Through a Supreme Court showdown on the 2020 census, U.S. President Donald Trump is attempting to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count used to divvy up congressional seats. (November 30)
Through a Supreme Court showdown on the 2020 census, U.S. President Donald Trump is attempting to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count used to divvy up congressional seats. (November 30)
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, with Ontario being a core region of growth in cases across Canada, Ottawa Public Health is trying to explain the importance of limiting close contacts.
B.C. is aiming to vaccinate 4.3 million people by the end of September. Premier John Horgan cautioned the plan depends on a consistent supply but wouldn’t blame the federal government for delays in receiving vaccines.
The Crown has withdrawn sex-related charges against a former Edmonton martial arts instructor. Kevin Ford was the owner and operator of ATA Martial Arts in west Edmonton. He is no longer listed as an instructor at the facility. When he was charged in 2018, Edmonton police alleged that two women, ages 19 and 25, had been sexually assaulted by Ford when he was instructing them. The case was supposed to go to trial by jury in June, but that trial was cancelled after Crown prosecutor Lori Dunford withdrew the charges. On Friday afternoon, with the consent of Dunford and defence lawyer Mona Duckett, Ford entered into a 24-month peace bond. The terms of the peace bond were not read aloud in court.
A Komoka resident and lifelong environmentalist is building Middlesex Centre’s first net-zero energy house, hoping to spark a trend in the region. A net-zero home minimizes energy use for heating and cooling, while producing its own energy through solar panels. “It’s been a personal mission and passion of mine to try to educate, not to preach, and to live by example,” said Terry Keep. “Even a guy who is not a builder can do this with the right people around them.” Keep has been building his new carbon-neutral family home amid the pandemic and expects to be finished by April. He spent years researching the process before breaking ground last fall. The 2,300-square-foot (214-square-metre) home will feature solar panels on its steel roof, along with thicker walls for better insulation and triple-pane windows to reduce energy use. The lumber used is all Forest Stewardship Council certified. The driveway will use permeable pavers so stormwater can drain through into the ground. “It’s a nicer, quieter, dryer, tighter home,” Keep said. It’s also one of few homes to feature an electric furnace — the home uses no natural gas — and a heat pump. The house is divided into three zones, each heated only when necessary. Though net-zero homes are available in the London region — Sifton’s West Five development, for example, is geared toward sustainable living — Keep said building one independently in other neighbourhoods isn’t common. He’s documenting the building process — he calls it a “labour of love” — on YouTube, aiming to show carbon-neutral homes can be accessible and affordable for everyday consumers, not just environmentalists. He also wanted to prove you don’t have to move to a new neighbourhood to get a carbon-neutral house. “It’s the desire to show people it’s a regular neighbourhood, my home will stand beside a regular, code-built home,” Keep said. “I want people to see it can be done.” Walk through Keep’s house in progress, and it looks like any other mid-century modern home — with hints of Frank Lloyd Wright — not something out of The Jetsons. About 20 per cent of the average home's carbon footprint comes from household energy consumption. It takes about seven years for a solar-powered house to recoup the investment costs. But Keep has faced many hurdles getting his environmentally sustainable house off the ground, even without pandemic hiccups, such as labour and supply shortages. Finding architects, builders and tradespeople with knowledge and experience in developing net-zero houses was a challenge, Keep said, and getting them to commit to a single house even harder. “It’s been a really interesting ride,” said the home's builder, Frank Oosterhoff, who owns Great Lakes Construction. Keep said Middlesex Centre is a progressive area in terms of sustainability, citing the newly built net-zero firehall, and the community centre’s solar panels. Once his own house is finished, Keep plans to pursue building a row of affordable, net-zero townhouses. “The next generation is starting to realize there's value in that,” he said. “If everyone can afford one, they’ll buy it — if they can’t afford one, they won’t.” Keep drives a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is also a vegetarian. He was a founding member of EnviroWestern, a group at Western University that promotes sustainability. “We make small steps to get to a big impact over our life,” Keep said. “It doesn’t happen over a short period.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just providing testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian scientists say blood thinners appear to prevent some COVID-19 patients with moderate illness from deteriorating further, offering a "massive" advance in treatment they expect will ease suffering and lesson strain on hospital ICUs. University Health Network scientist Ewan Goligher said Friday that blood thinners could soon be part of standard care after the interim results of global trials showed Heparin reduced the probability of requiring life support by about a third. The news comes on the heels of promising early data for another COVID-19 drug targeting seniors, as health systems across the country wrestle with the impact of a recent surge in cases and long-term care homes battle devastating outbreaks. Considering how many people around the world end up in intensive care because of COVID-19, Goligher said this finding is "massive." "They're very, very ill, they're often in the ICU for a long time. It's a devastating life event," Goligher, a critical care physician at Toronto General Hospital, said of the patients he sees. "Even if they do survive, it means immense suffering, and to prevent people from becoming critically ill is huge." Interim results of clinical trials spanning five continents in more than 300 hospitals suggest full-dose blood thinners could significantly reduce the number of severe cases that are now straining health-care systems. The study involved more than 1,300 moderately ill patients admitted to hospital, including hundreds of people admitted to hospitals across Canada. Researchers found the full dose was more effective than the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients. Goligher, co-chair of the therapeutic anticoagulation domain of the trial, said he expected patients at his downtown hospital would be on routine blood thinners "imminently," and "fully expected" hospitals around the world would, too. "Before people change their practice they're going to want to see the full paper published so we're working very hard now to write up the results and get them published in a high impact journal," he said. "One of the exciting things about this treatment is that Heparin is already cheap, widely available, and available in low and middle-income countries, as well as countries like Canada and the United States. So this is a cheap therapy that can make a significant impact on outcomes for patients." Goligher said researchers still needs to look into other questions surrounding blood thinners, such as whether to continue treatment if a moderately ill patient develops severe COVID-19, and whether adding an antiplatelet agent would help. Doctors noticed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 patients suffered an increased rate of blood clots and inflammation. This led to complications including lung failure, heart attack and stroke. Back in December, investigators found that giving full-dose blood thinners to critically ill ICU patients did not help, and was actually harmful. However, Goligher noted there have been other drugs that appear to ease mortality in severe cases, expecting more trials to release promising data soon. Goligher was heartened by the news that blood thinners could soon ease a devastating winter surge of infections. "I personally find the thought that this treatment will prevent (patients) from getting to this state incredibly gratifying. It's even better than if it was an effective treatment for severe COVID-19, to be able to prevent people from becoming severe is huge." The trials are supported by international funding organizations including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in the United States, the National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom, and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. Meanwhile, U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly said this week that early trial data reveals its antibody drug bamlanivimab – developed in partnership with Vancouver’s AbCellera Biologics – can prevent some COVID-19 illness in nursing home residents and staff. Early data from a Phase 3 trial found that in addition to offering therapeutic value, bamlanivimab "significantly" reduced the risk of contracting symptomatic COVID-19 among 965 residents and staff of long-term care facilities in the U.S. Health Canada has approved its use as a therapy for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, but not to prevent infection. A spokesman for Eli Lilly Canada said the company expected to present the new data to Health Canada, but noted their findings were still early. In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada had purchased 26,000 doses of the drug, with shipments to arrive between December 2020 and February 2021. But Lauren Fischer, VP of corporate affairs for Eli Lilly Canada, says the drug is not being used on patients here yet. Fischer said the provinces have raised "some implementation concerns" about bamlanivimab, which involves an hour-long intravenous infusion. "The provinces are still considering their approach to making it available but we haven't seen a lot of progress on that," Fischer said. "The provinces have really moved with commendable speed on vaccinations, they've shown that they can overcome implementation difficulties to make needed solutions available.... We stand ready to partner with provincial governments as they try to make those solutions happen." The drug is meant for patients over the age of 65 with underlying conditions. Dr. Doron Sagman, Eli Lilly's VP of research and development and medical affairs, said the early data suggests some level of protection for older Canadians waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, or if their immune response to a vaccine is not as robust as others. "The intent again is to provide a therapeutic bridge to those vaccines and fill a gap in those individuals who have been affected by the illness and have not yet been vaccinated," said Sagman. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that Health Canada relies on clinical experts "on the ground" treating patients "to decide what's best for them." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Alcohol or drugs were a factor in more than half of all snowmobile fatalities from 2013-19, according to a Statistics Canada report. The report said an average of 73 died every year in Canada in that timeframe while riding on a snowmobile, and the numbers were likely higher due to incomplete data. The results were released on Friday from the Canadian Vital Statistics – Death Database (CVSD) and the Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner Database (CCMED). From 2013 to 2019 the top factors in snowmobile fatalities were: Alcohol or drug use (55 per cent); Excessive speed (48 per cent). Riding in the evening or at night when visibility from dusk or darkness may have been an issue (46 per cent). "In half (52 per cent) of these types of events, more than one of these specific risk factors was present," the report said. Alcohol or drugs were also reported in half of submersion deaths and 44 per cent of multi-vehicle collisions. "Evening/night riding was more commonly reported in submersion fatalities, while multi-vehicle collision deaths more often occurred during the day," said the report. At the time the report was written, there were 510 snowmobiling fatalities documented in the CVSD and CCMED from 2013-19. About 80 per cent of snowmobile fatalities were single-vehicle events, while the other 20 per cent involved a collision with another snowmobile or vehicle. Of the single-vehicle incidents, most [70 per cent] involved the snowmobile colliding with a stationary object, an ejection or a rollover. Other causes included submersion (14 per cent) and avalanche-related (10 per cent) fatalities. The report said men accounted for nine in 10 of those fatalities. More than 1 in 10 people who died were not wearing a helmet. The CVSD and CCMED recommend to: Not ride while impaired. Travel at safe speed. Wear a helmet. Wear warm clothing. Carry safety equipment. Travel in a group. Avoid snowmobiling on ice or where there is a risk of avalanche. Not all provincial data was complete. For example data for Saskatchewan was only available from 2013 to 2014.
Yukon will be sharing its doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with neighbours in Atlin, B.C. The community is unusual in that it can only be reached by road from Yukon. It's about a two-hour drive away from Whitehorse. B.C.'s Northern Health, the B.C. First Nations Health Authority and the government of Yukon announced in a news release on Friday that immunization clinics will be held in Atlin on Jan. 27 and 28. The news release says handling requirements for the vaccine, along with Atlin's remote location, make logisitics a challenge. "[Atlin] is part of our northern health authority's jurisdiction and our region, but that said, it is in a location that lends itself, I think, to some affiliation with the Yukon," said Eryn Collins of Northern Health. Two hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine will be shipped from Whitehorse to Atlin ahead of next week's clinics. Those clinics will focus on priority groups such as elders, seniors, health care workers and the medically vulnerable. Atlin residents who are eligible for the first round of inoculations will be contacted directly and offered an appointment. People are also encouraged to contact the Atlin Health Centre or the Taku River Tlingit First Nation health team directly beginning on Monday, Jan. 25, if they have questions or live without telephone access. Yukon began its own community vaccination clinics last week, with two mobile vaccine teams travelling across the territory over the coming weeks. The territory has so far received 14,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine, with more expected to arrive in February.
The auditor general of Canada has a "clean" opinion of the Northwest Territories government's 2018-19 financial statements. "This means that the information in the statements is reliable," said auditor general Karen Hogan. Hogan appeared remotely before the territorial government's Standing Committee on Government Operations on Friday for a belated review of the government's 2018-19 public accounts. The review was supposed to take place in May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hogan made two observations during her video presentation. The first had to do with public-private partnerships, also known as P3s. The new Stanton Territorial Hospital — which has had a significant impact on the government's finances — came into being through a public-private partnership. P3s are "usually large and complex," said Hogan. "It is therefore important to have accurate reporting of costs for informed decision making." She noted that auditors found public-private partnerships were recorded accurately, with one exception, and that correcting it resulted in a $30-million increase to both tangible capital assets and liabilities presented in the 2017-18 financial statements. Hogan's second observation had to do with the recording of certain revolving funds' revenues and expenses. Revolving funds can be continuously replenished to help ensure certain government operations. A recording correction resulted in a $34-million increase in both the revenues and expenses presented in 2017-18, said Hogan. "It wasn't an error in that revenues were forgotten or expenses were forgotten, it was just the way they were presented," she said. Gov't has 'limited flexibility' to raise money The public accounts are the annual financial statements of the government and include information on assets, liabilities, net debt and the accumulated surplus or deficit. Each year the auditor general of Canada audits the territory's consolidated financial statements and gives its opinion on whether the statements are a fair and accurate reflection of the government's financial position. The auditor general also looks at noteworthy transactions to ensure that they fall within the government's powers. The 2019 public accounts show that the N.W.T. government had revenues of about $2.4 billion and had expenses of about $2.03 billion, leaving an operating surplus of about $4 million, Julie Mujcin, N.W.T.'s comptroller general, told the committee. Although the government had an operating surplus, it has "limited flexibility" to raise money, as well as "vulnerabilities" related to its revenue sources, "which requires a need for careful fiscal management," said Mujcin. She said the government's finances in 2018-19 were affected in part by the opening of the new Stanton Territorial Hospital, as well as wage increases under government workers' collective agreement. The comptroller general also noted public agencies' challenges in completing audits and reports within the legislated timeframes. Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson noted that the public accounts under review were based on a budget approved by the previous legislative assembly. He also said that many revenue projections from that time were "inaccurate" because, among other factors, "COVID obviously messed up a lot of this."
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister. The Protecting Canada Project is airing its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online. The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic, resting that assertion on decisions under the previous Conservative government and O'Toole's support for similar cuts made by current conservative premiers. The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time." Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. He says it is backed by "progressive" individuals and organizations who believe it's "crucial" to counter the Conservative-friendly messaging peddled by what he calls "well-funded, extreme right-wing" advocacy groups like Canada Proud. "This launch is just the beginning," Wayne said. "We will continue to grow our campaign and get our messages to more and more everyday Canadians." Wayne is listed as a director of the group, along with Don Millar, who has a history of working with Liberals. Until an election is actually called, Protecting Canada, like other groups, can spend as much as it likes and never disclose where it is getting its money. Changes to the Canada Elections Act in 2018 impose spending limits on advocacy groups and require them to disclose donors during the three-month "pre-writ period" before an election is called, as well as during the campaign. But the restrictions assume an election will happen on a date set in the law, about four years after the last national vote. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presides over a minority Liberal government, which could fall well before then if the opposition parties unite against the Liberals in a confidence vote. The project's first ad alleges that O'Toole voted in favour of a $36-billion "cut" to federal health-care transfers to the provinces. The "cut" implemented by Stephen Harper's Conservative government, of which O'Toole was a part, has been a political football for years. While in power, the Conservatives scaled back the annual six per cent increase in the health transfer to a minimum of three per cent — a move that guaranteed provinces would still get more money each year, though at a slower rate than before. That meant provinces would receive $36 billion less over 10 years than they had anticipated. The change actually came into effect under the Liberal government, which opted to keep the Tories' formula in place. The ad also ties O'Toole to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a former Harper cabinet colleague who endorsed O'Toole for the Conservative leadership last year and whose popularity has nosedived over his handling of the pandemic. The ad says O'Toole endorses Kenney's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which they allege includes cutting 11,000 health care workers' jobs. The same approach federally could result in "tens of thousands of health care layoffs across Canada," it warns. In a statement, O'Toole accused the group of playing fast and loose with the truth. "The Liberals are lying about my record because they don’t want to talk about theirs: a record of lost jobs, corruption, and failure on vaccines," read the statement. "Canada’s Conservatives will secure health care, secure jobs, and secure our future.” During his campaign to lead the Conservative party last year, O'Toole pledged he'd provide "stable and predictable" funding while respecting provincial jurisdiction. As the provinces have clamoured for more health-care money from the federal government to manage the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Toole hasn't ruled out listening and has also said the money must flow with no strings attached. His party did also back a Bloc Québécois motion in the House of Commons in December that called on the federal government to "significantly and sustainably increase Canada health transfers before the end of 2020." The "Canada Proud" groups the new advocacy organization mentions are run by a media company that helped O'Toole win leadership of his party last year. He's since ended his contract with them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Joan Bryden and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:55 p.m. Alberta's daily COVID-19 case count has dropped a bit more to 643 and the active case count has also gone down to 9,987. The Alberta Health Services website shows that 691 people are in hospital with the infection and 115 of those patients are receiving intensive care. A dozen deaths bring that tally to 1,512. There has been a total of 119,757 cases in the province since the pandemic began. --- 6:30 p.m. B.C. is reporting 508 new cases of COVID-19, pushing active infections to 4,479. Nine more people have died due to the illness, bringing the death toll in the province to 1,128. There have been 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in B.C., including 2,202 second doses. The province is reporting new outbreaks at two hospitals — one in Kamloops and the other in New Westminster — as well as at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement the risk from the virus in B.C. remains high and B.C. is not at point where public health rules can be lifted. --- 2:45 p.m. Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting one new case of COVID-19. Authorities say the case involves a man between 20 and 39 years old and his infection is related to international travel. There are seven active reported cases in the province and one person is in hospital due to the virus. --- 2:35 p.m. Health officials in Saskatchewan are announcing 312 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more residents have also died. The Ministry of Health says 177 people are in hospital, with 30 people in intensive care. More than 31,000 vaccine shots have also been given in the province. --- 2:15 p.m. The New Brunswick government has announced that it will impose a full lockdown in the province's Edmundston region, effective midnight Saturday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the number of active cases in the area of northwestern New Brunswick has grown to 129 today from just seven two weeks ago. Health officials are reporting 30 new cases across the province today — 19 of which are in the Edmundston area — bringing the total of active cases to 331, with five people in hospital and three in intensive care. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard says that under the lockdown, the first in the province since last spring, schools will shift to remote learning and only essential businesses will be allowed to remain open. --- 2 p.m. B.C. Premier John Horgan says the federal government shouldn't be blamed for shortages of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Horgan says the delays are due to issues in Europe and blaming the federal government will not speed up the process of acquiring vaccines. Pfizer announced a delay in vaccine productions last week, due to production issues at a plant in Belgium. --- 1:40 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today, while health officials say the results of two tests conducted in December confirm two variant cases of the novel coronavirus. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang says one of the cases was confirmed to be the U.K. variant while the other was confirmed as the South African variant. Strang says both cases were related to international travel and there is no evidence of community spread from either case. The province currently has 22 active cases of novel coronavirus. --- 1:40 p.m. B.C. has rolled out its timeline for residents to receive vaccinations over the coming months, with an aim of immunizing roughly 4.3 million people by the end of September. B.C.’s oldest residents will be able to pre-register to receive a vaccine starting in March after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized. Those aged 75 to 79 will be able to start being vaccinated in April, and the process will continue backwards in five-year increments. The province says it will use everything from stadiums and convention halls to mobile clinics in transit buses to vaccinate communities across B.C. --- 1:35 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 171 additional COVID-19 cases and two deaths. The province's north continues to see higher numbers per capita than other regions. The Manitoba government announced this week it is easing some restrictions on store openings and social gatherings as of Saturday in all areas except the north. --- 1:10 p.m. Manitoba has stopped booking appointments for people getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at its two supersites in Brandon and Winnipeg. The provincial government says it has been told by Ottawa of another reduction in supplies of the vaccine. It says that during the week of Feb. 1, Manitoba will receive 2,340 doses instead of the 5,850 doses originally planned. --- 12:55 p.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there have been 90 reports of adverse events for a patient in Canada who received one of the COVID-19 vaccines. She said those include all health problems after the vaccine was given and may not all be related to the vaccine. Twenty-seven of those events, or one in 22,000 doses injected, were serious, including allergic reactions. --- 12:50 p.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there have now been 31 cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and three of the one first found in South Africa. Tam says the fact that the variants are now circling in the community without a known connection to travel is concerning. The news comes just after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is some evidence that the U.K. variant may be more deadly than the original virus. --- 11:53 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is considering mandatory quarantine in hotels for travellers returning to Canada from abroad. He says it's not the time to travel. Trudeau says the government is considering a number of options that will make it harder for people to return to Canada, as new variants of COVID-19 are circling. --- 11:40 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is sending two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area. COVID-19 is putting incredible strain on local hospitals in the region. The units will bring an additional 200 hospital beds to help free up space for people who need intensive care. The units will include vital medical equipment and supplies. --- 11:35 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the CEO of Pfizer has promised "hundreds of thousands" of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to Canada in mid-February and in the following weeks. Trudeau reiterated that Pfizer will ensure Canada gets its four million promised doses by the end of March. Trudeau says the next few weeks will be "challenging" on the vaccine delivery front as Pfizer upgrades its plants and slows deliveries to Canada and other countries. --- 11:27 a.m. Quebec is reporting 1,631 new COVID-19 cases and 88 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 18 in the past 24 hours. Health officials said today hospitalizations decreased to 1,426 and 212 people were in intensive care. The province says 2,040 more people have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 223,367. --- 10:40 a.m. There are 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario and 87 more deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 779 new cases in Toronto, 542 in Peel Region and 228 in York Region. Ontario says more than 11,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the province's last report. --- 9:42 a.m. Nunavut is reporting one new COVID-19 case in Arviat, the community of about 2,800 that saw the territory's largest outbreak with 222 cases. It's the first new case of COVID-19 in the territory since Dec. 28. The territory's chief public health officer says the positive result was found in follow-up testing after the outbreak. Dr. Michael Patterson says there is no evidence of community transmission at this time. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Edmundston region is moving into a 14-day lockdown beginning Saturday at midnight as health officials try to curb rising infections, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday. "The growth of cases in this zone and the spread through several workplaces and long-term care homes has really reached a point where the strongest measures are needed," Russell told reporters. "The measures being announced today are stern but they are necessary." Russell's new health order forces the closure of all non-essential businesses as well as schools and public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. The situation in the region will be evaluated every seven days, Russell said, adding that cabinet may extend the lockdown if required. She said the Edmundston area, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region, has 129 active reported infections. Because of the way the virus multiplies, that number could grow to 200 cases by next week and 400 before the end of the month, she said. Russell said the infection rate in the northern region is 309 cases per 100,000 people — nearly six times the rate for the entire province, which is 59 cases per 100,000 people. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told reporters all non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of Edmundston. "We are trying to minimize interaction," Shephard said. "Fewer people going out and about for non-essential reasons will allow us to get out of this lockdown faster." Formal indoor gatherings, such as weddings and religious services, are also prohibited. Shephard said there will be a ban on evictions during the lockdown, adding that landlords will have to wait until at least 10 days after the measures are lifted to evict tenants. Gatherings are restricted to members of a household, she said. New Brunswick's recent spike in cases traces back to gatherings over the holidays and increased travel in and out of the province, Russell said. "We had almost 3,000 more travellers around that period of time than we normally do." New Brunswick reported 30 new COVID-19 infections Friday — 19 of which were identified in the Edmundston area. Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton will remain at the red pandemic-alert level, while Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi will stay at the lower, orange level, Russell said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's health minister says the province will release a report assessing its COVID-19 response in the province's long-term care homes. Adrian Dix says the Health Ministry commissioned the report by Ernst & Young to learn lessons from the first wave of the pandemic. Dix says the report will be released on Monday and it is "overwhelmingly favourable" of the government's actions. He says the goal was to determine how the province could do a better job of delivering services and all the recommendations in the report have been implemented. Dix says more than 40 groups representing care homes were consulted last summer and fall. Canada's first COVID-19 infection occurred a year ago at a long-term care home in North Vancouver, and Dix says more than 650 residents at facilities around the province have died since then. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection for the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule late Friday after reaching an agreement with Republicans. Under the timeline, the House will transmit the impeachment article against Trump late Monday, with initial proceedings Tuesday. From there, Trump's legal team will have time to prepare the case before opening arguments begin in February. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the former president's trial on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced Pelosi's intentions Friday for the quick trial, rebuffing Republicans' proposal to push the proceedings to mid-February to give Trump more time to prepare his case. Schumer said there will be “a full trial," and "it will be a fair trial." Unlike any in history, Trump's impeachment trial would be the first of a U.S. president no longer in office, an undertaking that his Senate Republican allies argue is pointless, and potentially even unconstitutional. Democrats say they have to hold Trump to account, even as they pursue new President Joe Biden's legislative priorities, because of the gravity of what took place — a violent attack on the U.S. Congress aimed at overturning an election. The trial could start as soon as Tuesday, but timing remains uncertain as leaders negotiate. If Trump is convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office ever again, potentially upending his chances for a political comeback. The urgency to hold Trump responsible is somewhat complicated by Democrats' simultaneous need to get Biden's government in place and start quick work on his coronavirus aid package. The trial could halt Senate work on those priorities. “The more time we have to get up and running ... the better,” Biden said Friday in brief comments to reporters. A trial delay could appeal to some Democrats, as it would give the Senate more time to confirm the Cabinet and debate the new round of coronavirus relief. The timing and details of the Senate trial eventually rest on negotiations between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who are also in talks over a power-sharing agreement for the Senate, which is split 50-50 but in Democratic control because Vice-President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote. Whenever the start, Pelosi said Friday the nine House impeachment managers, or prosecutors, are "ready to begin to make their case” against Trump. Trump’s team will have had the same amount of time since the House impeachment vote to prepare, Pelosi said. Democrats say they can move quickly through the trial, potentially with no witnesses, because lawmakers experienced the insurrection first-hand. One of the managers, California Rep. Ted Lieu, said Friday that Democrats would rather be working on policy right now, but “we can't just ignore" what happened on Jan. 6. “This was an attack on our Capitol by a violent mob,” Lieu said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was an attack on our nation instigated by our commander in chief. We have to address that and make sure it never happens again.” Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” just before they invaded the Capitol two weeks ago and interrupted the electoral vote count, is still assembling his legal team. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday deferred to Congress on timing for the trial and would not say whether Biden thinks Trump should be convicted. But she said lawmakers can simultaneously discuss and have hearings on Biden's coronavirus relief package. “We don’t think it can be delayed or it can wait, so they’re going to have to find a path forward,” Psaki said of the virus aid. “He’s confident they can do that.” Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict Trump, a high bar. While most Republican senators condemned Trump's actions that day, far fewer appear to be ready to convict. A handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open — but not committed — to conviction. But most have come to Trump's defence as it relates to impeachment, saying they believe a trial will be divisive and questioning the legality of trying a president after he has left office. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally who has been helping him find lawyers, said Friday there is “a very compelling constitutional case” on whether Trump can be impeached after his term — an assertion that Democrats reject, saying there is ample legal precedent. Graham also suggested that Republicans will argue Trump's words on Jan. 6 were not legally “incitement.” “On the facts, they’ll be able to mount a defence, so the main thing is to give him a chance to prepare and run the trial orderly, and hopefully the Senate will reject the idea of pursuing presidents after they leave office,” Graham said. Other Republicans had stronger words, suggesting there should be no trial at all. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said Pelosi is sending a message to Biden that “my hatred and vitriol of Donald Trump is so strong that I will stop even you and your Cabinet from getting anything done.” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson suggested Democrats are choosing “vindictiveness” over national security as Biden attempts to set up his government. McConnell, who said this week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote. He said Senate Republicans "strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defence and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions.” Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, is at a disadvantage compared with his first impeachment trial, in which he had the full resources of the White House counsel’s office to defend him. Graham helped Trump hire South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers after members of his past legal teams indicated they did not plan to join the new effort. ___ Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Jill Colvin in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Mary Clare Jalonick And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
PHOENIX -- Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the worst infection rate in the country. Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that the number of patients and even the positivity test rate have dipped slightly in the last few weeks. It was the one bright spot of news as Arizona reached a grim milestone with a pandemic death toll of more than 12,000. That puts COVID-19 on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state. The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 8,099 additional known cases and 229 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 708,041 cases and 12,001 deaths. One person in every 141 Arizona residents was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Dr. Fauci says a lack of candour about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: BOISE, Idaho -- Limited coronavirus vaccine availability, confusion over which Idaho residents should be vaccinated first and rumours of line-jumpers are all complicating the state’s vaccine rollout. Members of Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee met Friday to help clarify exactly who should have first dibs on the state’s doses. Sarah Leeds with the Idaho Immunization Program says the demand is far higher than the doses available. So far, the federal government has distributed more than 178,000 doses to Idaho. That’s a rate of about 9,970 doses for every 100,000 residents, putting Idaho near the bottom compared to the allotment given other states. Currently, front-line health care workers, nursing home staffers, dentists, pharmacists and other medical-field staffers are eligible to be vaccinated in Idaho, as can child care workers, teachers and staffers at primary and secondary schools and correctional centre staffers. But the people who are charged with giving out the vaccine — local health departments, pharmacies and medical care providers — have different interpretations of exactly who is included in each category. ___ RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that the state has seen 1,280 of its coronavirus vaccine doses get discarded. “Only 0.1% (or 1,280) of the 1.1 million doses which have entered the state thus far have become unusable for any reason and we have not received reports of significant batches being lost,” the department said in a statement to The Associated Press. In a Thursday afternoon news conference, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, estimated the waste to be “in the tens of doses.” Doses being administered at county health departments, clinics, hospitals and other places could be tossed out due to a vaccine being stored too long in a freezer or not being administered in a timely manner once it has been taken out of a freezer. There are currently 136 different vaccine providers in the state. The health department said providers are using low dead-volume syringes are designed to maximize the amount of doses it can get out one multi-dose vial. “In some cases, providers have been able to extract an extra dose out of the Pfizer supply, and we appreciate the hard work of providers to maximize the use of this supply,” the department said. North Carolina expects to continue getting about 120,000 new first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week. ___ SEATTLE -- A suburban Seattle man who advertised a supposed COVID-19 “vaccine” he said he created in his personal lab, has been arrested. KUOW reports Johnny T. Stine faces a misdemeanour charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Stine advertised injections of the supposed vaccine for $400 on his personal Facebook page in March 2020. At that time, there was no authorized COVID-19 vaccine on the market. It wasn’t immediately known if Stine has a lawyer to comment on his case. He could face up to one year in prison if convicted. ___ BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A state health inspector has found that some residents of a long-term care and skilled nursing facility in Burlington, Vermont, failed to get doses of required medication and proper wound care and were left to sit in their urine amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility last month. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did the inspection at Elderwood at Burlington on Dec. 9 and 10, the Burlington Free Press reported. The survey was done following recent anonymous complaints about the facility. A subsequent report did not find any instances of infection control failing to stop the spread of COVID-19, the newspaper reported. The facility said in a statement Friday that it is committed to working with regulatory authorities to ensure it maintains high standards of care and appropriately complies with all guidance. “Elderwood at Burlington is and always has been committed to high quality, safe resident care. Throughout the pandemic, which has stretched the resources of healthcare providers across the country, our staff have worked with diligence and dedication to care for residents,” the statement said. The report states that the facility continues to hire, train and schedule enough competent staff to meet the needs of residents and surpass state minimum staffing requirements. ___ MISSION, Kan. — Online sign-ups for the coronavirus vaccine are filling up almost as quickly as they are posted as health officials in Kansas begin moving beyond immunizing just health care workers and long-term care residents. Saline County had to shut its down within 30 minutes after residents 65 and older nabbed all 900 available slots. That’s about how long Douglas County had its signup open before its 500 slots were filled. The rush comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that the state was moving into the second vaccination phase, which includes about 1 million people. It includes not just those 65 and older but also people in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, and critical workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers and meat packing plant employees. The state also will continue vaccinating people from the first phase, some of whom wanted to watch the rollout to see if there were problems before getting vaccinated themselves. The challenge is that the state doesn’t have nearly enough doses for all of them — at least not yet. So the state is leaving it up to counties to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated next. ___ SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is reporting a one-day record of 764 COVID-19 deaths but the rate of new infections is falling. The deaths reported Friday by the California Department of Public Health top the previous mark of 708 set on Jan. 8. In the last two days California has recorded 1,335 deaths. Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over. The 23,024 new cases reported Friday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. Hospitalizations have fallen below 20,000, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks. ___ PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Friday defended her decision to reject federal guidelines and prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine before the elderly, stating that if all of Oregon’s seniors were vaccinated first teachers would likely not be vaccinated before the school year and many students would not return to in-person learning. In addition, during a news conference, officials from the Oregon Health Authority presented a new vaccination timeline that delays the eligibility for seniors 65 to 69 years old to be vaccinated until March 7 and those 70 to 74 pushed back to Feb. 28. Last week, Oregon officials announced a change to the vaccine distribution — instead of vaccinating teachers and seniors at the same time, teachers would be vaccinated beginning Jan. 25 and people 80 or older beginning Feb. 8. ___ SAO PAULO — Sao Paulo state, which has posted the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths of any Brazilian state, has tightened its restrictions on activity until Feb. 7 with the 8 p.m. closure of non-essential businesses. The reopening of schools, previously planned for Feb. 1, was postponed by a week. Health authorities also announced local hospitals could run out of intensive-care beds in 28 days, which forced them to reassign 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. Sao Paulo state is home to 46 million people, and has recorded almost 51,000 deaths from the virus —almost one fourth of the total in Brazil, where cases and deaths of coronavirus are surging again. Also on Friday, Brazil’s health regulator authorized the emergency use of 4.8 million CoronaVac vaccines bottled locally by Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute. Six million shots were previously made available by Butantan, and another 2 million AstraZeneca shots are expected to arrive from India later on Friday. Brazil has a population of about 210 million. ___ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's state health officer said a low supply of vaccine is the largest hindrance to getting people vaccinated for COVID-19. Alabama health officials were expecting to get more than 112,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses a week based on conversations with federal officials when Operation Ward Speed began last year. Instead, officials said, the state is getting about 50,000 to 60,000 doses a week. Dr. Scott Harris said federal officials later said the 112,000 figure was not a promise but a figure that the state should use in its planning. Alabama has approved more than 883 pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other providers to do vaccinations but only 364 have received any vaccine. He said only about 117 providers will get vaccine this week because of the available supply. The state of nearly 5 million people has received 502,950 vaccine doses and 223,887 of those have been administered, according to state numbers. Harris said many of the unused doses are designated for patients in upcoming appointments for their second or first dose. ___ WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about a potential pause in vaccinations in New York, where the state is reporting a shortage in vaccines available for first doses. Psaki says the White House has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “look into what is possible” to address the situation in New York. But she stressed the administration will defer to the judgment of medical experts. “Clearly we don’t want any states to run out of access to vaccines,” Psaki says, adding the Biden administration aims to avoid supply crunches going forward. ___ LONDON — AstraZeneca says it will ship fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union than anticipated due to supply chain problems. The company is waiting for the European Medicines Agency to approve its vaccine, which could happen when the EU regulator meets on Jan. 29. AstraZeneca’s statement said, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” It adds: “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.” Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light. ___ BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has released some demographic details on who’s received the coronavirus vaccine. However, the data provided Friday lacks key information to determine if Louisiana’s doses are equitably distributed. Few vaccine providers are identifying race in the data submitted. That undermines Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to vaccination. The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed as “unknown” or “other.” Edwards is calling on hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data. ___ WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support. The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care. Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming. The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader. However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill. The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients. ___ HAVANA — A possibly more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Cuba. Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine says the variant, originally detected in South Africa, was found in an asymptomatic traveller during a check at ports and airports. While that case was imported, she says authorities can’t rule out the possibility it is also circulating locally. But the institute’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said it’s not the reason for a recent upsurge in cases on the island. The nation of some 11 million people has recorded more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 on Thursday, and 188 deaths. ___ PHOENIX — Arizona’s death toll surpassed 12,000 on Friday after reporting 229 more deaths. The Department of Health Services reported 8,099 confirmed cases, increasing total cases to more than 700,000. The surge has crowded hospitals statewide. Arizona is ramping up vaccinations by opening an additional site. But like other states, Arizona has had difficulty getting enough doses to administer. ___ WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew and lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more coronavirus vaccinations. Tribal officials announced the measures will take effect Monday and run through at least Feb. 15. Officials say the daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The tribe has reported a total of 26,782 cases and 940 known deaths on the reservation. ___ RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has received its first doses of vaccine against the coronavirus and plans to start injections next week. The Health Ministry sats the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered from India, will be followed by another delivery next week of a second vaccine, from China’s Sinopharm. The vaccine rollout will start next week. Priority will be given to health workers age 40 and above, police and army officers, teachers 45 and above and those over 75. The Associated Press
Mosquito Grizzly Bear's Head Lean Man First Nation is set to get roughly $127 million for land it lost to the federal government more than a century ago. In a Monday tribunal decision, Justice Harry Slade awarded the First Nation the money for about 5,800 hectares the First Nation lost in 1905. Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman declined to comment, but in a prepared statement said the First Nation is "deliberating possible options for (its) best interest" after the decision. The First Nation is located near the Battlefords. The decision comes more than two decades after the First Nation filed a land claim against the federal government in 1995. In 2014, the First Nation alleged it lost the land illegally, which the federal government denied. However, in 2017, the federal government acknowledged taking the land was invalid. The reason is the federal government took a surrender vote — despite a requirement that only members of the First Nation participate — but still "accepted and acted on the surrender," Slade wrote. He added that the loss of land accounted for roughly two thirds of the reserve. He went on to say "the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land" from the First Nation. The decision arrived at almost $127 million by adding together the land's loss of use value of $111,433,972, and its market value of about $15.5 million. Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
An Indigenous youth who was in care of Robert Riley Saunders when he was working as a social worker in Kelowna, B.C., says they would like youth to have a chance to tell Saunders how his alleged actions have affected them. Saunders is alleged to have stolen basic living allowances from more than 100 — mostly Indigenous — youth who were in his care between 1996 and 2018. He’s facing 13 criminal charges, including ten counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust, and one count of uttering a forged document. “He certainly deserves anything more than what he’s going to get in jail, but I also think we need some sort form of restorative justice,” says ‘Alex’ — whose real name we are withholding due to a court-ordered publication ban prohibiting the sharing of information that could identify victims, including their gender. Alex says they would like youth who were in Saunders’ “care” to have the opportunity “to come and talk with him or write to him, or somehow get their message across to [him] about how he’s affected them.” Saunders was released on bail on Dec. 18 by B.C. Provincial Court judge Monica McParland. His trial is set to resume at the B.C. Provincial Courts in Kelowna on Monday, Jan. 25, but Saunders won’t be appearing in person, according to an email from a B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson. Instead, he’ll be represented by his lawyer. As the trial unfolds, Alex says self-care will be “quite difficult.” “I have PTSD, so I have days where I can’t manage and my [partner] has to do a lot of the work,” they say. “And then there are days where, you know, I’m feeling better and I do the work.” “I have lots of therapy ahead of me,” they add. “It’s hard when you have a young child and you have to explain to them what intergenerational trauma is.” Asked what message they have for other youth who were in Saunders’ care, Alex says, “Always remember that you’re a warrior and that nothing can take that away from you.” “I’m really proud of those people who have come forward and those who couldn’t, I’m proud of as well. “I’m proud of all the people who help us protest this man and help us take him down, but I need people to continue fighting,” they say. “This is not just one corrupt person, in my opinion. This is a group of corrupt people we’re up against, and we’re up against systematic racism.” Beyond a restorative justice process, Alex wants a total overhaul of the child welfare system. For example, they would like to see it become mandatory for social workers with B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to register with the B.C. College of Social Workers (BCCSW). Saunders allegedly faked his credentials on his résumé in order to get hired by MCFD as a social worker, according to documents disclosed in a separate legal matter, which was settled in 2020. In B.C., social workers employed by MCFD may voluntarily register, but “mandatory registration is only required of those social workers employed by BC’s health authorities,” says Michael Crawford, president of the B.C. Association of Social Workers. Crawford says he’s been pushing MCFD to make registration mandatory for all B.C. social workers, as he believes it will “improve services to children, youth, and families.” “The BCCSW has a code of ethics, standards of practice, a duty to report, and a scope of practice statement,” he wrote in an email to IndigiNews. “Additionally, the BCCSW has the authority to receive and investigate complaints, and it has the authority to discipline registrants.” For Alex, mandatory registration represents the tip of the iceberg. “I would like to see [social workers] have to have more credentials than they currently do and to be registered — that would be awesome,” says Alex. “But if we could abolish the system entirely, that would even be better. “These systems, no matter how much we change them, are still designed against specifically Indigenous people because they’re designed to take our children. “I would like to indigenize our systems, and I don’t mean delegating Aboriginal agencies for child protection … I mean truly indigenizing communities, like, in our traditional knowledge,” they say. “Uproot the systems that keep us oppressed and create an entirely new one, because clearly the one we have, no matter how we change it, it’s still not working for us.” The Saunders case should be “thoroughly examined” by Indigenous leadership, Alex says. “I don’t mean, like, governmental departments. What I mean is departments like the missing and murdered Indigenous women department where they can approach it from a culturally appropriate and meaningful way,” they say. “I think that our traditional governing systems need to be put in place to help with this process.” Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse