The Weather Network's Mark Robinson talks about the hollow icy mounds that line the shores every winter.
The Weather Network's Mark Robinson talks about the hollow icy mounds that line the shores every winter.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
An Edmonton emergency room physician says she is happy the Alberta government isn't moving ahead with its full Step 2 reopening plan even though the number of hospitalizations is well below the province's required benchmark. Alberta is allowing libraries to open with 15 per cent capacity limits. Indoor fitness is limited mostly to adult-only low-intensity activities like rock climbing, pilates, and some types of yoga. However, the province is delaying Step 2 openings of conference centres, hotels, banquet and community halls, and holding off on easing the current 15 per cent capacity limits on retail stores. "It's clear that they are taking this seriously, which they should be," Dr. Shazma Mithani said in an interview Monday shortly after Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minster Tyler Shandro announced the easing of restrictions. "I think the assumption in general was that they were just going to push through. I'm happy to see that that's not what's happening, that they really are looking at the leading indicators and adjusting accordingly." Those indicators include the R-value, the positivity rate and number of new cases. Mithani said the presence of the more highly contagious variant strains of coronavirus in Alberta is a high concern. On Friday, Mithani and other physicians in the Edmonton zone of Alberta Health Services sent a letter urging the government not to move ahead with Step 2. The group said the province's health-care system could not tolerate another surge of COVID-19 cases and asked the government to hold off until all high-risk Albertans were fully vaccinated. The staged reopening plan, announced on Feb. 8, set the number of hospitalizations as the key indicator for lifting restrictions. Stage 2 required Alberta to have fewer than 450 people in hospital — the number was 257 on Monday. Each stage needs to be at least three weeks apart, meaning there won't be a decision on Step 3 until March 22. But Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Alberta could allow the delayed Step 2 measures to go ahead at any time before then. Gyms disappointed The current number of hospitalizations led many gyms to believe they would be allowed to open on Monday. Michelle Hynes-Dawson, vice-president of Community and Digital Engagement with YMCA of Northern Alberta, said her organization was disappointed by the province's announcement. She said the YMCA will take a few days to figure out if they can open with only low-intensity workouts for adults, or remain closed. The current guidelines still prohibit childrens' fitness programs, aerobic fitness classes and swimming. High-intensity workouts like weight lifting, aerobics and circuit training can only be done one-on-one with a masked trainer. "The majority of our members do look to us for kind of that cardio experience," Hynes-Dawson said. "So it certainly limits our ability to be able to offer and to be able to open with what our most of our members know us for and love us for." While acknowledging the effect of exercise on good mental health, Mithani has concerns about lifting some restrictions on gyms. She wishes the province would be more specific and set capacity limits on classes. The current guidelines say participants need to be three-metres apart. Still the biggest concerns for Mithani and other physicians in the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association are restaurants. Alberta guidelines started allowing in-person dining three weeks ago, limiting seating at tables to six and only to members of the same household. However, Mithani notes the province has not set any capacity limits for restaurants.
The past year has fractured our world in countless ways. Now, as people look to pick up the pieces, those managing debt need to account for their position in our uneven economic recovery. In this so-called K-shaped recovery, one part of the population is rebounding quickly while another has a longer, slower path. For example, in January the unemployment rate for whites was 5.7%, compared to 8.6% for Hispanics and 9.2% for Black workers and 6.6% for Asians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who remain unemployed or underemployed might continue to rely on debt to get by. Meanwhile, those whose finances have held steady or improved may be primed to wipe out debt. MANAGING DEBT IN THE BOTTOM HALF Some consumers have had no choice but to rack up debt — including unpaid rent or mortgage, credit card debt and overdue utility bills. If this is your situation, focus on basic needs and paying minimums to avoid collections. — PROTECT THE ESSENTIALS: If you’re among the millions of Americans unable to cover your housing costs right now, take advantage of the eviction moratorium and mortgage relief programs now extended through June 30. Keep an eye out for additional benefits in the COVID-19 relief package being discussed in Washington and call 211 to get connected to local assistance for basic needs like food and shelter. Add transportation, internet and cellphone to your priorities list, too, so you can stay connected to friends and family for help and to hunt for work. “All creditors will make it sounds like they’re the most important ones to get paid,” says Amanda Christensen, a financial coach based in Morgan, Utah. “Housing and transportation have to come to the top of that list and take priority.” — IF NEEDED, LOOK FOR CHEAP CREDIT: If you need to add debt to cover your regular expenses, like groceries and utilities, financial coach Vineet Prasad of Fulton, California, suggests finding the cheapest options. “A revolving credit line on your home equity has a much lower APR than a credit card. Another option is a personal loan at a credit union.” To qualify for a HELOC, you’ll generally need equity of at least 15% of your home’s value. And weigh the risks: HELOCs tend to have adjustable interest rates, which can make them more expensive over time, and your house is at risk of foreclosure if you can’t repay the debt. — FOCUS ON LONG-TERM RECOVERY: Once your situation stabilizes, focus on paying down debt and make savings a priority, too. Consider using a debt payoff calculator that can track your debts and monthly payments. And while you may be tempted to throw all your spare income toward debt payoff, having some cash tucked away can help you weather the next financial crisis. Saving even a small percentage of your income helps, Christensen says: “If you’re not saving anything right now, see if you can get in that 1% to 5% range.” MANAGING DEBT IN THE TOP HALF If your finances held steady or improved over 2020, think about how you can take advantage of your situation, whether through charitable giving or using some of your cash to improve your finances. And if you’re focused on reducing debt, the classic payoff playbook works well: First, take stock of what you owe. Consider using a spreadsheet or online debt tracker to organize your balances. Then choose a payoff strategy, like the debt snowball method where you focus on your smallest debt by paying as much on it as you can while paying minimums on the others. Once it’s paid off, roll the amount you were paying on it into the payment for your next largest debt and so on until you’re completely debt-free. Paying off debt can be a long-haul game. To stay focused, Prasad advises finding someone who can serve as a confidant and provide encouragement. “Getting an accountability partner who is good at managing their money generally can be a huge differentiator with actually following through with your plan and the grind of paying it off over time,” he says. ANYONE CAN HAVE OVERWHELMING DEBT Regardless of your income or employment status, you may have too much debt to realistically pay off with a strategy like debt snowball. If all your monthly debt payments, including housing, total more than 50% of your monthly gross income, you may need to look into debt relief, like a debt management plan at a non-profit credit counselling agency or bankruptcy. The goal is to resolve your debt quickly and in a way that sets you up to meet future financial goals. Otherwise, you may spend years funneling money toward insurmountable debt, sacrificing retirement, an emergency fund and other goals. Bankruptcy in particular may be a good option, as it can help you resolve what you owe in a matter of months instead of years. While bankruptcy filings were down 30% in 2020, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, that may change in 2021 as consumers’ financial pictures begin to stabilize. To make the most of the fresh start bankruptcy offers, don’t wait so long that you can’t even afford the filing fees. Act when you are in a position to improve your financial situation, says bankruptcy attorney Cathy Moran of Redwood City, California. “When you’ve hit the bottom and things are about to get better, that’s when you want to file,” Moran says. _____________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Pay off debt: tools and tips http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-tools-and-tips Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
A Black History Month research project by the Probation Association of Ontario (POAO) says Windsor-born Lew Taylor was likely one of the first Black probation officers in the province. President of the POAO, Chris Podolinsky says that people who knew Taylor, described him as "legendary." "He used a lot of colourful language but he sounds like the kind of guy who said what needed to be said," Podolinsky said. "I think that was part of his allure." Chris Podolinsky is the President of the Probation Officers Association of Ontario. Podolinsky, who also lives in Windsor, says he felt a sense of pride knowing Taylor was from Windsor and finding other parallels. "I found it interesting to figure out he went over to Wayne State, it's close by a lot of friends that I grew up with [who] went to Wayne State so it's another connection there." But the association has a bit of a challenge on its hands in terms of learning more about Taylor. Podolinsky and the team are in the process of finding more information, such as photos of Taylor. So far it has been sparse due to limited archival data and the association has had to rely largely on interviewing former members. "Everything seems to be accessible on Google, but it was a real challenge trying to pin down the rough decade or trying to look to Wayne State yearbooks, some of the high schools locally and I just couldn't find any record of him in the area," Podolinsky said. Looking to the past Ray Williams is a retired probation and parole officer and area manager and co-chair of the Systemic Change Program Working Committee. It was through Williams, that POAO discovered that Tayor was born in Windsor and was a descendant of the original Black settlers who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad. The two men met in 1975 and Williams told the POAO that Taylor was someone who was very interested in history. Ray Williams is a retired Probation and Parole Officer and Area Manager and co-chair of the Systemic Change Program Working Committee. According to Williams, Taylor studied at Wayne State University in Detroit, earning a degree in social work, before relocating to Toronto. Williams says he remembers Taylor as, "a man who had a heart of gold, which attracted people of all walks of life to this unique individual." He added that, "[Taylor] was just at ease with senior officials as he was with the most challenging of his probation clients." Taylor worked between the late 1960s and early 1970s and retired in the late 1980's. He died soon after, leaving behind a partner, a son and a daughter. Diversity among probation officers throughout the decades The POAO was created in 1952 and is a voluntary non-profit organization with the goal of representing probation officers and fostering greater dialogue on issues in criminal justice. While researching Taylor, the POAO found that diversity among probation officers really began to shift in the 1970's following loosening of immigration policies. During that decade, diversity among probation officers increased and also started reflecting the population at large. But in the 1950's, the faces of the association were predominantly white men. Podlinsky notes Taylor was way ahead of his time, being a person of colour in the field. In doing peripheral research about Taylor, Podlinsky cites Canadian author Cecil Foster's book 'They Call Me George: The Untold Story of The Black Train Porters'. "That book really helped me because [Foster] really goes into the history of immigration in the country," he said. Reflection among probation officers today Asked about the level of representation among probation and parole officers, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said in an emailed statement that the Ontario Public Service (OPS) does not collect race-based data on employees. Staff are able self-identify to "help with the OPS goals of diversifying the labour force." When asked about how important it was to have probation officers of diverse backgrounds, Podolinsky said: "We're learning a lot now about anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism and I think there is a sense that people from a certain community need to see people like them in the field." "You can't get a full understanding necessarily of all the cultural nuances, so I think it's important to have representation, everywhere — because I don't think any one probation officer can understand every avenue — I think the diverse officers will help that." READ: You can find out more about the association's project here For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Nova Scotia RCMP are worried about possible increased friction between rival motorcycle gangs with the opening of a new Outlaws Motorcycle Club prospective chapter in the Halifax region — an area the Hells Angels consider their territory. "The Hells Angels may see this expansion of the Outlaws as a competitive move and also disrespectful," said Det. Const. Jeff Temblett, an intelligence officer with the RCMP's criminal intelligence service. "It could lead to violence," he said. "Where they're in their backyard now there may be more opportunity for confrontation." The two motorcycle gangs have been enemies for years. Up until now the two groups have mostly been able to avoid each other, with the Outlaws set up in Cape Breton. That changed in February when the Outlaws opened a prospective chapter in Lake Echo, in the Halifax Regional Municipality. "With a new club starting up in Halifax, police believe the rivalry could escalate between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws. The Outlaws in Cape Breton remained generally out of sight to the Hells Angels," said Tremblett. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club has a one full patch chapter in Cape Breton and has opened an additional prospective chapter in the Lake Echo area of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Hells Angels haven't had an official chapter in Nova Scotia since 2001, when their Halifax chapter was shut down by police. But their power base in the province has remained largely intact through their 10 support clubs. Support clubs are small groups that have aligned themselves with a larger, more powerful biker gang. These clubs copy the structure of the gang they've partnered with and follow the dominant club's orders. Support club members can be used to assist in criminal activities and protect the dominant club from prosecution, said Tremblett. The clubs also act as a recruiting ground for potential new members and help funnel money to the dominant club through the sale of merchandise like shirts and hats emblazoned with the gang's logos. In Nova Scotia, the Red Devils and several other groups are support clubs for the Hells Angels, while the Black Pistons support the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. The Red Devils are the top support club for the Hells Angels. It's not clear why the Outlaws have chosen to expand into Halifax where the Red Devils are situated. "Right now it's unclear if the expansion is to gain more control over the illicit drug trade in Nova Scotia," said Tremblett. Generally, each gang wants better control of Nova Scotia's ports to more easily move illegal drugs like cocaine, meth and illegal marijuana. They also want to establish networks to move drugs from province to province. The Hells Angels and the Outlaws have been rivals across North America for years, and have even faced off in Nova Scotia before, but so far haven't come to blows. A member of the Hells Angels waves towards photographers as he enters the Hells Angels Nomads compound during the group's Canada Run event in Carlsbad Springs, Ont., near Ottawa, on Saturday, July 23, 2016. In 2019, things became tense between the two groups at a motorcycle show at Halifax's Exhibition Park. Hells Angels supporters and members of the Black Pistons had heated words when they came across each other. It was much the same in 2018, at the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, N.S., when the groups got into a fiery verbal exchange on the community's main street. There are 14 active outlaw motorcycle gangs in Nova Scotia right now, according to Tremblett: • Outlaws MC - Cape Breton • Outlaws MC - Halifax • Black Pistons MC - Cape Breton (Outlaws Support Club) • Highlanders MC - Cape Breton (Hells Angels Support Club) • Highlanders MC - Antigonish County (Hells Angels Support Club) • Highlanders MC - Pictou County (Hells Angels Support Club) • Katt Sass MC - New Glasgow (Hells Angels Support Club) • Red Devils MC - Halifax (Hells Angels Support Club) • Darksiders MC - Dartmouth (Hells Angels Support Club) • Sedition MC - Fall River (Hells Angels Support Club) • Sedition MC - Yarmouth (Hells Angels Support Club) • Bacchus MC - Sambro • Niners MC - McGraths Cove (Hells Angels Support Club) • 103 Riders - South Shore (Hells Angels Support Club) Tremblett said it's very difficult to shut these clubs down. "Police need to prove there are laws being broken within the clubhouse. There's lease agreements, rights of the persons inside, so for the police it's not an easy task to simply go in there and shut it down." The Cape Breton Regional Police seized $120,000 worth of drugs, $12,000 worth of cash and several Black Pistons vests after searching two homes and a clubhouse in Glace Bay in 2020. Oftentimes, police will need to partner with municipal agencies to determine if clubs are abiding by a community's bylaws, and if they're not, then the clubs can be closed down, said Tremblett. He said people need to remember that most motorcycle riding clubs are made up of law-abiding citizens, and only about one per cent of clubs are actually outlaw motorcycle gangs. Clubhouses run by gangs are usually easy to spot because they have lots of video surveillance, they often have painted windows, and usually sport the gang's logo. A Hells Angels clubhouse in Rosser, Man., a rural community that's part of the Winnipeg Metro Region. Anyone with concerns about outlaw motorcycle gangs in their area can contact their local police, municipal or city councilors, and the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods group for advice, said Tremblett. "Don't believe the narrative that often goes around that ... your outlaw motorcycle gangs are just good old boys that like to hang out and party and do good for the community. That's not the case," said Tremblett. "They want the public to see them as community-spirited men, and they want people involved in organized crime to fear them." MORE TOP STORIES
BIELEFELD, Germany — Relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld hired Frank Kramer as coach on Tuesday, a day after firing Uwe Neuhaus. Kramer has only limited experience in the Bundesliga after a two-game spell as interim coach at Hoffenheim in 2012 and relegation with Greuther Fürth a year later. In more recent years, he coached age-group German national teams up to the under-20 level and coached Austrian champion Salzburg's youth team. Bielefeld, which was promoted last year, is in third-to-last place in the 18-team league. Hertha Berlin is just ahead on goal difference, and improving Mainz is only one point behind in a direct relegation place. Bielefeld still has a game in hand, however. Its next game is against Union Berlin on Sunday. Bielefeld earned only one point from its last five games — a 3-3 draw at Bayern Munich — and the 3-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday was the fifth in a row in which the team conceded at least three goals. The 61-year-old Neuhaus was immensely popular with Bielefeld’s fans after leading the team to a surprise promotion following 11 years out of the Bundesliga. He had been in charge of the club since December 2018. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
India is ready to offer incentives to ensure Tesla Inc's cost of production would be less than in China if the carmaker commits to making its electric vehicles in the south Asian country, transport minister Nitin Gadkari told Reuters. Gadkari's pitch comes weeks after billionaire Elon Musk's Tesla registered a company in India in a step towards entering the country, possibly as soon as mid-2021.
Photographer Mick Rock, known for some of the most recognisable pictures of rock legends such as David Bowie and album covers of the 1970s, is marking his 51 years working in the music industry with a new project collaborating with urban artist Fin DAC. "MIDARO" fuses photography with painting, with the Irish artist reworking Rock's photos of Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry to create a series of limited edition prints and canvas artworks. Released on Tuesday, to coincide with what would have been Reed's 79th birthday, they each show a woman wearing a T-shirt adorned with one of Rock's photos of the music stars.
Unlike many teenagers, Abdoulaye Diakhaby was petrified to turn 18. He had spent the previous four years in the child-welfare system living first in a foster home, then a group home. But at 18, he was forced to be on his own. Diakhaby, who is now 21, says he didn't feel ready; he was still perfecting his English, he didn't know how to cook and needed help with homework. "I was thinking, 'How am I going to be able to do my groceries? How to cook? How to go to school? How to pay my rent? How to get a job?'" he told CBC Toronto. Days after moving into his own place, Diakhaby returned to the group home for a couple of nights to sleep. He was lonely and isolated. Diakhaby says if he could, he'd still be living there, instead of having to make the transition away. "Everything was tough for me," he said. Diakhaby says prior to leaving care at 18, he worried about how he'd buy groceries, cook, get to school, pay rent and find a job.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the province placed a moratorium on youth aging out of care and has extended it to Sept. 30, 2022. Just under 12,000 children and youth in care CBC News has learned the Ontario government will use the time to redesign how young people leave the system by doing away with the current age cut-off. Instead, provincial officials say they plan to ensure youths feel confident and prepared. According to the province, just under 12,000 children and youth are in the child-welfare system. About half of youths who experience homelessness in Ontario were involved in that system, more than half drop out of high school and 57 per cent rely on social assistance, according to a 2017 report by the now-closed Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. Jill Dunlop, the associate minister of children and women's issues, says the government wants children to meet key milestones before they leave care. "We're building a model that's going to work for them," Dunlop said in an interview. "Young people take different paths, but we want to ensure that the supports are there." Under the current system, some young people who leave care are eligible for financial assistance until age 21 and other supports until 24. Still, advocates who have been calling for a readiness-based model say those supports haven't been close to enough. "The system itself was traumatizing and it retraumatized them," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's former — and only — child and youth advocate. "When they left the system, they felt dumped out and as one young person said, 'shoved off the edge of a cliff, alone, with nothing and expected to do well.'" The Ford government cut Elman's position and closed the office in 2018 and moved his responsibilities to the Ombudsman's office. What the new system will look like and how it will work is still being determined. The ministry says it's working with former children in care, advocates and others to design the program. More than 2,500 young people expected to age out by 2022 will be protected by the moratorium, according to Dunlop. New system must give youth a voice, advocates say When Cheyanne Ratnam aged out of care at 18, she took a blanket with her that symbolized a piece of family she knew she was losing. She survived childhood sexual abuse and other trauma before entering the child-welfare system, and says although it was the "lowest low," she was relieved to finally have a safe place to sleep. "I was just so happy to be away from abuse and not really having stability," she said. Ratnam is now the co-founder and president of Ontario Children's Advancement Coalition, which is partnering with the ministry to help develop the new model. She calls it an "ethical system reset" and says the decision on when a youth leaves should include input from designated support people. Ultimately, she says, the people in care should decide when it's time to be on their own. Cheyanne Ratnam was in the child-welfare system and is now the co-founder and president of Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition, which is partnering with the government to help develop the new model. (Children's Aid Foundation of Canada ) "It should be in a way where young people are supported to make those decisions and not have decisions made for them so they can take ownership of their lives," she said. She also says the new model shouldn't include any sort of age cut-off and young people should be able to return to care if they choose to after leaving. "When you're alone in the community, a lot of trauma gets relived," she said. Ratnam says the child-welfare system funnels young people into homelessness, mental health issues and the justice system, and that the new model should help avoid that and set young people up for success. Conner Lowes, the president and Ontario director of Youth in Care, co-authored a letter to the province calling for a new system to be designed.(Honour Stahl) Ratnam and Conner Lowes, the president and Ontario director of Youth in Care Canada, co-authored a letter in June to the ministry calling for a new system to be designed. Lowes is also working with the province on the new model and says it's imperative it listen to those who experienced the current system. "It sets the precedent for that to be the standard, that the people [the system] is being designed for should be helping to create it," he said. "Because how else can we know what a system should look like if you're not asking the people that you're making the system for?" Support networks vital Shomari Mabayeke was placed in five different foster homes in five years. "It's kind of hard to trust people," he told CBC Toronto. "I'd move again and then it was kind of numbing after that because then I didn't make any new friends." Mabayeke first entered the system at 13 and says some homes were better than others. He aged out five years ago. "My process of coming out of care was more like, 'I just want to be gone. I don't care. Like, this is the worst thing ever,'" he said. Mabayeke says while he felt ready to be on his own at the time, he realizes now he wasn't taught certain skills, such as cooking or financial planning. Shomari Mabayeke looks through a basket of groceries delivered to him by StepsStones for Youth, a charity that helps young people transition out of the child-welfare system.(Angelina King/CBC) "They didn't do anything to prepare us for reality," he said. "You don't really get all the skills that growing up with an actual family and interacting with a loving family would give you." Mabayeke says he received some government assistance while transitioning out of care, but still relies on StepStones for Youth, a charitable organization in Toronto. "I feel like there would have been a really disastrous, chaotic moment if I didn't … use resources," he said. StepsStones helps youths who leave care secure housing, complete education and build support networks based on their interests. Heather O’Keefe, who runs StepStones for Youth, says the biggest challenge young people face when they leave the child-welfare system is not having a support network.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) "They deserve what other young people deserve," executive director Heather O'Keefe said. "They need to have people that care about them and guide them through life choices. And not only people who are paid to care for them, but people who actually genuinely care for them." Diakhaby also receives support from StepStones. He's unemployed right now and says it's been hard finding a job during the pandemic, but would like to be a plumber one day. He recently turned 21 and will soon lose his government financial assistance, but says he'll continue to rely on help and guidance from StepsStones. "They care about me," he said.
Critics of the gambling industry say they're concerned about a recent move toward online gambling, especially in light of the Halifax casino's uncertain future. Elizabeth Stephen, a counselling therapist who works with people with gambling addictions, said news that the Nova Scotia government has cleared the way for online casino-style gambling is "pretty significant." "What's behind that?" said Stephen. "Is it because the physical casino is in such decline and perhaps is even going to close down? Is it to replace that revenue? The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, the Crown corporation that oversees the gaming business, released documents to CBC News showing the Halifax casino has struggled with declining and unsustainable revenues for approximately 15 years — even before the arrival of COVID-19. The documents raise the possibility of moving the casino away from its waterfront location, but the corporation said those decisions are on hold during the pandemic. Stephen is an addictions counsellor in Halifax with a private practice. "My sense is that the government is looking for alternative revenue streams, hence the talk about the online casino," said Bruce Dienes, chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia (GRINS), a non-profit that aims to reduce gambling harms. "The problem with that, of course, is if you want to go to a brick-and-mortar casino, you have to actually go to a brick-and-mortar casino. You have to really intentionally do that, you have to be there for a certain piece of time. "Online, if you've got a phone or if you've got any internet connection, 24/7 you're at risk of being impacted negatively by that casino." 'Two very different offerings' Bob MacKinnon, the gaming corporation's CEO, said there are similarities in the gambling that takes place in a physical casino and online. "I think it is possible that some of the casino business that we would have had at the Halifax casino has gone online. There's no way for us to know an exact number," he said. "But I'll also add that generally over the longer term, we would think of them as two very different offerings: that some people like to go online, and many people like to go for a broader entertainment experience where there's music, there's food, there's shows going on, in addition to the gaming offerings." Stephen said the people she treats in her practice often start gambling in a physical casino, but later move to other venues, such as bars with video lottery terminals. The majority of gambling addicts Stephen counsels became addicted to machines like VLTs. "I think [casinos] are the foundation in some places for the start of gambling, and the kind of glamour of gambling and the excitement of gambling," she said. Stephen said most people who come to her with gambling addictions have become addicted to VLTs, although a few have been addicted to table games such as poker or blackjack. "They get to the point where they're spending way too much time there and more money than they can afford to lose. And so often their first step is to exclude themselves from the casino. Often, though, they don't do that until they maybe have reached bankruptcy," she said. Falling revenues The Halifax casino hit peak revenue of about $75 million in 2006-07, which fell to about $54 million in 2014-15 — a drop of about 30 per cent that MacKinnon said was not sustainable. Visitation during the pandemic is down 90 per cent, and MacKinnon said it's believed the Halifax casino will make about $9 million this year. The Sydney casino failed to meet its revenue and visitation targets for the 2 years leading up to the pandemic, which closed its doors altogether for about eight months. The casino in Sydney, N.S., failed to meet its revenue and visitation targets for the two years leading up to the pandemic. In 2018-19, the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation hoped the Cape Breton casino would have revenue of $22.1 million from at least 410,000 visitors. Instead, it brought in $19.5 million from 372,000 visitors. In 2019-20, its targets were $19.2 million in revenue and 410,000 visitors, but it ended up with $18.8 million from 344,806 visitors. Dienes said it shows a need for the province to move on from the gambling business, which was legalized in Nova Scotia in 1995. Dienes is the chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia (GRINS), a non-profit organization with the goal of reducing harms related to gambling. "Here is a business model that's failing, that isn't meeting the needs of the customers. And rather than acknowledging that and moving on to a different kind of business — a different way to entertain, a different way to raise funds — they're trying to increase the risk and increase the access for something that people clearly don't want," he said. Dienes said gambling is "psychologically manipulative" and he disagrees with the government's stance that online gambling can be done safely. "This is something that's been created by government policy," he said. High-stakes bets Will Shead, an associate professor of psychology who primarily researches gambling, said he's doubtful that limitations can be placed on online gambling that would keep people safe. "We don't really know what effect this is going to have on people. You can make arguments and say this is how it's going to work, but it could potentially be disastrous for people to have access to such high betting limits online," said Shead, who teaches at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. Shead is also a board member of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia, whose members are particularly concerned about high-stakes wagers online that could lead a gambler to lose thousands of dollars per hour. Shead is an associate professor of psychology at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. His research specialty is gambling. The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has said the online casino would include age and residency verification, privacy controls, self-exclusion options, deposit limits, time displays, analytics on player activity and information about responsible gambling. But Shead said he's concerned about young people finding ways to get around age checks, and about research that shows people are more likely to use drugs and alcohol while gambling online. In a physical casino, people are not supposed to be allowed to gamble while impaired, he said. According to its code of conduct, Casino Nova Scotia will refuse entry to someone who is impaired by alcohol or drugs. "I'm not sure if that happens all the time," said Shead, "but it's certainly not going to happen in the confines of your own home." MORE TOP STORIES
L’intensification de la vaccination incite plusieurs observateurs à prédire la tenue d’élections générales fédérales printanières et c’est pourquoi le Parti libéral du Canada (PLC) est à la recherche d’un candidat qui tentera de battre le député Richard Martel. En entrevue au Quotidien, Jérôme Duchesne, président de l’Association libérale fédérale de Chicoutimi–Le Fjord, affirme qu’il se trouve en mode prospection afin de dénicher une personne qui voudrait tenter de ravir cette circonscription. Le dernier député libéral dans Chicoutimi a été Denis Lemieux, qui a siégé du 19 octobre 2015 1er décembre 2017, date à laquelle il a démissionné. Avant lui, André Harvey avait siégé comme député libéral. Selon M. Duchesne, le PLC n’a pas de modèle-type de candidat, mais il croit que les récents sondages, établissant un taux favorable au gouvernement Trudeau, pourraient encourager certains candidats potentiels à se manifester. Il croit qu’il est possible que des élections aient lieu ce printemps même si le Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) a déjà fait savoir qu’il tiendrait sa promesse de ne pas faire tomber le gouvernement pendant la pandémie. Par ailleurs, les préparations vont bon train également du côté d’Élections Canada. Selon nos sources, l’organisme a débuté la location de locaux au 1479 boulevard Saint-Paul à Chicoutimi. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Qui de mieux placé qu’un adolescent pour supporter, sensibiliser et référer les autres adolescents aux prises avec des problématiques leur causant des souffrances? C’est ce qui a motivé la mise en place du projet Pairs aidants dans les écoles secondaires de la Haute-Côte-Nord. Initié par le Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de la Haute-Côte-Nord (CJE HCN), le projet vise à outiller les jeunes pour venir en aide à leurs camarades, soit en leur transmettant plus de connaissances sur certaines problématiques et sur les ressources disponibles à l’intérieur des murs de l’école ou à l’externe. « J’ai commencé par proposer l’idée à la direction de la polyvalente des Berges. Une fois que j’ai reçu la confirmation que le projet était accepté, un groupe de jeunes a été ciblé par la technicienne en travail social, Christine Savard », raconte l’initiatrice du projet, Florence Lessard, agente de projets jeunesse au CJE HCN. « Pour choisir les participants, j’ai ciblé des élèves ayant déjà un comportement leader, ceux qui parlent à tous les groupes, qui sont déjà une figure de confiance pour les autres. Je leur ai proposé de faire partie du projet et ils étaient emballés », explique Mme Savard. Pour Matisse Gauthier-Bossé, Rosalie Gravel et Rose Dufour, il n’était pas question de refuser. « J’aime aider les autres, alors je n’ai pas hésité une seconde à participer au projet », déclarent-ils. Laurence Gagné, Lorie Barrette, Émilie Gauthier et Daphney Villeneuve complètent le groupe de Pairs aidants. Une première rencontre s’est tenue en décembre, mais la COVID complique l’organisation d’ateliers. Comme l’affirme Florence Lessard, « on doit s’adapter et faire des activités en mode virtuel ». Par exemple, Mme Lessard et sa collègue Sarah Boulianne, qui s’est jointe au projet en janvier, ont offert des conférences sur l’intimidation et la santé mentale de façon virtuelle. « En ce qui concerne l’atelier sur les techniques d’écoute, donné par notre partenaire 12-18, nous n’avons pu le compléter puisqu’on ne peut pas être en présentiel », ajoute Mme Boulianne, aussi agente de projets jeunesse. Objectifs Pairs aidants est un projet de bénévolat qui comporte deux objectifs précis : outiller et sensibiliser les jeunes. Quelques actions ont déjà été posées pour ce qui est de la sensibilisation. « On a ouvert la page Facebook Pairs aidants sur laquelle est publiée du contenu de sensibilisation sur des sujets pointés par nos participants comme la cyberintimidation et la santé mentale. Par la suite, on pourra créer des affiches pour exposer à l’école ou autre idée qui ressortira pendant nos rencontres », soutient Florence Lessard, déclarant qu’un budget est alloué par le CJE HCN. Plusieurs problématiques touchant les adolescents veulent également être abordées par le groupe. « On aimerait parler de la toxicomanie tant pour la consommation de drogues que d’alcool ainsi que du consentement sexuel », fait savoir Rosalie Gravel. « Une des participantes nous a dévoilé qu’elle aurait aimé être sensibilisée sur la toxicomanie en secondaire 1, qu’elle aurait fait de meilleurs choix », poursuit la technicienne en travail social. Si la COVID est venue compliquer les plans du projet, elle s’avère toutefois un bon moment pour implanter une telle initiative. « Avec la pandémie, certains jeunes peuvent trouver l’isolement plus difficile. On est donc dans un bon temps pour sensibiliser les jeunes à écouter et aider leurs amis », estiment les agentes de projets jeunesse. Déploiement De son côté, Sarah Boulianne s’affaire à instaurer le projet à la polyvalente des Rivières. Les premiers balbutiements ont été réalisés, mais il reste à mettre en place un groupe de jeunes. Les premières actions devraient donc voir le jour en février ou mars. Partie prenante de Pairs aidants, le CJE HCN réalise majoritairement ses projets sur une base annuelle. Mais, il est possible que celui-ci soit renouvelé en septembre si les écoles sont toujours ouvertes à y prendre part. « C’est sûr qu’on aimerait que le projet perdure et qu’il se poursuive d’année en année », soutient Mme Lessard.Pour Christine Savard, cette vision est tout à fait réalisable puisque le premier groupe de jeunes de la polyvalente des Berges est composé d’étudiants de troisième et quatrième secondaire qui pourront perpétuer le projet lors des années futures. Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
If you want to freshen up your kitchen, look no further than Grandma’s old casserole dishes. Vintage kitchenware is back in style -– pieces from the mid-20th century painted with flowers, bright colours, and specific functions, such as bracketed chip and dip bowls or four-piece refrigerator storage sets. “I’ve always been an old soul and loved anything old,” said Megan Telfer, a collector of vintage dishes, salt and pepper shakers, cookie jars and “a little bit of everything.” The 26-year-old parole officer from the Dallas area said this hobby started with family. Her grandmother gave her mother a green and white Pyrex “Spring Blossom” mixing bowl. “That’s when my interest was piqued,” Telfer said. Three years later, she has more than 300 pieces of vintage Pyrex, displayed on three large bookcases. Her 5-year-old daughter has some vintage Pyrex, too. “We don’t use 90 per cent of it,” Telfer said. “I display it.” Some collectors buy vintage dishware to try to resell it at a profit, while others are in it for nostalgia. "It reminds them of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers,” said Hope Chudy, owner of Downstairs at Felton Antiques in Waltham, Massachusetts. A year of pandemic lockdowns has led to a surge in home cooking and time spent hanging out in the kitchen. Vintage cookware fits right into that homey, old-fashioned vibe. There are lustrous chili bowls with handles, and casserole dishes set on top of brass candle warmers. These are durable dishes, often smaller than modern serving pieces, that can go from freezer to oven to table. But collectors usually acquire them for enjoyment, not utility. “It really sets your kitchen apart from others,” said Victoria Aude, an interior designer in Canton, Massachusetts. “It’s not an item you can just buy off the shelf at Bloomingdale's.” The old dishes are also nice accents when decorating a room, said Atlanta-based interior designer Beth Halpern Brown. “They can add that quick pop of colour," she said. "You can decorate a wall with them, or put one on display and change the space.” Corning first released a Pyrex dish in 1915. By the 1930s, Anchor Hawking Glass Corporation released its competitor brand Fire King. But it’s the kitchenware made between 1950 and 1980 that seem to be most popular right now. Jo Adinolfi, a 62-year-old nurse from Shelton, Connecticut, collects Pyrex mixing bowls and stackable refrigerator sets, what collectors affectionately call “fridgies.” She started collecting and selling about 10 years ago and owns more than 2,000 pieces. The mid-20th-century glass bowls and casserole dishes from brands like Fire King and Pyrex haven’t changed, but their prices have. “The more people that collect, the higher the demand is, the more people are trying to source the right goods to be able to feed that request,” said Stan Savellis, 42, of Sydney, Australia, who has collected vintage kitchenware since his teenage years and runs the online store That Retro Piece. Television and social media have also generated interest. Series like “WandaVision,” “Firefly Lane,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Mad Men" all highlight midcentury kitchens and kitchenware. And then there's social media too, said Vicki Matranga, the design programs co-ordinator for the International Housewares Association and author of the book “America at Home: A Celebration of Twentieth-Century Housewares.” “With everyone at home now, you can look at collections on Facebook or Instagram,” she said. In pre-pandemic days, vintage collectors would meet up at swaps. Now, people are buying and selling on eBay, Etsy, Facebook and other websites. The rarest pieces have sold for thousands of dollars, such as the 1959 “Lucky in Love” covered casserole dish that Goodwill sold for $5,994 in 2017. Still, some enthusiasts simply like the vintage look and sentimentality. “It goes with my house,” said Ashley Linder, 37, of Lake Jackson, Texas. Linder’s vintage collection includes can openers from the 1950s, and they still work. “Fortunately, I have the space to display most of it, though some are seasonal-use,” she said. One of her most treasured finds was a Pyrex “Pink Daisy 045” casserole dish on eBay. It was in great condition, still in the box. “You don’t come across a lot of pink pieces in the box,” she said. She paid $300 for it and messaged the seller in hopes of finding out how it was so well preserved. “The lady had bought an old farmhouse in Nebraska, and it was left there,” she said. “It’s an investment.” Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
Prince Edward Islanders are being advised to stay off the roads if possible Tuesday, with RCMP and plow dispatchers saying surfaces are slippery and whiteout conditions are making visibility poor in some areas. There have been at least four collisions Tuesday afternoon in the East Prince area alone — in Grand River, Summerside, Bedeque and Norboro. At least three involved multiple vehicles at intersections. "Across the Island, road conditions are slippery and snow covered," said RCMP Sgt. Chris Gunn. There's no word yet on whether there were injuries. Gunn said if you have to drive, take extra time and reduce speeds according to the conditions. The snow and wind storm began Monday afternoon and was followed in many regions by hours of rain before a deep freeze set in early Tuesday. Winds are expected to stay strong well into Wednesday. Plows were bust trying to keep the roads clear Tuesday.(Danny Arsenault/CBC) Maritime Electric has restored power to almost 1,000 customers in western P.E.I., mostly in the area around Borden-Carleton. Some COVID-19 testing clinics cancelled Health PEI first delayed and then cancelled COVID-19 testing clinics planned for Slemon Park and Three Oaks high school in Summerside and for Bordon-Carleton. Closures or cancellations due to weather can be reported to CBC's Storm Centre at 1-877-236-9350. More from CBC P.E.I.
Britain's Prince Philip was receiving treatment and undergoing heart tests on Tuesday, two weeks after the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth was admitted to hospital in London as a precaution after he felt unwell. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was transferred on Monday from the private King Edward VII hospital to St Bartholomew's Hospital, which is a centre of excellence for cardiac care, for tests for a pre-existing heart condition and treatment for an unspecified infection which is not COVID-related. His 14-night stay in hospital is the longest he has needed treatment, although Buckingham Palace has said he is comfortable and responding to treatment.
WARSAW, Poland — The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that Poland’s new regulations for appointing judges to the Supreme Court could violate EU law. The ruling obliges Poland’s right-wing government to discontinue these regulations and observe the principles of judicial independence and the right to judicial protection. In a decision that could have a powerful effect on future court verdicts regarding judicial appointments, the ruling also allows Poland's courts to refrain from applying the regulations introduced by the government in 2018 and 2019. The legislation in Poland strengthened political influence over a top judicial body, the National Council of the Judiciary, and the body's procedure of appointments to the Supreme Court. It also curbed the right to appeal the council's decisions. The regulations “which have the effect of removing effective judicial review of that council’s decisions ... (proposing) candidates for the office of judge at the Supreme Court — are liable to infringe EU law," the European Court of Justice said in its ruling. The ruling was in response to a query by Poland's top administrative court to the European court regarding a complaint by some judges. The judges said the new regulations stripped them of the right to appeal a decision rejecting them as candidates for the Supreme Court. Based on Tuesday's ruling, Poland's Supreme Administrative Court can now review the appeals by the five judges. Some lawmakers praised the court's decision. The ruling on Polish government’s “political interference in the judiciary is concrete evidence that the government is blatantly flouting the rule of law, despite multiple warnings. It is also destroying Europe’s trust in the legal system there," said Jeroen Lenaers, a European Parliament member. ___ This story has been corrected to say Poland's top administrative court turned to the ECJ, not the judges themselves. The Associated Press
Living near the volcano is no easy task for locals, as they have to clear huge amounts of ash from the streets, and sometimes even run for cover.View on euronews
Islanders eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can now book appointments online through Skip the Waiting Room. The P.E.I.-based company said it has secured a contract with the province to help provide more efficient access during the pandemic. "We saw reports of people waiting in a car for 8 hours to get testing done," said CEO and co-founder Mark Richardson. "COVID seemed like a great fit for me, so I started rattling the chains that I could rattle and said: 'As an Islander and a business, we'd love to help out with this.'" The company was born five years ago after Richardson found himself sitting in the waiting room at a walk-in clinic — for four and a half hours. "I thought to myself: 'There's got to be a better way to do this.'" 'I had seen some of the frustration and seen some of the lineups at the testing centres,' says Mark Richardson, the CEO and co-founder of Skip the Waiting Room. From there, the online site and app were created, giving others the option of pre-booking appointments to reduce time spent lingering in clinics. So far, Richardson said around 60,000 people have used the service for walk-in care on the Island. "I think every Canadian understands the frustration and wasted time of sitting in a waiting room or trying to get through a phone line." Now, in addition to becoming available to other provinces, Richardson said the company has expanded on P.E.I. to areas like internal medicine, MRI appointments and mammography appointments. Meeting an urgent timeline For those looking to book online before heading into a walk-in clinic, there is a fee of $5. But because of the terms of his contract with the P.E.I government, Richardson says it's free to schedule provincial services such as COVID-19 vaccines. I'm sure it will get a little bit more hectic when we get to the general announcement or the general population. - Mark Richardson, Skip the Waiting Room A statement from Health P.E.I said it entered into a short-term agreement with Skip the Waiting Room after it was identified as the only option available to "meet the urgent timelines to launch an online scheduling system to support COVID vaccine delivery." According to the statement, all safeguards outlined under the P.E.I Health Information Act are being maintained. "We had to jump through a lot of privacy hoops and some threat-risk assessments and all those things," said Richardson. "It was an extensive process but I'm glad to be on the other side of it." 'Going to do our best' Richardson said he doesn't know the exact number of people who have used the company to book vaccines so far — but he said he does expect it to increase. "I'm sure it will get a little bit more hectic when we get to the general announcement or the general population," he said. "I know people will be very eager to get their vaccine, as I am." For now, Richardson said, the company is spending time making improvements so that when Islanders do reach out to book virtually, Skip the Waiting Room is ready. "We might be able to book, you know, thousands of people a day, 24/7," he said. "We're working our best to make sure that there will be no hiccups. "No promises, but we're certainly going to do our best." More from CBC P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador's four health authorities have signed a deal with a U.S.-based health-care company that promises financial incentives — totalling tens of millions of dollars — if it cuts costs at hospitals and long-term care homes across the province. The contract puts the Change Healthcare Canada — its Canadian headquarters are in British Columbia — in charge of building software that involves health-care scheduling and collaborating with the health authorities on "improved operational efficiency and anticipated cost savings." Those savings could come from reducing staffing costs, overtime, sick time, payroll errors and time-keeping labour, the contract states. The contract comes with a lucrative possibility: the more savings Change Healthcare helps find, the more money it makes, up to $35 million over the course of the deal. The provincial government, however, said the goal of the project is not to cut spending but to avoid staff burnout. The contract came into effect in June with no public announcement before or after the deal was done — a signing that gave $3 million up front to Change Healthcare to begin months of preparation prior to the five-year operational side of the deal kicking in. The contract's signatures include those of a Change Healthcare executive vice-president, the chief executive officers of Eastern, Central, Western and Labrador-Grenfell Health, and the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information, an entity that oversees the province's health-care information system and electronic records. The deal also states the health authorities will cover sales tax and fees for any work Change Healthcare does beyond the contract's original scope. The authorities will also have to pay up to $5 million in penalties if they don't achieve 95 per cent adoption of the program within the organizations. Eastern Health, where the program will roll out first, did not respond to CBC's request for an interview or comment by deadline. Fears of job cuts: union The deal came as a surprise to at least one union, representing 3,000 health-care workers in the province, which learned about it months later. Sherry Hillier, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, attended a virtual meeting in the fall to discuss details of the deal with stakeholders. "I was kinda like, 'Holy God, what is this all about?'" said Hillier. The contract doesn't get into the fine details of where savings will be achieved, and how much, but in a slide presentation from October, Change Healthcare stated its software will anticipate peak demand in the system, and will "align staffing to demand" as well as "optimize staff effectiveness." Sherry Hillier, president of the provincial branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says members of her union who are employed in health care are overworked and racking up overtime because there aren't enough people to do the work before them.(Heather Gillis/CBC) Hillier said she doesn't see how that can happen, as her members are stretched thin as it is. To her, the contract means job cuts, and she questions whether an algorithm can match up to the reality of people's day-to-day duties. "My biggest fear is for our members out there. Our members are overworked right now, they're understaffed, and this system is only going to make the health-care system that much worse," Hillier said. When the meeting ended, Hillier said, she "didn't leave with a good feeling about this company," and contacted CUPE counterparts across the country. In Manitoba, CUPE's experience with Change Healthcare was one of widespread job cuts, she said, leaving those still employed struggling to manage their workloads. "It's actually made for a devastating workforce in a couple of the hospitals in Winnipeg that CUPE represents there. It's been bad times in Winnipeg just with this company, because of the cuts," she said. A spokesperson for a government health agency in Manitoba, however, disagreed, saying the company's software has "improved patient flow" and reduced reliance on overtime staffing. "We strongly dispute the assertion that there were any 'job cuts' related to the implementation of this software," the spokesperson said in an email, "and have continued to actively recruit for CUPE support staff during this time." According to its website, Change Healthcare is "focused on accelerating the transformation of the healthcare system through insight and innovation," and says it is one of the largest health-care networks in the United States. Hillier questions the motives of Change Healthcare to make changes — "This corporation is actually in it for the money," she said — and asks why the health authorities could potentially give millions of dollars to an American company when the province is in dire financial straits. After the story was published, and after Hillier originally spoke to CBC News, CUPE issued a media release late Tuesday afternoon stating it wanted the four health authorities to "cancel their deal" with Change Healthcare. The union draws a connection from the contract to Ronan Seagrave, chief operating officer of Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre, who was on hand when the company's plan for N.L. was presented to stakeholders last fall. Seagrave, according to the union's release, was a KPMG consultant working on a report for the Manitoba health care system. "His health system transformation team made 'title changes' to hundreds of full-time jobs, converting the hours of work to part-time. At least 500 nurses received 'job deletion notices' that fall, along with more than 700 hospital support staff," reads CUPE NL's media release. Unions were at the table from the 'get go': Haggie Health Minister John Haggie said he is surprised to hear CUPE take issue with the contract. "The unions were there from the get-go.… I don't understand where they are coming from," he told CBC News on Tuesday. "You have a company that is incentivized to produce the best results because they share in our success. And I think over the term of the contract they get somewhere around 10 or 15 per cent of the value of the savings. The health authorities, the health-care system, the province keep the rest, if there are savings." After Haggie's interview, CUPE said it was not informed that the contract had already been signed when members were invited to a presentation about it last fall. Health Minister John Haggie, seen here in a Skype interview with CBC, said the contract with Change Healthcare Canada also aims to reduce worker burnout, too. (CBC/Skype) Haggie said the project originated in 2016 and came out of discussions at the time with the Registered Nurses' Union. He said former president Debbie Forward was "enthusiastic" about the approach. Haggie said the approach and contract may be new to the province, but Vancouver Coastal Health has used the approach and "their reports were very favourable." "It's not new, it's simply just not paper-based, it's electronic. Where it stemmed from was from our desire to help avoid burnout among staff. So they're not being mandated back or they're not doing extra shifts and overtime, since you can match the needs for staff and the right mix and right numbers, with the number of patients, and the level of illness you see on the floor." "All scheduling on health care and front lines is done on paper and this was a way of getting that all sorted out, so that it was electronic,and you could match the staffing in a two-week period to the expected demand on the unit." CBC News asked the Registered Nurses' Union if, in fact, Forward did support the contract. A spokesperson said the union "did not see or have any input on a contract. What we have been doing is pushing for government to move to acuity-based staffing." A statement from the union went on to say: "The current staffing model for nursing is not meeting the needs of patients and results in chronic understaffing, excessive overtime and burnout among registered nurses." It also said the union supports "staffing based on the real time needs of patients, not the number of beds or allocated budget," and added its executive will be "monitoring the rollout of the new system and remain hopeful that it will improve workloads, better align staffing to meet patient needs, and improve scheduling and patient flow." Haggie, meanwhile, challenged those who see this as a roundabout way of making cuts. "They are mistaken," he said. "The motivation behind this was to match better the needs of patients and meet them, also with the needs of our workforce. We have heard how hard people have worked during the pandemic, this tool will help make their life easier." PCs, NDP slam the contract Opposition House leader David Brazil says the financial incentives in the deal are a non-starter for him. "I have a real problem with that. I would think the people in Newfoundland and Labrador would have a problem with that. And I would think the health-care professionals would first be asking, 'Why not engage with us?'" he told CBC News on Tuesday. "Taking a company that looks at a software package to decide how we better access health care, and the particular needs, to me is not the best solution." While the contract was part of a competitive public tender process, NDP Leader Alison Coffin asked why there has been no information about it, until now. "If this was good news for our hospitals, clinics, and long-term care homes, you can bet the Liberals wouldn't have kept this a secret," said Coffin in a statement. Dire need for savings It's no secret Newfoundland and Labrador has a money problem. With a net debt of $16 billion, the province is close to insolvency, and the prospect of cuts to many sectors looms as a distinct possibility. Health-care spending, comprising more than 37 per cent of the last provincial budget, is a target. The economic task force was scheduled to deliver an interim report on Sunday with potential recommendations for change, before announcing on Saturday it would miss that deadline by up to six weeks. Under those harsh realities — complicated further by the pandemic and the provincial election — Hillier said hiring Change Healthcare still isn't the right move. While overtime and sick leave may be a spending issue, she said a larger problem is not having enough staff in the first place, particularly in long-term care, causing people to rack up overtime to get the job done. She said the province needs to instead train and hire more workers to drive overtime costs down. "To increase the workload on our members is just crazy. It can't be done," she said. The contract states the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's will be the pilot site for the new system before it expands to the rest of the province.(CBC) She also said any cuts will have a clear impact on patients, causing service reductions and longer wait times. The deal hasn't been brought to union members' attention yet, she said, in part because it took six weeks after CUPE-NL found out about it to even get a copy of the contract to peruse. With the contract signed months ago, the project is now well into the first of three phases. The goal is to begin implementing the plan by September, starting at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's. The program will then roll out through the rest of the health authorities' acute-care facilities, including hospitals and long-term care homes throughout the province, with the contract set to conclude in September 2026, with an option to renew the contract after that point. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
China said on Tuesday that it was discussing a visit to its Xinjiang region by United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, but that she should not set out with the aim of condemning its policies. Bachelet said on Friday that reports about arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, sexual violence and forced labour in Xinjiang necessitated a thorough and independent assessment of the situation.