Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard arrested on sexual assault charges; Harry Styles postpones 2021 UK and European tour; Queen Elizabeth II attends virtual celebration of KPMG's 150th anniversary, expresses empathy for employees. (Dec. 16)
Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard arrested on sexual assault charges; Harry Styles postpones 2021 UK and European tour; Queen Elizabeth II attends virtual celebration of KPMG's 150th anniversary, expresses empathy for employees. (Dec. 16)
One of the factors that has made COVID-19 so catastrophic in long-term care homes was lack of paid sick leave for low-wage workers.
The Municipality of Whitestone is considering launching an education campaign on invasive species in the region. Reports of Japanese knotweed in the Dunchurch area were brought to council over two years ago and, in October 2020, Coun. Joe Lamb brought the issue up again. During the Jan. 18 meeting, Coun. Beth Gorham-Matthews presented to council some recommendations on how to educate both municipal staff and the public. Some of the recommendations include webinars for residents, online training for staff and a clean equipment policy. Here are five quotes from the council discussion. “What the Ontario Invasive Plant Council suggests is whenever starting a program of invasive species, it’s best to begin with education and not just the education of the public, but for our staff as well because this is something new,” said Gorham-Matthews. “We have discussed putting a line in the (2021) budget for invasive species and I think the chief administrative officer (Michelle Hendry) thought $5,000 would be good for this year in terms of educating staff, public and doing these webinars,” said Gorham-Matthews. “We have applied for the TD Environmental Grant and we should hear back in April on that, which will go toward our training. We’re looking at protocols for clean equipment. I have reached out to the MTO and I’m waiting to hear back on the Japanese knotweed at the Highway 124 and Narrows bridge in Dunchurch,” said David Creaser, public works manager for Whitestone. “I’m supportive of the budget, I’m supportive of what you’re doing — my concern is we’re not scientists. I don’t want us to be doing things that (should) be assessed by the ministry that’s responsible. I don’t want our staff trickling over the bounds of what we should be doing and I’m concerned about liability that may come out of that … but no problems with training the staff but it should be limited,” said Lamb. “The Ontario Invasive Plant Council recommended a clean equipment policy ... where contractors we hire to come in and do work in the municipality have cleaned their equipment (beforehand) so that seeds and dirt that may be infected with invasive species don’t get transmitted from one area to another,” said Gorham-Matthews. The courses recommended for staff and the public, as quoted by the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, would cost $650 for staff training and $900 for public outreach. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
BOGOTA — Colombian Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, one of the country's most recognized conservative politicians, has died from complications of COVID-19. He was 69. President Ivan Duque said in a televised address that Trujillo died early Tuesday, adding that he “couldn't express the pain” he was feeling over the news. He offered his condolences to Trujillo's wife, children and other family members. "His life was a reflection of vocation for public service," Duque said. Trujillo became defence minister in November 2019, after serving as foreign minister. He was also the mayor of Cali from 1988-1990 and held several ministerial and diplomatic positions during his decades-long political career. Trujillo ran for president unsuccessfully in 2018, when he was defeated by Duque, who was then a rookie senator, in an internal party contest. As a foreign minister, Trujillo backed U.S. efforts to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro out of office by supporting his rival Juan Guaidó. The campaign to remove Maduro through political and diplomatic pressure floundered, but has led to tougher U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's socialist government. Trujillo also oversaw Colombia's response to a massive influx of refugees from neighbouring Venezuela, coming up with programs that facilitated temporary residence for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans. As defence minister, Trujillo led the country's efforts to tackle cocaine production, which had been growing rapidly since 2013 but stabilized the last two years. Trujillo campaigned for Colombia to resume aerial fumigation of coca crops, which was suspended in 2015 over environmental and health concerns. He argued that the Colombian government had found cleaner ways to fumigate the crops and that manual eradication put military personnel and contractors in danger. In a statement, Colombia's government said that Trujillo fell ill during a visit to the coastal city of Barranquilla, where he was taken to a hospital on Jan 11. The defence minister was transferred to a military hospital in Bogota two days later and was placed in an intensive care unit and spent several days in an induced coma before dying. Colombia has recorded more than 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 2 million cases. Vaccination still hasn't begun in Colombia, which has a population of about 50 million people and is the largest country in Latin America so far without the life-saving shots. Duque said that his government has purchased 20 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca and has also signed an agreement with the World Health Organization's Covax platform for an additional 20 million shots. Government officials have said that they hope to start vaccinations in February. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Canadian author Souvankham Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife" is among this year's fiction finalists for the U.S.-based National Book Critics Circle prizes. The critics circle announced five nominees in each of six competitive categories Sunday, and seven finalists for an award for best first book. This year's nominees are the first under new leadership at the NBCC after many of its board members departed in 2020 amid a dispute over how to respond to the summer's Black Lives Matters protests. Among those stepping down was NBCC president Laurie Hertzel, senior books editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She was replaced by David Varno, Publishers Weekly's fiction reviews editor. In the NBCC's fiction award category, Martin Amis was nominated for his autobiographical novel “Inside Story” and Randall Kenan, who died in 2020, for the story collection “If I Had Two Wings.” The other finalists were Maggie O’Farrell's “Hamnet,” Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife,” which won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Bryan Washington's “Memorial.” The Feminist Press, whose founder Florence Howe died last year, will receive a lifetime achievement award and has a nominee for criticism: Cristina Rivera Garza's, “Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country.” New Republic critic Jo Livingston received a citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Winners will be announced March 25. Isabel Wilkerson's “Caste,” her widely read exploration of American racism; was a nonfiction finalist. The others were Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America: St, Louis and the Violent History of the United States,” James Shapiro's “Shakespeare in a Divided America,” Sarah Smarsh's “She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs” and Tom Zoellner's “Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire.” Biography nominees included “The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X," co-written by Tamara Payne and her father, the late journalist Les Payne, and winner last fall of the National Book Award. The other finalists were Amy Stanley's “Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World,” Zachary D. Carter's “The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes," Heather Clark's “Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath” and Maggie Doherty's “The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s.” In poetry, the nominees were Victoria Chang's “Obit,” Francine J. Harris' “Here Is The Sweet Hand,” Amaud Jamaul Johnson's “Imperial Liquor,” Chris Nealon's “The Shore” and Danez Smith's “Homie.” The autobiography finalists were Cathy Park Hong's “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,” Shayla Lawson's “This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope,” Riva Lehrer's “Golem Girl,” Wayétu Moore's “The Dragons, The Giant, The Women” and Alia Volz's “Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco.” Beside's Garza's “Grieving,” criticism nominees were Vivian Gornick's “Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader,” Nicole Fleetwood's “Marking Time." Namwali Serpell's “Stranger Faces” and Wendy A. Woloson's “Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America.” Three of last year's most talked about first novels, Raven Leilani's “Lustre,” Megha Majumdar's “A Burning” and Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain," are nominees for the John Leonard Prize for best first book, fiction or nonfiction. The other finalists are Kerri Arsenault's “Mill Town,” Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's “The Undocumented Americans,” Brandon Taylor's “Real Life” and “C Pam Zhang's ”How Much of These Hills Is Gold." The Leonard award is named for the late literary critic, who helped found the NBCC in 1974. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:45 a.m. Another 1,740 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Ontario today, along with 63 more deaths related to the virus. More than half the new cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, with 677 in Toronto itself, 320 in Peel Region and 144 in York Region. The province says more than 30,700 tests have been completed and more than 9,700 vaccines administered since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
An RCMP project to build two new detachments in Faro and Carcross, and renovate another one in Ross River, Yukon, is on track to come in $6 million above its initial budget, according to documents obtained by CBC News. An October briefing note prepared for Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says a funding shortfall was known since at least November 2019. In September, the project management team told government officials "the program budget remains at $11.69M and [is] currently trending at $13.4M." Justice department spokesperson Patricia Randell said in an email that the combined cost for all three detachments is now nearly $17.7 million. But she said the RCMP moved money around within its capital budget, which means there won't be any additional costs for the Yukon government. "Typical projects start with a preliminary concept and then move through planning, design, procurement and construction phases," Randell wrote. "As projects move through these phases, different options may be considered and decisions are made to keep costs within the assigned budget." Randell said the Yukon government's share of the project costs remains approximately $9.9 million. The federal government is contributing $7.8 million New detachments to be green buildings Randell said the Carcross detachment is forecast to cost $8.2 million and the Faro detachment $5.5 million. The current Ross River detachment is slated to undergo renovations at a cost of around $3.9 million. The three projects fall under a five-year capital plan that expires in 2022. Construction is scheduled to be completed by that year. Assessment documents filed with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) for the Faro project say the new detachment will be built on the site of the existing one. The building is to be built with modular components and will be net-zero carbon emissions, with solar panels and geothermal energy. No YESAB applications have yet been filed for the Ross River and Carcross projects. The briefing note says the Yukon government urged the RCMP to "consider a smaller detachment in Carcross that align with the current staffing model." The government also requested that the Faro detachment be built as a "community policy office" linked to a "hub policing model based in Ross River." The Yukon RCMP did not respond to a request for comment.
If supplies of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines to Manitoba don’t resume, appointments at the Brandon vaccination supersite may need to be postponed. That’s according to Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province’s vaccination task force, who joined Dr. Brent Roussin for the daily COVID-19 update on Monday. "As you already know, last week, we were informed about a third reduction in our Pfizer vaccine shipments. Manitoba has been responsible in managing our vaccine supply, but we continue to see the effects of the supply reductions," said Reimer. The planned Feb. 1 supply dropped from 5,850 to 2,340 doses. "We had to stop making appointments for the supersites, both in Winnipeg and in Brandon. So far, we’ve been able to weather the supply disruptions better than most other jurisdictions based on the strategic approach that Manitoba has taken. However, we’re now in a position where we’re still concerned about ongoing supply and may have to postpone some of our appointments if the supplies don’t resume. Reimer said the province will receive an update from the federal government — which is responsible for vaccine deployment to provinces and territories — on Friday. The postponement decision will depend on what the province receives from the federal government on Feb. 8. "We will update Manitobans as soon as possible, most likely on Friday, to let them know if we are expecting that shipment to come in and what the implications are for people who have appointments coming up beginning next week," said Reimer. "We are going to be contacting everybody who has an appointment coming up to let them know about this unknown, as well. So, for now, we’re asking people to plan to keep their appointments for next week and the week after, but to keep your eye on the bulletins and on the website." As for the Northern health region, which has seen half of Manitoba’s new case counts, vaccines are headed up. Reimer said the phone line opened Monday morning to book appointments for the supersite in Thompson. Immunizers will begin putting needles in arms beginning Feb. 1. "This is a slight adjustment from our original plan because instead of using Pfizer, we’re using Moderna temporarily in Thompson," said Reimer. "Also building on feedback from the Northern health region, we will be scheduling appointments for eligible workers in The Pas and Flin Flon for the week of Feb. 8." Vaccination teams are on track to complete first doses at personal care homes by the end of this week — a week ahead of schedule — with enough doses to deliver a second round beginning the following week. The province also plans to release a priority list of all Manitobans Wednesday, with a tentative schedule for the entire vaccine rollout, which will depend on vaccine supply. "The dates that will be attached to that list will have to remain quite fluid because we still don’t know exactly when to expect the Pfizer numbers to change. But we will come up with at least the sequence for Manitobans," said Reimer. Reimer said, so far, there is a 70 to 80 per cent uptake in eligible health-care workers. She said there are various reasons some are taking the vaccine, including having health conditions, such as autoimmune conditions. That made them ineligible until the enhanced process was put in place. "Some people may have other health conditions or allergies that made them concerned and want to seek some opinion from their health-care provider before booking an appointment. Those folks may be in the process right now of discussing with their health-care provider whether or not the vaccine is the right decision," said Reimer. "We’ve also heard of health-care providers who wanted to let other people go first. They felt that their exposure or their own health status was such that they didn’t want to take up an appointment, when there’s other people who might be at higher risk because of their own health, their age." Reimer added 70 to 80 per cent is a high uptake rate for an immunization campaign. In personal care homes so far, the uptake is more than 90 per cent. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
HELSINKI — A new two-party coalition government was sworn in Tuesday in Estonia, led by the first woman prime minister since the Baltic nation regained independence in 1991. The 15-member Cabinet of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas took office after lawmakers in Estonia's parliament approved the government appointed by President Kersti Kaljulaid. Kallas, 43, is a lawyer and former European Parliament member. The centre-right Reform Party that she chairs and and the left-leaning Center Party, which are Estonia’s two biggest political parties, reached a deal on Sunday to form a government. The previous Cabinet, with Center leader Juri Ratas as prime minister, collapsed this month due to a corruption scandal. The two parties each have seven ministers in the Cabinet in addition to Kallas serving as prime minister. The government controls a comfortable majority in the 101-seat Riigikogu. Kallas stressed gender balance in forming the new Cabinet, placing several women in key positions, including naming the Reform Party's Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as finance minister and Eva-Maria Liimets, Estonia’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, as the foreign minister. Kallas' Cabinet has a little over two years to leave its mark in this European Union and NATO member before the next general election set for March 2023. One of the government's immediate priorities is to tackle Estonia’s worsening coronavirus situation and the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic. The Reform Party, a pro-business party espousing liberal economic policies, emerged as the winner of Estonia's 2019 general election under Kallas' lead. However, she was outmanoeuvred by Ratas' Center Party, which formed a three-party coalition with the populist right-wing EKRE party and the conservative Fatherland party. But Ratas’ government, which took office in April 2019, was shaky from the start due to strong rhetoric from the nationalist EKRE, the nation’s third-largest party which runs on an anti-immigration and anti-EU agenda. The EKRE leaders, Mart Helme and his son Martin, brought the government to the brink of collapse at least twice. However, Ratas' government was eventually brought down on Jan. 13 by a corruption scandal involving an official suspected of accepting a private donation for the Center Party in exchange for a political favour on a real estate development at the harbour district of the capital, Tallinn. Estonia, a nation of 1.3 million, is now one of the few countries where both the head of state and the head of government are women. However, that may not necessarily last long as Estonian lawmakers will convene by September to elect a new president. Kaljulaid, who assumed her post in October 2016, hasn't announced whether she will seek reelection to another five year term. Jari Tanner, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — People arrested during three nights of rioting sparked by the Netherlands' new coronavirus curfew will face swift prosecution, the Dutch justice minister said Tuesday as the nation faced its worst civil unrest in years. Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said rioters would be quickly brought before the courts by public prosecutors and will face possible prison terms if convicted. “They won't get away with it,” he told reporters in The Hague. The rioting, initially triggered by anger over the country's tough coronavirus lockdown, has been increasingly fueled by calls for rioting swirling on social media. The violence has stretched the police and led at times to the deployment of military police. Grapperhaus spoke after a third night of rioting hit towns and cities in the Netherlands, with the most serious clashes and looting of stores in the port city of Rotterdam and the southern cathedral city of Den Bosch. “If you rob people who are struggling, with the help of the government, to keep their head above water, it's totally scandalous,” Grapperhaus told reporters. He stressed that the 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew is a necessary measure in the fight against the coronavirus. Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb posted a video message on Twitter, asking rioters: “Does it feel good to wake up with a bag full of stolen stuff next to you?” He also appealed to parents of the young rioters, asking: “Did you miss your son yesterday? Did you ask yourself where he was?” The municipality in Den Bosch designated large parts of the city as risk areas for Tuesday night, fearing a repeat of the violence. Residents in Den Bosch took to the streets Tuesday to help with the cleanup as the city’s mayor said he would investigate authorities’ response to the rioting. A total of 184 people were arrested in Monday night's unrest and police ticketed more than 1,700 for breaching the curfew, a fine of 95 euros ($115). Officers around the country also detained dozens suspected of inciting rioting through social media. Police said rioters threw stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers. “This criminal violence must stop,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted. “The riots have nothing to do with protesting or struggling for freedom,” he added. “We must win the battle against the virus together, because that's the only way of getting back our freedom.” The unrest began Saturday night — the first night of the curfew — when youths in the fishing village of Urk torched a coronavirus testing centre. It escalated significantly with violence in the southern city of Eindhoven and the capital, Amsterdam. Gerrit van der Burg, the most senior Dutch public prosecutor, said authorities are “committed to tracking down and prosecuting people who committed crimes. Count on it that they will be dealt with harshly.” The rate of new infections in Netherlands has been decreasing in recent weeks, but the government is keeping up the tough lockdown, citing the slow pace of the decline and fears of new, more transmissible virus variants. The country has registered more than 13,650 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Mike Corder, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Against headwinds from a labour conflict and a mild cold and flu season, grocery and pharmacy retailer Metro Inc. reported Tuesday its first-quarter sales and profit climbed compared with a year ago. The company, which includes the Metro grocery store chain and Jean Coutu drugstores, said food same-store sales were up 10 per cent for the 12-week period ended Dec. 19. But pharmacy sales edged up only slightly, dragged down by a 3.8 per cent drop in front-store sales as measures to curb COVID-19 reduced in-store traffic as well as demand for cough and cold products. Also, Metro said its warehouse sales to franchisees were hurt by the labour conflict at a Jean Coutu distribution centre in Quebec, which had a dampening effect on the company's overall sales. Metro president and CEO Eric La Fleche said the company delivered strong food sales with good operating leverage "while working through an eight-week labour conflict." "Our contingency plan enabled us to successfully maintain the supply of medication to over 400 pharmacies," he said in statement. "We are now back to normal operating conditions in the distribution center." In reporting its results, the grocery and pharmacy retailer also raised its quarterly dividend to 25 cents per share, up from 22.5 cents. Metro said it earned $191.2 million or 76 cents per diluted share for its first quarter, up from a profit of $170.2 million or 67 cents per diluted share in the same quarter a year earlier. Sales for the quarter totalled $4.28 billion, up from $4.03 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, Metro said it earned 79 cents per share for the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of 71 cents per share a year ago. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:MRU) The Canadian Press
Officers of the Lennox & Addington (L&A) County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to the report of a possible break and enter in progress on Richmond Point Lane in Stone Mills Township at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. According to a release from OPP, dated Tuesday, Jan, 26, 2021, a gate had been found open, along with footprints in the snow and a suspicious vehicle on the cottage road. Police arrived on scene and located an individual on private property. OPP say break in tools and stolen property, including an outboard motor, a wood splitter and chain saw were seized. The individual was subsequently arrested and transported to detachment for processing. L&A County OPP have charged Joel Dean, age 31, of Kingston with: - Break and Enter; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Mischief; and, - Possession of a Schedule I substance - Methamphetamine. The accused was held for a bail hearing and appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice in Greater Napanee on January 24, 2021. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
A new provincial task force has been set up to determine how transportation will work in Southwestern Ontario going forward. The Southwestern Ontario Transportation Task Force is being led by London Mayor Ed Holder, with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens as vice-chair. The committee has been tasked with advising Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney on transportation, roads and transit needs in the region. That includes the prioritization of a draft master plan released last year. That plan includes 40 recommendations including widening Hwy. 3 to Leamington and improving local public transit and train service between communities. The Ministry of Transportation confirmed to CBC News that preliminary work is underway along parts of Hwy. 3 to widen the road. "Windsor is the focal point of so much goods movement, but we are also part of a broader area which is increasingly facing inter-regional transit and transportation challenges," Dilkens said in a statement.
Joe Biden could return to the path blazed by Barack Obama on Cuba, when two years of bilateral negotiations helped undo more than five decades of hostility.
Inspired by the natural, twisting patterns of a lobster shell, Australian researchers say they have found a way, using 3D printing technology, to improve the strength of concrete for use in complex architecture. Reinforced with steel fibres, the concrete becomes more durable when set in a pattern that copies a lobster shell, according to a new study from Melbourne's RMIT University. Rather than use a mould, the process involves depositing layers of concrete one on top of the other, directed from a computer program using 3D printing technology.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, Timon Wientziak probably wouldn’t be buying a car while living in downtown Toronto. He’s looking into purchasing his first vehicle after the pandemic pushed him into carpentry work outside of the city, instead of his usual work as a composer and sound designer. But the purchase isn’t just based on his job: Wientziak said it’s easy to feel stifled in the city during COVID, and having the freedom to get out of town is a plus. “Toronto is such a concrete place,” said Wientziak, a first-time buyer who’s in the market for an affordable, older used car. “Even though it’s called a city within a park, we would love to get out more, and doing it with the GO train is just not as enticing.” Data from auto industry analysts shows there are many people like Wientziak who’ve been nudged towards buying a car during the pandemic. And prospective buyers should be aware that higher demand usually means higher prices. According to research by online marketplace autotrader.ca, the pandemic has caused a surge in demand as people avoid public transport and ride-hailing services. A survey released by the company in December showed 46 per cent of people who were interested in buying a new car listed the pandemic as a direct reason for their purchase. The website also saw a nearly 28 per cent increase in traffic from May to December. But the demand was underpinned by supply shortages in both new and used car markets, since some manufacturers stopped production at the start of the pandemic and continue to deal with supply chain issues. Baris Akyurek, Director of Marketing Intelligence at autotrader.ca, said a lower number of new car sales at the start of the pandemic translated to fewer vehicles being traded in, leading to tighter supply in both markets before an increase in demand. As a result, the average listing price of a vehicle on the marketplace in December was 5.2 per cent higher than the previous year, now sitting at $19,888. Akyurek said used cars are a particularly hot commodity because they’re an economical option at a time of financial uncertainty, and depreciation isn’t as much of a concern. “Moreover, with certified pre-owned programs, you are eligible for extended warranties on used vehicles,” said Akyurek, which protects consumers from the risk associated with used cars. The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association says it’s optimistic about the growth of new car sales, which have benefited from low interest rates and greater demand as more people move further away from city centres in search of larger homes as a result of the pandemic. The industry saw an unprecedented 20 per cent drop in sales this year, which CADA Chief Economist Oumar Dicko says was much higher than the 11 per cent drop in auto sales during the 2008 global financial crisis. Even though sales have rebounded and the pandemic has created strong demand, Dicko said manufacturers are still vulnerable to COVID-19. “The auto forecast is very closely dependent on the trajectory of the virus in the months to come and the ability to broadly roll out the vaccine,” said Dicko. “We’re also very concerned about the impact of COVID outbreaks even if they’re very localized, on the global supply chain. This could create labour shortages and there’s a concern right now about the shortage of semiconductor microchips that are used in the production of vehicles.” Dicko said the current shortage of microchips will already affect inventory in 2021. Despite the challenges the pandemic has placed on the auto industry, both Akyurek and Dicko expect it to have a lasting and positive effect on auto sales. “Given the current circumstances of COVID-19, the restrictions and overall fear of contracting the virus by Canadians, this is a better than expected performance by the industry,” said Dicko. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
BREAKING: UK becomes first in Europe to record more than 100,000 COVID-19 deathsView on euronews
It was a tough year here on Earth, but 2020 was a bright spot for space exploration. SpaceX sent its futuristic Starship to new heights, three countries launched Mars missions, and robots grabbed debris from the moon and an asteroid. Next year promises more, including a planned launch of the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor. Perhaps it's no surprise then that space themes are having a moment in home decor. When so many of us Earthlings are stuck at home because of the pandemic, space imagery can add a sense of adventure or whimsy to rooms, walls and ceilings. “I’ve done outer space, and starry skies," says New York interior designer Patrice Hoban. "My clients love using stars as a backdrop in nurseries. I’ve also worked with glow-paint to add an extra pop to kids rooms and home theatres.” She sticks tiny glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling; the light can last for hours. “It’s the closest thing I’ve found to being in a planetarium,” she says. Rachel Magana, senior visual designer at the sustainable furniture-rental company Fernish, picked up some cosmological decorating ideas from a colleague’s recent nursery project. “Base your colour palette around deep blue tones, then splash in bits of colour like yellow, white or red,” she says. “Or create your own galaxy wall,” she says. “Paint a blue wall, then use some watered-down white paint to splatter it with fine droplets. You may just create some new constellations.” She suggests adding fun, space-agey lamps, and vintage NASA posters. Outer space has inspired designers for decades. In the 1960s, the “space race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, along with the development of space age-y, synthetic materials, led to a surge in futuristic furniture like moulded plastic chairs and Sputnik-shaped lighting. These days, you can download artwork directly from NASA: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/, or find it at retailers like Red Bubble, Etsy and Zazzle. Magana also suggests making a letter board with a space-themed quote like Neil Armstrong’s famous “One small step for man” phrase. Much of the astronomy-themed art in the marketplace would be striking in any room. There are lunar graphics on canvas at Target. Tempaper’s got constellation wallpapers, but if you can’t do wallpaper, consider Kenna Sato Designs’ constellation decals for walls or ceilings. Galaxy Lamps has a sphere that looks like a planetoid. Charge it up with the included USB and cycle through 16 colours with three lighting modes. There’s a moon version, too. And at Beautiful Halo, find a collection of rocket-ship ceiling fixtures. German designer Jan Kath has created a rug collection called Spacecrafted inspired by imagery of gas clouds and asteroid nebulae from the Hubble telescope. Studio Greytak, in Missoula, Montana, has designed a Jupiter lamp out of the mineral aragonite, depicting the whirling, turbulent gases of the planet. And there’s the Impact table, where a chunk of desert rose crystals is embedded with cast glass, as though a piece of asteroid had plunged into a pool. Zodiac wall decals and a Milky Way throw rug can be found at Project Nursery. There are hanging mobiles of the planets and of stars and clouds, at both Crate & Kids and Pottery Barn Kids. A glow-in-the-dark duvet cover printed with the solar system is also at PBK, but if you’re ready to really head to the stars, check out Snurk Living’s duvet set. The studio, owned by Dutch designers Peggy van Neer and Erik van Loo, has designed the set photoprinted with a life-size astronaut suit. Creating a night sky on the ceiling of a home theatre seems to be popular; Houzz has hundreds of examples for inspiration. Maydan Architects in Palo Alto, California, designed one for a recent project. “Our client’s grandfather was the owner of multiple movie theatres,” says Mary Maydan. “One of them had a retractable ceiling that enabled guests to experience the starry sky at night. When our client decided to build their home theatre, this installation was actually fulfilling a lifelong dream." The ceiling isn’t retractable, but has an eight-paneled fixture depicting the Milky Way and a shooting star. “It provides very soft light and was intended to be kept on during the screening of the movie and create a magical experience,” says Maydan. ___ Kim Cook writes AP's Right at Home column, which looks at themes in home decor and home products. Follow her at: www.kimcookhome.com Kim Cook, The Associated Press
There’s a small shop that sells healthy lotions, potions and pills on Mill Street. Tucked inside, behind the till and a thick sheet of Plexiglas, sits Essa Mayor Sandie Macdonald. She talks fast and has handy notes about the pandemic and how it will cost each household worth $500,000 another $6.87 per month ($82.64 annually) on their municipal taxes this year. Feeling the pinch of a $680,000 shortfall, Macdonald said staff and council had little choice but to approve a three per cent tax increase on the 2021 budget. “When you take a budget and start off that far behind, it is a challenge,” Macdonald said, from her Naturally For You shop, where she’s down two staff members due to the pandemic. “We tried to take a proactive approach to control our budget expenditures.” Macdonald says the shortfall consists of three things: $180,000 due to lost parks and recreation revenue from lack of rentals; another $250,000 in lost revenue in the planning and economic development office due to shortfalls blamed largely on COVID-19; and another $180,000 lost on bank interest on the town’s investment savings, when interest rates dropped from around seven per cent to a much lower rate. In the 2021 budget, cuts were made to the library’s renovations and staff’s hours, as well as the spraying of calcium only once during the summer to keep dust down on work sites. Simcoe County and neighbouring Springwater Township have announced zero increases on their 2021 budgets. Essa Township — where Statistics Canada says the average household income is $87,543 — will hardly feel the pinch. Yet with the costs of heat, hydro and insurance increasing for not just homes, but the township as well, Macdonald said this isn’t the time to take on loans to cover the cost of the shortfall and possibly rob from next year’s budget. “It’s a needs not wants budget,” agreed Essa CAO Colleen Healey-Dowdall. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
SAINT JOHN • Nearly one quarter of Anglophone South students were absent on the first day of the red phase in Zone 2, according to district superintendent Zoë Watson. Wednesday saw 23 per cent of students absent, up from 14 per cent on Tuesday, following Public Health returning the region to the red phase of COVID-19 recovery. Saint John father Mike Stephen said he plans to keep his son Kohen McKenna home for the rest of the week. McKenna is in Grade 9 at Simonds High School. "(Masks) definitely cut down transmission, but it's not a silver bullet. You can still get (COVID)," he said. "And I just think that we need to do more to try to shrink our bubbles, before something ends up bursting, and we end up in a lockdown like Quebec or Ontario." Up until this week, a switch to the red phase of recovery meant a switch to online learning from home for public school students. That's not the case any more, with the province recently announcing a change in protocol. Stephen called it a sharp change for parents. He said he doesn't understand why high schools can't be doing fully online learning or why students can't decide whether to learn from home or not, since many are already alternating days. Even if protocols are tight in schools, he said being together in schools gives kids the temptation to mingle without six feet of distance and without masks outside the school walls. "The best in-class protections in the world doesn't help when kids walk off the property. And at the end of the day, kids that age think that they're invincible." Kristina MacRae, a Nerepis mother who is immunocompromised, pulled all six of her kids out of school on Wednesday. "How are we supposed to be feeling safe to send our kids if [the provincial government] doesn't even know what they're doing?" she said. "They're just winging it is how I feel." In a letter released to families on Tuesday, Watson said that attending school helps facilitate learning, and students will be under strict health and safety protocols in a supervised environment. "Their social needs can be met, while physical distancing is maintained, masks are used, and proper hygiene is encouraged," the letter states. In the event a parent chooses not to send a child to school, the parent is responsible for the child's education, according to a government directive document issued Wednesday. Teachers are not required to support learning in those cases, the document states, but support to the families would be encouraged. For those attending school, under the red phase of recovery, school personnel will be screened every day. Students and personnel can't enter the building if they have one COVID symptom or more, according to the document. If there is a positive case at a school, then the school is closed for three days, including weekends, and personnel are offered COVID-19 tests. All students, from kindergarten to Grade 12, are required to wear masks while on buses and while at school. However, there are a few exceptions to mask wearing: Kindergarten to Grade 8 students can take off their masks when working silently or eating, and Grade 9 to 12 students can take their mask off when eating. School personnel can take off their masks when eating or when in a closed office or classroom by themselves. All after-school clubs and sports have been cancelled. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer confidence rose in January as Americans became more optimistic about the future. The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index increased to 89.3, a rebound from December when it dipped to 87.1. The increase was fueled by the board's rising expectations index, which measures feelings about the future path of incomes, business and labour market conditions. The present situation index weakened further, likely reflecting concerns about the resurgence of COVID-19. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press