The latest social media craze involves an ancient song tradition. TikTokers have discovered the sea shanty. Eli Glasner looks at why it's captivated an enormous global audience.
The latest social media craze involves an ancient song tradition. TikTokers have discovered the sea shanty. Eli Glasner looks at why it's captivated an enormous global audience.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich has started production on a feature documentary on the late Montreal-raised jazz legend Oscar Peterson. A news release from Avrich's Melbar Entertainment Group says Kelly Peterson, the widow of the virtuoso pianist, will act as consulting producer on "Oscar Peterson: Black and White." The film is billed as a "docu-concert" and will include archival concert footage as well as interviews with family members and musicians who played with the Grammy winner, who died in 2007 at the age of 82 in Mississauga, Ont. It will also feature new performances from artists playing Peterson's music, including Dave Young, Larnell Lewis, Jackie Richardson, Robi Botos, and Measha Brueggergosman. Melbar says the doc will explore Peterson's life and acclaimed career, from his artistic influence and mentorship of other artists, to the racism that he endured and his legacy as "an uncompromising musician with a sense of racial pride." The film is set for a release in the fall and comes on the heels of the release of Historica Canada's Heritage Minute on Peterson. "It is a privilege and career highlight for me to tell Oscar's inspiring story and further immortalize his relentless yet iconic music in this film," said Avrich, a Canadian Screen Award-winning producer and director behind scores of live TV specials and documentaries, including last year's "The Howie Mandel Project." Peterson dazzled audiences with his piano playing around the world and worked with a jazz giants including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. His 1962 composition "Hymn to Freedom" became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, while his 1964 recording “The Canadiana Suite” was in honour of his home country. Avrich and Mark Selby will produce the doc. Avrich will also executive produce, alongside Jeffrey Latimer and Randy Lennox. Other musicians who will perform in the film include Joe Sealy, Stu Harrison, Denzal Sinclaire, and Daniel Clarke Bouchard. “It is gratifying that Oscar’s legacy continues to resonate and inspire music lovers and musicians everywhere," said Kelly Peterson. "I am delighted that this documentary will capture his story, his journey and his place in music history now, and forever." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Late last week reports began circulating on social media alleging a group of hunters from Quebec had travelled to southern Labrador to hunt caribou, believed to be the threatened Joir River herd, a small group of the Mealy Mountain herd that is the most southeasterly caribou of their range. SaltWire Network contacted the Department of Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture, which confirmed the department is aware of a group of people who travelled to Labrador from Quebec. “Resource enforcement officers located these individuals when they initially arrived and advised the group that any harvesting of caribou in the Labrador region is illegal,” the department said in a statement. “There are now in excess of 30 snowmobiles in the area. Officers have made patrols to the area and have observed illegally harvested caribou.” The statement said evidence has been collected and enforcement action will be taken as the investigation continues. Hunting caribou is illegal in Labrador, and over the years a handful of hunters from Quebec have been charged and convicted with illegal hunting of the herds. Most recently, three Pakua Shipi Innu men were convicted in January of violating the Wildlife Act and obstruction related to illegal caribou hunting in 2015. The Pakua Shipi Innu hunt in the area annually and have said in the past they dispute the official numbers of the herd and the impact of hunting. Hollis Yetman with the Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association posted about the hunt on Friday, saying the hunters had left Quebec a few days before and spent a night at a hotel near the Quebec-Labrador border before heading into the country. SaltWire spoke with Yetman, who said the hunt happens this time every year like clockwork, and he understands the challenges wildlife officers face when trying to enforce the hunting ban. The remoteness of the area where they hunt, different provincial jurisdictions, the time it takes to mobilize enough officers to respond, and the challenge of confronting a large group of armed men are just some factors, he said. Yetman said consultations need to happen within the communities, and within the Indigenous governments, the provinces and the federal government, “with everybody at the table and find out what the real issues are.” “You have to get at the table and hash out what the real issues and solutions are and deal with it at the table. You can’t deal with it in the country. It’s already too late then.” Yetman said with the caribou numbers as low as they are, the time for enforcement has passed and it’s up to the different governments to find a solution. Everyone he’s spoken to with the federal, provincial and Indigenous governments has been upset about the hunt that happens in the area every year, but it keeps happening, he said. “It makes me believe that everybody, except the Innu in this situation, is powerless,” Yetman said. “They must be, because they can’t stop it. I would say the federal and provincial government is weak. When the hunting happens it’s already too late. I challenge them all to get up and deal with it, behind the scenes, do something and start talks to keep these caribou alive.” The Nunatukavut Community Council (NCC), which represents the Southern Inuit of Labrador, released a statement on Sunday about the illegal hunting, saying they are concerned and disappointed to hear of the hunt. NCC President Todd Russell said they are closely monitoring the situation and are working with provincial authorities to share information. He said in their view, there are no legitimate grounds for taking these animals at this time and NunatuKavut Inuit “have always had a fundamentally important relationship with caribou and our approach has been one of respect." “We have a responsibility as Inuit, as do other Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, to do all we can to protect the caribou and their habitat," Russell said. "This is necessary so that future generations can know about caribou, and to always have it be part of our culture.” Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
NEW YORK — A short time after Broadway shut down last year, Elizabeth Stanley went on a tiny rescue mission. She was offered a chance to get back into her dressing room at the Broadhurst Theatre — home of her musical “Jagged Little Pill” — and to grab anything she needed. “I went and retrieved a bunch of plants,” she says, laughing. “I knew they won’t survive in a room with no windows and no water.” That strong nurturing side of Stanley was also clearly evident from the stage before the pandemic closed theatres. She earned her first Tony Award nomination playing the mom of a Connecticut family spiraling out of control in the musical set to the music of Alanis Morissette's 1995 album of the same name. Stanley is seemingly comfortable singing anything, from complicated Stephen Sondheim show tunes to rock songs by Morissette, classics by Leonard Bernstein and modern gems by Jason Robert Brown. “In some ways, people didn’t know what to do with me always and I think that’s honestly worked out to my benefit most of the time,” she says. “I didn’t just get stuck playing one singular type of part.” Eva Price, the three-time Tony Award-winning producer behind “Jagged Little Pill,” says Stanley has put her entire heart and soul into her latest character ever since workshops started. “She actually created a multi-dimensional, 360-degree, completely layered, contemporary female protagonist in a way that none of us knew we even had on the page or in our minds,” said Price. Stanley made her Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of “Company” and has had roles in “Cry-Baby,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and “On the Town.” A Tony nomination this time is welcome, indeed. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the whole time I’ve been performing and pursuing a career in the performing arts," she says. "So I feel like whatever crazy year it came in, I’ll take it.” The musical is about a family confronting drug addiction, sexual assault, struggles with gender identity and transracial adoption. Morissette has told the cast she hopes the musical can be a hopeful beacon. “She wants us to be a story about healing and connection," says Stanley. "And I think that’s such a beautiful sort of takeaway that she’s infused the piece with and that has always been in her music. I think it’s like this rallying cry for transparency and authenticity.” Stanley — as the mom, Mary Jane — is the spine of the musical, trying to connect with her workaholic husband and aloof teenage kids. She's also hiding an addiction to Oxycodone developed after being prescribed the opioid following a car accident. During the musical, her character also reveals her own history with sexual assault. “There’s so many layers to get into that I think it took me a long time to really find all of her,” says Stanley. “In fact, I don’t even think I’m done. That’s one of the reasons I’m anxious to get back to the show — I don’t feel done with this part yet.” The “Jagged Little Pill” musical is so rooted in contemporary issues facing America that she believes the discussions and marches over racial justice will find voice whenever Broadway restarts. “I think it will influence our interpretation of it as a cast, but it will also influence the audience and how they will see that,” she says. "Going to see a piece of theatre allows us to receive a message and feel it in a more palatable way than watching a three-hour news cycle about something.” During the past year, Stanley has been part of “Jagged Little Pill” online concerts and appearances. She also went through a series of crafting phases — baking, sewing and tie-dying. She made new throw pillows for her couch. COVID-19 ruined what was to be one of her happiest days: her wedding. Engaged in January 2020 to actor and teacher Charlie Murphy, the couple were supposed to tie the knot in September. They even put down — and lost — a security deposit at a venue. Now they're rethinking what they really want when COVID-19 releases its grip on the city. The original idea was to have an intimate affair with just family and a few close friends. “Now I really want to party with a lot of people,” she says, laughing. “Now I need everyone there that I haven’t been able to see, and I’m surrounded by all of my friends and we’re just being crazy.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Cindy and Ray Brownlee are terrified for their daughter. Becky, who is 39, has Down syndrome, type 1 diabetes and asthma. Having Down syndrome means her immune system is compromised. She had to stop working as a Walmart greeter, a job she has held for more than 15 years and where she is much beloved by staff and customers alike. Unlike others with Down syndrome, she does not live in a congregate or group living setting — she lives with her parents — and is therefore not prioritized for the vaccine. This is despite the fact that people with Down syndrome have five times the hospitalization rate as compared to the general population due to COVID-19 and 10 times the mortality rate. "The province’s vaccination eligibility criteria is ever evolving as we work our way through this pandemic. At this time, Becky is not eligible as per vaccination eligibility," a provincial spokesperson stated by email. "Currently, Focused Immunization Teams are visiting congregate living facilities — several of which are home to individuals with either physical or intellectual challenges. Eligibility for general population was announced recently: 95 and over and adjusted on a regular basis pending appointment availability. First Nations eligibility began at 75-plus and is adjusted on a regular basis." According to the province’s vaccine queue calculator, there are 501,597 Manitobans ahead of Becky. Back when the pandemic reached Manitoba, Becky developed double pneumonia. Her parents were very concerned it might be COVID-19. That’s when her doctor told her to stop working as a greeter. He also said she couldn’t go anywhere. She can take walks, she can be in the car with her parents, and she can go to the doctor’s office. In an effort to secure Becky a vaccine, the Brownlees have written to Premier Brian Pallister, Health Minister Heather Stefanson and Brandon West MLA Reg Helwer. "All we got back was this standard form letter," said Cindy. Cindy is familiar with one other adult in Brandon with Down syndrome and very significant health issues who is living in their own home. "We’re familiar with lots of other people who have Down syndrome, but they’re living in congregate or group homes," she said. The Brandon Sun attempted to call the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society for relevant statistics, but the office is closed and the message said calls would only be returned on Thursday. Ray supports other vulnerable groups prioritized for early vaccination, such as First Nations and residents at personal care homes and congregate living and group settings. However, he believes it is wrong to exclude Becky and other vulnerable individuals. "Everything that comes into our house is wiped down with a disinfectant — groceries, anything. We had the plumber here not too long ago and the whole house was disinfected wherever he was. A lot of care and caution," said Ray. "It just seems to me that we’re doing our share, but we’re not getting consideration on the other end." Meanwhile, Brandon University professor Bruce Strang, whose teenage son Sean has Down syndrome, told the Sun on Tuesday that he’s filing a human rights complaint regarding the province not including people like his son in its vaccination plans. He also said research has shown that individuals with Down syndrome are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 or die because of the virus than people without it, so Strang believes the province should place them and others with disabilities at a higher priority to receive their vaccinations. Strang previously filed a human rights complaint against the province and the Brandon School Division for not appropriately considering the needs of students with disabilities and health conditions when making their COVID-19 back-to-school plans. "The provincial government and the chief medical officer of health have, in my view, completely ignored disability issues in the vaccine rollout," he said. "The government is once again failing to live up to its duties under the Human Rights Code, and it’s discriminating against people with disabilities in the vaccine rollout." According to Strang, he has tried to reach officials at Manitoba Health to speak about the issue, but was told that no one would speak with him over the phone. Two weeks ago, he sent an email to the office of Health Minister Heather Stefanson, to which he said he has only received an automated reply. The email sent to Stefanson’s office said that if he does not hear a reply, he will make a complaint to the provincial Human Rights Commission. A copy of this email was provided to the Sun. The professor pointed to an online town hall that chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin participated in on Feb. 8, during which another Manitoba parent expressed concern about her daughter with Down syndrome and what could happen if she contracted COVID-19 as she gets sick easily. The Brownlees also participated in the town hall. The parent asked why people like her daughter are not being given vaccination priority. "When we look at the modelling, the best way to quickly protect the most vulnerable Manitobans is the age-based approach," said Roussin. "If we took a risk-based approach, we actually protect less Manitobans quickly who are at risk. (These) are the decisions we’re forced to make when we have extreme vaccine scarcity, but there’s no doubt that there’s going to be people who are at higher risk that don’t get vaccinated." Strang didn’t appreciate Roussin’s response. "The answer was essentially nothing," said Strang. "That they knew that people with Down syndrome who have greatly increased risk of medical issues and death due to COVID-19, but they were going to concentrate on rolling out the vaccine by age only to the general population. That to me is an astonishingly lazy answer." Additionally, the Brownlees said they are afraid that Becky will be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, which operates in a different fashion than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and is said to be less efficient. Strang and the Brownlees aren’t the only ones concerned about children and adults with Down syndrome. Canada as a whole is ignoring the issue, while other countries and some states in the U.S. have prioritized those with Down syndrome to be vaccinated. Cindy cannot understand why Roussin’s science is not the same as the science around the world. Parents in Quebec have launched a Canada-wide petition at bit.ly/3kCQT7r Ready for My Shot is another grassroots advocacy group and can be found at readyformyshot.ca Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
WASHINGTON — The Senate Finance Committee easily approved President Joe Biden's pick to be America's top trade negotiator. The panel on Wednesday confirmed Katherine Tai to be U.S. trade representative on a voice vote. Her nomination, which has received strong bipartisan support, will now go to the full Senate for approval. Tai has promised to make sure that U.S. trade policy benefits America's workers, not just corporations, and to work more closely with U.S. allies to counter an increasingly assertive China. Fluent in Mandarin, Tai spent several years as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's head of China enforcement. She last worked as the top trade staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee, where she handled negotiations with the Trump administration over a revamped North American trade deal. Under pressure from congressional Democrats, Trump’s trade team agreed to strengthen the pact to make it easier for Mexican workers to form independent unions and demand better pay and benefits — decreasing the incentives for U.S. firms to move south of the border to take advantage of cheap and compliant labour. She and Biden have said little about how they will handle specific trade issues such as whether to keep President Donald Trump's import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum and on $360 billion worth of Chinese products. Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
With the hope of alleviating one of the problems plaguing the long term care system during the pandemic, the provincial government announced on Feb. 24 that it is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers for high-demand jobs in Ontario's health and long-term care sectors. The initiative plans to have up to 8,200 new supporter workers ready for the long term care workforce by the fall of 2021. The province has collaborated with Colleges Ontario, and all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this fully-funded plan, set to begin next month. "We are taking monumental steps to protect our most vulnerable and provide the highest quality of care when and where residents need it," said Premier Ford. "We will achieve this by recruiting and training some of our best and brightest to be PSWs. This will improve the quality of life for our seniors and begin to correct the decades of neglect in this sector." The Accelerated PSW Training Program will offer free tuition for up to 6,000 new students enrolled in the personal support worker course. The course, which begins Apr. 5, will allow students to graduate with full credentials in six months, compared to the eight months it would usually take to complete. It will include three months of coursework, and experiential, or hands-on learning, in a clinical setting. Students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing program at one of Ontario's publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training. According to Georgian College, the new accelerated training program for personal support workers will produce a huge increase in PSW training at Ontario’s colleges. “This is a major step to help fill the demand for personal support workers in our communities,” said Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, president and CEO, Georgian College. “PSWs are the backbone of care in Ontario – and there simply aren’t enough of them. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in a new career in this critical field.” “Our graduates provide essential care to many of our most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. West-Moynes said. “We were pleased to collaborate with the province and our community health-care partners to create this new opportunity for students who will graduate job ready with high-quality, essential skills.” Those interested in applying to the provincially funded PSW program with intakes starting in April or May at Georgian, should check https://www.ontariocolleges.ca on or after March 8 for details. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The Pointer's Social Media Monitor is a weekly look at how elected officials and other public civil servants are using their taxpayer-funded resources to shape digital communication aimed at constituents. We feature one public figure each week. Mississauga’s new fire chief, Deryn Rizzi, boasts an impressive resume. She has two undergraduate degrees from Queen’s University: one in geography, another in education. She has also completed a masters in disaster and emergency management at York University, where she is currently completing a Ph.D. looking at workplace culture, labour relations, policies and power dynamics with regards to women in non-traditional work. Throw in several certificates — municipal leadership, employment negotiations, (a masters certificate) in public administration — and Rizzi is a leader whose experience is backed by reams of academic knowledge. Just one month ago, she arrived in Mississauga, leaving her role as the head of Vaughan’s fire service. She’s been thrown into the deep end, dealing with decrepit fire stations, slow response times and a global pandemic. It’s too early to draw conclusions on how the new chief will right the ship; she is in the middle of a flurry of inductions and introductory meetings. One thing is clear early on: Rizzi is an adept and progressive communicator. “I live and breathe the fire service and so I feel like I have a lot to share,” Rizzi told The Pointer. With the omnipresence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, the way leaders in all spheres communicate with the public is changing. Leaflet drops and robocalls are beginning to look prehistoric, while COVID-19 makes door-to-door engagement and town hall meetings significantly harder. For the Mississauga Fire and Emergency Service, this is a challenge. Years of underinvestment have damaged response times, meaning trucks arrive at the scene of a fire, on average, significantly later than they should. Part of Mississauga’s plan to bridge this gap is education — teaching residents how to avoid fires in the first place. According to the 2021 budget, Mississauga’s fire service is more than two minutes behind the provincial target for travel time and more than a minute behind the total target. The budget document, which Rizzi was not in place to influence, places significant emphasis on education as a key to closing this gap. If the fire service responds to fewer fires, it can arrive faster with more resources available. On this front, Rizzi has demonstrated significant digital literacy through her Twitter account. She has successfully commandeered social media to deliver fire safety tips to the public. A desire for fire prevention advice is rarely a reason someone creates a Twitter account, so crafting a message that resonates is critical. Rizzi is aware of this and has found several creative ways to make her messages standout online. On February 18, she shared a short video clip, accompanied by a startling fact: heating equipment is the third leading cause of home fires in Ontario. The extract from an interview was shared to coincide with Mississauga’s cold snap when many were breaking out their space heaters. The use of a video to liven up an education issue and a startling fact to grab attention worked, with at least 1,600 views. In December 2020, when she was still working as fire chief in Vaughan, Rizzi shared a video on her timeline offering tips to safely celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. In one of two posts by the fire chief relating to the holiday, a firefighter and rabbi offered advice to safely celebrate with the Menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum lit across the celebration. The cultural competency displayed in these tweets is an asset in Peel Region, where diversity abounds. Understanding various cultural celebrations throughout the year, their significance and how to remind residents to celebrate safely can help the fire service to connect with different communities. In another example from her time in Vaughan, Rizzi and her colleagues convinced Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner, who grew up in nearby Thornhill, to create a video with fire safety advice. The clip was shared by Rizzi during Fire Prevention week, a time when most cities and fire services are sharing reminders about the importance of smoke detectors and other tips. The decision to enlist the help of a celebrity, with particular youth appeal, set the message apart from some of the more traditional posts being shared online. Rizzi, who posts to her account herself, says her use of social media doesn’t begin and end with education. Residents can fall into the trap of thinking firefighters only deal with burning buildings and forget the rest of their roles. For the chief to cultivate public buy-in, it is important to highlight what the City’s most expensive department does behind the scenes. “I think perhaps the public doesn’t realize how much time, energy, personnel [and] resources goes into maintaining their skill sets,” Rizzi said. “And then it’s also important, because the title firefighter, people think our folks just focus on fire and I really try to stress it’s an all hazards team.” Recently, Rizzi posted several images and videos of her team training for ice rescues. As residents along Mississauga’s waterfront took to the ice to play shinny and try out their skates, the messaging offered an important reminder of the dangers of skating on lake or river ice. “Through social media we can create a visual image of our department and how it serves the community,” Rizzi said. “It shows our firefighters are busy all day – every single day. I can’t take for granted that the public knows what we do or what it takes to serve the community; social media is a great way to continuously remind our citizens of our daily value in their lives and the fire and life safety risks we as a fire service team are working to minimize." The demands on Rizzi’s social media are different to those of a politician. Where an elected official has a duty to communicate with residents and make themselves available to represent the views of those who put them in office, a senior bureaucrat is answerable to the public in a less direct way. If she wanted to, the chief could broadcast without engaging, but Rizzi has found herself dealing with the good, bad and ugly of social media communication. When she worked as a deputy chief in Vaughan, she appeared on a CTV National show discussing fires in potted plants on balconies. Despite the dry material, the segment was a success and Rizzi found herself back on air discussing dryer fires. Once again, the clip flew. This time, Rizzi dipped a toe into the abyss of Facebook comment sections, finding praise and appreciation for her work sitting alongside sexist comments about her role. The experience taught her engagement is important, but only at certain times. Some things are not worth responding to. “I don’t engage, I never engage if I’m being criticized on social media,” she said. “You won’t see me engaging because you’ll never win.” On another occasion, after giving the keynote address at Miss Universe Canada when it was in Vaughan, Rizzi received a critical comment from a father. His words focused on his own daughter, a paramedic. Rather than simply ignore the comment, or engage in a fire fight online, she messaged the man. “I explained all my rationale about supporting women in everything they do and gave some examples of what some of these women who were competing, some of their career highlights,” Rizzi said. “He messaged me back, he said ‘I never looked at it that way, I’ll remove my message.’ And I didn’t ask him to remove the message.” As a woman in a public position, Drizzi has also found herself with an additional responsibility. Within her profession, she says she is just another fire chief, but her online presence offers another side. There is an opportunity to inspire. “When I realized, oh my goodness, really young girls are also watching this, you start thinking about what exactly am I showing them,” she said. “It’s important to me — these young girls are looking at social media, it can’t be a filtered reality, you can’t make your life look so great.” Rizzi’s birthday post reflects this. Instead of putting a glossy filter on the passing of time, she shared her frank experience. There are other examples of clever social media use: sharing callouts for teachers to invite firefighters to educate their classes and posting about major fires to raise awareness, to name two. But Rizzi is careful to make it clear that her social media is not the be-all and end-all of her role. If it goes well: great; if it doesn’t: she’s a fire chief, not an influencer. “My effectiveness and success as a fire chief will never be quantified, measured, judged or determined by the number of social media followers that I have achieved. My leadership performance and competency will never be influenced by the number of likes, shares and retweets that I achieve”, she said. “My impact as a fire chief will be measured on the difference I made in the lives of my firefighters, the leaders I developed, the fire and life-safety of the city I serve, and on the extent to which I leave Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services a better organization than my first day.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
The City of Ottawa will keep using the privately-owned Tabor Apartments in Vanier as emergency shelter space, but will put out a call to see if other landlords or hotels might offer units to help with a big spike in families needing housing. Since 2015, the city has paid Ottawa Inn owner Ahmed Syed to use his building. It pays $89 a night per unit for 15 families at Tabor, a sliver of the 370 homeless families now staying in motels and dorms, often for months or years, under 22 other such agreements. Some councillors had called on colleagues to end the deal at Tabor later this year and find the families permanent housing amid concerns about pests and a lack of a proper procurement. During a marathon 11-hour joint meeting Tuesday, the finance and community services committees voted 14 to 5 against ending the arrangement. With shelter space especially tight during the pandemic, they agreed instead to Coun. Laura Dudas's move to put out a new request for offers to see if others might also offer temporary accommodation for families. Families choose Tabor over motel City staff explained if the families of seven, eight, or nine people were to leave Tabor, they could only be relocated to multiple motel rooms with no kitchen. Laws would prevent these families from jumping the long queue for permanent, subsidized homes. One woman who visits the families every day said they told her to tell councillors they would prefer to stay at Tabor rather than wait in a motel for a large enough unit. "These families are given an option between bad and bad," said Gwen Madiba, who befriended many of them when delivering food hampers. Almost all the families at Tabor apartments are Black and many are single moms. They didn't feel comfortable addressing councillors themselves for fear of losing housing because of power imbalances or that their religions expect them to accept what's given, explained Madiba. Gwen Madiba is president of Equal Chance, a group that empowers Black women and also provides food hampers to the families at Tabor apartments.(Kate Porter/CBC) One statement by an 11-year-old girl described her struggle to focus on school in a small apartment with her brothers and mother, hearing rodents in walls, and crying with her mom when they feel forgotten. "We don't want to move unless you can give us a place where we can stay forever," wrote the girl. Inspections satisfy staff Some families at Tabor told CBC News last week about issues with bed bugs, cockroaches and rats. Owner Syed insisted he deals with issues quickly when he receives complaints and is only trying to help. Public health, bylaw and city housing staff had made several inspections and all issues were dealt with, agreed general manager Donna Gray. "We are a social services department. We do not want anyone living in horrible conditions and our staff go above and beyond to make the lives of these families as best as they can," she said. The pandemic also made it hard to have contractors go into apartments, Gray added. "This is not a trial of Mr. Syed," agreed Madiba. "It's the system that … constantly seems to be working against these people. Let us all sit down and try to find a solution." City plans new housing Earlier in the meeting, the joint committee approved a 10-year roadmap for how to build and pay for 500 new affordable housing units annually in partnership with Ottawa Community Housing and other non-profits. They also intend to fund two new facilities, one for families and one for women, with 40 to 50 beds that could reduce the need for motels. More immediately, the Dudas motion calls for the city to run another "housing blitz" as it did late in 2020 to see if landlords have permanent units. The city will also request temporary accommodations. "People might be willing," said John Dickie of the Eastern Ontario Landlords Organization. "Anywhere that students rented there are vacant units, so it's possible people might step up. This is new territory for all of us."
HALIFAX — The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian and another RCMP officer during last year's mass shooting will remain on administrative duties until internal inquiries are completed.Nova Scotia's police oversight agency issued a report on Tuesday clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall.The report by the Serious Incident Response Team, or SIRT, concluded the "totality of the evidence'' prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19.According to the report, radio congestion prevented the Mounties from contacting other police and they mistakenly believed the civilian standing near an RCMP car was the killer because he wore a reflective vest like the one the mass shooter was wearing.RCMP spokesman Cpl. Mark Skinner said in an email Wednesday that an internal code of conduct investigation is standard practice in incidents such as this.He also wrote there is an investigation underway by the force's hazardous occurrence investigation team "to find out more about the incident and make recommendations going forward."He says the two members have been on administrative duties and will remain in those paid positions pending the outcome of the RCMP’s investigations.Skinner also noted that the RCMP has provided $39,000 to the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade for damages to the firehall, a fire truck and an electronic sign as a result of the gunfire.He said the RCMP "share the concerns this incident raised," and "the incident remains under investigation by the RCMP with the intent of preventing a similar future occurrence."The fire brigade said Tuesday it was “frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved.”The union representing the RCMP officers defended their actions and the SIRT report's findings."This was an extremely challenging and complex emergency response, particularly given that the suspect was known to be wearing an RCMP uniform and driving a replica RCMP vehicle," Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation, said in an emailed statement."We are pleased that SIRT delivered a thoughtful, fair, timely and transparent decision on this incident. We are fully confident in all our members’ brave and selfless actions on that day."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police say they have intelligence showing there is a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee. The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying that Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.” The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died. The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. Many of the accounts that helped promote and organize the Jan. 6 riots on platforms like Facebook and Twitter have since been suspended, making it more difficult for the groups to organize. ___ Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant, Colleen Long and Alan Fram contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office and a political blogger have agreed to settle a lawsuit over access to Dunleavy's news conferences. Under terms of the agreement, the governor's office agreed to pay $65,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. Jeff Landfield, who owns The Alaska Landmine website, said his attorneys will receive the full amount. Landfield sued in December, alleging he was improperly excluded from Dunleavy media events. Settlement terms were disclosed Tuesday along with a filing by state attorneys seeking to dismiss the case, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The dismissal request also was signed by an attorney for Landfield. Under the agreement, Landfield would get “the same access” at gubernatorial press conferences as other members of the media. There was no admission of liability or wrongdoing, and Dunleavy's office and Landfield will work to "issue a joint public statement regarding the amicable nature of this settlement.” U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred in January granted an injunction requiring Dunleavy to invite Landfield to news conferences. The state appealed, but the settlement would render the injunction moot. The parties are asking Kindred to sign off on the dismissal request. Dunleavy's press office in a tweet said the matter had been "settled to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. We are happy to say this amicable settlement will put this dispute behind us.” The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Growth in the services sector, where most Americans works, slowed sharply in February with hurdles related to the pandemic hindering growth. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of service sector activity dropped to a reading of 55.5% in February, down 3.4 percentage-points from January when activity neared a two-year high. Even with the decline, it was the ninth straight month of growth in the services sector. Any reading above 50 signifies growth. Economists had expected some rollback from the January high but the size of the February drop was much bigger than expected. Service sector businesses were mostly optimistic about the recovery, according to the report Wednesday, but they cited supply chain problems such as production-capacity restraints and material shortages among the problems they are facing. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
The Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) wants to hear from people who have experienced racism and discrimination. The survey is gathering feedback to understand what racism and racial discrimination look like in Timmins. According to the TEDC, the goal is to "help foster a welcoming and inclusive community." “Cultural diversity plays a key role in economic growth and development,” TEDC’s chair Fred Gibbons said in a statement. “Communities that are open to different cultures and ethnicities benefit from an increased range of skills and experiences, creativity, and innovation.” The TEDC is conducting the survey as part of the Timmins Diversity Awareness Project. It is one of 85 projects across Canada funded through the Anti-Racism Action Program. According to the announcement, the project will include a public awareness campaign and a workplace-focused initiative, aimed to create and promote more inclusive communities and workplaces. Advisory group members include local residents, the City of Timmins, Timmins and District Multicultural Centre, Newcomers Encouraging Self-Empowerment in Timmins, Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services, Reseau du Nord, Université de Hearst, Collège Boreal, Northern College, Timmins Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Indigenous Advisory Committee. The 17-question survey takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. To access the survey, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
The first recorded treaty was ratified 3,279 years ago between ancient Egypt and the Hittite empire. Signed in 1258 BC, the treaty ended over two centuries of conflict between the two powers. A copy of the agreement is displayed in the United Nations headquarters in New York City as a reminder of the importance for parties with different backgrounds to come to the table together. To that end, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and the MD of Pincher Creek have carried on a small portion of a tradition thousands of years in the making with the creation of a new intermunicipal collaboration framework. The agreement was finalized back in January, and both councils approved it during their Feb. 9 regular meetings. Creating the ICF, said Mayor Blair Painter, “was a smooth process.” “This document,” added Coun. Dean Ward, “between the recreation and what we’re doing with the airport, shows a good spirit of co-operation between the two municipalities.” Unlike the ICF agreement signed with the Town of Pincher Creek last summer, the MD and Crowsnest Pass ICF contains only two specified financial obligations between the municipalities: a $25,000 commitment from each for developing the regional airport (an amount already agreed upon with the Town of Pincher Creek), and $25,000 from the MD to Crowsnest Pass to contribute to the municipality’s recreation programming and facilities that MD residents often utilize. The ICF is valid for a term of five years, though discussions will occur between the two municipalities as needed. Recognizing Crowsnest Pass has developed a more urban culture while the MD has remained agricultural, the ICF establishes procedures for differences to be embraced. Avenues for better communication between the municipalities are also laid out, creating an ability to provide better service levels to their respective ratepayers. Requirements to communicate on major capital projects that may impact the other municipality are described, along with commitments to co-operate in lobbying higher levels of government for mutually beneficial regional services. Both municipalities have also agreed to provide information regarding funding to organizations within the other respective municipality. Previous agreements concerning emergency services, solid waste management and intermunicipal development plans are acknowledged by the ICF, alongside plans for the airport. Future considerations will be given for supporting recreation and exploring agricultural services such as weed, pest and animal disease control. Formalizing the agreement comes at a time when many residents in both municipalities are at odds over potential coal mine development in the area. The debate leached into MD council discussions regarding the $25,000 recreation contribution, with Division 1 councillor Quentin Stevick voting in opposition due to comments made by Crowsnest Pass councillor Lisa Sygutek on CBC Radio while voicing her support for the mines. Though not backing down from her statements, Coun. Sygutek apologized to her fellow council members. “I just want to apologize to council that my views regarding our coal mine had to be taken to an extreme by one councillor,” she said. “At no time did I expect a decision where something I said personally could affect the community the way that councillor made it.” “I’m glad that the rest of the people on that committee had enough decency to recognize personal opinion versus me as a councillor,” Coun. Sygutek added. While acknowledging the different stances taken by each respective municipality on mining and other issues, Reeve Brian Hammond stressed the ICF is a document that supersedes differences and is mutually beneficial. “Regardless of ongoing difficulty between jurisdictions, for the most part it’s provided a new opportunity to open a channel of communication with our neighbours we probably didn’t have before,” he said. Establishing a formal framework of communication, he continued, provides an opportunity to identify areas of common interest and concern, creating a closer and more open relationship that will help provide solutions to problems. “Going forward it provides an ongoing structure, a procedural format, for how you can open up another dialogue or expand on the dialogue with your neighbours. I think that’s a good thing,” said the reeve. The ICF can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/MD-CNP-ICF. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Protesters blocked some roadways in Lebanon for a second day on Wednesday after the currency's fall to a new low further enraged a population long horrified by the country's financial meltdown. In the past year, Lebanon has been through a popular uprising against its political leaders, the bankruptcy of the state and banking system, a COVID-19 pandemic and, in August, a huge blast that killed 200 people and destroyed parts of Beirut. The financial crisis has wiped out jobs, raised warnings of growing hunger and locked people out of their bank deposits.
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a thrill like few others on earth. The ocean is full of life here with a diversity that is unlike any other place of earth. The underwater volcanic structures and unique combination of ocean currents support a rich abundance of life. Sharks thrive here and scuba divers are thrilled to see them during their underwater adventures. But these scuba divers were not so thrilled when they finished exploring and underwater cave and they headed back to the open ocean. They found a group of sharks had entered the cave and were resting just inside the opening. White tip sharks are not likely to attack humans, unless provoked, but the divers were not able to pass through the narrow chamber without coming into direct contact with the 9-10 foot beasts. This would definitely be inviting trouble and the divers would be unable to easily turn and retreat back inside the caverns. The moment provided an excellent opportunity to gets some spectacular footage of the unusual scenario with the sharks backlit in an eerie fashion. The scuba divers had planned their dive well and they had plenty of reserve air at this point in the dive. They calmly waited and watched the sharks and eventually all of them swam out into the open water, leaving the exit clear. But for a few minutes, the large sharks in the exit were an intimidating sight indeed! People who venture beneath the waves are wise to remember that they are the visitors, or even intruders in this mysterious domain. Incorrect behaviour here can have immediate and disastrous consequences. The ability to stay calm during unexpected challenges is crucial to survival in a world where your air supply is limited.
The new targeted COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the WFCU Centre in east Windsor opened its doors on Monday, and media outlets got a peek at the facilities on a tour Wednesday morning. Seniors who are 80 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine at the clinic. "The set up is great, it's very well laid out and we hope that the signage and everything will help our seniors navigate the facility in a safe manner," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County. In an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Tuesday, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said that those receiving the vaccines are allowed to bring a caregiver. She explained that when people arrive for their scheduled appointments, they are screened for COVID-19 through a questionnaire, then they go through front doors while wearing mask, use hand sanitizer and register. They then move onto the floor of the centre. When they're with the nurse, they get asked a few questions, receive their shot and are then directed to a waiting area for 15 minutes or more before being released. Updates are sent live to the COVAX vaccine tracking system. The health unit said 144 people who are 80-plus were vaccinated on opening day on Monday. The clinic is vaccinating six people every 15 minutes but starting Thursday, that will ramp that up to nine people. The health unit says at this time, supply is the biggest issue. About 1,000 vaccines will be distributed per week. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said the city and the health unit will be ready when more vaccine supply arrives. "Although we're delivering and vaccinating 150 people a day today, it's just a matter of weeks before thousands of doses arrive and we have to be prepared to really ramp this facility up," he said. The health unit has urged patience, saying it will take time to get to everyone who wants a shot. Appointments are being assigned randomly rather than first-come first-serve. About 11,800 people have pre-registered to be vaccinated since appointment applications opened up last Thursday. Lila Cox, 90, with her son, Larry Cox. Lila received her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday, March 3, at the WFCU Centre clinic. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC) Lila Cox, 90, received her first dose of the vaccine at the clinic on Wednesday. "It was easy," she said. "No problem at all." Her son, Larry Cox, who accompanied her, said it was a relief that she received the shot.
La séance du conseil de la municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Minganie du 16 février a souligné l’accent et les efforts mis sur le développement du territoire. Les différents volets du Fonds régions et ruralité du ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) ont été l’objet de trois résolutions distinctes. D’une part, le volet 2 – Soutien à la compétence de développement local et régional des MRC exige que ces dernières disposent d’une politique de soutien aux entreprises. La MRC de Minganie a donc mis à jour sa politique adoptée en juin 2020 afin qu’elle soit plus flexible et accessible aux entrepreneurs. D’autre part, le conseil a accordé un mandat d’accompagnement de 43 605 $ à la firme conseil Espace Stratégies pour déterminer le projet ou l’ensemble de projets qui ciblera la « signature innovation » de la MRC. « La firme va travailler avec nous et différents acteurs de la planification stratégique pour trouver le fil conducteur de notre développement territorial », détaille le préfet de Minganie, Luc Noël. La somme octroyée à Espace Stratégies provient de l’enveloppe de 192 538 $ du volet 3 du FRR. Finalement, dans le cadre du volet 4 – Soutien à la vitalisation et à la coopération intermunicipale, la MRC a autorisé la signature d’une entente de vitalisation entre les municipalités de Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Aguanish, Rivière-Saint-Jean et la communauté de Nutashkuan. L’entente, d’un montant de 1 125 685 $ pour cinq ans, n’est que « l’étape embryonnaire » du processus, juge M. Noël. « Là, on doit s’asseoir avec le MAMH et les territoires concernés pour faire un plan de match. » Grâce à la récente création d’Action entreprise Québec par le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), la Minganie renforcera ses services d’accompagnement aux entrepreneurs et entreprises de la région. La MRC pourra embaucher au moins deux ressources supplémentaires à temps plein « jusqu’à concurrence de 900 000 $ » jusqu’en 2025. « Ce qu’on espère, c’est qu’on ait été assez performants pour que les ressources se rentabilisent elles-mêmes ou que le ministère continue de les payer », souhaite Luc Noël en soulignant la difficulté de compétitionner avec les grands centres pour attirer ce type d’employés. « Les gens qui ont le profil pour travailler dans nos départements de développement vont être en demande partout et on croit que notre région va passer bon deuxième », déplore-t-il. L’ensemble des modalités liées à l’octroi de la subvention n’est pas encore connu du conseil. Du côté du développement territorial, la MRC déposera sous peu au ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAC) le rapport d’étape de mi-parcours concernant l’élaboration de son Plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). « La réponse est très positive de la part des acteurs du milieu, on constate qu’il y a un engouement », a déclare Luc Noël. Un second mandat d’accompagnement a été adopté lors de la séance du conseil, cette fois à l’organisation à but non lucratif Communagir pour que celle-ci soutienne la MRC dans le cadre de l’élaboration et de la mise en œuvre de sa stratégie en développement social. Le mandat représente une banque d’heures ouverte jusqu’au 30 juillet 2021. Selon les besoins, l’accompagnement devra prendre entre 25 et 50 heures, ce qui signifie que la facture s’élèvera au plus à 5600 $. En matière de sécurité publique, le conseil a désigné quelles interventions il considère comme prioritaires pour la Sûreté du Québec : le contrôle de la consommation et le trafic de drogues illicites, particulièrement chez les jeunes, et l’application des règlements municipaux uniformisés. « Aussi, on demande aux agents de faire plus de surveillance en lien avec les véhicules tout terrain (VTT) et de maintenir une présence policière sur l’ensemble du territoire de la MRC », ajoute le préfet de Minganie. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur