Extreme winter weather is dealing the first major setback to the Biden administration's planned swift rollout of coronavirus vaccines just as the national vaccination campaign was hitting its stride. (Feb. 19)
Extreme winter weather is dealing the first major setback to the Biden administration's planned swift rollout of coronavirus vaccines just as the national vaccination campaign was hitting its stride. (Feb. 19)
A new podcast recently launched by an Indigenous storyteller focuses on reconnecting with his cultural roots and exploring how it informs his identity. Jeremy Ratt, a former resident of the Columbia Valley, self-identifies as Métis with ancestors that are of both Woods-Cree and Caucasian descent in his newly released Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) - B.C. / Radio Canada podcast entitled Pieces which was announced on Feb. 18, 2021. “I always knew that more Indigenous stories needed to be told and I’m so proud of how Pieces turned out. Podcasting is an intimate and personal medium and really suits the themes of identity and self I explored in Pieces,” said Ratt, the host of Pieces in a recent press release. “The stories are authentic and I feel the podcast will resonate with anyone figuring out who they are in our complex world.” Ratt has released several episodes on the CBC podcast, ranging from cultural reclamation to racism, stereotypes and shame as well as the burdens of intergenerational trauma. He believes these personal stories are a way of sharing his identity with other Canadians and may contribute to his own personal growth in the long-run. The 19-year-old Métis boy focuses on exploring his identity through his platform as a CBC host on a newly published series. Ratt is a self-proclaimed writer and musician with a passion for broadcasting. In fact, Ratt wrote and recorded the intro song that plays at the beginning and end of each episode in his podcast. “I have had the pleasure of working on multiple podcasts at CBC British Columbia that reflect contemporary Canada, we are always on the lookout for interesting stories and diverse voices,” says Shiral Tobin, Director, Journalism and Programming CBC, British Columbia. “When Jeremy first came to us with the idea for Pieces,” we knew it was a story that needed to be told. We are humbled and proud Jeremy trusted CBC British Columbia to help tell this deeply personal story.” Pieces is available online at CBC Listen, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer
OTTAWA — The fight to win the leadership of his party could be nothing compared to what Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has ahead: keeping his party together as he tries to win over voters who haven't voted for it recently. Caucus morale is buoyed by this week's House of Commons vote in favour of a motion declaring a genocide against Uighur Muslims in China. But the Tories remain stuck behind the Liberals in the polls and the Liberal war room is revving up to keep them there. The Tories' hawkish view on China stands as a point of demarcation between O'Toole and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, so while the Tories lauded the vote Monday as a victory for human rights, it's also one for them. That Liberal MPs, but not cabinet, voted with the Tories on the motion underscores the point, O'Toole argued after the vote. "The fact that Mr. Trudeau did not even show up to be accountable is a terrible sign of leadership," he said. That he'd take a strong stance on China was a key promise O'Toole made in his bid for leadership last year. But how he's following through on others is emerging as a question as O'Toole marks exactly six months in the post. Among the issues: a fear he'll backtrack on a promise dear to the heart of the party, especially in the West: repealing the federal carbon tax. MPs not authorized to publicly discuss caucus deliberations say many are concerned about O'Toole's stated support for a Liberal bill aimed at cutting Canada's net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero by 2050. Most environment and economics experts say getting there without a carbon tax is possible, but would cost more because the regulations needed to achieve the goal would ultimately be more expensive. For a party fixated on the bottom line, which path to take without inflaming the base is a tricky choice. O'Toole's spokesperson says he remains committed to scrapping the federal carbon tax, though O'Toole himself no longer includes it in election-style speeches to general audiences, nor would he repeat the commitment to reporters when asked last week. Another marquee promise, to defund the CBC, is also in the wind. Spokesperson Chelsea Tucker didn't directly answer this week when asked if he would still do that if the Conservatives win power. All outlets need a fair playing field, she said in an email. "Conservatives are committed to ensuring the best path forward for Canada’s news sector." The promises on the carbon tax and on defunding the CBC were key planks for O'Toole's leadership campaign because he needed the Tory base on side to win. But as he seeks now to broaden the appeal of the party, many in caucus are expressing frustration with his approach. Recent meetings have been laced with tension and demands for change, several told The Canadian Press. Underpinning the grumbling: how kicking controversial MP Derek Sloan out of caucus played out, the appearance of a demotion from the important finance-critic post for wildly popular MP Pierre Poilievre, and frustration over the Conservatives' overarching pitch to the public. In some instances, MPs have issued their own statements when official lines out of O'Toole's office didn't jibe with their own points of view. MPs Rachael Harder and Jeremy Patzer publicly lashed out over new Liberal measures restricting travel to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, calling them draconian and an overreach, while O'Toole's office stuck with a call for compassion. Meanwhile, some MPs see focusing on anything but vaccines against COVID-19 a waste of political energy, including the recent vote on China. Others argue that O'Toole's stated focus on jobs — it was the reason Poilievre has a new title as jobs and industry critic, O'Toole says — means little without ideas to advance. O'Toole's team has partially blamed lacklustre polling on an inability to get out in front of people during the pandemic, and have tried to counter it with ad blitzes. Those efforts are also aimed at defining O'Toole before the Liberals come up with a narrative of their own. The two clashed Wednesday. As O'Toole marked six months as leader with a new ad portraying him as a serious worker, the Liberals jumped on a clip from his leadership race where he suggests he wants to put the prime minister in a portable toilet. O'Toole's office discounted the tactic as another effort by the Liberals to distract from their record, calling on them to focus instead on vaccines. There are other signs of a disconnect emerging between O'Toole and at least some of his caucus. One is over an upcoming vote in the House of Commons on a ban on conversion therapy. O'Toole says he is against the practice of forcing those questioning their gender or sexual identities into therapy but it's a free vote for his MPs. The members of his caucus who oppose the ban are organizing their own strategy sessions to frame their planned votes, work that includes O'Toole's deputy chief of staff. And the well-organized social-conservative wing of the party is gearing up for the Tories' March policy convention. The effort includes snapping up delegate spots so rapidly that some party stalwarts didn't get one, raising fears the social conservatives will be mighty enough to get controversial policies passed. Competition for spaces is a healthy sign, said party spokesman Cory Hann. "We have had more people interested in our convention than at any time in history, so of course there's going to be competitive delegate-selection meetings right across the country, which just shows how much interest there is in our party," he said. O'Toole said recently what the polls show today doesn't matter. "The Conservatives got Canada through the last global recession, better than any other country, without raising taxes. That is what we will do," he said. "And I think the polls will be on election day when Canadians want to choose that strong future." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A quarantine screening officer who allegedly demanded cash from a woman before sexually assaulting her at her home faces related charges, police said on Wednesday. The accused had been trained by the Public Health Agency of Canada as a designated screening officer under the Quarantine Act, Halton regional police said. According to a police statement, the accused was doing a quarantine compliance check at a home in Oakville, Ont., on Feb. 18. "The accused informed the victim that they were in violation of the quarantine order and demanded that a fine be paid in cash," police alleged. "When the victim declined to pay, she was sexually assaulted by the accused." Police said they arrested a man they identified only as Hemant, 27, of Hamilton, on Tuesday. He has been charged with sexual assault and extortion. Police also said he worked for one of four private security firms hired to help enforce isolation orders. Police refused to disclose the name of the security company that employs the man, but said he had been suspended. Const. Steve Elms, a police spokesman, said the accused, who is on bail pending a court appearance March 23, apparently goes only by one name. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the alleged victim, said Elms, who had no other details. The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond to a request to comment. All people entering Canada are required to isolate for 14 days. Designated screening officers visit quarantine locations to confirm the person is where they said they would be in quarantine when they arrived in the country. Failure to comply can result in fines. Screening officers, contracted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, are not police officers and have no authority to issue a ticket or arrest anyone. As a result, police said, screening officers should never be demanding payment of any kind during a quarantine-compliance check. Police said other people might have been victimized and urged anyone who might have had a similar experience to contact their local police. Issues have previously arisen with quarantine guards. Last year, private security contractors at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, Australia, were accused of sleeping with guests, the Herald Sun reported. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccine doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective than delivery directed from Ottawa. He says he will be working with provinces and territories to ensure they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts, even as the National Association of Friendship Centres and other advocates call for more direct federal involvement.
Les ministères de tutelle n’ont pas à s’immiscer dans ce qui relève de la responsabilité des chercheurs. À la communauté universitaire d’ouvrir le débat sur recherche et militantisme.
ANHCORAGE, Alaska — A highly transmissible coronavirus variant originally traced to Brazil has been discovered in Alaska. The variant was found in a specimen of an Anchorage resident who developed COVID-19 symptoms, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The person had no known travel history. It’s the sixth case of the variant found in five U.S. states, officials said. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, an epidemiologist with the state health department, said there is evidence to suggest the P.1 variant is more transmissible than the original virus and that its mutations also “appear to change the antigenic profile of the virus.” That means it can potentially be contracted by someone who was already infected or who has been vaccinated. It’s also troublesome that the person in the Alaska case has no known travel history. “That does make it more concerning,” he told the newspaper. “So we are trying to do a thorough epidemiological investigation to figure out where the person actually got infected from.” The person ate at an Anchorage restaurant with at least one other person in late January and didn’t wear a mask. The infected person developed symptoms four days later and tested positive on Feb. 8 There is at least one person who had close contact with the infected person. The state has had two cases of people with the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom. “COVID is still circulating,” McLaughlin said, adding that more variant cases will likely be detected even as cases overall continue to decline. “We really want people to continue following all the mitigation strategies,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a reasonably high probability that the infection may have incurred while the person was eating at a restaurant with another person, so we just want to make sure people continue to stay within their social bubbles.” Alaska reported 58 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 55,560. The state has reported 287 deaths. Alaska has administered 232,811 doses of vaccine. Of those, 89,147 have been second doses. Alaska’s total population is about 731,000. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death. The Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. — It is now illegal in Tucson, Arizona, to enforce dress code or grooming policies that discriminate against hair texture and hairstyles in the workplace and public schools, officials said. The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to adopt the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, joining multiple cities across the country in passing the ordinance, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The ordinance has been part of a national campaign promoted by Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty. It also prohibits workplace discrimination based on headdresses worn for cultural or religious reasons. “We want to be sure there are no barriers for people in the workplace and in schools,” said Annie Sykes, president of Tucson’s Black Women’s Task Force. “These barriers are usually rooted in discrimination and prejudice.” Sykes cited a study showing that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair and 80% more likely to feel like they have to change their hair to fit in at work. “Your hair is your crown and it connects us to our culture and to our ancestry,” said Desiree Cook, a licensed hair stylist and founder of the local organization, I AM YOU 360. “So we ask that those crowns are honoured, whether it be in schools, in the community or the workplace.” The Tucson ordinance will be enforced through the human relations section of the city code and will apply to any facility or business with public accommodations, officials said. Violations can bring civil penalties. The Associated Press
CALGARY — The CEO of Crescent Point Energy Corp. says the company is poised to benefit from rising oil prices after two years of transformation through selling assets, cutting debt and reducing costs. The Calgary-based company's move last week to buy producing light oil shale assets in Alberta for $900 million from Royal Dutch Shell reflects that confidence, Craig Bryksa said. "We have built an asset portfolio that is well-positioned to benefit from a rising price environment given our light oil weighting and high netbacks," he said on a Wednesday conference call with analysts to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results. "We expect to generate $375 (million) to $600 million of excess cash flow this year at US$50 to US$60 WTI (West Texas Intermediate) prices." The company plans to devote most of that cash flow to paying down debt, he said, adding that it will evaluate increasing returns to shareholders over time. Shell is to receive $700 million in cash and 50 million Crescent Point shares under the deal and will wind up owning an 8.6 per cent stake in Crescent Point if it closes as expected in April. The companies say the assets are producing around 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from more than 270 wells. About 57 per cent of production is condensate, highly valued as a diluent blended with oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline. Analysts said the company beat their fourth-quarter estimates on production and average selling prices although both measures fell compared with the same period in 2019. "CPG closed the chapter on a highly successful year in its business transformation toward becoming a more sustainable producer generating significant free cash flow, which should be complemented by the upcoming (Shell) acquisition," Desjardins analyst Chris MacCulloch wrote in a report. Crescent Point reported producing 111,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about 90 per cent crude oil and petroleum liquids, in the fourth quarter, down from 145,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. It attributed the drop to capital spending cuts enacted early in 2020 as oil prices fell. It's average realized fourth-quarter oil price was $49.40 per barrel, down from $65.27 in the year-earlier period. It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $51 million or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $932 million or $1.73 per share in the same period of 2019. On Wednesday, it confirmed 2021 production guidance released with the Shell announcement last week of about 134,000 boe/d, as well as a 2021 capital budget of about $600 million (both assuming the deal is closed). That's up from Crescent Point's average output of 121,600 boe/d during 2020 and down from actual 2020 capital spending of $655 million. The company reported net debt of about $2.1 billion at year-end, paid down by over $615 million during the year. It said it also removed about $60 million in budgeted operating expenses in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CPG) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Squamish Nation has swapped pink shirts for pink masks to mark Canada’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Day. To raise awareness of the CKNW Kids’ Fund annual Pink Shirt Day (Feb. 24) the nation’s Ta7lnew̓ás Education, Employment, and Training team decided to do things a little differently this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, handing out 200 pink masks to students to wear to take a stance against bullying. Staff within the nation’s other offices also got involved – with a total of 600 pink masks handed out throughout the nation's North Vancouver and Squamish communities. The pink masks share a Squamish Nation word – Ayátnewasyap, which means "be kind to one another." Syetáxtn, Chris Lewis, a spokesperson for the nation, said the pink mask initiative was all about spreading the message of Ayátnewasyap throughout the community. “We thought it was really innovative from our team and our staff and a really creative way to get the message out there, especially in unprecedented times where we need to be kinder to one another, now more than ever,” he said. “Everybody has to wear a mask and it's just an alternate way to continue to pass the message around about anti-bullying and make it visible.” Lewis said another message the nation taught the community’s young people and children was to “treat people the way you want to be treated.” “In our language, we call it wena’xws, which means you’re treating somebody with respect, you're believing what they say, and you’re honouring them,” he said. “It’s the complete opposite of bullying and being aggressive. “That's who we are as Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people and we really try to kind of embody that in terms of teaching our young children and reminding our people that we need to be kinder to one another and we need to support one another, especially during a pandemic.” He said he hoped the pink masks would be a visible reminder to not only the nation but to the wider community to be kind and humble to one another and to treat people with respect. “Bullying doesn't have a space in our world,” said Lewis. This Pink Shirt Day, the CKNW Kids’ Fund is calling on British Columbians to “lift each other up” and support programs that encourage healthy self-esteem and teach empathy, compassion, and kindness. They encourage everyone to practise kindness and wear pink today (Feb. 24) to symbolize that you do not tolerate bullying. Since 2008, net proceeds of over $2.55 million have been distributed to support youth anti-bullying programs in B.C. and throughout Western Canada. Last year alone, CKNW Kids’ Fund was able to support programs that impacted more than 59,000 youth and children. Get involved: purchase official Pink Shirt Day merchandise and support anti-bullying initiatives in B.C. at CKNW Kids’ Fund Pink Shirt Day. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Substantial increases in speed and avail-ability for broadband may be coming to Mono. Council heard a request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc., to support their application to the Federal government to become part of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. Their aim is to supply the entire town of Mono with Fibre Optic Internet service. Currently, much of Mono is underserviced by the available service providers and this prevents many residents and businesses from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital communications.Broadband connectivity is a key priority for Mono Council and is in fact, part of their Corporate Strategic Plan. Rogers’ “leave no home behind,” plan is a true game changer for Mono.Rogers build strategy commitment is to bring broadband to entire areas of under-served homes. If it is approved, it will bring the needed broadband service, to house-holds and businesses to enable them to avail themselves of digital opportunities. Espe-cially, in the fields of business, education, health and public safety.One of the other benefits to the propos-al, is that there is no suggested cost to the Town. A notation made by Deputy Mayor John Creelman, who has been spearheading the drive for better internet service in Mono. To this end, the deputy Mayor was deeply involved with helping Vianet set up the an-tennae on the Town water tower. Another potential benefit is that if two ser-vice providers are eyeing the same territory, the funder, in this case the Federal govern-ment will be the one to decide who may op-erate where. Also, any service must be an open access one, meaning that third party users must be allow access to the service for a reasonable cost.The proposed service, will have a mini-mum download speed of 50 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 10 megabits per second. There are purportedly, several service providers interested in servicing Mono. CAO Mark Early mentioned that he had recently been approached by V-Media from Concord, who are also interested in supplying internet services to Mono.Deputy Mayor Creelman noted that the SWIFT program is set to go along Hwy.10, from the 10th Sideroad north through Camil-la. If Rogers and Vianet are prepared to ser-vice the rest of Mono, this will allow SWIFT to move into other parts of Dufferin County, not adequately services with broadband.Innovation Canada expects that 90 per cent of Canada will have access to high speed internet by the end of 2021. Individ-uals are encouraged to reach out to their internet service providers to notify them about the UBF and encourage them to apply for funding. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he will not trigger an election as long as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Singh says he will stand by his pledge to prop up the Liberal minority government on confidence votes regardless of whether the Liberals back an NDP bill to implement universal pharmacare, due for a vote later today. The government is expected within the next couple months to table a budget, which would trigger an election if it fails to garner support from at least one major opposition party. New Democrats have been hyping their pharmacare legislation in advance of a vote that will either kill Bill C-213 or send it to committee for further scrutiny. The NDP and Liberals both promised some kind of pharmacare program during the 2019 federal election campaign, but differ on the details. Singh says his party's universal medication plan, laid out in a private member's bill sponsored by MP Peter Julian, resembles the framework recommended by a government-commissioned report released in June 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(CBC - image credit) A large fire Wednesday morning in Ingonish, N.S., destroyed a barn and the livestock inside, which were the heart of a young family's business and livelihood. The barn belonged to the Groovy Goat Farm & Soap Company, located along the Cabot Trail in northern Cape Breton. "It just was such a shock and it all just happened so fast," said Shannon Costelo, who owns the Groovy Goat with her husband, Ryan Costelo. Costelo said a neighbour knocked on their door to point out smoke coming from the barn behind their house. "We went out right away and there was smoke at that point ... It didn't seem like a lot so my husband ran out with the fire extinguisher. But he went in and the whole barn was already filled with smoke," Costelo said. She said her husband kicked the doors open, hoping the goats inside, which included some new kids, would run out, but none did. They were unable to rescue any of the animals that were in the barn. Engulfed in flames within minutes "It just went so fast and, you know, the whole barn was filled with hay in the hay loft, so ... it didn't take long," she said. It was only about, like, five or 10 minutes from the time we saw the smoke that it was totally engulfed in flames." The wind was blowing in the direction of the family home, Costelo said, so while her husband called for fire crews, she packed up their three children and got them off the property for fear the barn fire would spread. Costelo said her family built the barn about five years ago as their business was just taking off. They operate a petting farm and a shop where they sell their goat milk, soaps and other bath products. In addition to their goats, the family also owns some cows, which were out in a pasture at the time of the fire. 'It was pretty traumatic' Costelo said her husband is also the chief of the Ingonish volunteer fire department, which is not far from their home, so he got the truck from the station and started trying to extinguish the blaze with the help of neighbours before additional fire crews arrived. "It was very hard for him," Costelo said. "It was pretty traumatic." Crews from Ingonish and Neils Harbour responded to the blaze around 8:30 a.m. Victoria County deputy warden Larry Dauphinee was among the firefighters responding to the call. "It's a big loss to the community," Dauphinee said. "It's definitely a young couple with a nice business on the go ... I'm sure the community will pull together and assist as much as they can." Dauphinee said high winds made the fire difficult to control, as crews worked to save nearby buildings. A GoFundMe account has been launched to raise money for the Costelo family. Costelo said she and her husband haven't talked a lot yet about what comes next, but she's hoping to keep the business going. "We'll never, never get the animals back and we'll have to live with what happened," she said. "But we do hopefully plan to rebuild the barn and kind of pick ourselves up and keep going, if we can." MORE TOP STORIES
(CBC - image credit) The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer said she expects the territory to have full herd immunity — meaning, 75 per cent of the eligible adult population having received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine — by the end of the April. Territorial officials, including Premier Caroline Cochrane, had previously stated that their goal was to have 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated by the end of March. At the territory's weekly COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Dr. Kami Kandola said the territory will receive 16,200 doses of the vaccine later this week and another 16,200 doses in the territory's fifth and final shipment, at the end of March. She said the vaccination rollout to the general population in N.W.T. is expected to begin in late March or early April 2021, provided the territory receives its fifth shipment of doses in full and on time. She said this will allow 75 per cent of the population to receive one dose by the end of March and two doses by the end of April. "The N.W.T. is still leading the country in the delivery of first doses, which are already giving strong protection to about 42 per cent of our adult population," she said. Kandola said that as of Feb. 20, the territory had administered 14,520 first doses of the vaccine, and 1,932 second doses. She said all 33 N.W.T. communities have second-dose clinics scheduled. Outside of Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik, they are open to residents who are getting their second dose and to any resident who is 18 and older wishing to get their first dose. On Wednesday, the territory announced it was expanding second-dose clinics in Yellowknife beginning March 1 to allow people who received their first Moderna vaccine dose between Jan. 23 and 30 to get their second dose. Officials also announced they had finalized a schedule for vaccine clinics in all of the territory's communities, although they stipulated it was subject to change based on the supply and delivery of vaccine. Kandola said that if people hadn't received their first dose at a previous clinic in their community, they can still receive them at second-dose clinics. She also said that N.W.T. residents can now get vaccinated anywhere in the territory, not just the community in which they live. "If you are not going to be in your community for your second dose, or now want your first dose, you can now get the vaccine in another community anywhere in the Northwest Territories where there is a clinic going on," she said. She added that medical records are electronically stored and people will be assessed based on their home community's priority requirement, not the one they're in, if they're not home. Missed Wednesday's news conference? Watch it here: Travel not recommended during March break Students and teachers across the territory are about to go on March break. Kandola said she knows it's a time people often travel but she reminded people that non-essential travel outside the N.W.T. is still not recommended. She said transmission rates across Canada and other parts of the world are still high, the N.W.T. still needs to get 75 per cent of its adult population vaccinated, and public health officials still need more data on the impact of COVID-19 variants because they are more infectious than the original strain. "We still need to keep our guard up to keep the pandemic under control," Kandola said. Three hospitalizations from Gahcho Kué mine outbreak Kandola said three people who contracted COVID-19 at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine have been hospitalized. She wouldn't elaborate on their condition for privacy reasons but said it was a "stark reminder that we need to take this pandemic seriously." "We still have work to do to defeat this virus," she said. She said there are eight active cases at the mine right now. There have been 19 cases of COVID-19 at the mine and 11 people have recovered, Kandola said. She added public health officials "remain cautiously optimistic the situation at the mine has stabilized." Kandola also said the outbreak at the Gahcho Kué winter road worksite is over. The worksite, which is operated by a contractor and is 40 kilometres away from the mine, had three cases of COVID-19, all of which have recovered. Kandola said there hasn't been a new case there since Feb. 1. No Yukon-N.W.T. travel bubble at this point On Feb. 18, the office of the chief public health officer announced it will consider self-isolation exemptions for people traveling from Nunavut. On Tuesday, N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said in the legislature that she was hoping for "good news" on a possible travel bubble, or some form of freer travel, between the N.W.T. and Yukon by the end of March. Green said she would be meeting with Kandola about it Wednesday. Kandola said at the news conference that she is not considering a travel exemption for people who are entering the territory from Yukon at this point in time. She said that Yukon hasn't submitted a timeline or any direction as to whether they're going to ease their travel restrictions. "Should Yukon decide to ease their travel restrictions, we just have to take into consideration these issues around the border to Alaska and the border to B.C. and the entry from other provinces," said Kandola. Case numbers As of Tuesday, the territory had 10 active cases, five of which are N.W.T. residents and five are from outside the territory. According to the government's website, the N.W.T. has had 74 cases since the pandemic began, and 64 of those people have recovered.
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):1:50 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting one COVID-19 death today and 45 new cases. However, six cases have been removed due to data corrections, so the net additional count is 39.---1:50 p.m.Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for people aged over 95, or over 75 for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines had been directed at certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes.---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting the province's fifth death related to COVID-19.Officials say six more people are in hospital due to the disease.Public health is also reporting eight new cases, all in the eastern region, where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks.Chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low these past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard.---12 p.m.The Manitoba government has announced the location of its fourth site for large-scale vaccine distribution. Health officials say a so-called supersite will open in early March at a former hospital in Selkirk. There are similar sites already in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.---11:30 a.m.Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 and now has 21 active infections.The new cases are in the Halifax area.One is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other two cases are under investigation.As of Tuesday 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 11,658 people having received their required second dose.---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting 806 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths attributed to the virus, including five in that past 24 hours.Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 25, to 655, and the number of intensive care cases rose for a second consecutive day, with 10 more patients for a total of 130.The province says it administered 8,807 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 376,910 since the campaign began.---11 a.m. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities are declining access the country.Miller says there were 1,443 active cases and a total of 20,347 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities on-reserve as of yesterday.Miller says vaccinations have begun in 440 Indigenous communities and more than 103,000 doses have been administered.---10:45 a.m.Ontario plans to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older against COVID-19 in the third week of March, depending on vaccine supply. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine task force, says an online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15 and people in that 80 and older age range, or those booking for them, can access it.Hillier says the task force aims to then vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15, and shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1.He says people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1.---10:40 a.m.Ontario says there are 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and nine more deaths linked to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 363 of those new cases are in Toronto, 186 are in Peel Region and 94 are in York Region. More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Tuesday's daily update.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
MILAN — It was a lockdown well-spent for Daniel Del Core. The German designer chose the unlikely moment when the world was reeling from the coronavirus last spring and the luxury sector was experiencing its deepest profit drops ever to conceive a new brand, under the Italian surname he inherited from his immigrant grandfather. And he defied yet another piece of conventional wisdom, launching Del Core with a live runway show during the otherwise digital Milan Fashion Week of womenswear previews for the next cold weather season. Just 40 invited guests were socially distanced in the basement of Milan’s city archives, boxes of files replaced by trays of plants: the seed of a new collection that is taking root. Rapid COVID tests were offered at the entrance, in full awareness that the pandemic prevails and that live events are the exception, not the rule. For anyone immersed in the new fashion ritual of zoom previews and interviews, a real live runway show was a reminder of what has been mostly missing -- energy, the swish of textiles, the gasp of novelty -- since local transmission of the virus was first detected outside of Asia near Milan just over one year ago, during runway previews for Fall-Winter 2020-21. Del Core tapped his experience as Gucci events designer, focused on one-off creations for VIPs and red-carpet stars, and his love of nature for the launch of his “Collection 0” that was strong on sculptural drama and looks that demand notice. Would-be tuxedo tails were slightly off kilter, the tail creating asymmetrical line down the side of jackets. Feather-heeled sandals peeped from beneath trousers. Belted, the jacket became a minidress, worn with lace fishnet stockings. Strappy tops were laced up the side, worn over miniskirts. The oversized bow of a suit jacket tied prettily next to the cheek. The ready-to-wear palate was rigorously monotone, in strong shades including tangerine, lavender, teal and black. Japanese culture received more than a few nods, with a kimono mini, a frontal Obi belted jacket and leg-revealing botanical print dress in silk, finished generously with feathery wisps. Fantastical eyewear included single-lens colored shields, and platform sandals appeared to be covered with creeping organic matter, effects that were part sci-fi, part Harajuku. “Mutant glamour,” the collection notes called it. The mood grew increasingly intense with evening wear, with sculptural details including a velvet bubble ruffle on an off-shoulder dress, giant ruffled and bell-shaped sleeves like a mushroom on a crystal-encrusted dress. Accordion pleats created a cape-like effect on a tightly fitted dress, layered with lace. Circular pleated fans bloomed from the bodice of a pleated number like so many lily pads. “A merging of human savoir-faire and the splendor of mother nature ignites the re-emergence into the natural through the deftly man-made, in luscious fabrications of silk, wool, taffetas, brocade, jacquard and fil coupe,’’ the collection notes said. Seemingly stunned by what he had accomplished, the 32-year-old designer was too emotional to do more than exchange greetings back stage, and wipe back tears. “Beauty is not static,” his collection notes conclude. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
BERLIN — Germany's foreign minister on Wednesday urged Iran to accept diplomatic overtures coming from the West in order to preserve the 2015 nuclear accord. Heiko Maas accused Tehran of further undermining the transparency it is required to show under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, after Iran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16 — far past the 3.67% purity allowed under the JCPOA. "In the end, Iran needs to understand that what’s important is to de-escalate and accept the offer of diplomacy that’s on the table, including from the United States,” Maas said. Iran’s violations of the JCPOA pose a significant problem for U.S. President Joe Biden, who is seeking to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to pull the U.S. unilaterally out of the deal three years ago, triggering the re-imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Iran. Iran this week effectively set a deadline to lift those sanctions within three months, after which it said it would erase surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities Maas said the transparency required of Iran under the JCPOA wouldn't be fulfilled during that period. "But we still want to use these three months, together with other partners in the nuclear agreement, to discuss step by step how the U.S. can return to this accord,” Maas said. “And in particular (the discussion) will be about the sequence of measures. That is, who needs to take which step so that a general agreement can be achieved at the end of which the U.S. are part of this agreement again.” Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear late Tuesday that his country doesn't have confidence in the accord with Tehran. “We have already seen the quality of agreements with extremist regimes such as yours, in the past century and in this one, with the government of North Korea,” he said. "With or without agreements – we will do everything so that you will not arm yourselves with nuclear weapons.” The Associated Press
Military veteran Eric Lalonde is surprised how quickly people are responding to a GoFundMe campaign to help purchase a new service dog for his post traumatic stress disorder. “I’m actually surprised and really appreciate it, I didn’t expect that much response,” Lalonde said of reaching the half-way mark toward the $4,000 goal. His wife, Caroline, set up the fundraiser last week with a link submitted to the East Ferris Post It Facebook page. The couple has lived in Astorville for the past eight years. Lalonde said he didn’t expect the support because members of the military don’t get that much respect in his home province of Quebec. “It’s very different, they don’t appreciate the military as much,” he said. Lalonde, 42, retired from the Canadian army last February after 23 years of service, including a decade as an infantryman with tours in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. His last 13 years of service were spent being a supply clerk in North Bay. His current service dog, Nala, is an 11-year-old German Shepherd mix. They’ve spent several thousand dollars on her veterinarian bills and more than $1,000 on medicine for a failing pancreas and hip dysplasia. “It’s time to take her into retirement,” Lalonde said, noting they found it difficult to find a new service dog due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They explored getting a rescue dog but many of them have their own issues and groups that help veterans with PTSD get trained service dogs had long waiting lists. Money is also tight as they prepare to find a better-suited home in the area this summer. Home buyers are facing a seller’s market as residents in southern Ontario cash out of their properties and flee big cities. Lalonde said he likes this part of Canada and the quiet peace of the rural area, adding he hopes their next home is the last. “I’m not moving anymore,” he said. Caroline Lalonde described their situation in detail for the online fundraiser. “After his retirement, Eric was sure he was fine and didn’t need a service dog anymore as he was home and relaxed,” she wrote. “But after a few months, he found out the dog was doing more than just working with him every day. Nala is there to encourage him to get up in the morning and keep him moving during the day. “When Nala feels Eric is about to overreact for something or having a short fuse, she will go to see him and lick him until he takes care of her, so it changes Eric’s mind and calms him down. “She will also protect Eric from people who are approaching too fast or doesn’t reflect a good vibe while approaching,” she wrote. Nala’s health did a nose-dive starting last August when her Husky died at nine years old. “She doesn’t have the energy anymore, can’t walk more than a few minutes without having pain and every time she has to get up the stairs, we can tell on her face that she’s having bad pain,” she said. “Eric was looking to wait for the next litter, in summertime, but Nala is too sick and she needs to be able to teach the puppy how to be a good service dog and the more Eric waits, the less Nala will be able to do it,” she said. A service dog trainer introduced them to a breeder who moved Eric to the top of his list for a puppy that will be ready March 14. But they were scrambling to find the $2,500 plus HST for the purchase, special food, and related expenses while also supporting ongoing Nala’s medical care. “The training will be paid by the Citadel Canine so I’m only asking enough money to be able to pay for the dog. I will provide all the proof of payments and also show pictures when I have some,” Caroline added. “If I get more than Eric needs, that money will go for Nala’s veterinarian bill, for pain medications for her hips, and also for the puppy booster.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus, as part of his efforts to ensure “equity” in the government's response to the pandemic. Biden, who like Donald Trump’s administration considered sending masks to all Americans, is instead adopting a more conservative approach, aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Trump's administration shelved the plans entirely. Biden's plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but instead through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation's food bank and food pantry systems, the White House announced Wednesday. The Departments of Defence, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes. The White House estimates they will reach 12 million to 15 million people. “Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are equal,” said White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients. Biden hinted at the move Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday with four essential workers who are Black, saying he expected his administration to send millions of masks to people around the country “very shortly.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested earlier this month that logistical concerns underpinned the decision to scale back the plans to send masks to all Americans. “I think there are some underlying questions about how you target them — the masks — where they go to first; obviously, it couldn’t happen immediately," she said. Biden has asked everyone to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term. He also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation. Zeke Miller And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
What does the ocean mean to you, your community, or your industry? How do you envision the best economic opportunities while restoring and maintaining its sustainability? These are but a couple of the nebulous questions at the heart of the federal government’s outreach to British Columbians, and Canadians on every coast, in its pursuit of the new Blue Economy Strategy. The strategy is intended to position the country as a global leader in ocean-based economies that create middle-class jobs while pushing for healthier oceans and sustainable ocean industries. Earlier this month the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan, launched public engagements through a series of roundtables with key ocean-sector stakeholders. Today (Feb. 23) the minister announced the opening of an online engagement portal for the general public to also share their thoughts and perspectives. “A healthy ocean has more to give – it can feed more mouths, employ more people and create more opportunities for the entire country,” Jordan said. “Canada needs a Blue Economy Strategy that will harness the power and potential of our oceans to create a future that is more sustainable, more prosperous and more inclusive. The best way to ensure people are at the heart of the plan, is to have Canadians share their ideas so we can work towards this brighter future together.” Canadian ocean-based sectors currently account for about 300,000 jobs and just $31.7 billion, 1.6 per cent, of the country’s GDP. The government is leaning on the strategy to help drive economic recovery in a post-pandemic world, integrating growth with ocean conservation and climate action. Greater participation of Indigenous peoples, women and under-represent groups are strongly encouraged to participate in the online process. The feedback will inform government on the needs of communities that stand to grow an benefit from ocean investments and new policy. Topics so far leading the public engagement include products and technologies to foster a sustainable commercial fishing industry, offshore renewable energy, transportation, sustainable tourism, international trade and new green technologies in ocean-related fields. The strategy is a massive undertaking involving several federal departments, including Transport Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Global Affairs Canada, regional development agencies, and others. The online engagement portal is open until June 15. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View