Meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
Meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada's chief public health officer expressed optimism over vaccines ahead of the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis.The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March 11, and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said it's been a difficult 12 months marked by hardship and sacrifice."Yet, as the months have gone by, I have also witnessed the remarkable courage, strength, and generosity demonstrated by Canadians," she wrote in a statement."Through it all, it is the incredible support that Canadians have shown for one another that has impressed me the most."Tam expressed optimism that brighter days were coming, thanks to the recent approvals of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines."This week has been a very good week for Canada's COVID-19 vaccination programs," she wrote.The anniversary comes as all provinces are expanding their mass vaccination programs and some are loosening restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick are among the provinces preparing to lift restrictions on Monday after weeks of stable or declining cases. A stay-at-home order in Ontario's Toronto, Peel and North Bay regions will lift on Monday, while five Quebec regions, including Quebec City, will be downgraded from red to orange on the province's colour-coded regional alert system.All of New Brunswick will transition to the less-restrictive "yellow" alert level Sunday at midnight, meaning residents can expand their contacts from 10 to 15 people and team sports activities may resume.Canada's two biggest cities will remain under fairly strict restrictions, however. Toronto — and neighbouring Peel Region — will enter the "grey lockdown" category, which will allow more retailers to open, with restrictions, but leaves gyms, personal care services and indoor restaurant dining closed.The greater Montreal region remains a red zone, which means an 8 p.m. curfew is still in effect.Tam said the addition of the two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster and help ease the worries surrounding supply disruptions or setbacks.In a long message, Tam said it is not that it is not possible to directly compare the efficacy of different vaccines to one another."Each vaccine was studied in a separate trial conducted at different times, using different populations and conditions," she wrote.She said the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, manufactured by Janssen, was shown to be 66 per cent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, while the AstraZeneca vaccine was found to have an efficacy of 62 per cent in generally preventing "symptomatic COVID-19." Both vaccines, she said, were found to protect against severe disease, meaning that those who got COVID-19 after the shot were much less likely to get seriously ill. Currently, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization does not recommend that the AstraZeneca vaccine be given to those aged 65 or over due to limited data, but Tam stressed that the recommendations could change.She noted both the new vaccines are easier to transport than those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which require freezer storage. With Canada set to receive more than 900,000 COVID-19 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week, many provinces are ramping up their vaccination campaigns.Health authorities across British Columbia will start booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments Monday for people 90 years old and older and Indigenous residents over the age of 65.Quebec, which has been booking vaccine appointments for seniors 70 or 80 and over depending on the region, will speed up the pace this week as more mass vaccination centres open across the province after focusing mainly on hard-hit Montreal last week. Quebec counted 707 new cases of the virus on Sunday, and seven more deaths. Ontario reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far. That province logged 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and 15 added deaths. Manitoba counted 56 new cases of the virus and two more deaths. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 116 more cases and two more deaths due to COVID-19, including a person who was under 20 years old. Alberta logged roughly 300 new cases of the virus Sunday, though the province said a system upgrade meant precise numbers weren't available. Farther east, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island each recorded two new cases of COVID-19. The government said it would receive more than 14,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, which will be sent to five different parts of the province.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Most provinces, including British Columbia, announced this week they expect every adult will receive a first COVID-19 vaccine dose by June or July. The move came after a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to delay a second dose for four months, following evidence of high levels of protection from one dose. All provinces have adopted the recommendation, potentially accelerating Canada's vaccination timeline by two months. But where does that leave kids? Close to one million people in B.C. are 19 or younger, and they make up nearly one-fifth of the province's population. Here's what you need to know about where they fall in the vaccination plan. Can kids get vaccinated? Not yet. Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 16 and older, while the Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and up. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said there's not enough data from the initial clinical trials to know how the vaccines affect kids. So far, B.C.'s immunization plan is focused on residents 18 and older. B.C.'s health ministry said it will administer Pfizer vaccines to teens between the ages of 16 and 17 who are severely clinically vulnerable, and whose care provider has determined vaccination is the best course of action. Do kids need to be immunized? Dr. Manish Sadarangani, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, said it's not yet not clear whether all kids need to get vaccinated. He is currently leading research that is testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people. Experts will also have a clearer picture once most adults are vaccinated, Sadarangani said. At that point, health officials can look at the number of cases among kids, whether severe cases are showing up and whether kids are a source of ongoing community transmission. Researchers are testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, said children should "definitely" be vaccinated. "Getting COVID is much worse in terms of potential for long-term side effects than getting the vaccine," said Brinkman, who is also working on Canada's variant containment efforts through the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network. When will kids receive a vaccine? The four pharmaceutical companies are at all different stages of testing the vaccines on kids. It's unclear when exactly those vaccines could be approved for kids. Sharma said Friday that data from teenagers will come first, followed by kids under 12. "Potentially, by the end of the calendar year, we might have some answers for children." Clinical trials are underway to determine vaccine effectiveness on children.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Sadarangani said the first clinical trial data from older kids is expected to come by the end of August. If the Health Canada approves the vaccines on kids, NACI will then recommend how to best deploy the doses, he said. Sadarangani said rolling out the vaccine as part of school immunizations will be far more efficient than immunizing adults, noting the system is "better set up" to vaccinate kids. Is achieving 'herd immunity' possible without vaccinating kids? Some experts have suggested that achieving "herd immunity" — the point at which the virus can no longer spread in the community because enough people have either been infected or vaccinated — may not be feasible without vaccinating kids. Brinkman said it's a reasonable concern, but the degree of protection to society from vaccines make them a powerful tool, even before they're available to children. "We have vaccines that have incredible efficacy. In fact, they're astounding," she said. "When you have vaccines that work that well, you don't actually have to vaccinate as many people in the population to have it be effective." A nurse administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in Vancouver on March 4. B.C. says it expects every adult to receive a first vaccine dose by July.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Anna Blakney, an assistant professor at University of British Columbia's school of biomedical engineering, said herd immunity is often thought of as a percentage of a population that must be protected to ensure safety for all. But it's actually a more dynamic concept, she said, especially since it's unknown how long immunity from COVID-19 will last. "With herd immunity, you don't just reach that level and then it's there forever," she said. "People can lose their immunity over time, so most likely what's going to happen is that it will be a combination of natural infections and the vaccine that get us to that kind of steady state of herd immunity." Are there safety concerns for kids? Blakney, who also runs a popular TikTok account that educates viewers about COVID-19, said she's received many questions about the safety of the vaccine in children. She said clinical trials are generally designed with less vulnerable populations in mind — those between the age of 18 and 55. (Because COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly, older people were included in vaccine trials.) Once a vaccine is found to be safe in those populations, they're expanded out to children and pregnant women. "It's routine for children and babies to get vaccines. That's when you get the most vaccines in your life. They're just waiting for that safety to be proven," Blakney said. "We want to first test it in the less vulnerable population in case there are any side effects. That doesn't mean we expect there to be — that's just how it's evolved over time." Sadarangani explained that the dose may be adjusted to ensure the best protection possible for children. "Some vaccines do need a bit more because they need a bit more to stimulate their immune systems than adults do. And some vaccines, they need a bit less," he said. "This is one of the reasons in the trial for going down through the age groups, starting with the older kids that are likely to be most like adults." What about parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their kids? In a UBC study last fall, about 43 per cent of 2,500 families across Canada surveyed said they would accept less rigorous testing and expedited approval of a vaccine for their kids. Blakney said she finds some degree of vaccine hesitancy normal, especially because people are not accustomed to the speed with which the vaccine was developed. A B.C. COVID-19 vaccination immunization record card. Sadarangani says school immunizations will be far more time efficient than immunizing adults.(Ben Nelms/CBC) But she said the vaccine research involved an unprecedented level of funding and effort from scientists, doctors, and governments alike. "We have lots of safety data on this because not only were they trialled in tens of thousands of people, but now they've been implemented to millions of people," she said. "So we have a pretty good idea of the safety profile of them thus far, which is what gives us that extra confidence to go into other populations. These vaccines are incredibly safe in the data we have so far." What can parents do in the meantime? Brinkman said, for now, parents can ensure that their children's other vaccinations and booster shots are up to date, while also following public health orders until restrictions can safely be lifted. "That will help protect them and give their system the best chance against other diseases," she said, adding some people may have fallen behind schedule on immunizations while B.C. has been partially shut down. "It's very important at this stage that we keep the numbers of cases as low as we can because we really need to reduce the chance of the viral variant spreading."
MANCHESTER, England — Success for Manchester United these days is being the spoiler as Manchester City goes on to eventually claim the league titles. City manager Pep Guardiola's pursuit of a world-record winning streak ended after United won the derby 2-0 on Sunday. A penalty won after 36 seconds was converted by Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw netted five minutes into the second half to end City's 21-match winning run in all competitions. But the complexion of the Premier League has drastically changed since City's last defeat 106 days earlier at Tottenham left the team in 11th place — eight points behind the London club at the top. Now losing is more a matter of pride and missing out on catching the mark of 27 consecutive wins set by Welsh side The New Saints in 2016. City has not only climbed to the summit but built a lead that meant its second-placed neighbour only trimmed the gap to 11 points with victory at the Etihad Stadium. With such a commanding lead and only 10 games remaining, United has probably only just delayed the moment City dethrones Liverpool as champion. Just like three years ago when Jose Mourinho's derby win prevented City sealing the title that April day. But it's only two months since United harboured ambitions of its own of lifting the trophy — for the first time since 2013 — when it sat in first place. The title challenge has melted away for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side and United will likely be consigned to seeing City crowned champions for the third time since United's name was last etched into the trophy. But there is no longer a vast gulf when these two sides meet in the Premier League. United has won three of the last derbies and drawn the other. It's almost a year to the day since United also beat City 2-0 at Old Trafford, the last time they played in a full stadium or any fans were allowed into a Manchester stadium due to the pandemic. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
Chantal Brahmi lost her mother, Anna Elofer, to COVID-19 on Nov. 16.
La popularité des livres numériques n’a jamais été aussi importante qu’en temps de COVID-19 à la bibliothèque Fonds de solidarité FTQ de Matane. « Durant le confinement, souligne la responsable de la bibliothèque municipale Christiane Melançon, nous avons concentré nos efforts sur la promotion de la lecture numérique. Nous voulions continuer à offrir de la lecture aux usagers en les aidant dans l’utilisation de la plateforme. Bien des gens ont utilisé ou découvert ce type de lecture. » Explosion des prêts numériques à la bibliothèque municipale de MataneDonnées éloquentes Les statistiques parlent d’elles-mêmes. Ainsi, le nombre de prêts numériques a explosé en 2020 avec une hausse de 334 %, soit 820 contre 189 tandis que le nombre d’accès à la plateforme numérique a grimpé de 232 %, soit 2 003 contre 603 l’année précédente. « Au même moment, note Mme Melançon, la fréquentation a chuté de près de 50 %. Et si on exclut la fermeture complète de la mi-mars au 25 mai, le prêt de livres papier sans contact n’a pas attiré autant d’usagers qu’en temps normal. » Collection de livres numériques en hausse Afin de continuer malgré tout à offrir de la lecture durant le confinement, la bibliothèque municipale a augmenté sa collection de livres numériques en en achetant 1 087 comparativement à 148 l’année d’avant. Présentement, elle en a 1 895, dont 765 dans la catégorie Romans et nouvelles. Elle offre de façon continue du soutien aux usagers pour l’accessibilité à la plateforme de prêt numérique. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Atlantic Canada reported seven new cases of COVID-19 today, including two in Prince Edward Island. Officials in that province say both new patients are men in their 20s who are now self-isolating. With 26 active reported cases, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says there are more active infections on the Island now than at any other point in the pandemic. The province is under so-called circuit-breaker measures until March 14, which require all businesses and services to operate at reduced capacity and keep records for contact tracing. Public health authorities in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia reported two new cases in their respective provinces and say all infections are connected to travel or to previously known infections. Officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new travel-related case, marking the province's 10th consecutive day with single-digit infection numbers following an outbreak last month in the St. John's region. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
Après avoir été mis sur pause en raison de la crise sanitaire, le projet de campus de l’École des entrepreneurs du Québec au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean prend forme et une première programmation régionale devrait être proposée cet automne. Le directeur du nouveau campus régional de formation entrepreneuriale devrait être nommé dans les prochaines semaines, si tout se déroule tel qu’espéré, après l’appel de candidatures lancé au début de l’année. Le projet reprend ainsi son erre d’aller presque un an jour pour jour, alors que l’équipe de l’École des entrepreneurs du Québec se trouvait le 12 mars 2020 au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean pour travailler à la mise sur pied du campus régional. La région venait alors, à la fin janvier, d’être sélectionnée pour recevoir l’un des quatre nouveaux campus régionaux de l’organisme à but non lucratif qui offre des formations et ateliers dédiés aux entrepreneurs de petites entreprises. Le directeur général de l’organisation, Michel Fortin, se souvient bien du chemin du retour, après la rencontre tenue dans la région, peu après que la crise sanitaire ait éclaté. « On était de retour dans le parc des Laurentides, et c’est là que le gouvernement nous a appelés pour mettre tout sur le hold, d’une certaine façon », partage en entrevue le directeur, qui est d’ailleurs originaire d’Alma. À partir de ce moment, les priorités de la Corporation d’innovation et développement Alma–Lac-Saint-Jean-Est (CIDAL), qui a piloté le dossier de candidature régional, ont aussi changé. Le développement de projets a été mis de côté pour se consacrer à l’aide d’urgence aux entreprises. Formation adaptée aux besoins régionaux Une fois le pire de la tempête passé, les démarches ont pu reprendre avec le comité aviseur du projet, qui est composé de différents partenaires économiques et du milieu institutionnel. Ce comité, qui avait été mis sur pied par la CIDAL, travaillera de pair avec le directeur du campus régional. Lorsqu’il sera en poste, le directeur régional pourra jeter les bases du nouveau campus en rencontrant virtuellement les partenaires du milieu. Les besoins de formation seront aussi identifiés afin de bâtir la première programmation adaptée aux besoins régionaux, qui devrait être prête pour l’automne. « L’offre de formation de l’École des entrepreneurs du Québec vient bonifier l’offre de formation actuelle et, avec le comité aviseur, on identifie des besoins que, peut-être au niveau de la formation, on pourrait creuser ou peaufiner », explique pour sa part le directeur général de la CIDAL, Martin Belzile, qui a été récemment nommé, après avoir assuré l’intérim à la tête de la corporation de développement économique de la MRC de Lac-Saint-Jean-Est. Quelque 400 ateliers L’École des entrepreneurs du Québec dispose actuellement de quelque 400 ateliers de formation qui peuvent être adaptés selon les besoins. « C’est d’adapter la formation, souvent selon l’industrie et selon les secteurs d’activité qui sont sur le territoire », expose Michel Fortin. Les formations peuvent également être adaptées pour répondre à des besoins de démarrage ou de croissance. Des thématiques spécifiques visant à outiller les entrepreneurs, abordant par exemple la gestion des liquidités, des ressources humaines ou encore l’innovation, peuvent également être ajustées aux réalités régionales. Ces formations s’adressent à des entrepreneurs de petites entreprises de 10 employés et moins. Des parcours personnalisés qui permettent de suivre les entrepreneurs pendant quelques mois sont aussi offerts par l’organisation. Campus régional basé à Alma Les activités du campus régional seront offertes en ligne dans un premier temps. Une nouvelle plateforme dédiée aux besoins de l’école est d’ailleurs en développement. Si la situation le permet, des formations en présentiel seront aussi proposées. L’emplacement des bureaux du campus régional n’est pas encore déterminé. Ils pourraient être implantés dans La SUITE entrepreneuriale Desjardins, l’incubateur de la CIDAL situé au centre-ville d’Alma, ou à proximité. « On prévoit aussi rendre des services à l’extérieur et couvrir l’ensemble du territoire régional », précise Martin Belzile. Deux ou trois ressources pourraient aussi s’ajouter à l’équipe régionale. Chaque campus de l’École des entrepreneurs du Québec dispose d’un budget de quelque 400 000 $, financé à environ 60 % par Québec dans le cadre d’une entente renouvelable au 31 mars 2022. + UN « PROGRAMME D'AIDE AUX ENTREPRENEURS » POUR FAIRE FACE À LA DÉTRESSE L’École des entrepreneurs du Québec compte développer son propre « PAE », lequel s’inspire du sigle bien connu associé aux programmes d’aide aux employés. L’organisation proposera plutôt un « Programme d’aide aux entrepreneurs », alors que plusieurs vivent de la détresse psychologique dans la crise actuelle. Ce programme sera développé parmi l’un des huit campus que compte l’École des entrepreneurs du Québec à travers la province. Il sera ensuite rendu accessible dans tous les territoires, explique Michel Fortin, directeur général de l’organisme. L’organisation constate des « besoins criants sur le terrain » pour soutenir les entrepreneurs à traverser la crise, non seulement sur le plan des affaires, mais également sur le plan psychologique. Le directeur général invite les entrepreneurs à contacter l’organisme pour obtenir de l’aide. « Il ne faut pas avoir peur, car ils ne sont pas les seuls à vivre la crise actuelle. Donc, de venir en parler ou en discuter, ça fait toujours du bien », souligne-t-il. L’École des entrepreneurs du Québec a d’ailleurs adapté son offre de formations aux impacts de la crise et aux enjeux de détresse psychologique. Un parcours sur la relance ou encore de la formation sur le cybercommerce font aussi partie des adaptations proposées. « C’est toute une offre qui s’est adaptée par le besoin exprimé par les régions », précise Michel Fortin. La crise a également amené plusieurs entrepreneurs à aller chercher de la formation supplémentaire et à s’outiller davantage, constate pour sa part Martin Belzile, directeur général de la CIDAL. « Je pense que ç’a aussi éveillé une certaine conscience au sujet de l’importance d’être en mesure d’avoir des compétences, pour avoir une meilleure prise de décisions et s’adapter afin d’avoir une meilleure agilité en affaires », souligne-t-il. Myriam Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken is proposing a series of steps to help jumpstart Afghanistan’s stalled peace process between the government and Taliban, according to a letter from Blinken to Afghanistan’s president Ashra Ghani published Sunday by Afghanistan’s TOLONews. The letter calls for bringing the two sides together for a U.N.-facilitated conference with foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States “to discuss a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan.” Blinken also calls for holding talks between the Afghan government and Taliban in a senior-level meeting in Turkey in the coming weeks to hammer out a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence. The secretary of state has also called on special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to share with both the Afghan government and Taliban written proposals to help accelerate discussions, according to the TOLONews report. Blinken also made clear in the letter that the Biden administration continues to consider a “full withdrawal” of the roughly 2,500 U.S. forces in the country by the May 1 deadline negotiated by Trump administration. The State Department declined to comment on the TOLONews report. “We have not made any decisions about our force posture in Afghanistan after May 1,” the State Department said in a statement. “All options remain on the table.” Afghanistan presents one of the new administration’s most difficult foreign policy decisions. The U.S. public is weary of a war nearly 20 years old, but pulling out now could be seen as giving the Taliban too much leverage and casting a shadow over the sacrifices made by U.S. and coalition troops and Afghan civilians. Blinken urged Ghani to quickly embrace the proposal and underscored his concern that the security situation in the country could quickly deteriorate as the weather warms in Afghanistan “Even with the continuation of financial assistance from the United States to your forces after an American military withdrawal, I am concerned that the security situation will worsen and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains,” Blinken wrote in the letter. The Associated Press
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — A series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 600 others on Sunday, authorities said. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the explosion at 4 p.m. local time was due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks located in the neighbourhood of Mondong Nkuantoma in Bata. “The impact of the explosion caused damage in almost all the houses and buildings in Bata," the president said in a statement, which was in Spanish. The defence ministry released a statement late Sunday saying that a fire at a weapons depot in the barracks caused the explosion of high-calibre ammunition. It said the provisional death toll was 20, adding that the cause of the explosions will be fully investigated. The country's president said the fire may have been due to residents burning the fields surrounding the barracks. State television showed a huge plume of smoke rising above the explosion site as crowds fled, with many people crying out “we don’t know what happened, but it is all destroyed.” Images on local media seen by The Associated Press show people screaming and crying running through the streets amid debris and smoke. Roofs of houses were ripped off and wounded people were being carried into a hospital. Equatorial Guinea, an African country of 1.3 million people located south of Cameroon, was a colony of Spain until it gained its independence in 1968. Bata has roughly 175,000 inhabitants. Earlier, the Health Ministry had tweeted that 17 were killed. The ministry made a call for blood donors and volunteer health workers to go to the Regional Hospital de Bata, one of three hospitals treating the wounded. The ministry said its health workers were treating the injured at the site of the tragedy and in medical facilities, but feared people were still missing under the rubble. The blasts were a shock for the oil rich Central African nation. Foreign Minister Simeón Oyono Esono Angue met with foreign ambassadors and asked for aid. “It is important for us to ask our brother countries for their assistance in this lamentable situation since we have a health emergency (due to COVID-19) and the tragedy in Bata,” he said. A doctor calling into TVGE, who went by his first name, Florentino, said the situation was a “moment of crisis” and that the hospitals were overcrowded. He said a sports centre set up for COVID-19 patients would be used to receive minor cases. Radio station, Radio Macuto, said on Twitter that people were being evacuated within four kilometres of the city because the fumes might be harmful. Following the blast, the Spanish Embassy in Equatorial Guinea recommended on Twitter that “Spanish nationals stay in their homes." ___ Joseph Wilson reported from Barcelona, Spain. ___ A previous version of this story was corrected to show that state television is TVGE, not TGVE. Sam Mednick And Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press
Chinese drone giant DJI Technology Co Ltd built up such a successful U.S. business over the past decade that it almost drove all competitors out of the market. Yet its North American operations have been hit by internal ructions in recent weeks and months, with a raft of staff cuts and departures, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former employees. The loss of key managers, some of who have joined rivals, has compounded problems caused by U.S. government restrictions on Chinese companies, and raised the once-remote prospect of DJI's dominance being eroded, said four of the people, including two senior executives who were at the company until late 2020.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:30 p.m. COVID-19 continues to spread in an outbreak in Nunavut. The territory says there are four new cases in Arviat, the only community where there are active cases. Arviat, which has a population of about 2,800, has had 337 COVID-19 cases, 25 of which are currently active. All schools and non-essential businesses in Arviat have been closed for months and travel has been restricted. --- 6 p.m. Alberta's chief medical health officer says there are an estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases, but says firm information isn't available today due to a system upgrade. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says on Twitter that the new cases include 54 that involve variants of concern. Information was not available Sunday on the number of hospitalizations or new deaths. Hinshaw says about 8,100 COVID-19 tests were completed in the previous 24 hours, and that the positivity rate was approximately four per cent. She says the system upgrade work is nearly complete and that online updates will resume Monday. --- 4 p.m. Health authorities on Prince Edward Island are reporting two new cases of COVID-19. Officials say both involve men in their 20s who are now self-isolating. One case is connected to a previously known diagnosis, and the other tested positive after he was at a public exposure site more than a week ago. With 26 active reported cases, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says there are more active infections in the province now than at any other point in the pandemic. --- 3 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting two new deaths among people who tested positive for COVID-19, one of whom was under 20 years old. The exact age of that person was not released, but the government's daily pandemic update says the patient was from Saskatchewan's North West zone. The other person who died was in the 40-to-49 age group and was from the Far North West zone. The province is reporting 116 new COVID-19 cases today. The government says a shipment of 7,022 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to arrive Tuesday and will be divided between Saskatoon and Regina. Another 7,020 doses of that vaccine are expected Wednesday and will go to North Battleford, Yorkton and Prince Albert. --- 2:45 p.m. Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting two new cases of COVID-19. Authorities say one case is related to travel and the other is connected to a previously known infection. Effective midnight tonight, officials are loosening public health restrictions across the entire province. In the new provincewide “yellow” alert level, residents can expand their contacts from 10 to 15 people and team sports activities may resume. --- 2:10 p.m. Manitoba health officials are reporting two new deaths of people with COVID-19. The province's daily pandemic update says both deaths were in the Winnipeg health region and are linked to outbreaks at care facilities. The province says there were 56 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba as of this morning. --- 1:20 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Officials say the person involved is a man between 20 and 39 years old, and his infection is related to international travel. The province has now seen 10 consecutive days of single-digit case counts following an outbreak in St. Jon’s last month. Public health says there are 87 active reported COVID-19 cases in the province, including three people in intensive care. --- 1 p.m. Nova Scotia health authorities are reporting two new cases of COVID-19. Officials say one infection is travel-related, while the other is a close contact of a previously known case. There are now 29 active reported COVID-19 infections in the province. Authorities say two patients are in hospital and one is in intensive care. --- 11:10 a.m. Quebec is reporting 707 new cases of COVID-19 and seven new deaths linked to the pandemic. Two of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours while the rest happened earlier. Hospitalizations declined by nine to 592, with 107 people in intensive care, which is two fewer than a day prior. The province administered 15,329 doses of vaccine on Saturday. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 today and 15 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region. Today's data is based on 46,586 completed tests. The province also says 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Saturday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021 The Canadian Press
MADRID — The president of Barcelona when Lionel Messi began playing in Spain will also be in charge when the club tries to convince the star to stay. Joan Laporta was elected Barcelona president again on Sunday, inheriting a club in crisis and facing daunting problems that include a huge debt and the possible departure of Messi when his contract finishes at the end of the season. Laporta defeated businessman Víctor Font and longtime board member Toni Freixa, the other two candidates who were among the more than 110,000 members eligible to vote. The election was held just days after the club’s last elected president — Josep Maria Bartomeu — spent a night in jail while Catalan police investigated possible irregularities during his administration. The election, which was postponed from January because of the coronavirus pandemic, caps a week in which the club made worldwide headlines after a police raid at the team's headquarters led to arrests and further embarrassment for an institution that has long prided itself as “more than a club.” The police investigation was related to the so-called “Barçagate,” which involved allegations that the former executive board hired an internet services company to spread negative messages about its own players and opponents on social media to boost the image of senior club officials. Laporta, who has a five-year term, was the team’s president between 2003-2010, during Messi’s breakout seasons. Laporta has said all along during his campaign that he was the best candidate to convince the playmaker to stay. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The United States and South Korea have reached agreement in principle on a new arrangement for sharing the cost of the American troop presence, which is intended as a bulwark against the threat of North Korean aggression. The State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said the deal includes a “negotiated increase” in Seoul's share of the cost, but it provided no details. The Bureau wrote on Twitter that the agreement, if finalized, would reaffirm the U.S.-South Korean treaty alliance as “the linchpin of peace, security and prosperity for Northeast Asia.” The negotiations had broken down during the Trump administration over a U.S. demand that Seoul pay five times what it previously had paid. The U.S. keeps about 28,000 troops in South Korea. The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the agreement, said it would last through 2025. Robert Burns And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Durham Region’s medical officer of health says the region is in “very good shape” with vaccine distribution and administration. In a recent update to the region’s health and social services committee, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Kyle says clinics opening Monday, all those ages 80 and older can now book their appointment to be vaccinated, noting the vast majority of seniors living in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes in Durham Region, as well as most healthcare workers, have been vaccinated. “We were tasked by the government to develop a plan that when fully operational, will allow vaccination of approximately 10,000 clients per day,” says Kyle, noting there will be at least one clinic in each of the eight municipalities. As of Monday, March 8, two clinics will be open: Durham College and Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, and the other in Pickering. “The staging of the opening dates (of the other clinics is) a sign that we are ramping up, staffing up,” he adds. According to the Durham Region Health website, The Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex in Clarington will open on Tuesday, March 9, followed by the opening of the McKinney Centre in Whitby on Monday, March 15. Uxbridge Arena, Scugog Arena and Rick MacLeish Memorial Community Centre Arena will open on a rotating basis beginning March 15. Finally, the Audley Recreation Centre in Ajax will open on Tuesday, March 16. The mobile clinic will also continue to vaccinate additional Phase 1 populations as required, Kyle notes. However, he says the region can’t get too far ahead of the vaccine supply. “While I say the maximum capacity is 10,000 clients per day, the number of clinic sites and available appointments will depend on vaccine supply,” Kyle continues. Furthermore, Kyle says the region’s communications plan is “robust” and has been developed to “promote vaccine awareness, accurate evidence, informed information, and timely and accurate information.” “We’re building on key messages from the Ministry of Health and the go-to place for all things COVID vaccine is durham.ca/covidvaccines,” he says, noting the website is updated on an ongoing basis. Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
ClubLink has appealed the Ontario Superior Court decision to uphold a 40-year-old agreement that stated the Kanata Lakes Golf and Country Club must remain open space. The appeal, filed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario on Friday, comes two weeks after the lower court sided with the City of Ottawa after a two year battle to prevent the property owner, ClubLink, from turning the golf course into a development, alongside its partners Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes. At the heart of the case are the facts of a 1981 agreement — which has been updated several times, including when ClubLink bought the property 23 years ago — between the then City of Kanata and the operator at the time. That agreement called for 40 per cent of the area in Kanata Lakes to be open space in perpetuity. It also laid out guidelines about land use and ownership if the original owner of the golf course decided to get out of the business. In his decision last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse found the agreement remains valid.
Karla Combres says the night before the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, her husband was in Nipawin for a meeting with 100 people. "He came home that night and I said, you know what? I don't think you should go to work tomorrow," Combres told CBC's Saskatchewan Weekend. "It was as quick as that. You know, like, from one day to the next, it was unthinkable to gather with that many people." Combres is a life cycle celebrant in Saskatoon and one of the organizers of an online vigil being held this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. CST to mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. The vigil is called Together in Remembrance, Together in Hope, and it was organized by Saskatoon's multi-faith community, but Combres said everyone is welcome. "For anybody coming to this, no grief is too big or too small," she said. "This is really for everyone, no matter what your race or your creed or your colour or your age or where you are in the province." Her work centres around gathering people and in the early days of the pandemic, she said she wasn't sure how she was going to be able to continue doing that in a meaningful way. "Over the course of the past year, I have found ways through researching and participating in gatherings and then also through just really learning and being creative on my own with the people I work with," she said. Gatherings are smaller and people join via livestream but it is still possible to connect, she said, and she hopes people will find that with the vigil as well. Combres had the idea for a vigil but she said it was Blake Sittler who got the ball rolling initially to mark the anniversary. Sittler is the executive director of Saskatoon's Roman Catholic chaplaincy and another organizer of the vigil. He and his wife were celebrating their 25th anniversary in New York before the pandemic hit, arriving home only a few days before the first case was found there. "We went back to work for a day or two and on Friday, I grabbed my laptop and I said, you know, I'm going to take this laptop home in case I need to stay home for a few days and a few days turned into a full year working in my basement," he said. A person in a face mask walks through an almost empty Times Square in New York City as the COVID-19 outbreak pandemic continues.(Andrew Kelly/Reuters) Sittler said the goal of the event was to represent as many of the different communities in the province as possible, echoing the provincial motto, "From many peoples strength." "We knew we wanted to mark the day because humans do try to make meaning of their lives through ritual," Sittler said. He said the vigil is not a religious event but instead an opportunity to bring people together so they feel less alone. "You're not alone in your mourning, you know, you're not alone in the jobs you lost, your fear, the loneliness, the isolation.… And at the same time, now that the vaccines are coming out, we also wanted to let them know that they aren't alone in their hope." Sittler said he'll be thinking of people in special care and long-term care homes who have been isolated throughout the pandemic, as well as the workers in those facilities. "These are folks who have built up this province and have spent their life serving their community and their kids," he said. "It's like being in isolation in a prison. And some of them even asked that question is like, what did we do wrong that this is happening?" Sittler said he wanted to put an event together where people could gather and say, 'I'm not crazy for being sad and I'm not crazy for being hopeful.'(Supplied by Shirley Larkin/White Coat Black Art) The event will have greetings from representatives from different traditions. A front-line worker will speak about their experience, and there will also be poetry and music. The event also invites everyone to bring a candle to light. "People know what it means to light a candle in the window, you know, for the weary traveler to just find their way through the darkness," Sittler said. "And that's what this is, to light a candle, to give people hope to say that we're in this together." The event is free but you need to register at covidvigil.ca. You can join on Zoom, and it will also be livestreamed to YouTube.
Hundreds marched near the National Assembly in Quebec City Sunday afternoon, calling on the government to allow team sports to resume in the province. Athletes, parents, community organizations and politicians participated in the march, stressing the importance of team sports on peoples' mental and physical health. The protest was started by Isaac Pépin, a football player in Secondary 5 at Séminaire Saint-François. He is asking that Quebecers be allowed to participate in team sports again, both for health reasons, and so that younger athletes can keep improving at their sports. "With everything that's going on today and the number of people who showed up, I have hope that this will work," Pépin said Sunday. High school football player Isaac Pépin, centre, organized the pro-sports march Sunday. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press) The protest also garnered the support of Isabelle Charest, the province's minister responsible for sports. "I hear your cries and it is these positive messages that I take with me when I speak to public health," Charest wrote on Twitter Sunday. "We will make it happen." Montrealers voice support In Montreal, several people echoed their sentiments. Tony De Francesco, director of community services and sports at Sun Youth, believes a return to team sports is long overdue. "People from youth organizations like us have noticed a lot of issues, especially with young student athletes, in terms of being able to function on a daily basis without sports," said De Francesco. De Francesco says many of the youth he works with rely on sports as a means to succeed academically, and many feel lost without it. "A lot of them use this as a social construct and as a coping mechanism to a lot of the things that are happening in their life for the first time," he said. "Sports is their way out and it actually helps them get better grades." Justin Frattaroli, an 18-year-old CEGEP student who plays football at Sun Youth, usually relies on team sports as an outlet for his stress. For most of the past year, he's had to resort to exercising at home instead. "Because of this pandemic, not only am I missing out on practices, on games, but — I'm sure all athletes can agree with me — we miss being with teammates, the bus rides home, the going out to eat with each other and just being together," said Frattaroli. "Practicing got everything off my mind. It helped me mentally. It helped me physically" Discussions with federations ongoing Starting March 15, extra-curricular activities and sports in schools will be allowed across the province, but team sports outside of school are still forbidden. Last week, Premier François Legault said the government is in talks with sports federations to gradually resume sports more widely, but Legault said it's clear some sports cannot be allowed given the risk of transmission. Legault is expected to announce more details on that next week. In an interview Sunday, Luc Fournier, interim general manager of Sports Québec, said the federation has submitted its proposal for the resumption of sports and is currently waiting to hear back from public health authorities. "We hope to have an answer maybe Monday or Tuesday," said Fournier. "We know that competitions would be very tough to reopen right now but if we can start by practice or by side activities that would be great." Some less eager for team sports to resume Montreal resident Jennifer Cox says there would need to be strict public health measures in place for her to send her child back to his hockey team. (CBC) Before the pandemic, Montreal resident Jennifer Cox would be at the arena with seven-year-old son, Cameron, every weekend. "Hockey was a really big part of our family's life, our weekend life," said Cox. This year, she opted to set up a skating rink in the family's backyard instead, to make sure Cameron could keep practicing. While her son misses interacting with his teammates and coaches, Cox isn't sure she'll be sending him back to the rink just yet — especially because they have an at-risk family member at home. "If we were to consider it, we'd really have to see the numbers, how many kids are being allowed to get on the ice, if there's any additional safety restrictions in terms of wearing masks under their helmets and things of that nature," said Cox. "I don't think we're 100 per cent ready to dive back into full team sports right now."
OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides to testify on when they first learned of sexual misconduct allegations surrounding the military's former top soldier — and account for what they did about the accusations. The Tories said they will ask the House of Commons' defence committee on Monday to have Zita Astravas and Elder Marques appear in the coming days, as opposition parties continue digging into the government’s handling of the allegations against Gen. Jonathan Vance. Astravas was Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s chief of staff and Marques was a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March 2018, when former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne says he first raised an allegation against Vance to the minister. Walbourne did not reveal the nature of the allegation, citing a promise of confidentiality to the complainant. But Global News has reported it was a lewd email that Vance allegedly sent to a much more junior soldier in 2012, before he became chief of the defence staff. An email obtained by The Canadian Press showed Astravas writing to Walbourne on March 5, 2018, four days after the former ombudsman says he met with the minister, asking if Walbourne had talked to the Privy Council Office about an unspecified allegation. The Privy Council Office is the department that supports the Prime Minister’s Office. Astravas, who is now chief of staff to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and Marques, who left the Liberal government in late September, also discussed concerns related to the Canadian Armed Forces’ commander, according to a Globe and Mail report. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he wasn’t aware of any specific allegation against Vance, telling reporters on Friday that “The ombudsman did not provide sufficient information ... to be able to follow up on these allegations.” Sajjan, for his part, has refused to confirm Walbourne notified him of any allegations against Vance, and told the committee he was surprised when Global News reported two allegations of inappropriate conduct against the former defence chief last month. The defence minister has also said he always followed proper procedures whenever an allegation of sexual misconduct was brought to his attention. Opposition parties have disputed that assertion, alleging the Liberals are trying to sweep the affair under the carpet. “Canadians need to get answers from those directly involved in this Liberal cover-up,” Conservative defence critic James Bezan said in a statement on Sunday. “That’s why we will be moving a motion to have Minister Sajjan’s former chief of staff, Zita Astravas, and senior Trudeau advisor Elder Marques testify at defence committee.” The Conservatives have indicated that they also plan to call Sajjan back for a second round of questioning. The Global report alleges Vance had an ongoing relationship with a subordinate that started more than a decade ago. The report alleged the relationship continued after he was named chief of the defence staff in 2015, at which time he promised to root sexual misconduct from the Armed Forces. Global has also reported on the allegations concerning Vance's email to a much younger female officer in 2012, allegedly suggesting they go to a clothing-optional vacation resort. Vance has not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Canadian Press, and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global has reported that Vance has denied any wrongdoing. Military police have launched an investigation. Sajjan has also promised a separate, independent probe, but it has yet to begin. Walbourne testified to the House of Commons’ defence committee last week about his closed-door meeting with Sajjan on March 1, 2018, saying he told the defence minister that an allegation had been made against Vance. The former ombudsman told the committee that Sajjan declined to look at supporting evidence and instead referred the matter to the Privy Council Office. Walbourne said that was despite his having asked the minister to keep the matter confidential. Sajjan’s office has said the minister “disagrees with parts of (Walbourne’s) testimony that occurred in committee.” The Conservatives have also said they want to expand the committee’s study to include the government’s handling of allegations of misconduct against Vance’s successor, Admiral Art McDonald. McDonald temporarily stepped aside as chief of the defence staff late last month, only weeks after succeeding Vance in the role. Acting defence chief Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre sent a letter to Canadian Armed Forces personnel on Friday praising their commitment and professionalism while acknowledging the presence of “elements of our military culture that need, must and will change.” “Certain behaviours and attitudes exhibited toward our personnel are beyond troubling,” he added. “None of us should ever tolerate, or condone, behaviour or attitudes that threaten the well-being of our people. The road will not be easy, but we will emerge a stronger, better and more effective Force.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Health-care workers across Ontario still struggle to obtain personal protective equipment to shield them from COVID-19, three major unions said Sunday as they called on the province to do more to ensure their safety as the pandemic rages on. Unifor, the health-care arm of the Service Employees International Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees also called for a "universal wage" of $25 an hour for all personal support workers regardless of what part of the provincial system they work in. Both messages are part of a provincewide public awareness campaign set to launch in workplaces on Monday. The secretary-treasurer of CUPE's Ontario Council of Hospital Unions said many workers were denied access to PPE at the beginning of the pandemic, contending it was often kept under lock and key by employers. Sharon Richer said that practice continues today in some cases, despite assurances from the province that it has a stockpile of 12.4 million pieces of PPE such as N95 masks. "We're asked to work with a deadly virus," she said. "We're not provided with the tools to protect ourselves and not supported if we become ill from it. We demand better from this government and our employers." The unions, which represent 175,000 health-care workers, say thousands of them have contracted COVID-19 throughout the pandemic and 20 have died from the virus. Richer said early in the pandemic there was debate about how COVID-19 was spread and N95 masks were difficult to obtain. But as the pandemic nears its one-year anniversary, she argued there is no excuse not to provide workers with vital protective gear. "The masks were very scarce," Richer said. "They're not now. ... We shouldn't have to go into work on a daily basis and beg for protection to keep us safe from this virus." SEIU President Sharleen Stewart said the unions are also asking the government to raise the wages of personal support workers in all health care settings to $25 an hour. The pandemic has illustrated the importance of PSWs in hospitals, long-term care, and in home care, she said. A staffing study released by the province last year illustrated the disparity between PSW wages in different sectors of the health-care system. It found that PSWs in Ontario long-term care homes make an average hourly wage of $22.69. That compared to the $17.30 average hourly rate paid to PSWs delivering home care. Stewart said working conditions for PSWs are poor, full-time opportunities and benefits are hard to come by, and wages are low. "The government ... must raise the minimum wage for personal support workers and make it universal in every sector," she said. "Whether you work in a hospital, a nursing home or in home and community care, a PSW, is a PSW, is a PSW." Katha Fortier of Unifor said workers will participate in the campaign in the coming weeks, as Ontario prepares to launch its 2021-2022 budget. "COVID-19 has over-stressed Ontario's health-care resources and led to the tragic failure of the long term care system," she said. "But the truth is the pandemic revealed systemic problems that frontline workers have been struggling with for years." During the pandemic, Ontario has spent hundreds of millions to provide temporary pay hikes to workers throughout the health-care sector. In October, the province said it would provide a targeted wage increase between $2 to $3 an hour to more than 147,000 personal support workers. That program, which cost $461 million, is set to expire on March 31. A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is monitoring the impact of that temporary wage increase for PSWs and evaluating next steps. "We will continue to engage with our sector partners to inform an approach to a wage enhancement intervention after March and in the long-term for the home and community care sector," Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement. The government has also spent nearly $1.1 billion on PPE and other supplies for health care workers, she added. "We have continued to respond to emergency escalations for PPE within 24 hours to hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and other facilities in order to support essential workers in all settings and ensuring supplies and equipment are expedited to those most in need," Hilkene said. Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 15 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region. Sunday's data is based on 46,586 completed tests. The province also reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
La gestion de l’aide d’urgence aux entreprises a amené la création d’un comité tactique au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean au début de la crise, une initiative qui pourrait être appelée à rester pour soutenir le développement économique régional. Le comité a été mis en place par l’organisme de concertation économique Développement économique 02, lorsque les municipalités régionales de comté (MRC) ont reçu la responsabilité à travers la province d’administrer l’aide d’urgence aux entreprises annoncée par Québec en avril. À l’image des mesures sanitaires, les fonds, programmes et critères d’admissibilité changeaient constamment, autant du côté de Québec que d’Ottawa, et les intervenants régionaux avaient eux-mêmes de la difficulté à s’y retrouver, afin de pouvoir accompagner les entreprises. « Il est arrivé une multitude de fonds, chaque semaine, on était tout le monde perdu, alors c’est pour ça qu’on s’est dit : “Est-ce qu’on peut se parler régionalement ? ” », explique Claudia Fortin, administratrice au sein de l’organisme qui relève de la Conférence régionale des préfets du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. C’est ainsi qu’un « comité tactique élargi » a vu le jour. Le comité stratégique, nommé Comité d’intervention régionale, a rassemblé plusieurs acteurs économiques régionaux habitués à collaborer, mais qui ne se retrouvaient pas autour d’une même table. Des rencontres en ligne ont été tenues chaque semaine, d’avril à juin. En plus des responsables du développement économique régional déjà présents au sein de Développement économique 02, des représentants régionaux du ministère de l’Économie, de Services Québec, de Tourisme Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, de la Société de développement économique ilnu de Mashteuiatsh, d’Investissement Québec, de Développement économique Canada pour les régions du Québec, et un représentant des sociétés d’aide au développement des collectivités (SADC) régionales ont notamment pris part aux rencontres. Harmoniser l’administration La concertation des acteurs a permis entre autres d’harmoniser l’administration de l’aide d’urgence, de gagner en efficacité et de mettre en commun les pratiques. Les MRC devaient alors elles-mêmes bâtir les formulaires de demandes de prêts et assurer l’analyse des dossiers pour coordonner l’aide d’urgence aux entreprises frappées par les impacts de la pandémie de COVID-19. « À travers la dernière année, les directeurs de développement économique ont tellement travaillé à développer ces expertises-là et ces harmonisations-là que ça a permis justement à nos entreprises de survivre », estime pour sa part le maire de La Doré, Yanick Baillargeon, qui occupe la présidence de Développement économique 02 depuis décembre. Développement économique 02 n’était pas en mesure d’indiquer le nombre d’entreprises qui ont reçu un prêt dans la région et l’aide d’urgence totale dont la région a bénéficié jusqu’à maintenant. « On a eu besoin les uns des autres » Le comité stratégique, qui a pris une pause pendant l’été, a repris ses rencontres hebdomadaires à l’automne, en réduisant cependant le nombre de participants. Le comité est toujours actif aujourd’hui et pourrait reprendre une formule plus élargie à l’image de celle connue au printemps, à la demande de certains acteurs qui ont apprécié la concertation qui en a découlé, a indiqué Mme Fortin. « On a eu besoin les uns des autres, c’est surtout ça, souligne-t-elle. La force de la concertation, elle est là. Tout seul, c’était trop une grosse bouchée pour chacun, dans nos territoires, mais le fait qu’on était tout le monde ensemble, et qu’on partageait ça, ça a vraiment aidé. » Fonds de relance La concertation des acteurs régionaux a aussi mené à un sondage des entreprises régionales, afin d’identifier leurs besoins pendant la crise. Un fonds de relance régional de 750 000 $ a également été lancé en septembre, le Fonds de relance 02. L’initiative financée par Desjardins, Rio Tinto et les cinq MRC de la région proposait une subvention aux entreprises. Les demandes ont été nombreuses, si bien qu’en décembre, toutes les sommes étaient réservées. Le nombre d’entreprises et les projets soutenus seront connus ultérieurement. + LE BRAS FINANCIER DE LA CONFÉRENCE DES PRÉFETS Peu connu du public, Développement économique 02 agit en fait comme bras financier de la Conférence régionale des préfets du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. Développement économique 02 vu le jour en réaction à l’annonce, en 2014, de l’abolition des centres locaux de développement (CLD) par le gouvernement Couillard. « En 2015, quand le gouvernement a décidé de mettre la hache dans les CLD, on trouvait ça dommage de perdre toute une expertise et une concertation qu’on avait autour du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean », explique Yanick Baillargeon, président de Développement économique 02. Le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean comptait alors, depuis le début des années 2000, sur une association régionale rassemblant les CLD régionaux. Même si le modèle des CLD subsiste toujours aujourd’hui dans la province dans certaines municipalités régionales de comté (MRC), alors que d’autres ont choisi de rapatrier les services à l’interne ou de les transférer à un autre organisme, Développement économique 02 est demeuré en place afin d’assurer cette concertation sur le plan économique régional. « Dans toutes les régions du Québec, on doit être un des seuls qui a ce genre d’organisme de développement économique en concertation », souligne M. Baillargeon, qui est également préfet de la MRC du Domaine-du-Roy. L’élu, maire de La Doré, compte d’ailleurs solliciter un second mandat à la tête de la petite municipalité lors des élections municipales, cet automne. Le conseil d’administration de Développement économique 02 est composé de cinq responsables du développement économique des MRC de la région et de cinq élus, qui sont actuellement quatre préfets de MRC ainsi que la mairesse de Saguenay, Josée Néron, la municipalité ayant le statut de ville-MRC. Développement économique 02 chapeaute différents projets, comités et initiatives, en lien avec les enjeux de transport ferroviaire, les retombées économiques ou encore de l’emploi dans la région. « On n’est pas connu, mais on est dans l’action », souligne pour sa part Claudia Fortin, administratrice au sein de l’organisation. L’organisme, en étant lié à la Conférence régionale des préfets, est également distinct de la Table régionale des élus du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, qui a en quelque sorte repris le relais de la défunte Conférence régionale des élus (CRÉ), les CRÉ ayant été abolies en 2015. Myriam Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien