U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee conducts hearing to consider nomination of retired Gen. Lloyd Austin III to be defense secretary.
U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee conducts hearing to consider nomination of retired Gen. Lloyd Austin III to be defense secretary.
Markoshi Baladad had a plan all worked out. His family members from Calgary, who he hasn’t seen since 2018, would travel to New Brunswick and self-isolate in his cabin here for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. He was eager to show his parents, sister and brother-in-law the life he and his wife have built in Hopewell Cape, and especially to see his niece who he has not yet met. But a pandemic-related policy change by the provincial government makes that plan impossible right now. Under heightened restrictions which came into effect with the provincewide return to the orange phase of pandemic recovery, Canadian residents who own property in the province or who have immediate family members here, including parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents or a significant other, are longer be permitted to enter the province. Previously, family members had been allowed to reunite in New Brunswick if the visitors self-isolated for 14 days first. “It's actually very disappointing to hear,” said Baladad, adding that he was surprised to hear the news of the policy change. Baladad had been eager to show his family simple things from heating his home with wood to taking a hike in the forest. His family members follow his YouTube and Instagram page, he said, and will have to continue to see his new life that way for now, instead of in person. “I'm hoping our family can reunite soon,” said Baladad Leslee Johnson of Dorchester lives minutes away from her mother in Tidnish, Nova Scotia, but is now similarly cut off from her family. “We’re so close, but can’t see each other. We are used to weekly visits,” she said. Johnson counted the family lucky in July when the Atlantic bubble was established just in time for her daughter’s first birthday, adding that the early pandemic lockdown had been difficult. Marilyn Stewart's family members live just across the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border in Amherst, while she is in the Moncton area. Under the new restrictions, she says she's without access to her support system as she grapples with ongoing mental health struggles. “This is becoming a very difficult and lonely time for me now,” she said. For Richard Blaquiere, it may mean a much longer separation from his daughter, currently in Halifax. Blaquiere said he was hoping his daughter could spend a few days with him in Riverview before starting a job as a nurse in Yellowknife in a couple of weeks. Now, that seems unlikely. Gail Everett of Riverview said before the clamp down on out-of-province visitors, her son travelled from Ontario to spend a month in the Maritimes. He chose to get tested before travelling and then self-isolate in an AirBnb, but then could see her, she said. It is unclear when she will be able to see any of her family members who live elsewhere now. It’s hard, she said, “but that’s the way it is right now.” Non-residents remain permitted to enter the province for child care and custody arrangements and, where exempted by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, for compassionate reasons, said Coreen Enos, communications officer for the department of Justice and Public Safety. New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer Doctor Jennifer Russell said in a news conference Friday, “we are really concerned about the increasing number of cases globally, in Canada, and in the U.S." She said the new travel restrictions were in light of this and the U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, which is reported to be more transmissible, now present in three provinces in Canada. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
A staff member at a high school on Hamilton’s west Mountain has tested positive for COVID-19. Hamilton public health notified the board of the positive case at Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School on Friday, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said in a Jan. 15 statement. The school will “contact any students or staff identified as close contacts,” the statement reads. In an email to The Spectator, the board’s spokesperson said that there is “no closures for Sir Allan MacNab as a result of the COVID-19 case associated with the school.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The long wait to learn who will represent Alberta at the national curling championships is over. The decision provided some clarity on the wild-card front too. Reigning Alberta champions Laura Walker and Brendan Bottcher will wear provincial colours once again, Curling Alberta announced Monday, 10 days after cancelling its playdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Walker, ranked seventh in Canada, was expected to get the nod for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. However, the selection of the fourth-ranked Bottcher for the Tim Hortons Brier was tougher to predict. Sixth-ranked Kevin Koe and 15th-ranked Jeremy Harty also had a case. Koe didn't play in the last Alberta playdowns since he had a Brier entry as Team Canada, while Harty is the provincial standings leader. "This was an extremely difficult decision for Curling Alberta’s board of directors,” Curling Alberta president Steven Young said in a release. "As a province, we were faced with a unique set of circumstances in unprecedented times. "No one could predict that we would be forced to make a decision like this, which we tried to avoid by pushing hard to host our championships." Koe will instead get one of the two wild-card spots based on the final 2019-20 domestic rankings. Fifth-ranked Mike McEwen of Manitoba gets the other. "My disappointment level really isn't that high," said Team Koe lead Ben Hebert. "If we knew that this was the make-or-break (decision) of whether or not we were going to be in (the Brier), obviously my tune would change. "I'm pretty grateful that we still get to compete regardless and that Curling Canada is putting on this bubble for us." Harty could still be considered for the third wild-card spot in the 18-team Brier field. The national federation will make that decision once all member associations either complete playdowns or name representatives. The Feb. 19-28 Scotties will kick off a run of six straight competitions in a so-called bubble at Calgary's Markin MacPhail Centre. "We're excited to wear the Alberta colours and the Alberta jackets," Walker said. "It's obviously not the same as when we won the honour to go but we definitely feel honoured to have been asked." Also Monday, the New Brunswick Curling Association cancelled its women's playdowns. Reigning champion Andrea Crawford has been invited to represent the province again. The New Brunswick men's tankard, meanwhile, is still on the schedule for Feb. 10-14. Bottcher, the Canadian No. 4, reached the Brier final last year but lost to Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador. The 2021 Brier is set for March 5-14. Ninth-ranked Glenn Howard of Ontario appears to be a good bet for the final wild-card spot, although other teams may be considered. On the women's side, two Alberta skips — No. 5 Chelsea Carey and No. 6 Kelsey Rocque — are ahead of Walker in the women's rankings. But Carey is a free agent and Rocque only has two returning players from last season's team, one short of the required minimum. Manitoba's Tracy Fleury is a wild-card lock at No. 2. The other two women's berths will be filled over the coming weeks. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the two-team Prince Edward Island championship at the end of the month, but a loss would move her into a wild-card spot at No. 9. World junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias is in the mix at No. 11 along with fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson at No. 12. It's possible that Rocque and 10th-ranked Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan - who also has two returning members - could be in play for the third wild-card spot. A Curling Canada spokesman said the 3-of-4 rule applies to the first two wild-card teams in each gender, but added that qualifying criteria for the third wild-card team won't be finalized until after all member associations have declared teams. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Could Port Hardy be the next home of Air B&B or VRBO? Council is thinking about it. At least, they’re considering changing the zoning bylaws so that short term vacation rentals and modular homes would be allowed in Port Hardy. There’s an online public hearing scheduled for Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. if you want to have a say on the matter. There are two proposed zoning changes, one to allow pre-fabricated/modular homes to be placed on residential properties, and the second would allow property owners to offer short-term vacation rentals. New zoning bylaws are drafted and posted for perusal on the District website here: https://porthardy.ca/2021/01/15/public-hearing-short-term-vacation-rentals-and-prefabricated-modular-homes/. Current zoning prohibits separate dwellings on residential blocks. If approved, the change would allow home owners to build separate suites that could be used as short term rentals. As for vacation rentals, District zoning allows bed and breakfasts but with tight restrictions. If approved, the new bylaws would allow things like Air B&B on approved properties. If you are affected by either of these proposals, join the Zoom hearing on Tuesday. RELATED: Tiny home demand up during pandemic as people seek change RELATED: Rooster bylaw causing a cock-a-doodle-doo on Malcolm Island Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
With 2020 in the books, members of the Melfort city council were happy to report an overall increase in building permits during this past year. Considering the average for the province was a 19.5 per cent decrease in construction permits over the year, Brent Lutz, Melfort’s director of development and planning,said the numbers say a lot about Melfort residents investing in their homes during the pandemic. “People were spending more time at home and decided that they would really like to have a new home and it would be comfortable. Everybody spent money on home improvements as part of the pandemic, as well. Home has certainly become more important to us as we've been locked in it.” Especially in an agricultural community like Melfort, a strong farming economy can drive construction in the following year, Lutz said, and what was clearly evident in 2020 can mean a strong 2021, as well. That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges ahead. “The only challenge we see in front of us right now is that the cost of inputs for construction have gone up considerably over the course of 2020. And we don't know what's going to happen between now and spring.” For 2020, Saskatchewan had $1.2 billion in building permits over 2020, which was a drop from 2019’s $1.5 billion. Nationally, Saskatchewan is ranked eighth among the rest of the provinces with a 2.8 per cent drop in the national average. Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador were the only provinces that saw a rise in permit dollars. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — At least three provinces are now temporarily delaying or pausing COVID-19 vaccination programs amid fallout from Pfizer's decision to reduce Canada's vaccine deliveries over the next month.More than half a million Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 thus far, and more than 822,000 doses of the two approved vaccines have been delivered from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.But all provinces are being forced to revisit their vaccination programs after Pfizer suddenly told Canada on Friday morning it would be cutting the doses delivered in half over the next four weeks, while it upgrades its factory in Belgium. Pfizer was to ship 735,150 doses to Canada between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14.Canada's deliveries after the partial pause will be bigger than previously expected so Pfizer can fulfil its contract to deliver four million doses by the end of March.About 600,000 doses have been delivered from Pfizer so far.The new delivery schedule has not yet been posted publicly, but provinces are preparing for the temporary downturn anyway.Manitoba stopped taking appointments for first doses Friday but will honour appointments already made. Ontario's chief medical officer Dr. David Williams said Saturday his province would delay giving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to 42 days, instead of the recommended 21 days. The 28-day schedule for Moderna's vaccine will remain intact, said Williams.Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Monday his province has "quite simply run out of supply" of COVID-19 vaccines and is no longer taking appointments for people to get their first doses."I am deeply disappointed at the situation we are now facing," said Kenney."Due to the unexpected supply disruption the federal government announced last week, Alberta will have no more vaccine doses available to administer as first doses by the end of today or early tomorrow."B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said his province is considering whether to adjust the dosing schedule. B.C. had already changed the 21-day second-dose schedule to 35 days, but Dix said that may change again because of the delivery shortages.Alberta hit a milestone on Sunday by delivering of the first doses of vaccine to all residents of long-term care facilities. Ontario still anticipates hitting its first target of inoculating 61,500 long-term care residents, staff and primary caregivers by Thursday.Pfizer is trying to double its production of vaccine doses to two billion this year and is planning to temporarily curb production at its Belgian facility to make upgrades that will allow for that increase.Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said the delivery delays will affect other countries besides Canada and the European Union but the company has not identified them."Multiple countries around the world, beyond Canada and the EU, will be impacted in the short term," Antoniou said."Pfizer is working closely with all governments on allocation of doses. While the precise percentage allocation may fluctuate, we anticipate that it will balance out by the end of (the first quarter of) 2021."Europe has already seen its delivery delay period shortened from four weeks to just one. Pfizer told Europe Friday that delays to its dose deliveries would end Jan. 25, while Canada expects to be affected until mid-February.European leaders were furious at the initial announcement that their deliveries would be smaller for several weeks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Pfizer's CEO directly to discuss the issue late last week.Pfizer later announced Europe's deliveries would only be affected for this week.Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must explain why Canada's delivery schedule is being affected for longer."It’s up to the prime minister to explain to Canadians why they won’t be able to get vaccinated for months, while European countries have minimal delays in receiving vaccines," Rempel said."It’s up to him to explain why, based on Friday’s news about vaccine delivery delays, we might be looking at many more months of lockdown — with the lost jobs, time with families, and mental health challenges that accompany them. It’s up to him to find a better path forward."Trudeau said Friday the decision was "out of our hands" but that it would not affect Canada's long-term goal to have every Canadian vaccinated by the end of September.By the fall, Canada is to get a total 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Both use a similar technology to train the human immune system to recognize the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, and mount a defence against it.Both vaccines showed they were more than 94 per cent effective at preventing serious illness after two doses. Health Canada approved Pfizer's vaccine Dec. 9 and Moderna's on Dec. 23. It continue to review two more COVID-19 vaccines, from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, but neither is expected to complete the review process in Canada for at least several more weeks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor says production delays for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are a temporary setback that will slow down the delivery of first doses in the province over the next few weeks. But Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is still on track to vaccinate its most vulnerable residents by the end of March, ahead of a significant expansion of the province's immunization program in April. She says a shortfall of about 60,000 doses of vaccine should be made up in March. B.C. has recorded 1,330 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, including 301 in the last 24 hours — the lowest single-day infection rate in more than two months. The death toll from the illness rose to 1,078 as 31 more people died in the same three-day period. The number of active cases dipped to 4,326, including 343 in hospital. Henry says about 80 per cent of long-term care residents in the hard-hit Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions have received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with more being delivered across the province. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
After a successful competitive career, Montreal figure skater Elladj Baldé vowed to push back against the sport's traditions and explore his own style. The result? Newfound internet fame. The 30-year-old skater's videos, which show him performing unconventional routines punctuated by backflips, have garnered over 16 million views on TikTok and 13 million on Instagram. "I was shocked by how things were being received," Baldé said of his quick rise to internet celebrity. But to him, the attention just means he's moving in the right direction, trying to modernize and diversify the culture of a sport that remains traditional and "limiting" at the pro level, he said. "I feel the reason why they're going viral is because ... I'm completely diving into what I want to do and how I want to do it." WATCH | Baldé speaks about authenticity in his skating: The Russian-born, Montreal-raised athlete started figure skating at age six, and spent years in the Canadian and international competitive circuits. After two unsuccessful Olympic trials and even more concussions, Baldé made the decision to retire from competitive skating in May 2018, at 27. Since then, he's been a choreographer and judge on the live-competition skating series Battle of the Blades, gotten engaged and co-founded the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance (FSDIA), a non-profit that aims to combat racial inequality in the sport. The alliance and videos are Baldé's way of reclaiming his artistry and authenticity after years of rigid competitive routines, he said. "Being a Black man in figure skating was a different experience," he said. "It's very much rooted in, you know, a white, European, elitist kind of mentality." "You have to fit within a certain box and a certain style in order to be successful," he added. The FSDIA is already working with Skate Canada to foster more diversity and inclusion in the sport environment. Baldé said he wants to address the financial barriers that keep Black, Indigenous and other people of colour from participating in sports like figure skating, and he wants to help create policy changes to help athletes and coaches of colour report racism and discrimination. "The culture of figure skating needs to change," Baldé said. "We're just really committed to bringing a new perspective to skating." That perspective shines through in his online routines, where he's been skating to the likes of Rihanna and James Brown on local outdoor rinks and scenic lakes during the pandemic. And he's not just attracting the attention of his fellow Canadians; American actress Jada Pinkett Smith reposted one of his videos on Instagram, where it racked up another nearly 8.5 million plays. Baldé said the viral fame shows him there's room to make figure skating cool again, as well as an appetite for more creative, diverse performances. "I would love to encourage people to pursue their passion, whatever that is," he said. "And hopefully, the next generation that comes into the sport will no longer have to deal with some of the things that us older generations ... had to experience." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
As communities work to stop the spread of COVID-19, Indigenous health experts say there is a “social sickness” that also must be addressed. A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization that’s faced by Indigenous communities in the wake of the pandemic. The video, co-produced by the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH) and BC Northern Health, is titled “Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19.” Dr. Margo Greenwood, academic leader of NCCIH, is the executive producer of the video, which she says she hopes will start important conversations around stigma and discrimination. “When we begin to talk about these things I think we begin to learn,” she says. “I think education is a critical way to address stigma.” The four-and-a-half-minute video is narrated by Dr. Evan Adams of Tla’amin First Nation and features a Nlaka’pamux healing song. In the video, Adams — who is well known for playing Thomas in the famous 1998 film Smoke Signals — speaks over a cartoon animation by Joanne Gervais. The cartoon shows people in various scenarios, such as a group of people whispering and pointing at an Indigenous woman. “Pandemics can promote harmful stigmatization,” Adams says during the video. “COVID-19 is a physical virus. Stigma is a social sickness.” Greenwood says the initial idea for the video was prompted by Mary Ellen Turpond-Lafond‘s recent In Plain Sight report that outlined systemic racism in B.C.’s healthcare system. Greenwood says there are many harmful and untrue stereotypes that are anchored in colonial views and reinforced through generations. “Our work today is to challenge those old stereotypes, to know when they’re influencing our thinking and our behaviors,” she says. “Once we are aware and we know we are being influenced by them we need to challenge them. I’m really hopeful that this video will promote that kind of reflection and discussion and it will illuminate the urgent need for change.” On Jan. 14, CBC News released a story wherein Indigenous people in Powell River, Port Hardy and Duncan spoke of being denied service in various establishments after COVID-19 outbreaks in their communities. The same day, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke out against this discriminatory behavior in her regular COVID-19 update, saying this type of racism “must stop.” “This type of racism cannot be tolerated and I stand against this with my colleagues to say this must stop on Vancouver Island and elsewhere,” she said. “Racism has no place in our society, in our communities here in British Columbia and we must all take the time to speak out and speak up.” Henry said it has become clear that First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples in British Columbia did not come into the pandemic on equal footing to the rest of the province. “COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, but systems do,” she said. “It has illuminated for us many long-standing inequities in different parts of our society.” Meanwhile, other Indigenous communities are also speaking out against stigma during the pandemic. Snuneymuxw First Nation released an open letter stating people in that community and the nearby Cowichan Tribes have also experienced racism after a COVID-19 outbreak. “Similar commentary was also seen in a number of other communities around British Columbia,” the Jan. 15 letter states. “Anti-Indigenous racism has no place in B.C.’s pandemic response or community commentary.” The letter is co-signed by Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse and six other community leaders, including Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly and Telaxten Paul Sam of the First Nations Health Council. It points out that some of the commentary has been around Indigenous communities receiving urgent access to the vaccine — saying that Indigenous peoples require this access because of proven poorer health outcomes and chronic health conditions. “Together we need to continue to stand up for respectful treatment of Indigenous Peoples and nations,” the letter continues. “The burden of addressing racism needs to come off the shoulders of Indigenous peoples.” Greenwood says she is hopeful that the new video will begin to unpack definitions such as stigma and stereotypes that will help people in organizations to question their own thinking around differences with respect to racial inequalities. “Sometimes we’re just not aware of our own biases, of those unfavourable beliefs or opinions that we hold and sometimes we don’t even know where they came from,” Greenwood says. “I’m hopeful that the video adds critical information that will promote important conversation on how best to address and stop stigma and discrimination.” Catherine Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Ethel Lockrey, 97, and a resident of Silver Fox Estate in Salisbury said people might be surprised at what she and some other seniors have come up with while under lockdown at their retirement residence: floor curling. The game bears some resemblance to regular curling, except there are little wheels under the stones, and of course the absence of ice, said another resident, Doug Sentell, 83, adding that a smooth surface is still important. "I think people would be surprised to know such a game exists. It's fantastic,” said fellow resident Glenna Brugess, 91, adding that she really enjoyed playing and thinks she could be good at it. This week, the seniors had a faceoff: women versus men, said Sentell. The women's team won, he said The women’s team’s most senior senior was certainly a big part of their success, though she is very humble, Sentell said. Lockrey, who many referred to in interviews as “Speedy Ethel” said she thinks “people would be surprised that at 97 years old I can play." "I like to curl. It exercises my whole body and I feel that's important,” she said. Sentell said this week’s game was only the second time he and his fellow residents have given the new game a shot, but noted their skills have improved considerably. “The first time we were flipping the stones upside down,” he said, sharing that his biggest tip would be not to push too hard initially. “We had 10 playing this time. The first time there were maybe four or five that tried, with more as spectators,” said Sentell, adding that people have been learning by watching. Jason Wilson, operator of Silver Fox Estate, said the home, which opened in May during the pandemic, has hired a full-time wellness coordinator, who has been organizing everything from curling to chair fitness. Residents can’t have visitors nor can they participate in off-site visits right now, he said. The home is their household bubble, he said. But while opening during a pandemic was a nightmare from a business perspective, Wilson said, the positive side has been really getting to know each resident slowly and watching residents grow closer to each other than they perhaps would have been otherwise. “They rely on each other. They take care of each other,” he said. From crib, to bingo, to chair exercises, they do activities together, said Wilson. And now, of course, they curl together. Sentell said he thinks as they get more players interested they could explore the possibility of a tournament. “I think this could take off,” he said. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Three B.C. salmon populations will receive priority attention under proposed new laws formalizing the federal government’s obligation to protect and restore Canadian fisheries at risk. The draft regulations released Jan. 2 stem from the amended Fisheries Act in 2019 that included the formation of binding commitments on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to manage major stocks at sustainable levels and rebuild those at risk. “[These regulations] would strengthen fisheries management framework leading to better conservation outcomes for the prescribed stocks, more demonstrably sustainable fisheries, and compliance with the Fisheries Act,” reads a government statement accompanying the proposed regulations. “In addition, the proposed regulations would result in the increased transparency and accountability that accompanies regulatory oversight as compared with policy approaches.” DFO policy already steers toward the regulation’s goals, but critics complain the followthrough is often weak and drawn out. The new laws aim to cement government accountability by forcing the development of a rebuilding plan within three years of identifying a stock at risk, coupled with concrete timelines and thorough assessments of why they’re suffering. “The plan provides a common understanding of the basic ‘rules’ for rebuilding the stocks,” the statement continues. The proposed laws indicate that within five years DFO will prescribe all 177 major fish stocks with a limit reference point (LRP), the point at which a stock falls into serious harm. DFO will be required to develop rebuilding plans for those stocks below their LRP level. The first batch of 30 stocks include 17 below critical numbers, including Okanagan chinook and Interior Fraser Coho. Threatened stocks of west-coast Vancouver Island chinook and Pacific herring around Haida Gwaii are both on the path of receiving a rebuilding plan early this year. B.C.’s two populations of yelloweye rockfish are also below their LRP threshold and have already received completed rebuilding plans. Once threatened stocks grow above their LRP, the minister must implement measures to maintain them at or above the sustainable level. Despite the stated goals behind the proposed regulations, Oceana Canada wants to see “surgical fixes” to the proposed laws before they’re approved, as the current draft offers too many loopholes. The organization recommended three key improvements to the regulations: speeding up the process of assigning all critically low stocks with rebuilding plans; setting clearer targets within those plans; and establishing maximum-allowable timelines for targets and milestones. “They explicitly say … they don’t want to set a standard. They want to maintain full flexibility depending on the stock they’re looking at,” Josh Laughren, Oceana Canada executive director said. “The regulations say there must be a target set, but surely, every policy already says they [DFO] must manage stocks up to a healthy level. So what are their definitions? This doesn’t define that. It just says set a target, any target, essentially. It also says they have to set a timeline, but that can be anywhere from one to 100 years.” Oceana Canada released a critical audit of Canadian fisheries last November that found only one-quarter of stocks are healthy, down 10 per cent since its first audit in 2017. Stocks of caution have risen from 16 to 19 per cent, while stocks in critical states have increased from 13.4 per cent to 17 per cent in the same time period. In B.C. the organization also highlighted troubling decreases in crustacean populations, the backbone of Canadian fisheries, and small forage fish that are vital prey for other commercially important fish. Oceana cautions Ottawa that consumers are increasingly demanding sustainably-caught fish, to which the adoption of robust regulations and global best practices are key to ensuring a successful Blue Economy Strategy currently under development. “Without changes, the draft regulations that are now open for public comment would squander this opportunity, depriving Canada of the economic and environmental benefits that come with rebuilt fish populations,” reads an Oceana statement. An earlier verision of this story misidentified the spokesperson from Oceana Canada quoted in this article. The above story has been corrected. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
An Onion Lake man - who allegedly fled from RCMP on foot after he lost control of his vehicle on an icy road during a police chase - was scooped by Mounties six days later. A Lloydminster Alberta RCMP officer noticed a suspicious vehicle with no license plate in the area of 50 St. and 57 Ave. at about 4 a.m. on Jan. 10. Police attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver refused to stop and sped away. According to RCMP, the vehicle lost control on an icy road and smashed into a median where it became immobilized. The driver, Courtlin Littlewolfe, 34, allegedly fled the scene on foot, leaving passenger Bianca Lasas, 20, behind. Police arrested Lasas and searched the vehicle. They seized more than $47,000 in drugs in the vehicle. The drugs included more than 350 grams of suspected methamphetamine, more than 100 grams of suspected cocaine, and 29 grams of suspected heroin. In addition, police found more than $8,000 in Canadian currency, a handgun, ammunition and a knife. In addition, police found red paisley bandanas generally worn by Westside Outlaws street gang based out of Onion Lake Cree Nation. RCMP issued a warrant for Littlewolfe and arrested him on Jan. 16 in Onion Lake. Lasas and Littlewolfe were remanded in custody until their next court appearance. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Hospitals in Ontario have received a much-anticipated document that lays out the criteria to be used if intensive care units fill up and medical resources are scarce.According to the document, titled "Adult Critical Care Clinical Emergency Standard of Care for Major Surge" and prepared by the province's critical care COVID-19 command centre - patients will be scored by doctors on a "short-term mortality risk assessment." "Aim to prioritize those patients who are most likely to survive their critical illness," the document notes."Patients who have a high likelihood of dying within twelve months from the onset of their episode of critical illness (based on an evaluation of their clinical presentation at the point of triage) would have a lower priority for critical care resources," the document reads.It lists three levels of critical care triage:"Level 1 triage deprioritizes critical care resources for patients with a predicted mortality greater than 80 per cent," the document notes. "Level 2 triage deprioritizes critical care resources for patients with a predicted mortality (greater than) 50 per cent."At Level 3 triage, patients with predicted mortality of 30 per cent - or a 70 per cent chance of surviving beyond a year - will not receive critical care. At this stage, patients who have suffered a cardiac arrest will be deprioritized for critical care, as their predicted mortality is greater than 30 per cent.At this level, clinicians may abandon the short-term mortality predictions in favour of randomization, which the document notes is to be used "as a last resort" and should be conducted by an administrator, not by bedside clinicians.The protocol, dated Jan. 13, says there are three steps on the road to critical care triage:Step 1 says hospitals should build surge capacity. In Step 2 , "if demand still exceeds capacity, the hospital will adjust the type of care being provided to focus on key critical care interventions," which include basic modes of ventilation.Step 3 is the initiation of critical care triage. Once that process kicks in, "all requests for ICU admission are managed by an administrator on call who supports the bedside clinicians."At the moment, there are 416 patients with COVID-19 in ICUs in Ontario, which has a total of 1,800 total ICU beds.Modelling released by the province last week show that about 700 ICU beds will be used by COVID-19 patients by the first week February.Dr. Andrew Baker, the head of the critical care COVID-19 command centre and director of critical care at St. Michael's Hospital, said the triage protocol contains information and tools that are a standard way for physicians to conduct an assessment for a patient upon arrival at an emergency department."They were shared with the critical care community as background only and to ensure a common approach across the sector, so physicians and other health professional staff can learn how to quickly operationalize an emergency standard of care for admission to critical care, if ever needed," he said.Baker said an emergency standard of care is not in place, but will be enacted if needed.He said there is an "extensive, sophisticated, provincewide effort" to transfer patients out of hospitals that are at capacity.Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, said the hospital is running at 105 per cent capacity, but has cancelled surgeries in order to keep some spots open in the ICU."I sincerely hope we never need to use this because it is terrible for patients, terrible for their families, causes moral distress for health-care workers, and it's something that we should do everything possible to avoid having to implement," Warner said. David Lepofsky, the chairman of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said the triage guidelines are discriminatory.He pointed to the clinical frailty scale, a prognostic tool doctors use in cases of progressive illnesses to assess a patient’s general deterioration over time."This is disability-based discrimination and that's against the law in the Constitution," Lepofsky said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — CF Montreal sacrificed offence for defence Monday, trading Argentine forward Maxi Urruti to the Houston Dynamo for centre back Kiki Struna. Montreal also got an international roster spot for the 2021 season in the deal while Houston received a second-round pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. The 30-year-old Struna played 46 MLS games, including 45 starts, for Houston over the last two seasons. He joined the Texas club in December 2018 from Italy's Palermo FC. The six-foot-two 185-pounder has won 21 caps for the Slovenian national team. "We are pleased to add a tall centre back to our defensive core," CF Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard said in a statement. "He has experience in MLS and on the international scene, and he's played several years in Italy." Montreal ranked 23rd in goals allowed last season, averaging 1.87 a game. Houston was 15th in goal-scoring, averaging 1.30 a game. Struna will serve as veteran help for 19-year-old Louis Binks, whose loan deal with Bologna has been extended through December 2021. The contracts for Montreal defenders Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala and Jorge Corrales expired at the end of December. Montreal has already added Canadian international defenders Kamal Miller and Zorhan Bassong during the off-season. CF Montreal was known as the Montreal Impact until last week when the team rebranded. Houston will retain a percentage of any sell-on fee if Struna is transferred outside of Major League Soccer. The 29-year-old Urruti has scored 53 goals and added 33 assists in nine MLS seasons with Toronto, Portland, FC Dallas and Montreal. He collected nine goals and eight assists in two seasons with Montreal. He has won the MLS Cup with Portland, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield with Dallas and the Canadian Championship with Montreal. “Maxi knows first-hand what it takes to be a champion in MLS and has consistently scored goals since he arrived in the league,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said. “He brings quality, speed and a tremendous work ethic.” Urruti is a product of the Club Atletico Newell's Old Boys academy, making his pro debut in 2011. Urruti holds a Green Card as a permanent U.S. resident and will not occupy an international roster slot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18. 2021 The Canadian Press
A major hotel association is speaking out against any possible legislative change that would ban Canadians from other provinces to travel to beautiful British Columbia. The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a “legal opinion” on the matter. The opinion found that an inter-provincial travel ban would be “difficult to implement because the Supreme Court of Canada has held that Canadians’ mobility rights are among the most cherished rights of citizenship that are fundamental to nationhood,” according to the BCHA release. The legal opinion was sought after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced the province was seeking legal advice on whether it has the constitutional power to restrict non-essential travel to the province during a press conference last Thursday. The whole subject of inter-provincial, non-essential travel—and whether it should be banned—became a bit of a flashpoint recently, after a Whistler emergency room physician reported seeing a worrying amount of patients from Quebec and Ontario during the holiday period and called for a halt to non-essential, inter-provincial travel. In its statement the BCHA stated the tourism industry has implemented robust health and safety guidelines to ensure guest safety and that inter-provincial travel hasn’t been shown to be a major factor the spread of COVID-19. “Industry leaders have repeatedly emphasized that travel is not the culprit for the spread of COVID-19, but rather individual behaviour,” stated the release. “Coalition members say they are not aware of or have seen any hard data to support further travel restrictions or an outright ban on non-essential travel within BC and to/from other provinces.” The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on B.C.’s tourism industry, with many hotels and restaurants struggling to stay in business, despite financial support, such as commercial rent and wage subsidies. “We implore the province not to pursue an outright travel ban that would cause undue hardship on businesses, the workforce and our province’s stellar reputation as a welcome and safe place to visit,” stated Ingrid Jarrett, president and chief executive officer of the BCHA. “While now is not the time to encourage non-essential travel, banning visitors from other parts of Canada sends a strong and false message that visitors are to blame for rising transmission rates. “Conversely, we need to work together with government to convey the message that people visiting B.C. for whatever purpose must commit to our strict health and safety protocols.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Security is tight and tensions are high in Washington, as the U.S. prepares to swear in Joe Biden on Wednesday. Thousands of National Guard troops brought in to protect against possible attacks are being vetted by the FBI for possible inside threats.
MONTREAL — The Quebec coroner is investigating the death of a man whose body was found inside a portable toilet early Sunday morning close to a Montreal homeless shelter he frequented.On Monday, a spokesman for the coroner identified the man as Raphael Andre, 51, and said the investigation will establish his cause of death and the circumstances surrounding it.Montreal homeless shelter The Open Door said in a Facebook post that Andre, identified by the nickname "Napa", was a regular and was often the last person to leave the facility.The Open Door had been operating 24 hours a day, but a COVID-19 outbreak in mid-December and a plumbing issue forced it to suspend its overnight service and to close at 9:30 p.m.Because of the provincewide curfew that is in effect between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., people who are not in overnight shelters risk confrontations with police if they are found outside. The Open Door said in its Facebook post that had it been allowed to stay open overnight and operate its warming centre, Andre would not have been left outdoors in the cold. "When people are in a safe place with support workers watching over them, help can be called when someone is in distress," the shelter wrote. "Instead, he tragically passed away in a portable toilet. This needs to change." A spokesperson for the shelter did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.Montreal's public health department said in a statement Monday that it issued a recommendation on Jan. 12 supporting the reopening of The Open Door's warming station. A Montreal health board that oversees the area said the shelter can reopen for overnight service once conditions are met."Following an evaluation of the situation, a list of 13 recommendations were submitted to Open Door's management and board of directors to prevent future outbreaks and to protect the clientele and shelter staff," the board said in a statement Monday, adding that it was still waiting for the measures to be implemented.The city's homeless community has been dealing with numerous outbreaks fuelled by a high rate of community transmission. A plan by local health officials to vaccinate the homeless began on Friday.Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante offered her condolences regarding the death of Andre and said the city and public health authorities are working to ensure The Open Door's warming station is able to reopen as soon as possible and in compliance with sanitary measures. "Each death in these circumstances is one death too many," Plante said. "This tragic event reaffirms the urgency of providing vulnerable people with resources adapted to the various needs which have been exacerbated by the health crisis."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Active cases of COVID-19 in St. Albert increased over the weekend, up from 165 on Friday to 173 on Monday. New provincial data, released on Monday, shows the city added 25 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, while 17 more people recovered. The data reflects testing done Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Overall cases in the city increased from 1,799 to 1,824 between Friday's report and the data released Monday. Saturday brought news of 10 new diagnoses and four more recoveries. On Sunday, the province reported nine new diagnoses in St. Albert and nine more recoveries. Monday's data showed six more diagnoses and four more recoveries. In Sturgeon County, 41 people currently have COVID-19, with 513 people having recovered since the pandemic began. The county added seven new cases over the weekend and four people recovered. Morinville has 25 active cases, with 315 people having recovered from the virus since the pandemic began. The town added three new cases over the weekend and one person recovered. Across the province, another 474 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours. Some 8,500 tests were run overnight with a 5.4-per-cent positivity rate. There are currently 730 Albertans in the hospital with 120 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There were 11 new deaths reported by the province on Monday. To put that in perspective, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 11 deaths in one day alone make up nearly 20 per cent of all influenza deaths last year, with 58 people having passed away from the flu last year. Sixty-six per cent of all deaths related to COVID-19 in Alberta since the pandemic began have been in long-term care and seniors homes, Hinshaw said. There are currently 181 cases of COVID-19 in 133 schools since in-person classes resumed last monday. Hinshaw said those cases are being brought into schools from community spread and there are not many cases being transmitted in schools. "This number reflects community transmission and not in-school transmission, and it's important to distinguish between the two," Hinshaw said. On Monday, social gathering and business rules loosened, with the province allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and wellness businesses to operate by appointment only. Hinshaw said while the province is loosening restrictions, it is important for Albertans to continue to make safe choices around COVID-19. "We are making progress but we are not out of the woods yet," Hinshaw said. The province's top doctor said while COVID-19 numbers in the province are declining, there is still a lot of work to be done to continue to bring down case counts. Monday brought with it the relaxing of some provincial restrictions, allowing personal services businesses to reopen and outdoor gatherings, with limits, as well as eased rules for funerals. Hinshaw noted that three months ago, on Oct. 18, the active case count was sitting at just over 3,000. On Monday the provincial active case count sat at 11,923. "Critically, on Oct. 18, there were 120 people in hospital with COVID-19. Today we have more than six times that total," Hinshaw said. "So as we ease the restrictions on three province-wide measures today, please continue to take every precaution you can, and make good choices – choices that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19, choices that will help save lives and our health-care system, and choices that will help lead us in a direction where we may be able to safely relax more measures in the weeks ahead." Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
The Tl’etinqox Government predicts COVID-19 cases in its semi-remote community west of Williams Lake could soar to 60 or more by the end of the week. “Tl’etinqox is calling for a state of emergency,” stated a Jan. 18 Facebook post by Tl’etinqox Government. “There are currently 12 cases in the community with a prediction of up to 60 or more.” Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse, who is seeking re-election, could not be reached for immediate comment. Positive cases have been identified in every Indigenous community in the Chilcotin. A local state of emergency remains in effect until Feb. 5 at Ulkatcho First Nation with non-members prohibited from entering the community. Ulkatcho First Nation band manager Brian Johnson confirmed a positive case was identified Jan. 18. “Everyone will be issued a permit to place on their dashboard, and we have implemented a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.,” Chief Lynda Price said in a Jan. 14 Facebook video. COVID-19 cases have also been identified on-reserve at Tsideldel, Yunesit’in, Xeni Gwet’in and Tl’esqox. “Individuals do not have to reveal this information, and it takes courage due to the stigma surrounding this virus,” said Tsideldel Chief Otis Guichon in a Jan. 14 Facebook video, praising a positive member for being transparent. A lockdown went into effect at Yunesit’in Wednesday, Jan. 13. Xeni Gwet’in is anticipated to enter a full lockdown for 14 days after the first rollout of the Moderna vaccine is complete Tuesday, Jan. 19. Full lockdowns will result in only essential services entering and leaving the community, with members who leave without authorization not being allowed re-entry until the lockdown is lifted. Informational checkpoints are active at Tl’esqox (Toosey) where Chief Francis Laceese said he is aware of at least two positive cases. “We do have a lot of members who live in Williams Lake and hopefully, the vaccine will happen for them sooner than later,” Laceese said. Vaccines have so far arrived to the communities of Ulkatcho, Yunesit’in, Xeni Gwet’in, Tsideldel and Tl’etinqox. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
A majority of Canadians, New Brunswickers among them, want improved access to psychologists, according to a poll conducted by Nanos. Canadians most frequently report having the most confidence in psychologists when it comes to helping people with mental health problems, but many say access to these professionals is still a problem and they’d like both the private and public sector to help them do that more easily. “COVID-19 has impacted the psychological health of New Brunswickers who were already faced with a shortage of psychologists,” said Mandy McLean, executive director of the College of Psychologists of New Brunswick. "Access to necessary psychological support was difficult before – and the need for the services of licensed psychologists continues to grow." Fifty-eight per cent of New Brunswickers responded that COVID-19 has had a negative or somewhat negative impact on their ability to access mental health care by psychologists. In the public sector, which includes psychologists who work in schools, hospitals and community mental health systems, the shortage is significant, McLean told the Times & Transcript. Of New Brunswick respondents, 46.1 per cent said the amount of time needed for Canadians to get access to psychological services in the publicly-funded health-care system is either unreasonable to somewhat unreasonable. More than 88 per cent of New Brunswickers supported or somewhat supported improving access to psychologists through the publicly-funded health-care system. Many New Brunswickers say the cost of receiving care from a psychologist is influencing their decision to pursue treatment privately. More than 83 per cent said cost was very or somewhat significant in deciding whether to access a psychologist. McLean said some extended workplace health plans are offering benefits for sessions with a psychologist for about $300 a year, which would not provide more than a couple of sessions with a private psychologist. More than 76 per cent of New Brunswickers said providing greater access to psychologists through employer health benefit plans would be a good or very good idea. Access is also about wait times. Long wait times significantly or somewhat significantly were a factor for 76.2 per cent of New Brunswickers in deciding to access a psychologist. Psychologists have nearly a decade of training or more, said McLean, making them unique in their extensive training in how people think, learn and behave. Nearly half of New Brunswickers believe psychologists are effective in diagnosing people living with depression, anxiety, addiction of learning disabilities. Nanos conducted a representative online survey of 3,070 Canadians, drawn from a non-probability panel between Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, 2020. The research was commissioned by the Canadian Psychological Association and the Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists and was conducted by Nanos Research before being compiled into a report. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal