Selena Gomez is in talks with Facebook, and is not afraid of them.
Selena Gomez is in talks with Facebook, and is not afraid of them.
WASHINGTON — Jill Biden offers comforting advice to Kelly Clarkson, telling the singer and talk-show host as she goes through a divorce that things happen for the best and that life will eventually “look better.” The first lady — a divorcee herself — also reveals one thing she looks forward to when COVID-19 clears up and explains why women should take some time for themselves every day as she does. She spoke during an interview with Clarkson that is set to air nationally on Thursday. Clarkson recently brought her show to the White House for a socially distant conversation with Jill Biden in the East Room. NBC released interview excerpts Wednesday, including a clip of Jill Biden offering comforting words about carrying on after a relationship breakup. Citing her late mother's advice, she tells Clarkson things happen for a reason. She also says her divorce freed her to meet Joe Biden and have a family with him. “My mother always said to me things are going to look better, tomorrow,” Jill Biden said, encouraging Clarkson to “take one day at a time, and things will get better.” 'I look back on it now, and I think, you know, if I hadn’t gotten divorced, I never would have met Joe," she continued. “I wouldn’t have the beautiful family I have now. So I really think things happen for the best and I think, Kelly, over time, I don’t know how long it’s been for you, but I think, over time, you heal, and you’re going to be surprised and I can’t wait until that day comes for you.” Clarkson has spoken in other interviews about the pain of her public breakup. She filed for divorce last year from Brandon Blackstock after nearly seven years of marriage. They have two children. After marrying Joe Biden, Jill Biden helped raise his sons Beau and Hunter after their mother and baby sister died in a car crash in 1972. The couple later had a daughter, Ashley. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. The Bidens also have six grandchildren. During her first solo television interview, Jill Biden also discussed her interest in education, military families, cancer research and healing the country. She also answered questions from members of the show's live, virtual audience. “Maybe go have a martini and some french fries,” she replied to one audience participant who asked about the one thing she would do when COVID-19 clears up. She also explained why she makes sure to exercise and take time out for herself. “I love to exercise. I run, I bike. It clears my head, so that’s really important to me and I think all women should have something, it doesn’t have to be exercise, although hopefully it would be," she said. “Just to take a moment for yourself.” “So I get up early, and that’s my time that I have for myself," Biden said. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
À moins de 48 heures d’intervalle, les deux partis d’opposition ont fait connaître leur candidat dans le district Auteuil en vue des prochaines élections. Parti Laval – Équipe Michel Trottier y présentera Dayila Sassy tandis qu’Action Laval - Équipe Sonia Baudelot misera sur SeyLac Try pour tenter de ravir ce district que détient le Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers depuis l’élection de Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier en 2013. Douzième candidate à rejoindre les rangs de l’opposition officielle, Dayila Sassy poursuit actuellement ses études au baccalauréat en informatique à l’Université Laval. Membre indépendante siégeant au sein du Comité consultatif jeunesse de la Ville de Laval, elle avait participé au programme de jumelage «Jeunes et relève municipale» de la Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) en 2019. À titre bénévole, Mme Sassy s’est aussi impliquée auprès de la Fondation des maladies du cœur et de l’AVC de même que de l’Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal. En briguant les suffrages, elle souhaite promouvoir la place des femmes, des minorités ethniques et des jeunes dans les postes décisionnels. La nomination de SeyLac Try porte à onze le nombre de candidats confirmés sous la bannière d’Action Laval, incluant les quatre conseillers en poste qui solliciteront cet automne un renouvellement de mandat. Entrepreneure et courtière immobilière depuis 2004, Mme Try habite le quartier Auteuil depuis plus de 30 ans. Le parti dépeint cette mère de deux enfants comme une citoyenne «engagée localement [qui] milite activement pour le succès scolaire». Ayant immigré avec sa famille au Canada alors qu’elle était très jeune, cette Cambodgienne d’origine dit vouloir «redonner» à sa communauté en contribuant à faire de Laval «une ville harmonieuse et prospère». Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed today that Moderna will meet its contractual obligation to deliver 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March. Speaking in question period, Trudeau said that the Massachusetts-based firm will send 460,000 doses during the week of March 8 and 840,000 doses starting on March 22 — 1.3 million doses. That's in addition to the 518,000 Moderna shots that have been administered already and the 168,000 doses that are set to arrive this week, for a total of roughly 2 million in the first quarter of this year. In announcing the new Moderna numbers, Trudeau said Canada will receive "even more than promised in the first quarter." But the government has always maintained that 2 million shots will arrive in the January through March period. Canada's other current supplier of vaccines, Pfizer, has confirmed already it is on target to ship 4 million shots by the end of March. All told, there will be enough shots on hand to fully vaccinate 3 million people with a two-dose regime. After weeks of delays and smaller deliveries, Pfizer is now shipping hundreds of thousands of doses each week. Trudeau also confirmed Wednesday that Pfizer will send 750,000 doses a week for the first two weeks of April, significantly more than the 444,600 that have been arriving each week this month. Pfizer is then expected to deliver 10.8 million shots between April and June as the manufacturing supply chain stabilizes after a shaky start to the year. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand has said 23 million vaccine doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna products — enough to fully vaccinate 11.5 million people — will be delivered by the end of June. Canada trails much of the Western world in the number of doses deployed so far. The U.S. has vaccinated five times more people per capita than Canada, while the United Kingdom has put shots in the arms of 6.5 times more people. The United States has administered 65 million vaccine doses, while fewer than 1.9 million doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories in this country. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said less than 8 per cent of the Canadian population will be vaccinated by the end of March, a number that pales in comparison to other G7 nations. He said the prime minister's vaccine procurement plan has "guaranteed a third wave of COVID-19 for Canada." O'Toole said the country will have to vaccinate 300,000 people a day to meet the prime minister's target of vaccinating everyone who wants a shot by the end of September. WATCH: Trudeau announces new vaccine delivery numbers
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today. One case is in the Edmundston region in the northwest of the province and involves a staff member in their 70s at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home. That facility has reported more than 90 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The other new case involves a person in their 50s in the Moncton region. There are now 64 active reported cases in the province and two people in hospital with the disease, including one in intensive care. New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,426 COVID-19 infections and 26 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
The County of Grande Prairie voted to contribute up to $104,000 Monday toward the first stage of a new Beaverlodge health complex. The project is currently seeking a P3 partner to supply capital and expertise. Consultancy commenced in April 2020 and will continue through to this fall, said Jeff Johnston, Beaverlodge chief administrative officer (CAO). Costs of that component are expected to be approximately $208,000, according to county administration. The county’s contribution will go toward that; Beaverlodge will supply the remaining $104,000, said Johnston. “This is very important to the west county and even to the county as a whole, because of the amount of emergency room access given to the whole region,” county Coun. Bob Marshall said during Monday’s meeting. “It’s a very worthy project and much needed for the west county,” reeve Leanne Beaupre added. “We’ve been advocating for it for as long as I’ve been on council.” “The relationship with the county, particularly on this project, is integral to the success of realizing a new health complex,” Johnston told Town & Country News. The Town of Beaverlodge established the Mountview Health Complex Committee (MHCC) last spring to pursue hospital replacement utilizing private funds through the company P3 Capital Partners. The health complex would be built on the 22 acres donated to the town by the McFarlane family approximately a decade ago. Once complete, the facility would be leased to Alberta Health Services. Beaverlodge mayor Gary Rycroft is an MHCC member along with town councillors Gena Jones and Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus. The county appointed two councillors to MHCC, Peter Harris and Bob Marshall. The town issued a RFP titled “Mountview Health Care Campus” to the provincial online resource Alberta Purchasing Connection in January. The RFP is open until March 15. According to county administration, the RFP requests an operator or capital partner to contribute capital and expertise. The private partner would complete a business plan, determine a schedule for to the project and create a plan for operations, according to administration. Depending on the proposal, the developer may then “operate” the building in carrying out maintenance while AHS leases, or Alberta Health may maintain the building, Rycroft told the News in January. Coun. Marshall’s motion to provide half of the consultant costs up to $104,000 from the municipal infrastructure reserve was carried unanimously. After fall 2021 he said the partner and MHCC will move forward with a design. If a partner isn’t found as a result of the RFP, Johnston said the project will be reviewed. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
GameStop Corp shares more than doubled in afternoon trading on Wednesday, surprising those who thought the video game retailer's stock price would stabilize after a fierce rally and steep dive that upended Wall Street in January. Other so-called "stonks" - an intentional misspelling of 'stocks' - favored by retail traders on sites such as Reddit's WallStreetBets, also shot higher. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc gained 18%, Koss Corp rallied more than 50% and BlackBerry Corp rose nearly 9%.
STONY PLAIN, Alta. — A trial date has been set for a jailed Alberta pastor who is accused of holding Sunday services that violated COVID-19 rules.James Coates with GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove, near Edmonton, did not appear in court Wednesday when a date for a three-day trial was set to start May 3. He was arrested last week and remanded in custody after refusing to agree to bail conditions.Coates was charged this month for violating Alberta's Public Health Act and breaking a promise to abide by rules of his bail release, which is a Criminal Code offence. The church has been holding services that officials say break public-health regulations on attendance, masking and distancing.John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the organization representing Coates, said lawyer James Kitchen plans to file an application with the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench seeking the pastor's release until the trial begins.Carpay said Kitchen will argue that the provincial government needs to be held accountable for COVID-19 rules that infringe on constitutional rights."The health orders violate our Charter Section 2 rights to assemble and associate worship, Section 6 rights to move and to travel, and Section 7 charter rights to life, liberty, and security," Carpay said."If the past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, I don't think it's likely that Pastor Coates is going to abide by unscientific public health workers but that's his decision."Several people gathered outside the Stony Plain courthouse in support of the pastor and urged Premier Jason Kenney to lift COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday."Our governing authorities are acting criminally and all this is against our constitutional rights and freedoms," said Jasmine Tucker, who has been going to GraceLife Church for 10 years and has continued attending church since Coates' arrest."We're devastated by what has happened. We have the right to go to church and worship God the way that God tells us to. We pray that churches will open, that churches stand up and say this is not right."Tucker said she has been in touch with the pastor's wife and has been told he is doing OK in jail."He is faithful, he is courageous, and he is honouring the Lord."Police fined the church $1,200 in December and a closure order was issued in January.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.Jacob Spenst, an associate pastor of the church, conducted last Sunday's service and told the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in for the jailed pastor.The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference.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. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
Le fait que la première rencontre de Joe Biden avec un dirigeant étranger ait eu lieu avec Justin Trudeau en réjouit plusieurs. Mais les Canadiens ont appris, en 250 ans, à se méfier de leur voisin.
From hockey arenas to Montreal's Olympic Stadium, sites across Canada that are usually dedicated to sports, business or entertainment are being repurposed to serve the goal of mass vaccination. As provinces prepare to expand their vaccine rollouts to the general population in the coming days and weeks, here's a look at some notable landmarks that have been named as mass vaccination sites. Olympic Stadium, Montreal Built for the 1976 Olympics, Montreal's towering "Big O" has previously hosted the Expos baseball team and major sporting events such as the CONCACAF Champions League soccer final. It's known for holding major events, such as a concert by the Rolling Stones and a mass by Pope John Paul II, as well as for costly and embarrassing falling concrete and roof tears. In mid-February, the local health authority announced the atrium of the stadium would be repurposed as a mass vaccination clinic. Quebec is set to start vaccinating people 85 and older there next week. Canada's Wonderland, Vaughan, Ont. The theme park bills itself as "the country’s premier amusement park," featuring more than 200 attractions, including a 20-acre water park and 17 roller-coasters. The Yukon Striker, it boasts, is the world's fastest, longest and tallest dive coaster. Now, the site is also being eyed as a drive-thru vaccine clinic in the spring, according to public health officials. The City of Toronto is also preparing a number of mass vaccination sites, including the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto Congress Centre and the Cloverdale Mall. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine distribution task force, said Wednesday there would be enough sites to allow Ontarians to get the vaccine close to where they live. "Whether it's a Shoppers Drug Mart in Orleans, Ont., or whether it's a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Canada's Wonderland later on in the spring, when the weather improves a bit, or whether it's a hockey rink in York Region ... the ones closest to you will be the ones brought up (where) you will be able to reserve an appointment," he said. Keystone Centre, Brandon, Man. The Keystone Centre is home to the Brandon Wheat Kings junior hockey team and the Brandon Curling Club, as well as the as the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and special events, such as a now-postponed ZZ Top concert. In addition to the Keystone Centre, the province has announced other mass vaccination sites including the Thompson Regional Community Centre and the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. Canada Games Complex, Sydney, N.S. The venue at Cape Breton University was originally built for the 1987 Canada Winter Games. It is now listed as a recreational facility on the website of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The university announced in 2019 that some 500 solar panels would be installed on the roof of the complex in what it called the largest solar installation on Cape Breton Island. Other vaccine clinics in Nova Scotia include the IWK Health Centre, a major hospital in Halifax, and the New Minas Baptist Church. Other venues The government of British Columbia has not yet released the locations of its clinics but says they will take place in large spaces including school gymnasiums, arenas, convention halls, and community halls. In Nunavut, upcoming vaccination clinics are to be run out of schools and community halls. The government of Alberta has chosen not to publish the locations of its vaccine sites in order to try to avoid having people show up without appointments, according to a spokesman for Alberta Health Services. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
En dépit de leur forte teneur en graisses, et à condition de ne pas en abuser, les fruits à coque ne font pas grossir. Mais surtout, s’agissant de notre santé, ils ont bien des atouts…
The town’s iconic figure, Jasper the Bear, had great fun on Feb. 18 on the outdoor rink at Robson Park. His loop-de-loops and slides were entertaining to many who passed by. That includes nine-month-old Jenssen Andrene with her dad Jessie Andrene (pictured) and mom Janet De Suyo, close by. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Holyrood council has voted to become a member of the Grand Concourse Authority. Council hopes that membership will help trail development in the community. “The purpose of the Grand Concourse is to foster, promote, and enable the design, development , and operation by or for the members of an integrated network of walkways, amenities, and land owned or occupied by the members,” said councillor Kim Ghaney during the February 9 meeting. The benefits include access to trailway standards and maintenance planning, which Ghaney said will lead to credibility in trail planning and increase the likelihood of success in getting grants “And, as Deputy Mayor (Curtis) Buckle likes to say, it’s always better to get funding for these infrastructure pieces of work. It reduces the burden on the community, so we’re always looking for funding for that purpose,” said Ghaney. “We recognise that trail development has been a gap in our outdoor recreation offered in the town, and we look forward to the creation of new trails in our area, and by doing it in the right way, by adhering to the best practices and good standards outlined by the Grand Concourse Association.” Councillor Roger Myette assured residents the membership will not mean that ATV users will be booted from the T’railway. “This is by no means taking the T’railway and turning it into a walking path,” said Myette. “Because when people hear Grand Concourse, they think right away of CBS, when they came in and removed all motorized vehicles from that trail. This is not that intent of what we have. This is to help us with the other trails we have around the community, and to increase this trail as well. But, so far as we know, as of right now, it will still be motorized, there is no intent of taking motorized vehicles off the T’railway.” Ghaney agreed that it was a “great point,” and noted that any such changes would not happen without public consultation. Council voted unanimously to approve the membership. The Grand Concourse Authority is a non-profit, member-based charitable organization. It’s board of directors includes representatives from CBS, Paradise, Mount Pearl, and St. John’s. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Conservative MP’s are backing a B.C. salmon farmers’ request to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan for transparent consultations with stakeholders and First Nations over the timeline to remove operations from the Discovery Islands. yesterday (Feb. 23) the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) released a report detailing 690 direct job losses and $390 million in lost economic activity as a result of the decision to close all 19 farms in the archipelago. The report also stated 10.7-million salmon eggs and young fish will be culled to meet the June 2022 deadline. The farmers are asking government to host a new round of discussions with all parties with aim of securing more time to allow the fish to grow out to harvestable size. Citing the report’s findings that 845 indirect jobs are also at risk, Richard Bragdon, Conservative shadow minister for fisheries and oceans, and Mel Arnold, MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap, said in a joint statement it’s clear the minister’s decision will harm the local economy with ripple effects throughout the sector. “Instead of seeking to minimize the impact of her decision, the Minister ignored local communities, mishandled First Nations consultations, and blindsided workers. These groups should have been at the negotiation table and helped provide a plan – an overdue step that Conservatives have called for,” they said. “The fisheries sector, and the thousands of Canadians it employs, deserves transparency and accountability from their government.” Layoffs and culling has already begun in the sector. Mowi Canada has released three employees with another 30 expected in the coming months. Yesterday the company also began a cull of 950,000 eggs and young salmon. A spokesperson for minister Jordan’s office said while the culling of any fish is unfortunate, industry leaders had known for months or years prior that a final decision on the farms would be made by December 2020. “The Cohen Commission recommended this over a decade ago, and the licenses in that area were only ever renewed on a yearly basis for that reason,” she said. Directed by the Cohen recommendations, DFO conducted risk assessments of the Discovery Islands farms last year, but found the impacts to wild salmon were below critical thresholds. However public pressure resulted in three months of consultation with area First Nations and Jordan’s subsequent decision. Fish farm owners, area mayors and B.C. Premier John Horgan have all stated they were not part of those discussions. “In 2021, Canadians expect First Nations to have a say in what economic activity occurs on their territory. These pens were not the right fit for the area,” Jordan’s spokesperson said. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
OTTAWA — International Development Minister Karina Gould says the first injection of a COVID-19 vaccine in Ghana is a significant milestone for a new global vaccine-sharing program created to bring doses to low-income countries. But the NDP wants the House of Commons to censure the Canadian government for being the only G7 country to accept doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the program, known as COVAX, later this year. Some 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the West African country of Ghana on Wednesday, months after the rollout of vaccines in Canada and the rest of the developed world, which has underscored the inequity COVAX was seeking to avoid. COVAX was founded last year with the backing of the World Health Organization to bring vaccines to countries that can't afford them, and rich countries that have invested heavily in the program, such as Canada, are entitled to doses for their own domestic use. NDP development critic Heather McPherson says Canada's decision to exercise its legal right to the COVAX doses highlights the fact the Liberal government has failed to guarantee enough of a domestic supply of vaccines. She says she will be pushing the Commons committee on foreign affairs and international development to allow her party's motion to be debated and voted on in the full Parliament. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced all public events will be cancelled until July, including Canada Day, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Le concept de microforêt se répand petit à petit pour répondre à la bétonisation de nos existences. Au risque de détourner ce qui définit une forêt.
Montreal health officials say with aggressive contact tracing and mass COVID-19 testing, they hope to delay a more contagious novel coronavirus variant from becoming dominant in the city until April. Dr. Mylene Drouin, head of public health in Montreal, says it's only a matter of time before the B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — takes over in Quebec's largest city. "Knowing that the variant is more transmissible than the current virus that's circulating ... it's going to take the place of the virus that is circulating," Drouin told reporters Wednesday. "In our case, we think if we do our tracing well enough and we have the same compliance of the population of public health measures, we could delay until April." Community transmission remains strong in Montreal, with about 350 to 400 infections a day, Drouin said, adding that eight to 10 per cent of infections in the city are being identified as suspected cases of the U.K. mutation. Authorities, she said, have contained 22 outbreaks linked to the variant since January, mainly in schools and daycares, through intensive and aggressive contact tracing and mass testing. Drouin said some modelling suggests if the public adheres strictly to health orders, the Montreal area could put off the U.K. variant becoming dominant until early spring. In the meantime, she said, the goal is to get as many people 70 years old and older a dose of vaccine. Starting Thursday, Quebec residents 85 years old and older can register for vaccination appointments, which will begin next week in the Montreal region. The city expects to receive 75,000 doses of vaccine next week. "This vaccination of the most vulnerable population is going to help us protect them from the most severe form of the disease," Drouin said. Across the province, the number of suspected cases of coronavirus variants identified through screening jumped by 118, to 602; the number of confirmed cases remained unchanged at 23 — 19 of them in Montreal. With the province's March break coming up next week, Drouin urged people to keep to their family bubbles and apply COVID-19 public health rules, such as physical distancing. Quebec reported 806 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and a sharp increase in the number of patients in intensive care. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by 25, to 655, but the number of intensive care patients jumped by 10, for a total of 130. They reported 17 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five that occurred in the past 24 hours. A total of 8,807 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were given on Tuesday, for a total of 376,910 since the campaign began. About 3.9 per cent of Quebec's population has received a first dose. The province has reported a total of 284,472 infections and 10,346 deaths linked to the virus. There are 7,988 active reported COVID-19 cases in Quebec. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Vendredi dernier, c’était la première présentation du dossier de Julie Vaillancourt au palais de justice de Chibougamau. Mme Vaillancourt est poursuivie sous 4 chefs d’accusation pour fraude de plus de 5 000 $, production et utilisation de faux aux dépens de la corporation de l’aréna et du Mont-Chalco de Chibougamau. C’est Me Xavier-Jean Gagnon d’Alma qui représentera l’accusée lors de sa première comparution devant le juge Rosaire Larouche. L’avocat de l’accusée a demandé un délai à la cour puisque celui-ci vient à peine d’être saisi de l’affaire. Mentionnant une preuve très volumineuse, il est nécessaire qu’il puisse prendre connaissance de celle-ci pour pouvoir conseiller en toute connaissance de cause sa cliente. Le dossier de Julie Vaillancourt reviendra devant la cour le 28 mai prochain. À cette occasion, la cour accueillera l’orientation finale de la défense. La présence de Mme Vaillancourt ne sera pas obligatoire au palais de justice pour la suite des procédures. Mme Vaillancourt est accusée d’avoir fraudé les corporations de l’aréna et du Mont-Chalco de Chibougamau sur plusieurs années soit de janvier 2015 jusqu’à décembre 2019 pour des sommes totalisant plus d’un demi-million de dollars. Les accusations ont été déposées au début janvier 2021 et font suite à une enquête de plusieurs mois de la Sureté du Québec. René Martel, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
THUNDER BAY, Ont. — A school board in Thunder Bay, Ont., is calling for all classes to go online after several COVID-19 outbreaks. The board wants public health authorities to mandate online learning for at least two weeks starting March 1. Board chairwoman Ellen Chambers says schools have had to dismiss classes repeatedly because of one COVID-19 case. She says that is affecting students' learning. Chambers says 576 students and 55 staff are currently self-isolating, creating a teacher shortage. The Lakehead District School Board has 26 elementary schools and four secondary schools. Four schools are currently in virtual learning because of COVID-19 cases. 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
OTTAWA — Parliament’s budget watchdog is predicting another multibillion-dollar increase in the cost of a new fleet of warships for the Royal Canadian Navy, pegging the price for what was already the largest military procurement in Canada’s history at more than $77 billion.Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux’s latest estimate is $17 billion more than the government’s stated price for the 15 warships, which are to be built in Halifax over the next two decades and form the navy’s backbone for most of the century.Giroux’s estimate is in a highly anticipated report released Wednesday that is likely to set the stage for some tough discussions — and heavy industry lobbying — on whether Canada should push ahead on the project or change tack.To that end, the budget officer’s report includes a number of potential scenarios designed to provide a clearer picture of what options are available to the government should it decide to go in a different direction — and how much each would cost.That includes scrapping the existing plan to base the 15 warships on the British-designed model called the Type-26, which Canadian defence officials have repeatedly described as the right ship for Canada, and choosing a different design for the fleet.Giroux and his team also looked at the idea of a hybrid fleet, in which Canada builds three Type-26 ships and supplements them with 12 other vessels. That would mimic how the navy was previously built, with three Iroquois-class destroyers and 12 Halifax-class frigates.The Type-26 frigate is also being built by the United Kingdom and Australia, but Canadian officials have been making numerous changes to the design to meet Canada’s unique military and industrial requirements.Those changes have been made more complicated by the government’s attempts to pack all the capabilities from the navy’s now-retired destroyers and existing frigates into one type of ship.The destroyers provided air defence while the frigates specialize in hunting submarines.The PBO found that the government could save $40 billion if it built only three Type-26 frigates and supplemented them with 12 smaller, less capable Type-31s, which is similar to what Britain has decided to do.Canada could also save $50 billion if it scrapped plans to build any Type-26s and went with an entire fleet of Type-31s, according to the report, though the PBO notes that the Type-31 was “designed to operate alongside the ‘higher-end’ Type-26.” Restarting the entire project could result in a four-year delay to the start of construction.Giroux acknowledged during a media briefing that building a “hybrid fleet” would incur added costs over the long term due to the need for more training and spare parts for different types of ships, among other things, which were not figured into his calculations.“It also means that you don't put all your eggs in the same basket,” he added. “So if you find a major defect in one class of ship, you have a fallback option. You're not bound by 15 ships.”The PBO also looked at the potential cost to switch to a type of warship called the FREMM that is currently being built for the United States and which Giroux described as on par with the Type-26 in its capabilities.The budget officer found a revised project would cost around $71 billion whether the government decided to build an entire fleet of FREMMs or three Type-26s and 12 FREMMs.The Defence Department stood by its $60-billion cost estimate on Wednesday, arguing Giroux put too much emphasis on the ship's weight in his calculations, and noting his figure included tax. It also called the Type-26 "the right ship" for the navy, suggesting the other designs would not meet Canada' needs.While it said selecting a new design "is not an option we will be pursuing," the department did not specifically address the idea of a hybrid fleet.“As a taxpayer, I really hope they're right on the $60 billion — and even lower if they can,” Giroux said. “But we're confident that our cost estimate is the most likely scenario: $77 billion. I'm confident we have an accurate cost estimate.”The warship project was launched in earnest nearly a decade ago when Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax was selected in October 2011 to build the fleet, with the total cost estimated at around $26 billion and the first ship to be delivered in the mid-2020s.That vague schedule remained largely unchanged, at least on paper, even as the estimated price tag ballooned to $60 billion and Ottawa ordered several smaller ships so Irving would have work until the surface combatants were ready for construction.But defence officials revealed to The Canadian Press earlier this month while that construction on the first Type-26 is set to begin in 2023-24, the ship won't be delivered until 2030-31. Officials nonetheless insisted that the $60 billion budget would be sufficient despite the new delays.Giroux said his team’s analysis found a one-year delay in the project would add $2.3 billion to the overall cost, while a two-year delay would result in the fleet costing $4.8 billion more.Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and chief of the defence staff Admiral Art McDonald also appeared in a promotional video this month for a new design facility for the Type-26 that was organized by BAE Systems, which designed the warship, suggesting the government is doubling down on the warship.Wednesday’s report is the result of a request from a parliamentary committee for the PBO to look into the warship project, and had been highly anticipated given the amount of money involved and the relative lack of information about the project from the government.It also comes as the federal auditor general prepares to release her own report Thursday on the federal government’s entire shipbuilding strategy, which includes not only the 15 new warships but dozens of other vessels for the Navy and Canadian Coast Guard.The Naval Association of Canada, which represents current and retired naval officers, sent a commentary to members of Parliament last month warning them to exercise caution when it came to Wednesday’s PBO report.Giroux acknowledged that naval officials are in a better position to determine what the navy needs in its new fleet, and that each of the different designs provide pros and cons. However, he said MPs asked his office to look at the costs, “and that’s what we did.”“Ultimately, it's up to decision-makers to make these trade-offs as to what the navy needs and what Canada can afford,” he said. “And by providing them with these cost estimates, we're allowing them to have better information to make these important decisions.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press