Animals of all kinds are out enjoying the snow in eastern Canada.
Animals of all kinds are out enjoying the snow in eastern Canada.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
Brent Braaten of Halifax is now in possession of a taxidermic three-headed duckling and he has no idea why. It arrived in the mail last week in an unassuming cardboard box that sat on his table unopened for hours because he figured it was a Pilates ball he'd ordered online. It wasn't. "I tore away at the plastic and packaging and then one of the duckling's faces emerged and I immediately sort of jumped back," he told CBC Radio's Mainstreet. "When I gained the courage to go back to the box and dig a little bit further, I noticed it wasn't just one head, but there were three duckling faces staring back at me." The package is addressed to Braaten with a return address in China, so he's certain the duck delivery wasn't a mail mix-up. "They were definitely intended for me, but I certainly did not order these ducklings," he said. To be sure Braaten didn't accidentally make the order on eBay after a night of drinking — something he admits has happened on occasion — he checked his bank statements. He can find no evidence that he sought out the strange item himself. How to care for a 3-headed duckling The three-headed duckling comes with a set of instructions. Instruction No. 1: Let your new arrival sit out in the sun or in the air for 48 hours after opening the package. "I guess sort of the same way as you'd want to off-gas a new mattress, that's the way I saw it anyway," Braaten chuckled. "The second instruction was to — this is something that I found kind of strange — it asked me to use a regular hair blow-dryer 'to fluffy' the duck's feathers." Braaten wrote on Facebook about "becoming a three-headed duckfather" and posted a video where he dutifully follows the instructions. He said a quick search online revealed a taxidermic duckling can cost between $80-$200 US. "This is an expensive artifact," he said. "I can't imagine a company … sending away all these ducklings when they're quite valuable." Email offers a clue, but no answers The only clue contained in the package is an email address. Braaten sent a message to the address but didn't receive many answers. "They didn't quite understand what I was asking. They wanted to know if I wanted to buy something, and so I asked for more information, but they haven't gotten back to me yet," he said. Some digging online also revealed the name on the email address matches the name of a Chinese zoologist who appears to be well-known for his work preserving larger animals like elephants and giraffes. "I really hope that I do find out who sent it to me," Braaten said. "I figure it's either a friend who really likes the idea of giving me a mystery or it's an enemy who's trying to send a cursed object to me." Braaten says his dog, Zelda, isn't a fan of the new arrival. 'She definitely doesn't trust them,' he said.(Brent Braaten) He asked his friends to come up with a name for the duckling, a question that led to a philosophical discussion about the nature of the soul, and whether a three-headed being deserves three names. One suggestion was to name it after three Disney cartoon ducks, Huey, Dewey and Louie. Braaten's personal favourites are Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards Hades in Greek mythology, or Howards the Duck, a spin on the name of the Marvel Comics character. Braaten might be confused, but he's not mad that this unusual gift landed on his doorstep. "I guess in these sort of COVID days, it's nice to have something whimsical happen to you once in a while." MORE TOP STORIES
A new processing facility being built in Saskatoon could be part of the solution to a recent global shortage of computer chips and semiconductors for vehicles and electronics. There are 17 rare earth elements: cerium, dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, scandium, terbium, thulium, ytterbium and yttrium. These naturally occurring minerals are key components in modern electronics. They are used in making everything from electric cars to cell phones and wind turbines. University of Saskatchewan geological sciences professor Kevin Ansdell told Saskatoon Morning's Leisha Grebinski that rare earth elements are essential to modern global economic development. "I would foresee that the demand for the rare earth elements will certainly continue to increase, particularly with the drive globally to try and electrify transportation through electric vehicles," Ansdell said. "Every single electric vehicle has rare earth element components within it." Photo released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows rare-earth oxides, clockwise from top centre: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. Quest Rare Minerals claims a significant find in northern Quebec.(U.S. Department of Agriculture/Associated Press) Almost all of the mining and processing of these elements is done in China. Last week U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that aims to strengthen supply chains, including those for rare earth elements. "Essentially, China controls the rare earth element market globally," Ansdell said. "So it's not just the U.S. The European Union is also very interested in trying to develop new supply chains that are not dependent on China." That new supply chain could run through Saskatoon, as the first Canadian rare earth elements processing facility is being built in the city. The $31 million facility was announced last August and will be financed by the province, and owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). It is expected to be fully operational by late 2022. Ansdell said the SRC has already done a small pilot project processing rare earth elements and will now be able to build on that expertise. He said the processing plant could turn out to be very significant for Saskatchewan, as there is only one other facility in North America that can process these elements and it only operates when the mine it is associated with in California is operating. "[The Saskatoon facility] can accept materials from essentially all over the world. And so it could be very interesting economic development locally." One company, Appia Energy Corp., says it has discovered pegmatites, rock formations that contain high-grade rare earth elements, in the northern Saskatchewan area of Alces Lake.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, avoiding a potential clash with moderates in their own party who were wary of reigniting the “defund the police” debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. Approved 220-212 late Wednesday, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named for the man whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked demonstrations nationwide. It would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability, and was first approved last summer only to stall in the then-Republican controlled Senate. The bill is supported by President Joe Biden. “My city is not an outlier, but rather an example of the inequalities our country has struggled with for centuries,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who represents the Minneapolis area near where Floyd died. Floyd’s family watched the emotional debate from a nearby House office building and said “defunding the police” is not what the legislation is about. “We just want to be treated equal. We just want to deescalate situations,” said Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew. “We want to feel safe when we encounter law enforcement. We’re not asking for anything extra. We’re not asking for anything that we don’t feel is right.” Democrats hustled to pass the bill a second time, hoping to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. But the debate over legislation turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that supporters were intent on slashing police force budgets. Though this bill doesn't do that, moderate Democrats said the charge helped drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country last November. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Teas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. Republicans quickly revived the “defund the police” criticisms before the vote. “Our law enforcement officers need more funding not less,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis. Still, even the House’s more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, ultimately backed the bill. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill’s prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Another possible point of contention is provisions easing standards for prosecution of law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without legal protections, fear of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it. “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity as well as those changing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a statement on behalf of the Floyd family saying the House was “responding to the mandate issued by thousands of Americans who took to the streets last summer to raise their voices for change.” “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of colour and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of colour,” Crump and Romanucci said. “Now we urge the Senate to follow suit.” That may be a taller order. Even though Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. Bass acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But she said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how “the scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, Bass conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50. She said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding, “Hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” ___ Lisa Mascaro contributed. Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
Windsor will be working with existing shelters when it comes to providing services at a hotel it's in the process of purchasing to house people experiencing homelessness, according to a city councillor. Rino Bortolin says organizations such as the Salvation Army, Downtown Mission and The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women will not lose funding or be left in a lurch because of the city's plan to buy a facility of its own. "We as a city are not really the most direct [or] hands-on. We will be working with our partners on the ground to provide these services," explained the Ward 3 councillor, who represents a large section of the downtown core. "This is about everyone working together for a better system. By no means is the city leaving our partners and doing something rogue." Few details of the plan, including the location of the facility, have been released right now. But Bortolin said he anticipates more information will be provided in the next week or two. Andrew Teliszewsky, chief of staff for Mayor Drew Dilkens, told CBC News in an email Wednesday that city council had approved the deal during an in-camera meeting earlier this year and the legal steps to acquire the site are already underway. The planned purchase follows the Review of Emergency Shelter Services in Windsor Essex. A copy of the review on the city's website is dated July 14, 2020. Teliszewsky said it went to council in the fall of 2020. Among its findings was the need for more shelter space dedicated to women with or without children, youth and young adults. "The one thing that was a glaring need for specifically for families and specifically for women was increased services," said Bortolin. "So increased services means a bigger shelter." City tapping into provincial funding However, the recommendations section of the review also advises that the city deliver services through third-parties — namely the shelters and organizations already doing the work. "Direct delivery has the potential for higher costs and would not allow the city to leverage the resources and existing expertise of community partners to meet shelter needs," it reads. The review goes on to add that Windsor should explore opportunities for more family shelter beds and a dedicated facility, but notes funds "are currently not available to support" the investment in a building. When asked why buy a hotel, rather than investing in the services already running shelters in the city, Teliszewsky said the city is already regularly paying to house families in hotels when shelter space runs out. He also pointed to provincial funding that includes a grant program under which municipalities can buy a facility. "The province made available funding and we didn't want to leave it on the table," he said. "It provides the opportunity for the city to acquire a property, where in previous years we have been renting, so it relives an operating budget line item and will give us flexibility to implement some recommendations from the Emergency Shelter Review, which council had endorsed." Long-term goal is permanent housing Officials also said that just because the city is purchasing the site, does not mean it will be the one operating it. Ron Dunn, executive director of the Downtown Mission, said Wednesday evening that he was just hearing about the plans to purchase a hotel, but described the move as "progressive." "We need maybe smaller shelters. The hotel seems to fit that bill," he said. "[The mayor] did state that he's going to work with existing shelters. There's only three of us, so I think it's great." The Downtown Mission on Victoria Avenue is one of three shelters currently operating in the city. A review which went to council states ore services for women and young persons are needed in the community. (Dale Molnar/CBC) Bortolin said the need for services for the homeless community should be clear to anyone walking through downtown. While shelters serve an immediate need and can offer a bed for a night, they're just a start. "The long-term effort is permanent housing," he said. "The one cure for homelessness is housing"
A number of COVID-19 scams are cropping up across Canada, targeting people and telling them they can jump to the front of the vaccination line if they pay. Miranda Anthistle spoke with security and financial experts about how to protect one’s self and others from falling victim to one of these scams.
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
Port Alberni, BC - As B.C. moved to Phase 2 of its immunization plan on Monday, the Nuu-chah-nulth nations of Tseshaht and Hupacasath remained unsure when COVID-19 vaccines would reach their communities. The province’s shift in approach, which prioritizes age groups, prompted confusion from community leaders who said that it deviated from the community-wide vaccination plan that was promised. In a letter addressed to B.C.’s health ministry on Feb. 26, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council said “the initial plan and framework [included] having every single First Nation on Vancouver Island vaccinated by March.” Mariah Charleson, NTC vice-president, said that the province’s lack of communication is “alarming.” “There was no consultation at all with any First Nation leadership regarding this big change,” she said. “We’re worried for the two communities that didn’t receive the [vaccine].” However, today the worry is over as eligible community members living on-reserve in Tseshaht and Hupacasath began receiving their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Ken Watts, Tseshaht First Nation elected chief, described it as a “big relief.” While standing outside the vaccine clinic at Maht Mahs Gym in Port Alberni, Watts looked to a line-up of around 20 vehicles. “We have a lot of happy elders and community members,” he said. “They’re really excited.” Advocating for his members by “pushing politically at all levels,” Watts said that the “pressure helped.” The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) said community-based vaccination clinics organized in partnership with First Nation communities will continue through the roll-out of Phase 2. “The province of B.C.’s vaccination strategy calls for rural and remote First Nations communities to be vaccinated in Phase 1 and the balance of First Nations communities as part of Phase 2 by the end of March,” said a spokesperson from FNHA. “Vaccine availability has hampered this plan until just recently and the timeline is still realistic.” On Monday, the province announced it is extending the interval between first and second doses of vaccines to four months. The delay in administration of second doses means every eligible person in B.C. can receive the first dose by mid-to-late July. "At every step of the way, we are putting the health and safety of British Columbians first,” said Premier John Horgan in a media release. "B.C. was one of the first provinces to lay out our vaccine plan, and now we're moving to Phase 2 to reach even more of our seniors and elders. We're getting vaccine into arms as fast as we can given early supply delays from manufacturers, and we're seeing it start to make a difference for people and their communities throughout our province.” While Charleson said she was relieved Tseshaht and Hupacasath would receive community-wide vaccinations, she stands behind her frustration in the province’s lack of consultation with First Nations leadership. “It’s a lot of change and it’s literally just been flying at us,” she said. “We haven’t been a part of those discussions – we’re being told.” As part of Phase 2 of the province’s largest vaccination roll-out in history, over 400,000 people in B.C. will be immunized from March to early-April. Seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and senior’s supportive housing - including staff - are being immunized, which began on Monday. All Indigenous peoples born in 1956 or earlier will be eligible to receive the vaccine and can call to book their vaccine appointment on March 8. "We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a release. “To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other. We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one.” As of March 1, 283,182 doses of vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,537 of which are second shots. With immunizations underway for the remaining two Nuu-chah-nulth nations, Watts said he can breathe a little easier. “I don’t think you know how much of a relief today is,” he said. Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
NDP Leader Gary Burrill says he's "very hopeful" the provincial government might finally be willing to consider a sick pay policy to cover all workers in Nova Scotia. Burrill told reporters on Thursday that he recently discussed the matter during a meeting with Premier Iain Rankin. The NDP has long advocated for a policy that would bring sick pay to everyone, including workers who are not part of a union. Last year, the party tabled legislation that would have allowed everyone to earn a half day of paid sick leave for every month of work, to a maximum of six days a year. That bill was not supported and died on the order paper. But with renewed calls from Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, for people to say home when they're sick to help keep a handle on the spread of COVID-19, Burrill believes the time is right for everyone to have access to paid sick days. Rankin says he wants to see how other jurisdictions handle the issue of paid sick leave for workers.(CBC) Viral transmissions often happen in the workplace, said Burrill, which is why so many other places, including 13 states in the U.S., are moving to institute paid sick leave. "It's a striking thing that in Nova Scotia today, in the midst of the pandemic, we have got over 1,000 nurses who don't have paid sick leave because they're working on a casual basis," he said. "So this is not an intelligent program from the perspective of public health." Rankin said at this point he's encouraging employers to understand that when people are sick, they need to be able to stay home. Still, the premier told reporters that he's interested in "all public policy that helps the lives of Nova Scotians." Rankin said he's looking at how other provinces treat the issue, and trying to determine if it makes the most sense for the government to take the lead or leave it to employers to settle with their employees. Understanding the ramifications Tory Leader Tim Houston said there might be a place for the government to take the lead through legislation, similar to the way the minimum wage is handled, but he added it would be important to understand any ramifications for businesses that might come from such a policy. It could be better to leave it to employers and their employees to address the issue, said Houston. "I do believe that, for the most part, they're on the same page." Houston said he's sympathetic to people struggling financially who might have to make the decision between going to work sick or staying home and missing a pay cheque. "I want to work with them, I want to support them," he told reporters. "We just need to make sure that we understand how it would work." MORE TOP STORIES
HONOLULU — The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled a tsunami watch Thursday for Hawaii that was issued after a huge earthquake occurred in a remote area between New Zealand and Tonga. The agency previously cancelled a tsunami warning it had issued for American Samoa. The magnitude 8.1 quake struck the Kermadec Islands region. The quake forced thousands of people to evacuate in New Zealand but did not appear to pose a widespread threat to lives or major infrastructure. It was the largest in a series of tremors that hit the region over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3. The Associated Press
A Liberal MLA wants more details about what the government plans to do to support the Island's tourism industry during the upcoming season. Heath MacDonald raised the issue during question period in the legislature Thursday. He said many Island tourism operators are currently trying to make plans for the upcoming season and are waiting for guidance from the province. "Predictability is an important part of the process of whether they're going to open their business or not and you know, they're very, very worried," MacDonald said. Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald says other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to planning for the tourism season.(John Robertson/CBC) He asked Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay when those working in the industry would have some answers. "So where is the plan? Maybe there's a plan we're not aware of for this industry. Where is the road map for this anxious industry?" Plan to be released March 18 Responding to MacDonald's question, MacKay said he knows the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and government is gearing up to release its tourism strategy at a conference later this month. "We've been working round the clock for the last eight months, with industry as a whole," MacKay said. "Obviously I wish I had a crystal ball … the road map of the future, we still don't know what it looks like but we're prepared to the best of our ability and industry has been at the table front and centre with this and it's going to be rolled out March 18," MacKay said. MacDonald countered that other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to laying out their intentions for this season. MacKay told CBC News the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. and the modified red phase were a setback in rolling out the plans. He said the tourism strategy for 2021 is being developed in partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. and includes details about the province's marketing campaign and new programs to help support operators. Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay says government will roll out its plans for the upcoming tourism season at a conference on March 18.(Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. ) MacKay didn't provide specific details of what this year's plan will include, but did say it will build upon last year's strategy that encouraged Islanders to explore P.E.I. and welcomed visitors from within the Atlantic bubble. "Islanders really stepped up last year to support the tourism industry and tour the Island. The Atlantic bubble was a success and we feel like we can improve on that. Until vaccines roll out I just can't see us having much more than that," MacKay said. "But depending on how quick we can roll vaccines out and how quick the rest of the provinces can roll vaccines out, will be the tell tale." More P.E.I. news
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has eased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program. The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent. Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before. The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application. Ravi Rahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community. He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes. "Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available." This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements. Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far. The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria. In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old. Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant." B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is planning to extend its ban on smoking and vaping in indoor public places to First Nations communities, but it could face a court battle. The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill in the legislature Thursday that would end an exemption for reserves and other areas of federal jurisdiction, including military bases, from the provincial smoking ban. Ceremonial tobacco use would still be allowed. "We want to ensure that our entire province, not just sections of it, provide that equitable access to smoke-free … and vapour-free work environments," Audrey Gordon, minister for mental health, wellness and recovery, said. "This issue is a public health issue." The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said the province does not have the right to impose a smoking ban and could end up in court if it proceeds. "First Nations will not stand idly by and allow the province to take liberties of this sort," Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said. Many First Nations communities have their own bylaws that govern smoking in public places. Some allow smoking in bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges. Last year, after COVID-19 restrictions forced video lottery terminal lounges to close, Premier Brian Pallister said he might not let ones that allow smoking to reopen when the restrictions are lifted. The Opposition New Democrats said the government should back up. "Indigenous people have rights that the government has to respect," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said. "And I think for them to announce this bill without giving people in leadership positions in Indigenous communities the heads-up is the wrong approach." First Nations communities could also lose revenue if the plan goes ahead, Kinew said. Gordon said the government will consult with Indigenous leaders as early as next week. The bill is among dozens that could be passed by the legislature in June. Although it might not take effect immediately, Gordon said. "What I'm focused on is having that consultation … I'm really focused on that engagement and we'll save that decision (on when the law would take effect) for a later date." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
As far as pioneer settlements go, the village of Perm embodied the rugged de-termination of early settlers in the area. When Hugh Gallaugher arrived in Canada in 1832 with his wife and eventually seven children from their native Ireland, they first landed in Mono Mills. From there they travelled to an area that is now County Road 17 and 5 Line, just west of Mansfield. At the time, there were no roads or even trails leading into the area. There was just virgin land and trees. Mr. Gallaugher and his family cleared the land and built a shelter.Following the Gallaughers’ arrival, more soon followed and by the mid 1850s, the group had bonded to create a small village. Settlers arrived by wagon, carting all their worldly possessions with them and they found land and created their first homes in the new territory which were generally primitive but practical log cab-ins. The Gallaughers were involved in lo-cal politics and administration. Paul Gallaugher served as the first Reeve of Mulmur Township in 1851. Other Gallaughers also held public posts over the years. By 1857, the village completed build-ing a town hall, with the first council meeting being held on May 26, 1858. Over time more buildings were constructed as the town grew.A Methodist Church was built in 1872. Hugh Gallaugher donated $500, a sizable contribution at the time, to get con-struction started. A cemetery was later established at the church. An Orange Lodge was chartered, one of many in the area, that reflected the Irish heritage of many early settlers. Mr. Gallaugher opened a general store in 1868 and added a post office in 1872.Supporting businesses included a blacksmith shop, a shingle mill, and a sawmill. The original school house was a crudely built log structure, but it served its purpose and doubled as a church at times. The school house was replaced by a frame structure in 1884. That building lasted until 1935 when it was destroyed in a fire. The area became busy enough to re-quire a second school house, known as the Lower Perm School.Despite an enterprising start, the village never topped more than 50 resi-dents. The post office closed in 1915 follow-ing the arrival of rural mail delivery. By the time the 20th century rolled around, the village had all but disap-peared, as residents moved to other locations. Buildings were torn down and land re-claimed for other purposes. The church remained until 1925, when it was demolished. These days the only reminder of the town is the cemetery, a memorial stone for the church and the Lower Perm School, which is now a private home. While the village may no longer exist, the remnants of the town are an example of the determination and pioneering spirit of the early settlers in the region. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
That’s it for hockey this year. After a short-lived time on the ice, minor hockey is throwing in the towel – and they have no choice. The TNT Tornados have announced the season is over. The decision to cancel the rest of the season comes after the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit decided the region needs to go back into lockdown mode. The kids were back on the ice on February 20, when the region went into a Red Alert situation. Teams were able to practice and do training drills with restrictions. Those restrictions included limiting the ice to ten people and having no contact during practice. Parents were not allowed into the arena to watch practices.No dressing rooms were available, so players had to arrive dressed for the ice with the exception of helmets and skates. The move back to a lockdown situation on March 1, means arenas will again be off lim-its. The TNT executive had no choice but to finally just cancel everything. Previously, they said they had hoped to continue playing through to the end of April with hopes that a move to a Yellow or Orange alert would allow more kids to participate and be on the ice. The on again, off again situation when it comes to lockdowns in the region has crippled most sports with many activities not tak-ing place at all this year. There is a lot of doubt whether spring and summer sports will even be allowed this year. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
TORONTO — Martinrea International Inc. capped a difficult year in which it faced automotive plant closures with its net profit falling 12 per cent to nearly $45 million in the final quarter of 2020. The autoparts manufacturer says it earned 56 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter, down from 63 cents per share or $51.2 million a year earlier. The adjusted profit surged 30.7 per cent to $44.2 million or 55 cents per share, up from $33.8 million or 42 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2019. Revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31 increased 16.7 per cent to $1.07 billion from $917.6 million in the prior year. Martinrea was expected to report an adjusted profit of 52 cents per share on $1 billion of revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. For the full-year, it lost $27.3 million or 34 cents per share, compared with a profit of $181.2 million or $2.19 per diluted share in 2019. Adjusted profits dropped to $46.9 million or 58 cents per share, down from $187.7 million or $2.27 per share a year earlier. Revenues decreased 12.6 per cent to $3.37 billion, from $3.86 billion in 2019. "Looking at 2020, after a challenging second quarter where we generated minimal sales and an operating loss, our results rebounded sharply in the back half of the year, which saw us generate record adjusted diluted net earnings per share in both the third and fourth quarters," stated CEO Pat D'Eramo. "Our fourth-quarter results were characterized by continued strong volumes and an adjusted operating income margin above year-ago levels — a strong result despite renewed lockdowns and other public health restrictions in November and December as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impeded some integration and launch activities." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:MRE) The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 6:55 p.m. Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus, can begin booking on March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will available starting March 10. --- 5:50 p.m. Alberta is reporting 331 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths due to the illness. The province says 33 more cases of variants have been detected, bringing that total in Alberta to 541. There are 245 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 47 of them are in intensive care. --- 5:35 p.m. British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed to first responders and essential workers in the province. Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C.'s immunization committee should have the distribution plan in the next few weeks, and until then, the vaccine that arrives will be used in hot spots where COVID-19 infections have flared. The province has another 564 cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths, for a total of 1,376 people. Henry says another 46 cases of variants of concern have been uncovered, bringing the total cases of variants that originated either in the United Kingdom or South Africa to 246. --- 3:50 p.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. They say the man initially tested negative but was tested again after developing symptoms. P.E.I. has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 3:25 p.m. Health officials in Saskatchewan say there are another 169 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths. There are 146 people in hospital, with 20 people in intensive care. The province says its seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 148. National data shows Saskatchewan leads the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita. --- 3:15 p.m. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his province will be delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations against COVID-19. He says people will get their second shot four months after the first, which falls in line with a recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee. Saskatchewan health officials are expected to speak at a COVID-19 briefing this afternoon. Earlier in the week, Moe said delaying the second doses for up to four months would mean every adult in the province could be immunized at least once by June. --- 2:35 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Health officials say three new cases are in the Edmundston region, and that the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are 36 active known infections in the province and three patients are hospitalized with the disease, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory as the B.1.1.7 mutation. --- 1:45 p.m. Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines will be distributed in some Ontario pharmacies starting next week. Health Minister Christine Elliott says most doses of that vaccine will go to pharmacies in a pilot project. The Ontario Pharmacists Association's CEO says the pilot will begin at 380 sites in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex. Ontario has said it will prioritize people between the ages of 60 and 64 for the AstraZeneca doses. --- 1:35 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 51 news COVID-19 cases and two deaths. Northern regions continue to be hardest hit. High case numbers in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation have prompted the chief and council to ban public gatherings and require people to stay home except for shopping, medical care and work in essential services. --- 1:30 p.m. Alberta's Opposition NDP is calling for an immediate public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer. It also wants today's planned reopening of the plant put on hold. The plant was shut down in mid-February, after an outbreak that has caused three deaths and infected more than 500 employees. The company says Alberta Health has given it a green light to start a gradual reopening with slaughter operations today. Cutting room operations can resume tomorrow. --- 1 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today. Health officials say four new cases are in the eastern health region, which includes St. John’s, involving people between the ages of 40 and 69. Three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. The fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. --- 12:45 p.m. Nunavut is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today. All the new cases are in Arviat, a community of about 2,800 and the only place in Nunavut with active cases. Arviat has been under a strict lockdown since November, with all schools and non-essential businesses closed. The community's hamlet council also ordered a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to curb the spread. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says contact tracing is ongoing in the community. There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, all in Arviat. --- 12:30 p.m. Health Canada says a decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be announced in the "next few days." The word came today from Dr. Marc Berthiaume, director of the regulator's bureau of medical sciences. Once approved, the J&J product would become the fourth vaccine available for use in Canada. It was approved last weekend in the United States. --- 12:15 p.m. Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says nearly 400,000 people were vaccinated in Canada in the last seven days. He says that's the most in a single week since immunizations began on Dec. 14. Njoo says more than two million doses have been administered now, with about four per cent of Canadians getting one dose and almost 1.5 per cent now vaccinated with two doses. --- 12:05 p.m. Nova Scotia is lifting some of the restrictions in place in Halifax and surrounding communities as COVID-19 cases decline in the region. Officials say rules that came into effect on Feb. 27 limiting restaurant hours, prohibiting sports events and discouraging non-essential travel in and out of the area will end on Friday at 8 a.m. Rules for residents of long-term care homes remain unchanged, but those living in care facilities may only have visits from their two designated caregivers. Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the Halifax Regional Municipality and neighbouring areas until March 27. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including four in the past 24 hours. Health officials say hospitalizations rose by eight, to 626, and 115 people were in intensive care, a drop of five. The province says it administered 16,619 doses of vaccine yesterday, for a total of 490,504. Quebec has reported a total of 290,377 COVID-19 infections and 10,445 deaths linked to the virus. It has 7,379 active reported cases. --- 10:50 a.m. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say all three cases were identified in the health region that includes Halifax. Two cases involve contacts of previously reported infections while the third is under investigation. Nova Scotia has 29 active reported cases of COVID-19. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 994 new cases of COVID-19. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 298 of those new cases are in Toronto, 171 are in Peel and 64 are in York Region. There were 10 more deaths in Ontario since the last daily update and more than 30,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine administered. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden tried to maintain bipartisan momentum for a new infrastructure program by meeting Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House. The meeting was about “what we’re gonna do to make sure we once again lead the world across the board on infrastructure," Biden said. “It not only creates jobs, but it makes us a helluva lot more competitive around the world if we have the best infrastructure.” Spending on infrastructure appears to be the next major priority for the Biden administration after its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package clears the Senate, likely along hardened partisan lines. The prospect of funding roads, bridges, ports, broadband and other infrastructure is a chance for Biden to rebuild his relationship with Republicans. It also allows him notch a policy achievement that evaded both the Obama and Trump administrations. Biden met Thursday with eight members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a follow-up to a February 11 meeting with senators on infrastructure. The president laid the groundwork for an infrastructure package during last year's campaign by proposing $2 trillion in “accelerated” investments to shift to cleaner energy, build charging stations for electric vehicles, support public transit and repair roads and bridges. The plan emphasizes the importance of addressing climate change and creating unionized jobs. There is a need for infrastructure spending. The American Society of Civil Engineers on Wednesday graded the nation's infrastructure as a lacklustre “C-.” The group said $5.9 trillion must be spent over the next decade for safe and sustainable roads, bridges and airports. That recommendation is about $2.6 trillion more than what the government and private sector spend. Republicans say they want to invest in infrastructure, but they appear to disagree with Biden's focus on the environment and the possibility of financing any program with debt after the federal government has already borrowed heavily to combat the economic fallout from the pandemic. Their concern is that infrastructure would ultimately become a form of the Democratic-proposed “Green New Deal” that would move the country away from fossil fuels. Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, left the Thursday meeting with a series of markers for Biden to win bipartisan backing. “First and foremost, a highway bill cannot grow into a multi-trillion dollar catch-all bill, or it will lose Republican support," Graves said in a statement. “Second, a transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill that primarily focuses on fundamental transportation needs, such as roads and bridges. Republicans won’t support another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill." Still, the committee chairman, Oregon Democrat Pete DeFazio, described the meeting with Biden as productive and refreshing after conversations with former President Donald Trump led to minimal progress on infrastructure. DeFazio said they discussed paying for the plan, but he declined to go into specifics. “The difference between talking to Joe Biden about infrastructure and what goes into it and how we’re going to get it done and Donald Trump is like, it’s just a whole different world,” DeFazio said. "It’s way better.” Josh Boak And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Police have teamed up with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton to conduct reviews of sexual assault investigations that did not lead to charges. So far, the team has reviewed 251 files over two quarterly sessions that began last October. "Edmonton is only one of 20 cities in Canada that has taken on this advocate case file review," said Mary Jane James, CEO of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE). "I can confidently say that most of those files were dealt with appropriately, with compassion and with respect for survivors." Last year, the police sexual assault section investigated 1,111 cases and laid 207 charges. "Some of those files that didn't go to charge, that was based solely on the complainant and on the survivor," said Staff Sgt. Terrie Affolder. "We give them complete control, which is what they need in this process." As a result of the reviews, SACE spotted "very few" cases they believe should have resulted in charges, but ultimately agreed with the decisions made by EPS not to lay charges after finding out all the details. "There's only been a couple of files where we looked at the entire file and we aren't contemplating charges," Affolder said. "None of the files are actually going to move forward with charges that didn't have charges before." James said her team's main goal is to make sure that sex assault survivors are treated with dignity and compassion. "I know for sure that lots of survivors have not been satisfied with what they experienced when they went to police for support," James said. "The reason that we wanted to as an organization get involved in this is to see if we could work with EPS to ensure that less and less survivors have that unfortunate and likely unacceptable outcome." As a result of the reviews, Affolder said, some of the investigators have been given suggestions on improving the ways they deal with complainants. "We're investigators and we're interviewers," Affolder said. "But sometimes we're not the greatest at being sympathetic and empathetic because we're trying to gather evidence, and that's what SACE is pointing out to us." Calgary police began conducting reviews with a partner two years ago.
Le bilan provincial des dons d’organes pour 2020 a énormément reculé. Un seul donneur a été répertorié dans toute l’année sur la Côte-Nord. Une diminution majoritairement attribuable, selon Transplant Québec, à l’impact de la première vague de la pandémie, là où les références ont significativement chuté. Cette personne qui a signé son don d’organes, suite à son décès, a permis la transplantation de deux poumons, un foie et deux reins. Au 31 décembre 2020, quatre personnes étaient toujours en attente d’une greffe dans la région, dont trois pour un rein. Selon le rapport de Transplant Québec, le nombre d’organes transplantés est passé de 592 en 2019, à 497 l’année dernière pour l’ensemble de la province. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord