Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow told Rosemary Barton that while the pharmaceutical company is studying coronavirus variants, it's still too early to know whether COVID-19 booster shots will become a reality.
Pfizer Canada president Cole Pinnow told Rosemary Barton that while the pharmaceutical company is studying coronavirus variants, it's still too early to know whether COVID-19 booster shots will become a reality.
Things could look different in the annual meeting season starting next month, when companies are set to face the most investor resolutions tied to climate change in years. Those votes are likely to win more support than in previous years from large asset managers seeking clarity on how executives plan to adapt and prosper in a low-carbon world, according to Reuters interviews with more than a dozen activist investors and fund managers. In the United States, shareholders have filed 79 climate-related resolutions so far, compared with 72 for all of last year and 67 in 2019, according to data compiled by the Sustainable Investments Institute and shared with Reuters.
VANCOUVER — Dominik Kahun scored twice Tuesday as the Edmonton Oilers clawed out a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver (8-13-2) had a 3-0 lead late in the first period, thanks to goals from Bo Horvat, Tyler Myers and Elias Pettersson. Kahun sparked the comeback for Edmonton (13-8-0) with goals late in the first and early in the third. Connor McDavid buried a power-play tally to tie the game, and Tyler Ennis scored to seal the win. Leon Draisaitl registered three assists. Edmonton’s Mike Smith had 30 saves, while Thatcher Demko stopped 25-of-29 shots for Vancouver (8-13-2). The victory extends Edmonton's win streak to four games. It was another disappointing result for the Canucks, who have just two wins in their last 12 games. Ennis broke a 3-3 deadlock 13:25 into the third period. Stationed at the side of the net, he took a puck that had bounced off his shin and tipped it in behind Demko. McDavid knotted the score with a power-play tally 4:23 into the third. Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler had been sent to the box for tripping just nine seconds earlier. When Demko dove to make a stop, McDavid was quick to capitalize, popping a shot in over the sprawled-out netminder from the side of the net. Edmonton had already cut Vancouver's lead to a single goal less than a minute into the third when Kahun's shot from the face-off dot sailed in over Demko's glove. It was the Czech forward's second goal of the night and fourth of the season. After a slow start to the game, the Oilers came close to whittling away the Canucks lead in the second frame. Draisaitl unleashed a blast that tested Demko mightily four minutes in. The goalie hugged his post tightly to ensure an errant puck didn't sneak through, not letting up until the whistle sounded. Near the end of the frame, McDavid fired a shot off the cross bar. Play continued for a few moments before officials decided to check the play to see whether the puck had, in fact, gone into the Vancouver net before bouncing back out. A video review confirmed there was no goal. Vancouver started the scoring race just 1:06 into Tuesday's game. Horvat sprinted down the boards and fired a sharp-angle shot from near the goal line. The puck slid under Smith's pads and into the net to the goaltender's apparent disbelief. Myers extended Vancouver's lead seven minutes later with a blast from the top of the face-off circle. His shot ticked off the stick of Edmonton's Tyler Ennis and sailed in over Smith's shoulder to put the Canucks up 2-0. A scramble in front of the Oilers net ended with another Vancouver goal midway through the first. Canucks defenceman Jordie Benn sent the puck to the front of the net and, through a crowd of sticks, Miller was able to deflect it back to Pettersson at the top of the crease. Falling to the ice, the Swedish centre batted a backhanded shot past Smith. It was Vancouver's third goal, coming on its ninth shot of the night. Edmonton responded just before the first intermission. Kahun got a shot off from low in the face-off circle and Demko appeared to make the stop. But the Canucks netminder couldn't hold on to the puck, which dribbled out from under his arm and into the net. The Oilers and Canucks will face each other again in Vancouver on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
Hyundai Motor Co will replace battery systems in some 82,000 electric vehicles globally due to fire risks - a costly $900 million recall that lays bare the thorny issue of how car and battery makers split the bill when problems arise. The recall is one of the first mass battery pack replacements conducted by a major automaker. The recall mostly concerns the Kona EV, Hyundai's biggest-selling electric car which was first recalled late last year for a software upgrade after a spate of fires.
BANGKOK — Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis gathered pace Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coupmakers to stand down and Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to be returned to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, as part of her efforts to co-ordinate a regional response to the crisis triggered by Myanmar's Feb. 1 military coup. Also making the trip to neighbouring Thailand was the foreign minister appointed by Myanmar's new military government, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, said a Thai government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information. Another Thai official said Wunna Maung Lwin met with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as well as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former army chief who first took power in a military coup. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information. There was no immediate word whether Marsudi also met the Myanmar diplomat. Indonesia and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are seeking to promote some concessions by Myanmar's military that could ease tensions before there is more violence. The regional grouping, to which Thailand and Myanmar also belong, believes dialogue with the generals is a more effective method of achieving concessions than more confrontational methods, such as sanctions, often advocated by Western nations. Opposition to the coup within Myanmar continued Wednesday, with a tense standoff taking place in the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, where police holding riot shields and cradling rifles blocked the path of about 3,000 teachers and students. After about two hours, during which demonstrators played protest songs and listened to speeches condemning the coup, the crowd moved away. On Saturday, police and soldiers shot dead two people in Mandalay as they broke up a strike by dock workers. Earlier the same week they had violently dispersed a rally in front of a state bank branch, with batons and slingshots. Also Wednesday, about 150 people from a Christian group gathered in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, to call for restoration of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders held since the coup. International pressure against the takeover also continues, with more than 130 civil society groups issuing an open letter to United Nations Security Council calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. The letter released Wednesday cited concerns about Myanmar’s citizens being deprived of a democratically elected government and ongoing violations of human rights by a military with a history of major abuses. “Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” the letter said. In addition to a sweeping arms embargo, the letter said any Security Council measures should make sure there is “robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.” There have been past arms embargoes on Myanmar during periods of military rule but not on a global basis. China and Russia, both members of the security council, are among the top arms suppliers to Myanmar, and would almost certainly veto any effort by the U.N. at a co-ordinated arms embargo. How effective the regional efforts at resolving Myanmar's crisis could be remains unclear. If Indonesia's Marsudi met in Thailand with her Myanmar counterpart it would have allowed them to talk face-to-face while sidestepping possible controversy stemming from a visit to Myanmar by Marsudi. Critics of the coup, especially in Myanmar, charge that such a visit would be tantamount to recognizing the military regime as legitimate and its takeover as legal. There had been news reports that such a visit was imminent. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Wednesday that Marsudi left open an option to visit the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, but had put off any plan for the time being. A statement from his office said that taking in account current developments and following consultations with other ASEAN countries, “this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit to Myanmar.” Demonstrations were held outside Indonesian embassies in Yangon and Bangkok on Tuesday in response to a news report that Jakarta was proposing to fellow ASEAN members that they offer qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year. Faizasyah denied the report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
Strong exports and solid construction activity helped the German economy to grow by a better-than-expected 0.3% in the final quarter of last year, but stricter lockdown measures at home and abroad are clouding the outlook for Europe's largest economy. The data, published by the Federal Statistics Office on Wednesday, marked an upward revision to its earlier estimate for a 0.1% expansion over the previous quarter. Adjusted for calendar effects, the German economy shrank by 5.3% last year, a much smaller contraction than in many other European countries, helped by a strong fiscal response to the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taiwan chipmakers are buying water by the truckload for some of their foundries as the island widens restrictions on water supply amid a drought that could exacerbate a chip supply crunch for the global auto industry. Some auto makers have already been forced to trim production, and Taiwan had received requests for help to bridge the shortage of auto chips from countries including the United States and Germany. Taiwan, a key hub in the global technology supply chain for giants such as Apple Inc, will begin on Thursday to further reduce water supply for factories in central and southern cities where major science parks are located.
Tuesday's Games NHL Buffalo 4 New Jersey 1 Pittsburgh 3 Washington 2 (OT) Chicago 6 Columbus 5 (SO) Ottawa 5 Montreal 4 (SO) Nashville 2 Detroit 0 Edmonton 4 Vancouver 3 --- AHL Rockford 3 Cleveland 2 Toronto 5 Stockton 1 --- NBA Detroit 105 Orlando 93 Cleveland 112 Atlanta 111 Brooklyn 127 Sacramento 118 Golden State 114 New York 106 Philadelphia 109 Toronto 102 Dallas 110 Boston 107 Milwaukee 139 Minnesota 112 L.A. Clippers 135 Washington 116 Denver 111 Portland 106 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Radio-Canada - image credit) Maine officials will open bids on Wednesday from three companies seeking to build a new international bridge linking the state and Edmundston, N.B., ahead of awarding one of those companies the contract for the work. Paul Merrill, a public information officer with the Maine Department of Transportation, said the bids will be reviewed with the aim of awarding the contract for the new bridge within four to six weeks and construction starting in April. Merrill called opening the bids a significant milestone for the project, estimated to cost about $108 million ($86 million US). "This has been years in the works and there are still years of work to do," Merrill said in an interview Tuesday. "This is a big project with a big price tag that involves state government, provincial government and two federal governments, as well as all the agencies that oversee this type of work. "We're excited to open bids on Wednesday. We're excited to award the contract to continue the work to replace this bridge." Existing bridge deteriorating Three companies were pre-qualified to bid on the work: Caldwell & Ross of Fredericton, Cianbro in Maine and Reed & Reed, Inc. in Maine. In a followup email, Merrill said Caldwell & Ross did not submit a bid, while Reed & Reed and Cianbro submitted bids valued at $86.5 million and $95 million, respectively. Plans to replace the bridge have been discussed and in the works for years. The existing bridge, built in 1921, was restricted to vehicles weighing less than five tons because of its deteriorating condition in 2017. Its concrete piers are cracking and a report described it as having "significant corrosion" on its steel beams. The existing bridge will be removed once the new structure is complete. The bridge would be built at an angle across the St. John River so a new U.S. border entry point about 400 metres upriver can be built. The plan calls for building the new structure at an angle across the St. John River so the existing Canada Border Services Agency port of entry can be used, while the U.S. port of entry will be constructed at a new site a few hundred metres upriver. The designs include space for snowmobiles to use the bridge, linking extensive trail networks on both sides of the St. John River. "It is an enormous project," Merrill said. "It is important to the commerce of communities on both sides of the border. It is a intricate process in that we are replacing a one hundred-year-old bridge and it involves co-ordination with our counterparts in New Brunswick, in Ottawa, in Washington, D.C., here in Maine, and a lot of environmental permitting because it is a bridge over water." The U.S. General Services Administration awarded a $55 million ($44.5 million US) contract earlier this month for design and construction of the new port of entry on the American side. The port of entry, to be built concurrently with the new bridge, is expected to be complete in late 2023. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency determined in 2019 that a federal environmental assessment of the bridge plans is not required. The New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure filed an environmental impact assessment in March 2019 for work that will take place within Canada. Approval was granted in a decision on Dec. 20, 2020, though that decision was only posted publicly this month. U.S. environmental approval was granted in February, 2020. The U.S. government is providing $45 million ($36 million US) for the cost of the bridge. The rest is cost-shared between the state and provincial governments, according to a 2019 news release. Merrill said that traffic is expected to begin flowing across the new bridge at the end of 2023. Traffic will continue to use the old structure while work is underway on the new bridge, though Merrill said there may be short-term closures lasting several hours or days to demolish the existing bridge in 2024.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. "We're launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050," Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. U.S. Special Climate Change Envoy John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, will host the ministerial.
(Tori Weldon/CBC - image credit) Another reversal of fortune has provided the Sackville Food Bank with a temporary home less than a week after a flood forced volunteers out of their building and destroyed much of the food bank's stock. The owners of a downtown café stepped up to donate their extra storefront space for as long as the food bank needs it. Heather Patterson woke up to news a week ago that the food bank was covered in two inches of water. She and the other volunteers quickly switched gears and set up a makeshift food bank in Patterson's sun room. While everyone who signed up for food got it last week, Paterson knew her sun room wasn't a long-term solution. Volunteers line up to lug two pallets of food from Food Depot Alimentaire's truck to the food bank's temporary home. Patterson said even at the regular location, the unloading is done by hand. Then one email over the weekend solved many of her problems. "We had local restaurant owners step forward and say, 'Would you guys like our empty storefront? And for as long as you need it,'" said Patterson. The storefront is much more than just empty space. It also has freezers and fridges, which are necessary tools in the food bank business. "It's really great because I don't know what we would have done," said Patterson. On Monday, volunteers moved the non-perishable food from Patterson's house to the new space, and on Tuesday they tackled an extra-large shipment from their main supplier, Food Depot Alimentaire. "They knew we couldn't access most of our food, and so they sent extra this week," Patterson said. "It was a really big load." More food means more work for the 10 volunteers. Even at their regular spot, they unload pallets by hand, passing cases of canned goods and pasta from one person to the next until everything is on a shelf. Not everything fit in the new smaller space, but Patterson said her volunteers are expert problem-solvers and organizers. When the fridges filled up, volunteers pulled up within minutes to load surplus food into their cars where it was whisked away to available fridge space at a private home. Patterson, president of the Sackville Food Bank, does a last bit of paperwork to prepare for the next day's pick-ups and deliveries. The storefront on Bridge Street is much more public than the food bank's normal home, but that also comes with benefits, according to Patterson. Passersby have helped to unload cars and chipped a path through a snowbank to allow for easier access to the building. "I think that is very cool," said Kevin Hicks. He regularly volunteers at the food bank and sometimes uses its services. Hicks said he likes to help out, and it's heartwarming to see the number of people and businesses donating goods and money to the local food bank. It's something he thinks more people should do. Kevin Hicks is a food bank volunteer and also occasional user. He said he likes to help out, and is continually impressed with the amount of donations that come in from local people and businesses. "Anybody who wants to donate to something, this is a worthy cause because maybe someday down the road you'll have to go," said Hicks. The flood Patterson said it will be at least a month before the food bank is back in its old home, which had only recently been renovated. "They had to take up our brand new floor, and they have to take out the walls and the cabinets in our kitchen and our washroom facilities," she said. "We haven't even had a chance to have a grand opening yet because of COVID." But in the meantime, the Sackville Food Bank is in full operation.
Dr Michael Gardam, PEI’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), is new on the Health PEI block but he brings more than 20 years of experience improving health care systems with him. Now he intends to assist PEI in the same way. “I realize in any role like this I’m going to have to prove myself and show I actually mean what I say,” Dr Gardam said. “All of the consulting work I’ve done around the world has been about empowering local groups to come up with their own local solutions. So I should be the least scary COO ever in PEI.” Dr Gardam has worked in Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, New York and all across Canada with consistent success helping to improve health systems’ quality of care and safety. “I was warned that people would see any changes to the organizational structure as trying to centralize to Charlottetown. That’s exactly not what I am doing,” he said. “I come with the rural focus of how do we make these communities where it’s hard to recruit and so on, as strong as possible?” He said breaking down silos east and west as well as between mental health and the rest of the health care system will help create smooth, well-integrated and collaborative plans. This could improve the quality of care patients receive. “Now all of the different groups, long-term care, acute care, mental health and addictions, we’re all at the same table. So we can sit together and work through how a plan is going to impact everybody else and how it can fit together.” He said having services such as mental health and addictions trapped in their own silo is outdated. “It’s something you would see in the ‘50s, not now,” he said. “Part of the challenge was we had mental health coming with proposals on its own but those proposals impact and rely on other parts of the system. Or you’d have the east versus west, versus central disconnects.” Dr Gardam hopes the new and relatively standard organizational structure will assist in pulling leadership together to create smoother planning. He said it will not be at the loss of regional leadership’s authority and power to develop and follow through with plans, well tailored to address local needs. In some ways, PEI reminds Dr Gardam of Ireland. “What would work in Dublin definitely was not going to work in Cork. And what worked in Cork was definitely not going to work in Limerick. So we set standards that everybody was going to work on, then it was up to them to figure out how they were going to get there.” This is the leadership style Dr Gardam brings to the Island. The analogy Dr Gardam uses is to imagine a map of PEI and you have to drive from Souris to Tignish. Some of the roads will be mandatory, those are the standards, but otherwise it doesn’t matter what roads you take as long as you get where you are going. In all of this he says his job will be to move boulders out of the way to empower plans and decisions that are best for each region. Paul Young, administrator of hospitals services west of Charlottetown is optimistic about the changes. “There is a lot of excitement across the organization right now, it’s literally palpable. People are excited about the new organization and how that will come together so we can look at better coordination and integration of services,” he said. The changes are a tremendous advancement from his perspective and help from an all-star perspective like Dr Gardam’s adds to his optimism. “A big part of this is support. After speaking with Dr Gardam there seems to be an additional emphasis of the idea that we want to build off what you guys are doing well and give you the room to grow and expand services and try new things,” Mr Young said. Dr Gardam said, health care systems don’t change on a dime and it will take hundreds of small changes before the system will start to improve. “I’m looking forward to two years from now or five years from now and saying, hey what works better?” Dr Gardam has a 2-year contract with Health PEI. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
(Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit) Mushers will hit the trail Wednesday in a new dog sled race — the Yukon Journey. It's been organized as a sort of replacement this year for the territory's major annual dog sled event, the Yukon Quest. That race, which typically draws mushers and fans from around the world, was cancelled this winter because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Everyone's been working hard for the last few weeks to kind of make this happen and come to fruition," said Steve Hossack, who's organizing communications for the Yukon Journey. "We've got a great field. We've got 11 mushers and seven of them are veteran mushers. So it should make for a very, very exciting race." The 375-kilometre Yukon Journey is much shorter than the 1,200-kilometre Yukon Quest, and it takes place entirely in Canada. The race starts in Pelly Crossing at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, and ends in Whitehorse. The original plan was for mushers to run from Dawson City to Whitehorse, but Hossack said that had to change because of some pandemic-related complications. Mushers and organizers of the Yukon Journey meet earlier this month to prepare for the race. He says the race was organized by local mushers to fill a gap left by Yukon Quest, but it's not meant to imitate that higher-profile event. The Yukon Journey is focused on dog care, he says, and there are more mandatory rest stops along the way. "It is a different flavour than the Quest," Hossak said. "You know, it's got a different set of rules and we're hoping that that might sort of influence other dog sporting events to kind of maybe rethink their policies and race rules a little bit." It will also differ from the Yukon Quest in that there will be no online race tracker for people to follow the mushers' progress in real time. He says the best way for people to stay updated is to watch the race's Facebook page. Lots of snow Trail crews have been busy in recent weeks grooming and marking the trail. Hossack says it's looking good. "We've had lots of snow, so that's great. You know, it offers a really good run in between some of these checkpoints but it also offers up some adversity — there's a few banks that we've heard that are the potential tipping corners, especially if mushers are carrying straw or anything like that," he said. There's been no shortage of snow this year which has helped prepare the Yukon Journey trail. 'You know, it offers a really good run in between some of these checkpoints but it also offers up some adversity,' says Steve Hossack. Hossack said the first mushers are likely to arrive in Whitehorse by Friday afternoon, with the rest expected before the end of the weekend. He's discouraging people from gathering around the finish line, though. "Obviously, we can't stop people. So if people want to stand along the trail in sort of a remote section in a spot where they would typically watch Quest mushers run by, that's fine. We just ask them to, you know, follow all of the territorial COVID[-19] measures that are in place." Hossack says the race has been getting "tons of support" from local businesses, so there's already at least $10,000 in prize money up for grabs. Every musher who crosses the finish line will take home a cash prize at least as big as their entry fee, he says. They'll also get a souvenir belt buckle. It's still an an open question whether the Yukon Journey will live beyond 2021. Yukon Quest organizers have already said they expect their race to be back next year. "There's been a little bit more and more discussion about the potential to run [the Yukon Journey] again in the future," Hossack said. "Right now, we kind of just have our eyes on Wednesday as our big day."
Timmins MPP Gilles Bisson says if another shutdown were to happen, people would cope with a “fair amount of difficulty.” Bisson held a virtual town hall Tuesday night to discuss how his constituents have been dealing with the pandemic. Some of the topics raised by community members at the meeting were related to vaccines, education, paid sick leave, electricity rates and the federal gun bill. “One of the things we’ve been saying is there are certain things the government could’ve done to mitigate the amount of infections we have and with this new variant out there, there’s a risk (a shutdown) might happen,” Bisson said. “Am I worried about it? You bet I’m worried about it. And people are going to cope with it with a fair amount of difficulty.” The town hall participants also had a chance to vote in a poll that asked how they’ve been coping with the pandemic and whether people felt reopening the economy was the right thing to do or not. The final poll results will be available Wednesday. During the telephone meeting, a South Porcupine resident asked how people will be notified where and when to get the vaccine. Bisson said the vaccination rollout is currently in phase one where the priority is given to people living in retirement, long-term and alternate care homes. Bisson added people have the right to refuse the vaccine and nobody will be forced to take it. “I would highly encourage you to take the vaccine but that is a personal choice and people have the right to make that decision themselves,” he said. Locally, the second doses of Moderna vaccine are starting to roll out in the Porcupine Health Unit region this week. Talking about education, Bisson said schools in Timmins are open to students who choose to study in-person. He said it was a parental choice to send their kids to classes and he thinks parents should keep their children at home until more people are immunized. Another community member asked how she can get a refund from Air Canada since her trip got cancelled and she was offered only vouchers. Bisson said the federal government has not moved anything to force airlines to give people a refund. He noted NDP MP Charlie Angus raised the issue a few times. “The reality is there will be a lot of people at the end of this who are not going to be able to afford to take that trip that they planned over a year ago. And they’re going to be trying to make up finances that they’ve got to deal with as the result of what they’ve experienced through shutdowns,” he said. “To me, the right thing for them to do would be to make sure you get your refund. But at this point, the federal government hasn’t moved in that direction.” Bisson also spoke about the proposed Bill 239, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act. He said there needs to be legislation in place to allow people to take 14 days of paid sick leave if they have to deal with COVID-19 and wait for testing results. The bill would ensure people, who have symptoms but can’t afford to stay home, will not infect others if they show up at work, he said. “That would not cost an employer more money because it will be funded by the province and it will be another health measure to try and stop the spread of the disease,” Bisson said. Another speaker expressed her objection to lifting pandemic electricity rates. Bisson agreed that having an off-peak pandemic rate would make “some sense.” “And, quite frankly, the government should keep their promise they made in the last election of lowering electricity rates by 14 per cent and doing it away with these particular differences in rates that are currently in place,” he said. Bisson also talked about how the government doesn’t have the capacity and the system to properly respond to both addiction and mental health issues. He said it has gotten worse during the pandemic and there are no extra services to provide support to people dealing with those issues. In response to a question when sports events and concerts will happen again, Bisson said because of recommendations from health officials, the government is reluctant to hold large events until there’s herd immunity. Bisson also shared his thoughts on the federal gun bill, C-21, saying there are many responsible gun owners in Northern Ontario, but there have to be measures put in place to make sure the guns “don’t go to the wrong hands.” Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
New laws are on the horizon for Canada’s aquaculture industry, but environmentalists are wary the proposed legislation might not be enough to protect the country’s oceans. Canada’s $1.2-billion aquaculture industry is now regulated under a patchwork of federal and provincial laws and regulations. Confusion over that regulatory maze has fuelled a years-long effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to develop aquaculture-specific legislation. The new laws would update rules on everything from licensing to the industry’s environmental impact. “We have concerns around the act that (with) the direction it is going, it may actually exempt or replace or undermine some of the other legislative protections around wild fish biodiversity,” said Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Currently, the Fisheries Act contains strong provisions aimed at protecting wild fish and wild fish habitat. Largely developed in the Trudeau government’s early years — an effort to restore protections gutted by former prime minister Stephen Harper — the rules established rigorous habitat protections, Proboszcz said. But he’s worried the proposed aquaculture laws could exempt fish farms from some of these protections. Of greatest concern to Proboszcz and other advocates are open-pen salmon farms, the largest industry in Canada’s aquaculture sector. In use on both coasts, open-pen nets pose a risk to wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon largely because the farms risk exposing wild populations to pests and disease. For instance, a 2012 report by Justice Bruce Cohen found that fish farms along salmon migration routes on the B.C. coast were contributing to the rapid decline of Fraser River salmon. Almost a decade later, in 2020 — and months after the river saw historically low returns — DFO decided to remove open-pen fish farms from the species' key migration route. Environmentalists in both the Atlantic provinces and B.C. have also been concerned for years about the farms’ impact on surrounding ecosystems because excrement, excess feed, and other waste leach beyond the floating pens — despite environmental protections under the Fisheries Act. “The open-pen salmon farming industry is in part governed by the protections of the Fisheries Act,” said Proboszcz. “We think that’s the way it should stay — we spent … years revising the Fisheries Act to protect habitats, to protect wild fish, and we don’t want to see an aquaculture act come in that amends those protections.” In a statement, DFO said the proposed act “would be derived from relevant sections of the Fisheries Act” and “would clearly and appropriately prohibit specific harmful activities … by maintaining the environmental prohibition currently found under the Fisheries Act.” But in a January letter, Watershed Watch and a coalition of other environmental organizations noted that less-stringent provincial aquaculture laws could leave open a loophole to these protections. The Atlantic provinces have some jurisdiction over aquaculture in their waters thanks to agreements between the federal and provincial governments. “The super obvious (concern) is that there doesn’t appear to be any requirement for a national standard of regulation,” said Simon Ryder-Burbidge, marine conservation officer with the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre. “In the course of developing a federal act, you would want to mandate some kind of national standards for the protections of ecosystems at the federal level,” but the proposed act would keep the current system — where jurisdiction over fish farms is split between the federal and provincial governments — intact. “The proposed (aquaculture) act will not impede on existing areas of provincial jurisdiction,” DFO confirmed in a statement. Those aren’t Ryder-Burbidge and Proboszcz's only worries, however. Both noted that DFO’s dual responsibility to regulate and promote Canada’s aquaculture industry is a significant conflict of interest that shouldn’t be enshrined in the planned law. “We do not want to see any sort of legislation or regulation that facilitates the government’s promotion of aquaculture as an industry,” said Proboszcz. Similar concerns have been raised for years: Justice Cohen noted it in the 2012 Cohen report on Fraser River sockeye. More recently, Chief Don Tom, vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, noted the issue was central to controversy around fish farms in B.C.’s Discovery Islands. In response, the ministry said it is “committed to the conservation of wild salmon stocks” and aims to create an act that “provides greater clarity for the sector’s management and helps further enhance environmental protections.” Still, Ryder-Burbidge remains concerned. “At the end of the day, the protection of marine species falls at the foot of the federal government. We want to see them step up and take action to protect wild … salmon and other species,” he said. Marc Fawcett-Atkinson/Local Journalism Initiative/Canada's National Observer Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
President Joe Biden proposed multiple “free college” measures while on the campaign trail. Do any of them have a real shot? Some experts think so. “The issue is bipartisan in its appeal, economically effective and supported by the leadership in today’s Congress and administration — that’s (a) pretty good triple play,” says Morley Winograd, president of The Campaign for Free College Tuition. Others are skeptical now is the time to move forward on free college. “I have a really hard time seeing any sort of four-year free college program passing at this point,” says Douglas Webber, associate professor of economics at Temple University. The first glimpse of a formal proposal will most likely be in Biden’s upcoming budget, experts say. Here’s what to look for. TUITION-FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS MOST LIKELY “Free college” really means free tuition. Students would still have to pay for room and board, along with other costs of attendance such as transportation, books and supplies. The average cost for room and board is $11,386 at a four-year school and $7,636 at a two-year school, according to federal data. President Biden’s free college proposals include: —Four years tuition-free at public colleges for those whose family income is under $125,000. —Two years of free tuition for low- and middle-income students attending minority-serving institutions. —Tuition-free public community colleges. That last one is the easiest sell, experts say. “We’ve seen how much free community college has become more popular,” says Wesley Whistle, senior advisor for policy and strategy with the Education Policy program at New America, a public policy think-tank . “It became a drum and you hear it and that helps it pick up over time.” The primary blocker for any tuition-free program is the cost, experts say, as any such program would likely be funded through a federal-state partnership. Community college is the cheaper bill to foot: The cost to fund tuition at public two-year schools is around $8.8 billion compared with about $72.5 billion at four-year public schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. HOW ‘FREE’ COLLEGE MIGHT WORK There’s already a blueprint for tuition-free programs: Currently 15 states have a program in place, while several others have extensive scholarship programs. Some cities do, too. Most state programs, such as Tennessee Promise and the Excelsior Scholarship in New York, which both offer four years of tuition-free public college, are last-dollar. That means students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and accept all need-based federal and state aid before the tuition-free benefit kicks in. Most experts say a federally enacted program would likely be first-dollar, covering tuition costs before any other aid is applied. That could increase the per-student impact of scholarships and state funding, says Edward Conroy, associate director of institutional transformation for the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. “If we get a federal program that says we’re going to make tuition free and you can still receive any state or federal grants on top of that, that would be a robust program,” Conroy says. In that case, additional aid could go toward paying for additional expenses. PELL GRANT EXPANSION MAY BE EASIER There’s another path toward tuition-free college, though it doesn’t have “free” in the name: the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant program provides students who have demonstrated need with free aid; for 2021-22, it’s up to $6,495. Though the Pell was meant to cover most college costs, it hasn’t kept up — the average tuition and fees at four-year public schools is $9,212, according to the most recent federal data. Most experts say doubling the maximum Pell Grant would effectively create free tuition and in some cases cover additional expenses. Biden has called for this, along with expanding eligibility to cover more middle-income students. Robert Kelchen, associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, says expanded Pell would be easier to pass than tuition-free college since the grant program already exists. Free college proposals are simultaneously blasted for not being generous enough and being too generous to students without demonstrated need, experts say. These criticisms make it more difficult to attain approval among both lawmakers and the public. Expanding the existing Pell Grant program could work to provide free tuition, but it lacks the appeal of a new and “free” program. “From a messaging perspective, saying the Pell (Grant amount) is going up by, say, $2,000 might not have the same impact on students as ‘Your tuition is covered,’” Kelchen says. HOW STUDENTS CAN CUT COSTS Tuition-free college policy could take a long time to pass through Congress — if it can at all — so students and parents may not see this benefit for many months or years. But there are a few existing strategies for getting a degree at a lower cost: —Find out if your state already has a tuition-free program. —Consider a public college unless a private school offers you more aid. —Attend a two-year school, then make a plan to transfer credits and complete a four-year degree. —Compare college cost, graduation rates and typical student loan payments using the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. —Submit the FAFSA and accept all need-based federal and state aid. —Find scholarships using search tools. The U.S. Department of Labor has one. —If your family’s finances have changed, request a professional judgment to appeal your aid award. ________________________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Anna Helhoski is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski. RELATED LINKS: NerdWallet: States with Free College Programs http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-free-college U.S. Department of Labor: CareerOneStop Scholarship Finder https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Training/find-scholarships.aspx U.S. Department of Education: College Scorecard https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/ Anna Helhoski Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
JPMorgan Chase & Co has recently tested blockchain payments between satellites orbiting the earth, executives at the bank told Reuters, showing that digital devices could use the technology behind virtual currencies for transactions. The so-called Internet of Things (IoT), where devices connect to one another, is most associated with consumer electronics, including smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home, and banks want to be ready to process payments when these smart devices start doing transactions autonomously.Umar Farooq, the CEO of JPMorgan's blockchain business Onyx, thought space was a cool place to try it out. "The idea was to explore IoT payments in a fully decentralised way," Farooq said.
(Julia Page/CBC - image credit) Regina city council will now require ride-hailing drivers to have yearly criminal record and vulnerable sector checks. The change comes after hearing from Regina's Capital Cabs and a representative from Uber on a review of ride-hailing in the city. In 2019, ride-hailing vehicles took up about 15 per cent of the transportation-for-hire business in Regina, with taxis taking up the other 85 per cent. In 2020, taxis took 79 per cent of the sharing in trips and ride-hailing took 21 per cent, according to administration. Council voted unanimously to require criminal record and vulnerable sector checks before drivers can start, then again on a yearly basis. Council also talked about requiring cameras in ride-hailing vehicles, but stopped short of voting on it and instead will review ride-hailing again in two years. Glen Sali, owner of Capital Cabs, spoke to council. He said he wanted a more level playing field, as taxi drivers are required to have cameras. Sali said GPS on an app cannot replace the security of a camera. "It's safety not just for the driver but also for the customer," Sali said. "So we need to have safety for both to eliminate any issues." The Regina Police Service received no complaints from the public about Uber drivers since their operations started in Regina, according to city administration. Yanique Williams, the public policy manager for Western Canada at Uber, spoke to council as well. She said cameras would be an issue in ride-hailing vehicles as many vehicles are used for personal use and professional use. While taxis are solely used for professional uses. Williams said ride-hailing and taxis need to be treated differently because they are different industries. She said cameras should be required in taxis as they operate on street hails and accept cash but that the app and issue reporting in the app keeps Uber passengers safe. $250,000 Efficiency review program approved by council City council also approved an efficiency review program, with its first phase expected to cost $250,000. The review will look at six to eight city services and make recommendations for how to improve or adapt them. Phase one will hire an independent consultant to review the services. They will report on an ongoing basis to city council. "I think that COVID-19 has provided us the opportunity to transform in some respects," Mayor Sandra Masters said during an executive committee meeting. The final report for Phase 1 is anticipated to come before council at the end of 2021. Council will also discuss allowing the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Corporation to increase its debt financing to $60 million for a plant renewal project. The plant provides treated water to Regina and Moose Jaw. The plant board said this renewal is needed for the aging facility.
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(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) Seniors looking to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will not have to worry about paying for parking, after all. Starting next Monday, the province will broaden its vaccination campaign to include the general population. The first priority group will be people born in 1936 and before, meaning seniors who are at least close to turning 85. Earlier this morning, the person in charge of the vaccination campaign for Montreal's east end said seniors would need to pay a reduced parking fee at the Olympic Stadium's vaccination clinic of $6 instead of $20. "It's about the same as a round trip in public transportation, so the costs were adjusted to better welcome all of the people who will come by car," said Caroline Saint-Denis during an interview with Radio-Canada's Tout un Matin. Saint-Denis's statement appeared to catch Health Minister Christian Dubé off guard. He was also interviewed on the French-language radio program. Dubé said he was expecting the parking fees at the Olympic stadium to be similar to the ones at hospitals, with the first two hours being free, and the daily rate being capped at $10. The minister's spokesperson has since issued a statement, guaranteeing that parking at the Big O, or any other vaccination site, will be free. "The general premise is for it to be free, and for there to be no barriers to access the vaccination sites," the spokesperson's statement read. Despite the correction, questions regarding the vaccines' accessibility began mounting shortly after the Legault government's news conference at the Big O on Tuesday. Although appointments for the shot can be taken by phone at 1-877-644-4545, the government is strongly encouraging people to reserve their spot through an online portal at quebec.ca/covidvaccine. People who wish to get vaccinated can register for an appointment online at quebec.ca/covidvaccine, or by phone at 1-877-644-4545. People in the province's priority groups are also likely to have mobility issues. Health Minister Christian Dubé acknowledged that challenge, saying it was possible to bring vaccine doses to hospitals, private seniors' residences, and long-term care homes — where dozens of people could get the shots in the same location — but the same cannot be done in people's homes. The minister said the province will work closely with regional health boards and community organizations to make sure eligible seniors aren't left behind. "But the idea is they have to leave their homes to come get the vaccine, because unfortunately, we can't bring the vaccines to them, for the moment," Dubé said.
Simcoe County paramedics are breathing a collective sigh of relief now that they’ve been able to access the COVID-19 vaccine. “I’m very happy and very relieved and very appreciative,” said Simcoe County paramedic Danielle Desrochers, who has been anxiously waiting for the shot, which she finally received Thursday. “It’s been such a scary time to be a paramedic, to go into all these calls.” Local paramedics initially expressed concern that they weren’t among earlier groups invited to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But they said they received an outpouring of support after expressing those worries. “We’re all very excited about this,” said Sean Sharp, a paramedic who serves as second vice-president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 303, which represents local paramedics. He received his first shot on Friday and believes all of Simcoe County’s paramedics have now been offered the first of two shots. Paramedics had earlier said they were worried because they regularly expose themselves to the virus and possibly the virulent variants. Even though they’re fully adorned in the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), Sharp said they could still be at risk without immunity through a vaccine. Paramedics did attend the Roberta Place long-term care facility in south-end Barrie throughout the deadly outbreak of the B.1.1.7 UK variant, and they regularly transport people with COVID-19. For local paramedics, the positive messages they received on social media proved inspiring. “There’s been an amazing amount of support from the community,” Sharp said. “It’s given us a lot of motivation. “I’m relieved that we were all offered this. There were members, local paramedics, who were getting scared," he added. Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com