Frosty waves roll into a frozen shoreline at sunset
Frosty waves roll into a frozen shoreline at sunset
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine safety: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations to the tune of 84 per cent," Sharma said. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902 ) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. An analysis of results from 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggested the vaccine was similarly effective and well tolerated in this age group. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
Giorgio Armani is taking fashionistas back to the 1980s for his fall Emporio Armani line, nodding to the era's bright colours in his latest creations at Milan Fashion Week. The veteran designer, affectionately called "King Giorgio" in his native Italy, presented plenty of hot pink and purple creations, high-waisted trousers and chunky jewellery in the autumn/winter 2021-2022 collection called "In the mood for pop". In a video presented at the virtual Milan Fashion Week on Thursday, models wore wide-leg trousers with suspenders, velvet jumpsuits and round-shouldered jackets and coats, some with boule buttons, others with shiny patterns.
The City of Brampton’s independent internal audit mandate stresses the philosophy of improving operations within the City, emphasizing the highest level of due diligence and autonomy is applied when looking into the way public funds are used, free from any outside influence. However, shortly after CAO David Barrick arrived at City Hall following his firing from a Niagara conservation agency for mismanagement and a scathing Ontario ombudsman investigation report that implicated him in a fraudulent hiring process, the City’s top bureaucrat fired the head of internal audit, then moved the role from its independent reporting line to council and placed it under his authority. At least one councillor has expressed concern over Barrick’s takeover of another accountability mechanism. The mandate of internal audit was also quietly changed, removing its independence, the hallmark feature of any municipal audit department function. The structure no longer follows the recommended independent structure outlined by the association that represents municipal auditors. In September, following Barrick’s hiring in late 2019 and the immediate termination of former director of internal audit, Foruzan Velji, council approved a new audit charter that was quietly amended by staff to reflect the stark departure from the independence under the previous charter, approved in 2017. There are now concerns that Barrick is blocking audit and investigation work that would reveal disturbing behaviour directed by the CAO. Mayor Patrick Brown oversaw the process to hire Barrick, who has close ties to Brown through Conservative political circles. Despite all the evidence and years of reporting, Brown has denied that Barrick was implicated in the Niagara hiring scandal, even though the provincial ombudsman investigation, titled “Inside Job”, details his disturbing conduct. Sunny Kalkat had been hired by Barrick to take over the internal audit department after Velji departed days after the new CAO’s arrival. But two weeks ago, the public learned that Kalkat was suddenly no longer the head of internal audit, raising many questions about who is providing crucial oversight and whether the CAO is once again stripping away transparency and accountability inside CIty Hall. Last month, councillors expressed their frustration during a public meeting after Barrick had illegally removed the independent freedom of information function from the City clerk’s office (the accountability role reported directly to council) and quietly moved it under his authority, which was a violation of the bylaw outlining the function and the provincial legislation which states the municipal freedom of information role has to report either to council or someone appointed by council. Barrick was never given that role. Council voted to put the function back under the clerk’s office, reporting directly to elected members, not the CAO. While councillors expressed their frustration and concern during the public meeting over Barrick’s behaviour, Brown remained quiet. Now, questions are mounting about how Barrick has handled City Hall’s primary oversight mechanism, through the internal audit department. The CAO had the Charter that governs the audit function altered shortly after his arrival. The document now details a new reporting structure, stating audit reports will be shared with divisional heads or commissioners of a department, along with the CAO, before being presented to the council-led audit committee. “The CAO will be advised prior to Internal Audit sharing internal audit reports and/or related information with the Audit Committee.” These new guidelines created by staff, not council, run contrary to accepted best practices for municipal internal audit departments, which are supposed to be completely independent from the bureaucratic staff auditors are required to hold accountable. The Institute of Internal Auditors, which Ontario’s municipal auditors use for guidance, states, “The internal audit charter is a formal document that defines the internal audit activity's purpose, authority, and responsibility. The internal audit charter establishes the internal audit activity's position within the organization, including the nature of the chief audit executive’s functional reporting relationship with the board (council); authorizes access to records, personnel, and physical properties relevant to the performance of engagements; and defines the scope of internal audit activities. Final approval of the internal audit charter resides with the board (council).” Independence is the key to the function. “The chief audit executive must report to a level within the organization that allows the internal audit activity to fulfill its responsibilities,” the institute states. “The chief audit executive must confirm to the board (council), at least annually, the organizational independence of the internal audit activity.” Functional and administrative practices under the 2020 Internal Audit Charter are now under Barrick’s authority, after he moved all reporting lines out from under council and the audit committee. Before Barrick had the Charter altered, the prior version stated: “The Chief Audit Executive will report functionally to the Audit Committee and administratively to the CAO.” The organizational chart was changed and shows how internal audit is now under the CAO, whereas the previous chart had it under the council audit committee. The current Charter no longer follows the guidelines set out by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) which was previously used by the City of Brampton to establish its internal audit standards. In a report presenting the 2020 Charter, the importance of the IIA is acknowledged, and the guidelines the 2017 Charter was modeled after are included, but the final version of the current Charter does not include the suggested reporting structure. “Ideally [the charter] establishes reporting lines for the chief audit executive (CAE) that support that independence by reporting functionally to the governing body (or those charged with governance) and administratively to executive management,” the City audit report states, using guidelines from the IIA. This was an issue Councillor Jeff Bowman raised at the September 8 audit committee meeting when the item was first discussed. He said the auditor’s reports should come to council alone. “I have a major problem with that. That is not transparent… there's no way that should be happening.” Citizen member Iqbal Ali echoed Bowman’s concerns, questioning how the new reporting structure would guarantee the auditor could report to council without any fear of reprimand if a report casts staff in a negative light. Barrick said the new charter responds to what council asked staff to do: ensure it reflects the bylaws and legislation of the City. He did not explain what specific bylaws or legislation the charter lines up with. And he did not explain why he changed the Charter to remove the functional oversight of internal audit from council to himself, an obvious contradiction of the stated need for independence. All the investigation work internal audit does, to ensure staff are not abusing public trust, finances or their responsibilities, involves staff who report to Barrick. He oversees them and now also oversees the accountability mechanism meant to hold himself and other bureaucrats in check. Reporting directly to council would be a function of an auditor general, which the previous term of council decided against, he told audit committee. “With the director of internal audit function, they have to report somewhere and in this case, it's the CAO.” This is a direct contradiction of the guidelines for internal audit, and the Charter in place before Barrick’s arrival. Since stepping foot inside City Hall he has stripped away council’s mandated oversight role, on behalf of the public, in an alarming violation of bylaws and provincial legislation. When audits are presented to council, questions about any problems uncovered have to be answered by the staff responsible for any problems. Barrick said it’s difficult to answer these questions when the “operational awareness” is absent and staff don’t know what the issue at hand is. It’s unclear what he meant, as staff are always fully aware of their own behaviour and practices. Barrick claimed the director of internal audit reported to the CAO before he took the City’s top job in October 2019. “This is not new.” His claims are inaccurate. Barrick’s claims do not match up with the previous charter or the City’s organizational chart outlining the departmental structure. Currently, the internal audit department is listed under Barrick, where he claims it always has been. The City’s organizational chart from June 2020, and for the months prior, show the department stood on its own, with a reporting line to the council internal audit committee. When The Pointer asked the City about the changed structure, a spokesperson said the question was “not factual.” When images of the website were provided as evidence of the change to the audit reporting structure, the City did not respond. The Pointer tried numerous times to get clarification but no response was provided ahead of publication. The new Charter was created under Sunny Kalkat, the former director of internal audit. According to sources who spoke with The Pointer, Kalkat was let go from her position days before her contract was set to expire, recently. At this time, Richard Gervais, senior advisor for IT audit, is filling the position on an interim basis. A City spokesperson told The Pointer they can’t speak to the employment status of any City employees. Under the 2020 charter, the CAO is listed as being responsible for the “appointment, dismissal and remuneration of the Director of Internal Audit,” a task that typically is supposed to be overseen by council. Under the Charter approved in 2017, Council was given authority to "Approve decisions regarding the appointment and removal of the Chief Audit Executive"; and approval of "decisions relating to the remuneration of the Chief Audit Executive." It stated that, under the IIA guidelines: "The Chief Audit Executive will have unrestricted access to, and communicate and interact directly with, the audit committee, including private meetings without management present." Barrick has removed this independence, effectively cancelling the audit department's key accountability and oversight function. The IIA states council must ensure: "The internal audit activity must be free from interference in determining the scope of internal auditing, performing work, and communicating results. The chief audit executive must disclose such interference to the board (council) and discuss the implications." According to an internal email obtained by The Pointer, Barrick advised Council of the decision to release Kalkat on February 19. “In consultation with the chair and vice chair of audit committee, it is the most responsible course of action to fill such a position once City Council has deliberated and made a decision on the forthcoming report,” the email read. It goes on to say Kalkat’s contract with the City was fulfilled and it wasn’t extended because of council’s decision to explore “options for an auditor general model.” It’s unclear why Barrick thought the council request to explore another layer of oversight was grounds to not rehire the existing head of internal audit. Sources told The Pointer Kalkat did not serve the full duration of her contract. The idea of an auditor general function was initially introduced at the January 27 City Council meeting. Following allegations of widespread fraud under his watch, Brown asked staff to look at the possibility of creating a municipal ombudsman office. A municipal ombudsman would allow complaints to be filed against any staff members for a possible investigation. Councillors pointed out that an auditor general does not need complaints to investigate staff, and focuses their investigation on issues they deem important. Kalkat is the second internal auditor to vacate her position since Barrick was hired. Former director Foruzan Velji was let go in October 2019, a week after Barrick started, according to sources. Kalkat’s position was left vacant mere days before the Tuesday audit committee meeting last week, the first of four meetings that happen throughout the year. Her name was listed as the lead in three of the four reports that were part of the committee agenda. In the obtained internal email, Barrick states filling the position on an interim basis “is the most responsible course of action” until council decides on the position it wants to take. Kalkat’s vacancy comes as the corporate fraud prevention hotline has seen a dramatic rise in complaints. This function allows employees to anonymously make complaints regarding fraudulent activities in City Hall. Since the committee’s last meeting on November 24, the hotline received 29 complaints, the most reported since Kalkat was hired a year ago, making up a third of the 77 total complaints since the service was launched in 2016. Barrick acknowledged there are gaps in the types of complaints that are allowed to be investigated and said the corporate policy team is looking into the issue and examining how to best direct complaints. Some of the complaint reports have been “closed” but details were not provided during the discussion as to what each investigation uncovered or who was investigated. The Pointer will be following up on the reports that were closed without providing details during the public meeting. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @nida_zafar Tel: 416 890-7643 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Nida Zafar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
(Nico Inocalla - image credit) A Filipino-Canadian family was left shaken after being shouted at and discriminated against by a fellow customer in a Regina Costco last week. Nico Inocalla, his brother and sister-in-law were finishing up their shopping last Thursday when the incident occurred. "This man in front of us, he kept on looking at us as if he doesn't want us to be there," said Inocalla. "But we ignore it. We just still choose to be there and stay in our own lane. But while we were waiting for a turn, he doesn't stop looking at us, and [then] he started yelling 'you need to social distance, you need to stay six feet away from us.'" Inocalla said he and his brother tried to explain that they were following the rules — they were standing on the appropriate social distancing marker on the floor, and if they backed up any further, they would be in the other lane. But the man wouldn't listen. "He keeps on stressing that we need to stay away … he wants us further away from him, as if we are sick, and he's murmuring different derogatory words which I'm not going to mention," said Inocalla. "I was about to cry, honestly, during that time … in my mind, I was just stunned. I was shocked. I still can't believe it, that it happened to us." Eventually, a manager intervened to tell the man that Inocalla and his family were following the physical distancing protocols appropriately, and encouraged him to leave them alone and go and check out. At first, Inocalla didn't want to believe the man was being racist, but as he continued yelling, Inocalla thought it was an unavoidable conclusion. "From the way he insisted that we obviously don't know what we are doing because of my race as an Asian, I felt like I was being discriminated against because of my skin tone," he said. Anti-Asian discrimination has been on the rise in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to David Arnot, chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, hundreds of incidents of hate targeting Asians within Canada have been reported in the last year alone. "Anxiety, fear and frustration over the coronavirus have fueled xenophobia, racism, hate and discrimination against Asian and Asian-descent communities - but it has also exposed a pre-existing xenophobia, which I think is important to understand," said Arnot. Arnot said there have been some notable and concerning incidents of anti-Asian discrimination in Saskatchewan due to the pandemic this year, including a 15-year-old being called slurs and physically assaulted, and employees at a restaurant in Saskatoon being subjected to a "barrage of racial slurs" earlier this month. "Right now, in the midst of this pandemic, there is no room for racism, hate or discrimination," said Arnot. "We all have to work together in this province to emerge from this pandemic much stronger and more unified. "In Saskatchewan, racism runs very deep in the fabric of our society. Racism is a social norm in this province. … and so this racism has to be called out." Inocalla said the other customers — strangers — behind his family in line did support them in the moment. "They kept on apologizing to us and telling the man he doesn't need to do that," he said. "If he wants to talk, just say it calmly. He doesn't need to react like that based on what we look like." But he worries about how that man — and others like him — see him, his family and the other Asian-Canadians in their lives. "I hope they don't see us like a kind of sickness," said Inocalla. "We're not the virus. We're humans, too. We don't want this. We're just hoping to be treated like normal people. Don't see us like a threat or a disease."
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) Being able to get enough to eat has become a big problem during Newfoundland and Labrador's latest lockdown, but it's a challenge some community groups are rising to, finding ways to feed people under Alert Level 5. Since the COVID-19 outbreak ramped up in mid-February, a series of public health restrictions have created barriers to accessing food: residents have had to reduce their contacts down to single households, they've been asked to make fewer trips to the grocery store, and thousands of people have found themselves in self-isolation and unable to leave their properties at all. It echoes last winter's Snowmaggedon, when Cortney Barber took to Facebook and started the volunteer group Neighbours in Need Newfoundland, to help those who were stuck without food or supplies. That group has kept going throughout the pandemic, Barber said, and has been particularly busy during this round of lockdown. "Every day there's something to do, and the volunteers continue to step up every day," Barber told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. "We've seen probably a doubling of the need for support for groceries and stuff like that." Barber said many people reaching out for help either can't leave their homes due to self-isolation, have small children or fall into a high-risk group. For those who rely on busses to get to and from stores, the biggest problem is cuts to public transportation — MetroBus has reduced both its hours of operation and the number of people who can ride at any one time. "The cost is a little bit higher when you can't use that public transportation," Barber said. "So people are just really stuck for groceries." Neighbours in Need Newfoundland began during Snowmaggedon, when volunteers helped people stuck in their homes due to the blizzard, but the group has continued to operate throughout the pandemic. Courier cooperation With the Neighbours in Need volunteers kept hopping, one St. John's-based courier service has stepped in to share the workload. Millennium Express partners with large companies like FedEx and Purolator, and its co-owner Becky Reddy said delivery services have been in high demand throughout the pandemic. "Business actually increased with the influx of online shopping and things like that," said Reddy. "So it's been a bit hectic." Despite a packed schedule, when the lockdown began Reddy took to social media and extended a call to seniors and other vulnerable members of the community to let them know they weren't alone. "There are people out there that are willing to help, and we really didn't want to see anybody go without during this lockdown," she said. To that end, when Barber went online looking for someone to help deliver a hamper of groceries, she found Millennium Express. "We were able to work together and deliver some hampers to people from grocery orders," Barber said, "I just reached out to Becky and we had it done in no time." Oftentimes, said Barber, the Neighbours in Need Newfoundland Facebook group has plenty of deliveries to make, but not enough volunteers to do the driving, particularly in the midst of the lockdown. "It's really a lot easier to be able to pass them over to somebody like a courier who can drop them all off in one run, rather than putting one grocery order in their car and then come back for another one," Barber said. For Reddy and Millennium Express, the opportunity to partner with the group and to give back to the community is an integral part of the business. "We're always trying to be involved in the community as much as we can, and I've seen it myself: some people are just down on their luck and they just need some help," said Reddy. "Whatever we can do to help is what we're going to do." During lockdown, the School Lunch Association has donated more than 20,000 lunch-sized cartons of milk to food banks and non-profit groups throughout the province. Others stepping up Reddy and Barber aren't the only community-minded individuals on delivery duty these days. Following the lockdown announcement earlier this month, the School Lunch Association, a charity which usually provides hot lunches for school children, took its perishables and distributed the food to those in need. With help from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and the School Milk Foundation, as well as the Community Food Sharing Association, the organizations helped to distribute over 20,000 lunch-sized cartons of milk. The cartons found their way to a slew of organizations, from food banks, to non-profits, and to frontline health workers at the Mount Pearl COVID-19 testing site. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundand and Labrador
U.S. regulators on Friday said they would work quickly to authorize Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use after a panel of outside advisers backed the one-shot immunization. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide on emergency use by Saturday for what would be the third vaccine available in the United States, and the only one that requires a single shot. The agency told J&J that "it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization," the regulator said in a statement after the vote by advisers.
Edmonton Police are warning the public that Clint Carifelle, 30, is a dangerous offender who has removed the monitoring ankle bracelet that was placed on him due to his violent tendencies. Police say he has ties to Saskatchewan and may be making his way to this province. He was last seen Wednesday at a residence in the area of 119 Ave and 101 Street. Carifelle is 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and full face tattoos that he is known to cover with makeup. He is known to carry weapons and should not be approached. Anyone who encounters him should contact police immediately by calling 911. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has announced a $7-million satellite program to locate and track people who are fishing illegally near Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. “Illegal fishing threatens the health of our fish stocks and takes resources away from hard-working, law-abiding fishers,” said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan in a press release. “We're investing in one of the leading, most innovative systems on the planet to ensure our fish stocks are protected, our fisheries remain lucrative, and the law is upheld at sea.” The Dark Vessel Detection program uses satellite technology to detect “dark vessels,” ones that have turned off their location transmitting devices in order to avoid being caught, according to DFO. It’s estimated that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for about 30 per cent of all fishing activity worldwide, representing up to 26 million tonnes of fish caught annually at a cost to the global economy of $10 billion to $23 billion a year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. DFO awarded Ontario-based space technology company MDA — the maker of the Canadarm — with a three-year contract to supply the technology for the program. It will provide data and analysis to officials in Ecuador and the Forum Fisheries Agency, which represents 15 small island nations in the Pacific region, so they can spend their resources on enforcement to protect their fish stocks, DFO says. MDA says the program will combine data from multiple satellite missions, including the Canadian Space Agency Earth observation satellite, RADARSAT-2. The Dark Vessel Detection program is part of the $11.6 million Canada committed to ocean health at the 2018 G7 meeting. DFO kicked off a smaller-scale program in June to track vessels in the Bahamas and Costa Rica, which saw “significant” fines to five foreign vessels, according to the department. Canada has been under fire for having illegal seafood in its supply chains. Oceana Canada says the country has “inadequate traceability standards” to monitor its seafood supply chain. As a result, the Canadian economy is losing up to $93.8 million in tax revenue each year due to illegal and unreported fishing, according to an Oceana Canada report released in November. Meanwhile, Canadian fishers are missing out on up to $379 million in lost revenue, per the report. The ocean conservation organization has been calling on the feds to develop a boat-to-plate traceability system that would track information about seafood products and disseminate it throughout supply chains. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked Jordan and Health Minister Patty Hajdu to tackle it in their 2019 mandate letters, but no timeline for this plan has been released. This task, however, wasn’t included in Jordan’s or Hajdu’s subsequent 2021 letters. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
WASHINGTON — Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America's consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January in a sign that the economy may be making a tentative recovery from the pandemic recession. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10% last month, boosted by cash payments most Americans received from the government. The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend. Last month's sharp gain suggests that many people are growing more confident about spending, especially after receiving $600 checks that went to most adults last month in a federal economic aid package. The government also reported Friday that inflation by a measure preferred by the Federal Reserve rose a moderate 0.3% in December. That left prices up 1.5% over the past 12 months, well below the Fed’s 2% target. Besides receiving cash payments, many Americans who have managed to keep their jobs have also been saving money for several months. That could bode well for the economy later this year, once consumers feel more willing to spend, vaccinations are more widely distributed and some version of President Joe Biden’s new economic aid proposal is enacted. Concerns that a strengthening economy will accelerate inflation have sent bond yields surging. On Thursday, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note moved above 1.5% — a level not seen in more than a year and far above the 0.92% it was trading at only two months ago. The move raised alarms on Wall Street and ignited a deep selloff in the stock market. Some investors fear that rising interest rates and the threat of inflation might lead the Fed to raise its benchmark short-term rate too quickly and potentially derail the economy. The tame inflation figure in Friday's report from the government shows that so far, price increases are mostly mild. In testimony to Congress this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell downplayed the inflation risk and instead underscored the economy’s struggles. Layoffs are still high. And 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that erupted nearly a year ago. That’s a deeper job loss than was inflicted by the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Still, despite the weakened job market, key sectors of the economy are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase and government rescue aid works its way through the economy. The Fed’s ultra-low-rate policy is providing important support as well. Retail sales soared last month. Factory output also rose and has nearly regained its pre-pandemic levels. And sales of newly built homes jumped in January. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
NYON, Switzerland — Draw Friday for the last 16 in the Europa League: First Leg March 11 Ajax (Netherlands) vs. Young Boys (Switzerland) Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine) vs. Villarreal (Spain) Roma (Italy) vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) Olympiakos (Greece) vs. Arsenal (England) Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) vs. Tottenham (England) Manchester United (England) vs. AC Milan (Italy) Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) vs. Rangers (Scotland) Granada (Spain) vs. Molde (Norway) ___ Second Leg March 18 Young Boys (Switzerland) vs. Ajax (Netherlands) Villarreal (Spain) vs. Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine) Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) vs. Roma (Italy) Arsenal (England) vs. Olympiakos (Greece) Tottenham (England) vs. Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) AC Milan (Italy) vs. Manchester United (England) Rangers (Scotland) vs. Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) Molde (Norway) vs. Granada (Spain) ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The tattoo industry, like many others, have been hit hard during COVID. Obviously not being an essential service, the pandemic has shutdown thousands of tattooers’ livelihoods. Tattooing has grown to become a $3 billion industry worldwide, with 38% of Canadians having at least one tattoo. Revenue growth for the Tattoo Artists industry is expected to decline 9.5% as a result of the pandemic and overall economic downturn. All tattooers have been forced to close up shop during the lockdowns as their work requires close contact and sitting with people for prolonged periods. Sjeli Pearse, a local tattoo artist who is currently living and working in Toronto, shares her experience with SaultOnline as she is currently closing up her studio. “We recently made the hard decision to let go of our location,” Pearse shares that for more than half of her lease she has not been able to work in her rented space due to the pandemic, “it’s hit the community really hard in Toronto especially because the lockdowns have been so much longer.” “At this point we really can’t trust that we will open, or that we will be allowed to stay open, or that clients will even have money to get tattooed.” Although the tattoo industry usually weathers economic downturns well, COVID has stopped them from providing their services. They already have to maintain sterilized work spaces and be extremely aware of their shop environment. Adapting their practice to COVID safety measures will be a necessity in order for tattooers to reopen and return to business. Follow SaultOnline as we follow this industry going forward. Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
Protesters gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia over the arrest earlier in the week of opposition leader Nika Melia.View on euronews
OTTAWA — Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use. Details of the approval and when Canadians might see doses begin arriving are due at a technical briefing later this morning in Ottawa. Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June. Vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had already been approved by Health Canada. Approximately 1.7 million doses of those formulas have been administered in Canada. Health Canada is also reviewing two other vaccines. Approval of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine will likely not come until early March and Novavax is not expected until April. The European Union has also approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca formulas. AstraZeneca's vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's formulations, requires refrigeration and takes two doses for maximum efficacy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two reviews on making Britain more attractive for fintechs and company flotations should provide evidence for reform of the listings rules, Britain's financial services minister said on Friday. A review published on Friday set out how to make Britain more attractive for financial technology companies after Brexit, and a second review on reforming listing rules to attract more tech company floatations is due in coming days. The two reviews "should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform", John Glen said.
“We’ve been subject to these gravel guerrillas now for at least 50 years, trying to build more highways, more urban sprawl.” Those were the words this week of Mississauga Ward 11 Councillor, George Carlson, who brought them down like a blunt hammer on the heads of builders determined to continue profiteering from the land. “I can almost hear the old scotch and soda tinkling as the decision was made to add another highway and let the developers build more stuff north of Toronto. They haven’t even finished doing infill in Toronto.” As the planet continues to reel from the catastrophic impacts of climate change, some Peel politicians have finally picked their heads from the sand, while others remain largely oblivious. On Wednesday, after more than a year of silence, the City of Mississauga finally threw its considerable weight behind calls to cancel the proposed GTA West Corridor, also known as Highway 413. Carlson’s comments underscored the frustration felt around the virtual council chamber. It was better late than never in the eyes of environmentalists. Meanwhile, many municipal leaders in Brampton and Caledon continue to claim support for environmentally friendly policies, as they walk the fence on a project that will devastate local watersheds, ecosystems and wildlife, while adding hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon emissions into the air above Peel. Since the Progressive Conservatives, led by Premier Doug Ford, restarted the GTA West Highway’s Environmental Assessment (EA) in the first half of 2019, Mississauga has been largely silent. Presentations by the Province to Region of Peel councillors outlining the highway’s debatable benefits have been received unanimously. The City’s lobbying power at Queen’s Park has been used on other priorities but not to fight the planned 400-series transportation corridor. A recent swell of opposition to the highway forced the issue back to the top of the agenda. After a request by Environmental Defence and Ecojustice to have the federal government complete a study of the environmental impacts of the proposed route, and even wrestle control of the project from Queen’s Park, opposition groups have received a new round of support. Unlike their previous requests, which have fallen on deaf ears in Peel Region and only seen success in Halton and Orangeville, this recent campaign has bigger supporters with more clout at the provincial and federal level. At a special council meeting on Wednesday, called to pass Mississauga’s 2021 budget, the City adopted a new and aggressive stance. Councillors voted unanimously to approve a lengthy motion, brought forward by Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish and seconded by Ward 8’s Matt Mahoney, explicitly opposing any construction activity relating to the GTA West Corridor. “I find it interesting that the buzzword in today’s day and age is climate change action, environment and all of these things and then we kind of fly in the face of it,” Mahoney said, welcoming the strong position detailed in the lengthy motion. “With projects like this, [we] almost talk out of both sides. I am very pleased to second this motion.” The GTA West Highway was scrapped by the Liberal government in 2018. The decision came after an expert panel came to the conclusion it would do almost nothing to solve the GTA’s congestion problems. The report was completely ignored by the PC government, which quickly restarted the environmental assessment process and began touting benefits of the corridor, including unsupported claims it will reduce traffic congestion. Mississauga’s new stance — directly opposing the highway — is the clearest in the Region of Peel. To the north, Brampton and Caledon have both recently voiced concerns, but stopped well short of opposition. In Brampton, Mayor Patrick Brown and Wards 2 and 6 Councillor Michael Palleschi have been pushing for a boulevard in place of the highway through Brampton. The concept, brought to life by a consultant, has come with few technical details, with no one able to explain how a highway would morph into a walkable, urban corridor and back again. Brampton’s mayor has refused to condemn the highway, and, despite his claims to recognize a climate emergency, he’s bragged about being the one who put the GTA West Highway back on the table when he added it to the PC campaign platform ahead of the 2018 election, before his dramatic fall from provincial politics. In its requests to the Provincial government, Brampton has asked for its boulevard design to be considered for a portion of the route without stating opposition to the highway. On Wednesday, Brampton also backed calls for the federal government to take over the route’s EA. Bowing to growing pressure, the Town of Caledon has also backed the same calls. The move is a 180-degree turn from previous calls by Caledon council members who pushed for an expedited environmental assessment – currently being conducted by the provincial government – to get the project started even faster. A federal EA would have the power to override the provincial government and cancel the project should the environmental impact be deemed too great. On Thursday, Mississauga brought its motion to the Region of Peel. Parrish and Brampton Wards 3 and 4 Councillor Martin Medeiros put the proposal on the floor, offering Brampton and Caledon councillors a chance to make a clear statement against the highway and in support of their own climate emergency declarations. But they shied away. Spearheaded by Caledon Wards 3 and 4 Councillor Jennifer Innis and Mayor Allan Thompson, the issue was deferred to a later date. Stating concerns about rushing to a decision and the need to hear from more residents, a referral was proposed to revisit the idea of opposing the highway in a fortnight, once a staff report has been completed detailing the implications cancelling the highway would have on the Region’s long-term planning strategy. “I do believe that a referral to start to bring back a fulsome report, simply with the history and the impacts, what impact would a decision to oppose have on the planning process [would be prudent],” Peel CAO Janice Baker said. “There has been extensive work done, some of which may very well have to be looked at or re-examined as a consequence of this.” The vote resulted in a tie, with Chair Nando Iannicca voting in favour of the referral to break the deadlock. Iannicca said it may have been the first tie-breaking vote he has cast since being elected chair. The delay means official positions in Peel are divergent. Mississauga stands alone opposing the highway, while all three municipalities have recently passed motions expressing support for a federal EA. The Region itself does not have a current position, but the clerk noted Thursday that a 2012 motion “indicates a level of support for the GTA West Transportation Corridor.” Mississauga’s vote on Wednesday was far less complex and more emphatic. Where several regional councillors, including Brown, Thompson and Innis, raised concerns about rushing the process on Thursday, Wednesday simply saw Mississauga representatives congratulating one another on their newly adopted stance, in support of the environment. The wholehearted support for Mississauga’s new stance raises questions about timing. In October 2019, Mississauga’s 12 regional representatives unanimously accepted a presentation from the Province outlining the GTA West Corridor and its unfounded benefits, while there was no concerted outcry over the Province’s decision this summer to approve a route and speed up the environmental assessment. As recently as January, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told The Pointer she did not think she could convince the Province to change its course. “I think they’re committed to the GTA West Corridor,” she said. Asked this week what precipitated the change of heart and the unambiguous stance, Crombie admitted she and her councillors had been asleep at the wheel. “I think there’s been a groundswell of momentum opposing the building of the highway,” she said at a Wednesday press conference. “I have to say I think we as a council have been a bit complacent, I think we thought it was a done deal; a fait accompli. But now there are so many questions arising from the building of this highway... I think that we saw that there were other voices who opposed it and we agreed we would join them, at least to undertake the full federal environmental assessment.” Parrish shook her colleagues out of their slumber. Mississauga’s new stance sits in harmony with its internal policies and publicly declared goals. Just over a year-and-a-half after declaring a climate emergency, the move is tangible evidence of council’s resolve to make good on a popular promise to help stop the degradation of the planet. Parrish, who has made a career of taking on the establishment, led the way with her detailed motion. “You can just see the vultures waiting to build completely along that belt rather than compact developments, which is what we should be looking for — complete communities.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
TORONTO — The chief executive of the fund that manages Canada Pension Plan investments has resigned after it was revealed that he decided to travel to the United Arab Emirates, where he arranged to be vaccinated against COVID-19. CPP Investments says Mark Machin tendered his resignation to the board Thursday night. Machin joined CPP Investments in 2012 and was appointed president and chief executive in June 2016. Prior to joining the pension fund manager, he spent 20 years at investment bank Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Machin flew to the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, where he received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is awaiting the second dose. The CPP Investments board has appointed John Graham as the new CEO. Graham was previously its global head of credit investments. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nissan Motor Co said on Friday it has reached a breakthrough in achieving a 50% thermal efficiency with its in-development e-POWER hybrid technology, which could lead to a further reduction of car CO2 emissions. This new thermal efficiency level would improve fuel consumption by 25% over the 40% thermal efficiency level in the upcoming e-POWER engine, the company said. "Nissan's latest approach to engine development has raised the bar to world-leading levels, accelerating past the current auto industry average range of 40% thermal efficiency, making it possible to even further reduce vehicle CO2 emissions," the company said in a statement.
Canada on Friday approved AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, including the version produced by the Serum Institute of India, and 500,000 doses are due to arrive next week. The vaccine is the third to be approved by Health Canada following the December approval of vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc with BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. "With Pfizer, Moderna, and now AstraZeneca, Canada will get more than 6.5 million doses before the end of March," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq index rallied in choppy trading on Friday, even as sentiment remained fragile after the index's worst performance in four months the day before as fears of rising inflation kept U.S. bond yields near a one-year high. The S&P 500 ended little changed, while the Dow index closed lower after earlier dropping to a three-week low. The Dow still posted gains of nearly 4% for the month, as investors bought into cyclical companies set to benefit from an economic reopening.
(City of Fredericton - image credit) The City of Fredericton has established new terms for the role of its poet laureate in an effort to avoid controversy on council. The role has been in question since former poet laureate Jenna Lyn Albert read a poem about abortion rights at a council meeting in September, which some councillors said was too political. Since then, councillors have had several discussions about how often the poet should read, what the poet should read, and how much the poet should be paid. "I think from day one it was clear that everyone thought that the poet laureate was an important role for the city," said Henri Mallet, chair of the liveable communities committee, which voted unanimously to pass the new terms. Now the Poet Laureate will have to compose and present six original poems, regularly engage with the community through events, and propose and deliver a legacy project, which will be left up to the poet laureate. The pay for the position will also go $2,000 to $5,000 a year for two years, and there will be extra compensation for readings beyond the mandated number. Councillor Stephen Chase hopes the new measures will help to alleviate any contention. "Learning from the experience that we had with the last go round on a poet laureate, we don't need anything that's going to generate more controversy," he said. "I think the terms of reference will speak to that." The laureate will not have to read at every council meeting, but council may invite the poet laureate when appropriate. Jenna Lyn Albert said she welcomes the new terms for the role, but said not having the poet read at every meeting leaves a gap. "I felt like it really added something to council meetings, not everyone's voice can be heard on a city council, not everyone's represented. So having that poem, that ability to reflect on certain themes or issues was really valuable," Albert said. The terms of reference still need to be approved by council. The city estimates it will still take a few months before a new poet laureate is hired.