(Radio-Canada - image credit) Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to make public all documents related to how his father handled the aftermath of the PQ's provincial election victory in 1976. In an interview with CBC News, St-Pierre Plamondon said his party will table a motion in Quebec's National Assembly calling for the documents to be turned over. "The demand we will make in the National Assembly through a motion will be specific to that event," he said. St-Pierre Plamondon's call comes after CBC News revealed the existence of once-secret U.S. State Department documents that shed new light on how Pierre Trudeau's government responded to the sovereignist PQ's rise to power in 1976. In a telegram dated Dec. 22, 1976, little more than a month after René Lévesque became premier, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Enders said Trudeau may be taking a more aggressive approach to dealing with the fledgling PQ government. Enders said Paul Desmarais, head of Power Corporation and one of Quebec's top business leaders, told him Trudeau had suggested that Desmarais "make it as tough as possible" for the PQ government by transferring jobs out of Quebec and increasing unemployment. Power Corporation says it didn't move jobs out of Quebec at the time. The State Department records were declassified several years ago and recently republished as part of the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series. Canadian federal cabinet minutes for the period have been made public — but it is not known how many other memos, letters, telegrams or other documents concerning that period remain behind closed doors. Pierre Trudeau turned over extensive records to Library and Archives Canada but much of that collection remains closed, with access granted only to researchers who have the permission of his estate. Assessments vary on how much weight to give the U.S. State Department documents. Jean-François Lisée, who scoured thousands of U.S government documents for his book In the Eye of the Eagle — and who went on to lead the PQ — said the documents are a bombshell that reveal how far Pierre Trudeau was prepared to go to counter the sovereignist government. Former Trudeau cabinet minister Marc Lalonde, meanwhile, said the ambassador's account of his conversation with Desmarais didn't agree with what the government was telling business leaders at the time, or with his own conversations with Desmarais. The U.S. State Department documents say Paul Desmarais told the U.S. ambassador Pierre Trudeau had suggested he make things tough for the new PQ government in 1976. Ted Johnson, a former Trudeau aide who went on to become an executive with Power Corporation, said he doesn't believe Trudeau would have suggested that Desmarais move jobs out of Quebec. "The idea that Pierre would have been suggesting that people engage in that kind of subterfuge — keep your framework but move things out — I can't imagine him ever suggesting that," said Johnson, who serves as vice-chair of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. St-Pierre Plamondon, however, said he believes the telegram sent by Enders is an accurate account of what Desmarais said. "The human brain, the memory is not designed to have accurate memories of facts that happened 40 years ago," said the PQ leader. "That's why documents are more useful." Plamondon said the documents also cite specific unemployment figures. "That doesn't look like something that has been cited out of context — especially when it comes to American diplomacy, because Americans had no interest in the promotion in the independence of Quebec," he said. "They had no interest in inventing information." While some dismiss the documents as old history, St-Pierre Plamondon said they are typical of a political attitude toward Quebec that persists — a willingness to weaken Quebec's economy in the name of national unity. "Fear was a determinant factor in how the (federalists) won the two referendums and that fear is induced by measures like moving jobs away from Quebec (or), threatening to do so," he said. Bloc Québécois MP Stéphane Bergeron, who raised the issue in the House of Commons Tuesday, said he was "a bit scandalized but not really surprised" when he read the State Department documents. "For a number of years we have had indicators that the federal government deliberately doesn't favour — even goes so far as to disadvantage Quebec's economy," he said, adding the documents offer proof. Bergeron said the federal government's economic discrimination against Quebec has continued over the years in everything from shipbuilding to textiles, and in what he called Ottawa's failure to stand up strongly for the supply management system. Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(CBC - image credit) Despite early signs of overheating in Canada's housing market, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem so far has no plans to raise interest rates until the economy and employment are back on track following the slump caused by COVID-19. Speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, Canada's top central banker said that the economy would continue to need monetary stimulus, likely until 2023, even though there are already signs it could be distorting the residential real estate market. "In that low-for-long world, there are risks that housing could get carried away, so that is something we will be looking at very carefully," Macklem said in response to a question from a member of the remote audience. Some observers have already expressed worries that the Canadian housing market is rising at an unsustainable pace, leaving critics — including some in the real estate industry — nervous of a boom, followed by a devastating bust once interest rates finally start to rise. Women and youth hardest hit But while Macklem also expressed concern, he said that even though the bank predicts the economy will begin to surge by the end of this year, high unemployment among Canada's most vulnerable groups means the economy will continue to need a helping hand. "Because women and youth hold so many of the jobs in the hardest-hit sectors, they have borne a disproportionate share of the job losses," Macklem told his audience, and he said that many of the jobs that have disappeared will not come back. Already, long-term unemployment — measured as people who want to work but have not found a job in more than 26 weeks — is currently holding at more than half a million people, a level not seen in the economy in 30 years. Macklem said failure to get those people into jobs will lead to what he called "labour market scarring." In other words, it would result in permanent damage to the Canadian workforce. He suggested that while the bank is holding rates at rock-bottom levels, in return employers in his audience need to contribute by helping to train the types of employees they needed. That applied especially in the digital economy. WATCH | COVID-19's unequal economic recession in Canada: Low-wage jobs were hit the hardest. Not only did technology-related employment not fall as far, but the demand for tech workers has bounced back to levels higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And he said that employers must help create their own workforce in an economy that is increasingly digital and automated. "Technology is no longer a sector," Macklem said. "It's every sector." But he said that rebuilding the workforce and the economy in that new form will be a process of months and years, and he reiterated that there is little fear of inflation and thus rate hikes because there remains plenty of slack in the economy. Beware 'extrapolative expectations' But just as low rates have led to increased borrowing by businesses that has helped spur expansion and share prices, low mortgage rates have made it easier for prospective homeowners to bid up the price of houses. So far, Macklem said, the move toward bigger houses further away from city centres has not been speculation so much as the need for more working — and learning — space for employees who no longer have to commute to the office. Part of the evidence for that is that larger, more distant homes are rising in value, whereas inner-city properties are attracting fewer buyers and renters. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. But there are signs that the practical motivation for rising prices may be changing to the kind of speculative frenzy seen in 2016 and 2017 that the government tried to quell with tax measures and stress tests some of which were relaxed last year. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolative expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price rises we've seen recently go on indefinitely, and they're basing their decision on those kinds of assumptions," he warned. And while he did not describe what kind of actions he would take to stimulate jobs without overstimulating housing, Macklem said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. "When we see people starting to buy houses solely because they think prices are going to go up, that is a warning sign for us," he told the audience. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
STONY PLAIN, Alta. — A pastor of an Edmonton-area church that has been allegedly holding Sunday services in violation of COVID-19 rules is to appear in court today. James Coates with GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove was arrested last week. RCMP have said he was remanded in custody after refusing to agree to bail conditions. The church has been holding services that officials say break public health regulations on attendance, masking and distancing. Police fined the church $1,200 in December and a closure order was issued in January. Coates was twice charged in February with violating the Public Health Act and violating a promise to abide by rules of his release, which is a Criminal Code offence. Coates has addressed the province's health restrictions in his sermons, telling worshippers that governments exist as instruments of God and there should be unfettered freedom of worship. An associate pastor of the church, Jacob Spenst, conducted last Sunday's service and told the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in for the jailed pastor. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 48,362 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,602,365 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,227.957 per 100,000. There were 152,100 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,003,810 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 79.97 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 1,771 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 16,458 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 31.431 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 24,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 67.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,020 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,630 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.316 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 13,045 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 4,826 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 27,966 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.657 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 47,280 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 35,015 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 12,084 new vaccinations administered for a total of 365,978 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 42.771 per 1,000. There were 107,640 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 509,325 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 71.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 16,252 new vaccinations administered for a total of 585,707 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.874 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 683,255 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,605 new vaccinations administered for a total of 63,970 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.456 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 84,810 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 75.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 612 new vaccinations administered for a total of 62,342 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 52.87 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 59,395 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 105 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,216 new vaccinations administered for a total of 180,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.062 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 205,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 87.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,628 new vaccinations administered for a total of 224,354 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.72 per 1,000. There were 44,460 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 287,950 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.91 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,250 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,423 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 321.655 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 71.02 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 2,297 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 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 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 34 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,011 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 181.041 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 15,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 45.53 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 Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. There are 852,269 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 852,269 confirmed cases (30,677 active, 799,830 resolved, 21,762 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,760 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 80.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,693 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,956. There were 40 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 367 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 52. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 23,880,652 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 955 confirmed cases (375 active, 576 resolved, four deaths). There were 15 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 71.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 35. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 183,360 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 115 confirmed cases (one active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 0.63 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 99,303 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,613 confirmed cases (20 active, 1,528 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 2.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 316,029 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,424 confirmed cases (76 active, 1,322 resolved, 26 deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 9.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 232,291 tests completed. _ Quebec: 283,666 confirmed cases (7,880 active, 265,456 resolved, 10,330 deaths). There were 739 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 91.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,479 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 783. There were 13 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,127,867 tests completed. _ Ontario: 295,119 confirmed cases (10,296 active, 277,939 resolved, 6,884 deaths). There were 975 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 69.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,383 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,055. There were 12 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 165 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 24. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,578,867 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,551 confirmed cases (1,212 active, 29,453 resolved, 886 deaths). There were 76 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 87.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 620 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 89. There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 521,439 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 27,923 confirmed cases (1,530 active, 26,017 resolved, 376 deaths). There were 126 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 129.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,094 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 156. There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 19 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 560,268 tests completed. _ Alberta: 131,603 confirmed cases (4,516 active, 125,234 resolved, 1,853 deaths). There were 267 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 102.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,265 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 324. There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 62 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 41.91 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,353,608 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 77,822 confirmed cases (4,733 active, 71,753 resolved, 1,336 deaths). There were 559 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 91.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,539 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 506. There was one new reported death Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 22 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,876,985 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,071 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (five active, 37 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 11.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,026 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 351 confirmed cases (33 active, 317 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 83.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 28 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,462 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Brian Morris/CBC - image credit) Health officials are cautioning that Ottawa's COVID-19 case numbers could rise rapidly as businesses reopen and variants spread across the province — pushing the city ever closer to the red zone. Ottawa's key COVID-19 indicators are currently in the orange zone, although some sit on the verge of the red zone, according to the province's colour coded COVID-19 framework. Health officials say the city's numbers have ebbed and flowed since the start of the pandemic and the worry is they could flow once again — and quickly. "We're inching up, but we've got a few factors, major factors in play that haven't started influencing those cases yet," said Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital. One of those factors is the new COVID-19 strains which can be more contagious that have crept their way into the country. "One thing we've learned over the last year is that the earlier the better [to implement restrictions]," he said. "The longer we wait to modify that course, the longer it will take to get [infections] back down." A couple pushing a pug in a stroller checks out the menu of a restaurant in downtown Ottawa. Scientists warn the city's COVID-19 numbers could easily increase if people aren't careful, especially with new variants making their way across the province. Manuel said the number of contacts of people who test positive for the illness are concerning. On Tuesday, that number was at 5.8 over a seven-day period that ended Feb. 14, two days before the stay-at-home order ended. "During lockdown and last summer, you know, we were around ... two people per case. So five is pretty high," he said. Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches also urged people to be cautious just before the stay-at-home order ended. "We've seen what happens with socializing," she said. "It adds up to, you know, potentially a rapid rise in COVID again, and more things shut." Variants cause for concern Earl Brown, a professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, agrees the variants are a cause for concern that could rapidly push numbers upward. "It's nice to be as open as we can with our economy, but I'm somewhat pessimistic in the short term," he said. "The variants are going to make us ... pay more dearly for the time we buy." Brown said there's a balancing act between keeping businesses and schools shuttered and trying to control the spread of COVID-19. "You definitely want to control the pandemic, but it's always the question — at what cost?" Under the province's colour-coded framework, being in the red zone would mean people would be, once again, limited to only essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, and going outside for physical activity. Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury is also urging people to remain cautious, even as businesses and facilities have reopened across the city, so that the city doesn't move up a step. "I know it's exciting," he said. "We have to support our local businesses, but we also have to be cognizant that the virus is within our community and we continue to be vulnerable."
(Jean Delise/CBC - image credit) There are growing concerns in some parts of Ottawa hit hardest by COVID-19 that mistrust and vaccine hesitancy could make the situation worse. The South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre is aiming to bust myths about COVID-19 and vaccines during a townhall-style virtual meeting for on Wednesday evening. A panel of health experts will answer questions and share "honest information" about vaccines in this diverse community, organizers say. Soraya Allibhai, the health centre's COVID-19 coordinator, said with illness, isolation and lost jobs, some residents are struggling. "There is a predominance of COVID cases in Ottawa South, and so we want to provide education ... when it comes to vaccinations and building confidence around that as well," said Allibhai. "People are struggling financially, emotionally. There's a challenge with the school closures and lockdowns. Each and every day is harder." Soraya Allibhai is the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre's COVID-19 coordinator. Sudesh Gurung, who came to Canada from Nepal several years ago and now works as a resident leader with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre, said building trust with the community is important during the pandemic. A lot of people in the community are essential workers, and some have been exposed the virus in the workplace, said Gurung. He spends time going door to door, providing information to residents in multiple languages including English, Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, Spanish and sign language. "There are a lot of myths circulating in our community, because the community is reluctant to trust the people," said Gurung. "So we want to try to engage them and share information about COVID vaccines." Concerns include the speed at which the vaccines have been developed, and Gurung said often misinformation is being spread through social media. Given the language barrier, he said, correct public health information can be drowned out by the myths. Sudesh Gurung came to Canada from Nepal several years ago and now works as a resident leader with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre. He says building trust with the community is important during the pandemic. "The myths are circulating through their circles," said Gurung. "They're not sure what other things are in the vaccine. Is it halal [Arabic for "permissible under Islamic law"]?" While Wednesday night's session will be in English, the team is working on handouts in other languages, as well as other outreach events in a variety of languages including Arabic and Somali. "People can feel comfortable in their language to actually ask questions," said Allibhai. She said the centre also wants its neighbours to know support is available, including food, baby supplies and technology. Wednesday's event will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre's Facebook page.
Filming a polar bear just inches from its nose, close enough to see its breath fog up the lens, was a career highlight for Jeff Thrasher. The CBC producer is part of the team behind Arctic Vets, a new show that follows the day-to-day operations at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg. "It was breathing warm air onto the lens. I was thinking, 'Wow, there's nothing between me and this polar bear,"' Thrasher said, who filmed the shot using a GoPro camera up in Churchill, Man. The show is also the first time cameras have been allowed in the Winnipeg facility, which houses Arctic animals like seals, polar bears and muskox. "I've filmed many, many things in my career and that's right up there," Thrasher said. There are 10 half-hour episodes in the new series that features expeditions to Manitoba's subarctic, emergency animal rescues and daily life at the conservancy. The first episode follows veterinarian Chris Enright to Churchill just as polar bears are starting to migrate up the coast of Hudson Bay. When a bear wanders too close to town, Enright works with the local Polar Bear Alert Team to catch it and lift it by helicopter to a safe distance away. In the same episode, back in Winnipeg, the team trims the hooves of resident 800-pound muskox, Chloe. Although being around Arctic animals is part of Enright's daily life, he hopes the show will help bring southern Canadians a little closer to the North. "This is our norm. But it's not the norm for a lot of people, so the show is a good opportunity to tell these stories," he said. "We have herds of caribou that rival migrating animals on the Serengeti, but people in the South don't necessarily know about that. And that's really unfortunate, because there's some incredible wildlife in the North." Enright also hopes the show will urge Canadians to think about protecting the country's Arctic ecosystems, which face the critical threat of climate change. "There's a lot of concern with the effects of climate change and over the next 50, 100 years what's going to happen. As southerners, there are things we can do to protect and conserve those ecosystems," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit in the middle of filming, which Enright said prevented the team from travelling into Nunavut. Jackie Enberg, an animal care supervisor and Heather Penner, an animal care professional, are also featured in the show for their work with polar bears. "It's not just animal care or vet care, or conservation and research. It's all of it. We all have a great passion to educate and share and help inspire other people to make a difference, whether it's to make changes in your lives or just talk about," Penner said. Enberg said the bears featured in the show were rescued when they were a few years old. "They're here because they could not survive in the wild," Enberg said. "We just ultimately hope people will fall in love with polar bears as much as we have," Penner said. Arctic Vets airs Friday. Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem. By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, Nunavut This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. --- This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship The Canadian Press
(Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit) In an effort to help the beleaguered hospitality sector recover from the pandemic, the city is proposing to let restaurants and bars expand their patios and stay open longer during this year's outdoor dining season. Members of council's transportation committee next week will consider staff recommendations to allow the city to close streets for expanded patio use, allow patios on city property to say open until 2 a.m., and will waive most fees for the 2021 season. It's a move welcomed by the restaurant industry, which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 era's physical distancing rules and on-again-and-off-again business closures. "We have a long road to recovery in this sector," said Sarah Chown, the managing partner of Metropolitain Brasserie and chair of the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association. She said that the industry expects that physical distancing protocols will be in place for some time, and restaurants need more space to accommodate patrons. "Anything that the city can do to help our businesses operate with more capacity, we welcome," Chown told CBC News. "So whether that is expanding … into the street or the extended hours on those right-of-way patios, I think it's important." She said there's also a "fairness factor" in allowing patios on city property to stay open until 2 a.m., as that is the closing time for patios on private property. Councillors will be discussing and voting on the following proposals for the upcoming summer patio season that begins April 1: Waive most fees related to patios on city rights of way (ROW), such as sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and roadways. A two-metre path for pedestrians must be maintained. Allow ROW patios to stay open until 2 a.m., an hour later than last year. Allow staff to close streets at the request of a Business Improvement Area (BIA); in places where a BIA doesn't exist, three-quarters of the businesses of each affected city block must agree to the closure. Allow retailers to run pop-up stands and patios on terms similar to restaurants. Allow restaurants to have unlimited "café seating" — the two-seat bistro tables usually set up against a building — as long as space permits. City staff is recommending that 'café seating' be unlimited in areas where space permits. Usually, café tables are limited to two per establishment. 'Big party space' While businesses and many patrons look forward to outdoor drinking and dining, some residents are concerned about the crowds and noise it could bring. This is particularly true in the ByWard Market area, where many of the city's ROW patios are located. Last summer, when the city extended the patio spaces and hours until 1 a.m., the market was "a zoo," according to Norman Moyer, president of the Lowertown Community Association. "It turned into just one big party space," he said. "It was not attractive for residents. It was frankly not attractive for people that were visiting either. They pretended that there would be room for pedestrians on the street — there really wasn't." He said the problems are more evident in narrow streets like Clarence Street. Noise is also an issue of concern. According to the city staff report, only 17 official noise complaints last year were related to patios on city property. But Moyer suggested that residents often don't call in noise complaints because by the time bylaw officers show up, the brouhaha is over. He said he has "almost zero" faith in bylaw's ability to control the noise, unless officers are stationed in busy places to proactively enforce the rules. The restaurant industry would also welcome bylaw monitoring the situation, said Chown. "We need to keep the residents happy, too." The transportation committee, where the public can speak to the issue, meets next Wednesday.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit) As Ottawa's network of shelters, respite centres and physical distancing centres reach capacity, outbreaks within the system continue to grow and support systems are left playing "catch up," trying to get them under control. According to Ottawa Public Health's (OPH) COVID-19 dashboard, there are four active outbreaks at shelters across the city. While OPH does not list the names of shelters on its dashboard, cases at one in particular have continued to grow. Two weeks ago it reported 70 positive cases. There are now 108. OPH also declared an outbreak at the physical distancing centre on Nicholas Street on Tuesday, with a number of workers and clients testing positive. In a memo to the city, OPH added that there have also been cases at the Dempsey Community Centre and Tom Brown Respite Centre. Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, said it's unclear exactly why cases in the city's homeless shelters rise, but winter has brought "a different set of challenges." With the colder weather, shelters have become more crowded and many staff are staying home because they're sick, Muckle said. 'We try as much as possible to distance people, although it's very tough in an overcrowded situation with this outbreak,' says Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health. "It's been very difficult to catch up once you have an outbreak that's that significant," Muckle said. As for emergency overflow physical distancing centres, Muckle said those too are getting full. "They were set up at a time when we thought that they would have lots of extra capacity but the number of people entering the shelter system has really increased quite rapidly," she said. "We're in that proverbial rock and a hard place at this point in time." Testing within shelters Ottawa Inner City Health and OPH are conducting tests at different locations throughout the week and are testing different groups within those locations to help curb the spread. "The transient nature of the population and the ability of positive clients to self-isolate away from others will also contribute to the prolonged outbreaks," wrote OPH in a statement to CBC. OPH says it's working closely with facilities experiencing outbreaks to implement disease control measures including enhanced cleaning, self-isolation for those who have tested positive and surveillance testing "to identify the extent of the outbreak."
TORONTO — Advocates say migrant and undocumented workers should have access to COVID-19 vaccines.The Migrant Rights Network is calling on all levels of governments to guarantee that access.The group is expected to make the call in a news conference today along with doctors and labour leaders .They say they are concerned that thousands of migrant and undocumented workers will not get the vaccine because of their immigration status.The group says government vaccination plans do not include measures that would guarantee safe access to the shot for the workers.The Ontario government has not said if temporary foreign workers employed on the province's farms would have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — CTV says it made an "error" by placing an "offensive image" of actress Delta Burke in blackface among its TV program highlights for Black History Month. A spokesman for the broadcaster says the blackface picture, taken from an episode of 1980s hit "Designing Women," is one that "should not have been used in any context." CTV has since removed the blackface image as well as the full episode of "Designing Women." The photo was part of a rotation of images in the CTV Throwback section of its mobile app that directed viewers to popular Black-led sitcoms on the streaming service from decades past, including "The Jeffersons," "Good Times" and "Sanford and Son." Sandwiched between those images was a still photo from "Designing Women," which featured the blackface-wearing Burke alongside her Black co-star Meshach Taylor. It was taken from a 1989 episode titled "The Rowdy Girls," which revolves around the sitcom's stars being booked to perform at a talent show as Motown legends the Supremes. The group debates whether to play their parts in blackface and ultimately concludes it's not the best decision. However, Burke's character doesn't get the message and shows up with her face painted anyway to sing alongside her friends. "Designing Women," set in Georgia, often grappled with the rapidly changing social issues of the U.S. South, such as race and sexuality, in a way that would be considered outdated by today's standards. The episode has been in circulation for decades and is still available on Disney-owned streaming platform Hulu in the United States. However, when CTV representatives were asked by The Canadian Press about the decision to feature a blackface photograph among a selection of Black sitcoms, CTV pulled the full episode of "Designing Women." The company later took down the blackface image as well. "This was an error, it’s an offensive image that should not have been used in any context," said Marc Choma, director of communications at Bell, in a written statement. CTV said in a separate statement that it is reviewing the entire catalogue of programming on CTV Throwback to "identify and remove any offensive content." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The National Film Board of Canada is creating two key positions and improving hiring practices as part of new measures it says are aimed at eliminating injustice and systemic racism not just in Canadian society, but also within the institution. The diversity, equity and inclusion changes come amid a racial reckoning that has many in Canada's screen industry calling for an increase in funding and representation for creators from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities. The announcement also comes just over two months after the film board released its strategic plan for 2020-2023, which was delayed from July 2019 as the NFB further consulted with stakeholders who were concerned about the institution's spending priorities. The new initiatives include the creation of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion position, to be filled by a candidate from an underrepresented community. The senior role will oversee equity and anti-racist practices, and will be a member of the NFB’s executive committee. The NFB is also establishing a new director of Indigenous relations and community engagement position, which will involve forging closer ties with communities. That role will be filled by an Indigenous candidate and help improve Indigenous representation among film board employees, and advise on issues related to production and distribution of NFB works. "One of the reasons I feel it's so important to have those two people embedded with us in everything is that we are a white, white, white management committee," Claude Joli-Coeur, government film commissioner and NFB chairperson, said in an interview. Having a director of Indigenous relations and community engagement working closely with the top brass will also be greatly beneficial in situations like what the NFB is facing with the documentary "Inconvenient Indian," he said. The NFB co-production is on hold for distribution after a CBC News report questioned director Michelle Latimer's claims of Indigenous identity. Joli-Coeur said the NFB and producers are still "assessing all the different possibilities" for the film, noting "it's a very complicated situation" their Indigenous Advisory Committee is providing guidance on. "That's an illustration of why we need change, why we need more Indigenous colleagues, and why we need also a champion of Indigenous (projects) to help us to navigate in those very turbulent waters." The NFB says the new measures were designed with the input of many internal and external partners, and are in addition to the government agency's Indigenous Action Plan, now in its third year, as well as its plan for gender parity. The two new positions will work closely together, report directly to Joli-Coeur, and work with other decision-makers at the organization on a daily basis. They'll "have an important influence on anything" the NFB does, from the way it thinks to how it approaches things and finds solutions, he said. "They will also be our eyes on the floor, because I'm expecting that they will be deeply connected with all of our employees. Anything that we don't see that is kind of hidden or not on the spotlight that we're missing, will be brought to our attention." Other new measures announced Wednesday include a pledge to make the NFB staff "fully reflect Canadian society" by March 31, 2023. Figures based on voluntary declaration from the NFB's fiscal year 2019-2020 show that out of 365 full-time permanent employees, the NFB staff base includes: 211 women, 52 visible minorities, three Indigenous employees, and eight people with disabilities. The organization says it wants to ensure its slate of directors and producers always includes individuals from underrepresented communities. And it pledges that at least half of all new hires will be drawn from people in those groups — Indigenous, Black, racialized, and LGBTQ2+, and people with disabilities. "It's a transformation of the organization," said Joli-Coeur. "We want to set up goals that, within the next two years, will have an important impact on the fabric of our employees and how we work with creators and how we fulfill our mandate." Joli-Coeur's second and final term as commissioner is done at the end of November 2022. He said he's "preparing the ground" for his successors with specific target dates to help ensure goals are met and the NFB makes significant and lasting changes. "When I leave the organization, I want see already that change happening, and that's something that is achievable," he said, "and after that the ambition should be that we exceed that representation." Other new commitments include prioritizing recruitment of individuals (two out of three people) from the aforementioned underrepresented communities for all other management positions as the positions open, "until the NFB accurately reflects the composition of Canada's population." The film board also vows to ensure its programming equitably includes the voices of creators from those underrepresented communities, and that those groups are represented within the NFB's Creation and Innovation committees. To help find a wide range of people and companies of diverse backgrounds for contract work, the NFB plans to establish "a respectful, clear, convenient and transparent method of data collection." The NFB also pledges to: - Continue to highlight creators and promote works from diverse communities in the NFB's distribution and marketing activities, focusing on themes of social justice, equality, intersectionality, and immigration. - Put described video and subtitles on each new film. - Work with organizations representing equity-seeking groups to develop greater sensitivity and openness. - Create annual action plans with measurable targets for matters of diversity, equity and inclusion at the NFB. - Issue independent quarterly reports to the NFB’s executive committee and its board of trustees on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, unconscious bias and systemic racism at the NFB. - Also issue annual reports on these issues and the progress made. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
U.S. President Joseph Biden's new administration said on Wednesday it would continue its international re-engagement by seeking election to the U.N. Human Rights Council where it will press to eliminate a "disproportionate focus" on ally Israel. Under former President Donald Trump's more isolationist approach, Washington quit the council in 2018 but the Biden government has already returned as an observer. "I'm pleased to announce the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24 term," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the council by video.
(WAHA Communications - image credit) The number of cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities reached a grim new milestone over the weekend, surpassing 20,000 cases since the pandemic arrived in Canada over a year ago. According to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada, the number of active cases on-reserve has been on the decline. There were 1,481 active cases as of Feb. 22. But new infections persist. Outbreaks have occurred primarily in the Prairies, the most reported in Alberta with 348 new cases on-reserve in the last week. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to Pimicikamak after visiting the First Nation in Manitoba last weekend to assess the COVID-19 outbreak there. Members of the Armed Forces are also assisting with outbreaks and vaccine distribution for Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba, Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia, Hatchet Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan and Muskrat Dam Lake in Ontario according to a Feb. 17 update from Indigenous Services Canada. Since the pandemic began, there have been a total of 20,227 cases on-reserve. Fourteen people have died from the virus since last week, bringing the toll to 218. The total number of hospitalizations rose to 925. The number of First Nations people who have recovered from the disease is now at 18,528. Total cases in First Nations communities per region reported as of Feb. 22: British Columbia: 2,184 Alberta: 5,918 Saskatchewan: 5,477 Manitoba: 5,225 Ontario: 853 Quebec: 560 Atlantic: 10 Vaccinations As of Feb. 18, Indigenous Services Canada reported 433 First Nations and Inuit communities have vaccination plans underway. A total of 91,927 doses have been administered, representing a vaccination rate six times higher than Canada's general population. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? New or worsening cough. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Temperature equal to or over 38 C. Feeling feverish. Chills. Fatigue or weakness. Muscle or body aches. New loss of smell or taste. Headache. Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting). Feeling very unwell. If you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted or lost a loved one to COVID-19. If you would like to share your story, please email us at email@example.com.
TORONTO — A civil liberties lawyer says a decision by the City of Toronto to bill a restaurant owner nearly $200,000 to cover the cost of enforcing lockdown regulations raises concerns about people's constitutionally protected right to protest. Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson Barbecue, opened his restaurant for indoor dining in November in violation of COVID-19 public health regulations, drawing dozens of anti-lockdown protesters. On the weekend, Skelly posted on social media that he had received an invoice from the city for $187,030.56, with the cost of the police response accounting for $165,188.73 of the total. Cara Zwibel, the director of the fundamental freedoms program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the idea that individuals should have to pay for the opportunity to exercise their freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly is concerning. There are significant costs to policing a wide variety of matters, she said, but criminals don't pay the policing costs associated with those crimes. "There is a concern that the city is not treating this as part of their normal operations," Zwibel said. "But this is what police do, they enforce the law and keep the peace, that's the cost of doing business as a municipality." A spokesman for the city said businesses that have violated the law and have been ordered to close have remained closed, making Adamson Barbecue an exception. "There was a significant amount of time that the police and city incurred in dealing with this issue in terms of his opening the establishment and our need to close it under public health orders," Brad Ross said in an interview. The invoice was sent to Skelly in December but has not yet been paid, he said, adding that the city is considering launching a civil suit to recoup the money. Ross said this is the first time the city sends an invoice to someone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, he said a business or resident was billed for not clearing a sidewalk of snow, leaving the city to do the work - but those cases were not common. Zwibel said there is already a system in place to deal with people who break the law: the justice system. The "pay-to-protest" issue has come up in the past, she said, especially on university campuses. If a topic of a planned protest is a hot-button issue and the event is expected to attract a large crowd, universities have tried to have organizers pay for security. "The universities will sometimes say 'well, there's going to be a big reaction to that and so we're going to need security, and so you're going to have to pay for it," Zwibel said. "I would say it's not appropriate to have to pay to exercise your constitutionally protected right to protest." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Submitted by Noah Gibbs, Matthew Parker and Jacob Long - image credit) It's been a challenging enough season for youth hockey players, given cancelled games and restrictions around how they can practise and gather. But for some Fredericton Caps U18 AAA hockey players from the Edmundston area, the season has been more challenging. They've had to be away from friends and family living in what has been a part of the province hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. With no U18 AAA hockey teams in the Edmundston area, a handful of players from that region are playing for the Fredericton Caps to further their hockey careers. Living with billet families and going to school in the capital city since last September, the boys were able to play eight games and return home to see their families before a spike in cases shortly after the holidays moved New Brunswick into more restrictive phases of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan. For Jacob Long, who plays defence for the Caps, January and February have been difficult months, with his attention split between hockey and concern for his friends and family in his hometown. Zone 4 was the location of a large outbreak that pushed the region into the province's most severe lockdown phase for two weeks, resulting in the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. "I was getting a bit worried [about the outbreak]. I know a couple of people who had [COVID-19] so it was not fun hearing that," he said. Long said he was also concerned about the well-being of his uncle, who's the owner of Manoir Bellevue, the care home that found itself battling a month-long outbreak among its staff and residents, with COVID-19 linked to the death of six residents. 'It can be tough sometimes' Matthew Parker hasn't seen his family in person since Christmas. The 16-year-old Fredericton Caps player hasn't been able to go home in almost two months. "It can be tough sometimes, and you miss seeing them and everything," Parker said. It's also tough on Gary Parker, his father, who would normally make the drive at least once a week to see his son play. "It's very different, very difficult," Parker said. "You want to be beside your son as much as possible in any such situation, but we're actually lucky that he's still having fun and enjoying himself and working hard." Gary Parker, left, would normally travel every weekend from Edmundston to see his son, Matthew Parker, play in games. This season, he hasn't been able to do that due to COVID-19 restrictions. Matthew Parker said he feels lucky to be able to practice and train, despite competitive games being suspended while the entire province remains in the orange recovery phase. "It's pretty great, I think. And we're ready — like any time that the season starts again, we'll be ready," he said. Still optimistic about future prospects Noah Gibbs, like the rest of his teammates, has been practising four days a week, on top of hitting the gym in order to stay in shape. And he's hopeful the unusual season won't have a long-term impact on his hockey career. "Because everyone is living the same thing as us... I'm not really concerned," Gibbs said. "[They've done a] really good job to make sure we stayed in shape. And we're ready to play some more games and develop ourselves too, so I'm confident," he said, adding he's already been drafted to play next year for the Québec Remparts, of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Noah Gibbs, a player with the Fredericton Caps U18 AAA hockey team, said he isn't worried about the unusual season holding him back in his chances at advancing in the sport. Parker said he's also keeping a positive attitude, and remains optimistic he'll come out at the end of the season with good prospects for next year. "I'm not worried much, honestly. I tell myself that everything happens for a reason and I just go with the flow," he said. "And I have a couple of options for next year, so that's always good." Supports there if needed Eric Bissonnette, the team's head coach, has been keeping a close eye on players who've found themselves playing away from their hometown this season. "I know from our organization, we've put a major, major effort to make sure that they knew they have a support system with them," Bissonnette said. "Sometimes you only find out things after the fact, but we've tried to have an open line of communication and they look like they've coped with it very well." Overall, Bissonnette said he's been impressed with how well the players have handled all the time away from family and not being able to play games this season. "Coming to the rink they've been the very best, always bringing a positive attitude. So I like to think that they've done extremely well."
Euronews correspondent Shona Murray spoke to Sunday World reporter Patricia Devlin who has been targeted for her work in Northern Ireland.View on euronews
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) There are a great many things Guita Hyman, 86, misses about the before times, but there are a few things in particular she is looking forward to seeing once she's vaccinated against COVID-19: her four children, nine grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and her condo in Florida. The Montreal resident has been doing most things from home for months so is also looking forward to carrying out the mundane tasks of daily life in person. "It would be a relief to do my own shopping instead of doing it online," she said. "Just to touch the vegetables to see if they're ripe ... that would be fun." Hyman will be among the Quebecers born in 1936 or earlier who will be allowed to book a vaccination appointment as of Thursday. About 200,000 people in the province are aged 85 and older. The bulk of them live in the greater Montreal area, which will be a particular point of emphasis in the early stage of the mass vaccination campaign. Health-care workers wait for patients at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday. 'When I see it, I'll believe it' A majority of those who live in seniors' residences and nursing homes have already received their first dose of vaccine, Premier François Legault indicated at a press conference on Tuesday, and vaccinating the rest of the cohort is expected to take about two weeks. In some areas, such as the Capitale-Nationale region in Quebec City, officials have decided to lower the age bar to 80. While Hyman is "delighted" to be able to register for an appointment later this week, she still has some questions and concerns. Will there be enough operators to handle the call volume? Will they speak both English and French? How will seniors get to and from the vaccination centre? Many seniors, Hyman said, aren't as lucky as she is when it comes to having family close by to help drive her around. "I have a lot of acquaintances, friends, whose children are not in town and who will have a problem accessing a suitable or nearby station," she said. WATCH | Guita Hyman wonders about how seniors with mobility issues will get the shot: During his news conference Tuesday, Legault said that, for now, there are no plans to vaccinate people at home. There are also practical concerns about accessibility in the vaccination centres the province has set up. Will people have to stand in line? How crowded will the centres be? As Daphne Nahmiash, a retired gerontology professor put it, "this gives us a lot of hope ... but we still have a lot of questions." Selena Spector, 86, was even more blunt. "When I see it, I'll believe it," she said. "There's been so many hitches, and with everything that has gone wrong, I don't know who to believe." Not that Spector isn't keen to have her turn. She said the pandemic has taken its toll and she hopes this rollout will be as efficient as possible. "It feels like a lost year, and I haven't got that many more years [left]," she said. A burden lifted Nahmiash is 79, but her husband is in his eighties. Under the rules set forth by the government, anyone born in 1936 or before is eligible for vaccination, as is a companion or caregiver who is at least 70 and spends three days a week with them. Nahmiash said despite concerns about how the system will work, the announcement relieves a heavy burden. "It makes a very big difference to how we feel," she said. "All of us have been living with an underlying fear that every time we leave the house or every time somebody comes near the house, we're at risk. Most of us have chronic illnesses of some kind or another." And then there's the isolation, or as Spector framed it, the pandemic is "frankly, boring." As the vaccination campaign ramps up later this week and next, it holds out the promise of a far more interesting spring.
BANGKOK — Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis gathered pace Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coupmakers to stand down and Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to be returned to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, as part of her efforts to co-ordinate a regional response to the crisis triggered by Myanmar's Feb. 1 military coup. Also making the trip to neighbouring Thailand was the foreign minister appointed by Myanmar's new military government, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, said a Thai government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information. Another Thai official said Wunna Maung Lwin met with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as well as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former army chief who first took power in a military coup. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information. There was no immediate word whether Marsudi also met the Myanmar diplomat. Indonesia and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are seeking to promote some concessions by Myanmar's military that could ease tensions before there is more violence. The regional grouping, to which Thailand and Myanmar also belong, believes dialogue with the generals is a more effective method of achieving concessions than more confrontational methods, such as sanctions, often advocated by Western nations. Opposition to the coup within Myanmar continued Wednesday, with a tense standoff taking place in the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, where police holding riot shields and cradling rifles blocked the path of about 3,000 teachers and students. After about two hours, during which demonstrators played protest songs and listened to speeches condemning the coup, the crowd moved away. On Saturday, police and soldiers shot dead two people in Mandalay as they broke up a strike by dock workers. Earlier the same week they had violently dispersed a rally in front of a state bank branch, with batons and slingshots. Also Wednesday, about 150 people from a Christian group gathered in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, to call for restoration of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders held since the coup. International pressure against the takeover also continues, with more than 130 civil society groups issuing an open letter to United Nations Security Council calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. The letter released Wednesday cited concerns about Myanmar’s citizens being deprived of a democratically elected government and ongoing violations of human rights by a military with a history of major abuses. “Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” the letter said. In addition to a sweeping arms embargo, the letter said any Security Council measures should make sure there is “robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.” There have been past arms embargoes on Myanmar during periods of military rule but not on a global basis. China and Russia, both members of the security council, are among the top arms suppliers to Myanmar, and would almost certainly veto any effort by the U.N. at a co-ordinated arms embargo. How effective the regional efforts at resolving Myanmar's crisis could be remains unclear. If Indonesia's Marsudi met in Thailand with her Myanmar counterpart it would have allowed them to talk face-to-face while sidestepping possible controversy stemming from a visit to Myanmar by Marsudi. Critics of the coup, especially in Myanmar, charge that such a visit would be tantamount to recognizing the military regime as legitimate and its takeover as legal. There had been news reports that such a visit was imminent. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Wednesday that Marsudi left open an option to visit the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, but had put off any plan for the time being. A statement from his office said that taking in account current developments and following consultations with other ASEAN countries, “this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit to Myanmar.” Demonstrations were held outside Indonesian embassies in Yangon and Bangkok on Tuesday in response to a news report that Jakarta was proposing to fellow ASEAN members that they offer qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year. Faizasyah denied the report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press