The Kansas City Chiefs continued to solidify their grip atop the league power rankings in the AFC Championship Game, improving their Mahomes-era postseason record to 6-1.
The Kansas City Chiefs continued to solidify their grip atop the league power rankings in the AFC Championship Game, improving their Mahomes-era postseason record to 6-1.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
The number of available COVID-19 vaccine doses is steadily rising, but a shortage of physical space that meets standards for pharmaceutical manufacturing is a major bottleneck to further expansion, according to drugmakers, industry construction experts and officials involved in the U.S. vaccine program. The production of raw materials, vaccine formulation and vial filling all require "clean rooms" with features like air cleaners, sterile water and sterilizing steam designed and in some cases built by specialists. Moderna Inc on Wednesday announced plans to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity, but said it will be a year before that can add to its production.
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
Queen’s Park is set to appoint a third party to investigate allegations of anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination at the Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The office of Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, confirmed to The Pointer that the wheels are in motion to facilitate an operational review. “In October last year, the ministry became aware of a report regarding anti-Black racism towards staff at Peel CAS,” Hannah Anderson, director of communications for Dunlop’s office, told The Pointer. “The report raised concerns about the society’s leadership and workplace culture. Since receiving a copy of the report, the ministry has been working closely with the society to understand their plans to address these concerns.” The move comes after a report last year written for the union, CUPE 4914, described a culture of fear within the organization, where Black staff, who described their marginalization, raised concerns over the impacts of systemic discrimination within Peel CAS. It is an organization responsible for providing care to some of Peel’s most vulnerable residents, in a region that is overwhelmingly non-white. Recent findings of widespread anti-Black racism were particularly disturbing for an organization that in 2019 was duty-bound to look after a large number of Black children – 39 out of 189 children in care at Peel CAS were Black, according to data provided by the organization in December. That was 21 percent of all children in the organization’s care a little over a year ago. The fear of widespread discrimination running through an organization that has to work with schools, police and, ultimately, families in the community, to ensure potentially traumatic decisions are made with the utmost of care and consideration, in a framework grounded in equity and safety, has now led to the Province’s intervention. In the union report, staff describe a divide between management and leadership. The CUPE 4914 document references nepotism within the organization and says Black staff see senior leadership as “untrustworthy” when handling their concerns. The report articulates management “has no picture of what is happening to or being experienced by Black staff.” After positioning itself as a leader and making anti-oppression a primary goal, some think the current leadership is dining out on past success, when a former employee led a range of progressive initiatives. “As much as Peel is part of a very diverse environment and culture and the agency has done a lot of work in previous years to support diversity, equity and inclusion, a lot of that stopped,” one staff member told The Pointer last year. Employees asked to not be identified. “We did the great work, we became great leaders and we stopped the things that made us leaders.” When Peel CAS was contacted by The Pointer last year about the concerns raised by staff and the union report, it did not respond to questions about the Province's One Vision One Voice initiative, which addresses the over-representation of Black children in Ontario's child-welfare system and the range of discriminatory attitudes within institutions such as education and policing that often lead to over-reporting on Black children. The lack of concern around these potentially destructive biases raised questions about whether the agency is aware of best practices in the sector to minimize the potentially harmful impact of systemic, institutionalized stereotypes and other attitudes entrenched within referring organizations. A failure to root out referrals based on racial prejudice lands hardest on Black frontline staff, employees told The Pointer in December. Unable to decline work from a manager, they find themselves aligned with police or principals in a situation they may not think merits child-protection services. Without open communication between managers and frontline workers — a professional environment where everyone feels they can speak their mind — staff can find themselves stuck. “We [Peel CAS] are not actively challenging the school board and the police, we are kind of just going along with them,” one staff member said. “We’re going along with the nonsense, so we are part of the problem. We pretend we are good for the community and then we don’t understand why the community can’t stand us. But we are aligned with the same processes that oppress them.” It can have a serious impact on people’s mental health. “You need your management to be behind you because, at the end of the day, we’re not decision making staff,” one of the employees added. “We need people in decision making positions who can help us. I cannot just push back against the principal without my supervisor’s support. Half the time, it’s me stuck between the school board and my supervisor.” To begin to solve the problem, staff and the authors of the CUPE 4914 report asked for clear policies to be put in place. The alarming union report was produced after a series of conversations facilitated by Breakthrough Counselling and Wellness, which focused on the experiences of Black staff. Concerns raised by staff during those meetings were aggregated and compiled, alongside recommendations and analysis to complete the report. The recommendations in the CUPE 4914 report were wide-ranging and included an audit of the organization by a third party, a review that would go beyond the interviews undertaken by Breakthrough Counselling and Wellness. At the end of 2020, senior leaders at Peel CAS said they would use the report as “a guide” but staff and union representatives feared they would commission their own favourable report that risked erasing the blunt assessments captured in the disturbing CUPE 4914 document. Unable to come to a solution together, and with little trust on either side, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services will now step in. The government will appoint a third party to review Peel CAS for workplace issues, policies and practices that may contribute to systemic racism within the organization. It will also assess if Peel CAS remains in compliance with its legislated duties to children in the region. The Province’s move has been acknowledged and welcomed by Peel CAS’ directors, who appear to have read the findings in CUPE 4914’s report differently. “We became aware of staff experiences related to systemic racism and anti-Black racism in our workplace and have recognized that we are not immune from systemic bias and racism,” Juliet Jackson, president of the board of directors, wrote in a statement. She did not allude to the serious concerns about senior leadership raised by staff and echoed by the Province. Rav Bains, CEO of Peel CAS, who has authority over senior leadership and staff, has not released a public statement. When the union work around issues of systemic discrimination was launched, Bains and senior staff at Peel CAS said they were also launching their own review, and claimed their move was done independently and proactively. Speaking to The Pointer late last year in response to the CUPE 4914 report’s revelations about the organization he runs, Bains admitted failings and claimed steps had been taken to address them. But he could not name any. He acknowledged systemic issues that needed to be addressed without offering a detailed understanding or explicit plans to address the situation. Staff told The Pointer late last year that a number of progressive actions by former employee Kike Ojo-Thompson, who spearheaded a range of effective initiatives to eradicate systemic barriers, were sidelined by Bains shortly after she left the organization in 2015. In December, some members of CUPE 4914 expressed concern Peel CAS was trying to also sideline their report by commissioning a more favourable investigation of their own. “Unfortunately, Peel CAS statements regarding their commitment to tackle anti-Black racism are performative, corporate, unilateral and reflect their consistent top-down approach,” the union said at the time. “It's self serving at best and there is a large discrepancy between the information Peel CAS relays to the media/public about their commitments and action plans and how they try to suppress, silence and control the Black voices internally.” Bains disagreed. He did not directly answer a question about a specific recommendation in the union report (to review senior staff performance with an equity lens) and if it would be followed, but said a new report would “not replace anything”. Chima Nsitem, Peel CAS director of diversity, equity and inclusion, said the report senior staff planned “is going to be used as a guide”. In a 55-minute interview with The Pointer in December, confronted with the findings of the union report and experiences of staff, Bains and Nsitem admitted shortcomings but also deflected many questions: they acknowledged the organization has work to do, but said they’re not alone on this front. Achievements were lauded alongside an acceptance that work is incomplete. “Bullying, racism, anti-Black racism have no place in our organization,” Bains said in December. “Does that mean we don’t have more work to do? Like every institution, there’s more work to do, including the media, including all the other systems. So we’ve said that up front.” The union report highlighted concerns raised by staff that leadership consistently deny any problems around systemic racism or other forms of discrimination within the organization. “We don’t want to give you the impression of either being defensive or somehow we’ve got a perfect system or that we have everything buttoned down,” Bains said. “I think that would be a mistake for us. There’s always work to be done.” He did not lay out what this work would be or provide any details of a specific strategy to address the issues raised in the union report. Under Bains’ leadership, a watchdog group (the Board Diversity Monitoring Committee) was disbanded and allyship sessions, designed to help non-Black staff to understand their role in fighting anti-Black racism, were discontinued. Bains defended dissolving the committee and suspending the allyship programs, which Peel CAS has promised to bring back. He said they were “thoughtful” and “gentle” decisions, designed to “integrate diversity and equity into everything we do”. The union has been steadfast in its assessment of Bains and his leadership, describing his claims of being an ally as “performative”. Now, the Province is stepping in. But concerns have already been expressed about who will do the third-party review under the guidance of the ministry. A spokesperson for Peel CAS did not respond to specific questions, including who requested the external review, if a vendor had been selected or how long they expect the process to take. “It is important that the review be allowed to run its course,” the spokesperson said. Information provided by Queen’s Park suggests a deadlock between union and senior leadership led the government to step in. “As the society and the union have been unable to reach an agreement on the path forward, the ministry is now proceeding with an operational review,” Anderson explained. “We want to work with both parties and have them actively engaging in the process. This is key to meaningful, sustainable change. Ensuring all voices are heard is critical to an open and transparent process.” No timeline is yet available for the work. A final decision on which organization will complete the review has not been made. One organization already armed with experience in this area is Agree Incorporated, the group that completed a review of York CAS at the end of 2020. The review, announced after significant public backlash over reports detailing widespread problems within York CAS, came to several damning conclusions. “Based on its findings, Agree Inc. recommended that a new leadership direction and approach must be put in place quickly, and that actions must be taken to create engagement toward a better workplace culture that is respectful, healthy and collaborative,” the report said. The review of York CAS was conducted over roughly three months. The process was announced by the ministry on July 31 and then a vendor was selected, with Agree Inc. publishing its findings on November 13 last year. “We welcome the review and are confident that the results will lay the foundation for ongoing organizational improvement and development,” Jackson wrote on behalf of the Peel CAS board. “We recognize the need to work together to chart a path forward and believe that an independent process that is transparent and open is a critical element to that undertaking.” The Province confirmed a timeline will be published when a private-sector organization has been selected to conduct the investigation of Peel CAS. 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
Many people dream of their retirement day, and finally find time to pick up new hobbies or travel but for Dr. Robert Lidkea, it is the last thing on his mind. Lidkea was born in North Bay and came to Fort Frances after he graduated from university. He said he would have stayed in North Bay but there were no openings for an optometrist and he was forced to find a job elsewhere. Lidkea came to Fort Frances in 1952 to become part of the Fort Frances Clinic. At the time the clinic only had two M. D’s, a dentist, an optometrist who was looking to retire and a pharmacy. In 1952 Lidkea was the youngest practicing optometrist in Ontario and now in 2021, he is the oldest optometrist at 90. He graduated as a registered optometrist in 1952 from the College of Optometrists in Toronto and in 1957, he returned for his post graduate studies and earned his doctor of optometry. Lidkea said jokingly he continues to work because he needs the money, but in reality he said he could not stay home all day. Lidkea said he officially retired on Jan.1 and went back to work on Jan. 21. “I just enjoy doing what I’m doing, that’s all,” Lidkea said. “I’m happy to come to work.” It may only be for one day a week, but Lidkea said he always looks forward to it. Lidkea was president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists from 1975 to 1976. He was accepted as a fellow in the American Academy of Optometrists in 1983 and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Waterloo in 1987. Lidkea said when he first began practicing, an eye exam was $3. “It’s quite a long stretch since then,” Lidkea said. “A lot of knowledge and a lot of changes, knowledge and training, everything’s changed.” Lidkea said he has been learning all his life as the training never stops. “When I graduated there was not even such a thing as calculator so it’s been a very long learning process but it’s not all at once, it’s been very gradual,” Lidkea said. He adds that is has been helpful working with his son Bruce who has been able to coach him through all the new technology. Bruce is now the primary practitioner. Lidkea has also been an active member in the community, through clubs and volunteer work. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fort Frances since he came in 1952 and has 60 years of perfect attendance. He became president of the club in 1961 and was elected Lt. Governor in 1973. He has now been the secretary for many years. Lidkea was also elected to town council for two terms and has served on many local boards. In 2004, Lidkea was honoured with the Ontario Association of Optometrists 2004 Milenium Award for Public Service. The award recognizes a member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists who has performed extraordinary public service in either a professional or non-professional capacity. In 2007, Lidkea received the Fort Frances Citizen of the Year award. Lidkea said his favourite part of the job is interacting with people in the community, adding that in some families, he has cared for five generations. “It’s been an interesting life,” Lidkea said. “My wife and I have been blessed with good health and we’re getting by quite well.” Lidkea said he gets to see his two sons quite often and has coffee with his friends every morning at 10 a.m. sharp. The secret to a long career, according to Lidkea, is being passionate about what you do. “If you’re eager to get to work in the morning, you’ve got the right job,” Lidkea said. “If you aren’t happy going to work, you got the wrong job.” Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Le CLD de Brome-Missisquoi invite les très petites, petites et moyennes entreprises qui ont un manque de liquidité à le contacter pour déterminer si elles sont admissibles à un programme d’aide d’urgence (PAUPME), dont une partie peut se transformer en subvention. « Le salon de coiffure, la petite boutique du coin et même la cantine, ils peuvent passer par le prêt pour avoir un pardon de prêt qui va jusqu’à 80 % du prêt initial. On ne demande pas la rentabilité de l’entreprise, on vise la viabilité, indique Isabelle Dumont, conseillère en développement d’entreprises au CLD. Il faut que leurs problèmes découlent de la pandémie et non d’avant la pandémie. » Le prêt permet d’éponger un manque de liquidité résultant de la pandémie. Il est accessible à toutes les PME, même si elles n’ont pas été obligées de fermer leurs portes depuis le début de la deuxième vague de COVID-19. Le pardon de prêt, soit le AERAM, qui permet aux entrepreneurs d’être libérés d’une partie de cette dette, s’applique aux frais fixes des PME qui ont été fermées par décret gouvernemental. Gym, restaurant, services non essentiels ne sont que quelques exemples des entreprises admissibles. Selon Mme Dumont, ce ne sont pas toutes les PME qui sont au courant de l’existence de ces programmes. Le CLD joue le rôle de facilitateur dans la demande. La conseillère prend le temps de bien vulgariser le programme et le CLD a même élaboré un formulaire simple pour déterminer l’admissibilité. Une pression de moins La Galerie Artêria, à Bromont, a eu droit à un prêt ainsi qu’à un pardon de prêt puisqu’elle a dû fermer à partir des Fêtes. La propriétaire Geneviève Lévesque a eu une « petite panique » quand le gouvernement a annoncé que les commerces non essentiels allaient devoir fermer à partir du 24 décembre. Elle avait déjà vécu une première fermeture de trois mois au printemps. De plus, ses employés ne peuvent plus voyager à travers le monde pour vendre des tableaux d’artistes québécois. Le chiffre d’affaires de la petite entreprise bromontoise a donc fondu depuis maintenant un an. Le programme d’aide a permis la survie de la galerie d’art. « Ça enlève une pression, ça nous donne de meilleures nuits, confie Mme Lévesque. On pense qu’on va passer à travers, mais on ne sait pas combien de temps il faut survivre, donc tous les petits coups de pouce font la différence. De sentir qu’on n’est pas laissé à nous-même, de sentir que les gens croient en notre projet, ça fait du bien. » L’exportation d’œuvres d’art se poursuit, mais repose sur la réputation que la galerie auprès de clients réguliers qui leur font confiance. Processus simplifié par le CLD La coiffeuse Nathalie Dépeault, de Coiffure Ovima à Farnham, peut mieux respirer grâce au programme d’aide d’urgence pour les PME et au pardon de prêt. Elle a trouvé le processus simple et efficace avec le CLD. « Quand on a fermé le 24 décembre, on devait fermer jusqu’au 8 janvier seulement. J’avais assez d’argent d’accumulé pour le loyer, mais la fermeture s’est prolongée. Je ne me qualifiais pas pour de l’aide au loyer au fédéral et quand je regardais les critères des autres programmes, je ne fittais dans rien. Ça commençait à m’apeurer parce que je voyais les prochains mois s’en venir vite. » En deux semaines, le processus pour accéder au PAUPME était complété et Mme Dépeault obtenait de l’aide financière. « Ça réduit beaucoup d’anxiété de savoir qu’on peut compter sur de l’aide. Je me suis sentie bien accompagnée. Je me sentais moins seule. » Quelques éléments du programme de pardon de prêt ont été modifiés. Les mois de novembre et de décembre ne sont plus admissibles pour les nouveaux demandeurs. Par contre, si l’entreprise a dû fermer plus de 90 jours, elle aura droit à un ou deux mois supplémentaires de pardon de prêt, indique Isabelle Dumont. Elle invite les entrepreneurs et travailleurs autonomes à la joindre au 450 266-4928, poste 301, ou par courriel au firstname.lastname@example.org pour obtenir des informations et vérifier leur admissibilité. Au cours des derniers mois, le CLD de Brome-Missisquoi a reçu 375 demandes d’information et 120 demandes d’aide financière. Les membres de son équipe de conseillers ont ouvert 95 dossiers et approuvé 85 demandes de prêt. Dix dossiers sont toujours à l’étude. L’organisme s’est déjà vu attribuer une demi-douzaine de subventions gouvernementales, dans le cadre du Fonds local d’investissement (FLI) d’urgence, pour soutenir la communauté d’affaires locale. Une bonne partie de cette somme, soit environ 2,65 M$, a déjà été redistribuée à quelque 77 entreprises sous forme de prêts d’une valeur moyenne de 34 400 $. « Nous disposons présentement d’une réserve de 869 000 $ pour répondre aux nouvelles demandes d’aide financière », souligne Mme Dumont. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
This baby sea otter is in distress and lost after a storm in Cambria, California. It needed help and was rescued by the Marine Mammal Rescue Center located in Morro Bay, Ca.
(Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit) A tentative deal has been reached between Unifor and ZF/TRW, one of the factories that supply parts for the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant. A vote will be held virtually on Saturday to ratify the new collective agreement, Unifor Local 444 said in social media posts on Wednesday evening. If passed, Unifor hopes the deal can serve as a pattern for the other plants that make up the "feeder four." Workers at each of the plants have previously indicated they support going on strike if necessary. Union members at Avancez, Dakkota and HBPO, as well as ZF/TRW, voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike mandate, Unifor announced on Tuesday. Avancez is next in line for negotiations, the union said. More from CBC Windsor:
MAPLETON – Mapleton council have endorsed the County of Wellington’s application to the province for an official regional training centre for firefighters. This comes after the province announced the closure of the Ontario Fire College (OFC) in Gravenhurst while expanding to 20 regional training centres. At a Wednesday meeting, Mapleton fire chief Rick Richardson explained there is an existing training centre, called the Wellington County Training Academy in Fergus. At this site, firefighters from departments across the county can train closer to home than at the college. The County of Wellington is applying for the Fergus training centre to become a provincially recognized regional training centre. As of now, the site is open only to the seven member municipalities in the county but Richardson said this designation would open it up to the whole province but county members would still get the first chance to apply. Although far from Wellington County, Richardson said there were some benefits to the college such as the subsidized cost of $65 for training, food and accommodation. Council questioned if the province will step in with funding for these centres to make up for this difference. Richardson said chiefs around the province have been considering what the province will do with the money they used to subsidize training and if they sell the OFC property. “Those things have not come up anywhere that we’ve heard from the chiefs’ point of view, so we hope to hear from that soon,” Richardson said. “You would think the very inexpensive price the OFC was charging that there would be some kind of provincial funding to help the regional centres out at some point in time,” said mayor Gregg Davidson. Councillor Michael Martin questioned if there would be any advantage if theoretically the province did not pull through with any funding. “Is that going to come at a cost? It sounds like there’s some unknowns attached to it,” Martin said. “Being designated that way, are we going to lose some of the advantages we have currently?” Richardson said costs would rise if they had to send firefighters out to other regional training centres but acknowledged there is still a lot for the province to sort out around this situation. Davidson questioned if it was possible the province would shut down more localized training centres if they aren’t designated. Richardson replied the important takeaway is to get this application in early before there are too many other applicants. “If people start applying left right and centre and there’s 25 (applications), they only accept 20, we could be one of the five out of the loop,” Richardson said. “That makes it key we get an application in.” Mapleton council approved the endorsing the application with the mayor adding he’s fairly positive the province will pull through with funding. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) N.W.T. MLAs seek a slew of mechanisms to improve addictions treatment in the territory including aftercare and permanent funding for harm reduction measures like managed alcohol. Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos said there are no adequate aftercare programs to support people in their recovery. She wants three facilities staffed with mental health workers built in the South Slave, central N.W.T. and the Beaufort Delta to provide those programs. "With the structure and routine suddenly gone, when they return home, people can easily slip back into their addictions," she said. Health and Social Services MInister Julie Green said there are no firm plans to construct those facilities, but a working group in her department is considering aftercare in the N.W.T and an addictions recovery survey that is currently being conducted will inform that work. Few culturally-relevant services Dehcho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge said he wants an alcohol and drug counsellor in his community who is not affiliated with the government. "(Alcohol) is also affecting many of our youth and young men," said Bonnetrouge, adding there a few culturally-relevant services in communities. "Most alcoholics need someone they can confide in, someone that they trust, someone that they know," he said. The health and social services department supports the Dene Wellness Warriors and the Rhodes Wellness College's Northern Indigenous Counselling program, whose first graduates come out next year, said Green. "We see a unique opportunity here to hire these N.W.T. residents who have the specialized counselling training and to bring them into our communities," said Green. The department of health recently reformed its community counselling program to allow same-day appointments without a wait list, and walk-in availability for 19 communities. MLA Ron Bonnetrouge encouraged the health minister to establish non-government positions for alcohol counselling in communities. Sustain managed alcohol programs beyond pandemic: Johnson During the pandemic, the territorial government established some managed alcohol programs that delivered alcohol to prevent withdrawal. Other programs, such as the one Spruce Bough, have some clients provided access to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis as determined by a physician. MLA Rylund Johnson said harm reduction measures should be continued beyond the pandemic and sustained through government long after the COVID-19 money dries up. "As these programs emerged, they were not fully funded or true managed alcohol programs," he said,. He added they require medical professionals and social workers for supervised consumption. Green said her department has a mandate to establish a managed alcohol program in the N.W.T. "We are currently exploring options to make that a reality," she said. Health Minister Julie Green said her department is collecting data from managed alcohol programs established during COVID-19. The health department is gathering data from programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik where managed alcohol was provided during the pandemic. The information should be analyzed by the spring, said Green. Spruce Bough is funded until September 2021, and Green says the department will work with the Yellowknife Women's Society to sustain the program once funding expires. Establish navigator supports to prevent evictions: Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler asked the health minister to work with Housing Minister Paulie Chinna and establish health and social service supports for people who risk eviction during recovery. "People struggle with housing stability and affordability especially during after care and post treatment," said Semmler. Green said local housing organizations should be made aware of community counselling programs and that previous pilot programs, like a navigator position in Behchokǫ̀, showed promise. Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said health and housing departments need to bolster supports to prevent evictions against people in recovery. Funding issues On Tuesday, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty suggested the territory allocate specific funds to in-territory treatment options using the proceeds of roughly $57 million in annual liquor and cannabis sales. He said the territory profits off of alcoholism but doesn't help people struggling with addiction. In 2019, for example, the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission made $33 million. Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said the money goes into the consolidated revenue fund, which is spent on all departments in the N.W.T., including health and social services, and housing. Green said the health department is reviewing its spending in the face of rising health care costs. The N.W.T. will try to contain costs internally but that plan will not be made public, said Green. Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty says the territory should allocate one or two per cent of its alcohol profits to in-territory treatment.
Voters in Placentia-St. Mary’s will have some more time to reflect on who they want to cast their vote for. Along with 17 other districts in the Avalon, voting for residents in Placentia-St. Mary’s has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John’s Metro area. Meanwhile, Liberal incumbent Sherry Gambin-Walsh says her constituents have more than her word to hold her accountable; they have her record. “My record shows that I’ve brought millions of dollars to the district of Placentia-St. Mary’s, from $500 grants to million-dollar capital works projects,” said Gambin-Walsh, who has been the focus of two major controversies during her time in office: one involving former Liberal stalwart Eddie Joyce, whom she accused of bullying, and the other involving the leaking of cabinet information. “You should vote for me because I’m ready and available for you if you have an issue… I’m easy to access and I have no problem standing up and advocating for your issue.” Gambin-Walsh was elected in the 2015 provincial election and beat PC candidate Hilda Whalen in 2019 by just over 500 votes — a margin of about 10 percent. The margin was not quite as comfortable as her over 2,000 vote lead against PC candidate Judy Manning in 2015. Gambin-Walsh said residents in her district, which is geographically larger than most, have different concerns depending on where they live. For example, while employment on the Cape Shore is not a concern due to the landing of fishery boats in Branch, employment in St. Mary’s Bay area is a major issue. “We don’t have any good source of solid employment anymore,” said Gambin-Walsh. “Once upon a time, we did have a fish plant down in St. Mary’s. It’s dormant right now, but I do now that the operator is trying to get his license re-established. He hasn’t been successful yet, but I do really support that, because I have a significant number of people down there having to access programs, seek community enhancement programs and job creation programs, specifically because they have no other source of income. And to drive from Peter’s River to Tim Hortons in CBS for minimum wage, you’re in the negative, you’re not in the positive. The evidence is there. The dollar amount that has gone out in JCP this year alone is excessive, so that’s a problem in that area.” Another concern, is the defunct Admirals Beach fish plant, which “is currently falling into the ocean,” said Gambin-Walsh. “It’s going to cost anywhere from $700,000 to a million to get it down, and there’s no jobs created in taking it down because it will be tendered. There has been a study done that shows there are some environmental chemicals that are dangerous to the environment, so that’s an issue at Admirals Beach.” Meanwhile, residents throughout the district are worried about the future of Argentia and the White Rose offshore oil project, while residents in Dunville worry about the need for water infrastructure upgrades, estimated, said Gambin-Walsh, at about $10-11 million, while residents in Placentia wonder about the increased construction costs of a wellness centre. Across the district as a whole, residents decry the state of many provincial roads. “Roads, roads, roads, roads, roads, I’m constantly hearing about roads,” said Gambin-Walsh, who added that millions of provincial dollars have gone towards roads in the district over the years, but there are still roads that need to be done. Access to general and nurse practitioners is also an issue. “Another thing I’m hearing about, and this is something I’m experiencing myself, as my son is an individual with autism, is the access to GP’s,” said Gambin-Walsh. “People are having difficulty accessing GPs, and they’re having difficulty even accessing nurse practitioners to meet their needs.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents who do have access to family doctors and have been availing of virtual appointments during the pandemic have been mostly satisfied with the service, but there are still too many people without proper access to healthcare. “I have a number of constituents in my district who do not have access to a GP, and that is a problem, that is a huge problem,” Gambin-Walsh admitted. She said constituents haven’t raised concerns about her removal from cabinet last year following an RCMP investigation that showed she broke cabinet confidentially by leaking information regarding a promotion in the RNC. She was not charged, but Premier Andrew Furey did not reappoint her to cabinet. “With this RCMP investigation, constituents are not interested at all,” said Gambin-Walsh. “I was prepared and offering to answer questions at the door to my constituents directly, but they don’t want to hear about it, they don’t want to talk about it, they’re not interested.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents are, however, eager to hear details about her involvement in 2018 bullying allegations against former Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce. At the time Joyce, seen by many political watchers as perhaps the loyalist Liberal in the province having relinquished his seat in 1989 so Clyde Wells could serve in the legislature as Premier, was serving as Minister of Municipal Affairs and charged with making tough decisions about a sea of demands coming in from MHAs for funding from their towns. Gambin-Walsh said constituents are happy that she spoke up against Joyce, and that some have even gone so far as to read the official reports. After then Premier Dwight Ball allegedly failed to keep a private promise to back Joyce against the charges of bullying, he left the Liberal party and sat as an Independent, getting re-elected without party affiliation in 2019. “The 2018 situation with MHA Joyce, that got get a bit of attention, and people were very curious and did ask me a fair bit about that. They are interested in bullying and harassment though. And they’re happy that I spoke up against it,” said Gambin-Walsh. “When I look at my social media, my Twitter and my Facebook, when I see anyone saying something negative, when I check out their account, it’s ether a troll account or the person doesn’t live in my district.”. As to Furey, Gambin-Walsh said he is a more than capable leader. She added that despite cries from the PC and NDP that Furey should not have called the election during a pandemic or during the winter, people are actually more engaged in this election than in previous years. “I am finding that people are more interested in this election than they were in ’15 and ’19,” she said. “This time, people are truly interested in what’s happening with COVID, they’re interested in the economy, they’re interested in chatting with me and getting my opinion… I think, now I could be wrong, but I think we’re going to have a very high turn out by the end of this election.” Gambin-Walsh said there’s been another noticeable difference in this year’s campaign. “I can’t keep a sign up. I have about 50 signs gone. They’re destroyed. People have called and said they’re beat up and up in the dump,” said Gambin-Walsh, adding some constituents have had to display their signs in shed windows for fear of having them removed — again. “I’ve been firm in telling my volunteers not to touch the other signs, regardless of the number of signs we lose. Just keep going… this is not going to slow us down.” Voters will choose between Gambin-Walsh, PC candidate Calvin Manning, and NL Alliance hopeful Clem Whittle. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
(Tyler Pidlubny/CBC - image credit) Five people have been arrested after allegedly invading a home more than a year ago in the city's University Park East neighbourhood. The incident took place in the afternoon on Jan. 20, 2020 on Westminster Road. Regina Police Service said three male suspects were dropped off at the home by two others. The three masked men forced their way into the home of a 71-year-old woman after threatening her with a Taser, said police. They allegedly stole 14 pellet guns, prescription medicine and a laptop before fleeing in the woman's Chevrolet Impala, just as two other residents were coming home, police said. The five suspects were arrested between December 2020 and Feb. 23, 2021. They are jointly charged with break-and-enter and robbery. One male suspect faces an additional charge of assault.
The explosive growth of Clubhouse, an audio-based social network buoyed by appearances from tech celebrities like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, has drawn scrutiny over how the app will handle problematic content, from hate speech to harassment and misinformation. Moderating real-time discussion is a challenge for a crop of platforms using live voice chat, from video game-centric services like Discord to Twitter Inc's new live-audio feature Spaces. Facebook is also reportedly dabbling with an offering.
Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, has long been remembered for her expressive voice as well as a history of drug and alcohol addiction and her untimely death at age 44. The new film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" aims to change the public's perception of the singer and shine a light on her role as a leader in the push for Black civil rights, the movie's director and star said in an interview with Reuters. Debuting on the Hulu streaming service on Friday, the film tells the story of the uproar caused by Holiday's singing of the ballad "Strange Fruit," a protest song about the lynching of Black people.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The advocate general for European Union's highest court on Thursday urged the court to rule that Hungary violated the bloc's laws on asylum when it passed legislation narrowing the possibilities for asylum-seekers to receive international protection. The non-binding opinion from the European Court of Justice's Advocate General, Athanasios Rantos, states that the 2018 amendments to Hungary's asylum laws — which prohibited asylum-seekers who passed through safe countries en route to Hungary from receiving international protection — violated EU law. “By introducing that ground for inadmissibility, Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Procedures Directive,” Rantos wrote, referring to the EU's asylum protocols. Opinions by advocates general are often but not always followed by the European Court of Justice, which will make a final ruling on the case at a later date. The European Commission, the bloc's executive branch, brought the case before the court as part of an infringement procedure it launched against Hungary in 2018 over its non-compliance with asylum law. Rantos also advised the court to rule that a Hungarian law that cracks down on organizations and individuals that provide legal assistance to asylum-seekers violates EU law. The legislation, known as the “Stop Soros” law, was an amendment to Hungary’s criminal code that threatened aid workers and human rights advocates working with asylum-seekers with up to a year in prison. It was approved by the Hungarian parliament in 2018. The law was named after Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a pro-democracy advocate who has long been a target of the Hungarian government. Hungary's right-wing government has been a staunch opponent of immigration, and its treatment of migrants have brought it into frequent conflict with the rest of the 27-nation EU. Last year, the country closed its transit zones — enclosed areas along the southern border with Serbia used to hold asylum-seekers while their asylum requests were being decided — after the European court ruled they amounted to detention and thus violated EU law. Last month, the EU’s border control agency, Frontex, suspended operations in Hungary after the government in Budapest did not comply with a December ruling by the European court that ordered Hungary to grant protection to asylum-seekers as required by law and to stop returning them to Serbia. The country's prime minister, Viktor Orban, claims he is seeking to protect Hungary's conservative Christian identity and to defend Europe from immigration from the Mideast and Africa. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Justin Spike, The Associated Press
(Dave Irish/CBC - image credit) Lionel Desmond struggled to transition to civilian life, at times reporting that he drank upward of 70 beers a week and ate fewer than 600 calories a day, the first psychologist who saw him after leaving the military testified Thursday. Dr. Mathieu Murgatroyd first met the veteran in June 2015. Desmond spent about a year in his care at the Occupational Stress Injury Clinic in Fredericton, a Veterans Affairs facility geared toward rehabilitating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. But Murgatroyd testified that he and Desmond accomplished little in terms of therapy. Instead, the psychologist said he felt he sometimes took on the role of a case manager. In part, that's because Desmond was grappling with other issues: finding purpose outside the military, ongoing conflict in his marriage and isolation from his family. He also told his psychologist at one point that his financial situation was so poor that he might have to go to the food bank. CBC reporter Laura Fraser is live blogging the hearing: A stressful transition Those concerns are not unique to soldiers once they retire from the Canadian Forces, the psychologist said. In fact, Murgatroyd noted the usual stress of leaving the structure and camaraderie intrinsic to military life can worsen an underlying mental health issue. "We're talking about individuals that have several mental health issues and challenges, PTSD, depression ... which can lead to poor coping strategies," he testified. The inquiry seeks not to lay blame, but to examine the various institutions that came in contact with Desmond and his family before he fatally shot his wife, Shanna; his daughter, Aaliyah; and his mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself on Jan. 3, 2017 at a home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. Shanna Desmond worked as a registered nurse in Antigonish, N.S. Inquiry Judge Warren Zimmer is seeking answers about whether changes to public policy connected to those institutions can prevent future deaths. While the inquiry unfolding in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., is provincial in nature — and the mandate does not technically extend to the Canadian Forces or Veterans Affairs — the need for better support during a time of transition has surfaced in testimony from multiple witnesses at the second session. Inquiry counsel Shane Russell asked Murgatroyd on Thursday whether Desmond might have benefited from other supports to help him navigate the stress associated with the transition to civilian life, including a caseworker who could arrange marital counselling or check on the status of his pension and finances, or someone to drop by his home. The psychologist agreed that, in hindsight, that support would have been helpful. Lionel Desmond is seen with his mother, Brenda, and his daughter, Aaliyah. Other roadblocks to treatment But another roadblock to Desmond's treatment seemed to be that he just wasn't showing up. He split much of his time in the year after his release between his house in New Brunswick and his family home in Nova Scotia. The evidence underscores an issue faced by freshly released veterans: the potential for transience and the barriers that can create when accessing mental health services. In Desmond's case, after his first two appointments with Murgatroyd in July 2015 — when he reported having "homicidal thoughts without intent" — he cancelled his third visit over the phone, saying he was in Nova Scotia. They wouldn't see one another until October 2015. That pattern of intermittent visits continued until May 2016, when Desmond was accepted into an in-patient psychiatric program at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Quebec.
(Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit) Halifax police are searching for two men in connection with a home invasion, shooting and abduction in Bedford late Wednesday night. Police say they received a call at 11:30 p.m. AT that a man had been shot in an apartment in the 1-100 block of Glen Moir Terrace. When officers arrived, the victim wasn't there, but someone told them he had been abducted by the suspects in the victim's own vehicle. Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. John MacLeod said officers later located the victim, a 42-year-old man, not far away. He was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the men who shot and abducted the victim were wearing dark clothing and masks. The victim's vehicle, a 2014 Dodge Caravan cargo van, has not been found. Police say the rear windows of the van have been covered with white window tinting, and the driver's side window has a no-smoking decal on it. Police say they do not believe the incident is a random act. MORE TOP STORIES
De nouvelles voix s’élèvent pour s’opposer publiquement au modèle de financement que souhaite implanter la Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec (FCMQ) afin de réduire les écarts de revenus entre les divers clubs de la province. Depuis deux semaines, les instances de plusieurs clubs d’un peu partout se mobilisent contre le nouveau modèle, Objectif 2020, auquel ils ont adhéré sous forme de projet-pilote. En vertu de ce modèle, appliqué à l’invitation de la FCMQ, une somme de 200 $ est accordée pour chaque kilomètre de sentier reconnu auquel s’ajoute une somme de 70 $ pour chaque heure de surfaçage effectué ainsi que 10 $ par membre d’un club ayant acquis un droit d’accès. Sous la formule traditionnelle, chaque club reçoit de la FCMQ 160 $ par droit d’accès acquis. Depuis la sortie médiatique de mardi faite dans Le Quotidien par des dirigeants de clubs du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, certains dirigeants de clubs de la région des Laurentides et de Québec ont tenu à faire part de leur opposition au projet Objectif 2020. Soulignons au départ que tous ont convenu de la nécessité de mieux répartir les revenus tirés des droits d’accès entre les clubs dits « riches » et ceux plus « pauvres ». Clément Belval, trésorier du Club de motoneige Blizard, qui opère un réseau de 2473 kilomètres dans les secteurs Sainte-Marguerite du Lac Masson, L’Esterel, Entrelacs et Saint-Hippolyte, accuse la FCMQ de vouloir s’approprier tout l’argent des clubs locaux au détriment de leur autonomie, et ce, avec l’établissement d’une formule uniforme à travers toute la province, sans tenir compte des réalités régionales ou locales. « Il y a deux ans, la FCMQ a voulu nous embarquer dans sa nouvelle formule. Les 21 clubs des Laurentides, on s’est réunis pour établir un partage régional. On a proposé ça à la FCMQ et on n’a même pas eu de réponse », affirme-t-il. Il précise que dans le cadre du projet proposé, la région des Laurentides aurait dû transférer ses surplus de 300 000 $ à 400 000 $ pour éponger le déficit des clubs gaspésiens. M. Belval prédit que si la nouvelle formule est appliquée à l’ensemble de la province, c’est le sentiment d’appartenance et le bénévolat au sein des clubs qui risquent de s’effriter, tandis qu’on assistera à une hausse des droits d’accès. Il compare la situation à l’organisation du Canada, dans lequel le fédéral, assimilé à la FCMQ, disposerait de tout l’argent, alors que les provinces (clubs) devraient quémander l’argent alors qu’ils fournissent les bénévoles sur le terrain, la négociation des droits de passage, etc. Dans la région de Québec, une autre réalité a été exprimée par Mario Bernier, président du Club de motoneige Le Petit Sentier Saint-Émile. Ce club compte 750 membres et entretient 35 kilomètres de sentiers en milieu fortement urbanisé, entre le marché Jean-Talon, la réserve de Wendake et Stoneham, Lac-Saint-Charles et le Haut-Charlesbourg. Il s’agit d’un secteur névralgique où passe le sentier 3 reliant l’est et l’ouest de la province. M. Bernier affirme qu’il n’est pas question d’embarquer dans Objectif 2020, même s’il est d’accord pour une meilleure redistribution des revenus entre les clubs, à la condition de ne pas déshabiller les plus riches au profit des plus pauvres. « Le point d’accrochage avec la FCMQ est la façon dont on redistribue l’argent. On ne tient pas compte de la réalité des milieux. Nous ici, on doit négocier huit droits de passage pour traverser un kilomètre de sentier. Avec la nouvelle formule, la FCMQ veut nous couper les deux tiers de nos revenus », affirme-t-il. Selon lui, avec 33 000 kilomètres de sentiers à entretenir et plus d’une centaine de clubs actifs, il serait peut-être temps de parler de fusions et de rationalisation du réseau. Il ajoute que la volonté d’établir le nouveau modèle tel qu’il a été élaboré est inacceptable pour la majorité des clubs de la province et qu’il revient aux membres des clubs de prendre les décisions et non à la FCMQ de décider pour la base. « Ça prend une décision de nous tous. La FCMQ est là pour nous représenter, ce qui n’est pas le cas actuellement », conclut-il. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
An expected dash by big corporations for offsets to meet their climate targets has prompted financial exchanges to launch carbon futures contracts to capitalise on what could be a multi-billion dollar market. Carbon offsets, generated by emissions reduction projects, such as tree planting or shifts to less polluting fuels, have struggled for years to gain credibility, but as climate action has become urgent, their market is expected to grow to as much as $50 billion by 2030. Among the major corporations that say they expect to use them to compensate for any emissions they cannot cut from their operations and products are Unilever, EasyJet, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, which all have climate targets.
Many people in Gander want to see its air connectivity to the rest of the country restored. Since the start of the pandemic, airlines have pulled several flights from the Gander International Airport, further isolating the central Newfoundland region through a lack of air support. On Jan. 23, Air Canada dropped the last of its flights out of Gander. That followed a pair of similar announcements earlier in the summer. That lack of connection has had a ripple effect on businesses and people around the region. “What we’re hearing from our members is that there is a direct impact that goes beyond the obvious,” said Hannah DeYoung, the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce’s first vice-chairperson. With that in mind, the chamber recently created a petition to be sent to the House of Commons in Ottawa with the airport as its focus. The group hopes to draw even more attention to the plight of airlines in the country, with particular focus on what a lack of flights to and from central Newfoundland means for the region. The chamber is calling for the federal government to provide financial assistance to airlines in Canada, which is dependent on helping to re-establish national air service to airports like the Gander International Airport. It also calls for an effort to ensure Gander is re-connected to the mainland, thus lessening the economic impact on the area. Slowly, the petition has been garnering support online. Since it was launched on Feb. 1, it was been signed by 973 people and businesses from around the country. “What we’re hearing from our members is how it affects the supply chain,” said DeYoung. “From getting supplies to small businesses to getting inventory and getting workers in and out. That’s the immediate impact.” The ramifications of the cancellation of flights from the airport have been top of mind of many in the town recently. The Town of Gander has been proactive from the start in its advocacy for the airport. Recently, the town asked people to submit testimonials of how they’re connected to the airport and what the loss of those flights meant for them. Chris Fraser has first-hand knowledge that the ramifications of the airport’s decline reach into many different areas. As the owner and pharmacist of Gander Pharmachoice, he relies on the airport for integral parts of his business. While a lot of his major volume of medication comes from a local supplier in St. John’s, some supplies need to come from a supplier on the mainland. “Now, it’s basically got to be flown in somewhere or trucked in from somewhere else,” said Fraser. It has led to a steady increase in wait times for the pharmacy when it comes to flying in supplies, going from next-day service to a two-day wait and now up to four days. That means it is almost a week to wait for supplies like dressings or gauze. “It does impact on our store. I can’t speak for others … but in the meantime, anyone who needs something quick, can’t get it flown in,” said Fraser. There has also been talk of forming a regional committee to address their concerns and raise awareness of how much the area depends on the airport. The hope is the petition will help magnify that effort and the voices of those directly affected by the cancellations. “There is very much a fear that when we think about recovery and resiliency through COVID-19 and past the pandemic, there is no guarantee these flights are going to come back and that they’re going to come back at the right time,” said DeYoung. “We’re advocating for right now, but also for the recovery piece. “That there is a plan here to make sure that when it is possible to travel and when it is possible to get somewhat back to normal, that there is access for our area.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice