Dr. Heather Ross discusses the details of her upcoming Test Your Limits expedition with Yahoo! Canada.
Dr. Heather Ross discusses the details of her upcoming Test Your Limits expedition with Yahoo! Canada.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
SAINT JOHN • Dogs at the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue will be a little more cozy this winter. A group of Simonds High School students delivered Friday sweaters to 10 lucky dogs at the Saint John animal shelter. All of the sweaters were handmade by the students, who chose and bought the material, picked the pattern and sewed up each sweater. "It's a colder season. Some of [the dogs] don't have as much hair as others do. So maybe it'll just keep them warm and stylish," said student Brooklyn Darentt. All of the 14 students behind the sweater project are part of the Essential Skills Achievement Pathway, a different way to earn a high school diploma which doesn't use the traditional credit system. The program consists of three parts: the foundational learning binder, the post-secondary binder and the capstone project, which is specific to the specialty the student has chosen to go into after they receive their diploma, according to teacher Linda O’Blenis. The program was launched in 2018. The sweater project was part of the foundational learning part of the program, and the students have been working on it since the beginning of October. "That's kind of what this whole program is about is for the kids to take the ownership and really be the driving force to what's going to happen," O'Blenis said. She said typically the projects have to help out the school or larger community. "I'm really proud of them for, you know, kind of starting this, coming up with the idea and really seeing them follow it through," she said. The class is also working on a mural for the school, designing a quiet room and helping to build a stage for the school. On Friday, Saint John SPCA shelter greeter Nicole Tarcon accepted the sweaters. Students and teachers couldn't go into the shelter to deliver them personally to the dogs because of COVID-19 restrictions, but Tarcon said the shelter was happy to receive the welcome donation. "We're really happy to see the younger generation supporting us," she said. "Every time a dog is outside, whether it be for a walk or playing in the yard, they wear coats in the wintertime. Just like us they can get cold, so it's important to keep them protected from the elements." The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-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.” 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
The federal government is mulling a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers as the country's top doctor warns that easing COVID-19 restrictions too quickly could cause case numbers to shoot up again. The federal government is also looking at other options that would make it harder for people to return from foreign trips, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. He said it's time to "kill the second wave of the virus." Monday will mark a year since the first recorded appearance of the novel coronavirus in Canada. Trudeau said it is understandable that Canadians are tired and fed up, but they must remain cautious. “We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months,” he said. “We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.” Trudeau said the next few weeks will be challenging for vaccine supply as Pfizer-BioNTech slows deliveries to Canada and other countries while the company retools its plant in Belgium. The prime minister said Pfizer-BioNTech has committed to ensuring Canada will receive four million vaccine doses by the end of March. Provinces have reported a total of 738,864 vaccine doses used so far. That's about 80 per cent of the available supply. COVID-19 cases began to spike across the country in December and January, which put a strain on hospitals. Quebec and Ontario were particularly hard hit and officials responded with restrictions. Quebec instituted a curfew, while Ontario brought in an order for people to stay at home except for essential purposes such as work, food shopping or health care. Daily case numbers have slightly decreased in Ontario in the last week. There were 2,662 new cases Friday and 87 more deaths. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,703, down from a high of 3,555 on Jan. 11. There were 1,512 people in hospital on Friday, a decrease of 21 from the previous day. COVID-19 continued to pressure some local hospitals, so Ottawa said it would send two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area, adding an additional 200 hospital beds. Quebec has been under its provincewide curfew for nearly two weeks. Health officials reported 1,631 new cases and 88 deaths Friday. Hospitalizations decreased by 27 people to 1,426. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that bringing down the second wave of COVID-19 has been a "trickier path" than the first wave last spring. Daily case counts are higher than they were then and have put increased pressures on the health-care system. "If we ease up too soon or too quickly, resurgence will be swift," she said. She also expressed concern that 31 cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, and three of the South African variant have been found in Canada. It's believed that both are more contagious. The cases were identified through screening smaller batches of tests. Tam said more needs to be done to understand the level at which new variants are circulating in communities. Nova Scotia reported four new COVID-19 infections on Friday, two of which were variant cases. Health officials said both cases were related to international travel. There were 731,450 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 18,622 deaths as of Thursday. Over the past seven days, there were a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average was 6,079. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Two Vancouver residents travelled to Beaver Creek, Yukon, on Thursday and were able to get doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the mobile vaccination clinic there. Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker, who said he learned about the situation late Thursday, confirmed the news to CBC on Friday. "I'm very, very frustrated," he said. According to Streicker, the two individuals filled out self-isolation declaration forms upon entering Yukon but then didn't comply with them. Members of the mobile clinic team alerted Yukon Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) officers about the situation after the fact, according to Streicker. Two intercepted at Whitehorse airport Officers were then able to intercept the individuals at the Whitehorse airport. The minister couldn't confirm if they were leaving the territory at the time. A man and a woman from Vancouver have since been charged with two counts each under the CEMA — failure to self-isolate, and failure to follow a declaration. The maximum fine for CEMA violations is a $500 fine for each charge, and up to six months in jail. Streicker said the government immediately alerted Yukon RCMP about what happened. He could not confirm how the two were able to travel to Beaver Creek, which is near the Alaska border about 450 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse. Allowances for out-of-territory vaccinations He said the fact that the two didn't have Yukon health cards wouldn't have excluded them from getting Moderna doses. There are Yukon residents who still hold out-of-territory health cards, he explained, and there are also certain allowances for workers from out-of-territory to get vaccinated. "I don't think the problem is so much that a couple of vaccines have been used up that were meant for Yukoners," Streicker said. "I think the problem is if someone thinks that they can come here to get a vaccine, that concerns me, and if they do so in a way that puts people at risk, that really concerns me, so I'm sure there'll be lots of conversation to come." I'm pretty angry at the whole thing. - Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker "I'm really upset at these individuals," he said. "Effectively what they did was they put our community and our isolation team at risk. "I'm pretty angry at the whole thing." Yukon is currently prioritizing vaccinations for people in care homes, jails and border communities, like Beaver Creek, because there's a greater risk of people travelling in and out of the territory. Streicker said he's spoken to health and social services deputy minister Stephen Samis, as well as the mobile vaccination teams about the situation, and that the government is looking for other ways to "be alert" and prevent a situation like this from happening again.
OTTAWA — Health Canada says vaccine clinics are doing an "extraordinary" job preventing many doses of precious COVID-19 vaccine from going to waste. Canada has received more than 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna since mid-December, and has now given at least one dose to more than 767,000 people. A spokeswoman says "wastage has been very minimal" and well below initial estimates. Before the vaccination campaign began, there were concerns that as many as one-fifth of the doses delivered to Canada could end up being wasted due to intense cold-chain requirements and the complexity of distribution. The federal department did not provide statistics but said provinces and territories are reporting their experiences and waste has not been an notable issue thus far. Both vaccines have to be kept frozen, but the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is particularly delicate and must be stored at temperatures below -60 C until just before it is used. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
NBC will shut down the NBC Sports Network at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the move Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBC Sports Network is best known for carrying NHL and English Premier League games as well as NASCAR and IndyCar races. It also carries a significant amount of programming during the Olympics. NBC will parcel out events between USA Network and its Peacock streaming service. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
Alberta's film and TV industry is gearing up for an unprecedented production season that promises jobs and a cash injection for the economy as major U.S. studios look north for locations due to COVID-19 slowdowns, says Damian Petti, local president of a union for film and stage technicians. "The season ahead is something I've not seen before," Petti told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday. "We've not seen this level of scouting and shows that are already greenlit in January — ever. I've been doing this 22 years and this is shaping up to be the most robust season ever." Petti, president of Local 212 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), says there are 19 projects in the works within Alberta, but even more are being scouted and greenlighted each day. These include a series called Guilty Party with Kate Beckinsale, a Fraggle Rock series reboot and another season of Jann with Alberta's own Jann Arden. He says it's also likely that Season 15 of CBC's Heartland will shoot this year in Alberta. Industry giants Disney, NBC Universal and HBO are scouting projects in Alberta too, Petti says. The draw Petti points to three reasons for the boom in interest: the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, federal and provincial incentives and Canada's management of the pandemic. Investors are interested in getting more bang for their buck in Canada, says Petti. One American dollar is worth around $1.28 Canadian, according to recent data from the Bank of Canada. There are also several tax credits eligible to companies who shoot in Alberta. Within Alberta, there is a film and television tax credit of up to $10 million per production for eligible Alberta production and labour costs incurred by companies that make films and television series in the province. The federal film or video production services tax credit encourages foreign-based producers to hire Canadians by offering a tax credit for Canadian labour. In terms of COVID-19 safety, Petti says major studios and streaming platforms have negotiated protocols over the summer. "We're in a good position to actually work safely. And the studios acknowledge that," he said. In Los Angeles, the epicentre of the film industry, COVID-19 has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes, which Petti says has led to a slowdown in production. Job creation Despite common misunderstanding on hiring, most of the film production labour in Alberta is hired within the province, says Petti. "There's a common misconception among the public that these crews are actually coming in from outside of the province," he said. "On a big Netflix of Apple project, 97 per cent or more of the shooting crew is actually hired locally." He says small businesses that produce things needed on set, like costumes and props, "thrive on the industry." "We hope to do $400 million in production this year," he said. "That would make it our best year ever." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
British Columbians living on the South Coast should take advantage of the last couple of days of sunshine on Friday and Saturday, as clouds are expected to roll in Saturday evening, bringing a light dusting of snow with them. Environment Canada has posted a special weather statement warning of a "cool air mass and low-pressure system" Saturday night and Sunday morning, with potential snowfall of two to five centimetres for the Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast, inland sections of western Vancouver Island and for the Central Coast. However, eastern and inland areas of Vancouver Island, including the Malahat Highway could see more, with up to 15 centimetres falling. CBC Vancouver meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says it looks like the snow won't begin to fall until the pre-dawn hours on Sunday. "The approaching system isn't packing quite as much moisture for the top-end scenario of snow," she said. "I think we are trending toward just a few centimetres before a change-over to rain on Sunday." This combination sets the South Coast up for its first slushy snowfall of the year, Wagstaffe says. Vancouver opening shelters The City of Vancouver says its crews are monitoring the weather and a coordinated response plan is underway. Major roads, bridges, bus routes, and bike paths are being treated with brine ahead of the snowfall. A city statement says over 100 vehicles and 3,000 tonnes of salt are ready to be used on any snow and ice, and crews will focus on priority routes first. It asks residents to take only essential road and bike trips, and property owners must clear any snow from walkways and sidewalks by 10 a.m. the morning after a snowfall. The city says it's also opening additional indoor shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness, from January 22 to 27, as a "life saving measure." The warming centres will be located at: The Powell Street Getaway, at 528 Powell St., from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Vancouver Aquatic Centre, at 1050 Beach Ave., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Creekside Community Centre, at 1 Athletes Way., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The city says these centres will also allow people who have pets and carts, and hot drinks and snacks will be provided. All sites have reduced their capacity, in order to meet the province's COVID-19 physical distancing requirements.
TORONTO — Canada's main stock index dipped to cap a losing week as COVID-19 virus and vaccine concerns weighed on the energy sector. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 70.29 points to 17,845.91. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 179.03 points at 30,996.98, the S&P 500 index was down 11.60 points at 3,841.47, while the Nasdaq composite was up 12.14 points at 13,543.06. The Canadian dollar traded for 78.64 cents US compared with 79.2 cents US on Thursday. The March crude contract was down 86 cents US at US$52.27 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 4.1 cents US at nearly US$2.46 per mmBTU. The February gold contract was down US$9.70 at $1,856.20 an ounce and the March copper contract was down about 2.1 cents at almost US$3.63 a pound. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, 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
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
On Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam reported more than 731,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada, including 18,622 deaths. Additionally, she said 31 cases of the U.K. variant have been identified, as well as 3 cases of the South Africa variant.
One of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) chiefs was arrested for an alleged sexual assault of over a year ago. On January 13, Kanehsata’kehró:non Victor Bonspille willingly turned himself in to the Surete du Quebec (SQ) after he received a letter by mail, endorsing a warrant against him. The St. Jerome courthouse issued a warrant against Bonspille on December 22, for aggression that would have taken place between the MCK vice-chief Patricia Meilleur and Bonspille. The vice-chief had filed a complaint against Bonspille last April and the file had been under investigation ever since. The SQ confirmed that they released the 50-year-old man with a promise to appear in court at a later date. Bonspille will officially be accused of sexual assault on February 24, at the St. Jerome courthouse. Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon was reluctant to comment on the issue, saying that it hasn’t been decided yet if Bonspille can continue to sit on council as chief while the accusation hangs over his head. “Until this is brought to the other chiefs’ attention, I need to look at what our options are going to be,” said Simon. However, the grand chief also finds himself a part of another legal case. Earlier in October, Bonspille filed a defamation lawsuit against both Simon and Meilleur. It was claimed that the grand chief and the vice-chief used threats, false accusations and insults toward Bonspille - resulting in the latter seeking $75,000 in damage. The first hearing is set for next Thursday, January 28. Legal documents obtained by The Eastern Door showed that the plaintiff’s name was repeatedly mentioned over social media in many statements by the MCK, as the initiator of misinformation, which caused division within the community. It also revealed that Meilleur filed a complaint against Bonspille in regards to the sexual assault allegedly suffered on January 29, 2020. A second criminal investigation, filed this time in December 2019 by the grand chief, placed Bonspille in the middle of potential fraud accusations. Both allegations were denied by Bonspille, stating that he’s been wrongfully accused. firstname.lastname@example.org Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
MADRID — Public outrage is growing in Spain as cases of politicians and well-connected opportunists jumping the queue in the national coronavirus vaccination campaign come to light, even as delivery delays have forced some regions to stop new inoculations. Spain’s Defence Ministry has been the latest governmental department to launch an internal inquiry to find out if the military top brass dodged coronavirus vaccine protocols by receiving a jab before their turn. El Confidencial Digital, an online news site, first reported that Chief of Staff Gen. Miguel Ángel Villarroya and several other high-ranking officers in Spain’s Armed Forces had recently received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Spain, top government and other officials have not been granted preferential access to the vaccine — unlike other European countries where they were among the first to get the jab, to encourage members of the public to follow suit. Nursing home residents and staff, as well as first-line health workers, are currently receiving jabs as priority groups in the national vaccination plan. The rollout is suffering delays due to a shortage of deliveries by Pfizer-BioNTech, currently the main supplier of vaccines. Having administered over 86% of the 1.1 million vaccine doses received, several regions have halted new vaccinations until fresh supplies arrive. The Health Ministry announced this week that the next group will be those above 80 years old. Defence Minister Margarita Robles said Friday that the Armed Forces had their own vaccination plan but that she nevertheless had requested a report from Gen. Villarroya, who is 63, to clarify the issue. The questions follow several cases of queue-jumping by politicians or people with connections that have come to light in recent weeks, drawing widespread criticism and leading to high-profile dismissals. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialist Party on Friday issued a statement urging any elected official who has skipped the line to resign immediately. Top members of the Popular Party, the conservative leader of the opposition, have made similar remarks. But whereas the regional health chief of the south-eastern Murcia region, a PP member, appeared on television, tearful, after he lost his job when media revealed that he had received the first vaccine jab, party colleague Javier Guerrero, who has the equivalent position in Ceuta, a Spanish outpost in northern Africa, refused to resign saying that fieldwork often exposed him to contagion. Guerrero, who is a physician himself and has diabetes, said at a press conference Thursday that he accepted getting the jab because his staff insisted. “I didn't want to get vaccinated, but my technical staff told me that unless I did it they wouldn't do it themselves,” he said. “I really didn't want to. I don't even get the flu vaccine. I don't like vaccines.” Pressure from the public has so far led to resignations or dismissals of several local mayors and councillors, as well as some hospital directors. At the San Carlos Clinic Hospital in Madrid, retired health workers and family members were asked to show up for a vaccine so as not to waste soon-to-expire doses. Experts have highlighted the need to ramp up vaccination to counter the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 2.5 million and killed over 55,400 people in Spain. The health ministry reported 42,885 new infections and 400 additional confirmed deaths on Friday, as several regions launch new restrictions aimed at curbing the contagion. One in five hospital beds and over 37% of ICU beds are now devoted to treating coronavirus patients. In six of the country’s 19 regions, half or more of ICU beds are already filled with patients that need ventilation or other acute treatment. Authorities say that while the number of new cases continues to soar, the daily percentage increases are diminishing, indicating the surge could be levelling out. Some experts have argued that a strict stay-at-home order is needed urgently. ___ Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Associated Press, The Associated Press
GREENSTONE, ONT. — Ontario Provincial Police’s commercial vehicle inspectors along with the ministry of transportation conducted a safety blitz this week which resulted in more than 50 charges being issued. The blitz was conducted in the Greenstone and Terrace Bay area this week, according to a police news release. Officers laid 54 charges in a 36-hour blitz which restyled in 17 commercial motor vehicles being taken out of service as a result of numerous safety-related defects. The charges were for load security, improper braking systems, overweight, trip inspection reports, speeding and dangerous goods violations. The goal of the blitz is to reduce the number of commercial motor vehicle-related collisions on OPP-patrolled roads and highways, the release said. “The OPP wants to remind the public that we need all commercial motor vehicle and other motor vehicle drivers to make a firm commitment to safe driving as our collective efforts will go a long way to reducing the number of collisions on our roads,” OPP spokesperson Cst. Brian Frost said in a news release. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Le Parc régional éducatif Bois de Belle-Rivière propose maintenant la location de sept vélos de type «fatbike», munis de roues larges et conçus autant pour rouler dans la neige et dans les sentiers boueux. Les citoyens de Mirabel peuvent désormais se déplacer vers les lieux et rouler sur un de ces vélos pour une durée limitée (une ou deux heures), en procédant à la location, le jour même, via le pavillon d’accueil et durant les heures d’ouverture. Notons qu’aucune réservation par téléphone ou par courriel ne sera acceptée. Les férus de plein air sont donc conviés au parc, situé sur la route Arthur-Sauvé; ouvert tous les jours, de 9 h à 17 h. Un parc de glace! D’ailleurs, le Parc annonce que le sentier de glace en forêt fut prêt à accueillir ses visiteurs à partir de ce jeudi 21 janvier. Il est donc loisible de patiner seul ou avec les membres d’une bulle familiale, sur un chemin de 2 km, tout en respectant une distanciation de deux mètres avec les autres convives. La patinoire sera également ouverte pour une capacité maximale de 25 personnes, en patinage libre seulement. À noter que le parc de glace entier exige une capacité de 400 personnes. Le port du masque est obligatoire sous le grand chapiteau. «Nous vous demandons d’être indulgent avec notre personnel, ils sont présents afin de faire respecter les règles et d’assurer la sécurité de tous», de mentionner les responsables, via les réseaux sociaux. Pour des renseignements additionnels concernant les activités proposées et les mesures en vigueur, veuillez téléphoner au 450 258-4924, ou joindre un responsable du service client, par courriel, à email@example.com. Pour connaître les conditions du parc, consultez le site Web [www.boisdebelleriviere.com], dans la section «Info conditions».Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expresses gratitude for U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to rejoin global efforts in the fight against COVID-19.