Highlights of this day in history: The U.S. battleship Maine explodes in Havana harbor, bringing America closer to war with Spain; The Soviet Union's last troops leave Afghanistan; Astronomer Galileo and suffragist Susan B. Anthony born. (Feb. 15)
Highlights of this day in history: The U.S. battleship Maine explodes in Havana harbor, bringing America closer to war with Spain; The Soviet Union's last troops leave Afghanistan; Astronomer Galileo and suffragist Susan B. Anthony born. (Feb. 15)
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration stepped up its condemnation of the coup in Myanmar on Thursday, demanding that military authorities stop their brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and release demonstrators and journalists who have been detained. The White House called the situation, including the arrest of an Associated Press journalist, “troubling” and of “great concern.” The State Department said it’s working with other countries to send a unified message to the military that its actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences. The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military leaders since the Feb. 1 coup, but stepped up pressure after security forces killed as many as 38 people on Wednesday. The administration says it’s in close touch with partners and allies, as well as with countries like China, to try to convince Myanmar officials to ease their heavy-handed response to the protests. “The detainment of journalists, the targeting of journalists and dissidents is certainly something that is of great concern to the president, to the secretary of state and to every member of our administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price said the administration was “deeply saddened” by reports of deaths in the crackdown on protests. “This latest escalation in violence demonstrates the fact of the junta’s complete disregard for their own people, for the people of Burma,” he said. “It is unacceptable.” “We are deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on and arrest of journalists,” he said. “We call on the military to immediately release these individuals and to cease their intimidation and harassment of the media and others who are unjustly detained for doing nothing more than their job, for doing nothing more than exercising their universal rights.” Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw and several other members of the media were arrested last week while covering security forces charging at anti-coup protesters. They have been charged with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years. The AP and press freedom groups have called for Zaw’s immediate release, but there has been no response from the authorities. The U.S. and other countries have roundly condemned the coup and the ensuing crackdown on dissent to little effect thus far. Price said the United States was looking toward China, Myanmar’s most powerful neighbour and friend, to exert its influence on the military. “We have urged the Chinese to play a constructive role to use their influence with the Burmese military to bring this coup to an end,” he said. “There have been a number of conversations with Chinese officials at different levels, and our message in all of those conversations has been consistent: The world, every responsible constructive member of the international community, needs to use its voice, needs to work to bring this coup to an end and to restore the democratically elected government of Burma.” Earlier Thursday, footage of the brutal crackdown on protests against the coup unleashed outrage and calls for a stronger international response. Videos showed security forces shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip in recent years, the international community lifted most sanctions and poured in investment. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. She says the man initially tested negative but was retested after developing symptoms. Morrison is reminding all Islanders to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19 and to isolate until the results come back. Prince Edward Island has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19. The province has reported a total of 138 infections and no deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has eased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program. The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent. Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before. The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application. Ravi Rahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community. He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes. "Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available." This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements. Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far. The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria. In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old. Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant." B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Finie la transformation de maisons familiales en logements touristiques saisonniers à Percé. La Ville serre la vis aux promoteurs immobilier et touristique pour s’attaquer à la crise du logement, amplifiée par la spéculation. L’achat de maisons dans le but de les convertir en hébergement touristique y est désormais interdit. Adopté mardi par le conseil municipal, le projet de règlement prévoit «étendre à l'ensemble de son territoire l'interdiction des résidences de tourisme comme usage additionnel à une résidence unifamiliale». En d’autres mots, Percé ne souhaite plus voir des maisons être achetées et ensuite transformées en logement touristique, soit un «flip», et inoccupées hors de la saison touristique. «Considérant que le nombre de résidences de tourisme croît considérablement d'année en année dans les secteurs où elles sont autorisées» et «que cette situation vient diminuer l'offre en logement sur le territoire pour de nouveaux résidents», le conseil municipal juge qu’il est «urgent» d’agir. «On veut voir des lumières allumées en hiver», résume simplement la mairesse de Percé, Cathy Poirier. «On vit une pénurie de logements très intense, et on perd des habitations potentielles chaque mois», explique-t-elle. «Ce n’est pas ce qui va régler le problème de pénurie de logements, mais on veut au moins stopper l’hémorragie.» Au cœur de cette décision, le plan d’aménagement récemment adopté par Percé, qui vise à augmenter sa population annuelle de 20%. «Ça s’inscrit parfaitement dans notre plan. On préfère de loin avoir trois nouvelles familles à Cap-d’Espoir que trois logements touristiques de plus», soutient la mairesse. La municipalité qui s’appuie sur le tourisme comme principal moteur économique avait déjà légiféré en la matière en 2019, mais seulement dans quelques secteurs centraux, notamment le village de Percé. L’interdiction sera bientôt en vigueur sur l’ensemble du territoire municipal. «Déjà, il y a deux ans, c’était une problématique de voir des maisons achetées pour de la location saisonnière. Avec la pandémie, ça s’est accentué et il y a beaucoup de spéculation. On veut agir avant qu’il soit trop tard, partout sur notre territoire», note Mme Poirier. Même si le règlement ne devrait entrer en vigueur que dans quelques mois, procédures réglementaires obligent, Percé met déjà sur pause l’obtention de permis pour l’hébergement touristique. «Tout s’est fait très vite. On a ramené le sujet il y a quelques semaines et tout le conseil abondait dans le même sens. Il fallait agir». Une «bonne affaire», selon les organismes d’accueil Cette intention de légiférer pour conserver la vocation familiale des résidences de Percé est bien reçue par les organismes d’accueil de la MRC du Rocher-Percé, qui sensibilisent les administrations municipales au problème de la transformation des logements depuis des mois. «C’est accueilli très favorablement», rapporte l’agente de Place aux Jeunes Rocher-Percé, Stéphanie Roy. «On sait que, maintenant, à Percé, les maisons à vendre vont être achetées par de nouvelles familles plutôt que par de grosses compagnies d’hébergement touristique qui vont les louer quelques semaines en été et les laisser vides en hiver», se réjouit-elle. Au cours de la dernière année, Mme Roy a vu plusieurs jeunes professionnels déplacer, reporter ou simplement abandonner leurs projets de vie en Gaspésie, faute de logements. «J’accompagne sans cesse de jeunes familles qui veulent s’établir ici, qui ont déjà trouvé un emploi dans la région, mais qui doivent tout annuler parce qu’ils ne trouvent pas d’endroit pour loger. C’est la base!», déplore-t-elle. «À chaque fois, c’est un petit pincement au cœur». Cette dernière note aussi que plusieurs néo-Gaspésiens doivent se rabattre sur des logements précaires ou temporaires «en attendant un vrai logement» qui ne viendra jamais. «En ce moment, on a au moins 12 familles qui habitent quelque part qui ne convient pas à leurs besoins et qui cherchent activement à quitter pour quelque chose de plus stable. Souvent, ils sont dans des logements qu’ils doivent quitter au printemps afin de permettre aux touristes d’y loger. Malheureusement, il y en a qui quittent la région parce qu’ils ne trouvent rien», se désole Stéphanie Roy. «C’est comme si on avait un gros avion rempli de personnes qui veulent venir vivre ici, mais pas de piste d'atterrissage. Finalement, ils font demi-tour ou atterrissent ailleurs», image-t-elle. L’approche de Percé suscite déjà l’intérêt d’autres municipalités gaspésiennes, mais aussi dans d’autres régions du Québec. «Le geste a été applaudi par des organismes d’accueil partout au Québec, et on sait que des discussions vont avoir lieu avec d’autres municipalités», rapporte Mme Roy. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
VANCOUVER — Results of a study led by Metro Vancouver's transit operator reveal copper on high-touch surfaces is lethal to bacteria. A statement from TransLink says the findings of the industry-leading trial show copper products kill up to 99.9 per cent of all bacteria within one hour of surface contact. As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TransLink was the first transit agency in North America to test copper on high-touch surfaces. The pilot study was launched after unrelated studies showed copper is both durable and effective at killing germs. Phase 1 of the pilot, which was fully funded by mining firm Teck Resources, began last November and continued for five weeks on surfaces of two buses and two SkyTrain cars. A second phase will begin in the coming months using a larger sample to verify the results, testing copper over a longer period on more transit vehicles, and focusing tests on the most effective products identified from Phase 1. TransLink interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo says they are excited to find out more about the impact of copper on viruses such as the ones that cause COVID-19. "This research could help us, other transit agencies, and anyone with surfaces in shared public spaces keep high-touch areas as clean as possible,” she says in the statement. The project stems from a partnership between TransLink, Teck, Vancouver Coastal Health, the University of British Columbia and the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Teck funded the initial phase as part of its Copper & Health program and the company will also support Phase 2. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Martinrea International Inc. capped a difficult year in which it faced automotive plant closures with its net profit falling 12 per cent to nearly $45 million in the final quarter of 2020. The autoparts manufacturer says it earned 56 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter, down from 63 cents per share or $51.2 million a year earlier. The adjusted profit surged 30.7 per cent to $44.2 million or 55 cents per share, up from $33.8 million or 42 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2019. Revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31 increased 16.7 per cent to $1.07 billion from $917.6 million in the prior year. Martinrea was expected to report an adjusted profit of 52 cents per share on $1 billion of revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. For the full-year, it lost $27.3 million or 34 cents per share, compared with a profit of $181.2 million or $2.19 per diluted share in 2019. Adjusted profits dropped to $46.9 million or 58 cents per share, down from $187.7 million or $2.27 per share a year earlier. Revenues decreased 12.6 per cent to $3.37 billion, from $3.86 billion in 2019. "Looking at 2020, after a challenging second quarter where we generated minimal sales and an operating loss, our results rebounded sharply in the back half of the year, which saw us generate record adjusted diluted net earnings per share in both the third and fourth quarters," stated CEO Pat D'Eramo. "Our fourth-quarter results were characterized by continued strong volumes and an adjusted operating income margin above year-ago levels — a strong result despite renewed lockdowns and other public health restrictions in November and December as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impeded some integration and launch activities." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:MRE) The Canadian Press
NDP Leader Gary Burrill says he's "very hopeful" the provincial government might finally be willing to consider a sick pay policy to cover all workers in Nova Scotia. Burrill told reporters on Thursday that he recently discussed the matter during a meeting with Premier Iain Rankin. The NDP has long advocated for a policy that would bring sick pay to everyone, including workers who are not part of a union. Last year, the party tabled legislation that would have allowed everyone to earn a half day of paid sick leave for every month of work, to a maximum of six days a year. That bill was not supported and died on the order paper. But with renewed calls from Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, for people to say home when they're sick to help keep a handle on the spread of COVID-19, Burrill believes the time is right for everyone to have access to paid sick days. Rankin says he wants to see how other jurisdictions handle the issue of paid sick leave for workers.(CBC) Viral transmissions often happen in the workplace, said Burrill, which is why so many other places, including 13 states in the U.S., are moving to institute paid sick leave. "It's a striking thing that in Nova Scotia today, in the midst of the pandemic, we have got over 1,000 nurses who don't have paid sick leave because they're working on a casual basis," he said. "So this is not an intelligent program from the perspective of public health." Rankin said at this point he's encouraging employers to understand that when people are sick, they need to be able to stay home. Still, the premier told reporters that he's interested in "all public policy that helps the lives of Nova Scotians." Rankin said he's looking at how other provinces treat the issue, and trying to determine if it makes the most sense for the government to take the lead or leave it to employers to settle with their employees. Understanding the ramifications Tory Leader Tim Houston said there might be a place for the government to take the lead through legislation, similar to the way the minimum wage is handled, but he added it would be important to understand any ramifications for businesses that might come from such a policy. It could be better to leave it to employers and their employees to address the issue, said Houston. "I do believe that, for the most part, they're on the same page." Houston said he's sympathetic to people struggling financially who might have to make the decision between going to work sick or staying home and missing a pay cheque. "I want to work with them, I want to support them," he told reporters. "We just need to make sure that we understand how it would work." MORE TOP STORIES
Once upon a time, dear children, before you were born, they made a fairytale movie about a kingdom called Zamunda. “Coming to America,” starring Eddie Murphy at the height of his popularity and charisma, became a huge hit and a cult classic. In this film, dear children, Murphy played Prince Akeem — he didn’t need to be called Prince Charming, because he was already so darned charming. We met him on the morning of his 21st birthday, awakening in his palace bedroom to a full orchestra, servants tossing rose petals at his feet, and gorgeous naked women servicing him in the bathtub until his royal appendage was deemed clean. Oops! Sorry, kids. Some parts of “Coming To America” didn’t age very well. Including most of the stuff about women. But 33 years and one #MeToo movement later, it’s time for a reboot. The good news about “Coming 2 America,” directed by Craig Brewer, is that things have gotten better for women in Zamunda. Yes, it’s still a patriarchy (more on that soon) and yes, there are still obedient royal bathers. But we don’t see their naked breasts or backsides. There’s also a bathtub gag involving the great Leslie Jones that flips the gender dynamic entirely and gratifyingly (especially for her). And now, Prince Akeem is not a randy young heir but an established family man. Happily married for 30 years to Princess Lisa — the bride he found in Queens in the last film — he has three daughters, brave and feisty. The eldest wants to be his heir. A female heir? That’s not done, in Zamunda. But the times, they are — or might be — a-changin'. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this sequel, despite (or perhaps because of) its nod to modern sensibilities, isn’t nearly as funny or edgy as the original. It has seemingly everything -- the original cast, some well-known newcomers, high-profile cameos — and eye-popping costumes by the great Ruth E. Carter (an Oscar winner for “Black Panther”). It has set pieces and choreography and de-aging technology and overlaying plot lines. What it has less of, is fun. Still, just like we go to college reunions 30 years later to recapture the magic, fans of the first will flock to it on Amazon Prime. They likely won’t be too disappointed. Especially because, despite the knowing references to urban gentrification, transgender offspring, Teslas and even unnecessary movie sequels, little has really changed. Obviously Murphy is back, as producer and star. So is Arsenio Hall, as trusty sidekick Semmi (and a bunch of other roles). Also back: the stately James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer; Shari Headley as Lisa (a seriously underwritten role); and Louie Anderson as Maurice. John Amos is back as Lisa’s dad, still ripping off McDonald’s. And of course the My-T-Sharp barbershop crew is back in Queens. A new presence is the casually appealing Jermaine Fowler as Lavelle, Akeem’s previously unknown son. Celebrity guests include a highly amusing Wesley Snipes as flamboyant General Izzi, leader of Nexdoria (next door); Tracy Morgan as Lavelle’s uncle; and Jones as his uninhibited mother. Another “Saturday Night Live” face, Colin Jost, makes the most of a brief cameo. Among notable musical appearances, Gladys Knight sings “Midnight Train From Zamunda.” The plot follows a familiar trajectory, beginning in Zamunda and travelling to Queens to solve a major need. In this case, the need is not a bride, but a male heir. Akeem, who becomes king upon his father’s death, learns he unknowingly sired a son during that Queens trip three decades ago (it was Semmi’s fault!) He needs a male heir to cement his power. So he brings Lavelle, a ticket scalper who aspires to much more, back to Zamunda, along with Mom. But Lavelle needs to learn royal ways, and pass a “princely test” which includes facing down a lion. There’s also the matter of Akeem’s daughter, Meeka (a luminous KiKi Layne, not given enough screen time), who rightly deserves to be queen one day. Complicating matters entirely, Lavelle falls not for his intended bride, Izzi's daughter, but for his royal barber, Mirembe, who aspires to her own shop one day (women don’t own businesses in Zamunda). Again, it all feels like a 30th reunion — maybe because it IS one — where the liquor flows, old stories are rehashed, the men haven’t aged quite as well as the women, the kids steal the show, and by the end you’re happy to have gone but feel no need to be at the next one. “Coming 2 America,” an Amazon Studios release, has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America “for crude and sexual content, language and drug content.” Running time: 110 minutes. Two stars out of four. MPAA definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned, Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
GERALDTON — A man wanted on three outstanding warrants is in custody following a foot chase in Geraldton by OPP last month. Geraldton Ontario Provincial Police officers were on patrol in the town’s downtown core on Feb. 25 when they located an individual wanted on three outstanding warrants, according to a news release issued on March 2. Officers approached the suspect and the accused fled on foot. Officers initiated a foot pursuit and were able to take the individual into custody without incident. A search after the arrest resulted in the seizure of several drugs including crystal methamphetamine and cannabis and a pair of brass knuckles and approximately $850 in cash. Kalvin Godin, 29, of Geraldton was charged with three counts of failing to comply with a release order, possession of a schedule one substance, carrying a concealed prohibited device and possession of cannabis for the purpose of selling. Godin was arrested on the strength of three outstanding warrants. He made a brief court appearance on Feb. 26 in Thunder Bay and was remanded into custody at the Thunder Bay District Jail. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Several community groups are calling for more resources for women dealing with domestic violence, as some shelters face an unprecedented demand because of the pandemic. The calls come after at least five Quebec women were killed in recent weeks — deaths that could have been prevented, according to advocates, if the province had better support systems in place. Two women were killed in a town in the Laurentians Monday. Myriam Dallaire, 28, and her mother Sylvie Bisson, 60, were found with serious injuries in a home in Sainte-Sophie, Que. They both died from their injuries that night. Dallaire's ex-partner was arrested after being involved in a traffic collision in nearby Saint-Jérôme Monday night and is considered a person of interest in the homicides. Quebec Premier François Legault addressed the double-homicide in Sainte-Sophie at a news conference Wednesday, calling the killings the act of a "barbarian." "There is nothing masculine, there is nothing virile, about being violent with women. On the contrary, it is the opposite. I find it to be very cowardly," he said. "Let's hope that the measures we are setting up for housing centres shelters for women will improve the situation." Since January, SOS violence conjugale has received close to 35,000 online and phone requests — the highest number the organization has ever seen. Melpa Kamateros, executive director of Shield of Athena Family Services, says the pandemic has created a perfect storm for victims of domestic violence. "With the lockdown and quarantine, women found themselves in close proximity with their abusive partners, which led not only to increased situations of violence but also to less time to make an escape plan," she said. "In general, COVID has added yet one more layer of difficulty for women trying to access information and services." Shield of Athena's executive director, Melpa Kamateros, says changes need to be made to Quebec's legal infrastructure to better protect victims of domestic violence. (CBC) In a survey of Quebec women's shelter clients — conducted by the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale from July to November 2020 — 42 per cent of women said they faced more intense incidents of domestic violence during the first lockdown and 43 per cent said they did not seek help because their partner was always around. Then there's issue of finding a place to stay, once their time in an emergency shelter is up. Many women in the province rely on the help of second-stage homes — shelters where women stay after they head to an emergency shelter but before they find permanent housing. But those facilities are far beyond their capacity and many regions, including the Laurentians, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie and Lanaudière, don't even have them. Gaëlle Fedida of l'Alliance MH2 speaks during a news conference in Montreal, highlighting the lack of second-stage housing and its effect on women and children who are victims of domestic violence. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press) Gaëlle Fedida of the Alliance des maisons d'hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale has been calling for more second-stage housing units to be developed in the province. She says the homes are a critical step in preventing the murders of women who are trying to leave their abusive partners. "Just include it in the next budget," Fedida called on Legault. "All those ladies who were murdered lately, it was in a situation of post-separation domestic violence." More help coming, province says Last year, the province doubled the funding for combating domestic violence to $180 million, including $2.5 million in emergency funding for shelters during the pandemic. Isabelle Charest, Quebec's minister responsible for the status of women, says the government's action plan using this funding will help women get out of dangerous situations. But part of that, she said, is ensuring women know the warning signs before the situation can turn fatal. "We know it's the crime that's the least reported," Charest said on Radio-Canada's Tout un matin Thursday. "Our role is to put in place a mechanism to prevent and help in these situations." While most of the funding is going toward "rapid intervention measures" and supporting women's shelters, she echoed Legault's sentiment that men must also be included in their plan. "We must implicate men," she said. "It's something to help women who are victims, but we must also help men who behave like this." But Kamateros says lack of shelter and housing for survivors of domestic violence in the province is only the tip of the iceberg. She is calling on the province to put more of a focus on preventing incidents of domestic violence by adopting a law similar to "Clare's law" — a piece of legislation that allows police to warn someone they could be in danger from their partner under certain conditions. Saskatchewan became the first Canadian province to adopt it last summer. "I would also see that the legal system be better prepared to receive testimonies from women victims, that perhaps separate courts could be established," said Kamateros.
Port Alberni, BC - As B.C. moved to Phase 2 of its immunization plan on Monday, the Nuu-chah-nulth nations of Tseshaht and Hupacasath remained unsure when COVID-19 vaccines would reach their communities. The province’s shift in approach, which prioritizes age groups, prompted confusion from community leaders who said that it deviated from the community-wide vaccination plan that was promised. In a letter addressed to B.C.’s health ministry on Feb. 26, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council said “the initial plan and framework [included] having every single First Nation on Vancouver Island vaccinated by March.” Mariah Charleson, NTC vice-president, said that the province’s lack of communication is “alarming.” “There was no consultation at all with any First Nation leadership regarding this big change,” she said. “We’re worried for the two communities that didn’t receive the [vaccine].” However, today the worry is over as eligible community members living on-reserve in Tseshaht and Hupacasath began receiving their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Ken Watts, Tseshaht First Nation elected chief, described it as a “big relief.” While standing outside the vaccine clinic at Maht Mahs Gym in Port Alberni, Watts looked to a line-up of around 20 vehicles. “We have a lot of happy elders and community members,” he said. “They’re really excited.” Advocating for his members by “pushing politically at all levels,” Watts said that the “pressure helped.” The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) said community-based vaccination clinics organized in partnership with First Nation communities will continue through the roll-out of Phase 2. “The province of B.C.’s vaccination strategy calls for rural and remote First Nations communities to be vaccinated in Phase 1 and the balance of First Nations communities as part of Phase 2 by the end of March,” said a spokesperson from FNHA. “Vaccine availability has hampered this plan until just recently and the timeline is still realistic.” On Monday, the province announced it is extending the interval between first and second doses of vaccines to four months. The delay in administration of second doses means every eligible person in B.C. can receive the first dose by mid-to-late July. "At every step of the way, we are putting the health and safety of British Columbians first,” said Premier John Horgan in a media release. "B.C. was one of the first provinces to lay out our vaccine plan, and now we're moving to Phase 2 to reach even more of our seniors and elders. We're getting vaccine into arms as fast as we can given early supply delays from manufacturers, and we're seeing it start to make a difference for people and their communities throughout our province.” While Charleson said she was relieved Tseshaht and Hupacasath would receive community-wide vaccinations, she stands behind her frustration in the province’s lack of consultation with First Nations leadership. “It’s a lot of change and it’s literally just been flying at us,” she said. “We haven’t been a part of those discussions – we’re being told.” As part of Phase 2 of the province’s largest vaccination roll-out in history, over 400,000 people in B.C. will be immunized from March to early-April. Seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and senior’s supportive housing - including staff - are being immunized, which began on Monday. All Indigenous peoples born in 1956 or earlier will be eligible to receive the vaccine and can call to book their vaccine appointment on March 8. "We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a release. “To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other. We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one.” As of March 1, 283,182 doses of vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,537 of which are second shots. With immunizations underway for the remaining two Nuu-chah-nulth nations, Watts said he can breathe a little easier. “I don’t think you know how much of a relief today is,” he said. Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
MONTREAL — A novel coronavirus variant could cause cases in the Montreal area to explode by the end of April if residents don't strictly adhere to health orders, according to new modelling by the province's public health institute. The modelling released Thursday by the Institut national de sante publique du Quebec and Universite Laval suggested the B.1.1.7 mutation — first identified in the United Kingdom — is likely to become the predominant strain in the province by the middle of next month. People's behaviour, however, will determine the speed of the variant's rise, the institute said. "The extent of the increase in variant cases would depend on adherence to measures during and after the spring break and superspreader events," read the institute's report. "Vaccination coverage for people over 70 and health workers should not be sufficient to control the rise in cases linked to a new variant by May, since they represent less than 20 per cent of the population." The modelling suggested that a "strong" adherence to public health measures both during and after this week's spring break could allow the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to remain stable until the end of April. A "medium" respect of measures — defined as a 50-to-100 per cent reduction in home visits and increased contacts in workplaces and during sports and leisure activities — could cause cases to rise sharply. Hospitalizations and deaths are expected to follow more slowly because many of the most vulnerable are protected by vaccination, the projections found. The variant is not expected to spread as rapidly outside the greater Montreal area because of the lower level of community transmission. Health Minister Christian Dube described the projections in a Twitter message as "stable, but very concerning," especially in Montreal. "A medium adherence to the measures would have as an impact to bring hospitalizations back to the level we were at in the worst month of January," he wrote. COVID-19-related hospitalizations surpassed 1,500 in January. "That's exactly why we're asking Quebecers not to relax their efforts," he added. Another report released Thursday by the Quebec government health and social services institute found that hospitalizations have stabilized after a sustained drop earlier in 2021. The report by the Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux indicated hospitalizations will likely remain stable for the next three to four weeks. "Beyond this period, the evolution of this trend could be different with an increasing presence of more contagious or more virulent variants," the report said. The report, which was written Feb. 28 but released Thursday, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic in the province is largely concentrated in Montreal and the surrounding regions, where 85 per cent or more of Quebec's new cases and hospitalizations originate. On Wednesday, Premier Francois Legault announced that restrictions would be eased in much of the province but maintained in Montreal and the surrounding areas, including Laval and the South Shore. While Montrealers will continue to be forbidden to leave their homes after 8 p.m., residents of four other regions including Quebec City will be able to eat at restaurants, work out at the gym and stay out until 9:30 p.m. starting Monday. Despite the risk posed by variants, the report on hospitals suggested that the province's health-care institutions remain in relatively good shape for the coming weeks. It noted that about a third of the regular beds and half the intensive care beds in the Montreal region designated for COVID-19 patients are occupied, and that hospital capacity is not expected to be surpassed in the next three weeks. The report found that while the institute's past projections have generally been accurate, they become less precise when predicting more than three weeks ahead. While the number of confirmed variant cases across the province remained stable at 137 on Thursday, the number of presumptive cases rose to 1,353, an increase of 133. The Quebec government reported 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the virus. Hospitalizations have gone up slightly in the province for four of the past five days. On Thursday, they rose by eight, to 626, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by five, to 115. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Parkland Corp. is reporting lower fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as affects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns continue to erode fuel sales. The Calgary-based convenience store operator and fuel retailer says it had net earnings of $53 million in the last three months of 2020 on revenue of $3.47 billion, down from $176 million on revenue of $4.78 billion in the same period of 2019. It says it sold 5.4 billion litres of fuel and petroleum products in the fourth quarter, a decrease of seven per cent compared with the year-earlier period. It says lower volumes were offset by strong per unit fuel profit margins in Canada and in its international operations, as well as robust company convenience store same-store sales growth in Canada of around eight per cent and a healthy 90 per cent utilization of its Burnaby, B.C., refinery. Parkland says it will hike its dividend by two per cent, its ninth consecutive annual increase. The company says it plans growth capital spending of between $175 million and $275 million in 2021, along with between $225 million and $275 million in maintenance capital spending, including about $40 million of work deferred from 2020. "In 2021, we will strengthen our customer offerings and continue our organic growth initiatives, advance our disciplined acquisition strategy and deepen our commitment to providing customers with low-carbon fuel choices as part of our broader sustainability efforts," said CEO Bob Espey. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:PKI) The Canadian Press
From spring through fall, it’s not unusual to find Beck Aurell swinging from limb to limb through the crowns of Island oak, maple or poplar trees. Gear similar to a rock climber’s holds her safely in the tree and she carries a pruning saw or chainsaw at her side. “I might be the only female bodied climbing arborist on PEI,” Beck said, explaining that arborists are tree workers with specialized skills and certifications. They typically focus on managing and taking care of trees in residential areas. She was most recently employed with Laird Tree Care out of Cardigan. While Beck identifies as gender non-binary she is perceived by most as female and is comfortable with she/her or they/them pronouns. This puts her at odds with the majority of people she has worked with in Canada and around the world. Beck loves outdoor, hands-on work and any day she can help preserve the life of a tree is a good day in her opinion. She said making her way into a male dominated field of work wasn’t particularly easy but there were a few things that lifted her up into the treetops. “My dad was very helpful,” she said. Beck’s father owns an arborist business in New Brunswick and encouraged her to challenge herself by climbing in her teens. “It was something fun we did together and he never questioned if I could do it.” While the average arborist seems to be a tall bulky or lean guy, Beck has found smart techniques and tools tend to level the playing field. With a 5 foot 2 inch tall female body, she is stronger than some might expect. Beck said sometimes customers meet her with surprised comments like “Oh, are you doing the work?” or “Where’s the foreman?” when she is the team lead for the day. “It might be hard to believe, but it doesn’t actually take a 6-foot bulky man to transport logs from point A to B, to work hard all day, or to do the work we do efficiently,” she said. Luckily most customers meet her with supportive comments. “Customers that are older women especially seem supportive, I think it might be because they’ve seen so much change over the years.” Beck said local queer and some feminist communities have been a tremendous source of support and their ideas have helped her the whole way through. “Queer communities tend to share the idea, if it feels right for you, break gender expectations without fear or embarrassment, with pride,” she said. “They’ve really showed me there are different ways to be a person that don’t fit specific gender roles.” Beyond that, seeing female arborists in the industry when she worked in Sweden or at events (like women’s arborist skills camps in the US or in iternational arborist climbing competitions) reassured her that she could succeed in this line of work. Co-workers who have welcomed her into group environments and given her the opportunity to do what she is capable of without underestimating her abilities have also played a helpful part. “Most of my co-workers have been great,” Beck said. “Most don’t think twice about having me on the crew and working together, especially once they see I am capable and reliable.” “This means a lot because sometimes it takes a minute for some of the guys to settle with the idea that I’ll be climbing and working on the same level or even as a leader with them. “Sometimes when a crew shows up on a job they’re not expecting a blonde woman in her 20s to be the foreman and there seems to be a bit of an ego thing that can go on. “Sometimes there is some pushback but for the most part, it’s no problem.” Beck said her crew on PEI has been an excellent and fun team to work with. She has some advice for anyone considering a field of work that may seem unusual for their gender. “Don’t be afraid to break expectations and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “And if you can’t find anyone supportive, give me a call.” Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
The head of Canada's largest private sector union says air passengers who couldn't use their tickets because of the pandemic will get refunds. Jerry Dias said Air Canada has already agreed to the refunds, which has been a sore point among consumers starting in March when travellers were forced to stay home. As Sean O'Shea reports, Dias says refunds are a condition for an airline aid package.
ATLANTA — Georgia moved closer Thursday to the possible repeal of an 1863 law that lets private citizens make an arrest, more than a year after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man chased by white men who said they suspected he had committed a crime. House Bill 479 was approved unanimously by the chamber's Judiciary Committee and could soon move to the House floor for a vote. Georgia's current law was enacted during the Civil War and allows citizens to arrest someone if a crime is committed in their presence or they have “immediate knowledge” that a crime has been committed. Critics say it has long been used to justify lynchings of African Americans. Gov. Brian Kemp has endorsed the bill, saying Arbery’s death on Feb. 23, 2020, shows it’s time for the law to be changed. “Some tried to justify the actions of the killers by claiming they had protection under an antiquated law that is ripe for abuse,” Kemp said last month. The bill would remove from state law the broad powers granted to ordinary citizens to make an arrest, while allowing store and restaurant employees to detain those suspected of stealing. Licensed security guards and private detectives also would be able to make arrests. A previous version of the bill limited the time a person could be detained before police arrive to one hour, but that was changed to stipulate a person could be held for a “reasonable” amount of time. The father and son who armed themselves and pursued Arbery, Greg and Travis McMichael, weren’t arrested or charged until more than two months after the shooting. The first outside prosecutor assigned to the case cited Georgia’s citizen arrest law in a letter to police arguing the shooting was justified. The McMichaels’ lawyers have said they pursued Arbery suspecting he was a burglar, after security cameras had previously recorded him entering a home under construction. They said Travis McMichael shot Arbery while fearing for his life as they grappled over a shotgun. The McMichaels were charged with murder. Video of the fatal encounter was taken by William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbour who joined the chase and also was later charged with murder. Prosecutors have said Arbery stole nothing and was merely out jogging when the McMichaels and Bryan chased him. They remain jailed without bond. The Associated Press
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government has shot a boost of optimism into its fight against COVID-19, announcing it will join other provinces by delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations. Speaking Thursday at a news conference with other premiers, Premier Scott Moe said people will get their second shot up to four months after the first, which falls in line with a recent recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee. Alberta, Manitoba and other provinces made similar announcements after British Columbia first said Monday it was moving to a four-month delay. The shift comes as health experts point to people being well protected against the novel coronavirus with a first dose, noting the country faces a limited supply of vaccines. "The benefits are tremendous," Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said during a briefing. "We can emerge out of the pandemic three months earlier than we had anticipated. With a two-dose program, it would have taken us till September. Now we can vaccinate everyone 18 and older as early as June." Provincial health officials said that starting Friday, staff will only be giving first shots. The change will not apply to people who have appointments booked to receive a second dose, long-term care residents and staff, as well as those in personal care homes. Shahab said since vaccinations started in long-term care homes, there have been fewer outbreaks and infections in the facilities. To date, about 84,000 vaccinations have been done in Saskatchewan out of the roughly 400,000 shots needed to inoculate residents 70 and older and health-care workers at risk of COVID-19 exposure. Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said he expects most of these vaccinations under the first stage of the province's immunization program will be finished in early April. He also asked for patience, as the authority has to adjust how it delivers vaccines with the new four-month window between doses. Saskatchewan reported 169 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Thursday. The province of 1.1 million people also continues to lead the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita in Canada. Moe said earlier in the week that delaying the second dose of vaccine would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions need to stay in place. The current order is in effect until March 19. Shahab said decisions about what rules might be relaxed could come next week. "I know it's been very hard for people not to be able meet each other in their houses," he said. "In the past, we did have, you know, two to three households as a bubble of up to ten. So that's something that we're looking at." The Ministry of Health also said it would use 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on people aged 60 to 64 and certain health-care workers. A national panel has recommended it not be used on seniors. The province said these vaccinations will start later this month and eligible residents will be able to book an appointment by phone through a system that is expected to launch next week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Canadian prosecutors told a court on Thursday that it was not a judge's role to decide whether national security and geopolitical concerns can be used to strike down a U.S. request to extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Meng, 49, was arrested in December 2018 on a U.S. warrant accused of misleading HSBC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions.