It's a cuteness overload as this little 2-year-old girl practices training her 3-year-old doggy! She's mastered sit, down and rollover!
It's a cuteness overload as this little 2-year-old girl practices training her 3-year-old doggy! She's mastered sit, down and rollover!
The Burmese-Canadian community is calling on the federal government to provide more material support to anti-military protesters after a week that saw some of the deadliest clashes between police and demonstrators in Myanmar since the military coup in that country. The Burmese Canadian Action Network (BCAN) sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Marc Garneau this week, just one day after police killed 18 people and wounded 30, according to the United Nations. "We, Burmese Canadians across Canada, are calling on the Government of Canada to provide tangible support for Burmese people struggling for freedom and democracy," the letter reads. The crisis began after Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide re-election as state counsellor of Myanmar — a position equivalent to a prime minister -- on Nov. 8 last year. The military questioned the results, accusing the winning party of fraud, before seizing power and placing Suu Kyi and other senior members of her government under arrest on Feb. 1. Since then, dozens of protesters have died -- 34 on Wednesday alone -- at the hands of police and more than 1,000 civilians and elected officials have been arrested. Anti-coup protesters maintain their position behind a barricade despite smoke from tear gas in San Chaung township in Yangon, Myanmar, on Friday, Mar. 5, 2021. Demonstrators defy growing violence by security forces and stage more anti-coup protests ahead of a special UN Security Council meeting on the country’s political crisis.(The Associated Press) From pot-banging to protesters taking to the streets clad in hard-hats and goggles to protect themselves from assaults by police, the demonstrations are happening daily, in spite of bans on political protests and on social media. The letter to Trudeau and Garneau says Canada should take further action, including helping people who are now struggling with food scarcity. The civil unrest has caused major shutdowns in the country and interrupted the people's daily lives, especially those who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). BCAN appealed to Canada to send food and material support via UN agencies and civil society organizations. "We encourage you to find ways to provide such essential assistance urgently," its letter reads. The letter also calls on Canada to officially recognize the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Htaw (CRPH). The CRPH, which was created soon after the coup with the support of 400 elected MPs, combines the Lower and Upper Houses of Myanmar's parliament. Protesters hold up placards demanding the release of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Naypyidaw on March 4, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images) According to Tin Maung Htoo, spokesperson for the BCAN, the CRPH is currently working underground in defiance of the police and supporting the demonstrators under the radar, by releasing information and making announcements to the public. "We are quite encouraged by the [Canadian] government's stand and this stand and actions from the government is very encouraging for people on the ground in Burma, especially," he said, referring to a move by Canada and Britain to impose economic sanctions on Myanmar. The two countries made the move under the Special Economic Measures Act on Feb 18 after police violence escalated against demonstrators. We don't want to go back 20, 30 years -- back to the dark age. That is why this is the time for us to do whatever we can. - Tin Maung Htoo Maung Htoo was a student when he fled Myanmar during in 1988 after organizing protests against the military dictatorship. "More than 3,000 people, mostly students, were killed in the streets," Maung Htoo recalled. "There was no freedom of expression, association, student unions were banned." The regime lasted over 20 years, finally ending when Myanmar achieved partial democracy in 2010. Tin Maung Htoo, with the Burmese Canadian Action Network, says the people of Myanmar 'are showing their strong stand and support for democratization in the country.'(Submitted by Tin Maung Htoo) Two years before the country opened itself to the world, the military wrote a new constitution, which allowed it to keep some of its former powers, including 25 per cent of seats in parliament and control of the defence, border affairs and home ministries. When the military moved to take power in February, General Min Aung Hlaing announced the removal of 24 democratically elected ministers, naming 11 replacements.. Maung Htoo said he believes the coup is an act of desperation. He said the the military was gradually losing not only political control under Suu Kyi's leadership but also economic power, since big business organizations are military-backed and military-owned. "People are showing their strong stand and support for democratization in the country." Maung Htoo said. "We don't want to go back 20, 30 years ... back to the dark age. That is why this is the time for us to do whatever we can."
The provincial government has established a new one-time benefit for parents for daycare costs during the pandemic. The Working Parents Benefit, announced during a government news conference on Feb. 24, will provide a one-time payment of $561 to parents in the province. To be eligible, parents must make less than $100,000, have children in childcare, and have paid three months of childcare between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. Examples of eligible childcare include licensed or unlicensed daycare, day homes, out-of-school care, or preschool. This new support will help families invest in childcare and preschool, but will also create economic stimulus, said Rebecca Schultz, the province’s minister of children’s services. The program is being funded with $108 million of unspent funds from Children’s Services to support the families of up to 192,000 children, according to the government. Applications for the benefit are made online, the date of opening varying regionally to manage volume, between March 1 to March 5. Applications will be open until March 31. A MyAlberta Digital ID is required to apply for the benefit. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 85,376 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,253,514 doses given. Nationwide, 561,238 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,946.061 per 100,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,622,210 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 85.94 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. In the province, 1.61 per cent (8,427) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. In the province, 3.32 per cent (5,273) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,657 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 38,676 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.631 per 1,000. In the province, 1.48 per cent (14,395) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. In the province, 1.56 per cent (12,142) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 19,975 new vaccinations administered for a total of 510,479 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.659 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 35,886 new vaccinations administered for a total of 820,714 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.872 per 1,000. In the province, 1.83 per cent (269,063) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,358 new vaccinations administered for a total of 84,937 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 61.682 per 1,000. In the province, 2.17 per cent (29,847) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 124,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,789 new vaccinations administered for a total of 86,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.679 per 1,000. In the province, 2.37 per cent (27,945) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 116.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 9,488 new vaccinations administered for a total of 275,719 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 62.634 per 1,000. In the province, 2.06 per cent (90,486) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 100.3 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 12,357 new vaccinations administered for a total of 311,208 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.646 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (86,865) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 1,279 new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,437 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 465.769 per 1,000. In the territory, 17.00 per cent (7,093) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 102.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. In the territory, 10.10 per cent (4,558) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,911 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 359.216 per 1,000. In the territory, 13.28 per cent (5,144) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 58.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Caledon Seniors Centre is going forward with their much-anticipated expansion that will ensure more space and opportunities for events, programs and future growth. The team is looking forward to seeing an expansion of roughly 9,000 square feet, which includes additional rooms for programs and events, and a brand-new commercial kitchen that will be able to serve 250 or more people. The non-profit organization began as a space for seniors to come and enjoy various programs and social, educational and cultural events. With the expansion of the building comes expansion of these programs for more residents to join. The centre is run by a team of staff and dedicated volunteers and has over 800 registered members. After celebrating their 25th anniversary, the centre has kickstarted it’s largest fundraising campaign. “Since 2018 we have added five satellite locations to expand our reach and keep up with the growth in our membership. Our Expansion Fundraising Campaign is an aggressive initiative to raise funds to expand the Rotary Place facility. Our fundraising campaign is the beginning of wonderful and exciting things to come for our Seniors. We will be able to offer more programs and better accommodate this rapidly growing segment of Caledon’s population.” With the help of the Caledon community, the Caledon Seniors Centre’s expansion fundraiser is working towards raising a whopping amount of $1 million over the next three years. The campaign began with the generous donations of $10,000 from the Palgrave Orange Lodge, and $5,000 from the 100 Women Who Care Caledon. Following these donations came an additional $5,000, where the board of directors made remaining contributions, in order to raise $25,000 in the exact month they celebrated 25 years. Funding has also been provided by the Rotary Club in Bolton and Palgrave, the Bolton Lions, the Bolton Kin, as well as the Town of Caledon and grants from the Provincial government. “The seniors, 55 Plus, are the fastest growing segment in our community. It’s expanding rapidly and we have a database of members already, but the opportunity is to increase that ten or 20-fold to meet the exact needs of the community,” said long-time volunteer on the Board of Directors, John Rogers. “The expansion is to give us more capabilities to reach out to more individuals an provide these health and wellness services and programs for that fast growing and increasing community of seniors.” The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges with getting the expansion up and going, but the team at Caledon Seniors Centre are hopeful to see shovels in the ground this coming spring. Yet the pandemic hasn’t stopped the work they put into not only the centre, but within the community. “COVID- 19 has had a considerable impact on how we support our members. In addition to offering masks, grocery pick-up and delivery, we have added virtual programming including online card games, bingo, speaker series, trivia fun games, social conference calls, Zoom call activities like exercise, meditation, virtual crafts and karaoke. We’ve recently added take-out lunch and dinners to our services,” said CSC Manager Beverley Nurden. “We are doing our best to keep this vital fellowship connection going for our seniors.” The staff and volunteers at the Caledon Seniors Centre are encouraging members who would like to help out, to consider volunteering or making a donation. For further information, please visit caledonseniors.ca. Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
A motion to share costs on a road project with the Rural Municipality of Prince Albert to upgrade a part of 48th Street East was defeated during Prince Albert City Council’s Executive Committee meeting on Monday. Surface Works Manager Marcel Gareau recommended that the proposal be moved to future budget deliberations after Marquis Road is upgraded between Central Avenue and 4th Avenue East. The focus on Marquis Road upgrades was a contentious issue with council in making their decision. In his report to council, Gareau emphasized that upgrading that section of road was listed as a high priority in the 2017 Transportation Master Plan. The two options were to include the 48th Street upgrade in the 2022 budget or decline it. Mayor Greg Dionne made the motion to decline the proposal. “I’m still confused. We have a request from the RM, so I expect administration to come back with a report denying the request for cost sharing because there is no positive benefit for us,” Dionne said during the meeting. “I don’t want to talk about Marquis Road. I am here today to talk about 48th Street. We have a request, I read it, from the RM about cost sharing. (Administration) has just told us there is no benefit, so the recommendation should be that we notify the RM (that) at this point we are not prepared to cost share (for) the road.” Dionne said that the discussion was over after Gareau explained that no benefit for the city existed at this time. “We are not twinning Marquis from Central to Fourth I don’t know why the department keeps bringing that up. So I am here to deal with 48th Street and I just heard from him now that there is no benefit so the request from the RM be denied at this time,” Dionne said. Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick disagreed with Dionne on the substance of the upgrade on Marquis but agreed on the denial of the proposal. He explained that the project on Marquis should be undertaken at a latr date. “I don’t see any advantage in spending money on that particular upgrade when we have Elevator Road, which is in the RM, that I see is a primary grid and then we have Marquis Road which also goes east west,” Ogrodnick said. Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards also did not support the original motion because it was tied to Marquis Road. He understood the idea but did not see a reason to link the two. “I do have some concerns about upgrading 48th and spending money on it and I think that it can be addressed today,” Edwards said. Edwards asked what the purpose of upgrading 48th Street East would be at this time. “From the administration point of view there is no reason to upgrade 48th street at this time because we already have the infrastructure to handle the traffic volume,” Gareau said. In the report it explained that the upgrade to four lanes of that section of Marquis Road was unfunded in the 2021 budget and remains a priority for administration. The report states that upgrading 48th Street for use by heavy trucks as an alternate route does not solve the main issue of the bottleneck on Marquis Road. Marquis Road needs to be upgraded to support growth in the West Hill, Crescent Acres and the new recreation centre project, administration said. According to the report, the pavement condition on Marquis Road at that section in currently poor. The RM has hired a consultant who recommended that the street be built to primary grid heavy haul standards and that the right-of-way be widened. The report explained that the city of Prince Albert has no plans to expand into the area. The main developments are in the West Hill and Crescent Heights and expected to continue for at least 20 years. RM of Prince Albert Reeve Eric Schmalz was disappointed, but respected council’s decision. “The city has some budgetary commitments that they need to meet before they can pursue partnership with the RM apparently, so we respect that and we look forward to discussing it with them in the future,” Schmalz said. “We are still in a relationship. They are our partners in the region and we need to focus on the entire relationship, not just on one particular aspect. I think that we can still move forward beyond this.” Schmalz said the RM has other projects to focus on, like the construction of a new shop and office, and the building of other roads. The total cost of the project is estimated at $371,000. It would have been split to $185,500 each for the RM and city under the proposal. The proposal would have seen RM equipment and labour used during construction. The idea dates back to Nov. 5, 2019, when the RM sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office requesting joint funding for the upgrade. In March, 2020 the proposal was declined and sent to 2021 budget deliberations. The RM sent a letter updating the proposal to city council. In December 2020, executive committee moved that the report from administration be prepared by Public Works. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Trustees in the River East Transcona School Division have approved a $201.8-million budget for the upcoming school year that takes into account the impact COVID-19 has had on student well-being. The budget has few changes in store for 2021-22, aside from a modest increase of 5.1 new full-time equivalent resource teacher and clinician positions. “This health crisis has thrown everything upside down, and we know come the fall, there are going to be a lot of children, a lot of families, who are going to require a lot more support from education — academically, and for their mental health and well-being,” said Jerry Sodomlak, chairman of the board. The province has allocated $98.9 million in operating funding, the equivalent of a 0.6 per cent increase, for the Winnipeg-based division next year. Divisions have been directed to freeze property education taxes, with the province instead offering one-time grants the equivalent of a two per cent hike; in River East Transcona, that means a resident with an average home valued at $287,500 will see an approximately $27 decrease on their tax bill. Sodomlak said revenues don’t keep pace with inflation and growing enrolment costs, and could result in larger class sizes next year. “The government has dropped the ball… but I believe that we have an extremely capable and strong senior administration team in our division and teaching staff who will be able to continue our programming,” he said Wednesday, adding the division has strong inclusion supports, unique bilingual programs and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) offerings. Trustee Brianne Goertzen, chairwoman of the finance committee, echoed those sentiments Wednesday: “We’re looking at trying to maintain a status quo.” Not unlike other boards, staffing and benefit costs in the River East Transcona account for nearly 90 per cent of its total budget. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
A tree disease caused by a fungus has been identified in Wheatland County and, if left unchecked, may result in the stunting or death of trees. Black knot, caused by the fungus Apiosporina morbosa, is a disease affecting certain fruit trees (in the genus Prunus), including cherries and plums. The stems of affected trees show a blackish growth or swelling. On Feb. 17, Wheatland County announced its maintenance crews identified black knot in some of its communities. The county’s hamlet operations foreman said black knot was seen a few years ago, and while it does not seem widespread, residents should be aware of it and how to deal with it, wrote Mackenzie Maier, the county’s communication specialist, in an email. While the disease is considered common and widespread in Alberta, if it is left to progress, it can disfigure and reduce the growth of branches, sometimes leading to the death of the tree. It also stresses the infected tree, leaving it more prone to infection from other pathogens. The county cut the infected portions out of the trees areas it maintains. However, diseased branches were identified on private properties, so the county is asking landowners to assess their properties for its presence and remove any infected materials. To control black knot, all knot-bearing branches should be pruned out in late fall, winter or early spring, when plants are dormant and knots visible. Infected branches should be removed six to eight inches below the knot. To avoid spreading the spores of the fungus, shears should be cleaned and disinfected after use. Diseased wood should be either burned or removed from the site, as they may release spores for up to four months after removal. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Pope Francis is on a historic visit to Iraq despite the global pandemic. After a year of laying low in Vatican City, he's resumed his travels with a message of unity for a country ravaged by religious violence.
LANGFORD, B.C. — Pacific FC captain Marcel de Jong, whose 17-year pro career took him to the Netherlands, Germany and North America, has announced his retirement. The 34-year-old left back won 56 caps, including 48 starts, for Canada with three goals and two assists. Born in Newmarket. Ont., to Dutch parents, de Jong was four when his family moved to the Netherlands. He was eight when he joined PSV Eindhoven's youth academy. De Jong went on to play for Helmond Sport and Roda JC before helping Germany's FC Augsburg win promotion to the Bundesliga. He came to Major League Soccer in 2015, signing with Sporting Kansas City. He spent part of 2016 with the Ottawa Fury of the NASL before returning to MLS with the Whitecaps. De Jong appeared in 52 regular-season games for Vancouver from 2016 to 2018. He spent the last two season with Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League. “I will forever be grateful to Pacific for the time I’ve had at the club and on (Vancouver) Island which I will continue to call home," De Jong said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021 The Canadian Press
A Strathmore resident who came to Canada as a refugee from Syria has opened a new barbershop in the downtown core. Sam Al-Mubaied, together with business partner Ahmad Asheti, have opened the Strathmore Barbershop, located in the Strathmore Centre. A grand opening celebration was held on March 1, attended by Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule and Councillors Bob Sobol and Denise Peterson, along with other members of the community. The opening culminates Al-Mubaied’s relocation to Canada with his wife and family from Damascus, Syria in 2016 because of the Syrian civil war. “We weren’t safe there, especially the kids, so we had to leave,” he said. The Hope Community Covenant Church, along with five sponsors, helped Al-Mubaied and his family settle in Strathmore. Since then, Al-Mubaied and his family have adjusted to life here. “I love Strathmore – I feel like it’s my own town and my own community,” he said. “We’re so happy to be safe here.” The business has been ready to open for a few months, but was delayed by COVID-19 public health measures. So, Al-Mubaied took a “wait and see” approach to opening while many businesses were closed. But with personal and wellness businesses services open again (by appointment), Al-Mubaied decided the time was right to launch the new business venture. Like other barbers and hairdressers in town, Al-Mubaied will be working within the confines of COVID-19 protocols. “We’re working under the government’s rules,” he said. Al-Mubaied has been cutting hair for over 10 years and does not think his approach to the craft will be much different than in Syria. “Hair is hair, but every year, there are new styles,” he said. “I’m so excited to start serving the people of Strathmore.” At the reopening, Fule said that having businesses downtown, such as the Strathmore Barbershop, being successful is important to Strathmore’s downtown revitalization. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration insisted Friday that a quest for scientific accuracy, not political concerns, prompted members of his COVID-19 task force to ask the state health department to delete data last summer from a report on nursing home patients killed by the coronavirus. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions, reported late Thursday that aides including secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa pushed state health officials to edit the July report so it counted only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who died later after being transferred to a hospital. At the time, Cuomo was trying to deflect criticism that his administration hadn't done enough to protect nursing home residents from the virus. About a third of the state's nursing home fatalities were excluded from the report as a result of the change. The revelations about the removal of the higher fatality number come as the Democrat also faces accusations he sexually harassed two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding. Cuomo had apologized Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully co-operate with the state attorney general's investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Federal investigators are scrutinizing his administration’s handling of nursing home data. Top Democrats in the state have said they want those investigations to conclude before they make a judgment about Cuomo's conduct, but in the wake of Thursday night's report, a few state lawmakers renewed calls for the governor to either resign or be ousted. “And Cuomo hid the numbers. Impeach,” tweeted Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, who said Cuomo bullied him for criticizing how Cuomo withheld nursing home data. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the allegations that Cuomo aides deleted data from the report was “troubling” and said the White House “certainly would support any outside investigation.” The July nursing home report was released to rebut criticism of Cuomo over a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from rejecting recovering coronavirus patients being discharged from hospitals. Some nursing homes complained at the time that the policy could help spread the virus. The report concluded the policy didn't play a major role in spreading infection. The state's analysis was based partly on what officials acknowledged at the time was an imprecise statistic. The report said 6,432 people had died in the state's nursing homes. State officials acknowledged even then that the true number of deaths was higher because the report was excluding patients who died in hospitals. But they declined at the time to give any estimate of that larger number of deaths, saying the numbers still needed to be verified. In fact, the original drafts of the report had included that number, then more than 9,200 deaths, until Cuomo's aides said it should be taken out. State officials insisted Thursday that the edits were made because of concerns about accuracy. The administration initially released data about how many nursing home residents died at both hospitals and nursing homes, but quietly stopped in early May. “While early versions of the report included out of facility deaths, the COVID task force was not satisfied that the data had been verified against hospital data and so the final report used only data for in facility deaths, which was disclosed in the report,” Department of Health Spokesperson Gary Holmes said. The governor's office didn't respond to questions from The Associated Press about whether Cuomo himself was involved in removing the higher death total from the report. Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report at the time for flawed methodology and selective stats that sidestepped the actual impact of the directive. The administration refused for months to release more complete data. A court order and state attorney general report in January forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll was higher than the count previously made public. DeRosa told lawmakers earlier this month that the administration didn't turn over the data to legislators in August because of worries the information would be used against them by President Donald Trump's administration. “Basically, we froze, because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said. Cuomo and his health commissioner recently defended the March directive, saying it was the best option at the time to help free up desperately needed beds at the state’s hospitals. And they've argued community spread is the biggest risk factor for nursing homes, and that it's unlikely that most hospital patients treated for COVID-19 were contagious once they arrived. “We made the right public health decision at the time. And faced with the same facts, we would make the same decision again,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Feb. 19. The state now acknowledges that at least 15,000 long-term care residents died, compared to a figure of 8,700 it had publicized as of late January that didn’t include residents who died after being transferred to hospitals. The Associated Press
After hearing from the community regarding the GTA West Corridor, the Town of Caledon is hopping on board to gain more understanding on the proposed highway and the impacts it will have on the Town. During a February 16 meeting, local resident and environmentalist Jennifer Leforestier delegated to Council encouraging lawmakers to reverse their support for the proposed 400-series highway. Council originally showed their support in 2018 claiming it has been a priority for several years. “My requests are that Council reverse support and endorsement for Highway 413,” said Leforestier at the session last month, “[and] officially request the Federal government to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the proposed highway.” Since then, the Town of Caledon has consulted with staff and is calling on the Province to conduct further studies to ensure that the proposed highway is in line with their future projected population numbers. Caledon is projecting an increase from 75,000 residents to 300,000 by 2051. “Caledon is set to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years, regardless of what happens with the GTA West corridor. We need to plan smart so that we have a system for moving people, goods and services in a responsible and sustainable way,” said Mayor Allan Thompson. Additionally, the Town is also completing Leforestier’s request by asking the federal government to perform an environmental impact assessment on the project. An environmental assessment is done to support or clarify any planning and decision-making, according the federal government, stating “an environmental assessment is a process to identify, predict and evaluate the potential environmental effects of a proposed project.” “Ontario needs to build a transportation corridor that allows for the best of current and future efficient technologies to be incorporated into the infrastructure,” continued Thompson. The Town is also asking for the provincial government to hold public consultations to allow Caledon residents to have their say in the matter. Fellow Peel municipalities have also voiced their thoughts on the highway but are strongly opposing the highway completely. Approved at the Mississauga Council meeting on February 24 was a motion that opposes the construction of the highway because of the impacts Highway 413 will have on the farming and agriculture lands, the natural heritage such as the Golden Horseshoe. “As a Council, we’ve been so dedicated to trying to combat these issues, so we could no longer stand idle. Too many experts and organizations have come out against this planned highway, and today we stand with them,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie. These organizations include, Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods, Gravel Watch Ontario, Halton Environmental Network, Natural Farmers’ Union-Ontario, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Sustainable Vaughan, Transport Action Ontario, the Wildness Committee and Sustainable Mississauga. The Town of Caledon is hopeful for the support from both municipalities Mississauga and Brampton to have the assessment completed. “Both Brampton and Mississauga have seen what happens when sprawl goes unchecked without the proper infrastructure in place,” said Thompson. “We want to ensure that Caledon’s distinctive natural, agricultural and environmental character is preserved and to do that I urge my colleagues to support a stringent, thorough and comprehensive EA and consultation process.” For further information, visit Caledon.ca. Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
A new program in two Hamilton high schools aims to support the mental health of Black and racialized youth. Students at Bernie Custis Secondary School and Cathedral High School, both in central Hamilton, will have access to a “health and wellness connector” who will connect youth to services to support their overall health and well-being. “It's really important for us to give hope to the kids and to give hope to our youth, particularly the Black and racialized youth who seem, based on the data, to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Terri Bedminster, co-founder and executive director of Refuge Newcomer Health, the organization leading the program in partnership with the Hamilton School Based Network. “This program is to support Black youth in accessing community services around mental health, and other services, but also to have a familiar face or someone who identifies as the population.” A Statistics Canada report in October found that youth have experienced the greatest declines in mental health since the pandemic began. Visible minority groups were more likely to report “poor” mental health. The service was made possible by a $30,000 grant from Hamilton Community Foundation’s pandemic response fund. This service is an addition to an existing nurse practitioner program that Refuge piloted in 2012. When COVID-19 hit, the group began to consider other ways to support the youth hardest hit by the pandemic. “What we saw was that Black and racialized youth, based on a lot of feedback from community partners, were needing some support,” Bedminster said. Refuge will continue to work with community partners serving Black and racialized youth “to further understand ... the specific needs of these youth,” she said. With the funding, Refuge hired two Black young people — Dejehan “Lucky” Hamilton and Ashleigh Montague — on a part-time basis to spend time in both schools. “We know that relationships are key to Black youth,” Bedminster said. “The ability to connect and identify with someone who looks like you and may have experiences like you, that's key.” Hamilton, a lifelong Hamiltonian with expertise in arts education and youth mentorship, said he is excited to be “an additional resource for (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) students” — a group he has been passionate about for nearly a decade. “I’m a firm believer in the power of one,” he said. “If we can help, change, improve, or empower one young person that would be a win.” Sue Dunlop, superintendent of education responsible for Bernie Custis, said the school community is grateful to the team that is “enhancing opportunities for students.” Bernie Custis is part of a family of schools deemed “high priority” by the board. “This partnership removes barriers for students who are historically underserved and provides them with supports that will lead to success in school and beyond,” she said. Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
A local family with deep ties to the Rockyford area is being honoured for best representing the values of the family farm within their rural community. Gordon and Darlene Koester and family, with Koester Cattle Co. Inc., was a recipient of the BMO Farm Family Award, presented by the Calgary Stampede and BMO Bank of Montreal. This awards program was created to promote a renewed urban-rural relationship and to recognize outstanding southern Alberta farm families who best typify the value of the family farmer to society. The Koester’s local ties started in 1928, when the family moved from Iowa to Rockyford. Joe, one of nine children, and his wife, Tillie, purchased their own farmstead in 1950, raising eight children. Their son Gordon and his wife Darlene took over the family farm and raised four children. Sons Matthew and Adam became an integral part of the family farm operation, but in 2015, they decided to pursue their off-farm careers on a full-time basis. Bradie, one of the couple’s two daughters, and her husband, Dan, then jumped at the opportunity to come home and farm, and are now at the helm of the operation. The family winning the award was a surprise, said Gordon, in an interview. “I was taken back by the nomination, thinking there’s a lot of deserving people out there,’ he said. “I was humbled to be chosen, that’s for sure.” The Koesters have been an integral part of their community. Gordon is the past president of the Rockyford Lions Club and past chairman of the Rockyford Agricultural Society, Hall Board, Curling Club, Parish Council, Knights of Columbus and Minor Hockey, and is also a 25- year member of the Seed Growers Association. Darlene helped establish ringette in the Rockyford Community 30 years ago, and was a coach and manager throughout the years while her daughters played. She was also the Rockyford Rodeo secretary for 25 years in addition to driving a school bus for three decades. Dan and Bradie belong to the Rockyford Minor Hockey and Ringette Association as coaches and board members, in addition to Rockyford’s Ag Society, Lions Club, Rodeo Committee, Parish Council and Knights of Columbus. They also coach their girls’ fastball teams as well as play ringette and hockey on adult teams. Dan belongs to the Strathmore Seed Cleaning Plant and is entering his second year as chairman. Being established for multiple generations has helped the Koesters make such an impact in their community, said Gordon. “My father and mother taught us to be part of the community and make sure things work,” he said. “We’re a small enough community that everybody can take a turn.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Three more Hamilton schools are offering asymptomatic COVID-19 testing this week. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will offer asymptomatic testing at Orchard Park Secondary School in Stoney Creek on Friday for students and staff at the high school. Orchard Park’s feeder elementary schools — Eastdale, Green Acres, South Meadow, R.L. Hyslop and Winona — are also eligible. This is the second time testing will be offered at Orchard Park, which was part of a Feb. 13 pilot clinic. At the Catholic board, testing will be available at Cathedral Catholic High School in central Hamilton on Friday for asymptomatic students and staff at the school and at Cathedral Children’s Centre. On Saturday, testing at the school will be for the feeder schools, Holy Name of Jesus, St. Ann Hamilton, St. Eugene, St. Lawrence, St. Luke, St. John the Baptist, St. Patrick, Sts. Peter & Paul. Hamilton public health says the rapid antigen test, which is being used at both Orchard Park and Cathedral, is “less invasive” than the nasopharyngeal swab. St. Eugene Catholic Elementary School is using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, lab-based and more accurate than rapid tests, at its clinic on Thursday evening. An outbreak was declared Feb. 23 at the east Hamilton elementary school, which has had four confirmed cases of the virus. PCR tests will be used as directed by public health “during an outbreak investigation.” “PCR tests will also be used for close contacts of confirmed cases,” said spokesperson James Berry in a Feb. 26 email to The Spectator. No cases were found among the more than 250 asymptomatic tests conducted at Hamilton schools last week. HWCDSB chair Pat Daly told The Spectator on Monday the board had “expected somewhat of a higher turnout” among students. Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Older residents in some congregate settings have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, although seniors in the community began receiving vaccines this week. Residents at The Court at Rushdale, an “all-inclusive retirement community” on Upper Sherman Avenue, have not yet received vaccines, raising concerns from a Hamilton woman whose parents live there. Public health says “all retirement homes in Hamilton, high risk and others,” received first doses of the vaccine through the mobile clinic. Atria Retirement Canada, which operates The Court at Rushdale, and other facilities across Canada, says the Hamilton home wasn’t part of the current rollout because it’s not regulated under the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). “Our community is an unlicensed, independent living community and does not yet fall within the vaccine rollout set by public health,” says a statement attributed to president Kristy Grange. “Our residents and staff are very enthusiastic about receiving the vaccine when it arrives at the Court at Rushdale.” Mary Wright, whose parents are in their 90s and live at the home, is concerned the rollout is creating a “second class” of seniors. “I don’t think it should matter whether they’re part of RHRA or not,” she said. “You’re just going to leave all these elderly people hanging and twisting in the wind?” Public health didn’t confirm if only licensed homes had received vaccines or where unlicensed ones are in the line. “Vaccination rollout is based on the prioritization framework as determined by provincial guidelines,” said an emailed statement from spokesperson James Berry. He added working groups are looking to ensure vaccines are distributed “effectively and equitably.” The first phase in Ontario’s vaccination plan prioritizes long-term-care homes, high-risk retirement homes, First Nations elder care homes, and includes alternative level of care patients headed into congregate-care settings, among others. The second priority includes adults 80 years and older, and workers, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate-care sites for seniors, such as assisted living. Adults receiving chronic home care are also included. Hamilton began vaccinating seniors age 85 years and up starting March 1. Any facility that’s defined as a “retirement home” must be licensed under the Retirement Homes Act and is subject to regulation by the RHRA. But there are other seniors’ homes that “mash the criteria” for congregate care, such as supportive housing or apartment buildings, says McMaster University professor Andrew Costa. “Seniors living in congregate environments, whether licensed or unlicensed, definitely have greater priority for the vaccine,” said the assistant professor in clinical epidemiology. But he says it’s hard to identify congregate-care sites if they’re not licensed. Costa suggests consulting the list of home-care recipients to help. Even if fewer than half of the building’s residents receive home care, he hopes the entire building would be prioritized for the vaccine. Wright says her parents live in their own apartment but they and other residents receive home care through the LHIN. The building also offers congregate dining. She is particularly concerned about transparency and the “conflicting reports” from public health and Atria. “At any time, (COVID-19) could come in,” she said. “This is unconscionable.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
A U.S. agency investigating Facebook Inc for racial bias in hiring and promotions has designated the probe as "systemic," attorneys for three job applicants and a manager who claim the company discriminated against them told Reuters on Friday. The EEOC typically resolves disputes through mediation or allowing complainants to sue employers. Facebook operations program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and two applicants denied jobs brought a charge last July to the EEOC, and a third rejected applicant joined the case in December.
Hamilton reported 64 new COVID-19 cases and five new outbreaks on Friday, as presumed variant cases continued to rise. The city now has 398 active cases, a decrease for the fourth straight day. The number of cases which screened positive for a variant rose by seven, bringing it to 88. All COVID-19 cases in Ontario are now screened for the COVID-19 variants that first appeared in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. Cases that screen positive for a variant are then sent for confirmation. Nearly all those cases end up being confirmed, according to Hamilton’s medical officer of health. To date, Hamilton has had four confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 strain, which first appeared in the U.K. The city reported five new outbreaks on Friday. Queen’s Garden long-term-care home on Queen Street North is back in outbreak with one staff case as of March 3, a day after its previous outbreak was declared over. AbleLiving Services Supportive Housing in the Strathcona neighbourhood has one staff case in the outbreak declared March 4. The facility offers apartments with 24-hour care for people with disabilities. The Carlisle Retirement Residence, on Main Street East at Wentworth Street South, has one staff case. St. Michael Catholic Elementary School on the Mountain and Hillfield Strathallan College, near Mohawk College, each have two cases. New cases were also reported in ongoing outbreaks at shelters. Two more patron cases were reported at the Salvation Army Booth Centre at 94 York Blvd. There have now been 54 cases in this outbreak, of which 43 are patron cases. The Good Shepherd Men’s Centre on Mary Street reported one new staff case, bringing it to three. There have been 12 cases in the outbreak. Four new staff cases were reported at Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre on Barton Street East. As of Thursday, Public Health Ontario was reporting a reproduction number of 1.03 for Hamilton, a slight improvement from the 1.11 rate one week prior, but still higher than the 0.7 threshold suggested for fast-spreading variants. Public health reported no new deaths on Friday. Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. residents are hunkering down at home as they face a blizzard, but thankfully, their internet has been restored. "This the longest [internet outage] it's been," said Ulukhaktok Mayor Joshua Oliktoak. "I guess it was getting hard for some people, so I'm very thankful that it was resolved so people are able to get what they need before they have to stay in … everything is shut-down except for the stores." The internet was in and out for nearly eight days before Northwestel fixed the issue Thursday evening, the company confirmed. It said a "technical issue" had caused "internet network congestion" in the community. Residents had been trying to alert the company to the internet problem, but, said a Northwestel spokesperson, during the outage period "data was still flowing in and out of the community and we did not fully realize the impact it was having on customers." The internet outage was so widespread that it even affected residents' ability to pay for groceries and gas. Oliktoak said Friday afternoon that the internet returning meant community members could pick up groceries and supplies before the blizzard got too bad. "We are fortunate it got fixed before the weekend," said Oliktoak. "Right now it's real bad. Some people can't see across the road."
Two Bolton teens performed in a new virtual concert event organized and performed all by youth members. The online concert was live streamed on February 27 and was headlined by 14-year-old Mini Pop Kids star Peyton Garcia who performed a variety of cover songs from artists like Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa, as well as originals. In addition to Garcia, performances also featured America’s Got Talent finalists GEN: ZED, and OPUS Dance Collective dance group. The show was put together with the help of industry producer Jamie Hodgins. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online virtual concert allowed the young talent to continue to put on a show while keeping safe from the virus. Two of the participants were 14-year-old Caledon residents, Ava Barbuto and Hailey Vultao, who dance with Joanne Chapman’s School of Dance located in Brampton. Both girls have been dancing with each other since a very young age, and excitedly enough, are also best friends. “I started dancing when I was three years old, and I guess I loved it ever since. When my mom took me to my first ballet class, I remember that all the kids were crying and I wanted to be there,” said Ava. “I wanted to go to the next class, so I knew from there that that was something I wanted to continue to see how far I’ll go, and where I’ll go, and how much I’ll accomplish.” “I started dancing when I was two, and my sister danced, so when my mom put me in there to try it, I just found the love for it,” added Hailey. At the Joanne Chapman School of Dance, the girls learned not one, not two, but a variety of different types of dance, including ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, just to name a few. Both Hailey and Ava began competing in dance at the dance school when they were three years old, and have grown into successful, competitive and talented dancers. Ava has danced in music videos and commercials, including Mini Pop Kids. She has also won several scholarships and awards at workshops and competitions. Hailey, same as Ava, began competing with Joanne Chapman School of Dance, and also danced for Mini Pops Kids concerts and videos. She has won several scholarships and awards as well including Miss Mini CanDance, Fever’s Junior Powerhouse and a DancerPalooza’s Beat Squad. Additionally, Hailey has also modelled for companies like Walmart and Joe Fresh. The online virtual concert was a huge success for not only the audience who got to watch from the comfort of their own homes, but by all performers and crew. “I think it went very well. I love how all the effects came together and all the different lighting. When we were filming it, we didn’t really know how it would turn out since we were behind the camera,” said Ava. “One of my favourite parts was the Bieber mash-up to perform and watch, because it has some of my favourite songs.” “My favourite part of the show was my favourite number, which was Levitation (by Dua Lipa), because it was really upbeat and just overall a very fun to dance too, but I also liked Falling because I got to do a duet with my best friend Ava,” explained Hailey. Although they weren’t able to perform in front of a physical audience, they were able to experience a different way of performing for an audience – but it did prove to have its challenges. “It’s really different,” said Ava. “It makes it harder for the dancers to try and learn and practising the choreography if we don’t know the exact steps. So, it’s more challenging than what we’re used to, but it was a fun experience.” A second part of the Virtual Concert Reality (VCR) is hoped to be coming this upcoming summer, where both girls will once again get to perform for a large online audience. You go girls! Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen