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Ministers must get PPE to NHS frontline, says business secretary | Society



Doctors and nurses should not be having to decide whether to treat coronavirus patients without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), Alok Sharma, the UK business secretary, has admitted.

Sharma declined to apologise for PPE shortages in hospitals and care homes across the UK but said he “completely accepts that it is up to the government to fix”.

Medical groups have warned for weeks that medics do not have enough equipment such as gowns, masks and goggles, while the government has acknowledged logistical problems in moving supply around the country.

With shortages on the frontline persisting and 19 deaths of NHS workers so far, the Royal College of Nursing advised members to refuse to treat patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus if they do not have enough PPE.

Sharma told Sky News’s Ridge on Sunday: “It is absolutely right that no medical professional should be placed in a position where they have to make that choice. That for me is self-evident. That is why we are making sure we get the equipment to the frontline.”

However, he refused to apologise specifically over the supply of PPE and said he was “sorry for the loss of any life during this pandemic”.

“It is our job to make sure we get that healthcare equipment, that PPE, out to them,” he said. “Right now, your viewers will be asking does the government have a plan to get this PPE out to the frontline and the answer is yes, we do have a plan.

“We are putting that in place, with millions of pieces of PPE kit going out to the frontline. Of course, we need to be doing even more,” he said.

On Saturday, Priti Patel, the home secretary, also stopped short of a full apology, saying: “I’m sorry if people feel there have been failings.”

It was reported over the weekend that Kingston hospital in south-west London had said it was nearly out of gowns, while other hospitals had been trying to source their own equipment from China.

Addressing those claims, Sharma told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “There is clearly a need for more gowns, there is clearly a need for more PPE. But the government has a plan.”

Sharma was also pressed on concerns that only 1.4% of the 300,000 applications for business support had been processed to help struggling firms.

The business secretary said it was being addressed with the banks. “I have spent the last couple of days talking directly to some of the largest lenders who are part of this scheme,” he said.

“I am very clear to say to them, we need to get money out of the door as soon as possible and they understand that, and banks know on this occasion why they have to be part of the solution, and they want to be part of the solution.”

With questions mounting about the government’s response, Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said parliament needed to return to scrutinise decision-making as soon as possible.

A spokesman for Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said parliament would return on 21 April but Starmer said there needed to be urgent talks about how ministers would be held to account virtually.

At the end of his first week in the job, Starmer struck a largely supportive note towards Boris Johnson’s administration. He said: “There are going to be difficult questions about whether the government was too slow but now is not the time for them.”

But he said the government must publish its exit strategy from the lockdown and deal with PPE shortages.

He said there was a “real issue about protective equipment, with the government saying one thing and the frontline saying another”, with a mismatch between what ministers and medics are saying.

Starmer acknowledged it was not easy to get PPE in the right place at the right time. However, it would be smart of the government to acknowledge its PPE ambitions have not been matched by reality“and probably just to apologise for that and get on with it”.

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Toshiba is officially out of the laptop business




Toshiba quietly exited the laptop business once and for all last week, ending a 35-year run by transferring its remaining minority stake in its PC business to Sharp. Two years ago, Toshiba sold an 80.1 percent stake of its PC business to Sharp for $36 million, and Sharp renamed the division Dynabook. Sharp exercised its right to buy the remaining 19.1 percent of shares back in June, and Toshiba released a statement August 4th that the deal was completed

“As a result of this transfer, Dynabook has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sharp,” Toshiba said in a statement.

The company made the first PC laptop in 1985: The T1100 boasted internal rechargeable batteries, a 3.5-inch floppy drive, and 256K of memory. ComputerWorld’s 20-year retrospective of the T1100 notes that Toshiba executives were unsure about the portable computer, but eventually came around, and began selling the T1100 for around $2,000.

During the 1990s and early 2000s Toshiba was among the top PC manufacturers, but as more players crowded into the market and with fewer unique features to offer, Toshiba’s laptops waned in popularity. By the time it sold its stake to Sharp, Toshiba’s share of the PC market had dwindled from its 2011 peak of 17.7 million PCs sold to about 1.4 million in 2017, according to Reuters.

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Government of Canada invests in Quebec’s Indigenous businesses and communities




Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions invests over $4 million to help support jobs and opportunities in Indigenous communities.

MONTRÉAL, Aug. 9, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)

Today is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a time to recognize the key contributions of those who have called this land home since time immemorial. No relationship is more important to the Government of Canada than that with Indigenous peoples, a Nation-to-Nation partnership. This commitment includes major investments in housing, education and health care, committing to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and co-developed legislation on Indigenous languages and child and family services.

As we walk the road of reconciliation together, the federal government remains strongly committed to creating economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses and communities.

Federal government support for 18 projects in Quebec Indigenous communities

The Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, today announced contributions totalling $4,201,471 to support Indigenous businesses and communities, specifically 18 projects spread across different Quebec regions.

This financial assistance, granted by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), will boost 18 projects led by Indigenous communities, business and organizations in the province. It will create good jobs in Indigenous communities by helping, for example, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake as they develop a strategic plan; the Société de développement économique Ilnu as it develops the Mashteuiatsh community’s assets; the Bande indienne des Micmacs de Listuguj as it builds a development strategy; and the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake as it develops commercial activities in the Mohawk community.

The support being announced will also bolster several tourism sector projects by enabling, for example, the Nunavik Tourism Association to conduct marketing and development activities; the Wiinipaakw Tours, Solidarity Cooperative to create tourism infrastructure and to ensure the development and promotion of regional assets such as Uapishka Station and the Domaine du lac des Cèdres. Through the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, the funding will also provide assistance for several Indigenous businesses across the province being greatly impacted by COVID-19.

The investments announced will also boost local projects such as the construction of a new business centre and industrial motel for the Corporation Nikanik de Wemotaci; a new building for the Nation Micmac de Gespeg; and new trail infrastructure for the Conseil des Abénakis d’Odanak.

Additional information on the projects is provided in a related backgrounder.


“True reconciliation means giving Indigenous communities and businesses the chance to succeed. This investment from CED will do just that—helping Indigenous businesspeople seize opportunities, helping Indigenous organizations deliver important local projects and helping Indigenous communities embark on the path to self-sufficiency and prosperity. I am excited to see the difference this investment will make for Indigenous communities in Quebec.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Member of Parliament for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CED

“To help Quebec’s economy recover, our government is making strategic investments to enable communities and businesses to take advantage of economic development and opportunities for growth. Small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses illustrate the ingenuity and dynamism that are at the heart of economic development in their communities across Quebec and across the country.”

Élisabeth Brière, Member of Parliament for Sherbrooke and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

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SOURCE Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

For further information: Media Relations, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, [email protected]; Alexander Cohen, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, [email protected]

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Beaverdell business gets licence to grow small-batch cannabis – Kelowna News




Licence to grow cannabis

A Kelowna husband and wife team have received the go-ahead to begin a small-batch craft cannabis operation in Beaverdell, B.C.

“I’m a micro-cultivation producer and my forte is going to be craft cannabis,” said Jeff Aubin, CEO Smoker Farms.

Aubin says he and his wife and a good friend have been working on the licence for a couple of years now, so the news is welcome.

“It’s been a struggle but this is great news and we are excited.”

Aubin looked into opening a dispensary in Kelowna but decided against it because he found the process onerous.


“I find that in the legal market most of the cannabis doesn’t have a lot of love attached to it.” Aubin says, adding Smoker Farms will “bring the love” by having a smaller crop of MK Ultra, with smaller rooms and more attention to detail.

“It has been our dream to be able to produce quality cultivars like MK Ultra and now we can begin to make those dreams a reality.”

Aubin has been working on the MK Ultra strain for 10 years.

“This cultivar has tested at a THC percentage of over 20 per cent, packing a powerful punch that is sure to resonate with a number of new and old consumers alike.”

Aubin hopes to bring a craft cannabis feel to his business even though his product will likely be sold under another label once it’s purchased at auction through Craft Depot.

“I’m working on deals that would allow for our labelling to be on future products so people will know how to find us, but for now, we’re just happy to be where we are,” says Aubin.

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