Mark Sakamoto and business partner Sachin Aggarwal’s digital health company has made another big move in the business world. Think Research recently announced the acquisition of fellow health company MDBriefcase – a transaction worth more than $25 million in cash and stock options. Think Research is also taking on roughly $3 million in debt from MDBriefcase. “We’re really excited about this,” said former Hatter Sakamoto. “This is a classic example of a one plus one equals three scenario. “This just made a lot of sense.” Aggarwal, Think Research’s CEO, says the acquisition was an easy decision. “We knew these guys and we’ve been working with them for the better part of two years,” he said. “They have certain reach into the health-care marketplace, just like we have certain reach. “We do different things, but what each group does is highly complementary to the other.” Think Research’s goal is to get the best data to health-care workers, so in turn, patients can get the best care possible. MDBriefcase puts a large emphasis on education, which ties in perfectly with what Think Research is doing, says Aggarwal. “Together we become one of the largest players in the world in getting evidence to the bedside,” he said. “We really are stronger together because of the size and scale. “No one in Canada comes close to our size when it comes to knowledge-based healthcare.” Aggarwal says MDBriefcase creates tools based off evidence. “When someone does a study, nothing would come of it if no one read it or analyzed it,” he said. “They take research and create digital tools that will then be used to teach nurses, doctors and pharmacists. “Those medical professionals get their continuing education credits by consuming that content.” Aggarwal added that MDBriefcase will not be downsized or closed after being bought out, but the opposite may happen. “These are complementary companies, so some things may be merged,” he said. “But overall, we expect that MDBriefcase will expand, not shrink.” Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
L’année 2020 derrière nous, à quoi peut-on s’attendre en 2021? Nous avons discuté des défis économiques qui nous attendent avec Brigitte Alepin, professeure en fiscalité au Campus de Saint-Jérôme de l’UQO. D’entrée de jeu, Mme Alepin veut être claire. « Je ne peux vraiment rien prédire en ce moment. Rien dans cette pandémie n’était prévisible. » Elle indique que plusieurs économistes de renommée se sont aventurés à faire des prévisions en 2020, mais que celles-ci se sont souvent révélées erronées. Elle rappelle aussi que la situation actuelle est sans précédent. Les gouvernements ont dû prendre rapidement des décisions radicales. « On sera longtemps en train d’analyser : est-ce qu’on a pris les bonnes décisions? » Elle souligne que les présents gouvernements sont ceux qui ont le plus d’expérience dans la gestion d’une pandémie. « Je ne sais pas quelle note je donnerais aux gouvernements. Ce n’est pas parfait, mais ils l’ont quand même gérée. On doit toutefois s’attendre, espérer qu’ils ont appris, et qu’ils seront plus proactifs qu’en réaction, en 2021. » Malheureusement, Mme Alepin est certaine d’une chose : les gouvernements continueront à faire des déficits pendant un bon bout de temps. Tant au fédéral qu’au provincial, la dette publique a explosé, gonflée par les mesures pour contenir la pandémie et pour soutenir financièrement les citoyens et les entreprises pendant la crise. Si certains économistes espèrent une relance économique vigoureuse après la vaccination, Mme Alepin croit que cela sera bien insuffisant pour renflouer les coffres de l’État. Sans compter que des investissements supplémentaires seront nécessaires pour cette relance… « Ça va être difficile. Tout le monde s’en vient à sec! » Selon la fiscaliste, nous n’aurons plus le choix d’imposer davantage les « méga-riches » et les multinationales, pour qu’ils contribuent à leur juste part. « Mais la pandémie coûte tellement cher, ça ne sera pas assez », avertit-elle. Ainsi, les déficits et la dette, nécessaires pour vaincre la pandémie, devront être gérés avec prudence. Ce qui inquiète aussi la professeure, c’est l’inflation. « On n’en parle pas assez, il faut poser des questions! » Difficile de connaître l’impact précis des dépenses gouvernementales sur l’inflation, mais déjà les prix des aliments ont augmenté, par exemple. « Quelles seront les conséquences? Comment va-t-on gérer ça? Doit-on s’en soucier? Les taux d’intérêt pourraient augmenter. Là, tout est contenu, nous ne sommes pas en crise, mais ça peut débouler vite! » Si l’inflation s’accélère, elle peut devenir un cercle vicieux et se transformer en hyper-inflation. Alors les prix augmentent exponentiellement, chaque dollar a de moins en moins de valeur, jusqu’à ce que votre fonds de pension ne vaille plus rien. Difficile d’évaluer si le risque est réel ou non, mais selon Mme Alepin, les gouvernements devraient, à tout le moins, se pencher sur la question. Impossible également de prédire quel impact la pandémie aura eu sur la mondialisation. « Au début, on croyait que ça donnerait peut-être lieu à moins de mondialisation. De plus en plus, je lis des choses qui disent le contraire. » D’un côté, les États ont fermé leurs frontières, ont cherché à produire davantage de biens localement, comme les masques, et les consommateurs, comme au Québec, se sont tournés vers l’achat local. De l’autre côté, les États ont dû collaborer et se coordonner pour certains efforts, et les pressions pour plus de coopération internationale sont grandes. « Aux États-Unis, Joe Biden a tenu tête à la concurrence fiscale internationale, en promettant de rehausser le taux d’imposition des corporations de 21 à 28 %. Il y a aussi un nombre critique de pays qui veulent un impôt minimum mondial. C’est le dernier jalon qu’il nous manquait pour la mondialisation. » Dans tous les cas, l’ordre géopolitique et économique mondial est irrémédiablement bouleversé… même s’il est encore hasardeux d’en prédire les conséquences. Enfin, Mme Alepin prévient que les citoyens seront moins tolérants face à la concentration de la richesse par les milliardaires et les multinationales, qui paient peu ou pas d’impôt. « Quand les gens avaient un emploi, du pain frais à manger, de bons soins médicaux, quand tout allait bien, les gens acceptaient. Mais maintenant, ils n’accepteront plus. »Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
GREY-BRUCE – Although there are still 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, the number of new cases continues to drop from the post-holiday spike. As of Jan. 18, there had been five new cases in the previous 24 hours – one each in Owen Sound, Brockton, Grey Highlands, Hanover and West Grey. This brings the cumulative total to 653. There are 115 high risk contacts associated with active cases. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in Grey-Bruce. An outbreak with the Town of The Blue Mountains has been declared over. The first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 200 doses, have been administered. People are being urged to follow the basic measures that brought down numbers during the first wave – wash hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally six feet) and wear a face covering correctly. Everyone should also avoid crowds and unnecessary travel as the provincial lockdown continues. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
A COVID-19 field hospital in Edmonton is now ready to admit patients should regular hospitals in the region become overwhelmed. The temporary 100-bed facility has been set up inside the Butterdome on the University of Alberta main campus. Officially known as the Universiade Pavilion, the building is a multi-purpose sports complex. Construction on the facility is complete, Alberta Health Services announced via Twitter on Thursday. The statement included images of large white medical tents equipped with hospital beds lined up on the gymnasium floor. The field hospital would only be used if local hospitals are stretched past capacity. It would care for patients who are recovering from COVID-19 but are at low risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus. In December, an AHS spokesperson said it could also be used to care for other patients without COVID-19. As of Thursday, 726 people across Alberta were being treated in hospital for COVID-19, including 119 in ICU beds. Despite decreasing case numbers and hospitalization rates, health officials warn that Alberta hospitals remain under significant strain. 'Only if needed' "Equipment is onsite and the Pandemic Response Unit at the Butterdome is ready and will open for patient use only if needed," AHS said on Twitter. "Overall occupancy in Edmonton-area hospitals remains high. We want to be prepared for all possible scenarios, these 100 additional inpatient spaces are part of our ongoing, proactive pandemic response planning." The field hospital has been characterized by government and provincial health officials as a precautionary measure. If it needs to open, beds will be opened in a "phased approach," AHS said. The Butterdome was used as a COVID-19 assessment centre in the spring. Work on the hospital began in late December with help from the Canadian Red Cross. CBC News reported in December that internal documents contained plans to establish two or more Alberta field hospitals to accommodate up to 750 patients. That month, Premier Jason Kenney said the field hospital plans were a sign of "responsible planning" in case of a "potential extreme scenario." At the time, about 500 Albertans were in hospital, including about 100 in intensive care. Hospitalizations in Alberta peaked on Dec. 30 at 941, including 145 in ICU. The pandemic continues to burden the health-care system, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday. The province reported 16 more deaths on Thursday and 678 new cases of the illness. At least 119,114 Albertans have become infected by the disease, and 1,500 people have died.
France has one of western Europe's highest rates of distrust in modern-day vaccines. On Unreported Europe we take a look at why, what anti-vaxxers have to say and what can bring sceptics rounds. View on euronews
In his office overlooking Gage Park in downtown Brampton, Mayor Patrick Brown turned away from the live video feed of Wednesday’s committee of council meeting. He peered through the window for a view of the tree-lined outdoor skating rink below, a place that transports visitors to an idyllic winter escape. The ice width is “significantly larger than a sidewalk, or typical creek trail,” Brown pointed out to council members. Given the City’s ability to control rink capacity through its online booking system, he argued that existing measures to promote social distancing are sufficient. Non-medical masks or face coverings were in place only as a recommendation at Brampton’s outdoor rinks, but are mandatory in line-ups, the washrooms, or staging areas. “In general, wearing a mask is always good practice. I would just say let’s be careful about what precedents we set here…and what this means for the city and other avenues,” he said. Brown’s worry was that other City-owned properties, including basketball courts and soccer fields when they re-open, and even sidewalks, could then be subject to mandatory masking orders. The mayor put forward concerns supported by those fatigued by some of the protective measures imposed on them, but his more liberal attitude toward mask use stood in contrast with a motion that had just been forwarded. The comments came in response to a move by Councillor Rowena Santos for Brampton to implement an immediate policy to make face-coverings mandatory while skating, a decision Toronto already made. According to the motion – which passed unanimously despite the mayor’s concerns – provincial public health factsheets point to evidence that people can develop COVID-19 after repeated and cumulative exposure to someone with the novel coronavirus, “in the same manner as prolonged close contact.” Santos told Council the motion was aimed to “provide a little bit more clarity and consistency” to rink etiquette in a shared space, even if outdoors. The City will mobilize its surplus of masks to various skating rinks and inform those who have registered online about the new mandatory policy. The move to make these spaces safer in Ontario’s hardest-hit city comes after a more drastic measure to close winter amenities in Vaughan. Last week, the municipality announced it was closing outdoor amenities, including dog parks, in line with its “disciplined, reasonable and measured approach to COVID-19,” according to a press release announcing the move three days after the province entered a state of emergency and the stay-at-home order came into effect on January 14. “You need to do all that you can to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and when you get large gatherings of people, you’re actually increasing it,” said Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, in response to criticism, during a taped interview with CityNews. “So our decision was based on what we know at the moment to be true...and use all measures at [our] disposal.” Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, publicly opposed the move, saying the use of outdoor facilities should be encouraged and regulated by the City to help promote mental health and exercise. Most municipalities in the GTA, including Toronto and Mississauaga have kept these amenities open during the current emergency order, which allows the use of such facilities. Keeping outdoor recreational activities, such as Brampton’s Winter Wonderland program, open has been supported by many infectious disease specialists who recognize the need for healthy, active alternatives during a lockdown. Public health officials have pointed out that if residents do not have the opportunity to exercise and get outside, mental health can suffer, and people might be pushed to violate other rules if they feel restrictions are unreasonable. “From our perspective, here at the Region of Peel, we know that it is ultimately [about] trying to balance outdoor recreation and an opportunity for individuals to exercise, which remains an essential reason to be out of one's home,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health, at Mississauga’s weekly press conference on Wednesday. “Region-hopping has always been a challenge or problem, but I imagine there are ways to address that,” said Dr. Loh, pointing to online booking tools and capacity limits that would help mitigate that risk. “It’s always been [the] recommendation, if you are unable to maintain two metres of distance – even outside – that you should be wearing a mask.” In a test of Brampton’s booking system, The Pointer was able to reserve a time at Gage Park using a registration account that listed a non-Brampton postal code as a home address. Mobility patterns analyzed by Peel Public Health using Google’s anonymized, aggregate cellphone location data show that during the first emergency declaration in March, there was a 60 percent drop in trips to workplaces, retail and other recreational locations, and a 20 percent increase in time spent at home. Second wave trends show that the time at home had increased by 21 percent in the first week of January this year, compared to 14 percent in October, which is measured against a January 2020 baseline of pre-pandemic, at-home time. The analysis, which appears in Peel Region’s January 15 epidemiological report, shows Brampton had a 17.6 percent positivity rate for the week ending on January 9; anything above 2.5 percent indicates viral spread in a jurisdiction is not under control. Brampton’s incidence rate was at 351.8 cases per 100,000 residents, for the week ending January 9, compared to 284 in Caledon and 200 in Mississauga. Ontario’s incidence rate was a little more than half of Brampton’s during the same period. Despite Premier Doug Ford’s pleas for Ontarians to stay home, barring essential trips, attending a recreational setting is another choice Peel residents can consider. As previously reported in The Pointer, despite the stay-at-home order, a flight out of Toronto Pearson International Airport, to get a resident from Peel to Miami, or many other destinations, is still allowable, though not advised, another confusing reality of the Province’s state of emergency order. Email: email@example.com Twitter: LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
JACKSON, Miss. — A leader of the Brexit movement and newly appointed government trade adviser in the United Kingdom is now the head of a conservative think-tank in the American South. Douglas Carswell, 49, started working this month as the new CEO and president of Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Carswell, a libertarian and former member of Britain’s governing Conservative Party, was a member of Parliament for 12 years and a co-founder of Vote Leave, the campaign that pushed the Brexit referendum in 2016. Carswell said his home country was his primary focus as the U.K. negotiated terms of its recently finalized split from the European Union. However, he said he has had a growing interest in working in the U.S. “I think the fight for freedom in America is the most important battle for freedom in the world, because America is the exceptional country in the world,” Carswell told The Associated Press. Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican who left office a year ago, has developed a work relationship with Brexit leader Nigel Farage, and Bryant attended a 2019 event for the lobbying group World4Brexit. Carswell said he has never met Bryant. Carswell clashed with more populist Farage after being the first of only two U.K. Independence Party candidates ever elected to Parliament. Farage ran unsuccessfully more than half a dozen times. Carswell's 2014 election victory gave political momentum to the party and the Brexit cause. He left the U.K. Independence Party in 2017, later stepping down from Parliament. After Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union, many of the figures who led the campaign have moved on to new ventures. Farage became a radio talk-show host and Donald Trump’s main British supporter, once even attending and speaking at a 2016 Trump campaign event in Mississippi. Others have been appointed to the House of Lords by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government. It’s common for former British lawmakers of all political stripes to seek think-tank or academic posts in the U.S. — a career move that can often bring prestige back home. In an email introducing his new position in Mississippi, Carswell said he believes freedom in the U.S. is “under attack” from a “radical New Left.” “If liberty is extinguished, the United States will become just another over-regulated, over-taxed, debt-ridden country, presided over by remote officials,” he said. “That would be a catastrophe for the whole world.” Carswell said he thinks school choice can give low-income Mississippi families more opportunities. He said he will push policies to make the state more competitive in attracting new businesses and allowing existing ones to grow. “Businesses that are traditionally located in hubs like New York, or Chicago or California, quite a few of those businesses are moving away from high tax and regulation regimes to Texas, Florida or Tennessee,” he said. “Why not Mississippi?” The Mississippi Center for Public Policy lobbies for lower taxes, fewer government regulations and free-market approaches to health care. Carswell said he admires that people’s freedoms in the U.S. are defined in federal and state constitutions. “In America, if your local mayor wakes up one morning and decides to take away your fundamental freedoms, you can take the politicians to court under the Constitution, you can enforce your rights as an individual,” he said. It allows “ordinary folk to live their lives free from the arbitrary whim of government,” Carswell said. “It’s only when you don’t have that that you realize quite how precious it is,” he said. “It really is the secret of American success.” Carswell plans to live in Jackson with his family but is not leaving U.K. politics. In November, he was appointed to a three-year term as a nonexecutive director of Britain’s Department for International Trade. Liz Truss, the U.K.’s secretary of state for international trade, said Carswell will work at “striking free trade agreements in markets around the world, operating our own trading system after the transition period, boosting exports and investment across the UK, and championing free trade and shaping global trading rules.” ___ Associated Press reporter Jill Lawless contributed from London. ___ Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Leah Willingham, The Associated Press
« S’il n’y avait pas de poutine, on serait obligés de fermer nos portes ! » C’est ce que lance d’emblée le propriétaire du Goofy Carl Bolduc pour expliquer le succès de cette entreprise familiale au cœur du paysage almatois depuis 41 ans. Malgré la pandémie, le restaurant ne cesse d’attirer la clientèle grâce à son mythique plat. Selon Carl Bolduc, le succès du Goofy repose sur trois éléments clés. « L’entreprise repose sur une famille impliquée, tenace et déterminée à réussir. Nos employés, eux sont, les piliers de notre organisation. Et bien sûr, il y a notre précieuse clientèle », explique-t-il. Certains d’entre eux sont des réguliers de longue date, qui sont au rendez-vous depuis les touts débuts. D’autres viennent d’un peu partout au Québec. Pour ces derniers, le Goofy est un passage obligé pendant leur séjour. Adaptation Toutefois, la pandémie a forcé l’entreprise à s’adapter, comme des milliers d’autres restaurants au pays. C’est que depuis 1979, le restaurant a toujours été ouvert 24 heures sur 24, sept jours sur sept. L’horaire a toujours été le même. « En mars dernier, il n’y avait plus de clients. C’était désert sur l’avenue du Pont. On a dû fermer pendant un mois. Avant la pandémie, ce n’était jamais arrivé, même pas pendant cinq minutes ou pour des rénovations! On est toujours restés ouverts. Le temps venu, on s’est rendu compte qu’on n’avait même pas de clés pour fermer, si bien qu’il a fallu mettre un surveillant de nuit le temps que le serrurier arrive », souligne Carl Bolduc. Il ajoute : « Si on n’avait pas la poutine, probablement qu’on fermerait. Présentement, on en sert entre 150 et 200 par jour. 85 % de nos commandes sont des poutines, et il y en a au moins une par facture ». 2021, année d’espoir Cependant, la formule à emporter et les poutines ne sont que des revenus d’appoints pour le Goofy. L’absence d’une salle à manger et le confinement représentent des pertes de 75 % pour l’entreprise. « Une autre de nos grosses forces est les menus du jour. Or, avec le télétravail, les gens sont beaucoup moins en ville qu’avant. Les gens ne sont plus dans les bureaux, ils sont chez eux », ajoute-t-il. Un gros contraste avec l’année 2019, qui fut la plus rentable dans l’histoire du Goofy. Malgré tout, Carl Bolduc assure qu’il n’a eu à procéder à aucune mise à pied, réaffectant une partie du personnel à du temps partiel. Il entrevoit la nouvelle année qui débute avec une bonne dose de positivisme. La construction d’une terrasse extérieure et l’ajoute de nouveaux mets au menu sont notamment prévues. De belles leçons d’humilité Carl Bolduc n’en revenait pas lorsqu’il a reçu une mise en demeure de nul autre que la Walt Disney Company, il y a trois ans. Le restaurant, qui arborait depuis toujours comme emblème le personnage Goofy, a passé bien près de devoir changer de nom. Heureusement pour l’entreprise, une entente à l’amiable a été signée avec l’entreprise américaine afin qu’elle conserve son appellation. Toutefois, elle a dû mettre une croix sur son image de marque. Mais pourquoi donc avoir choisi comme emblème un personnage de dessin animé? Carl Bolduc explique : « À l’époque, c’était la mode d’utiliser des personnages populaires de dessins animés comme nom de restaurant. Il n’y avait pas de problème. Avec internet, Walt Disney a été mise au courant du restaurant. Ils nous ont envoyé une mise en demeure, nous ordonnant d’enlever le nom et le logo ». Bien que l’image du personnage Goofy soit soumise aux droits d’auteurs, le nom ne l’était pas. Seul le restaurant almatois avait enregistré l’appellation au Québec. « On en est venus à une entente qui stipule que nous sommes les seuls qui ont le droit d’utiliser le nom Goofy au Québec. Ça a permis d’éviter des poursuites et des batailles judiciaires », ajoute-t-il. Saga Yves Bolduc En 2012, le restaurant a fait les manchettes, mais pour les mauvaises raisons. Il fut révélé au grand jour que le ministre de la Santé de l’époque, Yves Bolduc, était actionnaire du restaurant. « Lorsque mon frère s’est lancé en politique, on s’est fait traiter de malbouffe même si on a des menus du jour. On nous reprochait d’être près des écoles… Deux filles étaient même parties sans payer et avaient publié leur facture sur Facebook en affirmant faussement qu’on était subventionnés pas l’État et qu’elles avaient le droit de la faire. Je n’étais pas content de ça. J’ai décidé d’acheter toutes les parts afin que ce genre de choses n’arrivent plus », se souvient Carl Bolduc. Rumeurs Une rumeur voulant que le Goofy soit racheté par une autre chaîne de restauration s’est récemment répandue à Alma. Carl Bolduc tient toutefois à la démentir. Pas question de vendre. Pas pour l’instant du moins. Il prévoit prendre sa retraite d’ici cinq ans, mais la relève semble déjà établie, puisque sa mère, son fils, sa fille, son cousin et sa conjointe sont toujours présents derrière le comptoir du Goofy. La famille Bolduc entend mener la barque aussi loin que possible.Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
The company that runs a limestone quarry on the Port au Port Peninsula is headed to trial, after pleading not guilty to numerous charges surrounding the 2018 death of one of its workers. A lawyer for Atlantic Minerals entered not guilty pleas in Stephenville provincial court Friday to all 10 charges the company faces under the province's Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to provide workplace procedures and failing to ensure safe workplace procedures were followed. The charges stem from the death of a 55-year-old worker at the quarry in Lower Cove on July 31, 2018. The man, a long-term employee of the company, was fatally injured after an incident during conveyor maintenance. Six days are being set aside for Atlantic Minerals' trial in Stephenville, starting June 14. A supervisor with Atlantic Minerals also faces two charges in relation to the death, of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers and failing to provide safety information and instruction. On Friday, the supervisor's lawyer, Andrew May, said his client was not ready to enter in a plea, but that a future not guilty plea was an "unlikely event." That matter has been set over until March. If the supervisor pleads not guilty, he will appear at the same trial as Atlantic Minerals. Atlantic Minerals is headquartered in Corner Brook. According to its website, the company has 130 employees at its Lower Cove operation. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is sending two mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area to help address the strain COVID-19 is placing on hospitals. The units will bring an additional 200 hospital beds to the area, to help free up space for people who need intensive care, and will provide medical equipment and supplies. Ontario's hospitals have been struggling with capacity challenges for weeks because of surging COVID-19 cases, especially in hot spots. On Monday, the province said a new hospital set to open in Vaughan, Ont., will be used to help relieve the capacity crunch. Premier Doug Ford said some patients from overcrowded Greater Toronto Area hospitals would be transferred to Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital when it opens on Feb. 7. Ontario is reporting 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 today and 87 more deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 779 new cases in Toronto, 542 in Peel Region, and 228 in York Region. She said there are also 128 more cases in Waterloo Region and 118 in Windsor-Essex County. More than 71,000 tests have been completed in Ontario since the last daily update. The province is also reporting that 11,168 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since its last daily update. A total of 264,985 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario so far. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
RICHMOND, B.C. — RCMP say a man who allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and walked away in Richmond, B.C., has been located. A statement from police says Woon Chan was found Friday. Police issued a warning about 18 hours earlier saying they were contacted by corrections officials who reported Chan was wearing a monitoring bracelet but it had gone offline. RCMP responded to an area of north Richmond near Minoru Park and found the bracelet but no sign of the 57-year-old man. At the time, they described Chan as a risk to the public but did not say why. The police statement doesn't say where he was found or what led to his discovery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just provided testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister.The Protecting Canada Project will start airing today its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online.The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic.The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time."Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. How an O'Toole-led Conservative government would tackle the massive national debt and deficit created by pandemic spending will be a key question for the party in the next campaign. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
A Pineview resident is fighting back against the Fraser-Fort George Regional District's attempt to get him to remove more than 100 vehicles stored on his property. The FFGRD filed a notice of claim in December seeking a court order to compel him to remove the vehicles or allow the FFGRD to do it for him, saying the collection violates the regional district's zoning and unsightly premises bylaws. But in a response filed January 7 at the Prince George courthouse, a lawyer acting on behalf of the property owner maintains the collection remains within the boundaries of the law. On whether the collection makes the property unsightly, lawyer Dan Marcotte says all of the vehicles are contained within a fully enclosed compound and cannot be seen by anyone standing outside the property line or the view is so slight it makes no difference. On whether the zoning bylaw is being violated, Marcotte casts doubt on the bylaw's clarity and maintains the collection is "consistent with an incidental to the permitted uses" of the property's rural residential zone. The FFGRD claims that as recently as mid-November, there were as many as 140 vehicles on the property and that at least 23 of the vehicles had significant damage, at least 22 vehicles were without valid licence plates and that several piles of vehicle parts and other material were found on the property. It is seeking an order that he lower the count down to 10 vehicles, of which no more than two can be derelict, and to remove all of the piles of parts and rubbish. Marcotte says his client restores vintage Ford pickup trucks, rebuilds cars to race in "hit to pass" and stock car events at the Prince George Auto Racing Association Speedway and carries out minor repair work as hobbies on the property. "Many of the motor vehicles are used by the defendant, from time to time and as needed, for parts in the restoration of his vintage vehicles or in the rehabilitation of vehicles in hit to pass racing events or stock car racing events," Marcotte says. The allegations have not yet been tested in court. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Like most residents at her care home in Berlin, 43-year-old Kristina Lang agreed to receive the coronavirus vaccine when her turn came, but not without trepidation. "They only said 'It's a vaccine and nothing will happen', but on TV, people were warned against the side-effects," said Lang, who uses a wheelchair. She is one of 102 residents at the home.
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 631 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 250 491 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 223 367 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 88 nouveaux décès (37 décès proviennent d'un rattrapage dû à un retard de transfert de données survenu entre le 6 décembre 2020 et le 17 janvier 2021), pour un total de 9 361. De ces 88 décès, 18 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 33 entre le 15 et le 20 janvier, 33 avant le 15 janvier et 4 à une date inconnue. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 27 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 1 426. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 4, pour un total actuel de 212. Les prélèvements réalisés le 20 janvier s'élèvent à 40 738, pour un total de 5 569 016. Le 20 janvier, 11 950 doses de vaccin ont été administrées, pour un total de 186 210. Au cours des 7 derniers jours (depuis le 14 janvier), ce sont 70 506 personnes qui ont été vaccinées, pour une moyenne quotidienne de 10 072 personnes vaccinées.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
NEW YORK — Bob Avian, a Tony Award-winning choreographer who had a role in some of the most beloved and influential shows on Broadway, including “Dreamgirls,” “A Chorus Line,” “Follies” and “Miss Saigon,” has died. He was 83. Avian died Thursday of cardiac arrest at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said Matt Polk, head of the theatrical publicity firm Polk & Co. Tony-winner Tony Yazbeck on Twitter called Avian “a sweet and kind spirit who generously gave his creative talents to legendary works.” Marvin Hamlisch said: “His legacy will live on stage for years to come.” Avian rose from a dancer in “West Side Story” and “Funny Girl” to work alongside such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Cameron Macintosh, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was with Bennett that Avian enjoyed a long professional partnership, working as associate choreographer or assistant director on such Bennett-choreographed productions as “A Chorus Line,” “Promises, Promises,” “Coco,” “Company,” “Follies, “Seesaw” and “God's Favorite.” “For someone so talented, he remained remarkably modest about his own achievements on so many landmark musicals,” said Cameron Mackintosh in a statement. “He facilitated the genius of Michael Bennett and with every little step he took taught me more about the art of staging a modern musical than virtually anyone else I’ve met. It was a privilege to have been his friend and colleague for over 35 years.” He was a producer on the original “Dreamgirls” and “Ballroom” and did musical staging for “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close in 1994, “Putting It Together” with Carol Burnett and the original “Miss Saigon” with Lea Salonga in 1991. Avian earned six Tony nominations and won twice, for choreographing “Ballroom” and co-choreographing “A Chorus Line.” He won an Oliver Award for choreographing Boublil and Schonberg's musical “Martin Guerre” in London. He also choreographed “The Witches of Eastwick” in the West End starring Ian McShane. Avian's association with “A Chorus Line” continued when he directed the 2006 revival on Broadway and the London revival at the Palladium in 2013. He also directed touring versions. He earned a bachelor's degree from Boston University and also studied at Boston Ballet School. In 2020, his memoir “Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey” co-written with Tom Santopietro was published by University Press of Mississippi. He is survived by his husband, Peter Pileski, and a sister, Laura Nabedian. Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Yukon is getting a new health care research unit that will include more patient and community participation than has been the case in many research projects. The federal government will contribute more than $5 million to develop the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). The territorial government will provide staff, facilities and other in-kind contributions. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research say in a news release the Yukon will be joining all 10 provinces and the Northwest Territories in a network of similar units. "Patients in Yukon will benefit, as the SPOR SUPPORT Unit will ensure that research has direct impacts on their lives in ways that are important to them by making them partners in research and giving them a say in which topics are researched," the release says. Yukon Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said there has been an ongoing research project in the North that has already demonstrated the importance of community participation. People in Old Crow, Yukon, Fort MacPherson, N.W.T., and communities in the Mackenzie Delta have worked with researchers for more than a decade looking at the higher prevalence of a stomach bacteria and stomach cancer in the region, Frost said. "So the attention and the research that was done... was to look and work with the communities to figure out what triggers that. What can we do to prevent that from advancing to a further stage," she said. Yukon's deputy minister of health, Stephen Samis, said research driven by Yukoners for Yukoners can help the territory focus on important areas like prevention. "So rather than someone sitting in a chair at the University of Alberta or somewhere thinking up what they would like to research and how that might be able to be undertaken in Yukon, these are going to be research priorities that are really driven by Yukoners," Samis said. The unit will be based at Yukon University, but it will also involve the health department, Yukon hospitals and other organizations, said Bronwyn Hancock, associate vice-president, research development at the Yukon University Research Centre. Citizens are involved in the process from the start helping researchers sort out what they want to look into, she said, with researchers taking a holistic approach. "Which will include the person interacting with the health system, but also their families, their caregivers, the support network that they have around them," Hancock said. The university will host the unit's scientific director and operations manager with other positions located at other facilities, she said. Hancock said she expects the position of scientific director to be posted in February or March. In the meantime an interim oversight committee will begin meeting next month.
Residents and local organizations are joining Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher in objection to a cluster of seven cannabis shops around Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue. It’s the second time Fletcher’s office has sent a letter to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regarding the issue. The first was sent in July 2020, when the city passed her motion requesting ACGO to consider the proximity to community services and parks, as well as communications from the city against clustering of cannabis shops. While in the summer the initial objection referred to four pending applications for pot shops on Queen Street East, this second objection comes as the area is expecting to see seven such shops. “It is concerning that there are so many along this stretch of Queen Street East, and that they are so close to the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre, the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, the Queen/Saulter Library and public parks,” Fletcher wrote in the letter. She said she has heard from several community members, with more than 20 constituents writing in, all trying to understand why there are seven cannabis stores near one major intersection and how the AGCO approves applications for these shops. “Everyone’s clear, no one is opposed to legal marijuana,” Fletcher told the Beach Metro News. “They’re opposed to the overconcentration of shops.” She cites the corner store model adopted by the current provincial government as problematic for residents and communities, akin to having “seven LCBO stores one after the other.” Original regulations set up by the provincial government of Kathleen Wynne restricted cannabis shops within 300 metres of a school, childcare centre, or daycare centre, but Fletcher said “it flew out the window” with the change in Ontario governments. Others in the community raise economic and social concerns of the clustering of pot shops. “The problem is what’s happening on Queen is if you end up with all these stores selling the same thing a whole lot of them will go out of business,” Ralph Thornton Community Centre board chair Alan Lennon said. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small business closures and commercial evictions, Lennon is concerned that it will become more and more difficult to fill the small storefronts in an economically viable way. “The other part is, if you have a block with all the same shops, you’re not going to have a lot of traffic – you’ve limited it,” he said. “It doesn’t make economic sense to us,” Lennon said. “You’re setting up people for failure in their business, and you’re making it so they will fail, and it doesn’t make social sense, you’re setting up a community to be one-dimensional.” “That’s not what we want,” he added. “And they’re [AGCO] not listening.” Non-profit community organization Fontbonne Ministries has a branch – Mustard Seed – on 791 Queen St. E. The location is a short walk from Queen Street East and Boulton Avenue, where there are three pending cannabis shops at the small intersection. “We understand it’s something legal, regulated, and you have these stores,” Fontbonne Ministries executive director Ben Vozzolo said. “But we question the need for that many in such a small area.” The organization serves vulnerable populations and runs a drop-in program at its Mustard Seed location on Queen Street East. Vozzolo raises concerns of having so many cannabis stores in close proximity to vulnerable people. But it’s not just the social effects, they’re concerned about the diversity of retail in the neighbourhood. “I’m curious to know what AGCO’s criteria is for determining how many of these shops are put in one neighbourhood,” Vozzolo said. Fontbonne, along with Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and other community members, has sent letters to the AGCO asking about the approval of these shops. No one has received any replies. “It would be nice to have a response acknowledging the concern,” Vozzolo said. In December 2020, AGCO announced it was issuing 80 cannabis retail store authorizations per month. To date, it has received more than 1,300 applications for retail store authorizations, 305 have been issued and 269 authorized cannabis retail stores are currently open in the province. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
TORONTO — Refocusing Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout on long-term care residents would prevent 115 deaths and hundreds more cases by the end of March, according to projections from a team of experts advising the government on the pandemic. The report predicted that giving a first dose to all long-term care residents by Jan. 31 would save lives, and speeding up the rollout would be even more effective. It concluded the January date would prevent 600 people from becoming infected, compared with the government’s current plan to vaccinate all long-term care residents by Feb. 15. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table made the forecasts in the report published Thursday by modelling best and worst outcomes from three vaccine rollout scenarios up to March 31. It also looked at the potential impact if all residents had been vaccinated by Jan. 21, finding in a best-case scenario, hundreds of lives could potentially have been saved before March 31. The report said long-term care residents should be prioritized if vaccine supply issues arise. "If vaccine supply is limited, the early provision of first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to (long-term care) home residents is likely to be more beneficial than the on-schedule provision of second doses to health care workers outside of LTC homes," the report said. The findings came as the province reported active COVID-19 outbreaks in 244 long-term care homes as of Friday -- 39 per cent of all homes in the province. Throughout the pandemic, advocates and families have continuously called for stronger action to protect those in long-term care, with fears growing about the potential for deadlier outbreaks as new variants of the virus appear in Ontario. Jennifer Penney's mother died on Dec. 26 after she was infected with COVID-19 during an outbreak at her Niagara Falls, Ont., care home. On Friday, an emotional Penney described her family's struggle to get information about her mother's condition as she spoke at a news conference organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, an advocacy group with representatives from various unions and health-care groups in the province. Penney's family received a call on Christmas Day that her mother wouldn't survive the night. They arrived at Oakwood Park Lodge with no staff available to greet them, finding other residents wandering the halls, calling out for help and access to water, Penney said. Penney's mother died shortly after her family arrived in her room. "In the following days, we weren’t able to grieve the loss of my mom. We were more focused on the residents that were left behind," Penney said. She said she wants to see improvements for seniors being neglected in similar, "horrific" outbreak situations across the province. Asked Friday whether the province would adjust its vaccine rollout plan based on the advisory table's report, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the schedule depends on supply. "We continue to vaccinate long-term care home residents as quickly as we receive vaccines from the federal government," Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement. Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton's office directed questions to the health ministry. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath responded to the advisory team's projections by calling on the government to move up the Feb. 15 target. “It would be unconscionable to look at the evidence in front of us and choose not to save lives by ramping up protections and vaccinations in long-term care,” she said in a statement on Friday. Horwath also called on Premier Doug Ford's government to call in the Canadian Armed Forces to help hard-hit care homes, increase staffing, assign infection experts to homes and increase testing. Liberal long-term care critic John Fraser also criticized the Progressive Conservative government's vaccine rollout to seniors in care as too slow. "We are failing residents in long-term care and the government’s February 15 vaccination target is simply not good enough. It will cost lives," Fraser said in a Friday statement responding to the new report. As of Friday, 3,298 long-term care residents had died from COVID-19, and 13,746 had tested positive for the illness, according to government figures. Forty-two deaths were reported between Thursday and Friday. Thursday's report noted the "disproportionately high rates" of COVID-19 infections and deaths among nursing home residents in Ontario. Based on figures as of Jan. 17, long-term care residents accounted for more than 59 per cent of Ontario's total deaths from COVID-19. On Friday, Ontario reported administering 11,168 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report, with a total of 264,985 doses given since inoculations began in December. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press