Salma Hayek thought last month’s controversy over Hilaria Baldwin’s roots was “crazy,” but she’s not all that interested in it.
Salma Hayek thought last month’s controversy over Hilaria Baldwin’s roots was “crazy,” but she’s not all that interested in it.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
South Korea is seeking to iron out remaining differences and sign a deal with Washington on sharing costs for stationing 28,500 American troops in the country, its chief envoy said on Thursday. Jeong Eun-bo made the comment as he arrived in Washington for the first face-to-face talks on Friday with U.S. envoy Donna Welton since President Joe Biden's administration took office in January. The negotiations had been gridlocked after former U.S. President Donald Trump rejected Seoul's offer to pay 13% more, for a total of about $1 billion a year, and demanded as much as $5 billion.
A community organizer and grandmother who was killed in a crash with a suspected drunk driver in North Vancouver earlier this week is being remembered for her fearless advocacy and gentle heart. Marcelina Perdido Agulay, 65, died in hospital after a head-on crash late Tuesday night that left her husband in critical condition. The driver of the other vehicle had crossed the centre line, and investigators believe alcohol was a factor in the collision. Agulay lived in Burnaby with her husband, and the couple had one son and two grandchildren, according to family and friends. She was active in her union and politics, and volunteered with Migrante B.C., which advocates for the rights of Filipino migrants. "She was a really quiet, gentle soul," Leila Lolua, president of the NDP Burnaby South riding association, told CBC News. "She would never be loud, she'd never be forceful, but she was a force — always with a smile. What made her special to me was she didn't just talk, she actually did the work." Agulay's longtime friend Beth Dollaga, a founding member of Migrante B.C., said she met Agulay in church in 1996 on her very first Sunday in Canada. They became "sisters in faith" and then close friends. Agulay had earned a university degree in agriculture back home in the Philippines, but left in search of employment as a domestic worker, first in Hong Kong and then eventually in Canada. After settling in B.C., she went back to school to become an early childhood educator, and volunteered with Migrante B.C.'s temporary foreign worker outreach program. "She's able to immediately connect with these workers," Dollaga remembered. "She has a gentle spirit of listening." Dollaga said Agulay and her husband, Manong Leo, loved cooking and sharing signature Ilocano dishes from the northern Philippines with their friends and family. Though Agulay was retired, she continued door-knocking for political campaigns and worked at the Burnaby Citizens Association. Premier John Horgan described her as "a tireless advocate for working people" in a tweet on Wednesday night. "She made our communities and our world better. She will be forever missed and forever loved," NDP MLA Mable Elmore said. Agulay's family says her love extended far beyond them to her community and its newest arrivals — a legacy they intend to uphold in her honour.
China will increase its annual research and development spending by more than 7% every year over the next five years, the government wrote on Friday in its work report from the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress. The government will increase expenditure on basic research by 10.6% in 2021, the report added. The ramp-up highlights the country's commitment to advancing in the tech sector, as the country increasingly clashes with the United States and other countries over technology policy.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 76,438 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,168,138 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,720.79 per 100,000. There were 2,340 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,614,020 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 82.94 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 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,842 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 37,590 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.518 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 60.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,794 new vaccinations administered for a total of 490,504 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.324 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.83 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 30,409 new vaccinations administered for a total of 784,828 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 53.429 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,408 new vaccinations administered for a total of 82,579 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.97 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.79 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,493 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,090 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 71.314 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 112.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,948 new vaccinations administered for a total of 266,231 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.479 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 9,042 new vaccinations administered for a total of 298,851 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.238 per 1,000. There were 2,340 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 360 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,753 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 355.136 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 57.54 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. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will begin sending 40% of all vaccine doses to the most vulnerable neighbourhoods in the state to try to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday in the latest shake-up to the state's rules. The doses will be spread among 400 ZIP codes where there are about 8 million people eligible for shots, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's health and human services secretary. Many of the neighbourhoods are in Los Angeles County and the central valley, which have had among the highest rates of infection. The areas are considered most vulnerable based on metrics such as household income, education level and access to health care. Newsom said that not only is this the right thing to do, it's critical to opening up more of the state's economy. “It is a race against the variants. It's a race against exhaustion. It's a race to safely, thoughtfully open our economy, mindful that it has to be an economy that doesn't leave people behind, that is truly inclusive,” Newsom, a Democrat, said at a news conference. He also encouraged people to wear two masks. The announcement is the latest change in an evolving approach to getting nearly 40 million residents vaccinated, adding to ongoing confusion among people clamouring for shots. The move to ease reopening also comes days after several Republican-led states lifted COVID-19 restrictions as the U.S. now has three vaccines available. Tying reopening to vaccination equity metrics was cheered by representatives of the legislative Black and Latino caucuses, as well as social justice and equity groups. Latinos make up roughly half of cases and deaths in California even though they are 39% of the population. Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, said the dedicated vaccine hasn't come soon enough given the disparate numbers of deaths and the lack of access to vaccines in the hardest-hit communities. “They are living day-to-day, so they have to go and work in order to survive and they don’t have the luxury to take half a day to go where the vaccine sites are,” he said. The current standards for who can get a vaccine won't change. Right now that's people 65 and over, farmworkers and grocery clerks, educators and emergency service workers. Transit workers, flight attendants and hardware store clerks are among those clamouring to be added to the priority access list. “I wouldn’t say it’s not fair, but it should be thought out a little bit more," said Lee Snyder, assistant manager at Brownies Ace Hardware in San Francisco. Setting aside 40% of vaccine supply essentially means that hard-hit ZIP codes will be administering double what they are currently, Ghaly said. Data show that of shots given, only about 17% were administered in vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Double that amount was going to those in the top quarter of what California deems the healthiest communities, Ghaly said. Newsom has called equity the state’s “North Star.” Yet community health clinics that serve low-income and vulnerable Californians say they haven’t been getting enough doses and are hopeful that will change. Ghaly said Thursday that the administration will work with communities to make sure the vaccine gets to those patients, not to day-trippers from wealthier ZIP codes who have the time and tech savvy to schedule appointments online. Newsom said addressing the problem is like playing “whack-a-mole.” The health centres want to protect appointments for patients and others from underserved communities “to ensure those people we are targeting are coming, not the vaccine seekers" from wealthier neighbourhoods, said Andie Martinez Patterson, vice-president of government affairs at the California Primary Care Association. She said a recent South Los Angeles clinic recently found its appointments had been booked by people from Beverly Hills. Ghaly said that people with certain disabilities or underlying health conditions who will be eligible in mid-March will not be left out, as many live in some of the disadvantaged areas. He said he expects all communities to receive at least as many doses of vaccine as they are receiving now. As more doses are administered in the targeted neighbourhoods, the state will make it easier for counties to move through tiers that dictate business and school reopenings. Right now, counties can move from the most restrictive purple tier to the lower red tier based on metrics including the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over a period of several weeks. The strict standard for that rate will be lowered, allowing businesses such as restaurants and gyms to reopen indoors at limited capacity. While race and ethnicity are not explicit factors in designating vaccinations, the 400 vulnerable ZIP codes overlap heavily with neighbourhoods with higher populations of Blacks, Latinos and Asian and Pacific Islanders, officials said. ___ Har reported from San Francisco. ___ Associated Press writer Amy Taxin in Orange County contributed to the story. Janie Har And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
Fairy Creek blockade activists trying to protect some of the last stands of old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island have won a three-week reprieve after a judge adjourned an injunction hearing on Thursday. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Power granted a request by the blockade’s legal team for more time to assemble materials necessary for a defence against the injunction. Forestry company Teal-Jones had sought the injunction to remove the Fairy Creek blockades at various entry points to its Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46 near the community of Port Renfrew until Sept. 4. However, Power said it was in the interest of justice to allow the delay, so defendants could better prepare and the court could set aside more time to hear the matter. Additionally, Power was unconvinced a short delay would be problematic given the blockade started in August 2020, but the forestry company did not apply for the injunction until Feb. 18, 2021. “I am not persuaded that I should find urgency or prejudice to the extent that the plaintiff now alleges,” Power said. “If, as the plaintiffs argued (that) there will be a prolonged civil disobedience campaign after a court order, it is, in my view, all the more important that any order that the court makes be made (based) on a full hearing.” The blockade activists want to save pristine old-growth forest at the headwaters of Fairy Creek with yellow cedars thought to be 1,000 years old, as well as other remaining groves on near Camper Creek, Gordon River, and in the Upper Walbran Valley. Pacheedaht First Nation elder Bill Jones, one of defendants named in the injunction application, says the Fairy Creek valley falls within the nation’s traditional territory and contains bathing pools with spiritual significance that are endangered by clear-cutting. It was also in the public’s interest to adjourn the hearing, said defence lawyer Patrick Canning. Demonstrators in solidarity with the Fairy Creek blockade gathered on the Victoria courthouse steps on Thursday, and in various other communities on Vancouver Island prior to the court decision. Lawyers representing Teal-Cedar, a division of Teal-Jones, had argued that Power should grant the injunction immediately because a delay would endanger road building in the region necessary before logging could occur later in the spring and summer. Any further delays due to the blockades would threaten timber harvesting and jobs at its mills, said the company’s lawyer Dean Dalke. The elected council of the Pacheedaht Nation were also aware of and did not oppose the proposed logging activity in the region, Dalke said. The request for an adjournment by the defence was to raise issues that wouldn’t, in fact, be a defence to an illegal blockade, he added. Regardless of whether the defence arguments “would pass muster,” it was important to allot enough time to adequately hear them, Power said. A two-day injunction hearing is now scheduled to start March 25. Teal-Jones did not respond to a request for comment following the hearing decision before Canada’s National Observer’s publication deadline. Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Ontario’s first and only diamond mine is moving to the next phase of its closure plan with the appointment of Golder, a Canadian-owned engineering and environmental services consulting group, as the primary contractor who will oversee the remaining demolition and site rehabilitation. Victor Mine, owned by The De Beers Group, is located approximately 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat in the James Bay Lowlands. It opened in 2008 as only the second diamond mine in Canada. The open pit operation also included its own airstrip located on the property. It ceased mining operations in June 2019. De Beers reports that as of the end of 2020, approximately 65 per cent of the on-site infrastructure has been safely demolished, and around 40 per cent of the site has been rehabilitated with more than 1.2 million trees planted on the property since 2014. The De Beers Group will remain accountable for the site, and will retain responsibilities for achieving site closure objectives, keeping in line with government regulations, as well as relationships with Indigenous communities, the company stated in a release. All permits and licences remain in De Beers’ name. A small site-based oversight team will work directly with Golder personnel throughout the process, in addition to the De Beers employees who will continue to be responsible for daily environmental monitoring. Golder was chosen after what De Beers called an “extensive commercial process” which was undertaken throughout 2020. Golder’s responsibilities will include the remaining closure activities, as well as the day-to-day management of the site. They will also handle the remaining infrastructure demolition work, and site rehabilitation through 2023. “A similar model, hiring a prime contractor, was used during construction of Victor Mine, which opened ahead of schedule and on budget,” said Maxwell Morapeli, head of closure for De Beers. “Golder has a strong track record of successful closure and rehabilitation of industrial sites around the world, including working with local communities where they operate. We look forward to benefiting from their experience as we continue the responsible closure of Victor Mine.” Included in its contract with the De Beers Group is a commitment from Golder to work with local Indigenous contracting companies to provide necessary on-site services such as catering, housekeeping, and security. Heavy equipment operators and other personnel will be hired from the Attawapiskat First Nation and will be provided training and other opportunities. Golder and its sub-contractors have also hired 19 former De Beers Victor Mine employees to continue on-site work. “We are proud to have been selected to lead the responsible closure of the Victor Mine,” said Greg Herasymuik, Golder's Canadian Region president. “As we manage activities at site, we are committed to providing employment opportunities and to continue involving the local community.” Andrew Autio is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Daily Press. LJI is a federally funded program. Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
Pressure is mounting on the federal government to cap interest rates on payday money lenders, which can charge nearly 50 per cent interest. Advocates say it’s often the most financially vulnerable using them and the pandemic economy has made things worse.
BEIJING — China is increasing its defence spending by 6.8% in 2021 as it works to maintain a robust upgrading of the armed forces despite high government debt and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A national budget report issued Friday said China would spend 1.355 trillion yuan ($210 billion) on defence in the coming year. That’s up from 1.3 trillion yuan ($180 billion) last year representing a 6.6% boost, the lowest percentage increase in at least two decades. The military budget has dipped during periods of slower economic growth, but has also been dropping steadily from the double-digit percentage increases over years as the increasingly powerful military matures and rapid expansion of what is already the world’s second largest defence budget is no longer required. The lavish spending increases of years past have given China the second-largest defence budget in the world behind the U.S. With 3 million troops, the world’s largest standing military has been steadily adding aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines and stealth fighters to its arsenal. The government says most of the spending increases go toward improving pay and other conditions for troops while observers say the budget omits much of China’s spending on weaponry, most of it developed domestically. China’s military is largely designed to maintain its threat to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, although it has also grown more assertive in the South China Sea, the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and elsewhere. The U.S., whose defence spending is estimated to run to about $934 billion between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, has complained of a lack of transparency in China's defence programs, fueling speculation that Beijing aims to supplant America as the primary military power in East Asia. The People's Liberation Army exercises a strong political role as the military branch of the ruling Communist Party. President and party leader Xi Jinping heads the government and party commissions that oversee the armed forces. In his address to Friday's opening session of the ceremonial legislature, the National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang said the government would “thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the armed forces and the military strategy for the new era, (and) ensure the Party’s absolute leadership over the people’s armed forces." “We will boost military training and preparedness across the board, make overall plans for responding to security risks in all areas and for all situations, and enhance the military’s strategic capacity to protect the sovereignty, security, and development interests of our country" Li said. The Associated Press
When the opportunity to open up his own FreschCo franchise came around, Eric Nugent jumped at the chance. After all, the born-and-raised Winnipegger has done everything possible to climb up the corporate ladder from one grocery store to the next, in many ways, for nearly a decade. “But back when I first started that minimum-wage supermarket job in high school, I never thought I’d even stick around — let alone own my own store,” Nugent said. “I couldn’t be happier and prouder about being able to achieve this after all of that.” Today, Nugent will open the doors for the first time to a new FreshCo store at Kimberly Avenue and Henderson Highway. He’s already hired more than 90 staff members to make this possible, and he’s set up partnerships with several local businesses — including Perfect Pierogies, Natural Bakery, City Bread, Winkler Meats and Jimel’s Bakery — to feature their products at the new location. Getting any of that done during COVID-19, however, wasn’t easy. “The pandemic completely changed everything about the way we set any of this up, or how we went about it,” he said. “Especially when it came to hiring, it’s weird not being able to see the people in-person that you’re recruiting… everything was online for the sake of making things safe.” Still, Nugent thinks it’s an advantage that his supermarket is opening up after proper pandemic protocols — sanitization stations, arrows to allow physical distancing in aisles, plexiglass barriers and deep daily cleaning among others — have already been established by other stores. “We’re almost a year into this crisis now,” he said, “but that means we don’t have to do that kind of adapting that other grocers had to do when they had no idea how to navigate this. “And to me what’s most exciting is that it’s a discount store, which is especially the perfect fit for the Winnipeg market.” Sobeys Inc., the company that owns the FreschCo brand, seems to agree. In June, 2020, the grocery store chain announced it would be converting several current and former Safeways in Winnipeg into FreshCos. And across Western Canada, back in 2017, Sobeys’ parent conglomerate Empire Company Limited, said it was on its way to converting at least 25 per cent of its Safeway and Sobeys stores to FreshCos due to underperformance. A Sobeys spokesperson confirmed Thursday that, apart from Nugent’s franchise, three other FreschCos are coming to the city in the next few months. One of them will open next week at Niakwa Village on Alpine Avenue. Two others (on Sargent Avenue at Sherbrook Street, and Pembina Highway at McGillvray Boulevard, respectively) do not have a set date yet. Two FreshCos are already open, one on McPhillips Street at Jefferson Avenue, and the other on Regent Avenue at Lagimodiere Boulevard. Sylvain Charlebois, a leading food distribution and supply management expert, said the writing has been on the wall for premium stores like Safeway for quite some time. “The pandemic just accelerated this,” he said. “The market is shifting from a socio-economic perspective and I think you’re going to see more companies trading down their premium stores for a while because of the trends customers are setting, who are getting used to seeing discounts.” “To me, it’s all about what the consumer wants,” said Nugent. “Right now, more than ever, we’re all trying to save up on money. And I’m proud to own a FreshCo franchise because it’s that hard-discounts supermarket which is what my community wants.” Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Another step was taken in a roof replacement project as an engineering firm has been selected for the Ecole St. Mary High School roof plan at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education meeting on Monday. The board selected Prakash Consulting of Prince Albert to oversee the engineering side of the replacement. Chief Financial Officer Greg McEwen outlined the steps in the process before the board unanimously chose the firm. “We are commencing planning for replacement of sections of the Ecole St. Mary High School roof. The first step in the process was to solicit submissions from qualified engineering firms to provide project management and engineering services for that project. As a result of that process we did receive three submissions and evaluated those submissions,” McEwen told the board during Monday's meeting. McEwen explained that the project was approved as part of the three year Preventative Maintenance and Renewal (PMR) plan under three separate parts. Division administration sent out a request for estimates from firms in Prince Albert for engineering and project management for the project. Three firms submitted for the roof replacement and after evaluating the submissions Prakash was selected by administration for engineering and project management. The evaluation was made after applying board policy regarding purchasing of goods and services. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
CALGARY — Alberta's police watchdog is investigating the shooting death of a woman by Calgary police at a hotel. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says Calgary Police Service officers responded Wednesday afternoon to a report of a distressed woman with a gun who was threatening to harm herself. Police say they attempted to speak with the 20-year-old woman and she appeared in a doorway, went inside a room, and came back out. ASIRT says video from body-worn cameras shows that when the woman returned, she was armed with what appeared to be a black handgun. Two police officers fatally shot the woman and tactical unit officers found a replica handgun pellet pistol nearby. No other information about the shooting at the Nuvo Hotel was released Thursday. ASIRT is called in to investigate when police are involved in anything that results in serious injury or death, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 The Canadian Press
The White House is closely tracking an emergency patch Microsoft Corp has released, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday, after an unknown hacking group recently broke into organizations using a flaw in the company's mail server software. "We are closely tracking Microsoft’s emergency patch for previously unknown vulnerabilities in Exchange Server software and reports of potential compromises of U.S. think tanks and defense industrial base entities," Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden's national security adviser, said on Twitter.
As Cowessess First Nation sits on the cusp of asserting its rights under C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, Mi’kmaw Nations in Nova Scotia are leaning toward asserting their rights for their children and families through their existing Treaty and Aboriginal rights. Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Nova Scotia/Newfoundland Regional Chief Paul Prosper explained their different journeys toward the same goal—taking control of the wellbeing of their nations’ children and families. They were speaking on March 2 at the third of five virtual gatherings hosted by the AFN on Child and Family Services and Self-Determination. “Our coordination agreement is draft-ready to sign,” said Delorme. Those signatures will come from Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller, Saskatchewan First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Minister Lori Carr, “and myself on behalf of Cowessess. It’s not signed as of this hour. We’re just working on some final technical stuff.” Whether it’s the federal or provincial government that has the financial obligation to the First Nation is “kind of grey in the act,” said Delorme, and that is the hold-up at this point. When the funding does come, it will be a one-year commitment to allow Cowessess to get a better understanding of its funding needs. “On April 1, in less than a month, Cowessess will have coast to coast to coast jurisdiction over our children and prevention for our families. It’s not reserve-based,” said Delorme. He explained that Cowessess First Nation was moving forward with asserting its jurisdiction with a single coordination agreement with its home province of Saskatchewan, although 126 children living in other provinces had been identified. “Cowessess is going to do this. We’re going to do it well. But if any province challenges us, we’re prepared to answer. We’re prepared to educate, but this is not a negotiation. We are already asserting,” said Delorme. In February 2020, Cowessess First Nation ratified the Miyo Pimatisowin Act (MPA), affirming its rights and jurisdiction to act in the best interest of the child. “If anyone ever challenged it from a colonial perspective, we didn’t go outside the goalpost of the (Bill C-)92, but the Miyo Pimatisowin Act is custom to Cowessess,” said Delorme. The MPA is only one part of the work Cowessess undertook. They created the Eagle Woman Tribunal Council, their own judicial system which will oversee the MPA; created Chief Red Bear Children’s Lodge, which will serve as their child and family services agency; opened Sacred Wolf Lodge, a 10-bedroom facility which began as a home for females aging out of the system and is now a prevention place for families; and formed a variety of committees to examine finance, interprovincial needs and data, and legal aspects. Before entering into coordination discussions with Ottawa and Saskatchewan, Cowessess began exploratory discussions with the two levels of government in June 2020. “We were very technical in that word ‘exploratory’ because we didn’t officially launch our coordination discussion. No rights holder in Canada at that moment were doing coordination agreement discussions,” said Delorme. Official coordination agreement discussions were launched in August 2020 and consisted of four months, with at least 10 hours dedicated weekly, to the topic with “minimal complications,” he said. “Cowessess never gave up jurisdiction. We were just colonized and now we’re asserting,” said Delorme. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw is now in the second phase of a three-phase approach in their child welfare legal regime and are presently drafting their law. That process is being led by the Maw-Kleyu’kik Knijannaq (MKK), an initiative launched in 2018 prior to the federal government beginning to draft and discuss Bill C-92. MKK was formed to address gaps that impacted Mi’kmaw family, children, youth and communities in the 25 legislative amendments the province adopted to the Children and Family Services Act in 2017. The work of the MKK was both interim and long term, said Prosper. “The interim process was to work with the provincial legislation to seek as much gains as we can to that amendment process, but our larger, longer-term goal was to develop a Mi’kmaw law for Mi’kmaw children and families,” he said. That law will apply to Mi’kmaw children throughout Nova Scotia, both on and off reserve. MKK also began to consider the implications of C-92 when it was introduced. “(MKK) sought to build Mi’kmaw-specific child and family law which will depart from provincial and federal legislation. When you’re departing from legislation … it’s always an important consideration and it’s something certainly that we don’t take lightly. With it comes a huge responsibility,” said Prosper. MKK has undertaken a meticulous, lengthy process to both develop Mi’kmaw child welfare legislation as well as policies and protocols to support the implementation of that legislation. MKK is engaging and re-engaging with working groups, rewriting and revising as input requires, said Heather McNeill, legal advisor for MKK. “Once it’s all done, when we get to the third stage, and we think that we have a final product that everybody’s had a look at then we’re going to take it to the assembly to seek ratification, but only after the assembly and leadership review it and then we will have our Mi’kmaw laws developed under the legal regime,” said McNeil. She pointed out that they have a five-year funding agreement with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) which began in 2018 when MKK started doing its work with the province. That five-year timeframe is still in place to undertake the work, she said. “My understanding is leadership … don’t want to forego any options with respect to which regime that they would fall under, whether it be the act itself or just to have full recognition outright on the basis of our existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights, so there’s two potential streams in that scenario,” said Prosper. “There is a process by which we are looking to enact our law and we’re mindful of timelines, but we’re also mindful of ensuring that our leadership and our communities are ready for this,” he added. AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who is also the social development portfolio holder, noted that in December 2020, ISC had received letters and documentation from 26 Indigenous groups representing more than 80 communities expressing their intent to assert their jurisdiction over child and family services. “This represents a significant step forward not only toward reducing the number of First Nation children and youth in care but toward increasing the over all well-being of our children, families and communities in our nations as we work toward reconciliation and self-governance and self-determination for First Nations,” said Hart. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Canada's most beloved hockey dad left a legacy beyond the rink. Walter Gretzky died Thursday at the age of 82 after a nine-year battle with Parkinson's disease. Gretzky raised and coached his son, Wayne, considered by many to be the greatest NHL player of all time. Wayne Gretzky is hugged by his father, Walter, after being presented with a car during the pre-game ceremonies for Gretzky's last game in the NHL, as a New York Ranger, on April 18, 1999.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) "Everything I am is because of him. It's as simple as that," Wayne said in a 1996 CBC interview. But it was the elder Gretzky's dedication to minor hockey and charities and his friendly demeanour for which he became so well-known to many Canadians. Early life Walter Gretzky was born on Oct. 8, 1938, in Canning, Ont., northwest of Brantford, to Belarusian immigrants. Hockey was an early passion and he had aspirations of playing professionally in the National Hockey League. He became known as a prolific goal scorer as a teenager, playing with the Junior B Woodstock Warriors. But his size held him back from pursuing a professional hockey career. At five-foot-nine and weighing 140 pounds, Gretzky was already considered small. He became ill with chicken pox before his tryout with the Junior A Toronto Marlies and was judged to be too small to advance beyond the junior level after losing weight from his illness, so he embarked on a more traditional career path. He married his wife, Phyllis Hockin, in 1960 and moved to nearby Brantford, where he worked as a telephone cable repairman. Wayne was born on Jan. 26, 1961, the first of the couple's five children. The Gretzkys moved to a home that would accommodate their growing family and also allow for a backyard hockey rink. There, Walter helped coach and develop Wayne's skills starting at the age of three. Wayne credited his father's creative drills and approach to coaching for helping him develop into the player who would become the NHL's all-time leading scorer. "He taught me the basics of life as far as schooling, as far as how I treated people," Wayne said in a 1996 interview with CBC-TV. "I don't think there's any question in my mind I wouldn't be playing professional hockey if it wasn't for him." WATCH | Walter Gretzky, Canada's hockey Dad: Walter's contributions to minor hockey began with his first son but his dedication to the growth of young players continued long after Wayne found success. Two of Walter's younger sons, Keith and Brent, were also drafted by NHL teams, although only the latter saw action, playing with Tampa Bay. Walter coached locally in Brantford with minor league teams for years and lent his time to minor tournaments on top of his charitable endeavours. WATCH | Wally's World: 'See ya later, Wally!': Far-reaching generosity His wide-ranging involvement in charities earned him one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on a Canadian when he was named to the Order of Canada on Dec. 28, 2007. He teamed up with Wayne to organize fundraising for local, provincial and national charities. Among their many contributions, the two worked together to raise money for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind through a golf tournament that attracted celebrities and NHL players for years and helped raise more than $1 million. "In our family, we're all Christians and we all help each other. It's 'Do unto others as you would like done unto yourself,' " Walter told Postmedia of his charitable efforts. "I'm very fortunate because I'm in a position where I can help people. Not everyone can do that." Other initiatives included the Wayne and Walter Gretzky Scholarship Foundation, which helps students with vision loss pursue post-secondary education. He channelled his energy completely into coaching and charity after retiring in 1991. WATCH | Wally's World: Walter's first stick: Persevered through challenges That same year, he suffered a near-fatal brain aneurysm that destroyed his short-term memory. Fortunately for hockey historians, he still held onto to some of his long-term memories and was able to open the door to his Brantford home to allow people to glimpse memorabilia from Wayne's amateur career as well as the famed rink. Seven years after his wife lost her battle to cancer, he was diagnosed in 2012 with the degenerative disorder Parkinson's disease when tremors in his left hand prompted a doctor's visit. WATCH | Wally's World: Walter's unusual collection: "That hits you right in the gut," Wayne said at a conference in Vancouver following the news of his father's diagnosis. "Something like that happens, there's really no cure or answer. No amount of money can solve that kind of problem." However, Walter didn't let his health hold him back from public appearances. He is survived by his five children: Wayne, Kim, Keith, Glen and Brent, as well as several grandchildren.
A Brandon father is accusing the provincial government of “blatant discrimination” against his teenage son, who has Down syndrome, because Manitobans with disabilities have been left off the COVID-19 immunization priority list. Bruce Strang said he filed a formal complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission this week to pressure the province to edit its vaccination plan. “Disability rights shouldn’t be the first thing to go in a time of crisis,” Strang, a father of two, told the Free Press. “It’s unethical in my view. It’s unconscionable in my view and I can’t see how a medical professional can advocate for a plan that discriminates actively against people with disabilities.” Strang’s oldest son, Sean, 16, hasn’t been in a classroom — let alone, left his family home for any other reason — for nearly a year because of his immunocompromised status. (While Health Canada has approved Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for anyone 18 and older, Pfizer-BioNTech doses can be given to patients as young as 16.) Health-care workers, seniors and staff in long-term care facilities, adults who are 80 or older and the elderly in remote and isolated Indigenous communities make up the priority population in Manitoba. The province has started to vaccinate the general population, based solely on age. Strang said his son should not get priority over an 85-year-old who lives in a nursing home, but it doesn’t make sense that Sean can expect a vaccine at the same time a healthy teenager can. People with Down syndrome are nearly five times more at risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization and 10 times more likely to die after contracting the virus in comparison to the general population, according to a U.K. study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in autumn. The population’s unique genetics and predisposition to respiratory illnesses are believed to be contributing factors. Ready for My Shot, a countrywide campaign, is calling on all jurisdictions to clearly identify adults with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities as high priority patients, citing that research. Only the Northwest Territories has explicitly opened up vaccine appointments to adults with disabilities. “I would love to be able to offer vaccine to everybody — everyone in Manitoba, but, certainly, everybody who’s at any level of higher risk. We just don’t have that luxury until we have more supply,” said Joss Reimer, medical lead for Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force, when pressed on the subject during a news conference Wednesday. Reimer said all health conditions that put people at a higher risk, including Down syndrome, will be considered as more doses become available. Mike Waddingham, an organizer with Ready for My Shot, called that reasoning — that this is a supply-linked issue — “a red herring.” “You either accept that people with Down syndrome are at higher risks and therefore should be prioritized with other people who are high risk, like elderly people or Indigenous people, or you don’t,” said Waddingham, when reached by phone in Burnaby, B.C., Thursday. Given the commission complaint process is a lengthy one, Strang suspects the immunization issue will have passed by the time his grievance is resolved; nevertheless, he said the act of filing a complaint sends an important message. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Moose Jaw police have arrested a third man they believe was involved in a serious assault and robbery last week. Last Friday, police were called to the first block of Stadacona Street W. in the southern Saskatchewan city with a report of an assault. They didn't find a victim or any suspects there, but were called to Moose Jaw's Dr. F.H. Wigmore Hospital, where they found a man who had suffered serious head injuries in an assault. Police executed a search warrant at a home on the first block of Stadacona Street W. Two people were arrested and a warrant was issued for the third. Police said that man was arrested on Thursday. He's expected to appear in court on Friday. All three accused face attempted murder and robbery charges. Moose Jaw police said the man who was assaulted has since been released from hospital and is expected to recover. They thanked the public for their help in sharing posts, providing information and submitting tips to Crime Stoppers.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the South Pacific in modern history triggered tsunami warnings across the ocean and forced thousands of people in New Zealand to evacuate coastal areas Friday. Small tsunami waves were seen, but little damage was apparent hours later. The magnitude 8.1 quake in the Kermadec Islands region about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from New Zealand's two main islands was the largest in a series of temblors over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3. The tsunami threat caused traffic jams and some chaos in New Zealand as people scrambled to get to higher ground. Residents recorded videos of small wave surges in some places, including at Tokomaru Bay near Gisborne. In the afternoon, the National Emergency Management Agency said the threat had passed and people could return to their homes, although they should continue avoiding beaches. One of the earlier quakes hit much closer to New Zealand and awoke many people as they felt a long, rumbling shaking. “Hope everyone is ok out there,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote on Facebook during the night. After the largest quake, civil defence authorities in New Zealand told people in some coastal areas to immediately get to higher ground. They said a damaging tsunami was possible, and waves could reach up to 3 metres (10 feet). Emergency Management Minister Kiri Allan told reporters that people had followed the advisory. “They felt the long or strong earthquakes and they knew to grab their bag and head into the highlands,” she said. “I can only thank and acknowledge the tireless efforts of the men and women from up and down the coast who knew how to act, when to act, and what to do.” The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cautioned the quake could cause tsunami waves of up to 3 metres (10 feet) in Vanuatu and up to 1 metre (3 feet) in Tonga, other South Pacific islands and Latin America's Pacific coast. Chilean authorities ordered people off beaches due to the potential for a tsunami along the nation's long coastline. Guatemala issued a tsunami alert, and authorities in El Salvador ordered people to take precautions in recreational activities. Mexico said there was no threat. Waves of 30 centimetres (1 foot) above tide levels were measured by ocean gauges off the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, off Gisborne, New Zealand, and off an Australian island. Smaller waves were measured elsewhere in the South Pacific. The U.S. Geological Survey said the strongest quake was centred near the Kermadec Islands at a depth of 19 kilometres (12 miles). Although the islands are uninhabited, New Zealand has built research and accommodation facilities there and often had scientists cycling through until the coronavirus hit last year and it halted the program. But a large group of more than 100 people including scientists and students was due to stay on the islands this week, until they were forced to cancel because of a virus lockdown in Auckland, said a spokesperson from the Department of Conservation. The USGS said in a report that the quake occurred at the intersection of the Pacific and Australia tectonic plates and eclipsed the largest quake previously recorded along the fault line, a magnitude 8.0 in 1976. It said the interaction between the plates creates one of the most seismically active regions in the world, and it has recorded 215 quakes there above magnitude 6.0 over the past century. Jennifer Eccles, an earthquake expert at the University of Auckland, said the quake was at the top end of the scale for those involving only the Earth's ocean crust. “This is about as big as it gets,” she said. She said most quakes larger than magnitude 8.0 tend to occur when a section of more robust continental crust is involved. The USGS said the magnitude 7.4 quake was likely a “foreshock” that contributed to the larger quake but that the first quake that hit closer to New Zealand was too far away in time and distance to have directly contributed. The first quake was centred at a depth of 21 kilometres (13 miles) under the ocean about 174 kilometres (108 miles) northeast of the city of Gisborne. It was widely felt in New Zealand, and residents in the major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch reported being shaken awake. In 2011, a magnitude 6.3 quake hit the city of Christchurch, killing 185 people and destroying much of its downtown. Nick Perry, The Associated Press