TEST BULLETIN (AP) — The following is a TEST. Donald Trump, GOP,
The Associated Press
TEST BULLETIN (AP) — The following is a TEST. Donald Trump, GOP,
The Associated Press
Recent developments: * The Moodie Drive testing centre closed on Tuesday because of a power outage. * Quebec's holiday guidelines may change again.What's the latest?The Moodie Drive COVID-19 testing and care centre closed Tuesday because of a power outage. The Queensway Carleton Hospital said anyone with appointments at the Moodie Drive location will be accepted at any of Ottawa's other testing sites as a walk-in patient. Ottawa Hydro said power in the Moodie and Fallowfield area should be restored by about 4 p.m.Ottawa has 34 of Ontario's 1,707 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases. One more person has died of COVID-19 there and in western Quebec.Quebec Premier François Legault said there may need to be changes to that province's holiday guidelines because of the high rate of spread of the coronavirus and number of hospitalizations.Any changes would be made by Dec. 11, he said, or two weeks before Christmas.More antibody tests are now available, but health experts and the private labs that conduct the tests are reminding patients not to alter their behaviour if they receive a positive test.How many cases are there?As of Tuesday, 8,521 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 351 known active cases, 7,794 cases now considered resolved and 376 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,900 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,500 resolved cases.Ninety people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 81 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays, with people who live away from home such as post-secondary students asked to reduce close contacts for 10 to 14 days before going back.Quebec has shared what it will take to have at most two small holiday gatherings this month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout the Outaouais.Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Public skating returns to 11 Ottawa arenas today with reservations ahead of time and limits of 25 skaters on the ice.Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions: * The Eastern Ontario Health Unit. * Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is currently green, the lowest level.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.WATCH | A recap of the new federal financial plan:Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.WATCH | COVID-19 and financial planning:Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic in November. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case last month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
OTTAWA — A new poll suggests most Canadians aren't currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first.Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine as early as the United States."That's not necessarily low, but I think most pundits would have expected this number to be much higher," said Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.Meanwhile, 48 per cent say they are not concerned about getting a vaccine first and 10 per cent say they don't care at all or are not planning to get vaccinated anyway.Getting a vaccine before other countries doesn't seem to be "a major (issue for the Liberal government), which is contrary to what we might have thought … when the prime minister actually said that we would not be the first ones to get doses," Bourque said.The amount of concern regarding getting a COVID-19 vaccine first varies along party lines, with 45 per cent of self-identified Conservative supporters saying they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine at the same time as other countries. Only 38 per cent of Liberal supporters say they are concerned. "The Conservative voters have the highest rate of people who say they're very concerned about not getting (a vaccine) first," said Bourque. "It's probably just because they tend to have a negative view or perspective on the Trudeau government, period."Furthermore, with the likelihood of multiple vaccines arriving over a period of time, just 28 per cent of respondents said they will take the first vaccine they can get, while 45 per cent said they will wait for other vaccines to become available.Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians and 55 per cent say it should be given on a voluntary basis.But the poll suggests that the vast majority of Canadians want people entering Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with 83 per cent of respondents saying vaccines should be required. Also, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said employers should be able to demand that workers be vaccinated.The poll suggests that 65 per cent of Canadians intend to take a COVID-19 vaccine when it's approved by Health Canada and available for free while 17 per cent say they don't intend to. "That proportion used to be a bit higher, closer to 70 per cent in the spring. Since then it's gone down," said Bourque. "Over the past three months, when we've actually asked the question again, it is fairly stable in the mid-60s.""It really seems that two thirds of us are kind of committed to this idea of getting the vaccine when it's available."The poll of 1,516 adult Canadians in an online panel was conducted from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
As the case count continues to rise in New Brunswick, Dr. Jennifer Russell says one thing has proven to be unfailingly true: masks and physical distancing work, and ignoring that truth is risky.In an interview Monday on Shift, the province's chief medical officer of health said recent cases of transmission related to sports have prompted people to question whether allowing practices and games is a good idea.Her answer, she said, is that sports aren't the problem. Letting your guard — and your mask — down is.If people are following the guidelines, participating in sports and practices should be relatively safe, Russell said. It's when people engage in "the social side of things," removing their masks and being within two metres of one another, that the risk rises."You have to remember that of every single one of these cases, we're above 500 now, every single case of COVID in every close contact was somebody who was within six feet of somebody without wearing a mask for more than 15 minutes," Russell said."That advice from the very beginning of the pandemic has held true and will continue to hold true until everybody is vaccinated."> We like to really thoroughly investigate before we label anything as community transmission. \- Dr. Jennifer RussellRussell was also asked about the origins of the 120 active cases in the province, and said that most of them have been figured out, "with the exception of probably a couple in the Moncton region."She acknowledged she does worry about community transmission, given that there are cases of community transmission in Halifax, but cautioned against labelling anything "too early.""Obviously, anybody who's come or gone from the Halifax area in the last 14 days should be monitoring for symptoms," she said. "If you have come back after the new directions were provided around the border, you do need to self-isolate for 14 days … with the exception of people who are essential workers."During the outbreak in the Campbellton region earlier in the pandemic, she said, there were cases that for a long time did not appear to be linked, "but by the end of the investigation, after four weeks," all of the links were established."So we like to really thoroughly investigate before we label anything as community transmission," Russell said.Testing backlogs easing, but still some concernsRussell said the backlogs that have caused testing delays are easing, but there are still some concerns.There have been some cases of priority testing not being completed within the advised 24-hour window, and Russell said she has heard of some people who have been waiting up to seven days.She urged anyone in this situation "please don't be shy to call again or fill out another assessment form, because we do want people to get tested."In the meantime, she said, "we are working away every day" to erase the backlog, bringing in extra staff, more testing sites and working extra extra hours."Time is of the essence, because the sooner we test and do the contact tracing and make sure people are self-isolating, the sooner that we know that people are not at risk of transmitting COVID to other people in their close contacts."Mental health toll, exhaustion wearing on everyoneRussell also made a point of issuing "a big thank you to all the people who have been working so hard and sacrificing" throughout the pandemic, from health-care workers to business owners to students.The mental health toll, and the sheer exhaustion of having to adapt to new measures and guidelines, has been felt by everyone, she said."It is impacting everybody in this province, whether it's your social life, whether it's your business, whether it's your mental health, even the school system — students who are going to school in a different type of environment wearing masks — there are a lot of things that people have had to adjust to and that can be really tiring," she said.In the months ahead, as we move toward the rollout of vaccines, Russell said it will be important for people to reserve their energy and to recharge, "to keep on keeping on and and really work together" to get to the finish line."We have done very well up until now. And that success has has been contributed to by so many people, so many citizens."
Edna Lenora Perry broke stained-glass ceilings. And in doing so, she sunk a church floor — at least, that’s what attendees at Edna’s ordination ceremony whispered to one another when the wood flooring gave way at St. John’s Cathedral before she became one of the first female Anglican priests in the country. “There was some real resentment to having a woman involved,” says Sheldon Perry, Edna’s middle son, who recalls the moment catastrophe forced 300 people to evacuate the Winnipeg place of worship on March 24, 1981. It was, in fact, a combination of heavy rain, basement construction and high capacity that resulted in pews shifting on temporary floorboards sagging more than a half-metre. Edna hardly seemed fazed; she, two male deacons and their supporters simply drove to another church to complete the ceremony. The people who were close to her will say this was no outlier achievement in Edna’s 96 years. When she set her mind to something, she made it happen — sexism be damned. ● ● ● In Edna’s obituary, published shortly after she died of old age at Middlechurch Home earlier this year, her life is succinctly described as “productive.” That is an understatement. She raised three sons, John, Sheldon and Keith Perry, juggled careers as an educator and priest, and maintained an endless list of volunteer activities that earned her the honour of having a residential street in Transcona named after her: Edna Perry Way. She even made time to publish an autobiography, with help from her youngest son. As written in the introduction of A Prairie Girl’s Life: The Story of The Reverend Edna Lenora Perry, “Edna didn’t have to wait until the Dirty ’30s for life to get hard; she was born to it.” On June 30, 1923, she came into the world and met older siblings Frank, Ethel, Theo and May. Her parents, George Frank and Ethel Jenny Martens moved from The Pas to the Manitoba capital for a brief period, when Edna was born, before accepting a farmland subsidy from the province that took them to Marchand. A tight family budget meant she spent much of her childhood making up games. On the farm, she and her sister Mary would drape a large blanket over both sides of their sturdy resident plough horse and play “house” underneath the animal. Despite the early hardships, Edna looked back on those memories fondly when she reflected on her life, recalls Keith, her youngest son and the co-writer of the book about her life story. Edna and her youngest child undertook what would become an 11-year-project to compile A Prairie Girl’s Life after the love of her life, Jack Perry died in 2002. “She needed something to fill the void,” Keith says. Edna and Jack met at a dinner and dance organized for English trainees of the Royal Air Force in Carberry. She was set up with another airman, but as soon as the duo locked eyes, she knew Jack was “the one.” She promptly asked his date if they could swap seats. In 1944, Jack was recalled to the U.K. for the final big push of the Second World War. But as always, Edna was determined and found a way to England by posing as a war correspondent and hopping on a boat. A talented pianist, she played wartime songs long after the battle ended. She had married Jack in 1945 in his hometown of Devon, England, and they returned to the Prairies so Jack would have better job prospects. “One of her favourite expressions was, ‘Let’s have a party.’ She just liked getting together and playing music. She played (piano) by ear, so when she lost her sight, that didn’t affect her playing,” says eldest son John. Edna played piano during the square dance nights she organized at Transcona East End Community Centre. While raising three sons, Edna resumed her career as a schoolteacher and climbed the ranks to become a principal. Before she met Jack, she was working in a one-room schoolhouse with a limited teaching permit she received during the war. Edna was passionate about science and outdoor education, which motivated her to organize camping trips and found the Manitoba Outdoor Education Association. She also lobbied for the creation of kindergarten and eyesight clinics in the Springfield-Transcona School Division. John recalls his mother being so successful in getting students involved in science fairs that the local association of science teachers took notice. The board asked “E.L. Perry” to join the group, but rescinded the offer once they learned she was a woman. “She was truly a woman ahead of her time who didn’t let her gender define her life or ambitions,” says Shelley Hart, a family friend. Earning two degrees — in education and theology — while raising her family and taking in friends who were in need of a loving home were just some of her glass-ceiling-shattering accomplishments, Hart says. Edna was an Anglican minister at numerous cathedrals, in northeast Winnipeg and in Teulon. She was also chaplain of the Transcona Legion and the Mothers’ Union. When she suddenly lost her sight in 1989, she conducted funerals and weddings by memory. Jack read the Bible verses aloud and she taped them, so she could replay them repeatedly and write sermons from the audio. Rev. Brian Ford says Edna was always open-minded and “on the positive side” of history in the Anglican Church. She welcomed the ordination of women and gay men as priests when there was still debate about the subject, as well as allowing children to take communion without having been confirmed, Ford says. In the seven years before Edna died, Ford visited her twice every week at Middlechurch Home. He’d take a Thermos of tea and if Edna was lucky, homemade cookies from his wife. It was during these visits the friends would read together and reflect on Edna’s “productive” life — from her early days on the farm to being a war bride and beyond. Edna is survived by her three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. For Keith, her youngest child, “matriarch” is the best word to describe his mother and her legacy.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Dana Connolly is one of hundreds of Indigenous artists who are selling their beadwork, crafts, clothing and gifts this year online as part of virtual holiday markets."It's a way that we can actively support each other and care for each other in a time when we all know we're struggling and we can't actually be together," said Connolly.Connolly is from Peguis/Swan Lake First Nation in Manitoba and started selling Indigenous wellness products through her brand, Medicine Garden Society.As the associate director of Winnipeg non-profit organization Ka Ni Kanichihk, Connolly said she didn't intend to start a small business. She started making bath bombs, body butter, lip balm and candles infused with traditional Indigenous medicines a few years ago.After learning about the properties of traditional medicines, she started making gifts for her family and friends with whom she attended ceremonies. Last year, a friend asked her to sell some of her creations at the annual Indigenous holiday market in Winnipeg."I had six baskets left over and I made a post and then people bought them within minutes, so there was tons of interest," she said.She recently posted a list of her products on the Shop Indigenous Women's Holiday Market Facebook group, a virtual market with over 24,000 members.The Shop Indigenous Women's Holiday Market was started by Michele Young-Crook on Nov. 3. Young-Crook is Algonquin-Ojibway from Pickering, Ont., and is the president and CEO of the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association.She started the group after realizing that Indigenous women wouldn't have their usual markets to sell their products during the holiday season."For a lot of these women, this is their only revenue — making products and going to trade shows. So I was trying to create a virtual vendor-type thing and just came up with the idea to create this marketplace so that women would be able to have their little stores," said Young-Crook. "A big part of this that inspired me to do it was also economic reconciliation. A lot of people need to start putting their money where their mouth is. Instead of saying, 'I wish I could do more,' well, making a purchase from one of these women makes a huge impact compared to just constantly feeding Walmart and Amazon money."Reaching wider market Gerri Sharpe, who is Inuk from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, spends her spare time making custom earrings, mitts, and other crafts. This holiday season she has supported Indigenous artists by purchasing art pieces from Inuvik, N.W.T., from Facebook groups like Inuit Auction Bids.She said online groups help craftspeople and artists in the North who used to be limited to selling their items locally find wider markets and get a better price for their work."The [groups] have definitely helped elders because they're able to reach customers that they would not normally be able to reach," she said."With the kamiks, for instance, the average price that they'll get is about $1,200, where before Facebook they were only getting $400, maybe $500."Another person using the Shop Indigenous Women's Holiday Market to connect with holiday shoppers is Andrea Sparvier.Sparvier is from Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and has posted a collection of sewn items including ribbon skirts, star blankets and car seat covers.She started her own social media page Summer Solstice Designs after getting requests to sew items for her friends and family."The majority of the money I make from that goes right back into materials," said Sparvier."I don't make a living off it like some people do, but it's definitely helped it out a little bit."
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has a message for parents this winter: make sure your kids dress warmly as schools will be opening their windows several times a day to fight COVID-19."We recognize it is very much a balance between introducing more ventilation at various times during the day and maintaining a comfortable indoor air temperature in classroom," the TDSB wrote in a notice to parents last Thursday."Please keep this in mind as your child gets ready for school each day by considering an extra layer of clothing to ensure comfort throughout the day."The TDSB says it's following the advice of public health officials who say the novel coronavirus circulates more readily in poorly ventilated buildings. The board estimates that approximately half of its schools do not have any form of mechanical ventilation, which means classrooms generally have to rely on open windows for air circulation."We may open it for three to five minutes every couple of hours," TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told CBC News Monday."We are turning up the heat in our schools, but it's still likely going to be a little bit cooler than normal in some of the classrooms, depending on when those windows are opened up."Opening windows 'a blunt tool,' doctor saysThe measure comes as COVID-19 cases hit a record high Monday in Toronto.The TDSB itself, which educates close to a quarter of a million kids in 583 schools, says 365 of its students and 68 of its staff members have tested positive so far this year as of Nov. 30. A total of 417 of those cases are listed on the board's website as resolved. But Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infectious disease physician at the University Health Network in Toronto, says there are too many variables at play to determine how effective opening classroom windows will be in reducing the spread of the virus."The thing about the opening of windows is it's kind of it's hard to judge that recommendation," he said. "It's kind of a blunt tool."To gauge the effectiveness of opening classroom windows, Vaisman says one would need to take several measurements in each classroom, the ventilation in each room, and the number of people inside."Nobody would have the time or the resources to do the investigations for every single room across the city, for every school, across the city," he said.But the policy is comforting to some parents sending their children to school for in-person learning."The [COVID-19 case] numbers are going up and it's stressful to think about it every day, making the right decision" on sending kids to school, said Laura Strachan, who is the mother of a Grade 5 student. Other parents are calling for a permanent solution to ventilation issues in TDSB schools."If this is an interim emergency measure, then so be it," said Jessica Lyons, a mother of three who is also an organizer with the Ontario Parent Action Network — a group that lobbies for equitable public education across the province."It doesn't eliminate the problem," Lyons added. "Extend the school break, if needed, to make the changes and improvements to ventilation and safety measures that need to happen. We're in an emergency here. It's a terrible situation."Jennifer Brown, the president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, says she isn't impressed with the proposed winter measures for classrooms."It's disappointing that we are risking children possibly getting pneumonia, sickness to prevent another sickness." Brown says the provincial government should make sure all schools have proper ventilation systems."I really think that it is unfortunate that this is where we have to go as a public education system to tell parents, you know, 'Dress extra warm because we're going to have to keep the windows open because there's not enough fresh air coming in here.'"
The pandemic might be pummelling the economy across Canada, but a new report says that it's actually helping to bolster part of Saskatchewan's real estate market.The average price of cabins and lake houses in the province have increased after COVID-19 complicated vacation plans elsewhere, the 2020 Royal LePage Winter Recreation Property Report says.As a result, there's been an increase in demand for vacation properties sought by locals who are hoping to get away while staying close to home.The Canadian real estate company, which annually tracks and reports price variations of winter vacation homes across Canada, measured a 31.64 per cent price increase for single-family properties near Saskatchewan's Emma Lake and Christopher Lake.The prices jumped from an average price of $296,250 in 2019 to $390,000 in 2020 so far.Meanwhile, waterfront property at the two lakes also saw a 6.34 per cent bump — average prices were up from $489,000 in 2019 to $520,000 in 2020."Saskatchewan's recreational market is driven by its affordability," Lou Doderai, a broker with Royal LePage Icon Realty, was quoted as saying in the press release that accompanied the report."Highway developments have reduced the drive from Saskatoon to one-and-a-half hours, which makes working remotely more possible for those who still have to go into the office a few days a week."Albertans buying lakeside, Royal LePage saysSaskatchewan's western neighbours might also be contributing to increased demand, the report said.According to Royal LePage, Albertans who are now working from home are snagging lakefront property in Saskatchewan — and working from there instead."With the increasing ability to work remotely, Saskatchewan's lakeside communities are becoming more popular with Albertans who don't mind the drive," Doderai said.For the time being, the trend might continue.Royal LePage projects that the price of a recreational home in the prairies will increase by an additional four per cent next year.
Halifax regional council has endorsed an updated business plan for the new convention centre, which includes a deficit of $11.1 million.The municipality and the province have an agreement to split any losses evenly.The municipality can take money from its convention centre reserve fund, which includes just over $2 million in property taxes from the facility for 2020-21. Officials with Events East, which operates the Halifax Convention Centre along with the Scotiabank Centre and Ticket Atlantic, presented council with its revised business case Tuesday.The presentation of the plan had been delayed since the end of March due to the pandemic.Focus on safetyThe plan is "focused on the safe resumption of event activity and supporting the community and economy through recovery from the pandemic and its impacts," according to a Halifax staff report.The report put forward five focus areas: * Returning to safe operations. * Business retention. * Industry and community alignment. * Safe return to work. * Responsible management.Events East president Carrie Cussons said the revised business plan for the convention centre takes the impact of the pandemic into consideration."While the events may be smaller, there will be events that will be hosted both on the national and international level," she said. "They will be looking for destinations that are perceived to be safe, and I believe Halifax has a unique position."300 staff laid offAll events planned between March and September of this year were cancelled or postponed. The Ticket Atlantic box office remains closed.The business plan assumes "the current gathering limits and border restrictions will remain in place until the end of the fiscal year."Cussons said of the 400 staff members employed at the convention centre and the Scotiabank Centre, 300 have been laid off. Those who remain are looking after the buildings and rebooking events for future dates. MORE TOP STORIES
Kurt Russell says he kept both his father's influence and his grandchildren's bragging rights in mind when he reprised his role as Santa Claus in upcoming holiday movie "The Christmas Chronicles 2." (Dec. 1)
The Canadian navy's new frigates will get a cutting-edge radar system that has never before been installed on a warship — a recent decision that quietly ended a heated debate within the $60 billion warship program.The Lockheed Martin-built AN/SPY-7 radar will be installed on the new warships despite a furious back-room lobbying campaign by elements in the defence industry to convince DND to take a pass on the new system.It was a critical decision — one on which the federal government has been silent, apart from a few scattered social media posts, despite repeatedly promising to be more open and transparent about the multi-billion-dollar decisions it makes on shipbuilding.The choice of a radar system for the frigates has important implications for the military, as well as for the taxpayers who will foot the bill for Ottawa's $60 billion plan to build 15 new surface combat ships for the navy.The BMD optionIt also has significant political ramifications because Lockheed Martin's AN/SPY-7 radar is easy to upgrade to a ballistic missile defence system — a defence program successive Canadian governments have resisted joining.The contract to install the radar system on the new frigates was awarded in September by the warship's prime contractor, Irving Shipbuilding Inc., and acknowledged publicly by Lockheed Martin Canada earlier this month.Japan purchased a land-based version of the radar to serve as an early warning system for North Korean ballistic missile launches. That plan was rolled back earlier this year in response to fears that the missile batteries — located near the radar installations — would pose a hazard to densely-populated surrounding areas.At the moment, Canada and Spain are the only two countries planning to put the SPY-7 on their warships, although Japan has now also signalled it might equip some of its new warships with the technology.For more than three decades, Canadian governments of both political stripes have turned down U.S. overtures to join its ballistic missile defence (BMD) network. The issue became a diplomatic lightning rod the last time it was discussed over 15 years ago.The new frigates, including their radar systems, are being designed with BMD in mind in case a future government decides to get Canada involved.The potential for a new political brawl over BMD worries leading defence expert Dave Perry less than the technical and budget issues related to the federal government's choice of radar system.New system unproven, says expertIn a statement, the Department of National Defence insisted that the cost of adapting the radar to the Canadian frigate design "will be covered as part of the ($140 million) long-lead contract" signed with Irving Shipbuilding in early 2019, after Lockheed Martin was selected to design the new ships.There is another concern, though.The fact that the AN/SPY-7 "has not been marinized and deployed on a ship at sea is significant," said Perry, a defence procurement expert and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute."It means on the spectrum of developmental production, it is far closer to the purely developmental end of the spectrum than something that is deployed and has been proven on a couple of different navies around the world," he said.Lockheed Martin officials dispute that assessment, saying all of the components have been used on warships in one way or another, including the cabinets used to house the electronics."The SPY-7 radar is not in development. It was designed for use as a maritime radar and is based on mature technology that has been thoroughly tested and is being adapted and scaled for a variety of customers in both land-based and at-sea applications," said Gary Fudge, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Canada Rotary and Mission Systems.The company officials concede it will take design work to integrate the system into the new Canadian frigates, but insist that would be true of any other new radar system.There are still risks, Perry said.Canada's struggles with new technology"Canada has a lot of problems bringing development technology into service," he said, pointing to auditor general reports on the procurement fiasco involving the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter and the 16-year quest to replace the air force's fixed-wing search plane."Part of the problem is making sure you understand what it is you actually are buying," Perry added. "So if you are structuring a process to buy something off-the-shelf, you can buy something off-the-shelf. But we generally don't do that."DND said the AN/SPY-7 was pitched as part of Lockheed Martin's bid to design and manage the frigate program, and the navy needs the most up-to-date technology in warships that will be in service for decades.The system represents the "latest generation radar, with capability that surpasses other units fielded today," said DND spokesperson Jessica Lamirande in a media statement.DND was targeted by a furious behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign aimed at getting it to drop Lockheed Martin's radar system.An unsolicited defence industry slide deck presentation — obtained and published last year by CBC News — made the rounds within the government and landed on the desks of senior officials and military commanders. It described the AN/SPY-7 as "unproven technology" that will be "costly to support."Lockheed Martin officials pushed back against that assertion recently, saying that the new system will be easier to maintain, relies on existing components and — importantly — doesn't have to be switched off for maintenance work.Lockheed Martin officials were less clear on whether the overall system has yet to be fully certified for use on warships at sea."SPY-7 technology has been declared Technical Readiness Level 7 by the U.S. government, meaning it has been tested in an operationally relevant environment," said Fudge. "SPY-7 for CSC takes advantage of investments across multiple shore and sea based programs as well as internal funding for its development and testing. Canada has agreed to pay for the CSC-specific requirements and integration of SPY-7 into the CSC platform, which is required for any radar selected."
Darrin Smith says Moncton checked all of the boxes as he sought to expand his Ontario-based tool making company. "Why be in the most expensive place in Canada when you can be in a place that's much more affordable for yourself and your staff?" Smith, president of JessEm Tool Company, said in an interview. The company that makes woodworking tools and accessories in Orillia is relocating to a new factory in one of Moncton's four industrial parks. It plans to almost double its workforce to 60 once its new, larger factory is open in the spring.The company bought a parcel of land on Desbrisay Avenue in Moncton Industrial Park West, run by the Moncton Industrial Development Ltd., or MID.It's one of the companies behind rapid growth in Moncton's industrial parks.Pierre Dupuis, general manager of Moncton Industrial Development, said last year was record-setting for the company. This year, Dupuis said, it is set to almost double that with almost 100 sold, worth about $5 million. "It's quite phenomenal when you look at the economy as a whole that we were able to pull that off in a year that's had some challenges," Dupuis said. The non-profit company, started in 1959 as a partnership between the municipality and chamber of commerce, developed and runs four industrial or business parks around the city.With land in some of the three older industrial parks 80 to 90 per cent sold, and a fourth that opened this year about 30 per cent sold, MID expects to begin work on a fifth park over the next few years. "We've got to find new areas to develop industrial parks, mostly for warehousing, logistics distribution type of uses," Dupuis said. In 2018, MID purchased wooded land between Shediac Road and Route 15. The 132-acre parcel is northwest of the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport. Recent logging on the parcel has driven speculation of development in the area, though Dupuis said it was partly because they needed to remove old oil tanks from the property. He said market demand, which has been "surreal" lately, will drive when the area develops. He expects it could be within one to five years. After that, MID plans to expand south from Moncton Industrial Park West off Berry Mills Road over the CN rail line into a large, wooded area north of the CN rail yard the city expropriated about a decade ago. That area would need costly infrastructure, including a bridge to cross a rail line, to access. Dupuis said calls to MID from businesses about industrial park space slowed early in the pandemic, but activity quickly picked up. He said warehouses that at one point held one week's worth of stockpile for businesses now see the need to hold up to three weeks to protect against supply disruptions. Smith said he had been eyeing relocating JessEm Tool Company's factory to Moncton for several years. He said he wasn't finding suitable land to expand near the company's existing location about 100 kilometres north of Toronto, and what was available was expensive.The company's business had been growing, but COVID-19 made it double overnight, he said. The pandemic has led to shortages of lumber and other construction supplies as more people have undertaken home renovations. "We just can't keep up," Smith said. That triggered the decision to move up the relocation to Moncton. "I think our construction costs were probably 30 per cent less [in Moncton] compared to here, which is pretty significant since there's only so much money to go around and you can't spend it all on a building," he said. Smith said the relocation will see several family members also make the move to help run the family business. Originally from Newfoundland, he had wanted to move back East. He said about a dozen of his current 35 employees are also willing to move."I think real estate was a big draw to the Moncton area," Smith said. "Real estate is really affordable, which is great for my staff. "Instead of renting a basement here somewhere in Ontario, they might actually be able to buy a house and get a good start in life."
With COVID-19 case numbers climbing in Atlantic Canada, it wouldn't seem the best time for a restaurant to expand its business — but two Island eateries are doing just that.Terry Nabuurs ran Terry's Berries Food Truck outside of Lone Oak Brewing in Borden-Carleton this past summer. Now, he has moved inside with a new restaurant called The Abby, named in honour of the passenger ferry MV Abegweit.The restaurant opened officially Friday and will run year-round. Although the pandemic is on Nabuurs's mind, he feels this is the right time to expand."I think it's important to stay steady on the rudder and you know, try and keep going ahead. We're just going to be very cognizant of how the pandemic plays out here," Nabuurs said."We've been pretty lucky with some strong leadership, who have had to make some difficult decisions."One of the things Nabuurs learned is how to keep contact limited and lineups smaller. The food truck stationed outside the brewery used a buzzer system. Customers were given a buzzer and when their food was ready, it went off, notifying them to pick up their order.Nabuurs said he is implementing the same protocol at The Abby."If things change, we'll just adapt with those changes and continue on," he said.Nabuurs said he believes local support will be enough to keep the restaurant going — something made more important by the heightened travel restrictions between the Atlantic provinces."When we came up here we were really hoping to get some local support and we have kind of been overwhelmed with how people have supported us," he said."I think people are more aware now of supporting local businesses then we have ever seen."Nabuurs said he is grateful for local support and it is what is keeping businesses alive during COVID-19.Contactless is keyNabuurs isn't alone in expanding his food offerings during the pandemic. Nimrods' is aiming to open a permanent location at the former Kentucky Fried Chicken location in Stratford in the middle of December.The restaurant, normally found on the floating dock at Peakes Quay during the summer, opened a temporary second location there during Burger Love this fall."I think it is a bit of a scary time to be living in, especially in the restaurant industry," said Bruce Rooney, general manager of Nimrods'.He said a key factor was that the Stratford building already had a drive-thru to provide a contactless option, so that people don't have to get out of their vehicles to pick up food. The drive-thru will give Nimrods' an advantage in this, its first year of winter operation, "having that convenient option where people can just pull on through and get on their way."Nimrods' will also have a dine-in option, for use as long as public health restrictions allow during this stage of the pandemic. More from CBC P.E.I.
A patch of land in the heart of downtown was slated to become much-needed green space, but when Montreal tried to expropriate the land, the owner of three of the parcels fought the plan in court hard enough that the city gave up.The six-year legal battle cost taxpayers nearly $3 million as, after the city withdrew its expropriation attempt, it was required to cover the developer's legal fees and expenses.Now an 11-storey residential complex with commercial space on the ground floor is going up near the corner of Ste-Catherine and MacKay streets, leaving people in the area wondering when they are finally going to get the park space they've been promised for years.The 85-unit apartment complex is currently under construction next to St. Jax Anglican Church, where Graham Singh is the pastor."There's no green space between Atwater and University along Ste-Catherine," he said."It's been a major priority for our municipal government. It's been a major request for every single community group I'm part of — more green space downtown."He said community groups and activists in the neighbourhood learned Montreal withdrew its expropriation bid back in March, but no new, alternative park plans have been presented since then."It's kind of disappointing that we lost the opportunity for a green space," said Maryse Chapdelaine of the Peter-McGill Community Council, a neighbourhood advocacy organization."There's a sharp lack of green spaces in our neighbourhood."She said everybody was excited when the borough announced the plan to open a park at that corner so many years ago.Elected officials refuse to commentEvery time Chapdelaine's community group and others went to ask the borough council about the matter in the years that followed, she said, they were told that no information could be divulged due to legal reasons.And now, even though the case has been settled since March, the borough's district councillor, Cathy Wong, is refusing to comment.When CBC Montreal contacted her by email, a centre city spokesperson replied, saying no elected officials will speak on the matter.The story began under former Mayor Denis Coderre, but the party that followed in his footsteps, Ensemble Montréal, is also refusing to be interviewed on the matter or provide any details on the court case.The owner of the three of the four lots the city tried to expropriate is Immeubles Prime Inc. The developer has had several court cases against the city over the years, CBC Montreal has learned. The company did not respond to several requests for comment.Park plans kick off with land reservationHowever, city spokesperson Anik de Repentigny did provide a basic timeline of events in an emailed statement.The Ville-Marie borough council decreed in October 2014 that the four lots were reserved for park development at the northeast intersection of Mackay and Ste-Catherine and that reservation was renewed again two years later, she said.By 2016, negotiations weren't going well and the city decided to expropriate the land. Public documents show roughly $10.7 million was set aside to cover the cost.But the court challenges led to long delays, suspending the expropriation and thwarting the city's project, de Repentigny said.Concerned about the cost of a extended court battle, the city reached a settlement.That came out to $2.5 million in capital, plus $481,654 in legal and expert fees that went to Prime. The city council then approved this expenditure in March, paying the developer.The developer has since had a permit approved for its mixed-use development as it did not require a zoning derogation and the city has set its sights on building a public square in the area.That project will encourage citizen participation in the planning process, she said, without providing details."Despite everything, creating new green spaces in the city centre remains at the heart of the priorities of the Ville-Marie borough and the city," de Repentigny said.
Russia is trying to import foreign-made drugs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic due to a shortage of products at home, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Tuesday, as authorities reported a record 569 new daily deaths from the coronavirus. Russia has several vaccines against the virus in the works and produces some drugs domestically, including Coronavir and Avifavir, both of which are based on favipiravir, which was developed in Japan and is widely used there as the basis for treatment. During a meeting with senior government officials on Tuesday, Murashko said there was a problem with the supply of favipiravir in some regions.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are in a tight race to launch their COVID-19 vaccines in Europe after both applied for emergency EU approval on Tuesday, though there was uncertainty over whether a rollout could begin this year. The applications to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came a day after Moderna sought emergency use for its shot in the United States and more than a week after Pfizer and BioNTech did the same. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German development partner BioNTech said their vaccine could be launched in the European Union as early as this month.
A crucial caveat expected in Monday’s fiscal statement from Ottawa failed to manifest: there is no end in sight to federal spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As Canada stares down a nearly $400-billion, record-high deficit for 2020, the Liberal government plans to spend up to $100 billion over the next three years, along with a further $25.1 billion in immediate measures to support workers and businesses affected by the novel coronavirus. That’s not all. In a long-awaited speech from the House of Commons, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland did not provide a “fiscal anchor,” or spending cap, to draw any red lines around the limit to which the feds will continue funnelling toward an economic recovery she acknowledged is still well-off the horizon. Not only is the newly announced additional spending currently unaccounted in the government’s fiscal framework, the ultimate size and timing of future investments could also vary, depending on the evolving health and economic situation. “We will invest every single necessary and helpful measure,” said Freeland, adding $8 out of every $10 spent on fighting the pandemic will continue to come from Ottawa. “We will support Canadian families and businesses in a deliberate, prudent and effective way.” Providing future tax targets and economic measures in what is essentially a mini-budget, and currently Canada’s only financial blueprint for the future, Freeland said the government’s immediate priority is to do “whatever it takes” to help Canadians stay safe and solvent. “When the economy has recovered, the time-limited stimulus will be withdrawn and Canada will resume a prudent and responsible fiscal path,” Freeland said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t have a long-term fiscal anchor for now. That will come when the economy is more stable.” Until then, she told reporters, the government will rely on “fiscal guardrails,” such as the employment rate and total hours worked. But she admitted the specific details on those “guardrails” aren’t yet available. “More information will be released on that in the coming months,” said Freeland. “And I have to say, government debt is highly affordable now because of Canada’s strong economic performance in the past and low interest rates.” To pay for it all, Canada will continue to borrow against current debt loads and will run a deficit which is the largest budget shortfall since the Second World War. For investors, commerce stakeholders and the independent parliamentary budget office, that means Monday’s announcement is a source of worry. Nine months into COVID-19, they are troubled Canada will continue spending funds at the risk of unsustainable costs in the future. “I’d say I’m surprised, but really I’m not,” said Don Drummond, an economist at C.D. Howe Institute. “This is the government’s way of squaring demands, and it’s frankly highly unmanageable if they just want to keep spending all this money without any end to it.” Drummond said the lack of a spending cap is also a problem for public accountability. “It’s not that I don’t think they should be spending funds to help people during this crisis,” he said. “The problem is that there’s no end to it when we also haven’t had a budget in a year-and-a-half.” Kevin Page, who leads the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, said the economic update also failed to deliver a message to markets and bond-rating agencies to address concerns about the growing size of the federal debt. He pointed to a recent IMF report, which showed Canada’s deficit — combining federal and provincial numbers — is the largest this year among almost all advanced economies, when measured as a percentage of GDP, with debts well below comparable countries. “But I also understand the other pressures they have had from provincial governments and business groups to keep spending, so it’s a difficult situation,” said Page. Monday’s report also forecasts $11 billion in “non-announced measures” for the next five years. That’s 10 times the amount forecast for the same period in the 2019 report. It remains unclear whether those will go towards coronavirus-related support or elsewhere. “I believe there should be a very public inquiry into this completely unclear and growing spending that will definitely cause significant harm in the future,” said Drummond. The outlook also mentioned federal debts as a percentage of GDP, before including the new stimulus. It showed those percentages will climb from 31.2 per cent from last year to 50.7 per cent this year, and 52.6 per cent next year. Following which, it will continue to decline. Those are numbers that have never been seen before, even in previous recessions. The finance minister said the risks associated with not providing enough economic support right now outweigh those involved in spending too much. Freeland said Ottawa will not repeat the “mistakes” made following the 2008 recession, when the federal government introduced austerity measures to rein in spending. “We are all tired. But we also know vaccines, and a better day, are coming. To get to that day, we must first help each other get through the winter,” she said.Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Bright Lights Windsor is back on — but like many events during the pandemic, it's going to look different this year.The "reimagined" event is now going to take place citywide. Signature displays, which Windsorites would normally view at Jackson Park, are now placed in different pockets of the city.The announcement comes about a month after the City of Windsor decided to pull the plug on this year's festival because of COVID-19.The city also announced on Monday that it gave $20,000 to each of the nine business improvement associations (BIAs) which "will be used to purchase holiday lights and displays to further light up our neighbourhoods and support local small business," — a boost that some local business owners, including Filip Rocca, the owner of Mezzo Ristorante & Lounge and president of the Erie Street BIA, say they need."It was a great move by the city to offer the buyers a little bit of funding to spruce up their areas. We've been wanting to do that on every street for a couple of years now. So this gave us the opportunity to pull the trigger this year and help with obviously paying for it. So we're really happy about it," Rocca said."Not only cosmetically it does look nicer, especially at night, but obviously, you know, a little safer for the area as well."He said he looks forward to seeing the trees along Erie Street lit up in the coming days and hopes it drives up more customers to local businesses.Mohammed Al Khaleel, the owner of Brothers Barber Shop on Ottawa Street, hopes this to be case for his business as well."It makes me feel good when people walk around the business and when people around the street," he said.Kathy Molenaar, the owner of Victoria's Flowers and Gifts on Erie Street, said her business won't be benefiting from the light displays as the bulk of her business operates the in morning and early afternoons, but she hopes the light displays across the city "brings a lot of cheer and a lot of businesses to prosper in good ways."Locations of light displays include: * Charles Clark Square * Chimczuk Museum * City Hall * Jackson Park * Mackenzie Hall * Ouellette Overpass * Transit Centre * WFCU Centre * Willistead Manor * Windsor International Aquatic and Training CentreTake a look at some of the holiday lights draped across the city:
What began as an idea for two Cree best friends has turned into a podcast that is catching on with their laid back conversation and list of Indigenous guests."We firmly believe that everyone has a story," said River Thomas, 25, originally from the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan, and co-host of Foxing Around."Everyone comes from all aspects of life with some sort of knowledge they can give or share to the general public."The other co-host is Raymond Fox, 25, originally from the Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan. The pair currently live and produce the program out of their basement in Olds, Alta., where they both are student athletes.Fox attends Red Deer College, where he plays soccer, and Thomas goes to Olds College on a partial volleyball scholarship."The thing I am most proud of is we are doing this together," Fox said."To do this with my best friend is the best part about it." Fox came up with the idea to do their own podcast after being interviewed on a Saskatchewan podcast this past summer."I was shown the basics and thought it would be a great platform to start Foxing Around," said Fox. Fox thought with COVID-19 restrictions it was a great time to do it, so the pair scraped up some funds to buy used microphones and a mixer and with a homemade green screen the podcast was on the air in October."We wanted to create meaningful conversation, but at the same time keep it light," he said. The list of guests has included a wide variety of people from actor Adam Beach, international round dance singers Fawn and Tia Wood, as well as Saskatchewan rapper Joey Styles, who was their first guest."They are just starting out and you get that feeling it was something they were meant to do," said Styles. "It seems to be thriving; they are connecting with people while realizing their dream and inspiring others."The show has gained thousands of followers and comments from the audience are reflected, with issues ranging from culture, entertainment and personal stories of guests. Melissa Worm, originally from Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan said that, as a listener, she was excited to hear about the subjects the show delves into."Hearing the culture being talked about from a younger point of view and how honest and open the space they created to talk about these things is becoming, is really very exciting," she said.Fox said they hope to bring together people who have success stories with others who can either learn from them or relate to them. According to the pair they have had messages and comments from Indigenous people all over Canada and the United States. The podcast airs every Sunday on Facebook and can be found on YouTube.
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Nova Scotia and that means more and more possible exposures are being released by the province each day.These notifications are important tools used by the province because they are only released to the public if all possible contacts can't be traced."As much as possible, we follow up directly with individuals," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at a news briefing last week."If we can't, that's when we use a public notification."As of Monday, there have been more than 150 exposure sites in Nova Scotia, most in the Halifax region. A full list of exposures can be found here.However, an exposure notification will not be used if all possible contacts can be identified."We can alert specific people who may have been exposed because we have the means to contact them directly; for example, this could include attendees of an event or staff at a business," Brendan Elliott, a spokesperson with Nova Scotia Public Health, said in an emailed statement Monday. "They may be provided information about a potential exposure and then given direction on what to do next."Contact tracing ahead of notificationThat is why contact tracing is so important, Elliott said.When a new case is identified, Public Health will contact the individual to determine with whom they've been in contact, starting 48 hours before symptoms appeared, or 48 hours before their test if they have no symptoms.Public health will also ask where that person has been, like grocery stores or restaurants.This list of people and businesses will then be notified and sorted into three categories: low risk, moderate risk and high risk. High risk is considered a close contact — an individual who had been within two metres of the infected person for 15 minutes or longer."The people conducting contact tracing are working to connect the dots," Elliott said."When a person visits an establishment (or takes a flight, etc.) where there were a number of people, it can be difficult to connect every dot (find everyone who was present at that point in time). That might be a situation where a public advisory is issued."This has been the case in many Halifax restaurants and bars this past month, which led Premier Stephen McNeil to impose more restrictions in the region.Any identified close contacts will be advised to get tested and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.But if all contacts can be identified, an exposure notification does not need to be released.Exposure notices coming from businessesThis has led to confusion in recent weeks as some businesses have released their own possible exposure notices."If a business is sending out their own notification and it's not accompanied by a public exposure advisory from us, then it means the business or organization has decided to do it on their own," Elliott said.One example is the Sackville Arena. A notice was sent out by the Sackville Minor Hockey Association about a possible exposure on Nov. 21, but Public Health didn't release a notification."I know it can be difficult when people hear about potential exposures, but don't see an official notification from Public Health," he said. "This environment is already stressful enough for Nova Scotians, but rest assured if Public Health feels a public notification is warranted, one will be issued."MORE TOP STORIES
Most food banks in Ontario experienced a “rapid surge in demand” during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report published by Feed Ontario. One of the Sudbury Food Bank’s agencies reported a 150 per cent increase in the number of people accessing emergency food support each day, while Manitoulin Family Resources served 1,500 clients during their busiest month – a significant increase from their regular 300 to 330 clients. “COVID-19 has compounded the already extreme challenges that are being faced by low-income Ontarians, and it has really impacted all communities,” said Carolyn Stewart, executive director of Feed Ontario. “Particularly in terms of food bank use, we are concerned about what’s to come in the winter months.” The 2020 Hunger Report released on Monday looked at data from 130 direct member food banks and 1,100 affiliate services that was gathered between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. It also included a special feature about the impact of COVID-19 on emergency food assistance services from the onset of the pandemic on March 17 to September 2020. About 1 in 8 Ontarians – or 13 per cent of Ontario households – were considered food insecure in 2018, and 537,575 individuals accessed food bank services in the province between 2019 and 2020. More than 3.2 million visits were made to food banks in Ontario during the same period, and 33 per cent of food bank visits were from children. In the last two years, the province has seen a 7.8 per cent increase in the number of people accessing support, and an 11.8 per cent increase in the number of visits being made. “Unfortunately, food bank use continues to rise and last year was no exception. We believe this continual increase in food bank use is driven by three things: an inadequate social safety net, precarious employment, and unaffordable housing,” said Stewart. “For example, over 85 per cent of those that we serve are either rental or social housing tenants who spend over 70 per cent of their monthly income on rent. The good place to be, they say, is around 30 per cent. That’s significantly more, and it leaves little room for anything else.” More than 65 per cent of individuals who visited food banks in the last year were on social assistance, many of them receiving far less than the “national standard” of $2,000 set by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). There has also been a 44 per cent increase in the number of employed people accessing food bank services over the last four years. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these pre-existing issues. From March to June, food banks saw an overall 26.5 increase in the number of first-time users. Out of 200 food bank users surveyed in September, roughly 50 per cent are worried about defaulting on a mortgage or facing eviction in the next two to six months. An additional 90 per cent are incurring a significant amount of debt just to cover their expenses. Manitoulin Family Resources, an agency that provides programming related to violence against women prevention, children’s services, and emergency food assistance to Manitoulin Island, shared its story with Feed Ontario for the purpose of the report. “While the initial days of the pandemic were very quiet for food bank requests, it caused concern that we were not even receiving requests from some of our regular visitors,” said the organization. “(Eventually), referrals began to increase, sometimes high, sometimes low, but then came a day where a worker called with 700 names of those in need. It was a turning point.” The organization decided to send prepared pallets of food for pickup instead of their regular individual baskets. The pallets were then delivered and distributed to households in the area. “For three consecutive months, our food bank provided food to over 1,000 individuals, with the highest month being over 1,500. As restrictions have eased in the province, we have seen a drop from those high numbers,” said Manitoulin Family Resources in the report. “Some have speculated that individuals have had financial stability due in large part to CERB, but as CERB evolves and COVID numbers have again started to rise at a faster rate than the earlier wave, we are attempting to prepare for what will come.” The report confirmed that according to the data, government income supports like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the moratorium on evictions and the student loan interest freeze did help relieve some of the pressure on food bank use. Community initiatives like pop-up food banks and meal programs also worked alongside government intervention to address the emergency need for food. “Food banks would like to work ourselves out of business. No food bank thinks that we are the solution to food insecurity or poverty. Rather, we are serving an emergency need in the community,” said Stewart. “The only way to address that need is good public policy. In our report, we do recommend a few key things to help move that needle forward.” These things include reinstating the CERB benefit for those who have been impacted by COVID-19 as well as rent relief for low-income tenants that are facing large rent arrears or eviction, and the overhauling of Ontario’s social assistance programs so that recipients have the means to move out of poverty. “Ontarians need access to quality employment, support services that do not perpetuate or deepen poverty, and access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing,” concluded the report. “By investing in these key solutions, the Government of Ontario will not only reduce poverty and food insecurity, but also build a more equitable and healthier province for the people and families that call it home.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star