A group of 25 asylum seekers was allowed into the United States on Friday, a United Nations official said, the start of efforts to unwind one of former President Donald Trump's most restrictive immigration policies. Flora Bradley-Watson reports.
A group of 25 asylum seekers was allowed into the United States on Friday, a United Nations official said, the start of efforts to unwind one of former President Donald Trump's most restrictive immigration policies. Flora Bradley-Watson reports.
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
HOLTVILLE, Calif. — Authorities are investigating whether human smuggling was involved after a crash Tuesday involving an SUV packed with 25 people and a tractor-trailer that left 13 people dead and bodies strewn across a roadway near the U.S. Mexico border. Most of the dead were Mexicans, a Mexican official said. When police arrived, some of the passengers were trying to crawl out of the crumpled 1997 Ford Expedition while others were wandering around the fields. The rig's front end was pushed into the SUV's left side and two empty trailers were jackknifed behind it. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the two-lane highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California about 125 miles (201 kilometres) east of San Diego. Another person died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said. “It was a pretty chaotic scene,” said Watson, who also described it as “a very sad situation.” Roberto Velasco, director of North American affairs for Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, confirmed Tuesday on his Twitter account that at least 10 of those killed have been identified as Mexicans. No identities have been released. The cause of the collision was unclear, authorities said, and it also was not immediately known why so many people were crammed into a vehicle built to hold eight people safely. Watson said the SUV only had front seats — the middle and back seats had been removed. That would allow more people to fit into the vehicle but makes it even more unsafe. It wasn't immediately clear whether the SUV was carrying migrants who had crossed the border, ferrying farmworkers to fields, or was being used for some other purpose. “Special agents from Homeland Security Investigations San Diego responded ... and have initiated a human smuggling investigation," the agency said in a statement, adding that other details weren't being released. Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said agents were not pursing the SUV at the time of the crash, which was initially rumoured. The immigration status of the passengers was unknown. “It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” Mora said. The people in the vehicle ranged in age from 15 to 53 and were a mix of males and females, officials said. The 28-year-old driver was from Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border, and was among those killed. The 68-year-old driver of the big rig, who is from nearby El Centro, was hospitalized with moderate injuries. The passengers' injuries ranged from minor to severe and included fractures and head trauma. They were being cared for at several hospitals. One person was treated at a hospital and released. The crash occurred around 6:15 a.m. at an intersection just outside Holtville, which dubs itself the world’s carrot capital and is about 11 miles (18 kilometres) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It was a sunny, clear morning and authorities said the tractor-trailer and its two empty containers were northbound on State Highway 115 when the SUV pulled in front of it from Norrish Road. A California Highway Patrol report said the SUV entered an intersection directly in front of the big-rig, which hit the left side of the SUV. Both vehicles came to a halt on a dirt shoulder. It's not clear if the SUV ran a stop sign or had stopped before entering the highway. It's also not yet known how fast the tractor-trailer was travelling. The speed limit for tractor-trailers on the highway is 55 mph (88.5 kph), according to CHP Officer Jake Sanchez. The other road is also 55 mph for vehicles. A 1997 Ford Expedition can carry a maximum payload of 2,000 pounds. If it had 25 people inside, that would easily exceed the payload limit, which taxes the brakes and makes it tougher to steer, said Frank Borris, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation. “You’re going to have extended stopping distances, delayed reactions to steering inputs and potential over-reaction to any type of high-speed lane change,” said Borris, who now runs a safety consulting business. SUVs of that age tended to be top-heavy even without carrying a lot of weight, Borris said. “With all of that payload above the vehicle’s centre of gravity, it’s going to make it even more unstable,” he said. The crash occurred amid verdant farms that grow a wide variety of vegetables and alfalfa used for cattle feed. Thousands of people cross into the U.S. each day to work in the fields. The harvest of lettuce and other winter vegetable crops runs from November until March, and buses and SUVs carrying farmworkers are often rumbling down the rural roads s in the early morning hours. The area has also seen smugglers carrying migrants in trucks and vehicles. Hundreds of migrants who died after crossing the border are buried in unmarked graves in Holtville’s cemetery on the edge of town. ___ Associated Press reporters Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles, Julie Watson in San Diego, Anita Snow in Phoenix, Tom Krisher in Detroit and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed. ___ This story has been corrected based on updated information from officials to show the tractor-trailer driver is 68, not 69. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — The Canadian military says aircraft and ships are responding to an emergency aboard a Canadian fishing vessel that has been damaged by fire off of the coast of Nova Scotia. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax says the FV Atlantic Destiny is a scallop factory ship with 32 people on board and there are no reports of injuries. The ship has lost power and is adrift about 120 nautical miles south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas. Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens says a CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter has started removing some of the crew members from the ship. Owens says a small number of the crew will remain on board. He says the fire is out but the ship was taking on water. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Health experts in China say their country is lagging in its coronavirus vaccination rollout because it has the disease largely under control, but plans to inoculate 40% of its population by June. Zhong Nanshan, the leader of a group of experts attached to the National Health Commission, said the country has delivered 52.52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Feb. 28. He was speaking Monday at an online forum between U.S and Chinese medical experts hosted by the Brookings Institution and Tsinghua University. The target is the first China has offered publicly since it began its mass immunization campaign for key groups in mid-December. China has been slow to vaccinate its people relative to other countries, administering 3.56 doses per 100 people so far, according to Zhong, in a population of 1.4 billion. The fastest to vaccinate is Israel, which has given 94 doses per 100 people. The U.S. has administered 22 doses per 100 people. Chinese health experts say the country has enough vaccine supply for its population, although the country has pledged to provide close to half a billion doses abroad, roughly 10 times the number it has delivered at home. “The current vaccination pace is very low due to outbreak control (being) so good in China, but I think the capacity is enough,” said Zhang Wenhong, an infectious diseases expert based in Shanghai who also spoke on the panel. Developers of China’s four currently approved vaccines have said they could manufacture up to 2.6 billion doses by the end of this year. Still, vaccinating China’s massive population will be a daunting task. Even at the rate of vaccinating 10 million people a day, it would take roughly seven months to vaccinate 70% of its population, Zhang noted. The experts all acknowledged the complex task of vaccinating the world's population, pointing to the slowness in the global rollout of vaccines. “Demand will outstrip supply for many months, and unless there is more manufacturing, … for years,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also cautioned against expecting a quick return to normal. The head of China’s Center for Disease Control, Gao Fu, predicted that life could return to an “approximate normal” in summer next year. Gao, along with Zhong and other Chinese health experts, urged more U.S.-China co-operation. Gao specifically called on the U.S. and China to co-operate on COVAX, an initiative to distribute vaccines more fairly across the developing world. “Let’s work together,” he said. ____ This version has been updated to CORRECT that the figures of doses administered per 100 people in China, Israel and the United States is not a percentage of their populations since many people vaccinated have received both of the two doses required. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden's nominees. Eleven of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support. “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden. The president, in a statement, said he has “utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel” and pledged to find her another role in his administration. Tanden’s viability was in doubt after Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and a number of moderate Republicans came out against her last month, all citing her tweets attacking members of both parties prior to her nomination. Manchin, a key moderate swing vote in the Senate, said last month in a statement announcing his opposition that “her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, cited Biden’s own standard of conduct in opposing Tanden, declaring in a statement that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.” Tanden needed just 51 votes in an evenly-divided Senate, with Vice-President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. But without Manchin’s support, the White House was left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. One potential Republican vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told reporters earlier Tuesday on Capitol Hill she still had not yet made up her mind on Tanden’s nomination. The White House stuck with her even after a number of centrist Republicans made their opposition known, insisting her experience growing up on welfare and background working on progressive policies as the president and CEO of the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress made her the right candidate for the moment. White House chief of staff Ron Klain initially insisted the administration was “fighting our guts out” for her. Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and prominent progressive lawmaker, accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives, and hadn’t said whether he’d support her nomination. Tanden apologized during that hearing to “people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said.” Just prior to the hearing, she deleted hundreds of tweets, many of which were critical of Republicans. Collins cited those deleted tweets in her statement, saying that the move “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.” She said Congress “has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent.” As recently as Monday, the White House indicated it was sticking by Tanden’s nomination, with press secretary Jen Psaki noting Tanden's “decades of experience” in defending their pick. “We will continue of course to fight for the confirmation of every nominee that the president puts forward,” Psaki insisted, but she added, “We'll see if we have 50 votes.” The head of the Office of Management and Budget is tasked with putting together the administration's budget, as well as overseeing a wide range of logistical and regulatory issues across the federal government. Tanden's withdrawal leaves the Biden administration without a clear replacement. The apparent front-runner on Capitol Hill to replace Tanden was Shalanda Young, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee who has been actively pushed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other names mentioned include Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Gene Sperling, who served as a top economic adviser to both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Health Minister Christian Dubé occasionally offers cues at his media appearances that he is about to say something profound, or at least important. At a news conference Tuesday, it was the phrase "I'm weighing my words here." This he followed with the admission, "We're scared of this situation." Dubé was talking about variant coronavirus strains, which are gaining ground despite the province's best efforts to keep a lid on them. The plateauing daily COVID-19 infection toll obscures an incipient wave, he said. But there is also good news. Vaccines, Dubé said, are Quebec's "weapons of mass reduction" when it comes to the coronavirus, variant or not. And as the province works to vaccinate another 700,000 people before the end of the month, he remains hopeful the race against the variants can be won. Strict measures likely to continue The fact that the variant curve shows signs of pointing upward, however, means Quebecers probably shouldn't expect the restrictive public health measures, like the curfew, to be lifted in the near future. "[Variants] must be taken into consideration as we make big decisions," Dubé said. Most of the wariness centres on Montreal, which has the largest number of confirmed cases of variants, and where the B117 strain (first identified in the United Kingdom) could soon become the dominant form of the virus. But the problem is bigger than the province's largest city. Specialized screening reveals about 12 to 15 per cent of the daily positive tests in the province are due to a variant, a proportion that keeps increasing. Dozens of suspected variant cases are currently being investigated in multiple regions. The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region has reported 40 cases of the B1351 variant discovered in South Africa, which is demonstrated to reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines. Nearly three-quarters of those cases can be traced back to an outbreak in January, but 12 appear to be linked to a school in the town of Landrienne, where an outbreak occurred in mid-February. "We received the news on Saturday night, the South African variant is, in fact, present in our region ... it wasn't a surprise given the outbreaks in the school in Landrienne, a CPE and now in a [seniors' residence]," said Dr. Lise Landry, the region's public health director. Deploying an aggressive approach According to Dr. Omobola Sobanjo, the region's medical advisor, the infectiousness of the strain, which has also been reported just over the provincial border in North Bay, Ont., may require reconsidering risks of infection. Sobjano noted that many of those who were infected with the South African variant appeared to be contagious even in the latter stages of their 14-day isolation period. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday he is scared' by the coronavirus variants that are proliferating in the province and urged people to continue observing public health measures until vaccination catches up.(The Canadian Press) Quebec has taken a stouter approach generally toward outbreaks in recent weeks, notably at four schools in the Quebec City area that were shut down entirely rather than on a classroom-by-classroom basis. It's very much by design. "We are taking a very aggressive approach in terms of our interventions.... We are working under the assumption all over Quebec that these are all variants," Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said at Tuesday's news conference. Arruda said the epidemiology suggests that while infection rates have plateaued for the time being, there are still worrying signs. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," he said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." Vaccination campaign moves to regions On Tuesday, Dubé said that while the initial focus of the mass vaccination ramp-up is Montreal, it will soon be arriving in other regions as logistical hurdles are cleared. The Montérégie, for example, has large numbers of seniors' residences, which makes for slow going because each must be served by a mobile vaccination unit. The deal concluded with pharmacies last week means that when the roll-out arrives in outlying areas at mid-month, it will accommodate larger numbers. The effort will be aided by the impending arrival of about 120,000 doses of the recently approved AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is easier to store and preserve. But about half of Canada's initial shipment of the vaccine arrives with a best-before date of April 2, and the provincial immunization committee hasn't yet issued guidance on how best to use it. Daniel Paré, the coordinator of the provincial vaccine effort, said the guidelines are expected any day now. He also made a promise: no dose will reach its expiry date unused.
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
LOS ANGELES — Catherine Zeta-Jones was already a fan of “Prodigal Son,” so when the chance came to join the show, she jumped, lured by the prospect of working alongside Michael Sheen. The Welsh actors were born in cities about an hour apart and moved in similar circles during their youth without ever knowing each other. She was born in Swansea and Sheen was born in Newport seven months apart. “We have all these mutual friends, but we’ve never crossed. My mom and dad know his dad,” she said Tuesday in a virtual Television Critics Association panel. “It’s bizarre. That was, of course, a huge pull for me.” Zeta-Jones joins Fox’s “Prodigal Son” in Tuesday's episode, directed by co-star Lou Diamond Phillips. Previously, the Oscar winner had done guest episodes and appeared in TV movies and miniseries, but never a regular series role. She plays Dr. Vivian Capshaw and Alan Cumming appears in two episodes as a cocky Europol agent. “It’s a family drama with a twist of danger and it’s a dark family,” Zeta-Jones said. “I gravitate to kind of dark material.” Sheen’s presence increased the comfort level for Zeta-Jones to come onto a set where the cast and crew had already been together for a season. He plays an incarcerated serial killer surgeon. “As soon as Lou shouted, ‘Cut,’ Michael and I went into inside jokes, Tommy Cooper impressions,” she said, referring to the British comedian. Phillips said, “She came like a team player, she came to play. It was seamless.” Zeta-Jones told her agent she wanted to join the show on the same day she was watching “The View” talk show. “Whoopi Goldberg just randomly gives it this incredible kind of thumbs up and I’m like, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m talking about,’” she said. “That was like a stamp of approval that came from nowhere.” The show’s second season is currently airing on Fox, and the first season began streaming Tuesday on HBO Max. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia health officials say their plan to delay the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to four months is based on scientific evidence and real-world experience, as Ontario and Alberta consider following the province's lead. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, responded Tuesday to criticism from Canada's chief science adviser. Henry said the decision was made in the context of limited supply and based on strong local and international data. "This makes sense for us, knowing that it is a critical time right now with the limited amount of vaccines that we have in the coming weeks, to be able to provide that protection ... to everybody here," Henry said at a COVID-19 briefing. "That is why we made the decision that we did." Chief science adviser Mona Nemer told the CBC on Monday that B.C.'s plan amounts to a "population-level experiment" and that the data provided so far by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech is based on an interval of three to four weeks between doses. Henry said the manufacturers structured their clinical trials that way to get the vaccines to market as quickly as possible, but research in B.C., Quebec, Israel and the United Kingdom has shown that first doses are highly effective. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control examined the effects of a single dose on long-term care residents and health-care workers and found that it reduced the risk of the virus by up to 90 per cent within two to three weeks, Henry said. "It is a little bit unfortunate that the national science adviser ... obviously was not involved in some of these discussions and decision-making and perhaps did not understand the context that this decision was made in," Henry said. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, a B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiology lead whose work underpinned the province's plan, said Pfizer-BioNTech underestimated the efficacy of its first dose in its submissions to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Skowronski said the company included data from the first two weeks after trial participants received the shot, a time when vaccines typically aren't effective. When she and her colleagues adjusted the data, they found it was 92 per cent effective, similar to the Moderna vaccine. She said B.C.'s plan was based on the basic principles of vaccine science. The protection from a first dose of vaccine does not suddenly disappear, it gradually wanes over time, and scientists are typically more concerned about providing a second dose too soon rather than too late, she said. "I think if the public had a chance to hear and to understand that, they would say, 'OK, this is not messing around. This is really managing risk in a way that maximizes protection to as many Canadians as possible.'" B.C. has administered 283,182 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to date, including more than 86,000 second doses. The province reported 438 new cases of the virus on Tuesday and two more deaths, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,365. Henry said she expects a statement soon from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization aligning with the province's decision, while Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday she wanted to wait for such a recommendation. Elliott said extending the interval between doses would allow the province to get some level of protection to more people. "This would be a considerable change," she said. "With the variants of concern out there, this could make a significant difference for Ontario in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. So, we are anxiously awaiting NACI's review of this to determine what they have to say in their recommendations." Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the national committee, said in an email the group is expected to issue a statement on extending the dose interval on Wednesday, but she did not confirm it would align with B.C.'s plan. Alberta's health minister said a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision on whether to follow B.C.’s lead is coming. "There's fantastic evidence that's coming out," Tyler Shandro said Tuesday. "What the exact period of time (between doses) is going to be is still to be decided. We'll be announcing it soon, but we will be looking at having that length of time between first and second extended." Alberto Martin, a University of Toronto immunology professor, said there is "obviously some concern" about B.C.'s plan because he is not aware of any clinical trial that examined a four-month gap between Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna doses. However, he said difficult times — when the vaccine supply is so limited — require drastic measures. "It's a difficult decision to make. I don't know whether I'd like to be in that position, but I think it's understandable why they're doing this." Daniel Coombs, a University of British Columbia mathematician who has done COVID-19 modelling, said Nemer was right that B.C. was conducting an "experiment," but it seemed to be a necessary one. He added that the province may also be anticipating the approval of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot. Michael Houghton, director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute at the University of Alberta, said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine data shows that one shot conveys 76 per cent protection for the next 12 weeks. Houghton said he is more concerned about extending the dose interval to 16 weeks for the other two approved vaccines. "These make vaccinologists nervous since, usually, we use in the real world what was tested in the clinic, but given the vaccine shortage, perhaps desperate times warrant such calculated gambles." — With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Toronto and Sylvia Strojek in Edmonton. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Channing Phillips, a Justice Department official during the Obama administration, will return as acting U.S. attorney in the nation’s capital, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Phillips will assume the role Wednesday leading the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, which has been historically responsible for some of the most significant and politically sensitive cases the Justice Department brings in the U.S. In recent weeks, prosecutors in the office have brought nearly 300 federal cases following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of other people are still being sought by investigators. The office was involved in some of the most tumultuous and controversial decisions made by the Justice Department under President Donald Trump, including a decision by then-Attorney General William Barr to reverse the sentencing recommendation by career prosecutors in the case against Trump ally Roger Stone. The outgoing acting U.S. attorney, Michael Sherwin, will remain in Washington for a “brief period” to help ensure a smooth transition overseeing the riot investigation and the prosecutions, the Justice Department official said. Sherwin, who for years worked as a career federal prosecutor on drug trafficking, white-collar and top national security cases, will later return to the U.S. attorney’s office in southern Florida, the official said. The official could not publicly discuss the personnel matter and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Phillips served as U.S. attorney in Washington beginning in October 2015 and was a longtime Justice Department official, having been a senior counsellor to the attorney general and deputy associate attorney general. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Washington targeted seven mid-level and senior Russian officials along with more than a dozen government entities.View on euronews
Roblox Corp expects its revenue to double in the first quarter of 2021, the company said on Tuesday, ahead of a high-profile market debut later this month. San Mateo, California-based Roblox is among the world's most-popular gaming sites and offers a host of titles across mobile devices and games consoles. However, on its investor day last week, Chief Financial Officer Mike Guthrie said the company had "pretty low expectations" on revenue in China over the next few years, as it plans to invest heavily to attract users.
Two and a half years ago, longtime safe drug supply advocate Dr. Mark Tyndall imagined an ATM-like machine that could dispense opioids. Now these machines are operating in four cities to help address the overdose crisis. The federal government announced nearly $3.5 million in funding for the MySafe project, an initiative that provides people medical-grade opioids through a biometric vending machine. This comes on the heels of the BC Coroners Service reporting 165 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in January — the largest-ever number of lives lost due to illicit drugs that month, accounting for an average of 5.3 lives each day. This is a jump from the 4.7 deaths per day recorded in B.C. last year, which saw the most people ever die due to overdose in that province. “We need to meet people where they’re at and that’s what harm reduction is all about,” said parliamentary secretary Darren Fisher, who made the funding announcement Tuesday on behalf of Health Minister Patty Hajdu. “Creative solutions like this one will help us change the course of the overdose crisis.” In order to access the MySafe machines, people must undergo a medical assessment and have a physician prescribe them the hydromorphone pills that the machine supplies. The machines are programmed to only provide the amount prescribed by the physician. They are also tamper-proof, bolted to the floor, and can only be accessed after a person scans their palm. While the machines mean no human contact, people are supervised by a health practitioner and can be connected to treatment and other health and social services. So far, more than 5,000 packets have been dispensed, according to the MySafe Society. The new funding will go towards operating and evaluating the existing five sites that were launched in late 2020. Two machines are in Vancouver, with one each in Victoria, London, Ont., and Dartmouth, N.S. Each machine can provide medication to up to 48 people, totalling about 240 people nationwide, according to Health Canada. This funding is part of the $66 million the federal government pledged in the 2020 fall economic statement to support community-based organizations responding to substance use issues. Tyndall, a University of British Columbia professor who specializes in public health, says the best way to alleviate the problem is through preventative measures. “We really need to step back and not just wait for people to overdose and intervene, but to try to offer them an alternative to prevent overdoses in the first place,” Tyndall said. While Tyndall says the five machines aren’t enough to curb the spiking overdose deaths, he notes they’re able to quickly get a safe supply to those who need it. “We’re going to continue to lose people if we’re just waiting for everybody to get into recovery or drug treatment,” Tyndall said. “All these things need to happen, but it’s just too slow.” There are 15 other machines awaiting deployment, which Tyndall hopes can be put to use in the next few years in other parts of the country. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
André Picard likes to stay busier than most, if his new book is any indication. The Globe and Mail’s health reporter and columnist penned Neglected No More during evenings, weekends and vacations away from his day job as more Canadians turned to him to make sense of the pandemic unfolding around them. But he wasn’t interested in writing about the pandemic just yet — “the important book about COVID will probably be written in 10 or 20 years,” he told The Tyee. Picard wanted to ask different questions. And there were big ones to answer, as thousands of elders and residents of long-term care died during the pandemic’s first wave. To date, at least two-thirds of the 21,905 people who have died of COVID-19 across Canada lived in long-term care or assisted living facilities. “What kind of excuses do we make to ourselves as a society that this is acceptable?” asked Picard. The failures of elder care in Canada, as Picard argues, began long before the novel coronavirus arrived. Readers may be surprised that Picard forgoes lambasting the easy villains in the devastating crisis — for-profit care providers, “bad apple” care staff — in service of a deeper indictment of Canada’s refusal to value elders in life as well as in death. Ten months after we first spoke about health reporting, I reached Picard by phone in Vancouver, where he is spending the winter as an Asper Visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia. We discussed the difficulty of writing about people who often can’t speak for themselves, what accountability for these preventable deaths could look like, and how his optimism that the pandemic will be a turning point for elder care has managed to stay alight. Moira Wyton: You wrote Neglected No More during the pandemic, but it’s not really about the pandemic at all. Where does this story begin for you? André Picard: If you’re worried about health care in Canada, you have to write about elders and you have to write about older people, because that’s who uses the vast majority of care, so I’ve always been interested in this issue. And to me, we know that COVID has shone a spotlight on a lot of failings. We’ve all known for a long time that the way we treat seniors in our health system is terrible. And this was just an opportunity to jump on that topic and use COVID as a launching pad to talk about these larger issues. How do you approach reporting on an issue where the people who are most affected, the elders in care or seeking care, are impossible to reach? Can there really be any substitute for speaking to elders directly? And what do you think you might still be missing from this picture? You can do it indirectly. Normally, if I get a book like this, I would be going to the homes and visiting and getting the colour, et cetera, so the book is more sparse in that sense. That’s always a challenge. It’s not unique to the pandemic. You always wish you could speak directly to everyone all the time. I always worried the most about people with dementia, and my two parents who lived with dementia, so you really wish you could get inside their mind, to know what they’re thinking and get their real thoughts and not get them second-hand, but you do as best you can. And you try and represent their lives fairly via their caregivers and their care providers, and other things that you can see when you have that opportunity. With the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in opinions about COVID-19, saying, “Oh, it’s not that bad, it’s ‘only’ killed people who are quite elderly.” I’m curious whether you think this failure that we’re seeing, and have been seeing for many decades, amounts to ageism and discrimination? I think there’s no question that our public policies are just rife with ageism, it’s just ingrained. What other people in society do we send off to live in these prison-like facilities just because they’re old? And again, I think COVID sort of highlighted this, as you mentioned, with all the people just saying, “Oh, they’re old, they were going to die anyhow.” That’s just an appalling thing to say. Not only is it not true, but it’s appalling in itself. And I think something like COVID, what happened in our home care — our long-term care system, specifically — is this perfect intersection of ageism, sexism and racism. The vast majority of workers are racialized. The vast majority of people living there are women. They’re not just older, but they’re women. It’s these three marginalized communities coming together in one spot. It’s just like triple the bad treatment. And so that’s why it’s a lot of focus on the homes, because there’s just so much wrong with them. How do we as a society, and as journalists, even begin to address ageism, sexism and racism in elder care? I think the starting point has to be a pretty profound philosophical shift. The countries that treat their elders the best have a philosophy that we don’t. You have to have that fundamental starting point... that you’re going to do everything in your power to keep people in the community and have a dignified life. Now, we have a policy where the default mechanism is once you get a little sick, you can’t live in your home, we shoot you off to this home, out of sight, out of mind and out of dignity. There are good homes, I repeat that many times in the book, there’s lots of good care. But should people be there in the first place? That’s the larger issue. I think we have to ask ourselves this really profound question about what kind of excuses do we make to ourselves as a society that this is acceptable. And it’s an uncomfortable question to ask because I don’t think there’s a good answer to it. It’s pretty appalling what they’re doing, and we have to confront it. As you write in your book, better care is possible, and already exists for veterans in Canada through well-funded home care and long-term care for veterans who really need it at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto. And in certain cultures, such as many South Asian cultures, staying in a multigenerational home is a lot more normalized and expected. How do you think those in charge of elder care in Canada can learn from these other perspectives and from what we’re already doing for some people? We can learn a lot from cultural diversity. Canada has the benefit of being able to benefit from that, and we should do a lot more. Respect for elders is what it comes down to in a lot of cultures. You wouldn’t dream of sending your grandparents off to live somewhere else. But the flip side of that is there are realities of modern life. Chinese culture is really seen as respecting elders, but we still have long-term care homes that are for the Chinese community, just because of the practicalities. Their kids now live 4,000 kilometres away; they don’t have five kids, they have one. Regardless of your culture, I would think one issue that cuts across every culture is we should respect older people... for the knowledge of what they’ve given us, their sacrifice. I use the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre example because nobody ever argues that we shouldn’t treat veterans, right? If it’s good enough for veterans, why isn’t it good enough for everyone? We have the solution. There’s no reason everyone in Canada couldn’t be treated like those at Sunnybrook. But before we do that, we should also make sure that only people who need to be in the home are there. That’s the other great thing about Sunnybrook: nobody’s there by default, they’re there because they really need the care that’s provided. Over the last 11 months, for-profit care has been like a universal punching bag, being blamed for many deaths. But you’re a bit easier on for-profit care providers, pointing out that issues stem elsewhere. Why do you think that widespread anger against for-profit care is misplaced? I decided deliberately to not write a lot about that, because I just think it’s almost a dogmatic political issue. I think there are some good private homes and some good public homes, or some terrible public homes and some terrible private homes. Now, that being said, if there is no private care in Canada, will we be any worse off? No, I don’t think we need it. I think it’s been there for so long, it’s hard to get rid of it. And I think we would serve ourselves better to understand why it’s there, rather than just saying “get it out now.” I just think there’s a lot more to resolve before privatization. To me, the worst thing is not privatization in itself. It’s that we have a bunch of owners who are essentially property managers — they’re not care providers. I understand why people are angry at private care when the data is yes, more people died in private homes. But again, there are explanations for that: the homes are older, they’re bigger, they have different clientele. So, what do we do with these “excuses”? We ask what’s happened there, but it doesn’t make it right. I just think that it distracts from doing other things that have to be done much more urgently. You spoke to a number of staff and personal support workers in care facilities for the book. What stood out to you from your conversations? What do you think will be really surprising to readers about what they said? I think people will be surprised at [the number of] people who are really dedicated to this work and really want to do better. And I’d say what would surprise the public is that the staff are just as angry and frustrated as families and recipients of care. People really want to be able to have time to care, and they don’t. So they leave their shifts, and they’re angry at themselves that they just couldn’t do what they know needs to be done... because there’s no hours, they don’t have the equipment, they don’t have the time. I hope you’ll forgive me for asking about the pandemic a little bit. For this book, you analyzed data ending around Sept. 30, 2020, before the second wave had taken hold, and you sang the praises of B.C.’s handling of long-term care. Yet since the end of September, B.C. has had at least 1,000 more elders die in long-term care homes in a tragic and fatal second wave. What do you make of the fact that the second wave was so much worse? Yes, first of all, the frustration of deadlines is real, especially for a daily reporter. That was always driving me crazy, knowing that the book would have to be done in September and wouldn’t be out till March. You hedge your bets a bit, so I focus mostly on the first wave, because nobody could predict exactly what would happen. I said some positive things about B.C., but it’s all relative. I think B.C. has some policies, has some newer infrastructure, that made things better. Proportionally, probably today, B.C did a little bit better in the second wave too. But I think it’s just a reminder that nobody did a good enough job of learning the lessons of the first wave. Quebec made a big show of hiring 10,000 more workers. And in the end, how many did they get? Maybe 5,000. B.C. did the same thing, made big announcements about hiring more people, but they lose almost as many as they hire. Also, we let down our guard, and I think that’s true everywhere in the country. It’s doubly tragic that the second wave was worse than the first wave because it just reminds us we didn’t do enough to correct [the mistakes]. The horrors that happened the first time around just got repeated — and then some. Does this make you think differently about what you wrote or the capacity of the elder care sector to have learned and enacted changes during the summer’s lull in cases? To me, the most frustrating and angering thing I see comes where they’ve now had two and three outbreaks. How can you not learn from that? Fifty people die in your home and then you bury them, and then you make the same mistakes? It just seems so unthinkable. And I think the larger [issue], the one we’ve known all along, is the way to prevent cases and deaths in long-term care is to get control in the community. That’s been our biggest failure, because we just never got control of the pandemic within the larger community. The homes are not isolated. We can do our best to isolate them, but they’re not ever going to be isolated from the community. We forgot that the way to solve this was to solve the larger problem of the virus. The second part is, we could have done better on testing. We know we banned workers working in more than one home. But there were exceptions to that rule every day. The locking out of caregivers — it’s a big mistake to the degree and the length of time we did it, it’s just horrible. People suffered a lot from the isolation and the loneliness, as much as from the pandemic. We should have found ways to make it safer for caregivers because they’re so essential to the care. And then the big one is: we never solved the fundamental problem of the labour issue. There are just not enough bodies in there to provide the care. The lack of good care makes it easier for diseases to spread and more people working with large numbers of people... you have them being less cautious because they’re in a hurry. All these things all feed into each other. I hear from families every single day about how frustrated they are, and you can’t argue with them. It’s awful, what’s still going on. In the beginning of the book, you said you were skeptical that there would be any accountability for the mass deaths of vulnerable seniors that we have seen. Why is that? We’re not ever good at accountability in Canada, because we don’t have a system. Nobody’s really in charge. It’s hard to figure out who’s accountable [and] there’s a structural way of avoiding any accountability, which is unfortunate. Are people going to go to jail for this? Are they going to be losing lawsuits? I don’t know. If you look at Canada’s history, that’s very unlikely to happen, unfortunately. What we have to focus on is building a better system, so it doesn’t happen again. What might accountability look like in that better system? On the ground, at that level, we need better inspection, better regulation. But I try to be careful to say not more regulation, because we have so much regulation and people work in these homes, but they don’t measure the right things. We make sure that the fridge is exactly at the right temperature, but there’s not really any measure of quality of care. So you’re going to have someone wallowing in their feces for 10 hours, and as long as their milk is the right temperature, the home passes with flying colours. And then there has to be political accountability, and I think that the political accountability comes from putting someone in charge. A lot of these elder care issues go across four or five ministries in most provinces, and no one’s really in charge and there’s a lot of buck passing. I’m a big fan of having a serious ministry of seniors, or of elders, or whatever you want to call it, and put them in charge and make sure they’re accountable. B.C. stands out in that it has the seniors advocate. I think that’s a really good step, even though she doesn’t have any power. But she does have at least the ability to kind of embarrass the government and put them on the spot, so there’s some accountability there. When I asked you in April whether you thought the pandemic would trigger structural changes to health and social safety nets, you said no except for “some hope on the seniors’ care side, just because it’s so, so devastating.” Are you still optimistic things will change? I think there’s a real opportunity to fix things. I think there has to be a certain amount of guilt in politicians, and seeing how horrible this is, and wanting to fix it. So yes, I do have some hope. I despair at the fact that it took this much to make us even talk about change — it should have never have come to this. When we see countries that have zero deaths in long-term care, you just shake your head and say, “Why? Why couldn’t that be asked of one of the richest countries in the world? Why do we have this kind of carnage?” I’m hopeful, but I think hopeful with an asterisk on it. You have been open that your parents both lived with dementia in long-term care. What is the personal impact of this reporting been for you? Is there a part of this process that stays with you? First of all, I’m old. So that gives me a personal stake in this, I’m getting up there in age. But on a more serious note, anyone who’s had parents who have gone through “the system,” who’s had parents with dementia, with these chronic illnesses in long-term care, they lived these frustrations. And they stay with you, they anger you, and that anger never really goes away. I think you see some of that in the book, that I understand and empathize with what a lot of the families are talking about, because I lived it too. And then I just have the benefit of knowing the system from having written about it a long time. And I hope that combination makes it a little more powerful. For people without that personal connection and or that lived experience, how do you think we rally or engage them in pushing for more investment and transformation? I think you have to remind them that everyone’s going there eventually. We’re all on a fast stream to taking care of our parents and our grandparents. This is simple demographics — there are fewer children born, our parents are living longer, and it just means there’s going to be more and more caregivers, and they’re going to be younger and younger. There’s going to be a lot more pressure to do this on everyone. Even younger people really have to take this to heart. It’s going to be a lot more people caring for their parents and their grandparents. One of the most interesting trends in the caregiving data is grandchildren caring for elders. That’s a fairly new thing. So I think this issue is expanding, and it’s touching much more people across society. I hope that will give impetus for governments to act, knowing that people are really going to want change, and they’re not going to be part of our neglect of elders. The younger people, I think, are more outspoken, and they’re more adept at doing that, and they’re more willing to speak out. It’s not the same as my parents’ generation, where you would never even question the government, you don’t question your health-care provider. That stuff’s all going out the window. One of the first lines I highlighted in the book when I was reading was you saying that an aging population is a success, and it’s something to honour and to cherish in our country. What would be an indication to you that Canada is moving in that direction? The way to honour people is to make sure they live in dignity, that they live where they want and how they want. Once that becomes the guiding principle, everything flows from that. We just don’t have that principle. We talked about this respect of what veterans have given, the sacrifice. And not to undervalue the contributions of veterans, but that applies to that entire generation. They’ve made sacrifices that we’ve built on, and we owe them. They’ve paid their taxes for 40 and 50 years. And now it’s time to cash in. We are already reneging on that basic social contract in a really horrible way. Thank you so much, André. I actually lied, I have one last question. Where on Earth did you find the time to write this book? People keep asking me that. I always keep busy, I’m a very regimented person. So I sort of decided to do this fairly late in the process. Publishers were approaching me to do some books about COVID, and I wasn’t interested. Because to me, I think the important book about COVID will probably be written in 10 or 20 years when we have the proper perspective. And then suddenly, someone said, “Well, what are you interested in?” And after I said elder care, they said, “Go for it.” So then from that it went really rapidly. I had in my mind what I wanted to highlight, and I said I’m just going to do it in a regimented way, I have 60 days, I have 1,000 words a day to write after my day job. I didn’t want to take time off work, other than anything I took from my summer holidays to do this, because the pandemic was already keeping me very busy Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Toronto Community Housing has re-housed one of the five households it evicted for missed rent last fall, after a Star story that revealed one of the households landed in a homeless shelter. Those five evictions took place between the end of a provincial eviction moratorium in August and a motion from city council to halt arrears evictions in TCH in December. The day after the Star’s report, Mayor John Tory said he’d contacted TCH CEO Kevin Marshman, to confirm that no further arrears evictions would be taking place. “It shouldn’t have happened, and certainly today I had a conversation in light of this story,” Tory said at the time, while noting that the evictions had still been within the bounds of the law. “It was one of those things where it happened in kind of in a short gap that exists between one lockdown and another … I’m not making an excuse for it, I’m just staying that’s what happened.” Asked what would happen to the evicted households, Tory said he would ask Marshman to examine the cases “and see what the appropriate response should be.” During a committee meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Paula Fletcher asked for an update. “I know that at least one family was rehoused as a result of work we did with the shelter and the analysis that we did of their eviction,” replied Scott Kirkham, TCH’s manager of stakeholder relations. Asked by the Star to confirm whether the re-housed family was the one evicted into the shelter system, TCH declined to comment, saying it couldn’t reveal personal information. “We can confirm that, following a review, one of the five households was re-housed,” a statement read. Tory, in a statement Tuesday, said he was “pleased to hear” that an evicted family was re-housed in TCH. Wong-Tam said it seemed the agency had taken a “moment of self-reflection,” and credited its response to city officials’ requests about arrears evictions during the pandemic. “TCH seems to fully understand the severity of the issue,” she said. The housing committee on Tuesday voted to send a request to council on March 10 for TCH to extend its arrears eviction halt until at least June. With files from Francine Kopun Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
A Green MLA wants to know if government is considering legislation for guaranteed paid sick leave as part of its COVID-19 response. Lynne Lund raised the issue during question period Tuesday. Lund told CBC News she'd like to see legislation requiring employers to provide seven paid sick days to their employees, and for government to support businesses that need help to do that. "We want people to stay home when they're not feeling well ... but the flip side of that is they actually need to be able to do that," Lund said. Lund said for many Islanders, missing work to get a COVID-19 test and wait for results or to stay home with symptoms can lead to serious financial challenges. "For many low-wage workers losing even a day's pay is a real struggle," Lund told the legislature. Lund said many young people on P.E.I. work minimum-wage or low-wage jobs. She added those young Islanders have also been repeatedly affected by calls for mass testing, like during the circuit breaker in December and most recently in testing efforts related to clusters of cases in Charlottetown and Summerside. "They felt a duty to protect Islanders and we have a duty to protect them too. Question to the minister of economic growth, will you bring in legislation in this sitting to guarantee paid sick leave?" The P.E.I. Federation of Labour has also begun a campaign to urge the provincial government to implement paid sick leave for all workers on the Island.(John Robertson/CBC) 'Holding on by a thread' Responding to Lund's question, Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay said many businesses across P.E.I. are really struggling during the pandemic. "We've seen businesses that are holding on by a thread right now, so to ask a business to pay seven day sick leave to an employee is just not in the cards right now. But that's why we did come with this million dollar pot," MacKay said. MacKay was referring to Monday's announcement of a $1 million fund for Islanders who take time off work due to illness and don't have paid sick leave and don't qualify for federal support programs. Lund said she knows there are many businesses that are struggling during the pandemic, and would like to see legislation that also offers financial support to businesses to help them meet a paid sick day requirement. 'We've seen businesses that are holding on by a thread right now,' says Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay.(Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. ) During an interview after question period, MacKay said money from the newly announced fund can be accessed by employers to help cover costs of paid sick days. He said the final details of the fund are still being worked out. Paid sick leave — beyond COVID The P.E.I. Federation of Labour has also begun a campaign to urge the provincial government to implement paid sick leave for all workers on the Island. Carl Pursey, president of the federation, said it should be permanent and extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We're going to be awhile getting our economy back to where it once was. — Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay "If someone's not feeling good for a day or two, they can take a day or two off work and get paid and not have to have the fear of not having pay because now people are going to work if they're not feeling 100 per cent and they could be spreading [COVID-19]." Pursey said he has spoken with the province in the past about the need for at least seven sick days a year for all workers in the province. He said labour groups across the country have been discussing the issue. He said government should help smaller businesses that can't afford to offer paid sick leave to workers. "The government needs to see the pressure, pressure to put something in that's permanent," he said. MacKay said he wouldn't rule out exploring guaranteed paid sick days in the future, but said now isn't the right time. "We're going to be awhile getting our economy back to where it once was, so when that time comes you know it could be a topic for discussion. Until that point, government is going to be here to help employees and employers out to the best of our ability," MacKay said. More P.E.I. news
There still isn’t a trial date one year after a Kindersley mom was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of her infant daughter. In Saskatoon Provincial Court in November 2020, Teenie Rose Steer elected to be tried by judge alone without a jury. Her case was then moved from the provincial court level to Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Her matter was on Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench pre-trial list Nov. 13, 2020, to set a trial date. That pre-trial conference was adjourned to Dec. 18, 2020, and then it was adjourned to Feb. 12, 2021. The matter has now been adjourned to March 31. Pre-trial conferences are closed to the public and media. They are informal meetings in chambers between the Crown and defence. Steer was arrested 13 months ago. According to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Rule, once charges are laid provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months or the charges can be dismissed. RCMP arrested steer February 2020 and charged her with killing her one-month-old infant three years ago. On Sept. 27, 2018, police responded to a home after receiving a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. First responders and doctors at the Rosetown hospital attempted life-saving measures but the infant was pronounced dead in hospital. A September 2018 autopsy revealed information that led investigators to believe the baby’s death was suspicious and RCMP Major Crimes took over the investigation. RCMP didn't reveal details of that information. The charges against Steer haven’t been proven in court. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A hardware store in Summerside has reopened for business, after a deep cleaning over the weekend. On Saturday, an employee at Callbecks Home Hardware tested positive for COVID 19. The store was put on the list of potential exposure sites associated with the latest outbreaks of COVID-19 on P.E.I. Owner Duane MacDonald said he voluntarily shut down as soon as they heard about the positive test on Saturday. COVID-19 cleaning has been part of the work day for the past year, but it was ramped up on Sunday. MacDonald said a fleet of trucks and 15 workers, some in protective suits, arrived to disinfect the store, all office space and outbuildings. Store owner Duane MacDonald says he was teasing the staff that Callbecks 'is probably the safest, cleanest building on P.E.I. right now.' (Duane MacDonald) "The staff do an excellent job in maintaining and cleaning, but these guys are professionals," he said. "And this was a scenario where we needed someone to come in and make sure everything was sanitized the right way…. I was teasing the staff that this is probably the safest, cleanest building on P.E.I. right now." Staff tests negative A lot of other stores on that list of exposure sites are going through the same process. All 60 staff of Callbecks went for testing, and the results all came back negative. Ten staff members, who worked with the man who tested positive, remain in self-isolation. Callbecks continues to operate on reduced hours, to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. More from CBC P.E.I.
NASHVILLE — Dolly Parton has written hundreds of songs over her decades-long career and it turns out her tune “Jolene" is the just right one for getting her COVID-19 vaccine. “I even changed one of my songs to fit the occasion. It goes, ‘Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you please don't hesitate,'" the actor, singer and humanitarian sang in a social media post on Tuesday, just before receiving her shot. The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year. In 2020, she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, for coronavirus research. Parton had earlier told The Associated Press that she was going to wait until it became more widely available because she didn't want to look like she was jumping the line. Parton wore a purple shirt with shoulder cutouts just for the occasion and a matching purple mask. She put on a typical show, laughing, cracking jokes with the doctor and making sure her hair was looking good. “That didn't hurt. Just stung a little bit," she said afterward. Then she smiled at the camera saying, “I did it! I did it!” Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press
L'Agence spatiale canadienne et la NASA travaillent déjà sur les missions Artemis qui visent un retour sur la Lune d'ici 2024. Un premier pas vers une exploration plus profonde de l'espace grâce à une nouvelle station internationale. Mais avant de rêver de marcher sur Mars, il faut régler un problème majeur: comment fournir assez de nourriture aux astronautes pour des missions devant durer plusieurs années? Dans l’espoir de solliciter des milliers de cerveaux à travers le monde pour cogiter sur ce casse-tête, les agences spatiales canadienne (ASC) et américaine (NASA) ont lancé en début d’année un grand concours appelé «Défi de l'alimentation dans l'espace lointain» (Deep Space Food Challenge). Mardi midi, des experts des deux agences ainsi que des astronautes, dont le Canadien Jeremy Hansen, ont participé à une discussion virtuelle au cours de laquelle on a abordé divers aspects de l’alimentation dans l’espace. Il a notamment été question de l’importance de fournir des aliments appétissants et savoureux pour que les astronautes aient envie de manger. Un enjeu crucial pour qu’ils ne réduisent pas leur consommation de nourriture et qu’ils maintiennent une bonne santé. En bref, le principal problème demeure que si l’on part en mission d’exploration spatiale, il faut tout apporter avec soi depuis la Terre. Actuellement, il est facile d’approvisionner la Station spatiale internationale (SSI), puisqu’elle se trouve en orbite autour de la Terre, à quelques heures de vol. Dans le cas d’une mission vers Mars, par exemple, il faudrait prévoir des quantités de nourriture suffisantes pour plusieurs années. De plus, il faut tenir compte qu’il n’y a pas de réfrigérateur dans les navettes en raison du coût énergétique nécessaire au fonctionnement de tels appareils. Actuellement, on utilise des aliments déshydratés qui sont hydratés à nouveau par les astronautes dans l’espace. On utilise aussi des aliments préparés mis en conserve ou en sachets, mais leur durée de conservation poserait problème selon les experts de la NASA. Voilà pourquoi on recherche de nouvelles méthodes permettant de fournir des aliments sains et savoureux aux astronautes. On aimerait, par ailleurs, développer des moyens de produire des aliments dans un environnement hostile, comme sur la Lune ou sur Mars. Des techniques qui seraient également applicables sur Terre, comme l’a souligné l’astronaute Jeremy Hansen en parlant du concours. «C'est une opportunité incroyable pour l'humanité! D'abord pour nous donner la chance d'explorer l'espace. Ensuite, parce que c'est essentiel pour nourrir les populations en régions isolées. La sécurité alimentaire est un enjeu majeur au Canada et le transport d'aliment demeure difficile et très coûteux dans le Grand Nord notamment», a-t-il fait valoir. Il faut donc tenir compte du fait que les astronautes sont confinés à un espace limité, avec des ressources limitées et des contraintes liées à l’énergie ou au poids des équipements. Des aliments frais et variés Le principal défi que cherchent à relever les agences spatiales consiste à trouver un moyen de fournir des aliments frais aux astronautes. Comme le mentionne la scientifique en chef du programme de technologie alimentaire de la NASA, Grace Douglas, ce sont les produits frais qui sont les plus appétissants et les plus réconfortants pour les astronautes. Car au-delà de fournir uniquement des nutriments aux membres de l’équipage, il faut leur offrir des plats savoureux et variés qui leur donnent envie de s’alimenter convenablement. Chaque aliment contient une multitude de micronutriments qui sont essentiels au corps humain. «Pour être nutritif, un aliment doit être consommé!», a résumé simplement son collègue Scott M. Smith, chercheur principal au laboratoire de biochimie du Centre spatial Johnson de la NASA. Celui-ci ajoute que les données prouvent qu’une bonne alimentation limite la perte de poids des astronautes et favorise la récupération au retour sur Terre. Tous s’entendent sur le fait que le principal reproche formulé par les astronautes est le manque de variété dans le choix des aliments. En ce qui concerne l’expérience gustative, l’ex-astronaute américain Donald Thomas, qui a passé plus de 1000 heures dans l’espace en quatre missions, a déclaré que ce n’était pas si mal, mais qu’il ne mangerait jamais dans un restaurant où l’on sert ce genre de plats! Pour renchérir, Jeremy Hansen, qui attend toujours sa première assignation, a rappelé que l’absence de gravité a pour effet de faire enfler légèrement la tête et de boucher les sinus. Les aliments deviennent donc plus fades. «Il faut prévoir des mets épicés ou bien assaisonnés», a-t-il conseillé aux éventuels participants du concours. Le défi est ouvert à tous les résidants du Canada. Les entreprises, organismes à but non lucratif ou les institutions d’enseignement sont aussi admissibles. Le volet canadien du concours est coordonné par l’Agence spatiale canadienne, située à Longueuil. Des bourses sont offertes en prix à chacune des trois étapes du concours. Les équipes intéressées doivent déposer leur candidature avant le 30 juillet. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne