Health officials say Canadians should expect more freedoms once roughly 75 per cent of adults have received one dose of vaccine, but they also say determining when there will be COVID-19 herd immunity is a trickier milestone to pinpoint.
Health officials say Canadians should expect more freedoms once roughly 75 per cent of adults have received one dose of vaccine, but they also say determining when there will be COVID-19 herd immunity is a trickier milestone to pinpoint.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Scores of dead bodies have been found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a ferocious surge in coronavirus infections. Authorities said Tuesday they haven't yet determined the cause of death. Health officials working through the night Monday retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said. Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday but said they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies. More corpses were found floating in the river on Tuesday, washing up in Ghazipur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state. Police and villagers were at the site, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Monday’s incident. “We are trying to find out where did these dead bodies come from? How did they get here?” said Mangla Prasad Singh, a local official. Surinder, a resident of Ghazipur who uses one name, said villagers didn't have enough wood to cremate their dead on land. “Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are being buried in the water,” he said. “Bodies from around 12-13 villages have been buried in the water.” Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing rising COVID-19 cases as infections in India grow faster than anywhere else in the world. On Tuesday, the country confirmed nearly 390,000 new cases, including 3,876 more deaths. Overall, India has had the second highest number of confirmed cases after the U.S. with nearly 23 million and over 240,000 deaths. All of the figures are almost certainly a vast undercount, experts say. The Associated Press
NAXOS, Greece (AP) — A vaccination program for Greek islands is being accelerated to cover all local residents by the end of June, the government announced Tuesday ahead of the launch of the tourism season. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said a nationwide priority system for age groups and medical vulnerability was being waived for permanent residents of nearly 100 islands. “This initiative is aimed at supporting local island communities and their economy and it also aspires to send a positive overall message for our tourism,” Mitsotakis said after a video conference with island mayors and regional governors. Greece is fighting to revive its key tourism sector that was battered by the pandemic in 2020 but its vaccination rates remain below the European Union average and the country has only recently stabilized a surge in cases. On the island of Naxos, a popular family holiday destination, officials welcomed the initiative. Mayor Dimitris Lianos told The Associated Press that the single dose vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson was also being deployed to speed up the program. “By the end of June, all our year-round residents will be vaccinated and that’s very important for us because it creates a sense of safety for the people that live here and for the people who will visit our island,” Lianos said. Robin Rose Varthalitou, and 69-year-old Naxos resident from Wales said she was relieved the vaccination drive was expanding. “There's been no problem. No worries. It’s fine,” she said of the immunization program so far. "I reckon everybody should do it by law... This (pandemic) is a tragedy everywhere, financially and for people. A tragedy.” Islanders make up around 1.5 million of Greece’s population of 10.7 million. Many holiday islands have a year-round population of under 10,000, while Crete has the largest with more than 600,000 residents, followed by Evia, Rhodes, Corfu, Lesbos, and Chios. The tourism season officially opens Friday. ___ Derek Gatopoulos and Theodora Tongas in Athens contributed. Thanassis Stavrakis And Srdjan Nedeljkovic, The Associated Press
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday formally created a new lay ministry to encourage greater participation of secular women and men in the teaching of the Catholic faith, especially in places where priests are in short supply. The new law creating the lay ministry of catechists officially recognizes for the universal Catholic Church a practice that has been used for centuries in local dioceses, and goes out of its way to emphasize women's participation in it. In many parts of the world, lay men and women introduce people to the Catholic faith, educate them on receiving the initial sacraments of baptism and Communion and accompany them in their faith journey. Soon, the Vatican’s liturgy office will publish a specific rite of installation to be used around the world when these lay catechists formally begin their ministry. Individual bishops conferences are being asked to develop guidelines to train them. It’s the latest reform by Francis to address longstanding complaints that lay people — and specifically women — have been shut out of all levels of church decision-making, governance and participation in favor of the all-male clerical class of priests, bishops and cardinals. Earlier this year Francis issued another law decreeing that women can be installed in the lay ministries of lectors, to read Scripture, and acolytes to serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Such roles had been officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made. Francis has firmly upheld Catholic doctrine that women cannot be ordained priests. He remains under pressure, however, to allow women to be deacons — ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men even though historians say the ministry was performed by women in the early church. The head of the Vatican’s evangelization office, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, denied that Francis' new lay ministries were a substitute for a possible female diaconate. He told reporters Tuesday that “each ministry has its uniqueness” with the lay faithful called to different ones. The Women’s Ordination Conference, which advocates for women priests, welcomed the new law as a long overdue affirmation of the “authentic vocational calls many women experience and the unique ways women enrich the church.” While repeating its call for the inclusion of women in ordained ministries of deacon and priest, it said the new law was evidence that “glacially, the Vatican is beginning to open its eyes to the possibility that women might be equal collaborators in faith.” In the new law, Francis recalled that throughout the history of the church, lay catechists have been fundamental in spreading the faith, particularly in mission territories. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A Liberal MP is advising the Public Health Agency of Canada not to rely on legal advice from the federal Justice Department because it is not always right. Toronto MP Rob Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs minister, gave the advice late Monday at a House of Commons committee that is trying to find out why two scientists at Canada's highest security laboratory were fired. PHAC president Iain Stewart told the special committee on Canada-China relations that revealing details would breach the Privacy Act and jeopardize national security and an ongoing RCMP investigation. He says that advice was given by the Justice Department. Committee members, backed up by parliamentary law clerk Phiippe Dufresne, insist they have the constitutional authority to order the production of any documents they please and that their authority takes precedence over any other laws. But Christian Roy, director and senior general counsel of health legal services at the Justice Department, says the department has never recognized the power of committees to compel documents in violation of the Privacy Act or other laws. Oliphant questioned Roy's legal opinion. "Lawyers are not always right and Justice lawyers are particularly, in my mind, not always right," he told the committee. He noted that Justice lawyers were wrong in claiming a law banning genetic discrimination was unconstitutional, after fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Moreover, Oliphant said he was "horrified" to discover that Justice lawyers had advised the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to illegally keep potentially revealing electronic data about people over a 10-year period. "I have learned to now question of Department of Justice lawyers," Oliphant said, suggesting that Stewart get "a second opinion because the Justice Department is not giving you the best advice." The committee voted unanimously later Monday to give PHAC 10 days to turn over unredacted documents about the fired scientists, which the parliamentary law clerk is to review and advise committee members as to what needs to be blacked out to protect privacy, national security and the police investigation. If the agency continues to refuse to disclose the unredacted documents, the committee will seek an order to do so from the House of Commons. PHAC formally terminated the employment of Canadian scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, in January. The pair was escorted out of the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in July 2019 over what Stewart has described as "relating to possible breaches in security protocols." The Winnipeg lab is Canada’s only Level Four laboratory, designed to deal safely with deadly contagious germs such as Ebola. PHAC has previously said the pair's escorted exit had nothing to do with the fact that four months earlier, Qiu had been responsible for a shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to China's Wuhan Institute of Virology. Stewart has released some redacted documents to the committee about that virus transfer, which he said show that all laws and protocols were followed. He also assured the committee Monday that there is no link between those viruses and the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan province. That didn't stop Conservative MP Michael Chong, who referred to the two fired scientists as being Chinese when they are in fact Canadians. "There is no doubt that (Qui) trained technicians at that very institute of virology to establish a Level Four lab, the only Level Four lab in the People's Republic of China, and there is no doubt that the coronavirus emerged ostensibly in Wuhan a number of months later," Chong said. He dismissed suggestions that he was peddling a conspiracy theory, citing various experts who've posited that the coronavirus may have been inadvertently released from the Wuhan lab. Oliphant accused Chong of "drawing two threads that are completely unrelated together," calling it "absolutely irresponsible" and "cheap politics." Bloc Quebecois MP Stephane Bergeron agreed that Chong's language was inflammatory. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2021. The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, including confirmation of a presumptive case in a school on Newfoundland's west coast. With five new recoveries, there are now 77 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Six of Tuesday's new cases are in the Eastern Health region, four are in Central Health, and five are in Western Health. Thirteen are related to travel within Canada and the other two are close contacts of previous cases, the Department of Health said in a media release. On Tuesday morning, before confirmation of the presumptive case announced Monday, the department asked students and staff of Belanger Memorial School in the Codroy Valley to arrange a test, even if they did not have any COVID-19 symptoms. "This testing is part of a public health investigation to determine whether there has been transmission within the school. Being tested is an opportunity to help protect the health of all school and community members," reads a media advisory issued by Western Health on Tuesday morning. Belanger Memorial School is in the Codroy Valley and has an enrolment of 143 students, according to its profile on the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District website. The department issued a batch of flight advisories in relation to the new cases. Public health is asking passengers who travelled on these flights to arrange COVID-19 testing: Air Canada Flight 678 from Montreal to St. John's on Friday. WestJet Flight 3422 from Halifax to St. John's on Friday. Air Canada Flight 7542, leaving Toronto on Friday and arriving in Deer Lake on Saturday. Air Canada Flight 678 from Montreal to St. John's on Saturday. Air Canada Flight 7542, leaving Toronto on Saturday and arriving in Deer Lake on Sunday. Air Canada Flight 8016 from Montreal to St. John's on Sunday. Air Canada Flight 7542, leaving Toronto on Sunday and arriving in Deer Lake on Monday. Passengers can complete the online self-assessment tool or call 811 to arrange testing. There were also five more recoveries on Tuesday: one in Eastern Health, three in Central Health and one in Western Health. One person is in hospital due to COVID-19. To date, 136,615 people have been tested, including 317 since Monday's update. How to book a test To book a test, students and staff should complete the online self-assessment and referral tool here or call 811. When asked if they require a COVID-19 test as a result of an advisory from public health, people should select "Yes," and also answer "Yes" when asked if they're involved in the Belanger Memorial investigation. Residents will be contacted to book an appointment time. A temporary drive-up testing site is set up for Tuesday and Wednesday at at St. Ann's Social Centre in the Codroy Valley. People can check their test results here and they will usually be available within 24 hours. Anyone who has symptoms must isolate themselves, under public health guidelines. Individuals who do not have symptoms do not need to isolate themselves unless they have been advised to do so by public health. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Philippines has detected its first two cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India, its health ministry said on Tuesday, even as confirmed daily COVID-19 infections fell to a near eight-week low. The World Health Organization has classified the coronavirus variant, known as B.1.617, as a variant of global concern with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.
Ellie sits like so many Great Dane do....what we call "sitting like the peoples do". Dane problems!
TORONTO — The Toronto Zoo says an endangered tiger cub born just over a week ago has died after experiencing serious health issues. The zoo says in a Facebook post that the Amur tiger cub, one of three born on April 30, was euthanized Sunday evening. It says the decision was made after the cub's health deteriorated despite days of critical care by veterinarians. The zoo says the male cub started looking lethargic last Friday, and tests eventually showed it had severe liver damage and life-threatening electrolyte imbalances. The organization says an autopsy has since confirmed the liver damage and indicated the cub was not properly digesting milk. It says the two other cubs appear to be doing well and continue to be monitored by zoo staff. The cubs were born after their mother, an Amur tiger nicknamed Mazzy, was paired with the male tiger Vasili through a program meant to promote conservation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. The Canadian Press
Major crimes investigators in B.C.'s southeast say they've located a person of interest in the suspicious death of 35-year-old Brenda Ware near Radium, B.C. The BC RCMP Southeast District Major Crime Unit announced that 41-year-old Philip Toner was found Tuesday morning by officers with the Lake Country detachment. "Major crime investigators continue to pursue all avenues of investigation into the suspicious death of Brenda Ware," RCMP Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon said in a statement. "There continues to be no known threat to public safety at this time." Police have said Toner and Ware were known to each other, but they have not released information about the nature of their relationship. They have also not described Toner as a suspect. Ware's body was found May 6, 54 kilometres northeast of Radium, along Highway 93. She had been travelling from Didsbury, Alta., through Kootenay National Park. Police have deemed her death suspicious but have not released any details about what happened. Investigators have asked anyone who saw Ware or her vehicle from May 4 to May 6 to contact them at 1-877-987-8477. They'd also like to speak with anybody who may have encountered hitchhikers in the area or who has dashcam video from Kootenay National Park between May 5 and 6.
Toronto FC added experience up front Tuesday, signing veteran forward Dom Dwyer through 2022. The 30-year-old Dwyer, who entered MLS in 2013, has 83 career regular-season and playoff goals in 204 games with Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City SC. He has been training with TFC since the pre-season. “Dom is a powerful attacking player that has experience scoring goals in this league. He’s been training with us in Orlando, and he’s fit very well within the group,” Toronto FC GM Ali Curtis said in a statement. “Adding Dom gives us another dangerous attacking option when we think about our front six. "Dom very much wanted to join the club and that was a big part of the signing process, given he had interest from other clubs. We’re happy he’s with us, and we’re looking forward to him getting on the field.” After a quiet off-season, Toronto has been busy in recent days signing designated player Yeferson Soteldo, Jamaican international defender Kemar Lawrence and now Dwyer. Heading in the other direction were midfielder Liam Fraser (loaned to Columbus) and midfielder/wingback Griffin Dorsey (waived). Toronto has been short up front in recent weeks with star striker Jozy Altidore dealing with illness and injury, Ayo Akinola coming back from injury and sophomore Ifunanyachi Achara still recovering from knee surgery. Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, who can also play forward, is still dealing with a quad issue. Dwyer was most recently with Orlando in his second go-round with the Florida team. He made just two appearances last season before being sidelined by a knee injury. In addition to a history of scoring goals, the five-foot-nine 181-pounder can be a major irritant to defenders with an abrasive edge to him. Toronto has set up shop in Orlando during the pandemic due to border restrictions. Born and raised in England, Dwyer was taken 16th overall in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by Kansas City out of the University of South Florida. He made his MLS debut on Sept. 2, 2012, against Toronto . Dwyer gained American citizenship in 2017 and went on to earn four caps for the U.S. With Kansas City, Dwyer made a combined 150 appearances and scored 66 goals in all competitions. Dwyer is married to Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux, a U.S. international who was born in B.C., to an American father and Canadian mother. Also Tuesday, Toronto waived Dorsey. The 22-year-old midfielder/wingback saw just seven minutes of playing time in two substitute appearances since being drafted sixth overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft from Indiana, where the Colorado native was a second-team All-American. The former U.S. under-20 international signed a Generation Adidas contract with MLS prior to the draft. Curtis said the acquisitions of Soteldo and Lawrence had forced Dorsey farther down the depth chart. "You have to make (roster) room at times," said coach Chris Armas. "So that's what that's about. We think he's a really good young professional. So this was not an easy decision." TFC defender Eriq Zavaleta also paid tribute to Griffin. "In my time as a pro, I’ve seen few young players work harder every day. Good luck in your next club, pal." he said in a social media post. "Success is around the corner." — Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Monday May 10, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 340,118 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,257,673 doses given. Nationwide, 1,267,117 people or 3.3 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 42,897.053 per 100,000. There were 112,500 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 18,154,594 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 89.55 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 24,249 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 205,902 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 393.22 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (9,676) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 244,930 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 47 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 6,556 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 59,758 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 376.715 per 1,000. In the province, 6.78 per cent (10,750) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 76,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 45,179 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 366,089 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 375.13 per 1,000. In the province, 3.86 per cent (37,699) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 450,600 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.24 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 36,324 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 308,215 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 395.127 per 1,000. In the province, 3.83 per cent (29,878) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 373,815 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 63,377 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,781,451 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 441.931 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 4,119,439 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 94,093 new vaccinations administered for a total of 6,238,778 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 424.722 per 1,000. In the province, 2.68 per cent (393,884) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 7,056,415 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.41 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 7,799 new vaccinations administered for a total of 565,219 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 410.47 per 1,000. In the province, 5.52 per cent (76,060) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 686,160 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 50 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 9,124 new vaccinations administered for a total of 527,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 447.149 per 1,000. In the province, 3.93 per cent (46,393) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 542,935 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.11 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 27,918 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,916,957 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 435.47 per 1,000. In the province, 7.24 per cent (318,841) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 2,002,215 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.74 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 116,661 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,159,103 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 420.749 per 1,000. In the province, 2.07 per cent (106,058) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 112,500 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 2,442,540 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 397 new vaccinations administered for a total of 49,836 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,194.22 per 1,000. In the territory, 55.72 per cent (23,253) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 55,920 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 89.12 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 1,804 new vaccinations administered for a total of 49,811 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,103.992 per 1,000. In the territory, 49.87 per cent (22,501) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 58,800 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 84.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 201 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,297 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 756.52 per 1,000. In the territory, 33.25 per cent (12,878) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 44,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 66.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 10, 2021. The Canadian Press
A New Brunswick mom whose seven-year-old was hospitalized after eating what he thought were Oreo cookies is calling for a crackdown on cannabis-product packaging. Tobi Russo, who lives on Eel Ground First Nation southwest of Miramichi and is recovering from surgery, says she was having a rest on the couch Saturday morning when her youngest son, Moises, came upstairs to tell her he wasn't feeling well. Russo said it was plain to see he was in distress — his pupils were dilated and he was having heart palpitations — and she asked him what had happened. He told her he'd eaten some cookies, and she asked him to bring her the package. Russo was astonished: the packaging looked strikingly similar to the packaging for Oreo cookies, right down to the distinctive shiny blue cellophane wrap, and the font on the image of a chocolate creme cookie against a splash of white cream in the background. Except that they were in fact Stoneo cookies, by "Dabisco," which is not a legal product, and contained a total of 500 mg of THC. For comparison, a typical legal edibles product for sale at Cannabis NB contains between 2.5 and 10 mg of THC. Moises had eaten both of the cookies in the package. Alarmed, Russo called the poison control line and an ambulance. Moises was taken to Miramichi Regional Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an overdose and was hospitalized and monitored for 24 hours. He's home now and safe, and is not expected to have any long-term health issues because of the incident, but it has left Russo badly shaken. Stoneo cannabis cookies are sold in packaging that is almost identical to Oreo cookies packaging. (Weed Deals ) Cookies brought into home without her knowledge Russo said she had no idea the cookies had been brought into the house. "I live a drug- and alcohol-free life," said Russo, who has worked as an addictions counsellor. "If I would have known they were in the house, I would have destroyed them." There are adult relatives and four children, including teenagers, in the house, and there are friends who come and go, Russo said. She is quick to point out that she isn't trying to spark a "witch hunt" in her household or in her community. If anything, she said, she blames herself. "I am his mother and I'm responsible for what comes into this house," Russo said. Her real beef is with the companies that appear to directly target children with packaging that is dangerously similar to that of products they love. Stoneo cookies, by Canadian online dispensary Weed Deals, are just one example. There are Stoner Patch Kidz gummies, whose packaging mimics the distinctive packaging of Sour Patch Kids gummy candies, Fruit Gushers medicated gummies, Nerds Rope candy, and others. All of them mimic the original candies, from the packaging colour to the font to the graphic design. Oreo brand tries to stop 'misappropriation' "These big corporations should have a responsibility to not make it so inviting" to children, Russo said. "Adults would buy these products whether they had fancy packaging or not, they would buy it for the effect, so there's really no need to make it look all fun and fanciful." CBC News has reached out to Weed Deals, which sells the Stoneo cookies and other edibles, but did not immediately receive a response. On Tuesday, Mondelez International, which owns Oreo and many other snack brands, said in a statement that it takes the misuse of its products and brands seriously and "will act as necessary to protect consumers from actions that misrepresent" them. "In this case, the misappropriation of our OREO name and our packaging to sell THC-containing products is particularly troubling as the use of our designs may make the products more attractive and appealing to children," the statement said. "While we have reported the misuse to various agencies globally, we feel strongly about taking action to defend the OREO brand and to prevent its use by third parties to sell unregulated and infringing products. …Our products are safe to consume." Oreo cookies packaging. (Mondelez International) First Nation dispensary drops products The sale of cannabis in Canada has had some grey areas from the start. While Cannabis NB is the only legal retailer of cannabis in New Brunswick, First Nations leaders have argued that their communities weren't consulted when the Cannabis Act was being established, and that they do in fact have the right to sell cannabis in their own territories. Federal cannabis laws will come up for a three-year review this fall, giving First Nations an opportunity to make a new deal with the Canadian government that would allow them to sell legally. Cannabis NB does not sell Stoneo or other edibles that do not conform to Health Canada's quality control standards and guidelines, including packaging and THC levels. But such products are available online and at some dispensaries throughout the province, including some First Nation dispensaries, and calls for something to be done about their packaging are mounting. On Monday night, the co-owner of a cannabis dispensary on the Eel Ground First Nation, also known as Natoaganeg, posted a statement on Facebook announcing it will be dropping all products that employ the brand-mimicking tactic in the wake of Moises' accidental overdose. Although we may not be able to convince a company to alter their marketing strategies, we can make a difference by choosing not to offer these products in our store. - Devin Ward, co-owner of Lefty's Canna dispensary Lefty's Canna did not sell the Stoneo product in question, Devin Ward noted in his statement. However, he said, distributors have a responsibility to ensure that "incidents like the one this past weekend are avoided." "Ultimately, we are a collection of families that operates Lefty's. We have kids of our own and really sympathize with this unfortunate situation," he said in the statement. "Although we may not be able to convince a company to alter their marketing strategies, we can make a difference by choosing not to offer these products in our store." In an interview Monday night, Ward, himself a father of young boys, explained that Moises' hospital scare "hit close to home." "Moises is the same age as my son, they were in kindergarten together a few years ago. We know them on a personal level, so it was upsetting," he said. Devin Ward, with wife Kayla and their sons, Dexter, left, and Jackson. Ward co-owns a dispensary on the Eel Ground First Nation and said Monday night that the dispensary will be dropping all products whose packaging mimics brands known to children.(Submitted by Devin Ward) Public Health to discuss incident with Health Canada In an email Tuesday, New Brunswick's Public Health department said it was not aware of the packaging, but now plans to share the information with Health Canada. "We will share with Health Canada colleagues for followup as they are responsible for packaging," department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said. He noted individuals can also report concerns to Health Canada, via the Cannabis Reporting Form section on Health Canada's website. Health Canada said Monday that it is looking into the matter. MLA commends Russo for coming forward Michelle Conroy, the People's Alliance MLA for Miramichi, also knows Russo and Moises. On Monday, Conroy called Moises' close call "horrifying," and questioned how companies can be allowed to blatantly target children in their marketing of adult products. "We've been seeing posts about Doritos bags, candies and gummies, all of which are pointed towards children's treats. … it's very concerning." Conroy praised Russo for sharing her story, knowing that she would face online trolling and posting hurtful comments. "I really commend her for having the bravery to come forward because it will bring a lot of awareness to people who have no idea this is even happening," Conroy said. "I have two teenage boys here and you never know who's coming and going half the time, they're in the basement, they're bringing in treats and snacks … it can easily happen." Conroy said she'd like to see "stronger rules" around the packaging of such products, similar to the rules around cigarettes, and plans to look into the matter further. "It's really alarming that this can be done on any level," she said. "I don't think they should be able to do this at all."
Health Minister Paul Merriman recently challenged Saskatchewan millennials to match the high COVID-19 vaccination numbers recorded so far among the province's older populations. Like the cool kids say: Challenge accepted. Statistics reported daily by the Ministry of Health show Saskatchewan residents in their 30s are taking their first doses at a rapid clip. As of May 9, just over a quarter of Saskatchewan residents aged 30 to 39 — or 27 per cent of the province's estimated 183,246 thirtysomethings — had received their first dose of vaccine. That level of vaccination, among one of the province's largest age populations, was reached only six days after the first chunk of the 30s cohort, people aged 37 to 39, were allowed to book vaccine appointments starting on May 4 —aside from any young workers or vulnerable people offered early doses, that is. In the days since, eligibility has opened up to people aged 32 to 36. But the 27-per-cent vaccination level reported Monday was reached even though remaining cohort members aged 30 and 31 only became eligible on Monday morning and therefore did not factor into those latest vaccine takeup numbers. (Government of Saskatchewan) What's more, Saskatchewan residents in their 30s reached the benchmark of one quarter of their population receiving one dose more quickly than either people in their 40s or 50s. By comparison, one quarter of fortysomethings were vaccinated with a single dose as of April 28 — 13 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 48 and 49, could book an appointment. Meanwhile, 26 per cent of Saskatchewan people in their fifties had been inoculated once against COVID-19 as of April 12 — 11 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 58 and 59, became eligible for vaccination. Seniors prioritized in rollout Data on when people in their 60s reached the 25-per-cent first-dose level was not available at the time due to an update in the province's reporting systems, according to the ministry. Exactly when people in their 70s and 80s hit that goal is also unclear because the ministry's table on vaccine uptake did not become a staple of its daily reporting until late March, by which point the vaccination of Saskatchewan's seniors was well underway. However, by March 23, 30 per cent of Saskatchewan residents in their 70s had received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That's 11 days after the first segment of people in that age group, people 76 and older, became eligible. Many caveats should be noted when comparing vaccine take up between age groups, not the least of which is vaccine supply, which has ebbed and flowed at various points in Saskatchewan's vaccine rollout but increased considerably as of last week. More location options, including drive-thrus and pharmacies, have launched since the early days of the vaccine rollout. Also worth considering is that young prioritized health care workers may have been vaccinated early. On the other hand, seniors and others living in care homes were also among those prioritized for early vaccination ahead of younger portions of the general population and had vaccine clinics come to them, as opposed to having to travel to a clinic or drive-thru. As of Sunday, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and over had received one dose — the highest uptake rate of any age group. Initially, the Ministry of Health reported separately on vaccine levels among care home residents and seniors living independently. Now all seniors are simply recorded in the same age categories, regardless of whether they were inoculated while in a care home or not. Merriman, the health minister, expressed hope late last week that the strong vaccination numbers among seniors would be bested by younger generations. "It'd be very interesting to see if the millennials could take up that challenge," Merriman said. "They seem to be very interested in challenges these days. It seems to be the trending thing online." For more stories of vaccinated Saskatchewan thirtysomethings, click here.
The Higgs government is cutting income taxes to offset the impact of carbon taxes on the majority of New Brunswickers. Finance Minister Ernie Steeves introduced legislation Tuesday that would lower the tax rate on the lower income bracket from 9.68 per cent to 9.4 per cent, a rate that applies to the first $43,835 of income. The tax cut accounts for $28 million of the $163 million in carbon tax revenue the province will collect this year under a pricing system it adopted to comply with the federal government's requirements. "It is anticipated to benefit over 420,000 taxpayers, putting money back in the pockets of the taxpayers," Steeves said, as he introduced the bill. The Progressive Conservatives had faced calls to use the revenue on climate fund projects. Tax cut 'a sensible approach' But returning the money to New Brunswickers falls in line with calls by many economists and environmentalists. "It's a sensible approach," said University of Ottawa economist Nic Rivers, an expert on carbon pricing, who said it creates a disincentive to burn fossil fuels while giving people more money to stimulate the economy. Nic Rivers, an economist at the University of Ottawa, commended the province's tax cut in the context of offsetting the carbon tax.(Nicholas Rivers) "This is 'tax what you burn, not what you earn,'" Rivers said. Premier Blaine Higgs said it was always the goal of the federal plan to have at least a portion of carbon tax revenue refunded to consumers. "That was kind of the principle, and that's why we did it," he said. In provinces that have refused to adopt carbon prices, Ottawa is applying the tax and is sending people rebates. The national climate plan requires provinces to tax greenhouse gas emissions at $40 per tonne this year, which translates into 8.8 cents per litre of gasoline. Last year Higgs opted to slash the provincial gas excise tax to partially offset the carbon tax. But this year, rather than slash it even more — an approach Ottawa frowns on — he said he wanted to find another way to return some of the money to New Brunswickers. Use extra revenue to further reduce emissions, says opposition Opposition Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said he calculated the tax cut would work out to $68 per person per year. "It's not significant when you stop and do the math." Melanson said he'd rather see the $28 million used to pay for more government programs to reduce emissions. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson says he wants to see the $28 million earned from income tax cuts used to fund programs to reduce emissions.(CBC News) Higgs said Melanson's per-person math "wouldn't be far off," but he said the reduction is an important signal the province wants lower taxes. "This is a start to continue the momentum that we're feeling right now in our province, the people who want to live here, who want to work here," he said. But he ruled out using the entire $163 million in carbon tax revenue for a much larger income tax cut. "There's a balance here," he said. The income tax cut only accounts for a small portion of the total carbon tax revenue this year, and $36 million will still be devoted to climate change projects, about the same as last year. Ottawa requires the carbon tax to increase each year, and the premier said he could lower income taxes further each year in tandem with carbon price hikes. "I'd like to say yes," he said. "A tax reduction is as good as a wage increase." Steeves's bill also raises the low-income tax threshold to $17,840 from $17,630. People below that threshold pay no provincial income tax.
As some experts continue to warn of very rare side effects associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Canadian health officials are now reviewing the research on mixing various COVID-19 shots. A study of a "mismatched" vaccine regimen is underway in the U.K. — but some scientists say there's reason to believe that administering two doses of different products could boost a person's immune response beyond what can be achieved by giving the same shot twice. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) caused some confusion earlier this month when it said the viral vector shot from AstraZeneca is not the "preferred" product given its associated risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) — a condition that causes blood clots. That warning came out after hundreds of thousands of Canadians had received the AstraZeneca vaccine already. According to the Ontario Science Table, estimates of the frequency of VITT in individuals who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine now range from 1 case in 26,000 to 1 case in 127,000 doses administered. The risk of developing this side effect, combined with an uncertain delivery schedule for future supply, has prompted some provinces to consider pausing AstraZeneca vaccinations altogether. Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, said Sunday a temporary suspension "has been discussed at many levels, and certainly discussed at our provincial program right now." Christine Elliott, Ontario's health minister, said Monday that recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine may receive a different shot for their second dose. While the AstraZeneca product has been deemed safe and effective repeatedly by Health Canada regulators, some people who already have received that vaccine are now looking at their options. What does the research say about mixing vaccines? Researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. launched a study in early February to explore the possible benefits of alternating different COVID-19 vaccines. According to the lead scientists, the study is "looking for clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains." The study — otherwise known as the COVID-19 Heterologous Prime Boost study, or "Com-COV" — is collecting data to determine whether receiving two different types of vaccine generates an immune response at least equal to the response that follows receiving the same product twice. (A "heterologous" vaccination regimen is one that uses more than one product.) Some early results may be available soon; the study team told CBC News it's "anticipating sharing data in the next week or so." People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton on April 20, 2021.(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press) All of the shots currently in use in Canada and the U.K. follow the same two-dose schedule, with a "prime" dose followed by a second "boost" dose some weeks later. (The one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot has been approved for use in Canada but it has not yet been administered.) The Oxford researchers are evaluating the effects of vaccine combinations — comparing the results of a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by either the Pfizer vaccine or a second AstraZeneca dose, or a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine followed by either the AstraZeneca or a second dose of the Pfizer. A second study, called Com-COV 2, includes the products from Moderna and Novavax as booster vaccines. Jonathan Van-Tam is the deputy chief medical officer for England and one of the senior officials responsible for this study. He said this research will "give us greater insight into how we can use vaccines to stay on top of this nasty disease." "It is possible that by combining vaccines, the immune response could be enhanced, giving even higher antibody levels that last longer," he said in a statement. "Unless this is evaluated in a clinical trial, we just won't know." Dr. Helen Fletcher is a professor of immunology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K. She said a "mismatched" vaccine program would deliver some practical benefits — vaccine delivery logistics would be greatly simplified — but there could be another good reason to pursue a mixed-dose regimen. The prospect of a 'stronger immune response' "I'm excited about the study because I think it's likely that the immune response will be even better if you mix and match vaccines," Fletcher said in an interview with CBC News. "Mixing vaccines could give you a stronger immune response, or it could give a broader type of immune response — generating a wider range of antibodies, or T cells as well as antibodies. It's also possible that a mix and match regimen could strengthen our immune response against virus variants because of this stronger or broader immunity." Vaccines teach the immune system — which includes both antibodies and T-cells — to recognize part of a virus. A T cell is a type of white blood cell that responds to viral infections and boosts the immune function of other cells. Vials of the COVID-19 vaccine are seen on a filling machine at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.(Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press) A single dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer shots has been found to generate a significant antibody response to the novel coronavirus. But a recent study by the U.K. Coronavirus Immunology Consortium and the University of Birmingham found that the AstraZeneca vaccine may actually induce a stronger cellular immune response than the Pfizer shot. So a combination of the two shots "could lead to a higher quantity of antibody, but it can also broaden the immune response," Fletcher said. Is there any history of mixing different vaccines like this? Yes. Fletcher said people have been combining vaccine types for several decades in an effort to boost immune responses to malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and cancers. A mixed vaccine regimen was approved for Ebola last year. "When we give immunizations to infants, we use several different types of vaccine over a period of months and years with no safety concerns," Fletcher said. Are there any risks associated with a mismatched regimen? Fletcher said there have been no reports of any side effects beyond the ones already reported when the vaccines are administered individually. "The Com-COV study will, of course, be looking very closely at safety and it's great that this is being carefully monitored as part of a clinical trial, but I would not anticipate any safety problem with mixing vaccines," she said. Different vaccines administered as part of a two-dose regime do not directly interact with each other, as the vaccine particles are swiftly cleared by the immune system within days of immunization, Fletcher said. "There's no remaining vaccine mRNA or vaccine viral vector around when you give a second dose," she said. Jorg Fritz, a microbiology and immunology professor at McGill University, said he doesn't see why there would be any additional danger involved in receiving two different vaccines. Fritz said he also thinks it would be better to mix two vaccines that use different technologies than to wait too long to give the second shot. "I think it's more important to get a booster vaccination to have a more robust and more durable immune response against the viral proteins than using the same technology," Fritz told the Canadian Press. What have Canadian officials said about this? Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said last week the current guidance is for AstraZeneca recipients to get a second dose of the same product, but NACI is now reviewing the Oxford research on mixing AstraZeneca with an mRNA shot. "There will be further advice forthcoming on that second dose based on the evolving science. We should watch this space," Tam said. "All of the vaccines being used in Canada are targeting the virus' spike protein, so I think the science will look not just at whether the mixed schedule is safe, but whether that's actually an even better approach than using exactly the same vaccine for the two doses. Those questions remain to be answered." Would we have enough mRNA doses for a mix-and-match program? Probably. According to Health Canada, at least 1,540,000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered in Canada as of May 1. Thousands of Canadians have been vaccinated since then. With delivery of millions more mRNA shots expected over the coming months — Pfizer alone will deliver 2 million shots each week in May before ramping up to 2.4 million a week next month — there should be enough shots on hand to vaccinate AstraZeneca recipients with a second dose of a second product. But provinces may have to hold back some Pfizer supply to make this work. Canada has ordered 48 million Pfizer doses — 5.5 million were delivered in the January-through-March period, 24.2 million will arrive in the second quarter of this year and 18.3 million more are to follow between July and September. That's enough shots to vaccinate 24 million people with two doses. If some of that product is earmarked for people who already have doses of AstraZeneca, that leaves less product for first doses. Moderna is also expected to deliver 12.3 million doses of its mRNA product in the April-through-June period, with millions more doses expected in the third quarter of this year. WATCH: Canada will soon have enough doses to offer vaccines to all who want them Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last Thursday that officials are "only starting to do deliberate planning on second doses." "What I would tell you is provinces and territories have a good handle on what they need. They keep tabs on who is getting which vaccine," he said. "Everybody is working on a very deliberate plan making sure people get the right vaccine when they're supposed to receive it." Will Canada shorten the time between shots? Possibly. NACI said in early March that, given the limited vaccine supply, provinces and territories may want to wait up to 16 weeks between first and second doses to give more people at least some level of protection. The provinces have since followed this guidance, with a few exceptions. For example, many long-term care home residents have been fully vaccinated on the timeline recommended by the vaccine makers. Pfizer calls for a second dose 21 days after the first, while Moderna stipulates the second shot should come 28 days later. Ontario announced Monday that it would begin offering second doses to some high-risk groups this week. "As more vaccines come in, that interval can be shorter," Tam said.
A shutdown of the Windsor Assembly Plant that started in late March has been extended once again. The Stellantis factory is one of many in the auto sector affected by a global shortage of semiconductors, which are used in electronics. Other automakers, such as Ford and General Motors, have slashed production. The plant, which produces minivans including the Chrysler Pacifica, Voyager and Grand Caravan, was slated to be closed for a four-week period starting on March 29. The reopening has been delayed several times. On Monday, Unifor Local 444 said the plant will be closed for the week of May 17. "The company has informed the Union that the Windsor Assembly Plant will be down the week of May 17th," the union said in a social media post. A spokesperson for Stellantis confirmed the plant will be shut down next week because of the "unprecedented global microchip shortage." "Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry," spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement. The auto company, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, employs roughly 5,000 people at the Windsor Assembly Plant. The factory has been shuttered twice this year because of the semiconductor shortage. In February, production was halted for three weeks. During the plant's downtime, workers are eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits, and some get a union-negotiated top up that brings their wages up to about 80 per cent of their regular earnings. Nick Dimitriou, who has been an employee for 26 years, said he's lucky to get that supplement. But he worries about those who are not eligible, including some junior workers. "Those that don't have that negotiated into their contracts, my heart goes out to them and it is a struggle," he said. He said he's been helping out family and his community during the extended downtime. "You try to keep busy. You gotta stay healthy, right?" he said.
The B.C. RCMP has identified a person of interest in the suspicious death investigation of 35-year-old Brenda Ware. Philip Toner, 41, is described by police as white, with brown hair and brown facial hair, although RCMP said he is presently described as being bald. He is 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds. His current whereabouts are unknown, but police say he has ties to B.C. and Alberta. "Brenda Ware and Toner were known to each other, however the nature of that relationship will not be released at this time," RCMP Supt. Sanjaya Wijayakoon said in a statement. Ware's body was found May 6, 54 kilometres northeast of Radium, B.C., along Highway 93. She had been travelling from Didsbury, Alta., through Kootenay National Park. Philip Toner is described by police as white, and as having brown hair and brown facial hair, although RCMP said he is presently described as bald. Police are looking to speak with him about the suspicious death of Brenda Ware.(B.C. RCMP) Police have deemed her death suspicious but have not released any details about what happened. "If Philip hears, or sees this call for information, we ask him to contact the police of jurisdiction," Wijayakoon said. Police are advising anyone who comes across Toner not to approach him, but to call 9-1-1 immediately. Investigators have also asked anyone who saw Ware or her vehicle from May 4 to May 6 to contact them at 1-877-987-8477. They'd also like to speak with anybody who may have encountered hitchhikers in the area or who has dashcam video from Kootenay National Park between May 5 and 6.
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan's foreign minister criticised what he called China's "shameless lies" on Tuesday in an escalating dispute about Beijing blocking the island from the World Health Organization (WHO), saying China clearly did not care about Taiwan's people. The United States and the rich-nation Group of Seven (G7) have called for Chinese-claimed but democratically ruled Taiwan to attend the WHO's decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, which meets from May 24. Taiwan is excluded from most global organisations such as the WHO because of the objections of China, which considers the island one of its provinces not a country.
EDMONTON — Some herds of Alberta's provincial animal are heavily contaminated with selenium from old coal mines, says research from a retired senior government biologist. Jeff Kneteman said Alberta Environment has known about the problem in bighorn sheep for years. But it has yet to commission any studies about the effects on the three herds and how far the contamination has spread through the local ecosystem. "There was no interest," said Kneteman, who left government in March 2020. "Why wasn't any of this stuff ever followed up?" The research comes to light as the United Conservative government tires to persuade Albertans that the province's regulatory and monitoring systems are capable of ensuring an expansion of coal-mining in the Rocky Mountains can be done safely. An Alberta Environment spokesman said the government is aware of the issue. "Alberta Environment and Parks has engaged with researchers and mining companies and their consultants in the (area) regarding selenium levels in bighorn sheep," said John Muir in an email. Kneteman's work dates from 2015. It was his thesis for a master's degree and not provincially funded. He was investigating selenium, a naturally occurring element associated with coal mines that is healthy in small doses but toxic in excess. Kneteman's study looked at what levels of selenium were normal for animals, including bighorns, deer, elk and caribou, by considering 85 different herds from across North America. Two herds in northwest Alberta stood out — those on the sites of the Smoky River, Gregg River and Luscar coal mines. "(Levels in) bighorn that occupied coal mines were miles away from everybody," he said. Both herds averaged well outside the safe range for selenium. One of them almost doubled that level. "They're getting it from the coal mines," Kneteman said. "We found no evidence of elevated selenium in Alberta in any of the other populations that we sampled." The Rockies are naturally low in selenium. As well, when bighorns from one of the coal-affected herds were transferred to Nevada, their selenium levels dropped to normal within a year. Muir said a consultant found selenium levels to be high but below those that would produce toxic effects. Selenium is known to damage reproduction. That effect was present, said Kneteman. "The sheep on the mines have the lowest reproductive potential and reproductive output that we've ever measured in Canada." The province's 2015 draft management plan for bighorns found that the ratio of lambs to ewes was lower at coal mines than native range every year from 2008 to 2013. Referring to unpublished government data, that plan says: "High selenium levels in blood samples from bighorns feeding in reclamation areas associated with a coal-mine site ... are of concern to sheep managers. "No examination of possible population effects attributed exclusively to selenium toxicity has been undertaken to date." Research suggests selenium is widespread in the ecosystem in question. Kneteman previously found elevated levels in dippers, small birds that feed on aquatic insects. Other studies have found excessive selenium in at least three area waterways. "(Selenium) is throughout the system," Kneteman said. Although his data is years old, there's little reason to believe things have improved, he said. "(Selenium) hasn't declined at all since the first measurements in the late '90s," he said. "The assumption could be made it's the same today as it was in 2015. Why would we expect it to have changed?" The province's 2019 five-year monitoring plan mothballed all the area's water-monitoring stations. Since last spring, Alberta has sold tens of thousands of hectares of exploration leases for new coal mines along the summits and eastern slopes of the Rockies. In response to public concern, Energy Minister Sonya Savage has paused all work on the most sensitive landscapes, stopped further lease sales and struck a panel to hear concerns from Albertans. She has asked Albertans to have faith in the province's regulatory agency and monitoring programs and has referred to Alberta Environment's "stringent environmental protections." Muir said the province is monitoring selenium levels in wildlife, fisheries, soil and vegetation. Kneteman said he tried repeatedly to get his former department to study a toxin from resource development contaminating the animal that is supposed to symbolize the province. "No one's made any measurements, which is maybe dereliction," he said. "The only reason we've got any measurements is that I went and got them. There wasn't any effort to find out what was going on." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Whose law gets to reign in a publicly funded school system that caters to one religion in an increasingly diverse society? That’s a question one of the largest publicly funded Catholic school authorities in the world, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), wrestled with last week before voting to raise the rainbow Pride flag over each of its almost 200 schools next month in support of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. It was a significant move that was a long time coming, with one former student trustee noting they had pushed the TCDSB to adopt policies supportive of its 2SLGBTQ+ students a decade earlier. Kathy Nguyen, one of the board’s two current student trustees, said she had been awake until 3 or 4 a.m. in the days ahead of the meeting after seeing the reactions to a 2SLGBTQ+ committee recommendation. “To our students, we told you that we had your back and we weren’t messing around,” said Nguyen, whose term expires at the end of this school year. “When I said that I wanted to ensure our voices were heard at the board table and that I would be your amplifier, I also wasn’t messing around.” But the effort to make all students welcome in its schools was not without a fight, and along with a recent defeat of a similar Pride flag motion in nearby Halton (and the silence on the matter from scores of others), it is raising the hackles of those who question why public funds are allocated to Catholic schools at all. “It’s 2021 and the fact that deep respect for the LGBTQ community is an issue at a Catholic board is mind-boggling,” said Charles Pascal, a former Ontario deputy education minister who is now a professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. “This kind of behaviour calls attention to the recurring issue of whether or not public money should fund schools based on a single religious world view,” he added. Publicly funded Catholic education is protected by Canada’s Constitution, dating back to a time when public schools were otherwise decidedly Protestant. But the decision to offer it is a provincial one, and more recent legal advancements, including the charter introduced in the 1980s and Ontario’s Human Rights Code from the 1990s, make its government-funded role teaching Catholic doctrine more problematic. Pope Francis last year said same-sex couples should be allowed to have "civil unions," but the Vatican last month ruled the church could not bless them. Ontario’s human rights law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and religious belief, among other protected attributes, while Catholic doctrine includes the belief that homosexuality is a moral disorder and the province’s schools are allowed to hire only Catholic teachers. The reluctance to offer support to her LGBTQ+ friends is part of the reason Grade 8 student EJ Sephton will move from her Catholic elementary school in Burlington (in the Halton district) at the end of this year and join a secular school for high school. “Isn't it worth it to fly a flag for one month even if it only makes one student or staff member feel truly accepted and loved at school?” she said in a recent interview, noting that peers had hurled hateful language at her friends while at school. “If we were able to fly the flag, maybe we could start talking more about Pride Month and bringing awareness and how we have to show our support,” she said. More than a third of students who identify as non-straight have seriously considered suicide compared to just 12 per cent of heterosexual students, according to a 2019 report from the City of Toronto, while a similar portion of transgender people in an Ontario study reported having considered suicide in the past year. "The impact of homophobic bullying and discrimination faced by these students at school is heartbreaking," said Michelle Allen, a TCDSB teacher and parent who presented to the meeting last week. "This trauma is made worse by prejudicial policies and teachers and administrators that turn a blind eye. "We have to do better, we know we can do better," she said. "And flying this flag is just such a visible symbol to all of us that, as a board, we are trying to do better and trying to love our students just exactly as they are." The board said in a brief statement acknowledging the outcome of the vote that it was a step that showed it was serious about inclusion. “We recognize that this is an important step required to demonstrate the TCDSB’s ongoing commitment to fostering inclusive environments that are safe and welcoming places for 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff,” director of education Brendan Browne and chair of the board Joseph Martino said. Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer