While noting there are some reasons to be optimistic, Toronto officials are very cautious as the city heads into two fresh weeks of lockdown. The rise of tests screening positive for COVID-19 variants is a major concern. Matthew Bingley reports.
While noting there are some reasons to be optimistic, Toronto officials are very cautious as the city heads into two fresh weeks of lockdown. The rise of tests screening positive for COVID-19 variants is a major concern. Matthew Bingley reports.
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City extended its extraordinary winning run to 21 games by scoring three goals from the 80th minute to beat Wolverhampton 4-1 and move 15 points clear in the Premier League on Tuesday. Gabriel Jesus netted twice from close range and Riyad Mahrez added another goal to cap a period of incessant pressure by City after Wolves equalized in the 61st minute through Conor Coady’s header — the visitors’ first touch in City’s box. Leander Dendoncker had given City the lead for the first time with an own-goal in the 15th. City has won every game it has played in all competitions since Dec. 19 and has 15 victories in a row in the league. Its unbeaten streak stretched to 28 matches — tying a club record also achieved under manager Pep Guardiola in 2017. Second-place Manchester United can restore the 12-point gap to City by beating Crystal palace on Wednesday. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Barrhead Victim Services has a new program manager. Kristina Kyllonen has been working closely with the outgoing program manager since the end of November to ensure a smooth transition. Originally from British Columbia, Kristina has lived in Stony Plain for 15 years and has worked with Victim Services in some capacity over the last five years. The Barrhead Victim Services Unit (VSU) provides services to both Swan Hills and Fort Assiniboine. They work closely with the Barrhead and Swan Hills RCMP detachments to offer assistance to people who have been affected by crime, trauma, or tragedy. The VSU is able to support its clients through the entire process of a police investigation, traumatic events or crises, and the criminal justice process. Their volunteer advocates provide information, referrals for further resources, and support for their clients with courtesy, compassion, and respect. The Barrhead VSU supports their clients through incidents such as: · Domestic Violence · Family Violence · Sexual Assault · Assault · Child Abuse · Sudden Deaths · Stalking and Harassment · Property Crimes · Other Traumatic Events The pandemic has affected some of the services offered by the VSU and how those services are delivered. COVID-19 protocols prevent the VSU’s volunteer advocates from responding to the scene of traumatic events in “crisis call-outs.” The usual training activities for the VSU’s workers have been disrupted as well. In addition, many court dates have been cancelled due to the pandemic, which in turn filters down through the experiences of many of the VSU’s clients. Some significant changes are coming to the Barrhead VSU and other VSUs around the province, but unfortunately, the specific details of these changes haven’t yet been announced. The Barrhead VSU is a non-profit organization that is partially funded through the Justice and Solicitor General Victims of Crime Fund. Some of the possible changes to come could see VSUs become provincial or municipal government entities or go to a zonal organizational structure. This uncertainty has been stressful for the people who work in the VSUs, mainly because these proposed changes would fundamentally change the VSUs themselves and how they operate. On a happier note, the Barrhead VSU has recently concluded an extremely successful fundraising campaign. After being overwhelmed with exceedingly generous donations from nearby municipalities, local businesses, and private donors, they put together ten themed gift baskets for a raffle, which then sold out completely. Beginning on March 1, 2021, the Barrhead VSU will draw the winners for 2 of the gift baskets live on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Barrhead-Victim-Services-1884640488298862) each day this week. The Grizzly Gazette would like to congratulate Barrhead Victim Services on a successful fundraising campaign and thank them for all that they do for the communities that they help and support. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
NEW YORK — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said Tuesday that it plans to have a live induction of its 36th class on Oct. 30 in Cleveland — before an actual audience! The induction ceremony will take place in the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and tickets will be available to the general public. “We are optimistic and hopeful for the ceremony,” said Greg Harris, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Inductees will be announced in May. Nominees include Jay-Z, the Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, The Go-Go's, Devo and Carole King. Currently, Ohio permits crowds of up to 25% capacity at the arena for Cavaliers games. The hall is hopeful that the percentage will increase by the time of the induction, but promised to follow best health practices. It will be the sixth time the induction ceremony will be held in Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. For the past decade, the hall has invited fans to buy tickets for the speeches and live performances, instead of just an audience of industry insiders. Harris said a fall induction ceremony, moved from the spring last year because of COVID, will become permanent. He seemed wistful at a news conference as he played a clip of past ceremonies, to the sound of Prince's performance of “Let's Go Crazy” from his induction. “Watching that footage makes me realize how much we miss live music,” he said. The Associated Press
Spin Master Corp. recorded meteoric growth in its digital games business in the latest quarter as users of its Toca Life World app filmed themselves playing the game and shared the videos on social media, the company’s co-CEO said Tuesday. “There was a crazy amount of people that were actually filming themselves playing in the game and then uploading it to TikTok, and that exposure of the game really started to increase the amount of users,” Ronnen Harary told investors during a conference call. “When you have that many people seeing the product, playing with the product and telling their friends, there's a multiplier effect.” The Canadian toymaker’s digital games revenue increased by more than 400 per cent to $31.8 million in its fourth quarter, driven by the Toca Life World platform. The app, developed by Spin Master's Swedish app studio Toca Boca, lets players imagine stories for characters in the virtual game, including kids, babies, elders and creatures, and drag the characters around the screen with their finger and make them do activities. While it's free to download the app, Spin Master makes money through the in-game purchases and upgrades. The stronger digital games revenue, also driven in part by its Sago Mini kids app subscription user base, was revealed as the company said its revenue grew 3.6 per cent compared with a year ago for the three months ended Dec. 31. The Toronto-based company said revenue for the quarter was US$490.6 million, up from US$473.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Spin Master's shares surged to a 52-week high and were up over 24 per cent, or $7.01, at $36.07 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Yet its quarterly results also showed a decline in net sales to $434.3 million, from $441.6 million a year earlier. Mark Segal, Spin Master's chief financial officer, explained that the sales slump was in part due to retailers pulling promotions forward earlier in the fall as well as the company's decision to limit domestic inventory. "This affected our ability to fulfil some late-season replenishment and e-commerce orders, especially on hot items," he told analysts. "While this meant we did not maximize our sales, the position we took allowed us to achieve our best sell-through and cleanest retail and Spin Master inventory levels in many years." Meanwhile, the company will be releasing its feature-length Paw Patrol movie in August, expanding the reach of the company's popular kids entertainment franchise and opening up a new revenue stream. "In terms of increasing our output, you will see more films coming from Spin Master in the future and I think that gives us a whole new way to actually entertain kids," Harary told analysts. "It's really important for everybody to understand that we're actually producing the film, we didn't license the film out ... and take a royalty on it," he said. "Our team internally in Toronto produced the film, we hired the writers, we hired the directors, we did the whole casting with all that amazing voice talent." It's unclear whether there will be a theatrical release for the movie or a combination of theatrical and video on demand, Harary said. Meanwhile, although classic toys and game were a safe choice in 2020, he said consumers will "shift to newness" post-pandemic, he said. The company is preparing for this shift with a robust pipeline of new product development and the goal of greenlighting one to two new properties a year, Harary said. Harary and Anton Rabie, co-founders of the children's entertainment company, will step down from their co-chief executive roles next year. Max Rangel was appointed global president in January and adds the chief executive role to his title in April. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TOY) Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
ALGIERS, Algeria — Hundreds of students restarted their weekly Tuesday protest marches that were called off last spring because of the coronavirus. The march came eight days after the Hirak pro-democracy movement reappeared in streets around the country to mark its second anniversary and days after the weekly Friday marches restarted. Hirak's peaceful protests helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019. His successor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has promised reform of the system marked by corruption under Bouteflika and with the shadow of the army ever-present. “Civilian state and not a military state,” one group of students cried out, hoisting high a banner reading “We don't go home until the demands of Hirak are met.” Police watched, their vans blocking some streets, as marchers detoured around security forces, moving through winding streets at the bottom of Algiers' famed Casbah toward the imposing central post office, the traditional rallying point for the Hirak. Demonstrators sang and waved flags with no incidents reported. The Associated Press
Work has started on the Swan Hills Fireguard project. Lead by the Town of Swan Hills, this project is being completed through a partnership between the Town, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Blue Ridge Lumber. During the week of Feb. 22, Blue Ridge began clearing trees alongside the fire road on the east side of Swan Hills to make way for the 50 – 100 meter wide fireguard. The proposed fireguard will follow the fire road to reduce the amount of established forest that will need to be cleared, widening the existing cleared area around the road instead of levelling a new path through the forested areas surrounding the town. Altogether, roughly 41 hectares will be cleared for this project. Blue Ridge will harvest the saleable timber within the fireguard's planned path as the first step to clearing this area. Once Blue Ridge has made enough progress in their operations to allow for it, a mulching company will be contracted to mulch the remaining material. The removal of the standing timber, deadfall, and standing deadfall is part of a vegetation management strategy to eliminate or at least reduce potential fuel for wildfires. While this strategy will not stop a wildfire on its own, it would slow the wildfire’s advance to give firefighters more time to attempt to get it under control. The fireguard will also give firefighters space to set up their operations. While the sight and sounds of logging operations so close to Swan Hills may be disturbing to some town residents, it is important to remember that this is a planned operation to decrease the town's wildfire risk. Once the fireguard has been completed, the Town of Swan Hills will be engaging in maintenance and upkeep operations regarding the fireguard and FireSmarting activities around the town going forward. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
SURREY, B.C. — RCMP say a third suspect has surrendered to police after a youth was assaulted with a weapon Monday in an attack outside a school in Surrey, B.C. Two other youths were taken into custody shortly after the assault outside Panorama Ridge Secondary School. Police say the third suspect surrendered later on Monday and all three youths remained in custody overnight. The suspects were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday and investigators say none of them are known to police. The victim was taken to hospital in stable condition Monday and police have not released further details about what led to the assault. A statement issued Tuesday by RCMP says the attack is believed to be related to an ongoing dispute among the teens and is not linked to gang activity, and there's no indication of any continuing risk to safety at the school. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
In days, Ontario is set to receive its first batch of a third COVID-19 vaccine. But that new shot— the AstraZenca vaccine — won’t be administered anyone over the age of 64. The news comes as the province is also debating a major change when it comes to how quickly people can get their second shot. Travis Dhanraj reports.
Which Canadian political party has the best interests of Black people at heart?
Les conséquences de l’épidémie et du confinement touchent aussi les animaux. Surenchère de la demande, hausse des cas de vols, arnaques, prix de vente exorbitants, « éleveurs » improvisés, etc. La SPA de l’Estrie dessert un territoire qui compte plus de 225 000 habitants et englobe plusieurs municipalités, dont celles des MRC du Val-Saint-François et des Sources. Rencontre avec Marie-Pier Quirion, 27 ans, agente de communication et porte-parole. Qu’en est-il des vols dans nos régions ? « Comme on en parle davantage, quand son animal manque à l’appel, on pense illico à un vol, explique-t-elle. Mais il peut s’agir d’autre chose, notamment une fugue. Dans tous les cas, c’est préoccupant, et nous vous invitons à redoubler de vigilance. Ne laissez jamais votre chien seul à l’extérieur même attaché. Lorsqu’il va faire ses besoins, mettez votre manteau et sortez avec lui. Un chien peut disparaitre tellement vite ! C’est aussi un règlement municipal : si votre animal est libre sur votre terrain, il doit être sous surveillance constante. Et bien sûr, il doit porter un médaillon. » Craqué pour une boule de poil… Comme on ne serre plus les mains, on n’embrasse plus, la présence d’un animal peut combler bien des besoins. Et l’engouement pour trouver un compagnon est sans précédent. « Au cours des dernières années, de toute façon, on reçoit moins de chiens, poursuit Marie-Pier Quirion. Et depuis la pandémie, la demande explose ! Les prix sont surélevés, les attentes chez les éleveurs sont longues et les refuges sont quasiment vides. Cette pénurie stimule, hélas, l’appât du gain chez plusieurs. Pensez à toutes ces arnaques. Par exemple, on donne un chiot de race, mais il faut payer le billet d’avion. On entre dans un engrenage avec zéro animal en fin de compte. » Après la pandémie, doit-on s’attendre à une vague d’abandons ? « On ne l’exclut pas. Avant qu’un animal parte dans sa nouvelle famille, les préposés font un énorme travail de sensibilisation à propos des coûts, des besoins de l’animal, des investissements de temps et d’énergie. Sachant que l’espérance de vie d’un chien est d’une douzaine d’années et qu’un chat d’intérieur peut atteindre 15 ans, on rappelle que c’est une responsabilité pour la vie ! En ce moment, et avec le télétravail, les gens ont davantage de temps pour s’occuper d’un animal. Après, auront-ils encore cette disponibilité ? C’est un pensez-y-bien. » La SPA offre ses services sur rendez-vous seulement. L’organisme invite les gens à le contacter pour toutes questions. « Parlez-nous avant d’abandonner votre animal. Souvent, nous proposons des pistes et des solutions de rechange pour résoudre aisément moult problèmes », conclut-elle. spaestrie.qc.ca facebook.com/spaestrie Mireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
Heavily shorted mortgage provider Rocket Companies saw its stock surge on Tuesday, in an eye-popping move reminiscent of the rallies that powered GameStop and other so-called meme stocks earlier in the year. Shares of Rocket, the parent company of Quicken Loans, closed up 71.2% at $41.60 after being halted several times for volatility. The outsized move puts Rocket among the stocks that have experienced wild gyrations after becoming a focus of investors on sites such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets, where mentions of the company have multiplied in recent days.
The territory needs to improve screening of residents for colorectal cancer to help early detection of the disease, says Inuvin Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler. Quoting health authority data, Semmler said the Beaufort Delta has the highest number of residents with colorectal cancer but the lowest take-up of testing. “I can honestly say most people in my region have been affected by this disease,” she said. “We need to make sure our residents are aware of the screening criteria and ensure we see our screening rates rise so we can prevent any further deaths for our loved ones.” According to the N.W.T. health authority, men and women aged 50 to 74 who are considered to be at an average risk should be screened every one or two years. Those at increased risk should begin screening at age 40, or 10 years earlier than the youngest age at which the disease has been diagnosed in their family. In the N.W.T., colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. Cure rates are almost 90 per cent when detected early but drop to 12 per cent if detected in its later stages, according to the 2019-2020 N.W.T. Health and Social Services annual report. From October 2019 to February 2020, community engagement program kits were sent to each community to raise awareness about colorectal, cervical and breast cancer. According to its annual report, the territory is nowhere near the national minimum target for colorectal cancer screening. The national screening goal for colorectal cancer was 60 per cent for the period studied. The N.W.T. only screened 21.9 per cent of its targeted population. Health minister Julie Green said a pilot project launched in the Beaufort Delta a year ago did improve participation. The project saw self-screening kits mailed to people while nurses followed up with information and assistance. Green said more kits were sent in November 2020. A total of 1,157 kits were distributed. Screening in smaller Beaufort Delta communities beyond Inuvik rose from seven per cent to 15.6 per cent. Including Inuvik, the figure went from 6.7 per cent to 11.8 per cent. People who receive a positive result from their self-screening test must currently wait an average of 88 days for a colonoscopy, a delay Green says the territory is working to shorten. “We are now working on a pilot project that will help us identify where we can make improvements to reduce the amount of time that it takes to go from a positive test to a colonoscopy,” the minister said. Semmler said she worried about potential delays the pandemic had introduced to the process of diagnosing cancer and treating patients, such as travel restrictions potentially disrupting access to the Alberta Cross Cancer Institute. Green said services remain as available as they were pre-pandemic and, though some residents have been hesitant to leave the territory for medical care, there was regular communication between the N.W.T. and the Alberta facility. In addition, the minister said, two specialist cancer clinics are offered virtually from Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Hospital. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
HALIFAX — Racial justice advocates say systematic racism has led to the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous people in Nova Scotia's criminal justice system. The group told a legislative committee today that systemic and structural racism in Canada has disproportionately affected Black and Indigenous people. Emma Halpern, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, says there needs to be mandatory anti-racist training for police and other front-line workers who encounter African Nova Scotian and Indigenous residents. Robert Wright, spokesperson for the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, says despite the group's advocacy for the end to police street checks, the practice continues to be supported by the province. Wright says his group has seen a disappointing lack of commitment to anti-racism initiatives in the province's criminal justice sector. Halpern says government departments need to have a more "human-centred approach" for offering services to racialized people in the criminal justice system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec government has reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March, Health Minister Christian Dube said Tuesday. Dube told a news conference that some 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments for vaccinations by March 15. COVID-19 vaccinations are open to Quebecers aged 85 and older in outlying regions, while they are open to people as young as 70 in the Montreal area. Dube said the Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom. "We're afraid," Dube said. "We’re afraid the Montreal region is the calm before the storm." Quebec reported 588 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations rose by 16 to 628, and 121 people were in intensive care, a drop of one. Dube said that while the general COVID-19 curve is dropping, cases of the U.K. variant are rising quickly. The province has confirmed 137 cases of variants, most of which have been identified in Montreal and involve the U.K. mutation. He said there are also 1,095 presumptive variant cases across Quebec. The province began vaccinating older members of the general public at mass vaccine centres on Monday, and administered 16,458 doses over the course of the day. Dube said the first day was a success despite some small issues, including long lineups at some sites. He said adjustments will be made in the coming days, and also asked people not to show up too early for their appointments in order to avoid a long wait. The minister said mass vaccination would be expanded in other regions as quickly as possible. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The federal government is giving almost $11,000 to each of the Yellowknife, Hay River, and Fort Smith Royal Canadian Legions. The combined $32,500 will go toward supplementing operational costs to help the facilities continue to provide support for veterans. The money comes from a federal fund that seeks to protect jobs and create emergency support to help businesses survive during the pandemic. “Royal Canadian Legion branches have supported veterans, their families, and their communities for generations,” N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod is quoted as saying. “Our government is helping branches continue to provide their important services here in the N.W.T. and across the country.” Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
SAINTE-SOPHIE, Que. — A second woman has died of her injuries following an assault Monday in a house in Quebec's Laurentians region. Quebec provincial police confirmed Tuesday that a 28-year-old woman who was taken to hospital in critical condition has died. A 60-year-old woman, who is a relative of the other victim, was previously declared dead. Provincial police Sgt. Marie-Michelle Moore says the case is now considered a double homicide. Police received a 911 call around 9:15 p.m. on Monday about an incident in Ste-Sophie, about 65 kilometres north of Montreal. They say they believe the incident is connected to a car crash in nearby St-Jerome, Que., in which a driver hit another car around the same time police discovered the two victims at the Ste-Sophie home. The 33-year-old driver, who is considered a suspect, was seriously injured and taken to hospital along with the other driver involved in the collision. Police say the injuries of the two drivers are no longer considered life-threatening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Councillor Daryn Watson Absent Request For Decision (RFD) Two RFDs were reviewed and then passed: · Alberta Police Interim Advisory Board's (APIAB) Quarterly Report: Council received the APIAB's first quarterly report. The report outlines the work that the board has done since last October. A motion was passed to accept this report as information. · Natural Gas Aggregation Round: The Alberta Municipal Services Corporation (AMSC) is offering customers who are in their energy program to take part in their next procurement round for natural gas. This will take advantage of buying at a lower price than the market price. These lower prices can be locked in for a duration allowing for budget stability and long-term planning. The Town's current natural gas pricing expires at the end of the 2022 calendar year. CAO Lewis will begin negotiations on a 2023 – 2026 contract to take advantage of lower pricing in a locked-down rate. Correspondence & Information · Community Futures/Ballad COVID-19 Fund Project Letter: The joint COVID-19 impact study is moving forward. The study explores employer/employee needs and workforce impacts due to COVID-19 and identifies immediate and future assistance for the business community and labour market. The Town has emailed all of the businesses that were on their initial list. CAO Report · Started the Alberta Safety Codes formal audit on Feb. 22. It is scheduled to wrap up on Feb. 26. The Town is also working with Superior Safety Codes to put together the information and review for the Safety Codes yearly self-audit, which is due in March. · The kickoff meeting for the Fireguard project was held on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Work started on Feb. 24; Blue Ridge is currently working east of the fire road. · Met with Sea Hawk consulting on Feb. 11 to review Emergency Management items and reviewed the audit of Fire Services. · Working with Alberta Parks to finalize the agreements for the operation of local campgrounds. With the Freeman Lake campground, there is the potential that they will replace the outhouse, perform some tree clean-up, and provide picnic tables and fire rings. The Town is also exploring the possibility of Alberta Parks doing some repairs on the camp house. · Working on the Statements of Financials and Expenditures (SFEs) for the Municipal Stimulus Program and Municipal Operating Support Transfer grants for the province. · The next Statistics Canada population census will take place in May 2021. There does not appear to be anyone from Swan Hills that has applied for the census worker positions with Statistics Canada. · The Provincial budget is scheduled to be tabled on Thursday, Feb. 25. There are not a lot of hints from the provincial government as to what it may contain. · The COVID-19 vaccination program has opened up to seniors that were born in 1946 or earlier. The response has been overwhelming; by 10:00 AM, AHS had 9000 people booked for vaccination appointments. There has been frustration because the system did reach the point that they couldn't handle the volume of calls. · The province is supposed to move to Step 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan on Mar. 1. The province had indicated to the municipalities that they would be given roughly a week's notice of potential changes, but so far, there hasn't been any information beyond a hint that changes may be announced on Mar. 1. It is unclear if the province will move fully into Step 2 or if only part of the Step 2 changes will be implemented. There are some complications; while the hospitalization numbers are below the threshold to move to the next step, the R number (a measure of a disease's ability to spread) is still higher than the target value. · Douglas Borg, the Returning Officer for the 2021 Municipal Election, will be coming for a meeting on Feb. 26 to start the preparations for the coming election. · The lease for the 50+ building is coming to an end. The Town will be reviewing the lease to see if there are any changes needed before it is renewed. Operations and Infrastructure · Upon further evaluation of the Emergency Fire Water pump replacement project, we have decided that powering all internal equipment in the event of a power outage is a more effective solution for the facility. In an extended power outage, we would maintain full capability at the reservoir, not only for our ability to fight fire in this condition but to continue full service to residents and businesses alike. · The failed sewage lift station pump is still on backorder due to COVID. · Our level one operator at WTP has now completed course requirements for distribution level one and will write their final exam to complete this course as soon as it is practical. · The Public Works Supervisor has resigned. We will be interviewing for this position over the next few weeks. Reports · Mayor Craig Wilson reported on a meeting with the Barrhead and District Social Housing Association on Feb. 17. The meeting was held at their new facility and included a tour. Phase one of the Hillcrest Manor building has been completed and has passed all of the municipal standards (plumbing, heating, mechanical, etc.) and is waiting for the lodge's approval. Once this has been completed and residents can move into the building, demolition and then construction will begin on phase two. -There was a Golden Triangle meeting by Zoom. The Swan Hills and Fox Creek areas are in excellent shape, but the Whitecourt area isn't in very good condition due to mild weather and lack of snow. · Councillor Carol Webster attended the Growing the North Conference last month, noting the Economic Developers Alberta (EDA) is working on an economic recovery tool kit with free downloads for municipalities. They have also been working on an insider app for a support local initiative. A disaster management tool has been completed for businesses to develop a ready-made disaster management plan. Webster has shared the document with local and regional Chambers of Commerce. -Community Futures Yellowhead East (CFYE) met on Feb. 18. The board approved their 20/21 budget and operational plans and approved the application of a SIP grant (Sectorial Initiatives Program). This provincial grant offers up to $2.5 M/year for 3 years to a total of $7.5 million to assist key sectors of the economy in identifying, forecasting, and addressing their human resources and skills issues. -GROWTH AB met on Feb. 23, inviting CFYE and Ballad consulting to assist the group in determining the future plans for the organization. Made up of 6 regional municipalities, the board plans a restructuring of the non-profit group with a strategic planning session in March with the intent to explore membership and organizational restructuring. -The Regional Chamber of Commerce met on Feb. 24. The Alberta Chamber of Commerce has received a $4.5 million grant to help out smaller Chambers of Commerce, which will soon be rolling out to C of C’s across the province. Two new business support programs were introduced: The Canada United Grant (administered through the Government of Ontario) is open to all Canadian Businesses offers $5000 in funding to businesses with revenue of $150,000 to $3 million to recover costs related to COVID-19 (PPE, renovations, e-commerce development, etc.); the second is the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit which will take over from the Small and Medium Enterprise Grant (which will conclude on Mar. 31) to provide up to an additional $10,000 to the small businesses that have been impacted the hardest by the pandemic. · Councillor Elizabeth Krawiec also reported on the Grow the North Conference. There was great information on winter and shoulder season tourism as well as the future of hydrogen. -Communities in Bloom will be setting up a meeting to discuss planning for the year. Councillor Krawiec is now the Chairperson/contact person. · Councillor Jeff Goebel received a notification about the upcoming wellness fair and sent it to a wildlife biologist in the area to inquire about adding a bear awareness demonstration to the proceedings. · CAO Bill Lewis updated Council that the wellness fair has been moved to September in the hopes that the pandemic conditions will be more favourable. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette