Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results in favour of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results.Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Trump berated Ducey on Twitter Monday night, asking, “Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.___Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.; Cooper and Tang reported from Phoenix.Scott Bauer, Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
The federal government is extending financial protection to workers whose employer goes bankrupt in a foreign country as a direct result of problems experienced two years ago by call centre workers in Sydney, N.S.In 2018, about 600 employees of ServiCom were thrown out of work three weeks before Christmas after the call centre's American owner, JNET Communications, filed for bankruptcy in a U.S. court.That meant the workers had no way to recover the pay they were owed and would otherwise receive under the federal Wage Earner Protection Program.The employees faced a bleak holiday season, owed about $1 million in pay and bonuses with little hope of recovery.By the new year, another U.S. call centre company — MCI Canada — bought ServiCom's assets and restarted the Sydney operation.Employees said they hunkered down and made it through Christmas with the help of friends and family.Three months later, the Nova Scotia Department of Labour tried something it had never done before.The province filed a court action on behalf of the employees. It sought a declaration of bankruptcy in Canada to allow the workers to access the wage protection program.That was granted and, in June 2019, the workers started getting back pay.According to a regulatory impact analysis published in the Canada Gazette, Ottawa is changing the regulations as a direct result of the ServiCom decision to protect Canadian workers by including them under the program, even if their employer is based in another country.The wage protection program allows workers to access up to $2,000 in back pay and gives employees "super-priority" status, which means wages and vacation pay rank ahead of secured creditors in a bankruptcy case.Going to court to help workers access the program was "complicated and time consuming," the analysis said, and changing the regulations is expected to result in only a small number of additional claims and little extra cost.The new regulations are expected to take effect this spring.MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — A new poll suggests most Canadians aren't currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first.Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine as early as the United States."That's not necessarily low, but I think most pundits would have expected this number to be much higher," said Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.Meanwhile, 48 per cent say they are not concerned about getting a vaccine first and 10 per cent say they don't care at all or are not planning to get vaccinated anyway.Getting a vaccine before other countries doesn't seem to be "a major (issue for the Liberal government), which is contrary to what we might have thought … when the prime minister actually said that we would not be the first ones to get doses," Bourque said.The amount of concern regarding getting a COVID-19 vaccine first varies along party lines, with 45 per cent of self-identified Conservative supporters saying they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine at the same time as other countries. Only 38 per cent of Liberal supporters say they are concerned. "The Conservative voters have the highest rate of people who say they're very concerned about not getting (a vaccine) first," said Bourque. "It's probably just because they tend to have a negative view or perspective on the Trudeau government, period."Furthermore, with the likelihood of multiple vaccines arriving over a period of time, just 28 per cent of respondents said they will take the first vaccine they can get, while 45 per cent said they will wait for other vaccines to become available.Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians and 55 per cent say it should be given on a voluntary basis.But the poll suggests that the vast majority of Canadians want people entering Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with 83 per cent of respondents saying vaccines should be required. Also, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said employers should be able to demand that workers be vaccinated.The poll suggests that 65 per cent of Canadians intend to take a COVID-19 vaccine when it's approved by Health Canada and available for free while 17 per cent say they don't intend to. "That proportion used to be a bit higher, closer to 70 per cent in the spring. Since then it's gone down," said Bourque. "Over the past three months, when we've actually asked the question again, it is fairly stable in the mid-60s.""It really seems that two thirds of us are kind of committed to this idea of getting the vaccine when it's available."The poll of 1,516 adult Canadians in an online panel was conducted from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Cega'kin (Carry The Kettle) First Nation has gone into a lockdown following an outbreak of eight cases of COVID-19.Chief Brady O'Watch said his emergency management team put the lockdown in place on Sunday after being notified by the Saskatchewan Health Authority about the cases."We have a lot of elders in our community, a lot of children, some people with … medical complications, so it was in our best interest to, I guess, call a lockdown again," O'Watch said. Everyone on the first nation of about 1,000 members has been asked to self-isolate for 14 days, O'Watch said. Cega'kin First Nation is located about 100 km east of Regina.He said the council and emergency team have been in touch with members through social media and a print newspaper that they deliver door to door. They've been sharing information about the lockdown and the measures that need to be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.O'Watch said before this lockdown was initiated, he'd been clear to members that if there was an outbreak, the first nation would lock down for 14 days, so the measures were somewhat expected. The steps are also familiar to most people now, he said."This lockdown is just something we have done before, so … a lot of positive feedback from our membership, just appreciating that we are taking this seriously, we're not taking any risks."Health team available to helpThe first nation has a health team available to help families, with staff checking up on people every few days.There's also a colour code system in place where people can put a certain colour in their window and the health team will then know what they need help with. O'Watch said the colour code system was put in place in March and is being revived for this lockdown.During the last lockdown earlier in the year, O'Watch said they had activities for the kids to complete, and they've been working to get school online, so that will be available again during this lockdown. The first nation has a kindergarten to Grade 12 school.> It could be a blessing for us to reevaluate some of our family ties together. \- Chief Brady O'Watch, Cega'kin (Carry The Kettle) First NationOne family member is allowed to go out a couple of times a week to get essential supplies. There is a curfew of 7 p.m.The store on the first nation is taking precautions like only allowing one customer per time, doing deliveries and allowing people to pay through the window.He said many people are working from home."They are willing to do the lockdown because they understand the need to keep our families, keep our elders and children safe," O'Watch said.The lockdown is a way to limit the amount of people coming in and out of the first nation, O'Watch said.Essential workers will be screened, and asked to go directly in and out to their work, no stopping in between.'It could be a blessing'Despite all of the restrictions in place for the next two weeks, O'Watch said there are some positives to take away from the pandemic."It really brought families more together, you know, appreciating that connection between one another.… It could be the Creator, it could be a blessing for us to reevaluate some of our family ties together."He said he's encouraging members to pray and to smudge in their homes."It's all about reconnecting ourselves to our ancestors and how we used to live before. So I will say to our membership, you know, think more positive, be more positive. Yes, this is a pandemic, this is a bad thing. But, you know, we can try our best to try and look at some more positives, what little they are, but still to be more positive, not just for ourselves, but for our children."
Newfoundland and Labrador's information and privacy commissioner says the provincial Department of Justice's refusal to share documents with him is preventing him from doing his job. In his submission Monday to the review of the province's access-to-information legislation, Michael Harvey says he can't do his job properly without records that the department says are exempted from release."Over the past year, the Department of Justice has appealed our recommendations to court in an effort to prevent our review of documents over which public bodies are claiming solicitor-client privilege," he told CBC News on Monday.The information and privacy commissioner's job is to make sure government bodies are following the rules and ensure citizens are not being wrongly denied access to information"We are only asking that we be allowed to do our job and provide that oversight," said Harvey.> My strongest appeal for this review of ATIPPA is to simply allow me to do my job. Don't go back to Bill 29. \- Michael HarveyIn his submission to the review of the Access To Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Harvey argued the importance of the privacy commissioner's oversight function needs to be reinforced.Harvey's submission noted that was also recommended by a committee that reviewed the former PC government's Bill 29, which in 2012 brought in measures that weakened the powers of the legislative transparency watchdog — including stripping the commissioner's power to review solicitor-client privilege documents."That role had been taken away through the infamous Bill 29. The 2014 Wells committee spoke clearly about the importance of the commissioner's ability to review these records to confirm that public bodies were following the law, as did the government of the day in the House of Assembly when ATIPPA 2015 was being debated," said Harvey in the submission."Unfortunately, in the past year, the Department of Justice and Public Safety has begun an effort to chip away at that clear legislative direction and is now refusing to provide the records, or indeed, any evidence to the commissioner, in support of its claims of solicitor-client privilege. My strongest appeal for this review of ATIPPA is to simply allow me to do my job. Don't go back to Bill 29."Harvey says access-to-information legislation should be changed to underscore the importance of oversight, by allowing the commissioner to review solicitor-client privilege documents."To give, you know, just really greater clarity, we're proposing a simple amendment so that we can really nail this down and put this issue to bed once and for all," he saidIn response, the Justice Department sent CBC a statement Monday saying the provincial government "is committed to openness and transparency." The final report of retired chief justice David B. Orsborn's review is expected by April, while the dispute between the information commissioner and the Department of Justice is going to court. Harvey said a court date has not yet been set.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Antibody tests are now available in Ontario but health experts and private labs are reminding patients that a positive test doesn't mean someone is immune — we still don't know if SARS-CoV-2 antibodies protect all people from getting COVID-19 again or from spreading it to others.LifeLabs became the latest commercial lab in Ontario to start testing patients for antibodies on Nov. 23. Dynacare has been offering SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing in Ontario since Sept. 8, a spokesperson said Monday. Since August, the company has performed about 10,000 tests in Quebec and Ontario, half within the last month alone.Both the serology tests offered by the companies do not detect an active COVID-19 infection but instead use blood samples to look for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.The tests promise to give some people an answer as to whether that persistent cough or scratchy throat a few months back was potentially COVID-19, but may not offer much insight beyond that. COVID-19 immunity remains murkyMarc-André Langlois, a University of Ottawa professor and Canada research chair in molecular virology and intrinsic immunity, said while a previous COVID-19 infection likely does provide some immunity, it's not clear how robust a protection that offers or how long it lasts."The scientific evidence is now showing that if you've been exposed and you've made antibodies, there's a good probability that you will be protected at least in the short term," he said."What no one knows, at this stage, is how long this protection from the antibodies will last."The protection could span a few months or possibly up to a year, he said. What's more, it's not clear what protection actually looks like."We know reinfections can happen, they've been documented," said Langlois, adding that even if a patient had mild symptoms the first time around, they may not have the same outcome again. It's also possible the antibodies will not provide what's called sterilizing immunity, where recovered patients cannot pass on a virus to others, he said. In other words, someone with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies may still be able to spread COVID-19. 'We're dealing with nuances' Ottawa Public Health recommends that anyone who tests positive for antibodies continue to exercise normal COVID-19 precautions, like physical distancing and mask wearing, and not to take a relaxed approach.Public Health Ontario advises against the use of antibody testing for determining the immune status of patients.Langlois doesn't envy public health officials who must both acknowledge that antibodies do seem to offer some degree of protection but not enough for people to let their guards down."We're dealing with nuances," he said. "That is the concern here, [an antibody test] provides people with a false sense of protection."Costs of the testsA SARS-CoV-2 antibody test at LifeLabs costs $75 while a test at Dynacare costs $70 and both are available in Ontario with a doctor's referral. The companies acknowledge on their websites that a positive antibody test does not mean a patient has immunity to COVID-19.In some circumstances, Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) will pay for the antibody test, such as in children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome and patients with severe illness who have tested negative for COVID-19 repeatedly, and where an antibody test would be a "helpful adjunctive tool," Public Health Ontario says. For the most accurate results, LifeLabs recommends patients get tested between three and four weeks after symptoms or possible COVID-19 exposure but said antibodies have been found months after infection.Dynacare says patients can get tested 14 days or more after an initial infection.
The Canadian navy's new frigates will get a cutting-edge radar system that has never before been installed on a warship — a recent decision that quietly ended a heated debate within the $60 billion warship program.The Lockheed Martin-built AN/SPY-7 radar will be installed on the new warships despite a furious back-room lobbying campaign by elements in the defence industry to convince DND to take a pass on the new system.It was a critical decision — one on which the federal government has been silent, apart from a few scattered social media posts, despite repeatedly promising to be more open and transparent about the multi-billion-dollar decisions it makes on shipbuilding.The choice of a radar system for the frigates has important implications for the military, as well as for the taxpayers who will foot the bill for Ottawa's $60 billion plan to build 15 new surface combat ships for the navy.The BMD optionIt also has significant political ramifications because Lockheed Martin's AN/SPY-7 radar is easy to upgrade to a ballistic missile defence system — a defence program successive Canadian governments have resisted joining.The contract to install the radar system on the new frigates was awarded in September by the warship's prime contractor, Irving Shipbuilding Inc., and acknowledged publicly by Lockheed Martin Canada earlier this month.Japan purchased a land-based version of the radar to serve as an early warning system for North Korean ballistic missile launches. That plan was rolled back earlier this year in response to fears that the missile batteries — located near the radar installations — would pose a hazard to densely-populated surrounding areas.At the moment, Canada and Spain are the only two countries planning to put the SPY-7 on their warships, although Japan has now also signalled it might equip some of its new warships with the technology.For more than three decades, Canadian governments of both political stripes have turned down U.S. overtures to join its ballistic missile defence (BMD) network. The issue became a diplomatic lightning rod the last time it was discussed over 15 years ago.The new frigates, including their radar systems, are being designed with BMD in mind in case a future government decides to get Canada involved.The potential for a new political brawl over BMD worries leading defence expert Dave Perry less than the technical and budget issues related to the federal government's choice of radar system.New system unproven, says expertIn a statement, the Department of National Defence insisted that the cost of adapting the radar to the Canadian frigate design "will be covered as part of the ($140 million) long-lead contract" signed with Irving Shipbuilding in early 2019, after Lockheed Martin was selected to design the new ships.There is another concern, though.The fact that the AN/SPY-7 "has not been marinized and deployed on a ship at sea is significant," said Perry, a defence procurement expert and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute."It means on the spectrum of developmental production, it is far closer to the purely developmental end of the spectrum than something that is deployed and has been proven on a couple of different navies around the world," he said.Lockheed Martin officials dispute that assessment, saying all of the components have been used on warships in one way or another, including the cabinets used to house the electronics."The SPY-7 radar is not in development. It was designed for use as a maritime radar and is based on mature technology that has been thoroughly tested and is being adapted and scaled for a variety of customers in both land-based and at-sea applications," said Gary Fudge, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Canada Rotary and Mission Systems.The company officials concede it will take design work to integrate the system into the new Canadian frigates, but insist that would be true of any other new radar system.There are still risks, Perry said.Canada's struggles with new technology"Canada has a lot of problems bringing development technology into service," he said, pointing to auditor general reports on the procurement fiasco involving the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter and the 16-year quest to replace the air force's fixed-wing search plane."Part of the problem is making sure you understand what it is you actually are buying," Perry added. "So if you are structuring a process to buy something off-the-shelf, you can buy something off-the-shelf. But we generally don't do that."DND said the AN/SPY-7 was pitched as part of Lockheed Martin's bid to design and manage the frigate program, and the navy needs the most up-to-date technology in warships that will be in service for decades.The system represents the "latest generation radar, with capability that surpasses other units fielded today," said DND spokesperson Jessica Lamirande in a media statement.DND was targeted by a furious behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign aimed at getting it to drop Lockheed Martin's radar system.An unsolicited defence industry slide deck presentation — obtained and published last year by CBC News — made the rounds within the government and landed on the desks of senior officials and military commanders. It described the AN/SPY-7 as "unproven technology" that will be "costly to support."Lockheed Martin officials pushed back against that assertion recently, saying that the new system will be easier to maintain, relies on existing components and — importantly — doesn't have to be switched off for maintenance work.Lockheed Martin officials were less clear on whether the overall system has yet to be fully certified for use on warships at sea."SPY-7 technology has been declared Technical Readiness Level 7 by the U.S. government, meaning it has been tested in an operationally relevant environment," said Fudge. "SPY-7 for CSC takes advantage of investments across multiple shore and sea based programs as well as internal funding for its development and testing. Canada has agreed to pay for the CSC-specific requirements and integration of SPY-7 into the CSC platform, which is required for any radar selected."
Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic? There are ways to reduce risk, but health experts advise avoiding it when possible. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says holiday shopping in crowded stores is a “higher risk” activity and that people should limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets. Instead, the agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to your car. If you need to enter a store, go during off hours when there will likely be fewer people. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others. Try to spend as little time inside the store as possible, says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University. “You just want to go in and out,” he says. “Get your shopping done and move on.” Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you get home. Retailers have been doing all kinds of things to make shoppers feel safe, but they don't eliminate the risk. Some check shoppers' temperatures at the entrance, for example, but an infected person may not have a fever and can still spread the virus. The plastic barriers between customers and cashiers also might not block all droplets from an infected person, Weisfuse says. If the air in a store feels stuffy, he says that’s a sign of poor ventilation, and you should leave. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean? Is it safe to stay in hotels during the pandemic? Is it safe yet to fly during the pandemic? The Associated Press
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The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) is calling on the provincial government to make hero pay top-ups available to all frontline workers.Early in the pandemic, the federal government announced a cost-shared program to support essential health care workers with wage top-ups. According to information originally obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Sask. government has only spent just over half of the $102 million the federal government made available. Sask. is the second lowest of all the provinces and territories in terms of spending that federal money."There's still a lot of money left in that pocket. So they need to start distributing the money that was put there to recognize health care workers," said Lori Johb, president of SFL.Johb says the government picks and chooses which health-care workers are eligible to receive a wage top-up. She says the federation wants the funding to be made available for all front-line health care workers, including all hospital staff and workers at community-based organizations. "They need to do it fairly and they need to do it across the board.""We know that the people that work in hospitals that do virtually, in a lot of cases, the very same work as the workers that work in long-term care, were left out of these conversations and did not see the top-up." Three Sask. unions representing health care workers have started a petition calling on the Sask. Party to provide a wage top up for all health care workers. Grocery, retail wageFor some time, essential workers were being praised around the world for their work during the pandemic. And it wasn't just health-care workers. Semi-trailer drivers, cleaners, maintenance workers and other people in similar industries were suddenly unsung heroes.That was especially prevalent for grocery store and retail workers. It got to the point where chains like Loblaws, Walmart and Metro even gave them a temporary pay raise.In the spring most of these workers had their wage topped up at about $2 per hour, according to Johb. But that ended in June, despite rising cases of COVID-19 and high profit sales for many big box stores."We have to recognize that these workers are out there every day ... especially during the holidays ... they're not getting any time at home and they're not getting any breaks from their work. They're putting themselves at risk and their families," Johb said. Saskatchewan has the lowest minimum wage in Canada at $11.45 per hour."It's reasonable, I think, that [the workers] need to see a $15 an hour minimum wage that would be initiated regardless of a pandemic or not, and then a top-up on top of that. So I think there's a long way to go," said Johb. Sask.Temporary Wage Supplement ProgramThe Sask. government began the fall sitting of the legislature with a throne speech by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty on Monday.Mirasty addressed aspects of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program in the speech. "In recognition of the extraordinary efforts staff are making in our long-term care facilities to keep our seniors safe, my government recently re-activated the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program," Mirasty said. "This program will provide a temporary wage top-up of $400 a month for two months to workers in long-term care facilities, personal care homes, integrated health care facilities and to home care workers providing care to seniors in their own homes."
Most food banks in Ontario experienced a “rapid surge in demand” during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report published by Feed Ontario. One of the Sudbury Food Bank’s agencies reported a 150 per cent increase in the number of people accessing emergency food support each day, while Manitoulin Family Resources served 1,500 clients during their busiest month – a significant increase from their regular 300 to 330 clients. “COVID-19 has compounded the already extreme challenges that are being faced by low-income Ontarians, and it has really impacted all communities,” said Carolyn Stewart, executive director of Feed Ontario. “Particularly in terms of food bank use, we are concerned about what’s to come in the winter months.” The 2020 Hunger Report released on Monday looked at data from 130 direct member food banks and 1,100 affiliate services that was gathered between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. It also included a special feature about the impact of COVID-19 on emergency food assistance services from the onset of the pandemic on March 17 to September 2020. About 1 in 8 Ontarians – or 13 per cent of Ontario households – were considered food insecure in 2018, and 537,575 individuals accessed food bank services in the province between 2019 and 2020. More than 3.2 million visits were made to food banks in Ontario during the same period, and 33 per cent of food bank visits were from children. In the last two years, the province has seen a 7.8 per cent increase in the number of people accessing support, and an 11.8 per cent increase in the number of visits being made. “Unfortunately, food bank use continues to rise and last year was no exception. We believe this continual increase in food bank use is driven by three things: an inadequate social safety net, precarious employment, and unaffordable housing,” said Stewart. “For example, over 85 per cent of those that we serve are either rental or social housing tenants who spend over 70 per cent of their monthly income on rent. The good place to be, they say, is around 30 per cent. That’s significantly more, and it leaves little room for anything else.” More than 65 per cent of individuals who visited food banks in the last year were on social assistance, many of them receiving far less than the “national standard” of $2,000 set by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). There has also been a 44 per cent increase in the number of employed people accessing food bank services over the last four years. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these pre-existing issues. From March to June, food banks saw an overall 26.5 increase in the number of first-time users. Out of 200 food bank users surveyed in September, roughly 50 per cent are worried about defaulting on a mortgage or facing eviction in the next two to six months. An additional 90 per cent are incurring a significant amount of debt just to cover their expenses. Manitoulin Family Resources, an agency that provides programming related to violence against women prevention, children’s services, and emergency food assistance to Manitoulin Island, shared its story with Feed Ontario for the purpose of the report. “While the initial days of the pandemic were very quiet for food bank requests, it caused concern that we were not even receiving requests from some of our regular visitors,” said the organization. “(Eventually), referrals began to increase, sometimes high, sometimes low, but then came a day where a worker called with 700 names of those in need. It was a turning point.” The organization decided to send prepared pallets of food for pickup instead of their regular individual baskets. The pallets were then delivered and distributed to households in the area. “For three consecutive months, our food bank provided food to over 1,000 individuals, with the highest month being over 1,500. As restrictions have eased in the province, we have seen a drop from those high numbers,” said Manitoulin Family Resources in the report. “Some have speculated that individuals have had financial stability due in large part to CERB, but as CERB evolves and COVID numbers have again started to rise at a faster rate than the earlier wave, we are attempting to prepare for what will come.” The report confirmed that according to the data, government income supports like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the moratorium on evictions and the student loan interest freeze did help relieve some of the pressure on food bank use. Community initiatives like pop-up food banks and meal programs also worked alongside government intervention to address the emergency need for food. “Food banks would like to work ourselves out of business. No food bank thinks that we are the solution to food insecurity or poverty. Rather, we are serving an emergency need in the community,” said Stewart. “The only way to address that need is good public policy. In our report, we do recommend a few key things to help move that needle forward.” These things include reinstating the CERB benefit for those who have been impacted by COVID-19 as well as rent relief for low-income tenants that are facing large rent arrears or eviction, and the overhauling of Ontario’s social assistance programs so that recipients have the means to move out of poverty. “Ontarians need access to quality employment, support services that do not perpetuate or deepen poverty, and access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing,” concluded the report. “By investing in these key solutions, the Government of Ontario will not only reduce poverty and food insecurity, but also build a more equitable and healthier province for the people and families that call it home.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
The City of Windsor has ordered a local man to take his driveway tent down — a temporary structure he uses to help get his daughter, who has a disability, in and out the house in the winter.Steven Levesque says he put up the tent because it's a safer and easier way of transporting his 14-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, without worrying about the ice and snow."We put the enclosure to keep the van out of the elements," he said. "It's a handicap vehicle that we can load the ramp out halfway and get my daughter into the van when we transport her."This is the first year Levesque and his fiance have used a driveway tent. Levesque says it's because as his daughter has grown older and bigger, it's also become more of a struggle to get her from the school bus to the house and vice-versa. He also finds staying with his daughter in the tent for a bit before bringing her in the house makes the process easier.He intends to keep the tent up only temporarily in the winter, and take it down when spring comes.He put up the tent on Thursday last week, but on Friday, he received notice that the structure is in violation of a city zoning bylaw. A bylaw officer will issue a citation if he doesn't have the tent down by Friday."I don't know what to do," Levesque said. "Come December 5 we'll see what happens, whether I take it down or face the consequences."Levesque spoke to the bylaw officer who gave him the notice, but beyond receiving a little sympathy, didn't get very far.He's contacted every member of city council to see if he can get an exception. He's also posted in the Windsor Car Spotters Facebook group, asking for advice.Levesque says he doesn't know who complained about the tent."Most people recognize our situation and are okay with it," he said. "But there's always that bad apple that they have to mind everyone's business but their own.""It might be an eyesore, but it's a needed eyesore for us."'It's certainly not a good situation'John Revell, the city's chief building official, says there isn't much he or the bylaw office can do to make an exception for Levesque's needs.He says they received a complaint through 311, and that there is an open and active investigation."In situations like that, those temporary covers people like to use to prevent snow from getting on their vehicles, those aren't allowed in front yards — they're prohibited in the front of a house," he said.He says that no orders have been issued yet. If Levesque does get an order, he'll have 30 days to comply, and if he still doesn't comply, he'll get a warning letter.After that, Revell says, the city would file with the courts and it would become a court matter."The inspector's following up with the homeowner, and we'll let the inspector deal with that," he said. "It's certainly not a good situation, and I certainly feel for the homeowner, but there is a prohibition under the zoning bylaw, so that's why there's an open investigation here."Levesque's only option, according to Revell, is to go through the planning department to see if he can get approval for rezoning or temporary use zoning — but that matter would have to go before council and get approved.In any case, Levesque is planning on keeping the tent up."I think that's what we're intending to do at this point," he said. "I think my daughter's health and safety is more important than any repercussions we'll suffer."
The Calgary Board of Education says Hub online students will still have the option to return to in-person learning at their schools starting on Feb. 1, but students currently doing in-person learning will not be allowed to move online. In an update sent to CBE families on Monday, the district says that they will not be accommodating new requests for Hub online learning in the new year. That's "in order to ensure continuity of learning and minimize disruption to in-person classes that may arise from the movement of staff from in person to online," reads the update from chief superintendent Christopher Usih.Kayla Martinez, who is the mother of a boy in Grade 1, says she began the process to switch her son out of in-person learning to Hub a few weeks ago. "Basically, [the pandemic] is just getting worse. [At] the schools there is outbreak after outbreak after outbreak," she said."I just don't want to put my one-year-old daughter at risk as she has low immunity."Martinez said she's been grateful that the process hasn't been difficult. "They sent me paperwork, which I'm already getting filled out and I have to take a paper for his old school to sign release and there has been no issues at all," she said. Martinez said she feels that other parents and guardians should have the same choice to do what they feel is safest and most appropriate for their children."You can't say no other families are allowed to register online. They don't know everybody's home life. They don't know the reasons why people may be choosing to pull their children and put them in online schooling," she said. "We were basically assuming as a province that things were going to get better and it's just getting worse. The numbers keep rising, so don't take the choice from people."The district says any Hub families wishing to transition their child back to the classroom must inform the school of their decision before Jan. 8.
The mother of Chantel Moore, who was shot in a police wellness check in New Brunswick last summer, is returning to New Brunswick from B.C. today after collecting the ashes of her son, Mike Martin.The 23-year-old man was found dead in the Surrey Pretrial Centre earlier this month, another tragic blow for the family.Martha Martin says her son took his life after a struggle with addiction, crime and coping with the loss of his 26-year-old sister.Chantel Moore was shot in a late-night police wellness check on June 4 in Edmundston, N.B. The officer alleges she lunged at him with a knife before he fired."Today I'm flying home with my son's ashes. For the second time I'm taking a child home. But in a box," said Martin, struggling through tears on Monday in a call from the airport."How do we prevent any other parent getting this call," said Martin."Here is a young man who was grieving the loss of his own sister to go undetected all night. To have enough time to take his own life," said Martin.She believes her son, who would have turned 24 in January, took his life on Nov. 13.She said that her son was not proud of some of his past actions, which she believes included a robbery."I know he wanted to make changes. He asked if I was ashamed of him — because of his life. I told him no matter what ups and downs you have you are still going to be my child," said Martin.Martin said her son had completed his general education degree and was advocating for people who are homeless. She said her son talked about how people looked at him with "disgust" and often had no place to shelter or shower.He was keen to connect with family, and his culture."He was a very loving caring guy. He always wanted to be there to help people," said Martin.A social worker and family member came to her home to inform her of the most recent death."They didn't want to send police, given what happened to Chantel," said Martin.That's when she learned she'd lost both of her children.In a statement earlier this month, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council said Martin's mother was notified about her son's death on Nov. 14."His death was a compounding effect from the shooting of his sister on a wellness check," said the council, which represents 14 First Nations on Vancouver Island.Both siblings were born in New Brunswick, but their mother was originally from Vancouver Island. All are members of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation, located near Tofino. Moore grew up in B.C., as did her brother who had been living in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Martha Martin currently lives in New Brunswick. "The fact that a Nuu-chah-nulth mother could have two children die in less than six months dealing with the justice system is unbearable, staggering and appalling," said the council.Quebec's police watchdog agency is probing the New Brunswick shooting and a lawyer representing the family has filed several complaints against the New Brunswick police.Martin said her children were very close.When Chantel Moore was brought to the hospital to meet her infant brother her mother said she was smitten."She literally claimed him, as she said 'He's my baby now.' She loved him right from Day 1."Martin says she needs to understand how this could happen to her son who had tried to get out to see family when his sisters died, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, he was unable to join the family to mourn her loss."As a mother I feel like I am forever waiting on this system for answers," she said.B.C.'s Public Safety Minister's office confirmed a death at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre on Nov. 14. In an email a spokesperson said, "Any death in custody is a tragedy and our thoughts are with this individual's family and friends."B.C. Corrections and the B.C. Coroner's Services are both investigating. No further details were available due to privacy concerns.
Russia is trying to import foreign-made drugs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic due to a shortage of products at home, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Tuesday, as authorities reported a record 569 new daily deaths from the coronavirus. Russia has several vaccines against the virus in the works and produces some drugs domestically, including Coronavir and Avifavir, both of which are based on favipiravir, which was developed in Japan and is widely used there as the basis for treatment. During a meeting with senior government officials on Tuesday, Murashko said there was a problem with the supply of favipiravir in some regions.
When Carleton University researcher Cheryl Harasymchuk first heard about social-distancing protocols early on in the pandemic, she immediately thought of all the single people living alone, and the toll the public health measures might take on them.At the heart of relationship science is the concept that humans are social animals, the psychology professor said, with an innate need to belong. "The social-distancing restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic potentially threatened this need," Harasymchuk told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "Particularly for single people living alone."During the spring and summer months, her small research team studied how these bachelors and bachelorettes coped with the constraints, in hopes of identifying the psychological factors that make people resilient to social isolation. OverindulgingNot all single people are dealing with the stress of isolation the same way, Harasymchuk said. Some use negative coping strategies such as excessive drinking, eating or video gaming, while others use more positive strategies. Approximately two-thirds of participants said they overindulged at some point over the six-week study period, and also indicated these behaviours negatively affected other parts of their lives. Moreover, once they started, those who overindulged had a hard time stopping. But they also reported feeling greater satisfaction the more they sought contact and support from friends online. The satisfaction was greater still when those virtual encounters involved engaging with friends in a playful or fun way, such as holding a dress-up night over Zoom or an online bake-off.Most singles 'quite resilient'"It wasn't just about the emotional support that was important in times of needs," Harasymchuk said. "It was also about meeting the other needs related to fun and positivity."The extroverts of the sample group were more likely to reach out to friends, while others were more likely to turn to those negative coping strategies.Although not everyone is doing OK during the pandemic, Harasymchuk said the average single person surveyed has proven quite resilient over the past year."The main message that I'd like to put [out there] is that people can manage for this period of time," she said.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are in a tight race to launch their COVID-19 vaccines in Europe after both applied for emergency EU approval on Tuesday, though there was uncertainty over whether a rollout could begin this year. The applications to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came a day after Moderna sought emergency use for its shot in the United States and more than a week after Pfizer and BioNTech did the same. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German development partner BioNTech said their vaccine could be launched in the European Union as early as this month.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office still doesn't know how a high school student diagnosed with COVID-19 on the weekend caught the disease.Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The lack of activity at the Charlottetown airport is "surreal," the CEO says.The province is hoping a new web page will make it easier for people to buy and ship Island seafood products locally and across Canada. Santa Claus began a series of drive-by tours of Charlottetown Monday night, accompanied by bright lights and sirens. Tuesday night's tour was postponed due to poor weather.The jolly old elf has been pre-approved for travel to P.E.I. Christmas Eve, as well.A Montague couple has adapted to ensure the weekly free meal offered at a local church is still on the table during the pandemic.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the province's total active cases to 142.In New Brunswick, seven new cases were reported and 11 more people recovered, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 116.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
A mother-daughter art show at the Guild in Charlottetown explores the grief around pregnancy loss and infertility, to find healing, but also to help others."We chose Metamorphosis because this whole exhibit is about transformation," said Jennie Thompson."The transformation you experience when you're going through grief, when you're experiencing miscarriages and what that looks like, and how it can change you as a person."Jennie uses watercolour paintings for the exhibit, while her mother, Elaine, creates felted pieces out of wool and silk. "I wanted to do it with my mom because at its core, a lot of this art is about, for me anyway, about being a mother, that journey toward motherhood," Jennie said."Plus, it's a really personal topic and I'm really vulnerable so mom adds that extra support for me."This is Jennie's first art show, a challenge she said she took on to help her heal after four pregnancy losses since 2016."This exhibit, it wasn't just for me, but also for other people who are going through the same thing, because it can be such an isolating experience," she said."For somebody to come down here and see it in colour, on walls, I think is a really powerful statement and it's just a way to let other people know they're not alone, and it does suck."Supporting other womenJennie is part of the P.E.I. Fertility/Infertility Support Group on Facebook and hopes to start offering virtual peer-support meetings."It's pretty powerful, it's really vulnerable, when this journey first started for me, I wouldn't talk about it to anyone," she said."But the other part of it was, there is this stigma around pregnancy loss. We're not supposed to tell people we're pregnant until we're three months in, so think of how isolating that is."She said she hopes to let other women know that there are people they can talk to."For women who lose their pregnancy that they had hoped so much for, after eight weeks, nine weeks, they feel like they can't tell anyone about it. So this is my way of saying, you absolutely can," she said. "When you do feel ready to have people come to you and say, 'That happened to me too,' you find out that you're not alone.""It's such a common, unfortunate experience for a lot of women," Thompson said."I think it's just really important to break down that stigma, and that barrier for women." 'Extremely proud'Elaine said she feels extremely proud to be doing the art exhibit with her daughter. "She knows that being able to speak about this, and share it with other people, that she's not only trying to help herself, but she's trying to help others," Jennie said."I could not be more proud of her, and the fact that she asked me to be part of it, that just gives me chills to my toes."Jennie echoed her mother's feelings. "I feel really proud, and I feel really proud to have done it with my mom," she said."I think this is an amazing memory that we will have forever."The exhibit continues until Dec. 5 at the Guild in Charlottetown. More from CBC P.E.I.
Halifax regional council has endorsed an updated business plan for the new convention centre, which includes a deficit of $11.1 million.The municipality and the province have an agreement to split any losses evenly.The municipality can take money from its convention centre reserve fund, which includes just over $2 million in property taxes from the facility for 2020-21. Officials with Events East, which operates the Halifax Convention Centre along with the Scotiabank Centre and Ticket Atlantic, presented council with its revised business case Tuesday.The presentation of the plan had been delayed since the end of March due to the pandemic.Focus on safetyThe plan is "focused on the safe resumption of event activity and supporting the community and economy through recovery from the pandemic and its impacts," according to a Halifax staff report.The report put forward five focus areas: * Returning to safe operations. * Business retention. * Industry and community alignment. * Safe return to work. * Responsible management.Events East president Carrie Cussons said the revised business plan for the convention centre takes the impact of the pandemic into consideration."While the events may be smaller, there will be events that will be hosted both on the national and international level," she said. "They will be looking for destinations that are perceived to be safe, and I believe Halifax has a unique position."300 staff laid offAll events planned between March and September of this year were cancelled or postponed. The Ticket Atlantic box office remains closed.The business plan assumes "the current gathering limits and border restrictions will remain in place until the end of the fiscal year."Cussons said of the 400 staff members employed at the convention centre and the Scotiabank Centre, 300 have been laid off. Those who remain are looking after the buildings and rebooking events for future dates. MORE TOP STORIES