Saskatchewan’s top doctor spoke for the first time following a rally outside of his family home over the weekend.
Saskatchewan’s top doctor spoke for the first time following a rally outside of his family home over the weekend.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general is warning of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn't address the shortage of spaces. Kim Adair-MacPherson says the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement. She says it's unclear how the province plans to address the demand. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch says 600 new nursing home beds will be opened over the next five years. He says the procedure the government uses to request proposals for new nursing homes has been streamlined, which he says should speed things up. Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, says the government should concentrate on helping seniors remain in their own homes instead of putting them into nursing residences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's nominee to run the CIA told lawmakers Wednesday that he would keep politics out of the job and deliver “unvarnished” intelligence to politicians and policymakers. “I've learned that politics must stop where intelligence works begin,” William Burns told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “That is exactly what President Biden expects of CIA.” Burns said the president "wants the agency to give it to him straight, and I plan to do just that and to defend those who do the same." The comments from Burns were aimed at drawing a contrast with the prior administration, when President Donald Trump faced repeated accusations of politicizing intelligence and he publicly disputed the assessments of his own intelligence agencies, most notably about Russian election interference. Burns is a former ambassador to Russia and Jordan who served at the State Department for more than 30 years under both Democratic and Republican presidents. His well-known status in diplomatic circles makes his confirmation likely. He acknowledged that he would be returning to government at a time of diverse international security threats, including from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. Burns appeared before the committee one day after members held a hearing on Russian hacks that targeted the U.S. private sector and federal government agencies. He said that intrusion was a “very harsh wake-up call about the vulnerabilities of supply chains and critical infrastructure” and that the CIA had to work even harder to detect and prevent cyberoperations from abroad, to help attribute blame and to develop its own capabilities. He also said that "outcompeting China" would be a core national security priority in the coming years. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The territorial government is in favour of a national pharmacare bill that would see Canadians acquire universal public access to prescribed medication with expenses covered by the government. The proposed legislation, Bill C-213, is a private member’s bill put forth by Peter Julian, the New Democrat MP for New Westminster-Burnaby. Julian proposes a national single-payer pharmacare program that would “deliver better healthcare and improve the health and lives of millions of Canadians,” according to his party. “Canada is falling behind, being the only high-income country that has a universal healthcare system but does not include universal coverage of prescription drugs," the NDP says. "The lack of coverage results in one in five Canadians being unable to afford the medication their doctors prescribe.” The bill has its first parliamentary vote on Wednesday. Private members' bills typically have a low chance of being passed as they rarely acquire government backing. If passed, a national pharmacare program could be developed by next spring. In the N.W.T. legislature on Tuesday, health minister Julie Green said the bill could be a “game changer” in the way N.W.T. residents go about acquiring prescription medication. Green said only about 50 per cent of residents in the territory have pharmacy and medication coverage. “This would take in a lot of people who are currently left out,” she said. The minister said pharmacare had "not received the attention it deserves, primarily because it has coincided with the pandemic, and federal and territorial resources have been focused on that.” Green said that while the N.W.T. supported a national pharmacare program, the "fine print" would have to include provisions unique to the territory. “We wouldn’t want a boiler-plate system. We would want a system that suits our particular needs in the Northwest Territories,” she said, suggesting that would include long-term funding. Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly asked Green if the territory’s support had been communicated to the NWT's Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, before he casts his vote on Wednesday. Green said she was not sure what, if any, conversation on the matter had taken place with McLeod. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Military veteran Eric Lalonde is surprised how quickly people are responding to a GoFundMe campaign to help purchase a new service dog for his post traumatic stress disorder. “I’m actually surprised and really appreciate it, I didn’t expect that much response,” Lalonde said of reaching the half-way mark toward the $4,000 goal. His wife, Caroline, set up the fundraiser last week with a link submitted to the East Ferris Post It Facebook page. The couple has lived in Astorville for the past eight years. Lalonde said he didn’t expect the support because members of the military don’t get that much respect in his home province of Quebec. “It’s very different, they don’t appreciate the military as much,” he said. Lalonde, 42, retired from the Canadian army last February after 23 years of service, including a decade as an infantryman with tours in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. His last 13 years of service were spent being a supply clerk in North Bay. His current service dog, Nala, is an 11-year-old German Shepherd mix. They’ve spent several thousand dollars on her veterinarian bills and more than $1,000 on medicine for a failing pancreas and hip dysplasia. “It’s time to take her into retirement,” Lalonde said, noting they found it difficult to find a new service dog due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They explored getting a rescue dog but many of them have their own issues and groups that help veterans with PTSD get trained service dogs had long waiting lists. Money is also tight as they prepare to find a better-suited home in the area this summer. Home buyers are facing a seller’s market as residents in southern Ontario cash out of their properties and flee big cities. Lalonde said he likes this part of Canada and the quiet peace of the rural area, adding he hopes their next home is the last. “I’m not moving anymore,” he said. Caroline Lalonde described their situation in detail for the online fundraiser. “After his retirement, Eric was sure he was fine and didn’t need a service dog anymore as he was home and relaxed,” she wrote. “But after a few months, he found out the dog was doing more than just working with him every day. Nala is there to encourage him to get up in the morning and keep him moving during the day. “When Nala feels Eric is about to overreact for something or having a short fuse, she will go to see him and lick him until he takes care of her, so it changes Eric’s mind and calms him down. “She will also protect Eric from people who are approaching too fast or doesn’t reflect a good vibe while approaching,” she wrote. Nala’s health did a nose-dive starting last August when her Husky died at nine years old. “She doesn’t have the energy anymore, can’t walk more than a few minutes without having pain and every time she has to get up the stairs, we can tell on her face that she’s having bad pain,” she said. “Eric was looking to wait for the next litter, in summertime, but Nala is too sick and she needs to be able to teach the puppy how to be a good service dog and the more Eric waits, the less Nala will be able to do it,” she said. A service dog trainer introduced them to a breeder who moved Eric to the top of his list for a puppy that will be ready March 14. But they were scrambling to find the $2,500 plus HST for the purchase, special food, and related expenses while also supporting ongoing Nala’s medical care. “The training will be paid by the Citadel Canine so I’m only asking enough money to be able to pay for the dog. I will provide all the proof of payments and also show pictures when I have some,” Caroline added. “If I get more than Eric needs, that money will go for Nala’s veterinarian bill, for pain medications for her hips, and also for the puppy booster.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):1:50 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting one COVID-19 death today and 45 new cases. However, six cases have been removed due to data corrections, so the net additional count is 39.---1:50 p.m.Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for people aged over 95, or over 75 for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines had been directed at certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes.---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting the province's fifth death related to COVID-19.Officials say six more people are in hospital due to the disease.Public health is also reporting eight new cases, all in the eastern region, where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks.Chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low these past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard.---12 p.m.The Manitoba government has announced the location of its fourth site for large-scale vaccine distribution. Health officials say a so-called supersite will open in early March at a former hospital in Selkirk. There are similar sites already in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.---11:30 a.m.Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 and now has 21 active infections.The new cases are in the Halifax area.One is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other two cases are under investigation.As of Tuesday 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 11,658 people having received their required second dose.---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting 806 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths attributed to the virus, including five in that past 24 hours.Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 25, to 655, and the number of intensive care cases rose for a second consecutive day, with 10 more patients for a total of 130.The province says it administered 8,807 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 376,910 since the campaign began.---11 a.m. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities are declining access the country.Miller says there were 1,443 active cases and a total of 20,347 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities on-reserve as of yesterday.Miller says vaccinations have begun in 440 Indigenous communities and more than 103,000 doses have been administered.---10:45 a.m.Ontario plans to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older against COVID-19 in the third week of March, depending on vaccine supply. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine task force, says an online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15 and people in that 80 and older age range, or those booking for them, can access it.Hillier says the task force aims to then vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15, and shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1.He says people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1.---10:40 a.m.Ontario says there are 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and nine more deaths linked to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 363 of those new cases are in Toronto, 186 are in Peel Region and 94 are in York Region. More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Tuesday's daily update.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
ANHCORAGE, Alaska — A highly transmissible coronavirus variant originally traced to Brazil has been discovered in Alaska. The variant was found in a specimen of an Anchorage resident who developed COVID-19 symptoms, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The person had no known travel history. It’s the sixth case of the variant found in five U.S. states, officials said. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, an epidemiologist with the state health department, said there is evidence to suggest the P.1 variant is more transmissible than the original virus and that its mutations also “appear to change the antigenic profile of the virus.” That means it can potentially be contracted by someone who was already infected or who has been vaccinated. It’s also troublesome that the person in the Alaska case has no known travel history. “That does make it more concerning,” he told the newspaper. “So we are trying to do a thorough epidemiological investigation to figure out where the person actually got infected from.” The person ate at an Anchorage restaurant with at least one other person in late January and didn’t wear a mask. The infected person developed symptoms four days later and tested positive on Feb. 8 There is at least one person who had close contact with the infected person. The state has had two cases of people with the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom. “COVID is still circulating,” McLaughlin said, adding that more variant cases will likely be detected even as cases overall continue to decline. “We really want people to continue following all the mitigation strategies,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a reasonably high probability that the infection may have incurred while the person was eating at a restaurant with another person, so we just want to make sure people continue to stay within their social bubbles.” Alaska reported 58 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 55,560. The state has reported 287 deaths. Alaska has administered 232,811 doses of vaccine. Of those, 89,147 have been second doses. Alaska’s total population is about 731,000. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death. The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — Trashed on social media and censured by Louisiana Republicans, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy described himself Wednesday as “at peace” with his vote to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and dismissed the scorching GOP backlash he's received. Louisiana's senior Republican senator said he does not believe the criticism represents the feelings of many of his party's voters. He said the censure he received from the leadership of the state Republican Party represented “a small group of people,” not the “broader Republican Party.” “I am such at peace with that vote. I say that knowing that I’m getting criticized, but I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Cassidy said in a conference call with reporters on a variety of topics. Cassidy joined six other Senate Republicans in voting with Democrats on Feb. 13 to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in an impeachment trial that saw the former president acquitted. Louisiana's other U.S. senator, Republican John Kennedy, voted against conviction. “I’ve received comments from folks who are Republican who object to the vote,” Cassidy said. “I’ve received a heck of a lot of folks who agree with me or, if they don’t agree with me, respect the kind of thought process that went into it.” He added: “There’s a diversity of opinion among Louisiana Republicans, even if there is not among a very small group of people.” Though the 57-43 Senate vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to find Trump guilty, the seven GOP votes against Trump represented the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty at impeachment proceedings. Some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said they did not believe the Democrats proved their case that the former president was directly responsible for inciting hundreds of people to storm the Capitol building in a riot that left five people dead. Other Republicans said they simply did not believe Congress had jurisdiction over a president no longer in office. Cassidy has tried to change the conversation since the impeachment trial ended, sending out daily statements about a variety of subjects and talking about other issues, such as the confirmation hearings of President Joe Biden's cabinet appointments and recovery from the icy weather. But Trump supporters don't want to move on, and they've been slamming Cassidy on conservative talk radio and websites. They've called for Republicans to ban Cassidy from their events, and several local Republican groups have joined the executive committee of the state GOP in condemning Cassidy's vote to convict Trump. Cassidy, a doctor, overwhelmingly won reelection in November to a second term, with Trump's backing. Asked whether his vote to convict Trump could damage his chances of reelection in 2026, Cassidy replied: “It is six years off, but that's immaterial. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution." ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say a crash on Highway 16 west of Prince George has killed a Metro Vancouver man and injured a 20-year-old Alberta resident. An RCMP statement says the collision happened Monday as the Alberta man in a westbound pickup was overtaking an empty logging truck. The passing lane ended before the pickup had finished its manoeuvre and police say it collided with an oncoming car. Police say the driver of the car, who was in his 40s, died a short time later in hospital. Officers in Prince George are leading the investigation and want to speak with the logging truck driver, who stopped to assist but left before talking with police. Investigators are also appealing for dashcam video from anyone on Highway 16 between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof at around 5:30 p.m. Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Paul McCartney is finally ready to write his memoirs, and will use music — and a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet — to help guide him. “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” will be released Nov. 2, according to a joint announcement Wednesday from the British publisher Allen Lane and from Liveright in the United States. McCartney, 78, will trace his life through 154 songs, from his teens and early partnership with fellow Beatle John Lennon to his solo work over the past half century. Irish poet Paul Muldoon is editing and will contribute an introduction. "More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right," McCartney said in a statement. “The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I’ve learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.” Financial terms for “The Lyrics,” which has a list price of $100, were not disclosed. Publishers have long sought a McCartney memoir, even though he has spoken often about the past and has participated in such projects as Barry Miles' biography “Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now,” and the 1990s documentary and book “The Beatles Anthology." The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards has been equally open about himself, but his 2010 memoir “Life” still sold millions of copies. No Beatle has written a standard, full-fledged account of his life. Lennon published two works of stories, poems and drawings and was considered the most gifted with words, but he was murdered in 1980, at age 40. Ringo Starr's “Another Day In the Life" is centred on photographs and quotes, because, the drummer has said, a traditional memoir would require multiple volumes. George Harrison, who died of cancer in 2001, issued the scrapbook/retrospective “I, Me, Mine” in 1980. According to McCartney's publishers, his songs will be arranged alphabetically, and will include McCartney's comments on when and where they were written and what inspired them. The U.S. edition of the book will be broken into two volumes, contained within a single box. “Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney’s personal archive — drafts, letters, photographs — never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” according to Wednesday's announcement. McCartney has often received more acclaim for his melodies than for his lyrics, but he has written some of the most quoted songs in recent history, including “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude” and “Eleanor Rigby.” Muldoon said in a statement that their conversations in recent years “confirm a notion at which we had but guessed — that Paul McCartney is a major literary figure who draws upon, and extends, the long tradition of poetry in English.” Muldoon is known for such poetry collections as “Moy Sand and Gravel” and “Horse Latitudes,” and also has a background in music. He has given spoken-word performances backed by the musical collective Rogue Oliphant; published a book of rock lyrics, “The Word on the Street”; and collaborated on the title track of Warren Zevon's “My Ride's Here.” He even mentioned McCartney in a poem, “Sideman”: "I’ll be McCartney to your Lennon/ Lenin to your Marx/ Jerry to your Ben &/ Lewis to your Clark" ___ Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Several international travellers arriving at Toronto's Pearson International Airport have refused to comply with a new rule requiring a three-day hotel quarantine, local police said Wednesday. Peel Region police said that while most cases were resolved after conversations with officers, some people refused to follow the rules that took effect this week and were fined $880 under Ontario regulations. Police said they will not detain anyone for breaking the hotel quarantine rule unless there are aggravating circumstances involved, such as a criminal offence. They added that the Public Health Agency of Canada would be responsible for any further potential fines for travellers under the Quarantine Act. The Quarantine Act states that anyone arriving in Canada must stay in an isolation hotel for three nights. They may only leave after a negative COVID-19 test, but are expected to self-isolate for a total of 14 days. Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region's medical officer of health, said Wednesday that the quarantine measures are in place to protect the public. "It's unfortunate (...) that this might be occurring," said Loh. "Please remember that it's a disease that spreads from person to person and it takes all of us to do our part." Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., just north of the airport, said that people who choose to ignore the regulations are being selfish. "By not being mindful that you can bring dangerous variants into the country, you're being selfish to your neighbours, to your city," said Brown. "I hope that people do abide by the new stricter guidelines." Staying in a government-approved isolation hotel costs up to $2,000 for the three-night stay. The hotel stays, which must be paid for by the travellers, are among a series of measures that came into effect on Monday to limit the spread of COVID-19 and more contagious variants of the virus. Most incoming air travellers will need to get tested for the virus upon arrival and again toward the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Travellers arriving at land borders will be given self-swab kits, and testing will be provided on-site at five high-volume border crossings. The new rules are in addition to previous orders that require a negative test result within 72 hours of arrival. Travellers will need to complete a second test on Day 10 of their self-isolation period. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the tighter border controls are meant to keep everyone safe. -- with files from Denise Paglinawan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
(CBC - image credit) A Nova Scotia man is suing the provincial government for negligence, saying he was beaten up by another inmate while being held in the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Pictou. Matthew Aiken's lawsuit alleges the province, through the attorney general, failed in its duty to protect him. Aiken was in the provincial jail in the fall of 2017 on charges of breach, harassment and possession of cocaine. He'd been there about two weeks when he was placed in a cell with another inmate, Donavin Diggs, according to a Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision published Wednesday. Diggs was serving time for numerous offences including assault causing bodily harm, assault, resisting a police officer and assaulting a police officer. When he was admitted to jail, Aiken was considered a low risk. Diggs, on the other hand, was assessed as a high risk, according to the decision. Early on the evening of Nov. 29, 2017, Diggs was in a fight with another inmate. According to evidence presented in court during a hearing earlier this month, Diggs had to be restrained and handcuffed before he was returned to the cell he shared with Aiken, where the handcuffs were removed. Because of the violent incident, the whole wing of the jail was placed in lockdown, meaning Aiken and Diggs were locked in their cell together. 'Get the hell out' According to evidence Aiken gave at an earlier hearing, Diggs told him: "This is not gonna work for you, you and me in here, get the hell out." Aiken said Diggs then assaulted him, breaking his nose and blackening both his eyes, causing one to swell almost completely shut. "My face is beat to a snot, my nose is broken and crooked," Aiken testified. "I basically look like, you know, if you took a pork roast and tenderized it with a hammer." Aiken claims jail staff saw his condition and yet did nothing about it until after a second fight later the same evening. The province disputes that part of Aiken's story, saying there was only one fight between he and Diggs and jail staff immediately intervened. The province went to court seeking a summary judgment, asking that Aiken's lawsuit be thrown out. But in the ruling published Wednesday, Justice John Keith said there are serious claims in Aiken's lawsuit that need to be addressed. The judge said there needs to be another hearing as soon as possible to try to find an expeditious resolution to the case. MORE TOP STORIES
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Demand for new homes in the U.S. surged 4.3% in January with the housing market still one of the strongest segments of the economy. Last month's increase pushed sales of new homes to an adjusted annual rate of 923,000, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That's much stronger than the 855,000 that economists were expecting. December's new home sales figure was revised higher as well, from 842,000, to 885,000. Sales of new homes are now 19.3% higher than they were last year at this time. “Sales would have been much higher if only builders could build faster,” said Robert Frick, economist with Navy Federal Credit Union. “Supply is only one issue, and for many Americans trying to buy their first home, rising prices are shutting them out of the market.” Although the median price of a new home sold in January slipped to $346,400, that is up more than 5% from a year ago, far outpacing wage gains in the U.S. Persistent demand fueled by record low mortgage rates has pushed prices higher over the past year. The cost of labour and materials is also rising. Lumber futures have spiked 130% in the past year, adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home. In a separate report on home construction last week, the Commerce Department said applications for building permits, which typically signal activity ahead, spiked 10.4% in January to an annual rate of 1.88 million units. The strong new homes sales figures in the first month of 2021 are an extension of what was a banner 2020 when home construction jumped 7% to 1.38 million units. That was the strongest showing since a housing boom in 2006. Only in the Northeast did sales slide, down 13.9%. Sales jumped 12.6% in the Midwest, 6.8% in the West and 3% in the South. The housing market has remained remarkably resilient in the face of the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Economists' biggest worries are availability and affordability. Inventory of available houses slipped to a four-month supply. Last January, there was a five-month supply. Matt Ott, The Associated Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Substantial increases in speed and avail-ability for broadband may be coming to Mono. Council heard a request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc., to support their application to the Federal government to become part of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. Their aim is to supply the entire town of Mono with Fibre Optic Internet service. Currently, much of Mono is underserviced by the available service providers and this prevents many residents and businesses from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital communications.Broadband connectivity is a key priority for Mono Council and is in fact, part of their Corporate Strategic Plan. Rogers’ “leave no home behind,” plan is a true game changer for Mono.Rogers build strategy commitment is to bring broadband to entire areas of under-served homes. If it is approved, it will bring the needed broadband service, to house-holds and businesses to enable them to avail themselves of digital opportunities. Espe-cially, in the fields of business, education, health and public safety.One of the other benefits to the propos-al, is that there is no suggested cost to the Town. A notation made by Deputy Mayor John Creelman, who has been spearheading the drive for better internet service in Mono. To this end, the deputy Mayor was deeply involved with helping Vianet set up the an-tennae on the Town water tower. Another potential benefit is that if two ser-vice providers are eyeing the same territory, the funder, in this case the Federal govern-ment will be the one to decide who may op-erate where. Also, any service must be an open access one, meaning that third party users must be allow access to the service for a reasonable cost.The proposed service, will have a mini-mum download speed of 50 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 10 megabits per second. There are purportedly, several service providers interested in servicing Mono. CAO Mark Early mentioned that he had recently been approached by V-Media from Concord, who are also interested in supplying internet services to Mono.Deputy Mayor Creelman noted that the SWIFT program is set to go along Hwy.10, from the 10th Sideroad north through Camil-la. If Rogers and Vianet are prepared to ser-vice the rest of Mono, this will allow SWIFT to move into other parts of Dufferin County, not adequately services with broadband.Innovation Canada expects that 90 per cent of Canada will have access to high speed internet by the end of 2021. Individ-uals are encouraged to reach out to their internet service providers to notify them about the UBF and encourage them to apply for funding. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccine doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective than delivery directed from Ottawa. He says he will be working with provinces and territories to ensure they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts, even as the National Association of Friendship Centres and other advocates call for more direct federal involvement.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Mayor John Tory says Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person major events to July 1 as the city looks ahead to another summer in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the events that will once again be moved online: the Toronto Marathon, Canada Day celebrations, the Juno Awards and the NXNE music festival. You can see the full list of events that are impacted here. The mayor's announcement came on the same day as news that the the Canadian National Exhibition was planning for an in-person fair event this summer, running from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6. Tory says it's too soon to predict whether or not the Ex will be able to open as planned. 700+ possible VOC cases in Toronto That update also comes as Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa laid out new numbers for the city's variant cases, revealing a growth of about 200 possible cases in just two days. Toronto currently has 72 cases that have been confirmed to be variants of concern (VOC). There are, however, 710 cases that have screened positive for "mutations of interest" and are expected to soon be lab confirmed as VOC — an increase of just under 200 from Monday. WATCH | Mayor John Tory explains Toronto's event closure extension "The only trend I'm prepared to cite at this point is that the screened positive total marches up daily and that should be a matter of concern to all of us," said de Villa. The city is also reporting 389 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as well as 30 additional hospitalizations, and 1 death. Province updates vaccine plan The briefing came on the same day as a major update on Ontario's vaccination plans, with the province revealing a staggered plan to vaccinate adults according to age through the spring and early summer. Adults over age 60 are expected to begin getting their shots by July 1st, but the province was unable to say when anyone younger than that could expect to be vaccinated. It also comes a day after COVID-19 outbreaks were confirmed at two Toronto police facilities.
Taisto Eilomaa’s daughter said there are two words spring to mind when thinking of her father. One is Skype. Barbara Major said her 91-year-old father is the only person she has ever known that speaks to so many people via the internet-based communication that he required a monthly paid account. The other is not a word you may be familiar with: Sisu. Eilomaa passed away Jan. 30 due to complications from COVID-19 at Finlandiakoti, an apartment building that is part of the Finlandia Village complex. If you are one of the many people of Finnish descent who make up the Sudbury community, then you’ll recognize this word, even if you can’t quite describe it. If you are English-only, there is not really a translation for it, but more of a ‘you know it when you see it,’ meaning. Start with the translation of the root word, sisus, which means ‘guts’ or ‘intestines’ and you begin to get an idea. It is reserved for the challenging moments in life. It defines those who overcome regardless of the obstacle they face and who do so with aplomb, intestinal fortitude, resilience, determination. Ténacité, or in Italian, tenace, for a passion that seems crazy to undertake, almost hopeless. The Finnish say it is the reason they survive, the reason they thrive. There is a common saying: “Sisu will get you through granite.” Taisto Eilomaa had sisu. It got him through coming to a new country at the age of 22 with no ability to speak the language. It got him through starting businesses from the ground up, like Lockerby Auto Service, later investing in business and creating success — Brown's Concrete Products Ltd., for one, as well as the Wanup Sand and Gravel Pit and Taisto’s Trucking. It allowed him to keep connections with his family wherever they were in the world, to contribute to his community as well as to his own family. You could say it also helped him when he lost his wife of 53 years; and when he was at his lowest, it could be sisu that allowed him to find love again. Also, it may have been the driving force behind a man who raced stock cars he built, loved scuba diving and got his pilot’s licence, Sisu got Eilomaa through granite and his community is better for it. Born Nov. 18, 1929, to Saima and Frances Eilomaa in Lohja, Finland, Eilomaa decided to immigrate to Canada in search of a better life. It might be fate that put him on that ship in 1951, for it was on that voyage he met a lovely woman named Laura Akkanen. They wed in 1952 and were married for 53 years before her passing at age 77, in 2005. Major, their daughter, wasn’t sure her father would survive. “When my mother passed away, I thought we would lose my dad as well. After 53 years of marriage, he seemed unable to move on.” But for sisu, he may not have. Though it took time, Eilomaa began to get re-acquainted with a long-time family friend, Riitta Nurmikivi, at a weekly card party and they soon formed a close relationship, and spent more than 14 years together. “Ironically,” said Major, “My mother would often joke that Riitta would take her place if she ever died before my father.” Nurmikivi would bring to Eilomaa’s life more family for him to dote over and he did just that. Major says they were a welcome addition who will also mourn for Eilomaa. “We will always cherish her in our family,” said Major. It was family that always gave Eilomaa his greatest joy; perhaps the source of his sisu. “If there is one thing my father had plenty of,” said Major, “is love for everyone he met, especially his family.” He loved his daughter dearly and he loved her daughter, his granddaughter, perhaps even more says Major. “As much as they showered me in love and compliments,” she said, “my parents took great pride in their granddaughter.” He adored her and told her so often. “In his later years,” said Major, “I would often catch my daughter wiping away tears only to learn that her grandfather had taken a moment to mention how much he loved her and how proud he was of the woman she became.” He also dearly loved his great-grandchildren, Clarke and Laura. He was also dedicated to his Finnish family as well, spending as much time in Finland — and on Skype — as possible. He learned to operate a computer at 60, “A two-finger keyboarder,” said Major and began extensive research and interviews to build a family tree. “Those connections were worldwide,” said Major. On one of his trips to Finland, Eilomaa filled a suitcase with 50 bound copies of the family tree to distribute to family. And that isn’t the only history Eilomaa was dedicating to preserving. Eilomaa was a member of the Finnish Canadian Historical Society since 1968 and dedicated so much of his time to preserve history of those of Finnish descent who settled in Sudbury, particularly through photography collection and archiving. Major remembers visiting her father at times and finding him surrounded in photos that he would arrange and display for Finnish celebrations, allowing everyone to see their history. The Finnish Canadian Historical Society have presented him with two awards in recognition of his outstanding service and lasting contribution. Eilomaa also received a certificate of appreciation and is an honorary member of the Voima Athletic Club, which he has been actively involved with since 1952. And as one of the founding members and a previous past president of the Finlandiakoti Finnish Rest Home Society, many in the community say his commitment to the vision is a large part of what made Finlandiakoti what it is today. He was also active in the Freemasons and the Shriners for more than 30 years. Of all the words that are used to describe the small bits of character that are revealed through actions, there are another few for Eilomaa: ‘My sweetheart’, ‘my darling’, ‘I love you’. But not for the reasons you might think. “One of his favourite things he used to say,” said Major, “is that when my mom and dad arrived in Canada, between the two of them, they had three suitcases and $50. But my dad knew how to speak only a little English and what he knew how to say in English was: ‘my darling, my sweetheart, I love you’.” And truly, with a little sisu, that will get you pretty far. Due to the pandemic, no funeral service will be held, but a Celebration of Life for Taisto Eilomaa will be held in both Sudbury and Finland, on a date to be determined. Jenny Lamothe is a Local Journalism Reporter at Sudbury.com, covering issues in the Black, immigrant and Francophone communities. She is also a freelance writer and voice actor. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
(Chris Ensing/CBC - image credit) The union representing workers at Caesars Windsor says it has negotiated additional pension incentives for members looking to retire. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Unifor Local 444 said it has secured enhancements to the existing voluntary retirement incentive, "allowing many of our members an opportunity to retire earlier than they otherwise may have." There are three options based on years of service, and people who are 60 and older are eligible. The maximum incentive is $3,000. The union says casual employees are not included. The casino was shut down for much of 2020 due to the pandemic, putting about 2,000 people out of work. It reopened in the fall but was closed when Windsor switched to the red zone in November, and the shutdown is still in effect. Under the current rules, casinos are allowed to reopen but at a capacity of 10 patrons. Caesars Windsor could not immediately be reached for comment. More from CBC Windsor:
(Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit) The Prince Edward Island government plans to set up collaborative structures for patient care that it refers to as "medical homes" and "medical neighbourhoods." In his state of the province address on Monday, Premier Dennis King said three Island communities will get the new structure this year, staffed by multi-disciplinary teams with electronic medical records a critical part of the initiative. The "home" is the family doctor, who will co-ordinate each patient's care, and the "neighbourhood" is an integrated team of other health-care providers, which could include nurse practitioners, diabetes nurse educators, and dietitians among others. The person's overall medical care will be documented and communicated through an electronic health record. Dr. Kristy Newson, president of the P.E.I. College of Family Physicians, said the family physician will be like the quarterback for your care, but an entire team of people could be working to improve your health. "The evolution of family medicine and the way we are training early career family physicians is in this team-based model, and the key is the communication between all the providers," she told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier on Wednesday. "So you have your own network of allied health-care professionals that you interact with on a daily basis. And they always have communication back to the physician as the centre of the medical home." National blueprint The P.E.I. college's site links to a College of Family Physicians of Canada document that calls the concept a blueprint "for the future of family practice in Canada." The document explains that the medical neighbourhood "includes the many realms of health care outside of primary care, such as referrals to other medical specialists, health care providers, hospitals, long-term care, and home care structures, or to broader social and community supports such as community-based mental health and addictions supports and other social services." The document goes on: "Similar networks have been formed across Canada and around the world with the goals of providing improvements to patient outcomes, safety, and experience; lower costs through reduced duplication of services; improved delivery of preventive services; and more evidence-based patient care." More from CBC P.E.I.