The Weather Network's Chris Murphy and Jessie Uppal have the National forecast.
The Weather Network's Chris Murphy and Jessie Uppal have the National forecast.
China has granted Canadian officials in Beijing on-site virtual consular access to detained Canadian Michael Kovrig but not to his fellow detainee Michael Spavor, Global Affairs Canada said today. The effort to gain access was led by Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton and the meeting took place on Jan. 21. A statement from Global Affairs said it could not give out details of the meeting because of privacy concerns. Kovrig and Spavor were detained in December 2018 shortly after Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian officials while she was changing planes in Vancouver. Meng was arrested on a U.S. extradition request over allegations she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arrest and detention of Kovrig and Spavor is widely seen as an act of reprisal for Meng's arrest. Both men face charges of spying for Canada. "The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release," said a statement from Global Affairs Canada. Since their arrest, Canadian officials have had only sporadic consular access to the two men. From January to October of last year, family and Canadian officials had no access to the detainees — something China attributed to efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Canadian officials were last granted consular access to Spavor on December 14, 2020. The Global Affairs statement says that access to Spavor has been withheld because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Since their arrest more than two years ago, Canadian officials have been granted consular access to Kovrig on 20 occasions and met with Spavor a total of 19 times. Meng gets family visit Meng, meanwhile, has been released on bail and is continuing to deny the charges against her. Under her bail conditions, Meng is required to wear a GPS ankle monitoring bracelet and is confined to her home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day. She is allowed to travel around the Lower Mainland with security guards during the day; she has to pay for the security herself. While Kovrig and Spavor remain behind bars, last week it emerged that Meng's husband, Liu Xiaozong, and her two children were granted permission to come to Canada by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials. Liu came to Canada in October and in December was followed by the couple's children. Global Affairs said that Meng's family members were granted permission to come here through a process that allows family members of foreign nationals to visit Canada temporarily. Extradition Meng's extradition proceeding is expected to get underway at the beginning of March, and to continue in various stages until the end of April. The first part of the proceedings will involve a defence bid to have the case tossed because of alleged violations of Meng's rights. Her lawyers claim she was used as a political pawn by the administration of former U.S. president Donald Trump and that the Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation at the time of her arrest to deny her access to a lawyer. The defence claims that the U.S. deliberately misled Canada about the strength of the case against Meng and is reaching beyond its jurisdiction to punish her. The final part of the proceedings will be a test of the strength of the extradition request itself.
CHARLOTTETOWN — A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an "almost non-existent" cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions.Island Abbey Foods said Friday sales of its Honibe cough and cold lozenges have declined in the first two quarters of 2021, forcing the Charlottetown company to cut 30 temporary positions from its production operation.Measures aimed at curbing the pandemic such as masks, frequent hand washing, physical distancing and working from home appear to have lessened the prevalence of seasonal viruses.The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies aimed at soothing sore throats and nasal congestion. Both Metro Inc., which operates drugstores primarily under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, and Loblaw Companies Ltd., which has a network of Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix outlets, have noted the weak cough and cold season. Metro president and CEO Eric La Fleche told analysts during a conference call in November that it appeared to be a "much weaker cold and flu season," as the increase in sanitary measures due to COVID-19 appear to help curb the spread of seasonal viruses.Loblaw president Sarah Davis also noted during a call with investors in November that the company was looking at ways to offset a declining trend in the cough and cold sector.The Public Health Agency of Canada's weekly influenza report earlier this month said flu activity remains "exceptionally low" for this time of year.The FluWatch report for the week of Jan. 3 to 9 said flu testing continues at seasonal levels but there is "no evidence of community circulation of influenza."For Island Abbey Foods, the decline comes on the heels of a "tremendous year" in 2020, said Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer."We increased head count significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success," he said in a statement. The Charlottetown company has continuously adapted to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world, he said. Despite substantial gains with its digital retail strategy, Spencer said online sales have not replaced the volume the company projected for a regular cold and cough season. The company said demand for its gummy products continues to be strong. It said planning is underway for a major expansion project, which includes state of the art equipment that will increase capacity to meet growing demand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Friday he wanted it known that he had no plans to commit suicide in prison, as he issued a message of support to his followers on the eve of protests the authorities say are illegal. Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying home for the first time since being poisoned with what the West says was a military-grade nerve agent that Navalny says was applied to his underpants by state security agents. The 44-year-old lawyer, in a Moscow prison pending the outcome of four legal matters he describes as trumped up, accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering his attempted murder.
Le gouvernement Legault a fait le point sur la situation de la pandémie au Québec, durant une conférence de presse lundi, 11 janvier. Les policiers ont livré 740 contraventions à travers le Québec durant les deux premières nuits du couvre-feu, samedi et dimanche. M. Legault a rappelé qu’il s’agit d’une mesure grave, parce que la situation est grave. L’objectif est de protéger deux groupes de personnes : le personnel du réseau de la santé, débordé et en manque d’effectifs, et les personnes vulnérables, en particulier celles âgées de 65 ans et plus, qui représentent 80 % des patients et 95 % des décès causés par la COVID. Vaccination Le ministre de la Santé, Christian Dubé, a annoncé que la vaccination allait bon train. « D’ici deux semaines, au plus tard, tout le personnel des CHSLD seront vaccinés. » Plus de la moitié des résidents des CHSLD et plus de 60 000 membres du réseau de la santé sont déjà vaccinés. Le Québec s’attend à recevoir 46 000 doses du vaccin de Pfizer et 34 000 de celui de Moderna cette semaine. M. Dubé a averti que, si le nombre de vaccinations diminue cette semaine, la réduction sera imputable à un délai dans les livraisons. Il a également répété que le gouvernement était prêt à recevoir et à administrer jusqu’à 250 000 doses par semaine. Hôpitaux Dre Lucie Opatrny, sous-ministre adjointe à la direction générale des affaires universitaires, médicales, infirmières et pharmaceutiques, était aussi présente à la conférence. Elle a donné des précisions sur l’état du système de santé au Québec. « La situation des hôpitaux est très critique. Il y a une pression énorme, malgré les efforts et les mesures prises », a-t-elle indiqué. Si la tendance se maintient, plusieurs hôpitaux, en particulier dans la grande région de Montréal, pourraient dépasser leur capacité. Déjà, plusieurs activités seront délestées en partie ou en totalité par les hôpitaux, comme les chirurgies semi-urgentes et non-urgentes, les dépistages du cancer du colon, les greffes de rein avec donneurs vivants (à l’exception des patients pédiatriques), ainsi que beaucoup d’interventions en médicine familiale par les cliniques externes. Dre Opatrny a averti que les choix des activités à délester sont de plus en plus difficiles à faire, et que les impacts sur le système de santé se feront sentir pendant des mois, voire des années, en raison des listes d’attente qui s’allongent. 140 000 chirurgies sont présentement en attente au Québec.Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
A bevy of major U.S. earnings reports next week led by Apple, Microsoft and Facebook could help technology and growth stocks reassert their dominance after a recent run by banks, energy and other potential beneficiaries of an economic reopening. That shift has stalled in recent days as investors weighed lackluster outlooks from big banks and a blockbuster quarterly report from Netflix that lifted its shares by 17%. Next week's crop of fourth-quarter results - with about a quarter of the S&P 500 reporting - could help determine whether the resurgence in growth stocks will continue, potentially threatening the recent rally in value and cyclical shares, said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services.
For the first time in seven months, Jeanette Harper isn’t looking over her shoulder for a long-term care employee trying to rush her out after her weekly 30-minute visit with her 89-year-old mother. Harper was granted essential visitor status this week after a long battle for the right to visit and help her mother Marguerite Bell in her Eden Gardens, Nanaimo dementia care centre. “I was thrilled,” said Harper, whose mother has Alzheimer’s. “My mom still knows me behind her mask, so hoping she gets a bit of her spark back.” Now instead of being limited to 30 minutes per week as her mother’s only allowed social visitor, Harper can spend 90 minutes with her mother three times a week. They’re still confined to Bell’s room but have been enjoying crosswords and looking at family photos together. But thousands of other families hoping to visit and support long-term care residents are still struggling to be approved under the province’s essential visitor guidelines. Harper suspects an appeal to the Island Health Patient Care Quality Office and a letter from her lawyer in Vancouver ultimately put enough pressure on the care home, which had denied her application, but she can’t be sure. Harper said it shouldn’t be so difficult for people to be able to support their loved ones’ mental and physical health during the pandemic. “It’s very sad that a person has to jump through that many hoops and fight that hard.” The decision offers a sliver of hope for families of long-term care residents that new and clarified rules on essential visits will allow them precious time with loved ones. The province released updated guidance on Jan. 7 that clarified the criteria to qualify as an essential visitor and the appeal process if care home managers deny a request. Currently, less than than 15 per cent of the province’s 20,000 long-term care residents have designated essential visitors, who are allowed to visit multiple times per week and for longer than designated social visitors. The original health orders placed the burden on families to prove the care home couldn’t provide essential care before they could be approved as a visitor. And a report from the BC Seniors’ Advocate found that between March and November, about half of all essential visitor applications were rejected by care homes. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this week that she hopes every resident of long-term care will have the chance to have an essential visitor, but that it has been a “challenge to operationalize.” But Harper and a group of more than 30 other families say Henry should change the rules to ensure every care home resident is allowed one essential visitor. That has been the practice in Ontario since September. Karen Carteri, the lawyer representing the families, wrote Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Dec. 4 saying the province was denying long-term care residents basic rights and putting them at risk. “The existing isolation and visitation limits in long-term care and assisted living arguably violate the security of the person and liberty rights of residents of care homes and the rights of their families,” Carteri wrote. Carteri told The Tyee the group had not received a direct response from the government. On Dec. 29, they filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsperson due to the lack of response. The Tyee has reached out to the province for comment and did not hear back before publication. Carteri said most of her clients are now re-applying for essential visitor status under the new rules. She said they’ll continue fighting until it’s clear that essential visitors are being allowed for all residents. “The new guidelines are only a meaningful response to the calls for change, including ours, if government ensures the new guidelines are interpreted and implemented in a manner that results in changes for families who have been prevented from visitation for so many months,” she wrote in an email to The Tyee. “Too many seniors in long-term care have been denied any such contact at all with loved ones at any point since the outset of the pandemic.” Harper is grateful to have more time with her mother but doesn’t want others to have to go through the same arduous process as the pandemic continues. “Our loved ones don’t have forever, they only have now,” she said. “Time is not on their side.” Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
The South Klondike Highway south of Carcross, Yukon, is still deemed impassable Friday morning after a series of avalanches earlier this week. A map on the 511 Yukon road report shows the closure extends from Carcross and south beyond the Yukon border. While crews have been working away to clear the road, Greg Eikland, western area supervisor with the Department of Highways and Public Works, says there's still a lot more snow to be dealt with as of Thursday before it can reopen. He says the avalanches are rated about a three on a one-to-five scale and can be around 15 feet high and between 40 to 100 feet wide. "A size three is [like] a very small car," he said adding it could take out a smaller building and bring down trees with it. So far, he says since there isn't any reported damage, though sometimes avalanches can cause problems for the guard rails on the road. Right now, crews are still working on digging through the snow. "We just target areas that are frequent avalanche zones," Eikland said. He explained that if the avalanches don't come down, when they should or if there is a lot of snow storage, such as large overhangs, then they'll do controlled snowbombing. "We'll actually close the road, bomb them and deal with snow that way," he said. "One particular [avalanche] that is a pretty active one, it didn't come down, so [we] threw some charges on that and brought it down." "So that just adds to the amount of work that we have to get everything cleaned up so we can open this road back up." More avalanches than usual Eikland says there can be up to about eight people working on the snow clearing. While the avalanches are only a little bigger that usual, he says it's an exceptional year in terms of how often they're tumbling. "It's just the frequency of them — they're coming down quite a bit," he said. "It's a good winter for snow for sure." He says, despite the border to Alaska being closed to all non-essential travel, it's still important that the highway is passable for fuel trucks and other traffic needing to get through. "We try and get a hole punched through so at least if we have to move some traffic for emergencies or what not we can all get them out," Eikland said. "Hopefully we can get that out as soon as we can … just keep keep plugging away at these avalanches and then we should be ready to open." It's hard to predict when the highway might open, but Eikland said on Thursday that the highway could open Friday afternoon or sometime on Saturday. 'Avalanches still possible out there' James Minifie, lead avalanche field technician for Avalanche Canada in Yukon, said Friday morning that people should stay aware of the fact that big storms have been creating sizeable avalanches. "People should continue to look for that pattern of storms coming, you know avalanche danger goes up during and shortly after the storm, and then kind of slowly comes down over the next few days." He said if people are heading out into inland areas they should build time into their day to account for varying conditions. "You might get surprised by avalanches in places that you wouldn't expect them, so, you know, really taking time to think hard about your route and using terrain wisely to ... reach your objective." "Avalanches are still possible out there, even though we've come into the moderate danger rating. You know just really thinking about the steepness of the slope," he said. He said people should also be aware of the quality of the snow, listen for "whompf" sounds, and watch for cracks. He said people in Yukon can get information on the Yukon avalanche website or the Avalanche Canada website. People should also post to the Mountain Information Network so they can track inland snow conditions.
Russia said on Friday that TikTok had deleted some of what it called illegal posts promoting weekend protests aimed at securing the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. It has also opened a criminal case into Navalny's supporters. Posts promoting Navalny and protests planned for Saturday have been viewed more than 300 million times on TikTok, the Chinese-owned video sharing app, since he was jailed this week after flying back to Russia for the first time since being poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Pfizer had reassured him it would meet Canada's vaccine order in full by end-March as, with a second COVID wave spreading across the country, he hinted at a clampdown on citizens leaving home. Pfizer, which is retooling a European manufacturing plant, told Canada on Tuesday it would receive no vaccine next week, promising more pain for provinces already complaining about a shortage of supplies. Pfizer also said it would cut supplies to the European Union.
Even during the pandemic, the Okanagan continues to become a hotspot for film projects with bigger stars and films expected on the horizon according to the head of the Okanagan Film Commission. Chair of the film commission, Jon Summerland, told the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) board at their Jan. 21 meeting that movie producers created around $48 million in economic impact in the region last year. The non-profit film commission, funded in part by local regional governments, led the way in health and safety protocols while shooting in 2020, according to Summerland. “One month into the pandemic, we were already quarantining crews in hotels and shooting Hallmark movies. So we were the first in Canada to have film and we’ve been steady since. We were instrumental in creating the protocol for COVID with WorkSafe BC, they were on our sets every day in the beginning,” Summerland said. Health and safety officers became full-time crew members, now there are three on each set in the Okanagan. There were a total of 25 productions filmed in the Okanagan in 2020, including “Dangerous,” from Mind’s Eye Entertainment starring Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Fate of the Furious) with an approximate $11 million in economic impact for the region. Much of the economic boon from the year could be attributed to around 10 Hallmark and Lifetime movies shot mostly in Summerland, Peachland and Kelowna. With more productions in the Okanagan and the word getting back to Hollywood, the film commission is opening the door to bigger projects and features. The film commission advertised the landscapes of the Okanagan in the magazine Hollywood Monthly, and having some big-name producers and directors living in the region doesn’t hurt either. “So all of them have been great tools in my tool belt to talk to Netflix, who I spoke with yesterday, to talk to bigger feature films, who are now already calling us because all these little shows that nobody watches, Hollywood watches. Hollywood goes ‘where are these being done?’ So now we’re on the radar,” Summerland said. He added he was working on a package for a film with a budget of $180 million. While Summerland said it is unlikely the commission will land the film, it could be a preview of things to come. “We are growing as a film community.” Combined, regional districts in the Okanagan contributed $255,244 to the film commission in 2020, with $45,000 coming from the RDOS and $130,000 from the Regional District of Central Okanagan. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Les montagnes, l’air frais et les forêts laurentiennes attirent les amateurs de sports d’hiver dans les Pays d’en Haut depuis plus d’un siècle, faisant du tourisme le moteur économique de la région. Malgré la pandémie, le confinement et le couvre-feu, cette année ne fait pas exception. Bien au contraire! Discussion avec André Genest, préfet de la MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut. « Le gouvernement a demandé aux gens d’aller jouer dehors. Alors, je ne sais pas s’ils ont peur de la vice-première ministre ou s’ils sont dociles (rire), mais ils sont allés jouer dehors! », lance en boutade M. Genest, en référence à l’achalandage sans précédent des dernières semaines dans la MRC. Le préfet admet toutefois que le phénomène n’est pas unique aux Pays d’en Haut. Des collègues préfets lui ont rapporté des situations semblables ailleurs dans les Laurentides, et il est persuadé que c’est vrai pour l’ensemble du Québec. Les Québécois ont soif de plein air, et les Pays d’en Haut sont prêts à leur en offrir. « Nous sommes toujours contents de recevoir des excursionnistes, et nous sommes toujours un milieu accueillant », souligne M. Genest. L’achalandage élevé des dernières semaines a toutefois causé quelques inquiétudes chez les élus et les résidents de la région. À l’entrée des sentiers les plus populaires, les stationnements ont débordé, des rassemblements ont été aperçus et des citoyens ont été dérangés. Certaines municipalités ont même décidé de limiter l’accès à leurs infrastructures à leurs résidents seulement. M. Genest comprend la frustration de certains résidents, surtout que plusieurs sont venus s’installer dans les Pays d’en Haut pour les sports d’hiver, oui, mais aussi pour la quiétude. Mais pour le préfet, l’enjeu est plutôt de mieux répartir les usagers. Après tout, ce n’est pas la nature qui manque! « J’encouragerais les gens à découvrir des endroits moins populaires. » Il donne l’exemple du parc du Corridor aérobique, un ancien chemin de fer converti en parc linéaire, qui lie Morin-Heights à Amherst sur 58 km. Il mentionne aussi une nouvelle section de ski de fond entre Lac-des-Seize-Îles et Montcalm et des sentiers pour le biathlon à Wentworth-Nord. « Nos plateformes numériques montrent les endroits et les circuits disponibles. J’invite les gens à regarder ce qu’il y a à découvrir. Il y a des choses moins connues. Arrêtons d’aller toujours aux mêmes endroits et soyons imaginatifs! », soutient M. Genest. Les centres d’accueil peuvent aussi rediriger les excursionnistes vers des sentiers moins achalandés. Surtout, si vous arrivez quelque part et que le stationnement est plein, c’est signe que l’aventure vous attend ailleurs. Le préfet insiste que se stationner dans les rues avoisinantes peut gêner la circulation et les opérations de déneigement, voire compromettre la sécurité publique, si une ambulance ou des pompiers devaient passer pour porter assistance à un randonneur blessé ou en détresse. M. Genest encourage aussi tant les résidents et les villégiateurs que les visiteurs à varier les jours et les heures auxquels ils profitent du plein air. Les jours de semaine sont toujours moins achalandés, par exemple. « Je marche tous les matins à 6h, et je ne rencontre personne. Même à 7h ou 8h, il y a peu de monde. Il ne faut pas que tout le monde arrive en même temps à 10h ou à midi! Bon… si on marche à 6h il fait encore noir, mais à 7h, on peut profiter d’un magnifique lever de soleil! » Même si le nombre de cas actifs a diminué dans les Pays d’en Haut, le préfet indique qu’il faut demeurer prudents. Vous pouvez profiter des sentiers avec votre bulle familiale, mais pas avec un groupe d’amis, rappelle-t-il. « Et quand c’est plein, c’est plein! On ne veut pas revoir de situation comme cet été en Gaspésie. Généralement, les gens sont très respectueux, mais c’est sûr que les résidents ne veulent pas être envahis », prévient M. Genest.Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
After complaints from its residents, Wheatland County is confronting large, personal medicinal cannabis growing facilities that, unlike regulated commercial facilities, operate without having to notify the municipality. Tom Ikert, Division 4 Councillor, brought forth the issue after becoming aware of a cannabis growing operation close to his residence. “I went to the county because the neighbours were complaining about the smell,” he said. At first Ikert was assured that no growing facility exists in the area – the county allows commercial cannabis cultivation in the Wheatland Industrial Park only – but he later determined the facility was a personal medical cannabis growing facility. A big one. In November 2020, Wheatland County published a white paper arguing there is a regulatory gap for personal and medicinal cannabis growing that is creating safety and environmental risks and causing disputes among neighbours. The white paper was sent to local MLAs, Bow River MP Martin Shields, and Premier Jason Kenney. Under Canada’s cannabis laws, the federal government is responsible for the rules for cannabis production and processing, while provinces and territories are responsible for regulating distribution and sale. While Alberta municipalities have the power to create land use bylaws on where cannabis can be grown, these apply to commercial enterprises only. Municipal policies and land use regulations are not applicable to personal cannabis production. Under Health Canada’s Medicinal Use of Cannabis application, individuals can apply for a medicinal growing license. The number of plants each license holder is allowed is determined by a calculator tool that creates an output based on the number of grams they are prescribed daily. Up to 485 cannabis plants can be grown at home, without the requirement of notifying local authorities. “Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s 1,000 pounds of weed you can grow in a year if you’re using 500-watt bulbs,” said Ikert. He added many of these growers have brought three-phase power onto the sites, which raises questions as to whether the cannabis grown is strictly for personal use as restricted by law. While the permit holder is expected to meet local bylaws, regulations and safety code requirements, the application and approval process does not require confirmation that all municipal requirements have been met. The county is arguing this has created a large regulatory loophole, where large cannabis growing facilities can be active without being known or accountable to municipal enforcement. The problem is exacerbated by regulations allowing a designated producer to be registered by multiple permit holders. Multiple (up to four) registrations can be active at one same location, meaning up to 1,940 plants can be grown together. “You can also congregate, in a sense,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields. “Three or four growers get together and say, ‘let’s just roll with this one place,’” he said. “Wheatland County is absolutely right saying that if cannabis is being grown as a congregated personal site, municipalities have no clue what’s out there.” Many growers choose to make changes to their homes or buildings that legally require an electrical, gas or building permit. If they applied for a permit, it would be reviewed for compliance with the Alberta Building Code and the work inspected by a safety codes officer, once complete. But by not having to notify municipalities, these growers may skip the permit process and install new systems that are unsafe, the white paper argues. Without the requirement for proper ventilation, there is potential for environmental health issues from home cannabis growing, including air quality and moisture concerns (e.g. mould), and chemical exposure from use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, it states. Residents also have little recourse when faced with nuisance issues from a neighbouring facility, namely odours. If the county is notified of a nuisance growing facility that is not a known commercial operation with a development permit, the RCMP will be contacted. However, if the occupant or owner is found to have a license for medical cannabis, the only option is to let the license holder know of the complaint and work toward a voluntary solution. These personal medical grow operations do not have to have the same security systems that commercial sites require, resulting in a higher potential for crime, added Shields. The resolution of the white paper is for the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) to collaborate with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), to advocate for Health Canada to ensure municipal compliance for all personal medical cannabis production facilities for existing license holders and prior to approval for all future applications. Reeve Amber Link presented the paper to the RMA District 2: Central directors, who supported the resolution. It will go forward to the RMA District 2 spring meeting on Feb. 5. If the resolution receives support at that meeting, it will go to the RMA spring convention for consideration by all rural municipalities in Alberta, she explained. The paper will also be presented to the FCM during its March 2021 board meeting. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
GREY-BRUCE – Although there are still 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, the number of new cases continues to drop from the post-holiday spike. As of Jan. 18, there had been five new cases in the previous 24 hours – one each in Owen Sound, Brockton, Grey Highlands, Hanover and West Grey. This brings the cumulative total to 653. There are 115 high risk contacts associated with active cases. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in Grey-Bruce. An outbreak with the Town of The Blue Mountains has been declared over. The first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 200 doses, have been administered. People are being urged to follow the basic measures that brought down numbers during the first wave – wash hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally six feet) and wear a face covering correctly. Everyone should also avoid crowds and unnecessary travel as the provincial lockdown continues. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
After nearly a year in, it seems at this point the pandemic may have gotten to a lot of us. In a series of videos that have struck a chord with the internet, social media marketer and Cambridge local Mikael Melo certainly found some agreement when it comes to the lack of clarity around lockdown and state of emergency messaging in Ontario. One of Melo’s TikTok videos poking fun at the government’s state of emergency order has been watched more than one million times and has 37,000 shares as of Jan. 20. “The response to it has been wonderful,” he said. “I've just had so many people message me saying, ‘I really needed this laugh today,’ or ‘Thank you so much,’ or like, ‘It's really just lifted my spirits during these tough times.’” The sketch in question has him playing a fictional government spokesperson who still has to go to work, despite the government mandate. “We just felt ‘lockdown’ wasn’t really hitting our target audience, so ‘state of emergency’ is just our makeover,” he explains to a bewildered caller. “We’re essentially the exact same experience though,” he explains. If the official message seems a little vague, it’s “because we want customers to choose their own pandemic experience,” the operator adds. When creating the video, Melo thought a few friends would see it and “didn’t think much of it.” But the response hit home (literally) when a few friends turned into a million views in the matter of a few days. Melo “really realized” the video had gone viral when friends reached out to him about the video organically. “They would say, ‘Hey, man, like my mom's friend posted this on her Facebook’ or ‘Hey, dude, like, I'm in North Bay right now, and the local flower shop just posted your video on their Instagram.’ It was like, wow, like this is really making it throughout Ontario.” Melo thinks the reason for the video’s popularity is that the rules of the stay-at-home order still feel “loose” to a lot of people. As someone with marketing experience, the change from lockdown in March to state of emergency today “just feels like a rebrand,” he noted. Melo added that he has more videos that he’d like to keep posting, once TikTok removes his temporary ban. “They thought I was spamming, but I was just trying to respond to everyone's comments and like, thanking them for supporting the video.” Melo, who has been making short TikTok videos since March, said he’s always been someone to “crack a joke or two during tough times.” “I really enjoy making people smile,” he added. Viewers have taken delight to his followup video as the ‘operator,’ which has racked up tens of thousands of views. “In dark times, we just need to find lightness and humour,” Melo said. “And so that's kind of why I started doing those videos.” Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister.The Protecting Canada Project will start airing today its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online.The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic.The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time."Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. How an O'Toole-led Conservative government would tackle the massive national debt and deficit created by pandemic spending will be a key question for the party in the next campaign. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
A road rage incident stemming from tailgating in Lower Sackville, N.S., ended with a man being stabbed on Wednesday. Police say they were called to Old Sackville Road at 4:30 p.m. after receiving a report of an altercation between people in two different vehicles. One of the drivers was tailgating the other, according to police, and the occupants got into an argument. A man from one vehicle stabbed a 25-year-old man from Dartmouth, N.S., who was driving the other vehicle. The victim was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A female passenger in the vehicle with the stabbing victim was not injured. One of the men in the other vehicle turned himself in to police and has been released while the investigation continues. RCMP are looking for the other man, described as age 18-20, white, heavy-set and five foot nine. He was wearing black basketball shorts at the time of the incident and was not wearing a shirt. RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Lisa Croteau didn't know who was allegedly tailgating whom, or whether the two men in the suspect's vehicle knew each other. MORE TOP STORIES
MANCHESTER, England — Kevin De Bruyne is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines, meaning the Manchester City playmaker will miss key Premier League games against Liverpool and Tottenham next month. The Belgium international limped off in the win over Aston Villa on Wednesday with a muscular complaint. “The doctor said we’ll review the scan today, which we’ve done, and it will be between four and six weeks out," City manager Pep Guardiola said Friday. “We have to move forward. I’m not saying anything nobody knows about how important it is, but unfortunately for him and all of us, he is out for an important part of the season. “We have to find a solution as everyone is struggling and we have to adapt.” City travels to Anfield on Feb. 7 to take on Liverpool before welcoming Tottenham to the Etihad Stadium a week later. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
BROCKTON – Lise Patry, of LXM Law LLP, did a presentation on the review of the municipal procurement policy. The objectives of the review were to reduce costs, streamline processes, comply with legal requirements, and ensure fair, transparent and competitive procurement policies. The review recommended updating policies, establishing a procedures manual, establishing templates, establishing standard contract terms and training for council and staff. The second part of Patry’s presentation involved reviewing e-bidding software, including one that’s currently available to Brockton – bids&tenders. It’s widely used by Ontario municipalities. The third part involved 2021 procurement policy highlights that reflect best practices outlined in the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry report – specifically, staff and council’s roles in procurement. As was discussed by council, staff and Patry, an updated and streamlined policy should result in more vendors bidding on projects, less staff time devoted to preparing documents, and some cost savings. The new policy would see the CAO be brought into the procurement process, while council provides oversight. Bylaws were passed later in the meeting to adopt the procurement policy and procedures review report, and to adopt a new purchasing and procurement policy. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
In this David and Goliath story, David threw a dozen rocks, but couldn’t knock the giant down. David Strachan, treasurer of the Midhurst Ratepayers Association, who fought against the Geranium company’s plans to build two large subdivisions in the small village 10-minutes north of Barrie, is still bitter. “If we’d have thrown lots of money at it in the first place, we might have stood a chance,” Strachan said after news of the bulldozers arriving on-site at the Carson Road subdivision was released last week. But after fighting the good fight and raising more than $250,000 for legal fees and professional planners to oppose 2,500 new homes in their neighbourhood, Strachan and company realized their 12-year battle is over. In 2008, the initial plan for the Midhurst Carson Road development was approved by the township and later by the Ontario Municipal Board, the County of Simcoe, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, and several provincial agencies in 2014. It took five more years for the environmental assessment to be approved by the ministry of the environment, conservation and parks in 2019. Water and storm water management work was approved in 2020. Last December, council gave the green light for Phase 1 of the subdivision of 342 homes to begin. A bulldozer sits on the former farmland at the top of Anne Street North, where snowmobilers currently race through a small tract of trees that will remain standing. Inside the cold work trailer, site supervisor Dominic Palombi hunches down inside his coat and pulls out the site drawings of the new subdivision that will be his work address for the foreseeable future. "We start building Monday (Jan. 25)," he said. “We’ll start with the sewers for the subdivision and we’ll start building the sales office there,” added Palombi, pointing to the snow-covered field. “It’s going to be big.” Stretching between Carson Road on the south, along Wilson Drive on the west and near Snow Valley Road on the north, Palombi’s not wrong. There are expected to be more than 340 detached and semi-detached houses available to preview schematically at least this summer, said Geranium spokesperson Cheryl Shindruk. “We expect 2,500 units approximately at full build,” she continued, explaining the Doran Road site will be built along Carson Road in the future. Shindruk won’t comment on the lengthy timeline it took to push the subdivisions through the roadblocks, other than to say “development approval takes the time it needs to take.” President of the Midhurst ratepayers group, Sandy Buxton, said it wasn’t a case of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard), but also to save Minesing Wetlands which border the property. Also at stake are the Hine’s Emerald Dragonflies, which only nest in a few places in Canada, including the Springwater wetlands, she said. “It’s a very fussy animal in terms of the habitat it requires,” said Buxton. “It’s a fragile beast … which is classed as an endangered animal, not just provincially but also federally.” Nicole Audette, Springwater’s communications officer, said it was just one of many requirements that had to be satisfied before the work project could be approved. “The completion of the environmental assessment was a significant condition that needed to be satisfied to ensure the Midhurst developments could be serviced with significant consideration for the environment,” said Audette. It also included jumping through a slew of technical hoops, such as engineering design, species at risk assessments and environmental impact studies, in addition to requiring securities to ensure funding will be available to complete work in accordance with municipal regulations. As soon as weather permits, tree clearing and the installation of services including the watermains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and a stormwater management pond will begin. For more information, visit www.springwater.ca Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance