The FFL crew explains which players have underperformed for them in 2020, inluding a running back in Baltimore.
The FFL crew explains which players have underperformed for them in 2020, inluding a running back in Baltimore.
BRUSSELS — Please leave a chair empty at this year's family Christmas dinner as a precaution, or face the possibility of having that chair empty forever. That's the stark dilemma Belgium's prime minister has set to urge smaller festive family gatherings, as Europeans battle with containing the surging COVID-19 pandemic over the holiday season. Alexander De Croo argued that the country's long-running, costly efforts should not be thrown away for the sake of a few warm and fuzzy hours exchanging gifts under the Christmas tree. “I would not want the progress of the past four weeks to be wasted because of four days,” he told legislators this week. Europe's nations are struggling to reconcile cold medical advice with a tradition that calls for big gatherings in often poorly ventilated rooms, where people chat, shout and sing together — providing an ideal conduit for a virus that has killed over 350,000 people in the continent so far. These weeks it is the No. 1 cause of death in the European Union. Yet the desire for contact with family is such that all the horrible realities can be briefly sidelined. In France, it took a letter addressed to Santa Claus to put it in perspective. A year of pandemic and lockdown had weighed so much on a 22-year-old student, that as a grown adult he rekindled his youth and wrote again to the jolly children's saint. “For the end of this year, I’d simply like the family whose name I proudly bear to be reunited, and things to progressively return to normal," wrote Alexis — Santa letters don't usually involve a surname. If families have not lost close ones to the pandemic, many have been unable to meet for much of the year when distancing had to do the job that, hopefully, vaccines will do in 2021. Often grandparents could not see their grandchildren, and family functions — even weddings or funerals — required minute planning and heart-wrenching choices on who would be excluded. Hence the groundswell to hit the pause button, even for just a few days. Britain, with the continent's highest death rate at 57,031 yet a Christmas tradition unlike few others, could not resist the temptation of relaxation. People are currently barred from visiting other households in much of the U.K and there are travel limits to high-infection areas. All that will go overboard for five days over the holidays, when up to three households can form a “Christmas bubble” and members can move freely between them. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove spoke of the need to “offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this difficult year." At the same time, hospital and care home staff across Europe feel that their many sacrifices could be in vain if rules are eased too much. After all, this fall's resurgence followed similar relaxations over the summer. Although the European Union has no direct say in national Christmas restrictions, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, a former doctor, urged caution until vaccines become widely available. “We must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes," she said. "Relaxing too fast and too much risks a third wave after Christmas." But even in her native Germany, led by the ultra-careful Angela Merkel, social considerations will prevail: A current restriction that limits private gatherings to five people from up to two households, not including children, will be allowed to double to 10 people over Christmas. Karl Lauterbach, a lawmaker from Merkel's coalition and epidemiology professor at the University of Cologne, said that “Christmas is of greater importance to people, therefore the planned easing of restrictions at Christmas is the right course.” But many of Europe's scientists disagree. Steven Van Gucht, a virologist with Belgium's government health group Sciensano said Friday that Germany's Christmas rule is not about a reunion of 10 people. “It is about hundreds of thousands, millions of meetings of 10 people,” he warned. "And the impact can be enormous." So what can be done? Some counterintuitive suggestions emerge. Christmas dinner is possible — but with the core family in the dining room and grandparents in the kitchen, argues Dr. Remi Salomon, from the Paris hospital authority. “Don’t eat with them. If I give the virus to Grandma and Grandpa, that’s the worst thing of all. How would I live with that afterward?” he told France-Info network. “If we let go too quickly, the virus will circulate again too quickly.” That's why Belgium's De Croo spun his dark allegory of empty chairs from his legislative pulpit. His nation of 11.5 million has been hard-hit, with over 16,000 deaths already. The country barely managed to keep its health system afloat by imposing curfews and closing bars, restaurants and nonessential shops. Like Belgium, Italy, where the pandemic initially struck hard in Europe, is taking a hard line at Christmas. And a prime tradition is up for debate: Midnight Mass. The government is reportedly seeking to negotiate with Catholic officials to hold Christmas Eve religious celebrations earlier, before the 10 p.m. national curfew, though there’s also a proposal to extend the curfew to at least midnight around Christmastime. The Vatican hasn’t released its Christmas celebration schedule, but Pope Francis has celebrated Midnight Mass starting at 9 p.m. anyway for several years, and this year he's expected to do so before just a handful of worshippers. What Christmas Eve will look like in Austria is still unclear, much depending on the success of a massive testing program in coming days. In Oberndorf, home of the world's most famous Christmas carol, they hope its lyrics will not be taken too literally. “Silent night! Holy night! All is calm." So does the rest of Europe. ____ Angela Charlton and John Leicester in Paris, Dave Rising and Frank Jordans in Berlin and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Raf Casert, The Associated Press
He worked through the SARS outbreak in 2003, battling exhaustion and overtime on top of 12-hour shifts helping to save lives.But a veteran Toronto paramedic says that was nothing compared to the call volumes he and his co-workers are seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he says, those who answer the calls for help need help themselves."Mentally, physiologically, emotionally, I'm definitely burnt out," he told CBC Toronto, but he also realizes he can't stop to rest — not when daily case counts of COVID-19 have spiked to the point that the province has put the city under a lockdown that will last at least 28 days. "I know I also have a duty to respond."CBC News has agreed to withhold the paramedic's identity to protect him from possible reprisals. The 20-year veteran says he's worried."I've seen paramedics doing calls at the end of their shift and their hands are trembling, and I don't know if that's hunger, exhaustion, or what," he said. "But they're still out there doing the calls because they know the citizens need them."System 'in dire straits right now'Mike Merriman, who heads the unit that represents Toronto paramedics as part of CUPE Local 416, spoke to CBC News at an ambulance bay in Scarborough as an emergency vehicle pulled in after a call. Five minutes later, it sped out again."The system is really in dire straits right now," he said. "We're running on overtime daily and something has to give."> We're running on overtime daily and something has to give. \- CUPE Local 416 president Mike MerrimanParamedics, Merriman added, are used to going above and beyond, but work at its current pace isn't sustainable and many, he said, are reaching a breaking point."They're calling me all the time, some in actual tears, because they just can't keep up the pace [and are] needing relief." "They're not getting their lunches. They're not getting any breaks," he said.Repeated deep cleaning between calls and the safe donning and removal of personal protective equipment add another layer to the already heavy workload, Merriman says.Another paramedic, speaking on CBC's Metro Morning on condition of anonymity because of concern about reprisals, added "every day I'm not at work, I check my phone and there will be an overtime call out for every single shift, sometimes up to a week in advance." Ontario Nurses Association also concernedOther front-line workers are also feeling the pressure. Ontario Nurses Association president Vicki McKenna is hearing from her members about burnout. "I can hear it in their voices," said McKenna."Nurses are telling me ... 'I just don't know how long I can keep this up.'"Burnout, therapist Amy Deacon explains, often presents itself as mental and physical exhaustion, but detachment is also a symptom. "We can't afford for these front-line workers to be detached from their work, but that's one of the most common signs of burnout," said Deacon, the founder of an organization called Toronto Wellness Counselling."It's been well researched that people are less effective.There's lower productivity because they are just so spent, they are so exhausted that they don't have the resources to show up at work and be their best selves."The union representing Toronto paramedics is calling for part-time staff to be made full-time to help ease some of the pressure.City to address fatigue and mental healthThis week, Toronto council adopted an amendment requesting the city's chief people officer and the chief of Toronto Paramedic Services, in collaboration and consultation with CUPE Local 416, address staff fatigue and mental health among front-line paramedics. They're expected to report back in February of next year.While they wait, Deacon says there are several things she would tell front-line workers to do."Put down your phones, put down your social media and do a 10-minute meditation, watch one less episode of Netflix and go for a walk outside."Sleep, she says, is vital. And if front-line workers are not sleeping well, she recommends connecting with a doctor."I think it's also incumbent on us as a community and as a collective to really show up for these front-line workers, people ... putting their lives and their families at risk to protect us."Protecting people is something the veteran paramedic says he wants to continue doing, but he doesn't know how much longer he can do it.."Being able to do the job well and properly needs to be a priority as well, and we're getting to a point where we are not able to do that."
The government has announced an extra 7 billion pounds ($9.31 billion) for its COVID-19 testing and contact tracing system as part of an expanded programme of mass testing. The NHS Test and Trace system has been heavily criticised after a series of high-profile failures since its launch earlier this year, and ministers concede it has not performed as well as they had hoped. In September, nearly 16,000 positive case records were lost from the system for several days – causing a delay in contact tracing.
It would be easy to look at The Bay's dispute with landlords across the country and make some assumptions: that it can't pay its bills, or that it's being crushed by the pandemic-sized wave crashing into retail everywhere. The truth is a bit more complicated. Retail experts say COVID is a crisis, but it's also an opportunity."Retail was changing drastically before COVID came along," said Avis Devine from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. "All COVID did was expedite it to warp speed."HBC went private just weeks before the pandemic started pummeling the economy, with retail one of the hardest-hit sectors. Sales fell off a cliff as stores were closed to stop the spread of COVID-19.To soften the blow to its bottom line, HBC says it tried to reach what it calls a "fair and mutually beneficial compromise with landlords."In many locations, deals were struck. In others, disputes over millions of dollars in unpaid rent boiled over. Courts were asked to weigh in. Eviction notices were dispatched.In a statement to CBC News, Ian Putnam, President and CEO of HBC Properties and Investments, said "HBC believes the burden posed by the pandemic should be shared fairly by both landlords and retailers."And that may be so, but retail analyst Mark Satov says there's more at play here than that. In his view, it's been clear for years that The Bay needs to shrink its foot print. About a year ago, as the company reeled from a $226 million quarterly loss, Satov said this:"I think if they could snap their fingers and say we have half the number of stores and all of them were half or three quarters the size, they'd be doing great."So, he's not at all surprised to see The Bay looking for ways out of less-than-ideal leases in less-than-perfect locations. And that willingness to walk away from some of these leases gives The Bay all the leverage in the dispute, says Satov."The landlords … are going to look at them and say 'Listen, if you don't pay your rent, we're going to evict you,'" he said. "And The Bay says, well, when are you going to scare me, because that's what I'm looking to do."Last of its kind in CanadaDepartment stores like The Bay are still an integral part of shopping malls. As a sort of "anchor tenant," department stores take up one giant corner of the property. Customers come to shop there and get drawn out into the rest of the mall. But two key forces are working against that trend. Retail is shifting online, a transition that's hastened dramatically under COVID. The other issue is department stores like The Bay just aren't the draw they used to be.Devine says customers used to go to one big store to buy everything, now they go to malls to get particular products. She says there's no better example of the new "anchor tenant" than the Apple Store."That's the new destination," said Devine, an associate professor of real estate. "And people are going to other stores in that mall because they've been drawn there for Apple."As that new reality set in, other big department stores like Target and Sears couldn't keep their heads above water. Now, in Canada, The Bay is the last of its kind. Devine says that's the best thing it has going for it now."I don't think department stores are ever going to— or in the next several decades, are ever going to completely disappear," she said. "And if they end up being the only real ... mainstream department store left in Canada, then because of that they will survive."Satov's business gives advice to companies trying to navigate tricky situations. He says The Bay appears to be tackling the core crisis, but keeping a keen eye on how to emerge as a healthier, stronger, leaner retailer. Is it a winning strategy? Satov hedges his bets."They have a shot at a winning strategy," he said. "They are struggling to survive and they're doing what it takes. And I think that's the right thing to do."
Alberta school boards are calling on the government to reinstate Program Unit Funding (PUF) — aimed at providing early intervention for children with disabilities and delays as they enter the school system — to its previous format and dollar amount. At the recent meeting of the Alberta School Boards Association, a motion was passed to lobby the government to "ensure that all students with mild/moderate disabilities/delays who require specialized early intervention provided by Program Unit Funding are able to receive it.""We've heard concerns from our boards that changes to the PUF model are having a significant impact on services they're able to provide for students with disabilities or delayed learners," said association president Lorrie Jess. "Other concerns we heard were [that] moving from a three-year to a two-year model for PUF means that kindergarten children previously quoted as eligible for PUF will no longer qualify for the funding."And Jess said that while those students may have to access services funded through the new Specialized Learning Support grant (SLS), that funding is not comparable to what the PUF funding was."The new funding framework does not provide any family-oriented support funding, which basically has resulted in the suspension of early intervention programming support for families." The motion will also see the association fight for PUF program funding to be restored to the equivalent per-student amount as 2018 levels, including Family Oriented Supports."Allowing [early childhood services] providers to offer fully funded half-day programming, and that the program funding be extended from two years to three years to include supports for kindergarten."The motion was brought forward by the Edmonton Public School Board."The heart of that motion and what compelled my board to bring the motion forward is the stories that we heard from families," said Trisha Estabrooks, chair of the Edmonton board."Since the announcement last fall of these drastic cuts to program unit funding, trustees here in the city of Edmonton, and clearly trustees across the province, have been hearing on a regular basis from families who are directly impacted by these cuts."The motion was supported by about 80 per cent of Alberta school boards, representing approximately 88 per cent of Alberta students. "We are asking government to reverse the cuts and return the funding to 2018-19 levels, and so that would also come as a reversal of some of the restrictions that have been put in place," said Estabrooks. "The [new grant] falls far short of what we received under the previous funding arrangement."She said her district was hit "really hard" by these changes and cuts."We would have served 1,040 students. This year we served 600 students. We went from $39 million down to $9.5 million. We had to completely reorganize how we offered supports to kids," said Estabrooks."We had to close 22 of our satellite locations as of this September. That's enormous. That is a massive, massive cut to a division like ours. Those are 600 students that aren't receiving the support that they need."Chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas with the Calgary Catholic School District said it's committed to providing supports for early learners through the Specialized Learning Support funding, and continues to provide services to students in need and prioritize early interventions within the constraints of what's available."There is definitely a decrease of funding in that area. There's no doubt that additional funds would help us meet more needs that exist with students, especially very young children in kindergarten," he said. "We continue to address the needs of our students here in Calgary Catholic with the means that we have."In an emailed statement to CBC News, Alberta Education said the new K-12 funding model continues to protect the most vulnerable children."Including children with severe disabilities, and Alberta continues to have the earliest education programs for children in Canada at 2 years, 8 months," wrote ministry spokesperson Colin Aitchison. He said that under the old model, there was a significant drop in supports for students entering Grade 1."The new funding model closes that gap by providing a consistent level of support for K-12 students through the new Specialized Learning Supports grant, while continuing to prioritize early intervention for pre-K children through Program Unit Funding," said Aitchison."This new structure, on top of a $120-million increase that every single school authority received this school year, ensures that school authorities have the resources they need to support all of their students, including students with disabilities."Autism advocacy organizations in the province say they've been hearing from their clients that the funding changes for the specialized services their children need aren't working out as well as PUF previously did. "[The government] restricted the hours. They give a certain amount of dollars for up to 400 hours worth of programming, and then they give another certain amount of dollars for up to 800 or more hours worth of programming," said Catharine Dietzmann, a family support co-ordinator with Autism Edmonton.Dietzmann said kindergarten falls in-between that range."It's over 400 hours. It's usually 475 hours. So when you divide the amount of money that's given, it's less than it used to be. You can barely afford an EA [educational assistant] for that, let alone the speech pathologist, the occupational therapist (OT), the physical physiotherapist (PT), the psychologist, the behavioural intervention," she said."The money doesn't go very far, especially when they put the restrictions around the amount of hours."Dietzmann said if the school boards could have PUF reinstated, then it would have clearer, more defined rules about how the funding would work."They would have a clearer picture of that funding again, because when it got switched to the Specialized Learning Support grant, I feel that schools are kind of confused as to where that money can go, how much they're going to get and how they can spend that money," she said. Lyndon Parakin with Autism Calgary said that because the Specialized Learning Support grant allows for more flexible use of the funds, school boards are choosing to use it for things like managing their growth in population across all grades."It therefore is no longer providing that directed funding that is tracked individually to disabled students since kindergarten, so we see kindergarten programming becoming a lot more like what they're doing in grade school levels," he said. "It isn't giving that direct individually focused programming to kids."Essentially, Parakin said it's removed evidence-based early intervention targeting the acquisition of early learning skills."It is putting children behind and they're going to have trouble picking up," he said."We're losing all the benefits of what early intervention research says that when we do targeted specific early programming to elevate the learning levels and learning capabilities of children, they do much better along their lifelong development path. So we are putting children backwards."Morine Rossi, program lead with Autism Edmonton, said she knows personally — from experience with her now 10-year-old son — how kids can benefit from PUF when administered how it previously was.She said that because of PUF, through pre-school and kindergarten, her son was able to access well-rounded supports that he needed in order to keep on track with his peers."He was involved with speech, behaviour, OT and PT. They made visits to him in order to cover all of the bases and give recommendations to those kindergarten teachers to help support him in the classroom, as well as to his EA," she said. "He had full, one-to-one support from an EA with the help of PUF funding so that he could have that hand holding in the early years. And at this point now, when he went into Grade 3 and now into Grade 4 and 5, he went completely unsupported because he had that early access to therapy and to help."
New Brunswick has had almost nine months of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts agree there are many months more of this marathon to run before we're anywhere near a finish line. But it's been enough time to have seen our case numbers rise in a second wave, witnessed the bursting of the Atlantic bubble and to have learned a few things about what is — and what isn't — working.Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, Liberal Opposition Leader Roger Melanson, Green Party Leader David Coon and People's Alliance Party Leader Lake Kris Austin joined CBC's Political Panel podcast to share their thoughts on the government's handling of this unprecedented health event so far.The clarity, transparency and consistency of the government's messaging, a lightning rod for criticism from the start of the pandemic, came under special scrutiny.Shephard acknowledged there have been hiccups, something she sees as inevitable in a rapidly evolving outbreak situation."I think that we have managed very well to date to keep our messages consistent," Shephard said. She cited widespread embracing of early Public Health messaging on physical distancing, keeping contacts limited and frequent handwashing."Those have been the rallying cry from day one, and I believe the public really absorbed it and for most part are doing exactly that."But as situations evolve, she said, "things can happen very quickly, change happens very quickly, and that's always where the community may get confused in keeping up with it. Not everybody checks the government website multiple times a day."As well, she said, even the most carefully thought-out messages can be received differently by different people."Many things are open to interpretation," she said, "and I think there are many times that messages get shortsighted."But Melanson, Coon and Austin all said they think there is room for improvement in clarifying the government's messaging and in being more transparent.Detailing cases by zones 'doesn't tell me anything'Daily updates about cases in zones are a prime example, Austin said."If I hear there are four new cases in the Fredericton region, that doesn't tell me anything," he said. "That could be in Woodstock, it could be Grand Lake, Fredericton, Plaster Rock or anywhere in between. It doesn't change behaviours because it's too broad."Austin said it would be better to keep it as specific as possible, being mindful of confidentiality."Tell people, Grand Lake has three cases … so people can say 'Well, normally I go to the grocery store three times a week, now I may minimize my exposure, go once a week."Melanson agreed, saying people "have a right to know" if there's a case in their community. And in fact, he said, they probably already do know."New Brunswick is small, people know each other," he said. "They'll react in the way that they're supposed to react, which will be to be to take even more precautions."Always be on guard, Shephard saysShephard disagreed, saying she understands the need for more segregated numbers but that "everyone in our province has to act as if COVID is their next door neighbour, as if COVID is in their grocery store, in Walmart, at Costco. ... I fully believe our best protection is to always be on our guard."But Coon dismissed this often-repeated Public Health message — "act as if everyone around you has COVID-19" — as unhelpful and even harmful."It's impossible for human beings to live 24 hours a day, seven days a week in fight-or-flight response mode with the idea that coronavirus is all around us," he said. "That is just mentally cruel. People can't live that way."> Mental health will become a massive issue this winter. I'm concerned we're leaving people behind, and that needs to be addressed. \- David Coon, Green Party leaderCoon thinks the government needs to ensure people are "very clear on what the rules are," and this starts with giving them more information, not less.He pointed to more open messaging in other provinces, where medical officers of health have used super spreader events as "a teachable moment to show what can happen" when rules are bent or broken."We had a super-spreader event in Saint John, but we've heard nothing about that, we've heard nothing about how we can avoid that in the future," he said. "Those opportunities are constantly missed."Acknowledging the mental health tollPanellists did acknowledge the enormity of the pressures of coping with the pandemic and said many of its lessons would become more clear in time.For now, they said, it's important to acknowledge the strain on the mental health of residents heading into a difficult winter, and the tremendous efforts of Public Health and health-care workers across the province. "People are increasingly emotionally tired and mentally spent," Coon said. "Mental health will become a massive issue this winter. I'm concerned we're leaving people behind, and that needs to be addressed."Shephard expanded that concern to the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, and to health-care workers, saying she worries about all of them and "tries to support them, every single day.""We have to keep in mind that for all of them, this is a stressful time," Shephard said. "They're all giving a tremendous amount of themselves to their work every day. And we have to never forget that what they're doing is invaluable."
Cañada Real on the southern edge of Madrid is one of Europe's poorest neighbourhoods and its inhabitants have had no electricity since October 2.View on euronews
The Black Friday, Cyber Monday, pre-Christmas pandemic online shopping frenzy calls for huge fleets of trucks and vans to deliver those gadgets and gifts. But those road-clogging, polluting vehicles are starting to give way to a greener, more efficient option in many Canadian cities: e-cargo bikes and trikes.FedEx started delivering packages in downtown Toronto using e-bikes over the summer and is now looking to expand the program to other cities in Canada.Purolator and two smaller courier companies are part of a similar pilot called Project Colibri that launched in Montreal last year. Purolator has since expanded its bike fleet from one e-bike to six or seven, and Project Colibri has ramped up to 5,000 e-bike deliveries a week — nearly as many as it made over the last four months of 2019.They're some of the bigger companies trying a technology that smaller firms, such as Shift Delivery in Vancouver, have already pioneered in Canada. It's a trend that's already well underway in Europe and has also started in the United States.The problems that e-bikes solveWhy the move toward delivery e-bikes? Because as online shopping grows, the impact of deliveries by trucks and vans become bigger problems. Transportation is already the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, after oil and gas, accounting for 25 per cent.And it's the largest source in Ontario, where fossil fuel production isn't a major part of the economy. There, the freight sector already accounted for 10 per cent of emissions in 2019 and was expected to surpass passenger emissions by 2030, according to the Pembina Institute, a Canadian think-tank focused on clean energy.The COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced businesses and shoppers online, may have sped this up. Statistics Canada reported in September that e-commerce sales rose 74 per cent compared with the year before.But online deliveries also have other negative impacts, including: * Traffic congestion. * Air pollution. * Parking issues. * Threats to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists."We are really tackling all these problems at once," said Mickael Brard, project manager at Jalon Montreal, the city-funded non-profit organization behind Project Colibri.Those impacts don't just affect people who live in cities but delivery companies themselves."Parking tickets are a biggie for us," said Jeff Gilbert, senior manager of operations in downtown Toronto for FedEx. "And then greenhouse gases. So we're really looking for a new, innovative way for that last-mile delivery."More efficient than trucks "Last-mile" refers to the last leg of the delivery from a sorting centre to the customer's home or office. It's a logistically challenging step that can represent 30 to 60 per cent of the cost of delivery.But e-cargo bikes can overcome some of the challenges that narrow, congested urban streets and scarce parking pose for trucks."The bikes are very agile, very nimble, and so we can move throughout the city very quickly," Gilbert said. "The bike allows us to just jump right up and park right in front of the house."That leads to faster deliveries and higher productivity, he added.Now that Project Colibri has been running for more than a full year in Montreal, Brard said an analysis shows that an e-bike is 30 to 40 per cent more efficient than a truck in terms of deliveries per hour."It's one of the rarer sectors where we can [be] both more efficient and more sustainable," he said. "We want to prove it to other companies, and we also want to prove it to governments."Staff say it's also more fun.Yuri Mitroff, a FedEx courier in Toronto, recalled the first time he took one of the company's three e-bikes. The Danish-made Bullets require the rider to pedal to engage the motor, which helps haul heavy loads up hills."It was a really, really great experience," Mitroff said. "It did not feel like work to me, which was the biggest thing. And I got a lot of exercise and a lot of vitamin D, a lot of sunlight."Big expansion plansTheir success so far has prompted both FedEx and Project Colibri to plan for expansions.FedEx has already ordered 40 more e-cargo bikes for the spring and is looking to roll them out not just in Toronto but in Montreal, Vancouver and possibly Ottawa, Gilbert said.Project Colibri, which is using an old bus depot as a loading and distribution hub in Montreal, hopes to add two or three more mini-hubs and invite more companies to get involved. Brard estimates five to 10 mini-hubs could cover deliveries for the entire city.But both projects say they face challenges. For one thing, the pandemic has caused a worldwide bike shortage."One of the problems for us was actually getting the bikes for the expansion," Gilbert said.Sam Starr, a cycle logistics consultant based in Vancouver, said most e-cargo bikes are made in Europe."They are expensive to not just import, but also to service and maintain at this time," he said.He suggested a number of ways that governments could encourage the use of e-cargo bikes: * Incentives to encourage e-cargo bike manufacturing in Canada. * Regulations to enable their use; for example, speed and weight limits for e-cargo bikes vary by province and can be a barrier. * Infrastructure such as bike lanes and curbside loading zones.Hubs, such as the one used in Project Colibri, are also "critical" infrastructure, Starr said, and require partnerships between governments and businesses."It can't just be done by the private industry," he said. "It really needs public collaboration."
What happens with an independent review on forestry practices in Nova Scotia will fall to the next premier to decide.University of King's College president Bill Lahey delivered his report more than two years ago. Among other things, it called for a reduction in clear cutting and a more ecological approach to forestry.On Thursday, Lands and Forestry Minister Derek Mombourquette said he continues to work with department officials and an advisory group to advance work on the report's recommendations.The minister said his goal is to "ensure that the foundation is in place for the next [Liberal] leader and premier to come in to make some decisions."New leader to be chosen in FebruaryPremier Stephen McNeil announced in August that he plans to retire. Nova Scotia Liberal Party members will elect a new leader and premier on Feb. 6."So my target is to get as much done as I can ... before then so the next leader can come in and determine how they want to proceed," Mombourquette told reporters after a cabinet meeting."This is important work and I want to do whatever I can to get it over the finish line."Of the three leadership candidates, no one is more familiar with the file than Timberlea-Prospect MLA Iain Rankin.Rankin was forestry minister at the time Lahey delivered his report, and worked on the file until resigning last month to seek his party's leadership.If he becomes premier, Rankin said he'd apply more aggressive timelines to the work and begin implementing major aspects of the report as soon as possible in 2021, including passing the Biodiversity Act and passing the amendment to the Crown Lands Act.Rankin calls for more conservationHe said he would also move quickly on increasing conservation efforts and identifying more land for protection.While the stated government target has been protecting 13 per cent of the province's land, Rankin said he wants to go beyond that by completing the Parks and Protected Areas plan. About 100 properties remain on the books as having been identified for protection, but have yet to receive the designation. Rankin said he's proud of the work he accomplished as forestry minister, including hiring more biologists and launching the first Mi'kmaw forestry initiative, but he said it's time to get on with implementing the Lahey report.Many of the changes called for in the report hinge on a new forestry management guide, but Rankin said that should be complete by now and ready for public consumption."The new management guide effectively eliminates clear cutting in the majority of the forest," he said.Sustainability is key, says DeloreyAntigonish MLA Randy Delorey, one of Rankin's two challengers for the Liberal leadership, said he understands the important role forestry plays in the province, but the purpose of the Lahey report was to recognize that the industry must function in a sustainable way.Delorey said he would review the work prepared and determine at that point how best to act if elected leader."It's tough to say without seeing the details that come in from minister Mombourquette and the department," he said."We need to make sure that the cutting that's done is done sustainably and that's to ensure that the sector is still there; it's to ensure that the biodiversity and the environmental impacts within our province are sustainable. It's in the best interest, both environmentally and economically, to hit that right balance."Too much clear cutting: KousoulisLabi Kousoulis, who is also running for the leadership, said he didn't have any kind of background in forestry when he entered politics. So when knowledgeable constituents started talking to him about the issue, the MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island said he listened. Kousoulis said it was from those conversations that prompted him to propose the idea of an independent forestry review to McNeil."This is how the Lahey report came to be," he said.If he becomes premier, Kousoulis said he sees no reason why the report and its recommendations should not be implemented.Kousoulis said he'd like to see the forests given more consideration for tourism value, as well as the possibility of providing carbon credits to people in certain cases as opposed to having land cut.While he believes there is too much clear cutting happening, Kousoulis said sometimes that's the appropriate practice to use on a piece of land."How much is too much? I don't know the answer to that, but every indication I have is there is too much happening, and that is why the Lahey report was so important," he said.MORE TOP STORIES
When Alestine Andre and Ingrid Kritsch started work on a small archeological project in Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., with Jean-Luc Pilon for the Gwich'in Tribal Council in 1992 to document Gwich'in place names, elders asked them to expand it to cover the entire Gwich'in settlement region.The elders were concerned that the Gwich'in names for places were being lost.The group agreed and travelled all over the Gwich'in settlement region in the N.W.T. and Yukon, working with 74 elders and traditional land users to document the names and create an inventory of heritage sites."They traveled a lot on the land back in that time with elders. They used to do boat trips or Skidoo trips and just do research with elders," said Sharon Snowshoe, the director of culture & heritage with the Gwich'in Tribal Council.The community-based project, Gwich'in Goonanh'kak Googwandak: The places and names of the Gwich'in, resulted in the creation of an online atlas and place name maps launched in 2015. It also resulted in the official recognition of Gwich'in place names.Snowshoe said the government of the Northwest Territories accepted and approved 414 Gwich'in place names while the Yukon government has approved 60 names of 237 that have been submitted. Snowshoe said the council is waiting for the other names to be approved.Governor General AwardThe project also garnered a Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Community Programming, which it accepted during an online presentation Friday.In a press release, Kritsch thanked several of her colleagues from the Gwich'in Tribal Council, Carleton University and MDT Communications who helped create the online interactive atlas and maps."Talk about teamwork and the power of people from different walks in life and skills coming together for a common goal - to ensure Gwich'in knowledge such as this is shared and carried forward into the future," she said.The governor general's site for the award states the project "serves as an important legacy for future generations and provides inspiration for other Indigenous communities who are looking to officially recognize Indigenous place names."Stories behind namesThe online atlas shows the different places in the Gwich'in settlement region and pronounces them when users move their cursor over them.When users use the search function of the website to find places, it provides the background for how the place got its name.One of Snowshoe's favourite is about Vittrekwa River."Vittrekwa River means 'don't cry' [River]," she said.She explained that Neil Colin, a well-known elder in the community who passed away a few years ago, told the story that Old Vittreekwaa cried all the time, day and night after he was born. He and his parents were going through what's now called Vittrekwa River and other people were moving with their dog teams. Old Vittreekwaa's parents saw a medicine man and asked for his help. The medicine man told them, "Right now, I'm calling this river 'Don't Cry Creek.''' "And right there, the kid stopped crying," said Snowshoe.She said the community-based project is very valuable because it uses the language and teaches young people to learn the place names and the history behind them."[It's] a gift from the elders to the young people," she said.
The Gwich'in are once again facing down a threat to their way of life, as outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump makes a late-game effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration before he leaves office.The refuge, known as ANWR, is just inside Alaska's border with Yukon. It is a vast, pristine area of wilderness. The Porcupine caribou herd migrates there each spring from The Northwest Territories, Yukon and other parts of Alaska to calve on its coastal plain over the summer.But the refuge also sits on top of an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil. Indigenous and conservation groups argue that opening the area to energy exploration would have a significant, negative impact on the herd.Dana Tizya-Tramm, the chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Yukon, said the survival of the Porcupine caribou is linked to the survival of his nation, its culture and identity."Our people have been intrinsically tied to this herd for millennia, our village being aligned with the traditional migratory routes," Tizya-Tramm said in an interview airing Saturday on a special co-production between The House and CBC North."To this day, our children are born and are fed caribou broth [and] teethe on the bones, as our elders are fed choice parts from the caribou. So in every way, shape and form, even our government and our way of life is informed by the Porcupine caribou herd."Trump isn't the first U.S. president to covet the jobs and tax revenue that would come from opening up the refuge to drilling. What he and proponents of the work fail to acknowledge, said Tizya-Tramm, is the staggering potential cost to the Gwich'in on both sides of the border.'A last-ditch effort'"It's all about development for development's sake. So at this time, we do find ourselves in a last-ditch effort, as David versus Goliath, to ensure the protection of these lands, the protection of our nation moving forward," he said."But unfortunately, that doesn't translate into Trump's lexicon and it does not find its way into legislation."The Gwich'in and conservation groups are leading a campaign to convince banks and insurance companies to refuse to take part in any energy projects in the refuge. So far, a number of Canadian and international banks have indicated they will not underwrite exploration in the area.Meanwhile, media reports suggest interest in bidding for drilling rights in the refuge might be modest, as oil prices drop and governments around the globe look for ways to reduce emissions.Opponents of drilling in the refuge hope that president-elect Joe Biden will follow through on his campaign commitment to permanently protect ANWR and other public lands from energy exploration."I feel now more than ever this opportunity is on the horizon for us to engage with this administration to levy the highest level of protections that can be designated from the U.S. government on these lands," Tizya-Tramm said.The wild card in all of this, as always, is Trump.His efforts to put in place lease agreements before his term expires on Jan. 20 underscore the difficulties involved in balancing the demands of those who want to exploit the oil and gas reserves with the interests of those intent on preserving the refuge, and of the people who depend on the animals there for survival.Seismic testing to scope out oil reserves in the ANWR might happen before the year is out. So the clock is ticking."We still may see seismic activity in this area, which in and of itself will lead to irreparable damage done to the tundra permafrost and the sensitive caribou calving grounds," Tizya-Tramm said.Without the herd to sustain the Gwich'in, the chief warned, it could fall to the federal government to keep his community afloat.Canada and the U.S. are supposed to be united in their efforts to protect the herd; the two countries struck a legally-binding agreement in 1987 to conserve the Porcupine caribou population and its habitat."Unfortunately, there are no provisions in this agreement for dispute resolution," Tizya-Tramm said.Canada 'actively working' to protect refugeIn a statement to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada said the government was "actively working" to respond to the Trump administration's move to sell oil leases in the refuge."We continue to work closely with the governments of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and affected Indigenous peoples to bring forward to the U.S. government our shared concerns," the department wrote.Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson also told CBC that he is working to convince the U.S. to protect the ANWR from exploration."I will be doing everything that I possibly can to advocate both to the existing Trump administration and the incoming Biden administration that this should not happen and this not the appropriate way to think about development in this day and age," he said.Tizya-Tramm said he also plans to get in touch with Biden's camp in the coming weeks. He said he applauds the Liberal government's efforts on the issue so far, and its recognition of the intimate connection between the Gwich'in and the Porcupine herd."As a young man, to have access to the upper echelons of the federal government, it goes a long way for me, bringing back successes to our people," he said.
When Russia announced this week that its much-hyped COVID-19 vaccine was up to 95 per cent effective, the news was met with a predictable cheer in Russia and uncertainty throughout much of Europe and North America."This is great news for Russia and great news for the world," gushed Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is pouring countless millions of Russian tax dollars into developing the vaccine it labelled early on as Sputnik V.Whether the V stands for "five" or simply the letter "V" has never been fully explained, but either way the association is obvious: the original Sputnik satellite won Russia the space race more than 60 years ago, and this new Sputnik will make Russia first in this new race to defeat the pandemic.With its hyperbolic announcements and an ambitious — some would say unattainable — timetable, the Putin government has attempted to demonstrate the development of Sputnik V has made Russia a vaccine superpower.WATCH | Russia claims its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective:Already, among the reputed "firsts" Russia is claiming: the first COVID vaccine in the world to be registered; the first vaccine anywhere to be announced as part of a national vaccination campaign; and trial results that rank it first in terms of effectiveness.Not to be outdone, when Pfizer and BioNTech became the first Western vaccine maker to announce promising results, with 90 per cent efficacy, days later Sputnik V's makers said their vaccine was even better — by two percentage points. Some Western experts have felt opaqueness about the Russian approval process, combined with a rush to get it registered even before trials started, damaged the vaccine's credibility from the outset.Russia licensed it based on early trials involving only 76 people, whereas usually most approvals come after Phase 3 studies involving tens of thousands of subjects. Even after those early results were published in the reputable medical journal The Lancet, a group of 37 scientists from 12 countries wrote the publication questioning the data.Russian officials and state media pundits have decried the skepticism as evidence of an inherent "Western bias" against anything Russian and have accused U.S. and U.K. media of staging a smear campaign to steal away potential international customers. Positive resultsFast forward to this week and news from Sputnik's developer, the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, of very positive results from a much larger data sample. Russia's vaccine has 91.4 per cent efficacy from an analysis of more than 18,000 people, said a release on the Sputnik V website. The vaccine's efficacy rose to 95 per cent after 42 days. Plus, at roughly $20 US per person, Gamalyea says the Russian vaccine is one of the cheapest on the market, making it an attractive option for poorer countries with large populations.Like the vaccine developed by Oxford University and its partner AstraZeneca, the Russian vaccine uses human adenovirus vectors, or common cold genes, to trigger an immune response in the body. An initial shot is followed by a booster three weeks later.The news about the results prompted a change in tone from many Western vaccine experts. "The data [is] compatible with the vaccine being reasonably effective," said Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine."These results are consistent with what we see with other vaccines, because the really big message for global health scientists is that this disease [COVID-19] is able to be addressed by vaccines."Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading, concurs."I see no reason to doubt it [the results]," Jones told CBC News in an interview. "I agree that their initial results caused consternation, but I don't think it's because they weren't valid. They were released a bit soon."I think it's going to be a useful vaccine."Their positive assessments are based on the knowledge that the adenovirus delivery method behind the Gamaleya-made vaccine has proven successful over and over again.What was unclear was whether the COVID-19 virus would be resistant, but Evans says the other drug companies' positive results strongly suggest the Russian vaccine will likely perform well, too."We now have four vaccines that have some efficacy [on COVID-19], which is way beyond what we have ever had for an HIV or a malaria vaccine," said Evans.Question of trustUltimately, he says whether a country chooses to buy the Russian-made vaccine comes down to a question of whether they have confidence in the science behind it and trust the regulators who approved it.The Russian vaccine gets treated more skeptically, said Evans, because the processes in the United States and Europe are far more open and transparent than they are in Russia."We do not know how carefully their trials are monitored and how carefully they are reported. We do not know that," he said. "But the countries that are buying it are buying it on trust that the Russians have produced something."Enrico Bucci, an Italian biologist who was part of the original group of scientists questioning the early Russian results, is among those who continue to believe that the Russian developers have not been sufficiently transparent about their data.For example, he says the claim of 91.4 per cent success is based on just 39 people in the 18,000-person sample contracting COVID-19."The sample is too low to claim any percentage of efficacy," Bucci told CBC News.Furthermore, he said, it's not clear where these 39 people came from, how old they were and whether the results from trials in one country were mixed with those from another location.The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine — which reported a roughly 70 per cent success rate — has been subjected to similar criticisms about how data from its trials was presented, and its developers have now agreed to run new studies.So far, Hungary is the only member of the European Union to sign up for the Russian vaccine, although Russian media reports that 50 nations have either already signed deals for the vaccine or are in the process of negotiating them. On Friday, Russia announced a partnership with Indian pharmaceutical company Hetero to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.Canada has signed agreements with five vaccine manufacturers, but the list does not include Sputnik V.Gamalyea's initial estimates that Russia would be able to produce 200 million doses of Sputnik V by the end of next month turned out to be wildly optimistic. The health ministry now says it may be able produce two million doses, at best.Russians uncertainSince the summer, Russia's Health Ministry has been promising a national vaccination campaign was imminent, but it has been slow to roll out. President Vladimir Putin said one of his daughters was among the first to get the vaccine, although the Kremlin acknowledged this week that Putin himself has not. A spokesperson said it would be irresponsible for the head of state to take an "uncertified" vaccine, although the distinction the official was trying to make between a registered vaccine and a certified one was unclear. The mayor of Moscow has said authorities plan to set up 300 vaccination centres in the month of December and the plan is to get as many people in the capital inoculated as possible.Independent public opinion surveys suggest many Russians remain uncertain about the vaccine and whether they will actually take it. In early November, the polling group Levada Centre reported 59 per cent of Russians may refuse to get vaccinated.On Russian state TV, however, criticism or probing questions about any of the assumptions underlying the government's claims about Sputnik V have largely been absent. As is standard on TV talk shows, the discussion is framed in geopolitical terms.Their 60 Minutes program (no relation to the U.S. program of the same name) even cited a CBC News report by The National as purported proof of Western bias, with the host suggesting it was an example of "active propaganda" against Sputnik V. In fact, the report contained comments from Prof. Evans, the British expert, suggesting that the vaccine worked and was most likely effective. But his clips were cut from what was shown on Russian TV.
Stephen Kozmeniuk knew there was something special when he met Dua Lipa several years ago, even though the British artist was virtually unknown at the time."A lot of it is connection, and whether or not you believe in them," Kozmeniuk said from his studio in Toronto."With Dua, it was just so apparent really early on that her voice is just so distinctive ... she just had something different from everybody else."Lupa has been nominated for six Grammys this year, including record of the year for Future Nostalgia.Kozmeniuk said he has been working on that record for months, starting with a songwriting session in Jamaica. Even though that session didn't produce any tracks that made it on to the final record, Kozmeniuk said everyone could tell they were on to something at that early stage. "It was this spirit that came out of that trip to Jamaica," he said. "It had to be a fun record. It was the antithesis to everything else that was going on, that was so dark and down. She just captured the zeitgeist of where everything was going."Kozmeniuk grew up in Whitehorse and launched his music career as a solo artist but soon found he had a knack for producing. That has led him to work with some big names in the music industry.This is the second time Kozmeniuk has been part of the Grammys. He won an award four years ago when he was part of the team that produced Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly record.This time around, it's a bit sweeter, he said, because he's been involved in the record since the beginning. He likened the experience of being part of Dua Lipa's team to being in a band."When you have worked with somebody so long and you value what they do, you're just extra proud," he said. "And I just know how much work it was for everybody, and it's a good group of people. When you can have a little win with these really talented people, and its always a good time with and you're in the trenches with, it's just extra special."The Grammys will be handed out on January 31.