The winter storm and subsequent power and water outages have left many in Houston scrambling to find fresh, clean water. Lines formed early Friday morning at distribution sites. (Feb. 19)
The winter storm and subsequent power and water outages have left many in Houston scrambling to find fresh, clean water. Lines formed early Friday morning at distribution sites. (Feb. 19)
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Ikea's new plant-based meatballs are different from the existing veggie balls.
OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau signalled Wednesday that Canada will stand up for an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France as human-rights advocates renewed calls for the Liberal government to intervene. The prime minister's words left Hassan Diab's supporters wishing Trudeau had been more forceful in pledging assistance. In late January, France ordered Diab to stand trial for a decades-old synagogue bombing, a move his lawyer called the latest misstep in a long odyssey of injustice. The Canadian government has been communicating with officials in France about the case and will continue to do so, Trudeau said during a news briefing Wednesday. "It has been a priority for us to make sure that we're standing up for our citizens all around the world, with countries that are challenging, but also with our allies," he said. "And those conversations will continue." Canadians would rightly expect their prime minister and government to stand up for a falsely accused citizen, said Donald Bayne, Diab's Ottawa lawyer. "But what does that ambiguous phrase mean?" Born in Lebanon, Diab became a Canadian citizen in 1993, working in Ottawa as a university teacher. The RCMP arrested him in November 2008 in response to a request by France. French authorities suspected Diab was involved in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured dozens of others, an accusation he has consistently denied. After lengthy proceedings that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Diab was extradited to France, where he spent three years behind bars, including time in solitary confinement. In January 2018, French judges dismissed the allegations against him for lack of evidence and ordered his immediate release. Trudeau said later that year that what Diab went through "never should have happened." Diab's supporters have long argued he was in Beirut — not Paris — when the attack took place and that his fingerprints, palm prints, physical description and age did not match those of the suspect identified in 1980. Earlier this year, Bayne called the French move to have Diab stand trial "a travesty of justice," saying the latest analysis of handwriting evidence in the case makes the argument for pursuing his client even weaker. Diab, 67, is now back with his wife and young children in Ottawa as his lawyers in France appeal the latest decision. Alex Neve, former secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, said in January it is "cruel and baffling" that French authorities continue to suspect Diab. Neve said the Canadian government must become involved at the highest political levels and not simply stand aside on the grounds that justice must be allowed to run its course. Justin Mohammed, a human rights law and policy campaigner with Amnesty Canada, said Wednesday the organization was encouraged by Trudeau's remarks but stressed that Canada must not co-operate with extradition requests that prolong Diab's ordeal. "It would be unconscionable to return him to face trial in France given the way his case has proceeded.” The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has called on Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau to intervene with their French counterparts "to put a stop to this endless, Kafkaesque affair." The group, which represents dozens of civil-society voices, also wants the prime minister to commit to not extraditing Diab to France a second time. It also says Canada must reform its extradition laws to ensure no one else is forced to go through what Diab has endured. Tim McSorley the group's national co-ordinator, said Wednesday that while the prime minister's words were encouraging, Trudeau missed an opportunity to "clearly and publicly denounce the ongoing miscarriage of justice being faced by Hassan Diab." Early last year, Diab filed a lawsuit accusing the Canadian government of negligent investigation and malicious prosecution, saying federal officials violated his constitutional guarantees of freedom of movement, liberty and security of the person. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
The Town of Holyrood will be moving some leftover capital works funding towards water work. Some $348,000 in funding left over from existing Multi-Year Capital Works agreements will be put towards the sewage treatment plant and lift station upgrades, a water filtration system, and main water line pressure reducing valves. Council voted to reallocate the funding during its February 9 meeting of council. “This is great for the Town of Holyrood,” said Deputy Mayor Curtis Buckle. “With this cost sharing ratio, and with cost share with the government, it gives us a lot of room to do more projects without getting the money from our own bank or getting loans. Any of these jobs that are due that are cost shared, and we don’t have to take on 100 per cent of the cost on the back of taxpayers is great stuff, there’s no doubt…cost-sharing is great, and we have some great work identified in Holyrood through these projects, and it’s going to be great to see it done.” Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
After Mateo Perusse-Shortte, experienced racism while playing his sport, he and his mom decided to plan a hockey diversity group in Quebec.
MILAN — Franck Kessié scored a penalty with the last kick of the match to rescue a 1-1 draw for title-chasing AC Milan against Udinese in Serie A. Rodrigo Becão looked to have secured Udinese’s first win at Milan in nearly five years before a needless handball from Jens Stryger Larsen. It was Milan’s first match without injured forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Rossoneri remained second in the standings. They are three points behind Inter Milan ahead of the Nerazzurri's trip to Parma. There were two late penalties and Sassuolo also hit the woodwork twice in an extraordinary 3-3 draw against Napoli. Atalanta humiliated bottom club Crotone 5-1. Roma won 2-1 at Fiorentina. Daniella Matar, The Associated Press
The Town of Kensington is reminding snowmobilers in the area that sidewalks and roads are off-limits. The Kensington police chief and the mayor have both noticed snowmobiles that aren't keeping to their designated paths within the community, and they want to raise awareness about what's allowed. "I suspect that it could be just a matter of not being ... informed as well as they need to be and not recognizing that there's a safe corridor to travel off the streets in Kensington," said Mayor Rowan Caseley. The mayor believes having snowmobiles travelling on the sidewalks is dangerous. "You could be hitting somebody that's walking," he said. "It also packs down the snow on the sidewalks and makes it slippery for the other people." Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley stands by the sign that tells snowmobilers where they can safely travel in the town. (Laura Meader/CBC) Casely stressed that the town and its businesses do appreciate having snowmobiles around. "We do have a corridor marked off between the train station and the downtown … where operators can travel and get to the downtown core to get their gas and coffee, etc.," he said. "Travelling on streets is certainly frowned upon — and I think it's actually probably illegal." New snowmobilers less familiar? The president of the Kensington Area Snowmobile Association said the snowmobilers who are cutting away from the designated corridor could be unaware of where they're allowed to go. "We're seeing a lot of new snowmobiling this year, a lot of people that haven't snowmobiled in years or haven't snowmobiled at all," said Russell Jollimore. "These people need to be made aware of the dos and don'ts." Jollimore said that as soon as the Kensington police chief spoke to him about the issue, he posted a reminder on the group's Facebook page. He noted that the town has set aside parking for machines near the gas station and the train station. "People can walk, you know, a few hundred feet to get to their restaurant or down for their coffee or or whatever. They don't need to be going up and down the side of the road. That's just not acceptable." More from CBC P.E.I.
WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier says COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been "fantastic" as just over half the territory's residents have received their first dose, but he's concerned about rising numbers of variants elsewhere in Canada. Sandy Silver says the territory is focusing on meeting its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity before lifting current restrictions despite zero cases in Yukon. He says a clinic for everyone aged 18 and over opened in Whitehorse this week and mobile clinics are returning to smaller communities to provide second shots to people over 60. Silver says as of Monday, 11,503 Yukon residents had received their first shot while second shots were administered to about half that number. He joined chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley in saying numbers on vaccine uptake would not be provided for specific areas to prevent pitting communities against each other. Hanley is urging residents to continue taking all precautions as clinics go "full tilt" in the territory. "If cases, and particularly variants, lead to increased COVID our risk of importing variants will go up day by day," he says. Seventy-one Yukoners have recovered from the illness and one person has died since the pandemic began. Hanley says 850 people were immunized in the mass clinic on Tuesday, and he would be among those lining up for a shot in the arm on Wednesday. Yukon and other territories have received a higher allocation of vaccine doses because remote areas have limited access to specialized care. "While we recognize that immunizing the territories is the right thing to do for Canada this incredible opportunity should provide us with extra motivation to step up and get a vaccine," Hanley says. However, he says "vaccine hesitancy is a reality" and it will be important to address people's questions so they're comfortable being immunized in order to protect everyone. Hanley says despite four weeks without any active cases, the restrictions will remain because the territory is in a "nebulous" time and on guard against variants. "This is a huge consideration for us because regardless of whether we have zero or 10 cases right now we are always managing risk of importation," he says. "Vaccine uptake is so critical to getting to a place where we can be much more confident about being able to propose a solid framework for opening up." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police say a man in his 50s is dead after the small plane he was flying crashed into a lake in Gore, northwest of Montreal. Provincial police spokesman Sgt. Stephane Tremblay says the man was the only person aboard the plane. He says witnesses who saw the crash, which took place around 8:30 a.m., called emergency services. The pilot was removed from the plane by the local fire department and transported to hospital, where he was declared dead. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it has sent a team of investigators to determine the cause of the crash of the Wag-Aero amateur-built aircraft. Tremblay says provincial police investigators are on the scene to determine whether any crimes were committed and the coroner's office is also investigating to determine the cause of the death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
The District of Hudson’s Hope is working out the kinks in a new water source and treatment plant that went online in early February. In a Feb. 24 notice to residents, the District says hydrogen sulfide (H2S) levels have been higher than anticipated during the commissioning of the new water treatment plant. Temporary changes to water taste, odour, and texture are expected while testing and monitoring is completed, the District said. "The District and its consultant are aware of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and methane gas in the well water and the treatment plant has been designed to treat for these gases," the notice reads. "The water has been tested and meets all Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines that affect health and safety. All the tests, as of to-date, have passed the Northern Health’s requirements. So be assured that water is safe to drink and use." According to the notice, the treatment plant uses an aerator to strip off the gas from the well water. "This aerator vents to exterior of the building and that’s why residents have noticed the smell outside," the notice states. Mayor Dave Heiberg said there’s no danger to residents, with work already underway to remedy the issues. “We switched from a river system to an aquifer system,” said Heiberg. “Public works guys are down there, as well as consultants and contractors, and they’re trying to fine tune it to the water that we used to have.” The switch to groundwater was prompted by the Site C berm being built along the river. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to remain in office in the face of sexual harassment allegations that have weakened his support and led to calls for his resignation, he said Wednesday. The Democratic governor, speaking somberly in his first public appearance since three women accused him of inappropriate touching and offensive remarks, apologized and said that he “learned an important lesson” about his behaviour around women. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” Cuomo acknowledged “sensitivities have changed and behaviour has changed” and that what he considers his “customary greeting” — an old-world approach that often involving kisses and hugs — is no longer acceptable. He said he will “fully co-operate” with an investigation into the allegations being overseen by the state's independently elected attorney general. Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct the probe and document its findings in a public report. Asked about calls for him to step aside, the third-term governor said: “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign." Cuomo addressed the allegations during a news conference that otherwise focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the kind of briefings that made him a daily fixture on TV and a national star among Democrats. Before that, Cuomo last spoke to reporters during a conference call on Feb. 22. His last briefing on camera was Feb. 19. Two of the women accusing Cuomo worked in his administration. The other was a guest at a wedding that he officiated. Former aide Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett said she believed he was gauging her interest in an affair. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations. Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan. The accusers rejected his latest attempt at an apology. “How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you “don’t know” when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?” Boylan tweeted. Bennett's lawyer, Debra Katz, said the governor's news conference “was full of falsehoods and inaccurate information.” She said Cuomo's claim that he was unaware he had made women uncomfortable was disingenuous, considering that Bennett had reported his behaviour to her boss and one of Cuomo's lawyers. “We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint and we fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations or to ensure that corrective measures were taken, in violation of their legal requirements,” Katz said. Cuomo said he inherited his gregarious way of greeting people from his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and that he intended it as a way of welcoming people and making them feel comfortable. He said he realizes now, “it doesn’t matter my intent, what it matters is if anybody was offended by it.” Speaking about the allegations, Cuomo initially said he was apologizing to “people” who were uncomfortable with his conduct, but he didn’t make clear as he continued which of the women he was referring to. At one point, he said he was apologizing to “the young woman who worked here who said that I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” though that description could apply to both Boylan and Bennett. Asked what he was saying to New Yorkers, Cuomo said: “I’m embarrassed by what happened... I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration. I’m embarrassed and hurt and I apologize that somebody who interacted with me felt that way.” The governor, who has touted a law requiring all workers in New York to receive sexual harassment training, said he felt at the time that his behaviour was innocuous but now acknowledges that sexual harassment centres on how the victim is impacted — not the offender’s intent. “I didn’t know at the time I was making her feel uncomfortable. I never meant to, but that doesn’t matter," Cuomo said. "If a person feels uncomfortable, if a person feels pain, if a person is offended, I feel very badly about that and I apologize for it. There's no but — it's, I'm sorry.” __ Sisak reported from New York. __ This story has been updated to correct the day of the press briefing. It was on Wednesday, not Tuesday. Marina Villeneuve And Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
The NY PopsUp program will serve as a test run for the return of live artistic performances in New York City after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered plays, ballet, opera and concerts in the city. "In April, select Broadway theaters ... will open their doors to audiences for the first time since March 12, 2020, with a series of special NY PopsUp programs," organizers said in a statement. New York officials said on Wednesday that event spaces could reopen at one-third of their capacity, or 100 people indoors, starting on April 2.
NEW YORK — Five Canadians highlight this year's NBA Rising Stars Team World roster. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans), RJ Barrett (New York), Brandon Clarke (Memphis), Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City), and Mychal Mulder (Golden State) were named to the team Wednesday. Because of COVID-19, there will be no actual Rising Stars game played on what's being condensed into a one-day event Sunday. Of the six countries represented on the World Team roster, Canada led the way with the five players. Miami's Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria), Washington's Deni Avdija (Israel) and Rui Hachimura (Japan), Denver's Facundo Campazzo (Argentina) and Oklahoma City's Theo Maledon (France) round out the World Team roster. NBA all-star and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and last year's rookie of the year Ja Morant of the Grizzlies headline the U.S. Team. They're joined by LaMelo Ball (Charlotte), Anthony Edwards (Minnesota), Tyrese Haliburton (Sacramento), Tyler Herro (Miami), De'Andre Hunter (Atlanta), Keldon Johnson (San Antonio), Michael Porter Jr. (Denver), and James Wiseman (Golden State). The league's assistant coaches selected four frontcourt players, four guards and two additional players at any position for each team. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) in Fort Liard has released its shortlist of nominees for its chief and council election set to take place on April 26. The First Nation posted the final list on Facebook on Tuesday night after nominations closed. There are a total of three eligible candidates running for the chief position, including current chief Eugene Hope. There are six council positions available, with 13 candidates running for a spot. Two candidates – previous ADKFN chief Floyd Bertrand, who was running for the position again, as well as Marlene Timbre, who was running for councillor – were both deemed ineligible according to the chief electoral officer's notice. The election has been postponed twice due to the pandemic. Federally introduced legislation allowed six-month extensions for First Nations elections to ensure leadership stability during the crisis. The election was further delayed by a cluster of COVID-19 cases that saw Fort Liard shut down all non-essential businesses in January, including ADKFN’s office. In order to provide time for those interested in running to pick up nomination forms, pay off outstanding dues, and ask questions at the First Nation office, the election date was duly changed from April 14 to April 26. Appeals regarding nominations must be made no later than March 9. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
The province is committing up to $2 million to expand the BC Food Hub Network to Vancouver Island. The network is designed bolster food security, while helping food and beverage producers grow their business by providing shared-use processing facilities, equipment, expertise and other resources. The funding announced March 2 will be used for three new food hubs in Victoria, Cowichan Valley and Bowser. “B.C. food hubs create new opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses and strengthen food security so British Columbians can rely on locally grown and processed food now and for generations to come,” Lana Popham, minister of agriculture, food and fisheries said. “Our BC Food Hub Network is a wonderful example of innovation at a local level, creating jobs and supporting farming, skills training and community building in the regions they operate.” Each of the new hubs will meet the individual needs of the local business and agricultural community. The new facilities in Cowichan Valley and Victoria will cater to farmers and processors wanting to create value-added products, while the Bowser hub will focus on seafood processing at Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station. The station will use its research labs and experimental commercial kitchen facilities to link together the culinary, business, distribution and research expertise. “We hope that the lasting benefit of the centre will be a track record of continuous innovation, technological and process development, answered research questions and a greatly expanded seafood sector that contributes to the food security of British Columbians and the general economy in BC,” Carl Butterworth, manager of the field station said. The government has earmarked $5.6 million through the Province’s StrongerBC economic plan for the expansion of the BC Food Hub Network. Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs in Quesnel and Salmon Arm opening later this year. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
Wednesday's return to school for thousands of students and teachers in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador prompted a swirl of emotions, from anxiety to gratitude. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little anxious. but I would also be lying if I said I didn't take a little bit comfort in knowing that we are all in this together," said Jordan Stringer, a teacher at Corner Brook Regional High. "We are all just wading through the unknowns together." Regions outside the Avalon moved to Alert Level 4 on Friday, which meant students could return to schools, after a brief stint of online-only learning. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald moved the province to Alert Level 5 on Feb.12, prompting schools to close and learning to move online. The Avalon region remains in Alert Level 5, and schools remain closed. Fitzgerald has said she will review whether the level can change, and will update the public on March 12. Kaden Gill, a Grade 11 student at Corner Brook Regional High, said while he is happy to see his friends, it's still a precarious situation. "It feels good to see them but its also pretty dangerous at the same time, because if we hit Level 5 again, it's a big ol' mess," he told CBC News on Wednesday. Jordan Stringer, a teacher at Corner Brook Regional High School, wears eye protection and a disposable three-ply mask, which are now mandatory for staff. (Submitted by Jordan Stringer) Stringer said there is a "different vibe" in the school this week, but social and emotional wellness is top of mind for all teachers and staff. He praised the students for navigating an uncharted path amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "They have been truly truly exceptional.… They have been just as kind and understanding to us as staff as, I think and I hope, we have been to them," he said. Students question mix of in-person, solo learning Some classes at 50 schools — 28 in central Newfoundland, 20 in western Newfoundland and two in Labrador — cannot adhere to the updated health and safety protocols for cohorts and physical distancing. Students in those schools will alternate between in-class instruction and assigned work done at home without direct instruction from a teacher. The situation is "not ideal," admitted Newfoundland and Labrador English School District CEO Tony Stack at a media briefing last week when the change was announced. Several students told CBC News they are unhappy with the hybrid model. Laura Adams, a Grade 12 student at Gander Collegiate, said the split scenario doesn't cover as much educational ground. "I don't feel like we're going to get the quality of the instruction," she said. Laura Adams, a Grade 12 student at Gander Collegiate, says she fears her education will suffer because of the mix of in-class learning with days where students are home and expected to do course work on their own. (Garrett Barry/CBC) Adams plans to study medical sciences at Dalhousie University next year, and so completing math, chemistry and biology courses this year is a must. She said her teachers in those subjects have been "amazing," but she feels Newfoundland and Labrador wasn't as prepared overall for online learning as other provinces, including Ontario. Landon Burry, a Grade 12 student at Gander Collegiate, is also heading to Dalhousie University next year. Burry said he wishes classes had remained fully online until all students could return to the classroom, rather than using a hybrid system. "Everyone was set up with Chromebooks. No one was at a deficit with [online learning].… Anyone who was trying was doing well," he said. He isn't convinced that all of the curriculum will get covered under the split model. "I still think we should be online so all of us can get 100 per cent of the information.… Right now we want to prioritize our education over everything else, but I just don't know how its going to work and get all the material down," Burry said. Landon Burry, a Grade 12 student at Gander Collegiate, says people had gotten into a groove of online learning. (Garrett Barry/CBC) The district insisted the full curriculum will be covered. "While students may be attending school in person approximately 50 per cent of the time, they will be provided with followup work and activities that expand on the learning covered while they were in attendance. All curriculum outcomes are still expected to be covered," reads a statement from a district spokesperson to CBC News. "An example: students might interact with new material (videos, readings) at home first, as preparation in advance of the face-to-face time where their teacher can be responsive to learning needs identified and have more active learning — like discussions or project work in presence of the teacher 'coach.'" New PPE rules Students and teachers are returning to classrooms with stricter rules in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, including the more contagious variant. All school staff have to wear a disposable, non-surgical, three-ply mask and eye protection — such as a face shield — at all times when in the classroom and when two-metre physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students in grades 4 to 6 have to wear a mask while seated in class and on the school bus. Students in kindergarten through Grade 3 are expected to wear a mask at all times on the school bus and are encouraged, but not required, to wear a mask during the school day. Students can take off the mask when they're eating or taking part in physical education classes. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
HALIFAX — Canadian and American rescuers are describing a tightly choreographed effort in heaving Atlantic seas that saved 31 seafarers early Wednesday before an offshore scallop dragger sank off Nova Scotia. The hoisting of the crew aboard the 39-metre FV Atlantic Destiny onto helicopters began late Tuesday night and extended into the next morning after the ship caught fire at sea south of Yarmouth, N.S. Lt.-Cmdr. Edward Forys, commander of a United States Coast Guard fixed-wing aircraft that flew above the scene, outlined the close co-operation of the two countries in the frightening seas. "It (the Atlantic Destiny) was taking on water when we arrived and they didn't have any power or ability to steer," Forys said Wednesday in an interview from the coast guard base in Cape Cod, Mass. "So they were bobbing in the water and it was imperative we started to get people off that ship." He estimated that winds were gusting from the northwest at more than 90 kilometres per hour, with sea swells of between five to seven metres pitching the stricken ship up and down as the hoists were lowered. The lieutenant-commander said that at first, Canadian Forces CH-149 Cormorant helicopter lowered two of its search and rescue technicians on board the floundering vessel. He said the Cormorant carried out the first hoists, followed by lifts conducted by two American Jayhawk helicopters, with a total of 27 people brought into the rescue aircraft. The 43-year-old officer said it was the most hoists during one incident he's witnessed in his 13-year career with the coast guard. Each time the basket came down to lift up crew, the two Canadian search and rescue technicians on board would help them strap in, as the teams from the two countries communicated by radio and international hand signals, Forys said. As this was going on, the American and Canadian fixed-wing aircraft were relaying information from the helicopters back to command centres on shore to provide updates on the condition of the survivors and indicate where they needed to be taken. Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens of the search and rescue co-ordination centre in Halifax, confirmed the Atlantic Destiny sank at 10:36 a.m. Wednesday morning after succumbing to damage it sustained in the fire. Owens said 27 crew members were taken to Yarmouth by the three helicopter crews during the night, where they received medical attention, food and accommodations. The remaining crew members, as well as two search and rescue technicians who were on board, were transferred at about 8 a.m. from the fishing vessel to the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cape Roger, Owens said, adding that they were on their way to shore on Wednesday afternoon. The rescue co-ordination centre said it had received a call from the ship around 8 p.m. Tuesday night reporting there was a fire on board and that it had lost power and was taking on water as it drifted in the rough seas and powerful winds. Ocean Choice, the owner of the ship, said other offshore fishing vessels, including the Cape LaHave, Maude Adams and the Atlantic Protector, took part in the rescue effort. "They're professional seamen and we have an experienced captain and crew members that handled this incredibly well," Ocean Choice CEO Martin Sullivan said in an interview Wednesday. “The collective efforts of our crew and all those who came to assist the crew and the vessel resulted in the best possible outcome for this situation,” Blaine Sullivan, the president of Ocean Choice, said in a statement. “We are sincerely thankful to everyone that helped ensure that every single crew member is safe and accounted for.” Ocean Choice said an investigation into what caused the fire will begin in the coming days, adding that no injuries were reported as a result of the fire. The company said the Atlantic Destiny, one of six of its offshore fishing vessels, harvests and freezes sea scallops. Its home port is Riverport, N.S. The Atlantic Destiny was involved in a similar incident in 2017 when its main engine broke down, causing a blackout on the ship while it was southwest of Nova Scotia. No injuries were reported. Martin Sullivan said the trawler had a major overhaul about a year ago and the ship was signed off by a classification society, which inspects and certifies vessels on behalf of Transport Canada. Meanwhile, Forys said the teams returning from the international rescue were tired but satisfied by Wednesday's outcome. "This is a major case," the lieutenant-commander said. "This is one of the search and rescue cases you'll remember." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. — With files from Sarah Smellie in St. John's, N.L. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Michael Tutton and Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press
Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Yet in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems. The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures around the country as well as the conservative groups supporting them and found only a few times it’s been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports. In South Carolina, for example, Rep. Ashley Trantham said she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. Otherwise, she said during a recent hearing, “the next generation of female athletes in South Carolina may not have a chance to excel." In Tennessee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton conceded there may not actually be transgender students now participating in middle and high school sports; he said a bill was necessary so the state could be “proactive.” Some lawmakers didn't respond to AP's queries. Others in places like Mississippi and Montana largely brushed aside the question or pointed to a pair of runners in Connecticut. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit. Supporters of transgender rights say the Connecticut case gets so much attention from conservatives because it’s the only example of its kind. “It’s their Exhibit A, and there’s no Exhibit B -- absolutely none,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a prominent trans-rights attorney. The multiple sports bills, he says, address a threat that doesn’t exist. There’s no authoritative count of how many trans athletes have competed recently in high school or college sports. Neither the NCAA nor most state high school athletic associations collect that data; in the states that do collect it, the numbers are minimal: No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years. Transgender adults make up a small portion of the U.S. population, about 1.3 million as of 2016, according to the Williams Institute, a think-tank at the UCLA School of Law that specializes in research on LGBTQ issues. The two dozen bills making their way through state legislatures this year could be devastating for transgender teens who usually get little attention as they compete. In Utah, a 12-year-old transgender girl cried when she heard about the proposal, which would separate her from her friends. She’s far from the tallest girl on her club team, and has worked hard to improve her times but is not a dominant swimmer in her age group, her coach said. “Other than body parts I’ve been a girl my whole life,” she said. The girl and her family spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to avoid outing her publicly. Those who object to the growing visibility and rights for transgender people, though, argue new laws are needed to keep the playing field fair for cisgender girls. “When the law does not recognize differences between men and women, we’ve seen that women lose,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Connecticut lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls. One of those girls, Chelsea Mitchell, defeated Terry Miller -- the faster of the two trans sprinters -- in their final two races in February 2020 The ADF and others like it are the behind-the-scenes backers of the campaign, offering model legislation and a playbook to promote the bills most of them with common features and even titles, like the Save Women’s Sports Act. When asked for other examples of complaints about middle or high school transgender athletes, ADF and the Family Policy Alliance, cited two: One involved a Hawaii woman who coaches track and filed a complaint last year over a trans girl competing in girls’ volleyball and track. The other involved a cisgender girl in Alaska who defeated a trans sprinter in 2016, then appeared in a Family Policy Alliance video saying the trans girl’s third-place finish was unfair to runners who were further behind. Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing trans students’ sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling. Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that in several states with proposed sports bans, lawmakers also are seeking to ban certain gender affirming health care for transgender young people “This is not about sports,” he said. ”It’s a way to attack trans people.” Some states' school athletic organizations already have rules about trans participation in sports: 19 states allow full inclusion of trans athletes; 16 have no clear-cut statewide policy; seven emulate the NCAA's rule by requiring hormone therapy for trans girls; and eight effectively ban trans girls from girls’ teams, according to attorney Asaf Orr of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Texas is among those with a ban, limiting transgender athletes to teams conforming with the gender on their birth certificate. That policy came under criticism in 2017 and 2018, when trans male Mack Beggs won state titles in girls’ wrestling competitions after he was told he could not compete as a boy. While Beggs, Miller and Yearwood were the focus of news coverage and controversy, trans athletes more commonly compete without any furor -- and with broad acceptance from teammates and competitors. In New Jersey’s Sussex County, trans 14-year-old Rebekah Bruesehoff competes on her middle school field hockey team and hopes to keep playing in high school. "It’s all been positive,” she said. “The coaches have been really helpful.” While New Jersey has a trans-inclusive sports policy, Rebekah is distressed by the proposed bans elsewhere – notably measures that might require girls to verify their gender. “I know what it’s like to have my gender questioned,” Rebekah said. “It’s invasive, embarrassing. I don’t want others to go through that.” The possibility that any athlete could have to undergo tests or examinations to prove their gender was among the reasons that Truman Hamburger, a 17-year-old high school student in North Dakota, showed up at the statehouse to protest a proposed ban. “Once you open up that door on gender policing, that’s not a door you can easily shut,” he said. Sarah Huckman, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, ran track and cross country for three years at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, after coming out as trans in 7th grade. Huckman showed great talent in the sprints and hurdles, but was not dominant on a statewide level. In her senior year, she won several events in small and mid-size meets, and had 6th place and 10th place finishes in the Division II indoor state championships. The proposed bans appall her. “It’s so demeaning toward my group of people,” she said. “We’re all human beings. We do sports for the love of it.” ___ Associated Press reporters covering statehouses across the U.S. contributed to this report. David Crary And Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
The County of Grande Prairie may provide some emergency funding to community groups that have struggled to raise funds amid COVID restrictions and economic downturn. County reeve Leanne Beaupre said council will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis at future council meetings. “We’ve seen a lot of our organizations, groups and not-for-profits that rely heavily on either fundraising or activities for revenue have not been able to meet their targets,” Beaupre said. “Some of these organizations may end up coming to council looking for help over and above what the provincial and federal governments have put out there.” The prospect of providing emergency funding to community groups arose at a county council committee meeting in late February. Beaupre said council is aware of the community groups’ financial issues because some of the organizations’ members have approached the county. The parks and recreation department has been “approachable” to community organizations, whose members have filled in county staff about these difficulties, she added. Community groups seeking county aid must demonstrate a need and should prepare up-to-date financial statements, Beaupre said. The groups will approach the parks and rec department where the members will fill out questionnaires, she said. County council’s committee of the whole also approved a motion during its Feb. 19 meeting asking community groups to seek federal and provincial grants. Beaupre said some organization members are unaware provincial and federal assistance is available, so council hopes to promote those programs. “We want to make sure they access those programs first before they come to the county,” she said. “Those programs were put in place specifically to help organizations and we want to make sure they take full advantage of that.” The county can provide emergency funding through funds under the 2020 budget allocated to projects that didn’t go forward, Beaupre said. Christine Rawlins, county parks and rec manager, said her department has a surplus of $56,650 in grant funds for emergency requests. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News