "We've been saying this all along, so it's not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine." Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day. "We haven't seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection." He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don't cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots. Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus's incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security. Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments' support for people suffering in the crisis should continue. He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important. "Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better." David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker. Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada. "Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September," he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they've mostly sat unused. "Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There's a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them," he says. Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall. He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they're used properly. A federal advisory panel's report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says. "I'm happy to see we're slowly shifting from the point of view of 'Should we use rapid tests?' to a point of view (of) 'How can we best use them?'" More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says. "We still don't have enough capacity to test everyone so we'd have to use them in a strategic way." Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise. He says the late lockdowns in Canada won't be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading. "Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome." He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges. "If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens," he said. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada's COVID-19 therapeutics task force: Canada's federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard. "There's a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It's greatly impacted the efficiency of the response," he says. The problems in long-term care homes are examples. "Quebec is screaming they want money but they're refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care," he says. "I think it's heinous." He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation. "It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble," he says. Sheppard says he doesn't think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic. "Remember that we don't have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds," he says. "There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings." He suggested that the current immunization campaign's goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct. "The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the 'susceptibles' in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo parlours today as the province relaxes a few of its COVID-19 restrictions. Starting today, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said last week that Alberta can't entirely ease up, but that it can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that easing rules now will act as a test case, and that COVID-19 case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. Since early December when COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, outdoor gatherings were banned and restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. Alberta reported 750 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 19 more deaths. Hinshaw said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world, and she said funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk for transmission. Shandro said last week that hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and pose a threat to the province's health system capacity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Windsor's city council will table a report on naloxone use by first responders on Monday, but one councillor says he's disappointed to find police were not included as officers are often the first on the scene of a drug overdose. Coun. Kieran McKenzie first asked the city to look into the implications of first responders, including police, carrying naloxone, in December 2018. Naloxone can save lives when administered to someone who has overdosed on opiods, he said. He said the report contains a lot of a "good information," but he's a bit disappointed overall. "I think it's fair to say that we didn't take a look at whether or not it's appropriate to equip our police service with naloxone," he said. In an email statement to CBC, the city says, "police answer to the police services board so that's why they likely weren't involved in a council report." McKenzie said he understands that "the police service or oversight of the police services falls within the jurisdiction of the police services board, made up of community members as well as members of council, but it's still the same municipally delivered service. It's a service that I think most residents would associate falls under the jurisdiction of city council." He also said the report lays out the case that "it is appropriate for first responders, fire, I would argue, police as well as EMS, to carry and administer naloxone in the field when it is appropriate to do so." The report states that drug-related overdoses and deaths "continue to be growing problem in North America. Of particular concern is the use of opioid drugs due to their potency and their highly addictive," adding that the "annual rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario increased 285 per cent from 1991 to 2015." "In 2018, there were 220 (preliminary statistic) opioid-related Emergency Department visits in Windsor & Essex County (WEC). In 2019, there were 249 opioid-related ED visits in Windsor & Essex County (WEC), which is 3.2 times greater than the 78 opioid overdose ED visits in WEC in 2007," the report continues. It argues that "naloxone is an effective tool in reversing the effects of opioids and preventing an overdose death, provided it is given shortly after an overdose of an opioid occurs," but the administering of the drug by firefighters does not occur with often. Not frequently used by firefighters, says report "A poll of major fire departments in Ontario show that 2018 usage across all major departments averages less than 10 doses annually per department," the report states. "Follow up polling for the year 2019 indicated an increase among the largest departments and those responding to combined rural and urban areas. Other departments reported low levels of usage." It said actual usage of naloxone by fire services is dependent on a number of factors, including arrival time, type of drug used, the condition of the patient. The report explains that it takes up to eight weeks to train the entire department on how to administer naloxone and it requires medical oversight by a doctor. Data in the report did not include police services. It says the local health unit and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) support the use of naloxone by first responders as a harm reduction measure. McKenzie said he will ask why the report did not focus more on police, though he acknowledges progress is being made with that service. "It's my understanding that that is happening already to some extent," he said. Some WPS units carrying naloxone Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno said in October that three Windsor police units were to be equipped with naloxone within a year. A spokesperson for Windsor police confirmed that officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — now have access to the drug. Mizuno's announcement came days after CBC News learned that Windsor police officers were the first to arrive on scene of a drug overdose without naloxone in-hand on at least 14 occasions last year. "I just I think that there needs to be a clear articulation from council that we support adding that service level. And we support adding that service level robustly in a way that is both safe for all of the first responders, the police themselves, but also can add an additional layer of protection for folks in the community," McKenzie said. He said he doesn't know what is going to happen at Monday's meeting with respect to the report, but believes it could spark an interesting debate and hopes there will be enough support to pass the motion.
TOKYO — Japan's foreign minister accused South Korea on Monday of worsening already strained ties by making “illegal” demands for compensation for the sexual abuse of Korean women and use of forced labourers during World War II. Toshimitsu Motegi, in a diplomatic policy speech in parliament, said a recent South Korean court ruling ordering Japan to compensate 12 South Korean women who were sexually abused in Japanese military brothels during the war was "an abnormal development absolutely unthinkable under international law and bilateral relations.” “We strongly urge South Korea to correct the violation of international law as soon as possible” and restore healthy relations, Motegi said. The Seoul Central District Court ruled on Jan. 8 that the Japanese government must give 100 million won ($91,360) to each of 12 elderly women who filed lawsuits in 2013 over their wartime suffering as “comfort women.” They were among tens of thousands of women across Japanese-occupied Asia and the Pacific who were sent to front-line Japanese army brothels. The ruling worsened tensions between the two countries, whose relations had already plunged to the lowest level in decades over earlier South Korean rulings on Japan's actions during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea's Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Japanese companies to provide reparations to some South Koreans who were forced to work in their factories during the war. The dispute over forced labour escalated into a trade dispute and prompted South Korea to threaten to scrap a 2016 military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, a key component of their regional defenceco-operation with the United States. Japan has protested the court rulings, saying all wartime compensation issues were settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing relations in which Japan provided $500 million in economic assistance. Motegi called South Korea “an important neighbour” and said its co-operation with Japan and the United States was “indispensable for regional security," including the response to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Japan, under a 1995 semi-governmental Asian Women’s Fund, offered payments and apology letters to certified victims of its wartime sexual abuse from five countries, settling disputes with all but South Korea. In 2015, the then governments of South Korea and Japan reached what was supposed to be a final and irreversible deal to settle the issue with a new fund set up by the Japanese government, but the current South Korean administration of President Moon Jae-in dissolved it, saying the deal was reached without proper consultation with the victims. ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mariyamaguchi Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — A growing number of Canadian entrepreneurs say they plan to invest more in 2021 than they did last year as the vaccine rollout, improving cash flow and a quick rebound in some sectors buoys optimism for the year ahead. The findings of the Business Development Bank of Canada’s quarterly survey of 1,000 entrepreneurs released in a new report today are the most upbeat since the pandemic began. Pierre Cleroux, chief economist of the Montreal-based bank, says the more positive results bode well for the country’s economic recovery. He says investment intentions are improving, with technology emerging as the biggest focus of spending. The bank’s survey found that the key reasons for investing in technology included improving processes to reduce costs, boosting a company’s online presence and investing in remote working. Cleroux says while many entrepreneurs were wary about allowing employees to work from home before the pandemic, he says the last 10 months have shown it can benefit a business. “The pandemic has changed the game,” he said. “It changed the perception of working from home.” Cleroux said remote work can improve productivity, increase worker motivation and spur innovation. “It can also reduce costs,” he said, noting that 18 per cent of business owners surveyed by the bank said they plan to reduce their office space. Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases across much of the country, Cleroux said the optimism uncovered by the survey is unlikely to change. Businesses understand that once restrictions are lifted, the economy will rebound much faster than with other recessions, he said. “This optimism we’re seeing will likely survive the second wave of the virus because we all believe the vaccine is going to improve drastically the situation of the economy,” Cleroux said. Still, while business confidence has improved for the first time since the pandemic began, the study found that investment intentions compared to previous years are still relatively weak. Across Canada, business investment intentions for the next 12 months are down three per cent compared with last winter, for example, but have improved significantly from last spring’s rock bottom decrease of 32 per cent, according to the bank’s report. Investment intentions is the difference between negative and positive business sentiment. Of note are the investment intentions of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, which at one per cent and four per cent, respectively, are the only positive results on investment intentions in the survey. Meanwhile, investment intentions in B.C. are down three per cent, Ontario came in at four per cent lower, while the Prairie provinces were the lowest at a 13 per cent decline. The online survey of business owners was completed between Dec. 3 and Dec. 18, 2020. The poll measures the confidence of entrepreneurs in the economy, business and hiring outlooks, as well as investment plans over the next 12 months. According to the polling industry’s generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — Women in Europe doing jobs requiring the same skills as jobs done by men are still being paid significantly less, according to a study by the the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The major trade union organization, which represents 45 million members in 38 European countries, compared wages in two countries from Western and Eastern Europe — Germany and Romania — looking at women working in the sector of household appliances and men working in car manufacturing. The organization looked at several criteria including skills, physical effort and responsibility. It compared full-time workers of the same age and with a permanent contract working for medium-sized companies. In Germany, ETUC said, women in the white goods sector earn €865 less per month in gross income than men making cars, for jobs requiring similar skills. In Romania, where wages are significantly lower, the average difference in net income is €244, ETUC said. “Comparing the pay of women and men in the manufacturing sector shows clearly how women are paid less even when their jobs require the same levels of skill and physical effort as those of men,” ETUC deputy general secretary Esther Lynch said. “The COVID crisis has also exposed the deep-rooted bias behind wages for professions dominated by women, with carers and cleaners recognized as ‘essential’ despite being amongst the lowest paid.” Last year, using data from the EU's statistical office, the trade union organization said women would have to wait for another 84 years and the next century to achieve equal pay at the current pace of change. ETUC called on the European executive commission to quickly come forward with its pay transparency directive. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had planned to present measures to introduce binding pay transparency measures in the first 100 days of her mandate, but the proposals have yet to be unveiled. “Quality is more important than speed in this case,” EU commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. “We'll come forward with proposals in the coming months." The Associated Press
As the first terminally ill cancer patient in Canada to legally use so-called magic mushrooms to treat anxiety, Thomas Hartle is hopeful that more temporary approvals from the federal government signal a permanent regulatory regime may be in the works. Hartle, 53, received a one-year exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last August to use psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, during psychotherapy. Since then, Health Canada has approved 24 more applications from cancer patients for treatment of end-of-life distress. It has also granted exemptions to 19 health-care providers, giving them the right to possess and use mushrooms containing psilocybin for professional training purposes, a spokeswoman said in a statement. The department has yet to decide whether it will allow the public to use any psychedelics for therapeutic purposes beyond the exemptions it has granted so far. Hartle has had two psychedelic psychotherapy sessions at his home in Saskatoon, the last one in November, with psilocybin from mushrooms he grew and dried himself using a coffee grinder to turn them into powder and placed into capsules for precise dosages. The IT administrator, who is on leave from his job, said anxiety over dying from colon cancer and leaving his wife and two children, both on the autism spectrum, became unbearable after his inoperable condition was diagnosed in 2016. However, taking psilocybin during his two sessions with the help of his regular clinical psychologist helped him manage his anxiety to the point that he hasn't felt the need to have any more psychedelic-assisted therapy while he continues traditional therapy, Hartle said. "I think that's probably obvious to most people who have interacted with me before and after my sessions," he said of the marked improvement in his anxiety through a deeper understanding of the word "serenity." "I've been talking about subjects that I would previously have considered almost impossible to talk about and keep a clear voice and not break down into a very emotional state. Instead of focusing on the pain or discomfort, I'm focusing on making lunch for my family or something like that." Before each of the two sessions, Hartle said he met with his therapist and completed paperwork to gauge his anxiety level in order to establish a baseline that could be compared with how he would feel afterwards. The first session lasted about six hours, during which he took three capsules about an hour apart, containing a total seven grams of psilocybin, he said. His therapist and a friend remained by his side as he lay blindfolded and wearing a headset while listening to music from a playlist compiled by Johns Hopkins University as part of its research into psychedelics. Hartle said the range of music, from classical to chanting as well as South American and African beats, elicited different emotions and he saw multiple colours and geometric shapes as he entered "a state of other," which made it impossible for him to recall the names of his family members. "It was very serene and comforting to me to realize that I could have consciousness and awareness that had nothing whatsoever to do with this existence." Hartle said that prior to his cancer diagnosis, he had never used illegal substances and only started taking cannabis oil to deal with the nausea brought on by chemotherapy as part of his cancer treatments. Focused psychotherapy sessions before, during and after his two sessions were crucial to his use of psilocybin, Hartle said. "It's not like you take a pill and suddenly everything is fantastic. It doesn't work like that any more than regular therapy does. There is work to be done. There are challenges to face. There are issues that need to be worked through the same as any other session. The main difference is that with the psychedelic-assisted therapy, it can get your ego out of the way so you can get at some things." Spencer Hawkswell, CEO of TheraPsil, a Victoria-based advocacy group for patients, said it helped Hartle apply for exemptions to use psilocybin on compassionate grounds based on Canadians' right to medical assistance in dying. He said access to assistance in dying should also give terminally ill patients the right to try mushrooms to reduce their emotional suffering. "When we can't manage someone's symptoms, that's often when they choose MAiD. (Psilocybin) deserves to be put in between the treatment options that are failing those patients and MAiD." TheraPsil has helped people from six provinces apply for exemptions. Health-care providers who have received exemptions to use psilocybin themselves before leading psychedelic-assisted sessions include family doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical counsellors and social workers, Hawkswell said, adding the group is putting together a training program that will need partnerships with provincial governments. Psilocybin is just one of several psychedelics being considered to treat mental health conditions while a growing number of private companies promote their potential use for multiple issues including obesity, smoking, alcohol dependence and addiction to illicit substances. Mark Haden, chair of the board for the Canadian chapter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS Canada, said psychedelics appear to be seen as the new cannabis before it was legalized. "A lot of venture capitalists went into the cannabis world. Many of them made money. Some of them lost a huge amount of money, so the cannabis bubble exploded and then burst. So, all of that money is saying, 'Where do we go next? What's the next big thing?' And they've latched their view on psychedelics." MAPS Canada is currently conducting a Phase 3 clinical trial in Vancouver on the use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Haden said the small trial involving about 12 people is expected to be completed next year as part of the research by over a dozen sites in the United States and Israel. Traditional PTSD therapy has a high dropout rate, may involve patients taking medication for years and has an effectiveness rate of 10 to 25 per cent, said Haden, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health. "With MDMA, it takes a few months and the effectiveness is 60 to 80 per cent," he said of research findings elsewhere. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Amazon will open two new logistics centres in Italy this year, investing over 230 million euros ($278 million), the world's largest online retailer said on Monday. With the two new hubs- a distribution centre in the north-western city of Novara and a fulfilment centre close to the city of Modena - Amazon will create 1,100 new jobs in the coming three years. "Amazon continues to expand its logistics network in order to satisfy the growing demand of clients, widen product selections and support those small and medium enterprises that have decided to sell their products using Amazon logistics," the group said in a statement.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament has passed decisions made by a major ruling party meeting where leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent and established plans to salvage the country's battered economy. The North’s Korean Central News Agency said Monday that members of the Supreme People’s Assembly during Sunday’s meeting unanimously supported the development plans for the next five years that were revealed during the Workers’ Party congress that ended last week. The assembly also approved a major reshuffle of the Cabinet, which Kim had criticized over failures in economic policies. KCNA said six of the Cabinet’s eight premiers were replaced. North Korean premier Kim Tok Hun, who has led the Cabinet since August after his predecessor was sacked, said during a speech at the assembly that “serious mistakes” were observed while the Cabinet implemented the previous five-year development plan that ended last year. Reports and images from state media suggested Kim Jong Un did not attend the assembly. State media also didn’t mention a reshuffling of the State Affairs Commission, the government’s highest decision-making body that is led by Kim. Meetings of the Supreme People’s Assembly are usually brief, annual affairs that are intended to approve budgets, formalize personnel changes and rubber-stamp policy priorities set by Kim and the ruling party leadership. During the party congress, Kim called for accelerated national efforts to build a military arsenal that could viably target Asian U.S. allies and the American homeland and announced a long wish-list of new sophisticated assets, including longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, spy satellites and tactical nuclear weapons. But it’s unclear whether North Korea is fully capable of developing such systems. While the country is believed to have accumulated dozens of nuclear weapons, outside estimates of the exact status of its nuclear and missile program vary widely. The North showcased some of its most advanced strategic assets during a nighttime military parade on Thursday, including what appeared to be a new ballistic missile that is being developed to be be fired from submarines. In an article published last week on 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, analyst Michael Elleman said that the new missile was similar in size with another submarine-launched ballistic missile the North rolled out during a parade in October. He noted that the new missile, which the North designated as “Pukguksong-5,” had a payload shroud that was slightly longer than the previous one. “These dimensional similarities indicate North Korea is still in the process of settling on a specific design for its next-generation SLBM,” said Elleman, who projected the Pukguksong-5 to have a possible range of around 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) when completed. But “there have been no reports of North Korea ground testing large solid-rocket motors recently, another indication that the Pukguksong-5 design remains on the drawing board," he said. Analysts say Kim, with his repeated hardline comments, is trying to pressure the incoming U.S, administration of Joe Biden, who inherits stalled nuclear talks from President Donald Trump that imploded over disagreements over sanctions and disarmament. Kim also used the congress to announce new national development plans for the next five years to salvage his broken economy. Some analysts say the prolonged sanctions combined with pandemic-related border closures and natural disasters that wiped out crops last year are possibly setting conditions for an economic perfect storm in the North that destabilizes markets and triggers public panic and unrest. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press
The Quebec government is investing $19 million into educating, recruiting and training workers for the information technology sector — a sector that has been stretched even thinner by the pandemic. With an unprecedented number of people working from home, IT specialists have been in higher demand than ever before. The sector was already suffering from a workforce shortage before COVID-19 made landfall, with 6,500 positions left unfilled. The government's most recent investment aims to fill roughly 4,500 of those posts, ensuring some 900 companies are able to staff crucial IT roles. Labour Minister Jean Boulet said the funding will also help retrain those who've lost their jobs since March. "During the pandemic, many young people, women, immigrants lost their jobs," he said. "They've become extremely affected by the pandemic, and we have to help them get re-qualified or upscale their capacity." The recruitment campaign began in December under the motto "On cherche du mode," or in English, "We are looking for people." Of the investment, $15 million will go toward offering financial support to businesses in the IT sector, assisting with recruitment outside of Quebec, according to a government announcement. Another $4 million will help unemployed people get into short-term training programs at the college or university level. That investment is expected to give 500 people a career boost. The initiative is in addition to other actions aimed at attracting workers into fields such as visual effects, computer animation and video games, the province said. 'Upsurge in career changes' This funding comes at a time when an increasing number of people, many well into their career, are changing fields, according to Pier-Samuel Goulet-Côté, admissions counsellor at Collège O'Sullivan de Québec. "What we have noticed since the start of the pandemic is really an upsurge in career changes," he said. His school has hybrid classrooms set up that allow students to come in person or attend classes from home. "I would say that we are riding the wave since we offer a lot of online training," Goulet-Côté told Radio-Canada. He said a large proportion of students who enrol in IT programs are mid-career workers who want to upgrade or simply change jobs. For a 45-year-old who has a career, a house, a car, and children, it's not easy to dedicate so much time to schooling, Goulet-Côté said, but this government program could help. If companies want to recruit and retain IT professionals in the current job market, he said, they will have to do their part by offering training and skill development.
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Aid was reaching the thousands of people left homeless and struggling after an earthquake that killed at least 84 people on an Indonesian island where rescuers intensified their work Monday to find those buried in the rubble. More rescuers and volunteers were deployed in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the magnitude 6.2 quake struck early Friday, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson. He said nearly 20,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 900 people were injured, with nearly 300 of them still receiving treatment for serious injuries. A total of 73 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene, said Didi Hamzar, the disaster agency's director of preparedness. He said rescuers also managed to pull 18 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed houses and buildings. Mahatir, a relief co-ordinator for volunteer rescuers, said his team was trying to reach many people in six isolated villages in Majene district after the quake damaged roads and bridges. Aid and other logistic supplies can be distributed only by foot over the severe terrain, said Mahatir who goes by one name. In a virtual news conference, Hamzar said that three helicopters were taking aid supplies Monday to four cut-off villages in Majene. In other hard hit areas. water, which has been in short supply, as well as food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks. The military said it sent five planes carrying rescue personnel, food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers. Volunteers and rescue personnel erected more temporary shelters for those left homeless in Mamuju and Majene. Most were barely protected by makeshift shelters that were lashed by heavy monsoon downpours. Only a few were lucky to be protected by tarpaulin-covered tents. They said they were running low on food, blankets and other aid, as emergency supplies were rushed to the hard-hit region. Police and soldiers were deployed to guard vehicles carrying relief goods and grocery stores from looting that occurred in some areas, said Muhammad Helmi, who heads the West Sulawesi police’s operation unit. Jati said at least 1,150 houses in Majene were damaged and the agency was still collecting data on damaged houses and buildings in Mamuju. Mamuju, the provincial capital of nearly 300,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. The governor’s office building was almost flattened and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. The disaster agency said the evacuees are in dire need of basic necessities — blankets, mats, tents, baby food and medical services. The disaster agency’s chief, Doni Monardo, said authorities were trying to separate high- and lower-risk groups and provided tens of thousands of anti-coronavirus masks for those needing shelters. He said authorities would also set up health posts at the camps to test people for the virus. People being housed in temporary shelters were seen standing close together, many of them without masks, saying that they difficult to observe health protocols in this emergency situation. West Sulawesi province has recorded more than 2,500 cases of the coronavirus, including 58 deaths. Indonesia has confirmed nearly 908,000 cases and almost 26,000 fatalities. Many on Sulawesi island are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated Palu city in 2018, setting of a tsunami and a phenomenon called liquefaction in which soil collapses into itself. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is lined with seismic faults and is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. ____ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press
France is expanding the eligibility for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Around 6 million people can now have the jab. Those over 75 can have their first dose along with anyone in a high-risk group, such as those with serious health conditions.View on euronews
When Shaleen Erwin became sick with COVID-19 in November, the pregnant mother from Springside, Sask., wasn't surprised that she had a hacking cough and slept 16 hours a day. What astonished her was that she received a phone call every day from a public health worker at the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to check on her, her husband and their three-year-old son — all of whom had contracted the virus. "I was blown away.... It's hours and hours of time, and time is such a valuable resource," Erwin, 33, said. "I think there's this misconception that if you're not using an ICU bed or you're not using oxygen, that you're not using resources." Provincial public health authorities are advised by the Public Health Agency of Canada to contact people with COVID-19 at home every day to monitor both their symptoms and compliance with isolation rules, depending on available resources to make those phone calls. Some provinces, including Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are attempting daily phone calls while others, such as Alberta, are not. Ontario's Ministry of Health advises public health units to notify people of their COVID-19 positive status with a phone call, then make followup phone calls on Day 5 and Day 10, at a minimum. On other days, the person is supposed to receive at least a text message or email. Thousands of 10-minute phone calls a day If contact tracers, who investigate the spread of the virus, are considered the public health detectives, then case monitors are the parents — checking on how you are and making sure you follow the rules. Pamela de Bruin, clinical standards and professional practice lead with the SHA who does planning in public health surveillance, said the health authority uses a database to investigate, track and actively monitor positive cases and close contacts. She said the "standard of care" is a daily phone call to every person in the province with COVID-19 — currently 4,121 people — except to those already receiving care inside long-term care homes, hospitals or jails. They monitor symptoms, check on compliance and offer access to resources, such as mental health services. "There are many social barriers that can come up when people have to be isolated for a long period of time, and they may be faced with making a choice between getting groceries or staying isolated," de Bruin said, adding that public health workers are able to connect people with resources and services to help them comply with mandatory isolation. The 10-minute phone calls to active cases require more than 600 staff hours a day. The SHA uses 66 people from Statistics Canada for case-monitoring calls, as well as some nurses and licensed health workers. "We're constantly evaluating the capacity against the number of cases," de Bruin said, adding that the SHA has so far been able to meet the demand, and she believes it's a worthwhile use of resources. "We're speaking to an individual, but when we implement measures, like all public health measures, we're looking for an impact at a population level." In addition to active cases, the SHA makes a daily call to monitor their close contacts who have symptoms or comorbidities, as well as close contacts who are red-flagged in the database as being potentially non-compliant with public health restrictions. "Sometimes right at the first [notification] call, we have indication to believe someone might not be compliant. Sometimes they tell us. And so those would be called daily," de Bruin said. Alberta doesn't have active monitoring In Alberta, where there are roughly 12,230 active cases at the moment, Alberta Health Services (AHS) does not actively monitor people who are sick with COVID-19 at home. Instead, from the start of the pandemic, it has advised people to seek medical attention from a doctor or call 811 or 911, depending on their condition. That was sufficient for Talana Hargreaves, a 38-year-old mother of three from Edmonton whose entire family tested positive for COVID-19 in November. She was initially concerned by the lack of personal followup from AHS but was eventually satisfied with a one-hour phone call from a contact tracer. Hargreaves, who had spent a lot of time researching COVID-19 online and following news reports, discussed her family's mild symptoms with their doctor and didn't have any questions about the isolation rules. "My partner and I are both conscientious rule-followers," she said. "I think that COVID check-in could actually be very valuable for some people who honestly don't know what they should be doing." She said she is more concerned about the backlog of contact tracing in the province and allocating resources to investigating cases. "They still don't know where roughly 50 per cent of our positive cases have come from ... so even though it would be nice to have that followup, I don't know that it's realistic at this point," Hargreaves said. Health worker sent thermometer to home Jony Rahaman, a Regina restaurant owner who tested positive for COVID-19 in early October, did not have mild symptoms. He felt like he was choking to death. Rahaman, 36, said the public health workers who called his family were like "guardian angels." "They call us every day," he said. "Me and my wife, especially my wife, would wait for their call because we had so many questions. They're so patient." The family didn't have a thermometer to check their temperatures, so a public health worker sent one to their home. Rahaman — who contracted COVID-19 before the rest of his family — initially self-isolated in his bedroom away from his wife, Sabina, and two children and could barely speak to them through the door. "It was terrifying," he said. "My wife was crying on the other side of the door, kids were crying on the other side of the door and I couldn't breathe." During one phone call, a public health worker called an ambulance for him. "They're, like, my lifesaver," Rahaman said. Removing barriers to compliance The SHA's de Bruin said providing equipment, such as a thermometer, isn't the norm, but she noted that each case is unique, and the goal is to remove barriers to compliance. "I have heard the types of ends of the Earth that some of this staff have gone to, and it doesn't surprise me one bit," she said. At five months' pregnant in November, Shaleen Erwin was nervous about having the disease and scared by what she found online when she did a Google search for "pregnant covid." The constant access to public health workers was comforting, she said. Erwin said some of the questions from public health workers who called were likely "subtle" checks on whether her family was following the rules, which they were, but she "never felt like it was accusatory." Now fully recovered, she has watched the case count climb in Saskatchewan and thinks about all of the phone calls happening every day. "People see [case] numbers and they think, 'Oh, 99 per cent of people will be OK,' but don't assume that that means that you're not a burden on the health system," she said. WATCH | Premier explains Saskatchewan's slow rollout of vaccines:
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 27,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 570,742 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,505.944 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.95 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,838 new vaccinations administered for a total of 146,694 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.144 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 11,007 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,097 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.622 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 3,232 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,159 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.096 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 4,374 new vaccinations administered for a total of 85,935 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.522 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 102.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 18 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA - The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are condemning Joe Biden's plan to scrap the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on his first day as U.S. president. Biden's plan is outlined in transition documents seen by The Canadian Press. Jason Kenney and Scott Moe say halting construction on the controversial project will be disastrous for both the Canadian and U.S. economies. Kenney says his government -- which announced a $1.5 billion investment into the expansion last year -- is prepared to "use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project." Moe, meanwhile, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with Biden and says his government will be in touch with its contacts in Washington. Trudeau has so far been silent on the issue, but his ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, is defending the pipeline, saying it fits into Canada's climate plan and promises good jobs. TC Energy Corp. doubled down on that last night, confirming an ambitious plan to spend $1.7 billion US on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030, and to rely exclusively on union labour. --- Also this ... HALIFAX - Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation as of today. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally takes effect this morning following more than 18 months of work to make sure the province's health-care system can cope with the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program, says the new opt-out system presents a rare opportunity to transform a part of the health care system. He believes organ donations could rise by as much as 30 to 50 per cent within five years. Beed says an opt-out registry has been developed and safeguards are in place such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are respected. He says those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will not be donors, even if they haven't opted out. --- And this ... TORONTO - Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASINGTON, D.C. - U.S. defence officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. That concern is prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MOSCOW- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's arrest as he arrived in Moscow after recovering from his poisoning with a nerve agent drew criticism from Western nations and calls for his release, with Germany's foreign minister on Monday calling it “incomprehensible.” Navalny was detained at passport control at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in Sunday evening from Berlin, where he was treated following the poisoning in August that he blames on the Kremlin. His arrest adds another layer of tension to relations between Moscow and the West that have long been strained and were worsened by his poisoning. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that Navalny had returned of his own volition and said "it is completely incomprehensible that he was detained by Russian authorities immediately after his arrival.” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that Navalny's detention is “unacceptable” and also called for his immediate release, a call echoed by France's foreign ministry and by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser called on Russian authorities to free Navalny. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday the stream of reactions to Navalny’s arrest by Western officials reflects an attempt “to divert attention from the crisis of the Western model of development.” --- ICYMI ... OTTAWA - Petty officer Richard Austin was sitting at his position on board HMCS Athabaskan when he heard a clang. It was 1991, and the Canadian destroyer was traversing an Iraqi minefield in the Persian Gulf, on its way to rescue a crippled American warship. “I remember waiting for the bang,” Austin recalls of those tense few moments nearly 30 years later. “Looking at the two pictures of my sons on the top of the weapons panel. The bang never came.” Austin’s story is one of several Canadian experiences from the first Gulf War that were collected by Historica Canada and released on Sunday as part of a new video on what is a largely forgotten chapter of Canada’s military history. Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the massive attack that eventually resulted in U.S.-led forces pushing the Iraqi military from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in August 1990 under then-president Saddam Hussein. The anniversary passed largely unnoticed by the government on Sunday, with no official statements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay. That was despite Canada being one of dozens of countries to condemn Iraq’s invasion, with three Canadian warships as well as fighter aircraft, security personnel and medical troops deployed in support of the American coalition that liberated Kuwait. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021 The Canadian Press
Budgeting is a pain. But what’s more painful is a bill you can’t easily pay, debt that costs a fortune or not having enough money to retire. Fortunately, you can have a useful, working budget without watching every penny. Automation, technology and a few simple guidelines can keep you on track. The following approach works best if you have reasonably steady income that comfortably exceeds your basic expenses. If your income isn’t steady or doesn’t cover much more than the basics, you may need to track your spending more closely. Also, no budget in the world can fix a true income shortfall, where there’s not enough coming in to cover your basic bills. If that’s the case, you need more income, fewer expenses or outside help. One place to start your search for aid is 211.org, which provides links to charitable and government resources in many communities. Otherwise, though, you can craft a spending plan with the following steps. START WITH YOUR MUST-HAVES Must-have costs include housing, utilities, food, transportation, insurance, minimum debt payments and child care that allows you to work. Using the 50/30/20 budget, these costs ideally would consume no more than 50% of your after-tax income. That leaves 30% for wants (entertainment, clothes, vacations, eating out and so on) and 20% for savings and extra debt payments. A budgeting app or your last few credit card and bank statements can help you determine your must-have costs. The more these expenses exceed that 50% mark, the harder you may find it to make ends meet. For now, you can compensate by reducing what you spend on wants. Eventually, you can look for ways to reduce some of those basic expenses, boost your income or both. “After tax,” by the way, means your income minus the taxes you pay. If other expenses are deducted from your paycheque, such as health insurance premiums or 401(k) contributions, add those amounts to your take-home pay to determine your after-tax income. If you don’t have a steady job or are self-employed, forecasting your after-tax income can be tougher. You can use a previous year’s tax return or make an educated guess about the minimum income you expect to make this year. A withholding calculator can help you determine what you’re likely to have left after taxes. AUTOMATE WHAT YOU CAN Automatic transfers can put many financial tasks on autopilot, reducing the effort needed to achieve goals. If you don’t automate anything else, automate your retirement savings to ensure you’re saving consistently. Also consider saving money in separate accounts — often called “savings buckets” — to cover big, non-monthly expenses such as insurance premiums, vacations and car repairs. Online banks typically allow you to set up multiple savings accounts without requiring minimum balances or charging fees. You can name these accounts for different goals, and automate transfers into those accounts so the money is ready when you need it. My family typically has eight to 12 of these savings accounts at our online bank. I figure out how much I want to have saved by a certain date, divide by the number of months until that date and send the resulting amount, via automated monthly transfers, from our checking account. MANAGING WHAT’S LEFT Return to your after-tax monthly income figure. Subtract your must-have expenses, your contributions to retirement and savings accounts, and any extra debt payments you plan to make consistently. What’s left is your spending money for the month. (Nothing left? Try winnowing some of those must-haves or set less ambitious savings or debt pay-down goals.) In the olden days, you might have put cash in an envelope and used it for your spending money. Once the envelope was empty, you were supposed to stop spending. Some people still do that, but in today’s digital, contactless world, you might prefer other approaches. The easiest would be to put all your spending on a single credit card that’s dedicated to this purpose and paid in full every month. (And since you’re paying in full, consider using a cash back or other rewards card to get some extra benefit from your spending.) Check your balance every few days or set up alerts to let you know when you’re approaching your spending limit for the month. To protect your credit score, you can make payments periodically throughout the month so your balance stays low compared to your credit limit. Alternatively, you could use more than one card, a debit card or a spending app that’s tied to your checking account, such as Venmo, PayPal or Zelle. A budget app or spreadsheet can help keep you on track. You also could consider setting up a separate checking account just for this spending. Again, many online banks offer checking accounts without minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. Your budget won’t be perfect and you’ll have to make adjustments as you go. But at least you, and your money, will be headed in the right direction. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-budgeting Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
The emergency department at Kings County Memorial Hospital in eastern P.E.I. will open at 8 a.m. Monday as usual, after being forced to close on Sunday. Heavy rain and melting snow caused flooding in that area of the Montague hospital on Sunday, forcing its closure at midday. It was uncertain at the time when it would be able to open again. Health PEI confirmed Monday morning the department was ready to reopen. The emergency department at the hospital is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. More from CBC P.E.I.
Public Health reported 26 new cases of COVID-19, affecting five zones, on Monday and 304 active cases across the province. The department did not hold a public update, but the new cases break down as follows: Moncton region, Zone 1, seven cases: three people 30-39 three people 40-49 an individual 60-69 Saint John region, Zone 2, nine cases: three people 19 or under two people 20-29 two people 30-39 two people 60-69 Fredericton region, Zone 3, seven cases: two people 19 or under two people 30-39 two people 40-49 an individual 60-69 Edmundston region, Zone 4, two cases: an individual 20-29; and an individual 60-69. Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 50-59. All of these people are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation. One person is in hospital, and 174,195 tests have been conducted, including 1,487 since Sunday's report. As of Monday, Public Health has received 11,175 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and administered 7,732 doses, with 3,443 held for the second of two required doses. A total of 1,862 New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated so far. In a news release Monday afternoon, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, warned that although New Brunswick cannot shut COVID-19 out completely, "we must do everything we can to prevent it from spreading within our province." "We have kept the avalanche of cases out of New Brunswick so far. We must act now to keep this virus from doing even more damage than we are already seeing, especially with transmission now in workplaces." 20 cases linked to Nadeau poultry plant The Nadeau Ferme Avicole slaughterhouse in Saint-François-de-Madawaska has closed its plant until at least Friday because of a COVID-19 outbreak, director Yves Landry said Monday. New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health Jennifer Russell confirmed that at least 20 cases are linked to the abattoir outbreak, according to Radio-Canada. Landry said he is aware of 16 confirmed cases at the plant, and the other four cases are connected to those individuals. Most workers at Nadeau Ferme Avicole come from the Edmundston and Clair region in New Brunswick, with about 25 workers coming from Quebec and two from Maine, Landry said. The plant is minutes from the New Brunswick-Maine border. A first mass screening at the plant was carried out on Friday and another clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, Landry said. The closure will make it possible to carry out a thorough cleaning of the installations and to complete the search for close contacts. Landry said poultry destined for the slaughterhouse in Saint-François-de-Madawaska will be redistributed in other slaughterhouses, including that of Sunnymel in Clair, but also in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. In December, the two New Brunswick slaughterhouses processed chicken following the closure of a plant in Nova Scotia battling a COVID-19 outbreak. Quebec league postpones regular season games The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced the postponement of regular season games on Monday, a decision it says it made after meetings with government and public health officials of the three provinces of the Maritimes Division. "The league will continue its constructive dialogue with the three provinces to resume playing as soon as possible," it said in a news release Monday, adding that an updated schedule would be published by the end of the week. Postponed games for New Brunswick teams are as follows: Halifax at Moncton, Jan. 22, 7 p.m. Acadie-Bathurst at Saint John, Jan. 22, 7 p.m. Acadie-Bathurst at Halifax, Jan. 23, 7 p.m. Moncton at Saint John, Jan. 23, 7 p.m. Tracking active cases by zones The following chart shows the active case rates and total case rates for each of the province's seven zones, based on population numbers provided by the Department of Health and on current case counts. Region Population Active cases Active case rate* Cases to date Rate of cases to date* Moncton 222,694 69 31 239 107.3 Saint John 176,280 62 35.2 200 113.5 Fredericton 183,421 59 32.2 215 117.2 Edmundston 48,254 76 157.5 115 238.3 Campbellton 25,199 30 119.1 176 698.4 Bathurst 78,858 8 10.1 22 27.9 Miramichi 42,121 0 0 6 14.2 *per 100,000 population At-home learning day for Moncton schools on Tuesday Tuesday will be an at-home learning day for students at Edith Cavell, T.E.S.S (Therapeutic Education Support Site) and Caledonia Regional High School students, the Anglophone East School District announced in a tweet Monday evening. Earlier Tuesday, the Anglophone South School District reported a case of COVID-19 at a school in Quispamsis. In an email to parents, superintendent Zoe Watson said a case has been confirmed at Quispamsis Middle School. Watson said the district is working with Public Health to contact students who may have come in contact with the infected individual. She said if parents weren't contacted directly, it is safe to send their children to school. On Thursday, a case was reported at Kennebecasis Valley High School, which is also in Quispamsis. Four other schools in the province confirmed COVID-19 cases over the weekend. This includes two more schools in the Anglophone South School District, Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield and Millidgeville North School in Saint John. Two schools in the Anglophone East School District have also announced confirmed cases: Riverview East School and Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough. When will Air Canada service return? It's complicated A former executive says it may be a while before Air Canada service resumes at the Fredericton airport. Last week, the airline announced service to Fredericton would be temporarily suspended starting this week Duncan Dee, former chief operating officer of Air Canada, said Monday that with travel restrictions put in place by the federal government, vaccine delays and several health zones in the province either returning to red or on the cusp of it, flying into New Brunswick isn't an easy sell. "The situation is certainly far from ideal for a return to air service into Fredericton," Dee said on Information Morning Fredericton. Even if the pandemic were to end tomorrow, Dee said, service wouldn't be able to start up again immediately. "Aircraft that have been sitting around and not flying, not being operated for some time, have to undergo maintenance and safety checks before they can return to service and that takes time," he said. As well, he said, pilots who are not flying a minimum number of takeoffs and landings a month have to undergo training to get back to service, and airport staff may have had their security clearances expire while they were off work. "Those have to be renewed," Dee said. Currently, the only airport in the province seeing any Air Canada flights is the Moncton airport. Dee said the airline will probably evaluate a return to Saint John and Fredericton based on how well flights in Moncton do. "If they look at the situation and see that they're able to serve the New Brunswick market through just the one airport in Moncton, then they're going to have to seriously consider whether or not it's worth the expense of opening up service in Saint John and Fredericton again," said Dee. COVID-19 numbers increase over weekend Public Health reported 63 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, including a single-day record of 36 cases on Sunday. Thirty-one cases were recorded in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, with 11 of them linked to an outbreak at Nadeau Poultry in Saint-François de Madawaska. The increase forced the province to move Zone 4 back to the red phase, with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell warning that more regions could be moved back as well if the record trend doesn't reverse. "We're at the maximum of what we can deal with in the short term," she said at a media briefing on Sunday. As of Sunday, there were 292 active cases in the province with one person in hospital. Saint Johner in China says it's mostly back to normal A Saint Johner living in China says life has basically returned to normal in the world's most populous country and the first to report cases of COVID-19 more than a year ago. "Aside from everybody still wearing masks, which is mostly voluntary at this point," said Samantha Kim Dean, who lives in Chongqing, about 1,100 kilometres northwest of Hong Kong. COVID-19 was first detected in China in late 2019. This eventually led to a national lockdown that lasted months. Things have changed a lot since then, "Everything's open," Dean said. "All the kids are back to school, they've been back for a while. Movie theatres are open. Restaurants are in full swing. So we're pretty much back to normal where I am." That's not to say the virus is gone in China. There have been several smaller outbreaks of COVID-19 recently in the northeast of the country and China's National Health Commission said Friday that 1,001 people were being treated for COVID-19. Part of China's success with tackling the coronavirus may be related to its totalitarian form of government, which can quickly and forcefully react to the disease. "They're pretty quick with cracking down on it," said Dean. "The contact tracing is extremely fast and everybody gets free testing done. So, yeah, they're pretty fast at containing any small breakouts that happen." Dean said the Communist country has higher rates of compliance with government orders but also has a more collective mindset. "Overall, it was this, sort of, you know, 'we're in this together. If we all do what we're supposed to do now, then we'll be free soon,' which is kind of what happens," said Dean. She said if she could give one piece of advice to New Brunswickers it would be to wear masks. "I know it's a huge nuisance and some people don't think it works," Dean said. "And there's a bunch of debates within, you know, different communities online and things like that. But it seems to work. And if we find out in 10 years that it didn't work, then, you know, that's not a huge inconvenience to wear it." New public exposure warnings issued Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights: Dec. 31 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 11:23 a.m. Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m. Public Health has also issued the following potential COVID-19 exposure warnings: Moncton region: Moncton North After Hours Medical Clinic, 1633 Mountain Rd., on Jan. 14 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Edmundston region: Jean Coutu Kim Levesque-Cote Pharmacy, 276 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Parts for Trucks,21 Powers Rd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 11, 12 and 14 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.