Meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
Meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Another type of COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by Health Canada on Friday. The new vaccines are manufactured by AstraZeneca, and developed in partnership with Oxford University. Canada also approved the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Afterwards, Anita Anand, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that Canada has secured two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement with Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc./Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its ChAdOx1 vaccine to the Serum Institute. The first 500,000 doses will be delivered to Canada in the coming weeks. The remaining 1.5 million doses are expected to arrive by mid-May. “The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19. This includes securing a highly diverse and extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive them,” Anand said in a release. “We remain fully on track to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply so that every eligible Canadian who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of September. I am grateful for the collaboration of our partners in India to finalize this agreement, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the weeks ahead.” The two million doses secured through this agreement are in addition to the 20 million doses already secured through an earlier agreement with AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine allows the Government of Canada to advance its work with AstraZeneca to finalize delivery schedules for the 20 million doses. The application for authorization from AstraZeneca was received on Oct. 1, 2020 and from from Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India (in partnership with AstraZeneca Canada Inc.) on January 23, 2021. After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements. These are the first viral vector-based vaccines authorized in Canada. These are also two-dose regiments and can be kept refrigerated for at least six months. Health Canada’s authorization of the Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc./Serum Institute of India product relies on the assessment of its comparability to the AstraZeneca-produced version of the vaccine.. These vaccines were authorized with terms and conditions under Health Canada’s Interim Order on the importation of drugs for COVID-19 The process allowed Health Canada to assess information submitted by the manufacturer as it became available during the product development process, while maintaining Canadian standards. Health Canada has placed terms and conditions on the authorizations requiring the manufacturers to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines to ensure their benefits continue to be demonstrated through market use. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will closely monitor the safety. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
TORONTO — Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s legendary career is being celebrated in a Heritage Minute.Historica Canada released the newest clip, timed for Black History Month, in its ongoing series that highlights influential figures from across the country.The minute-long video chronicles the seven-time Grammy winner's rise from a working-class Montreal family to becoming a world-renowned piano virtuoso.It touches on his encounters with greatness, such as being dubbed “the man with four hands,” and acknowledges the racism he faced at jazz gigs in the 1940s.Peterson died of kidney failure in 2007 at the age of 82.Both the English and French versions of the Heritage Minute feature end narration by Black Canadian pianists. Oliver Jones appears in the English version while Gregory Charles handles the French.The Heritage Minute is written by Brynn Byrne and directed by Aaron Yeger, known as co-writer and producer of the acclaimed 2015 film "Sleeping Giant."Historica Canada also produced a companion video exploring the history of Little Burgundy, a Black working-class community in Montreal and the jazz culture within it. The separate clip is narrated by Peterson’s daughter Celine Peterson, who was consulted about her father's Heritage Minute from its inception.Peterson says her father received many honours throughout his career, but she believes he would be especially proud of seeing his story in a Heritage Minute.“I think this is one of the ones that would really overwhelm him," she said.“People all over the world are familiar with the Heritage Minute, and it’s such a monumental form of recognition."Peterson, who serves as producer of the Kensington Market Jazz Festival in Toronto, says the debut of her father’s Heritage Minute during Black History Month is significant.“A huge part of my dad's story was racism, first at home and then around the world,” she said, pointing out that it was especially prominent early in his career as he travelled the southern United States.“He told the story when I was young about driving up on a KKK meeting when they were going from city to city. Hearing him talk about it is still haunting for me today. Maybe even a bit more so now than it was before.”Peterson's Heritage Minute is an especially cinematic one, which raises the question of whether his relatives have considered granting the rights for his story to a production company for a feature film."In the past, there have been some conversations but nothing that has necessarily been the right fit," his daughter said."Having his story told in that capacity would be natural, to a certain extent. It needs to happen, it's just a matter of when and by whom."--Watch the Oscar Peterson Heritage Minute: https://bit.ly/3bgpHHmThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the narration by Black Canadian pianists was for the full Heritage Minute. In fact, the pianists contribute only the end narration in both English and French.
(Giacomo Panico/CBC - image credit) Rocksane Forget, who works with the Association des Neurotraumatisés de l'Outaouais, was asked to find a way to improve folk hero Jos Montferrand's look, ultimately deciding to mobilize a group of knitters. One towering lumberjack of legend is getting a makeover this winter. The frame of Jos Montferrand on Gatineau, Que.'s rue Montcalm was created for Mosaïcultures, a horticultural exhibition held in Jacques-Cartier Park in 2017. The sculpture had been set on fire in a controlled setting by an artist tasked with stripping it and restoring its beauty. As a result, the tribute to the folk hero who steered logs down the Ottawa River in the early 1800s and inspired myths of his strength and fearlessness had seen better days. The sculpture of local lumber legend Jos Montferrand sported a face covering Jan. 13, 2021 before getting the scarf. "We needed to put some colour on this guy," said Rocksane Forget, who works with the Association des Neurotraumatisés de l'Outaouais, a support group for people with head injuries and strokes. Forget was tasked by the City of Gatineau with finding ways to freshen up Montferrand's look, ultimately deciding on mobilizing a group of knitters. The scarf was garter stitched and crocheted piece-by-piece by knitters who are all members of the Association des Neurotraumatisés de l'Outaouais. The group worked separately from home with wool and a plan, creating a 5.5-metre yarn scarf. Kaitlin Brown, who helped create the rainbow-coloured neck attire, said each patch took about six to seven hours to make. Each knitter spent 120 hours on their respective sections, she said, resulting in about 500 hours of labour in total. Jos Montferrand, sometimes called Grand Jos, felled trees and rolled logs down the Ottawa River in the early 1800s. While the knitters were unsure of the project at the outset, Brown said she's pleased with the final product, which they hope will raise awareness for their organization. "Having that colourful scarf on Jos is going to put a nice smile on everyone's face," Forget said.
Les truffes de culture et sauvages pourraient d’ici quelques années devenir une spécialité mauricienne. Des chercheuses, spécialistes, organismes, investisseurs et propriétaires forestiers et terriens flairent aujourd’hui la bonne et belle affaire. La filière s’organise. Un véritable réseau truffier est en train de se structurer en Mauricie, grâce aux efforts concertés de nombreux intervenants qui travaillent en synergie. Parmi eux, Truffes Québec, ArborInnov, la Filière mycologique de la Mauricie (bras de développement des comestibles forestiers du Syndicat des producteurs de bois de la Mauricie), des chercheurs et des propriétaires privés. Truffes Québec espère, dès à présent, implanter chaque année un peu moins d’une dizaine de truffières sur le territoire de la Mauricie. L’organisation veut que la région serve de modèle dans la culture de ce champignon convoité, goûteux, rarissime et coûteux. Pour y parvenir, Truffes Québec travaille de très près avec la Filière mycologique de la Mauricie qui sert de point d’entrée aux exploitants intéressés par la culture des truffes. Ces derniers sont ensuite référés à Truffes Québec qui analyse les projets et leur faisabilité. « On veut avoir des producteurs qui ont une vision et qui ne cherchent pas une rentabilité à court terme. Il y a tout un accompagnement pour faire en sorte que chaque installation soit un succès. En particulier pour la truffe des Appalaches. C’est l’aspect global qu’on travaille avec eux », explique Jean-Pierre Proulx, directeur de Truffes Québec. Intervient alors ArborInnov qui travaille depuis 2009 à valoriser la culture des truffes, à produire des arbres truffiers et à conseiller les producteurs. Des producteurs qui n’ont aucune intention de crier sur tous les toits leur affection pour la truffe et les projets qui se réalisent dans le plus grand secret et sous le couvert de l’anonymat. « On a eu des rencontres, fait des analyses de sols, de faisabilité » précise M. Proulx. Julia (nom d’emprunt) est l’une de celle qui veut avec son conjoint, planter 1 600 arbres truffiers sur sa terre de douze hectares. La truffière en occupera le dixième de sa superficie. « C’est un projet de préretraite. On cherchait une culture à faire sur une petite surface et je voulais avoir une forêt derrière la maison. On va planter des chênes rouges, du pin blanc et des épinettes de Norvège qui tiennent compte de notre type de sol. Les cultures émergentes nous intéressent. Je suis dans l’industrie alimentaire depuis toujours, je vois beaucoup de potentiel de développement. On essaie de limiter nos rêves de grandeurs. Si on compare à ce qui sort en nature, on devrait avoir un rendement qui nous permette d’en vivre comme retraités. Et il n’est pas impossible, si le résultat est bon, qu’on ajoute un autre champ. Il faut être capable de supporter l’investissement », souligne Julia qui se garde bien de nous dire combien elle a investi, et où! « On est en Mauricie », se limite-t-elle à préciser. Julia lance sa truffière en toute discrétion dès le printemps prochain, avant les possibles sécheresses de l’été. « Il va falloir arroser, on n’a pas le choix ». Truffes Québec et la Filière mycologique de la Mauricie planchent sur des projets porteurs qui pourraient être dévoilés au courant de l’hiver. « Ça fait déjà travailler plein de monde. Quand ça se met à décoller, dans dix ans, c’est une autre affaire », conclut M. Quirion. Combien vaut un kilo de truffes du Québec? On vient de vendre un kilo de truffes des Appalaches pour 3 000 $. Des centaines de milliers de dollars investis dans la truffe en Mauricie Les investissements se multiplient en Mauricie. « On regroupe la cueillette, la transformation, la restauration, le mycotourisme, la recherche et le développement. On bâtit ensemble un plan quinquennal », explique Patrick Lupien, coordonnateur de la Filière mycologique de la Mauricie. La Filière travaille main dans la main avec Truffes Québec et ArborInnov. « Mon rôle est de mobiliser les propriétaires en vue de développer des champs truffiers en Mauricie, de venir ajouter au positionnement de la Mauricie dans le secteur », affirme M. Lupien de la Filière. Ce dernier travaille aussi au développement d’une filière de mycotourisme de la truffe sauvage avec la chercheuse Véronique Cloutier. Truffes Québec et la Filière mycologique de la Mauricie vont travailler de concert avec le club-conseil en agroenvironnement Lavi-Eau-Champ à l’implantation de champs truffiers. Cet automne, près de 200 000 $ ont été investis par des producteurs truffiers truffiers indépendants qui vont lancer leur truffière au printemps 2021. « L’investissement va varier selon les producteurs. Les arbres sont déjà réservés », ajoute Jean-Pierre Proulx. « C’est une excellente nouvelle, qui vient une fois de plus confirmer le rôle central que peut jouer la Mauricie dans la croissance de la mycologique et de la gastronomie au Québec , ajoute Patrick Lupien. Pour des projets qui sont porteurs comme ça, je ne pense pas qu’on ait besoin des gouvernements.» Une foule d’autres variétés pourraient, à terme, être produites en régie agronomique, estime Patrick Lupien de la Filière mycologique, d’autant que les pays européens enregistrent actuellement des baisses de production. Le Québec pourrait se faufiler. « On parle de la truffe sauvage au Québec, comme quand je parlais de champignons il y a douze ans. La truffe suit cette même dynamique. Et elle est réfléchie. Il y a une clientèle nationale et internationale prête à la découvrir », estime M. Lupien. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
VANCOUVER — Health officials have declared COVID-19 outbreaks at two more Metro Vancouver hospitals after finding evidence the virus was transmitted within a medicine unit at both locations. A statement from Fraser Health says the outbreaks are in single units of Surrey Memorial Hospital and Chilliwack General Hospital. One patient at Surrey Memorial and five patients at Chilliwack General have tested positive for COVID-19. Those units have been closed to admissions, but Fraser Health says other units and the emergency rooms of both hospitals remain open. Information from Vancouver Coastal Health shows a COVID-19 outbreak continues at three in-patient units on three separate floors of the highrise tower at Vancouver General Hospital. The units remain closed to admissions, transfers and visitors after COVID-19 outbreaks were confirmed on those wards, with the first outbreak reported Feb. 21. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders have reached an agreement aimed at getting most public schoolchildren back in classrooms by the end of March. Under the deal announced Monday, school districts could get up to $6.6 billion if they reopen classrooms by March 31. To get the money, schools must return to in-person instruction at least through second grade. However, districts in counties with coronavirus case numbers low enough within a specific classification level must return to in-person instruction for all elementary school grades, plus one grade each in middle and high school. The proposal does not require staff and students to be vaccinated. Districts are not required to have agreements with teachers’ unions. Adam Beam, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry says the process of separating from royal life has been very difficult for him and his wife, Meghan. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry invoked the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who had to find her way alone after she and Prince Charles divorced. “I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side, because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago,” Harry said, adding, “because it’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us.” “But at least we have each other,” Harry said, in a clip from the interview special, which is scheduled to air March 7 on CBS and the following day in Britain. Diana was shown in a photo holding toddler Harry as he made the comments. His mother died in 1997 of injuries suffered in a car crash. Harry and Meghan sat opposite Winfrey and side-by-side, holding hands during the interview that was conducted in a lush garden setting. The couple lives in Montecito, California, where they are neighbours of Winfrey. Meghan, who recently announced she is pregnant with the couple’s second child, wore an empire-style black dress with embroidery. Harry wore a light gray suit and white dress shirt, minus a tie. As Meghan Markle, the actor starred in the TV legal drama “Suits.” She married Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later. The brief promotional clip was one of two of that aired Sunday during CBS’ news magazine “60 Minutes.” Winfrey’s questions and comment were predominant in the other clip, including her statement that, “You said some pretty shocking things here,” without an indication of what she was referring to. Meghan was not heard from in the clips. Harry and Meghan stepped away from full-time royal life in March 2020, unhappy at media scrutiny and the strictures of their roles. They cited what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is African American. It was agreed the situation would be reviewed after a year. On Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple will not be returning to royal duties and Harry will give up his honorary military titles — a decision that makes formal, and final, the couple’s split from the royal family. The pair, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, verified “they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family. “ A spokesperson for the couple hit back at suggestions that Meghan and Harry were not devoted to duty. “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
As concerns about internationally identified COVID-19 variants hit closer to home, public health authorities are asking — and increasingly, ordering — people to isolate safely, away from others in their household. Here are some examples of how hotels and quarantine facilities are being used to keep the virus from spreading through communities. TRAVELLERS WAITING FOR TEST RESULTS As the federal government rolls out new restrictions to prevent contagious mutations of the COVID-19 virus from crossing the border, more travellers are set to be sent to hotels and other facilities to serve at least part of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Under the new rules, which will take effect on Feb. 22, returning travellers will have to take a COVID-19 test at the airport at their own expense. They're then required to spend the first three days of their quarantine at a supervised hotel while awaiting their results, and foot the bill for their stay, expected to cost upwards of $2,000. Hotel booking information will be available online as of Feb.18. Those with negative results can serve the remainder of their two-week quarantine at home, while those with positive tests will be sent to government designated facilities. Those arriving via the land border will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, and then another COVID-19 test at the end of their quarantine. Land border arrivals do not have to stay in a hotel as part of their mandatory two-week quarantine. Earlier this week, the federal government outlined some of the application requirements for privately owned hotels looking to be part of the three-night stay program. The hotels must be within 10 kilometres of one of the four international airports currently accepting flights from abroad in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Hotels will be responsible for providing three nights of lodging in keeping with public health requirements. That includes safely shuttling guests to their accommodations; offering contactless meal delivery to rooms; access to phones and internet; and reporting traveller information to authorities, such as check-in and check-out. Safety protocols include measures to monitor movement within the hotel and ensure compliance with isolation requirements. Travellers must be sequestered from regular clients, and the hotel must have process to allow "essential and short outside time," such as smoke breaks. FEDERALLY DESIGNATED FACILITIES FOR TRAVELLERS IN QUARANTINE Since the outbreak took hold in Canada, Ottawa has been putting up travellers in hotels and other lodging sites as a "last resort" for those without a suitable place to self-isolate, said a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada. Tammy Jarbeau said in an email that the agency currently operates 11 designated quarantine facilities in nine cities across Canada, with access to two provincially run sites. These sites had lodged 5,030 travellers, as of Jan. 24, said Jarbeau. She said the cost of the program wasn't readily available. As of last Thursday, all international passenger flights must land at one of four airports — Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal. Jarbeau said the government designates or cancels quarantine sites as needed, but declined to disclose their locations to "protect the privacy and safety of travellers." ISOLATION SITES FOR NORTHERN TRAVELLERS Two of the northern territories have long required travellers to make a public-health pit stop before entry. To fly back to Nunavut, residents must first spend two weeks at health isolation sites in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before they can be cleared to return to their home community. The territory covers costs such as a hotel room, meals and internet access, but travellers are responsible for any additional flight expenses. Travellers headed to Northwest Territories must self-isolate in one of four communities: Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith. Those who don't have a place to quarantine are sent to isolation centres. Last month, the territory said it would no longer pay to put up residents travelling for recreational reasons. Non-residents still have to cover their own accommodations. VOLUNTARY ISOLATION SITES A growing number of jurisdictions are setting up voluntary COVID-19 isolation sites to help people recover from the virus without putting other members of their household at risk. Public health officials say many Canadians can't safely self-isolate at home because of crowded housing conditions, contributing to the disproportionate spread of infections in low-income neighbourhoods. The centres offer people a free, safe place to self-isolate as well as other services such as meals, security, transportation, income support and links to health care. The federal government has committed roughly $29 million to support municipally run isolation sites in Toronto, Ottawa and the regions of Peel and Waterloo. The Ontario government is also spending $42 million to create and expand centres in locations across the province, adding up to1,525 more beds in coming weeks. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said people may be referred to the city's self-isolation sites by COVID-19 case managers and community outreach workers, but individuals can access the facilities on their own accord. Cressy said the city also runs a COVID-19 isolation site out of a hotel where people who are experiencing homelessness can stay while they're sick. He noted that this recovery program is distinct from the hotels that are being used as temporary homeless shelters to support physical distancing. ISOLATION HOTEL INCENTIVES In Alberta, people who need to self-isolate because of COVID-19 concerns can not only stay in a hotel room free of charge, but may qualify for a $625 relief payment upon check-out. Earlier this week, the province expanded a temporary financial aid program intended to incentivize Albertans to self-isolate in a hotel if they can't safely do so at home. Since December, residents of hard-hit neighbourhoods in Edmonton and Calgary have been eligible for a $625 government payment at the end of their stay. Now, the aid is open to all Albertans who have been referred by a provincial health authority. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Spending on U.S. construction projects rose 1.7% in January as new home building continues to lift the sector. Last month's increase followed small revised gains in December and November. Spending on residential construction rose 2.5% in January, with single family home projects up 3%, the Commerce Department reported Monday. Despite an economy that’s been battered for nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, historically low interest rates and city dwellers seeking more space in the suburbs and beyond has boosted home sales. Last week, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes jumped 4.3% in January, and are 19.3% higher than they were last year at this time. In a separate report, the government reported that applications for building permits, which typically signal activity ahead, spiked 10.4% in January. Spending on government projects, which has been constrained by tight state and local budgets in the wake of the pandemic, rose 1.7%. Matt Ott, The Associated Press
(CBC - image credit) Carol Henzie says the provincial and federal governments need to do more to protect people like her parents after they were exposed three times to COVID-19 in a Pointe-Claire home for independent seniors. "The people that are supposed to be caring and taking care of our parents and our seniors are exposing them to the virus," said Henzie, citing Feb. 18 as the third time her parents were put at risk. "We're supposed to protecting our seniors, and we're not." Her parents live in Maywood Pointe-Claire and she recently found out that an in-home care worker from a local CLSC tested positive for the disease just a few days after visiting her mother and father. Now her mother has tested positive, and is in quarantine with her husband. They had both been vaccinated earlier in the week and, so far, Henzie said her father is doing just fine. "Neither of us have any symptoms," said Terrence Henzie. "We neither have a cough or cold or sneezing or wheezing. Nothing of the kind." Preliminary data from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec suggests the vaccines are 80 per cent effective after two weeks for health-care workers and after three weeks among the residents of long-term care homes. Carol Henzie said she holds public health accountable for her parents being exposed. She wants to see all health-care workers tested regularly for the disease if they work with seniors. CIUSSS says it is following regulations Hélène Bergeron-Gamache, a spokesperson for the West Island regional health board, said the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal follows the provincial directives for screening health workers. "We strongly encourage our employees to get tested preventively and on a regular basis," she said in an email. "To facilitate access, mobile screening clinics are located in some of our facilities." Quebec 85-years-old and over lined up for their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Laval last week, but most who live in long-term care homes have already been vaccinated. The agency also follows infection prevention and control rules, providing all employees with the appropriate equipment and training they need to safely provide quality care and services, Bergeron-Gamache said. "Remember that, with community transmission still present, no one is safe from contracting the virus," she said. Quebec long-term care homes struggled through pandemic Long-term care homes — in particular CHSLDs, where residents have significant health or mobility issues — were hit hard by COVID-19 last spring as both staff and visitors brought the highly contagious disease into facilities. There has been a chorus of calls for reform since the early days of the pandemic, as its impact on long-term care homes has brought to light many issues with the way both private and public residences are managed. Francine Ducharme, a geriatrics researcher and nursing sciences professor at Université de Montréal, recently helped prepare a report on long-term care for the Royal Society of Canada in 2020 that showed Canadian seniors' homes have allowed staff-to-patient ratios to drop. The homes have also increasingly shifted to lower-paid care aides and personal support workers, who are often given "variable and minimal formal training," according to the report. A separate report by Quebec's ombudsman revealed the majority of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the province between March and June 2020 were among long-term residents — 3,890 in all. In some cases, ombudsman Marie Rinfret noted, overworked staff could not meet residents' basic needs such as being fed, changed or comforted as they died.
BOSTON — An American father and son wanted by Japan for aiding former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn escape from the country in a box were handed over to Japanese custody Monday, ending their months-long battle to stay in the U.S. Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, failed to convince U.S. officials and courts to block their extradition to Japan, where they will be tried on charges that they smuggled Ghosn out of the country in 2019 while the former auto titan was awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges. The Massachusetts men, who have been locked up at a suburban Boston jail since their arrest in May, were handed over to Japanese officials early Monday, said one of their attorneys, Paul Kelly. The Taylors' lawyers had argued the accusations don't fit under the law Japan wants to try them under and that they would be treated unfairly in Japan and subjected to “mental and physical torture." They have accused Japan of pursuing the pair in an attempt to save face after the embarrassment of Ghosn’s escape. Michael Taylor, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran and private security specialist who in the past was hired by parents to rescue abducted children, has never denied the allegations. He gave an interview to Vanity Fair magazine for a story last year in which he described the mission in detail. When asked why he did it, he responded with the motto of the Special Forces: “De oppresso liber” or “to liberate the oppressed,” the magazine reported. Michael Taylor refused to discuss the details of the case in an interview last month with The Associated Press because of the possibility that he will be tried in Japan. But he insisted that his son wasn’t involved and was not even in Japan when Ghosn left. Ghosn, who became one of the auto industry’s most powerful executives by engineering a turnaround at the Japanese manufacturer, had been out on bail after his November 2018 arrest on charges that he underreported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. Ghosn has denied the allegations and has said he fled to avoid “political persecution.” Prosecutors have described it as one of the most “brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history.” Authorities say the Taylors were paid at least $1.3 million for their help. On the day of the escape, Michael Taylor flew into Osaka on a chartered jet with another man, George-Antoine Zayek, carrying two large black boxes and pretending to be musicians with audio equipment, authorities said. Meanwhile, Ghosn, free on bail, headed to the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo and met up with Peter Taylor, who was already in Japan, authorities say. The elder Taylor and Zayek met up with the two others at the Grand Hyatt and shortly after, they split up. Peter Taylor hopped on a flight to China while the others got on a bullet train and went back to another hotel near the airport, where Taylor and Zayek had booked a room. They all went in; only Ghosn’s rescuers were seen walking out. Authorities say Ghosn was inside one of the big black boxes. At the airport, the boxes passed through a security checkpoint without being checked and were loaded onto a private jet headed for Turkey, officials said. The Taylors had hired lawyers connected to former President Donald Trump, including ex-White House attorney Ty Cobb, in attempt to get Trump to block the extradition before he left office. In his interview with the AP, Michael Taylor implored President Joe Biden to step in and said he felt betrayed that the U.S. would try to turn him over to Japan after his service to the country. But the Biden administration declined to block the extradition. Under Trump. the U.S. State Department agreed in October to hand the men over to Japan. But a federal judge in Boston put their extradition on hold shortly after their lawyers filed an emergency petition. The judge rejected their petition in January and the Boston-based 1st Circuit Court of Appeals later denied their bid to put the extradition on hold while they appeal that ruling. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer last month denied a bid for more time for an appeal, clearing the way for the men to be handed over to Japan. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
Les observateurs les plus cyniques vont régulièrement répéter le laïus voulant que les politiciens de carrière soient tous faits à partir d’un même moule. Pourtant, l’éventail des citoyens qui se lancent en politique municipale est on ne peut plus varié. À ce chapitre, le parcours ayant mené Mathieu Daviault au conseil de Saint-Amable fait partie de ceux qui peuvent étonner. Élu pour la première fois en 2017, l’Amablien de 33 ans a notamment dû décider, à la croisée des chemins, s’il devait poursuivre sa carrière sportive dans les arts martiaux mixtes (AMM) ou se lancer en affaires pour gagner sa vie. « J’ai toujours été sportif, nous explique celui qui, en compagnie de son père, a fondé l’entreprise Conteneur Daviault en 2010. J’ai joué au football, au hockey durant toute ma jeunesse. Puis, à 21 ans, à la suite d’une blessure au genou, j’ai décidé de changer de discipline. Comme les sports de combat m’ont toujours intéressé, je me suis lancé dans les arts martiaux mixtes. J’ai notamment appris le jiu-jitsu, une des disciplines fortes dans la pratique des AMM. » Avec une fiche de sept victoires en neuf combats, on peut même dire que le jeune homme montrait un certain talent chez les combattants amateurs. Après avoir pris la décision de quitter l’hexagone pour de bon, le futur conseiller du district 2 de Saint-Amable a cependant poursuivi sa passion pour le jiu-jitsu, ce qui lui a permis de voyager pour participer à des compétitions un peu partout en Amérique avant de devenir lui-même entraîneur. « Sans me vanter, je pense que je suis un bon élève, croit Mathieu Daviault. J’ai roulé ma bosse. Le jiu-jitsu m’a permis de vivre des expériences incroyables. C’est un beau sport. Et c’était quand même moins demandant côté temps. En AMM, tu dois t’entraîner trois heures, et ce, tous les soirs avant un combat. Alors j’ai fait un choix de vie. Le jiu-jitsu, c’est demandant, mais la charge est quand même moins grande.» À l’instar de bien des résidents de Saint-Amable, où la moyenne d’âge se maintient sous la barre des 35 ans, Mathieu Daviault a fondé son propre petit clan ces dernières années. Père de deux fillettes âgées de 5 ans et 2 ans et demi, celui-ci a profité de la pandémie pour passer un peu plus de temps avec sa marmaille et intégrer la pratique de la discipline à la routine familiale. « On pratique la base, les techniques, les mouvements, mais c’est toujours sous forme de jeu, précise celui qui, en 2019, a été le candidat conservateur lors des élections fédérales dans Pierre-Boucher–Les Patriotes–Verchères. Ma grande, elle fait ça depuis déjà deux ans avec papa. C’est quelque chose que j’adore. Durant la pandémie, il n’y avait pas de cours pour les enfants, alors j’ai acheté des tapis pour que nous puissions pratiquer toutes les semaines dans le garage. C’est important pour moi. C’est un sport qui permet d’acquérir des vertus comme la discipline. Il faut dire que c'est aussi une technique d’autodéfense, alors c’est comme un cadeau qu’on leur fait. » Quant à l’inévitable parallèle entre les arts martiaux mixtes et la politique, celui dont la grand-mère paternelle a également été conseillère municipale admet qu’il y a des similitudes, même si la civilité est souvent plus présente entre des combattants qu’entre adversaires politiques. « Pour avoir fait les deux, je peux vous dire par expérience personnelle qu’il y a beaucoup plus de respect en sport de combat que dans la politique. Ça, c'est définitif! » Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
TORONTO — A few days before the Strumbellas were set to embark on a Canadian concert tour in January 2020, they dropped a bombshell announcement: the entire 14-city run of shows was being postponed as one of the band's own sought treatment for an unspecified illness. The news rocked their fanbase, but lead singer Simon Ward said the decision to cancel came during a crucial time. He was the unnamed member spiralling into a mental health crisis. Over a year later, he’s still digging himself out of it. "I'll be honest with you, it's been the worst year of my life," Ward explained in an interview from his home. "And every day I'm just here, trying to heal and get better." On Friday, the Strumbellas will release "Greatest Enemy," a new single that marks their first effort since Ward faced crippling depression and anxiety. He began writing the song before the six-member band sidelined their touring plans, and the band finished it during a recording session last November. Thematically, "Greatest Enemy" reflects on the overwhelming demons of the mind, but in true Strumbellas fashion, the words are paired with a soaring chorus of perseverance. It’s a formula that did wonders for the band in 2015 when "Spirits" elevated them from a ragtag group of Ontario indie musicians to a Top 40 success story, driven by an unforgettable chorus: "I got guns in my head and they won’t go. Spirits in my head and they won’t go." But the struggles hinted at in "Spirits" became all the more real for Ward as the Strumbellas embarked on a 2019 European tour for their followup album “Rattlesnake." Looking back, Ward says there were signs something was amiss. Sometimes it was as simple as him deciding to hide away in his hotel room when the rest of the group went to dinner together, he said. "It's so easy to isolate yourself when you're having mental health issues," he added. "All you want to do is… not be with other people. So I would stay by myself." But it was after the European leg of the tour wrapped and he returned to Canada that Ward started to realize something more serious was happening. "I started to feel so weird, like total lethargy," he said. "I couldn't get out of bed, dark thoughts, negative thoughts. Thoughts that were really mean to myself. I knew something wasn't right." Ward’s family paid him a visit, and he says that’s when he broke down, confessing to them that he was not doing well. He decided to check himself into a local hospital to seek professional help, receive a mental health assessment and discuss medications. "This has just been a full-on mental health year for me," he said. "(I’m) still in it, still working my way through it and struggling. I'm better now. But, you know, mental health is just such a tricky game. It seems to hang around, come back and float around." Getting the Strumbellas back on their feet will take some time. The band has worked on the early stages of new material in recent months, said guitarist Jon Hembrey. But a near-total shutdown of the concert industry during the COVID-19 pandemic has eased the pressure of getting back on the road. "I wouldn't bet any money on whether there will be shows in the summer," Hembrey said. "It's just too hard to tell." That's left room for the Strumbellas to interact with their fans in creative ways. Last year, they hopped on TikTok for the first time, creating a venue to answer questions about music, and recently for Ward to lend positive encouragement to others dealing with mental health hurdles. “A lot of people are in tough spots right now," he said, reflecting on how the live music industry has ground to a halt. "But everybody's going through it, so honestly make the best of it. We're just trying to make new music, get back in the groove of things and hang out again and see where it goes.” Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
The first day of mass vaccinations began smoothly at the Montreal convention centre, where 2,000 people were scheduled to get their shot. It was the first day all Quebecers over 70 were eligible to be vaccinated.
A Kamloops golf pro who bilked his employer for more than $40,000 to fund a gambling habit will be back in court next month to address charges of breaching the conditions of his 18-month house arrest. In October 2020, Chris Power pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court to a dozen fraud-related charges stemming from a series of interactions he had with members while working as the head pro at Rivershore Estates and Golf Links in 2016 and 2017. According to court documents, Powers allegedly breached his conditional sentence order twice — once on Dec. 8, 2020, and again on Jan. 15, 2021. He was arrested by Kamloops RCMP on Feb. 18 and released. Power’s next court date is set for March 11 to consult legal counsel. Last October, Kamloops provincial court Judge Raymond Phillips agreed to a joint submission for an 18-month conditional sentence order for Power, which has him living under house arrest for that time period. He was also ordered to repay $40,664 to Rivershore to cover its losses stemming from his offences. Power’s scheme was unsophisticated — he would offer memberships or golf clubs for sale and pocket the cash, rather than give it to his employer. The value of the transactions ranged from $600 to more than $7,300, but Rivershore honoured all purchases — even when Power did not. Power blamed his crimes on a sports gambling addiction. At the time of his sentencing in October, court heard Power was unemployed and living on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), but was looking for work and hadn’t gambled for in recent months. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
Community organizations in Timmins have prepared a few events in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD). It is marked annually on March 8. In the past, the Timmins and Area Women in Crisis (TAWC) has hosted a dinner honouring 10 women who have overcome adversity and contributed to the community. This year, the organization is hoping to honour at least 30 women each day starting on March 8. Until March 3, TAWC is accepting nominations of extraordinary women who deserve recognition. The selected women will receive gift boxes with self-care products, all made by local women. “We wanted to make it a little bit extra special,” said Caroline Martel, TAWC’s manager of programs and services. “We wanted to honour women who’ve gone above and beyond during the pandemic … like frontline workers and health workers, teachers. If anyone knows anyone who’s really stepped up this year, we really want to hear their stories and nominate them.” Nomination forms can be found here or by emailing TAWC. Ellevive will host a free virtual meeting with Quebec singer Nathalie Simard on March 8 and 9. Simard will share her personal journey and testimony from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event is held in partnership with a Sudbury-based Centre Victoria pour femmes, Fem'aide and the Office of Francophone Affairs at Laurentian University. For Ellevive’s and Centre Victoria’s clients, an exclusive activity will be offered on March 10. For another virtual event on March 8, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce has invited Erin Elofson of Pinterest Canada. Elofson is an innovator, project manager and head of the Canada, Australia and New Zealand region at Pinterest, which is a visual discovery engine where users share images and find inspiration and ideas. At the event, she will talk about women in leadership roles, the importance of having a curated digital presence and female parity on governing boards. The event will be held via Zoom from noon till 1 p.m. It costs $25 plus tax for chamber members and $40 for general admission. To register, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
TORONTO — Torstar Corp. says it plans to start an online casino betting business. The announcement by the newspaper publisher comes after the 2020 Ontario budget included a promise to license private operators to participate in a regulated online gaming market. Torstar says its start date is pending approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and the setting of a launch date by the Ontario government. Paul Rivett, Torstar's chair and co-owner, says the made-in-Ontario product keeps dollars in the province while the revenue can support the growth of its journalism. Torstar is publisher of the Toronto Star as well as other daily newspapers in Ontario, including the Hamilton Spectator, and more than 70 weekly community newspapers. The company was taken private last year by NordStar Capital LP. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. ——— Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with subsidiaries of the Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse. The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — The U.S. men’s soccer team will play 47th-ranked Jamaica on March 25 at Wiener Neustadt, Austria, the first of two exhibitions with the full player pool in Europe on FIFA international fixture dates. The Americans had previously scheduled a March 28 match against Northern Ireland in Belfast. The Jamaica game was announced Monday by the U.S. Soccer Federation. The matches will be just the third and fourth in 16 months with the full player pool, a schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The 22nd-ranked U.S. tied 0-0 at Wales on Nov. 12, followed four days later by a 6-2 win over Panama at Wiener Neustadt. The U.S. is preparing for a June 3 match against Honduras in a semifinal of the CONCACAF Nations League followed by a championship or third-place game on June 6 against Mexico or Costa Rica. The CONCACAF Gold Cup starts July 10 and includes first-round matches against Canada, Martinique and either Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala or Guyana. Exhibitions also are planned for May 30 and June 9. The delayed start of World Cup qualifying from Aug. 30 to Sept. 8 includes a match at El Salvador or Trinidad and Tobago, a home game that could be against Canada or Haiti, and a road game at Honduras. October includes home qualifiers against Jamaica and Costa Rica around a road qualifier at Guatemala or Panama, and November has a home qualifier against Mexico and a road qualifier at Jamaica. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press