White House coronavirus task force gives an update on pandemic response.
White House coronavirus task force gives an update on pandemic response.
VANCOUVER — A mineral exploration company with provincial permits to work in Tahltan territory in northwestern British Columbia is treading on sacred grounds, an elected leader in the nation's government says. Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. There's "no way" the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, he said. "The Sheslay area was a major village site in pre-contact times and even nowadays we have many elders who were born in the Sheslay area. Many of our ancestors are buried out there," Day said in an interview. "British Columbia, Doubleview, we should all just save ourselves a lot of time, energy and conflict and get Doubleview out of there," he said. Doubleview has 10 mineral tenures covering about 63 square kilometres where "an aggressive 2021 exploration program is being planned," the company said in an update posted online in February. It said it expected to give shareholders a more complete assessment of the deposit's value after verifying the results of metallurgical sample analysis. The Tahltan Central Government accuses Doubleview of failing to act in a manner consistent with both Tahltan protocols for the mining sector and with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Tahltan made "many reasonable attempts to work with Doubleview in a respectful manner," the central government said in a statement in March. But the company has a "track record of being disrespectful ... including unsuccessfully taking legal action against Tahltan leaders and elders in 2015," it said. Doubleview "regrets the poor relationship that we have established" with the Tahltan, lead director Andrew Rees said in an email when asked about the conflict, and the company offered an apology letter after the nation's public statement. "Doubleview strives to be a responsible steward of the areas in which we live and operate, and continues to seek a positive, collaborative, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship with the Tahltan Central Government." The Mines Ministry said Doubleview was first granted a multi-year permit in 2012 in a process that included consultation with the Tahltan Nation. Laws and legal precedents concerning Indigenous rights and title have changed since then, said Day. The B.C. government is now in the early stages of aligning its laws with the UN declaration after adopting it through legislation. It requires governments to obtain free, prior and informed consent before taking actions that affect Indigenous Peoples and territories — which would include decisions on proposed mines and future exploration work permits. The statutory adoption of the UN declaration means industry and the B.C. government must start building "processes that seek a genuine consent from Indigenous governments, communities and people," Day said. "And there's a huge difference between having a conversation and calling it consultation versus having a robust consultation process that is aiming to get consent from Indigenous people." The Tahltan Nation has "excellent relationships" with the majority of mining and mineral exploration companies operating in its territory, Day noted. There are three active mines — Red Chris, Silvertip and Brucejack — and the nation has impact benefit agreements with each of the companies. "When you have Tahltan title and rights over 11 per cent of the province and you have jurisdiction over an area the size of Portugal, you don't need to be supportive of projects that are in really culturally sensitive areas," Day said. The Tahltan has communication agreements with more than two dozen mining and mineral exploration companies allowing it to check in on their work as necessary, he said. Day said Doubleview had refused to sign, though Rees said the company is now waiting to hear back from the nation after sending a written response about a communications and engagement agreement. "We acknowledge that it has taken us much longer to do so than we would have liked and attribute the delay to internal miscommunication and lack of expert resources," the Doubleview statement said. "Our utmost priority right now remains getting back to the table ... and doing so in a respectful and collaborative manner so that we can continue understanding Tahltan Nation's ongoing concerns, which will allow us to collaboratively develop appropriate mitigation measures." Day, however, said the company has "chosen a path of conflict" with the Tahltan and he would oppose any further permits. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Yukon emergency officials are taking stock of their supplies of sandbags, water dams and other things they might need to deal with possible flooding and high water in the territory. Southern Yukon saw an unusually high amount of snowfall through the winter and early spring. And with warmer weather in recent days, the massive melt is underway. Kevin Lyslo, with the Yukon Emergency Measures Organization, admits to "a little bit of concern this year." "As we're connecting with our stakeholders, we're gathering our information and as it gets closer and more melt is beginning, we're starting to get more and more accurate data," he said. Officials are looking at areas that are most at risk right now. Lyslo says they're gathering and preparing things they might need to send to troublesome spots, such as sandbags. "We're lining up technical experts before we're actually having events, to come and assist with, 'OK, we need to do sandbagging this high, this long, and this area,'" he said. "This weather that's hit us this week, you know, it's about normal — but it's come kind of fast. So it's got us paying quite close attention to what things are taking place out there." Southern Lakes area is focus of concern The biggest concern right now, Lyslo says, is the Southern Lakes area. Every spring, Yukon's water resources branch issues a monthly bulletin about the snow pack around the territory. The most recent one, based on measurements taken in early April, show just how snowy the winter was in southern Yukon. Southern Yukon had higher-than-normal snow pack in early April, while the central territory was closer to normal and the northern part of the territory was below normal.(Yukon government) Around Whitehorse, the snow-water equivalent on April 1 was about 196 per cent the historical median for the area. "This is the highest estimated basin-wide snow pack since records began in the early 1980s," said Holly Goulding, a senior hydrologist with the Yukon government. Other areas of the southern territory had snow pack that ranged from 131 to 154 per cent the historical average. Further north, around the Klondike region, the snow pack is closer to normal this spring. Still further north, around Old Crow, it's actually below normal. Goulding says the April snow bulletin typically represents the peak snow pack for the year, before the spring melt. And she says the risk of flooding each year doesn't just depend on how much snow is on the ground. "The timing and severity of temperature and rainfall patterns are really important drivers of flooding, regardless of snow pack levels," she said. "And so really, the weather conditions in the coming weeks will determine the most probable spring scenarios for both freshet and break up." Emergency officials hope the melt continues 'not too fast, not too slow,' with no rain thrown into the mix.(Paul Tukker/CBC) Lyslo says the hope is a melt the happens "not too fast, not too slow." "Rain is probably our biggest threat right now. I think if it got too wet too fast, that's not a good thing. We also don't want the snow to stay around and linger too far into the spring and into the summer," he said. "So it's kind of a happy medium is what we're hoping for right now." He's advising residents to take their own precautions against flood risk to their homes — for example, by shovelling snow away from the base of a house. And Lyslo says people should always be prepared for any kind of emergency, with a 72-hour supply kit ready at hand.
Alberta reported 1,486 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and three more deaths from the illness. The number of active cases increased by 548 across the province, according to the latest update from Alberta Health, bringing the total to 17,307. Cases of COVID-19 virus variants increased by 977 to 9,417 the latest numbers show. Variants now make up 54.4 per cent of active cases in Alberta. Provincial labs completed 16,353 tests for COVID-19 on Friday, with a positivity rate around 9.2 per cent. Hospitalizations increased by 18 to 445 on Saturday, including 94 people who are being treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units. Of the three reported deaths, two — a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 70s — were in the Calgary zone, and one man in his 90s died in the Edmonton zone. Since the outset of the pandemic, 2,037 people have died from COVID-19 in Alberta. Here is the breakdown of active cases by health zone: Calgary zone: 7,453 Edmonton zone: 4,388 Central zone: 1,629 South zone: 928 North zone: 2,285 Unknown: 76 As of Saturday, 1,121,901 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered.
A body recovered Friday is that of the man who fell through the ice on the North Saskatchewan River on April 6, Edmonton police confirm. The man, who attempted to rescue a woman's dog before falling through the ice, was identified by friends as Rob White, 55. After falling through the ice near Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park in Edmonton's river valley, White was carried down the river toward an ice shelf near Groat Bridge. Emergency crews lost sight of him and called off the search for White almost three hours later. The dog was rescued about a half-hour after Edmonton Fire Rescue Services were dispatched on the same day. White, who is survived by his wife and two sons, was remembered for his kindness and unique personality.
Drivers in British Columbia are keener than ever to buy electric vehicles, but the lack of charging stations in condo buildings is a major impediment. That's one of the findings of a report that was discussed at the Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee on Friday. The report found that, although adoption of electric vehicles is key for the region to reduce its carbon emissions, there currently isn't enough infrastructure in multi-residential buildings to support drivers wanting to charge them at home. In Vancouver alone, 62 per cent of homes surveyed in the 2016 census were apartments. University of British Columbia business professor Werner Antweiler is familiar with the struggles of installing charging stations from scratch. Antweiler, who researches environmental economics, including electric vehicle adoption, helped to retrofit his 61-unit building to include charging stations for about a third of the units. He says the process took three years from start to finish. "I was officially professionally interested and nerdy enough to actually have enjoyed the process," he said. "But it took a lot of effort from a couple of really dedicated people to make it happen." UBC professor Werner Antweiler says public charging stations for electric vehicles are still sparse, driving a need for more drivers to charge their cars at home. (Ben Nelms/CBC) First, the changes had to be approved by a 75 per cent majority of the building's owners at a special meeting of the strata — the committee of volunteer owners that govern most privately-owned apartments in B.C. The strata's bylaws had to be changed to allow those who needed the extra power to pay for it themselves directly. Then, they had to hire a contractor to figure out if their 15-year-old building could even handle the extra power needs. Along the way were myriad other technical challenges and decisions that had to be figured out. While the strata paid a nominal amount for a feasibility study, the 25 condo owners who got a charging station in their parking spot each paid between $3,000 and $6,000. Antweiler says they're hoping to recoup 50 per cent of those costs through the province's EV charger rebate program, which closed Feb. 28 but is likely to be renewed. "We need to have charging essentially close to home to make it an interesting proposition for car owners," Antweiler said. "And we're still far away from getting us to that point, because the infrastructure we currently have for public charging ... is still pretty sparse." B.C. Hydro says there are 2,500 public charging stations throughout the province and more on their way this year. As for the rebate program, it says, by the end of 2020, 377 EV charging stations had been installed in condo and apartments buildings since 2018. All EVs in B.C. by 2040 British Columbia is aiming to have all personal vehicles on the road be electric by 2040. Electric vehicles are selling in record numbers in the province, and a recent survey from KPMG suggests that 68 per cent of Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next five years are likely to buy electric. And car manufacturers are increasingly onboard with building more electric models. In 2019, Volkswagen pledged to make all of its vehicles electric by 2026. Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., says most stratas are willing to install charging stations but face multiple challenges. Gioventu says even some newer buildings on the market aren't equipped to accommodate charging stations — either because of the way their power is distributed or because their bylaws assign specific parking stalls to units. "It isn't just that there's a reluctance or resistance," he said. "It's just really daunting." A survey from KPMG suggests that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians interested in buying a new car in the next five years would like an electric vehicle. (Ben Nelms/CBC) Government support and regulations Some municipalities have mandated that all new buildings have the capacity to accommodate charging stations, and Gioventu says he would like to see more of those types of regulations. But that still leaves a lot of buildings that don't have the right infrastructure in place, and a volunteer committee to figure out how to navigate the regulations in place to upgrade it. Luckily, Gioventu says, there are companies that can help move the process along. But it still takes six months to two years for charging stations to be installed. What Gioventu would like to see is a rebate program that helps entire buildings restructure their electrical systems rather than a piecemeal approach that funds individual drivers. "In the long term it would be substantially less expensive rather than individual stations being modified," he said. BC Hydro says if the rebate program is approved again in this year's budget, it would include a separate program for condo and apartment buildings to fund assessment, infrastructure development and installation of electric vehicle charges.
Two Russian warships transited the Bosphorus en route to the Black Sea on Saturday and 15 smaller vessels completed a transfer to the sea as Moscow beefs up its naval presence at a time of tense relations with the West and Ukraine. The reinforcement coincides with a huge build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine, something Moscow calls a temporary defensive exercise, and follows an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
Victor Thunderchild stared down and overcame racism and stereotypes as he pursued his dream to become an educator. Working at the Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert, Sask., the 55-year-old was passionate about teaching future generations and allowing them to thrive. On Saturday morning, that work was cut short, when Victor died as a result of COVID-19. Now, his family is calling on the provincial government to ensure teachers are vaccinated to ensure no other family, or community, experiences the loss of someone who cared so much about so many. "Everywhere I turn, he taught somebody," said his wife, Violet Thunderchild. Students of Victor's went on to be doctors, lawyers and dentists, she said, noting some of the nurses who cared for him in the hospital in his final hours were past students of his. "He did make a really big difference in this community," she said. She says Victor, a champion of the Cree language and a proud Plains Cree man, was set to retire in 2022, but she said his work was far from over, as he wanted to continue teaching after his retirement. An intergenerational survivor of Canada's residential school system, Victor was a man who came from humble beginnings and the youngest of 12 children, Violet said. But through his work and dedication, he became the first person in his family to get a university degree, going on to earn a master's and use his education to help others. "He walked what he talked," she said of her husband of 33 years, stressing he was healthy before contracting COVID-19 and had no underlying health conditions. His family believes that he contracted COVID-19 while working at the high school. Family members say Victor Thunderchild, a well-known and well-loved teacher, touched many lives during his 29-year career, always using education as a tool of empowerment for others.(Victor Thunderchild/Facebook) Violet says while she and Victor had three children of their own, the couple helped support numerous adopted children during their life. His daughter, Renee, says her dad was one of a kind, and wherever he went, he carried himself with pride, even in the face of adversity. "He was the most perfect human being of a father," she said. "Even when it was a tough decision, he always made the right decision." Ryanda, another one of Victor's daughters, says he was always there for his students, helping to support them outside of the classroom as well. "He was very proud of who he was and he was very proud of being a Plains Cree First Nation man … and he always wanted other people to be proud of who they were, and to not let things get you down and to keep going," she said. "He wanted other young Aboriginal people to feel proud of being Native." Thunderchild's passion was evident online. His Twitter biography stated education is "the most powerful weapon of all." While in hospital with the virus, he continued to fight for his fellow teachers, tweeting directly at Premier Scott Moe and calling for educators to be vaccinated. "Thank you @PremierScottMoe for not thinking we're essential workers, as I sit in the @PAHealthDept Vic hospital recovering from COVID-19," he said in the April 5 tweet, which has since been shared hundreds of times. "Get my fellow teachers vaccinated, before this happens to anyone else." On Saturday, CBC News requested an interview with Education Minister Dustin Duncan for a response to the calls for teachers to be vaccinated, but he was not available. The Ministry of Education sent a statement offering its condolences to Thunderchild's family and loved ones. "Our thoughts are also with the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division community, and especially with the students who Mr. Thunderchild taught and with the Carlton Comprehensive High School staff that he worked with." It was evident that Thunderchild's "dedication to helping students was exceptional," the statement said. While the ministry acknowledged teachers have "put extraordinary effort into the safety and well-being of students" as the province moves through what is "hopefully the last leg of this pandemic," its statement did not say teachers will be prioritized for vaccination anytime soon, and instead encouraged teachers to get vaccinations as their age group becomes eligible. "Saskatchewan school divisions continue to have regular communication with their local medical health officers in making appropriate local decisions to enable education to continue as safely as possible," the statement said. 'A bright light of friendship' Jen Bear worked with Victor at Carlton Comprehensive, starting at the school roughly 20 years ago. She says for her, Victor was an adopted big brother who welcomed her with open arms. "He was so inviting and friendly and he was always one to make you feel welcome and make you a part of the community," she said. "He'd bring you alongside and he'd be introducing you as a new member — but also a new family member.… We were instantly family," said Bear. "He was a real role model who always brought a light, a bright light of friendship and happiness." Victor Thunderchild, who died as a result of COVID-19 on Saturday, is seen here with his wife, Violet. He is being remembered as a loving father, husband and educator who would do anything for his students and his family.(Violet Thunderchild/Facebook) Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, said the loss of Victor Thunderchild is being felt right across the province, as he was a leader and a friend to many. "He's going to leave a huge hole," he said. Maze recalled Thunderchild as an advocate for essential workers across the province, noting he was an active figure in the federation, fighting for his fellow teachers and for First Nations and treaty education. This is the first death of an educator in the province due to COVID-19 that Maze has been notified of, he said. Thunderchild's death brings with it "so many levels" of disappointment, as the teachers' federation has been advocating for educators to get priority for vaccination and for schools to move to Level 4 under the province's Safe Schools Plan, which would see schools move to more remote learning. "Right now, we need to focus on making sure his family is supported and making sure all his colleagues at Carlton and all of his contacts in Prince Albert are supported, but definitely, his death could have been prevented," Maze said. "We've been calling on protections for front-line workers right across the province, so this is incredibly frustrating," he said. "Unfortunately, our province lost a really great man."
A video of a Saskatoon security guard making an arrest has sparked questions online over civilian arrests and use of force this week. An investigative consultant said while an arrest may be legal, it's up to police and courts to determine if the use of force was "reasonable." The incident in question happened at the FreshCo on 33rd Street West in Saskatoon's Mayfair neighbourhood. What led to the incident is not entirely clear. The nine-minute video was recorded by a witness and shows a man who identifies himself as the grocery store's security guard trying to force handcuffs on a woman. The guard can be heard accusing her of stealing as bystanders plead with him to let her go and let police handle it. "The issue will be, did this person have reasonable grounds to believe that this person had committed an offence? And then the second question is, did he use reasonable force in attempting to arrest this person?" said Jay Watson, a lawyer with Cuelenaere LLP in Saskatoon. Watson said it's a complicated situation as there's a security guard present, with a job to prevent theft, who believes he has witnessed theft by a civilian. He then goes to make a citizen's arrest. Anyone can make a civilian's arrest if there are reasonable grounds and a reasonable use of force, he said. GRAPHIC WARNING | Federation of Soveirgn Indigenous Nations calls for guard to be fired: The main difference between a security guard making a civilian arrest and a police officer putting someone under arrest is that police officers have legislation protecting them if they are wrong, said Watson. "If just the security guard doesn't have reasonable probable grounds, was found by a court or uses unreasonable force, he can be sued and he may be committing an offence," he said. Watson said everyone has opinions, but it's going to be up to police and the courts to have the final say. Jay Watson is a civil and criminal lawyer with Cuelenaere LLP in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Jay Watson) "It's definitely not black and white. It's grey. As lawyers and judges, we're used to that," he said. "From the public's point of view, I can see there's no easy solution to this issue." Bruce Pitt-Payne, a former RCMP officer and investigation consultant, said it's section 94 of the Criminal Code of Canada that allows citizens to arrest people if they have grounds to. But Saskatoon police will be looking closely at all aspects of this situation. "The security guard would have to prove to them that he had the actual lawful grounds to make the arrest. If that happens and it's shown to be valid, then the police would still have to look at the reasonableness and the proportionality of the use of force," Pitt-Payne said. "Meaning, what would a reasonable person believe? That's the test, the simplistic version." This specific situation is complicated as the security guard was allegedly injured as well, Pitt-Payne said. At this time, police would treat both people involved as suspects and victims and interview witnesses, look at medical records and video evidence. That may take time. We have to always be fair enough to remember that de-escalation only works if all parties involved want it to work. - Bruce Pitt-Payne Pitt-Payne said de-escalation training should be increased tenfold for police and security guards alike. He said there can never be enough training, but more so for security guards who typically have drastically less training than police officers. "We have to always be fair enough to remember that de-escalation only works if all parties involved want it to work. So it isn't always just a training issue. It's unfortunately very much dependent ... the result ... on what each of the people involved in that situation want to do." Security guard and use of force training instructor says video hard to watch Joel Pedersen said it's hard to see the video. The former Saskatoon Police Officer now runs 2J2 Fitness and 2J2 Security, training security guards across Saskatchewan. Pedersen said he doesn't want to be a sideline quarterback and say what should have happened, but it's sad to see situations get out of control. "Often we think about having balance, especially when emotions are high and trying to bring that level minded behaviour in line," Pedersen said. "It's really challenging to say what could have been done." Joel Pedersen is the owner of J2J Fitness and J2J Security. (Submitted by Joel Pedersen) Pedersen said through his experience as a police officer for over 25 years, he knows it's a challenge for police to be everywhere all the time. He said security workers — such as the community support workers or security guards — step up and bridge that gap, but need proper training. "I think that's a huge support to the police service and the overall safety of the city," Pedersen said. "But the training that we want to provide is humane. So that when the security officer or security guard, if he or she does have to defend themselves … they do it in a humane fashion." On Friday when speaking to CBC Saskatchewan, Pedersen was conducting a training session with the Downtown Community Support Officers that work in Saskatoon's downtown. The session was scheduled before the incident took place and was teaching communication and techniques for de-escalation. Pedersen said de-escalation is a key element of security training and work and starts with responses and being proactive before things get out of control. "I don't believe the security guard's role is to take the place of the police by any stretch of the imagination," Pedersen said. "A lot of the work should be gathering out information and reporting that information." When incidents like this do occur, it's important they are recorded, reported on and looked at, Pedersen said. He said it's about focusing on how to correct it and have professionals do better in the future. "It is unfortunate to see that kind of incident take place in Saskatoon, because sometimes we think in our own bubble of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, that these kinds of things don't happen here. But they do." The head of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said on Thursday the FreshCo incident was one instance of violence Indigenous women face. He called for the guard to be fired. Pedersen said that it can help the community to have Indigenous people trained in these guard roles.
OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19 vaccines to grow their international soft power by giving doses to desperate countries in order to have more political influence over them, experts say. Benjamin Gedan, deputy director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center in Washington, called the practice "vaccine diplomacy," noting that it happens when countries seek to grow their international prestige by distributing vaccines to nations that need them. He said authoritarian governments, including those in China and Russia, have taken the lead in vaccine diplomacy in the last months. "It's never encouraging to see the world's largest dictatorships taking most advantage of this diplomatic opportunity," Gedan said. The China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp., Sinopharm, is producing two COVID-19 vaccines while Sinovac, a Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company, is making a third one. Gedan said while China had offered bilateral loans of US$1 billion in Latin America, it refused to give COVID-19 vaccines to Paraguay, which recognizes Taiwan diplomatically. "There have been reports from the foreign minister of Paraguay that intermediaries of the Chinese government explicitly said that Paraguay will not access the Chinese vaccine unless it changes its position on Taiwan," he said. He added there have been reports that Brazil, which is suffering one of the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, could not access Chinese vaccines without committing to allow Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from accessing its 5G wireless network auction. Lynette Ong, an associate political science professor at the University Of Toronto, said China has donated or sold its COVID-19 vaccine to almost all southeast Asian countries. "It usually comes with some sort of strings attached," she said. "There's definitely vaccine diplomacy going on quite aggressively by China." China's vaccine diplomacy is not as effective as its personal-protective equipment diplomacy was last year, Ong said. She said China was the only major producer of personal protective equipment last year while it's competing now with many other countries that are producing different types of COVID-19 vaccines. "China was not the first (country) to have the vaccine produced and manufactured," she said. Ong said China has invested a lot in boosting its soft power in developing countries from Latin America, Africa and southeast Asia, but it has also received a lot of pushback. "There is so much pushback against Huawei just because it is a Chinese brand, right, not because people have found evidence that we can squarely put Huawei in the category of espionage," she said. Aurel Braun, a Russian foreign policy professor at the University of Toronto, said Russia has been pushing particular political agendas and integrating vaccine diplomacy as a much more significant element of its foreign policy than China. "China is much wealthier, has a far larger economy than Russia. It is able to provide all kinds of other economic benefits. Providing the vaccine is one of many options that they have," he said. "(For Russia,) The Sputnik V (vaccine) is a much more important tool, and they have been especially focusing in certain parts of Europe or where leaders have been more sympathetic to Mr. Putin's policy ... like Viktor Orban in Hungary or in Slovakia." Jillian Kohler, a pharmacy and public health professor at the University of Toronto, said China and Russia saw an opportunity in the lack of COVID-19 vaccine supply, and they are taking advantage of that to further their political goals. "If ... Russia or China aren't actually asking for something explicitly, there's an implicit bargain happening here," she said. "Countries are turning to Russia and China because they're desperate, so when you do that, I mean, you're in a position of weakness, and when you're in a position of weakness that might mean at some point that you're going to have to compensate for that." Gedan, the Washington-based Wilson Center expert, said the United States may soon share its supply of COVID-19 vaccines globally, which would limit China and Russia's ability to influence other countries using their supplies. "I think we're rapidly approaching the moment where the United States will be able to play a major role in the global vaccination campaign," he said. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently named Gayle Smith, who headed the US Agency for International Development under former president Barack Obama, to a new position as the U.S. coordinator for global COVID-19 response to support a worldwide effort to inoculate against the novel coronavirus. Gedan said the United States has made some efforts to be helpful by committing US$4 billion to COVAX, a World Health Organization program, and by sending Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shipments to Mexico and Canada. But these efforts are going to be more significant soon when the U.S begins exporting more of its Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said. He said the United States is planning to do most of its vaccine distributions through COVAX, which means they will get distributed to both friendly governments and adversarial countries. "(The U.S. approach is) to distribute vaccines in a way that reflects, you know, public health needs and not foreign policy goals," he said. Most countries are not only struggling with a lack of capacity to produce vaccines locally but also with a lack of resources to procure vaccines from the companies that are making them, he said. He said the lack of a local capacity to produce vaccines has slowed Canada's vaccination campaign, but Canada has been able to purchase an extraordinary number of doses. "Eventually, Canada will likely be exporting some of these vaccines that it has purchased that are above and beyond its local need." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2021. ------ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
SANTA FE, N.M. — The 300-million-year-old shark’s teeth were the first sign that it might be a distinct species. The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species. They were squatter and shorter, less than an inch long, around 2 centimetres. “Great for grasping and crushing prey rather than piercing prey,” said discoverer John-Paul Hodnett, who was a graduate student when he unearthed the first fossils of the shark at a dig east of Albuquerque in 2013. This week, Hodnett and a slew of other researchers published their findings in a bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science identifying the shark as a separate species. He named the 6.7-foot (2 metre) monster Dracopristis hoffmanorum, or Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, in honour of the New Mexico family that owns the land in the Manzano Mountains where the fossils were found. Hodnett says the area is rife with fossils and easy to access because of a quarry and other commercial digging operations. The name also harkens to the dragon-like jawline and 2.5-foot (0.75-meter) fin spines that inspired the discovery’s initial nickname, “Godzilla Shark.” The formal naming announcement followed seven years of excavation, preservation and study. The 12 rows of teeth on the shark's lower jaw, for example, were still obscured by layers of sediment after excavation. Hodnett only saw them by using an angled light technique that illuminates objects below. Hodnett is now the paleontologist and program co-ordinator for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland. His fellow researchers come from the New Mexico museum, as well as St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, Northern Arizona University, and Idaho State University. The recovered fossil skeleton is considered the most complete of its evolutionary branch —ctenacanth — that split from modern sharks and rays around 390 million years ago and went extinct around 60 million years later. Back then, eastern New Mexico was covered by a seaway that extended deep into North America. Hodnett and his colleagues believe that Hoffman’s dragon shark most likely lived in the shallows along the coast, stalking prey like crustaceans, fish and other sharks. New Mexico's high desert plateaus have also yielded many dinosaur fossils, including various species of tyrannosaurus that roamed the land millions of years ago when it was a tropical rain forest. ___ Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for Americ a is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter. Cedar Attanasio, The Associated Press
The new owners of Cape Smokey are building a gondola set to open this summer with ‘gorgeous’ views of Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail.
Members of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table say the provincial government only included about 70 per cent of neighbourhoods it recommended be designated hot spots. Director Dr. Peter Juni told CBC's Ontario Today that the table was asked by the province to provide a list of postal codes it felt was at greatest risk. The list it created included about 20 per cent of Ontario's population, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area. But Juni said when the government revealed the final designations, there were some neighbourhoods that the science table couldn't "replicate how they came on there." In a statement, Rob Steiner, another member of the table, said they did not "determine the actual [postal codes] that the government would ultimately prioritize in its vaccine strategy." K2V with second-lowest hot spot population Earlier this month, the province released a list of 114 postal code zones designated as hot spots and announced the start of targeted vaccinations in those areas for people aged 50 and up. It later announced that all adults in those hot spots would be eligible to get vaccinated immediately. Included in that list are the K1T, K1V and the K2V postal codes in Ottawa. In a memo from Ottawa Public Health, the first two postal codes contain what it's identified as high-priority neighbourhoods, but K2V has none. The postal code, which includes Stittsville and Kanata, has the second lowest population of all the province's designated hot spots with just 2,435 people, according to the most recent Statistics Canada census in 2016. The only other postal code with a lower population is L9E, the Milton-Halton region, with 723 people. The populations of K1V and K1T are between 35,000 and 54,000. Province defends decision Both the NDP and Liberals questioned the province's list of hot spots earlier this week. For its part, the province said in a statement that hot spots were "identified based on Public Health Ontario data and criteria including hospitalizations, outbreak data, low testing rates and deaths during the second wave of the pandemic." It said regions in the highest 20 per cent were identified as hot spot communities, and regions in the top 30 per cent that had significant low-income populations or faced other challenges were also included. The undertaking also applied "an anti-racism lens to ensure Ontario protects vulnerable communities," the province said. The province defended including the K2V postal code, saying it had "44 per cent more COVID ICU cases per 10,000 than the provincial average." But given that the population of the K2V area is so low, CBC asked how much weight the province's calculations bears on its decision to label it as a "hot spot." As of Friday evening, the province had not sent a response.
This opinion piece is by Dr. Anne Huang, who is a Canadian and U.K.-trained physician. She was a former deputy medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Indigenous Services Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Saskatchewan. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ. As COVID-19's third wave in Canada continues to mount, we're beginning to learn what cannot be readily conveyed by tracing the daily number of new infections: Who are the people behind the numbers shaping the vertical walls of the third wave? And where are the fuelling stations turbo-charging the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus? The truth is they are largely immigrants and racialized people working in jobs most susceptible to exposure to COVID-19. To not act in the best interest of everyone, including those least able to advocate for themselves, is a silent admission that some Canadians are more valuable than others. My journey as a Canadian began in the English-as-second-language classes of a public high school alongside other teenage immigrants from around the world. I have enjoyed many privileges that have allowed me to be trained as a physician in Canada, but not all immigrants or individuals of visible minorities are as fortunate as I am. Sharing my knowledge in this piece is a testament to what Canada means to prospective immigrants. COVID-19 disproportionately affects visible minorities In October 2020, Statistics Canada reported "immigrants are disproportionately represented in jobs with greater exposure to COVID-19," and that "34 per cent of frontline/essential service workers identify as visible minorities (compared with 21 per cent in other sectors)." Further, visible minorities are overrepresented in industries worst affected by the pandemic, such as food and accommodation services, which has led to relatively higher unemployment rates. WATCH | Dr. Anne Huang on why vaccination alone isn't enough: In its one-year update on COVID-19, Statistics Canada reported that areas with the highest proportion of visible minorities (25 per cent or more) experienced COVID-19 deaths at a rate double that of areas with the lowest proportion of visible minorities (less than one per cent). This contrast was even more pronounced in Quebec, Ontario and B.C. After many weeks of leading the country in per-capita active case rate, Saskatchewan seemed genuinely surprised by the revelation that "coronavirus classic" and its upgraded versions, the variants of concern, have successfully breached the province's pandemic response. While social interactions remained subdued by public health orders, invisible crowns of the enveloped RNA virus — clad in its new B117-spiked armour — gained a foothold. They now reign in workplaces and households of public-facing and essential-service workers in the Queen City. Ethnic origin or race-based COVID-19 data is not publicly available for Saskatchewan. However, based on national analysis conducted by Statistics Canada, it would be reasonable to assume that the pandemic has also disproportionately impacted the health, social and economic status of Saskatchewan's racialized communities. Or just pay attention next time to who staffs the windows at your favourite fast food drive-thru. Many essential services cannot be performed at home Yet the latest round of public health measures announced by the Saskatchewan government on April 13 was devoid of details on how essential service or frontline workers will be protected from the rapidly spreading B117 variant. This follows weeks of public acknowledgement by officials that measures which were adequate to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the past are no longer sufficient to stem the current surge of workplace transmissions, and that if infected, the essential-service workers often spread the variant virus to the rest of the family or household members. Providing workers with sick leave is one way to help curb the spread of the pandemic, according to Huang.(Saskatchewan Health Authority) Many of these essential services cannot be performed from home, such as meat or produce processing. They provide life-sustaining essentials in our modern world. Workers in these industries put their health and lives on the line so the rest of us can work from home and order groceries, meals and goods online for home deliveries. There are effective interventions to stop COVID-19 in its tracks: Upgrade personal protective equipment — better masks — and improve work-site ventilation. This reduces inhalation of virus-contaminated air in shared indoor spaces. Guarantee access to paid sick/pandemic leave. Current wage subsidy programs don't meet the needs of workers who do not have employer-sponsored benefits and who cannot afford to miss work due to mild symptoms if they will lose income. Quarantine and isolation accommodation for infected workers. This protects the household and family members from in-home transmissions if there is inadequate space to properly isolate at home. Household or family members of an infected essential-service worker may also work in public-facing jobs themselves. The lack of such programs one year into a global pandemic in a resource-rich province invites a simple question: Why? The pandemic is not only testing the intensive-care unit capacity or the economic reserve in Saskatchewan. It is also testing the grand vision of Canada – a democracy built on a mosaic of diversities bounded by egalitarian values. COVID-19 is testing our notion of what it means to be Canadian — and we must stand on guard for that dream. Interested in writing for us? We accept pitches for opinion and point-of-view pieces from Saskatchewan residents who want to share their thoughts on the news of the day, issues affecting their community or who have a compelling personal story to share. No need to be a professional writer! Read more about what we're looking for here, then email email@example.com with your idea.
A metal unicorn that goes by the name of "Morgan the Mystical Unicorn" has been found after it disappeared from its station overnight in a small southern Alberta community. The statue isn't in the best shape, however. "We're ecstatically happy, but he needs to go to the hospital after he hits forensics," joked Dave Smeyers, who owns the unicorn that stood in the village of Delia, about 170 kilometres northeast of Calgary. "I haven't seen him personally, but it looks like somebody cut his horn off and put it in upside down." Standing 12 feet high (about 4.6 metres), measured to the tip of the horn, the unicorn is made of stainless steel, with gold hair, hooves and a white body. It weights 600 pounds (about 272 kilograms) and was originally fabricated by welders in Texas 15 years ago. Smeyers and his partner acquired the unicorn and put it outside their store, Hand Hills Crafts Village Market, in order to draw people in and help with business and tourism in Delia. "It's kind of the village mascot," he said. And while he doesn't know who the culprit is, Smeyers guesses that it was a school prank of some sort. "It's going to be expensive to fix as well," he said, adding that it will cost around $1,000 to get it transported alone. "So we'll get the RCMP to go out and we're hoping we can get it all fingerprinted," Morgan the unicorn went missing from its home on Friday.(Jaydee Bixby) The owners of the unicorn were alerted Morgan was missing around 8:30 a.m. Friday. They rushed to the site, only to find the unicorn gone with nothing but tire tracks and footprints left behind. By Saturday morning, the statue was found in a field just north of the small community. "This is a very sad prank and … it's the town's spirit that these people are playing with," said Smeyers. Jaydee Bixby lives two doors down from where Morgan proudly stood. "It's a pretty magical thing in our small town, we've got a small population, about 215 people," he said. He says it's been there over a year and definitely draws people to the town who might not have visited before.
Saskatchewan RCMP are asking for the public's help in locating a man charged in connection with what they say appears to be a gang-related shootout in Meadow Lake earlier this week. Just before midnight on Tuesday, officers were called to a business in the 600 block of First Avenue following a report of gunshots. They were told two groups of people were involved in an altercation outside the business, during which a weapon was fired several times, RCMP said in a Thursday news release. At one point, shots were fired through a bystander's windshield, Mounties said. Police believe up to five people were involved, who then fled on foot. No arrests have been made, and no injuries have been reported to police. RCMP said they continue to investigate the incident as "related to street gang involvement." 19-year-old likely en route to Alberta On Friday, Meadow Lake RCMP issued a second news release in connection with the incident, saying an arrest warrant had been issued for Raheem Hagan. The 19-year-old is charged with intentionally and recklessly firing a gun. Hagan is described by RCMP as six foot two and roughly 190 pounds ,with a slim build, black hair and brown eyes. Police believe Hagan could be en route to Edmonton. RCMP urge anyone who sees Hagan not to approach him, as he's considered armed and dangerous. Instead, anyone with any information regarding Hagan's whereabouts is asked to contact Meadow Lake RCMP at 306-236-2570 or anonymously through Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
A Vancouver couple is calling Saint Andrews home without ever experiencing the town first-hand. Zainub and Ben Faulkner-Malik have been self-isolating at home in Charlotte County, since arriving two weeks ago. "It's a bizarre feeling because we feel like we've been here already," said Faulkner-Malik, from her new home in Saint Andrews. People have been dropping things off and sending messages — and they haven't even met their neighbours yet. Now that we're here, we made the best decision - Zainub Faulkner-Malik "The way the community has made us feel has got us really excited about when we can step outside our property lines and meet people and walk around the town itself." They're the new owners of the Montague Rose Bed and Breakfast. It's a historic building from the 1850s and can be found in the heart of downtown. "It's just magnificent," said the interior designer. "It's just way grander than I ever could have imagined." Deer problem a new experience And everyday, they're learning something new about the property or the area — such as the town's growing deer population. Last year, deputy mayor Brad Henderson told CBC News, a typical community of its size would have between three and five deer per square kilometre. In Saint Andrews, there are more than 20 deer per square kilometre. "People have hit multiple deer coming in and out of town," he previously said. "There's been situations where motorcyclists have hit them … there's been deer that have actually run into people." But Faulkner-Malik is looking forward to the wildlife. "I'll take the deer over the car and busy streets any day," she said. A home away from home They are hoping to make the business a place where residents and visitors can come and feel at home this summer. The couple will be taking bookings come May and by June, they're also hoping to add a tearoom, that will feature High Tea and traditional English treats. They're also want to bring a fresher look to the historic home for visitors, including new furnishings, modern technology "and also give them a really friendly visit as well." The couple started to think about moving when the first lockdown happened about a year ago. They felt like they were stuck inside their 500-square foot apartment. "We were really going stir-crazy," she said. Zainub Faulkner-Malik is hopeful guests will be able to visit in June.(The Montague Rose B&B Instagram) That's when they decided to look at real-estate across the country. "Fast forward a year and we just kind of pulled the plug," she said. Then they discovered Saint Andrews after seeing it was voted by USA Today in 2017 as the top destination in Canada for travellers. "We found a property. We put an offer in. And now we're here." Despite their fears, the couple said the move made sense. Faulkner-Malik had previously run a bed and breakfast in Australia. She had always dreamt of starting another one. Then along came COVID. "It was really risky and it was pretty scary," she said. "There were moments we were very unsure when we were putting our offer in." The couple plan to document their new Maritime adventure on YouTube and social media, to inspire others looking to move. "Now that we're here, we made the best decision."
WINDSOR, England — Sitting by herself at the funeral of Prince Philip on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth cut a regal but solitary figure: still the monarch, but now alone. The queen sat apart from family members at the simple but sombre ceremony at Windsor Castle, in accordance with strict social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic. But if the ceremony had been for anyone else, at her side would have been her husband of 73 years, who gave a lifetime of service to the crown. Wearing a face mask, the queen was dressed all in black, except for the diamond brooch that flashed on her left shoulder — a piece she had often worn on engagements with her husband. The monarch’s four children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — sat nearby, as did the queen and Philip’s eight grandchildren. The stripped-back service made their loss somehow more personal for people who often live their lives in public. Just 30 mourners were allowed to attend the service for the prince, who died April 9 at the age of 99. The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of the castle, a 950-year-old royal residence 20 miles (30 kilometres) west of London, but was shown live on television. Hundreds of people lined the streets outside the castle to pay their respects to the prince. Some held Union flags and clutched flowers, while others wore custom face masks featuring the royal’s photo. “We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith,” the dean of Windsor, David Conner, said in his call to prayer. The nation honoured Philip with a minute’s silence observed across the United Kingdom at 3 p.m., its beginning and end marked by a gun fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The final shot signalled the start of a funeral service steeped in military and royal tradition, but infused with the duke’s personality. Philip’s body was carried to St. George’s Chapel at the castle on a Land Rover that the prince himself had specially designed. It was followed by members of the Royal Family, including Princes William and Harry, who made their first public appearance together since Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave a controversial interview to U.S. television host Oprah Winfrey in which they discussed the difficulties of royal life and how the two brothers had grown apart. The procession traversed the grounds of Windsor Castle, passing military detachments arrayed under bright blue skies. Inside the medieval Gothic chapel, the setting for centuries of royal weddings and funerals, this service was quiet and without excessive pageantry. Philip was deeply involved in planning the ceremony. At his request, there was no sermon. There were also no eulogies or readings, in keeping with royal tradition. Former Bishop of London Richard Chartres, who knew Philip well, said the 50-minute service reflected the preferences of the prince, who was a man of faith but liked things to be succinct. “He was at home with broad church, high church and low church, but what he really liked was short church,” Chartres told the BBC. Philip’s coffin was draped with Philip’s personal standard, topped with his Admiral of the Fleet Naval Cap and sword. The sword was given to him by his father-in-law, King George VI, on the occasion of his marriage to the queen in 1947. The monarch offered her own touches to the day. Ahead of the funeral, Buckingham Palace released a photo of the queen and Philip, smiling and relaxing on blankets in the grass in the Scottish Highlands in 2003. The palace said the casual, unposed photo was a favourite of the queen. Composing a wreath atop the coffin were flowers chosen by the queen, including white lilies, small white roses, white freesia, white wax flower, white sweet peas and jasmine. A note from the monarch was attached, but its contents were not disclosed. The funeral reflected Philip’s military ties, both as the ceremonial commander of many units and as a veteran of the Royal Navy who served with distinction during World War II. More than 700 military personnel took part in the commemorative events, including army bands, Royal Marine buglers and an honour guard drawn from across the armed forces. Lt. Gen. Roland Walker, regimental lieutenant colonel of the Grenadier Guards, said his unit was honoured to take part because of its close relationship with the prince. Philip served as regimental colonel of the guards, its honorary leader, for 42 years. “This is a privilege,” he told the BBC. “Because my understanding is he planned this, so we’re here because he wanted us to be here, and that, I think, down to the junior guardsmen, is a known fact.’’ William and Harry were part of the nine-member royal contingent, although their cousin, Peter Phillips, walked between them. There was no obvious tension between the brothers, whose relationship has been strained since Harry’s decision to quit royal duties and move to California. After the service, they walked back to the castle together, seeming to chat amiably. Their appearance at the service stirred memories of the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana, when William and Harry, then 15 and 12, walked behind their mother’s coffin accompanied by Philip. As Philip’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, Royal Marine buglers sounded “Action Stations,” an alarm that alerts sailors to prepare for battle — included in the service at Philip’s request. He will rest there, at least until the queen's death, alongside the remains of 24 other royals, including King George III, whose reign included the years of the American Revolution. The queen and Philip are expected to be buried together in the Royal Burial Ground on the Frogmore Estate close to Windsor Castle. For decades, Philip was a fixture of British life, renowned for his founding of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards program that encouraged youths to challenge themselves and for a blunt-spoken manner that at times included downright offensive remarks. He lived in his wife’s shadow, but his death has sparked a reflection about his role, and new appreciation from many in Britain. “To be perfectly honest I didn’t realize the extent (of) what his life had been, what he had done for us all,” said Viv Davies, who came to pay her respects in Windsor. “He was a marvelous husband, wasn’t he, to the queen and the children? Just remarkable — and I don’t think we will see the like again.” ___ Jill Lawless reported from London. ___ Follow AP’s full coverage of the death of Prince Philip at https://apnews.com/hub/prince-philip Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Ottawa Public Health will begin rolling out four pop-up vaccination clinics Saturday that have been strategically placed near neighbourhoods where COVID-19 has hit the hardest. Frederique, a 58-year-old woman who lives on Cedarwood Drive, said on Friday she booked an appointment after finding a pamphlet slipped under her door. "I'm so happy because I'm going to be getting my COVID-19 vaccine," said Frederique, who declined to give her last name. She's scheduled for an appointment at the Masjid ar-Rahmah, the Mosque of Mercy, on Hunt Club Road in the community of Emerald Woods. People as young as 50 years old will be able to get vaccinated there after registering for an appointment. The City of Ottawa has not announced where the other three pop-up sites will be located, but said it's disseminating the information strategically to high-risk areas. Those areas won't be limited to neighbourhoods within the three postal codes the province deemed hot spots: K1T, K1V and K2V. 21 high-priority neighbourhoods identified Karim Mekki, head of OPH's supervisor of community engagement, said public health has been working with community groups to spread the word about upcoming pop-up clinics in 21 identified high-priority neighbourhoods. "Some neighbourhoods were disproportionately impacted. Many people in these neighbourhoods face a plethora of systemic inequities," Mekki said. "They're overly represented in front-line work, precarious employment. They live in crowded housing." Mekki said information about how to book appointments and where to go for vaccinations has been shared in different languages through WhatsApp and one-on-one phone calls. The Masjid ar-Rahmah Mosque of Mercy in Emerald Woods will be the site of a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic launching Saturday, April 17, in Ottawa.(Judy Trinh/CBC) OPH has also created a special help line, the Ottawa immigrant COVID response line, that residents can call to book transportation to get to vaccination sites. Heron Gate, where Frederique lives, has the highest rate of infections in the city, something she was aware of in booking the appointment. "I want to be protected from the virus. They say there's a lot of it here," said Frederique, who is training to be a personal support worker. 'People feel comfortable here' Last week, OPH — in partnership with community workers — went door-to-door in the apartments and condominiums in the area to hand out flyers and register residents for vaccinations. Mekki said that face-to-face model could also be used to promote future pop-up clinics. Jalil Marhnouh, president of the Assunnah Muslims Association, said the mosque has been a hub of reliable information for the community of Emerald Woods and for Muslims across the city. Prior to being chosen as a vaccination clinic, it was a COVID-19 testing site. "As a pop-up site it's important that people feel comfortable here. People will come to the place if they feel comfortable," says Marhnouh. "They can walk here. Many people live here in condominiums and highrises and can walk here. They can come here and we'll help them register."
Recent developments: Checkpoints will soon go up along the Ottawa-Gatineau border in an attempt to get rising COVID-19 case totals under control. A slate of other tough new rules are now in effect in Ontario. Pop-up vaccine clinics begin rolling out today in hard-hit neighbourhoods. Another 345 cases and one death were confirmed in Ottawa on Friday. What's the latest? Border crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., will soon be severely restricted as both the Ontario and Quebec governments have announced tough new rules around interprovincial travel. Checkpoints will begin going up Monday, similar to those that were put in place during the first wave of the pandemic last year. The restricted border is just one of a number of stricter regulations the Ontario government revealed Friday, as it tries to stem the tide of the pandemic's third wave. Here's what you need to know about what those restrictions mean for you. On Saturday, non-essential construction will be shut down, retail capacity will tighten even further, and some outdoor amenities like golf will be restricted. Police had initially been given the power to ask anyone outside for their address and the reason they've left home — but the province announced Saturday evening it was walking back those new policing powers. Ottawa reported another 241 COVID-19 cases Saturday and two new deaths. Pop-up vaccine clinics launch today in a number of Ottawa neighbourhoods that have been hit hard by the virus. Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table says only 70 per cent of its recommended hot spots made the province's final list. How many cases are there? The region is in a record-breaking third wave of the pandemic that includes more dangerous coronavirus variants, straining test sites and filling hospitals. As of Saturday, 21,552 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 3,218 known active cases, 17,852 resolved cases and 482 deaths. Public health officials have reported more than 39,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 33,500 resolved cases. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 162 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 185. Akwesasne has had more than 590 residents test positive, evenly split between its northern and southern sections. Kitigan Zibi has had 27 cases. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Eastern Ontario: Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until at least the first week of May. People can only leave home for essential reasons such as getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising. They're asked to only leave their immediate area or province if absolutely necessary. The vast majority of gatherings are prohibited, with exceptions that include people who live together, those who live alone and pair up with one other household, and small religious services. Most non-essential businesses can only offer curbside pickup. Access to malls is restricted, and big-box stores can only sell essential items. WATCH | Ottawa's police chief weighs in on enforcement of new rules Gyms and personal care services must close, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery. Ontario is indefinitely moving to online learning after April break. Daycares remain open for now. Local health units and communities can also set their own rules, as Prince Edward County's is doing around travel and Kingston is doing for Breakwater Park. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has said bylaw officers will inspect stores and respond to complaints about homes and parks. Rules may tighten in city parks this weekend. Western Quebec Premier François Legault has said the situation is critical in Gatineau and is asking people there to only leave home when it's essential. Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are closed until April 25 in the Outaouais. Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household. Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people and masks are no longer mandatory if doing so. The director of the Outaouais health authority said Wednesday the provincial border checkpoints of spring 2020 may return if the situation doesn't improve. A young man wears a mask while on a soccer pitch in Gatineau, Que., on April 15, 2021.(Hugo Belanger/Radio-Canada) The curfew is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. People there are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only leave their immediate area for essential reasons — under threat of a fine if they go to a yellow or green zone. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are spreading quickly. This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on. Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems get help with errands. People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario. A masked woman walks down a downtown Ottawa street on April 13, 2021.(Andrew Lee/CBC) Vaccines Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Canada's task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second. About 525,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 238,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 93,000 in western Quebec. Eastern Ontario Ontario is now in Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout, with the first doses during Phase 1 generally going to care home residents and health-care workers. All health units in eastern Ontario are now vaccinating people age 60 and older at their clinics. It's 55 and over in Renfrew County. People can book appointments online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. People who are above or turning age 55 can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment. Phase 2 now includes people with underlying health conditions, followed by essential workers who can't work from home in May. Phase 3 should involve vaccinating anyone older than 16 starting in July. Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details. The province has opened up appointments for people age 50 to 54 in Ottawa's K1T, K1V and K2V "hot spot" postal codes, though supply is currently limited. Separately, some Ottawans in certain priority neighbourhoods can check their eligibility online and make an appointment through the city. This should soon include all education workers and staff in large workplaces. Indigenous people over age 16 in Ottawa can make an appointment the same way. The health unit for the Belleville area says this hot spot strategy means some of its doses are being sent elsewhere and it will have to postpone some appointments. Western Quebec Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers. The vaccination plan now covers people age 55 and older, along with local essential workers and people with chronic illnesses. People age 55 to 79 can line up in their vehicles to get a ticket for a walk-up appointment at Gatineau's Palais des Congrès. Officials expect everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24. People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there have started giving shots with appointments through the province, not individual pharmacies. Symptoms and testing COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Check with your area's health unit for clinic locations and hours. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. This week that includes school staff and students. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment and check wait times online. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario. Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The man accused of going on a shooting rampage at a Southern California business, killing four people, should not have been allowed to buy or own guns because of a California law that prohibits people from purchasing weapons for 10 years after being convicted of a crime. Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez was convicted of battery in 2015, which should have kept him from possessing or buying guns or ammo at stores that conduct background checks. While it's unclear how Gaxiola, 44, acquired the weapons used in the March 31 shooting, the tragedy raises concerns over California's ability to enforce strict gun control laws, the Sacramento Bee reported on Friday, Police say Gaxiola had targeted Unified Homes, the mobile home brokerage company in Orange, and had personal and business relationships with the victims. His estranged wife had worked in the business for more than 10 years as a broker assistant. The shooting occurred nearly six years after Gaxiola pleaded guilty to misdemeanour battery, which should have put him on the list prohibiting him from owning firearms for the next 10 years. The list is used during the state's gun and ammunition background check process. Two weeks after the mass shooting, police learned Gaxiola was not on the “Prohibited Persons List,” though he might still have been blocked from buying a gun during a standard background check, Orange Police Lt. Jennifer Amat said. Detectives were still working on tracing the Glock semi-automatic handgun and ammunition, she said. It's rare that a background check misses a prohibited person, or that a dealer would decide to still sell to a banned customer, said Steve Lindley, a former California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms chief who now works as a program manager at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Even with all the stopgaps in a “very, very good system,” Lindley said, people still acquire guns illegally. “Unfortunately, where you have strict gun laws, there will always be a market for illegal firearms,” Lindley said. “Because people want to get them one way or another.” California in 2016 became the first and only state in the nation to establish the Armed and Prohibited Persons System for tracking firearm owners who fall into a prohibited category based on their criminal histories or their risk to themselves or others. The system is intended to prevent gun violence by blocking those deemed too risky to own a firearm from possessing a gun or buying one. Pulling records from several databases, the system is supposed to alert authorities when someone who once legally purchased a firearm is placed on the prohibited persons list. Agents with the Department of Justice, which manages the state’s background check system, will then track a prohibited person to confiscate their weapons and ammunition. The agency says it lacks the staff to clear a backlog in cases — a problem officials noted became more pronounced because of staffing shortages caused by the pandemic. Without knowing more about how Gaxiola got his handgun and ammunition, there are “missing pieces to the story that are critical,” to understanding whether he obtained it because of an institutional failure, said Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician at UC Davis Medical Center, where he is the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program. Gaxiola, 44, was charged with four murder counts and three attempted murder counts for firing at two officers who shot and wounded him when he fired at them with his handgun, and for critically wounding a woman. She was the mother of a 9-year-old boy who died in her arms. Gaxiola's arraignment has been repeatedly postponed because he remains hospitalized and unable to communicate with his court-appointed attorneys. Associated Press, The Associated Press