HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Climate change costs are already taking an increasing bite out of Canada's economic growth and the country is falling behind other nations when it comes to planning for them, says federally funded research."Some of these impacts we've already seen are going to continue into the future and grow," said Ryan Ness of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. "But there's going to be other kinds of impacts that we haven't even seen before."The institute was formed and is funded by Environment Canada as a source of independent advice and analysis on climate change threats and possible ways to minimize them. This is its first report. Using data from government sources as well as groups including the Insurance Bureau of Canada, it concludes weather-related disaster costs are increasing dramatically. It says the number of such disasters had risen to 27 a year in 2016 from an average of eight annually in the early 1970s. There were $14.5 billion in total costs from 2010 to 2019, dwarfing the total of $21 billion for the four previous decades. Those figures are adjusted for population growth and increasing land values, said institute economist Dave Sawyer."Sure, we've got more stuff, but we're also being kicked harder," Sawyer said.That drain is starting to dent the economy. The report says disaster costs used to equal about one per cent of GDP growth. Over the last decade, that has climbed to between five and six per cent. The biggest threats are still down the road, the report predicts. Health costs can be expected to increase due to heat waves and increases in insect-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. Wildfire smoke worsens lung problems and weather-related disasters of all kinds have mental-health impacts.The report says business costs will emerge, too. People don't work during disasters. During the 2016 Fort McMurray fire, 40 per cent of Canada's oil production was off-line for weeks. Economists have found that labour productivity drops during times of extreme heat or cold by about 2.7 per cent.Property vulnerable to disasters such as floods, fires or permafrost thaw will lose value, the report suggests, at a cumulative loss estimated by some of up to nearly one per cent of GDP by 2050. It also says agriculture will be disrupted. Precipitation patterns and timing will change. Freak events will damage harvests, such as the 2012 Ontario March heat wave that made apple trees vulnerable to a later frost and cost orchardists about $100 million.Insects will ruin valuable timber. Services that nature once provided free -- like dependable, easy-to-treat water -- will become expensive. Canada just isn't toting up the costs, said Ness."The gold standards are the (European Union) and the U.S., where they've had programs for years that research climate impacts and evaluate their costs. We don't have the scale of funding or the sophistication of the programs that those two jurisdictions do."More importantly, said Sawyer, governments need to start talking to each other and work together. "Our governance arrangements need to be better to co-ordinate the feds, the provinces and the municipalities," he said. "(We need to be) sitting down together and figuring out how we can better manage and prepare for this changing climate."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. \-- Follow @row1960 on TwitterBob Weber, The Canadian Press
As a student at Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School, Andrew King struggled to keep up. Living with anxiety and wanting to be anywhere but in the classroom, he hit his stride when he was able to get out of the sandy-coloured walls of Dunning Avenue into the community through co-op placements. He found “getting out into the real world” helped him “get through the rough points,” and now, into the much wider world, he is staking a claim as a travel writer with a new book on the wonders of the far north. King recently published “A Visual Journey to Alaska”, a book that combines his first-hand observations from his journey to the 49thstate, not to mention the stunning visuals he collected along the way. “During the pandemic, writing was something I wanted to try and see if it would stick,” King tells The Auroran. “I have done a lot of travelling over the years and with travel being hit hard I just wanted to have something out there so people could have something to look forward to when they can eventually get this virus all settled.” King’s love affair with Alaska began quite by chance. One summer while helping his parents plan for a family vacation, they wanted to visit a place that was new for everyone. Browsing cruise options, they happened upon Alaska and, King says, he was mesmerized by both the scenery and the way it made him feel. “It made me feel calm, relaxed, and it is just a great place to go and see,” he says. “I wanted to get that whole immersive experience of Alaska, including the ice and seeing wildlife you don’t normally see here in Canada. I used my photography and my personal experiences to capture memories and it came to the point of getting to the book. It was about sharing it with others and helping people feel better about how things could be after this is over and have a whole new experience.” Since his first trip up north, King has explored many parts of the world, including cruises throughout the Caribbean and trips overseas to locales as varied as Italy, Malta, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, and transatlantic cruises. So struck was he by his cruises through the Caribbean, they will be subject of his next book that is already in the works. As he works on his next book, King says he’s itching to get back out there and see more of the world. At the start of the pandemic, he had a trip to Europe planned which, of course, had to be cancelled. He’s tentatively re-booked a trip for the summer ahead: a cruise to the evocative landscapes of Iceland. Now that he’s been bitten by the writing bug, will this be the subject of a third book from King? Only time will tell, but, as he says, “A Visual Journey to Alaska was a big accomplishment in my life. It would be great to see someone who goes from a struggling background to an accomplished writer.” For more on the book, visit amazon.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Tofino, BC - Master carver Joe martin normally keeps an open-door policy. It’s been customary for people from different territories and nationalities to drop by Martin’s workshop in Tofino and soak in his teachings. Theatrically waving his hands through the air, Martin would tell stories of how his ancestors used to pierce a whale under its left front flipper by launching a harpoon from a canoe with the strength of one arm. “I’m well over my mid-life,” said the 67-year-old. “It’s the law of nature – one day I’m not going to be here. Having teachings and passing them on is a responsibility.” No longer able to host visitors due to the ongoing pandemic, Martin has turned to social media as a way of sharing his ancestor’s stories. By posting short videos of teachings to his personal Facebook page, the Tla-o-qui-aht elder is hoping to appeal to younger generations. “That’s where we have their attention,” he said of the youth within his nation. Martin thinks back on his childhood with fondness. Considering himself one of the fortunate ones, he didn’t go to residential school. Instead, his father and grandfather were his teachers. Spending their days out on the land, Martin’s father would recount teachings to him over-and-over. Through oral repetition, his family’s histories seeped into his psyche and became a part of his being. As the world changes, the way we interact has transformed. Oral stories are being disseminated online as a way to bring communities together because people are unable to gather. “We have to adjust,” said Martin. “And this is how we’re adjusting.” In trying to capturethe attention of Tla-o-qui-aht’s youth, Martin said that he has also connected with elders of his generation who were forced to attend residential school. Stripped of the teachings from their own grandparents, some have clung to Martin’s stories. During the first week of lockdown at the end of March, Cory Howard, Huu-ay-aht First Nations health and wellness coordinator, began posting live videos of himself singing his family’s songs. It is a practice he has continued every Tuesday evening, drawing in an average of 500 viewers. “People are loving it,” said Howard. “They say it’s medicine for them.” After his cousin was stricken with COVID-19 last week, Howard recorded a song and sent it to him. “It makes [people] feel better when they have culture in their life,” he said. “When they’re down, it lifts them up.” During lockdown in April, Joe’s daughter, Gisele, spent a lot of time connecting with nature and photographing the “beautiful biodiversity” near her home in Esowista. At the time, she struggled on whether to post the photos online, worrying how it might affect people who were confined to their city apartments. But after deciding to share them, she was met with gratitude. “Even though they couldn't be there, it helped them with their day,” she said. “Through social media, I’m connected to people in a lot of different territories and get to hear their stories – it helps me navigate how I do things here.” Gisele has been helping her father with his videos. The recordings extend beyond the technicalities of how to carve a traditional dugout canoe. Collaboratively, they try to weave in stories about how generations of salmon returning to a river system provide nourishment to the surrounding forests, making it possible for a canoe to come into existence. As a Nuu-chah-nulth language and culture educator, Gisele said she recognizes the benefits of social media as a way of increasing cultural awareness, but remains cautious. “I think part of the problem or challenge with sharing things online is that our teachings can get fragmented,” she said. Using plants as an example, Gisele said that she would never go to another nation’s territory to harvest. There are a lot of considerations to be made about the reciprocal relationship people have with plants, along with traditional protocols that might not come through in a video, she said. Being a gathering people, online platforms have provided a space for Nuu-chah-nulth members to come together. But, as important as it is to connect with people, Gisele said it’s equally vital to interact with the landscape around you. Pictures on Instagram may allow people to appreciate the wonders of nature, but Gisele argues it is impossible to interact with nature through a screen. And while the black mirrors are helping to fill the void during this time of social distancing, we need to connect to the places where we live and “support the health of those places,” she said.Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
Long-term care and assisted living facilities in B.C. are facing an increasingly deadly second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, while at the same time imposing restrictions that leave seniors increasingly isolated. And the province’s seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie says the government needs to overhaul the measures put in place in the pandemic’s early weeks and ease restrictions on visitors that are depriving residents of essential care and time with loved ones, and which could be costing more lives than they are saving. Mackenzie said this will be the last holiday season for about a quarter of residents, and the province needs to do everything in its power to support meaningful connection between residents and their families. “I don’t think it was ever intended that these measures would be in place for as long as they have been. I think it was intended to give care operators the opportunity to figure out how to manage these visits,” she said. “And we just got stuck in how we started out the visits in July, with how we’re doing the visits now, in December. We just need to shift that.” COVID-19 case numbers and deaths, the majority of which have been long-term care residents, have risen to unprecedented levels. About 35 people in long-term care died of the disease last weekend alone. B.C. introduced policies to limit the number and frequency of visitors quickly in the spring, also requiring staff to work at a single site to prevent spread between facilities. Each resident could have one 30-minute essential care visit per week. About half the people who applied to be designated as essential were rejected. The restrictions worked, quelling outbreaks that resulted in lower care-home deaths than in Ontario and Quebec. In June, B.C. announced each resident could have a designated social visitor as well, an expansion that rolled out slowly and inconsistently across the province. But after 10 months, the restrictions have devastated the physical and mental health of residents and failed to prevent outbreaks as community cases increase. There are now 54 active outbreaks in B.C.’s long-term care and assisted living facilities. “The challenge that we are facing right now, is that this surge in our communities has dramatically increased the risk in long-term care,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Wednesday. But earlier in the week Henry noted visitors are not causing outbreaks, which are more often caused by staff unknowingly spreading the virus. Mackenzie said health officials should allow more frequent and longer visits with the current designated visitors rather than increase the number of visitors per resident. When asked by The Tyee, Henry said the province is working to maintain and extend the current visitation level allowing one designated visitor. “But expanding to allow more social visits is not going to happen during this risky period right now,” she said Henry did not say when current visitors might be allowed to see loved ones more frequently. “I understand the reluctance,” said Mackenzie, who used to run care homes before being appointed B.C. seniors advocate by the government. “But increasing the frequency of visits, allowing their visits to happen in the privacy of the residence room, that’s not going to significantly increase the risk at all, and arguably could be decreasing the risk, because the care home is going to be able to rely on those family members to provide some help.” Current protocols that require visits occur in common areas also put strain on already overworked care workers and nurses by requiring them to transport residents from their rooms for visits. Visitors also need to be screened and escorted to the space, rather than finding their way to the residents’ rooms. “Irrespective of how meaningful visitors’ increased presence will be for the resident, their increased presence is going to help us as well,” said Mackenzie. “There’s going to be an extra pair of hands there to help with the feeding, to help with the toilet, to help with things that some of them were helping with before the pandemic.” And experts say the increased workload around visits and decreased family support has shed further light on the overworked and fragmented sector, where many care workers don’t have paid time off, sick days or health benefits. “Everything has changed, but nothing has changed,” said Joanie Sims-Gould, an expert in seniors’ health at the department of family practice at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine. “But everything’s changed in the wrong direction.” Research co-conducted by Farinaz Havaei at UBC’s school of nursing found that during the pandemic’s first wave residents’ direct nursing care plummeted by about 10 hours per month as facilities scrambled to control the virus. Nurses are responsible for just under 30 patients in an average shift, while care aides look after around 10 patients each shift. Havaei, who researches human resources in the health-care sector, said the pandemic placed alarming pressure on staff. “I even get goosebumps, because I think... it’s a very stressful context for long-term care staff.” Registered nurses recorded the largest decline in hours compared to licensed practical nurses. Their hours had already been in slight but steady decline since 2018. Meanwhile, the relative hours of care performed by care aides is steadily increasing, leading Havaei to ponder how care aides may be replacing nurses in some care situations. Based on research from her coming report, Havaei says supporting staff with flexible sick leave, paid time off and proper personal protective equipment can improve their lives, which in turn will improve the care residents receive. “If you think about the mental health implications of all of that (stress), and how that influences staff’s work behaviours and decisions when giving care, you can see that the implications are really huge,” said Havaei. The federal government announced $1 billion in funding for the long-term care sector, and B.C. has committed $44.1 million to hire more than 5,000 new health-care support workers. “Adequate resources translates directly to safe staffing levels,” added Sims-Gould. “The situation is so grave, and these facilities are doing the best they can.” Henry would not commit to a timeline when families could see visits expanded, but Mackenzie hopes the right balance will be found and implemented as soon as possible. “Time is marching on,” she said, noting residents won’t have access to a vaccine until February or March at the earliest. “Arguably, not only can we [expand visits] now, I think now makes it more important to do it, because the system is under more stress,” said Mackenzie. “And these family members can actually help us, in addition to visiting their loved one, and all of those positive quality-of-life benefits.”Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Attorney General William Barr is coming under criticism from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are demanding a full review of the presidential election won by Joe Biden. (Dec. 3)
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168. There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths). There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed. _ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths). There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377. There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed. _ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths). There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769. There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths). There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352. There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths). There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269. There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed. _ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths). There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592. There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths). There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778. There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed. _ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths). There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
A Liberal MLA wants to know if the province would consider creating supervised injection sites on the Island.Heath MacDonald raised the issue in the legislature Thursday. He said he's watched overdose deaths increase across the Atlantic region over the years, and thinks it's time to take a closer look at the supports being offered here.According to the province's opioid web page, there were 12 confirmed accidental opioid-related overdoses between April and September of this year in P.E.I., nine of which involved fentanyl."These sites provide a basic level of safety and dignity for those suffering from addictions and would help mitigate the number of overdoses," MacDonald said. He asked Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward whether or not establishing the sites here is something his department is willing to explore."Is it possible for you to put on your agenda to talk to your bureaucrats and those in charge about introduction of safe injection sites here on P.E.I.?" he said.Aylward said supervised injection sites are something his department is willing to look into."It's certainly a lens that we'll put on and take a look and do a jurisdictional scan," Aylward said.Many benefits Speaking to reporters, MacDonald said supervised injection sites can do more than just prevent overdose deaths, and help people connect with other important social services and supports. "They can access even additional programming and things like that, that they might not even be attempting to access now," he said. Green MLA Trish Altass agrees. She said in other places across Canada the sites also act as a safe community space and can often be the first step a person takes toward accessing mental health and addictions support. She said she hopes it's something government acts on soon."At those safe injection sites there's staff that are available to help guide people and to be there to listen and provide supports as a next step to get the treatment that people need when they are facing addictions," Altass said."It's really important that we have this discussion now and that action is taken as soon as possible," Altass said. Alyward said while his department is willing to study supervised injection sites across the country and look into how to establish one here, now is not the time."Safe injection sites is definitely not off the table, it's something that we'll certainly consider. But at this present time, [the Chief Public Health Office] and Health PEI, their main focus is on protecting Islanders from COVID-19," Aylward said.During question period, MacDonald asked the health minister if there could be space for a pilot project at the new mental health campus. Aylward said he doesn't think that would be the best fit. He said if a site were to be created he thinks it should be in a more accessible location like downtown Charlottetown. Overdose hotline in the worksAylward said while there are currently no supervised injection sites on P.E.I., the province does offer other resources and supports, including needle exchange programs and opioid reduction therapy.He said the province is working with PEERS Alliance to set up an overdose prevention hotline. People would be able to call in and speak with a peer — someone who understands substance-related issues and would stay on the line with them while they use to ensure they are safe as they use. If there was an issue, the person on the other end of the line would be able to dispatch first responders to that location.Aylward said there isn't a launch date for the hotline yet, but it will be available soon.More from CBC P.E.I.
LOS ANGELES — Queen Latifah's upcoming drama series has scored a touchdown. CBS says “The Equalizer” will get the coveted post-Super Bowl slot next February to showcase its debut.“The Equalizer,” a reboot of the 1980s series about a retired intelligence agent turned private detective, stars Latifah as an ex-CIA agent and single mom who helps those “with nowhere else to turn,” according to a network description.The series will immediately follow the conclusion of CBS Sports' Sunday, Feb. 7, Super Bowl LV broadcast, with subsequent episodes of “The Equalizer” airing at 8 p.m. EST Sundays, CBS said Thursday.A special edition of Stephen Colbert's daily “The Late Show” will follow late local news on Super Bowl night, the network also announced.The returning series “FBI” also is getting special treatment, with its season debut following the NFL's AFC championship game on Sunday, Jan. 24. The show will then air regularly at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday.The other daily CBS late-night program, James Corden's “The Late Late Show,” will air a weekend edition on the night of the conference championship and after local newscasts.The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Seniors in British Columbia's long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized against COVID-19 starting in the first week of January with two vaccines, the province's top doctor says.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first to be rolled out after approval by Health Canada.However, Henry said only about six million doses are expected to be available across Canada until March."So we won't be able to broadly achieve what we call community immunity or herd immunity, but that will come," she saidAt least two other companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are in the process of submitting data to Health Canada and regulatory agencies around the world in hopes of getting approval for their vaccines. "Those ones we hope will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2021," Henry said."We hope to have everybody done by September of next year," she said of the province's efforts through "Operation Immunize.""By the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized."Henry said B.C. health officials worked with their federal counterparts Thursday on ways to facilitate the delivery of vaccines as they anticipated various challenges that could come up in the immunization process.More details will be provided about the province's vaccine plan next week, Henry said.She reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 35,422 infections in the province.There have been 12 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in B.C. to 481.Henry noted health-care workers are tired from the pandemic as everyone deals with an "anxiety-provoking time," but that it's important to stay "100 per cent committed" to getting through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.Henry has banned all indoor and outdoor sports teams for adults, saying a team in the province's Interior recently tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Alberta."What we have seen in the past few weeks to months is that 10 to 15 per cent of cases have been related to physical fitness and sports activities," she said, an estimate based on cases that have been linked.Most transmissions of COVID-19 among adult involved in sports have been through social activities related to the gatherings, Henry said.— By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
Indigenous rights advocates say the Liberal government's draft legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is better than expected.Justice Minister David Lametti tabled Bill C-15 in the House of Commons on Dec. 3. The bill would chart a path toward implementing the rights affirmed in the declaration."I don't think it's perfect by any means but from the draft that they were discussing with us across the country, it's come some ways," said Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in B.C., who took part in the consultation on the bill."Changing the laws of Canada is going to take some time. I think the biggest issue is going to be how they will work with Indigenous people across the country to change those laws."UNDRIP was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007 after 25 years of negotiations to affirm the rights of Indigenous peoples to their language, culture, self-determination and traditional lands. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as Quebec's Viens Commission all called for the implementation of the declaration at all government levels.'Long-overdue'After the shooting of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member Chantel Moore by police in New Brunswick during a wellness check in June, Sayers said she is happy to see that the draft legislation addresses injustices like systemic discrimination but she has concerns about the proposed timeline outlined.If passed, the bill would require the federal government to prepare an action plan within three years of the bill's passage to achieve the declaration's objectives. Sayers would like to see meaningful consultation and an interim action plan that addresses the top priorities in Canada, something she acknowledges is not an easy task."That's going to be difficult, talking to 633 First Nations and determining that, but I really think that waiting for three years on action that may or may not be complete at that time is too long, way too long," she said."We need a change yesterday to many laws."Amnesty International Canada welcomed the legislation, stating it is "much-needed" and "long-overdue.""Because the core purpose of the new bill provides a framework for implementation, Amnesty International strongly urges the Canadian government to pass this legislation quickly," said Ana Collins, Amnesty International's Indigenous rights campaign advisor in a statement.Limitations on self-determinationIf the bill is passed, the federal government must ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP. While Canada is not the first country to legislate UNDRIP, Kenneth Deer said if the draft is passed as is, it would put Canada in the forefront of applying the declaration inside its borders."I'm cautiously optimistic that this could be beneficial for Indigenous people in Canada," said Deer, who is Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawake, Que., and was involved with the development of UNDRIP. He said it's important that Canada make legislation to implement the declaration, to move it from being aspirational to binding. He added the legislation has its limits when it comes to Indigenous self-determination by being a Canadian law."You can't have true self-determination and be limited by the Canadian constitution but Indigenous people can go a long way until we hit that wall," he said."Anything that the UN passes or Canada passes does not take away our right to self-determination or does not take away our sovereignty. Our sovereignty is inherent, and will always be there."
A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately. "I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again. He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive."It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said."And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational. "They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre. "That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city."I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said."But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world. As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 470 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 146 532. Elles font également état de 30 nouveaux décès, pour un total qui s'élève à 7 155. De ces 30 décès, 12 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 12 sont survenus entre le 26 novembre et le 1er décembre et 6 sont survenus avant le 26 novembre. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a diminué de 3 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 737. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs est demeuré le même, soit 99. Les prélèvements réalisés le 1er décembre s'élèvent à 34 136, pour un total de 3 979 208. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données DateCas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés26 novembre1 26926669 (-6)9029 65227 novembre1 48023678 (+9)93 (+3)24 45028 novembre1 39523665 (-13)92 (-1)27 11529 novembre1 33329693 (+28)94 (+2)20 32630 novembre1 17725719 (+26)98 (+4)27 3731er décembre1 51417740 (+21)99 (+1)34 1362 décembre1 47012737 (-3)99ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires29 novembre30 novembre1er décembre2 décembreTotal des cas01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1427374592502 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean11678117635 46603 - Capitale-Nationale16211918616712 25004 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec846593927 21705 - Estrie9662891264 96106 - Montréal40030638637352 22107 - Outaouais111514293 62308 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue016027509 - Côte-Nord5-11321310 - Nord-du-Québec001-15411 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine63951 38912 - Chaudière-Appalaches2359130865 61513 - Laval9612010413611 82414 - Lanaudière1068910314911 61915 - Laurentides463543508 07716 - Montérégie16519619114520 63417 - Nunavik00002818 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James000016Hors Québec3342122Région à déterminer00003Total1 3331 1771 5141 470146 532 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent2102 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean13503 - Capitale-Nationale45904 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec27305 - Estrie6806 - Montréal3 64907 - Outaouais8308 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 - Chaudière-Appalaches13813 - Laval72814 - Lanaudière33315 - Laurentides33816 - Montérégie88317 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total7 155 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
RED DEER, Alta. — Alexis Lafreniere will not play for Canada in the world junior hockey championship.Hockey Canada said in a statement Thursday that the NHL’s New York Rangers will not loan Lafreniere to Canada’s team for the tournament in Edmonton.The Rangers selected Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick this year in the NHL draft.Lafreniere led Canada to a gold medal at the 2020 junior championship in the Czech Republic. He had four goals and six assists in five games and was named tournament MVP.All activity at Canada’s camp has been suspended from Nov. 25 until at least Sunday after two players and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The Associated Press
His wife, Countess Karen Spencer, is from Edmonton.
MARIETTA, Ga. — Election officials are investigating the actions of a Florida lawyer who they say tried to register to vote in a high-stakes runoff in Georgia that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. They say he was also captured on video urging other Floridians to do the same.Moving to Georgia just to vote — with no intention of staying in the state afterward — can amount to a felony, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement Thursday announcing the investigation.The lawyer went online and attempted to register to vote using the address of his brother in Hiram, Georgia, said Deidre Holden, the elections supervisor in Paulding County, Georgia. The system put his registration in a pending status because he didn't provide a Georgia driver's license number or other proof of address.“This is not about Republican or Democrat — this is about doing what’s right,” Holden told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Everybody’s always screaming, ‘The elections are fraudulent.’ No, we’re trying to do our job.“We can’t send this message that just because we’re mad that our candidate didn’t win, we can go out and throw an election. It just breaks my heart to see that our country has come to this.”The Florida lawyer told WSB-TV that he was joking when he was captured on video speaking about the plan during a Nov. 7 political rally in the Sunshine State. He denied any wrongdoing.Raffensperger has repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the November election.But Holden said she’s interested in learning whether any other out-of-state residents tried to register in Georgia after being encouraged to do so at the Florida rally.Jeff Martin, The Associated Press
A 94-year-old man is the first Aurora resident to lose their battle with COVID-19 since June 9. The man was a resident of Chartwell Park Place, which is currently in an active outbreak situation. An active outbreak at the Yonge Street residence, formerly Park Place Manor, was first reported by York Region Public Health on November 11 with two cases among its caregiver complement of 40. By press time this week, there were 11 confirmed cases of the virus among the 65 residents and 4 among caregivers and staff. Aurora, as of December 1, has seen a total of 371 cases of the virus, 27 of which remain active. 328 cases are now marked as resolved with the late Chartwell Park Place resident bringing fatalities to 16. His death was the first of an Aurora resident in this second wave of the virus, the day after the Region logged a record of new cases in a single day: 251 on Sunday, November 29. The last victim, an 85-year-old woman who was a resident of Chartwell Aurora lost the battle after a long hospitalization. “Our cases in York Region had been plateauing until the weekend when we saw quite a jump in the numbers of cases and we don’t know exactly what is responsible for this jump and we’re investigating,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, in his weekly update on Monday. The latest death comes as York Region cracks down on gatherings as new cases of the virus continue to rise. In the lead-up to – and aftermath of – Black Friday, York Region conducted a COVID-19 enforcement blitz, which resulted more than 1,000 visits to businesses across York Region to monitor compliance with public safety measures resulting from York being moved into Ontario’s Red (“Control”) Zone. Throughout the weekend, officers from York’s COVID-19 task force focused on malls, big box stores, restaurants, fitness centres and other public spaces to ensure public health measures were being followed. One Aurora business, Xclusive Fades on Yonge Street near Wellington, faces charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. “Most businesses across York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols, however there is an increasing number of complaints from the public about overcrowding in malls, big box and retail stores,” said the Region. “Businesses failing to keep their customers and employees safe by not adhering to the mandated COVID-19 safety measures will be subject to fines. Repeat offenders could face temporary closure.” Added Dr. Kurji: “York Regional Council had made the commitment of enforcement of the guidelines on York Region residents as well as businesses. As a result, we have the COVID-19 enforcement task force that has been very busy over the weekend having laid some 32 charges following 867 inspections as well as 1,151 compliance education activities. Fines can be laid even under the Reopening Ontario Safe Act or can be laid under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. The latter can be as many as $25,000 for a corporation. “When it comes to people coming to York Region from the lockdown zones, the Province generally advises them not to move from one zone to another. We in York Region have incidence rates that are similar to those of Toronto’s, although Peel’s incidence rates are higher. Therefore, we have taken the position that whilst people are supposed to stay home and only come out for essential shopping, if they do come here we want to make sure that everybody is kept safe. As a result, over the weekend previously, we had issued a Section 22 order requiring malls and retail outlets to ensure appropriate physical distancing and line management. By doing so, we have strived to keep people safe. However, with the holiday shopping season being here, we urge you first to stay home as much as possible, only to go out for essential trips, see if you can actually get your shopping done online from the local stores. If you can’t and you have to visit one of the stores, please visit them at off-peak hours and try and minimize the time you would spend at the malls or in stores and observe the directional arrows in the stores as well as the physical distancing requirement of two metres or more.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A group of current and former Black civil servants has issued a proposed class-action lawsuit against the federal government alleging it discriminated against Black employees for decades.They claim the government has excluded Black federal employees from being promoted."Our exclusion at the top levels of the public service, in my view, has really disenfranchised Canada from that talent and that ability and the culture that Black workers bring to the table and that different perspective," said Nicholas Marcus Thompson.Thompson is one of 12 former or current employees from multiple government departments who are representative plaintiffs in the class action. Lawyers representing them say the suit could ultimately cover tens of thousands of people who have worked in the federal public service since 1970.The lawsuit comes at a time of heightened awareness about systemic and anti-Black racism.In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said systemic racism "is an issue across the country, in all our institutions."The plaintiffs in the proposed class action are asking for $900 million in damages, a declaration from the government that it infringed on the group's charter rights and a plan going forward to promote more Black employees.It was filed in the Federal Court of Canada on Thursday and is awaiting certification. The government is expected to be served in the coming days. Lack of representation The lawyers representing the civil servants say the suit is likely the first of its kind in Canada involving Black public servants at the federal level. The statement of claim names more than 50 departments and agencies as comprising the public service.Last year, two Black Ontario government employees sued the Ontario Public Service, among others, alleging discrimination because they were Black women.In an interview in Toronto with CBC News, Thompson said that when he joined the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) six years ago, something felt off to him."When I became a Canadian citizen many years ago, I remember the citizenship judge saying that Canada is a place where freedom abounds and opportunities are endless. But when I joined the CRA, that was my expectation that I could join, start at any position and climb the ranks. And my goal was really to serve Canadians," he said."I quickly realized that the agency was not, you know, as I thought it would be: all inclusive and diverse."Thompson, who was a collections officer, said a lack of Black representation in the agency caused his morale and confidence to suffer. He also said the work environment was toxic and led to illness.When his doctor gave him a prescription for a "workplace accommodation," Thompson said he was told to clean closets because no other work was available. WATCH | What it will take to make civil service more representative:The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, which is the employer of the federal public service, said it could not comment on the allegations in the suit because it was before the courts."Systemic racism and discrimination is a painful lived reality for Black Canadians, racialized Canadians and Indigenous people," said spokesperson Bianca Healy in a statement. "The government has taken steps to address anti-Black racism, systemic discrimination and injustice across the country."She said that includes a recently announced $12 million for "a dedicated Centre on Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service."The CRA referred CBC News to the Treasury Board statement. Complaints in multiple departments and agenciesBernadeth Betchi is another representative plaintiff who also worked for the CRA off and on for several years.In a Skype interview, she described a toxic workplace where she said she experienced microaggressions and had to go on sick leave. She had to work twice as hard as her non-Black colleagues to get noticed, she said.Betchi ended up leaving the CRA and eventually found work at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) — a federal organization that handles complaints about discrimination."Everything that they are about was everything that I am about, you know, it resonated with my values. It's there to help Canadians — Canadians who have been discriminated against, you know, on different grounds. And so I knew that this is where I needed to be," said Betchi, who's on a maternity leave from the CHRC.But her views quickly changed."When I started working there, I saw that, unfortunately, what the mandate says and what's being done inside of the organization is completely different. Black folks within the Canadian Human Rights Commission, my Black colleagues, are suffering. They're being — there's a lot of adverse differential treatment."When asked to comment on the allegations, CHRC said it "is committed to meeting the highest standards of equality, inclusion and representation" and that it has been "examining how racism may manifest itself within our organization and what steps might be needed to address it." "We know that Indigenous, Black and other racialized people face many societal, institutional and structural barriers to equality," said spokesperson Jeff Meldrum in an email."That is why work is underway to ensure that the views and perspectives of Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees on barriers that may exist within the Commission are heard and addressed. " WATCH | What has the Trudeau government done to diversify civil service?:Proposing solutions"There is a grave injustice that's taking place," said Courtney Betty, a Toronto lawyer involved in the class action."I think every Canadian should be troubled."Betty and his colleague, Hugh Scher, decided the lawsuit's time frame would start in 1970, the year Canada ratified the United Nations international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.In a joint interview, Betty and Scher spoke about possible solutions they hope will stem from the lawsuit if it's certified."There needs to be a third-party audit undertaken by an independent body, whether that's a former Supreme Court justice, whether that's a Black equity commission," Scher said.That third party should do a thorough review "to see what are the barriers to true equality and access and inclusion for Black employees, and what can be done about them," he said.Scher said another key element would be amending the federal Employment Equity Act.Its stated goal is "to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability."The legislation is also designed "to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities."But the lawyers argue that because Black employees are grouped together with all non-white and non-Indigenous people as "visible minorities" under the act, they've suffered by not moving up in the public service — and the unique racism they have to deal with has been ignored.Betchi agrees. "There's not a lot of Black women or Black men at the executive level," she said. "Our experience has been completely invisible and put aside."The Treasury Board has data that breaks down the "visible minority" category in the public service based on self-reporting by employees. It shows that in 2019, Black workers made up a smaller proportion of those in top-level executive positions than those doing administrative support. Thompson said he's optimistic the lawsuit will spark change."I'm very hopeful that this issue will be addressed in a forthright manner by the government of Canada," he said. "The government has shown signs that it is prepared. It has done the first major part by acknowledging that this issue exists."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.
EDMONTON — As Alberta recorded another daily record of COVID-19 cases Thursday, its chief medical officer of health warned that rural areas are feeling the effects.“While infection rates in Edmonton and Calgary make up the majority of cases in the province, we’re seeing increased spread in many rural communities,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw Hinshaw said.“COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within the context of a global problem.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is.“It only takes one case entering a community to cause significant spread.”Alberta has been straining under soaring numbers of COVID-19 and currently leads the country in per-capita case rates.It set a single-day record Thursday with 1,854 new cases, even more than in Ontario.There were 511 Albertans in hospital, 97 of them in intensive care. A total of 575 Albertans have died.The case surge has overwhelmed the contact tracing system and strained the health system. The province is now reassigning staff, space and patients to cope and has begun making contingency plans to bring in field hospitals if necessary.Last week, Premier Jason Kenney introduced new health restrictions.However, some of the key restrictions on businesses and attendance at worship services don’t apply to some rural and remote areas with low infection rates.Also, while Calgary, Edmonton and other municipalities have mandated masks in indoor public spaces, Kenney has refused to follow the lead of all other Canadian provinces to make it provincewide.About 16 per cent of the 17,743 active cases are outside the Calgary and Edmonton health zones.Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said if COVID does not respect postal codes, why has the United Conservative government issued half-hearted and varying levels of health restrictions based on geography while refusing to impose a provincewide mask mandate?Shepherd said Kenney is playing politics with the health rules and Albertans are suffering as a result.“Jason Kenney is more concerned about his own political fortunes and concerned about the anti-mask fringe extremists that we know exist in his own caucus and in his own political party and political base,” Shepherd said in an interview.“He is more concerned about satisfying them and losing political capital than he is about showing leadership to protect Albertans.”Kenney has said a provincewide mask bylaw is unnecessary and the health rules are a measured and targeted way to keep Albertans safe while keeping jobs and the economy going.He has also said 90 per cent of Albertans are already under some kind of municipal mask bylaw. During a Nov. 26 Facebook town hall discussion he questioned whether rural residents working and living remotely would even follow it.“Imagine you got a couple of guys working in a big barn way up in the M.D. of Opportunity, hundreds of kilometres away from the closest COVID hot zone,” said Kenney. “Do you really think those guys are going to put on a mask because I ask them to or tell them to?”Kenney said one of his rural caucus members told him some of his constituents would be reflexively rebellious if told to mask up: “He said, ‘You know a lot of these folks who are (masking up) now, they would take it off the moment the government tells them to wear it.’”Provincewide there is a ban on gatherings in homes beyond those who live under the same roof. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. And students in grades 7 through 12 are learning virtually at home through the Christmas holidays.In areas with high caseloads, there are new restrictions on retailers, businesses, restaurants and entertainment options like casinos.Those restrictions don’t apply to low-case areas, which include some rural regions in north and central Alberta.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press