Chris Murphy and Mark Robinson discuss the chance for lake-effect snow in Ontario.
Chris Murphy and Mark Robinson discuss the chance for lake-effect snow in Ontario.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
MENDON, N.Y. — Three National Guard members on a training flight were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a farmer's field in western New York. The craft, a UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter, crashed around 6:30 p.m. in Mendon, New York, a rural town south of Rochester, officials said. The circumstances were under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would take part. Photos of the crash scene posted by local news media showed the aircraft wreckage burning on a snow-covered field. The helicopter flew out of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport, and was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, according to Eric Durr, public affairs director of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags on state buildings would be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to pay tribute to the troops. “National Guard members are our citizen soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and I extend prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of these honourable heroes," he said in a statement. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said at a news conference that witnesses who called 911 reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the aircraft was flying very low. There were no survivors of the crash, he said. Baxter called the three guard members who perished “great Americans.” “Keep them in your minds and your prayers,” he said. The Associated Press
A Malaysian e-wallet operator owned by CIMB Group and China's Ant Group is in advanced talks with investors to raise at least $150 million to fund expansion plans, four sources familiar with the matter said. The coronavirus pandemic has propelled demand for digital payment services around the world, but Malaysia's market is particularly competitive with nearly 50 players. The venture, TNG Digital Sdn Bhd, says its Touch 'n Go e-wallet is the country's biggest with more than 15 million registered users.
NEW YORK — Lani Muller doesn’t have to visit a doctor’s office to help test an experimental COVID-19 vaccine — she just climbs into a bloodmobile-like van that parks on a busy street near her New York City neighbourhood. The U.S. is rightly fixated on the chaotic rollout of the first two authorized vaccines to fight the pandemic. But with more vaccines in the pipeline — critical to boosting global supplies — scientists worry whether enough volunteers will join and stick with the testing needed to prove if they, too, really work. Those studies, like earlier ones, must include communities of colour that have been hard-hit by the pandemic, communities that also voice concern about the vaccination drive in part because of a long history of racial health care disparities and even research abuses. To help, researchers in more than a dozen spots around the country are rolling out mobile health clinics to better reach minority participants and people in rural areas who might not otherwise volunteer. Muller, who is Black, said her family was worried about the vaccine research so she didn’t mention she’d signed up to test AstraZeneca’s shot. “The legacy of African Americans in science in these sort of trials hasn’t been great and we haven’t forgotten,” said Muller, 49, a Columbia University employee whose participation in some prior research projects made her willing to get a test injection earlier this month. Muller knows more than 20 people who have gotten or died from COVID-19. “I’m much more afraid of the disease than the vaccine trial," she said. From the beginning, the National Institutes of Health was adamant that COVID-19 vaccines be tested in a population about as diverse as the nation's — key to building confidence in whichever shots proved to work. In studies of the Pfizer and Moderna shots so far cleared for widespread U.S. use, 10% of volunteers were Black, and more were Hispanic. Diversity is an even tougher challenge now. The high-risk volunteers needed for final testing of other vaccine candidates have to decide if they want to stick with an experimental injection — one that might be a dummy shot — or try to get in line for a rationed but proven dose. AstraZeneca, with about 30,000 volunteers so far, didn't release specific numbers but said the last weeks of enrolment are focusing on recruiting more minorities and people over age 65. Another maker, Novavax, just began recruiting for its final testing last month. Studying the vaccines in diverse populations is only one step in building trust, said Dr. Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University, a historically Black university in the nation's capital. Howard's hospital shared video of Frederick and other health workers getting vaccinated as a public service announcement encouraging African Americans to get their own shot as soon as it's their turn. Frederick, a surgeon who's also at high risk because of diabetes and sickle cell disease, said he's dismayed to get emails espousing conspiracy theories such as that vaccination is “an experiment on African Americans.” “There is misinformation that does require all of us to be in the forefront of getting involved and challenging it," he said. But efforts to build confidence in the vaccines could be undermined if, once there's more supply to go around, hard-hit minority communities get left behind. “The equity issue is absolutely important,” said Stephaun Wallace, a scientist at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center who also is part of the NIH-created COVID-19 Prevention Network that helps with vaccine research and education. “It's important that we ensure that the vaccine is getting to the people, and that is an access issue." Using vans to reach at-risk communities has long been a staple of fighting HIV, another illness that has disproportionately struck Black Americans. And as more doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines arrive, mobile clinics are expected to help expand COVID-19 vaccination access, especially in rural areas. But the NIH program has a different focus, offering RV-sized mobile clinics from Matrix Medical Network to help improve the diversity of ongoing vaccine studies. Officials say they've been used at a Lakota reservation, at chicken-processing plants with a largely Hispanic workforce, and in cities like Washington where Howard University is recruiting volunteers for the new Novavax study. “I don’t think we can sit in the ivory towers and hope that people come to us. I think that would be a mistake,” said Howard's Frederick. Researchers from the New York Blood Center regularly park their lab-on-wheels in parts of Queens and Brooklyn with large Black, Asian and Hispanic populations, so that even after study enrolment ends the participants can pop in for required check-ups. They also make a point of standing outside to answer questions from passersby confused about COVID-19 vaccination in general. It's "building trust and rapport,” said Dr. Jorge Soler, who helps study the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of the blood centre's Project Achieve. “I’m Latino and I’m a scientist. To be able to say that to people means something.” Soler sometimes has to dispel fears that getting vaccinated might mean being “injected with a chip," or having information collected for surveillance purposes. He stresses that the Pfizer and Moderna shots now being used cannot give someone the coronavirus — that's biologically impossible as neither is made with the actual virus. And over and over, people wonder how these vaccines appeared so quickly. Soler’s simple explanation for how to speed research without cutting corners? “This is what happens when the world is invested in something. You build a car faster with 20 people than you do with two.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lauran Neergaard And Joseph B. Frederick, The Associated Press
Ontario's plan to vaccinate the populations of its most remote First Nations communities against COVID-19 faces many challenges, but Indigenous leaders say that earning the trust of the people must be a priority. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 of Ontario's 123 First Nations, said that the most obvious hurdle of Operation Remote Immunity is geography, as those remote communities may not have an airstrip and must have their winter roads built in time for the vaccine to be delivered. But he said that even more important than the physical logistics of delivering the vaccine is ensuring that Indigenous people are willing to accept it. "Making sure that communities are aware of the vaccine, that they understand the vaccine and why it's important so they can consent to getting the vaccine is part of the challenge," said Fiddler. All 31 remote First Nations that are participating in Operation Remote Immunity are part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, so Fiddler and his staff have been working with Ontario's vaccine task force as a liaison between the individual communities and the government. Communication has had to flow both ways before the vaccines start arriving on Feb. 1. "We're creating material for distribution with our health authorities, creating pamphlets and social media, making sure everything is translated into Ojibway, Ojicree and Cree," said Fiddler. "So our elders can really understand the information that's being sent to them. "Once they do understand it they can give it serious consideration before giving their consent." Fiddler said that making sure everyone understands what's in the vaccine and why it's important to take it is necessary for First Nations people who are living with the trauma of Canada's colonial history. "It's not just the vaccine itself, it's the whole history of the sad, sometimes tragic past of health care and how it's been delivered in our communities," said Fiddler, adding that historically there has been a two-tiered system where Indigenous people received inferior health care. "That's what we're up against. It's a massive undertaking and it's a challenge we know that we have to address as part of this rollout." Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who is on the province's vaccine task force, said she was also aware of some reluctance by First Nations people to take the vaccine. She pointed to a history of medical experiments being performed on Indigenous people from the 1930s to the 1970s. "We do know that in the past vaccines were tested in First Nations communities," said Archibald, who added there is no mechanism for polling First Nations populations about things like vaccine hesitancy. "The trauma and experiences from residential schools have left our communities in a state of hesitancy when it comes to trusting Canada." A spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Affairs said that the administration of vaccines has already begun in Ontario's larger First Nations communities, starting with long-term care homes in Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawks of Akwesasne, Oneida Nations of the Thames, and Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. Vaccinations have also begun at the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, with a focus on hospital and long-term care and chronic care staff and residents. Spokesman Alex Puddifant said Ornge, the province's air ambulance corporation, is leading the operations for the 31 fly-in First Nation communities, transporting the vaccine from hub cities in Northern Ontario to the reserves. Partner organizations including, Northern School of Ontario Medicine and Queens University, will help provide nurses and paramedics to administer the doses. Fiddler said that NAN is playing a supporting role, ensuring that communities are ready when the vaccines arrive with interpreters, drivers, and a co-ordinator to make sure that all of the residents in a territory consent to the vaccination and receive their dose. Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, said that she and her team know they'll have to build trust with patients who are, or are directly related to, residential school survivors. "Taking a patient-centred approach that's different in Northern Ontario with First Nations communities will be important," said Verma. Indigenous Services Canada reported on Tuesday that there were 428 active cases of COVID-19 among Ontario's First Nations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic is about to force another big break from tradition in the House of Commons: MPs using an app on their smartphones or laptops to cast votes remotely. Party whips are still discussing some unresolved details, the most important of which is ensuring Canadians will be able to see how their MPs vote, in real-time, as they click yea or nay. But government whip Mark Holland is optimistic that all parties will give unanimous consent to proceed with the voting app when the Commons resumes Monday after a six-week break. Traditionally, MPs who support a bill or motion are asked to rise in the Commons and then nod their assent as their names are called, one by one, by the clerk. The same procedure is then followed for those opposed. That changed last fall as the Commons adapted to the need for physical distancing and restricted travel to curb the spread COVID-19. Votes by videoconference were introduced, allowing MPs for the first time to vote virtually from remote locations. However, they still voted one-by-one in response to a rollcall so Canadians could witness how each of them voted. Inevitable technical glitches meant a single vote could take up to an hour to complete, during which all MPs were required to stay glued to their seats and on camera. That's about to change — again. In a bid to speed things up, the Commons administration has developed a voting app, using combined facial and fingerprint recognition technology, to facilitate secure, one-click voting. Rather than a rollcall vote, Holland said the plan is to allow a set "time window" — around 10 minutes — in which MPs can register their votes. As always, a list showing how each MP voted would be immediately available after the results are announced. But Holland said the administration has also been asked to come up with a way to let onlookers know what's happening in real-time as each MP registers his or her vote. "It's a little bit different than what people are used to," Holland acknowledged in an interview. He said the administration opted for the time-window approach because it's easier to manage technically and faster than conducting a rollcall. It allows an MP who's having trouble connecting or other technical problems to work it out with Commons staff, without holding up voting by everyone else. It also means MPs can resume doing other work as soon as they've voted. "It means we can get done in 10 minutes what would have taken an hour and if we have eight or 10 votes in a row, suddenly all of that time is freed up to do the work that I think people elect us to do," Holland said. NDP House leader Peter Julian said his party supports the use of the voting app to increase efficiency while minimizing the number of MPs in the Commons as the second wave of COVID-19 ravages the country. But he said it's critical that constituents be able to see in real-time how their MPs are voting. "That's a fundamental principle of democracy. Canadians need to know how their members of Parliament are voting," he said in an interview. "Knowing it after the fact is fine ... but it needs to be in place for when we are (in the process of) voting ... This is how democracy functions, with transparency." Bloc Quebecois House leader Alain Therrien said in a statement Wednesday that his party supports using the app. But he stressed the Bloc also believes the Liberal government must get unanimous consent before deploying it. Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell, whose party has been the most reluctant to depart from traditional procedures during the pandemic, declined to comment. Holland said it's "looking really positive" that the government will get unanimous consent for a motion to be introduced as the first order of business Monday. The motion would reinstate until the end of June the hybrid Commons format adopted last fall — a small number of MPs in the chamber while most participate virtually — with the voting app feature to be added as soon as possible. While the app has been tested with each MP individually and with each party caucus, Holland does not expect it to be used immediately by the Commons because it still needs to be tested with all 338 MPs using it simultaneously. That can't be done, he said, until use of the app is approved. Because there was no agreement among parties before Christmas on how the Commons should resume in the new year, all MPs are theoretically scheduled to be back in the chamber Monday. But Holland said party whips are discussing how to keep the number of MPs to the bare minimum needed for quorum: 20, including the Speaker. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 725,495 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 725,495 confirmed cases (68,413 active, 638,620 resolved, 18,462 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,744 new cases Wednesday from 68,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 182 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 44,165 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,309. There were 196 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,034 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 148. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.12 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,778,780 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (eight active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 280 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,042 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 493 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of seven new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,570 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,564 confirmed cases (23 active, 1,476 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday from 846 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 198,764 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,025 confirmed cases (318 active, 694 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 21 new cases Wednesday from 1,003 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 40.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 189 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 27. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 130,711 tests completed. _ Quebec: 247,236 confirmed cases (18,436 active, 219,592 resolved, 9,208 deaths). There were 1,502 new cases Wednesday from 7,554 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 217.28 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,541 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,792. There were 66 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 394 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.66 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 108.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,678,168 tests completed. _ Ontario: 244,932 confirmed cases (26,467 active, 212,897 resolved, 5,568 deaths). There were 2,655 new cases Wednesday from 52,531 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 181.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,850. There were 89 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 395 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.22 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,758,500 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,893 confirmed cases (3,137 active, 23,968 resolved, 788 deaths). There were 153 new cases Wednesday from 1,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 229.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,200 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 35 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 444,550 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,112 confirmed cases (3,702 active, 17,184 resolved, 226 deaths). There were 241 new cases Wednesday from 991 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 315.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,091 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 299. There was one new reported death Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 19.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 324,668 tests completed. _ Alberta: 118,436 confirmed cases (10,565 active, 106,387 resolved, 1,484 deaths). There were 669 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 241.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,818 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 688. There were 21 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 116 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,020,119 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,412 confirmed cases (5,744 active, 55,564 resolved, 1,104 deaths). There were 500 new cases Wednesday from 2,817 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 113.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 73 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,036,509 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 18 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,203 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 30 confirmed cases (six active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday from 211 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,882 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,018 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
A full-throated, supremely confident Lady Gaga belted out the national anthem at President Joe Biden's inauguration in a very Gaga way — with flamboyance, fashion and passion. The Grammy winner wore a huge dove-shaped brooch and an impressively billowing red sculpted skirt as she sang into a golden microphone, delivering an emotional and powerful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” She was followed at Wednesday's ceremony by Jennifer Lopez, dressed all in white, who threw a line of Spanish into her medley of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful" — a pointed nod to multiculturalism, just two weeks after white supremacists and other violent rioters stormed the Capitol in an effort to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. And country star Garth Brooks, doffing his black cowboy hat, sang a soulful a capella rendition of “Amazing Grace,” his eyes closed for much of the song. He asked the audience to sing a verse with him: “Not just the people here, but the people at home, to work as one united.” The three superstars were among a slew of glittery celebrities descending on Washington — virtually or in person — to welcome the new administration of Biden and Kamala Harris, a duo popular in Hollywood, where former President Donald Trump was decidedly not. While stars mostly eschewed Trump's inauguration four years ago, the A-list was back for Biden. Brooks was careful to call his decision to perform on Wednesday non-political, and in the spirit of unity. He had performed during the inaugural celebration for Obama in 2009, but turned down a chance to perform for Trump in 2017, citing a scheduling conflict. Gaga went on Twitter later to explain that the giant brooch accompanying her Schiaparelli haute couture outfit was “a dove carrying an olive branch. May we all make peace with each other.” Lopez was in all-white Chanel, and Brooks kept it real in jeans, an open-collared black shirt and blazer. While the podium was full of high-wattage star power, there was little question that a new star had also emerged: 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman, whose poise and urgency as she recited “The Hill We Climb” enthralled a global audience. None other than Bruce Springsteen launched the evening's entertainment: “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that took the place of the usual official inaugural balls, with Biden and Harris watching along and giving brief remarks. Alone with his guitar, The Boss sang his “Land of Hope and Dreams” in front of the Lincoln Memorial. “I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side," he sang. "You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.” Hanks, also at the Lincoln Memorial, spoke of “deep divisions and a troubling rancour in our land” over the past few years. "But tonight we ponder the United States of America, the practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union,” he said. Jon Bon Jovi contributed a rendition of “Here Comes the Sun” from Miami, and Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake performed “Better Days” from Memphis. John Legend sang “Feeling Good” in Washington; Foo Fighters sang “Times Like These” in honour of teachers, and Demi Lovato performed “Lovely Day” along with doctors and nurses in Los Angeles. A starry collection of Broadway's most prominent musical actors collaborated on a medley of “Seasons of Love” from the show “Rent” and “Let the Sunshine In” from “Hair,” among them Christopher Jackson, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Laura Benanti, Betty Buckley, Leslie Uggams and Javier Muñoz. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda recited from “The Cure at Troy” by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Reciting excerpts of notable past inaugural addresses were basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. Peppering musical performances among stories of ordinary Americans and their contributions, the show included tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsay, the first in New York to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The proceedings ended with a lavish fireworks show in the Washington night sky, watched by Biden (at the White House) and Harris (at the Lincoln Memorial) and their families to — what else? — “Firework,” performed by Katy Perry. The history of celebrities performing at inaugurations dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third inauguration in 1941, when a gala celebration the evening before saw performances from Irving Berlin, Mickey Rooney and Charlie Chaplin, says Lina Mann of the White House Historical Association. “Chaplin performed his monologue from ‘The Great Dictator,’” Mann notes. The celebrity component only increased over time, and one of the starriest inaugurations was that of John F. Kennedy in 1961. That celebration, hosted by Frank Sinatra, drew Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Kelly, Ethel Merman, Laurence Olivier, Sidney Poitier and other celebrities. Fast forward to the first Obama inauguration in 2009, where Aretha Franklin sang “My Country, 'Tis of Thee” at the swearing-in, and the new president and his wife, Michelle, were serenaded by Beyoncé singing “At Last” at an inaugural ball. ___ AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report from Los Angeles. ___ For complete coverage of the inauguration, please visit: https://apnews.com/hub/biden-inauguration Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Google and a French publishers' lobby said on Thursday they had agreed to a copyright framework for the U.S. tech giant to pay news publishers for content online, in a first for Europe. The move paves the way for individual licensing agreements for French publications, some of which have seen revenues drop with the rise of the Internet and declines in print circulation. The deal, which Google describes as a sustainable way to pay publishers, is likely to be closely watched by other platforms such as Facebook, a lawyer involved in the talks said.
A director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes provinces should set targets for vaccinating inmates in provincial jails — something half of jurisdictions have yet to do. The Correctional Service of Canada has started vaccinations for federal prisoners who are older or considered "medically vulnerable." But, as of last week, provinces had yet to start giving shots to inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences in provincial jails. "Prisoners are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that would make them very susceptible to serious illness and death as a result of COVID," said Abby Deshman with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Because of a limited vaccine supply, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people in correctional centres get inoculated behind those in long-term care homes, seniors 70 and older, critical health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities. British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said that, as of last week, prisoners and staff are scheduled for vaccination in the second round of inoculations, with estimated start dates between next month and June. Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec didn't provide a timeline for when inmates will receive their shots. Newfoundland and Labrador said its inmates will be part of the second phase of its vaccine distribution, but didn't specify dates. Saskatchewan said the ranking of vulnerable groups is still to be determined. The Northwest Territories and Yukon planned to start giving shots this week. Nunavut didn't respond to inquiries. Deshman was part of a research project that tracked COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons. It found that since Dec. 1, there have been at least 1,962 infections among staff and inmates — more than all of the cases reported from last March until November. “We should have targets for immunizing key vulnerable populations, regardless of who they are," she said. “If those targets need to be adjusted, if they cannot be met, that needs to be publicly communicated and explained.” She noted some politicians, including federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have pushed back against early vaccinations for federal inmates. Justin Piche, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said there are far fewer older prisoners in provincial jails than in federal prisons, where one out of five inmates is 50 and older. He said rhetoric from leaders that pits one group against another isn't helpful. “Prisons are among the congregate settings that are seeing significant transmission," he said. “You have prisoners who are getting COVID-19 at higher rates. You have prison staff that are going in and out of there on a day-to-day basis, going back to their families, going back to their communities." The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers believes it's wrong that Ottawa didn’t vaccinate correctional staff along with prisoners, and instead left it up to provinces to decide where staff fall in the vaccine line. "It’s completely foolish," said national president Jeff Wilkins. “We have (Saskatchewan Penitentiary), for example, which has seen quite an extensive outbreak. Our members are getting burnt out." As of last week, Manitoba listed provincial and federal correctional health-care workers as eligible to be vaccinated. Wilkins wants to see correctional officers inoculated along with long-term care staff. "In some areas, we’ve seen the rates of the institution be much higher than the community.” Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, questions why doses were sent to institutions in Atlantic Canada, which have no active COVID-19 cases, while inmates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at higher risk. Latimer is also concerned about what she says is solitary confinement-like measures being used to contain the novel coronavirus. “It’s a very, very harsh correctional environment right now," she said. "We’re probably going through the worst period in terms of general corrections, at least on the federal side, in the last 50 years." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Coal mining is already having an impact in Alberta's Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry's presence in one of the province's most beloved landscapes. "They've been very active up there," said Kevin Van Tighem, who lives near one of the areas now heavily leased for coal exploration. The United Conservative government's decision to revoke a policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976 has convulsed the province. Petitions opposing the move have gathered more than 100,000 signatures. Popular Alberta entertainment figures have come out against it and area ranchers and First Nations are trying to force a judicial review of the decision. Documents from the Alberta Energy Regulator show that permission has already been granted for hundreds of drill sites and kilometres of roads threading through critical wildlife habitat and land previously untouched by mining. "The day after the coal policy was rescinded we started seeing applications for exploration," said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. "Before we've done any real assessments of the impacts, we're seeing these companies have some potential pretty big impacts on that land." Documents filed with the regulator give some sense of what's already been permitted. Cabin Ridge Coal, operating 50 kilometres north of Coleman, Alta., is putting in 197 drill sites on land once protected by the coal policy. It plans 15 new access roads and 19 "reactivated" roads — abandoned for decades and now being refurbished. The exploration plans require nine new stream crossings. Elan Coal, north of Blairmore, Alta., has been permitted for 456 drill sites that include 66 kilometres of new roads and 29 kilometres of reactivated roads. Montem Resources, active south of Coleman, has the OK for 71 drill sites with an unspecified length of "new and existing access." Almost all of the drill sites are on grizzly bear range. Mountain goat and sheep habitat will be affected. Company plans detail how environmental impacts are to be reduced by careful construction and timing work for when it will cause the least disruption. They suggest the amount of land directly disturbed will be small — less than 100 hectares for Cabin Ridge. That's not the whole story, said Van Tighem, a former chief superintendent of Banff National Park. Wildlife steer clear of active roads and drill sites by up to 500 metres, he said. Roads cut into hillsides — no matter how well built — are "erosion traps" and roads that run uphill are "sluiceways" for run-off that would normally feed streams, he said. Mitigation measures aren't all they're cracked up to be, he added. "They're not ever as good as (companies) promise and not as consistently applied as the government would lead us to believe." Morrison points out that at least twice since the coal policy was revoked, companies have asked for exemptions to rules that prevented them from operating during sensitive times for wildlife. "Both exemptions were applied for, granted and work started within a day or two," she said. "That doesn't scream rigour to me as far as decreasing impact." Peter Brodsky, spokesman for Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said the government takes public concern seriously. This week, it paused all lease sales on formerly protected land and cancelled a small number of them, refunding $80,000. "The department will be working with Alberta Environment to determine next steps to best address the concerns that have been raised," he said in an email. "We will not choose between protecting the land for future generations and providing economic opportunities. We need to — and will — do both, in a measured and environmentally responsible way." Area rancher Gordon Cartwright looks up into the hills on his neighbour's land and recalls what a geologist told him last summer about what his neck of the foothills looks like. "He said, with the intensity of the operations and the drilling, it looked more like mining preparation than exploration," Cartwright said. "That activity's pretty damaging. A lot of these soils are highly susceptible to erosion and are hard to revegetate. "You would have thought consultation would have happened before you start opening up the country and creating that kind of disturbance." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Recent developments: Renfrew County has had its second COVID-19 death. Quebec's premier is expected to speak at 1 p.m. ET. What's the latest? Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 180 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and six more fatalities, marking the deadliest day of the pandemic since late May. Renfrew County's health unit is reporting the second death in its area from COVID-19. It has just five known active COVID-19 cases. WATCH LIVE | A Quebec pandemic update starts at 1 p.m. ET: How many cases are there? As of Thursday, 12,674 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,056 known active cases, 11,203 resolved cases and 415 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 22,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 22,000 resolved cases. One hundred and eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 147 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Places such as Kingston have started to take patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Schools can reopen to general in-person learning Monday in the areas of eastern Ontario with lower COVID-19 levels — not in Ottawa nor communities under the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. There is no return date for them. WATCH | Ottawa parents react to the at-home learning extension: Child-care centres remain open. Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials say there are signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread and there's been some talk about what it will take to lift them. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Local health units have said they've given more than 29,800 doses, including about 22,000 in Ottawa and more than 7,300 in western Quebec. Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. That's already happened in Ottawa. That, and Pfizer temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, means some areas can't guarantee people will get a second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks. Ontario's campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August. Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public. It said before Pfizer's announcement people will get their second dose within 90 days. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites will reopen Monday. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had more than 130 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 240 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
Donald Trump could have spent his final weeks in office boasting about his Republican administration's achievements and trying to solidify his status as the most significant voice in the party and possible front-runner for the presidential nomination in four years. Instead, the 45th president of the United States focused on fuelling conspiracy theories in a futile attempt to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 presidential election. In doing so, he departed the White House on Wednesday still under the cloud of his supporters' riot in the Capitol building. He returns to private life as the only president to have been impeached twice, and with some senior members of a now significantly divided Republican Party seemingly turning their backs on him. "It was just an unmitigated disaster of missed opportunities and terrible judgment," said Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist and former adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He said Trump had an opportunity to spend these past weeks becoming the most successful lame duck president in history, by helping with coronavirus relief negotiations and supporting a defence policy that included raises for troops. But Trump didn't play a constructive role in either file, he said. Missed opportunity in Georgia Senate races Trump could have also tried to help Republicans win the two Senate run-off races in Georgia earlier this month instead of sabotaging the campaigns by casting doubt on the electoral process with unfounded fraud allegations, Jennings said. The Republicans ended up losing both run-offs and control of the Senate. "And, of course, he could have decided not to incite a violent insurrection at the U.S Capitol," Jennings said, referring to the article of impeachment against Trump that is expected to go to the Senate for a trial. "When you consider all of the things that he could have done, it could have been a lot different for him." Trump's behaviour was particularly counterproductive if you consider that he clearly wants to continue being involved in politics, Jennings said. "Everything he did in the lame duck period drastically diminished that possibility." Had Trump conceded the election back in November, he may have been remembered as a disruptive but consequential president, said Matthew Connetti, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington, D.C. For Republicans, the Trump administration's list of achievements would include tax cuts; deregulation; brokering diplomatic deals in the Middle East; and, perhaps most importantly, the appointment of many conservative judges, including three Supreme Court justices. "He would have been the undisputed front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination. But that's not how things turned out," Connetti said in an email to CBC News. Impeachment trial looms Although he is out of office, Trump faces the possibility of an impeachment trial and conviction in the Senate and a vote to bar him from running for office again. "Trump's refusal to concede, his increasingly desperate and dangerous attempts to overturn the election, his incitement of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and his decision not to welcome Joe Biden to the White House or to attend Biden's inauguration nullified a record of policy accomplishments," Connetti said. Trump still has a large base of supportwithin the Republican Party and among the conservative grassroots. Millions of his supporters agree with the baseless claims that the presidential election was rigged and stolen. Still, there are clear signs Trump's power within the party has diminished since the riot in the Capitol. At his departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, only about 300 people were in attendance. His guests included his family, outgoing White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and other current and former aides, the Washington Post reported. But there were notable absences among top-ranking Republican officials. McConnell, who has been openly critical of Trump's role in the U.S. Capitol riot, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were no-shows, having opted to attend church with Biden before heading over to the inauguration. Perhaps the most significant absence was that of Trump's vice-president, Mike Pence, who also attended Biden's inauguration. (Pence's spokespeople had previously said logistical issues would prevent him from attending both events.) Trump had blamed Pence for refusing to block congressional certification of the electoral college votes on Jan. 6 — a power Pence never actually had at his disposal. The New York Times reported that aides had tried to get more officials to come to Trump's departure, but many were still upset over his post-election behaviour and how it overshadowed the administration's achievements. Some of his aides who had been with him the longest said they did not even watch the send-off on television, the paper reported. WATCH | Trump delivers his final address as president: At the national level, the Republican Party is now split in two, said Michael Cornfield, a political scientist at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management in Washington, D.C. "And the traditional Republican Party went to [the inauguration]. But the loyalists came with him to the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base." Connetti said there will always be a segment of the population that continues to believe Donald Trump was a great president. "But it is a minority," he said, "and now the Republican Party, as a result of Trump's actions since November, is in a state of civil war."
CALGARY — WestJet Airlines will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. Transport Canada lifted its grounding order for the Max on Wednesday after approving design changes to the plane and requiring pilots to undergo additional training. WestJet executives will hold a press conference after the morning flight between Calgary and Vancouver. The event is part of a campaign to reintroduce the Max to service while assuring the public that the plane's safety issues have been addressed. Air Canada is expected to follow suit on Feb. 1. Air Canada has already said it will offer passengers booked on a Max the option of changing their flight at no extra charge. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:AC) The Canadian Press
Canada's national statistical agency is hiring tens of thousands of employees as it prepares for the challenge of conducting a physically-distanced census during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release published this week, Statistics Canada said it's overhauling its canvassing practices and looking to bring on 32,000 field staff to survey the Canadian population this spring. StatsCan said it is striving for a "contact-free" census, with agency staff collecting the necessary information without coming into face-to-face contact with the public. The census collects demographic information on every person living in Canada. The data is then used by governments, businesses, associations, community organizations and others to make evidence-based decisions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. This year will mark the first time the agency has ever conducted a census in the middle of a public health emergency. "More than ever, these data are necessary," said Geoff Bowlby, director general of the 2021 census. "If you look at the current pandemic, the census data have been instrumental in determining how we should respond to the pandemic." As examples, Bowlby cited public health authorities using census data to learn which neighbourhoods are most vulnerable to COVID-19, and the federal government using population data to calculate the equitable distribution of vaccine doses. Online if possible, in-person only if necessary Bowlby said StatsCan said will do everything it can to keep respondents and census employees safe while conducting this year's census. Residents will be encouraged to complete the short-form and long-form surveys on paper, online or by phone. In-person interviews and door-to-door canvassing will be conducted only in rare circumstances where those methods are unsuccessful or unavailable. Over 68 per cent of respondents completed their census survey online during the last census in 2016. The agency said at the time it was the most successful in its history, with a total of 98.4 per cent of Canadian households responding. This year, the agency has set a target of 80 per cent online responses. In the event that an in-person visit is deemed necessary, no interview will be done inside a private home. Interviewers will be required to wear masks, carry hand sanitizer and maintain physical distancing from those they are surveying. Bowlby said the agency is looking to hire a record number of local enumerators to survey people in remote, northern and First Nations communities. In previous years, those communities were surveyed using a traditional canvassing method which saw census employees administer questionnaires inside people's homes. Over 600 staff who already have been hired received learning materials by mail or did their training via video conference, the agency said. Balancing risk with need for quality data Wayne Smith, Canada's chief statistician from 2010 to 2016, said a certain level of in-person contact will be necessary to engage hard-to-reach people, including those who live in areas without reliable, high-speed internet. Otherwise, the quality of the data could be compromised by a low response rate. "To say that it's going to be a revolution in comparison to what's been done before — I would be very surprised," said Smith. "Boots on the ground in the North and on reserves and in remote areas is still part of the package." Smith said the agency will have to convince Canadians of the importance of conducting the census during a pandemic before they send out the surveys — or run the risk of creating a public relations problem that could discourage people from completing it. Michel Frojmovic, community data program lead at the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, said information gathered from the census is absolutely necessary for municipal and community organizations. He said the risk of conducting the census during the pandemic is justified. "To find data in Canada that's consistent and credible and comparable and available over time is rare and divine," said Frojmovic. "One of the only sources of that data would be the census." Frojmovic said he is convinced StatsCan can pull it off. "If they do COVID safety as good as they do data security, then we're in good shape," he said.
Researchers have said around 52,000 deaths in Europe could be prevented each year if emissions are cut to WHO guidelines. View on euronews
WALTHAM, Mass. — The man who designed some of the world’s most advanced dynamic robots was on a daunting mission: programming his creations to dance to the beat with a mix of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human. The results? Almost a year and half of choreography, simulation, programming and upgrades that were capped by two days of filming to produce a video running at less than 3 minutes. The clip, showing robots dancing to the 1962 hit “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours, was an instant hit on social media, attracting more than 23 million views during the first week. It shows two of Boston Dynamics' humanoid Atlas research robots doing the twist, the mashed potato and other classic moves, joined by Spot, a doglike robot, and Handle, a wheeled robot designed for lifting and moving boxes in a warehouse or truck. Boston Dynamics founder and chairperson Marc Raibert says what the robot maker learned was far more valuable. “It turned out that we needed to upgrade the robot in the middle of development in order for it to be strong enough and to have enough energy to do the whole performance without stopping. So that was a real benefit to the design,” Raibert says. The difficult challenge of teaching robots to dance also pushed Boston Dynamics engineers to develop better motion-programming tools that let robots reconcile balance, bouncing and doing a performance simultaneously. “So we went from having very crude tools for doing that to having very effective rapid-generation tools so that by the time we were done, we could generate new dance steps very quickly and integrate them into the performance,” Raibert says. The quality of the robots’ dancing was so good that some viewers online said they couldn't believe their eyes. Some applauded the robots’ moves and the technology powering them. Others appeared to be freaked out by some of their expressive routines. Others added that what they were seeing was probably computer-generated imagery, or CGI. Not so, Raibert says. What was on display was a results of long, hard work fueled by a determination to program the robot to dance to the beat, he says. “We didn’t want a robot doing robotlike dancing. We wanted it to do human dancing and, you know, when a human dances, the music has a beat and their whole body moves to it — their hands, their body, their head,” he says. “And we tried to get all of those things involved and co-ordinated so that it, you know, it was ... it looked like the robot was having fun and really moved with the music. And I think that had a lot to do with the result of the production.” Teaching robots to dance with fluid and expressive motions was a new challenge for a company that spent years building robots that have functional abilities like walking, navigating in rough terrain, pick things up with their hands and use attached advanced sensors to monitor and sense many things, Raibert says. “You know, our job is to try and stretch the boundaries of what robots can do, both in terms of the outer research boundary, but also in terms of practical applications. And I think when people see the new things that robots can do, it excites them,” he says. The advanced Atlas robot relies on a wide array of sensors to execute the dance moves, including 28 actuators — devices that serve as muscles by converting electronic or physical signal into movement — as well as a gyroscope that helps it to balance, and three quad-core onboard computers, including one that processes perception signals and two that control movement. Still, the fact that video of the dancing robots has fired up the public imagination and inspired a sense of awe was gratifying, Raibert says. “We hoped ... that people would enjoy it and they seem to. We’ve gotten calls from all around the world,” Raibert says. “We got a call from one of the sound engineers who had recorded the original Contours performance back in the '60s. And he said that his whole crew of Motown friends had been passing it around and been excited by it.” Rodrique Ngowi, The Associated Press
It is too early to say when the national coronavirus lockdown in England will end, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, as daily deaths from COVID-19 reach new highs and hospitals become increasingly stretched. A prevalence survey, known as REACT-1, suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the government has said that the impact of national restrictions introduced on Jan. 5 was not yet reflected in the numbers. England's third national lockdown has seen bars, restaurants and schools mostly closed, with Johnson attributing a steep rise in cases at the end of last year to a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first detected in England.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in a crowded Baghdad market on Thursday, killing at least 32 people in Iraq's first big suicide bombing for three years, authorities said, describing it as a possible sign of the reactivation of Islamic State. Islamic State claimed early on Friday that two of its men blew themselves up in Tayaran Square in the centre of Baghdad, according to a statement posted on the group's Telegram communications channel. Reuters journalists arriving after the blasts saw pools of blood and discarded shoes at the site, a clothing market in Tayaran Square in the centre of the city.