BUENA VISTA, Ga. — Across the grounds of a south Georgia courthouse, scores of masked and socially distanced voters bowed their heads in prayer for the 260,000-plus Americans who have died from the coronavirus.Then Democratic Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock took the microphone, promising to push for more economic aid for businesses and people affected by the pandemic and touting Democratic plans to combat long-standing racial and wealth disparities highlighted by the crisis.A day earlier, Vice-President Mike Pence campaigned with Warnock’s opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and her fellow Republican senator, David Perdue. But in heavily Republican north Georgia, there were only scant mentions of the public health calamity that helped lead to President Donald Trump’s defeat: aid programs that passed Congress months ago and a vaccine that is still weeks — or months — from mass distribution.“Before the end of this year, we’re going to see 40 million vaccines all across America,” Pence predicted, attributing the possibility to “the leadership of President Donald Trump.” His crowd -- distanced only in certain seating sections and many not wearing masks -- roared as the vice-president added a kicker: “We’re in the miracle business."It's two starkly different worlds on display in Georgia, where the national political spotlight is shining on twin Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls the chamber at the outset of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration. Republicans need one more seat for a majority; Democrats need a sweep on Jan. 5.For Republicans, the pandemic is secondary in a runoff blitz defined by dire warnings about what it would mean if Warnock defeats Loeffler and Perdue falls to Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Democrats, meanwhile, are more than eager to discuss COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The messaging differences bleed over to the two sides’ public health protocols, as well. The approaches largely track the fall presidential campaign, when Trump wanted to talk about anything but the virus, while Biden centred his pitch around Trump’s handling of it.The November results in Georgia explain why neither side is deviating. Biden clipped Trump in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast. But Perdue led Ossoff by about 100,000 votes, finishing just short of the outright majority Georgia requires to avoid a runoff. Warnock led Loeffler in a separate special election. Both sides share a common conclusion: Each party has a pool of potential voters approaching 2.5 million. It’s just a matter of which side can coax more to cast ballots in a second round.Republicans’ reprisal will depend again — in part — on generating enthusiasm via in-person campaigning, even as coronavirus cases spike nationally. Trump has announced plans for a Dec. 5 rally in Georgia, after weeks of speculation about whether he’d come amid his continued refusal to concede to Biden. As with the president’s October blitz of rallies, there’s no suggestion that his Georgia event will include social distancing or require masks, as recommended by public health officials.Neither Perdue nor Loeffler echoes the president’s mockery of public health standards. But so far in the runoff campaign, they’ve held multiple indoor events with no social distancing and without compulsory masks. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, appearing with Loeffler, drew hundreds of suburban Republicans to the Cobb County GOP headquarters, surprising organizers and crowding the facility to the point that some voters left without attempting to enter.Florida Sen. Rick Scott drew a similar throng to a restaurant in suburban Cumming for an event with both Georgia incumbents. Days later, Scott said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been exposed the same day he travelled to Georgia. Loeffler later announced her own positive test, as well, though consecutive negative tests followed in subsequent days, leading her to end a brief quarantine.Loeffler acknowledges the pandemic in her standard speech by highlighting her and Perdue’s votes for the spring economic relief package.Warnock and Ossoff counter with almost exclusively outdoor or virtual campaigning. Warnock has, however, held outdoor photo lines that do not involve social distancing.“We’ve seen no real national public grieving because it is the kind of death that doesn’t show up in one fell swoop,” Warnock said in Reynolds, where he campaigned under an outdoor picnic canopy. “We see no real recognition of what is happening. ... Meanwhile, we’re having a debate about science. Wearing a mask is somehow a political statement? No, it’s not a political statement. It’s common sense.”Ossoff launched the second round of campaigning with a statewide tour of drive-in rallies similar to those Biden used after Labor Day. Ossoff went into isolation in July after his wife, an OB-GYN, contracted COVID-19. His ads frequently show him greeting voters in masks.The two Democrats have also criticized Loeffler and Perdue for well-timed stock trades after a series of private congressional briefings on the then-burgeoning pandemic.“While you were sheltering in, she was sheltering her investments,” Warnock said in Buena Vista.A recent Ossoff ad says Perdue “profited from the pandemic” instead of “preparing our country.”Senate ethics officials and the Justice Department have found no legal wrongdoing in either Georgia senator's financial activity.Ossoff also has sought to tie Perdue’s loyalty to Trump back to the pandemic. The president has spent weeks asserting baseless claims of voter fraud in Georgia and other battleground states Biden won, without Perdue disputing the claims.Trump's foot-dragging on an orderly transition, Ossoff said in an interview, has hampered Biden’s ability to organize a governmentwide coronavirus response.“What Sen. Perdue should be doing, if he had the people’s best interest at heart and not just his own,” Ossoff told The Associated Press, “is encouraging the president to recognize reality.”___Associated Press writer Ben Nadler contributed to this report from Atlanta.Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at Princess Margaret Public School in Prince Albert. The case was acquired outside of the school. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools who are impacted by the isolation,” the release stated. The division was informed on Thursday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. Princess Margaret will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The division emphasized that despite the challenges it is important that everyone continues to be diligent in performing the daily health screening and self-monitoring, stay home if not feeling well, call the HealthLine at 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practice proper hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, wear a mask when appropriate. The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
VANCOUVER — The Mountie who says he warned against arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou by boarding her plane when it landed in Vancouver says he made his own decision to come into the airport and help that day. Sgt. Ross Lundie agreed under cross-examination at a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Friday that the RCMP members making the arrest in December 2018 did not ask him to be present that day.But he said when the arresting officers called him the night before the incident asking for advice, he suggested they arrange a meeting with Canada Border Services Agency officials for the next morning and decided he would attend."It was obviously very important from what I'd heard," Lundie testified."Were you concerned that by asserting yourself, that would assist in avoiding some kind of major problem between CBSA and RCMP?" Meng's lawyer Richard Peck asked."I wanted to ensure that went smoothly as well, yes."Lundie, an officer with national security experience based at the airport, said he believed it was important to keep CBSA in the loop because he understood they had their own mandate and responsibilities.His testimony is part of an evidence-gathering hearing in Meng's extradition case where her lawyers are gathering information to bolster their allegations that Canadian officials improperly collected evidence against her.Meng is wanted on fraud charges in the United States that both she and Huawei deny. Meng's lawyers allege that an early plan to arrest her aboard the plane was changed to allow for a "covert criminal investigation" under the guise of a routine immigration exam at the behest of U.S. authorities. Ultimately, Meng would undergo screening by border officers for nearly three hours before she was informed of her arrest and right to counsel.Border officers working at the airport that day have testified they had their own concerns about Meng's admissibility to Canada and deny the allegations made by her lawyers. Lundie told the court that he always discourages his officers from conducting arrests aboard flights unless there is an immediate public safety concern. Meng herself didn't pose any risk to his knowledge, he said, but planes are tight spaces and there can be dangers. It's safer to conduct an arrest in the gate, border screening area or elsewhere, he said. Lundie testified the arresting officers phoned him the night before the arrest while they were driving to the airport to confirm if Meng would be on the flight. That's when he learned of the plan to board the plane, he said.Peck suggested that couldn't be. Phone records show that the arresting officers' boss, Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf, phoned them later that night after speaking with her own superior, whom court has heard was the source of the plane-arrest plan. If Vander Graaf's records are correct, then Lundie couldn't have learned the arrest plan when he said he did, earlier that evening, Peck suggested. "My final suggestion is that you're confused in your memory," Peck said. "OK," Lundie said. Court has also heard that phone records suggested Lundie did have three-minute phone call with a national security Mountie in Ottawa with knowledge of the case that night. Lundie said he has no memory of the call.The hearing will continue on Dec. 7. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
The grey clouds above Vancouver sent down the cold heavy rain of November Monday morning. In an industrial corner of the Downtown Eastside, Bill S. had left the tent he’d pitched against the side of a building to go have breakfast at the city’s Evelyne Saller Centre, which serves low-cost meals. When he returned, his tent and all his belongings were gone — taken, he assumed, by city workers, who had told him to pack up at around 8:30 that morning. “Where do they expect us to go?” asked Bill, who requested The Tyee not use his last name because of the stigma of being homeless. “We’re people too.” A health worker who Bill spoke with that day called Sarah Blyth, the founder of the Overdose Prevention Society on East Hastings. People donate sleeping bags and blankets to the society all the time, so Blyth was able to set Bill up with a new sleeping bag and a blanket. But it just kept raining, and the Overdose Prevention Society had no tents to give out that day, so Bill spent Monday night in a makeshift shelter that wasn’t up to the task of keeping the weather out. “Everything in it was in a puddle, including me,” Bill said, calling the experience “the worst alarm clock ever.” Precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on the Downtown Eastside. The number of people living on the street has grown as many housing providers limited or banned visitors to their buildings. Meanwhile, many drop-in spaces are closed or have reduced capacity. There are 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter in Vancouver than in 2019, because shelters need to limit the number of people allowed inside. Still, every day, city sanitation workers, often accompanied by police officers, spend their days scooping up homeless people’s belongings with pitchforks and dumping them into trucks. Overdose Prevention Society staff give people new sleeping bags and blankets, knowing the replacement items could very well end up in the back of a city sanitation truck the next day. “It’s a terrible cycle and it’s wasteful in a lot of ways,” Blyth said, adding she’d rather see city workers employed trying to help people find housing or make their lives on the street a little more comfortable. “I can’t imagine it’s a very fun job for whoever’s doing it — whether it’s a city worker or the police,” she said. “It can’t be rewarding at the end of the day to go home and say ‘I threw a bunch of homeless people’s stuff out.’” The city says sanitation crews “only clean up what is determined to be garbage,” and work with police to ask people to remove structures that have been put up on city property. Crews ask people who are camping on the sidewalk to “move along” and “will remove structures and material that is clearly garbage but not personal possessions,” the city said in a statement. But both Blyth and Andrew Ledger, the president of the union that represents city sanitation workers, say that’s not what happens. Blyth said she’s watched people cry as the only bedding they have is taken away. “I wouldn’t say we’re forcibly removing things, that’s not the case, but it’s not just unwanted debris that gets removed,” said Ledger, the president of CUPE 1004. “It could be someone’s life in a shopping cart that they’ve left somewhere, and all of a sudden it gets removed — those are the instructions that our members are given.” The Tyee caught up with Bill on East Hastings Street on Tuesday, the day after he’d had all his stuff taken away. Sheltering from the rain under a large black umbrella, Bill said he was planning to sleep outside again that night. Two small bags wedged between a railing and a building wall held all his possessions. Bill has been homeless since August. He can’t stand being in a shelter because of psychological problems that stem from once being in a coma, he said. Staying in a shelter with a lot of other people also brings up the trauma of losing his young son, who was apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “I was a single father for nine months, and after I lost my place I lost control of my depression,” he said. “Being indoors made me think of my son too much. I can’t be indoors, I cry the whole night and I can’t deal with it.” Bill tries to find an out-of-the way spot every night, somewhere he won’t be blocking the sidewalk or the entrance of a building. “You don’t want to impede on somebody’s business because if you’re setting up on a sidewalk, what if you impede customers going in and out, so you’re costing them money,” Bill said. “You’re taking food off their kid’s plate.... It’s hard to find a spot that makes you comfortable and you’re not going to make someone and their business feel uncomfortable.” The place he’d found at Railway Street and Jackson Avenue ticked all those boxes. But he won’t go back there now. Bill said he tries to have good relations with the city sanitation workers, but he admits he’s yelled at them in the past when they tried to hurry him along as he tried to pack up. Then he apologized. “I shook his hand man-to-man and said sorry I was just having a bad day,” he said. “So there weren’t any hard feelings.” Ledger said the job city workers do is challenging, and they’re following instructions from the City of Vancouver to enforce existing bylaws. He said the real problem is that senior levels of government have not done enough to house people who are homeless. But Ledger said even before COVID-19 there weren’t enough spaces for people who are homeless to go during the day. For instance, the Drug Users Resource Centre — a low-barrier gathering place — was closed by Vancouver Coastal Health three years ago, Ledger said. “You could access laundry services, you could access food, washrooms and showers — you could just be in a space and not have to be on the streets all day.” Now because of COVID-19 precautions, there are even fewer places for people to go. “There is nowhere for homeless people to be except on the street,” Ledger said. “To continue to enforce a bylaw, when folks don’t have any other option of where they can be, is a questionable piece.” Ledger added that the city is likely trying to find a balance between the needs of people who are homeless with complaints from business owners and residents about street disorder. Earlier this fall, tenants of a rental building on West Hastings complained they couldn’t access their building because people were always in the entrance way. For several months Canada Post stopped delivering to over a dozen Downtown Eastside buildings because of crowding and blocked doorways. Blyth said it’s common to find a lineup of people waiting to get into the overdose prevention site when she opens the doors in the morning. Recently, staff helped a woman who was so cold that she was shivering uncontrollably. “I see people in the morning when I go in to open up, shaking and sleeping in doorways. People in wheelchairs, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues sleeping outside,” Blyth said. “It’s as bad as you can imagine."Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
All of Fort Chipewyan’s stop signs are now in Cree, Dénesųłiné and English. Mayor Don Scott says similar traffic signs will be put up across the region next year, including in Fort McMurray. The signs are part of an effort to promote the Indigenous languages of the Wood Buffalo region. In a video announcing the news, Scott said boosting Indigenous languages is part of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. “This has always been a diverse region, and our rich culture and heritage make it truly a special place to call home,” he said. This is the first municipal initiative promoting Indigenous languages, although they are not the first Cree and Dénesųłiné signs in Fort Chipewyan. The community has welcome and grocery signs in the three major languages at the K’ai Tailé Market and outside the Athabasca Delta Community School. “Our languages are slowly disappearing because of the effects of residential schools,” said Teri Villebrun, councillor for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), in an interview. Fort Chipewyan was the site of the Holy Angels Residential School, which closed 1974. Between 1880 and 1953, 89 students died at the school. “These signs recognize the needs of promoting our Indigenous languages.” Villebrun said people are excited about the new signs in a community that has centuries of history to share. Founded in 1788, Fort Chipewyan is Alberta’s first European settlement. It was established as a trading post and named after the Chipewyan people already living in the area. “We do really have a sense of pride in our community,” she said. “It’s our traditional land of the Dene, Cree and Métis and we are so proud of our culture.” According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), three-quarters of Indigenous languages in Canada are “definitely,” “severely” or “critically” endangered. The most recent data on languages spoken in Canada comes from the 2016 census, which found only 20 per cent of First Nations people could converse in an Indigenous language. This is a six per cent drop from 2006. “If we continue down the current path, First Nations languages, like many Indigenous languages around the world, may be lost,” states a 2019 report from the Assembly of First Nations. “It is essential that drastic actions are taken to offset the erosion and loss of First Nations languages.” The municipality has posted to its website its own efforts and resources on meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. An October 2019 report commissioned by the municipality also surveyed the attitudes First Nation and Métis leaders had towards their place in the region. At the time, the report found the administration of the day was “proactive” in incorporating the calls to action into its organizational structure, but was lagging on delivering, or lobbying for, basic services in rural communities. firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell are hosting the Soul Train Awards for the third consecutive year. The duo, who are also producers for the show, which airs Sunday, Nov. 29, say “as Black women, we wanted to make sure that we are celebrated.” (Nov. 27)
PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s legal team suffered yet another defeat in court Friday as a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the campaign's latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges' assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents.The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, another Republican, had said the campaign's error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called any revisions “futile.” Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Chagares were on the panel with Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” Bibas said in the opinion, which also denied the campaign's request to stop the state from certifying its results, a demand he called “breathtaking.”In fact, Pennsylvania officials had announced Tuesday that they had certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state. Nationally, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered nearly 80 million votes, a record in U.S. presidential elections.Trump has said he hopes the Supreme Court will intervene in the race as it did in 2000, when its decision to stop the recount in Florida gave the election to Republican George W. Bush. On Nov. 5, as the vote count continued, Trump posted a tweet saying the “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”Ever since, Trump and his surrogates have attacked the election as flawed and filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the results in six battleground states. But they’ve found little sympathy from judges, nearly all of whom dismissed their complaints about the security of mail-in ballots, which millions of people used to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.Trump perhaps hopes a Supreme Court he helped steer toward a conservative 6-3 majority would be more open to his pleas, especially since the high court upheld Pennsylvania’s decision to accept mail-in ballots through Nov. 6 by only a 4-4 vote last month. Since then, Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett has joined the court.“The activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud,” Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted after Friday's ruling. “On to SCOTUS!”In the case at hand, the Trump campaign asked to disenfranchise the state’s 6.8 million voters or at least “cherry-pick” the 1.5 million who voted by mail in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other Democratic-leaning areas, the appeals court said.“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote in his scathing ruling on Nov. 21. “That has not happened.”A separate Republican challenge that reached the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week seeks to stop the state from further certifying any races on the ballot. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is fighting that effort, saying it would prevent the state’s legislature and congressional delegation from being seated in the coming weeks.On Thursday, Trump said the Nov. 3 election was still far from over. Yet he said for the first time he would leave the White House on Jan. 20 if the Electoral College formalizes Biden’s win.“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said at the White House, taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day.On Twitter Friday, however, he continued to baselessly attack Detroit, Atlanta and other Democratic cities with large Black populations as the source of “massive voter fraud.” And he claimed, without evidence, that a Pennsylvania poll watcher had uncovered computer memory drives that “gave Biden 50,000 votes” apiece.All 50 states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. Biden won both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaryclairedaleMaryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
This week over 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and representatives from across the country convened to work on setting the stage for systemic change in Indigenous land-based education. The Actua network, a self-professed leader in land-based STEM education, hosted the gatherings. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied way. As parents and educators nationwide struggle with how to make education work in a pandemic environment, Indigenous students, particularly in northern remote parts of the country, have headed back to the land. “We really found that there is a national consensus on the importance of bringing this into the school system. Certainly there are challenges, but the benefits far outweigh those challenges and that there is huge opportunity here for Indigenous learning to actually really contribute to the future classroom,” Doug Dokis, Actua’s Director of Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program, said. According to Dokis, grounding lessons in Indigenous knowledge provides Indigenous students with a sense of pride in their identity and shows them that their cultural perspectives are valued. A press release said that as Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers take the lead, there is an opportunity to work with Indigenous communities, education authorities, industry and post-secondary institutions in reshaping the classroom of the future for Indigenous youth and for all Canadian youth. Dokis explained that with COVID-19 shutting down schools and creating other problems the education system is scrambling to find ways to create safe classrooms. “A lot of those conversations are revolving around more outdoor experiences for kids and what we are saying is that Indigenous land-based … models are ideal for aligning with school systems and existing programming and building that out,” Dokis explained. “It would be beneficial not only to Indigenous kids but all kids.” Actua is a national non-profit whose membership consists of 42 universities and colleges across Canada. “We deliver our STEM outreach through those networks of undergrad students at those universities an colleges. So we are present in all of these regions and territories across Canada,” Dokis said. The member organizations in the province include the University of Regina who hosted through their EYES (Educating Youth in Engineering and Science) program; the other member organizations are the University of Saskatchewan and First Nations University of Canada. Actua works with over 200 Indigenous communities, also building partnerships with the local education sector. “I reached out to a lot of the contacts that I have at a national level in these high level Indigenous or education portfolios and began to build a list of people that were and are actively involved in Indigenous education at the provincial level. From there we also got suggestions from existing relationships,” Dokis explained. The national forum set the groundwork for what is hoped will result in vastly improved educational outcomes for Indigenous students and a real path forward towards reconciliation. “We looked to address some of the systemic problems and challenges within the education system,” Dokis said. “Part of that is that Indigenous knowledge is not recognized or included in or inclusive of mainstream education systems. So we wanted to create an opportunity to better integrate and align Indigenous knowledge and education within the whole system across the country,” Dokis explained. Typically teams from Actua go to communities and work on coding or robotics or other STEM activities. With land-based STEM they work with what is happening at the cultural level around things such as land management. “We would build STEM activities to support the local cultural knowledge and cultural aspects (such as) harvesting fish or harvesting game. Then we would build activities to support that within the land programming.” Students that participate get high school credits. “That helps address high school graduation rates and encourages more Indigenous youth to participate or to follow into STEM careers.” The program has been working in Indigenous communities for over 25 years and the credit component has been around for four years. A national forum held this week presented the outcomes of a series of seven regional roundtable events on Indigenous land-based STEM education. “Part of our outreach consists of Indigenous communities doing workshops in school programs. So the roundtables were primarily focused on Indigenous leadership, Indigenous educators, education authorities, school boards and regional or provincial or territorial ministries that are responsible for that segment of education,” Dokis said. “We are producing a discussion paper from all of these roundtables and the national forum and this discussion paper will be circulated widely across the country. And then we are moving towards the next steps of facilitating some of the conversations that would need to happen around curriculum development, curriculum assessment, all of those kinds of things,” Dokis said. He explained that he didn’t know how long the process would take. “We really are wanting to see systemic change and systemic recognition that this is valuable to the education system in this country,” Dokis said there needs to be recognition at all levels of government in order to make these ideas spread through the education system. “We will continue to advocate and continue to build out this at a local level with the idea that we have recognized through these conversations that these can move quite quickly in the sense of how systems typically move. Certainly the COVID situation with the classroom has kind of opened the door and the conversation more targeting outdoor education or land based learning opportunities,” Dokis said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:04 p.m.Nunavut is reporting four new cases of COVID-19, all in Arviat. The territory says it now has a total of 151 active cases of COVID-19. The Government of Nunavut says it will spend $1 million towards community food programming, including extra funding for communities affected by the pandemic. The government says its message to people is to stay well, stay safe and stay home.6:49 p.m.Health experts have warned that COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan could climb to more than 10,000 by early next month.The Ministry of Health has released a presentation delivered to physicians at a town-hall meeting last night about the virus's current spread and possible trajectory.Information updated to Nov. 20 indicates that, based on the recent average rise in positive tests, the caseload could hit 10,000 in the first week of December if there is no further intervention.The data also states that as of Monday, the number of active cases and hospitalizations had gone up 400 per cent in the last 30 days. It forecasts that in four to six months, acute care demand for COVID-19 patients could account for half of all available beds and the need for intensive care could be five times total capacity.The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is working to validate the data and will share more information next week.\---6:34 p.m.COVID -19 infections keep surging in B.C. with the latest peak at 911 new positive cases.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there have also been another 11 deaths for a total of 395 deaths since the pandemic started.There have been three more outbreaks in long-term care or assisted-living facilities, bringing to 54 the number of sites that have outbreaks.More than 10,000 people are under active health monitoring, while 21,304 people who were infected are considered recovered.\---5:30 p.m.The Alberta government is empowering 700 more peace officers to enforce COVID-19 public health orders. Justice Minister Kaycee Madu says fines for breaking the rules can range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that end up in court. New rules announced this week include a ban on private social gatherings and capacity limits in stores.Alberta reported 1,227 new infections on Friday and nine more deaths. Chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says 405 people are in hospital, including 86 in intensive care. She says one way to free up space for the growing number of severely ill COVID-19 patients in hospital is to postpone surgeries.\---3:52 p.m.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has tested negative for COVID-19.He was tested Monday after eating at a restaurant in Prince Albert where the Saskatchewan Health Authority says someone there was positive with the virus.Moe's office says he will remain in isolation at his home in Shellbrook until Sunday, as per the advice from public health.He will be in Regina Monday for the opening of the legislature and delivery of the throne speech.\---2:54 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting four more people have died from COVID-19 and says there are 329 new infections in the province.Health officials say those who died were 70 and older.The Ministry of Health reports the seven-day average of daily cases sits at 268.There are 111 people in hospital and 16 receiving intensive care.As of Friday, no team sports are allowed in the province and capacity at public venues like churches, movie theatres and casinos is limited to 30 people.The measures are part of the latest round of restrictions Premier Scott Moe announced earlier in the week to stem the virus's spread while avoiding a second shutdown of non-essential businesses.\---2:44 p.m.Manitoba is cracking down on retailers not following public health orders as health officials say COVID-19 is starting to impact vulnerable populations at a higher rate.Officials announced 344 new cases and 14 more deaths.Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, says there is significant community spread in lower-income neighbourhoods and among the homeless population.He discouraged people from leaving their homes for any non-essential reason and cautioned retailers against trying to find loopholes in the health orders.The province issued a $5,000 ticket to a Winnipeg Costco this week for selling non-essential items.\---1:57 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting nine new cases of COVID-19, all in the central health zone, which includes Halifax.The province now has 119 active cases of novel coronavirus.Health officials say one new case identified today is at Bedford South School, which is a pre-primary to Grade 4 school in the central zone.Starting today, ongoing voluntary testing is being introduced to monitor, reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care.\---12:51 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting four new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 31 active cases across the province.One of the individuals is a man in his 60s in the eastern region of the province whose infection is related to another identified case.A man and a woman in their 50s in the eastern region and a woman in her 40s in the western region have also tested positive. The source of those three infections is under investigation.\---12:48 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting 12 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its number of active cases to 114.Public Health says seven cases are in the Saint John area, three are in the Moncton region and two are in the Fredericton area.All three health regions are under the province's heightened "orange'' pandemic alert level.Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, says there should be no non-essential travel in and out of these zones.\---12:10 p.m.Nunavut's chief public health officer says four members of the Canadian Red Cross touched down in Arviat today to assist with a COVID-19 outbreak. Dr. Michael Patterson says the team will help with isolation and contact tracing in the community of around 2,800 people.The Government of Nunavut has also announced it will give $1 million to municipalities for community food programs as the territory heads into its second week of a lockdown.Nunavut is currently under a territory-wide, 14-day lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.\---11:40 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Major-General Dany Fortin has been tapped to lead the Canadian military’s role in coordinating logistics for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine across the country.Fortin most recently served as the chief of staff for the Canadian Joint Operations Command.He was also commander of the NATO military training mission in Iraq from November 2018 until last fall.The announcement follows days of criticism over the Trudeau government's vaccination strategy and uncertainty about when Canadians might have access to an eventual vaccine.\---11:24Ontario is reporting 1,855 new cases of COVID-19 in another record-high daily increase.Twenty more Ontarians have died from the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says new infections remain concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area, including 517 more cases in Peel Region and 494 in Toronto. Provincial data say the seven-day average for infections in the province is 1,489 per day.\---11:13 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked virus, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours.Health officials said today hospitalizations decreased by six, to 669, and 90 people were in intensive care, the same number as the day prior.The province says 1,236 more people recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 119,727 recoveries.Quebec has reported 138,163 COVID-19 cases and 6,984 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.\---11:02 a.m.Nunavut is announcing four new cases of COVID-19, all in the community of Arviat. This brings Arviat’s total number of cases to 119. Three more cases in Arviat and Rankin Inlet are now considered recovered. There are 151 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
RICHMOND, B.C. — A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport.The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet's domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada.The Calgary and Toronto airports have hosted studies to rapidly test passengers who are arriving, rather than departing.The study in B.C. involves researchers from the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care, who are responsible for collecting the samples.The airport authority says in a statement a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 and those who test positive would have to undergo testing approved by Health Canada, with their flights cancelled or changed at no charge.Dr. Don Sin, co-principal investigator and a professor at UBC's faculty of medicine, says the study will help public health leaders understand how people who don't have symptoms of COVID-19 are contributing to the spread of the illness."We know that asymptomatic carriers exist, but what we don’t know is exactly how common it is," he says in a statement.The airport authority says that prior to launching the study, researchers evaluated several rapid tests that use nose swabs and oral rinses, and passengers' test results should be available within 20 minutes.It says researchers plan to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal once the study wraps up, in an effort to contribute to a future testing framework for the aviation industry.The study is open to WestJet passengers who are B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 80, and who haven't tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
A new North West Company store in Pelican Narrows is opening Saturday in partnership with Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. The new store will include grocery and pharmacy services, a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, quick stop confectionary and a gas bar. Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Vice Chief Weldon McCallum, of Pelican Narrows, said the community has been without a general store since the old one burned down in a 2015 grass fire. He said the new location will allow residents to shop in their own community and avoid long grocery runs to Flin Flon, Manitoba or Prince Albert amid the pandemic. “A lot of our people are really anxious and are very happy to see the northern store open again,” McCallum said Friday. “Especially the elders. The elders were the ones that were the driving force behind the northern store before it burned down, because a lot of our elders have accounts there. There's a Cree name that they have for the store and it's called Kompanik. It means a general store.” “The elders are very happy. And so, tomorrow, when the store opens, it's going to be a really slow, grand opening. They'll be following social distancing. Elders will be given priority to enter so that they're not out in the lineup. They will be priority and everybody knows that in the community, with our respect for Elders.” As well as providing safe access to food, the store will ta ke a load off health workers, who are stretched dealing with the pandemic and the community’s medical needs. “We won't have to rely on our local health center for pharmacy anymore. We've had PBCN health services in partnership with their pharmacy. That way it frees up our registered nurses’ time so that they're not busy handling medication anymore or having to deliver medicine. People will just go to the pharmacy like any other pharmacy in an urban center,” McCallum said. The pharmacy and fuel aren’t scheduled to open until Dec. 8. “They'll be holding off on the Tim Hortons for a while just until things settle down,” McCallum said. “We want to try and avoid developing big groups or gatherings.” The store will also bring much-needed employment to Pelican Narrows. “With everything from the grocery to the quick stop, to the Tim Hortons, to the gas station, over 40 employment positions were created through the North West Company,” McCallum said. But the prospect of a Tim Horton’s coffee shop in town has people especially excited. “They're ecstatic… Everybody's been talking about it. Pelican would be the first PBCN community to have a Tim Hortons on our reserve. There’s not even a Tim Hortons in La Ronge. Not even in Flin Flon. So we’ll be ahead in that area,” McCallum said. North West Company spokesperson Ellen Curtis explained that while a grand opening is usually celebrated with an Elder’s prayer, ribbon-cutting, speeches and presentations, this one will be different. “This is the first grand opening I can remember where we’ve done everything we can to avoid having a crowd,” Curtis said. Any activities that could pose a potential risk, especially to Elders, will be deferred to a safer time. Instead, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and Northern are jointly presenting every household in the community with a holiday food hamper to celebrate this milestone event. “Our goal right now is to make sure people in Pelican Narrows have safe access to food in the community,” Said Rob Thursby, director of sales and operations. “We’ll have plenty of time to celebrate later.” The North West Company said development of the store was made possible by working closely with the community of Pelican Narrows and PBCN Chief and Council. “The community of Pelican Narrows has been underserved,” said Mike Beaulieu, Vice President, Canadian Store Operations. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation to open a new Northern store. Now more than ever we are reminded of the importance of communities having access to a safe and secure source of healthy food... A lot of effort and hard work through very challenging conditions has brought us to this memorable opening day.” McCallum said after the store burnt down in 2015, negotiations and talks continued until the spring of 2018 when plans started to become concrete. The North West Company agreed to return land to the community, which is important because the store has a history that dates back to the time of the Hudson Bay Company. The North West Company began as a fur trading enterprise in Montreal from 1779 to 1821 and competed violently with the Hudson’s Bay Company until the British Government forced them to merge. Outposts were often built and land appropriated without full and informed consent of the Indigenous communities where they continue to operate. In 1987 the northern trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company were bought by an employee consortium who brought back The North West Company brand in 1990. It now operates as a grocery chain out of Winnipeg with outlets in northern communities across Canada. “The relationship between the North West Company and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, Pelican Narrows has been strengthened. There are things that we have agreed upon that help make that relationship stronger. And one area is that the North West Company has agreed to turn over all of their property, their land within our community. That was one of my biggest arguments at the table. I wanted to see their lands given back to the community,” McCallum said. “It wasn't right that Hudson’s Bay established this store… There's a long history with Hudson’s Bay and some that's not really bright but the future is looking brighter, and the relationship is there, the connection is there. So I'm really happy to see that.” He said the North West Company has shown that it is committed to Pelican Narrows. “They've understood both the size and population of our community, and they knew the situation that we were in. They knew how vital their grocery store was before it burnt down,” McCallum said. “Being a company based out of another province to come in and provide that service and that much-needed help. It really goes a long way. It gives our community a sense of relationship.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) released a ruling on Nov. 25, which impacts how First Nations children can access funding for services. The ruling says that First Nations children who live on or off-reserve, who do not have Indian Act Status, but who are recognized by their respective Nations for the purpose of applying for funding through Jordan’s Principle, can now apply for support. The ruling also opens up funding for children living on or off reserve who “are not eligible for, Indian Act status, but who have a parent or guardian with, or eligible for, Indian Act status.” The ruling comes after years of pressure from the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (the Caring Society) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to address health service inequities, including delays or denial of services, that First Nations children experience. In memory of the late Jordan River Anderson, of Norway House Cree Nation, Jordan’s Principle is a principle that ensures “First Nations children get the services they need when they need them,” according to the Caring Society. Anderson, who was born with complex medical needs, spent more than two years in hospital while both the federal and provincial governments argued over who should finance his home care. Jordan died at the age of five, never having spent a day at home with his family. Jordan’s Principle calls on the government to pay for a child’s services and seek reimbursement later, so the child does not get caught in the middle of a similar dispute. Beginning in 2007, the Caring Society and the AFN filed an official complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) saying Canada was “racially discriminating against First Nations children.” According to a timeline by the Caring Society, the Tribunal case found that the inequitable funding for First Nations child welfare was insufficient and ‘amounts to discrimination.’ In 2016, the Tribunal found that the Government of Canada was “racially discriminating against 165,00 First Nations children and their families,” and that Canada was “failing to implement the full scope of Jordan’s Principle.” In this recent ruling, the Tribunal emphasized its “commitment to respecting First Nations self government,” saying that recognition of the right to self-determination is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.Anna McKenzie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
We may not have Christmas parties or visits to Santa at the mall, but there is still one holiday tradition going strong this year: the Hallmark Christmas movie, and this year's run will feature the first Indigenous woman in the main cast.Five Star Christmas features Barbara Patrick, originally of Burns Lake, B.C., in one of the supporting leads as the member of a family who has to pose as staff at her father-in-law's fledgling bed and breakfast.The character is also a fashion blogger, and though her Indigenous identity never comes up in the script itself, Patrick says she was asked to dress in a way that reflects her heritage as a member of the Stellat'en First Nation.The result is subtle touches, including on screen appearances from Patrick's personal wardrobe, such as beaded mukluks and earrings made in her home community of Burns Lake."It's really cool," she said. "I really think that Indigenous people need to be represented on-screen and allowed to play these characters instead of being depicted in a negative or stereotypical light."The Hallmark Channel has come under fire in past years for a lack of diversity in its annual holiday films, which are big business for the B.C. film industry. But Patrick believes the approach taken by the director at incorporating her identity into the character's look is a sign of change."Hopefully, I will be the first of many Indigenous people to be playing on Hallmark," she said.Big break in 'big city' of Prince GeorgePatrick's journey to the small screen started back in 1998 when as a teenager she was shopping in the "big city" at Pine Centre Mall in Prince George.She was approached by a modelling agent about being in a local runway show and within months she had won a contest in Vancouver and was on a flight to a shoot in Japan."It was a whirlwind," Patrick said. "I hadn't even been into a Starbucks before."After going out for a few roles in commercials, Patrick decided she wanted to transition into acting and eventually made her way back to British Columbia and Vancouver where she now lives.In 2021, she will be seen in Kiri and the Dead Girl directed by Prince George, B.C.'s Grace Dove who starred in The Revenant and Monkey Beach.But for now, Patrick is excited to become part of people's holiday tradition of sitting down and watching an uplifting Christmas tale — so long as she can find a TV."My parents [in Burns Lake] have actually subscribed to the channel to watch me," she said. "I might have to Facetime in with them."Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor has a message for people who don't follow a provincial order to wear a mask in indoor public spaces: order takeout, shop online or stay home.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday she was saddened after hearing about store and restaurant employees facing aggressive customers who refuse to wear masks as COVID-19 numbers rise."I remind all of us about the severity of this illness and the fact that we have people who are suffering in our hospitals right now, and their families are suffering too," she said. The RCMP say they arrested a shopper at a Walmart in Dawson Creek this week after he allegedly assaulted an employee who asked him to wear a mask.B.C. set another single-day record with 911 cases of COVID-19, Henry said, adding that a total of 30,884 cases have been diagnosed in the province.Eleven more people have died, bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.Some faith leaders have questioned Henry's order to ban even limited gatherings at churches, temples and other faith locations while restaurants and bars remain open.Henry said outbreaks have occurred in multiple faith locations despite safety measures in keeping with what is happening around the world."I'd like to be clear that these locations are not doing anything wrong," she said, adding COVID-19 precautions were being followed at the majority of worship places."These are not decisions that we make lightly," she said."We are facing a storm surge, and that is something we are facing globally."Henry said events that were safe even a few weeks ago now threaten the most vulnerable people who attend them as well as entire communities.However, she said most faith leaders understand the measures as they support their congregants from a distance."It is a cruel irony in many ways that when we most need to be with people, that is the most dangerous thing that we can do with this level of transmission we are seeing in communities across the province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu has temporarily authorized 700 provincial peace officers to enforce new COVID-19 restrictions. These officers will be able to give tickets and fines to anyone caught breaking those restrictions, which were announced earlier this week. Depending on the severity of the violation, fines for breaking health restrictions could range from a $1,000 ticketed offence to a $100,000 fine through the court system. When asked how officers would handle people intentionally ingoring the new rules out of protest, Madu said there would be no exceptions. “We are now faced with a very serious situation that requires that we hold people not compliant with these measures accountable,” he said. “You are going to see a heightened level of enforcement in those cases where there are individuals blatantly non-compliant with health measures.” At the press briefing, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said many new health restrictions announced earlier this week are now in effect. She urged Albertans to be patient with each other as citizens and businesses familiarize themselves with the rules. “If a line is a bit longer than usual or an employee asks you to follow a new policy that is in place, please do not take your frustrations out on these workers,” she said. “These new restrictions and measures create extra work and pressures for staff, owners and operators.” Father Mercredi Catholic High School has been placed on the provincial COVID-19 watch list after five positive cases have been reported in relation to the school. Schools are put on the provincial watch list after five or more cases have been acquired or transmitted in the school. After being added to the list, additional health measures may be put into place within a school to control the spread. The province then works with Alberta Health Services (AHS), the school and the school board to monitor cases. Currently, 89 Alberta schools are on the watch list. email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
OTTAWA — New research suggests a bump in the number of fathers who planned to take time off with a new baby under a nascent national leave program could be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.It has been just over a year since the government started offering the use-it-or-lose-it extra weeks of paid time off work for non-birthing parents. The program was designed to mostly target fathers, who don't take paternity leave in large numbers.It was modelled after a program adopted over a decade ago in Quebec, which has the highest paternity leave rates in the country.A study published this month in the Journal of European Social Policy noted a five per cent rise in mothers' labour force participation rates after the Quebec policy came into effect, compared to Ontario where parents had no such policy at the time.The authors also noted Quebec mothers were less likely to work part-time or be unemployed than they would have been absent the paternity leave policy. The authors of the study also found the benefits were largest within the first three years of the new program being available to fathers, but fizzled out thereafter.Sample size could have played a role, but one of the authors said another explanation was timing: The period under review overlapped with the last big recession in 2008-2009.That raises questions about whether the impact of the Canada-wide version of the program could be shaped by an even sharper recession caused by COVID-19."It's a bit of a crystal ball in terms of will more fathers take it, will (fewer) fathers take it," said Andrea Doucet, an expert on parental leave policies from Brock University. She was not involved in the recently published study."But there's a whole part of this which is about social norms around gender and gender equality. The conversation (on paternity leave) has just changed enormously."The federal program, which launched in March 2019, includes five to eight weeks of extra paid leave for the second parent, with the length depending on whether a family chooses standard or extended benefits. It was designed to incentivize new fathers to take some time off work to care for their children, even if their partner stays home for much longer.The difference between the federal employment insurance program and the Quebec version lies in the income-replacement rate. Quebec's is about 70 per cent, while EI is 55 per cent, up to a limit. There are also differences in who can qualify, with individuals eligible in Quebec while EI depends on the eligibility of the mother, or first parent.Allison Dunatchik, one of the study's authors from the University of Pennsylvania, said the size of the take-up now depends on how many parents qualify and whether they can afford the drop in income."There's some question about whether that's really enough incentive to get men to change their leave-taking behaviour, particularly when we're in this context of greater economic uncertainty," she said."There is a lot we don't know about how these policies play out in the context of a recession." A report this month from Statistics Canada said the proportion of spouses or partners of recent mothers who claimed, or intended to claim, the EI leave increased to 35.4 per cent last year from 31.3 per cent in 2018 and 29.1 per cent in 2017.Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees EI, couldn't say many parents used the sharing benefit last year and so far this year.Doucet said rates could actually go up as more fathers work remotely and take care of children at home because of school or daycare closures. Research suggests the more fathers are home, the more they want to get involved in care."They want to be involved. They don't just want to go to work the next day," she said. "All that could have some benefit. There could be some implications for fathers working from home, or their take up of leave."But, she added, the policy has to change.Doucet and two co-authors recently called on the government to boost the income-replacement rate and ease access, particularly in light of an economic downturn disproportionately affecting women.As is, about one-third of women don't qualify for EI parental benefits, Doucet said, noting many are mothers from low-income, racialized or new immigrant families."Parental leave is critical to shifting those gender equality patterns, so that if we ever get into another pandemic … things could be different," Doucet said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
The New Brunswick Legislature could be holding virtual sittings within the next two weeks.MLAs from four parties sitting on the legislative administration committee agreed Friday to get equipment and technology installed quickly so the assembly can resume its business.It adjourned on Tuesday because almost half of the MLAs are from the two zones that were under COVID-19 orange phase restrictions at the time. The province is discouraging travel into and out of those zones.Since then, a third zone, which includes the legislature itself, has been put into the orange phase.MLAs from the Green Party complained Tuesday that there was still no set-up for virtual sittings eight months after COVID-19 first appeared in New Brunswick.Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said in a statement that a service provider will start installing the system on Monday."The legislature must keep on working through COVID-19 outbreaks and beyond," he said. "This system will allow us to do just that."The new hybrid system could be up and running in time for committee hearings on legislation scheduled for next week.MLAs are scheduled to return for full sittings Dec. 8. Speaker Bill Oliver said he hopes the system will be ready for then, though that date could be pushed back if necessary.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is recruiting retirees and volunteers to help with contact tracing investigations, according to a health authority spokesperson.The SHA has more than 350 staff trained for contact tracing, the spokesperson said. But as COVID-19 cases and the number of close contacts rise, the investigations take longer to conduct.So the health authority is recruiting more contact tracers, including retirees and volunteers, in anticipation of a potential surge in cases."Our contact tracing system is certainly under strain," health authority CEO Scott Livingstone said during a news conference Thursday."A single positive case each and every day provides hours of work for contact tracers over the two-week time period" after a positive result, he said. "But that work can grow exponentially when you factor in the number of contacts."As of Thursday, Saskatchewan averaged 214 new COVID-19 cases per day over a two-week period. Each case had about seven or eight close contacts on average, which creates 32,000 total hours of work over the two-week period, said Livingstone.He noted that the average number of contacts is down slightly from recent weeks, but the health authority is planning an effective contact tracing strategy in case the province approaches 450 cases per day.Early in the pandemic, the provincial government authorized retired nurses to obtain emergency licences through the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, the regulatory body for the province's nurses. The most recent licence was issued Thursday.The association is working with the health authority on the workforce plan, and shares its emergency practice licence list every week with the SHA "and other employers," an association spokesperson said.Once nurses retire, they are no longer part of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses. But if issued an emergency licence, they are unionized temporarily, said SUN president Tracy Zambory."It is just extremely important that the resources are given to [contact tracing] that it requires," she said."It's about resumption of health-care services, and pulling back on some of the slower areas so that the human resources can be freed up to be able to assist in contact tracing."'Real consequences'Contact tracing aims to identify COVID-19 cases before they can unknowingly spread the illness throughout the community, explains Dr. Cory Neudorf, a public health physician and University of Saskatchewan professor of community health and epidemiology.Finding close contacts means they can self-isolate and be tested sooner."You interrupt that chain of transmission, and you can start to get a handle on the pandemic," he said. The health authority's announcement that contact tracing investigations are taking longer signifies that Saskatchewan residents are not following public health rules as closely as they should be, or that COVID-positive people are visiting public spaces, says Neudorf.Time-consuming investigations can also make it tougher to find contacts and curb the spread of COVID-19, because people may forget who they met and where they went over time, he said.But the strain on contact tracing also has consequences for the overall health-care system as well, Livingstone said Thursday.A finite number of workers are trained to do contact tracing, so some health-care workers have been moved around the health-care system to conduct investigations. But that is only a Band-Aid solution, says Neudorf."As the outbreak progresses, and you start getting a lot of COVID-19 cases in the hospital, those workers need to be brought back to care for the COVID-positive patients," he said. "You can't be using the same stuff for both purposes, so that's only a short-term fix."Redeploying staff also causes disruptions in other health-care services, he added.Saskatchewan residents can help reduce the length of contact tracing investigations by only going out in public for essential reasons, regardless of what the province's public health rules allow, to reduce the number of close contacts, Neudorf said.When people do go out, they should mind physical distancing and wear a mask, he added.Neudorf also suggests keeping a weekly list of where you go, who you see and when, especially if you have to be in public often. Such lists help tracers easily track contacts down, should a person test positive.As of Friday, 2,237 COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan are under investigation by public health officials.
ATLANTA — A panel of U.S. advisers will meet Tuesday to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved.Experts have proposed giving the vaccine to health workers first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.Tuesday's meeting is for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel of experts recommends who to vaccinate and when -- advice that the government almost always follows. The agenda for next week's emergency meeting was posted Friday.Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc. is expected to also seek emergency use of its vaccine soon.FDA's scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer's request, and send a recommendation to the FDA.Manufacturers already have begun stockpiling coronavirus vaccine doses in anticipation of eventual approval, but the first shots will be in short supply and rationed.The Associated Press
CALGARY — Alberta is giving 700 more peace officers the power to enforce COVID-19 restrictions as hospitalizations for the virus continue to climb in the province. "We are not asking these officers to stop cold their day-to-day priorities or to harass responsible Albertans going about their everyday lives," Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Friday, as Alberta reported 1,227 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. Police officers and health inspectors also have the ability to enforce the rules. Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. Alberta has 405 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 86 in intensive care. A week ago, there were 55 patients in intensive care with COVID-19. Postponing surgeries is one of the ways the province is freeing up space to accommodate more people severely ill with the virus. New measures came into effect Friday to help blunt the spike in cases. Private indoor social gatherings are banned, capacity limits have been imposed on stores and students between grades 7 and 12 switch to remote learning on Monday. Fines for breaking the rules range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that make it to court. When asked whether there would be crackdowns on anti-mask rallies, Madu said police will make independent decisions. "But as minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable."Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she is disappointed to hear about Alberta Health Services inspectors being verbally abused. "Nobody deserves that, least of all the people who are working to keep all of us safe," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press