Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch checks in with The Morning Show to answer the latest coronavirus questions.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch checks in with The Morning Show to answer the latest coronavirus questions.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — Results of a study led by Metro Vancouver's transit operator reveal copper on high-touch surfaces is lethal to bacteria. A statement from TransLink says the findings of the industry-leading trial show copper products kill up to 99.9 per cent of all bacteria within one hour of surface contact. As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TransLink was the first transit agency in North America to test copper on high-touch surfaces. The pilot study was launched after unrelated studies showed copper is both durable and effective at killing germs. Phase 1 of the pilot, which was fully funded by mining firm Teck Resources, began last November and continued for five weeks on surfaces of two buses and two SkyTrain cars. A second phase will begin in the coming months using a larger sample to verify the results, testing copper over a longer period on more transit vehicles, and focusing tests on the most effective products identified from Phase 1. TransLink interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo says they are excited to find out more about the impact of copper on viruses such as the ones that cause COVID-19. "This research could help us, other transit agencies, and anyone with surfaces in shared public spaces keep high-touch areas as clean as possible,” she says in the statement. The project stems from a partnership between TransLink, Teck, Vancouver Coastal Health, the University of British Columbia and the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Teck funded the initial phase as part of its Copper & Health program and the company will also support Phase 2. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
TORONTO — Growing up in Alberta, actor Rohan Campbell spent summers at friends' Canmore mountain cabins, where he'd crack open old "Hardy Boys" books that adorn many a cottage bookshelf. "Every time I was at a cabin with no internet or something like that, they were the books I would read before bed," he said in an interview. "So I felt really close to them, and it was just absurd to be able to make my vision of Frank come to life." Campbell was referring to his leading role as teenage amateur sleuth Frank Hardy, alongside Toronto actor Alexander Elliot as younger brother Joe Hardy, in the new Ontario-shot family series "The Hardy Boys." Premiering Friday on YTV in Canada after its U.S. debut on Hulu in December, the mystery drama is based on the time-honoured stories written under the pseudonym by Franklin W. Dixon by numerous authors, including Ontario-raised Leslie McFarlane. The Canadian cast, crew and creators filmed in and around Toronto, Hamilton and Cambridge, Ont. Filming wrapped just a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns hit. In this version of the story, 16-year-old Frank and 12-year-old Joe grapple with a family tragedy and investigate strange events in the small town of Bridgeport in the 1980s. Nova Scotia-raised James Tupper of "Big Little Lies" plays their dad. There's a bigger age gap between the two brothers in the YTV original series compared to the books, which "breeds a different sort of conflict in the sense that they do things differently," said Campbell, 23, from Vancouver. "The Hardy Boys" books debuted in 1927 and have had several incarnations, but they weren't a big part of 16-year-old Elliot's childhood and he didn't read them until he got the role. "I found this huge community that grew up with these books, and now it's an honour to be a part of it with all these people who, these books shaped their childhood," he said. Given the books' long legacy, the stars felt some pressure to live up to the source material. "Day 1, you get super excited, and then you go to shoot it and all of a sudden that air of responsibility comes to you and you really want to do justice for the people that grew up with these books," said Campbell. "These books are, like, 100 years old, right? So you have such a different demographic of audience, age-wise and maturity, whatever it is. So I think it was really important to us to give a little piece of the books to every different age group." Elliot also felt the pressure but his worries went away when he saw lovers of the books praising the show after its U.S. premiere. "We put a lot of work into this show and we're really hoping that the diehard fans enjoyed it as much as we hoped they did," he said. "We're trying to bring this to all-age groups, and this is kind of like a new generation of 'The Hardy Boys.'" The series is also set before Elliot's time and the young star said he did some research to learn how to use some of the props from that decade. "I feel like everybody was expecting like, 'Oh, he's a kid, he doesn't know how any of this tech works,' and they hand me a Walkman and I know how it works perfectly," he said with a laugh. "I love the '80s," he added. "I love the music, the movies. Everything about the '80s. Even before 'The Hardy Boys,' I loved everything from the '80s. I have a whole playlist of hundreds of songs from the '80s on my Spotify. Some of my favourite movies are from the '80s — 'Back to the Future,' 'Beetlejuice.' All these classics." The show's premise of boys solving dark mysteries in the '80s is drawing comparisons to the Netflix series "Stranger Things," which Elliot called "an absolute honour." Beyond the nostalgic appeal, having such tales set in that decade also helps the storytelling, said Campbell. "It's like, you give two kids Google — it's not very exciting to watch them solve a mystery," he said with a laugh. "Yeah, there's not going to be that many episodes," added Elliot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
KINGSTON, Ont. — Public health officials in Kingston, Ont., are prohibiting alcohol sales after 10 p.m. during the week of St. Patrick’s Day in an effort to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health says increasing concerns with COVID-19 variants and the risk of spread related to St. Patrick's Day celebrations make the measures necessary.The order will take effect from midnight on March 13 to March 21 at 11:59 p.m.It says businesses that serve alcohol should be closed between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and not allow dancing, singing and live music performances.The unit says alcohol can only be sold and served from noon to 10 p.m. and cannot be consumed in the business outside those hours.Failure to comply with the rules could result in fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
1. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “Believe IT” by Jamie Kem Lima (Gallery Books) 4. “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin) 5. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth (Tiger Tales) 6. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 8. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 9. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney (Candlewick) 10. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Dell) 11. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 12. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 13. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 14. “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 15. “Dr. Seuss's ABC” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 16. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books) 17. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 18. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 19. “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers) 20. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 21. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 22. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery) 23. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 24. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 25. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) The Associated Press
Calgary MLA Muhammad Yaseen is proposing the province declare rodeo the official sport of Alberta, calling it an important thread in the rich cultural fabric of the province. Yaseen has presented a private member's bill to the legislative standing committee. The UCP MLA for Calgary-North, and parliamentary secretary for immigration, says rodeo is not just about competition, but for many in the province, it's about identity, income and culture. "Alberta has the richest rodeo culture in all of Canada," Yaseen told the Calgary Eyeopener. "Ranchers are compassionate stewards of the land and their livestock. So it's a cultural thing." Yaseen says it's the culture of rodeo that best defines this province. "I have had the chance to live in rural Alberta many years ago in connection with my oil and gas work, and there I became very familiar with the rural culture, a culture of hospitality and collaboration, a culture of generosity and co-operation, with rodeo being the most favourite sport," he said. "This is many moons ago, but it still goes on with the same spirit. And I think it's a good time to recognize this as an official sport." Yaseen cited the economic importance of rodeo events, and not just in rural areas. "Don't forget, we have the biggest rodeo here in Calgary," he said. Yasee acknowledged that rodeo on its own is not one sport but a group of sports under the umbrella of rodeo. Yaseen is not the first MLA to suggest embracing the rodeo brand for the province. In 2008, Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft introduced a similar motion, but it did not move forward. Yaseen hopes his bill will have more traction. Calgary-North MLA Muhammad Yaseen has brought forth a private member's bill to declare rodeo Alberta's official sport.(UCP) "Well, that motion, to the best of my recollection, the motion by member Taft was a private member's motion … and it received overwhelming support," he said. "But that was not a binding motion, and it's just a private member's motion. I don't think it was a bill as it is being done now." It's a topic that is sure to bring on debate, as member's of CBC's Unconventional Panel confirmed during Wednesday's Calgary Eyeopener. Listen to the full panel discussion on the Calgary Eyeopener here: Calgary writer and columnist Val Fortney has covered rodeo events during her newspaper career, even travelling with the chuckwagon drivers on tour one summer. "It was an absolutely fascinating look into a culture that exists in this province that we see in Calgary for those 10 days, every Stampede, that is just so distinct," she told the panel. "When I heard about this, I thought, yeah, a lot of people are not going to like this, and I know the animal rights activists aren't going to like it. The urban people say, you know, we play hockey. You know, what about curling … It's an interesting idea. It's a nod to the past and to part of a very deeply ingrained, very distinct and different culture that you can find only in Alberta — that revolves around a sport." Darryl Stanier, the founder of FMI Logistics, said while he's not the biggest rodeo fan himself, he can see the merits of the rodeo brand. "What better way to support the branding of Alberta, steeped in tradition and heritage," he said. "Our pioneer forefathers were involved in the cattle drive, and bringing livestock into this part of the country. They, with the First Nations people, came together in 1902 for the first rodeo in Canada, and the first formal stampede in 1912." Stanier credited Yaseen with having a vision for Alberta. "It celebrates our heritage and it's clearly what Alberta is about. It's an awesome branding program. I think it's genius," he said. Khalil Kabani, a barber and northeast community leader, is not a fan of rodeo — or telling the world that that's what Alberta is all about. Part of it is animal rights issues, and part of it is the idea of leaving the past behind. A young cowboy finds the perfect vantage point during bull riding rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede in 2019.(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press) "A lot of people don't love the rodeo, and I'm one of them," he said. "But if, and I think this is a very big if, we have to declare a sport that is the official sport to Alberta, then I think it needs to be a little bit more inclusive, something that's affordable and maybe being able to reach out there to the masses." Kabani suggests that canoeing or paddle boarding would be a better indication of what Albertans engage in. "Where Alberta was 100 years ago to where Alberta is right now is two different things," he said, adding he is not opposed to the tradition of the Stampede itself. "The Stampede is a wonderful thing, and if we do a few tweaks here and there, like the calf roping and maybe the horse breaking, yeah, I think we can make it even better," he said. "I think we can definitely work together with that. But whether rodeo should be the official sport of Alberta? That's the real question." Given the economic and cultural importance of rodeo across the province, Stanier said it's too significant to dismiss. "There's all kinds of talk out there about different types of cancel culture right now, and when things are truly controversial for the right reason, I'm in for review and and regeneration and rebirth," he said. "But Stampede is just a brand that is who we have been. And it doesn't need to be about animal cruelty. I think the Stampede board and the various animal rights activist groups have a great opportunity to help rewrite some of how aspects of it are managed." Yaseen's private member's bill is now in committee, and the members will decide whether it will move forward to second reading. With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
L'Association pulmonaire du Québec (APQ) demande à ce que ces patients soient placés dans la liste des personnes prioritaires pour la vaccination contre la COVID-19, et ce, sans critère d'âge. Le regroupement estime que les patients atteints d'une fibrose pulmonaire idiopathique, d'un cancer du poumon ou d'une sarcoïdose sont en danger face au virus en raison de leur santé respiratoire déjà compromise. «Actuellement, les départements de santé publique continuent de prioriser les rendez-vous pour les personnes âgées de 80 ans et plus [70 ans et plus à Laval] mais l'âge n'est pas le seul critère de vulnérabilité», soutient Dominique Massie, directrice générale de l'APQ, par voie de communiqué. Au Québec, plus de trois millions de personnes vivent avec une maladie respiratoire. Les personnes atteintes sont plus susceptibles de développer des symptôme sévères si elles contractent la COVID-19 que la population générale. Le regroupement estime aussi que les patients sont doublement lesés, car ils doivent être les premiers à appliquer les règles de distanciation sociale, ce qui augmente l'anxiété quotidienne. À titre d'exemple, l'APQ reçoit plus de 100 appels de patients inquiets à chaque jour. «Ils souhaitent voir du monde, reprendre une activité physique, conclut Mme Massie. Le vaccin est leur seule bouée de sauvetage; pourtant, des personnes âgées mais en bonne santé sont vaccinées avant eux.» Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Three of the cases are in the Edmundston region, while the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are now 36 active cases in the province and three patients are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory to be the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. Mass testing clinics have been set up in the Miramichi area to determine if there has been any further spread of the virus. Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been 1,443 confirmed cases in New Brunswick and 28 COVID-19-related deaths, This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
A large parking lot that's become a canvas for graffiti in Halifax's North End is being converted into a pair of low-rise buildings that will provide 57 affordable apartment units. But it will take two years or longer before people can move in, according to the housing co-op that acquired the land from the federal government through a national housing initiative. The project will be constructed in an underutilized parking lot on Maitland Street near Portland Place, and it's expected that ground breaking will begin in early 2022 with occupancy about 12 to 18 months later, said Karen Brodeur, president of Compass Nova Scotia Co-operative Homes. She participated in a virtual news conference with Halifax MP Andy Fillmore on Thursday. Dubbed the North-End Neighbourhood Development, the property is located behind a bakery, a restaurant and a pub on Gottingen Street, and across the street from townhouses. The project will build two six-storey apartment buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. "This will mean that the development is accessible to a huge range of household types, something that we desperately need in the HRM," said Brodeur. The parking lot is a popular spot for graffiti artists.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) The federal government is providing Compass with $1.5 million in funding through the National Housing Strategy Federal Lands Initiative to purchase the property, while the Nova Scotia government is committing $3 million toward the development. The city also provided rebates on some fees to help move the project forward. Fillmore praised the project for turning the usually empty parking lot that's "kind of a blight" in the neighbourhood into homes. Jim Graham, executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, welcomed the announcement, but said it's not a silver bullet to fix the city's affordable housing crunch. "Every little bit helps, it's just a shame that things take as long as they do," he said, citing the challenges of navigating federal, provincial and municipal agencies to make affordable housing proposals a reality. He added the 57 units will barely make a dent in the demand for affordable housing. Graham said some European cities have achieved a balanced housing market in which 12 to 15 per cent or more of rentals are non-profit compared to market-priced units. In Halifax, non-profit rentals are running at about two per cent of the overall rental housing stock, he said. Graham is the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia. The non-profit's website says 'decent, affordable and sustainable housing is a basic human right and the first step toward personal, social, economic and cultural well-being and empowerment.'(Jim Graham) "It's very small. So there's a long hill to climb here," said Graham. He said the city's affordable housing supply is low because successive provincial governments haven't built a public housing project since the 90s. This project is being developed under a housing co-operative model, in which residents are members of the co-op and vote on decisions. Brodeur said Compass wishes to draw upon the co-operative's values of "sustainability, inclusion and collaboration" from the project's construction right through to occupancy. She said individual housing charges have not been determined, but Compass is "committed to maintaining average rents at 75 per cent of the median market rent for the area and time." Currently, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in north-end Halifax is $1,100, a two-bedroom is $1,195 and a three-bedroom is $1,200. Under its lands initiative, Ottawa will spend $200 million over 10 years to offload surplus federal properties at discounted or no-cost rates to encourage development of affordable, sustainable, accessible and socially inclusive housing. The parking lot is surrounded by a new development and townhouses.(Dave Laughlin/CBC) MORE TOP STORIES
A Chihuahua sporting a First Nations dog blanket captured hearts across Canada for his small stature and enormous sense of pride. Now, seven-year-old Rikki can savour the glory of Internet stardom with treats and toys as one of five furry winners at this year's Yukon Rendezvous festival. "I was excited that he was one of the winners," said his owner Velma Olsen, who beaded the dog blanket specifically for the contest. The pet parade is one of the popular events organized as a part of the annual Whitehorse winter festival. Like many contests this year as a result of pandemic, it was held online. "The great thing about going virtual is that we got entries that we normally probably couldn't have seen such as a little hedgehog and a snake," said festival executive director Saskrita Shresthra. "It was a really great way to make it inclusive of all animals, and considering the response we got on all of those posts, it was very successful. Everybody did a phenomenal job, and it was a great activity to do in the winter during these times. It brought a lot of smiles to a lot of people's faces." Olsen, who is Northern Tutchone and a member of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, said she's been overwhelmed with joy to the reaction Rikki and the dog blanket received online. "Quite a few people were feeling inspired to make dog blankets now. There's someone locally here who made one for her Chihuahua, too, so it was quite nice to be an inspiration," said Olsen. Rikki, a seven-year-old Chihuahua, compared to one of the sleds used in the annual Yukon Quest dog sled race. (Submitted by Velma Olsen) Dog blankets are embellished fabric that drapes over a sled dog's back and are a longstanding tradition among First Nations across the Yukon and Northwest Territories. "It makes me feel all warm inside because it's a part of our history and to have it be responded to like that with Rikki's dog blanket it was heartwarming," said Olsen. As for next year's festival, Olsen said she's ready to sign Rikki up for another pet parade. "I've got to come up with something bigger and better next year," she said.
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions of dollars planned in short-term transit spending to help municipalities further green their bus fleets. The hope is that the $2.75 billion in traditional grant money will dovetail with the $1.5 billion an infrastructure-financing agency is supposed to invest toward the same cause. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the grant money is supposed to help cover the upfront cost of purchasing electric buses to replace the diesel-powered ones rumbling through Canadian streets. She says federal funding has helped cities buy 300 buses and the government hopes the funding will help them add 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years. But she acknowledged there are added costs that need to be addressed, including having charging stations on transit routes and in existing depots. The Liberals are hoping cities then turn to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance the cost of the remaining work. The bank's chief executive, Ehren Cory, says the energy savings expected from not having to buy diesel could, for instance, be used to pay off a low-interest loan from his agency. "It's quite a from-the-ground-up reinvestment and the savings will pay for a lot of that, but not for all of it," he said, via video link. "That's why the combination of a grant from the government, a subsidy, combined with a loan against savings together will allow us to get the most done, allow us to make wholesale change quickly and do so at minimal impact to taxpayers." Garth Frizzell, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, welcomed the funding as a way to speed up work in cities to replace diesel buses. "We are already putting more electric vehicles on our streets, and this major funding to electrify transit systems across the country will reduce GHG emissions, boost local economies, and help meet Canada’s climate goals," he said in a statement. McKenna made the same connections multiple times during an event Thursday in Ottawa, where she stood near the city's mayor, Jim Watson, with Cory and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne joining by videoconference. Joanna Kyriazis, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, noted that the investments could help the country's six electric-bus manufacturers scale up to compete internationally. “As Canada develops its battery supply chain — from raw metal and mineral resources to our North-America-leading battery recycling companies — we must build the market for electric vehicles and their batteries at home," she said in a statement. The Liberals are promising billions in permanent transit funding as part of a post-pandemic recovery, including $3 billion annually in a transit fund starting in five years. Cities have seen transit ridership plummet through the pandemic as chunks of the labour force work remotely. Demand for single-family homes well outside urban cores suggests some workers are expecting remote work to become a more regular fixture of their post-pandemic work lives. McKenna said her thinking about public transit hasn't been changed by that shift, saying her only thought is that Canada needs more and better systems. It's up to cities and transit agencies to set routes and priorities, she said. "The reality is many of our essential workers have no other option than to take public transit. And I think we've recognized how important it is for people to be able to get around in a safe way," McKenna said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Thursday approved a $6.6 billion plan aimed at pressuring school districts to return students to the classroom before the end of the school year. The bill does not order school districts to resume in-person instruction and it does not say parents must send their kids back to the classroom if they don’t want to. Instead, the state will dangle $2 billion before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share of that money only if they offer in-person instruction by the end of the month. School districts have until May 15 to decide. Districts that resume in-person learning after that date won’t get any of that money. “We need to get the schools reopen. I know it’s hard, but today we are providing powerful tools for schools to move into this direction,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who pleaded with his school district to accept the money and offer in-person instruction. Most of California's 6.1 million students in 1,037 public school districts have been learning from home since last March because of the pandemic. The bill passed both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday by overwhelming margins. But many lawmakers criticized the bill as too weak. The bill does not say how much time students should spend in the classroom, prompting fears some districts might have students return for just one day per week and still be eligible to get the money. Republicans in the state Senate tried to amend the bill to require schools to offer at least three days per week of in-person learning, but Democrats in the majority rejected it. And while the bill requires most elementary school grades to return to the classroom to get the money, it does not require all middle and high school grades to return this year. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill into law on Friday. The bill comes as Newsom faces a potential recall election later this year, fueled by anger over his handling of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Newsom has trumpeted the back to school proposal as evidence of his commitment to getting students who have studied mostly online since last March into classrooms again. But Scott Wilk, the Republican leader in the state Senate, said the bill was simply an effort by Democrats to give Newsom political cover so he can “get parents to believe he’s doing everything he possibly can for them.” “The truth is this bill doesn’t do anything to reopen our schools. I believe with or without this bill, school districts that want to reopen will and school districts that don’t want to reopen won’t,” said Wilk, who voted for the bill along with most other Republicans. The bill has two sets of rules districts must follow to get the money. The first set applies to school districts in counties where the coronavirus is widespread. The second set of rules applies to districts in counties where the virus is not as widespread. To get the money, districts governed by the first set of rules must offer in-person learning through at least second grade by the end of March. Districts governed by the second set of rules must offer in-person learning to all elementary grades, plus at least one grade in middle and high school. However, the Newsom administration late Wednesday changed the standards that dictate which counties must follow which rules. The new standards mean most counties will have to follow the second set of rules requiring districts to offer in-person instruction in all elementary school grades. “It’s a little dishonest what’s happening,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat from San Diego, who voted in favour of the bill. The bill also includes $4.6 billion aimed at helping students catch up after a year of learning from home. Districts could use this money to extend the school year into the summer or they could spend it on counselling and tutoring. All districts would get this money, regardless of whether they offer in-person instruction. But the bill stated that districts must use at least 85% of that money for expenses related to in-person instruction. Adam Beam, The Associated Press
RCMP are asking witnesses to a violent incident to come forward, after a man was discovered seriously injured outside a Richmond, B.C., shopping mall Wednesday afternoon. Police were called around 2:40 p.m. PT to the parking area on the north side of the Lansdowne Centre, where the 40-year-old man was found lying injured on the ground, according to an RCMP statement Thursday. The Vancouver resident was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition, police said. RCMP say the incident does not appear to have any criminal connections, and there doesn't appear to be any risk to the public. Anyone who might have witnessed Wednesday's incident is asked to contact the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they want to remain anonymous.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years. The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation. Not all criminal convictions inevitably lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime. Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote. In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offences, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones. “The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude," Breyer wrote. Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn't for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria. Based on Thursday's ruling, Pereida can't seek that relief. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October. The Associated Press
A first-of-its-kind grassroots networking event has a youth social agency in Kamloops confident it has the ear of government, with a summary report forthcoming. Staff from A Way Home Kamloops Society, who have experienced homelessness in their youth, pitched solutions for ending youth homelessness to provincial government representatives and service providers recently at a virtual conference they organized. Aging out of foster care, substance use, mental health, cultural supports, LGBTQ2S+ experiences, education and employment were up for discussion via Zoom meetings. “If even this only plants the seed for change, that’s incredible because there’s still more to come,” said Kira Cheeseborough said, peer navigator for A Way Home Kamloops. A two-day summit with provincial representatives — as originally planned prior to the pandemic — is still expected to take place sometime in the near future, when COVID-19 restrictions ease. At the virtual event, A Way Home Kamloops youth advisors stressed the need to ensure no youth ages out of foster care before safe, appropriate housing and after-care supports are available as a key solution to ending youth homelessness. Another recommendation was to create a provincial plan. “If we can prevent youth from experiencing homelessness, it doesn’t become a pathway to adult homelessness,” Cheeseborough said. The three-hour virtual event drew 57 attendees, with representatives from BC Housing, the Attorney General’s office, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, including Minister Mitzi Dean, and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, including Minister Sheila Malcolmson. Cheeseborough said a report of key findings and feedback from attendees will be made public in mid-March. Minister Dean said the MCFD is working to improve services and supports for those who are transitioning from government care, noting input from youth and young adults will play a key role in shaping those services. “Hearing directly from young people is critical to better understanding how we can meet their unique needs and I am grateful to everyone who shared their story,” Dean said. Youth Advisor Mel Hedch told KTW she is happy they were able to have the ear of key decision-makers in the field as it means they have a greater chance of improving the situations of homeless youth in B.C. “It was so exciting to have them and I look forward to, in the future, the different summit and conference we’ll have, where we’ll be expanding so much than we already have,” Hedch said. Last year, A Way Home Kamloops organized what was to be a localized event, dubbed the Light The Way Youth Homelessness Conference, but it was expanded in scope to include provincial representatives — something Cheeseborough credits to the work of the organization’s late executive director, Katherine McParland. The event, however, was delayed last summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, which is why the virtual Youth Homelessness Preliminary Summit proceeded this year. “The preliminary summit was an opportunity for the youth advisors to be celebrated in their resiliency and strength, not only through COVID, but in the tragic passing of Katherine McParland. She was an incredible leader,” Cheeseborough said. McParland, 33, died suddenly in Kamloops on Dec. 5, 2020. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
The director of "Courage," a documentary about three actors who threw themselves into the protests that erupted after Belarus's contested presidential elections last summer, hopes the film will help highlight the plight of political prisoners in the country. The film, which is showing at this year's Berlin Film Festival, follows the lives of a trio of actors who 15 years ago quit the Minsk State Theatre in protest against repression to set up their own underground theatre group. Last year, their time came when thousands took to the streets across the East European country of 10 million, saying that the election victory claimed by President Alexander Lukashenko was fraudulent.
Nova Scotia may be facing a massive pandemic-related deficit but when Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis tables his first budget later this month, it will include no program cuts or staff layoffs. Although a date has not been finalized for the budget introduction, Kousoulis told reporters on Thursday he's aiming for the week of March 22. Just before leaving office, former premier Stephen McNeil told reporters the provincial deficit had decreased to about $500 million. While he wouldn't provide details about where things are now, Kousoulis said he's pleased with the province's financial position. "I'm actually very comfortable with the budget and I'm comfortable with the future of Nova Scotia," he said. "When you compare us to other provinces across the country, I think many of them would much rather be in the position we're in versus the one they are in." Cuts would send the wrong message Kousoulis said the province's strong financial position going into the pandemic has helped it respond better than some areas. Noting that the deficit is not structural, the minister said the upcoming budget would not include program cuts or staff layoffs because it would "push the economy down even further." "If we started cutting our spending, then that exacerbates the problem we're facing and it sends the wrong message to the private sector," he said. "We are funding departments to move their programs forward. We're not sitting back and pushing against programs and items that are important to Nova Scotia." The budget process usually takes two months, but Kousoulis, Premier Iain Rankin and the rest of their team have only had two weeks since being sworn in to put their stamp on the document. Despite the quick turnaround, the minister said they've been able to incorporate priorities from Rankin's Liberal leadership campaign platform into the budget. Rankin and his leadership rivals, Kousoulis and Randy Delorey, each met with Finance Department officials during the campaign to broadly outline their hopes for the budget, should they become leader and premier. The budget document will be finalized Friday before going to the office of the auditor general for review, said Kousoulis. MORE TOP STORIES
LONDON — Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind a campaign to turn a former prison in the English town of Reading into an arts venue, a town spokesman said on Thursday, after the street artist confirmed that artwork that appeared on a red brick wall of the prison was of his making. The elusive artist confirmed the picture was his when he posted a video of him creating it on his Instagram account. The monochrome picture shows a man escaping using a rope made of paper from a typewriter. It appeared Monday outside Reading Prison, famous as the location where writer Oscar Wilde served two years for “gross indecency” in the 1890s. The prison closed in 2013, and campaigners want it turned into an arts venue. Britain’s Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide mid-March on its future. In his Instagram video, Banksy is shown stealthily stenciling and spraying paint to create the artwork, titled “Create Escape.” The footage is juxtaposed with an episode of a traditional art instruction video called “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” The campaign to turn the former prison into an arts venue has won the backing of actors including Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and Kenneth Branagh. A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said it was “thrilled that Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind the council’s desire to transform the vacant Reading Gaol into a beacon of arts, heritage and culture with this piece of artwork he has aptly called ‘Create Escape’.” “The Council is pushing the Ministry of Justice, who own the site, to make suitable arrangements to protect the image,” the authority said. The Associated Press