Winter weather conditions are affecting large portions of the U.S., but it is rare for them to extend so far south. The storm is prompting canceled flights, making driving perilous and reaching into areas like Texas’ Gulf Coast. (Feb. 14)
Winter weather conditions are affecting large portions of the U.S., but it is rare for them to extend so far south. The storm is prompting canceled flights, making driving perilous and reaching into areas like Texas’ Gulf Coast. (Feb. 14)
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's prison ombudsman is calling for alternatives to incarceration in a new report that shows the number of COVID-19 cases at federal facilities more than doubled in the second wave.Correctional investigator Ivan Singer says new cases climbed to 880 at more than a dozen prisons between early November and Feb. 1, compared to 361 cases at six institutions in the first wave.He says about 70 per cent of second-wave cases occurred at two Prairie facilities — the Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Manitoba's Stony Mountain Institution — leaving Indigenous inmates disproportionately affected.The prisons are the two largest in the country and contain some of the system's oldest infrastructure, with an evident connection between viral spread and large shared living areas as well as poor ventilation.Singer is calling on the federal government to prioritize early release of older inmates and to consider closure of aging, costly penitentiaries in favour of a more community-based approach to corrections.The Correctional Service of Canada says it has vaccinated about 600 older and medically compromised offenders, and plans to begin inoculating the rest of its 12,500 inmates in the spring.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
On Tuesday the maintenance supervisor at Riverview Gardens woke up excited as Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health woke up “pumped” and ready to go. Dr. David Colby inoculated Rick Walker with the COVID-19 vaccine at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre at 9:30 a.m. It was the first vaccine given to a local person that is not a long-term care resident and it is also the first Pfizer vaccine to be issued locally. “It’s like a train coming down the tracks. It (COVID) is going to come to you sooner or later,” Walker said. “I am excited to be a part of the solution honestly.” Chatham-Kent hopefully saw the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic when long-term care residents got their first doses of the Moderna vaccine in late January. Second doses for those residents started Monday. Now all staff in long-term care homes and the primary caregivers of its residents are able to receive their immunization. Riverview Gardens staff and caregivers were the first up, with more than 300 doses expected to be doled out. “This is an absolute milestone. This is ground zero,” Colby said. Walker said he would encourage all other Chatham-Kent residents to get the vaccine. “You always have (COVID) in the back of your mind. But this is the solution where we can get to the end of this and I firmly believe that.” “Who would have ever guessed that when we were celebrating New Year’s in 2020 what was to lie ahead of us? And here we are. It’s time to rid Chatham-Kent of this pestilence, it's the way to do it,” Colby said of getting vaccinated. Chatham-Kent reported 18 active cases Tuesday after five recoveries and one new case were reported on Tuesday morning. Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg has one active case of COVID-19 among its residents and one active case among staff left active. The cumulative total of cases for Fairfield sits at 100 and now new ones were reported this week. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance outbreak in the Medicine Unit remains active with 24 cumulative cases. Two patients are still in the hospital with the virus. Four staff are off work after testing positive for COVID-19, but not all are related to the outbreak. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
REGINA — Eleven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, silence fills Regina's airport. Empty check-in counters line one side of the terminal while the odd employee moves behind reception along a row of vehicle rental desks. There's no one on the staircase passengers use upon arriving in Saskatchewan's capital city. The number of flights scheduled to land on Monday: four. “It’s almost like a ghost town," said James Bogusz, CEO and president of the Regina Airport Authority. Canada's aviation industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, because of federal travel restrictions and public-health advice urging would-be travellers to stay home. Bogusz said he's concerned that any comeback in air travel could be hampered in Regina by service reductions to air-traffic control. Nav Canada, the non-profit body that runs the country's civil air navigation service, is reviewing airport towers in Regina and six other small Canadian cities. That has triggered concerns from local leaders about the effect on their airports and community businesses. “I don’t want a small town," said Bogusz. "I want my mid-size city airport back." The other airport towers under review are in St-Jean, Que., Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Fort McMurray, Alta., Prince George, B.C., and Whitehorse, Yukon. At the heart of each review is whether air traffic at the airports warrants having a control tower as opposed to an advisory service for pilots. "We have to operate the right service, at the right place, at the right time," said Jonathan Bagg, Nav Canada's director of stakeholder and industry relations. "The COVID-19 pandemic does give us additional stimulus because of the financial environment; however, the studies are warranted regardless of COVID-19." He explained that an air traffic controller provides instructions to pilots during times including takeoff; an advisory service offers guidance through information that includes weather and runway conditions Bagg said the reviews will not compromise safety and Nav Canada is looking at air traffic numbers at the airports before the pandemic. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens wants his city off the list because of its proximity to Detroit, which makes airspace more complicated. Dilkens, who also chairs the airport's board, questions how losing the airport's tower would affect attracting new airlines and routes. "Anything that causes them an additional level of concern that makes us less competitive — that’s our economic concern.” WestJet has said control towers don't influence its operations. Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said losing towers "would have an impact on overall efficiencies as airline operations become significantly more complex." She cited possible delays at non-controlled sites and the need for additional fuel to cover delays or diversions to other airports. "These inefficiency factors all increase operating costs and can affect the overall commercial viability of routes." RJ Steenstra, president and CEO of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority, said closing its tower could affect future efforts to diversify tourism in the region. "German charter carriers will not fly to an airport that doesn’t have a tower," he said. “When so much of the industry is in flux, it’s not a good time to make a decision like this." Bagg said Nav Canada hopes to present by spring its recommendations for the seven towers to Transport Canada, which must give final approval. Six premiers have asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to delay a decision until after COVID-19 is under control enough so travel restrictions can be lifted. In a statement, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Transport Canada would do its own safety review of any proposed changes. Dilkens said it would be a mistake for Ottawa to ignore economic implications. The government has spent million of dollars improving Windsor's airport. Notices about layoffs were issued to air traffic controllers last month, raising concerns that closures have already been decided. "This has eroded our trust in the process," said Bogusz. Bagg said letters were sent because the collective agreement requires employees be notified that their jobs may be at risk. The layoffs are subject to the outcome of the reviews. The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, which represents air traffic controllers, has said about 60 jobs would disappear if the seven towers were closed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2020 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers plans to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss supply chain issues, including semiconductor chips, three people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. One of the sources said the lawmakers, from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, are expected to learn more about an executive order the Biden administration has been discussing on supply chain issues. The White House declined to comment.
WASHINGTON — Security officials testifying at Congress' first hearing on the deadly siege of the Capitol cast blame and pointed fingers on Tuesday but also acknowledged they were woefully unprepared for the violence. Senators drilled down on the stunning security failure and missed warning signs as rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a misguided attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's election. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol Police officer. The security officials lost their jobs, and Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of inciting the insurrection, the deadliest attack on Congress in 200 years. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Senate. Here are some takeaways from the testimony: FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE Intelligence warnings of an armed uprising by extremist groups heading to the Capitol didn't rise to the level of alarm — or even get passed up the chain of command — in time for the Jan. 6 attack. Crucially, a key warning flare from the FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, of a “war” on the Capitol was sent the night before to the Capitol Police's intelligence division. But then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified that he only learned about it the day before Tuesday's hearing. Instead, Sund said he was bracing for demonstrations on par with other armed protests by mobs of Trump’s supporters in the nation's capital in November and December after the presidential election. “No entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a co-ordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists,” he testified in written remarks about a conference call the day before the attack. The Democratic chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, said, “There was a failure to take this threat more seriously.” HE SAID, HE SAID As hundreds of rioters stormed the Capitol, breaking into the iconic building's windows and doors, sometimes in hand-to-hand combat with police, there are conflicting accounts from the security officials over what happened next. Sund, who had raised the idea of calling on the National Guard for backup days earlier, specifically recounted a 1:09 p.m. phone call he made to the then-sergeant-at-arms of the House, Paul Irving, his superior, requesting National Guard troops. Sund said he was told they would run it up the chain of command . Irving said he has no recollection of the conversation at that time and instead recalls a conversation nearly 20 minutes later. He said the 1:09 p.m. call does not show up on his cellphone log. As the riot escalated, Sund was “pleading” with Army officials for Guard troops in another phone call, testified Robert Contee III, the acting chief of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, whose officers had arrived for backup. Contee said he was “stunned” at the delayed response from the military. Defence Department officials have said they offered National Guard troops days earlier but were rebuffed. Pentagon officials are scheduled to testify to the Senate next week. COMMON FACTS: ‘A PLANNED INSURRECTION’ At the start of the hearing, coming 10 days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate on the impeachment charge of inciting the insurrection, some common facts were agreed to. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the chair of the Rules Committee, asked the security officials if there was any doubt the riot was a planned attack and carried out by white nationalist and extremist groups. None of the witnesses disputed the characterization of the facts of Jan. 6. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin read an alternative account, of mostly peaceful protesters festive that day, that he encouraged colleagues to consider. But in closing, Klobuchar restated the testimony: “There was clear agreement this was a planned insurrection.” ONE OFFICER'S PERSONAL STORY The hearing opened with Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza, a 19-year veteran of the force, delivering a compelling personal account of being called at home that day as she was spending time with her 10-year-old before the start of her shift. She rushed to the Capitol only to find “the worst of the worst” scene of her career. A former Army veteran, she recounted the deadly mayhem, fending off rioters inside the building’s stately Rotunda, inhaling gas and suffering chemical burns to her face she said still have not healed. Her Fitbit recorded four hours of sustained activity, she said. The next night and following day she spent at the hospital consoling the family of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the attack. “As an American, and as an Army veteran, it’s sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens,” Mendoza told the senators. TRUMP'S SHADOW The former president was hardly a presence at the first hearing. Instead, senators largely set aside their sharply partisan ways to drill down on the facts of what happened that day — on how to prevent it from happening again. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., pointedly asked for the name of the commander in chief of the armed forces that day who was ultimately responsible for the military and security of the country. That drew out the former president's name. Among the senators on the panels are two of Trump's staunch allies who led the effort to overturn Biden's election victory — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. ___ Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Balsamo and Lolita Baldor in Washington and Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
A video obtained by Global News has gone viral showing the busy inside of a HomeSense in Vaughan, Ont. Taken on the first day York Region re-opened retail at 50 per cent capacity, the apparent lack of social distancing in the store has led to physicians voicing their concerns, and warnings over the province’s regional approach to relaxing restrictions. Miranda Anthistle has the details.
(Michael Hugall/CBC - image credit) Yellowknife city councillors have voted to spend $1.8 million in federal money on projects they say will reduce homelessness and address its root causes. With strict rules for how the COVID-19 homelessness funding can be spent, Yellowknife city councillors chose to target some of the root causes of homelessness. City council decided to allocate $370,438 to initiatives including a land-based program run by Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and $100,000 for community hunts. Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve the funding allocations recommended by the city's Community Advisory Board on Homelessness. The allocations include both regular funding from the federal government's Reaching Home initiative for 2021-22, as well as a special allocation tied to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home," said Coun. Stacie Smith, acknowledging that the money won't create new housing. She said initiatives like the YKDFN land-based program recognize the importance of culture. Smith said the advisory board on homelessness consulted non-governmental organizations on their needs and allocated money to programs like Housing First, which helps people who are chronically homeless access services and private market housing. Housing First will receive $900,000 from the two federal pots of money. The women's shelter will get $25,000. Other homelessness prevention and diversion initiatives will get $219,000. 'There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home,' said Yellowknife city councillor Stacie Smith. The on-the-land program will be open to people experiencing homelessness in Yellowknife. The COVID-19 spending will support food and breakfast programs, such as those offered by the YWCA, which is set to receive $10,000. As the city debated how to spend almost $2 million from the federal government, it realized it would not be able to put the money into permanent housing. Mayor Rebecca Alty said earlier this month that a major reason the money couldn't go toward more permanent housing projects is that the "federal directives are quite restrictive and the money has to be spent so quickly." Smith said despite this, the city can support programs that recognize the needs of the tight-knit community of people facing homelessness — some of whom return to shelters after they are put into housing. "We can provide as many roofs, apartments for people to stay, but if we're not getting to the root of why they're in the situation that they're in, there will always be homelessness," said Smith. "We found other opportunities where we could put our energies to assist them in those holistic methods that might reach them a lot better than the norm." City to give feds feedback Alty said the city will give the federal government feedback, including its criticism that tight timelines kept the city from putting the money toward permanent housing initiatives. The federal objectives for the Reaching Home COVID-19 funding program are to extend COVID-19 measures for people experiencing homelessness, to find permanent housing for people in temporary housing, and to divert people away from becoming homeless or entering the shelter system.
(Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit) The Calgary Board of Education is considering cutting some programs of choice and consolidating programs as it looks to balance student populations in public high schools across the city. "Right now, as some of you are aware, some of our schools are overflowing while others are under capacity," said acting superintendent of school improvement, Darlene Unruh. On Monday, the CBE unveiled two scenarios that are designed to fix that problem. In Scenario A, programs would be consolidated to fewer high schools, and arts-centred learning would be discontinued. In Scenario B, there would be a further reduction in the number of program locations, and arts-centred learning, Spanish bilingual and French international baccalaureate would be discontinued at the high school level. Unruh says both scenarios would balance enrolment at most high schools, and in Scenario B, even more students in the regular program would be able to attend school closer to home. "In both scenarios, four of five regular program students will attend the same school as currently designated, and 74 per cent of our communities will continue to attend the same school as they do now," she said. Parents fear scenarios spell end of Spanish program For parents like Heather Campbell, who has three children enrolled in the CBE's Spanish bilingual program at schools in the city's south, these scenarios aren't good news. Scenario A would see students wishing to complete Spanish immersion sent to Crescent Heights School, and Scenario B would see the program end. "Obviously, having it cancelled entirely is disappointing, and having it moved to Crescent Heights School is disappointing," she said. Campbell said her oldest daughter is set to graduate this year from Dr. E.P. Scarlett's Spanish immersion program. Campbell said that when her daughter started in kindergarten, there was no guarantee it would be Scarlett. The Campbell family says it fears the changes could end their children's Spanish education altogether. Pictured: Ian Campbell, Brenna Campbell, exchange student Beatriz Garcimartin Bailon from Spain, Heather Campbell, Connell Campbell, Keenan Campbell. "But the CBE did carry through and made those investments, and along with the two other schools — Canyon Meadows and Robert Warren — the whole set up of that program was having all three levels of school in one neighbourhood … that was the selling point," she said. "It's just disappointing that you do commit as a family to a program, especially a language or an arts-based education, and then it's just not supported as advertised. We feel like we're constantly fighting for our program." The CBE said it's not uncommon that they have high uptake in its alternative programs in K-9 and then see those numbers drop off in high school, and right now Spanish immersion enrolment in high schools is low. But, Campbell said, they're cutting the program off at the knees, which will ultimately lead to the end of it altogether. "I am worried that it's a trickle-down effect," she said. "They say that the program will continue, but that seems disingenuous at this point. I feel like … we will be having a conversation about our middle school in the next two years." Feedback to be gathered online, in virtual meetings Unruh said the two scenarios were developed through 2019 consultations with students, staff, parents and the community, and recognize the board's limited space and resources and attempt to have the best impact for students. "Both scenarios provide quality learning opportunities that allow students to complete their high school requirements," she said. "They do this in three key ways. Firstly, they provide a more equitable learning experience for all high school students. Secondly, they maintain a regular program at every high school, and thirdly, they allow for alternative programs and academic enrichment when possible." The board is now launching the next phase of its high school scenarios engagement process — which initially began in May 2019 and has faced many delays — in hopes of picking a scenario, or gathering enough feedback from families to create a third, hybrid scenario. Feedback will be gathered through online surveys and virtual meetings. A decision will be announced in the fall of 2021 and will be put into action for the 2022-23 school year.
OTTAWA — Canada and Australia are banding together to ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media. A statement from Ottawa says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have agreed to continue "co-ordinating efforts" to address online harm and ensure social media companies pay for journalism. The statement says the two leaders spoke Monday on a range of topics including the growing co-operation between Canada and Australia on the regulation of online platforms. The increasing alliance between the two countries on legislating internet giants to pay for news comes as Facebook backs down on its ban on Australians viewing and sharing news on its platform. The social media company announced Tuesday it would lift the ban, saying it had struck a deal with the Australian government on proposed legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. Facebook caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. With files from The Associated Press. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec will begin vaccinating the general population next week, beginning with Montreal-area seniors aged 85 and up, Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday. All seniors in the province born in 1936 or earlier will be able to make an appointment for vaccination through an online portal or by telephone as early as Thursday, Legault told reporters at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, a future mass vaccination site. The vaccination campaign will begin in Montreal, however, where the greatest number of active reported infections in the province are found. Legault said the government's vaccination plan is well underway: all long-term care residents, about half of residents in seniors homes and almost 200,000 health-care workers have received a first dose. The province has not begun giving booster shots. All of Quebec's oldest and most vulnerable seniors should be vaccinated within a few weeks, the premier said. "We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not so far away." Legault, however, said Quebecers must continue to be careful, warning that it takes about three weeks for the vaccine to reach full effectiveness. In the meantime, Quebec will have to contend with an ever-rising number of coronavirus variant cases, as well as a spring break week that authorities fear could cause new cases to bound upwards. "What happened during the holiday must not happen, with people gathering," he said about Quebecers getting together over the Christmas and New Year's period, which preceded a rise in cases. "Nobody wants a third wave." Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that Quebec is expecting to receive more than 107,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, which he said will allow the province to accelerate the pace of immunizations. Dube said vaccinations for the 85-and-up cohort should be complete within two weeks, after which the province will continue with other age groups, from oldest to youngest. Those with underlying health conditions will also be prioritized, he added. All Quebecers who want the vaccine should receive it by September, as long as deliveries keep up, he said. Dube said the province has enough staff to administer the vaccines at the rate they’re currently arriving but is looking to train an additional 1,000 vaccinators for an expected ramp-up later in the spring. The province has also approached large companies to see if they are willing to deliver vaccines on-site when the vaccination campaign expands, Legault said. Quebec reported 739 new cases Tuesday and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one that occurred in the past 24 hours. COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 680, and the number of intensive care patients rose by three, to 120. The number of suspected cases of coronavirus variants continued to rise on Monday, up to 484 from 415 the day prior, according to Quebec's government-mandated public health institute. The number of confirmed cases remained unchanged at 23. Dube said about 10 per cent of positive COVID-19 tests are coming back as suspected variant cases, which he said is in line with Ontario. Quebec has reported a total of 10,330 deaths linked to the virus and 283,666 infections. Legault also raised the prospect of further easing restrictions to allow indoor sports to resume and concert halls and churches to reopen in the coming weeks, but he said he wants to wait to see what happens with the spread of new variants and the spring break week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia's 29th premier Tuesday along with a cabinet that included two former leadership rivals.Rankin tapped ex-Liberal party leadership contenders Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey for high-profile jobs, with Kousoulis getting the crucial finance portfolio and Delorey assuming duties as minister of justice and attorney general.Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc swore in the 17-member cabinet at the Halifax Convention Centre during a ceremony that was scaled back due to COVID-19 protocols."We are writing a new chapter for sure, but it is one that reflects and respects our past," Rankin said in an address after swearing his oath of office. "Governments that have come before ours ... have provided us with strong foundations to support our agenda."The 37-year-old Rankin was chosen as Liberal party leader earlier this month at a virtual convention in Halifax. He captured his party's top job by billing himself as an agent of generational change and has vowed to be a collaborative premier who will place an emphasis on the environment.He takes office with a shortened window to establish himself — a provincial election must be called by the spring of 2022. Rankin, however, said he is immediately focused on governing and dealing with important issues such as jobs, the economy and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.He told reporters there is no shortage of challenges."I'm really impressed with the team that I have and I'm putting them in the right place to help me deliver on the commitments I made during the leadership campaign, Rankin said. "Issues of climate change, inequality and building back a strong economy that's more inclusive."Kousoulis will have the tough task of balancing fiscal discipline with the need to bolster an economy damaged by the pandemic. Nova Scotia went from a projected surplus of $55 million to a deficit of $779 million over the past fiscal year — a figure former premier Stephen McNeil recently said would be closer to $500 million by this spring's budget."The work will be to ensure that we're supporting Nova Scotians and getting ourselves back on a solid financial footing," Kousoulis said. He said that while the upcoming budget is already largely prepared, there could be a chance to tinker by adding some of Rankin's priorities.Signalling change, Rankin created a new department — Infrastructure and Housing — that will be headed by former business minister Geoff MacLellan, who has said he won't be running in the next election.He also created two offices: Mental Health and Addictions under new Health Minister Zach Churchill, who shifts from education; and the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, which will become the responsibility of Tony Ince, who remains as minister of African Nova Scotian affairs.Kelly Regan was sworn in as deputy premier and retains her position as minister of community services while taking on responsibility for the province's seniors.Cabinet newcomer Keith Irving was appointed minister of the newly renamed Department of Environment and Climate Change. Other first-time cabinet ministers include Ben Jessome as minister of the public service commission, and Brendan Maguire, who takes over municipal affairs. Irving, a former architect who lived for 26 years in Iqaluit, said he's ready to deal with what has been a long-time interest. "While living in the Arctic in the early '90s, I saw the effects of climate change," he said. "It was very real there and it is now very real for all of Canada and Nova Scotia."Chuck Porter returns to cabinet in a new role as minister of lands and forestry, while Derek Mombourquette is the new minister of education. The Immigration Department will be getting a new title as well, becoming the Office of Immigration and Population Growth, overseen by Lena Metlege Diab, who will remain as minister of labour and minister of Acadian affairs. Lloyd Hines remains as minister of transportation, while others retaining their old jobs include Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell, Service Nova Scotia Minister Patricia Arab and Culture and Heritage Minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. Rankin replaces McNeil, who announced his retirement last August after 17 years in politics. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 today. Officials say all of the new infections involve people in the eastern health region, where an outbreak has been spreading through the metro St. John’s area. Authorities say 50 people have recovered from the virus since Monday, leaving 372 active reported cases of COVID-19 across the province. Newfoundland and Labrador's active infection rate is now 71 cases per 100,000 people. Five people are in hospital because of the disease, and officials say two of those people are in intensive care. Public health says the outbreak in the St. John's region was traced to the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the province has been in lockdown since Feb. 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
It's 91 per cent bigger than before.
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
French actor Gerard Depardieu was placed under formal investigation on charges of rape and sexual violence in December last year, a judicial source told Reuters on Tuesday. A lawyer representing the 73-year-old Depardieu, one of France's most prolific and famous actors, did not immediately respond to a request for comment left by Reuters at his office. In 2019, French prosecutors said they had dropped an investigation into rape allegations against Depardieu, citing insufficient evidence.
(Jason Franson/Canadian Press - image credit) Alberta's premier says the province's legal challenge of a federal environmental assessment law is part of a broader fight against what he described as Ottawa's anti-oil policies. "Bill C-69 is part of a series of federal policies that have attacked our vital economic interests that have killed jobs and growth here in Alberta and other parts of Canada," Premier Jason Kenney said during a Tuesday press conference. The province's case against Ottawa's Bill C-69, or the Impact Assessment Act, began on Monday in the Alberta Court of Appeal. Arguments are expected to last all week. The bill, which was given royal assent in 2019, allows the federal government to consider the impacts of new resource projects on issues such as climate change. The bill was heavily amended, with changes that include provisions for taking into account a project's positive impacts and wording that the approval process must safeguard Canada's competitiveness. But the Alberta government claims the bill still unfairly expands the range of federal oversight into provincial jurisdiction — and threatens the certainty required to move major projects forward. Kenney listed shelved projects like the Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines, and policies like the federal carbon tax, as examples of how it has become harder for the province's oil industry to succeed. He said fighting Ottawa on these issues is part of a promise his government made pre-election. He did not mention the federal government's purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. The province is being supported in its case by the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario. Kenney said, as Alberta's lawyers plan to argue in court this week, that the Constitution gives provinces jurisdiction over exploration, development and management. "This was a condition precedent of Alberta signing the Constitution … this essential power which underscores Alberta's ownership of its resources," he said, while holding up a copy of the Constitution. A wide array of environmental and legal groups are intervening in support of Ottawa's position. David Khan, a lawyer for Ecojustice, which is intervening in support of the legislation, said there is case law demonstrating the environment is a shared jurisdiction. "This is another one of [Kenney's] politically motivated attacks on good laws that defend our air, water and land," Khan told The Canadian Press. Kenney said he expects the timeline for this judgment will be roughly six months. A decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on the province's appeal of the federal carbon tax is expected sometime in March.
TORONTO — The top doctor for one of Ontario's COVID-19 hot spots says paid sick days and relief for businesses could be built into the province's pandemic response system to help mitigate a third wave. Peel Region's Dr. Lawrence Loh says resistance to strict public health measures often stems from lack of relief. He says the province should consider looking at how support policies could be part of Ontario's tiered restrictions system, taking effect when regions are in certain categories. The government did not immediately respond to requests for comment but has previously said that it isn't looking to implement its own sick leave police because some relief is available through a federal benefit. Loh's suggestions came during a discussion hosted by the Ontario Medical Association that looked ahead to the next stage of the pandemic. The medical association has called for Ontario to tighten COVID-19 restrictions in light of more infectious variants spreading in the province. The group representing physicians has recommended banning indoor restaurant dining and other non-masked indoor activities for regions in the red tier of the province's pandemic system. Loh and his counterpart in Toronto sought to extend strict shutdown measures and a stay-at-home order for their regions last week, arguing the spread of variants and recent reopening of schools made it too risky to ease restrictions. The province granted their request, extending the strictest measures for those two regions, as well as North Bay, Ont., until March 8. The COVID-19 hot spot of York Region, however, saw restrictions ease as it was moved to the red, or second-strictest, tier of the province's pandemic response system. York's top doctor had sought the loosening of measures, saying his region was not seeing “explosive growth" of variants that were first detected in December. Dr. Karim Kurji said last week that there was a "reasonable handle" on variant cases, arguing the need for strong measures needed to be balanced with economic and mental wellbeing. The province's economic reopening began earlier this month. The government has said, however, that it has created an "emergency brake" measure that allows it to swiftly move regions into lockdown if cases spike. On Tuesday, the Opposition called for the government to clearly define what would trigger the use of that brake measure. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government loosened public health restrictions too soon, without a clearly defined plan. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca and Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also expressed confusion over the parameters of the measure. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the measure considers a public health unit’s increase in case numbers, variants of concern and health system capacity. She argued it was used when the province decided last week to keep Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay under the stay-at-home order for two more weeks. Ontario reported 975 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 12 more deaths from the virus. The province said 16,252 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered since the previous update, for a total of 585,707 doses total. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press