Gunner the English Mastiff gently plays with Hudson the puppy. Too cute!
Gunner the English Mastiff gently plays with Hudson the puppy. Too cute!
Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Côte-Nord confirme qu'un premier cas de COVID-19 a été déclaré en Basse-Côte-Nord. La personne infectée se trouve à Blanc-Sablon ou elle est actuellement en isolement à son domicile. Elle ne présente aucun symptôme de la maladie. L'enquête épidémiologique est en cours et le CISSS affirme que la situation sera surveillée de «très près pour les deux prochaines semaines». Pour ce qui est du risque de transmission dans la communauté, il est jugé comme étant faible par le CISSS. De plus, «aucun contact n’a été identifié en lien avec les transports aériens.» C'est dans le cadre du programme de gestion des entrées des régions isolées que le dépistage sur la personne atteinte de la COVID-19 a été réalisé. Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
KYIV, Ukraine — Hundreds of retirees staged a protest in the Belarusian capital on Monday to demand the resignation of the country's authoritarian leader who won his sixth terms in office in a disputed election.Over 2,000 pensioners were estimated to have marched down a central avenue in Minsk in what has turned into a regular Monday rally, carrying red and white flags that have become the main symbol of the country's protests. They also held aloft portraits of opposition supporter Raman Bandarenka, who died earlier this month after reportedly being beaten by security forces.“Grandmothers and grandfathers heal poorly from new wounds,” read one of the banners carried by demonstrators. At on point the crowd ran into a police cordon and broke up into smaller groups that went into different directions.Mass protests gripped Belarus since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She and her supporters refused to recognize the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud.Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the largest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Police used stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse the rallies. Thousands have been detained and many of them beaten since the election, human rights advocates say.Belarus' Interior Ministry said Monday that 345 people were detained during protests across the country a day earlier. The Viasna human rights centre puts the number at 390.According to Viasna, at least one person was detained at Monday's protest.The Associated Press
BROCKTON – Council has renewed its contract with Veolia Water Canada for five years, for the operation, maintenance and management of Brockton’s water and wastewater. The report presented by director of operations Gregg Furtney outlined Veolia’s history with the municipality, beginning in 2006. The most recent agreement renewal was awarded in 2016, for five years. The term ends in June, 2021. Because the municipality is entering into 2021 budget discussions, staff spoke with Veolia representatives about “what a renewal and amended agreement may look like.” The five-year extension to the present agreement would involve an adjustment to the annual fee from the current rate of $702,645 to $727,376, an increase of $24,731, with subsequent increases based on the previous year’s price plus an adjustment for inflation. Furtney’s report stated there was discussion related to “operations and costs associated with a significant event, such as a pandemic, that could make operating significantly more onerous.” Veolia has stated the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, has not proven to be significantly more onerous. Veolia staff have operated safely and successfully throughout the pandemic. The renewal agreement will include the addition of the Fischer Dairy sewage pumping station and the upcoming Walker West booster pumping station. It also includes additional sampling and operational oversight of the water systems at various community centres including the Bradley School House, Cargill Community Centre, and Elmwood Community Centre. Furtney’s report noted “Veolia Water Canada Inc. staff have been great partners in Brockton. They have highly trained and knowledgeable staff that work hard to provide our residents with safe drinking water and maintain important Brockton-owned infrastructure.” He further noted their response time to emergencies has been excellent. Veolia has donated to the Walkerton Clean Water Legacy Scholarship Fund. There was some discussion among councillors about looking into taking on the task of managing water and wastewater in-house. Furtney said wages alone would make that prospect a daunting one, not to mention the need to purchase vehicles and other equipment. It’s not something that could be planned in a few months. “If, in two years, council wants to do this, we can start planning.” Mayor Chris Peabody stated the municipality has been quite pleased with the agreement with Veolia. He suggested if council were to decide to look into managing water and wastewater in-house, that partnering with another municipality would make it more affordable. “After 15 years, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate (the possibility),” he said. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said the Veolia contract is one of the two largest contracts the municipality has – the other is with the OPP. He noted Veolia “appears to be a good partner” for the municipality. Coun. Steve Adams said he supports Furtney’s report. “It would be very expensive and risky to do it on our own,” he said, adding that the agreement with Veolia has provided “good value and safe drinking water” for the municipality.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two Peel police officers of wrongdoing in the Sept. 10, 2019, death of a 34-year-old Mississauga man who died after he was Tasered at a Malton home. According to a Friday news release, Special Investigations Unit director Joseph Martino determined “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s death.” The man, who has not been named by police or the SIU, died after he was Tasered during an interaction with police after two officers went to the home following multiple calls from family members inside. “Soon after arriving, officers became involved in an interaction with a 34-year-old and shortly after apprehended him,” the SIU report of the incident said. The man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival. According to the SIU, two Peel officers were called to the home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive around 9 p.m after a man complained that his brother was acting erratically. After entering the home, the officers found the man agitated, and one of the officers deployed his Taser twice in succession, the SIU said in its report on the case. The Taser appeared to have no effect, and the man then removed its wires and ran toward the front door “yelling and flailing his arms,” the report said. Near the door, the same officer grabbed the man, and during an attempt to arrest him the other officer also deployed his Taser. According to the SIU, the officers were eventually able to overpower the man on the ground outside and handcuffed him with this hands behind his back. Another officer arrived while the man was restrained and, according to the SIU, he continued to yell, kick and struggle until the officers called for paramedics. They arrived around 9:30 p.m. to find the man prone, held down by one or two officers, the SIU said. According to the report, the man appeared to lose consciousness after he was placed on a stretcher, and he was pronounced dead in hospital. Following an autopsy, a pathologist determined the Tasering likely “did not play a major role, if any,” in the man’s death. The pathologist found his cause of death to be from “excited delirium (cocaine and ethanol toxicity) during restraint,” saying “the cumulative effects of agitation and struggles, position with impaired respiratory movements and cocaine likely all contributed to cause sudden cardiac arrest.” Neighbours told the Star the man lived at the home with his mother, and that his father had died recently. The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. This ruling comes at a time when the SIU is under increasing pressure from advocates and the relatives of several Peel residents shot or killed by police since 2019. Those cases include: The Nov. 20, 2019, death of Clive Mensah, a 30-year-old mentally ill who died after Peel police Tasered him near his home. The Jan. 7, death of Jamal Derek Jr. Francique, a 28-year-old Mississauga man who was shot and killed by a Peel officer. The April 6 death of D’Andre Campbell, 26, who was shot and killed in his home by a Peel officer. The Mother’s Day shooting of Chantelle Krupka, who continues to undergo physiotherapy after she was shot in the abdomen. The June 20 shooting of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry, who killed inside his Malton apartment, sparking public uproar and a series of protests. The SIU has been criticized for the length of its investigations and perceptions of low transparency and poor communications with victims’ families. Of those outstanding cases, the SIU has completed its investigation into only Krupka’s case — for which a rookie Peel officer was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. In a rare move, the accused officer, Valerie Briffa, resigned soon after she was charged. According to the SIU’s recent annual report, the watchdog took an average of 136 days to close a case in 2019 — or about four-and-a-half months per case. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
OTTAWA — One of Canada's top central bankers says the Bank of Canada is keeping a close eye on household debt that were already elevated before COVID-19.The Bank of Canada had warned that a recession could easily strain the financial system and the debt load being carried by households.Deputy governor Toni Gravelle said Monday that fear hasn't played out during the pandemic, despite it being the worst downturn since the Great Depression.He said the key has been the level of aid provided by governments, that helped replace lost earnings, and low interest rates that were driven down by the Bank of Canada putting its key policy rate at 0.25 per cent.Still, Gravelle warns the country needs to watch out for the possibility that the tough times many households and businesses face could ripple throughout the financial system."The longer the pandemic constrains jobs and incomes, the greater the risk of financial trouble for highly indebted households, and the greater the risk of defaults that could impair the whole financial system," Gravelle said in the text of a speech today to the Autorite des marches financiers.If loan losses make it harder for banks to make loans, Gravelle says the economic recovery will be hampered and amplify an already challenging situation.Banks have provided deferrals on loans, mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards during the pandemic, with about about 14 per cent of homeowners with mortgages and 10 per cent of renters asking for deferral on some kind of debt repayment, Gravelle said.By September, about three-fifths of payment deferrals expired and 70 per cent off deferrals on credit card debt and automobile loans.Data from the central bank's survey of consumers suggested one-third deferral requests were for precautionary reasons, not because of income losses from COVID-19. Gravelle suggested this as reason to be optimistic those borrowers will return to regular debt payments. Still, with with interest rates remaining low for the foreseeable future — the central bank doesn't expect to raise rates until at least 2023 — Gravelle said the Bank of Canada will have to keep an eye on household debt and the risks to the financial system.Industry professionals have told the bank that they are broadly confident in the system's ability to withstand a severe shock, even as they said that risks to the system have grown considerably, Gravelle noted.Much of the confidence comes from the central bank's near-zero policy rate and its related bond-buying measures to keep the flow of credit from getting jammed up, and federal aid measures to hold up the financial floor under households and businesses.Gravelle said some of those early liquidity measures have since and may continue to be rolled back, but slowly. "Just as it is important to gradually wean a patient off painkillers as their injuries heal so they don’t become addicted, we gradually phase out our various facilities once painful market stress has dissipated," he said in the text of his speech."But make no mistake: if market-wide stresses reappear and we need to do more to ensure that the financial system can continue to support Canadian households and businesses, we will."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
NORTH HURON – A new investigator was appointed by North Huron to look into livestock and poultry incidents, when they have been injured or killed as a result of wildlife predators. The current municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer, Keith Black, notified the township of his resignation recently and was thanked for his many years of service. Following Black’s resignation, the township initiated a public recruitment process to fill the position. According to Carson Lamb, who prepared the report for council, at the closing date of the advertisement, no applicants expressed interest in the position. Randy Scott expressed his interest after the township reached out to other area municipalities to see if any individual would be interested in the position. Scott brings his knowledge and experience to North Huron. He will be enlarging his present territory of Howick Township, where he currently holds the investigator position. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture administers the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP). They provide compensation to eligible applicants whose livestock, poultry, or honeybees have been damaged or killed due to wildlife. The OWDCP stipulates that municipalities must appoint a municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer to investigate incidents of damage that have been reported to the clerk of the municipality. Under the OWDCP, the municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer is responsible for: · Carrying out a full and impartial investigation within 72 hours of receiving the notification of the injury or death of livestock or poultry. · Taking three to six colour photos per eligible kill/injury incurred and collecting all necessary information to complete the application accurately. · Providing a completed program application to the owner and the clerk of the municipality within seven business days of completing an investigation.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
It’s no secret that many rural and remote Indigenous communities suffer with lower-quality internet or no connectivity at all. COVID-19 restrictions have shone a light on broadband inequity which limits the ability to work from home, attend school online, or access services such as healthcare virtually. The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), announced by the federal government recently with additional funds, is looking to rectify some of those concerns. But it remains unclear how, or if, Indigenous communities will really benefit. The fund, which contributes $1.75 billion to “advance large, high-impact projects, which will leverage partnerships including with the Canada Infrastructure Bank broadband initiative,” was originally announced in the 2019 budget as a $1 billion investment, with an addition of $750 million added this month in the wake of the pandemic. “Today's investments will help make progress on the Government of Canada's commitment to create over one million jobs, and its work to support Canadians living in rural, remote, and northern communities,” a media release on the project said. "High-speed Internet access is more than just a convenience,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of Health and Liberal MP in the riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North. The Government of Canada website states that the “goal is for all Canadians to have access to high-speed Internet of at least 50 Megabits per second download and 10 megabits per second upload speeds.” But not everyone in the House of Commons believes it’s time to celebrate. “One thing I’ve learned about broadband promises is that I wait until I see the money out the door,” said Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay. “I’ve seen multiple big ticket promises that they’re going to connect everybody within two or three or four years and yet we still see that we’re in the same situation.” The broadband fund announcement states it will allocate $50 million of the total budget for “mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples.” “This investment will help connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026 so that they can better participate in the digital economy,” the release states. “These mobile projects are expected to extend 4G LTE coverage or better mobile services to unserved areas. Projects must target Indigenous communities, roads within or leading to Indigenous communities, or highways and roads where the deployment of mobile network coverage would benefit Indigenous peoples. Unserved sections of roads that would be deemed strategic for the socio-economic development or public safety of Indigenous peoples could also be eligible,” the government website reads. But Angus says he’s unsure of exactly whether that’s enough funding to help out an impactful number of Indigenous communities. “The fact that they’re talking about $50 million set aside for First Nations… That seems to be a very small amount for regions that are among the most isolated in the country, and there’s no clear timeline which is concerning,” he said. “In the first wave of the pandemic when so many people had to work from home and students had to work from home — in isolated or even just rural communities — people were being shamelessly gouged by the telecom giants. This was a moment where the government did nothing.” Angus also raised a concern that the projects in Indigenous communities might be investing only in older satellite technology, rather than more modern fibre optic initiatives. “If you want communities to participate in the modern economy, you’re going to need to invest in fibre. To me, it’s a stopgap, not a solution,” he said. Angus drew parallels with the ongoing issues with boil water advisories in 61 Indigenous communities that the Trudeau Liberals promised would be resolved by 2021. “Broadband is another huge promise,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem to have the same levels of accountability mechanisms to make sure government actually delivers.” Windspeaker.comBy Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
A Black man who was stopped by police while dropping his son off at daycare eight years ago was racially profiled, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has found.The tribunal ordered the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, a Longueuil police officer and a former police officer to pay Joel Debellefeuille $10,000 in damages, plus interest.Debellefeuille was stopped by police outside his son's daycare in March 2012, after police followed his car for more than a kilometre.In his decision, Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that would include providing training to officers, and collecting and evaluating race-based data on people who are stopped by police. Brunelle also said Quebec's human rights commission must pay the plaintiff's legal fees, ruling that the delays in responding to Debellefeuille's complaint were abnormally long and unacceptable. In addition, Dominic Polidoro, who remains a police officer, was ordered to pay $2,000 in punitive damages.The tribunal's ruling is binding, unlike those of the human rights commission.According to the decision, Polidoro testified that he followed Debellefeuille's vehicle because he thought Debellefeuille was looking at him, had gestured toward him and had said something to him while the two vehicles were stopped at a stop sign.Brunelle found that Polidoro's explanation didn't justify his stop of Debellefeuille."It is highly improbable that a white man (or woman) who, while driving their vehicle observed a police officer while continuing to talk with the other passengers and gesticulating — as many people do incidentally while expressing themselves — would be considered a suspect for that sole reason," Brunelle wrote.Brunelle found that Polidoro's actions could only be "rationally explained by the prejudices he maintained, whether consciously or not, toward a Black man driving a luxury car."Debellefeuille, who was driving a BMW at the time, told the tribunal that he had been stopped "numerous times" by police.The other officer who stopped Debellefeuille, Jean-Claude Bleu Voua, was not ordered to pay additional punitive damages because he is no longer a police officer and could not be found by the tribunal.He is believed to have left the country.'This is how we make progress'Collecting race-based data is an important step, said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, which supported Debellefeuille's complaint.Niemi said that data will make it harder for the police department to deny that racial profiling exists.He said his organization is looking to the courts, because municipal and provincial politicians aren't taking action to stop racial profiling."What we are seeing now is that these battles will have to be fought in the courts and when the court sides with us and imposes these decisions," Niemi said. "This is how we make progress."Neither the Longueuil municipal government — which sought to have the case dismissed — nor its police service responded to a request for comment on Saturday.Quebec's human rights commission praised the decision in a statement.The commission is also calling for another Montreal suburb and three of its police officers to pay $35,000 in damages to a Black man who says he was racially profiled.Francois Ducas was also driving a BMW when he was stopped by Repentigny police.Ducas, who objected to the stop and refused to identify himself, was handcuffed and searched.Police issued Ducas, a secondary school teacher, two tickets: one for obstruction, the other for injuring a police officer.The commission believes he was stopped because of his race.Repentigny is challenging the commission's decision. That challenge will be heard before the Human Rights Tribunal.Marlène Girard, the director of communications for Repentigny, said she couldn't comment on the case but that the municipality has "increased the number of initiatives seeking to bring the police service closer to the diversity of its population" over the past few years."Today we acknowledge that we still have work to do," Girard wrote in an email. "We are being proactive, we are not waiting for the outcome of current cases of alleged racial profiling or future allegations in order to take action."Last week, the Repentigny police service announced it had hired a consulting firm to develop a plan to be more inclusive.However, Niemi said he believes the Repentigny police are still denying the seriousness of the problem.
Global aviation body IATA is developing a set of mobile apps to help passengers to navigate COVID-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments, it said on Monday. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents many of the world's major airlines, plans to pilot the Travel Pass platform by year-end and deploy it for Android and Apple iOS phones in the first half of next year. Airlines are pressing governments to replace traffic-stifling quarantine requirements with systematic COVID-19 testing, with some success.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged 40 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, while marking 57 more cases resolved, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 347.Both that number and the rolling average of new cases have returned to levels unseen since mid-September.OPH also reported the death of another resident at a long-term care home where an outbreak has been declared, bringing the city's death toll to 367.More than sixty per cent of the city's latest cases are people under the age of 40.A total of 8,212 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19. The vast majority of those cases — 7,498 — are considered resolved.In the Outaouais, which has about one-third of Ottawa's population, 48 more people have tested positive for COVID-19. The region is now averaging 39 new cases a day.More than 85 per cent of the cases in western Quebec are in Gatineau, currently a red zone on the province's pandemic scale. With 42 patients curently in hospital, the Outaouais is outpacing Ottawa in that category as well. Thirty patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, including two in intensive care.An outbreak is over at École élémentaire catholique des Pionniers, leaving active outbreaks at four schools, nine long-term care homes and one hospital in Ottawa.Elsewhere, an outbreak at École secondaire publique L'Héritage in Cornwall, Ont., has also ended, the last COVID-19 outbreak at an eastern Ontario school outside Ottawa.Colour by numbersAmong the key indicators that could allow Ottawa to move from orange to yellow on Ontario's pandemic scale: * The per-capita rate of COVID-19 sits at 24.6, just below the orange zone threshold of 25. * The test positivity rate is 1.8 per cent; the yellow zone threshold is 1.2 per cent.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has moved from orange to the less severe yellow, while the health unit covering the Kingston, Ont., area went from green to yellow.The rest of eastern Ontario is green, the lowest level on the province's pandemic scale.
Macy's unveiled the new additions to its annual Thanksgiving Day parade Monday, which include The Boss Baby and Red Titan from “Ryan's World." This year, as a result to the pandemic, the public can only watch the parade on television. (Nov. 23)
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey and Germany were at loggerheads on Monday after a German frigate enforcing an arms embargo against Libya intercepted a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean sea and carried out what a senior Turkish official dismissed as an “illegal" search.Turkey said personnel from the German frigate Hamburg were flown by helicopter aboard the freighter Rosaline-A on Sunday as its sailed off the Libyan coast to carry out an hours-long search.Germany’s Defence Ministry said Turkey ordered a halt to the search, forcing the German personnel to depart before completing their work. During their search, the German team had found no cargo that contravened the arms embargo, German Defence Ministry spokesman Christian Thiels told reporters in Berlin.This was the second incident between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally country enforcing an arms blockade against Libya. In June, NATO launched an investigation over an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.A Turkish government official said the German warship’s personnel boarded Rosaline-A without Turkey’s permission in violation of maritime laws. They ended the search around dawn after “understanding that there was nothing but humanitarian aid, biscuits and other material such as paints on board,” the official said.The Rosaline-A continued on its way to Misrata after the search, the official said, adding that Turkey planned to lodge formal complaints about the incident. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish government rules.Thiels, the German Defence Ministry spokesman, said the German crew requested permission to board.“Upon receiving no reply, a German search team was brought by helicopter to the freighter and commenced the search, and the crew was ‘co-operative',” Thiels said.While the team continued its search, German authorities were notified by Turkey that they did not allow it. The search was then ended and the team sent back to the frigate, Thiels said.The German official said the order to board the ship came from mission's operational headquarters in Rome.__Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin contributed.Suzan Fraser, The Associated Press
The Nova Scotia government is using $21.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to purchase thousands of new computers for students and upgrade servers and Wi-Fi systems in schools.The news comes several days after two schools were shut down and moved to at-home learning for two weeks due to several COVID-19 cases.Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province will buy 32,000 new computers, 24,000 of which have already been ordered and are expected to arrive by next month. The rest are to come in the new year.This is in addition to the 14,000 devices the province has already purchased. During a virtual briefing, Churchill said the level of need was determined by surveys submitted earlier this year by students and parents, as well as local input from regional education officials. The minister said the new supply would be able to meet demand."This is about ensuring that there's not a digital divide in our education system, that all of our students have equitable access to the tools they need to learn and succeed, even in an at-home learning environment," he said.The computers are coming from IMP following a tender process.A silver lining for the departmentThe timing is particularly relevant because on Friday the province closed Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour and Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook for 14 days after three cases of COVID-19 were detected between the two schools.When schools were shut down last spring and learning moved to an at-home model, it caused a number of problems for families and teachers. Churchill said much has been learned from that experience and he expects things to go more smoothly this time.Along with ensuring people who need technology have it, there are guidelines in place to help teachers and other staff and options such as teleconferences, USB drives for the sharing of work and appointments to attend schools in cases where students do not have high-speed internet at home.If there is a silver lining to the situation, Churchill said it's that his department has been forced to consider technological capacity and assess who does and does not have access to digital learning tools sooner than perhaps was otherwise planned."I don't see us moving back from this. In fact, I see us enhancing our ability to utilize technology in the learning environment at school and at home for the long run," he said.Erring on the side of cautionIn announcing the school closures on Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil acknowledged that it was as much about addressing concerns parents, students and staff had about the situation as it was anything else. Churchill said Monday that officials will err on the side of caution when it comes to determining whether a school should shift to a blended learning model or full at-home learning."Even if the risk may be low, we want to make sure that we're responding in a way that minimizes the risk of spread to the best of our ability."Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, has confirmed that evidence of community spread now exists in the greater Halifax area and his office has started announcing new restrictions. As of Monday, there were 51 known active cases of COVID-19 in the province.The funding announcement is in addition to the $40 million the province announced in August to help with the restart of the school year. Although the issues with technology were well established before September, Churchill said his department was awaiting access to the money from Ottawa before it could act.It's his hope the upgrades to servers and Wi-Fi systems will be completed before the end of the school year. The funding also includes money for 10 new full-time positions to help support the new devices, infrastructure upgrades and general at-home learning needs.MORE TOP STORIES
With more than 80 languages spoken in Wood Buffalo, multicultural and community groups argue that April’s flooding has shown the challenges of getting emergency information sent to people with language barriers during a crisis. Therese Greenwood, executive director of the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo (MCA), said her organization helped the Western Canadian Powerstrokes Emergency Response Team and volunteers translate forms for the food bank. Language barriers meant some food bank volunteers had trouble speaking with people who could not complete their forms. Keyano College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC), the YMCA and MCA translated boil water advisories and evacuation protocols into dozens of languages. LINC staff were able to reach most of the program’s 170 students, while Wood Buffalo RCMP was asked to reach less than 15 students. Glenda Little-Kulai, chair of Keyano’s LINC program, said most students in the program lived downtown and were the most at-risk of missing crucial safety information. “This is pretty essential safety information we’re talking about,” said Greenwood. “There is a particularly high need to get that information out—especially in the downtown where a lot of newcomers are located.” Even when newcomers were located, language barriers still needed to be broken down as new information arrived. YMCA staff worked with Canadian Red Cross workers at their downtown location. When people returned home, YMCA staff went door knocking in flood-impacted area to deliver information on flood relief programs. Kara Boulton, program manager for community housing initiatives at the YMCA, said collaboration between community services cut down, and exposed, many barriers facing newcomers in Fort McMurray. “We have great services agencies, but we don’t have a ton,” said Boulton. “Together we can reach farther to minimize those gaps.” The experience has made LINC bring in new procedures on what staff can do during a crisis. Little-Kulai hopes the flood will also be a learning experience for the municipality and Regional Emergency Services. In an email, a municipal spokesperson said improving ways to communicate with people during emergencies remains a focus. “We continue to look at opportunities to reach all residents throughout the RMWB sharing education on preparedness and planning in emergency management,” the email stated. The MAWB and Red Cross are still offering flood support, and a mental health initiative is expected to begin in upcoming weeks. “I think what people don’t realize is flood support is still ongoing,” said Greenwood. “We’re seeing people dealing with some prominent mental health issues specifically from being flooded out of their homes during a pandemic.” firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Victory is always sweet in municipal politics, said Mayor Duane Favel, and this year, victory has meant starting his fifth term as leader of the Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse. Duane defeated fellow mayoral candidate Peter Durocher with 323 votes to 257, with 580 total votes cast. This will be a long four years of council, Favel said, with many challenges facing northern Saskatchewan communities and with COVID-19 those challenges are going to get bigger, he said. In a previous interview before the election, Duane said physician retention and high water levels have been a challenge for the community for years. Joining Duane at the council table will be incumbents Vincent Ahenakew, Bodean Desjarlais, Myra Malboeuf, and Gerald Roy, and new councillors Noel McLean and Kevin Favel. Having a mix of old and new councillors is good to have for both continuity and bringing new voices to the table, Duane said. “It's nice to have a council who clearly has a good background on some of the things we've been working on and to bring those two councillors up to speed. Certainly, their voices will be heard as well.” Mentoring the new councillors will be an important step in the coming term, Duane said. Duane said he would like to thank the outgoing councillors who have stepped away from the table, including Durocher, who decided to run for mayor. The open spots allowed for two new voices to join the conversation and Duane said he is excited to work with this new council. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
LONDON — Google faces fresh regulatory scrutiny in Britain over plans to revamp its ad data system, after an industry lobbying group complained to the competition watchdog that the changes would cement the U.S. tech giant's online dominance. Marketers for an Open Web, a coalition of technology and publishing companies, said Monday that it's urging the U.K. competition watchdog to step in and force Google to delay the rollout of its “privacy sandbox” scheduled for early next year. The new technology would remove so-called third party cookies that allow users to be tracked across the internet by storing information on their devices, replaced by tools owned by Google. That means login, advertising and other features would be taken off the open web and placed under Google’s control, the group said. The Competition and Markets Authority confirmed it received the complaint. “We take the matters raised in the complaint very seriously, and will assess them carefully with a view to deciding whether to open a formal investigation under the Competition Act,” it said in a statement, adding that if the concerns need urgent attention, it would consider using “interim measures" to stop any suspected anti-competitive conduct pending a full investigation. The complaint follows up on concerns about Google's new system that the watchdog raised in a July report about online platforms and digital advertising. The report recommended the British government adopt a new regulatory approach to governing digital giants making big money from online ads. Google said the new technology will increase privacy for users while also supporting publishers. “The ad-supported web is at risk if digital advertising practices don’t evolve to reflect people’s changing expectations around how data is collected and used," the company said. Google's Chrome is the world's dominant web browser, and many others like Microsoft's Edge are based on its Chromium technology. Google controls more than 90% of the U.K.’s 7.3 billion-pound ($8.8 billion) search advertising market, the CMA said in its July report. Third-party cookies allow ad buyers to more effectively target their ads to web users. Privacy sandbox will deny publishers access to the cookies they use to sell digital ads, which will crimp their revenues by up to two-thirds, Marketers for an Open Web said. The group said Google’s changes will move the digital ad business “into the walled garden of its Chrome browser, where it would be beyond the reach of regulators.” It wants a delay until authorities come up with long term remedies to mitigate Google's dominance over key parts of the web. ___ For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology ___ Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanman Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press
TORONTO – The Government of Canada has launched a new initiative to modernize its radioactive waste policy. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan launched the inclusive engagement process on Nov. 16. and asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to lead the process. A press release from NWMO said all of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is “safely managed today in interim storage.” An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practices over the longer-term. Building on previous work, the NWMO says this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning while looking further into the future. “This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.” The Government of Canada will engage interested Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, waste producers, owners, and other government levels. Their objective is to elaborate on the existing policy to provide greater leadership on radioactive waste management and ensure that they continue to meet international best practices. A letter sent to Swami by O’Regan said, “I am requesting the NWMO to lead this dialogue and to develop Canada’s Integrated Strategy for radioactive waste for my review and consideration. I believe that the NWMO is uniquely positioned to lead this work as a leader in used nuclear fuel management and public engagement.” O’Regan said the integrated strategy should build on the plan developed by NWMO for the long-term management of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. The strategy, he said, should include: • A description of the current waste management situation in Canada in terms of current and future volumes, taking into account potential small modular reactor waste, characteristics, locations, and ownership of the waste. • An update on current plans and progress in advancing long-term management and disposal solutions for Canada’s wastes as well as the gaps that must be addressed. • Conceptual approaches for dealing with our current and future radioactive waste inventory, including technical options for long-term management or disposal of the various waste types and options for the number of long-term waste management facilities in Canada. • Considerations regarding the staging, integration, establishment, and operation of long-term waste management facilities. O’Regan stressed the importance that the NWMO carry out this important task in a manner that is open, transparent, and inclusive. He added that it must be built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity, and respect for all Canadians. “The dialogue should not detract from the NWMO’s current mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, known as Adaptive Phased Management. That mandate is clear, and your progress to date is commendable,” O’Regan said. “This work needs to continue to progress in an effective and efficient manner. I would also emphasize that this dialogue and the resulting Integrated Strategy are not intended to replace other projects currently in progress.” Karine Glenn, strategic project director for the NWMO, said that the organization looks forward to the process. “For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life-saving medical treatments, and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Glenn. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.” More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have various ways to participate while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties are invited to sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
NORTH HURON – The Howson Dam spillway will be tested for stability to provide information to North Huron council that will ensure the structure’s safety, before any more plans are put in place regarding the dam. A report was submitted to council on Nov. 16 by Jamie McCarthy, director of public works, that included a proposal from Chant Limited to test the spillway, “a passage for surplus water from a dam or reservoir,” according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. This testing is to confirm the suitability of the existing concrete for rehabilitation and provide information regarding the dam’s safety if it were to be left in place. After decades of discussion, studies, and proposals, councillors recognize the need to move forward with some form of decision. Even though the money to do yet another study seems redundant, they passed the motion to accept the proposal. In a recorded vote, which passed 5–2, council authorized the first of two phases in the proposal at a total of $46,860 (exclusive of taxes). It will revisit phase two at a later date, once they have some answers from Chant Limited. According to the report, Chant Limited was the only company that submitted a bid for the Howson Dam Request for Proposal (RFP). Chant Limited’s submission was complete and provided costing for Phase One and Two. Phase One is the core sampling, testing, and reporting to North Huron council on the findings. Phase Two is the development of detailed estimates for all costs associated with removing the bridge and rehabilitation of the Howson Dam spillways. Their bid is as follows: A. Phase One – Concrete Spillway Testing - $46,860 B. Phase Two – Project Estimate (AACE Class 3) - $47,835 This engineering will be funded from the existing Howson Bridge Reserve Fund, which has a balance of $93,759. If through Phase One, core sampling and testing provide the outcome that triggers Phase Two, there will be a shortfall of $936. The outcome of Phase One will provide the information necessary for council to begin fundraising to rehabilitate the dam or to assure that the dam can stay in place as it is, safely.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
Here’s a collection of 2020 holiday albums reviewed by The Associated Press.____________Carrie Underwood, “My Gift” (Capitol Nashville)Carrie Underwood takes fans to church with her first holiday album “The Gift,” a set of hymns and traditional Christmas classics that invoke the spiritual and religious themes of the season.Underwood’s interpretations of songs like “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” are simply produced with lush strings, allowing her to showcase her vibrato as she soars to the top of her range. You could imagine yourself in a pew, head bowed as you listened to her sing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” and all would be missing is a children’s choir and the smell of incense.But while Underwood could probably sing the Bible and sound great, the album’s more interesting tracks are original songs, including “Let There Be Peace,” a song she co-wrote where she’s backed by a choir on a rousing R&B gospel track.On one of the album’s 11 tracks, Underwood is joined on “Little Drummer Boy” by her 5-year-old son Isaiah, whose singing about “pah-wump-pah-pah-pump” and “dwums” is adorably cute, but it borders on saccharine.But the best song is her duet with John Legend on an original called “Hallelujah,” which Legend co-wrote. These two Grammy winners push each other to new and impressive heights as they raise their voices to the heavens. More of that please.— Kristin M. Hall____________Dolly Parton, “A Holly, Jolly Christmas” (Butterfly Records)Leave it to Dolly Parton to know just how to brighten up pandemic blues with a full dose of cheery holiday nostalgia.Her first Christmas album in 30 years sounds like it could have been made decades ago — even if she recorded it masked, gloved and appropriately socially distanced this past summer.Despite touches of pop culture — Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus are among her duet partners — the feeling is more Sinatra and Nat King Cole.The first track, “Holly Jolly Christmas,” sets the tone with a “ding, dong, ding” choral opening, honky-tonk undertones and Dolly’s folksy banter.“All I Want for Christmas Is You” delivers a flirty duet with Fallon as the two playfully trade gushy confessions and Parton teases at the end: “Oh, you sexy boy.”Several tunes are Parton originals, including “Christmas on the Square,” also the title of her new Netflix holiday musical. It’s a delightfully hokey offering, a vision of friends and families gathering for singing, dancing, snowball fights and other nostalgic fare. That may all be off the table this holiday season, but Parton at least gives us a welcome taste.— Lindsey Tanner____________Meghan Trainor, “A Very Trainor Christmas” (Epic)Put down that eggnog and go to Spotify right now: The winner of the best Christmas album of 2020 is clearly Meghan Trainor.The 18-track “A Very Trainor Christmas” is a marvel, a multi-textured triumph led by Trainor’s warm, retro and soulful voice — perfect for a holiday album.It boasts six excellent originals alongside smart covers of such songs as “Last Christmas” by Wham! and a ukulele-led “Winter Wonderland.” Trainor has somehow infused new energy and verve to old chestnuts. Her ‘60s-meets-2020 “Sleigh Ride” is like hearing a new song and her “Silent Night” is churchlike, respectfully glorious.Trainor has her family join her for some songs — cousins and her dad — and Earth, Wind & Fire stop by to help on an old-school, propulsive funky “Holidays.” (Seth MacFarlane is the album’s only odd note, taking himself far too seriously in a version of “White Christmas”).Of the clutch of new songs, there’s the gloriously funky-EDM “I Believe in Santa,” the trop-pop “Naughty List,” the sad violin ballad “Christmas Got Me Blue” and the gleeful “Christmas Party.”America, rejoice: We just got a great early Christmas present.— Mark Kennedy____________Leslie Odom, Jr., “The Christmas Album” (S-Curve/BMG)What is one thing you can count on when a Broadway star creates a holiday album? The vocals will not disappoint.Tony and Grammy winner Leslie Odom, Jr. has delivered a vibrant melting pot of holiday classics and original songs with “The Christmas Album.”Odom’s voice lends itself well to multi-genre music, making him an ideal candidate to bring forth some holiday cheer. From his jazzy rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” to the pop-forward “Last Christmas,” his album is — simply put — easy listening.Among the traditional yuletide tunes, Odom’s personally penned songs hold their own. “Snow” is a cold weather earworm, while “Winter Song” finds Odom’s smooth falsetto complimented by Cynthia Erivo’s sultry pipes.While most of his holiday covers are close in sound to their predecessors, the “Hamilton" star brings a unique South African influence to “Little Drummer Boy” with the help of the Mzansi Youth Choir and strips down the New Year’s Eve classic “Auld Lang Syne” to create tenderness.Not exclusively limited to Christmas songs, Odom delivers a brilliant, intimate performance of “Ma’oz Tzur,” accompanied by his wife, Nicolette Robinson, and a piano.“The Christmas Album” celebrates diversity and comfort in a year when both are sorely needed.— Ragan Clark____________Jamie Cullum, “The Pianoman at Christmas” (Blue Note)The title is misleading, because Jamie Cullum is more of a big band crooner than piano player on this set of 10 tunes he wrote in lockdown this spring.The arrangements are pandemic-defying, with 57 musicians by Cullum’s count, and they make “The Pianoman at Christmas” swing and soar. Horns and string orchestra trade off and blend beautifully, providing a broad canvas for Cullum to explore a range of holiday moods.Included are two tunes each about Santa, Christmas lights and the holiday blues. There’s also a cuddle song, and the topical, timely opener “It’s Christmas,” where a merry Cullum sings, “Shove your petty differences right up the chimney, please.”All of the songs are secular. “Don’t care about a saviour,” Cullum sings on the title cut. “Just want to hold onto you.”A few lyrics could have benefited from more time in the workshop. “The Jolly Fat Man” is jazzy fun, but Cullum tries unsuccessfully to rhyme hat with dispatch and relax with back.Nonetheless, he captures the spirit of the season. More than once Cullum belts a long note, and it’s easy to visualize him, head back and arms outstretched, happy to embrace the end of this awful year.— Steven Wine____________Tori Kelly, “A Tori Kelly Christmas" (Capitol/Schoolboy)Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds is easily one of the greatest music producers and songwriters of all time. So him in the producer’s chair plus Grammy-winning vocalist Tori Kelly in the vocal booth equals STUNNING, SENSATIONAL, EXTRAORDINARY and PHENOMENAL.Kelly is a top notch performer throughout “A Tori Kelly Christmas,” which features traditional classics like “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World,” where her vocals will instantly transport you to a church that people not only attend to praise and worship, but to also hear beautiful and exquisite music.Even the original tracks are cute and pleasant, including “Gift That Keeps on Giving” and “25th,” where Kelly sings sweet lyrics like “no more silent nights/I’ll be by your side” and “got nothing on my list/don’t you know my only wish is to hold you on the 25th?”She closes the album with an excellent and clean cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and it is so good we’re sure Cohen is smiling from above with his approval.— Mesfin Fekadu____________Goo Goo Dolls, “It’s Christmas All Over” (Warner)It’s hard to write a Christmas song and it’s doubly hard writing about a bad kid on Christmas, but Goo Goo Dolls have done it.The rockabilly “You Ain’t Getting Nothin’” is an unexpected and super step on the band’s solid first holiday record, “It’s Christmas All Over.”“You picked Santa’s pocket/And you stole his reindeer/You’re only 8 years old/I caught you drinking beer,” frontman John Rzeznik sings about someone who should be getting coal in their stocking.It’s one of two originals — and one reworking — on a 10-track album filled with jazzy covers of iconic holiday songs such as “Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The title comes from a Tom Petty tune, which is respectfully covered.The other original is “This Is Christmas,” which has that beautiful melancholy the Goo Goo Dolls are known for. It earns its right to be a holiday classic of its own.The reworked song is “Better Days,” a wistful ode to peace from the band's 2006 album “Let Love In.” Here, it has been rebuilt with a child’s voice (the daughter of Jimmy McGorman, the band’s longtime collaborator). It’s powerfully affecting — revealing strong songwriting topped by a delicate voice.— Mark Kennedy____________Keedron Bryant, “The Best Time of Year" (Warner)Passionate is Keedron Bryant’s forte.At just 12 years old, he turned heads with his fiery plea “I Just Wanna Live,” a song about being a young Black man in America. Written by his mother Johnnetta Bryant after she watched the painful death of George Floyd, the song helped Bryant inspire and connect with people around the world. It even landed him a record deal.He’s 13 now and has released a Christmas EP that features a passionate and mature vocal performance from the budding superstar.Bryant tackles Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and adds his own wonderful spin to the song. And he and his sister, Aiyanna Bryant, are epic on their soulful version of Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight’s holiday classic, “Let It Snow.”The four-song EP closes with the original track “This Year,” an upbeat adventure promising that 2021 will be better than 2020 — a message we all need to hear, especially from the youth. After all — the children are our future.— Mesfin Fekadu____________Davy Jones, “It’s Christmas Time Once More” (Not Too Late Records)Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without reindeers, turtle doves, a partridge — and a Monkee.“It’s Christmas Time Once More,” a reimagined collection of traditional holiday songs from The Monkees’ late frontman Davy Jones, is a welcome and warm addition to the season. His gentle and expressive voice often got overshadowed by the goofy goings-on in his made-for-TV rock band. Here it is centre stage.Jones tackles songs like “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night” with English-accented aplomb. For a jazzy “White Christmas,” his voice is joined by his youngest daughter, singer-songwriter Annabel Jones, in a pretty duet that hits all the right notes.The songs have some miles on them. They were originally released in 1991 on cassette then on CD in 1997 and released again in 2005 as “Christmas Jones.” Producer Chip Douglas has given them new arrangements and added background vocals from former Monkees bandmate Micky Dolenz and his sister, Coco Dolenz. Douglas leans into rockabilly with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and banjo with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”One of the two bonus tracks is an original recording of Jones singing “White Christmas” with Douglas on guitar, recorded in 1967 in Douglas’ home in L.A.’s famed Laurel Canyon. It is wistful and blissed out.— Mark KennedyAssociated Press, The Associated Press