Storm centre coverage continues for Southern Ontario. Meteorologist Nadine Powell talks to Mark Robinson.
Storm centre coverage continues for Southern Ontario. Meteorologist Nadine Powell talks to Mark Robinson.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine safety: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations to the tune of 84 per cent," Sharma said. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902 ) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. An analysis of results from 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggested the vaccine was similarly effective and well tolerated in this age group. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
A senior Democratic lawmaker said there is a growing appetite for a new federal cybersecurity breach notification law in the wake of a sprawling series of digital intrusions blamed on the Russian government. The comment, made by Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House's Homeland Security Committee, comes as cybersecurity executives are facing their second round of congressional questions on Friday over their companies' roles in the breach centered on Texas software company SolarWinds. Introducing the witnesses, Thompson said that there was "growing interest in a cybersecurity reporting law" from his colleagues and that he hoped "we can enact cyber incident notification legislation in the short order."
(Colin Perkel/Canadian Press - image credit) Hydro One is in the process of planning for a new high-voltage power line that will connect a transmission station just outside Chatham with one being built just outside of Comber. But the proposed route would take it across Highway 77 between Comber and Hwy. 401. Mayor Tom Bain said that section is too close to a populated area. "You're looking at a lot of interference for TVs and computers and you're going to get objections to the unsightly mess," said Bain, who supports the construction of the line because it is being built to meet the needs of the growing greenhouse industry and development in general. Hydro One chose the line out of eight options because it best met a number of criteria that took into account the natural and socio-economic environments, technical considerations and cost and consultation with a number of stakeholders such as Indigenous groups. It will increase the power to the entire region by 400 megawatts. But Comber resident Jodi Langley wants to know more. "I don't feel like we're very informed about what's going on in our community for the power. I want to know what it's going to do for us or how it's going to affect what's going on around here," said Langley. But Hydro One's vice-president of stakeholder relations Daniel Levitan says there's still a lot of work to do to determine the exact pathway. "We will be circling back with Mayor Bain and the County of Essex and local mayors, councils and certainly local businesses to now take a look at the specific path and ensure that it's safe and impacts the local environment, local businesses as minimally as possible," said Levitan. Hydro One will hold an online information session on March 11.
The tattoo industry, like many others, have been hit hard during COVID. Obviously not being an essential service, the pandemic has shutdown thousands of tattooers’ livelihoods. Tattooing has grown to become a $3 billion industry worldwide, with 38% of Canadians having at least one tattoo. Revenue growth for the Tattoo Artists industry is expected to decline 9.5% as a result of the pandemic and overall economic downturn. All tattooers have been forced to close up shop during the lockdowns as their work requires close contact and sitting with people for prolonged periods. Sjeli Pearse, a local tattoo artist who is currently living and working in Toronto, shares her experience with SaultOnline as she is currently closing up her studio. “We recently made the hard decision to let go of our location,” Pearse shares that for more than half of her lease she has not been able to work in her rented space due to the pandemic, “it’s hit the community really hard in Toronto especially because the lockdowns have been so much longer.” “At this point we really can’t trust that we will open, or that we will be allowed to stay open, or that clients will even have money to get tattooed.” Although the tattoo industry usually weathers economic downturns well, COVID has stopped them from providing their services. They already have to maintain sterilized work spaces and be extremely aware of their shop environment. Adapting their practice to COVID safety measures will be a necessity in order for tattooers to reopen and return to business. Follow SaultOnline as we follow this industry going forward. Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
Two reviews on making Britain more attractive for fintechs and company flotations should provide evidence for reform of the listings rules, Britain's financial services minister said on Friday. A review published on Friday set out how to make Britain more attractive for financial technology companies after Brexit, and a second review on reforming listing rules to attract more tech company floatations is due in coming days. The two reviews "should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform", John Glen said.
(Walter Strong/CBC - image credit) Justice Louise Charbonneau sentenced Tariq St Croix Thursday to five years in jail and three years probation for "brutally" stabbing his ex-wife on New Year's Eve two years ago. St Croix pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and aggravated assault in N.W.T. Supreme Court. The Crown prosecutor and defence lawyers jointly recommended a five-year sentence. "It is luck that St Croix isn't facing a homicide trial," Charbonneau told the courtroom. Tariq St. Croix, covering his face with a garment, has been charged with aggravated assault and breaking and entering. Tariq has one year, nine months, and one week remaining in his sentence. Upon his release, he is required to leave the N.W.T. On the evening of the attack, Marina St Croix was with her kids on their balcony waiting for fireworks to begin, when Tariq St Croix appeared outside of their residence. Tariq was on probation for previously assaulting her and was legally prohibited from visiting Marina unless she permitted him. Marina, who was pregnant at the time, told Tariq to go away, but he broke into the house by smashing a window, then armed himself with a steak knife. Marina was holding her 18-month-old infant in her bedroom when Tariq stabbed her in the face, neck and torso in the presence of her two kids. The eldest child grabbed the infant for protection. Tariq repeatedly yelled "you don't love me" before the steak knife broke, lodged in her stomach. Marina tried to flee to the balcony to call for help when Tariq dragged her back in, kicked her face, then fled. Marina asked that the publication ban on her name be lifted, as she no longer wanted the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and children to be hidden from sight. Mistrust of the system Marina gave a victim impact statement before sentencing. With her sister standing next to her, and Tariq merely meters away, she described how the crime has changed her life. "On the Sunday before the week of my fate, I watched a video on highway 16. Trudeau's words were that Canada failed Indigenous women and that the MMIWG report would not be shelved. Yet, I stand ready to flee, when my only protection between him and me is three years probation." "We live in a society that would rather have my race live in a boat that no longer floats," she continued. "Life is easy for those who fail to see, so society covers their eyes with coins to let the violence breathe. "I see too many dead women and children that the RCMP fail to find. So I must admit I cannot trust the broken system, this time. "Welcome to court in Canada when you are Indigenous," Marina concluded. Marina said she cannot trust a broken legal system that fails to protect Indigenous women and children from their abusers. Justice Charbonneau told the court she "can understand that a court order would not appear adequate, given the crime took place when two probation orders were in force." Judge 'bound' by joint submission Tariq St Croix was initially charged with attempted murder in addition to the crime he was convicted of, but the greater charge was withdrawn when he pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and aggravated assault. In a previous court appearance, Charbonneau acknowledged that the five-year sentence was on the "very, very low end." Judges are bound by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling to accept joint submissions unless they can prove that the sentence is "unhinged" from the circumstances of the crime. "The question I have to answer is not to see if a five year sentence is fit," but if the sentence would break down the administration of justice, she said Thursday. Despite her reservations,Charbonneau said she was certain that Crown and the defense lawyers gave careful consideration to their submission. Deportation possible Tariq has one year, nine months and one week remaining in his sentence. Upon his release, he is required to leave the N.W.T. The court heard that Tariq had been the victim of an "extremely" violent upbringing. As a child growing up in St Lucia, his father had abused his mother repeatedly. Tariq's mother assaulted him and his siblings, which was described as torture at times. "Miraculously," Tariq has rekindled his relationship with his mother, the judge told the court. However, the circumstances of his difficult upbringing "cannot excuse the extreme violence of the crime," Charbonneau said. He is likely to face deportation, given the severity of the crime along with his existing criminal record. Originally from St Lucia, Tariq has permanent residency in Canada. He is qualified as a protected person, which means an additional step is required for deportation. Whether he will be deported depends on if the danger he poses in Canada outweighs the risk he may face if he returns to his home country. However, he is likely to lose permanent residency status.
LONDON — A woman who ran away from London as a teenager to join the Islamic State group lost her bid Friday to return to the U.K. to fight for the restoration of her citizenship, which was revoked on national security grounds. Shamima Begum was one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria in 2015. She resurfaced at a refugee camp in Syria and told reporters she wanted to come home, but was denied the chance after former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship. Begum's lawyers appealed,, saying her right to a fair hearing was harmed by the obstacles of pursuing her case from the camp. The U.K. Supreme Court disagreed, ruling Friday that the right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as public safety. “The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed - or postponed - until Ms. Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised,'' said Justice Robert Reed, the president of the Supreme Court. “That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.” Javid argued that Begum was Bangladeshi by descent and could go there. She challenged the decision, arguing she is not a citizen of another country and that Javid’s decision left her stateless. The human rights group Liberty said the court’s ruling sets “an extremely dangerous precedent”. “The right to a fair trial is not something democratic governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship,'' said Rosie Brighouse, a lawyer with Liberty. “If a government is allowed to wield extreme powers like banishment without the basic safeguards of a fair tria,l it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.'' Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
(City of Fredericton - image credit) The City of Fredericton has established new terms for the role of its poet laureate in an effort to avoid controversy on council. The role has been in question since former poet laureate Jenna Lyn Albert read a poem about abortion rights at a council meeting in September, which some councillors said was too political. Since then, councillors have had several discussions about how often the poet should read, what the poet should read, and how much the poet should be paid. "I think from day one it was clear that everyone thought that the poet laureate was an important role for the city," said Henri Mallet, chair of the liveable communities committee, which voted unanimously to pass the new terms. Now the Poet Laureate will have to compose and present six original poems, regularly engage with the community through events, and propose and deliver a legacy project, which will be left up to the poet laureate. The pay for the position will also go $2,000 to $5,000 a year for two years, and there will be extra compensation for readings beyond the mandated number. Councillor Stephen Chase hopes the new measures will help to alleviate any contention. "Learning from the experience that we had with the last go round on a poet laureate, we don't need anything that's going to generate more controversy," he said. "I think the terms of reference will speak to that." The laureate will not have to read at every council meeting, but council may invite the poet laureate when appropriate. Jenna Lyn Albert said she welcomes the new terms for the role, but said not having the poet read at every meeting leaves a gap. "I felt like it really added something to council meetings, not everyone's voice can be heard on a city council, not everyone's represented. So having that poem, that ability to reflect on certain themes or issues was really valuable," Albert said. The terms of reference still need to be approved by council. The city estimates it will still take a few months before a new poet laureate is hired.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two U.S. Navy warships operating in the Mideast have been struck by coronavirus outbreaks, authorities said Friday, with both returning to port in Bahrain. A dozen troops aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, tested positive for COVID-19, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea also has “confirmed several cases of COVID-19," she said. “All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the (ships) remains in a restricted COVID bubble,” Rebarich told The Associated Press. “The port visit and medical support have been co-ordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health.” The San Diego sails with nearly 600 sailors and Marines aboard, while the Philippine Sea carries some 380 sailors. The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Mideast. Its vessels often have tense encounters with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Gulf through which 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes. The Navy’s largest outbreak so far in the pandemic was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which had to be sidelined in Guam for nearly two months last year. More than 1,000 sailors tested positive and one died. Eventually all of the 4,800 crew members were sent ashore in Guam for weeks of quarantine, in a systematic progression that kept enough sailors on the ship to keep it secure and running. The failure of the ship’s leaders to properly handle the outbreak exploded into one of the biggest military leadership crises in recent years. The ship’s captain, who pleaded for faster action to protect his crew from the rapidly spreading virus, was fired and the one-star admiral on the ship had his promotion delayed. Earlier this month, three sailors tested positive as the aircraft carrier was conducting operations in the Pacific. The sailors and those exposed to them were isolated, and the Navy said it is “following an aggressive mitigation strategy,” including masks, social distancing, and proper handwashing and hygiene measures. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
Police and teachers will not jump to the head of the queue in the second phase of Britain's COVID-19 vaccination rollout, with people instead prioritised by age, officials advising the government said on Friday, describing this as the best way to keep up the pace of immunisations. Britain's vaccine programme has been among the fastest in the world, meeting a government target to offer a first dose of vaccination to 15 million high-risk people by mid-February. Some frontline workers such as police and teachers had been calling for prioritisation on the basis of their jobs, but Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chairman for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said such an approach could complicate the rollout.
British actor Tom Holland, best known for playing Spider-Man, went through a physical transformation to play a drug addict war veteran suffering from PTSD in the new Russo brothers' movie "Cherry". Holland, who rose to global fame when he was cast by the Russo brothers as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 2016 superhero movie "Captain America: Civil War", said he wasn't sure if he was ready to take on the title role in the new gritty crime drama. "Cherry" is inspired by Nico Walker's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name and tells the story of 23-year-old Ohio-native Cherry who, disenfranchised and heartbroken after believing he has lost the love of his life Emily (Ciara Bravo) enlists in the army and soon finds himself serving in Iraq.
Court found government was entitled to use an emergency law to introduce the measures forcing residents indoors from 9 pm to 4:30 amView on euronews
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson faces a long spell on the sidelines after undergoing an operation on the groin injury he sustained in last weekend’s Merseyside derby loss against Everton. Liverpool has not put a timescale on the midfielder's recovery but said he will be out until at least April in another blow to its fading Premier League title defence. “Henderson has successfully had a corrective procedure carried out on the adductor injury," Liverpool said in a statement on Friday. “He will begin a rehabilitation program immediately.” Liverpool is in sixth place, 19 points behind leader Manchester City but the six-time European champions remain in the Champions League. Henderson, who has been playing as an emergency centre back, joins a lengthy injury list. The three senior central defenders, Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, have all had their seasons ended prematurely while backup Fabinho is still out, having played just one of the last seven matches because of a muscle injury. James Milner is still sidelined by a hamstring problem and fellow midfielder Naby Keita only returned to the squad last weekend for the first time since mid-December. Forward Diogo Jota began full training this week after three months out with a knee problem. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
L’art de la Renaissance, sans échapper à la domination théorique et visuelle des Européens sur les peuples africains, était peut-être plus divers que l’on pourrait initialement le penser.
(Sara Minogue/CBC - image credit) Weeks after Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson requested the government send grief counsellors to his electoral district, Health Minister Julie Green says she will look into sending a mental health team to the district's four communities. In early February, Green urged anyone seeking mental health services to use same-day counselling services available through the health department but stopped short of committing to send in new resources. On Thursday, she said she will investigate if she can deploy mental health teams that typically travel to communities without resident counsellors. While a child and youth counsellor position is filled at the Mangilaluk School in Tuktoykatuk, there are vacancies in community counselling, said Green. Health Minister Julie Green says she will look into sending mental health teams to Nunakput. Jacobson said mental health issues are coming up in Tuktoyaktuk, Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour and Paulatuk. He said a lot of people are hurting from depression to all the deaths that have occurred over the last year," said Jacobson. "We have to start trying to help them, heal them and try to move forward. When are we gonna get these travel teams into Nunakput?" he said. "We need a team to come in to work with the community on the depression, alcoholism, everything ... anything they want to talk about to get off their chest. We need help." The Kids Help Line is available to youth by text or call, Facebook and online chat, said Green. If you are under 25 years old and you need someone to talk to, you can call the Kid's Help Phone 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868. Texting and online chat options are also available 24/7. To text with a counsellor, text CONNECT to 686868. To live chat, visit https://kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat/ and click the "chat" button OR download the Always There app.
BERLIN — A Bavarian radio station apologized Friday for a host's comments comparing popular South Korean K-pop band BTS to the coronavirus, saying his choice of words had gone too far but was in no way meant to be “hurtful or racist.” The statement came after legions of fans accused the station's Matthias Matuschik of racism for his comments on the band's cover of Coldplay's “Fix You,” taking to social media using the hashtags #Bayern3Racist, #Bayern3Apologize and #RassismusBeiBayern3 which translates as “racism at Bayern3.” “Racism is not an option,” wrote one user, @Vroseeeee1 in a blunt tweet in English, German, Korean and Spanish. The uproar came after a live show Wednesday, in which Matuschik derided BTS's version of “Fix You” as “blasphemy” and compared the band to COVID-19, describing them as “some crappy virus that hopefully there will be a vaccine for soon as well.” He then dug his hole deeper as he tried to roll back the comment somewhat, saying “I have nothing against South Korea, you can’t accuse me of xenophobia only because this boyband is from South Korea... I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car around.” Then he went on to say that in penance for the cover, BTS “will be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years.” BTS, which debuted in 2013, became the biggest boy band in the world, selling out stadiums worldwide and delivering a video message at the U.N. General Assembly this year. Their songs, filled with intimate, socially conscious lyrics, are credited for their success. Unlike other K-pop bands that carefully maintain the personas created by their labels, BTS is known for its active engagement with fans — known as ARMY — through social media. BTS has over 33.1 million followers on Twitter. Offence at the comments didn't only come from South Korea, with many social media users in Germany and elsewhere immediately condemning them. “I know which radio station I won't be listening to anymore, bye @Bayern3,” wrote user @fairesvmns in a German-language post that included audio of Matuschik's comments. “I really don't need racism of this shape and form in 2021.” Many South Koreans living abroad expressed concerns that the remarks could incite anti-Asian violence, already on the rise in many places. “This is not just about #BTS, it is about so many Asian people who are dealing with extreme racism especially due to pandemic,” Hansl Chang, a South Korean who lives in Germany, tweeted. In the station's apology, it said that while Matuschik was “presenting his opinion in an ironic, exaggerated way and with exaggerated excitement, his words went too far and hurt the feelings of BTS fans. “But he — and he has assured us of this — in no way intended this. He just wanted to express his displeasure over the aforementioned cover version.” It noted that Matuschik has been involved in helping raise aid for refugees and has a “constant campaign against right-wing extremism” and has shown he is against xenophobia or racism in any form. “That does not change the fact that many of you found his statements to be hurtful or racist,” Bayern3 said. “We apologize for this in every way possible. We will work on the matter with Matthias and the team in detail again in the next few days.” ___ Juwon Park in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report. David Rising, The Associated Press
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) Being able to get enough to eat has become a big problem during Newfoundland and Labrador's latest lockdown, but it's a challenge some community groups are rising to, finding ways to feed people under Alert Level 5. Since the COVID-19 outbreak ramped up in mid-February, a series of public health restrictions have created barriers to accessing food: residents have had to reduce their contacts down to single households, they've been asked to make fewer trips to the grocery store, and thousands of people have found themselves in self-isolation and unable to leave their properties at all. It echoes last winter's Snowmaggedon, when Cortney Barber took to Facebook and started the volunteer group Neighbours in Need Newfoundland, to help those who were stuck without food or supplies. That group has kept going throughout the pandemic, Barber said, and has been particularly busy during this round of lockdown. "Every day there's something to do, and the volunteers continue to step up every day," Barber told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. "We've seen probably a doubling of the need for support for groceries and stuff like that." Barber said many people reaching out for help either can't leave their homes due to self-isolation, have small children or fall into a high-risk group. For those who rely on busses to get to and from stores, the biggest problem is cuts to public transportation — MetroBus has reduced both its hours of operation and the number of people who can ride at any one time. "The cost is a little bit higher when you can't use that public transportation," Barber said. "So people are just really stuck for groceries." Neighbours in Need Newfoundland began during Snowmaggedon, when volunteers helped people stuck in their homes due to the blizzard, but the group has continued to operate throughout the pandemic. Courier cooperation With the Neighbours in Need volunteers kept hopping, one St. John's-based courier service has stepped in to share the workload. Millennium Express partners with large companies like FedEx and Purolator, and its co-owner Becky Reddy said delivery services have been in high demand throughout the pandemic. "Business actually increased with the influx of online shopping and things like that," said Reddy. "So it's been a bit hectic." Despite a packed schedule, when the lockdown began Reddy took to social media and extended a call to seniors and other vulnerable members of the community to let them know they weren't alone. "There are people out there that are willing to help, and we really didn't want to see anybody go without during this lockdown," she said. To that end, when Barber went online looking for someone to help deliver a hamper of groceries, she found Millennium Express. "We were able to work together and deliver some hampers to people from grocery orders," Barber said, "I just reached out to Becky and we had it done in no time." Oftentimes, said Barber, the Neighbours in Need Newfoundland Facebook group has plenty of deliveries to make, but not enough volunteers to do the driving, particularly in the midst of the lockdown. "It's really a lot easier to be able to pass them over to somebody like a courier who can drop them all off in one run, rather than putting one grocery order in their car and then come back for another one," Barber said. For Reddy and Millennium Express, the opportunity to partner with the group and to give back to the community is an integral part of the business. "We're always trying to be involved in the community as much as we can, and I've seen it myself: some people are just down on their luck and they just need some help," said Reddy. "Whatever we can do to help is what we're going to do." During lockdown, the School Lunch Association has donated more than 20,000 lunch-sized cartons of milk to food banks and non-profit groups throughout the province. Others stepping up Reddy and Barber aren't the only community-minded individuals on delivery duty these days. Following the lockdown announcement earlier this month, the School Lunch Association, a charity which usually provides hot lunches for school children, took its perishables and distributed the food to those in need. With help from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and the School Milk Foundation, as well as the Community Food Sharing Association, the organizations helped to distribute over 20,000 lunch-sized cartons of milk. The cartons found their way to a slew of organizations, from food banks, to non-profits, and to frontline health workers at the Mount Pearl COVID-19 testing site. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundand and Labrador
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) THE LATEST: Health Canada has approved a third COVID-19 vaccine. B.C. recorded 589 new cases and seven more deaths on Friday. As of Friday, there are 4,665 active cases in the province. A total of 232 people are in hospital, including 63 in intensive care. To date, 1,355 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. out of 79,262 confirmed cases. 252,373 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 73,808 second doses. There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. There's no end in sight for the current rules banning all social gatherings in B.C., as officials warn of "potential for rapid growth" in the province's caseload. On Friday B.C. recorded 589 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths. The update, provided in a written statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, said there are 4,665 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of those, 232 people are in hospital, including 63 in intensive care. To date, 1,355 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. out of 79,262 confirmed cases. Meanwhile, 252,373 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 73,808 second doses. No new health-care facility outbreaks were recorded as of Friday. Potential for rapid growth In her daily update on Thursday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the seven-day rolling average of new cases is still slowly climbing, more than three months into tight restrictions on daily life meant to bring the second wave of the pandemic under control. "This means potential for rapid growth if we are not careful," she said. Despite those concerns, Henry also said that she's confident B.C.'s measures will slow the spread of the disease, especially now that the vaccination program is up and running again. On Friday morning, Health Canada approved use of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. The approval clears the way for millions of more inoculations in Canada. Canada has so far secured access to 20 million doses of the vaccine. "Unlike the vaccines that have been available to date, this new, two-dose viral vector vaccine has the benefit of being 'fridge stable,' making it much easier to transport and distribute around the province," said the statement from the province. "This new vaccine will be integrated into our provincial immunization program as delivery and supply is confirmed in the coming weeks. The additional supply will allow us to look at accelerating immunization of priority populations and essential workers." Henry said Thursday that there have been 116 cases of COVID-19 variants of concern found in B.C., of which nine cases are active. She said 95 cases were of the variant originally detected in the U.K. and 21 of the variant first detected in South Africa. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 6:30 p.m. PT Thursday, Canada had reported 858,217 cases of COVID-19, with 30,335 cases considered active. A total of 21,865 people have died. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
Edmonton Police are warning the public that Clint Carifelle, 30, is a dangerous offender who has removed the monitoring ankle bracelet that was placed on him due to his violent tendencies. Police say he has ties to Saskatchewan and may be making his way to this province. He was last seen Wednesday at a residence in the area of 119 Ave and 101 Street. Carifelle is 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and full face tattoos that he is known to cover with makeup. He is known to carry weapons and should not be approached. Anyone who encounters him should contact police immediately by calling 911. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
(Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier - image credit) This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. Before delivering the new provincial budget Thursday, Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews bought himself new cowboy boots. A pair of ballet shoes would have been more appropriate. Toews's budget does a lot of dancing, much of it on eggshells. This is a budget that is afraid of suffering another embarrassing pratfall like the one performed last year when Toews tabled an overly optimistic budget in February that predicted solid economic growth, higher employment and a balanced budget by 2023 — and was quickly rendered obsolete with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. "When I was actually presenting the budget, it felt like Rome was burning behind me," said a slightly traumatized Toews at the time. This year's budget might be entitled, "Protecting lives and livelihoods" but, "Once burned, twice shy" would work, too. It's a conservative document, not in terms of spending and deficits, but in terms of predictions. The budget uses the word "uncertainty" so often it's like a nervous twitch, as in, "A great deal of uncertainty remains about vaccination roll-outs and the speed and breadth of global economic recovery." WATCH | Finance minister, Opposition leader discuss 2021 budget: "Uncertainty" is the word of the day. And it's going to be the word of the year as we continue to muddle through the minefield that is COVID 2021. The government learned an important lesson last year: don't raise expectations. Toews's economic outlook this year includes an $18 billion deficit, in addition to last year's $20 billion shortfall caused in part by a price of oil that went negative at one point. The accumulated debt will hit $115 billion this year and reach an astronomical $132 billion in two years. That's not including the $1.3 billion at risk in the Keystone XL pipeline gamble. The debt is climbing so high, so fast, the government is starting to couch the debt in terms of its relationship to the total provincial economy. This is called the net-debt-to-GDP ratio and it's a term beloved by pernickety economists — and by politicians trying to mask the size of their government's record debt. Right now Alberta's ratio is 24.5 per cent, which is pretty good compared to Ontario, for example, at 50 per cent. But just two years ago, our ratio was 11 per cent. Yes, there are few encouraging numbers in this budget. The government is spending four per cent more on health care and is setting up a $1.25-billion contingency fund to fight the pandemic. Premier Kenney is not slashing spending or cutting services as he seemed to suggest much of last year with his warning of a "fiscal reckoning" to come. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney promised there would be no new taxes in the budget. This is not a fiscal-reckoning budget or even an austerity budget. It is not the fiscal plan of a self-assured government. This is the keep-your-head-down-budget of a government under siege from COVID-19 and an unhappy public that seems to be increasingly dissatisfied with the UCP. The fiscal outlook is so uncertain that Toews doesn't even pretend to have a plan to balance the budget, unlike last year when he confidently predicted no more deficits starting in 2022, right before he felt the flames of COVID setting his prognostications on fire. 'Right-sizing' But if Toews is not outright slashing, he is planning to do some whittling and that has public-sector unions nervous. "One area where we can no longer delay is addressing a public -ector salary structure in Alberta that has for decades been an outlier compared to other provinces," said Toews, who has previously warned unions that if they don't accept concessions, they'll face more job cuts. Toews calls this "right-sizing" public-sector compensation, a term sure to infuriate workers and do nothing to quell labour unrest. "Perhaps if governments had shown more restraint in previous years, we would not have had to confront this issue," added Toews, who might be taking a jab at the former NDP government but really should be aiming at a succession of previous Conservative governments. True to form, Toews also pointed the finger of blame at the federal Liberal government: "The biggest obstacle to recovery may be our own national government, which has layered on regulatory requirements, created investment uncertainty, chased away the investment that maintains family-supporting jobs, and is now increasing the costs for our most vital national economic drivers." What the Kenney government tends to gloss over is that after the pandemic hit, most of the financial aid delivered to beleaguered Albertans came from Ottawa. Not only did the federal government deliver $11 billion in direct transfers to the Alberta treasury last year, it sent an additional $23 billion to individual Albertans and businesses via programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Albertans are no doubt relieved that, as Kenney promised, there are no new taxes in the budget. But you have to wonder if that's just a matter of time. The pandemic might have forced the government into spending record amounts of money but our fiscal problems didn't begin and end there. COVID's rampage through our economy demonstrated once again how over-reliant we are on the capricious price of fossil fuels. There will be a "fiscal reckoning" in our future, sooner or later.