With Matt Di Nicolantonio.
With Matt Di Nicolantonio.
BROCKTON – Jennifer Stephens, general manager, did a presentation on the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority’s 2021 budget at the Jan. 12 meeting of Brockton council. This year’s budget shows a 1.6 per cent increase over last year, representing a dollar amount of $27,570. Brockton will be paying an additional $2,546. She stated the goal of the SVCA over the past few months has been to focus on the mandated programs and services outlined in the Conservation Authorities Act. Stephens outlined some of those programs including flood forecasting and warning. The goal is to “keep people away from the water, and keep the water away from people.” This is accomplished through a variety of measures including physical structures such as dams and channel work. SCVA is also involved in stewardship activities, environmental planning and regulations, conservation education, forestry, and non-revenue parks and property management throughout the watershed. To help identify priorities over the next five years, the SVCA is undertaking a strategic planning exercise. It will involve extensive consultation with the public, municipalities and other partners. The plan will incorporate recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act through Bill 229. Council asked a number of questions, including about changes that have a direct impact on Brockton. Coun. James Lang mentioned two staff members who had played an important role in promoting tourism in the Greenock Swamp. Stephens responded by saying the business of the SVCA is to “protect natural spaces and conduct our mandated programs” through the entire watershed. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak addressed plans to conduct needed maintenance work in the SVCA’s parks and said he was pleased at the direction that’s been put in place by Stephens. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
After nearly a year in, it seems at this point the pandemic may have gotten to a lot of us. In a series of videos that have struck a chord with the internet, social media marketer and Cambridge local Mikael Melo certainly found some agreement when it comes to the lack of clarity around lockdown and state of emergency messaging in Ontario. One of Melo’s TikTok videos poking fun at the government’s state of emergency order has been watched more than one million times and has 37,000 shares as of Jan. 20. “The response to it has been wonderful,” he said. “I've just had so many people message me saying, ‘I really needed this laugh today,’ or ‘Thank you so much,’ or like, ‘It's really just lifted my spirits during these tough times.’” The sketch in question has him playing a fictional government spokesperson who still has to go to work, despite the government mandate. “We just felt ‘lockdown’ wasn’t really hitting our target audience, so ‘state of emergency’ is just our makeover,” he explains to a bewildered caller. “We’re essentially the exact same experience though,” he explains. If the official message seems a little vague, it’s “because we want customers to choose their own pandemic experience,” the operator adds. When creating the video, Melo thought a few friends would see it and “didn’t think much of it.” But the response hit home (literally) when a few friends turned into a million views in the matter of a few days. Melo “really realized” the video had gone viral when friends reached out to him about the video organically. “They would say, ‘Hey, man, like my mom's friend posted this on her Facebook’ or ‘Hey, dude, like, I'm in North Bay right now, and the local flower shop just posted your video on their Instagram.’ It was like, wow, like this is really making it throughout Ontario.” Melo thinks the reason for the video’s popularity is that the rules of the stay-at-home order still feel “loose” to a lot of people. As someone with marketing experience, the change from lockdown in March to state of emergency today “just feels like a rebrand,” he noted. Melo added that he has more videos that he’d like to keep posting, once TikTok removes his temporary ban. “They thought I was spamming, but I was just trying to respond to everyone's comments and like, thanking them for supporting the video.” Melo, who has been making short TikTok videos since March, said he’s always been someone to “crack a joke or two during tough times.” “I really enjoy making people smile,” he added. Viewers have taken delight to his followup video as the ‘operator,’ which has racked up tens of thousands of views. “In dark times, we just need to find lightness and humour,” Melo said. “And so that's kind of why I started doing those videos.” Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times
Malgré la pandémie, l’élan économique de Val-des-Sources ne s’essouffle pas. Après le début de la construction d’Alliance Magnésium et l’arrivée de plusieurs entreprises comme General Recycled en 2020, voilà que pour 2021 déjà plusieurs millions de dollars en investissements sont prévus. Les prochains mois verront d’ailleurs au moins deux nouvelles constructions s’ajouter dans le parc industriel. Concept Promet, acquis par l’entreprise Métal Pless de Plessisville en 2018, construira un nouveau bâtiment de plus de 30 000 pieds carrés sur la rue de l’Ardoise. Environ 3,5 millions de dollars seront investis pour la construction du bâtiment, sans compter l’achat de l’équipement. Concept Promet, qui fait de la peinture et l’assemblage de gratte à neige et d’équipements agricoles, emploi environ 45 personnes et la direction envisage ajouter une autre chaîne de production, ce qui créerait une dizaine d’emplois. « Il y a une grosse ouverture d’esprit de la part de la Ville et il y a un bel avantage de se construire là, souligne Ivan Boucher, adjoint à la direction. On est à Plessisville et ça nous amène un autre bassin de population aussi. » Les locaux laissés vacants par Concept Promet seront repris par ABS Remorques et agrandis de 27 000 pieds carrés. Pour ce faire, les investissements oscilleront entre 3,5 et 4 millions de $. Près d’une dizaine d’emplois seront créés à terme par ce projet. « On va déménager notre usine de soudage dans ces nouveaux locaux, indique François Gouin, président. On vend partout au Canada et un peu aux États-Unis. On veut raffermir notre position au Canada et être plus actifs sur l’exportation aux États-Unis. Parallèlement, on veut développer d’autres types de remorques. » Bulles du Nord, qui produit des jus de fruit naturels gazéifiés, et Distillerie Birster, qui fait du gin (voir autre texte), s’installent aussi à Val-des-Sources. « Quand quelqu’un a un projet, ça nous en prend beaucoup pour dire non, lance Martin Lafleur, directeur de la Corporation de développement socioéconomique de Val-des-Sources. On est aussi en train de mettre sur pied un projet pour développer et acquérir un bâtiment dédié aux écomatériaux. » Dans l’optique de favoriser les investissements, la Ville de Val-des-Sources offre aussi la possibilité de bâtir elle-même les installations pour ensuite les louer à une entreprise qui viendrait s’établir dans la région. « On leur charge un loyer et on leur donne la possibilité d’acheter dans trois, quatre, cinq ou six ans, quand ça leur adonne, résume M. Lafleur. On leur crédite le capital qu’ils ont déjà payé. On se met entre eux et la banque. On en a plusieurs qui ont acheté leur bâtiment de cette façon. » Écomatériaux Presque toutes les nouvelles entreprises de Val-des-Sources et de la MRC ont un point en commun, elles ont toutes un lien direct ou indirect avec l’environnement. « On mise sur les technologies environnementales, confirme Frédéric Marcotte, directeur général de la MRC. Ça fait partie de notre ligne directrice de notre stratégie de diversification économique. Les écomatériaux constituent un levier d’avenir pour le développement de la région. » Alliance Magnésium, qui exploite les haldes pour produire du magnésium, et Nature Fibres, qui produit des panneaux isolants à base de paille de chanvre industriel, sont quelques exemples d’entreprises qui exploitent des écomatériaux. « On prend un résidu et on lui donne une valeur tellement forte qu’il peut même surpasser des matériaux existants », explique M. Marcotte. La région est également l’hôte du Rendez-vous des écomatériaux qui se tient habituellement à l’automne. Diversification Avec tous ces investissements et ces nouvelles entreprises, la région a énormément diversifié son économie au cours des dernières années, mais il reste encore beaucoup de chemin à faire selon le DG de la MRC. « Une diversification économique à la suite d’une économie mono-industrielle de plus de 130 ans, ça ne se fait pas en sept ans, admet M. Marcotte. Si on me pose la question à savoir si la diversification économique est atteinte, c’est difficile de répondre positivement à cela. Par contre, les fondations de la diversification économique sur le long terme sont atteintes. Les secteurs d’activités, leur complémentarité, leur différence, le nombre d’entreprises et la diversité de la topologie d’emploi font en sorte qu’on est sur la bonne voie. » « Une diversification ce n’est pas que les entreprises qui sont implantées, c’est aussi la dynamique de l’économie de la région qui est à faire, résume-t-il. Il y a encore beaucoup de choses à construire et à attacher. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
WASHINGTON — Testing wristbands are in. Mask-wearing is mandatory. Desks are socially distanced. The clearest sign that there's a new boss at the White House is the deference being paid to coronavirus public health guidelines. It’s a striking contrast to Donald Trump’s White House, which was the epicenter of no less than three separate outbreaks of COVID-19, their true scale not fully known because aides refused to discuss cases publicly. While the Trump administration was known for flouting safety recommendations, the Biden team has made a point of abiding by the same strict guidelines they’re urging Americans to follow to stem the spread of the virus. It’s part of an overall effort from President Joe Biden to lead by example on the coronavirus pandemic, an ethos carried over from his campaign and transition. “One of the great tragedies of the Trump administration was a refusal to recognize that many Americans model the behaviour of our leadership," said Ben LaBolt, a former press secretary to President Barack Obama who worked on the Biden transition. “The Biden administration understands the powerful message that adhering to their own guidelines and modeling the best public health behaviour sends, and knows that that’s the best path to climbing out of this until we can get a shot in the arm of every American.” To that end, most of Biden’s White House staff is working from home, co-ordinating with colleagues by email or phone. While the White House aims to have more people working onsite next week, officials intend to operate with substantially reduced staffing for the duration of the pandemic. When hundreds of administration staffers were sworn in by Biden on Wednesday, the ceremony was virtual, with the president looking out at team members displayed in boxes on video screens. The emphasis on adhering to public safety guidelines touches matters both big and small in the White House. Jeffrey Wexler is the White House director of COVID-19 operations, overseeing the implementation of safety guidelines throughout the administration, a job he performed during the transition and campaign. During her first press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested those working in the office would receive daily testing and N95 masks would be mandatory. Indeed, Biden's new federal mask mandate executive order requires that federal employees, contractors and others in federal buildings and on federal lands wear masks and adhere to social distancing requirements. The executive order allows for agency heads to make “case-by-case exceptions" — like, for instance, Psaki's. She wears one until she steps up to the podium for briefings. Officials in close contact with Biden wear wristbands to signify they have been tested that day. Every event with the president is carefully choreographed to maintain distancing, with strips of paper taped to the carpet to show the likes of Vice-President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci where to stand when Biden is delivering an address. When Biden met with his COVID team in the State Dining Room on Thursday, the five people in the room sat at individual tables placed at least six feet apart and four others joined by Zoom to keep numbers down. Plexiglass barriers have been set up at some desks that are in open areas, but nearly all staff who are already working in the building have enclosed offices. The Biden team already had a robust contact tracing program set up during the transition, which it's keeping around for any possible exposures. Staffers also were issued laptops with wallpaper displays that offer a list of COVID symptoms and a directive to “call the White House medical unit” if they have experienced any of them. The Trump White House was another story altogether. After one virus scare in May, the White House mandated mask-wearing, with a memo from chief of staff Mark Meadows requiring their use in shared workspaces and meetings. Simple surgical masks were placed at the entrance to the West Wing. But after only a few days of moderate compliance, mask-wearing fell away almost entirely, as Trump made it clear to aides he did not like the visual of people around him wearing masks — let alone wearing one himself. Trump’s White House reduced staffing capacity during the earliest days of the pandemic, but by late spring, when Trump was intent on projecting that the country was “reopening” from pandemic lockdowns — and the U.S. was at roughly 80,000 deaths — aides quickly resumed normal operations. That provided ideal conditions for the spread of an airborne virus. It was only after Trump himself tested positive that some aides began staggering their work schedules to provide enhanced distancing and contingencies in case someone tested positive. Those working for the new administration welcome the stricter guidelines now, but they do pose some potential complications as the Biden team builds out its operation. Karen Finney, who was a spokeswoman in the Clinton White House, said the first challenge may simply be creating a cohesiveness and camaraderie when some new staffers are brought on board without ever having worked in the same room. “When you sit in the same office as everyone, it’s just a different dynamic," she said. “There's a sense of, ‘We’ve got each other's backs, we're going to be working together on this.'” Finney added that most of the staff are used to working remotely at this point, so it's not necessarily a new challenge. But she allowed that the national COVID response itself could be somewhat hamstrung by the COVID requirements at the White House. “Having to co-ordinate between limited staff in the office, those working remotely, along with governors, mayors, their staff, those on the Hill — it’s a challenge,” she said. “They’ve had the time to think through how to do some of this, but look, it’s going to be a work in progress." Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Sherbrooke — Malgré quelques démantèlements, la production agricole en Estrie continue de remonter la pente, avec un gain positif de 46 nouvelles fermes à son bilan pour 2020. Un récent calcul du ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation fait monter le portrait actuel à 2669 fermes, un nombre que la région ne semble pas avoir connu depuis les années 1990. En tout, pas moins de 132 nouvelles fermes ont été déclarées auprès du Ministère entre le 1er janvier 2020 et le 1er décembre 2020 dans la région. À l’inverse, 86 fermes ont cessé leurs activités. Ce gain de 46 fermes est donc le plus important de toutes les régions de la province, qui a pour sa part vu 1163 exploitations apparaître, tandis que 1076 se sont éteintes pour une différence positive de 87 fermes. Le Centre-du-Québec (– 72) et les Laurentides (– 21) sont les régions qui enregistrent les bilans les plus négatifs. « De voir une augmentation nette de fermes en Estrie et au Québec, c’est super positif, commente Lyne Desnoyers, agente régionale pour l’ARTERRE Estrie, un service de maillage entre aspirants agriculteurs et propriétaires. Même si ce n’est pas un si gros chiffre que ça, c’est super rafraîchissant et stimulant. Ça démontre vraiment ce qui se passe sur le terrain, c’est-à-dire une révolution du maraîchage et une volonté de vouloir produire ses propres légumes, mais aussi de produire pour les autres. » Une vague qu’elle se plaît à surnommer « l’appel Jean-Martin Fortier », à l’image du producteur et auteur qui a popularisé l’agriculture sur petite surface dans les dernières années. « Cet appel, on le voyait déjà depuis quelques années chez Statistiques Canada. Dans le recensement, entre 2011 et 2016, on a vu une augmentation de 9 % des fermes de moins de 5 hectares », ajoute Mme Desnoyers. Celle-ci aura rencontré de nombreux membres de la relève agricole en 2020. Les légumes et les cultures émergentes ont animé beaucoup de rêves chez les aspirants, mais sans laisser pour compte les autres types de production. « Souvent, ce sont des productions en dehors de la gestion de l’offre, parce que ça prend beaucoup de sous pour atteindre ces marchés-là, analyse-t-elle. Plutôt que d’aller vers la vache laitière parce que la mise de fonds serait trop grande, on va par exemple vers la brebis laitière pour accéder plus facilement au monde agricole et pouvoir transformer à la ferme. On a un beau marché ici en Estrie, on a plein de fromageries qui vont bien. C’est une tendance qui s’est accentuée, je dirais presque grâce à la pandémie. Il y a eu un réveil collectif disant que l’agriculture, c’est la base de notre système économique. Nos travailleurs agricoles, ce sont nos travailleurs essentiels. » Autre tendance : Mme Desnoyers voit toujours une très grande demande pour l’achat ou le démarrage d’une érablière. Ce type de production était d’ailleurs déjà en vogue de puis très longtemps. Par exemple, entre 1993 et 2016, le nombre de productions acéricoles n’a cessé de croître en Estrie, passant ainsi de 291 à 811. Au Québec À l’échelle du Québec, le MAPAQ remarque que le nombre de fermes a suivi une tendance à la baisse au cours des dernières années dans la plupart des régions. Cependant, entre 2015 et 2019, l’Estrie s’est démarquée avec une hausse spectaculaire de 88 fermes. Globablement, les productions animales se font beaucoup moins nombreuses depuis plusieurs années, sauf pour la volaille et les œufs. De l’autre côté, les productions végétales prolifèrent. Le MAPAQ compile les exploitations agricoles qui génèrent au moins 5000 $ de revenus par an. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
The company that runs a limestone quarry on the Port au Port Peninsula is headed to trial, after pleading not guilty to numerous charges surrounding the 2018 death of one of its workers. A lawyer for Atlantic Minerals entered not guilty pleas in Stephenville provincial court Friday to all 10 charges the company faces under the province's Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to provide workplace procedures and failing to ensure safe workplace procedures were followed. The charges stem from the death of a 55-year-old worker at the quarry in Lower Cove on July 31, 2018. The man, a long-term employee of the company, was fatally injured after an incident during conveyor maintenance. Six days are being set aside for Atlantic Minerals' trial in Stephenville, starting June 14. A supervisor with Atlantic Minerals also faces two charges in relation to the death, of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and failing to provide safety information and instruction. On Friday, the supervisor's lawyer, Andrew May, said his client was not ready to enter in a plea, but that a future not guilty plea was an "unlikely event." That matter has been set over until March. If the supervisor pleads not guilty, he will appear at the same trial as Atlantic Minerals. Atlantic Minerals is headquartered in Corner Brook. According to its website, the company has 130 employees at its Lower Cove operation. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
NORTH HURON – The Township of North Huron released a statement following the Ontario government’s stay-at-home order designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. As Ontario enters its second provincial state of emergency, the Township of North Huron asks citizens to follow the government’s stay-at-home order and avoid any non-essential trips outside their residences. Effective Jan. 14, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people. Everyone is ordered to stay at home, except for work or essential activities such as trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, or medical appointments. “I appreciate the challenges being faced by businesses, individuals, families, and institutions during this unprecedented pandemic, but the case numbers are alarming. Even Huron County has experienced a dramatic increase in COVID cases over the past two months,” Reeve Bernie Bailey said. The following measures came into effect in North Huron on Jan. 14: • All indoor recreational facilities, including the indoor pool, fitness centre, and courts, will remain closed until further notice. • The ice surfaces at the Wescast Community Complex in Wingham and the Blyth Community Centre will be removed. • Outdoor recreational amenities including parks, sports fields, courts, trails, and municipally-owned playgrounds will remain open provided any person who enters or uses the amenity maintains a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person not residing in the same household. • The Blyth Campground is closed. • The Wingham Town Hall Theatre and public washrooms remain closed. • All council and committee meetings will continue to be held through electronic participation until further notice. • Town Hall will remain closed to the public until at least Feb. 12, 2021, unless otherwise announced. During this period, staff can be contacted by phone or email. Essential meetings with staff will be arranged by appointment only. • Daycare services for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers will remain open with existing restrictions remaining in place. All before and after school programs remain closed. The Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health will be providing advice and making an announcement by Jan. 20, regarding the return to in-person learning. “The lives of our residents are at risk, and I strongly urge all residents to stay at home to the fullest extent possible,” Bailey added. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
TORONTO — Global trials examining the potential of blood thinners to treat moderately ill COVID-19 patients have proven so successful its Canadian investigators say clinicians should immediately start using them in standard care.Investigators at Toronto's University Health Network say interim results of clinical trials spanning five continents in more than 300 hospitals suggest full-dose blood thinners could significantly avoid severe cases that are now straining hospital ICUs.The study involved more than 1,300 moderately ill patients admitted to hospital, including some at UHN. Investigators say full doses of Heparin improved outcomes and decreased the need for life support.The full dose was also more effective than the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients.Critical care physician Ewan Goligher, co-chair of the therapeutic anticoagulation domain of the trial, says the findings could significantly transform care.“Having cared for so many severely ill COVID-19 patients and witnessed the suffering involved for patients and their loved ones, it is profoundly gratifying that together we have discovered a treatment that can prevent patients from becoming severely ill and improve their recovery,” Goligher, also a scientist with the University Health Network, said Friday in a release.Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor, hematologist and critical care physician at the University of Manitoba, said the findings were promising. "In a disease with a limited number of effective therapies, our results have the potential to define a new standard of care for moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients around the world," Zarychanski said.Doctors noticed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 patients suffered an increased rate of blood clots and inflammation. This led to complications including lung failure, heart attack and stroke.Back in December, investigators found that giving full-dose blood thinners to critically ill ICU patients did not help, and was actually harmful.The trials are supported by international funding organizations including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in the United States, the National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom, and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Midland's top staffer says more clarity around enforcement means sterner action by the town against those that disobey stay-at-home orders. "I know there's been a lot of discussion with the health unit around educating people," said CAO David Denault. "The education can only go so far. I think you're going to have to enforce much more strongly. The health unit itself is getting around to some of the areas where we've heard some of the complaints, like the malls. "Unfortunately, we're going to have to start patrolling areas like the toboggan hills and rinks," he added. "If people don't listen, we're going to have to ticket them. If numbers continue to rise as they're predicting, I think there will be a sterner side to enforcement." Until now, said Denault in his update to council this week, the approach was to educate and then enforce. Since Nov. 15, he said bylaw has issued 282 tickets and done 12 tows (non-COVID related). "We really don't want to do that to the public," said Denault. "But to be efficient and make sure we're taking care of our services, we need to do this. Please make sure you move your vehicles so we can get around and take care of the facilities." Coun. Jon Main wanted to know what the town planned for warming centres, considering public buildings are closed due to the stay-at-home orders. "Unfortunately, a lot of our warming centres are municipal facilities, which are not open," he said. "Is it our responsibility to provide warming centres?" Denault said that is one facet municipalities are struggling with. "It is one of the opportunities we have with the rec centre," he said. "We have been able to accommodate some individuals that have come there during frigid times. We'll continue to do that. We'll make sure we connect with our organizations in the community to understand that can be done. The more traditional facilities just aren't able to open." At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Bill Gordon also asked what had become of the YMCA's request for town support in reopening its facility. "I know the YMCA had approached us without a financial ask, but with the indication that there would be something coming," he said. "It looks like we attempted to reach out to them and do something that didn't work out so I wonder if we could talk a little bit about that." Denault said all municipal CAOs had met up with the YMCA to discuss what they would need and to share with them options their municipalities may be able to bring forward with council approval. "There were no offers made," he said, adding he couldn't share any numbers due to a request of confidentiality by the Y. "At the end of the day, the YMCA determined they could best address their needs on their own. "We did leave them with the option that if they do require some assistance from the municipality, we can be engaged to help out," said Denault. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The United Arab Emirates confirmed that it signed agreements with the United States on former President Donald Trump's last full day in office to purchase up to 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones and other defense equipment in a deal worth $23 billion. The UAE embassy in Washington said in a statement on its website that the letters of agreement had been finalised on Tuesday confirming terms of purchase, including costs, technical specifications and anticipated delivery schedules. The deal, however, could now be reviewed as the new Biden administration has said it will re-examine the agreements for the sale, which the Trump administration had said supported U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by allowing the UAE to deter Iranian "threats".
Brighton is putting its appreciation for health care and frontline workers in lights. At its recent council meeting, council asked staff to design and create a banner expressing its support for local health care employees and frontline workers as they fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As well, at the suggestion of Coun. Ron Anderson, the municipality is lighting up a message of gratitude on the electronic billboard outside of King Edward Park Arena and Community Centre. “Perhaps we could put something up there on that sign right away,” Anderson said during the Zoom meeting. “(It’s) just one way of getting the message out to all frontline workers right now,” he told the Independent. “Many frontline workers live right here in Brighton and will see our message on the way to work or grocery shopping. In a week or two, everyone who can will see it and get involved in showing support I hope everywhere.” Council asked staff to craft a message for display on the billboard. The municipality received a letter from Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation’s (TMHF) executive director, which asked for support to help boost morale. “I just had a conversation with the new CEO of (Quinte Health Care) and she commented about how poorly our staff are feeling right now,” said TMHF’s Wendy Warner in the letter. “They are tired, stressed and feeling down. This can be for a variety of reasons.” Warner noted the overall shortage of health care professionals, staff working more overtime hours and the risk of contracting COVID-19 as a few of the stressors. Coun. Emily Rowley suggested Brighton also put messages of support on the municipal website and on its social media pages. She said she would also like to see lawn signs. “Let’s just paint the town with appreciation,” Rowley said. Mayor Brian Ostrander suggested Brighton start with the banner for health care and frontline workers and discuss the subject of further appreciation for essential workers at a future meeting. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
HALIFAX — The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation. Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. The inquiry has also appointed a community liaison, a mental health expert, an investigations co-ordinator and an expert in charge of research. "We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the commission said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the commission in order to fulfil its mandate and we want the best people to help us in this process." The other team members include: — Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women. — Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S. — Mental health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction. — Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia's mental health and addictions program. The independent federal-provincial inquiry, which has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents, is expected to produce an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
THUNDER BAY — A number of inmates from the Thunder Bay jail have been temporarily transferred to a Toronto detention centre in an effort to manage the current number of active COVID-19 cases at the facility. On Friday, Jan. 22, a spokesperson with the ministry of the solicitor general confirmed the Thunder bay jail currently has 12 active inmate COVID-19 cases and six COVID-19 positive cases among staff. The inmates were transferred to the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) temporarily to bring the facility within operating capacity and reduce the risk of infection, spokesperson Andrew Morrison said in an emailed statement. “The inmates selected for transfer are low risk for COVID-19 and will be isolated for 14 days upon arrival at the TSDC,” Morrison said, adding the ministry cannot provide details about inmate transfers for security reasons. All inmates are being transferred to a separate area at the TSDC and won’t be placed with current inmates to reduce any potential spread of the virus, Morrison said. “Appropriate protocols are being followed to ensure the protection of all staff and inmates,” Morrison said. The Toronto facility is the ministry’s newest jail with a modern health care unit with medical isolation units to effectively manage and support inmates with COVID-19, the ministry says. The Thunder Bay Correctional Centre currently has 42 active inmate cases and two active cases among staff of COVID-19. According to the ministry, any inmate who tests positive for the virus is placed under droplet precautions and is isolated from the rest of the inmate population while they receive medical care. The ministry continues to work with local public health authorities to complete contact tracing. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Curling Canada has decided to use the national ranking system as its selection criteria for the final wild-card berths at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier. The announcement clears a path to the Calgary bubble for Manitoba's Mackenzie Zacharias and Ontario's Glenn Howard. Beth Peterson, also from Manitoba, saw her chances greatly improve but the decision closed the door on Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Saskatchewan's Robyn Silvernagle. “We needed to take our time and do our due diligence on this selection process,” Curling Canada chief executive officer Katherine Henderson said Friday in a release. “In the end, it was decided that we created the Canadian Team Ranking System for exactly these purposes. "It is a proven system with a history that we use for all of our other selection processes, and ultimately, from a consistency standpoint, it makes the most sense for this situation.” The Scotties is set for Feb. 19-28 at the Markin MacPhail Centre and the Brier will run March 5-14. The Canada Olympic Park venue will hold six events in all in a spectator-free setting due to the pandemic. Curling Canada scrapped its usual play-in game for both national team championships. Instead three wild-card entries were added to each field, creating 18-team draws. The federation previously announced that the final 2019-20 Canadian rankings would be used for the first two wild-card spots. Criteria for the third wild-card spot was listed as "to be determined," giving some hope to slightly lower-ranked teams or rinks who made off-season roster adjustments. Formal wild-card team entry announcements are expected next month once all provincial and territorial playdowns are complete. Howard, a four-time Brier champion, gets the third wild-card spot thanks to his No. 9 ranking. The first two wild-card spots were already clear with Mike McEwen of Manitoba at No. 5 and Kevin Koe of Alberta at No. 6. The complete women's wild-card picture won't be determined until the end of the month. Second-ranked Tracy Fleury of Manitoba is a lock for the first spot. Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt is next at No. 9, but she's a heavy favourite to represent her province again. Birt is one of two entries in the Jan. 29-31 P.E.I. championship. Either way, Zacharias — who won a world junior title last year — will get the second or third wild-card spot based on her No. 11 ranking. Peterson, meanwhile, is a whisker behind her on the list and only needs a Birt victory to book her ticket for Calgary. Chelsea Carey is ranked fifth in Canada but is a free agent. Rocque, at No. 6, and Silvernagle, at No. 10, weren't eligible since they only have two returning members, one short of the required minimum. A Curling Canada spokesman confirmed Friday that the 3-of-4 rule also applies to the third wild-card picks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister.The Protecting Canada Project will start airing today its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online.The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic.The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time."Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. How an O'Toole-led Conservative government would tackle the massive national debt and deficit created by pandemic spending will be a key question for the party in the next campaign. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Le gouvernement Legault a manifesté son intention d’encadrer plus strictement les produits de vapotage. L’objectif est de réduire l’attrait de la cigarette électronique auprès des jeunes. Mais des usagers croient que la nouvelle réglementation sera trop sévère. Parmi les mesures envisagées par le gouvernement, il y a de limiter le taux de nicotine et la grosseur des fioles de liquide, et d’interdire les saveurs et les arômes autres que le tabac. Pour Natasha Carvalho, intervenante en dépendance jeunesse au Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) des Laurentides, il s’agit d’une bonne initiative. « La cigarette électronique est un produit d’initiation au tabagisme. On ne peut pas travailler auprès des jeunes et ne pas se rendre compte que c’est un phénomène grandissant. » Les adolescents qui vapotent ont trois fois plus de risques de fumer la cigarette plus tard. Les liquides utilisés pour vapoter sont offerts dans une kyrielle de saveurs et d’arômes au Canada, de la barbe à papa au chocolat, en passant par le melon d’eau et la mangue. La vapoteuse elle-même, ou cigarette électronique, a aussi son propre attrait. Les modèles vont du petit format élégant et facile à dissimuler, au « Hummer » imposant qui affiche cadrans et statistiques. « C’est un véritable objet technologique! » Il y a aussi les « wax pen », qui permettent de vapoter des concentrés d’huile de cannabis, par exemple. « C’est très répandu et populaire chez les jeunes. La vapoteuse ne dégage pas d’odeur identifiable. On peut donc consommer du cannabis, au vu et au su des adultes surveillants », explique Mme Carvalho. Le principal risque pour les jeunes, selon l’intervenante, c’est qu’ils développent une dépendance au geste, au rituel de vapoter, qui est le même pour la cigarette. Le taux de nicotine contenu dans une fiole de liquide peut aussi être beaucoup plus élevé que dans un paquet de cigarettes, accélérant la dépendance. Quant à l’impact sur la santé physique, c’est plus compliqué. Peu de recherche a encore été faite, comme le phénomène est récent. Mais déjà, les usagers peuvent faire de la haute pression, ressentir de l’essoufflement et sont plus à risque de maladies cardio-vasculaires. « Même si ce n’est pas de la combustion, le liquide est chauffé. Ça peut libérer des contaminants, comme le nickel, l’étain, l’aluminium, le formaldéhyde… » Sans compter que certains produits disponibles sur Internet proviennent d’ailleurs dans le monde, où la réglementation et les contrôles de qualité sont moindres. Selon Marlène-Lyane Richard, porte-parole de la Coalition des droits des vapoteurs du Québec (CDVQ), il ne faut pas oublier que la vapoteuse a également aidé bien des fumeurs à se sortir du tabagisme. Elle-même est parvenue à arrêter grâce à ça, alors qu’elle fumait depuis l’âge de 8 ans, en volant des cigarettes à ses parents. Elle a aujourd’hui 44 ans. « Avec la vape, ce n’est pas la même routine. La cigarette, quand elle est allumée, tu la fumes au complet. Avec la vapoteuse, tu peux prendre juste une ou deux poffs. On finit par délaisser le besoin d’inhaler. Ça va faire presque un an que j’ai arrêté. » Mme Richard est bien d’accord que les produits doivent être mieux encadrés et que les jeunes doivent être protégés. Mais elle croit que l’interdiction des saveurs et des arômes va trop loin. « 93 % des gens prennent de la saveur dans leur vapotage. C’est beaucoup! » Sa crainte, c’est que d’ex-fumeurs retombent dans la cigarette. « Il n’y a personne qui veut arrêter avec une saveur de tabac dans la bouche. » Bien que le vapotage représente des risques, Mme Richard soutient qu’ils sont moindres qu’avec la cigarette. « Dans les produits de vapotage, il y a 4 ingrédients, pas 60! Tous les produits nocifs de la cigarette ne sont pas là. C’est sûr que la toxicité est bien moindre avec le vapotage », affirme-t-elle. Certes, il existe d’autres solutions, comme la gomme et les patches, mais le vapotage offre une option de plus selon elle. Elle aimerait que ceux qui ont arrêté la cigarette grâce au vapotage, comme elle et d’autres, soient au moins entendus par le gouvernement avant que les nouvelles réglementations deviennent loi. « Il ne faut pas jeter le bébé avec l’eau du bain! »Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
Nova Scotia announced four new cases of COVID-19 Friday, along with the revelation that two previous cases were found to be variants of the virus. The four new cases include one in the central health zone related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada, one in the northern zone who is a close contact of another case, and two in the western zone, both related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. One of the western zone cases is a student at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., who tested positive after completing their 14-day self-isolation. They are self-isolating again, but they did attend class Jan. 18-20 and Nova Scotia Health has begun contact tracing. There are 22 active cases in the province. During a news briefing Friday, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the province detected the variants in cases that were reported in December. He said the two cases were related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the individuals self-isolated. After further testing, one was found to have had the U.K. variant, while the other had the South African variant. Both cases are now resolved, McNeil said. "I know this may come as a worry, it's our first exposure to this variant, but it is not unexpected," said McNeil. "It is yet another reason why we continue to maintain our ... restrictions." Cases being investigated further Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said neither of those two cases resulted in community spread, but the person with the South African variant did infect other members of their household. Strang said there was no spread beyond that. Strang said the amount of virus in the household's testing samples were low and they were unable to send their samples for sequencing. So while it's likely they had the variant as well, it hasn't been confirmed. "We know that significant work is happening internationally to better understand the implications of these variants, and we are working closely with the lab to investigate further both of those cases and whether anything more needs to happen," he said. Some restrictions eased McNeil said almost all of the province's public health restrictions will be in place until at least Feb. 7, but some restrictions in sports, arts and culture will be eased starting Monday. Sports teams will be able to play games, but with limited travel and limited spectators, and there can be no games or tournaments involving teams that would not regularly play against each other. Art and theatre performances can take place without an audience, he said. The province will also allow residents of adult service centres and regional rehabilitation centres to start volunteering and working in the community again. "We are lifting only these restrictions because it's important to the mental and physical health of all those involved," said McNeil. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipment delayed Strang said another shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived this week and has already been distributed at the Valley Regional Hospital and Cape Breton Regional Hospital. There will be no shipments next week, and the province is expected to get "limited amounts" of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as the "usual" shipment of the Moderna vaccine, in the first week of February. Strang said the delays for the Pfizer vaccine won't alter the current timeline to have most Nova Scotians vaccinated by September's end. "Every indication we have from Pfizer is that this is very short term. And even within the next 90 days, we're anticipating that what they aren't able to deliver in the next two weeks, they'll make that up, that amount, in February and March." Nova Scotia has administered 10,575 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 2,705 second doses, as of Thursday. Updates on vaccine administration across the country can be found here. Focus on testing university students Strang also mentioned he has received some questions about why the student at Acadia University tested positive after completing their 14-day quarantine and attending classes. "No one measure is perfect," Strang said. "In this case, he became infectious toward the very end of his quarantine period. The fact he was out and about doesn't mean he didn't comply with what he was required to do." He said the student sought testing as soon as they developed symptoms following their self-isolation. Strang said the province will refocus its efforts on pop-up testing in university communities as the number of students returning from outside of Nova Scotia after the holidays dwindles. Late Friday, Nova Scotia's health authority said it would hold a pop-up testing clinic in Wolfville this weekend because of the high number of people who want to get tested. Drop-in testing will be available at the Acadia Festival Theatre on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Truro school remains closed On Thursday, a new case of COVID-19 was announced at École acadienne de Truro, a pre-primary to Grade 12 school. The province said the person did not attend Thursday and is self-isolating. The Department of Health and Wellness said the school closed at noon to begin deep cleaning, contact tracing and any necessary testing. Close contacts of the case will be notified. École acadienne de Truro will move classes online until at least the start of the next week, with an update to be provided to families on Tuesday, Jan. 26, about a possible reopening on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Strang said Friday that the case was related to a close contact of another case. 'Very good news' about Marine Atlantic ferry After a crew member of Marine Atlantic tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Strang said 60 crew members have been tested and only one case — in Newfoundland and Labrador — has been detected, which Strang said is "very good news." "It gives us some comfort that the public, who would have been less likely to be exposed … it's lower risk that we're going to see further cases from this ferry," he said. Still, the province is asking anyone who was on the MV Blue Puttees, a ferry that runs between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L., on the following dates and times should be tested as a precaution. Anyone exposed to the virus on this ferry may develop symptoms up to, and including, Jan. 30, 2021. Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Friday he wanted it known that he had no plans to commit suicide in prison, as he issued a message of support to his followers on the eve of protests the authorities say are illegal. Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying home for the first time since being poisoned with what the West says was a military-grade nerve agent that Navalny says was applied to his underpants by state security agents. The 44-year-old lawyer, in a Moscow prison pending the outcome of four legal matters he describes as trumped up, accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering his attempted murder.
TORONTO — A growing number of Canadian tech businesses are promising to allow their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on company time. At least 35 tech companies in the country, including SkipTheDishes, Borrowell, and FreshBooks, have signed a new pledge from the Council of Canadian Innovators vowing to let their staff slip out of work to get the shot. They say they are keen on giving workers the time because vaccinations are more important than business as usual. The signatories will try to tackle misinformation by providing reliable information from public health agencies about vaccine safety and efficacy to employees. They are promising to share information with staff about where, when and how people can be vaccinated, as soon as the shots are available to the wider population. Canada has so far administered just over 738,000 doses of the vaccine to health-care workers and long-term care home residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press