Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
BERLIN — A German man has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing information on properties used by the German parliament to Russian military intelligence, prosecutors said Thursday. The suspect, identified only as Jens F. in line with German privacy rules, worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to check portable electrical appliances by the Bundestag, or the lower house of parliament, federal prosecutors said in a statement. As a result of that, he had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved. The Bundestag is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites. Prosecutors said, at some point before early September 2017, the suspect “decided of his own accord” to give information on the properties to Russian intelligence. They said he sent the PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin who was an officer with Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. They didn't specify how his activities came to light. The charges against the suspect, who is not in custody, were filed at a Berlin court on Feb. 12. The court will have to decide whether to go ahead with a trial. Relations between Germany and Russia have been buffeted by a growing list of issues in recent years. In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU agency over a cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015. In addition, a Russian man accused of killing a Georgian man in broad daylight in downtown Berlin on Moscow’s orders in 2019 is on trial in Berlin. And last year's poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment and then arrested immediately after he returned to Russia, has added another layer of tensions. The Associated Press
People 95 and older, as well as First Nations people 75 and older, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. "I’m personally very excited to be announcing that we’re expanding into general population, and I’m looking forward to decrease the age of eligibility continually over time," said Dr. Joss Reimer at Wednesday’s news conference. Calls for the newly eligible can be made beginning this week, with vaccines beginning next week. The vaccine call centre, at 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222) now has 2,000 lines, with more than 370 trained agents. The online booking self-serve tool is in its pilot phase, but will not replace the call centre. "We do know it’s possible the call centre will receive an overwhelming number of calls. We know Manitobans have been eager for this moment, and many of you are going to want to call right away," said Reimer. She asked that only eligible people, or the people calling for an elderly person, ensure they fit the criteria. These days, the wait time is less than a minute on the booking line, with a call-back option. If the wait time does increase, people can opt to have their call returned rather than waiting on the phone. Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nation Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, explained that in the coming weeks, people who call to make an appointment and self-identify as First Nations would be transferred to a member of a specialized team. "These specialists will have additional training and cultural safety to ensure that they support callers and facilitate access to an appointment for those who are eligible," Anderson said. At first, self-identification will be the method by which First Nations can access the vaccine. But, in the future, because some people do falsely identify as First Nations — called "pretendians" — the system will be tightened up over time. "This is a phenomenon that I have been aware of and had to work through in multiple different contexts, but I never imagined that one of the harmful ripple effects would be that non-registered or non-status First Nation people would face the risk of not being able to get a vaccine at a time when they rightly should be able to," said Anderson. In the future, First Nations people in Manitoba will be asked to verify their identity, she added. "We want to make sure that this is done in a way that is safe for people and does not exclude our First Nations relatives, that because of the complicated and various processes of colonization, do not have Indian status cards," she said. If a First Nations person does not have a status card under the Indian Act, there will be an escalation process to deal with the more complex cases in a trauma-informed and culturally safe way. Anderson reported that, as of last Friday, 7,023 doses of vaccine have been administered on-reserve — four per cent of the eligible population received first doses, while .08 per cent are fully vaccinated. Off-reserve, 2.96 per cent of the population have received one dose and .07 per cent are fully vaccinated. Of Manitoba’s eligible population, 2.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. As Anderson explained, First Nations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — making up 54 per cent of new cases in the overall Manitoba population and 70 per cent of active cases, and the virus does affect them more harshly, as demonstrated by hospitalization rates. The median age of death in Manitoba is 83, while in First Nations it is 66. Meanwhile, full two-dose vaccination at personal care homes is set to wrap up this week. "This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Reimer, adding results are already showing. "While we are seeing decreases in rates in the community overall, and we know that there are strong public health measures still taking place in personal care homes, we’re also seeing quite a sharp drop in the number of outbreaks happening in personal care homes." Additionally, the focused immunization teams began first doses at congregate living sites in Brandon and Winnipeg on Feb. 19, with regional health authorities scheduling high-priority congregate living sites starting this week. There are 1,400 congregate living sites in the province. A list of those sites can be found at bit.ly/2P9KaWX The vaccination task force has looked ahead in terms of doses coming to Manitoba to the end of March — which Johanu Botha, co-lead for the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said will be 15,000 Pfizer doses weekly, up slightly from the roughly 12,000 doses it is receiving currently. "These are not large quantities," said Botha, adding all Pfizer doses go to supersites due to the storage requirements. There are currently two supersites — in Winnipeg and Brandon — with two more scheduled to open. The plan is to open Selkirk’s site in early March and Morden/Winkler’s in mid-March. Apart from the doses received from Moderna this week, next shipments of that vaccine are unknown. "We have just over 8,000 doses on hand remaining," said Botha, who added that those are tagged to complete vaccinations at personal care homes and support the congregate living campaign. Moderna is the vaccine of choice for First Nations, due to its less stringent storage requirement. That’s concerning, said Anderson. "We certainly want to respond to the data and have everybody — First Nations people living both on and off reserve — vaccinated as quickly as possible, especially as we start to think about heading into flood season, fire season, and what a large-scale evacuation at the same time as we’re dealing with the pandemic would mean," she said. But Anderson referenced Reimer’s news that Pfizer is looking into changing some of its shipping and storage restrictions. That may mean Pfizer can be used at First Nations in the future. "And I would say my experience has been both our provincial and federal counterparts are very willing to have that dialogue," she said. Anderson said it’s hard to calculate First Nation uptake of the vaccine at this time. "In general, in 61 of the 63, the anecdotal feedback that we got was that uptake was very high among those who were eligible. In one community, some further communication was needed, and support. Then uptake improved," she said. Anderson said the experience is much more in line with H1N1, which was higher than usual vaccine uptake. "We’re very encouraged by this progress." It was also revealed at the news conference that the Manitoba Metis Federation continues to be in conversation with the province for a vaccine program targeting vulnerable Métis populations. Reimer suggested Manitobans monitor the eligibility criteria website. The eligibility criteria will expand — sometimes quickly — by decreasing age, and can be found at bit.ly/3ssXBQb Additionally, 213 pharmacies and doctors across the province have signed up to deliver vaccines when more, with less stringent storage needs, are approved. The Wednesday technical briefing for media, which preceded the news conference, can be found at bit.ly/37LRuhP Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
PARIS — A rare painting by Dutch impressionist master Vincent van Gogh of a street scene in the Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre will be publicly displayed for the first time before its auction next month. Sotheby's auction house said the work, painted in 1887, has remained in the same family collection for more than 100 years — out of the public eye. It will be exhibited next month in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Paris ahead of an auction scheduled on March 25 in the French capital. “It’s an important painting in the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh because it dates from the period in which he’s living in Paris with his brother, Theo," Etienne Hellman, senior director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's, told the Associated Press. Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 and lived in Montmartre. He left the capital in 1888 for southern France, where he lived until his death in 1890. “Before this, his paintings are much darker... In Paris he discovers colour,” Hellman said. “Colour blows up into the painting." “Street Scene in Montmartre” depicts a windmill named the Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a bright sky, with a man, a women and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surrounded the place. “Paris marks this period where... the major impressionists influence his work,” Hellman said. Sotheby’s said the painting has been published in seven catalogues before but has never been exhibited. Claudia Mercier, auctioneer of Mirabaud Mercier house, said “it is also an important painting because there are very, very few of them remaining in private hands... especially from that period, most are in museums now.” Sotheby's has estimated the painting’s value between 5 and 8 million euros (between $6.1 and $9.8 million). It which did not reveal the identity of the owner. It will be on display in Amsterdam on March 1-3, Hong-King on March 9-12 and Paris on March 16-23. The Pepper Mill was destroyed during the construction of an avenue in 1911, but two similar windmills are still present today on the Montmartre hill. Sylvie Corbet And Oleg Cetinic, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Helcim - image credit) Tech companies in Alberta are enjoying a bumper year in spite of the pandemic, but they say measures are needed from the province to stay competitive with other jurisdictions. Tech CEOs and conglomerates say retraining programs for workers, providing fiscal incentives to keep companies in Alberta and adjusting tax measures are major areas where the provincial government could make a huge difference for the industry. They're hoping to see some of those steps in Thursday's budget. "The government needs to re-establish investor incentives that promote interest in investing with Alberta-based tech companies. Alberta needs to be a competitive place to invest because, at the moment, other provinces are doing a better job to support their tech industries and investor interest," said Vince O'Gorman, the CEO of Vog App Developers. One of the biggest problems facing tech growth in Alberta is talent "brain drain" to other places, like the United States. O'Gorman says those tax and investor incentives would enable companies to attract and retain the skilled workers needed to expand the industry here. Helcim, a Calgary-based company, wants to see an emphasis on training — and retraining — Albertans to work in tech. "I hope to see the government continue to find new ways to support working with our post-secondary institutions on creating fast-track training for not just developers but data scientists, quality assurance specialists, financial analysts and more," said Nicolas Beique, CEO of the online payment company. His CFO echoed that priority. "We believe the Alberta government needs to create a clear financial path for more mature individuals to access retraining programs while supporting startups to hire more inexperienced talent. Investing in training junior talent brings a huge productive output to our tech industry in Alberta, but that output is delayed during the onboarding and training of new recruits," Marjorie Junio-Read said. Success needs a boost The tech sector has been an outlier during the pandemic, with many companies seeing growth in revenues and staffing. Calgary and Edmonton both broke records for venture capital investments in 2020. "Alberta is coming to play in the tech and innovation space," Minister Doug Schweitzer said shortly after being appointed to the jobs, economy and innovation file. The tech sector has been a personal focus of his in the months since. However, companies have warned policymakers that the success is precarious and won't be sustainable without the support of effective policy. The Council of Canadian Innovators has asked the province to consider four key pillars when developing tech sector measures for this budget: Securing access to capital, markets, talent and building a strong framework to retain promising companies in Alberta. "Any sort of investment or funding really needs to have metrics attached to it and really make sure that any investments are really getting value for the province," said Benjamin Bergen, the executive director of the council. "That's something that a lot of governments have struggled to do in the past, not just in Alberta, but nationally." The council has asked the government to use the budget to provide strategic funding to specific companies with proven concepts, along with investing in retraining and upskilling workers. Companies in Alberta have stated that incubator and accelerator programs, which have traditionally been used, often don't result in cash getting to smaller enterprises. While each expressed gratitude for the increased spotlight from the government on their industry, the companies said the dollars could be used more efficiently. Accidental damage to the private sector Sometimes the provincial government's efforts actually cause damage, according to the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories. The council says private labs in Alberta are losing $10 million a year in business to a provincial program called InnoTech — run as a subsidiary of the government's Alberta Innovates program. "They use their tax favoured position to undercut private sector businesses and basically provide testing that is cheaper than the private sector is right now. So it's basically a case of waste and duplication as well as unfair competition," said Tony Araujo, president of the council. The council is calling on the government to privatize InnoTech in this budget. Araujo says the 90 labs he represents in Alberta don't want tax cuts or investor incentives, they just want the government to stop competing against them for contracts. "The fact that InnoTech Alberta is there in the way is actually discouraging innovation from private sector companies." A 2018 Conference Board of Canada report ranked Alberta as 19 out of 26 in a jurisdictional comparison of innovation. The Opposition has proposed its own plan for tech growth ahead of the provincial budget, saying an NDP government would create a $200-million venture capital fund for Alberta tech companies. All of the companies and organizations are keeping a wary eye on talent and innovation slowly draining from Alberta into other provinces and the U.S. They say that will be the biggest consequence of not having adequate incentives and programs introduced soon.
Le pont de la route 170 qui traverse la rivière du Moulin, dans le secteur de Laterrière à Saguenay, doit être reconstruit. Les travaux devraient débuter au printemps. La destruction et la reconstruction complète de l’ouvrage sont rendues nécessaires en raison de l’âge de la structure, érigée en 1951, qui se trouve en fin de vie utile. Le coût des travaux se chiffre en millions, entre 1 et 5 M$, selon le ministère des Transports (MTQ). Le MTQ a lancé récemment un appel d’offres pour refaire l’entièreté de la structure de béton située à l’angle du chemin de l’Église à Laterrière, qui devient le rang Saint-Famille à cette intersection vers Chicoutimi, et où se trouve également une station-service Petro-Canada. Si tout se déroule comme prévu, les travaux devraient débuter au printemps, indique Nathalie Girard, conseillère en communication au ministère. «Puisque l’appel d’offres est toujours en cours, il est vraiment trop tôt pour prévoir les échéanciers et les entraves qui vont être nécessaires à la réalisation des travaux», précise-t-elle cependant. Le tablier du pont n’avait d’ailleurs pas été ciblé par les travaux d’asphaltage de la route 170 qui ont été réalisés dans ce secteur l’an dernier, en prévision de la reconstruction du pont attendue en 2021. Myriam Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Almost one year later, there has been little progress in the case against a man accused of holding a girl against her will at a remote northern Saskatchewan cabin. There have been numerous adjournments and delays in the case against Aaron Gardiner, 42, since his arrest in April 2020 because he has gone through about five lawyers. Gardiner has either fired the lawyers or they have withdrawn from representing him. He had another appearance scheduled in Meadow Lake Provincial Court Feb. 22 and the matter was adjourned to March 1. Gardiner remains in custody and is charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Gardiner allegedly held a girl captive for four days at a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake. A specialized RCMP tactical unit was flown to the isolated cabin by two military CH-146 Griffon helicopters to rescue the girl and arrest Gardiner. Three months after his arrest, police added more charges after more alleged victims came forward. In July 2020, police additionally charged Gardiner with four counts of sexual assault, three counts of forcible confinement, uttering threats, assault, reckless discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm in commission of an offence, obstruction and breach of an undertaking. The charges against Gardiner haven't been proven in court. Île-à-la-Crosse is about 380 kilometres north of Prince Albert. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA — Camp Ooch Muskoka isn’t your typical summer camp and this year isn’t your typical summer. Since COVID-19 arrived, it has dramatically changed the way people live, work and socialize. For the non-profit oncology camp that welcomes families affected by childhood cancer, the challenges have been no different. But, while many summer camps and programs have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium has developed virtual programming to keep its community connected. “We want people to know that we’re still here and we’re still programming,” said Melanie Lovering, director of marketing and communications for Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium. To date, the camp has offered more than 2,000 virtual experiences for its campers and their families with content ranging from interactive games, songs and dance to entertainment from program specialists. “Families who have a child with cancer are, at the best of times, isolated,” Lovering explained. When deciding how to proceed this year with a camp for so many immune-compromised guests, she said cancelling just wasn’t an option. “We couldn’t do that to our families because they need us more than ever.” Ooch Muskoka, the last year has been one of growth as its location in Rosseau where Path to Play, a $35 million expansion is now primed for further construction to render the camp more accessible, building outdoor paths that can accommodate wheelchairs and accessible boating facilities. The goal, Lovering said, is to make Ooch Muskoka the kind of place where kids using assisted devices can navigate the campus fully independently. Ooch Muskoka is the only oncology camp in Canada that provides on-site IV chemotherapy and blood transfusions thanks to a team of pediatric oncologists and nurses on call 24 hours a day. “No matter the depth of their illness we’re there for them,” Lovering said. “They come to camp and they’re just like every other kid. There’s a lot of comfort and a lot of acceptance and a sense of community and a sense of belonging. It’s like a lifeline for them.” Many people think Ooch Muskoka is an overnight camp only, but Lovering points out the philosophy is more that of a social support system for families affected by childhood cancer across the province. “We really want the Muskoka community to know what we’re up to,” she said. The camp currently serves 1,900 kids from approximately 750 families. However, the goal is to reach 100 per cent of the more than 4,000 kids in Ontario currently experiencing cancer. The ripple effects of COVID however, have left Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium with “a major downturn in our revenues,” Lovering said so fundraising is particularly vital this year. To that end, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium is hosting a virtual campfire chat June 25 at 12:30 p.m. to keep its supporters, donors and extended community, updated. “We’ve been so busy actually building this,” said Lovering, “we’ve had limited opportunity to tell our community what we’re doing.” To join the virtual chat RSVP to email@example.com. Guests will also be sent an outlook invitation with the following zoom details: Zoom online: https://ooch.zoom.us/j/8658057056 Zoom phone-in: 647-374-4685, enter meeting # 8658057056. This story was altered at 3:25 p.m. on June 23 to reflect the full name of the camp as Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium and to clarify $35 million of the construction is now complete and does not include the future modifications to make the camp accessible. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Starboard, which owns a 7.7% stake in ACI, had urged the company to hire advisers and consider a sale in December, two months after calling it an "attractive" takeover candidate. M&A activity in the payments sector has accelerated over the last few years as companies need scale against the backdrop of increasing complexity and technology requirements for e-commerce.
Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, has long been remembered for her expressive voice as well as a history of drug and alcohol addiction and her untimely death at age 44. The new film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" aims to change the public's perception of the singer and shine a light on her role as a leader in the push for Black civil rights, the movie's director and star said in an interview with Reuters. Debuting on the Hulu streaming service on Friday, the film tells the story of the uproar caused by Holiday's singing of the ballad "Strange Fruit," a protest song about the lynching of Black people.
The chief of Nipissing First Nation, west of North Bay, said that he and his community breathed a collective sigh of relief as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout got underway on the territory. Chief Scott McLeod said the vaccination program has given members peace of mind and has led to cautious optimism that this may be the beginning of the end for the COVID-19 global pandemic. About a dozen elders who live in the territory’s seniors’ complex in Garden Village were vaccinated Feb. 8, while another 22 people, including front-line health-care workers, received their shots the next day at the community’s Lawrence Commanda Health Centre in Garden Village. It is not entirely clear exactly when those people will receive their second dose of the vaccine. But it is expected that more vaccines will arrive at the territory in early March. Just over 900 members live in the Nipissing First Nation community. The health centre has received at least 732 requests from members who want the shot. The Garden Valley gymnasium, part of the First Nation’s administration facility, is expected to be used as a vaccination centre in mid-March. Nurses in the territory have already held a mock mass immunization clinic in preparation for when the vaccine rollout expands to the rest of the community members. McLeod said the initial vaccination program ran very well, for the most part. “There were just a couple of hiccups with some of the elders because of a reluctance to the vaccine but it was not a fear of the vaccine. One or two of the elders were a little squeamish about needles,” the chief said. “Other than that, everything in the first round went very smoothly. It was good to see the elders and the people who work with them get vaccinated.” McLeod said that he sympathizes with elders who live at the seniors’ complex because they haven’t been able to visit with family and friends as often as they would normally, due to COVID protocols. He said that the global pandemic has been hard on all of us but his heart really goes out to elders who may be having a hard time with loneliness and isolation, right now. There has been some reluctance among Indigenous people across Canada about the COVID vaccination. Some feared that First Nations people were given priority to the vaccine so that they could to be used as test subjects to see if it worked and its side effects. Most Indigenous leaders, including McLeod, are encouraging their people to get the shots but say they understand the apprehensions given the ongoing mistreatment of Indigenous people in the Canadian health-care system. McLeod said it is easy to sit back and judge how governments have done in terms of helping Indigenous people deal with the pandemic across the country. He thinks health officials have done the best job they can under extremely trying and unprecedented circumstances. McLeod said that the First Nation is currently COVID-free but they did have a situation about a month ago in which an employee of the cannabis store, that operates on the territory, came down with the coronavirus. He said that worker and others employed at the store all self-isolated for two weeks. The chief said the store itself also closed for several days. He added that it has since reopened and the worker has recovered. The chief also said that he worries about people in his territory who may be struggling with mental health and addiction issues during COVID. He said, however, that was a concern long before the coronavirus hit. The chief encouraged any of his members who may be struggling psychologically to contact the local health centre. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orillia Today
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) N.W.T. MLAs seek a slew of mechanisms to improve addictions treatment in the territory including aftercare and permanent funding for harm reduction measures like managed alcohol. Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos said there are no adequate aftercare programs to support people in their recovery. She wants three facilities staffed with mental health workers built in the South Slave, central N.W.T. and the Beaufort Delta to provide those programs. "With the structure and routine suddenly gone, when they return home, people can easily slip back into their addictions," she said. Health and Social Services MInister Julie Green said there are no firm plans to construct those facilities, but a working group in her department is considering aftercare in the N.W.T and an addictions recovery survey that is currently being conducted will inform that work. Few culturally-relevant services Dehcho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge said he wants an alcohol and drug counsellor in his community who is not affiliated with the government. "(Alcohol) is also affecting many of our youth and young men," said Bonnetrouge, adding there a few culturally-relevant services in communities. "Most alcoholics need someone they can confide in, someone that they trust, someone that they know," he said. The health and social services department supports the Dene Wellness Warriors and the Rhodes Wellness College's Northern Indigenous Counselling program, whose first graduates come out next year, said Green. "We see a unique opportunity here to hire these N.W.T. residents who have the specialized counselling training and to bring them into our communities," said Green. The department of health recently reformed its community counselling program to allow same-day appointments without a wait list, and walk-in availability for 19 communities. MLA Ron Bonnetrouge encouraged the health minister to establish non-government positions for alcohol counselling in communities. Sustain managed alcohol programs beyond pandemic: Johnson During the pandemic, the territorial government established some managed alcohol programs that delivered alcohol to prevent withdrawal. Other programs, such as the one Spruce Bough, have some clients provided access to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis as determined by a physician. MLA Rylund Johnson said harm reduction measures should be continued beyond the pandemic and sustained through government long after the COVID-19 money dries up. "As these programs emerged, they were not fully funded or true managed alcohol programs," he said,. He added they require medical professionals and social workers for supervised consumption. Green said her department has a mandate to establish a managed alcohol program in the N.W.T. "We are currently exploring options to make that a reality," she said. Health Minister Julie Green said her department is collecting data from managed alcohol programs established during COVID-19. The health department is gathering data from programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik where managed alcohol was provided during the pandemic. The information should be analyzed by the spring, said Green. Spruce Bough is funded until September 2021, and Green says the department will work with the Yellowknife Women's Society to sustain the program once funding expires. Establish navigator supports to prevent evictions: Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler asked the health minister to work with Housing Minister Paulie Chinna and establish health and social service supports for people who risk eviction during recovery. "People struggle with housing stability and affordability especially during after care and post treatment," said Semmler. Green said local housing organizations should be made aware of community counselling programs and that previous pilot programs, like a navigator position in Behchokǫ̀, showed promise. Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said health and housing departments need to bolster supports to prevent evictions against people in recovery. Funding issues On Tuesday, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty suggested the territory allocate specific funds to in-territory treatment options using the proceeds of roughly $57 million in annual liquor and cannabis sales. He said the territory profits off of alcoholism but doesn't help people struggling with addiction. In 2019, for example, the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission made $33 million. Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the money goes into the consolidated revenue fund, which is spent on all departments in the N.W.T., including health and social services, and housing. Green said the health department is reviewing its spending in the face of rising health care costs. The N.W.T. will try to contain costs internally but that plan will not be made public, said Green. Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty says the territory should allocate one or two per cent of its alcohol profits to in-territory treatment.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced late Wednesday that the country's new Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Art McDonald, who took on the role last month, has stepped aside from his post as an investigation is conducted by the force's national investigation service. Mercedes Stephenson reports on what we know so far.
Bonhomme Carnaval has been a great success so far, says Centre Culturel La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand. The two-week carnival wraps up Saturday, Feb. 27, with a virtual Bill Bestiole show, a concert from the Lapointe family and the reveal of Bonhomme. Wednesday, the centre held a cooking workshop with Julie Lefebvre, who’s a member of La Ronde’s fundraising committee. During the live-streamed event, Lefebvre showed people how to make a green salad and Coquilles Saint-Jacques, a dish involving shrimps and scallops. When choosing what to cook, Lefebvre said she was looking to make something that would cater to everyone. For those who aren’t into seafood, Lefebvre advised using chicken instead. “It is a perfect winter meal on a snowy carnival day,” she said, adding Coquilles Saint-Jacques is her favourite dish to make. La Ronde’s technical director Luc Chalifoux was on hand, helping set up the equipment to live stream the event on Facebook and Zoom. The carnival has had a lot of great feedback, according to Bertrand. She said Bonhomme has been making visits to different schools in Timmins and Iroquois Falls. “The kids were so happy even though there were some kids Bonhomme said hi through the window. We went to schoolyards and we kept our social distancing,” Bertrand said. The virtual dance class with Melissa Kelly-Lavoie attracted around 600 to 800 students, Bertrand said. The window decorating contest has wrapped up and people can vote for the best-decorated window on La Ronde’s Facebook page until Friday at 5 p.m. The unveiling of Bonhomme’s identity will be announced Saturday. This year, three dance teachers were chosen as candidates. Voting for who is Bonhomme closes Saturday at 10 p.m. “We are pre-recording the reveal of the Bonhomme because we have three dancers, so we’re going to have a different way of revealing this year,” Bertrand said. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
(Dave Irish/CBC - image credit) Lionel Desmond struggled to transition to civilian life, at times reporting that he drank upward of 70 beers a week and ate fewer than 600 calories a day, the first psychologist who saw him after leaving the military testified Thursday. Dr. Mathieu Murgatroyd first met the veteran in June 2015. Desmond spent about a year in his care at the Occupational Stress Injury Clinic in Fredericton, a Veterans Affairs facility geared toward rehabilitating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. But Murgatroyd testified that he and Desmond accomplished little in terms of therapy. Instead, the psychologist said he felt he sometimes took on the role of a case manager. In part, that's because Desmond was grappling with other issues: finding purpose outside the military, ongoing conflict in his marriage and isolation from his family. He also told his psychologist at one point that his financial situation was so poor that he might have to go to the food bank. CBC reporter Laura Fraser is live blogging the hearing: A stressful transition Those concerns are not unique to soldiers once they retire from the Canadian Forces, the psychologist said. In fact, Murgatroyd noted the usual stress of leaving the structure and camaraderie intrinsic to military life can worsen an underlying mental health issue. "We're talking about individuals that have several mental health issues and challenges, PTSD, depression ... which can lead to poor coping strategies," he testified. The inquiry seeks not to lay blame, but to examine the various institutions that came in contact with Desmond and his family before he fatally shot his wife, Shanna; his daughter, Aaliyah; and his mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself on Jan. 3, 2017 at a home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. Shanna Desmond worked as a registered nurse in Antigonish, N.S. Inquiry Judge Warren Zimmer is seeking answers about whether changes to public policy connected to those institutions can prevent future deaths. While the inquiry unfolding in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., is provincial in nature — and the mandate does not technically extend to the Canadian Forces or Veterans Affairs — the need for better support during a time of transition has surfaced in testimony from multiple witnesses at the second session. Inquiry counsel Shane Russell asked Murgatroyd on Thursday whether Desmond might have benefited from other supports to help him navigate the stress associated with the transition to civilian life, including a caseworker who could arrange marital counselling or check on the status of his pension and finances, or someone to drop by his home. The psychologist agreed that, in hindsight, that support would have been helpful. Lionel Desmond is seen with his mother, Brenda, and his daughter, Aaliyah. Other roadblocks to treatment But another roadblock to Desmond's treatment seemed to be that he just wasn't showing up. He split much of his time in the year after his release between his house in New Brunswick and his family home in Nova Scotia. The evidence underscores an issue faced by freshly released veterans: the potential for transience and the barriers that can create when accessing mental health services. In Desmond's case, after his first two appointments with Murgatroyd in July 2015 — when he reported having "homicidal thoughts without intent" — he cancelled his third visit over the phone, saying he was in Nova Scotia. They wouldn't see one another until October 2015. That pattern of intermittent visits continued until May 2016, when Desmond was accepted into an in-patient psychiatric program at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Quebec.
(CBC - image credit) Crosbie Williams is no stranger to barn fires, having lost a family farm years ago, but seeing Woodland Dairy's building in the Goulds engulfed in flames Monday night has stayed with him in the days since. "When you see the home for the cows go up in smoke and the cattle as well — there's no other way to say it, except it's absolutely terrifying, in every aspect. And it changes somebody from that day on," Williams, who runs nearby Pondview Farms, said. The blaze ripped through the barn, killing scores of cows — Williams estimated about 60 to 90 total perished — with little left of the structure, which he called "a complete loss." Williams was on the scene, which he said was "chaos," as more than 20 firefighters and volunteers spent hours getting the fire under control. The aftermath has rocked its owner, Michael Dinn and his family, he said. "As you can imagine, they're all over the place right now, it's been an extremely difficult time," Williams told CBC Radio's On The Go Wednesday. Dinn was relatively new on the dairy scene, said Williams, with about six years of farming under his belt after starting in the field through the industry's new entrant program. "He was doing a phenomenal job," Williams said. Dinn had been working hard to develop his land, and Williams hopes that the fire, as devastating as it was, can be put in the past. "It's been said to me that he has plans to rebuild, and I hope he does. Michael Dinn's an extremely hard worker," Williams said. In the days since the blaze, online fundraisers and other supports have popped up, as friends and the agriculture community come together to help bridge any gaps Dinn may be facing. "That's our hope, and I will certainly support him in any way that we can, and you know, it's my hope that this continues for him," he said. Williams said memories of his own family's barn fire of 1968 came flooding back as he saw Monday's fire, and he knows of many other farmers who feel the same. "It brings everything back. Absolutely terrible," he said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The number of available COVID-19 vaccine doses is steadily rising, but a shortage of physical space that meets standards for pharmaceutical manufacturing is a major bottleneck to further expansion, according to drugmakers, industry construction experts and officials involved in the U.S. vaccine program. The production of raw materials, vaccine formulation and vial filling all require "clean rooms" with features like air cleaners, sterile water and sterilizing steam designed and in some cases built by specialists. Moderna Inc on Wednesday announced plans to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity, but said it will be a year before that can add to its production.
Many people in Gander want to see its air connectivity to the rest of the country restored. Since the start of the pandemic, airlines have pulled several flights from the Gander International Airport, further isolating the central Newfoundland region through a lack of air support. On Jan. 23, Air Canada dropped the last of its flights out of Gander. That followed a pair of similar announcements earlier in the summer. That lack of connection has had a ripple effect on businesses and people around the region. “What we’re hearing from our members is that there is a direct impact that goes beyond the obvious,” said Hannah DeYoung, the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce’s first vice-chairperson. With that in mind, the chamber recently created a petition to be sent to the House of Commons in Ottawa with the airport as its focus. The group hopes to draw even more attention to the plight of airlines in the country, with particular focus on what a lack of flights to and from central Newfoundland means for the region. The chamber is calling for the federal government to provide financial assistance to airlines in Canada, which is dependent on helping to re-establish national air service to airports like the Gander International Airport. It also calls for an effort to ensure Gander is re-connected to the mainland, thus lessening the economic impact on the area. Slowly, the petition has been garnering support online. Since it was launched on Feb. 1, it was been signed by 973 people and businesses from around the country. “What we’re hearing from our members is how it affects the supply chain,” said DeYoung. “From getting supplies to small businesses to getting inventory and getting workers in and out. That’s the immediate impact.” The ramifications of the cancellation of flights from the airport have been top of mind of many in the town recently. The Town of Gander has been proactive from the start in its advocacy for the airport. Recently, the town asked people to submit testimonials of how they’re connected to the airport and what the loss of those flights meant for them. Chris Fraser has first-hand knowledge that the ramifications of the airport’s decline reach into many different areas. As the owner and pharmacist of Gander Pharmachoice, he relies on the airport for integral parts of his business. While a lot of his major volume of medication comes from a local supplier in St. John’s, some supplies need to come from a supplier on the mainland. “Now, it’s basically got to be flown in somewhere or trucked in from somewhere else,” said Fraser. It has led to a steady increase in wait times for the pharmacy when it comes to flying in supplies, going from next-day service to a two-day wait and now up to four days. That means it is almost a week to wait for supplies like dressings or gauze. “It does impact on our store. I can’t speak for others … but in the meantime, anyone who needs something quick, can’t get it flown in,” said Fraser. There has also been talk of forming a regional committee to address their concerns and raise awareness of how much the area depends on the airport. The hope is the petition will help magnify that effort and the voices of those directly affected by the cancellations. “There is very much a fear that when we think about recovery and resiliency through COVID-19 and past the pandemic, there is no guarantee these flights are going to come back and that they’re going to come back at the right time,” said DeYoung. “We’re advocating for right now, but also for the recovery piece. “That there is a plan here to make sure that when it is possible to travel and when it is possible to get somewhat back to normal, that there is access for our area.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice