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WEIRD AND WONDERFUL RESEARCH: Coronavirus research continues | Now-Atlantic | News

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Atlantic Canada is a hub for innovative and exciting research and we want to share it with you! Each month, we will be highlighting some of the weird and wonderful research happening at the region’s 16 universities.

From biology and climate change to psychology, culture, and the human condition, you never know what you might discover. So, join us on a brief exploration each month, and open your eyes to the amazing work being done right here in Atlantic Canada.


April was a busy month for researchers across Atlantic Canada, with a strong focus on COVID-19-related projects. Whether it’s working on vaccines and detection methods or studying the mental and emotional effects of isolation, our researchers are on the frontlines of innovation and discovery.

How is COVID-19 affecting you?

Researchers at both Saint Mary’s University and St. FX have been exploring how we have reacted to the changes in lifestyle that have come as a result of the pandemic. SMU researchers have received a $333,000 grant to study how employers and employees respond during outbreaks and will complete their work over a two-year period.

Lead researcher Kevin Kelloway says the team will complete large-scale surveys through an online data centre and focus on physical health as well as psychological well-being.

Meanwhile at STFX, Dr. Karen Blair has launched the COVID-19 Interpersonal Coping Daily Diary Study in partnership with Indiana University to learn how people are coping mentally, physically, and relationally. The goal is to capture as many diverse experiences as possible and record thoughts, experiences, and feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why play is vital during coronavirus

Mount Saint Vincent University professor of Child and Youth Studies, Christine McLean, shares four reasons play is vital during coronavirus. Though many parents are trying to focus on home-schooling and routine, McLean says it is important to remember the invaluable learning that comes from playtime.

Université de Moncton researchers explore X-Ray detection

A research team at Université de Moncton has been exploring the ways in which artificial intelligence might be used to detect COVID-19. Computer science professor Moulay Akhloufi says X-ray imagining could detect COVID-19 in the lungs, but some experts warn that AI may not be fully accurate. Akhloufi’s team created an online tool and is hoping to work with doctors to bolster further research.

Honourable mention

Students at Cape Breton University have published an eBook to help fellow teachers adjust to remote education in light of COVID-19. Professor of Education, Rob Power, along with nine of his students, completed the eBook “Integration of Instructional Design and Technology to Support Rapid Change” in two weeks to share the lessons, strategies, and tools they had gathered. Read more here


Jill Ellsworth is a writer and a lifelong learner who lives in Dominion, N.S. Working as CBU’s digital communications specialist has opened her eyes to the ground-breaking research happening at Atlantic Canada’s universities, and now she’s here to share it with you each month. She can be reached at jillellsworth94@gmail.com.

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This essential worker’s child-care costs have almost tripled during COVID-19

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A Halifax-area veterinarian says she’s spending nearly three times the amount of money on child care during COVID-19, and she wants the province to step up and help essential workers who are struggling financially.

Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that hasn’t kept regulated child-care centres open for essential workers. Despite a promise by the premier in early May to reassess that approach, Dr. Lindsay MacNeil said she’s still waiting.

“There’s really not a lot of help for that and by not a lot, I guess I mean none,” MacNeil, who works at Metro Animal Emergency Clinic in Dartmouth, N.S., told CBC’s Maritime Noon on Monday.

MacNeil is a single parent and said she’s working extra shifts to afford to pay for a babysitter to care for her three-year-old daughter.

Before COVID-19, she said she spent about $800 a month at a licensed daycare, and a full-time babysitter who comes to her home now costs her about $2,200 a month.

MacNeil worries essential workers are having to choose between work and making sure their kids are looked after. (Dr. Lindsay MacNeil)

“It’s really made me kind of have to sit down and really watch what we’re spending on,” MacNeil said. “Having it almost triple is a big hit to take during anytime, especially when there’s already a lot of stressors happening.”

MacNeil was able to find a babysitter on Kijiji who was willing to only work with her family, and she said she’s thankful she was able to find someone she trusts.

The province initially suggested parents who needed to work could still use unregulated child-care operations, which have remained open, but MacNeil said those spots filled up quickly.

“So there’s really nobody else that I can rely on,” she said. “And there are a number of people that I can think of in my life that are experiencing this and I can only imagine there are even more.”

At the beginning of May, Premier Stephen McNeil said his government would evaluate the child-care needs of essential service workers after students at Dalhousie University who were providing child care for health-care workers called on the government to do more.

June 8 reopening uncertain

Licensed daycares have been closed since late March and while the province has set June 8 as a target date to reopen, it’s unclear whether that date will be met.

MacNeil said she’s not advocating that daycares reopen before it’s safe to do so. Rather, she wants the province to provide some form of financial aid to offset the higher costs of daycare.

“I think there’s a lot of people in this position and we’re kind of asking and reaching out and trying to verbalize that this is a concern and we need more support, but it’s falling on deaf ears,” she said.

What the province is doing

In a statement from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the province said a group of child-care representatives is working with public health to establish a plan to reopen the licensed child-care sector.

The department also said it’s committed to working with essential workers to address their needs.

“To ensure families are not paying for a service they cannot access, the department directed licensed child-care providers to not charge families fees during this time,” a statement said.

“Unlicensed childcare providers have continued to operate and provide an important service to fill the child-care needs of families during COVID-19, including essential workers.”

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Schools expected to reopen to staff June 1, says English school district

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Newfoundland and Labrador English School District director of education Tony Stack says schools are expected to reopen to teachers next week. File photo. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Schools in the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District are expected to reopen to teachers next week, according to director of education Tony Stack.

In a memo sent to staff Monday, Stack said the district expects the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to make the announcement that schools will reopen June 1 to teachers, teaching assistants and secretaries for the remainder of the school year. 

Teachers and staff are expected to close out the current school year by completing transition plans for students, preparing final report cards — which will be issued the week of June 22 — and completing two professional learning courses. 

Teachers are also expected to begin preparation for the next school year. 

“We acknowledge that, at present, public health authorities continue to encourage working from home where possible. I am also aware that some of you have geographical limitations, health concerns, or issues regarding the care of family members that may, wholly or partially, prevent you going into your school,” Stack said.

Stack said staff can continue to work from home, providing they complete the work to close out the school year. 

Home-learning plans will be suspended June 5 to allow teachers time to complete their final tasks and focus on preparing for 2020-21, Stack said. 

Stack said in the memo the school district has been expecting the announcement for some time, adding that custodial staff will play a key role in preparation for next year. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Laurentian Bank renews its partnership with Mackenzie Investments to offer an exclusive series of mutual funds to its personal customers

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MONTREAL, May 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Laurentian Bank announced today that is has extended an existing partnership with Mackenzie Investments (Mackenzie) by three years.  The agreement will see Mackenzie continue to provide fund management services for an exclusive series of mutual funds for Laurentian Bank’s personal customers.

“We are very pleased to renew this partnership with Mackenzie Investments. They have been a trusted partner to us over the years and we value their commitment to innovation and solid reputation in the investment community. We’re proud to leverage their expertise to the benefit of our customers by offering a simple, competitive and innovative series of Mackenzie mutual funds,” stated Stéphane Therrien, Executive Vice President, Personal & Commercial Banking of Laurentian Bank and President and Chief Executive Officer of LBC Financial Services.

Since 2012, Laurentian Bank has worked with Mackenzie to provide its customers with an exclusive series of mutual funds. Through this partnership, Laurentian Bank’s personal customers have access to a range of over 60 funds to meet their investment needs.

“Our long-standing partnership with Laurentian Bank is important to us and we’re delighted that we’ll be continuing  to work together to help their customers achieve their financial goals, whether it be the purchase of a home, funding for education or being able to achieve their dream retirement lifestyle,” said Barry McInerney, President & CEO, Mackenzie Investments.  “Mackenzie’s investment management team is committed to providing investors with access to solutions based on performance, choice and innovation.”  

Mutual funds are distributed by LBC Financial Services Inc. (LBCFS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Laurentian Bank of Canada. Mutual funds offered by LBCFS are part of the Laurentian Bank Group of Funds managed by Mackenzie Investments.

About Laurentian Bank Financial Group

Founded in 1846, Laurentian Bank Financial Group is a diversified financial services provider whose mission is to help its customers improve their financial health. The Laurentian Bank of Canada and its entities are collectively referred to as Laurentian Bank Financial Group (the “Group” or the “Bank”).

With more than 3,200 employees guided by the values of proximity, simplicity and honesty, the Group provides a broad range of advice-based solutions and services to its personal, business and institutional customers. With pan-Canadian activities and a presence in the U.S., the Group is an important player in numerous market segments.

The Group has $44 billion in balance sheet assets and $29 billion in assets under administration.

About Mackenzie Investments

Mackenzie Investments was founded in 1967 and is a leading investment management firm providing investment advisory and related services. With $135.6 billion in assets under management as of April 30, 2020, Mackenzie Investments distributes its investment services through multiple distribution channels to both retail and institutional investors. Mackenzie Investments is a member of the IGM Financial Inc. (TSX: IGM) group of companies. IGM Financial is one of Canada’s premier financial services companies with $159.4 billion in total assets under management as of April 30, 2020. For more information, visit mackenzieinvestments.com.

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