Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam pulled the curtain back and explained how injuries have affected him from playing to his potential this season.
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam pulled the curtain back and explained how injuries have affected him from playing to his potential this season.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Facebook says it is lifting its ban on political and social-issue ads put in place after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Political candidates, groups and others will be able to place ads on Facebook and Instagram beginning on Thursday. Restricting political advertisements following the November election was among the host of measures Facebook put in place last year in an attempt to ensure its platform is not used to sow chaos and spread misinformation. Facebook halted U.S. political ads when the polls closed on Nov. 3, an extension of an earlier restriction on new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day. It said at the time that the ban would be temporary but did not give a clear end date. “We’ve heard a lot of feedback about this and learned more about political and electoral ads during this election cycle,” the company said in a blog post Wednesday. “As a result, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.” Twitter has banned political ads permanently. Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
The District of Taylor is taking the wheel on the North Peace Rural Roads Taskforce, drafting a memorandum of understanding for a new coalition. The taskforce was dissolved in January after the 2020 contract was completed. Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser the municipality is prepared to host a new contract during PRRD’s Feb. 11 board meeting. The MOU outlines a coalition between Taylor, Electoral Area B, and Hudson’s Hope, and has been renamed as such, replacing the taskforce. “Our council wanted to make sure there was a commitment by all of the potential participants, and so this MOU was drafted to pull together an agreement between us that would allow this to go forward,” said Fraser. “We’re hoping the regional board will endorse this MOU so we can proceed forward with this rural roads taskforce.” He added that securing funding for the taskforce has been a challenge for the PRRD. Together, the three will set new contracts and annual funding. The MOU draft estimates that each local government could contribute between $50,000 to $150,000 per year, but must reach consensus on what is being spent and how. “The North Peace Rural Roads has been doing fantastic work and has been returning to the region, as much or more as we’ve been putting into it,” said Fraser. “Our council wanted to see this proceed. Everybody was trying to figure out a way to continue this and make it work.” Hudson’s Hope Mayor Dave Heiberg says the group has always worked from the ground up, adding that its goal remains lobbying for needed road improvements. “One of the things I think that the board should realize is that this is a grassroots-driven organization,” said Heiberg. “It has gained traction, and we want to keep that momentum.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says he sees the value of the trio continuing the taskforce, but is concerned with optics of the new coalition. “Shouldn’t it be the Peace River Regional District Rural Roads Taskforce? And shouldn’t it have a strategy aimed at that, on behalf of the whole region, not just one segment?” said Bumstead. “I use that as an observation, not as a criticism of the work.” Director Dan Rose pointed out that the PRRD as a whole could still be on the hook for funding, despite the MOU only including Area B. “If we agree to this as a regional district, we also agree to the funding portion of it. If for some reason it falls out of Area B, the rest of us are responsible for it,” said Rose. “Even at the width and breadth it’s at, it’s a function. And we haven’t asked anybody if they want to fund it yet.” He further added that it could be separated by a resolution through the rural budget committee. Electoral Area B Director Karen Goodings says invitations remain open. “We are certainly open to inviting other members of the board should be interested in joining us. I want to thank Taylor for stepping forward and putting together this MOU,” Goodings said. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
A Saint Andrews landmark is set to get a facelift. The wharf in the centre of town will be the recipient of a multi-million dollar refurbishment. Close to $3.5 million will be used to replace the approach to the wharf, $588,000 to restore the intermediate structure, $674,000 to restore the pier head and $340,000 to rebuild the seawall. At a meeting Monday night, councillors decided to replace the aging wooden structure with one made of concrete. The other options were wood and armour stone, which are large blocks of stone cut from a quarry. Mayor Doug Naish said concrete turned out to be a compromise material for the wharf. "The option of going with armour stone completely changed the look of the waterfront so much that we got a tremendous amount of input from the public that they thought that would change the whole nature of the downtown," said Naish. "That wasn't the preferred option for many people, as well as many people on council." Naish said it was important the new wharf fit in with the historic downtown. And while concrete isn't a material used much in the old buildings that line Water Street, Naish said a concrete wharf won't take away from the historic community's ambience. "It's mostly concrete in the understructure, replacing the wooden pilings, it's really concrete piers," said Naish. "It'll look the same from underneath as small bridges do ... but it will be much more durable. It will last much longer and it will have less life-cycle costs than putting wood back in place." While concrete isn’t a material used much in the old buildings that line Water Street, Naish says a concrete wharf won’t take away from the historic community’s ambience. (Town of Saint Andrews) Naish said the town received funding for the new wharf last week and the next step is to do environmental assessments and an engineering study on the design. He hopes construction can start in the fall and said it will take two to three years to complete. The reason for the extended timetable is the town hopes to keep the wharf open during the tourist season, which is important for the Saint Andrews economy. "We will very religiously work around the summer tourism season because, of course, our wharf is a commercial wharf mainly," said Naish. "It has many recreational purposes, but we count on the commercial uses of the wharf to pay the overhead of running the wharf, which is not insignificant. "
SDG – Major road rebuilding projects remain one of the largest capital funding issues at the United Counties. While SDG’s transportation department has a robust maintenance program to extend the life of existing roads, some roads are beyond repair and need rebuilding. County councillors heard at the February 16-17 budget deliberations of several roads in need of rebuilding including a section of County Roads 8 and 18 in South Dundas, and County Road 22 in North Glengarry. The 1.1 kilometre section of CR 8 and 18 is being rebuilt in 2021, but CR 22 is a few years off. Councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) proposed a solution to the long term funding woes of capital projects. “When Counties goes to the next budget, we can go to this list of roads that are not part of our roads plan but are in dire need ,” Byvelds said. “We’ve done really well in saving money for the manors, but what is a project we should look at – I consider that the now roads.” He cited the condition of roads like County Roads 5, 8, 31 and 22 which are not part of the county’s current four year roads plan. “This allows us as a county to deal with what we need to deal with and have the money set aside,” Byvelds added. His motion proposed the creation of a major roads reconstruction capital reserve, and a policy that directs any unspent money from the transportation and roads budget be collected in that reserve for capital projects. This includes any surplus or unused money from projects or where tender bids have come in below the budgeted amount. In past years, the department would find other uses for the funds towards the end of the construction season, or take on new smaller projects. Byvelds motion directed staff to create a new policy to set aside funds for the reserve, and come back to council with an inventory of what the transportation and planning department considers its “Now Roads” list. “I think Councillor Byvelds has come up with a great potential solution here,” said Councillor Carma Williams (North Glengarry). “I think the solution Councillor Byvelds has put on the table is a very creative way to stop us from having this road conversation where the ones we want to get to just go off into the abyss,” said Councillor Kristen Gardner (South Dundas). “I fully support any unused funds from roads projects being reallocated to look at the ‘Now Roads’,” Councillor Frank Landry (North Stormont) told council adding that the county’s asset management plan should be looked at to make sure that the roads on the plan are the right priorities. TPS director Ben deHaan said that if council passed Byvelds’ motion, the department would create a list independent of the current four-year roads plan with roads in need of major work. “Once we have that list, and that war chest built up, we can pick off that list,” deHaan said. Councillor Tony Fraser (North Dundas) asked for clarification if the proposed reserve would be the sole source of major road funding moving forward or would there be other sources sought. Byvelds explained that other “Now” projects were completed using federal gas tax funding received or using existing reserves. “I’m not saying we can’t dip into other reserves but right now we have no specific reserve to deal with these ‘Now Roads’,” Byvelds replied. “If we don’t start putting money aside for the roads that aren’t part of our four year plan then we’ll never get them done.” Councillor Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) spoke in support of Byvelds’ proposal. “At least it’s creating a savings account for some of these things that we don’t get to do and there is some money being dedicated towards this. It somewhat trains this council, and hopefully other councils will stay with it, to be mindful of putting away a savings account, and that’s a good start.” Council supported Byvelds’ solution, and staff will bring the policy for final approval at the upcoming March 15th meeting. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
OTTAWA — Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing anti-Semitism concerns ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.The heads of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Board of Deputies of British Jews say Corbyn is "toxic" and that the planned livestream talk between him and Ashton risks pulling New Democrats in a direction "antithetical" to Canadian values.Corbyn was booted from the British Labour party in October amid accusations he had weakened efforts to stamp out anti-Semitism.The party has been grappling with allegations anti-Semitism was allowed to fester under Corbyn, a longtime supporter of Palestinians and a critic of Israel who led the party for almost five years from 2015. Ashton has been promoting the March 20 chat, which will be hosted by Progressive International, an organization launched in 2018 by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Canadian author Naomi Klein and other progressive politicians and activists.Ashton and the NDP did not respond immediately to requests for comment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021.—With a file from The Associated Press The Canadian Press
A civic by-election to fill the seat vacated by former Richmond councillor Kelly Greene will cost $716,504. Greene, who was elected to the provincial legislature as a member of the governing NDP by winning the Richmond-Steveston MLA seat last fall, vacated her council seat late last year. The estimated cost is higher than the 2018 general election mainly because of a mail-in voting provision. That adds another $150,000, while a further $55,000 covers pandemic-related costs—particularly cleaning supplies. “The fact that we only have one vacancy, and it’s only for about a year, doesn’t mean that it’s of lesser importance and for that reason I don’t think we should compromise anything for the integrity of the by-election,” said Coun. Chak Au, who was in favour of the proposal. “We all find the cost distasteful,” added Coun. Linda McPhail, who also voted in favour of the proposed by-election despite its cost. City staff also presented a scaled-down option that would have cost $540,000. But it failed to include a mail-in voting option. Only people who have a physical disability that affects their ability to vote, or people who will be away from Richmond during the entire voting period, would be able to vote by mail. Councillors disagreed on the projected cost at a February finance committee meeting. In response to queries, city staff confirmed that legislation dictates the availability of advance voting as well as a sufficient number of voting places. In a report to council, staff said they will aim to spend less than the budgeted amount, but that “sufficient funding must be in place to ensure for the integrity of the election,” as well as for the health and safety of all people involved. Coun. Carol Day was in support of referring staff to take another look at possibly bringing the budget down. “I agree that the election is important,” she said. “Our hands are tied behind our back—we have to have one. But I just don’t think voter turnout’s going to be that great, and the smart thing to do is to take a step backwards on this one, and then let’s run a full 100 per cent effective election in 2022.” While Coun. Harold Steves and Coun. Michael Wolfe were in support of the referral motion, the rest of council was opposed and the main motion, including its cost, passed. The current targeted date for an election is May 29. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
From spring through fall, it’s not unusual to find Beck Aurell swinging from limb to limb through the crowns of Island oak, maple or poplar trees. Gear similar to a rock climber’s holds her safely in the tree and she carries a pruning saw or chainsaw at her side. “I might be the only female bodied climbing arborist on PEI,” Beck said, explaining that arborists are tree workers with specialized skills and certifications. They typically focus on managing and taking care of trees in residential areas. She was most recently employed with Laird Tree Care out of Cardigan. While Beck identifies as gender non-binary she is perceived by most as female and is comfortable with she/her or they/them pronouns. This puts her at odds with the majority of people she has worked with in Canada and around the world. Beck loves outdoor, hands-on work and any day she can help preserve the life of a tree is a good day in her opinion. She said making her way into a male dominated field of work wasn’t particularly easy but there were a few things that lifted her up into the treetops. “My dad was very helpful,” she said. Beck’s father owns an arborist business in New Brunswick and encouraged her to challenge herself by climbing in her teens. “It was something fun we did together and he never questioned if I could do it.” While the average arborist seems to be a tall bulky or lean guy, Beck has found smart techniques and tools tend to level the playing field. With a 5 foot 2 inch tall female body, she is stronger than some might expect. Beck said sometimes customers meet her with surprised comments like “Oh, are you doing the work?” or “Where’s the foreman?” when she is the team lead for the day. “It might be hard to believe, but it doesn’t actually take a 6-foot bulky man to transport logs from point A to B, to work hard all day, or to do the work we do efficiently,” she said. Luckily most customers meet her with supportive comments. “Customers that are older women especially seem supportive, I think it might be because they’ve seen so much change over the years.” Beck said local queer and some feminist communities have been a tremendous source of support and their ideas have helped her the whole way through. “Queer communities tend to share the idea, if it feels right for you, break gender expectations without fear or embarrassment, with pride,” she said. “They’ve really showed me there are different ways to be a person that don’t fit specific gender roles.” Beyond that, seeing female arborists in the industry when she worked in Sweden or at events (like women’s arborist skills camps in the US or in iternational arborist climbing competitions) reassured her that she could succeed in this line of work. Co-workers who have welcomed her into group environments and given her the opportunity to do what she is capable of without underestimating her abilities have also played a helpful part. “Most of my co-workers have been great,” Beck said. “Most don’t think twice about having me on the crew and working together, especially once they see I am capable and reliable.” “This means a lot because sometimes it takes a minute for some of the guys to settle with the idea that I’ll be climbing and working on the same level or even as a leader with them. “Sometimes when a crew shows up on a job they’re not expecting a blonde woman in her 20s to be the foreman and there seems to be a bit of an ego thing that can go on. “Sometimes there is some pushback but for the most part, it’s no problem.” Beck said her crew on PEI has been an excellent and fun team to work with. She has some advice for anyone considering a field of work that may seem unusual for their gender. “Don’t be afraid to break expectations and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “And if you can’t find anyone supportive, give me a call.” Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Plans to restart criminal jury trials in the Halifax area have hit another snag. Construction on two new courtrooms designed to meet COVID-19 restrictions is behind schedule. The two courtrooms, which are being built in the Burnside industrial park in Dartmouth, were supposed to open this week. But problems with the supply chain have pushed that construction deadline back to the end of this month, according to Nova Scotia court officials. Health experts have determined that the Law Courts building in downtown Halifax lacks sufficient space in the midst of a pandemic to accommodate the hundreds of people who are summoned for jury duty in a criminal trial. As the courts gradually reopened for other matters, jury trials in the capital city were put on hold, although there have been criminal jury trials in other parts of the province. At last count, there were about two-dozen cases that have been waiting for the time and space to conduct a hearing, with more being added on a regular basis. Three cases that were scheduled for this month have had to be moved. One resolved without a trial and the other two are now set to begin at the end of the month. One of the challenges for the new courts is creating a jury box that allows the 14 panel members to see and hear all the evidence and arguments while still maintaining the two metres of separation required under pandemic restrictions. MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up to $5 billion on vaccines and other COVID-19 treatments. Procurement Minister Anita Anand previously said vaccines alone would cost at least $1 billion but the specific contract costs are protected by confidentiality clauses with drug makers. Federal budget documents show $5.3 billion was approved in December for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including the purchase of doses, research and development. Last month $5 billion of that was shifted from the current fiscal year into 2021-22 because most of the vaccine doses Canada is buying aren't being delivered until after March 31, which is when the federal fiscal year ends. Canada is guaranteed to buy more than 240 million doses of seven different vaccines if all are approved, with only 6.5 million doses expected before the end of March. The Public Health Agency has not said specifically how much of the $5 billion is going to vaccines versus other COVID-19 medications. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — In a solid start, more than 200,000 people signed up for coverage the first two weeks after President Joe Biden reopened HealthCare.gov as part of his coronavirus response, the government said Wednesday. Early consumer interest in the three-month special enrolment period shows pent-up demand for health insurance a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people still unemployed or unable to work as many hours as before. If the pace keeps up, “this special enrolment period could make a meaningful dent in the number of people uninsured,” said Larry Levitt, who tracks health insurance for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “The enrolment numbers so far are stronger than I would have expected.” Biden called the sign-ups “an encouraging sign,” adding that “we can’t slow down until every American has the security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health coverage provides.” Reopening the health insurance markets fits into Biden’s strategy of pushing the U.S. toward coverage for all by building on the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” HealthCare.gov offers taxpayer subsidized private health insurance, catering mainly to low- and moderate-income working people. If Congress passes Biden’s coronavirus response bill, financial assistance for premiums will become considerably more generous, and a greater number of solid middle-class households would also qualify. Though the sweetened subsidies last only through the end of next year, their availability is expected to boost insurance coverage. The Democratic COVID-19 legislation also features incentives for states to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults. The numbers released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that more than 206,000 people signed up for coverage from Feb. 15-28. The figures are partial, since they cover only the 36 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov insurance market. National enrolment will be higher when totals from states running their own insurance websites are factored in later. Another 54,000 people who went to HealthCare.gov were found to be eligible for Medicaid, the agency reported. HealthCare.gov will be accepting applications through May 15, a stretch about twice as long as the regular annual open enrolment. The government has a $50 million advertising budget for the sign-up period, five times what the Trump administration would spend on annual open enrolment. Former President Donald Trump tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to repeal “Obamacare” and refused to reopen enrolment because of the pandemic. Biden’s special sign-up period features a special emphasis on reaching Black and Latino communities that have borne a heavy burden from COVID-19. “Obamacare” now covers more than 20 million people through a combination of subsidized private plans and, in most states, expanded Medicaid. Job losses during the pandemic have have increased the number of uninsured people, but it’s unclear by how much. Some experts estimate between 5 million to 10 million more uninsured, while the Congressional Budget Office suggests a lower number, closer to 3 million. In total, the budget office estimates that about 33 million people are uninsured. That's still less than when former President Barack Obama's health care law was passed, but it marks a definite reversal from prior years in which the uninsured rate steadily declined. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
A Red Deer meat-processing plant at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak linked to three worker deaths will reopen on Thursday for slaughter operations before resuming cutting room operations on Friday. "Reopening can occur because Olymel management and the regulators are satisfied that employees can return to the plant safely," said Olymel spokesperson Richard Vigneault in a statement. "The company will continue to work with AHS and OHS in order to fight the spread of the coronavirus." The news of the reopening came the same day the union that represents the plant's employees said a third worker's death was linked to the COVID-19 outbreak at the plant. That raised the total number of deaths linked to the outbreak to four, according to the union. The worker has not yet been publicly identified. In an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon, Vigneault confirmed that three plant employees have now died after testing positive. "It's a very sad situation for the family and friends and colleagues, and Olymel is offering its sincere condolences to the families," the statement read in part. "Olymel will remain available for assistance to support the families in this tragedy." Alberta Health has not yet confirmed the worker's death. On Wednesday, a spokesperson with Alberta Health said they had only linked two worker deaths to the outbreak at this time. Deaths linked to outbreak The Olymel outbreak, first declared on Nov. 17, 2020, has been linked to at least 500 cases, and led to the temporary closure of the plant on Feb. 15. The first death, on Jan. 28, was of Darwin Doloque, a 35-year-old permanent resident who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines and was found dead in his home. His death was followed on Feb. 24 by that of Henry De Leon, a 50-year-old who immigrated from the Dominican Republic and had worked at the plant for 15 years. He left behind a wife, two adult children and three grandchildren. The third death linked to the outbreak was a woman in her 60s who has not been publicly identified. It has not been disclosed how she was linked to the outbreak. The outbreak at the Olymel plant is now deadlier than the outbreak at the Cargill meat-processing plant near High River, Alta., the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada. The Cargill outbreak was linked to three fatalities and at least 1,500 cases. Company says it has worked with AHS In the statement, Olymel said it had used the temporary closure to "update and reinforce the many health and safety measures already in place at the plant." The company said teams from AHS, OHS and Environmental Public Health visited the facility on March 1 and 3. AHS made several recommendations at that time. "Alberta Health Services authorities have however specified that the coronavirus is still spreading and that everyone is at risk of contracting it, whether in the community or otherwise," Vigneault said in the statement. "Accordingly, they recommend the utmost vigilance." The company said it had added staff to monitor and enforce health and safety measures, and "further adjusted and enhanced" social distancing protocols, particularly when it came to adding physical space. Health and safety meetings between management and union representatives are scheduled on a daily basis, the company said. 'Action items' were suggested by union before reopening Earlier this week, Hesse called for the Red Deer plant's potential March 3 reopening to be delayed, saying in an open letter that employees do not feel safe after a deadly outbreak of COVID-19. It listed more than 20 "action items" it said should be fulfilled before reopening is considered, in order to regain the confidence of employees and ensure their safety. The letter came after plant manager Rob Ackerblade informed employees on Feb. 28 that if a March 1 inspection by Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Occupational Health and Safety was successful, gradual reopening dates for the Olymel plant could be March 3 for the slaughterhouse and March 4 for the cutting room. The Alberta government confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that Occupational Health and Safety had toured the facility on March 1, and again with AHS and the union on March 2. "OHS continues to monitor Olymel to ensure safety protocols and measures continue to be used to limit the spread of COVID-19," Joseph Dow said in an emailed statement. According to Dow, AHS made safety recommendations to be implemented before the plant's eventual reopening. The measures recommended by AHS included: Implement capacity limits in lockers rooms and washrooms. Remove reusable dishes in break rooms. Enhance cleaning/disinfecting schedules of washrooms, break rooms and locker rooms. Add more hand sanitizing stations throughout. Increase education plan for staff, including staff training sessions, posters and other visuals.
TORONTO — Veteran Canadian strawweight Randa (Quiet Storm) Markos will face Luana Pinheiro at UFC 260 on March 27. It will mark the 17th UFC fight for the 35-year-old from Windsor, Ont., who made her debut in the promotion in December 2014. Markos (10-10-1) has lost three straight and four of her last five, dropping her record in the UFC to 6-9-1. Markos lost a decision to Japan's Kanako Murata last time out in November. Pinheiro (8-1-0) is making her UFC debut after posting a first-round KO win in November over Stephanie Frausto in Dana White's Contender Series. The 27-year-old Brazilian has won her last six outings. The main event at the UFC's Apex production facility in Las Vegas sees Stipe Miocic (20-3-0) put his heavyweight title on the line against No. 1 contender Francis (The Predator) Ngannou (15-3-0). Miocic won by unanimous decision when they met at UFC 220 in January 2018, There are two other Canadians on the UFC 260 card. Flyweight Gillian (The Savage) Robertson, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., who makes her home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., faces Miranda (Fear The) Maverick and Quebec middleweight Marc-Andre (Power Bar) Barriault takes on Morocco's Abu (Gladiator) Azaitar. Robertson and Miranda were supposed to meet Feb. 13 at UFC 258 but the Canadian had to withdraw due to a non-COVID-related illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter ENGLEHART – The times are changing and it was a time for change for the Englehart Dental Office. Owned and operated by Dr. Julie Williams, the business has a new home as it recently opened the newly constructed office building at 35 Third Street. It’s located just down the street from its original office space at 39 Third Street. The Dental Office held an official ribbon cutting ceremony with its staff in front of the new location on February 24 to celebrate the move. “I was just ready to have my own space, something I designed myself,” explained Williams in an interview at the new office building. “It just felt like the next step in the career.” Williams said she put plans into motion for the construction of the new building in January of 2020 but the process really began that March. The old pizza place building that used to occupy the land of the new office then was demolished in July, she noted. “Once it finally got going, it got going,” said Williams with a smile. “I just had the design (of the new building), I made it myself. None of the designers liked it but I just wanted my own space. I didn’t want anything too big, just my size.” Once she purchased the lot from the town, Williams said she was able to design the building size-wise on it. She noted that she originally planned to have a basement in the new building but ran into sewer and water line issues as well as encountering poor soil conditions. “So it’s just on a (concrete) slab now and that changed plans a little bit, but it worked out OK, we still have some storage around. It changed the chemical room slightly, so it changed in the planning as well. That delayed us a good month, month-and-a-half with the redesigning.” Williams said that the COVID-19 pandemic also affected how she was able to carry out her construction plans. “It definitely made material sourcing and everything very difficult,” she said. “The flooring took eight weeks when it should have been like two weeks, that delayed everything. Thank goodness I ordered all the dental equipment like nine months before needed because that didn’t come in until November and it would have been bananas if it didn’t come in.” Williams said the pandemic also “put a little bit of a damper” with how everything surrounding the dental office’s operations flowed while the new building was being constructed, but it wasn’t too much to overcome. “We were able to get open for dentistry before ground broke, after the delays. We had to close to dentistry until the end of May (in 2020) and I was really worried about continuing but we got to open again,” she noted. COMMUNITY FEEDBACK Williams noted that the dental office has been open for three weeks and so far the reception from its patients and the community has been positive. “It’s been fantastic, they’re loving the new space,” she said. “A lot of them are saying ‘Thank you for investing in the community’ and it’s true, I didn’t really think of that effect, but it’s true. It was just always my game plan to stay (in Englehart) so now at least we have our own space to stay.” Williams said her goals for the future are just to enjoy the new office space and provide her patients with a lot more enhanced services. “We have digital x-rays, more computers and everything, we’re finally up to the 21st century” she noted. “Long-term I just want to practice for the next 20 years, really, in comfort and in my own space. This was just the next step, I was ready.” Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Friends and family from near and far have come together to help a Goulds farming family following a devastating barn fire that claimed as many as 70 cattle last week. “It was surreal,” said Heather Penney-Stanley, a lifelong family friend currently residing in Florida. Penney-Stanley is one half of a duo who banded together to start a social media fundraising campaign to help farmer Michael Dinn and his family. “Jill O’Reilly-Kavanagh and I were really good friends with Michelle (Michael’s sister), we all grew up together,” said Penney-Stanley. “So, we said, ‘We need to do something, lets start a fundraiser.’ So, Jill started the Facebook page, and it was just meant to be for our high school friends, but it took off. I guess you could say it went viral. Everybody wanted to help, we started letting more people into the group, and the word spread.” Soon, they created a GoFundMe page as another avenue to collect funds. As of Thursday, the group had received about $30,000 in email transfers, plus $2,000 raised through the GoFundMe. But folks have been finding other ways to help too. “One lady wants to do a Tupperware party, and she plans to donate her profits,” said Penney-Stanley. “I had another lady reach out, she’s a local artist, and she donated a painting, and we’re going to auction that off. We even had a local rescue (group) offer to donate barn cats, if and when the time came for them to need barn cats.” Penney-Stanley said a couple of thousand dollars raised amongst friends would have been counted as a success. “We didn’t really have a goal set,” said Penney-Stanley. “But we didn’t expect it to blow up like this. It’s incredible. It just shows what I’ve always thought; that Newfoundlanders are the kindest people on the planet. It restores your faith in humanity to see how people have come together to support the Dinn family. They are the kindest, most giving family, so it’s nice to see how the community has come together to support them, how the farming community has come forward to show their support, businesses have donated, people have been donating money, and they want to help in other ways. It’s incredible.” Dinn was involved in the 4H program and would often have children from the 4H club over on the farm. For Agriculture Canada’s Open Farm Day, he would open the farm for the community to show off the livestock and what was involved in the day-to-day operations. “They’ve been devastated,” said Penney-Stanley. “They have a lot to process and figure out moving forward. But everybody is hoping that Michael will rebuild, and his family, and his friends and the community are behind him 100 per cent.” Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says extra vaccine shipments could make it possible to vaccinate all willing Canadian adults before September. The United States has an earlier target at the end of May, but Trudeau cautions against using the U.S., with its worse record of infections and deaths, as a guide for what Canada does.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a flagship election reform bill on Wednesday that would update voting procedures and require states to turn over the task of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions. The legislation, numbered "H.R. 1" for the importance Democrats attach to it, "is designed to restore the voices of Americans who felt left out and locked out for too long," its original sponsor, Representative John Sarbanes, said in remarks outside the U.S. Capitol before the vote. The bill is one of many the House Democrats are voting on early in the Congress on a number of priorities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, policing and the environment.
“Klara and the Sun,” by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf) “Klara and the Sun,” by Nobel-winning writer Kazuo Ishiguro, takes readers on a journey through the mind of Klara, one of many artificial friends who have been built to keep lonely children company. Klara is a one-of-a-kind machine whose keen observational abilities are consistently praised by the human beings who meet her. She may be a machine, but her thoughts and emotions are deeply real. Klara is chosen at the store by a young girl named Josie who connects with her immediately. She comes home with her to learn that Josie has a serious illness. Ever devoted to the child who chose her, Klara takes it upon herself to ensure that Josie remains safe and healthy for as long as possible. Ishiguro creates a fascinating world through Klara’s eyes as she works to understand how humans operate, while at the same time working through a growing number of feelings of her own. Throughout the book, Klara is more or less treated as a person and sometimes, you may even forget that she isn’t one. Ishiguro’s prose are soft and quiet. It feels like the perfect book to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon. He allows the story to unfold slowly and organically, revealing enough on every page to continue piquing the reader’s curiosity. The novel is an intriguing take on how artificial intelligence might play a role in our futures. It is a poignant meditation on love and loneliness, and asks us to ponder whether someone like Klara can every truly embody the human spirit, or if the soul is something that can never be manufactured. —- Read more about Molly Sprayregen at https://www.mollyspray.com. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
CARDINAL – The fastest growing hockey league in Eastern Ontario has added another team to the league, this time in Cardinal. The South Grenville Sr. Rangers announced it was accepted into the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League early last week. “We are excited to build on the hockey traditions in our community and continue to showcase local talent of all ages,” the team said in its February 23rd announcement. The EOSHL began play as a four-team league in the 2019-20 season and is for hockey players age 20 and older still looking to play hockey after their junior eligibility is over. The Sr. Rangers’ announcement comes a week after a franchise was announced in Gananoque and four weeks after the North Dundas Sr. Rockets announced it was joining the league. Team officials said they are hoping to build on local rivalries with other communities, and that the makeup of the league is a positive step in that direction. The Sr. Rangers have not announced a general manager or head coach for the 2021-22 season but are actively recruiting those positions. Unlike minor and junior hockey levels, the EOSHL does not have restrictions on territories or team rights to worry about in signing players. This means former Jr. A, B, or C level players, along with those who have experience in the OHL, NCAA, or U SPORTS leagues can play for teams in the league. League president Mitch Gagne said that the EOSHL is looking to add one more team to balance the league to 12 teams total. “We have a few more areas interested and we hope to have all 12 settled by May 1st so we can enjoy an exciting summer of preparing for the fall for a hopeful start to our league,” Gagne said. One area that will not be joining the EOSHL is Morrisburg. Morrisburg Jr. C Lions. Team general manager Kevin Casselman told The Leader that he is not looking at a team for Morrisburg at this time. “I wish the best of luck to the Rangers and Rockets,” Casselman said. The league plans a 24-game regular season beginning this fall. Other teams in the league include Maxville, Alexandria, West Carleton, Frontenac, Smiths Falls, Pontiac (QC), and Cornwall. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader