Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
WASHINGTON — The White House warned that the U.S. may consider a military response to the rocket attack on Wednesday that hit an air base in western Iraq where American and coalition troops are housed, raising concerns this could trigger a new round of escalating violence. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base. And while no group claimed responsibility, it was the first strike since the U.S. bombed Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week. Heightened tensions with Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq could lead to more attacks, complicating the Biden administration’s desire to open talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, as well as the ongoing U.S. strategy to focus more attention on Asia. Asked about the attack, President Joe Biden told reporters, “we are following that through right now." He added, “Thank God, no one was killed by the rocket, but one individual, a contractor, died of a heart attack. But we’re identifying who’s responsible and we’ll make judgments” about a response. White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the “calculated” U.S. airstrikes last week could be a model for a military response. Those strikes were in response to an attack on American forces in northern Iraq earlier in February. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing,” Psaki said. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. contractor “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering” from the attack and died shortly afterward. He said there were no service members injured and all are accounted for. British and Danish troops also are among those stationed at the base. The U.S. airstrikes last week, which killed one member of the Iran-aligned militia, had stoked fears of another cycle of tit-for-tat attacks as happened more than a year ago. Those attacks included the U.S. drone strike in January 2020 that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani in Baghdad and set off months of increased troops levels in the region. The latest attack also comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq despite concerns about security and the coronavirus pandemic. The much-anticipated trip will include stops in Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province early in the morning, U.S.-led coalition spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto said. Kirby said the rockets were fired from east of the base, and that counter-rocket defensive systems were used to defend forces at the base. He added that while 10 rockets hit the base, he didn't have information on what, if any, impact the defensive systems had in stopping any strikes. He said damage assessments were ongoing. Asked if the attack may have come from Iranian-backed Shia militia groups, Kirby said the U.S. can't attribute responsibility for the attack yet. He acknowledged, however, during a Pentagon briefing, that “we have seen rocket attacks come from Shia-backed militia groups in the past. So in that way, certainly it certainly coincides with our past experience here.” It's the same base that Iran struck with a barrage of missiles in January of last year in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. Dozens of U.S. service members suffered concussions in that strike. The Iraqi military released a statement saying that Wednesday's attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the rockets — a truck. Video of the site shows a burning truck in a desert area. British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned the attack, saying it undermined the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group. “Coalition forces are in Iraq to fight Daesh at the invitation of the Iraqi government,” he tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “These terrorist attacks undermine the fight against Daesh and destabilize Iraq.” Denmark said coalition forces at the base were helping to bring stability and security to the country. “Despicable attacks against Ain al-Asad base in #Iraq are completely unacceptable," Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. The Danish armed forces said two Danes who were at the base at the time of the attack are unharmed. Last week's U.S. strike along the border was in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport. After that attack, the Pentagon said the strike was a “proportionate military response.” Marotto, the coalition spokesperson, said the Iraqi security forces were leading an investigation into the attack. Frequent rocket attacks in Baghdad targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy, during Donald Trump’s presidency frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes. Those attacks have increased again in recent weeks, since President Joe Biden took office, following a lull during the transition period. U.S. troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year and withdrew from several Iraqi bases to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad, Baghdad and Irbil. ___ Kullab reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report. Samya Kullab And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Un convoi composé d'un autobus et d'une vingtaine de voitures s'est rendu, le 3 mars, à l'Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé de Laval pour manifester son appui envers le personnel de la santé. «Ça fait maintenant un an qu'ils sont au travail à combattre cette pandémie, mentionne Sonia Ethier, présidente de la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) qui a organisé l'événement. Nous voulions saluer leur travail et leur rappeler à quel point ils sont importants.» L'événement était organisé conjointement avec la Fédération de la Santé du Québec (FSQ-CSQ) et la Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ). «Les employés des services de garde d'urgence ont aussi fait un travail remarquable, ajoute Mme Ethier. Ils arrivent tôt et partent tard du travail, tout en ayant une responsabilité importante. Ils travaillent sans relâche au détriment de leur santé et au risque de ramener le virus à la maison.» Les membres présents sur place n'ont d'ailleurs pas manqué l'occasion de faire du bruit à plusieurs reprises pour se faire entendre par leurs collègues qui travaillent à l'intérieur des installations de la Cité-de-la-Santé. La CSQ a aussi profité de cette occasion pour rappeler que les négociations des nouvelles conventions collectives n'avançaient pas. Les organisations syndicales souhaitent d'ailleurs que le gouvernement provincial améliore leurs conditions de travail. «Après un an et demi de négociations, il n’y a toujours aucun article de signé, affirme Claire Montour, présidente de la FSQ-CSQ. Nous avons rejeté à l’unanimité une proposition globale. Nous n’avons pas fait ça par caprice, mais bien parce que nous voulons obtenir de meilleures conditions de travail, une vraie reconnaissance du travail d’infirmière, d'infirmière auxiliaire et d'inhalothérapeute.» Mme Ethier précise quant à elle que le regroupement syndical avait réajusté ses demandes au printemps dernier pour prendre en compte le contexte économique auquel la province doit faire face en raison de la pandémie. Cela n'a toutefois pas mené vers un débouché dans les négociations. «On est ici pour demander du respect pour notre personnel, conclut-elle. On veut un ratio personnel-patients, des équipes stables et la fin du temps supplémentaire obligatoire. On veut arrêter de se promener dans tous les sens et mettre fin aux agences de placement. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Ikea's new plant-based meatballs are different from the existing veggie balls.
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
It has been more than a year since the government issued a temporary extension on renewing health cards, driver's licences and licence plate stickers. The pause was implemented to prevent line ups at Service Ontario during the pandemic. So what's the status on that now? Jessica Nyznik has the details.
Trois-Rivières – À la suite de sa rencontre avec la direction du CIUSSS mercredi matin, Jean Beaulieu prendra le week-end pour déterminer la suite des choses en lien avec ce qu'il qualifiait d'intervention «sauvage» de la Santé publique régionale qui a fermé une résidence pour aînés en donnant 48 heures d'avis aux résidents pour se trouver un nouveau logis. «Je dois réfléchir à ce qu'ils m'ont dit. Ils m'ont présenté une affaire de fonctionnaires», qualifie M. Beaulieu d'entrée de jeu. «Je ne veux pas poser de geste trop vite», a-t-il ajouté. Rappelons que M. Beaulieu demandait au CIUSSS d'assumer la différence des coûts mensuels de loyer de sa mère après l'intervention de la résidence Saint-Pie X où elle habitait, soit une somme de 900$. Selon ses dires, le CIUSSS lui a proposé un plan B qui consiste à déménager sa mère dans un CHSLD, ce qu'il se refuse à accepter. «Il n'y en aura pas de plan B. Ma mère ne bougera pas d'où elle est actuellement. Dans leur tête, ils vont m'aider pour trois mois et ils m'ont même offert de m'aider à trouver l'endroit. Ils m'ont dit qu'ils regarderaient ce qu'ils pouvaient faire pour les frais supplémentaires», raconte M. Beaulieu, qui a tout de même qualifié la direction de «sympathique». «Je me sens comme un quêteux», a-t-il laissé tomber, exaspéré. Jean Beaulieu espérait également, lors de cette rencontre virtuelle, obtenir quelques réponses concernant la fermeture de la résidence Saint-Pie X, laquelle aurait reçu une plainte pour mauvais traitements physiques et psychologiques, deux éléments qui n'ont jamais été constatés par le principal intéressé, qui assure que sa mère adorait l'endroit. «Ils disent qu'ils avaient de bonnes raisons, mais ils ne nous les donnent pas», a-t-il déploré. Affirmant qu'il a été «assez patient», Jean Beaulieu veut maintenant se donner le week-end pour réfléchir à son prochain geste. «Ça pourrait être réglé demain s'ils voulaient. Je vais étudier ça en fin de semaine», a-t-il conclu. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
OTTAWA — Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that he informed Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan of allegations of misconduct against Gen. Jonathan Vance during a “hostile” closed-door meeting three years ago. Walbourne’s remarks appear to contradict Sajjan’s own testimony to the same committee Feb. 19, when he said he was as surprised as anyone when Global News first reported Vance’s alleged misconduct in early February. At that time, Sajjan repeatedly refused to confirm media reports that Walbourne raised allegations against Vance when the minister and ombudsman met in March 2018. Sajjan cited confidentiality and also said any allegations brought to him were taken seriously and referred to the appropriate authorities. Walbourne, whose testimony is protected by parliamentary privilege, used his opening statement to the House of Commons' defence committee to publicly confirm the conversation for the first time. “Yes, I did meet with Minister Sajjan on March 1, 2018,” he said. “Yes, I did directly tell him about an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour made against the chief of defence.” Global News has reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked. He is also accused of having made a sexual comment to a second, much younger, soldier in 2012, before he became commander of the Armed Forces. Vance, who turned over command of the military in January after more than five years in the job, has not responded to requests for comment by The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global says Vance, who as defence chief oversaw the military’s efforts to root sexual misconduct from the ranks, has denied any wrongdoing. Military police are now investigating the allegations against Vance. They have also launched an investigation of Vance’s successor as defence chief, Admiral Art McDonald, who temporarily stepped aside last week in response to unspecified allegations of misconduct. Walbourne did not spell out the specifics of the allegation that he presented to Sajjan, and confirmed earlier reports that no formal complaint was filed. However, he said he came to possess “irrefutable, concrete evidence” about Vance, which is what led him to raise the matter with the minister. Walbourne told the committee Sajjan refused to look at the evidence and later cut off all contact until the former ombudsman’s resignation on Oct. 31, 2018. Walbourne also said he asked Sajjan to keep the matter in confidence until they could figure out how to handle the allegation, but that the minister instead told the Privy Council Office, which asked the ombudsman for information about the complainant. Walbourne, who initially declined an invitation to appear before the committee before being formally summoned to testify, said he refused to provide that information because the complainant had not given permission to do so. The former ombudsman, who has repeatedly decried a lack of independence for the office, went on to draw a link between his meeting with Sajjan three years ago and the Department of National Defence cutting off his financial and staffing authorities. The ombudsman’s office was being investigated at that time following a whistleblower’s complaint. Walbourne was adamant the complaint had no merit, and instead alleged that it was used as an excuse to put pressure on him and his team. Asked if there was any attempt by the government to cover up for Vance, Walbourne said: “I don’t know if it was an attempt at a coverup, but I know it was a full-court press to get rid of me.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan released a plan Wednesday outlining conditions for Indigenous lobster fishers to participate in moderate livelihood fisheries during commercial seasons. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs, however, said Ottawa's latest overture is "unacceptable." Jordan said her plan would allow moderate livelihood fishing activity during the commercial, federally regulated season, through licences issued under the Fisheries Act. She said her idea wouldn't increase the total amount of fishing conducted in the country's waters. "I need to make sure the stocks are health and sustainable," she said in an interview Wednesday. "And we have the seasons for that purpose: to make sure that this is orderly, it's regulated and it does meet our conservation objectives." The plan would also allow First Nations communities to sell moderate livelihood catches to processors, which is currently illegal under Nova Scotia regulations. "The difference is we are now authorizing a moderate livelihood fishery, which is completely separate from a commercial fishery," Jordan said. She said the plan — which she said can be long-term or yearly — can be used while First Nations communities and the government negotiate an overarching Rights Reconciliation Agreement on Indigenous fishing rights. She said there are a number of banked licences that can be used to give access to First Nations communities, adding that she hopes there can be some voluntary buyouts of existing commercial licences. The Fisheries Department, she said, will work with First Nations communities to develop moderate livelihood fishing plans that could be unique to each community. The minister said the interim plan is a "path" that is "flexible and adaptable" and is based in the implementation of First Nations treaty rights, the conservation and sustainability of fish stocks, and transparent management of the fishery. The Sipekne'katik and Potlotek First Nations have launched lawsuits against the Nova Scotia government, with both saying existing regulations interfere with their treaty right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia argue that a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirms the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish for a "moderate livelihood'' when and where they want — even outside the federally regulated commercial fishing season. That decision was later clarified by the court, however, which said Ottawa could regulate the Mi'kmaq treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes. Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said his band is not impressed with the government's new plan. The First Nation launched its own moderate livelihood fishery last fall in St. Mary's Bay, outside of the federally regulated season. Members of the band encountered violence from non-Indigenous residents that resulted in the destruction of a lobster pound and the burning of a band member's van. Sack said it was "kind of the same old stuff" when asked about Jordan's plan. "We are strongly for not having the department issue our licences and we want to exercise our right and have our own season," he said. "It's way off the mark." Sack said Sipekne'katik plans to go ahead with its own fishery this spring, likely in June. Meanwhile, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs said in a news release on Wednesday the plan by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was "unacceptable." "Minister Bernadette Jordan ... has also made unilateral decisions and asserted a position ... having full control over our Rights-based fishery. This is unacceptable. "DFO is continuing to impose rules without consultation with, accommodation of, or agreement with, the Assembly." Gordon Beaton, president of Local 4 of the Maritime Fishermen's Union, said commercial fishers are open to allowing First Nations participation as long as any agreement adheres to three primary pillars: in-season fishing only, no overall increased fishing, and the same basic rules for all fishers. "If there is some different kind of access, the industry has no problem with that as long as it's under the same rules," Beaton said. "As always, it will be what's in the (plan's) details." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
SAN DIEGO — Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offences against five women in Southern California, including one who was homeless when he attacked her in 2018. The 37-year-old son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow appeared via videoconference at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, a city north of San Diego. He declined to comment before his sentence, saying his lawyers had advised him not to speak. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described with “two words and that is sexual predator." He said he selected women who were vulnerable because of their age or their living situation with the idea that “hopefully he would get away with it in his mind." Winslow was once the highest-paid tight end in the league, earning more than $40 million over his 10 seasons before he left in 2013. The 14-year-sentence was the maximum allowed under a plea deal. He was convicted of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. The forcible rape involved a woman who was homeless in his home town of Encinitas, a beach community north of San Diego. She was among four of the women who gave statements Wednesday, including one victim who had the prosecutor read hers. All described suffering years after their attacks from fear and emotional trauma. The woman who was homeless called into the hearing via video conference from the San Diego County District Attorney's office, where she was watching the proceedings with another victim. She said since she was raped she has had trouble raising her head and walking, and she feels afraid constantly, checking under beds and in closets, and cannot be alone. “It's affecting my life every day and every night," she said. “I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life." Winslow's attorney Marc Carlos said Winslow suffered from head trauma from the many blows to his head playing football, which can only explain why he “went off the rails" going from a star athlete to a convicted sexual predator. He said his client has accepted responsibility and intends to get help. Winslow was convicted of forcible rape and two misdemeanours — indecent exposure and a lewd act in public — after a trial in June 2019. But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged 2018 rape of a 54-year-old hitchhiker, and the 2003 rape of an unconscious 17-year-old high school senior who went to a party with him when he was 19. Before he was retried on those charges, he pleaded guilty to raping the teen and sexual battery of the hitchhiker. Those pleas spared him the possibility of life in prison. The father of two, whose wife filed for divorce after he was convicted, had faced up to 18 years in prison for all the charges. But both sides agreed to reduce the sexual battery charge to assault with intent to commit rape last month. That reduced the maximum sentence to 14 years. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story is part of a series on the LGBTQ+ community in the Ottawa Valley. A Friday night art club in Pembroke not only teaches macrame, watercolour painting and embroidery for LGBTQ+ youth, it has also become a supportive place to “bare wounds,” according to one of the participants. Ky Crosby, 16, has been attending Rainbow Art Club at Studio Dreamshare since January this year. “We were baring wounds ... showing each other what we have been through. We were each other’s support systems,” Crosby said of the 26 participants. Crosby, from Petawawa, admitted being scared during the first meeting but found the group to be kind and accepting. “It changed me. I love it there,” Crosby said. Cameron Montgomery, a full-time artist and owner of the gallery, has been leading the art club online since the summer of 2020. The art club was made possible through a federal grant of $20,000 in partnership with Pflag Renfrew and United Way East Ontario. “(The youth) say ‘this is the highlight of my week.’ They really get value from it. It’s become a safe space for (LGBTQ+) youth,” Montgomery said. Participants receive boxes of craft supplies sent in the mail. There’s a different project every week. Crosby identifies as a lesbian and uses the pronouns they/them. “A few months ago, I told (my parents) I was gender fluid. Some days I’d feel more masculine, other days feminine, some days I’d feel in-between.” “I didn’t know if people would understand it,” Crosby said. When asked about the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face, Crosby admitted it’s heartbreaking to see stigma. “I believe in 44 countries you could be killed (for being LGBTQ+). If anything, I just want to open people’s minds. Let them know that we are people, we feel things, we want the same things they do,” they said. Small-minded people, according to Crosby, are a “common threat": people who are not understanding and not willing to understand. “I also believe that within ourselves, we ourselves are big threats. We undermine, we doubt ourselves. We really need to let our guard down and allow other people to see in,” Crosby observed. “We all want to love, we’re scared. We all want to be happy at the end of the day,” they said. For more information, visit the following websites: http://www.pflagrenfrewcounty.ca and https://www.studiodreamshare.com Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Yet in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems. The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures around the country as well as the conservative groups supporting them and found only a few times it’s been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports. In South Carolina, for example, Rep. Ashley Trantham said she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. Otherwise, she said during a recent hearing, “the next generation of female athletes in South Carolina may not have a chance to excel." In Tennessee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton conceded there may not actually be transgender students now participating in middle and high school sports; he said a bill was necessary so the state could be “proactive.” Some lawmakers didn't respond to AP's queries. Others in places like Mississippi and Montana largely brushed aside the question or pointed to a pair of runners in Connecticut. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit. Supporters of transgender rights say the Connecticut case gets so much attention from conservatives because it’s the only example of its kind. “It’s their Exhibit A, and there’s no Exhibit B -- absolutely none,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a prominent trans-rights attorney. The multiple sports bills, he says, address a threat that doesn’t exist. There’s no authoritative count of how many trans athletes have competed recently in high school or college sports. Neither the NCAA nor most state high school athletic associations collect that data; in the states that do collect it, the numbers are minimal: No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years. Transgender adults make up a small portion of the U.S. population, about 1.3 million as of 2016, according to the Williams Institute, a think-tank at the UCLA School of Law that specializes in research on LGBTQ issues. The two dozen bills making their way through state legislatures this year could be devastating for transgender teens who usually get little attention as they compete. In Utah, a 12-year-old transgender girl cried when she heard about the proposal, which would separate her from her friends. She’s far from the tallest girl on her club team, and has worked hard to improve her times but is not a dominant swimmer in her age group, her coach said. “Other than body parts I’ve been a girl my whole life,” she said. The girl and her family spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to avoid outing her publicly. Those who object to the growing visibility and rights for transgender people, though, argue new laws are needed to keep the playing field fair for cisgender girls. “When the law does not recognize differences between men and women, we’ve seen that women lose,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Connecticut lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls. One of those girls, Chelsea Mitchell, defeated Terry Miller -- the faster of the two trans sprinters -- in their final two races in February 2020 The ADF and others like it are the behind-the-scenes backers of the campaign, offering model legislation and a playbook to promote the bills most of them with common features and even titles, like the Save Women’s Sports Act. When asked for other examples of complaints about middle or high school transgender athletes, ADF and the Family Policy Alliance, cited two: One involved a Hawaii woman who coaches track and filed a complaint last year over a trans girl competing in girls’ volleyball and track. The other involved a cisgender girl in Alaska who defeated a trans sprinter in 2016, then appeared in a Family Policy Alliance video saying the trans girl’s third-place finish was unfair to runners who were further behind. Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing trans students’ sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling. Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that in several states with proposed sports bans, lawmakers also are seeking to ban certain gender affirming health care for transgender young people “This is not about sports,” he said. ”It’s a way to attack trans people.” Some states' school athletic organizations already have rules about trans participation in sports: 19 states allow full inclusion of trans athletes; 16 have no clear-cut statewide policy; seven emulate the NCAA's rule by requiring hormone therapy for trans girls; and eight effectively ban trans girls from girls’ teams, according to attorney Asaf Orr of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Texas is among those with a ban, limiting transgender athletes to teams conforming with the gender on their birth certificate. That policy came under criticism in 2017 and 2018, when trans male Mack Beggs won state titles in girls’ wrestling competitions after he was told he could not compete as a boy. While Beggs, Miller and Yearwood were the focus of news coverage and controversy, trans athletes more commonly compete without any furor -- and with broad acceptance from teammates and competitors. In New Jersey’s Sussex County, trans 14-year-old Rebekah Bruesehoff competes on her middle school field hockey team and hopes to keep playing in high school. "It’s all been positive,” she said. “The coaches have been really helpful.” While New Jersey has a trans-inclusive sports policy, Rebekah is distressed by the proposed bans elsewhere – notably measures that might require girls to verify their gender. “I know what it’s like to have my gender questioned,” Rebekah said. “It’s invasive, embarrassing. I don’t want others to go through that.” The possibility that any athlete could have to undergo tests or examinations to prove their gender was among the reasons that Truman Hamburger, a 17-year-old high school student in North Dakota, showed up at the statehouse to protest a proposed ban. “Once you open up that door on gender policing, that’s not a door you can easily shut,” he said. Sarah Huckman, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, ran track and cross country for three years at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, after coming out as trans in 7th grade. Huckman showed great talent in the sprints and hurdles, but was not dominant on a statewide level. In her senior year, she won several events in small and mid-size meets, and had 6th place and 10th place finishes in the Division II indoor state championships. The proposed bans appall her. “It’s so demeaning toward my group of people,” she said. “We’re all human beings. We do sports for the love of it.” ___ Associated Press reporters covering statehouses across the U.S. contributed to this report. David Crary And Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - La vaccination contre la COVID-19 semble prendre son envol sans trop de turbulences, malgré quelques petits problèmes dans les premiers jours de la campagne, notamment au site de vaccination des Galeries Normandie. En raison d’un problème informatique, entre 200 et 300 places excédentaires ont été ouvertes pour des rendez-vous cette fin de semaine au site de vaccination des Galeries Normandie. Le Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal a donc dû contacter les personnes qui s’étaient inscrites à ces rendez-vous afin de les déplacer. Cette opération a nécessité le blocage de la prise de rendez-vous au site des Galeries Normandie pendant quelques heures mardi. Une lectrice du JDV avait contacté le JDV en constatant qu’on ne lui offrait par la possibilité de se faire vacciner à cet endroit. Le CIUSSS explique avoir pris le temps de joindre tous les usagers pour lesquels il fallait déplacer le rendez-vous avant de rouvrir les inscriptions aux Galeries Normandie. La résidante qui avait contacté le JDV a confirmé, par la suite, qu’elle avait finalement pu prendre rendez-vous pour sa vaccination aux Galeries Normandie. Des scènes de cohue avaient aussi été rapportées dans les premières heures de la campagne. On avait notamment vu des files importantes se former devant le centre de vaccination la semaine dernière.. L’approvisionnement en doses devrait s’accélérer dans les prochaines semaines, alors que le Canada vient d’approuver un troisième vaccin, celui d’Astra Zeneca. D’ici la mi-mars, le vaccin sera d’ailleurs également offert en pharmacie a annoncé le gouvernement du Québec. Si vous faites partie des groupes prioritaires déjà appelés, et que vous désirez prendre rendez-vous EN LIGNE pour vous faire vacciner, cliquez ici. Si vous faites partie des groupes prioritaires déjà appelés, et que vous désirez prendre rendez-vous PAR TÉLÉPHONE pour vous faire vacciner, cliquez ici. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
The County of Grande Prairie may provide some emergency funding to community groups that have struggled to raise funds amid COVID restrictions and economic downturn. County reeve Leanne Beaupre said council will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis at future council meetings. “We’ve seen a lot of our organizations, groups and not-for-profits that rely heavily on either fundraising or activities for revenue have not been able to meet their targets,” Beaupre said. “Some of these organizations may end up coming to council looking for help over and above what the provincial and federal governments have put out there.” The prospect of providing emergency funding to community groups arose at a county council committee meeting in late February. Beaupre said council is aware of the community groups’ financial issues because some of the organizations’ members have approached the county. The parks and recreation department has been “approachable” to community organizations, whose members have filled in county staff about these difficulties, she added. Community groups seeking county aid must demonstrate a need and should prepare up-to-date financial statements, Beaupre said. The groups will approach the parks and rec department where the members will fill out questionnaires, she said. County council’s committee of the whole also approved a motion during its Feb. 19 meeting asking community groups to seek federal and provincial grants. Beaupre said some organization members are unaware provincial and federal assistance is available, so council hopes to promote those programs. “We want to make sure they access those programs first before they come to the county,” she said. “Those programs were put in place specifically to help organizations and we want to make sure they take full advantage of that.” The county can provide emergency funding through funds under the 2020 budget allocated to projects that didn’t go forward, Beaupre said. Christine Rawlins, county parks and rec manager, said her department has a surplus of $56,650 in grant funds for emergency requests. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Earlier this week the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) moved into the green zone of the province’s reopening framework. At the same time, Collingwood’s restrictions were heightened to the grey-lockdown zone. The vast difference in restrictions between the two neighbouring communities has raised some questions about the logic behind the shift. “Changing the colour zones is not related to the locality of one town to another or the discrepancy between the red and the green and one area,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for GBHU. Arra explained that moving a region between the varying colour-coded zones is a provincial decision based on data points related to epidemiology, such as case count, per cent positivity, hospital and ICU capacity. “The Chief MOH will ask each MOH about the situation on the ground – where we see the region going. So, we have some input but the decision is absolutely provincial,” Arra said. Arra added the data set the province looks at to make its decision is essentially from three weeks prior to the shift. “So right now, if you go back two weeks, then the week before those two weeks, that's the set of data that is used,” he said. Arra added that he cannot comment on the specifics taking place in Simcoe County, as every health unit manages its own caseload and epidemiology data sets, but said in Grey-Bruce he has been confident with the decisions that are being made on a provincial level. “I don't know all the details that go there that led to the decision, but I know first-hand from dealing with provincial officials on a weekly basis or sometimes daily basis, I know that they're doing really a fine job. I can't comment on their decisions, but I can comment from my experience that they're doing a great job,” Arra said. However, Collingwood’s town council may beg to differ. At a meeting held last night the Collingwood council passed a motion that calls on the province to change the town's lock down designation. Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson said the stark difference between restrictions in the two neighbouring municipalities is “unconscionable.” “We’ve got two halves of a large economic engine that are now at opposite ends of the spectrum,” said the mayor. The Town of the Blue Mountains Mayor, Alar Soever said while he sympathizes with the situation Collingwood is in, he would prefer to keep politics out of the conversation when it comes to COVID-19 as he believes politicians should not make or influence decisions about public health. “I don't think what zone you're in should be a political decision. There are criteria that are based on case counts and where the transmission is happening. I would leave any and all of these decisions to the health professionals,” Soever said. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Identity management company Okta Inc said on Wednesday it has agreed to buy its smaller rival Auth0 in a $6.5 billion all-stock deal, one of the largest software deals so far this year. Okta expects to leverage Auth0's customer identification product to accelerate growth in the $55 billion identity market, as COVID-19 has pushed companies of all sizes to shift to remote working and interact with clients online. Both Okta and Auth0's cloud-based offerings help verify and secure the identities of an organization's workforce and customers before they can access certain applications or websites.
MILAN — Franck Kessié scored a penalty with the last kick of the match to rescue a 1-1 draw for title-chasing AC Milan against Udinese in Serie A. Rodrigo Becão looked to have secured Udinese’s first win at Milan in nearly five years before a needless handball from Jens Stryger Larsen. It was Milan’s first match without injured forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Rossoneri remained second in the standings. They are three points behind Inter Milan ahead of the Nerazzurri's trip to Parma. There were two late penalties and Sassuolo also hit the woodwork twice in an extraordinary 3-3 draw against Napoli. Atalanta humiliated bottom club Crotone 5-1. Roma won 2-1 at Fiorentina. Daniella Matar, The Associated Press
Residents may see a new roundabout in Paradise just a moment’s drive from the Topsail Road - McNamara Drive roundabout. “The provincial government is in the process of constructing a new intermediate school near the Diane Whalen Soccer Complex,” explained councillor Alan English. “Upgrades are required to the access road and the intersection at McNamara Drive. The current soccer complex access road would be upgraded with allowance for a future bypass road and the intersection at McNamara Road will be enhanced with an allowance for a two-lane roundabout in the future.” That soccer complex access road, which is marked by both a sign proudly announcing the land as the site of the new school and a sign promoting the soccer complex, is across from the Rotary Paradise Youth and Community Centre. To allow for the upgrades, the town has to purchase a portion of a piece of land referred to as ‘Lot 9.’ “Lot 9 is located at the corner of the access road and McNamara Drive and the Town required a portion of Lot 9 to facilitate area improvements,” said English. “The lot will be impacted by the construction of the roundabout and improvements to the access road. As well, the property access will be negatively impacted due to the plans to install a median on the access road when upgraded to a by-pass road.” To allow access to Lot 9 from the access road, the town also needed to deed a piece of the town-owned land to the owner of Lot 9, which can only be done with ministerial approval. “Council discussed the negotiations extensively in privileged meetings of council, and are unanimously in favour of the offer,” said English. That offer was $100,000, and the motion was passed unanimously to purchase a portion of Lot 9 near McNamara Drive for that sum. A second motion, for the Town to request ministerial approval to dispose of a portion of town-owned land located alongside the access road to the Diane Whalen Soccer Complex, also passed unanimously. All in all, English applauded the decision. “The town is making a strategic move here by acquiring this piece of property, because in the event that we don’t, we will actually block access to the land owner and be subject to legal action, possibly, for devaluing their property, and the town has taken the initiative to negotiate an agreement with the landowner, and while the amount is significant, $100,000, the end result is much, much cheaper than going the legal route,” said English. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau signalled Wednesday that Canada will stand up for an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France as human-rights advocates renewed calls for the Liberal government to intervene. The prime minister's words left Hassan Diab's supporters wishing Trudeau had been more forceful in pledging assistance. In late January, France ordered Diab to stand trial for a decades-old synagogue bombing, a move his lawyer called the latest misstep in a long odyssey of injustice. The Canadian government has been communicating with officials in France about the case and will continue to do so, Trudeau said during a news briefing Wednesday. "It has been a priority for us to make sure that we're standing up for our citizens all around the world, with countries that are challenging, but also with our allies," he said. "And those conversations will continue." Canadians would rightly expect their prime minister and government to stand up for a falsely accused citizen, said Donald Bayne, Diab's Ottawa lawyer. "But what does that ambiguous phrase mean?" Born in Lebanon, Diab became a Canadian citizen in 1993, working in Ottawa as a university teacher. The RCMP arrested him in November 2008 in response to a request by France. French authorities suspected Diab was involved in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured dozens of others, an accusation he has consistently denied. After lengthy proceedings that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Diab was extradited to France, where he spent three years behind bars, including time in solitary confinement. In January 2018, French judges dismissed the allegations against him for lack of evidence and ordered his immediate release. Trudeau said later that year that what Diab went through "never should have happened." Diab's supporters have long argued he was in Beirut — not Paris — when the attack took place and that his fingerprints, palm prints, physical description and age did not match those of the suspect identified in 1980. Earlier this year, Bayne called the French move to have Diab stand trial "a travesty of justice," saying the latest analysis of handwriting evidence in the case makes the argument for pursuing his client even weaker. Diab, 67, is now back with his wife and young children in Ottawa as his lawyers in France appeal the latest decision. Alex Neve, former secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, said in January it is "cruel and baffling" that French authorities continue to suspect Diab. Neve said the Canadian government must become involved at the highest political levels and not simply stand aside on the grounds that justice must be allowed to run its course. Justin Mohammed, a human rights law and policy campaigner with Amnesty Canada, said Wednesday the organization was encouraged by Trudeau's remarks but stressed that Canada must not co-operate with extradition requests that prolong Diab's ordeal. "It would be unconscionable to return him to face trial in France given the way his case has proceeded.” The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has called on Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau to intervene with their French counterparts "to put a stop to this endless, Kafkaesque affair." The group, which represents dozens of civil-society voices, also wants the prime minister to commit to not extraditing Diab to France a second time. It also says Canada must reform its extradition laws to ensure no one else is forced to go through what Diab has endured. Tim McSorley the group's national co-ordinator, said Wednesday that while the prime minister's words were encouraging, Trudeau missed an opportunity to "clearly and publicly denounce the ongoing miscarriage of justice being faced by Hassan Diab." Early last year, Diab filed a lawsuit accusing the Canadian government of negligent investigation and malicious prosecution, saying federal officials violated his constitutional guarantees of freedom of movement, liberty and security of the person. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week. Health officials said today the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine was found to be 62 per cent effective in clinical trials, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, which boast effectiveness rates of over 90 per cent. Officials say the delivery of the new vaccine won’t interfere with the scheduled rollout of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines for people aged 80 years and up. Health officials in Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 today, all of which involve close contacts of previously reported cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press