Snowfall continues on Vancouver Island
Snowfall continues on Vancouver Island
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin says his government is addressing a "legacy of systemic racism” by setting aside $3 million to help accelerate the process of awarding land titles in historically African Nova Scotian communities. The money will go toward the province's Land Titles Initiative, a project launched in 2017 to help residents of North and East Preston, Cherry Brook/Lake Loon, Lincolnville and Sunnyville get clear land titles at no cost. In the 1800s, land was given to both white and Black Loyalists by the provincial government, but only white settlers were given clear land titles, leading to years of confusion for descendants of Black settlers and limiting their ability to obtain mortgages, access housing grants or sell their homes. “They have undergone anti-Black racism for generations, frankly, and the best way to tackle that is anti-racism initiatives,” Rankin said in an interview Friday. “We need to do our part to recognize historic injustice that has existed in our province.” Rankin said after working with African Nova Scotian communities, he learned there are barriers that need to be removed in order to ensure the success of the initiative. The new funding will go toward negotiation, mediation and potentially arbitration, he said, in cases that involve competing title claims. To date, the Land Titles Initiative has cleared 194 land parcels from more than 500 applications and more than 850 eligible parcels of land. It covers land claim applications in five regions, but Rankin said there is an opportunity to expand the program to other areas. The premier said he has given the government one year to clarify the remaining title applications as several have been “caught in the bureaucracy.” “There has been a lot of work that has gone into this initiative, but while those families wait, they're being held back," he said. "They're not able to, for example, leverage property values, they don't have a mortgage. “That needs to change.” Lawyer and community leader Angela Simmonds has been mandated as the executive director of the initiative and will develop strategies to expedite the application process, Rankin said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press
Early indications are that a guidebook that focuses on First Nations co-operative development across the country will be well received. The guidebook, titled Your Way, Together, was launched at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday by Co-operatives First, a Saskatoon-based organization that promotes and supports business development in rural and Indigenous communities, primarily in western Canada. The guidebook can be downloaded for free at https://yourwaytogether.ca/, a new website also launched this week by Co-operatives First. Your Way, Together provides detailed information on starting up co-operative businesses. A co-operative business is one that is owned by various people or groups that share a common interest and collectively make decisions and split profits from that business. “The number one thing we want is to start a conversation,” said Audra Krueger, the executive director for Co-operatives First. Krueger is hoping that conversation will include Co-operatives First representatives who will be able to provide insight into the possible benefits and opportunities that can be had via co-operative business development. The title Your Way, Together indicates a Co-operatives First willingness to work with Indigenous communities to help find a co-op model that best works for them. They do work with all Indigenous peoples, however, the guidebook itself does specifically focus on the requirements of having a co-op on First Nations. More than 75 people attended the virtual launch for the guidebook on Tuesday. Krueger said all of those who took part in the launch have been mailed a printed copy of the guidebook. Krueger was also thrilled with the number of visits the organization’s new website had received in just one day. The guidebook had been downloaded 60 times by Wednesday. Also, 38 individuals had signed up to receive a Co-operatives First newsletter. And eight people had signed up to attend webinars that the organization will be hosting this spring. These events will be held on April 12 and May 13. These free workshops are both three hours long. Those attending the webinars will receive an introduction into co-operatives, how Indigenous communities have used co-ops throughout the country and also touch on both the opportunities and challenges facing Indigenous co-op entrepreneurs. While Krueger is hoping the guidebook is downloaded in droves, she said the plan is also to mail it to as many First Nations as possible. “We want it distributed to First Nations people and Indigenous people and we want them to reach out to us,” she said. The majority of the material in the guidebook was compiled by Trista Pewapisconias, who was hired to be Co-operative First’s Indigenous engagement lead three years ago. Since being brought on, Pewapisconias compiled information she had gathered and also kept notes on the inquiries she had received about First Nations co-op models. “Starting a business on First Nations is much more challenging than off Nation,” Pewapisconias said. The guidebook includes information on legislation applying to businesses on a First Nation, as well as details on business development and financing. Pewapisconias said the original plan was not to produce a guidebook with the work she had done. “It was going to be an internal document for us for working with groups,” said Pewapisconias, a member of Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan. But that changed. “It was over a year ago we decided with all of our tools and resources to put it online and make it available,” Pewapisconias said. Krueger is pleased that some of Pewapisconias’ hard work has been turned into a guidebook. “It was making sure all the research and experiences was captured somewhere,” she said. Since regulations and bylaws are frequently amended, Krueger added the Your Way, Together downloadable guidebook will, in all likelihood, be updated on an annual basis. As for Co-operatives First’s new website, Krueger was happy to see plenty of traffic there after it was launched. “We had a lot of activity on our website, which was great,” she said. “One of the most clicked areas was the case studies.” There are currently four case studies on the website, featuring details on various Indigenous co-op models. One of the models featured is eight First Nations in British Columbia that own and operate salmon fisheries. Another case study is on a group of Indigenous female artisans in Winnipeg who started a co-op. There’s also information on the Yukon fly-in community of Old Crow, which formed a co-op and established a grocery store to be run by its residents. And yet another study is on how members of a remote Métis community joined forces to start a co-op in their community in order to keep a local hardware store operating. The Your Way, Together website also includes a short video, about two minutes long, on starting a co-op model. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Squamish Nation says the rollout of vaccines for its communities on the North Shore and in the Squamish Valley next week is a welcome “relief” for many of its residents. Vancouver Coastal Health and First Nations Health Authority confirmed this week that Squamish Nation will be receiving a first round of doses of COVID-19 vaccines for its community the week of March 8. “I think people are relieved and excited,” said Khelsilem, Dustin Rivers, spokesperson for Squamish Nation. “I know for our elders and a lot of our members who are vulnerable, they have had to really do their best to protect themselves, and to avoid COVID-19, and they are looking forward to having that extra layer of protection.” Khelsilem said the nation was hoping around 600 members would be vaccinated in the first round of doses, but it would depend on the supply they are given. The first community members who will get the vaccine are elders 65+ and those with serious underlying health conditions, including people living with a compromised immune system. Khelsilem said once elders have their appointments booked, Yúustway Health and Wellness will continue booking vaccination appointments based on age, starting with those ages 55-64, then ages 45-54 etc., until all of the vaccine has been used. “We're encouraging people to get the vaccine, but we welcome any members that might have concerns or questions,” he said. “They can talk to their doctor, if they feel that's an option, but they can also talk to our health nurse and our staff to address any concerns that they might have about the vaccine.” He wanted to remind community members that this is only the first of several vaccine shipments to the nation and they are planning on holding clinics in the coming months to vaccinate all nation members who want to receive the vaccine. “We anticipate that most of the community or many community members are going to access it when they have the opportunity too,” Khelsilem said. Yúustway Health and Wellness will be scheduling clients by appointment only for the COVID-19 vaccine at clinics in the Squamish Valley at the Totem Hall, 1380 Stawamus Rd., and on the North Shore at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre, 100 Capilano Rd., West Vancouver. Appointments will begin at Totem Hall on Tuesday (March 9) and the Chief Joe Mathias Centre on Wednesday (March 10). Members unable to attend an on-reserve clinic, Indigenous people ages 65+, can book an appointment close to their residence starting March 8. The nation has listed further details on how to contact clinics and make appointments in a notice on its website. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Local residents are upset over the city’s modular housing proposal at Trenton Avenue and Cedarvale Avenue citing concerns of appropriateness of the area and community safety regarding the future occupants of the building. The concerns have prompted an online community meeting on the evening of Monday, March 8. The project is part of the City of Toronto’s Housing Now initiative to make use of city-owned lands to address the lack of affordable housing. The modular housing proposal for Trenton and Cedarvale in East York aims to create a three-storey building with 64 studio apartments, self-contained with a private kitchen and bathroom each. It’s designed to help individuals who are exiting homelessness, and will be administered by a local non-profit housing provider under an agreement with the city. It’s not unlike the modular housing proposal at 11 Macey Ave. in southwest Scarborough that includes 56 studio apartments. That building – also designed to assist people exiting homelessness – opened on Dec. 19, 2020, eight months after city council approval. The “modular” part of the term essentially means pre-fabricated components of the building arrive onsite ready to construct. This allows the city to build the affordable units within the span of months, and not years. The Macey Avenue building had its own local opposition – several area residents, including the West Oakridge Neighbourhood Association wrote letters to the city, elected officials, planners, and media expressing concerns with “social problems associated with vagrancy and public intoxication” from people experiencing homelessness being moved into one area. With the Trenton Avenue site, a number of residents are also speaking in opposition. Global News was on the scene of a local protest at the parking lot near the Trenton site in late February, where residents referred to the lot as a community “hub.” Resident Steve Bland told Global News he’s not against providing affordable housing, but noted that increasing the population density in the area by adding the Trenton site “may not be the appropriate place” for “people going through the most troubling and difficult times of their lives with addiction and mental health issues.” The city-wide initiative to construct modular housing for people exiting homelessness is being released in phases. The Macey Avenue site was included in the project’s Phase 1, and now Trenton – which was approved just a few weeks ago – is part of Phase 2. In a letter to Beach Metro News, local resident Lars Bot, expressed concerns about the building’s proximity to Parkside Public School and Stan Wadlow Park, which are across the street. “The simple fact that a homeless shelter is planned across from a public school and park… shows how poor this program is planned,” he wrote. Local elected officials, including Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford and Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith have also received a flurry of correspondence from residents. They both reminded residents that the modular housing buildings are housing and not shelters. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
TORONTO — Frustrations stemming from COVID-19 travel restrictions boiled over during a conference call Thursday when top executives at auto parts manufacturer Martinrea derided the health measures, saying it's "time to move on" and recognize the "good things happening," despite employee deaths from the novel coronavirus. "Everything is getting better, except for the government policy that we're seeing. It is just absolutely outrageous," said chief financial officer Fred Di Tosto, on the call. "We're seeing tremendous opening in the United States, in a lot of different places...it's time to move on. There are good things happening, and we've got to recognize that." When asked by an analyst about the "drag" on business caused by the acquisition of a company called Metalsa in March 2020, chief financial officer Fred Di Tosto said travel restrictions and "chaos at the border" have limited the work that Martinrea could do on the plants abroad, calling the 14-day quarantines and hotel quarantine policies "an incredible pain for our industry." At the time of the acquisition, Metalsa had locations in the United States, Mexico, Germany, South Africa and China. Martinrea's executive chairman, Rob Wildeboer, said earlier in the call that there has been no in-plant transmission of COVID-19 within the company, although some employees in Mexico died from community transmission of the novel coronavirus, and that other employees had lost loved ones. "Not only must our people be safe, but they must feel safe. They must know that we have their interest at heart," said Wildeboer on the conference call, adding that the company made 70,000 ventilator stands during the pandemic. "Many of our people have stated they feel safer at work than any place other than home." Deanna Lorincz, global director of communications and marketing at Martinrea, said Friday that Di Tosto meant "it is time to move on, lessen the restrictions on the border and continue to open up the economy." Lorincz also clarified comments from chief executive Pat D’Eramo, who said on the call it has been a "headache" getting employees back and forth to Germany, saying that the hotel quarantines cause workers "stress" and "anxiety." Lorincz said D’Eramo was referencing the need to "travel internationally to get the new plant in Germany online to the way we run things." "It’s been a challenge with the pandemic but we are hopeful we will start seeing progress," said Lorincz in a statement. "We have the right people lined up and some are there now. It is just getting them back and forth has been a challenge with the restrictions and not knowing if employees will have to quarantine in a hotel away from their families." Martinrea's home base of Ontario has been slowly loosening COVID-19 restrictions over the past month, with 1,250 new COVID-19 cases reported on Friday, down from more than 3,000 per day reported in mid January. In late January the federal government announced it would suspend all flights to and from Mexico until April 30, and would require a three-night hotel quarantine for travellers arriving in Canada, "to prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada." "With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in January when announcing the new restrictions. After the government announced the new travel restrictions, the National Airlines Council of Canada noted that international arrivals were already down between 90 per cent and 95 per cent in January, compared with the previous year. "Countries that successfully implement a science-based and data-based testing and quarantine policy will not only protect public health but also drive their overall domestic recovery, and take market share, investment and jobs from those countries that do not," the NACC said in a February statement. The comments from Martinrea executives come after Linda Hasenfratz, chief executive of rival parts maker Linamar, resigned as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force in late January, after it was brought to Premier Doug Ford's attention that she travelled outside the country in December. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:MRE) Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia welcomed Ottawa's go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week. Premier Iain Rankin called the approval of Canada's fourth vaccine a "positive step forward." "As you can see this is a very dynamic situation that is dependent on the federal government's regulatory approval process," Rankin said. "Our vaccine rollout is ramping up as more clinics open and we receive more doses from the federal government." Rankin confirmed that Nova Scotia would be adopting a 16-week interval between first and second shots as recommended by the national panel of vaccine experts, meaning all Nova Scotians who want vaccine will get one shot by the end of June. "We are committed to being ready to getting shots in arms when it is available," the premier said. He added the province's goal remains to achieve full immunity by this fall. Keeping with its aged-based approach to vaccine distribution, Nova Scotia will open community clinics for those 80 and over in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro on Monday. Clinics are also scheduled for Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth on March 15, and Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth on March 22. Frustrations mounted earlier this week when the province's appointment booking web page had to be temporarily taken off-line after traffic was double what had been anticipated. About 48,000 people aged 80 and over in the province are eligible to receive vaccinations. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said booking for new appointments would resume online and by telephone on Monday for those who were born between Jan.1 and April 30. Those with later birthdays will be informed when they can register later this month. "It is early days, and our supply is still limited, but we are on the cusp of rapidly expanding the volume of vaccine we'll get," Strang said. Officials said they would also have more specific details next week on the rollout of the 13,000 doses the province is receiving of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The shipment must be used by April 2 and is targeted for those aged 50 to 64 years. It will be administered starting March 15 at 26 locations. Health officials said that as of Thursday, they had administered 38,676 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 14,395 people having received a booster shot. Meanwhile, the province reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday in the Halifax area. Health officials said one case involved a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other was under investigation. The province has 31 active reported cases of novel coronavirus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
YANGON, Myanmar — Demonstrators defied growing violence by Myanmar security forces and staged more anti-coup rallies Friday, while the U.N. special envoy for the country called for urgent Security Council action, saying about 50 peaceful protesters were killed and scores were injured in the military's worst crackdowns this week. The escalation of violence has put pressure on the world community to act to restrain the junta, which seized power on Feb. 1 by ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Large protests against military rule have occurred daily in many cities and towns. Security forces escalated their crackdown with greater use of lethal force and mass arrests. At least 18 protesters were shot and killed Sunday and 38 on Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. More than 1,000 have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said. Protests continued in the biggest cities of Yangon and Mandalay and elsewhere Friday. They were met again with force by police, and gunfire was heard. In Mandalay, Zaw Myo was fatally shot as the 26-year-old and other residents sought to protect a march by a group of engineers. U.N. special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener said in her briefing to a closed Security Council meeting that council unity and “robust” action are critical “in pushing for a stop to the violence and the restoration of Myanmar’s democratic institutions.” “We must denounce the actions by the military,” she said in her briefing, as released by the U.N. “It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.” Schraner Burgener reiterated an earlier appeal to the international community not to “lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime that has been forcefully imposed and nothing but chaos has since followed.” She urged council members to hear “the voices of the people of Myanmar” and support Kyaw Moe Tun, the country’s U.N. ambassador who was terminated by the military after denouncing the coup in a dramatic speech to the General Assembly. The military appointed his deputy, who resigned a day later and Tun has said he remains Myanmar’s permanent representative to the U.N. The Security Council took no immediate action. Council diplomats said Britain circulated a draft presidential statement for consideration, a step below a legally binding resolution. Any kind of co-ordinated action at the U.N. will be difficult because two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, are likely to veto it. Schraner Burgener, a veteran Swiss diplomat, said she hopes to visit Myanmar and use her “good offices” to find a peaceful solution through dialogue. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said Friday that the government has taken action to prevent Myanmar’s military from improperly accessing more than $1 billion in Myanmar government funds held in the United States. And YouTube removed five channels run by Myanmar’s military for violating its guidelines and said it is watching for any further violations. It earlier pulled dozens of channels as part of an investigation into content uploaded in a co-ordinated influence campaign. The decision by YouTube followed Facebook’s earlier announcement that it has removed all Myanmar military-linked pages from its site and Instagram, which it owns. Many cases of targeted brutality by security forces in the streets have been captured in photos and videos that have circulated widely on social media. Videos have showed security forces shooting people at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators. The U.S. called the images appalling, the U.N. human rights chief said it was time to “end the military’s stranglehold over democracy in Myanmar,” and the world body’s independent expert on human rights in the country, Tom Andrews, urged Security Council members to watch the videos. While many abuses are committed by police, there is even greater concern about military forces being deployed in Myanmar's cities that are notorious for decades of brutal counterinsurgency tactics and human rights abuses. In Yangon, members of the army's 77th Light Infantry Division have been deployed during protests of the coup. The 77th was also deployed in Yangon in 2007 to suppress anti-junta protests, firing on protesters and ramming them with trucks, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The 99th Light Infantry Division also has been deployed, including in Mandalay. It is infamous for its counterinsurgency campaigns against ethnic minorities, including spearheading the response that led to a brutal crackdown that caused more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee from Rakhine state to Bangladesh. It also has been accused of war crimes in Shan state, another ethnic minority area, in 2016 and early 2017. A leader of barred lawmakers who say they are the legitimate representatives of the country released a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging the Security Council to help end the violence and restore the ousted government. The letter asked for outside parties to help prevent human rights violations, sanctions on military leaders and military-linked businesses, a total arms embargo and penalties for perpetrators of atrocities. The letter is signed by Dr. Sasa, who uses one name, on behalf of the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Myanmar’s Parliament, which the military has barred from convening. The lawmakers want foreign countries and international organizations to recognize them instead of the junta. Schraner Burgener said earlier this week she warned Myanmar’s army that the world’s nations and the Security Council “might take huge, strong measures.” “And the answer was, ‘We are used to sanctions, and we survived those sanctions in the past,’” she said. When she also warned that Myanmar would become isolated, Schraner Burgener said, “the answer was, ‘We have to learn to walk with only a few friends.’” The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has urged a halt to violence and the start of talks on a peaceful solution in Myanmar. The 10-member regional group, which includes Myanmar, is constrained from enacting serious measures by a tradition of acting by consensus and reluctance to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. However, one member, Singapore, was outspoken Friday in criticizing Myanmar’s coup. “It is the height of national shame for the armed forces of any country to turn its arms against its own people,” Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament. But he also warned that the approach favoured by some Western nations of pressuring Myanmar’s generals with sanctions would not be effective. The U.S., Britain and several other countries have already started to use that approach. “Despite all our fervour and earnest hopes of reconciliation ... the keys ultimately lie within Myanmar. And there’s a limit to how far external pressure will be brought to bear,” he said. The Associated Press
Accidental handballs in the buildup to a teammate scoring will no longer lead to the goal being ruled out after the law was eased on Friday. The move by the International Football Association Board follows irritation in the game about how goals seem to be harshly ruled out since the law was changed two years ago. “After analyzing everything it was felt this was maybe one step too far," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said. "This was the perception of the public and the perception we had at IFAB. For this reason we amended this regulation. It’s not embarrassing or a climbdown." IFAB said an “accidental handball that leads to a teammate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence.” On the eve of the virtual meeting, Fulham was denied an equalizer in its English Premier League match against Tottenham when Davinson Sanchez's clearance hit the hand of Fulham's Mario Lemina, whose arm was down the side of his body, before Josh Maja netted. “What happened yesterday is evidence that the decision taken today is correct, but it was not a reaction to the incident,” said Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of FIFA’s referee committee. Goals will still be ruled out if a player using their hand before or while scoring. But referees are being urged to “use their judgment” when assessing the position of hands and arms when a ball hits them. “As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence,” IFAB said. Changes to the laws of the game take effect from July 1, although IFAB said competitions have the flexibility to introduce them sooner. Another thorny spinoff from the introduction of VAR in recent years is how forensic decisions are being taken on offsides with an array of dotted lines being used to assess the position of often blurred body parts. FIFA is trialling semi-automated offside mapping of the players and the pitch to provide an offside decision as quickly as technology determines if the ball has crossed the line by buzzing a referee's watch. “The fan experience is negatively impacted by waiting to see if a goal has been scored,” said English Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham, who holds one of the eight IFAB votes. IFAB also received a presentation from Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager who is FIFA’s chief of global football development, on a proposal to change the offside law. He thinks a player should be deemed onside if any part of the body that can score is in line with the second-last defender. “We have been seeing that maybe we can think about a new law which allows a bit more attack in football,” Infantino said. IFAB also opened the door to the use of five substitutes being extended through the 2022 World Cup. The congested calendar due to the pandemic saw competitions last year permitted to give teams two additional substitutions in matches. That currently runs through July 2022 for national team competitions but IFAB said it will “remain under review.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
The Northwest Territories government must do more to eliminate systemic racism, its politicians declared during a session dedicated to the subject at the territorial legislature this week. Members of the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly ended Wednesday’s session by passing a motion requesting that the government, known as the GNWT, review its policies and determine where any racial and cultural bias may exist. Moved by Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos, the motion requests an examination of policies related to education, health and social services, justice, housing, and government hiring. “This motion is very much in line with my entire life philosophy of improving government for the people we serve. I have been fighting my entire adult life for the betterment of Black, brown, and Indigenous people,” said Martselos, the former chief of the Salt River First Nation. “Racism takes many different forms, especially in government. Gaps in cultural barriers have always been a problem. Affirmative action and the procurement policy are prime examples of bureaucratic systemic racism. This has to change. Only then, we will make a difference.” Premier Caroline Cochrane and her six fellow cabinet members abstained from the vote on Martselos' motion, as is convention for such motions brought to the House by regular MLAs, but said they were in favour of it. The territorial government has about four months to respond to the motion. What that response may look like remains unclear. Some MLAs used Wednesday's themed session to address personal experiences of systemic racism, while others discussed how to make policies more equitable. Steve Norn, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, said action must follow Wednesday's discussion to ensure real change occurs. Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge, who seconded Martselos' motion, said he had felt racism first-hand from a range of institutions, describing "lots of racist overtones happening to our people." Lesa Semmler, the Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA, said recent steps in the right direction had still to eliminate many barriers. “It’s very hard, steering this ship in a new direction with the obstacles that we have. We have not enough money from our federal government to correct the past policies that were created to try to eradicate or assimilate Indigenous people, that caused more damage,” Semmler said. “There is much more that needs to be done to correct the damage history has caused to the Indigenous people of this territory.” Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been on the 19th Legislative Assembly’s to-do list since this set of MLAs was elected in 2019. That process has moved slowly. In November, a Special Committee on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs said it was working to begin the process of implementing the declaration. On Wednesday, Premier Caroline Cochrane reinforced the need to adopt the declaration and to “ingrain these principles into our legislation, policies, and institutions.” “We are committed to learning from the mistakes of the past and moving on from colonial and outdated ways of thinking," Cochrane said. "We must embrace the principles of the United Nations declaration and the principles of anti-racism in the way that we approach all of our mandate commitments." Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby questioned how the GNWT is combating racism in hiring practices. She asked whether hiring targets will be implemented for senior levels of management. Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek, who carries responsibility for human resources, said an Indigenous recruitment and retainment framework would in the coming year introduce departmental hiring targets that extend beyond entry-level positions. She said the territory will launch an anti-racism campaign from March 16 to April 21 that “will encourage all GNWT employees to challenge their beliefs and attitudes around racism.” “Systemic racism hides in plain sight," Wawzonek said. “We recognize that, in order to eliminate systemic racism in the N.W.T., we must build a culture of anti-racism within the public service.” The implementation of mandatory cultural awareness training for employees has yet to be completed. The N.W.T.'s affirmative action policy is under review. Health minister Julie Green vowed to address racism in all its forms in the N.W.T.’s health department and health authorities. “Research shows that Indigenous peoples experience a disproportionate amount of negative health and social outcomes in comparison to non-Indigenous people,” Green said. “It is our responsibility as a government to address this inequity directly by making sure that all aspects of the Health and Social Services system are culturally respectful and safe for Indigenous peoples. "This also includes respecting Indigenous understandings of health and wellness and finding ways to accommodate traditional healing in our system.” Green said a cultural safety action plan released in 2019 had so far resulted in 13 cultural safety training sessions involving 225 healthcare or social services workers. The sessions teach people about Indigenous medicine, residential schools and intergenerational impacts, and racism at interpersonal and systemic levels. Green said an N.W.T. cultural safety framework being developed will be reviewed by health and social services staff as well as an Indigenous advisory board. Most of that work, the minister said, will come from a unit of almost entirely Indigenous staff from across the territory. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Un an après le début de l’épidémie de Covid-19, le coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 a fait 68 000 victimes en France. Ce chiffre est-il comparable aux épidémies de grippes qui frappent chaque hiver notre pays ?
A driver of a transport truck has died after a single-vehicle crash Friday afternoon on Highway 417. Members of the Ottawa detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to the crash shortly after 1:20 p.m. and found the truck rolled over, said an OPP news release. OPP said the truck left the roadway near the westbound off-ramp leading to Carp Road. The driver, who was alone in the vehicle at the time of the crash, was pronounced dead, police said. In an email to CBC just before 5 p.m., an Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson said firefighters were still on scene. "So far our work has been to stabilize the vehicle to prevent it from rolling further and ensure fluids are not leaking from the truck," said Carson Tharris, adding that firefighters had not yet extricated the driver from the vehicle. The off-ramp will remain closed for several hours while investigators determine the cause of the crash.
VICTORIA — Tax changes targeting sugary drinks and e-commerce services based outside of B.C. will come into effect on April 1 after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The B.C. government says the changes include the elimination of the provincial sales tax exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners. The tax will apply to all beverages dispensed through soda fountains or similar equipment, along with all beverages dispensed through vending machines. The government says the move is supported by health professionals. The second tax change will apply to those selling digital software and telecommunication services, who will be required to collect the PST on sales to B.C. customers if they have revenue in the province of more than $10,000. All Canadian sellers of vapour products, such as vape pens, will be required to register to collect the sales tax on all online or mail-order sales to B.C. customers as part of the new measure. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Darryl Sutter says he has "unfinished business" as he returns to coach the Calgary Flames. The Flames announced late Thursday night that they had fired head coach Geoff Ward and hired Sutter to replace him. Calgary's general manager Brad Treliving says he feels the move was necessary because the team had been inconsistent and was under performing this season. Treliving says Sutter's clarity and ability to maximize player performance will help the team that has gone 11-11-2 so far this year. The move marks Sutter's return to the team he coached from 2002 to 2006, and served as general manager for from 2003 to 2010. Under his guidance, Calgary went to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a seven-game series, and Sutter says he is intent on winning the Cup now that he has returned to the Flames. Sutter is expected to join the team Monday after going through the league's COVID-19 protocols. Assistant coach Ryan Huska will run the bench when the Flames face the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday and host the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending licences for thousands of wells and pipelines after an oil and gas producer failed to bring its operations into regulatory compliance. The regulator says it has ordered SanLing Energy Ltd. to suspend its 2,266 wells, 227 facilities and 2,170 pipelines and ensure they are left in a state that's safe for the public and the environment. It adds the company currently owes $67 million in security to the AER for its assets' end-of-life obligations. The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination, ensure its emergency response number is working and provide a detailed plan to maintain its assets while they are suspended. The AER says it issued an order to SanLing in September because of a poor compliance record and its outstanding security issues. It says it met with the company several times over the past five months to request a plan to come back into compliance but the company's responses proved to be inadequate. “If SanLing, or any company, wants to do business in Alberta, they must follow our rules,” said Blair Reilly, AEB director of enforcement and emergency management, in a news release. "We cannot allow a company that has ignored the rules continue to operate—that's not in Alberta's interest." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian actor Patrick J. Adams is defending his "Suits" co-star Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, as she and husband Prince Harry square off against media critics and the British Royal Family. Toronto-raised Adams has posted a series of tweets praising Meghan and admonishing what he calls "the endless racist, slanderous, clickbaiting vitriol spewed in her direction from all manner of media across the U.K. and the world." Adams also criticizes the Royal Family in his tweets, which end with him telling Meghan's detractors to "find someone else to admonish, berate and torment," adding she is way out of their league. Meghan and Harry, who live in California after stepping back from royal duties, are set to speak about life at Buckingham Palace in a TV special with Oprah Winfrey on CBS and Global on Sunday. Teaser clips from the two-hour prime-time interview show Meghan saying "the firm" — a nickname for the Royal Family — is playing an active role "in perpetuating falsehoods about" herself and Harry. Harry also talks about his fears that history would repeat itself after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash while pursued by paparazzi. Meghan, a biracial former actor who is pregnant with the couple's second child, has faced relentless criticism in the British press since marrying Harry in 2018. As Sunday's interview clips circulate, new accusations have surfaced against her in the Times of London, with a former aide accusing her "bullying" Royal Family staff in 2018. Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation into the allegation. The royal rift comes as Prince Philip, Harry's 99-year-old grandfather, recovers from a heart procedure in hospital. Adams and Meghan played a couple working in the legal world on "Suits," which was shot in Toronto from 2011 to 2019. Adams said Meghan "was an enthusiastic, kind, co-operative, giving, joyful and supportive" friend and colleague, and remained so as her "fame, prestige and power accrued." "She has always been a powerful woman with a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic and has never been afraid to speak up, be heard and defend herself and those she holds dear," Adams wrote on Twitter. "Like the rest of the world, I have watched her navigate the last few years in astonishment." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Saskatoon family doctor Marlys Misfeldt says wait-lists for psychiatric help have been an issue for a long time but recently, several of her referrals have been rejected outright. Dr. Misfeldt told CBC's Saskatoon Morning that she has been working with a patient who has depression and is not improving. "He's not doing well, so I requested a referral from the pooled psychiatry referral system and about three or four weeks later, I got a letter back saying, 'Specialist has decided this referral is not needed and has been cancelled,'" she said. "No discussion with my patient, no discussion with me, just a letter back saying … it is cancelled." She said she has received two or three other letters like this in the past year, where prior to that, she would receive a letter saying her patients were on a wait-list. Misfeldt was trying to access the pooled referral program, which is operated and directed by psychiatrists. The voluntary program includes 22 psychiatrists and the Saskatchewan Health Authority provides one staff member for the program, a triage nurse. Misfeldt said a psychiatrist she spoke to who deals with the pool system told her there are 300 people on that waiting list. Once you get on the waiting list, Misfeldt said it can take nine months to a year to see a psychiatrist. There are eight other psychiatrists who are not part of the program and who can, in theory, accept referrals, but Misfeldt said when she has tried reaching out to them, they've said they're not taking new patients. Global shortage of psychiatrists Psychiatrist Sara Dungavell, who works in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan communities, said what happened to Dr. Misfeldt is "not appropriate." "What Dr. Misfeldt got as a response is, frankly, wrong," Dr. Dungavell said. "If you aren't accepting patients or if the wait-list is going to be too long for you to see this person with an adequate amount of urgency, then at least you told the family doctor why you said no. You can't leave this blank." While the number of psychiatrists per capita in Saskatchewan compared to other provinces is low, Dungavell said there's actually a global shortage of psychiatrists. "We can't see people quickly because brains don't heal quickly, so it requires a lot of psychiatrists to provide adequate levels of care for folks, and we're not accepting people just staying in misery and untreated mental illness anymore." Dungavell said efforts have been made to provide more access to psychiatry in Saskatchewan, particularly for those who go to the emergency room. Even that, however, adds to the backlog, because there's no one to take those patients on once they leave the ER. "It's leaving family doctors in the situation of Dr. Misfeldt, where they are doing their absolute best to try and treat their patients but don't have access to the specialists who should be supporting them," she said. Saskatchewan needs to be a place psychiatrists want to work, which means creating a good continuum of care for patients, Dungavell said. "What most of us physicians want is to be able to provide good, quality, efficient care where we're doing what we do best," she said. "We count on community mental health nurses, social workers, on licensed psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists, rec therapists, to help our patients with those other very important areas of life that contribute to their mental health." Dr. Sara Dungavell splits her time between her Saskatoon clinic, where she provides support for members of the LGBT community, and northern Saskatchewan communities, including La Ronge, La Loche and Stony Rapids. (CBC) The north is particularly lacking the kinds of support people need to care for their mental health, Dungavell said. "The more the government actually pays for and supports this full team of people to work with each psychiatrist, the more efficient and effective we can be, the more psychiatrists will want to work here and the more we can stretch the limited resources that is psychiatry." Cancelled referrals uncommon: government, SHA The Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Psychiatry Referral Pool and the Ministry of Health sent a joint statement in response to questions about psychiatric referrals. "The capacity of pooled referral psychiatrists is significantly below the rate of incoming referrals," the statement said, but it's uncommon for psychiatrists to cancel referrals. While the statement said the departments can't comment on specific cases, they will "continue to look into the individual reasons why [cancellations] may occur in certain instances." Alternatives for family physicians include contacting the psychiatrist on call, contacting LINK — a provincial program that connects family physicians with psychiatrists — or contacting a psychiatrist who is not part of the referral pool. The statement said that in situations where a patient has been triaged and recommended for treatment other than psychiatry, "a letter always accompanies the return with information about the review and includes clear guidance on mental health access points as well as the phone number for the intake triage." 'Heartache and grief for the people of our province' Dr. Misfeldt said if this problem doesn't get solved, it will cause "more suicides, more marital breakup, more relationship deterioration, more heartache and grief for the people of our province." She's continuing to work with her patient who was denied access to the pooled referral program but she said it makes her feel "anxious and depressed" to hear about the long waits for psychiatric help. "These people are valuable people to our province and they are not functioning to their best ability and not participating in life." If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available. For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911. You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 by calling 1-833-456-4566, texting 45645, or chatting online. You can contact the Regina mobile crisis services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.
All Walpole Island First Nation elementary students have been sent home after a student tested positive for COVID-19 Friday. In a letter to the community, Walpole Island First Nation Council said that all Bkejwanong Kinomaagewgamig and Anishinaabeg Kinomaagewgamig students are being immediately dismissed and will return to remote learning "as a precaution." No known or suspected transmission of COVID-19 has occurred within the school, but a second student is awaiting test results, according to council. If no further concerns arise, Walpole said students will go back to in-person learning on March 17. The reopening day will allow for 14 days since the last day that the disease could have spread within the school. Any potential contacts from the classrooms and buses will be notified by Lambton Public Health. Learning devices will be handed out, according to the letter from council. More from CBC Windsor