Meteo Medias Patrick De Bellefeuille has more.
Meteo Medias Patrick De Bellefeuille has more.
When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Senate voted Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as education secretary, clearing his way to lead President Joe Biden’s effort to reopen the nation’s schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Cardona, 45, a former public school teacher who went on to become Connecticut’s education chief, was approved on a 64-33 vote. He takes charge of the Education Department amid mounting tension between Americans who believe students can safely return to the classroom now, and others who say the risks are still too great. Although his position carries limited authority to force schools to reopen, Cardona will be asked to play a central role in achieving Biden’s goal to have a majority of elementary schools open five days a week within his first 100 days. He will be tasked with guiding schools through the reopening process, and sharing best practices on how to teach during a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month released a road map for getting students back into classrooms safely. The agency said masks, social distancing and other strategies should be used, but vaccination of teachers was not a prerequisite for reopening. Cardona, who gained attention for his efforts to reopen schools in Connecticut, has vowed to make it his top priority to reopen schools. At his Senate confirmation hearing last month, he said there are “great examples throughout our country of schools that have been able to reopen safely.” The debate has become a political firestorm for Biden, who is caught between competing interests as he aims to get students into the classroom without provoking the powerful teachers unions that helped put him in the White House. He says his goal of returning students to the classroom is possible if Congress approves his relief plan, which includes $130 billion for the nation’s schools. Republicans have rebuked Biden for failing to reopen schools faster, while teachers unions opposed the administration’s decision to continue with federally required standardized tests during the pandemic. The tricky terrain is nothing new for Cardona, however, who faced similar tension navigating the pandemic in Connecticut, and who has won early praise even from Biden’s critics. Republicans in Congress have applauded Cardona’s efforts to reopen schools in Connecticut, and some see him as a potential ally in their support for charter schools. Teachers, meanwhile, see him as a partner who brings years of experience in education and knows the demands of the teaching. The nomination continues a meteoric rise for Cardona, who was appointed to lead Connecticut’s education department in 2019 after spending 20 years working in Meriden, Connecticut, public schools — the same district he attended as a child. He began his career as a fourth grade teacher before becoming the state's youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named Connecticut’s principal of the year, and in 2015 he became an assistant superintendent of the district. When he was appointed state education commissioner, he became the first Latino to hold the post. Cardona grew up in a public housing project in Meriden, raised by parents who came to Connecticut from Puerto Rico as children. Through his career, he has focused on closing education gaps and supporting bilingual education. It’s a personal issue for Cardona, who says he spoke only Spanish when he entered kindergarten and struggled to learn English. Cardona was the first in his family to graduate from college, and his three degrees include a doctorate in education from the University of Connecticut. He and his wife, Marissa, have two children in high school. His deep roots in public schooling fit the criteria Biden was looking for in an education secretary. During his campaign, Biden vowed to pick a secretary with experience in public education. It was meant to draw a contrast with then-secretary Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who spent decades advocating for school choice policies. In an increasingly fractionalized world of education, Cardona has vowed to be a unifier. At his confirmation hearing, he promised to engage with “the vast, diverse community of people who have a stake in education.” He added that, “we gain strength from joining together.” As he works to help schools reopen, he will also be tasked with helping them address the damage the pandemic has done on student learning. He has echoed Biden’s call for further education funding, saying schools will need to expand summer academic programs and hire more counsellors to help students with mental health issues. He's also likely to face an early test as he weighs how much flexibility to grant states as they administer standardized tests. Last week, the Education Department ordered states to continue with annual testing but said assessments could be offered online or delayed until fall. The agency also held out the possibility that states could be granted “additional assessment flexibility” in certain cases. Some states are already pushing for that extra flexibility, including Michigan, which is asking to replace state tests with local “benchmark” assessments that were administered this year. It will be up to Cardona to decide how much leniency to provide. Republicans have also set the stage for a fight over transgender athletes. At last month’s hearing, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised objections with policies that allow transgender girls to participate in girls’ athletics. It’s the subject of a legal battle in Connecticut, where some cisgender athletes are challenging a state policy that lets transgender students participate as their identified gender. Pressed by Paul to take a stance on the issue, Cardona said he would support the right of “all students, including students who are transgender.” Collin Binkley, The Associated Press
LIVERPOOL, England — Everton ended its worst home run since 1958 by beating Southampton 1-0 in the English Premier League on Monday and keeping its Champions League dream on track. Richarlison scored for the third consecutive match inside the first 10 minutes, and Everton held on to move within two points of fourth-placed West Ham with a match in hand. But the pain for Saints continued with one draw and eight defeats in their last nine league matches, leaving them seven points above the bottom three and wondering where their next win will come from. Saints would have thought they had a chance against Everton considering their host's poor home form — three successive defeats — but their only real opportunity fell to Moussa Djenepo in the final 10 minutes, and he blazed wide when well placed. It was an escape for Everton, which faded after having a second goal ruled out for offside midway through the first half. Richarlison's angled finis in the ninth minute was only his fifth in the league but, since the start of last season, Joao Pedro (30) and Paris St Germain’s Neymar (19) are the only Brazilians to score more goals in the top five European leagues than him. Playing in a two up front with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has 13 league goals, Richarlison took his chance brilliantly. Gylfi Sigurdsson, in the side for James Rodriguez who was left out as a precaution with a minor injury, capitalized on the space given to him by Mohammed Salisu going down in an aerial challenge with Calvert-Lewin and teammate James Ward-Prowse. The Iceland forward slid through a pass for Richarlison, who was making the same centre-to-right diagonal run which saw him score at Anfield last time out, to round Fraser Forster. It was the first time since since December 2019 he has scored in three successive league matches. Michael Keane had a header ruled out by VAR for offside as Southampton’s intention on holding a perilously high line at free kicks caused it more than a few problems but, strangely, rather than be emboldened, the hosts became more reticent and it could have cost them. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The Massachusetts financial professional who gained notoriety as GameStop bull "Roaring Kitty" is no longer a broker registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to the organization's online records. Keith Gill, known as Roaring Kitty on YouTube and DeepF***ingValue on Reddit, is no longer a registered financial broker as of Feb. 26, the FINRA records show. Gill became a central figure in a January trading frenzy in which shares of the ailing videogame retailer surged more than 1,000% in two weeks, driven by interest among retail investors in online forums.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has agreed to live in the seat of state government in Charleston, ending a long-running challenge over his residency. A Kanawha County judge Monday signed an order dismissing a 2018 lawsuit filed by a former state lawmaker. Through his attorney, Justice said he intends to reside in Charleston “consistent with the definition of ‘reside’ in the Supreme Court of Appeals’ opinion," according to the dismissal order signed by Senior Status Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon. “The parties agree that Respondent’s voluntary agreement to reside at the seat of government within the meaning of the Constitution renders this case moot and that the case should be dismissed,” O'Hanlon wrote. In allowing the lawsuit to proceed in November, the state Supreme Court rejected arguments from Justice that the courts could not force him to live in the state capital. The challenge has been a thorn in the side of Justice, a two-term governor who defended living in Lewisburg even though the state constitution says the governor “shall reside at the seat of government” in Charleston. The justices wrote that courts had the right to compel the Republican governor to comply with the constitution. Justice's lawyers had appealed to the Supreme Court after the lower court declined to throw out the case. Democratic Del. Isaac Sponaugle brought the suit after bipartisan criticism that Justice lived 100 (160 kilometres) miles away from Charleston, near his resort, The Greenbrier. Both sides had argued over the definition of “residency.” Sponaugle claimed the common sense meaning of the word “residency” holds that the governor needs to sleep in Charleston. But Justice's lawyers have said the term was vague and the matter was a political question outside the court's purview. While defending the constitution's residency clause, the justices also said the governor "failed to meet his burden to show that the circuit court exceeded its legitimate powers.” Under the terms of the dismissal order, Justice, a billionaire businessman and richest person in the state who owns a complex business empire of coal and agricultural entities, agreed to pay $65,000 to Sponaugle for attorney fees and costs. John Raby, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's long-term care minister said she didn't go public early last year with concerns about COVID-19 spreading in nursing homes because she didn't consider herself an authority on the emerging threat. Merrilee Fullerton faced criticism from all three opposition parties Monday after newly released transcripts showed she told Ontario's long-term care commission she was aware of the dangers the novel coronavirus posed to the sector long before it was declared a global pandemic but kept those concerns within government. The minister, who is a physician, said while she was worried about a number of issues and discussed them with cabinet colleagues and the province's top doctor, she was no expert. "As a long-term care minister, I understand my role," she said. "I'm not the chief medical officer. I'm not a public health expert. I'm not a scientist ... I'm a retired family doctor who cares very deeply about long-term care and the residents and the staff." Fullerton testified before the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission last week, with the transcript posted online Sunday night. The commission heard that Fullerton and her deputy advocated for stronger measures than what the government was willing to put in place. "You were ahead of the chief medical officer of health in many respects, from your notes anyway," John Callaghan, the commission lawyer questioning Fullerton, told her. For instance, Fullerton's notes from the time suggest she was concerned about asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes as early as Feb. 5, 2020. That possibility wasn't publicly acknowledged by the government until much later. Fuller told the commission her personal history gave her insights into the situation that other politicians may lack. "I had suspicions early on only — well, because I'm a family doctor and spent many years dealing with the elderly," she said. "They may not present with typical symptoms, and so you always have to be watching." NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Fullerton should have spoken out earlier, suggesting that could have saved lives. "The amount of tragedy that Ontarians have had to deal with as a result of this is unforgivable and it is unforgettable," she said. "So there's a lot of responsibility to go around here." Horwath said Fullerton's testimony also pokes holes in Premier Doug Ford's pledge from the early days of the pandemic to create an "iron ring" around nursing homes. "This iron ring never materialized, it never existed," she said. Liberal Party health critic John Fraser said Fullerton should have spoken out publicly. "It's definitely clear right now that she should have fought harder," he said. "There was a lot at stake." Fullerton said Monday that she did not consider resigning from her role in protest because she felt she could make urgently needed changes to the sector. "Why would I resigned from a position where I felt I could be a strong voice and move something that had been neglected for so many years?" she said. "Why would I resign from that duty, from that responsibility, from that obligation?" COVID-19 has devastated Ontario's long-term care system, causing the deaths of 3,865 residents and 11 staff members so far. The commission also heard that Fullerton refused to suggest the risk of COVID-19 was low in a video filmed in early March. Her notes from the pandemic's first wave, read out during the interview, also show that she advocated for locking down long-term care homes before the province did so, and was concerned about staff not wearing personal protective equipment at all times the week before the province made it mandatory. Fullerton told the commission she was also advocating for essential caregivers to be allowed back into long-term care homes as early as May. Such caregivers — usually family members — weren't allowed back into the facilities until July, and even then, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has said, the rules were being applied inconsistently until adjustments were made in September. But she said others — particularly Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health — said the risk of essential caregivers bringing COVID-19 into the facilities was too great. "I was very eager to get caregivers back into the homes, because I believe it was well-being and emotional well-being," Fullerton said. "However, others understood differently and had their reasons for understanding the risks that they did, and so it was left." The commission is set to present its final report on April 30. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Shawn Jeffords and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
After two full weeks of virtual events and activities, Bonhomme Carnaval has come to an end and the identity of this year's mascot has been unveiled. The annual carnival wrapped up with a virtual concert and unveiling of the Bonhomme last Saturday, Feb. 27. Emma Bertrand, a dance teacher at Dansons La Ronde and Melissa Kelly Dance Academy, was this year's Bonhomme Carnaval. The carnival was held virtually this year. Centre Culturel La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand said she didn’t expect such a big turnout and she was very happy with how many people tuned in online. “I’m super happy that the community supported (us). With the window contest, teachers and the principals were so supportive and the French community as well,” she said. “When I mentioned doing a virtual carnival to the board, I didn’t think it was going to be as much work as it was but I’m very, very happy with the result.” The evening show featuring the Lapointe family and Dayv Poulin and the reveal of Bonhomme reached 6,794 people on Facebook and garnered 1,770 engagements, 189 comments and 35 shares. Bertrand said the cooking workshops, as well as the Sip and Paint workshop, were a “great hit.” For the next year’s carnival, the centre is looking into offering virtual events again. “If we have our building, it will definitely be at our Centre Culturel La Ronde. If not, I’ll do a couple of events virtually. It was different and we had a lot of participation,” Bertrand said. “It was fun because we did have people from Montreal that joined, a few people from Cochrane, Iroquois Falls.” Hosting the carnival from a technical perspective has been challenging, Bertrand said, but it was also fun getting together virtually, seeing interactions between people and receiving love and support from the community. “It was virtual but we definitely felt the love,” said Bertrand. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp in Halifax on Monday wondering if and when there will be a world championship there. Nova Scotia's government has yet to approve the world championship April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, and the International Hockey Federation wants to postpone it until May. "We are working now on a postponement,” IIHF president Rene Fasel told The Associated Press on Monday. "We saw it last year with the virus as soon as the weather was warmer, maybe the restrictions will be different." Halifax and Truro were co-hosts of the 10-country 2020 women's championship cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IIHF awarded Nova Scotia the tournament again. The 35 Canadian players arriving Monday in Halifax are preparing as though they'll compete for a world title in May. "I think we had an inclination it would get pushed at some point," Hockey Canada's director of national teams Gina Kingsbury told The Canadian Press from Halifax. "We're moving ahead like worlds are happening in that time frame." Kingsbury views a postponement as an indicator both Hockey Canada and the IIHF are committed to making the tournament happen, instead of cancelling a second time. "I really do feel the postponement is to make sure it happens . . . and to make sure we're in a good position to be able to host and to do so in a safe manner," she said. "There's definitely a process in place and I think Hockey Canada is going through the right process step by step to ensure we will have a world championship in May." Canada requiring travellers arriving from outside the country to isolate for 14 days is problematic in hosting international sport. Hockey Canada obtained federal government permission to alter that restriction for December's spectator-free world men's junior championship in Edmonton, where players and personnel were walled off from the public in a secured zone and underwent regular testing for the virus. Nova Scotia presents another layer of restriction requiring people arriving from outside the province to isolate for 14 days, which isn't the case in Alberta. Nova Scotia health authorities approved the women's camp with several conditions. "The players and staff will be maintaining a quarantine between the hotel and rink and will have no contact with anyone outside of their 'camp bubble'", Nova Scotia Health said Monday in a statement. All players self-isolated for seven days and were tested before arrival in Halifax, Kingsbury said. She says she could throw a baseball from the team's hotel and hit Scotiabank Centre across the street, but the players travel by bus to the arena so they don't mix with the public. Nova Scotia limited the number of people who can be on the ice at one time to 25 last Friday, so the women's camp format had to be quickly adjusted, Kingsbury said. Six goaltenders, 10 defenders and 19 forwards were invited camp, including captain Marie-Philip Poulin, forwards Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse, and Nova Scotia natives Blayre Turnbull and Jill Saulnier. "Being here is a good thing in a lot of ways," Kingsbury said. "It's always good to get a sense and a feel of where you're going to compete. We're going to be skating on the same ice as worlds. "Any time you can mimic your biggest competition is a huge advantage I would say in your preparation." Since Canada finished third in the 2019 world championship in Espoo, Finland, the team has played five international games against the United States. — With files from The Associated Press. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Follow @DLSpencer10 on Twitter. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Some Ontario seniors braved frigid temperatures Monday to get a COVID-19 vaccine as several regions in the province moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public. With the broad launch of a provincial booking portal still two weeks away, some local public health units used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. In York Region, where bookings opened Monday morning for shots that could be administered as early as the afternoon, dozens of seniors and their caregivers lined up outside a sports centre to get the vaccine. Some huddled together for warmth - a winter weather advisory was in effect for the region - as the line to enter the centre in Richmond Hill moved slowly. Hassan Abbas Kara was saving a place in line while his grandmother waited in a car. “I don't want her to wait in the cold, so it’s a little thing I can do right now to help her," he said. Atta Hussain, 82, said the process was "beautiful" and well organized, and expressed relief after receiving his shot. "We thank everybody who is participating," he said. York Region said its vaccination clinics were fully booked just two hours after they started taking appointments. A spokesman said approximately 20,000 appointments were made Monday across five locations in the region. Clinics were also offering shots to those 80 and older in Windsor-Essex County, and to those 85 and older at a hospital in Hamilton, where officials warned of long wait times amid high call volumes to its COVID-19 hotline. Hamilton's top doctor apologized for backlog on the phone line and asked people who don't live in the city to not call about appointments. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. "Some of them are already vaccinating the over-80-year-old people that are living within their regions," Elliott said Monday. "I think that's something that we should be celebrating not denigrating." Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he's happy some public health units are offering shots already, but argued it could cause issues later when health units that have already started making appointments on their own systems have to switch over to the provincial one. The province also said Monday that it has asked the federal government for guidance on possibly extending the intervals between the first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months. It pointed to British Columbia's decision to do so and said there's growing evidence suggesting intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses can be safely extended. Monday also saw two Ontario regions - Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka - return to lockdowns as a result of rising COVID-19 cases. Restrictions on businesses and gatherings were loosened in seven other health units: Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. Municipal officials in Simcoe Muskoka raised concerns about pressure on small businesses and the effects of yet another lockdown on the public during a public meeting with the health unit on Monday. The region's top doctor said he's heard concerns about the strict measures from people in areas with fewer cases. Dr. Charles Gardner said he'll be in touch with the province's chief medical officer about whether a full lockdown is required for the region. In Thunder Bay, which entered a lockdown after reporting more COVID-19 cases in February than all of 2020, a local hospital reported it was expanding its COVID-19 and intensive care units to meet the needs of the community. Meanwhile, a spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the Public Health Agency of Canada was reviewing a funding application for an isolation site in Thunder Bay after the city said it could no longer afford to keep it running. Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths from the virus on Monday. - With files from Cole Burston This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida officials are recommending that the state's antiquated unemployment processing system be replaced after a review confirmed what had long been known: a broken system full of glitches that was incapable of handling the unprecedented deluge of jobless claims spawned by the coronavirus outbreak. The state's Department of Economic Opportunity is recommending that the current system, known as CONNECT, be discarded and replaced with a more robust and modern system that employs cloud-based technology that could allow the system to more nimbly respond to increased demands. The department, which oversees the state's unemployment system, is asking lawmakers for $73 million over the next two years to modernize the system that left hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians without unemployment checks for weeks and sometimes months. The director of the agency, Dane Eagle, told lawmakers Monday that Florida was not alone in its struggles. “We are far behind in where we need to be,” he said. “Florida is not the only state to experience these challenges." But as the unemployment rate surged when businesses closed, Florida was among the slowest states — if not the slowest — in getting unemployment checks to those with no other income to pay mortgages, rents and other necessities. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who likened the benefits claim system to an “old jalopy” breaking down at the Daytona 500, ordered the inspector general to investigate. The Economic Opportunity Department launched a review of its own, and the results were presented Monday to the legislative select committee on pandemic preparedness and response. The report makes clear that the system was neither prepared nor responsive at a time of crisis, when some 1.3 million Floridians, at the peak of unemployment in April, tried to access benefits through online portals that continually crashed or phone systems that only added to frustrations. The long awaited inspector general’s report could be released in a matter of weeks. The inspector general’s findings are current being reviewed by economic opportunity officials. The CONNECT system prompted concern from the start. Soon after the online portal launched in October 2013, it was beset by system crashes that prevented people from claiming benefits. Despite previous audits that identified numerous glitches, many of the problems were never addressed. Those same system failures prevented people from accessing the system. Critics warned that the system was doomed to fail. “Unfortunately, as it turns out, we were absolutely correct," said Democratic state Rep. Evan Jenne, the House minority co-leader. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.1 million people have filed unemployment claims in Florida. The state has paid out more than $23.1 billion in benefits — less than a fourth of that from the state's reemployment assistance program. The rest of the funds came from federal pandemic relief packages, some of it earmarked to supplement meagre unemployment checks and to provide benefits to gig workers and others who were not eligible for traditional state benefits. The state's electronic portal was initially unable to process claims filed by freelancers and other independent contractors, adding to confusion, frustration and anger. The state eventually put in place a parallel electronic system to handle claims from nontraditional workers. In fact the state's electronic portal was so overwhelmed that state officials reverted to filing claims on paper forms. As part of its just-completed review, the Department of Economic Opportunity is also asking lawmakers for authority to establish an Office of Accountability and Transparency, but it was unclear in a presentation submitted to the pandemic committee exactly what its role would be. In addition, it wants to create a Reemployment Assistance Modernization Strategic Planning Office to oversee the modernization effort. The new money requested by the Economic Opportunity Department adds to the $39 million COVID-19-related outlays in its current year budget. The $73 billion being requested for the next two years would nearly double the department’s budget during the same time period. A more modest $8 million is also being requested to supplement the department's typical annual budget of $41.3 million in the three years after. Before the pandemic, the Reemployment Assistance System budget was about $12 million annually. Meanwhile, the state’s Unemployment Benefit Trust Fund has been dramatically depleted. Its balance is now just $777 million -- less than a fifth of the $4 billion it had before the pandemic. Bobby Caina Calvan, The Associated Press
The television audience for Hollywood's virtual Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday fell sharply from last year's event, according to preliminary estimates on Monday. Ratings data reported on Monday by The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline showed that only about 5.4 million Americans watched the three-hour telecast on the NBC network. NBC has yet to release any figures and did not return a request for comment.
La Fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante (FCEI) exhorte Ottawa à communiquer les nouveaux critères de la Subvention salariale d’urgence du Canada (SSUC) et de la Subvention d’urgence du Canada pour le loyer (SUCL) avant le 14 mars, date de la prochaine période de demande. Selon cette corporation, les nouveaux critères d’admissibilité devraient être connus au moins 30 jours à l’avance pour permettre aux PME de planifier. « Les entrepreneurs font face à une tonne d’incertitudes en ce moment, notamment en raison des restrictions gouvernementales en cours, a affirmé Jasmin Guénette, vice-président des affaires nationales à la FCEI. « La subvention salariale et l’aide au loyer demeurent essentielles à la survie de beaucoup de PME. Voilà pourquoi les propriétaires ont besoin de connaître les règles rapidement afin de prendre les décisions appropriées pour leur entreprise », a-t-elle ajouté. Plus de la moitié des PME (53 %) dépendent toujours de la SSUC et 27 % bénéficient de la SUCL selon la FCEI qui a établi que seulement un quart des entreprises ont retrouvé leur rythme normal au Canada. Dans un communiqué, elle a plaidé pour le prolongement de ces deux programmes au-delà de juin étant donné qu’il est probable que certaines restrictions soient toujours en vigueur à ce moment-là et qu’une bonne partie des entreprises risquent de ne pas avoir encore retrouvé un niveau de ventes normal La fédération a également exhorté le gouvernement fédéral CEI à repousser la date limite pour les demandes du Compte d’urgence pour les entreprises canadiennes au-delà du 31 mars, mais aussi à augmenter le montant accordé par ce compte à 80 000 $ ainsi que la portion pardonnée à 50 %. De janvier à mars, le taux compensatoire maximum de la subvention salariale est de 35 % et le montant maximum de la subvention pour les employés en congé payé est de 595 $. Les entreprises, les organismes à but non lucratif ou les organismes de bienfaisance canadiens qui ont subi une baisse de revenus pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 peuvent aussi avoir droit à une subvention pour couvrir une partie de leur loyer commercial ou de leurs dépenses immobilières jusqu’au mois de juin 2021. Cette subvention doit fournir des paiements directement aux locataires et aux propriétaires de biens admissibles, sans passer par les locateurs. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Six Toronto pitchers combined to give up three hits in a seven-inning pre-season game as the Blue Jays tied the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-2 on Monday. Starter Robbie Ray gave up one run on one hit in two innings before Nate Pearson, Francisco Liriano, David Phelps, Ryan Borucki and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., each pitched an inning of relief. It marked Toronto's first exhibition game at their spring and early-season home of Dunedin, Fla., after the Blue Jays (1-0-1) beat the New York Yankees 6-4 on Sunday in their pre-season debut in Tampa, Fla. Alejandro Kirk's sacrifice fly and Breyvic Valera's single in the first off Pirates starter Mitch Keller accounted for Toronto's scoring. Pirates outfielder and former Blue Jay Anthony Alford homered off Ray in the second before Phillip Evans' single off Pearson in the third tied it. The Blue Jays also had just three hits on the day. Toronto hosts the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021 The Canadian Press
Pour poursuivre avec son dossier d’un pont sur le Saguenay, macotenord.com décortique aujourd’hui la première étude indépendante datant de 1973. Comme le dit le dicton: Il faut savoir d’où l’on vient pour savoir où l’on va. Cette étude technique et économique est l’œuvre de T.A. Monti, ingénieur civil, diplômé de l’Université de Harvard et docteur en science de l’Université de Montréal. Ce professionnel était secondé par une équipe d’ingénieurs de Montréal et d’une firme de Londres, expérimentée dans les ponts suspendus, notamment. D’entrée de jeu: deux grandes constatations de cette étude indépendante. Elle confirme qu’un pont est faisable sur le Saguenay, brisant ainsi un vieux mythe selon lequel un pont était irréalisable sur cette rivière étant incapable de trouver le fond, qu’elle était trop large ou que le climat était trop drastique. Ce rapport confirme que la construction d’un pont et son entretien coûteraient moins cher au gouvernement du Québec que de maintenir le traversier. Le pont à lui seul aurait coûté 35M$ une fois les 4 années de construction complétées en 1977. Les principales dépenses étant l’acier du pont, 13M$, et les câbles, 11M$. Ajoutons des travaux nécessaires dus à un roc très fendillé en surface faisant augmenter le coût des attaches des câbles. Il fut aussi découvert que la région de la Malbaie est le centre séismique de l’est du continent. Les charges des tremblements de terre y sont cinq fois celles de Québec et Montréal et deux fois celles de la Californie. Bien que le lien permanent au-dessus du Saguenay à Tadoussac est d’une nécessité grandissante, la construction d’un pont suspendu à quatre voies de circulation, estimé à 50M$ dans son ensemble, n’est pas chose facile, mais pas impossible. Un pont semblable enjambe depuis des années le Bosphore à Istanbul en Turquie ou les réalités de Tadoussac sont sensiblement les mêmes. De plus, la route #15 qui dessert la région à l’époque était l’axe principal, surtout à cause de la lenteur du transport maritime, le coût élevé du transport aérien et de l’absence de chemin de fer sur l’ensemble du territoire. L’étude détermine aussi que la population nord-côtière devait augmenter de 6% faisant passer le trafic annuel de 210 000 véhicules en 1970 à 450 000 véhicules par année à l’ouverture du pont en 1977. L’avenir est florissant avec de mégas projets comme l’usine Rayonner. Sept-Îles est la ville avec le revenu moyen le plus haut au Canada dans les années ’70. Par contre, déjà de longues files d’attente au traversier pendant la belle saison et les jours fériés causaient des maux de tête aux usagers. Plus rentable un pont qu’un traversier Québec a subventionné le traversier à la hauteur de 900 000$ en 1974, incluant l’entretien annuel des quais. À ce rythme-là, Québec devait prévoir un budget de 1,5M$ pour maintenir son traversier en 1977, date où le pont aurait été opérationnel. De plus, le gouvernement prévoyait devoir remplacer les quais pour la somme de 200 000$ pour celui de Tadoussac et 320 000$ pour celui sis à Baie-Ste-Catherine. On a même envisagé d’en faire un pont à péage, soit 1$ par traversée. Une idée qui n’a pas tenu la route longtemps, car M. Monti mentionnait que « ça ne serait pas équitable pour les habitants de la région de la Côte-Nord qui contribuent déjà à défrayer via leurs impôts les coûts des autres ponts ailleurs au Québec où la traversée est gratuite. » Le temps c’est de l’argent Dans ce document, il est aussi démontré qu’avec un pont, il y aurait épargne de temps. On estimait que dans les meilleures conditions, il fallait 20 minutes pour traverser à Tadoussac y compris embarquement, débarquement et traversée. Lors des périodes de pointe, ce temps d’attente grimpait à plus d’une heure. On a alors évalué ce temps en dollars en considérant qu’un camion avec un chauffeur pouvait coûter à cette époque 8$ l’heure. On précise qu’il est plus difficile d’estimer le coût pour les véhicules à passager. Bref, le prix moyen avait donc été fixé à 2,50 l’heure. En 1970, 306 000 passagers, 210 000 véhicules et 44 000 camions utilisaient le traversier. Selon une formule mathématique avec les coûts du traversier, l’entretien, les pertes de temps et l’inflation, M.Tonti arrive à la conclusion: LE PONT SUR LE SAGUENAY A TADOUSSAC EST DÉFINITIVEMENT RENTABLE, peut-on lire en grosses lettres dans le document de 31 pages. L’économie était alors de 1,750 000$, soit quelque 80, 000 000 (80M$) pour une période de 50 ans. Si ce pont n’est pas encore sur pied en 2021, rappelons que les élus s’opposaient farouchement à ce tracé qui prévoyait traverser le village de Tadoussac en passant derrière l’hôtel Tadoussac avec une route de contournement du village de Baie-Ste-Catherine. Stéphane Tremblay, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
For most of 2020, the virtual council meetings had been next to impossible to listen in on. The live feed would cut in and out, or the voices garbled to the point you couldn’t decipher who was speaking or what was being said. For most, switching to online meetings was only temporary until restrictions were lifted and regular council meetings could resume. However, almost one year later, the restrictions are still in place. The way we communicate over the computer hasn’t changed either. Due to the meetings' convenience, live-streaming council meetings for the public may become a permanent way to engage the community long after restrictions are lifted. Town councillors agreed unanimously during last year’s meeting on November 9, 2020, that the communication system in which they’re currently using to broadcast the council meetings lacks quality and would need an upgraded system. The motion was made to investigate an alternate solution that would improve how they stream the meetings for those watching and allow for audio and video clarity. After a few months of checking into systems, other municipalities use and talking with various media companies, a proposal was finally brought forth and approved by council during the February 22, 2021 council meeting. The upgraded portable system selected consists of one Council microphone system and a chairperson gooseneck microphone and enough for nine other delegates. For video, a PTZ camera (pan, tilt, zoom camera) will be installed at the front of the room to capture the meeting in its entirety. The new equipment will be placed in the Protective Services Building, where the meetings are currently conducted. Once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, the councillors will move back to council chambers and take the new system with them. By switching over to the new system, the council meetings can be broadcasted through the Town of Fox Creek’s website. A time frame has not been given when the network system will be up and functioning; however, Administration will share it with the public once it is set in place. The new audio/video system equipment’s overall cost is $40,000, which is eligible for funding from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) Grant. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
Donwood Park public school is temporarily shutting its doors because of a COVID-19 outbreak that include four cases of variants or concern. Erica Vella has details.
Irving Oil has notified the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board it is dropping its application for an increase in petroleum wholesale margins four days before it was scheduled to answer dozens of questions about the request. "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Irving Oil's business has been significant and the situation demands that Irving Oil's management team devote its full and undivided attention to business operations," company lawyer Len Hoyt wrote in a Monday letter withdrawing the application. "As the process has evolved, it has become apparent that the proceeding will require an inordinate level of time and effort on the part of senior management of Irving Oil, which, in current circumstances, are required in the business." In January, Irving Oil's marketing and commercial divisions applied for a 62.8 per cent (4.09 cent per litre) increase in the allowed wholesale margin for motor fuels, including diesel and gasoline and a 54.9 per cent (3.02 cent per litre) increase in the margin for furnace oil. If granted the increase would be available to all New Brunswick wholesalers and raise prices to consumers by about $1 million per week. Len Hoyt, the lead lawyer for Irving Oil, withdrew the company's application Monday by letter. The company had also asked that prior to a full hearing on its request in April, 85 per cent of the increase on motor fuels (3.5 cents) and 99 per cent of the increase on furnace oil (3.0 cents) be granted immediately because of intense financial pressures it says have arisen in the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. That request was unanimously rejected by a three-person panel of the EUB in mid-February, which found the company had presented no direct evidence to prove its claim of financial distress. "The board concludes that the applicants have not established that the current wholesale margin for motor fuels and furnace oil are such that security of supply would be jeopardized during the period between its application and the likely timeframe of the board's final decision in this matter," it said. A full hearing into Irving Oil's application was scheduled to begin April 26 and as part of the process the company is obliged to answer written questions or "interrogatories" from groups registered to participate as interveners. Interrogatories from eight participants involving more than 150 separate questions were filed by the Feb. 19 deadline and by agreement had to be answered by the company by this Friday. In his letter, Hoyt said the "volume and scope" of questions being asked were a distraction to senior company managers trying to run Irving Oil's business and gave the company second thoughts about participating. "Many of the interrogatories are, in Irving Oil's view, beyond the scope of the hearing and are likely to result in further disagreements over the relevance of the information requested as well as its confidential nature.," wrote Hoyt. "Accordingly, Irving Oil, after careful consideration wishes to advise the Board that they are withdrawing this application for increases in the maximum wholesale margins for motor fuel and furnace oil." On its company website, Irving Oil criticized the regulatory process and suggested it will pursue other ways to make its case for higher prices. "The current system does not allow for the proper consideration of what is an industry issue in our province," said the company statement. "We will now continue the important work of ensuring these facts are understood to support the long-term viability of the industry in this region." Hafsah Mohammed of Grassroots NB worries this latest development could lead to an effort to dismantle petroleum regulation in New Brunswick. Abram Lutes with the Common Front for Social Justice was involved in the hearing process in opposition to the application. He applauded the withdrawal and endorsed the EUB's handling of the matter. "This is definitely a win for New Brunswickers," Lutes wrote in a message about the requested increase being dropped. "We have to stay vigilant and make sure governments keep the regulatory process democratic, open and transparent." Hafsah Mohammed with the group Grassroots NB said she is disappointed the hearing will not proceed and is concerned it may trigger an effort to dismantle petroleum regulations in New Brunswick. "I worry about that," she said.
BARRIE, Ont. — Police say they have closed Highway 400 in both directions due to a series of vehicle collisions. Ontario Provincial Police have shut down the major artery from Highway 88 outside of Bradford, Ont., to Mapleview Drive in Barrie, Ont. Whiteout conditions on the highway north of Toronto have limited visibility and made driving treacherous. Police and paramedics are on the scene, although they say no serious injuries have been reported yet. Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the OPP estimates that dozens of vehicles have been involved in accidents on the 30-kilometre stretch of Highway 400. Schmidt says that police have begun to remove cars from the road, but they're asking commuters to avoid the area as high winds and poor visibility continue. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
The first day of mass vaccinations began smoothly at the Montreal convention centre, where 2,000 people were scheduled to get their shot. It was the first day all Quebecers over 70 were eligible to be vaccinated.