Snowfall by the coast makes for a beautiful winter scene.
Snowfall by the coast makes for a beautiful winter scene.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine safety: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations to the tune of 84 per cent," Sharma said. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902 ) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. An analysis of results from 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggested the vaccine was similarly effective and well tolerated in this age group. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
(Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier - image credit) This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. Before delivering the new provincial budget Thursday, Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews bought himself new cowboy boots. A pair of ballet shoes would have been more appropriate. Toews's budget does a lot of dancing, much of it on eggshells. This is a budget that is afraid of suffering another embarrassing pratfall like the one performed last year when Toews tabled an overly optimistic budget in February that predicted solid economic growth, higher employment and a balanced budget by 2023 — and was quickly rendered obsolete with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. "When I was actually presenting the budget, it felt like Rome was burning behind me," said a slightly traumatized Toews at the time. This year's budget might be entitled, "Protecting lives and livelihoods" but, "Once burned, twice shy" would work, too. It's a conservative document, not in terms of spending and deficits, but in terms of predictions. The budget uses the word "uncertainty" so often it's like a nervous twitch, as in, "A great deal of uncertainty remains about vaccination roll-outs and the speed and breadth of global economic recovery." WATCH | Finance minister, Opposition leader discuss 2021 budget: "Uncertainty" is the word of the day. And it's going to be the word of the year as we continue to muddle through the minefield that is COVID 2021. The government learned an important lesson last year: don't raise expectations. Toews's economic outlook this year includes an $18 billion deficit, in addition to last year's $20 billion shortfall caused in part by a price of oil that went negative at one point. The accumulated debt will hit $115 billion this year and reach an astronomical $132 billion in two years. That's not including the $1.3 billion at risk in the Keystone XL pipeline gamble. The debt is climbing so high, so fast, the government is starting to couch the debt in terms of its relationship to the total provincial economy. This is called the net-debt-to-GDP ratio and it's a term beloved by pernickety economists — and by politicians trying to mask the size of their government's record debt. Right now Alberta's ratio is 24.5 per cent, which is pretty good compared to Ontario, for example, at 50 per cent. But just two years ago, our ratio was 11 per cent. Yes, there are few encouraging numbers in this budget. The government is spending four per cent more on health care and is setting up a $1.25-billion contingency fund to fight the pandemic. Premier Kenney is not slashing spending or cutting services as he seemed to suggest much of last year with his warning of a "fiscal reckoning" to come. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney promised there would be no new taxes in the budget. This is not a fiscal-reckoning budget or even an austerity budget. It is not the fiscal plan of a self-assured government. This is the keep-your-head-down-budget of a government under siege from COVID-19 and an unhappy public that seems to be increasingly dissatisfied with the UCP. The fiscal outlook is so uncertain that Toews doesn't even pretend to have a plan to balance the budget, unlike last year when he confidently predicted no more deficits starting in 2022, right before he felt the flames of COVID setting his prognostications on fire. 'Right-sizing' But if Toews is not outright slashing, he is planning to do some whittling and that has public-sector unions nervous. "One area where we can no longer delay is addressing a public -ector salary structure in Alberta that has for decades been an outlier compared to other provinces," said Toews, who has previously warned unions that if they don't accept concessions, they'll face more job cuts. Toews calls this "right-sizing" public-sector compensation, a term sure to infuriate workers and do nothing to quell labour unrest. "Perhaps if governments had shown more restraint in previous years, we would not have had to confront this issue," added Toews, who might be taking a jab at the former NDP government but really should be aiming at a succession of previous Conservative governments. True to form, Toews also pointed the finger of blame at the federal Liberal government: "The biggest obstacle to recovery may be our own national government, which has layered on regulatory requirements, created investment uncertainty, chased away the investment that maintains family-supporting jobs, and is now increasing the costs for our most vital national economic drivers." What the Kenney government tends to gloss over is that after the pandemic hit, most of the financial aid delivered to beleaguered Albertans came from Ottawa. Not only did the federal government deliver $11 billion in direct transfers to the Alberta treasury last year, it sent an additional $23 billion to individual Albertans and businesses via programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Albertans are no doubt relieved that, as Kenney promised, there are no new taxes in the budget. But you have to wonder if that's just a matter of time. The pandemic might have forced the government into spending record amounts of money but our fiscal problems didn't begin and end there. COVID's rampage through our economy demonstrated once again how over-reliant we are on the capricious price of fossil fuels. There will be a "fiscal reckoning" in our future, sooner or later.
Iran is threatening to end a deal struck with the U.N. nuclear watchdog last weekend temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency's board endorses a U.S.-led push to criticise Tehran next week, an Iranian position paper shows. Tehran this week scaled back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ending extra inspection measures introduced by its 2015 nuclear accord with major powers. Iran and U.S. President Joe Biden's administration are now locked in a standoff over who should move first to save the unravelling 2015 deal.
En cette année électorale, deux séances d’information se tiendront à la mi-mars à l’intention des Lavalloises intéressées à briguer les suffrages. «Je me présente aux élections municipales 2021» est le titre de ces rencontres virtuelles auxquelles participera la mairesse sortante à la municipalité de La Macaza, Céline Beauregard, qui partagera son expérience à titre d'élue. Organisées par le ministère des Affaires municipales en collaboration avec le Réseau des femmes des Laurentides (RFL), ces séances aborderont l’organisation municipale, le rôle des personnes élues et leur engagement en politique de même que le processus de mise en candidature. Une période de questions et d’échanges suivra. Cette initiative visant à augmenter la représentativité des femmes au sein des conseils municipaux s’inscrit dans le cadre de la campagne «Je me présente» dont l’objectif est de faire rayonner la démocratie en encourageant les gens à déposer leur candidature en vue des prochaines élections municipales du 7 novembre. À Laval, 8 des 21 postes de conseillers municipaux sont occupés par des femmes, soit 36 % des 22 élus que complète le maire. Les séances d’information sont prévues les mardi 16 mars de 12h à 13h30 et jeudi 18 mars entre 18h30 et 20h. Pour recevoir le lien Zoom pour se joindre à l'activité, il suffit de cliquer sur ce lien. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
(Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press - image credit) Indoor rinks, pools and cinemas in the province's red zones are allowed to reopen as of Friday, as the province eases some restrictions in time for March break. Some cinema owners will keep their businesses closed, believing it makes no financial sense to reopen given the operating limits imposed by the Quebec government. Cinemas are not allowed to sell food and drinks — a decision that sparked major pushback from the industry, and prompted the premier to offer continued access to the province's emergency aid programs as compensation for their losses. The offer was far from satisfying for Vincenzo Guzzo, the CEO of Cinemas Guzzo, which operates 10 theatres in the Montreal area. "The government support program is insulting," Guzzo said. "You haven't even re-gifted a gift, you took the same gift you gave me last week, you took it back, you repackaged it, and now gave it to me for St. Valentine's Day.'' Business will also be limited by reduced capacity to ensure physical distancing as well as the province's curfews — 8 p.m. for most of Quebec, and 9:30 p.m. in the orange zones — but according to Guzzo, even if the province upped its offer, he would reject it based on principle. "There's no way I will be accused of taking public money to open my theatres," he said. "I don't want the money, I don't want popcorn money ... I want to sell popcorn.'' Mario Fortin, however, is relishing the opportunity to bring in customers, even if screening times will be limited by an overnight curfew that starts at 8 p.m. in red zones. "We've been ready for months," said Fortin, who owns Cinéma du Parc as well as Cinéma Beaubien in Montreal. "For months, we've been saying that cinemas are places that are relatively safe, so we want to prove it." Fortin says he's already sold 1,000 tickets for next week, which also includes reducing capacity to ensure physical distancing, reopening is well worth it. "We can manage," he said. "The break-even point is relatively easy to attain." Movie theatres will also need to reduce capacity to ensure physical distancing, and make sure their screening times don't overlap with the province's curfews. Respect the rules, health minister warns Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus variants and another surge of cases didn't stop the province from easing restrictions and allowing certain businesses to reopen. The government has said it wants to give families options to entertain their children while they're away from school. Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people, as opposed to four, are also now allowed in red zones. In addition to the province's curfews, the ban on private gatherings is still in place. With people in the province's general population already getting COVID-19 vaccines, the health minister is asking Quebecers to not get carried away during March break. "Let's make sure that we follow the rules because we are one month away from having a very high number of vaccines," Health Minister Christian Dubé said during Thursday's news conference. The government is expecting at least 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines over the next four weeks. There will not be any roadblocks preventing Quebecers from travelling to different regions, but the premier said he's asked police to keep an eye on hotels and cottages to make sure people aren't gathering illegally.
(Colin Perkel/Canadian Press - image credit) Hydro One is in the process of planning for a new high-voltage power line that will connect a transmission station just outside Chatham with one being built just outside of Comber. But the proposed route would take it across Highway 77 between Comber and Hwy. 401. Mayor Tom Bain said that section is too close to a populated area. "You're looking at a lot of interference for TVs and computers and you're going to get objections to the unsightly mess," said Bain, who supports the construction of the line because it is being built to meet the needs of the growing greenhouse industry and development in general. Hydro One chose the line out of eight options because it best met a number of criteria that took into account the natural and socio-economic environments, technical considerations and cost and consultation with a number of stakeholders such as Indigenous groups. It will increase the power to the entire region by 400 megawatts. But Comber resident Jodi Langley wants to know more. "I don't feel like we're very informed about what's going on in our community for the power. I want to know what it's going to do for us or how it's going to affect what's going on around here," said Langley. But Hydro One's vice-president of stakeholder relations Daniel Levitan says there's still a lot of work to do to determine the exact pathway. "We will be circling back with Mayor Bain and the County of Essex and local mayors, councils and certainly local businesses to now take a look at the specific path and ensure that it's safe and impacts the local environment, local businesses as minimally as possible," said Levitan. Hydro One will hold an online information session on March 11.
“We’ve been subject to these gravel guerrillas now for at least 50 years, trying to build more highways, more urban sprawl.” Those were the words this week of Mississauga Ward 11 Councillor, George Carlson, who brought them down like a blunt hammer on the heads of builders determined to continue profiteering from the land. “I can almost hear the old scotch and soda tinkling as the decision was made to add another highway and let the developers build more stuff north of Toronto. They haven’t even finished doing infill in Toronto.” As the planet continues to reel from the catastrophic impacts of climate change, some Peel politicians have finally picked their heads from the sand, while others remain largely oblivious. On Wednesday, after more than a year of silence, the City of Mississauga finally threw its considerable weight behind calls to cancel the proposed GTA West Corridor, also known as Highway 413. Carlson’s comments underscored the frustration felt around the virtual council chamber. It was better late than never in the eyes of environmentalists. Meanwhile, many municipal leaders in Brampton and Caledon continue to claim support for environmentally friendly policies, as they walk the fence on a project that will devastate local watersheds, ecosystems and wildlife, while adding hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon emissions into the air above Peel. Since the Progressive Conservatives, led by Premier Doug Ford, restarted the GTA West Highway’s Environmental Assessment (EA) in the first half of 2019, Mississauga has been largely silent. Presentations by the Province to Region of Peel councillors outlining the highway’s debatable benefits have been received unanimously. The City’s lobbying power at Queen’s Park has been used on other priorities but not to fight the planned 400-series transportation corridor. A recent swell of opposition to the highway forced the issue back to the top of the agenda. After a request by Environmental Defence and Ecojustice to have the federal government complete a study of the environmental impacts of the proposed route, and even wrestle control of the project from Queen’s Park, opposition groups have received a new round of support. Unlike their previous requests, which have fallen on deaf ears in Peel Region and only seen success in Halton and Orangeville, this recent campaign has bigger supporters with more clout at the provincial and federal level. At a special council meeting on Wednesday, called to pass Mississauga’s 2021 budget, the City adopted a new and aggressive stance. Councillors voted unanimously to approve a lengthy motion, brought forward by Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish and seconded by Ward 8’s Matt Mahoney, explicitly opposing any construction activity relating to the GTA West Corridor. “I find it interesting that the buzzword in today’s day and age is climate change action, environment and all of these things and then we kind of fly in the face of it,” Mahoney said, welcoming the strong position detailed in the lengthy motion. “With projects like this, [we] almost talk out of both sides. I am very pleased to second this motion.” The GTA West Highway was scrapped by the Liberal government in 2018. The decision came after an expert panel came to the conclusion it would do almost nothing to solve the GTA’s congestion problems. The report was completely ignored by the PC government, which quickly restarted the environmental assessment process and began touting benefits of the corridor, including unsupported claims it will reduce traffic congestion. Mississauga’s new stance — directly opposing the highway — is the clearest in the Region of Peel. To the north, Brampton and Caledon have both recently voiced concerns, but stopped well short of opposition. In Brampton, Mayor Patrick Brown and Wards 2 and 6 Councillor Michael Palleschi have been pushing for a boulevard in place of the highway through Brampton. The concept, brought to life by a consultant, has come with few technical details, with no one able to explain how a highway would morph into a walkable, urban corridor and back again. Brampton’s mayor has refused to condemn the highway, and, despite his claims to recognize a climate emergency, he’s bragged about being the one who put the GTA West Highway back on the table when he added it to the PC campaign platform ahead of the 2018 election, before his dramatic fall from provincial politics. In its requests to the Provincial government, Brampton has asked for its boulevard design to be considered for a portion of the route without stating opposition to the highway. On Wednesday, Brampton also backed calls for the federal government to take over the route’s EA. Bowing to growing pressure, the Town of Caledon has also backed the same calls. The move is a 180-degree turn from previous calls by Caledon council members who pushed for an expedited environmental assessment – currently being conducted by the provincial government – to get the project started even faster. A federal EA would have the power to override the provincial government and cancel the project should the environmental impact be deemed too great. On Thursday, Mississauga brought its motion to the Region of Peel. Parrish and Brampton Wards 3 and 4 Councillor Martin Medeiros put the proposal on the floor, offering Brampton and Caledon councillors a chance to make a clear statement against the highway and in support of their own climate emergency declarations. But they shied away. Spearheaded by Caledon Wards 3 and 4 Councillor Jennifer Innis and Mayor Allan Thompson, the issue was deferred to a later date. Stating concerns about rushing to a decision and the need to hear from more residents, a referral was proposed to revisit the idea of opposing the highway in a fortnight, once a staff report has been completed detailing the implications cancelling the highway would have on the Region’s long-term planning strategy. “I do believe that a referral to start to bring back a fulsome report, simply with the history and the impacts, what impact would a decision to oppose have on the planning process [would be prudent],” Peel CAO Janice Baker said. “There has been extensive work done, some of which may very well have to be looked at or re-examined as a consequence of this.” The vote resulted in a tie, with Chair Nando Iannicca voting in favour of the referral to break the deadlock. Iannicca said it may have been the first tie-breaking vote he has cast since being elected chair. The delay means official positions in Peel are divergent. Mississauga stands alone opposing the highway, while all three municipalities have recently passed motions expressing support for a federal EA. The Region itself does not have a current position, but the clerk noted Thursday that a 2012 motion “indicates a level of support for the GTA West Transportation Corridor.” Mississauga’s vote on Wednesday was far less complex and more emphatic. Where several regional councillors, including Brown, Thompson and Innis, raised concerns about rushing the process on Thursday, Wednesday simply saw Mississauga representatives congratulating one another on their newly adopted stance, in support of the environment. The wholehearted support for Mississauga’s new stance raises questions about timing. In October 2019, Mississauga’s 12 regional representatives unanimously accepted a presentation from the Province outlining the GTA West Corridor and its unfounded benefits, while there was no concerted outcry over the Province’s decision this summer to approve a route and speed up the environmental assessment. As recently as January, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told The Pointer she did not think she could convince the Province to change its course. “I think they’re committed to the GTA West Corridor,” she said. Asked this week what precipitated the change of heart and the unambiguous stance, Crombie admitted she and her councillors had been asleep at the wheel. “I think there’s been a groundswell of momentum opposing the building of the highway,” she said at a Wednesday press conference. “I have to say I think we as a council have been a bit complacent, I think we thought it was a done deal; a fait accompli. But now there are so many questions arising from the building of this highway... I think that we saw that there were other voices who opposed it and we agreed we would join them, at least to undertake the full federal environmental assessment.” Parrish shook her colleagues out of their slumber. Mississauga’s new stance sits in harmony with its internal policies and publicly declared goals. Just over a year-and-a-half after declaring a climate emergency, the move is tangible evidence of council’s resolve to make good on a popular promise to help stop the degradation of the planet. Parrish, who has made a career of taking on the establishment, led the way with her detailed motion. “You can just see the vultures waiting to build completely along that belt rather than compact developments, which is what we should be looking for — complete communities.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
TORONTO — Onex Corp. reported its fourth-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago, helped by gains in its private equity and credit investments. The Toronto-based private equity manager, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it earned a net profit of US$597 million or $6.61 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31. The result compared with net earnings of US$187 million or $1.86 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2019. Onex reported segment net earnings — which exclude certain items — of US$708 million or US$7.72 per diluted share for its fourth quarter, up from US$211 million or $2.04 per diluted share a year earlier. Onex manages and invests money on behalf of its shareholders, institutional investors and high net worth clients. It also owns wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:ONEX) The Canadian Press
La Convention des maires pour le climat et l’énergie du Canada (CMMC) a décerné à la Ville de Laval l’insigne de réussite pour avoir fait progresser ses objectifs en matière d’environnement. Cette reconnaissance n’est certainement pas étrangère à l’ambitieux plan de réduction des gaz à effet de serre adopté au conseil municipal de novembre dernier, qui vise à diminuer du tiers ses émissions de GES d’ici 2035 par rapport au niveau de 1990. L’administration Demer partage cet honneur avec 18 autres Municipalités canadiennes dont Candiac, Beaconsfield, Prévost et la MRC de Rivière-du-Loup au Québec. Rappelons qu’en 2019, Laval avait été sélectionnée pour faire partie de la première cohorte du projet Villes-vitrines dirigé par la CMMC au pays. Ce programme de 12 mois offrait aux Villes un accompagnement intensif pour les aider à réduire leur empreinte écologique et s'adapter aux changements climatiques. «[C’] est une belle récompense pour tous nos efforts déployés jusqu'à maintenant. Elle nous encourage à poursuivre notre travail et ainsi dépasser nos objectifs en matière d’environnement», s’est réjouie Virginie Dufour, responsable des dossiers en environnement au comité exécutif, le 25 février. Depuis son adhésion à la Convention mondiale des maires pour le climat et l’énergie en 2016, la Ville produit annuellement un inventaire des émissions lavalloises de GES, ce qui lui permet notamment de mesurer l’efficacité des mesures de réduction mises en place. Parmi les actions phares de la stratégie lavalloise à la lutte aux changements climatiques, notons le programme de compensation des GES. Il s’agit d’une initiative municipale novatrice en vertu de laquelle les promoteurs et développeurs immobiliers contribuent à un fonds vert qui permet de financer des initiatives de réduction des émissions, telle la collecte à domicile des appareils réfrigérants dont se débarrassent les Lavallois. L’automne prochain, la Ville lancera une campagne sur la lutte aux changements climatiques afin de sensibiliser ses citoyens, susciter leur engagement et les inciter à changer leurs habitudes quotidiennes. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
BEIJING — The thrills and chills of the big screen are back big-time in the world’s largest film market. With the coronavirus well under control in China and cinemas running at half capacity, moviegoers are smashing China's box office records, with domestic productions far outpacing their Hollywood competitors. February marked China’s all-time biggest month for movie ticket sales, which have so far totalled 11.2 billion yuan ($1.7 billion). China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest market for movie ticket sales last year as the American box office took a massive hit from the closure of cinemas because of the pandemic. Chinese theatres were able to reopen by midyear and have seen steady audience growth since then. Local movies have also benefited from periodic unofficial “blackout" periods, when only domestic productions are allowed to be screened. A dearth of major Hollywood blockbusters over recent months appears to have also boosted the market for Chinese films. “People were encouraged to stay in Beijing for the Lunar New Year, and so watching movies in the cinema became the top choice of entertainment,” said Chu Donglei, marketing manager at Poly Cinema’s Tiananmen branch in central Beijing. Mask wearing is mandatory and moviegoers must register with a cellphone app so they can be traced in the event of an outbreak. Only every other seat is allowed to be occupied, making it even harder to obtain tickets for the most popular films. According to the China Movie Data Information Network, 95% of ticket sales came from the seven top-grossing films timed for release around the Lunar New Year festival, which began this year on Feb. 12. “Hi, Mom,” a time-travelling comedy written and directed by and starring Jia Ling, was the top earner with 4.36 billion yuan, followed by action comedy “Detective Chinatown 3,” with 4.13 billion yuan. Wang Xiaoyu, 32, who works in the film industry, was only able to procure a ticket for “Hi, Mom” on Thursday and called the viewing experience “deeply moving." “I know there are some movies that are released and streamed online. But I think the experience of watching movies online is not as good as that of watching in a cinema,” Wang said. A lack of entertainment options helped pump up ticket sales during the pandemic, foretelling a bright future for the Chinese film industry, Wang said. Recent box office figures show the “great resiliency and powerful foundation of China’s film industry," said Fu Yalong, deputy general manager of the Solution Center at ENDATA, an analysis firm focusing on the entertainment industry. “During the Lunar New Year, there were films with a variety of genres and topics and the audiences were satisfied," Fu said. “Even with the impact of the pandemic and the increase in ticket prices, we were still able to score such achievements.” College student Zhang Jiazhi, 21, said the movie theatre experience was a welcome break from staying at home watching videos. Successful online film promotion also helped attract many viewers to brick-and-mortar cinemas, Zhang said. “I’m bored, and you can’t stay at home watching (streaming service) Douyin all the time, so I came to the cinema to watch a movie. There’s nothing to do,” said Zhang, who is on winter break and came to the cinema to see “A Writer’s Odyssey," a Chinese fantasy film which he said he didn’t quite understand. Last year, China sold an estimated $2.7 billion in tickets compared to $2.3 billion in the U.S., which saw an 80% drop in ticket sales. “The Eight Hundred," an action drama glorifying China's resistance to Japanese invaders in 1930s Shanghai, was the world's biggest hit, making $461.3 million at the box office, most of it within China. China's theatres also closed for a time during the height of COVID-19 in the country last spring, but gradually reopened over the summer. As of Friday, China has gone 11 days without reporting a single new case of local transmission of the virus. Since the outbreak was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, China has reported a total of 89,877 cases, including 4,636 deaths. ___ Associated Press news assistant Caroline Chen contributed to this report. Andy Wong, The Associated Press
En décembre 2018, les industriels forestiers se sont engagés à augmenter les tarifs de transport de 16 % sur deux ans. Après une augmentation de près de 9 % en 2019, les camionneurs forestiers ont accepté un gel des tarifs pendant la pandémie, en raison de l’incertitude, mais ils attendent toujours la balance de l’augmentation des tarifs promise. « C’est le minimum qu’on demande pour atteindre un seuil de rentabilité acceptable », lance d’emblée Carol Girard, le représentant forêt pour l’Association nationale des camionneurs artisans inc. (ANCAI), en faisant référence à l’entente conclue en décembre 2018. À l’époque, les camionneurs avaient menacé les industriels de faire une grève d’une journée. Devant cette menace, les industriels du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean avaient accepté de négocier directement avec les camionneurs, qui doivent habituellement passer par les expéditeurs et les entrepreneurs généraux en foresterie pour négocier les tarifs. Après une rencontre de trois jours, les transformateurs de bois avaient accepté une augmentation de tarifs de 15 à 16 % sur deux ans. En 2019, les tarifs ont bel et bien augmenté de 8 à 9 %, mais la pandémie est venue chambouler le reste du rattrapage. Devant l’incertitude, la plupart des industriels ont gelé les tarifs, alors que certains ont consenti à offrir une petite augmentation allant jusqu’à 1,5 %. Pour être conciliants, les camionneurs ont accepté la situation, mais l’ANCAI s’attend maintenant à recevoir la balance de l’augmentation négociée en 2018, d’autant plus que le prix du bois d’œuvre sur les marchés atteint des sommets. Selon les recherches comptables effectuées par l’ANCAI, le rattrapage de 16 % sur deux ans permettrait aux entreprises de transport de dégager un bénéfice de 8 %, explique Mario Beaulieu, lui aussi représentant forêt pour l’ANCAI. Un tel bénéfice permettrait d’amortir les dépenses surprises, comme le bris d’un moteur, qui peut coûter 40 000$. La durée des voyages dans la balance Selon les représentants de l’ANCAI, c’est au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean que la situation est la plus problématique de la province, car les temps de cycle sont calculés différemment ailleurs. Le temps de cycle, c’est la durée d’un voyage d’un camionneur quand il part vide de l’usine, pour remplir un chargement en forêt et revenir à l’usine. Pour calculer le temps de cycle, il faut tenir compte des limites de vitesse et les ajuster en fonction de la vitesse réelle des camions. Selon l’ANCAI, les vitesses établies au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean sont plus élevées que dans toutes les autres régions. Par exemple, dans les Laurentides ou en Abitibi, le temps de cycle est calculé en tenant compte qu’un camion pourra se déplacer, en moyenne, à 80 % de la vitesse permise, en tenant compte des arrêts et du trafic routier. Dans la région, les calculs sont plus serrés, alors que certains industriels calculent des vitesses de déplacement allant à 100 % de la vitesse permise, parfois 110 %, notent les représentants de l’ANCAI. « Ici, les temps de cycle ne sont jamais corrects, note Carol Girard. Si je dois faire un voyage en cinq heures et que ça me prend cinq heures et demie, j’ai une demi-heure qui ne sera pas payée et ça vient jouer sur mon taux horaire. » Plus les temps de cycle sont serrés et plus la pression est grande pour que les camionneurs roulent plus vite, ce qui pose un danger pour tous les utilisateurs de la route. « On voudrait que l’environnement d’affaires soit pareil pour tous », soutient Mario Beaulieu, ce qui permettrait d’éviter le marchandage et de stabiliser les équipes au même endroit. Ainsi, l’ANCAI revendique que les temps de cycle soient calculés à 80 % de la vitesse permise partout au Québec. Quelques bémols Selon les informations recueillies auprès d’acteurs forestiers qui préfèrent garder l’anonymat en cette période de négociation, les temps de cycle sont en effet très serrés, mais les tarifs sont ajustés 90 % du temps. Si le temps de cycle excède de 6,25 % le temps calculé, Produits forestiers Résolu (PFR) verse un tarif supplémentaire à l’entrepreneur. Si le temps de cycle est moindre de 6,25 %, le tarif est toutefois ajusté à la baisse. De plus, PFR calcule le temps de cycle à 80 km/h dans une zone ou la vitesse permise est de 90 km/h. Selon Carol Girard, la vitesse devrait être de 72 km/h, ce qui limiterait les empressements des chauffeurs sur les routes… tout en permettant d’être plus rentables, comme c’est le cas à l’heure actuelle en Mauricie et dans plusieurs régions. D’autres industriels n’offrent pas des ajustements de prix et ce sont parfois les expéditeurs et les entrepreneurs généraux qui doivent mettre la main dans leur poche pour compenser les transporteurs. De plus, la plupart des camionneurs chargent beaucoup plus que les 35 tonnes prévues, avec une moyenne qui avoisine davantage les 39 tonnes, voire plus, pour le bois résineux. Peu importe la formule établie, les chauffeurs doivent gagner 115$ de l’heure à la fin de la journée pour être rentables et dégager un profit décent, estime l’ANCAI. Au cours de la dernière année, les fortes pluies et le gel tardif ont grandement dégradé le réseau routier, ce qui a généré des délais supplémentaires. Il serait donc pertinent de s’assurer de bâtir davantage de chemins à l’avance pour transporter le bois dans de meilleures conditions. Questionné à ce sujet, Louis Bouchard, directeur principal, affaires publiques et relations gouvernementales chez PFR, a préféré ne pas commenter sur les tarifs, qui sont du domaine commercial. « Nos entrepreneurs sont un maillon crucial de nos activités et, en ce sens, nous maintenons avec eux un dialogue soutenu et travaillons à leur offrir des conditions reflétant cet état de fait. » Au bout du compte, les camionneurs souhaitent s’entendre sur un taux horaire juste, qui leur permettra de payer pour la maintenance et de dégager un profit pour en vivre. Ils ne sont toutefois pas les seuls à demander une augmentation des tarifs, car les entrepreneurs forestiers s’attendent aussi à avoir une hausse substantielle de leur rémunération. Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Court found government was entitled to use an emergency law to introduce the measures forcing residents indoors from 9 pm to 4:30 amView on euronews
Syria said U.S. air strikes against Iranian-backed militias in the east of the country on Friday were a cowardly act and urged President Joe Biden not to follow "the law of the jungle". An Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the strikes killed one fighter and wounded four. U.S. officials said they were limited in scope to show Biden's administration will act firmly while trying to avoid a big regional escalation.
(Submitted by Jane Ekong/ Submitted by Juliet Bushi/ Submitted by Michael Ifeanyi - image credit) Over the course of Black History Month, we are hoping to learn more about the rich dynamics of the Black experience in Regina through the stories of people from different backgrounds and professions. Read other pieces in the series: Dr. Jane Ekong says that when she arrived in Regina 38 years ago, there were so few Black residents, "we were kind of a novelty." The retired psychologist, who is originally from Nigeria, said many of the Black people in Regina were professionals: physicians, business owners, football players and others. These Black professionals made a mark on the community. This includes Ekong, who served as a trustee on the Regina Public Schools board, co-founded the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum and currently runs a charity called Amakon Women Empowerment Non-Profit Corp., which caters to women and children. Despite this, she and fellow members of Regina's burgeoning Black community encountered racism in the workplace and in their day-to-day lives. "I heard from some people that they had problems getting a place because people did not want to rent to them," Ekong said. Dr. Jane Ekong receives a plaque of service from the Regina Public School Board. Nearly four decades later, the Black population in Saskatchewan's capital city is still small, but is growing. Black people made up three per cent of Regina's population in the 2016 census and a larger portion of the professional sphere. Ekong said she is happy to see a lot more people of colour in Regina in recent years, but that discriminatory practices still exist in workspaces throughout the city. Racism in the workplace Obianuju Juliet Bushi can attest to the continued existence of discrimination in the workplace. Bushi moved to Regina in 2007 from Grande Prairie, Alta., after transferring to the University of Regina to continue her studies. She found her career in education after discovering she would not be able to practise medicine as an international student because, at the time, she needed to be a citizen or permanent resident to do so. She's now a sessional lecturer at the First Nations University of Canada and a board trustee at the Regina Catholic School Division. Prior to finding her passion for teaching and a job that she thoroughly enjoys at the university, Bushi had many experiences in other places that she describes as "horrible." The one that left her the most hurt came at a Crown corporation. She remembers what she described as incessant discrimination starting after her manager transferred her to a different department and she was offered a position that she was overqualified for. She had previously been in a temporary position, which was coming to an end. If she didn't get another internal position, she'd be out, so she took the offer despite it only requiring a diploma when she had her Master's degree. She said it was "the worst idea." Juliet Bushi has found her passion with teaching and a job that she thoroughly enjoys at First Nations University. Bushi remembers being frustrated by her manager, who she said micromanaged her and once called her "a slow learner." She said her colleagues also gave her a tough time. "My coworkers would have meetings and not include me and whenever I asked my manager about it, she would say, 'You're new so it's easier not to include you.' There was no training provided for me. I was asked to job shadow two of my coworkers leaving the department and they were very bitter about it," she said. Bushi recalls an incident when she turned around to find one of her colleagues making faces at her while she was asking questions. "I remember thinking 'Oh my God, I need help,'" she said. Bushi ended up leaving the position after her manager reviews prevented her contract from being renewed. Building a positive community Michael Ifeanyi and his colleagues grabbing a meal together. Michael Ifeanyi has had a very different experience with a Saskatchewan Crown corporation. He joined SaskPower in 2018 as a customer service representative and within nine months he was promoted to the position of project resource planner. Ifeanyi, the only person of colour on his team of six, said he has yet to have a racist encounter in the office in the three years since. "My team was welcoming and over the years we've got to know each other very well," he said. Ifeanyi credits team bonding exercises with helping him come out of his shell and do his best work. For him, sharing and hearing personal experiences from teammates has built a community and a safe place at work. Making lemonade out of lemons Jane Ekong serving a pancake breakfast to students at Jack MacKenzie School. Ekong has made a habit of addressing racist comments and calling out racist behaviour when it occurs, but also refusing to dwell on them or let them distract her. "Whenever I face discrimination, I speak to it and move on," she said. "If I let it fester in my mind and spirit, it does me no good. It will make me become like the person who perpetrated that against me." She also seeks opportunities to educate people and make them realize that "we are all human and we all hurt the same." Her advice to young professionals in the city who are facing racism is they should not bottle up the anger and they should make themselves indispensable wherever they are found. "If you are good at what you do, even though people may not like your face and they may not like your accent or your colour, when they need something in your area of expertise they are more likely to swallow their pride and come to you." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit) Mayor Drew Dilkens says Windsor's chief of police has made the decision to provide naloxone to all officers. In an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning Friday, Dilkens said the decision was connected to the opening of the aquatic centre as a shelter for COVID-19-positive people who are experiencing homelessness. The emergency shelter has 24-hour policing which is being carried out by officers from various units, not just the divisions that were previously equipped with the overdose-reversing drug. "So I know she's going to make the decision to arm all of the officers at Windsor Police Service with Naloxone, and we've always said this will be a data-driven decision and that these changes will happen as the facts change, and guess what — the facts are changing." Dilkens, who is chair of the Windsor's police services board, said chief Pam Mizuno is doing "the right thing." CBC News reached out to Windsor police for an interview, but Mizuno was did not provide comment. There is no information available from police about the cost or timing of the naloxone rollout. In October, CBC News looked at Windsor police reports that showed officers were first to respond to an opioid overdose in at least 14 cases over a 13 month span. This meant that officers had to sometimes wait for paramedics before naloxone could be administered. On one occasion, officers waited 39 minutes for paramedics to arrive at a scene and administer naloxone to a woman, who then became conscious and responsive. 'Unfortunate that it took this long' In recent months, calls for emergency responders to carry naloxone have mounted amid the opioid overdose crisis. Among those advocating for officers to carry the drug included president of the Windsor Police Association Shawn McCurdy. He told CBC News Friday that he's pleased with the decision. "It's unfortunate that it took this long, but the right decision has been made now," he said. "It's a peace of mind now that we have this tool with us that hopefully we don't ever have to use but if we do, it's there." The Windsor Police Service is one of the last major units in the province to get approval to carry naloxone, he said. Currently, Windsor police have officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — that had access to the drug. City council unanimously voted earlier this year to direct the fire service to start carrying naloxone nasal spray kits. Lisa Valente, a member of Families Stop the Harm, says police having naloxone is the difference between life and death for many who overdose on opioids. There were 29 emergency room visits related to opioid overdoses in Windsor-Essex last month alone, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. In 2019, 47 opioid overdose deaths in Windsor-Essex were reported by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. A member of a local harm reduction group, Family Stop the Harm, Lisa Valente said she was "happy" to hear the news, but notes that this was a long time coming. "I think it should have been approved a long time ago. We lost a lot of lives this year, we lost a lot of lives just in the past few weeks," she said. "The police having naloxone kits is the difference between living and dying ... When you call 911 police, ambulance, fire chances are police may be the first person there and if police have the kit and they have the opportunity to save somebody's life, that's huge... a lot of people are dying."
(Dave Croft/CBC - image credit) Murray Lundberg spends an awful lot of time peering into the past, but this week he's pretty excited about the future — he's going to turn his passion project into a book. The Whitehorse-based amateur historian has just signed a contract with a publisher to translate his popular Yukon History & Abandoned Places Facebook group into print. "I am so pumped by this whole thing. Yeah, it's awesome," he said. Lundberg says he was called out of the blue earlier this week by small, Nova Scotia-based publisher MacIntyre Purcell. The company published 10 to 12 books per year, and many of them focus on photography and local histories — Old Winnipeg: A History in Pictures and Abandoned Alberta are among the titles in its catalogue. "They came to me. Yeah, this is — I didn't know that ever happened. I mean, like most writers, I have a substantial stack of rejection letters," Lundberg laughed. "So to have a publisher come to me was pretty amazing." Vernon Oickle, managing editor of MacIntyre Purcell, says he came across the Facebook group not long ago while surfing the internet, looking for new book ideas. He says he followed various online rabbit holes until he landed on Lundberg's group. "It's a fantastic page, lots of wonderful photos, and historic perspective of Whitehorse and the region," Oickle said. "The more I looked at the Facebook page, I thought, jeez, there's potential for a book there." Lundberg says he signed the contract on Wednesday, and the book will likely be out by the end of next year. A wealth of material Now the real hard part begins — sifting through hundreds and hundreds of photos and other posts to figure out what to include in the book, and how to organize it all. The Facebook group is a veritable trove of historic photos and stories about the Yukon of yesteryear. Some postings are things that Lundberg himself has found or had given to him, but many more have been shared by other group members. A typical post on the Yukon History & Abandoned Places Facebook group. It's become an online go-to for many people curious about something they've found or dug out of storage. Posts can generate plenty of discussion, and sometimes mysteries are solved when other group members recognize an unidentified person, place, or time. Lundberg started the page just seven years ago, "because there was really no place to talk about Yukon history in general," he said. "At that point, there was a Dawson history group and maybe that was it, actually. So I started a Yukon-wide one." He says it "staggered along" for a few years with a few hundred members. He recalls thinking how great it would be to one day reach 1,500 members. "And now we have 15,400 members. And yeah, it's just an amazing place for gathering photographs and stories. It's just a really vibrant community now." Lundberg will be sifting through hundreds and hundreds of fascinating photos and other posts to figure out what to include in the book, and how to organize it all. Lundberg says the enthusiasm of group members is part of what attracted publisher MacIntyre Purcell to the project. Many of the online group members are Yukoners, of course, but Lundberg says there are followers from all over the place. "A lot of that comes down to the fact that people say that you can leave the Yukon, but the Yukon never leaves you," he said. "And we get so many comments by people who have left the territory and are looking to grab at little memories from the Yukon. And those photographs trigger exactly that." Lundberg says many of the page's fans are Yukoners, while others have some nostalgic connection to the territory. 'You can leave the Yukon, but the Yukon never leaves you,' Lundberg says. One thing the book won't be, Lundberg says, is another celebration of the Klondike Gold Rush or the building of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War. Those events have been the twin pillars of so much Yukon popular history over the years, and Lundberg wants to shine a light on some lesser-known times, places and events in the territory's past. The Gold Rush "won't be getting a whole lot of attention," nor will the building of the highway. "I have 117 books about the Alaska Highway in my own collection. So, you know, I think that's been well-covered," he said.
OTTAWA — Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use. Details of the approval and when Canadians might see doses begin arriving are due at a technical briefing later this morning in Ottawa. Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June. Vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had already been approved by Health Canada. Approximately 1.7 million doses of those formulas have been administered in Canada. Health Canada is also reviewing two other vaccines. Approval of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine will likely not come until early March and Novavax is not expected until April. The European Union has also approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca formulas. AstraZeneca's vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's formulations, requires refrigeration and takes two doses for maximum efficacy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America's consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January in a sign that the economy may be making a tentative recovery from the pandemic recession. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10% last month, boosted by cash payments most Americans received from the government. The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend. Last month's sharp gain suggests that many people are growing more confident about spending, especially after receiving $600 checks that went to most adults last month in a federal economic aid package. The government also reported Friday that inflation by a measure preferred by the Federal Reserve rose a moderate 0.3% in December. That left prices up 1.5% over the past 12 months, well below the Fed’s 2% target. Besides receiving cash payments, many Americans who have managed to keep their jobs have also been saving money for several months. That could bode well for the economy later this year, once consumers feel more willing to spend, vaccinations are more widely distributed and some version of President Joe Biden’s new economic aid proposal is enacted. Concerns that a strengthening economy will accelerate inflation have sent bond yields surging. On Thursday, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note moved above 1.5% — a level not seen in more than a year and far above the 0.92% it was trading at only two months ago. The move raised alarms on Wall Street and ignited a deep selloff in the stock market. Some investors fear that rising interest rates and the threat of inflation might lead the Fed to raise its benchmark short-term rate too quickly and potentially derail the economy. The tame inflation figure in Friday's report from the government shows that so far, price increases are mostly mild. In testimony to Congress this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell downplayed the inflation risk and instead underscored the economy’s struggles. Layoffs are still high. And 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that erupted nearly a year ago. That’s a deeper job loss than was inflicted by the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Still, despite the weakened job market, key sectors of the economy are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase and government rescue aid works its way through the economy. The Fed’s ultra-low-rate policy is providing important support as well. Retail sales soared last month. Factory output also rose and has nearly regained its pre-pandemic levels. And sales of newly built homes jumped in January. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
(Trevor Wilson/CBC - image credit) The Alberta Teachers' Association says the devil will be in the details for education funding in the 2021-22 school year. ATA president Jason Schilling says documents usually released on budget day, including school funding manuals and school jurisdiction funding profiles, weren't made available Thursday and aren't expected to be released until next month. Overall funding for K-12 education in Alberta will go from $8.32 billion in 2020-21 to $8.24 billion for 2021-22, and stay that way for the following two years. "The exact impacts of this budget for the next school year are unclear, because the government is not releasing details of funding for school boards until the end of March," Schilling said. "We are concerned that the government may be obscuring the reality of school board funding by conflating government fiscal years with school board fiscal years, while delaying the release of the details by over a month." Calgary Catholic School District chair Mary Martin said school boards need those documents to understand how unique packets of money — like grants and specialized learning supports — are being divvied up. "The funding manual is like the recipe book for funding jurisdictions," she said. "We need to see the details that are forthcoming to understand what this budget's going to mean for Calgary Catholic." Martin said school boards have been told that Alberta Education is looking at adjusting some of those unique packets of money, but they haven't been given any further details. In an interview with CBC News on Friday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said that while those documents are forthcoming, she wants to ensure school divisions that none of them will see their funding go down compared with the current school year. "But they will receive their funding profiles by the end of March, and in the meantime we've shared data, you know, the formula so that they can look at their weighted moving average and that they can kind of use the current funding model to to project out while they are waiting for the new funding model," she said. LaGrange said the government has moved significant dollars in the education budget into the learning supports envelope, which covers the costs of things like the Program Unit Funding (PUF) grant and the school nutrition grant. "We really felt strongly because of the fact that we've been in a COVID environment, as well as what we've been hearing from school divisions, that we wanted to re-look at that whole envelope and as such there's an additional $40 million in that overall funding envelope," she said. "Which is quite significant, when you think that the overall funding in that envelope is going to be at $1.35 billion." Schilling said the ATA is also concerned that the budget shows $27 million less in spending on instruction, while private school funding sees an increase of $20 million. "When you see a decrease in the basic instructional grant, we need to know how that's reflected in the school board's funding manuals," he said. "When you don't have those funding manuals right away, it's difficult to see what that impact will be on schools and students and teachers." LaGrange said that because this is the first year utilizing this funding model, there were still a few things in the funding manual and funding profiles they needed to iron out. "We had committed all along that we would review it and ensure that we had all the right points. And we want to make sure that the new funding model reflects what we are hearing from school divisions," she said.
NYON, Switzerland — Former European champions Manchester United and AC Milan will meet in the round of 16 of the Europa League. Friday's draw sends Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the English club where he played for two years, including the 2016-17 season when United won its only Europa League title. Seven-time European Cup winner Milan has never won the Europa League, or its predecessor the UEFA Cup -- the only continental title it has yet to win. Arsenal will face Olympiakos and goes back to Piraeus for its second straight game in the competition. Arsenal used the Olympiakos stadium as a neutral venue on Thursday to beat Benfica 3-2 in the “home” leg in the round of 32. Two-time UEFA Cup winner Tottenham plays the first leg at Dinamo Zagreb, and 1992 winner Ajax is at home first against Young Boys of Switzerland. Some venues could change due to national restrictions on travel and quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moulde is unlikely to play in Norway for the second leg against Granada of Spain. Molde played its round-of-32 “home” game against Hoffenheim at Villarreal’s stadium in Spain. First-leg games are on March 11 and return matches on March 18. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press