Windy morning on the east coast, looking out to sea from Western Head, Nova Scotia.
Windy morning on the east coast, looking out to sea from Western Head, Nova Scotia.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general is warning of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn't address the shortage of spaces. Kim Adair-MacPherson says the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement. She says it's unclear how the province plans to address the demand. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch says 600 new nursing home beds will be opened over the next five years. He says the procedure the government uses to request proposals for new nursing homes has been streamlined, which he says should speed things up. Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, says the government should concentrate on helping seniors remain in their own homes instead of putting them into nursing residences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Linda Ward/CBC - image credit) Toronto police say they have discovered human remains in a case that is linked to the shooting death of a 45-year-old man downtown on Tuesday. That fatal police shooting is currently under investigation by the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU). In a news release issued on Wednesday afternoon, investigators said the remains "have not yet been formally identified," adding that the homicide unit is now leading the investigation. Toronto man Orson York, 59, has been charged with indignity to a human body. York appeared in court via video link on Tuesday. The charge is linked to an incident where a second man, identified on Wednesday by the SIU as Gedi Ali Gedi, 45, was shot by Toronto police officers early Tuesday morning. Speaking on Tuesday, police said they were called to the unit at 291 George St. as part of an investigation into a missing woman. Sources tell CBC News that before police arrived at the scene for that investigation, someone discovered blood at the Toronto Community Housing building. When security video was reviewed, sources say two men could be seen carrying bags out of the building and what appeared to be a body part was seen falling from one of the bags. Police were notified and the Emergency Task Force was dispatched to the building to do a door knock. When the ETF officers arrived, sources say they found Gedi with an edged weapon inside an apartment on the third floor. The mother of the missing woman, Amanda Killeen, 33, confirmed her daughter's ex-boyfriend was Gedi and he lived at that address. The family said the two broke up about a year ago but she often visited him. On Tuesday evening, forensic investigators were digging through dumpsters outside the building. Toronto police confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation is taking place on Commissioners Street, where a transfer station for waste collection is located. Police also confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation is taking place on Commissioners Street, where a transfer station for waste collection is located. Police said the scene is part of an investigation for human remains but would not confirm if it is connected to the case at 291 George St.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's nominee to run the CIA told lawmakers Wednesday that he would keep politics out of the job and deliver “unvarnished” intelligence to politicians and policymakers. “I've learned that politics must stop where intelligence works begin,” William Burns told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “That is exactly what President Biden expects of CIA.” Burns said the president "wants the agency to give it to him straight, and I plan to do just that and to defend those who do the same." The comments from Burns were aimed at drawing a contrast with the prior administration, when President Donald Trump faced repeated accusations of politicizing intelligence and he publicly disputed the assessments of his own intelligence agencies, most notably about Russian election interference. Burns is a former ambassador to Russia and Jordan who served at the State Department for more than 30 years under both Democratic and Republican presidents. His well-known status in diplomatic circles makes his confirmation likely. He acknowledged that he would be returning to government at a time of diverse international security threats, including from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. Burns appeared before the committee one day after members held a hearing on Russian hacks that targeted the U.S. private sector and federal government agencies. He said that intrusion was a “very harsh wake-up call about the vulnerabilities of supply chains and critical infrastructure” and that the CIA had to work even harder to detect and prevent cyberoperations from abroad, to help attribute blame and to develop its own capabilities. He also said that "outcompeting China" would be a core national security priority in the coming years. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. — It is now illegal in Tucson, Arizona, to enforce dress code or grooming policies that discriminate against hair texture and hairstyles in the workplace and public schools, officials said. The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to adopt the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, joining multiple cities across the country in passing the ordinance, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The ordinance has been part of a national campaign promoted by Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty. It also prohibits workplace discrimination based on headdresses worn for cultural or religious reasons. “We want to be sure there are no barriers for people in the workplace and in schools,” said Annie Sykes, president of Tucson’s Black Women’s Task Force. “These barriers are usually rooted in discrimination and prejudice.” Sykes cited a study showing that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair and 80% more likely to feel like they have to change their hair to fit in at work. “Your hair is your crown and it connects us to our culture and to our ancestry,” said Desiree Cook, a licensed hair stylist and founder of the local organization, I AM YOU 360. “So we ask that those crowns are honoured, whether it be in schools, in the community or the workplace.” The Tucson ordinance will be enforced through the human relations section of the city code and will apply to any facility or business with public accommodations, officials said. Violations can bring civil penalties. The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
MILAN — It was a lockdown well-spent for Daniel Del Core. The German designer chose the unlikely moment when the world was reeling from the coronavirus last spring and the luxury sector was experiencing its deepest profit drops ever to conceive a new brand, under the Italian surname he inherited from his immigrant grandfather. And he defied yet another piece of conventional wisdom, launching Del Core with a live runway show during the otherwise digital Milan Fashion Week of womenswear previews for the next cold weather season. Just 40 invited guests were socially distanced in the basement of Milan’s city archives, boxes of files replaced by trays of plants: the seed of a new collection that is taking root. Rapid COVID tests were offered at the entrance, in full awareness that the pandemic prevails and that live events are the exception, not the rule. For anyone immersed in the new fashion ritual of zoom previews and interviews, a real live runway show was a reminder of what has been mostly missing -- energy, the swish of textiles, the gasp of novelty -- since local transmission of the virus was first detected outside of Asia near Milan just over one year ago, during runway previews for Fall-Winter 2020-21. Del Core tapped his experience as Gucci events designer, focused on one-off creations for VIPs and red-carpet stars, and his love of nature for the launch of his “Collection 0” that was strong on sculptural drama and looks that demand notice. Would-be tuxedo tails were slightly off kilter, the tail creating asymmetrical line down the side of jackets. Feather-heeled sandals peeped from beneath trousers. Belted, the jacket became a minidress, worn with lace fishnet stockings. Strappy tops were laced up the side, worn over miniskirts. The oversized bow of a suit jacket tied prettily next to the cheek. The ready-to-wear palate was rigorously monotone, in strong shades including tangerine, lavender, teal and black. Japanese culture received more than a few nods, with a kimono mini, a frontal Obi belted jacket and leg-revealing botanical print dress in silk, finished generously with feathery wisps. Fantastical eyewear included single-lens colored shields, and platform sandals appeared to be covered with creeping organic matter, effects that were part sci-fi, part Harajuku. “Mutant glamour,” the collection notes called it. The mood grew increasingly intense with evening wear, with sculptural details including a velvet bubble ruffle on an off-shoulder dress, giant ruffled and bell-shaped sleeves like a mushroom on a crystal-encrusted dress. Accordion pleats created a cape-like effect on a tightly fitted dress, layered with lace. Circular pleated fans bloomed from the bodice of a pleated number like so many lily pads. “A merging of human savoir-faire and the splendor of mother nature ignites the re-emergence into the natural through the deftly man-made, in luscious fabrications of silk, wool, taffetas, brocade, jacquard and fil coupe,’’ the collection notes said. Seemingly stunned by what he had accomplished, the 32-year-old designer was too emotional to do more than exchange greetings back stage, and wipe back tears. “Beauty is not static,” his collection notes conclude. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — In November, Paula Mont did something new: The 86-year-old, who hasn't left her New Jersey senior living community in nearly a year, went shopping — online. Mont used an iPad, equipped with a stylus to help her shaky hands, to buy a toy grand piano for her great-granddaughter. She picked it out from more than a dozen versions of the instrument on Amazon. “It is like a wow feeling. I found it!” Mont said. The internet has become a crucial link to the outside world during the pandemic, one that millions of people still don't have access to. Among older adults, the lack of internet has even impeded their ability to get vaccinated. But the pandemic has also motivated many who have been isolated at home or unable to leave their senior communities to learn something they may have resisted until now: how to buy groceries and more online. People 65 and older rang up nearly $187 per month online last year, up 60% from a year earlier, according to market research firm NPD Group's Checkout Tracking. They still spend less than the total population, who paid about $238 per month, but they are the fastest-growing group of online shoppers by age group. Shopping is one of a slew of activities that older Americans now have to do over the internet, like doctor’s appointments and socializing via digital video like FaceTime. Such behaviour was forced by necessity — older people face the biggest risk of infection, so it’s more dangerous for them to go out. The transition online hasn't always been easy, and children and senior living staff often have to help, an experience that can be both gratifying and difficult. Barbara Moran, director of social programs for Atria Senior Living where Mont lives, says one of the biggest challenges residents face with their devices is that they are used to pushing, not tapping, as if they’re using a touch-tone telephone. She has to repeat tips often. “I would lie if I didn’t say I was frustrated sometimes,” said Moran, who sits with Mont — masked and gloved — in the facility’s dining room for weekly shopping sessions. Internet retailers and delivery services hope people over 65 keep up the online shopping habit. Freshly, which delivers prepared meals, is adding smaller portions and low-sodium options aimed at seniors; grocery delivery service Instacart set up a phone support line; Target's delivery service, Shipt, is scrapping its $99-a-year fee for some low-income seniors. Diane Shein, 73, from Bonita Springs, Florida, turned to Instacart and Amazon-owned Whole Foods for groceries because of the pandemic. “I’m not sure how much it costs, but I don’t care,” Shein said. “It’s very easy and safe.” Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran predicted that online groceries will be a “new normal” for older people even when the pandemic ends. Still, there are many barriers, from struggling to use new technology to high prices to access. People 65 and older are less likely than younger people to have home internet or a smartphone. Nearly 22 million, or 42% of Americans 65 and older, lack broadband at home, according to a 2021 study from non-profit Older Adults Technology Services. Low-income and Black and Latino older adults are more likely to be left out, the study says. “We are asking them to stay at home, and yet a lot of seniors are not connected,” said Lauren Cotter of the Community Tech Network, a San Francisco non-profit that trains low-income residents on technology and provides free tablets and hotspots. Those with devices and internet may wrestle with how to use an app or fear giving out personal information because they worry about fraudsters. Online shopping scams cost Americans $245.9 million last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And online grocery shopping, which includes tips and delivery charges, costs more than going to stores. The pandemic has also exposed the shortcomings of the internet, which often fails to accommodate people with disabilities or an aging population with visual and hearing issues. Iris Berman, 93, lives in an assisted living centre in San Francisco and used to buy her shoes online. As her eyesight worsened, her son Eric Berman, who works in technology, would help her by sharing her screen virtually. He took over her shopping completely during the pandemic because her vision loss was so severe. “None of these websites works well when they’re enlarged,” he said. Then there's the simple fact that older people did not grow up with the internet so things may not come as intuitively compared with those who have. Lynette White, 72, buys clothes and household items from Amazon and Target online on her iPhone. But she finds other apps, including the Safeway grocery one, too hard to navigate. When she tries to check out her shopping cart, she finds herself starting all over again. She says it’s frustrating that there are are too many steps. Still, she said she likes learning new skills and her grandchildren, who she sends Amazon gift cards as presents, approve. “They’re very impressed that at my age I am excited about technology,” White said. ______ Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
Substantial increases in speed and avail-ability for broadband may be coming to Mono. Council heard a request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc., to support their application to the Federal government to become part of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. Their aim is to supply the entire town of Mono with Fibre Optic Internet service. Currently, much of Mono is underserviced by the available service providers and this prevents many residents and businesses from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital communications.Broadband connectivity is a key priority for Mono Council and is in fact, part of their Corporate Strategic Plan. Rogers’ “leave no home behind,” plan is a true game changer for Mono.Rogers build strategy commitment is to bring broadband to entire areas of under-served homes. If it is approved, it will bring the needed broadband service, to house-holds and businesses to enable them to avail themselves of digital opportunities. Espe-cially, in the fields of business, education, health and public safety.One of the other benefits to the propos-al, is that there is no suggested cost to the Town. A notation made by Deputy Mayor John Creelman, who has been spearheading the drive for better internet service in Mono. To this end, the deputy Mayor was deeply involved with helping Vianet set up the an-tennae on the Town water tower. Another potential benefit is that if two ser-vice providers are eyeing the same territory, the funder, in this case the Federal govern-ment will be the one to decide who may op-erate where. Also, any service must be an open access one, meaning that third party users must be allow access to the service for a reasonable cost.The proposed service, will have a mini-mum download speed of 50 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 10 megabits per second. There are purportedly, several service providers interested in servicing Mono. CAO Mark Early mentioned that he had recently been approached by V-Media from Concord, who are also interested in supplying internet services to Mono.Deputy Mayor Creelman noted that the SWIFT program is set to go along Hwy.10, from the 10th Sideroad north through Camil-la. If Rogers and Vianet are prepared to ser-vice the rest of Mono, this will allow SWIFT to move into other parts of Dufferin County, not adequately services with broadband.Innovation Canada expects that 90 per cent of Canada will have access to high speed internet by the end of 2021. Individ-uals are encouraged to reach out to their internet service providers to notify them about the UBF and encourage them to apply for funding. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
A declassified version of a U.S. intelligence report expected to be released on Thursday finds that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, four U.S. officials familiar with the matter said. The officials said the report, for which the CIA was the main contributor, assessed that the crown prince approved and likely ordered the murder of Khashoggi, whose Washington Post column had criticized the crown prince’s policies. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who succeeded the Republican Donald Trump five weeks ago, told reporters on Wednesday he had read the report and expected to speak soon by phone with Saudi Arabian King Salman, 85, father of the crown prince, the country's 35-year-old de facto ruler.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccine doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective than delivery directed from Ottawa. He says he will be working with provinces and territories to ensure they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts, even as the National Association of Friendship Centres and other advocates call for more direct federal involvement.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities say a fifth person in the province has died from COVID-19. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald teared up and paused for a moment during today's pandemic briefing and asked people to focus on the future. Officials are also reporting eight new cases of COVID-19 and say six people are in hospital with the disease. All of the infections announced today are in the eastern health region of the province, which includes the capital, St. John's, and where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks. Officials say the outbreak was caused by the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom. Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low over the past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
What does the ocean mean to you, your community, or your industry? How do you envision the best economic opportunities while restoring and maintaining its sustainability? These are but a couple of the nebulous questions at the heart of the federal government’s outreach to British Columbians, and Canadians on every coast, in its pursuit of the new Blue Economy Strategy. The strategy is intended to position the country as a global leader in ocean-based economies that create middle-class jobs while pushing for healthier oceans and sustainable ocean industries. Earlier this month the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan, launched public engagements through a series of roundtables with key ocean-sector stakeholders. Today (Feb. 23) the minister announced the opening of an online engagement portal for the general public to also share their thoughts and perspectives. “A healthy ocean has more to give – it can feed more mouths, employ more people and create more opportunities for the entire country,” Jordan said. “Canada needs a Blue Economy Strategy that will harness the power and potential of our oceans to create a future that is more sustainable, more prosperous and more inclusive. The best way to ensure people are at the heart of the plan, is to have Canadians share their ideas so we can work towards this brighter future together.” Canadian ocean-based sectors currently account for about 300,000 jobs and just $31.7 billion, 1.6 per cent, of the country’s GDP. The government is leaning on the strategy to help drive economic recovery in a post-pandemic world, integrating growth with ocean conservation and climate action. Greater participation of Indigenous peoples, women and under-represent groups are strongly encouraged to participate in the online process. The feedback will inform government on the needs of communities that stand to grow an benefit from ocean investments and new policy. Topics so far leading the public engagement include products and technologies to foster a sustainable commercial fishing industry, offshore renewable energy, transportation, sustainable tourism, international trade and new green technologies in ocean-related fields. The strategy is a massive undertaking involving several federal departments, including Transport Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Global Affairs Canada, regional development agencies, and others. The online engagement portal is open until June 15. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
(Steven Kennedy/marinetraffic.com - image credit) The Transportation Safety Board says a fishing vessel that went down off the coast of Nova Scotia in 2018 was overloaded with fish, ice, fuel and freshwater, leading to its sinking. In its investigation report released Wednesday, the board said the Atlantic Sapphire should have been carrying no more than 41 long tons of cargo. When it sank around 11 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2018, the trawler was loaded with over 60 long tons, putting it about 46 per cent over capacity. One long ton is the equivalent of about 1,016 kilograms. "On the occurrence voyage, the crew caught a full load of fish in less time than on any other trip that year, so there was more fuel, freshwater, and ice on board than usual," the report said. "The crew did not appreciate the risk to the vessel's stability created by this excess weight, and as a result, the crew did not take precautions against the risk of downflooding and capsizing." Vessel was overloaded before last catch Based on evidence collected after the sinking, including interviews with the three-person crew — all of whom were rescued by another fishing boat — the board determined the boat was already overloaded when the crew hauled in a final catch of haddock weighing seven long tons. Sea conditions caused a "slight rolling motion," which was enough to bring water onto the main deck, which then cascaded into the fish hold through an open hatch. The crew was busy loading the final catch into pens below deck when the 18.6-metre fibreglass vessel first starting taking on water, so "the situation was not recognized until the fish hold began to downflood," the report said. Capacity guidelines ignored Investigators found the cargo limit for the Atlantic Sapphire was laid out by Transport Canada in a "stability booklet" that was available to crew members, said they hadn't consulted the information in at least a year. Up until its sinking, ignoring those guidelines hadn't had "any apparent impact on safety, indicating that an adaption to the loading procedure had likely evolved over time," the report said. The report added that the boat's owner, Nova's Finest Fisheries Inc. of Middle West Pubnico, N.S., hadn't been ensuring compliance with the capacity guidelines. "Consequently, the risks associated with the loading practices on the day of the occurrence, particularly given the extra freshwater and fuel on board, were not fully appreciated by the crew," it said. No one from Nova's Finest Fisheries was immediately available to comment on the board's findings. Work-rest requirements not met The investigation also found the crew hadn't been meeting the work-rest schedule required by federal regulations. Those requirements, the report said, would have been challenging for any three-person crew to accomplish. "When meeting the regulatory requirements with a crew of three, the time remaining for fishing operations is minimal: about four hours with two crew on deck and another three hours with one crew on deck," the report said. "Such a minimal amount of time allocated to fishing is not feasible in most operations." The board pointed out that Nova Scotia has no provincial regulations for fishing vessel operations, nor a minimum crew complement. In 2020, the board identified the need for co-ordinated regulatory oversight between the federal government and provinces as a key safety issue. MORE TOP STORIES
Le concept de microforêt se répand petit à petit pour répondre à la bétonisation de nos existences. Au risque de détourner ce qui définit une forêt.
(Jeremy Cohn/CBC - image credit) A quarantine screening officer employed by a private security company hired and trained by Canada's federal health agency has been charged after allegedly demanding a cash fine from an Ontario resident and then sexually assaulting her when she refused to pay. Halton Regional Police say the accused, a 27-year-old Hamilton man whose full name is Hemant, went to the Oakville home on Feb. 18 to carry out a quarantine compliance check, telling the resident she was in violation of a quarantine order. Under Canada's Quarantine Act, designated screening officers regularly visit travellers' quarantine locations to ensure they are complying with the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements. The officers are not police and cannot issue a ticket or conduct an arrest, nor can they demand payment of any kind. Police allege the accused demanded the resident pay a fine in cash. "When the victim declined to pay, she was sexually assaulted by the accused," said a police news release issued Wednesday. Police also said he worked for one of four private security firms hired to help enforce isolation orders. The force said it will not identify the name of the security company where the man was an employee, but say he has been suspended. The accused, who now faces charges of sexual assault and extortion, has been released from custody. He is set to appear in court in Milton, Ont. on March 23. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the alleged victim, said police spokesperson Const. Steve Elms, who had no other details. The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond to a request to comment. All people entering Canada are required to isolate for 14 days. Designated screening officers visit quarantine locations to confirm the person is where they said they would be in quarantine when they arrived in the country. Failure to comply can result in fines. Screening officers, contracted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, are not police officers and have no authority to issue a ticket or arrest anyone. As a result, police said, screening officers should never be demanding payment of any kind during a quarantine-compliance check. Police said other people might have been victimized and urged anyone who might have had a similar experience to contact their local police. Issues have previously arisen with quarantine guards. Last year, private security contractors at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, Australia, were accused of sleeping with guests, the Herald Sun reported.
CALGARY — The CEO of Crescent Point Energy Corp. says the company is poised to benefit from rising oil prices after two years of transformation through selling assets, cutting debt and reducing costs. The Calgary-based company's move last week to buy producing light oil shale assets in Alberta for $900 million from Royal Dutch Shell reflects that confidence, Craig Bryksa said. "We have built an asset portfolio that is well-positioned to benefit from a rising price environment given our light oil weighting and high netbacks," he said on a Wednesday conference call with analysts to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results. "We expect to generate $375 (million) to $600 million of excess cash flow this year at US$50 to US$60 WTI (West Texas Intermediate) prices." The company plans to devote most of that cash flow to paying down debt, he said, adding that it will evaluate increasing returns to shareholders over time. Shell is to receive $700 million in cash and 50 million Crescent Point shares under the deal and will wind up owning an 8.6 per cent stake in Crescent Point if it closes as expected in April. The companies say the assets are producing around 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from more than 270 wells. About 57 per cent of production is condensate, highly valued as a diluent blended with oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline. Analysts said the company beat their fourth-quarter estimates on production and average selling prices although both measures fell compared with the same period in 2019. "CPG closed the chapter on a highly successful year in its business transformation toward becoming a more sustainable producer generating significant free cash flow, which should be complemented by the upcoming (Shell) acquisition," Desjardins analyst Chris MacCulloch wrote in a report. Crescent Point reported producing 111,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about 90 per cent crude oil and petroleum liquids, in the fourth quarter, down from 145,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. It attributed the drop to capital spending cuts enacted early in 2020 as oil prices fell. It's average realized fourth-quarter oil price was $49.40 per barrel, down from $65.27 in the year-earlier period. It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $51 million or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $932 million or $1.73 per share in the same period of 2019. On Wednesday, it confirmed 2021 production guidance released with the Shell announcement last week of about 134,000 boe/d, as well as a 2021 capital budget of about $600 million (both assuming the deal is closed). That's up from Crescent Point's average output of 121,600 boe/d during 2020 and down from actual 2020 capital spending of $655 million. The company reported net debt of about $2.1 billion at year-end, paid down by over $615 million during the year. It said it also removed about $60 million in budgeted operating expenses in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CPG) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
One would be hard pressed to find a more energetic person than Meisam Sharifi, an Iranian immigrant to Toronto, Canada. He loves talking about politics and his vision for how the world ought to change. “There is something fundamentally wrong with society. You see, all the people who do the jobs don’t get the benefits. The people who get all the money are the ones who do nothing,” Sharifi told NCM. Meisam Sharifi is not his real name. He is active with the group Fightback, a Marxist-Leninist political action group based in Toronto. He still has family in Iran and he is worried the country’s secret police, the Basij, might harass them for adopting a belief system contrary to the fundamentalist government of the country. He asked NCM to use Meisam Sharifi to protect his identity. Sharifi is a proud Canadian citizen now, but there is one aspect of Canadian society and policy that dissatisfies him: Canada takes a hands-off approach to getting immigrants politically involved. “I personally didn’t have any education about [Canada’s system of government]. I kind of learned that because I am active with Fightback,” Sharifi told NCM. Sharifi came to Canada in 2009 at the age of 19, which means he did not attend any civics classes in Canada. “I’m going through my memories; I think there was something in the immigration test. I think there was a little bit about how the system works. But it was very very basic,” he said. Last December, the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) placed Canada in the top five for immigration policy out of 52 countries for the year 2019. This was cause for celebration for a number of news outlets, especially in the wake of the Trudeau government’s sweeping changes to immigration policy. However, while Canada’s overall policy scored well, the country did very poorly in political participation. Canada can be proud of the fact that immigrants have great access to education, are broadly protected from discrimination and can unify with their families. But when it comes to immigrants participating in Canada’s democracy, the international metric says the country leaves a lot to be desired. MIPEX’s creators did not return NCM’s requests for interviews. MIPEX measures policy along eight metrics and assigns scores between zero and 100 for each metric by country. They examine current policies against the highest standards set by scholars. Canada’s score in areas where it did well is by no means perfect, but it is still head and shoulders better than the rest. The country did the best in terms of anti-discrimination, with a perfect score across all subcategories. But in the subcategories of political participation, it’s a failing grade. Right to vote: 0. Strength of national consultative body: 0. Active information policy: 50. Canada did get top scores in political party inclusion and funding of national immigrant bodies, but that only bumped the overall average score to 50. By contrast, Finland scored higher than Canada overall as well as in the category of political participation. There was not a single score of zero in their report card and the lowest score they received was a 75, in the right to vote category. Foreigners do have the right to vote in municipal elections in the country and even to run in them as candidates, as long as they have lived in the municipality in question for at least two years. Newcomers from the European Union (EU) can also vote in the EU parliamentary elections. National elections are reserved for Finnish citizens only. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, just to name a few, have policies similar to those of Finland. The report also praises Finland’s National Advisory Board on Ethnic Relations. The board works in conjunction with the country’s Ministry of Justice and is a network of experts that provide consultation on policy concerning minority groups. Finns describe it as “national forum for dialogue. The Board brings together migration experts from national, regional and local levels ranging from public officials to civil society representatives.” “Political mobilization, getting people to vote, was never really part of the multicultural idea in the first place [in Canada],” University of Toronto professor of sociology Jeffrey Reitz told NCM. Reitz did provide one caveat regarding studies such as MIPEX. He believes indexes like MIPEX are a “useful overview of policies” but “it has to be recognized that they are not validated in the same way that, for example, a vaccine is validated. [MIPEX] is in the category of best practices.” Mansoor Tanweer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
STONY PLAIN, Alta. — A trial date has been set for a pastor of an Edmonton-area church that has been holding Sunday services in violation of COVID-19 rules. James Coates with GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove did not appear in court today as a three-day trial was set to start May 3. Coates, who was arrested last week and remanded in custody after refusing to agree to bail conditions, remains behind bars. Several people gathered outside the Stony Plain courthouse in support of the pastor and urged Premier Jason Kenney to come to his senses and lift COVID-19 restrictions. The church has been holding services that officials say break public-health regulations on attendance, masking and distancing. Coates was charged this month with violating the Public Health Act and breaking a promise to abide by rules of his bail release, which is a Criminal Code offence. Police fined the church $1,200 in December and a closure order was issued in January. Coates has addressed the province's health restrictions in his sermons, telling worshippers that governments exist as instruments of God and there should be unfettered freedom of worship. An associate pastor of the church, Jacob Spenst, conducted last Sunday's service and told the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in for the jailed pastor. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Approximately 20 people participated in a Wembley virtual town hall with the Beaverlodge RCMP last Tuesday. Issues discussed included the use of snowmobiles in town, the prospect of starting a local Citizens on Patrol (COPs) group and recent break-ins, said Ash Browne, Beaverlodge RCMP detachment commander. “The town hall gives me that raw information I need to build our annual performance plan,” Browne said. “We have these consultations to focus our policing efforts in certain areas.” Browne said the RCMP held the town hall via Zoom from Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum with assistance from the Town of Wembley. He was joined by another member of the Beaverlodge Detachment and one from the Crime Reduction Unit as well as Wembley council, he said. Browne acknowledged the participation level was lower than ideal and said this might be due to town residents’ conflicting commitments or the limits of having a digital forum. While participation was low, he said this allowed him to address each person individually. Browne said he received a question from a resident as to whether the community should launch a COPs group. “I was in support of that,” Browne said. “Hythe just went through this process … (and) community members can be part of the solution, because police cannot be everywhere all the time.” Browne said if the town starts a group the RCMP will provide a liaison. Another issue that arose was the use of snowmobiles in town. Wembley has a bylaw stating snowmobilers and ATV users should only leave a residence through the most direct route to fields, he noted. Browne said this issue is best addressed through patrols, and officers can be aware it is something to look out for. Patrols are mainly preventative, he added. Recent break-ins at the public works building and firehall earlier this month were also top of mind. The Beaverlodge RCMP shared images online of the suspect from another attempted break-in outside a business while the investigation is ongoing. Browne said he believes the incidents are all related. Browne previously hosted town halls for Beaverlodge and Horse Lake last year and an in-person event in Hythe in June 2019. He said his performance plan for the detachment should be ready for April 1. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News