Reg “Crash” Harrison talks about surviving four plane crashes in the Second World War and why the love of his life always wore two engagement rings.
Reg “Crash” Harrison talks about surviving four plane crashes in the Second World War and why the love of his life always wore two engagement rings.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
A second COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in a northern Ontario region that’s battling a deadly outbreak of cases driven by another infectious variant. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says two people in the area have tested positive for the variant that first originated in the U.K.The health unit says the two people in the district of Parry Sound, Ont., do not know where they caught the virus.More than 500 cases of that variant have been detected across the province since December. The region’s top doctor says the confirmation of a second variant is concerning especially because it was caught through community spread. Dr. Jim Chirico says it's essential to follow public health measures to save lives and eventually reopen the economy. On Monday the health unit reported a third death related to an outbreak of 42 cases at an apartment building in North Bay, Ont.Fifteen cases in that outbreak have been linked to a more infectious virus variant that was first detected in South Africa.North Bay has remained under strict public health orders as restrictions loosened on businesses elsewhere in the province, due to the high number of variant cases detected last month. Ontario's government will decide Friday whether to move the North Bay area, as well as Toronto and Peel Region, back into the provincial COVID-19 response framework. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden's nominees. Eleven of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support. “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden. The president, in a statement, said he has “utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel” and pledged to find her another role in his administration. Tanden’s viability was in doubt after Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and a number of moderate Republicans came out against her last month, all citing her tweets attacking members of both parties prior to her nomination. Manchin, a key moderate swing vote in the Senate, said last month in a statement announcing his opposition that “her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, cited Biden’s own standard of conduct in opposing Tanden, declaring in a statement that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.” Tanden needed just 51 votes in an evenly-divided Senate, with Vice-President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. But without Manchin’s support, the White House was left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. One potential Republican vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told reporters earlier Tuesday on Capitol Hill she still had not yet made up her mind on Tanden’s nomination. The White House stuck with her even after a number of centrist Republicans made their opposition known, insisting her experience growing up on welfare and background working on progressive policies as the president and CEO of the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress made her the right candidate for the moment. White House chief of staff Ron Klain initially insisted the administration was “fighting our guts out” for her. Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and prominent progressive lawmaker, accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives, and hadn’t said whether he’d support her nomination. Tanden apologized during that hearing to “people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said.” Just prior to the hearing, she deleted hundreds of tweets, many of which were critical of Republicans. Collins cited those deleted tweets in her statement, saying that the move “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.” She said Congress “has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent.” As recently as Monday, the White House indicated it was sticking by Tanden’s nomination, with press secretary Jen Psaki noting Tanden's “decades of experience” in defending their pick. “We will continue of course to fight for the confirmation of every nominee that the president puts forward,” Psaki insisted, but she added, “We'll see if we have 50 votes.” The head of the Office of Management and Budget is tasked with putting together the administration's budget, as well as overseeing a wide range of logistical and regulatory issues across the federal government. Tanden's withdrawal leaves the Biden administration without a clear replacement. The apparent front-runner on Capitol Hill to replace Tanden was Shalanda Young, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee who has been actively pushed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other names mentioned include Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Gene Sperling, who served as a top economic adviser to both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are starting to tick back up after a month-long decline, giving urgency to the question of who should receive doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive in Canada Wednesday. The "moderate increase" at the national level noted by Dr. Theresa Tam is in keeping with models forecasting a spike in cases over the next two months unless stricter public health measures are imposed to combat more contagious strains of the virus. “The concern is that we will soon see an impact on hospitalization, critical care and mortality trends," Tam said Tuesday. Canada saw 2,933 new cases on average over the past week, a figure similar to last Friday's numbers that revealed week-over-week increases of between eight and 14 per cent in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The uptick comes as provinces figure out how to allocate their various vaccines, especially as Canada receives 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India. About 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are also arriving this week, said Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Guidance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some confusion. Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it not be administered to people 65 and over. The advisory committee cites concern over limited data from clinical trials for older patients. Health Canada also acknowledges that issue. But the advisory panel, which recommends how vaccines should be used, says the limitation means seniors should take priority for the two greenlighted mRNA vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — where dearth of data is not an issue. Alberta's health minister said Monday the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine to anyone over 65. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are on similar courses, though details on who will get those jabs is not always clear. "With clinical testing of AstraZeneca limited to those under 65, we will need to adjust our plan to look at a parallel track for some of these more flexible vaccines in order to cast the widest net possible," the B.C. health ministry said in an email. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. will use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to target younger people who have more social interactions and who would have to wait much longer for the other vaccines. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott characterized Oxford-AstraZeneca as "very versatile " because it lacks the same cold-storage requirements as the two other vaccines in use in Canada. It won't go to seniors, but she said shots might be administered in correctional facilities for that reason. P.E.I. will target AstraZeneca at "healthy younger individuals who are working in certain front-line, essential services," said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health. Health officials in Quebec and New Brunswick say they await further advice from health authorities and are taking time to examine how to deploy the latest vaccine. Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province has yet to give an answer to Ottawa "about whether we actually want to take the vaccine." All provinces must provide a response by midday Thursday, he said. Two experts say essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported their vaccine is about 62 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. But Colijn and Bach say the fact there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." No province has been spared from the increase in new variants circulating across the country, though several continue to ease anti-pandemic restrictions. Modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada projected a steep surge in new cases starting late last month — and reaching 20,000 new cases a day before May — if public health measures weren't tightened. Since that Feb. 19 forecast, restrictions in many regions have loosened as Canadians return to restaurants, cinemas and hair salons. But Tam said Canada is gaining ground on "the vaccine-versus-variants leg of this marathon" every day. "Canada is prepared, and Canada remains on track," she said. Provinces have now reported 1,257 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, 99 cases of the B. 18.104.22.168 strain first identified in South Africa, and three of the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil. There have been 870,033 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 22,017 deaths as of Monday night. There were 30,430 active cases across Canada, with an average of 42 deaths reported daily over the past week. Provinces are also figuring out whether to stick to the original injection schedules or extend the interval between doses beyond three or four weeks. The national advisory committee is expected to update its recommendations this week. Ontario is waiting for that guidance, while B.C. is pushing ahead with its plan to prolong the interval to four months. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides "miraculous" 90 per cent protection from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — With files from Camille Bains, Kevin Bissett, Laura Dhillon Kane and Holly McKenzie-Sutter. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
There still isn’t a trial date one year after a Kindersley mom was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of her infant daughter. In Saskatoon Provincial Court in November 2020, Teenie Rose Steer elected to be tried by judge alone without a jury. Her case was then moved from the provincial court level to Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Her matter was on Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench pre-trial list Nov. 13, 2020, to set a trial date. That pre-trial conference was adjourned to Dec. 18, 2020, and then it was adjourned to Feb. 12, 2021. The matter has now been adjourned to March 31. Pre-trial conferences are closed to the public and media. They are informal meetings in chambers between the Crown and defence. Steer was arrested 13 months ago. According to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Rule, once charges are laid provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months or the charges can be dismissed. RCMP arrested steer February 2020 and charged her with killing her one-month-old infant three years ago. On Sept. 27, 2018, police responded to a home after receiving a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. First responders and doctors at the Rosetown hospital attempted life-saving measures but the infant was pronounced dead in hospital. A September 2018 autopsy revealed information that led investigators to believe the baby’s death was suspicious and RCMP Major Crimes took over the investigation. RCMP didn't reveal details of that information. The charges against Steer haven’t been proven in court. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A man accused of cyberbullying the parents of a missing Nova Scotia boy on social media said Tuesday a Facebook group devoted to the child's case started with good intentions but spiralled out of control. Tom Hurley is one of the administrators of a Facebook group where people shared information and theories about the case of Dylan Ehler, a three-year-old boy who went missing in Truro, N.S., last year and has not been found. The Facebook group was one of several that became a source of anguish for Dylan's parents, Ashley Brown and Jason Ehler, after participants began accusing them of negligence and even murder. But Hurley said the group was originally meant to assist in the search for the boy. Three-year-old Dylan was last seen near Queen and Elizabeth streets in Truro, N.S., last May. Search and rescue teams have focused their efforts in and around Lepper Brook and the Salmon River, where they found a pair of the boy's boots.(Town of Truro/Facebook) "Our intentions were to try to help them find Dylan," Hurley said. "And it was going good from the beginning. And then something turned somewhere, somewhere along the line, it got turned around." Dylan was playing at his grandmother's house when he disappeared on May 6, 2020. His boots were located nearby shortly afterward, but no other trace of the toddler has ever been found. Police have said they do not believe there was any foul play in the child's disappearance. There were about 13 Facebook groups devoted to the case, Hurley said, but his is the only one that has ended up in court. Hurley said he deleted some posts, but they continued to circulate because users took screenshots of them. The boy's parents are using the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act to attempt to have Hurley's group permanently deleted. They are also seeking punitive damages. Lawyer Allison Harris, who is representing the boy's parents, said no monetary value has yet been set for those damages. Group's admin calls for apology 'on both sides' During an interview with reporters Tuesday, Hurley at one point said he didn't see any posts in the group that constituted cyberbullying or harassment, but at another point said "everybody was doing it." "We're not the only ones doing it. The only reason we're here today is because we didn't hide behind fake accounts like everybody else is doing," he said. Hurley also said Jason Ehler cyberbullied and issued threats in a Facebook group. "I think a sorry should be good on both sides," Hurley said. Father of missing boy says damage is done Ehler acknowledged he did make a threat once, but apologized right after. "You guys can't even imagine what they've said about us, you know? So try to sit there and not say anything, sometimes you slip and you say things," he said. Dylan's parents said the accusations in the group have caused them fear and anxiety, but they also worry the posts have distracted people from "the most important thing" — the search for their son. Ehler said an apology from Hurley would be nice, but "the damage is already done." The active search for Dylan was called off on May 12, 2020, 6 days after his disappearance.(Submitted by Ashley Brown) "How do you take that back?" said Ehler. "How do you take Ashley waking up every morning crying, you know, how do they take back us being nervous to go to the store because everybody looks at us like we could be murderers or we can be this or we could be that? "How do you take back the impact they put on my son's searches? How do they take back any of that? They can't take back any of that. What's done is done." The cyberbullying case will be back in court on April 6. Ehler and Brown said the police investigation into their son's disappearance is ongoing, and they will be meeting with police soon to talk about renewed searches this spring. MORE TOP STORIES
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
The City of Fredericton is hoping "bonus incentives" can help make affordable housing more attractive to developers. Currently under the city's zoning bylaw, developers can get more units in their build if some of those units qualify as affordable under the province's Affordable Housing Program. But, Marcello Battilana, the manager of community planning at the City of Fredericton, says because the vacancy rate is so low -- less than two per cent -- there's little need for developers to include affordable housing in new builds. "What's happening right now is developers don't need the affordable housing program at all." Under provincial legislation, the city doesn't have the power to force developers to include affordable housing, so it's hoping density bonus incentives, or the ability to build more total units, will help make affordable units more attractive. "It may entice them to say, 'You know what, I'll get a little bit more density than I thought, and so let's be part of the program'," said Battilana. There are other types of bonus incentives - in the past, developers have gotten an extra storey on a build in exchange for public art. "This incentive is relatively new," said Coun. Kate Rogers, chair of the city's affordable housing committee. And she said it's a tool the city should be using more. "That's one of the things that (the affordable housing committee is) really encouraging staff, is that there be more and more promotion of these tools to developers and working with developers to help them come up with ways that they can be creative in their development to incorporate affordable housing." Proposed development on George Street in Fredericton will include two affordable housing units..(City of Fredericton council agenda) A new building proposal on George Street is making use of it, the developer Marty Mockler is allowed an extra unit by including two affordable units, giving the building a total of eight units in the new build. "Basically, we just want to see developers be able to take advantage of additional tools that the municipality can bring to bear to provide more affordable housing options for the community overall," said Battilana. Battilana says the city is hoping to add to the bonus incentives under the zoning bylaw and that those plans will be made public at the next Planning Advisory Committee on March 17.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appears likely to work on its first guidelines for cryptocurrencies after President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the agency promised to provide "guidance and clarity" to the rapidly evolving market. Speaking during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Gary Gensler offered the first thoughts on handling cryptocurrencies if he is confirmed to lead the top U.S. markets regulator. "Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies brought new thinking to payments but raised new issues of investor protection we still need to attend to," Gensler told lawmakers, describing them as "catalysts for change."
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra's office says the government has no plans to change the name of Montreal's airport, despite an online petition calling for the removal of Pierre Trudeau's name. "Our government's priority remains the health and safety of Quebecers and all Canadians during these difficult times, and that is exactly what we are focusing on," spokesperson Allison St-Jean told CBC News in an email. "It is not our government's plan to change the name of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport." That response comes after an online petition calling for the international airport to be renamed after former PQ Premier René Lévesque collected thousands of signatures. The petition, launched Monday morning, says new reports about Trudeau's response to the PQ's election in 1976 make him unworthy of the honour. The petition was signed by PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon and Marie-Anne Alepin, president of the nationalist Societé St. Jean Baptiste, along with other sovereignist and labour leaders. It lists multiple reasons for pulling Trudeau's name from the airport, from his handling of the October Crisis to his approach to the repatriation of the Constitution. It also cites a recent CBC News story about a telegram written by former U.S. ambassador Thomas Enders in which he said Trudeau had suggested to Montreal businessman Paul Desmarais that he make things as tough as possible for the fledgling PQ government and move jobs out of Quebec. Quebec Premier Rene Levesque (R) shrugs his shoulders and walks away from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (L) after a chat prior to the beginning of the second day of the Constitution Conference Sept 9, 1980. Petitioners want Montreal's airport to be renamed after Levesque.(Drew Gragg/Canadian Press) "Regarding the betrayals and the harm that he inflicted on Quebec, Pierre Elliott Trudeau absolutely does not merit that we set him up on such a pedestal - the result of a unilateral decision Ottawa made 20 years ago," reads the petition. The petition has an initial target of 20,000 signatures but had collected more than 20,800 by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous, spokesperson for the sovereignist Bloc Québécois, said his party supports the petition but didn't have enough time to consult its caucus after it was approached by the Societé St. Jean Baptiste on Friday. "We think it would effectively be a good thing to re-baptize the airport in honour of a personality who is the subject of more consensus and who corresponds better to the image of Quebec than Pierre Elliott Trudeau," he said. It's not the first time the airport's name has sparked controversy. A poll taken in November 2003, a couple of months before the airport changed names in January 2004, found that 38 per cent of respondents opposed naming it after Trudeau — a figure that rose to 42 per cent among francophones. The poll found that 34 per cent of respondents supported the move and 27 per cent were undecided. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said his focus is on Canadians getting vaccinated and on working with provinces. "These are serious allegations that former Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to damage Quebec's economy," O'Toole said in a media statement. "We don't support 'cancel culture,' but our approach to Quebec is totally opposite to that of the Liberals because we will work with the government of Quebec, as our productive meetings with Premier Legault have shown." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he understands the frustration of petitioners but did not take a position on renaming the airport.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh skirted the question of renaming the airport. "What Trudeau Sr. wanted to do to people in Quebec is deplorable and undemocratic, but I don't think anyone is really surprised," he said in a statement. "We understand the frustration of the petitioners, but in the short term we believe that what Justin Trudeau's government needs to focus on is ensuring that people are getting vaccinated as quickly as possible and that everyone has access to the support they need to get through the pandemic." Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair suggested it's time to rethink the titles of other airports named after former politicians. "What do John George Diefenbaker, James Armstrong Richardson, Lester Bowles Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Robert Stanfield have in common?" Mulcair wrote in a column in the Journal de Montreal. "They are all dead politicians who have their name on the airports of some of the largest cities in Canada. You will also note that in a country that, officially, celebrates multiculturalism, the equality between men and women and diversity, they are all men, white and Christian. No women, no minorities, no First Nations." Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
At least 165 more British Columbians died of illicit drug overdoses in the first month of 2021, more than double the number of deaths recorded last January. An average of more than five people died each day in the deadliest January recorded since the overdose crisis was declared a public health emergency nearly five years ago in April 2016. January was the 10th consecutive month where more than 100 people died as pandemic-driven border restrictions contributed to an increasingly toxic street supply, and progress dragged on promises of safer supplies for substance users. The devastating report comes just weeks after the province confirmed 1,726 people died in 2020, making it the deadliest year for overdoses. “We’re particularly concerned about the toxicity of the drugs detected in many of the deaths recorded in January,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a news release. “The findings suggest that the already unstable drug supply in B.C. is becoming even deadlier, underscoring the urgent need for supervised consumption options, prescribing for safe supply, and accessible treatment and recovery services.” As the province’s death rate per capita climbed to 38 per 100,000 in January, up from 33.1 in 2020, no community has been left untouched. Northern Health, where harm reduction services are sparse and access to health care can require expensive and time-consuming travel, experienced the highest rate with 71 deaths per 100,000. Vancouver Coastal Health region was second with 52 deaths per 100,000. According to the most recent data from the First Nations Health Authority, First Nations individuals in B.C. represented 16 per cent of overdoses in the first four months of 2020, up from 9.9 per cent in 2019, despite only representing 3.3 per cent of people in B.C. Extreme fentanyl concentrations were present in nearly one in five deaths, the most ever recorded, the Coroners Service reported. Benzodiazepines, including analogues like etizolam, were found in almost half of deaths in January. Etizolam was found in 31 per cent of deaths. In combination with fentanyl, it can repress the respiratory system and significantly increase the risk of overdose. The province has been spending on new treatment and recovery bed spaces and training nurses to be able to prescribe some first-line opioid substitutes. It has also approached the federal government about decriminalizing personal possession of illicit substances. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said in a statement the province had “stepped up our response to these emergencies as quickly as possible in B.C., but the effects of the pandemic on the illicit drug supply chain has made drugs dramatically more toxic than a year ago and, tragically, more lethal. “We know people are hurting now and we have to do more to stop this terrible surge in overdose deaths,” she said. But critics have accused the government of moving far too slowly to address the deadly public health crisis. People who use drugs and advocates say more has to be done to separate people from the illicit supply and provide safer alternatives, particularly for those who can’t or don’t want to access treatment. In September, the ministry announced it would massively expand eligibility and substances available in safe supply programs in the province. Safe supply programs aim to separate people from the poisoned street supply by providing pharmaceutical-grade alternatives to illicit drugs. This prevents overdoses because people can be more certain of what they are taking as well as the exact dosage. The Globe and Mail reported in February that the province is considering a variety of substances, including powdered fentanyl and fentanyl patches, in its safe supply guidance. But details on the expansion are still scarce six months after it was announced, with hundreds more lives lost in the meantime. Vancouver is still pursuing its own application to the federal government to decriminalize possession of drugs for personal use. It sent its first submission to Health Canada Monday as a step toward formal negotiations. The city saw 411 people die in 2020, and an additional 42 in January alone. “Today’s news that 2021 has started off with an even higher level of overdose deaths makes decriminalization and ending the war on people who use drugs even more urgent,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a release. Staff consulted with Vancouver Coastal Health, community groups and the Vancouver Police Department in the initial submission, which aims to divert people who use substances away from the criminal justice system. A spokesperson for the mayor said this so-called “Vancouver model” is still being developed. The city doesn’t plan to use administrative penalties or mandatory treatment as alternatives to criminal sanctions, as seen in the recently approved Oregon model. But police will be able to determine if the individual is in personal possession and to refer them voluntarily to the city’s Overdose Outreach Team. Further details and community consultations are expected in April. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says the province is considering whether to follow British Columbia in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming. The B.C. government announced Monday that it will extend the wait between first and second doses to four months to get more people vaccinated overall in a shorter time period. B.C. based its decision on data from the United Kingdom, Israel and Quebec that shows the first dose of vaccines is 90 per cent effective. “There’s fantastic evidence that’s coming out,” Shandro said Tuesday. “What the exact period of time (between doses) is going to be is still to be decided. We’ll be announcing it soon, but we will be looking at having that length of time between first and second extended.” When Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech began distributing their vaccines late last year, it was recommended the first and second shots be completed within six weeks to be fully effective. About 235,000 Albertans have so far received at least one shot. About 88,000 have been given the recommended two doses. Premier Jason Kenney has said all 29,000 residents in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities — people at the highest risk of contracting the novel coronavirus — have received both doses. Alberta is moving onto other priority groups, including seniors over 75 and First Nations people over 65. Shandro said 55,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive every week this month. A third vaccine, Oxford-AstraZeneca, is also on the way. “It’s going to give us an opportunity to get more people vaccinated more quickly,” he said. Oxford-AstraZeneca was approved last week for use in Canada. But a national panel of vaccine experts is recommending it be given to people under 65, because there were not enough seniors in the vaccine's clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in that age group. Shandro said Alberta will follow the guideline. Alberta is keeping many of its restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus until vaccines take hold. Retail stores and worship services are still capped at 15 per cent capacity and entertainment venues remain closed. Indoor gatherings are banned and outdoor ones are limited to 10 people. Kenney did announce Monday that libraries can reopen with capacity limits and he further eased restrictions on fitness centres. Gyms were already allowed one-on-one fitness training, but they can now offer low-intensity indoor fitness classes, including tai chi, wall-climbing and Pilates. Emily Slaneff, chairwoman of the Alberta coalition of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, said the new rules are confusing, contradictory and don’t allow specialized facilities, such as boxing clubs and spin studios, to open at all. Slaneff noted low-intensity fitness classes can be high-intensity for anyone trying to get into shape. And, conversely, high-intensity workouts are less strenuous for anyone already in good shape and trying to stay that way. “It’s a really difficult metric to use,” she said. “Two individuals can do the exact same workout and have very different experiences.” She said a lot of gyms are on the knife’s edge of bankruptcy and need support immediately to survive. “It feels like they (the government) are toying with lives and livelihoods,” she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontarians should be encouraged to see friends and relatives outdoors in the coming months, some health experts said Tuesday in stressing the need for realistic pandemic guidance following a winter of isolation. Now that most of the province has emerged from the stay-at-home order imposed in January, it's crucial to give residents safer options to socialize to help prevent another spike in COVID-19 infections, particularly in light of new, more contagious variants of the virus, some experts said. "It's really important now that we find realistic solutions for people, and what we know is that we by all means should avoid ... that people now congregate inside," said Dr. Peter Juni, an epidemiologist and director of the province's COVID-19 science advisory table. "People are social animals. We need something to balance ourselves mentally, socially, and psychologically, and so we will need to find a good way forward." A simple message – that outdoor, distanced gatherings are safer, while any indoor gatherings with people from other households should be avoided – should help people make decisions based on common sense, he said. Juni said he felt the need to bring the issue to the science table after seeing photos of large crowds and lineups inside malls and big box stores over the weekend, which he said gave him "goosebumps." The group will discuss possible recommendations to the province regarding messaging related to gatherings over the next few weeks, he said. While being outdoors doesn't mean there is zero risk of infection, that risk becomes "minimal" if people also follow distancing and masking guidelines, he said. By comparison, congregating indoors is "playing with fire," he said. Dr. Nitin Mohan, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Western University, said switching the messaging to promote outdoor activities makes sense from a harm reduction standpoint. "Folks have been indoors for quite some time. We know the mental health and other psychological issues that are going to be a result ... of our lockdown and quarantine measures," he said. "So if folks can get outdoors and it's safe to do so, I think it should be encouraged." There is a risk people may get used to seeing their loved ones when the weather is nice, and then break the rules when it's too cold or snowy to meet outdoors, Mohan said. "Are you comfortable saying, 'hey we probably can't see each other today, let's wait until it gets warmer,' or does it become sort of a lack of compliance where 'hey, we've already seen each other outside, it's no big deal to come inside for a quick cup of coffee,'" he said. "And that's where it becomes problematic." People also have to be reasonable in terms of the kinds of gatherings they're having, Mohan said, noting it won't be safe to have "500 people in a backyard barbecue." Timothy Sly, an epidemiologist and professor at Ryerson University, echoed that warning. "In very general terms, 'outdoors' presents a huge reduction in risk, all other factors being unchanged. BUT this is NOT the time for throwing the masks away and getting into yelling at sports arenas or close-up BBQ parties," he said in an email. "Those will be super-spreader events for sure, especially with the new variants." Most of Ontario has returned to the government's colour-coded system of pandemic restrictions after weeks under an order that required residents to stay home except for essential activities. The government still advises all residents to limit close contact to those in their household. Restrictions regarding gatherings vary between the colour-coded zones, with the more stringent grey or lockdown zone prohibiting indoor gatherings and allowing outdoor ones of up to 10 people with distancing measures in place. Regions in the green, or least restrictive, zone permit private gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, along with events of up to 50 people indoors and up to 100 outdoors, all with distancing measures in place. Three regions -- Toronto, Peel, and North Bay-Parry Sound -- remain under the stay-at-home order that's set to last until March 8. When asked for comment on the possibility of updating guidelines on outdoor gatherings, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said the province's top doctor will continue to consult with local medical officers of health and experts, and review data, to advise the government on "appropriate and effective measures" needed to protect Ontarians. Health officials in Toronto, meanwhile, said their guidance on socializing remains the same. "Our advice at this time is still to try to maintain as much distance and to not interact with people with whom you don't live," the city's top public health doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said earlier this week. "And if you have to be outside, to really keep your distance and to ensure that you're wearing your mask as much as possible." - with files from Denise Paglinawan This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Western Hockey League broadcaster Bob Ridley marked a career milestone Saturday, calling his 4,000th game for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Ridley has been the voice of the team broadcasts since the Tigers' first game, Oct. 15, 1970, and he's called every game since, but one. "Those 50 years and 4,000 games went by real quick, so I guess I might have enjoyed what I was doing," said Ridley on the Calgary Eyeopener. Saturday's game at Co-op Place resulted in a Tigers win, 7-2, against the Red Deer Rebels in the 2020-21 home opener. LISTEN to Ridley's famous voice here: He said that despite the building being empty save the players, it was a "marvellous evening" of tribute from team staff and players. However, the looming achievement was a bit of a distraction. "I'm kind of glad that milestone has come and gone and I can move on with other things," he said. He was originally set to call his milestone game in March 2020, but the pandemic put a pause on that until the team returned to action last month with a shortened season. For 50 seasons, Ridley has done play-by-play for the games; and for 45 seasons, he's also driven the team bus. "That's one way I got to meet and know the players real well," he said. "As a result of it, I became very, very good friends with most of them." Many NHL stars got their start with the Tigers, including Lanny McDonald, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Niedermayer, Trevor Linden, Tom Lysiak and Bryan McCabe. Bob Ridley was honoured by the team and staff on Saturday at Medicine Hat's Co-op Place.(Medicine Hat Tigers) Career in review Ridley, originally from Vulcan, Alta., began broadcasting on the radio on weekends in Drumheller while studying at Mount Royal College in Calgary. He went on to do more radio gigs, and started to call play-by-play for a baseball team in Swift Current, Sask. After moving to Medicine Hat in 1968, he began broadcasting senior hockey. In 1969, the Medicine Hat hockey rink, called Arena Gardens, burned to the ground, but it was replaced a year later with the Medicine Hat Arena. That same year, 1970, the Tigers entered the league as a franchise and Ridley began calling their games. The one game he missed came in 1972, when he was assigned to cover the women's national curling championship in Saskatoon. The game has changed since those early days, says Ridley, who has seen three generations of athletes play, in some cases. "It's so fast now and it seems to change about every three or four years … it's so quick now. And speed and scale is what it's all about," he said. "That's what keeps me going, watching these young kids develop and move on and more kids coming up through the ranks." Last week, the WHL announced a new award, the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, which will be awarded annually in his honour. He was the first recipient of the award, among many in his career. He says he's not fussed about hitting any other major milestone but rather will be "just taking it one game at a time." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of Neera Tanden to be his budget director after she ran into stiff opposition over tweets that upset lawmakers, in the first Capitol Hill rebuff of one of his nominees. "I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget," Biden said in a short statement on Tuesday. The decision to withdraw Tanden's nomination reflected the tenuous hold his Democrats have on the Senate.
HALIFAX — Just before two RCMP officers opened fire on a fellow officer and a civilian during last year's Nova Scotia mass shooting, they struggled with congested radio channels and mistook a man wearing a bright vest for the killer. These are among the fresh facts revealed Tuesday in a police watchdog agency report clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall. The six-page report by the Serious Incident Response Team says the "totality of the evidence" prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19. "They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries .... The (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons," it concludes. The six-page document traces the 10:21 a.m. incident — which didn't result in deaths or injuries — to the early hours of the morning, when the two officers were recalled to duty at 3 a.m. for a briefing as the shootings that would take 22 lives unfolded. According to the report, they were told that the spouse of the killer had said the gunman was driving a replica RCMP car and was wearing an orange vest. "They learned that several children had witnessed their parents being shot dead .... The actual total number of victims was unknown at the time of the briefing because several buildings in Portapique were on fire, and whether there were additional victims had not yet been determined," the report says. They also had been briefed that the gunman had high-powered weapons with laser-mounted sights. Several hours after the first briefing, there were radio transmissions saying the killer had murdered a woman in Wentworth, N.S. At that point, the two officers were "transitioned from investigators to being involved in the hunt for the killer," the report says. Through the morning, reports of additional murders came over the radio, including two women in the Debert, N.S., area, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Onslow firehall. As they approached the firehall, which had been designated as a rest area, they saw a marked RCMP car parked in front and a man wearing a yellow and orange reflective vest standing next to the driver's door. According to the report, the two officers didn't realize a uniformed RCMP officer was sitting in the vehicle. The investigation says the two officers repeatedly tried to advise other RCMP officers by radio of what they were seeing but couldn't get through. Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said in an email to The Canadian Press that he didn't have an exact time of arrival. "I can only extrapolate from the radio communications that it was about a minute before shots were fired," he wrote. According to the report, both officers got out of their vehicle with their rifles and were still unable to reach anyone on the radio. The report says they yelled "police," and "show your hands," but the civilian in the vest ducked behind the car before popping back up and running toward the firehall. The Mounties opened fire, with one officer firing four shots and the other a single shot. During the killer's 13-hour rampage, the report found, there were 7,731 radio transmissions over emergency response channels. It says the "sole reason" the reason the officers couldn't transmit before opening fire was because "there was no available talk path due to the heavy volume of radio traffic." It concluded the officers had a "lawful excuse" to fire their guns and didn't break Criminal Code provisions that prohibit officers from using their firearms in a careless manner. "Based on everything (the officers) had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that the (civilian in the vest) was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage," says the report. In a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade said it is "frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved." An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the two officers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both people shot at outside the firehall were RCMP officers.
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
For two communities that share so much, the dividing line between Collingwood and the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has never felt more defined. Alar Soever, mayor for TBM says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the political separation between Collingwood and TBM. “Now, it's unfortunate that Collingwood is in the grey zone. But, that just shows you that the county boundary is kind of an artificial construct,” Soever said. Collingwood sits in Simcoe County under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. While TBM sits in Grey County and falls under the Grey Bruce Health Unit. Earlier this week the two regions moved in opposite directions under the provincial COVID-19 reopening framework. Grey County moved forward into the green zone and Collingwood moving backwards into the grey zone. The vast difference in restrictions between the grey and green zones has created waves in the community, even pushing Collingwood town council to demand the health unit change the designation. But according to Soever, the issue goes far beyond the pandemic restrictions. He explained that county and public health borders are a serious problem that should be examined once the pandemic is behind us. “It's one of the issues that we bring up all the time. Collingwood is in Simcoe County and we are in Grey County, even though we really do have a lot in common,” Soever continued. “As Mayor Brian Saunderson has pointed out, we are tied economically and we are tied to the ski hills.” Soever said the two communities have more commonalities than differences and that it would be beneficial to have both communities residing in the same county and the same public health unit. “You really have to look at these political boundaries that are kind of artificial and are from years and years ago, and say do they still make sense? Because in terms of community character, if you look at Collingwood, TBM and Wasaga Beach, we have far more in common then Collingwood has the urbanized communities in southern Simcoe County.” He said its an issue that is constantly coming up at council table through various initiatives, including transportation, community safety plans, social service initiatives and housing. “There's an interesting discussion to be had. People claim that they are in the wrong colour zone? Well, maybe it's far more than that. Maybe, you're in the wrong political subdivision,” Soever said. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca