The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.There are 402,569 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 402,569 confirmed cases (69,977 active, 320,096 resolved, 12,496 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,300 new cases Friday from 86,410 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,505 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,215.There were 89 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 602 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 86. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,826,099 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 343 confirmed cases (27 active, 312 resolved, four deaths).There were three new cases Friday from 304 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.99 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,887 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Friday from 425 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 62,046 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,358 confirmed cases (117 active, 1,176 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 15 new cases Friday from 1,014 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 92 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 151,573 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 528 confirmed cases (111 active, 410 resolved, seven deaths).There were eight new cases Friday from 727 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 51 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 104,518 tests completed._ Quebec: 147,877 confirmed cases (13,145 active, 127,549 resolved, 7,183 deaths).There were 1,345 new cases Friday from 10,981 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,714 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,388.There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 199 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,226,791 tests completed._ Ontario: 123,526 confirmed cases (14,997 active, 104,792 resolved, 3,737 deaths).There were 1,780 new cases Friday from 54,170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,310 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,759.There were 25 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 142 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,251,327 tests completed._ Manitoba: 18,069 confirmed cases (9,172 active, 8,535 resolved, 362 deaths).There were 318 new cases Friday from 3,075 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,437 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348.There were nine new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.43 per 100,000 people. There have been 357,524 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,527 confirmed cases (4,116 active, 5,356 resolved, 55 deaths).There were 283 new cases Friday from 2,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,836 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.68 per 100,000 people. There have been 267,348 tests completed._ Alberta: 64,851 confirmed cases (18,243 active, 46,018 resolved, 590 deaths).There were 1,828 new cases Friday from 6,850 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 27 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,746 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,678.There were 15 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 71 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.5 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,502,472 tests completed._ British Columbia: 36,132 confirmed cases (9,982 active, 25,658 resolved, 492 deaths).There were 711 new cases Friday from 6,753 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,248 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 750.There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 822,120 tests completed._ Yukon: 51 confirmed cases (11 active, 39 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Friday from 34 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been nine new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,522 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Friday from 29 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,511 tests completed._ Nunavut: 206 confirmed cases (51 active, 155 resolved, zero deaths).There were eight new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
Woodcliff United Church in southwest Calgary is known for its life-size, interactive advent calendar during the holiday season. Usually, it's in the form of drawers containing gifts, or doors that can be opened. This year, however, the committee had to get COVID-creative."Well, 2020 forced all of the pivoting in our church community — of course we can't meet in the sanctuary," said Sheri Bolitho, Woodcliff's faith formation minister, on the Calgary Eyeopener. "And it didn't make sense to us to have 100 or 200 people touching each drawer each day — we don't have enough sanitizing elves for that at all. "So we've had to make it a lot different. So this year, we've created a calendar that allows for social distancing."Bolitho said each of the stations or "days" is between six feet and 12 feet apart. The entire calendar is built as a labyrinth that runs across the front lawn of the property.The first few days of December have already been unveiled. The rest of the days are all laid out by climbing rope, linked together in a maze."Each day has a sign and activity, and they're individually wrapped like gifts, though we have special, wonderful elves who come out early in the morning and unwrap gifts for you," Bolitho said.Bolitho said the long-running tradition started as a way to connect with the community outside the walls of the church."We just really wanted to be able to spread the meaning of Christmas to us, which is the four elements — faith, joy, hope and love — into the community," she said."And our church loves to be outside of the building. This is the perfect opportunity to let everyone know where we are and what Christmas is all about and the season of gifting and how we connect all of the wonderful things back to those elements."The advent calendar is full of tactile elements, crafts, projects and things people can do with their hands. And it is always full of surprises.Yesterday was a Christmas star, for example. The day before that was a heart craft made out of a hanger and yarn. "We know people have a lot more time at home," Bolitho said. "They can take the activity and go home and make it as a family, and then they can maybe gift it, or they can use it as an ornament on their tree."Bolitho said there are elements of the Christmas story to be found along the way, such as the star, symbolizing the star that the shepherds followed to the stable in Bethlehem.But the calendar has many non-religious references as well."There's also a whole bunch of more secular elements, so there's the candy cane, and then there's the story of the candy cane, how it's really shaped like a shepherd's crook," Bolitho said. Charity outreachSince COVID hit, the church has been offering virtual services and online recordings of sermons.Meanwhile, the church has an outreach committee that is focused on ways to give back to the community, and the advent calendar is always a big highlight. This year, the church is collecting for both the food bank and the Calgary Drop-In Centre.The food bank collection week starts today and goes until Dec. 10, at which point the focus shifts over to the Drop-In Centre for the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. The church is collecting donations of mittens, hats, underwear and socks for the Drop-In Centre.There are some crafts that Bolitho said she's particularly looking forward to on the advent calendar."I have a couple of wonderful ones. The first one is the word 'joy.' It's a beautiful paper craft," she said. "Our wonderful elves that made all of these have taken strips of coloured paper and rolled them up into the word 'joy' and it's gorgeous. You have to come see."And then another one of my favourites is the Santa gnome — he's a little Christmas ornament covered in yarn. And he's got a beautiful felt hat. He's wonderful."Woodcliff United Church is located at 5010 Spruce Drive S.W. For more information go to Woodcliff United Church.With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect First Nations people in Manitoba, with 625 new cases and 11 deaths related to the illness in the past week, officials said Friday.The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs made the announcement during a weekly live-streamed news conference, where they provide updated numbers on the coronavirus in First Nations people and communities.The latest data suggests First Nations people are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and Marcia Anderson, a doctor with the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, pointed to a range of trends that bear that out.The secondary attack rate — a measure of how many people are likely to contract COVID-19 after being a close contact with a positive case — is about 16 per cent for all of Manitoba, she said. That means in the general population, roughly 16 in 100 close contacts tend to end up with the illness.But in First Nations, that number is around 40 per cent, she said."That is a very staggering percentage and it's important to have an appreciation of that," said AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.Range of barriersThere are a number of explanations for that, including delays or barriers to accessing testing, or having more close contacts due to crowded housing situations in some remote communities, Dr. Anderson said.There are 1,815 active COVID-19 cases among First Nations people in Manitoba — including 602 on reserve, and 1,213 involving First Nations people living off reserve — and 1,548 recoveries as of Friday.Anderson also revealed the five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the tests that come back positive — is 20 per cent among First Nations people. It is 13.4 per cent Manitoba-wide.She echoed Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin in saying the health-care system is strained by the crush of new daily cases, and First Nations people are turning up in hospital beds at a higher rate than other groups.As of Friday morning, 107 First Nations people were in hospital — almost a third of all Manitoba COVID-19 hospitalizations — and 23 were in intensive care, out of a total of 55 people in Manitoba in ICU with the illness.Forty-seven First Nations people in the province have died so far from COVID-19.The average age of First Nation people hospitalized due to the illness is around 50 right now, and the average age of First Nations deaths is around 66, said Anderson. Provincewide, the average age of those dying of COVID-19 is 83, she said.Official Opposition Leader Wab Kinew said systemic racism, and not race, is at the root of why First Nations are hit harder by the virus. "It's the fact that Indigenous people are more likely to have poor housing, less likely to have access to a family doctor and less likely to have access to clean drinking water," the Manitoba NDP leader said."The same way that the pandemic revealed how we've ignored personal care homes over the past many years, the pandemic is now revealing how the lack of access to health care for First Nations people is a major issue that needs to be addressed."Pandemic exacerbates addictionsThe pandemic has also further revealed the critical need for harm reduction supports for Indigenous folks living with addiction, said Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches at the virtual AMC news conference.He wants governments to work together and start opening supervised consumption sites, including in his western Manitoba community. Long Plain declared a state of emergency due to addictions issues three years ago, he said, but the pandemic has only exacerbated those issues."Support at the time was really lacking from governments, so it's almost like we're on our own trying to deal with the addiction crisis. And it's still ongoing and still it's a crisis."WATCH | Shamattawa chief calls for military help:Meanwhile, Shamattawa First Nation is battling COVID-19 problems of its own.About 1,300 people live in the fly-in community, about 745 kilometres north of Winnipeg.On Friday, Shamattawa Chief Eric Redhead said 133 people are positive for the illness, and the community had a 68 per cent test positivity rate.Redhead spoke with Mark Miller, federal minister of Indigenous Services, Friday regarding military medical aide. Miller is hoping to find out soon whether the assistance is available or not, said Redhead."We're stretched thin. No community wants the military in their town, no one wants the assistance of the military, but we need it," he said."I can't sleep. I'm worried about our members."Nine members of the Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg were supposed to arrive in the First Nation Friday to help. Five more members of the Red Cross are slated to arrive Sunday, Redhead told CBC News Thursday night.Anderson noted the significant amount of virus circulating in the community and said the First Nations co-ordination team is "really trying to pull together as much as we can to support the efforts there.""The Canadian Red Cross is well-positioned to assist with pandemic efforts and continues to work with all levels of government, as well as Indigenous leadership to address emerging needs across the country," a spokesperson with the organization said in a statement.
TORONTO — Chris Voth's sexuality cost him a job with a professional volleyball team overseas four years ago. The Winnipeg native, who has never named the team nor country, was told outright that the club wasn't interested in having a gay player. The 30-year-old came out publicly seven years ago because he hoped to be a role model for young LGBTQ athletes, and given the chance to go back and change that, he wouldn't. But Voth was disheartened to learn that the majority of gay athletes still don't come out, and that homophobic language on the field or court remains rampant — and Canada is among the worst offenders."That was disappointing, because I always like to think that we're a bit more further ahead up north (compared to the U.S.)," said Voth, recently home from coaching in the Netherlands.The former national team player was responding to two studies released Thursday by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The first study analyzed survey responses from 1,173 lesbian, gay and bisexual people aged 15 to 21 living in Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. The study found that about 48 per cent of Canadian youth who come out to teammates reported being the target of homophobic behaviour, including bullying, assaults and slurs — and it was more prevalent among Canadian youth than Americans (45 per cent). Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who've come out to teammates reported being victimized — more than any other country surveyed by Monash's Behavioural Sciences Research Laboratory. "It's easy for Canadians to dismiss the data and say, 'No, no, that's not in our country. We're inclusive and welcoming. And we're known around the world for being friendly and polite and nice,'" said lead author Erik Denison, who's Canadian. "Canada has been a laggard globally, full stop. There's no other way to say that."Young people who came out were significantly more likely (58 per cent versus 40 per cent) to report they’d been the target of homophobic behaviors in sport settings than those who didn't, the study found. Every study over the past 15 years has shown that LGBTQ kids play sport at lower rates than straight kids, Denison said, and while there's a perception that the gap is more prevalent in boys than girls, that's not accurate. "And seeing these big gaps in participation, I can only use the word alarming," said Denison. "We're really alarmed about both discrimination in sport, and the fact these kids are avoiding sport. "Because the No. 1 thing we could be doing to reduce rates of suicide and self-harm is encouraging these kids to become active in safe and supportive environments."Numerous studies have shown that suicide attempts and ideation about suicide are significantly higher in LGBTQ kids.Voth's experiences as an out athlete varied wildly. The 30-year-old believes discrimination cost him spots on several pro clubs, contract negotiations inexplicably stalling with no explanation. On the other hand, when he signed with a pro team in Finland, he was "the first gay person that any of them had met. And only a month-and-a-half later, we were the first pro volleyball team to walk in a pride parade. So it can really go either way."Voth said LGBTQ youth are doubly impacted, losing out on the mental health benefits that come from being part of a team. The second Monash study investigated why some athletes use homophobic language.Denison pointed out that while there are "homophobes, racists and sexist people everywhere," they tend to control their behaviour around others. "The opposite is happening in sport. In sport, the culture is very supportive of homophobic language being used," he said. "Canadian sport has three official languages: French, English and homophobic language."And while most people believe it's slurs aimed at opponents during games, their studies found that homophobic language is being used at practices, in the locker-room, and at social events, as jokes and banter. "And we're not just talking about words like 'gay,' we asked about much more severe language,'" Denison said.He is working with the University of British Columbia among other schools around the world on a program aimed to train team captains to be leaders on this issue, because coaches can't necessarily create change, it's more effective when it comes from an athlete's peers.Denison said that Volleyball Canada is the only national sport organization in the country that has done work specifically targeting homophobia, and it occurred around the same time Voth came out publicly."I don't want to denigrate what the NHL (among other leagues) has done, but at the end of the day, the NHL is a professional sporting organization, they're ultimately a business," Denison said. "It's up to Hockey Canada, it's up to Soccer Canada, it's up to Rugby Canada, it's up to those bodies and provincial bodies as well to be driving change."The Canadian Olympic Committee has done anti-homophobia social media campaigns, mall installations, and regularly marches in pride parades across the country.Pro sports teams such as Toronto FC and the Toronto Raptors host annual pride games.Denison said his research, however, has shown those initiatives do little to reduce homophobic behaviour and language among fans. He'd rather see pro teams work with teams and programs at the grassroots level to hold their own pride games, among other initiatives."What we've seen is that when amateur-level teams hold pride games, the players on those teams use half the homophobic language than those who don't hold these events," Denison said. "These events are really good at getting those conversations going around 'Hey, guys, what kind of language do we actually want on our team?' That's where we can change those norms and culture, we think quite effectively."Denison pointed out that there are openly-LGBTQ people in entertainment, government, and major corporations, but by comparison, they largely remain invisible in sports, particularly on the men's side, and have since David Kopay came out in 1975 after he retired from the NFL. He's believed to be the first pro athlete to come out. Michael Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. Brooklyn Nets forward Jason Collins came out in 2013, and former Major League Soccer midfielder Collin Martin followed suit in 2018. Collins has retired, and Martin plays in the USL, and there have been no active gay players in any of the five major North American sports leagues since. Women's pro sport has been a different story. Sports power couple Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe are two of the numerous out athletes in the WNBA, NWSL, and other women's leagues. For Denison, Canada's track record is particularly disheartening."It's quite embarrassing for me as a Canadian researcher who happens to be down in Australia now to see that Canada is a laggard. Because I'm a proud Canadian, and I think Canadians have a reputation for being friendly and inclusive. "But it looks like either Canadians have been ignoring this issue, we're not aware of this issue, or worse, maybe there's some deliberate resistance to do anything about this problem."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta is offering more of its Rocky Mountain landscapes to coal mining after rescinding a decades-old policy that protected them. In documents released earlier this week, Alberta Energy is giving miners until Dec. 15 to bid on nearly 2,000 hectares on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Surface mining on those lands would have been prohibited under the former coal policy rescinded in May, said Ian Urquhart of the Alberta Wilderness Association. "Unfortunately, it isn't surprising." The leases will add to the land already leased for coal, which stretches in an almost unbroken swath for nearly 60 kilometres north from the Crowsnest Pass in the province's southwest corner. "There isn't much left there," he said. Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal said any mine proposal is subject to review. "A coal lease does not mean that a coal project has been approved or exploration has been permitted." If the proposal is large enough, it is subject to a federal review as well. The United Conservative government has said it seeks to encourage increased export coal production. The province and the federal government are currently considering a proposal for a mountaintop removal coal mine in the Crowsnest Pass area. More proposals are expected. Most Alberta coal is used for steelmaking, not power generation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
A request from a long-time Port McNicoll resident could present a winter activities opportunity to people living along 1st Avenue. Joyce Burns is asking that the sidewalk/trail along the entirety of the busy road be plowed for safe winter use. She presented her case through a letter that Coun. Sandy Talbot read to other council members at a recent council meeting. "The mental health benefits of having it plowed is that young families can still walk and run it safely as can all the people that use it,” Burns wrote. “They will be able to use it to teach them how to cross-country ski safely when the conditions are good. “The kids that catch the buses on 1st Avenue will have a safe place to walk to get back and forth and also when they're waiting for their buses,” continued the letter. “With COVID still around this winter, people will be able to get out and enjoy the sidewalk/trail, like they have in spring and summer. They will see wildlife and birds and even a decorated Christmas tree on the sidewalk trail to brighten their day.” Burns also said in her letter that she’d counted eight sidewalks in Port McNicoll that she believes are plowed. “They plow Talbot (Street) to Davidson (Street), a two block section,” she noted in her letter. “Why not all the way down 1st Avenue? I'm hoping there will be a positive outcome to this. I don't expect it to be as wide as it is now. If it is plowed like the rest of the sidewalks, that would be great." Talbot said she had no problem supporting the request considering the cost the township would incur. “I think sometimes we have to think outside the box and there will be an increase in cost if there's an increase in service level,” she said. “It's well-utilized. Other people have trails in other communities and they make skating rinks out of them so they're multi-purpose uses.” Coun. Paul Raymond supported the idea, but also brought forth concerns. “We have a growth of young families down by that area and they are increasingly using the road or the trail in summer time,” he said. "My only concern with cleaning the trail off is that in winter we have motorized vehicles ripping up and down there. What happens if we open it up and see some destruction because of these vehicles? I think we have to put some more thought into the whole thing.” Mayor Ted Walker, who also backed the request, said the snowmobile issue could be mitigated by a 'No Snowmobiles' sign as is done in other areas. “I'd be open for a one-year trial,” he added. Where Talbot had a few peers in her corner, Coun. Barry Norris was at the other of the spectrum on the issue. “Seriously?” he asked. “Why don't we clear the whole trail then? It makes no sense. I'm sorry we're not here to turn around and allow all of this? We're talking about a two-mile sidewalk to allow a couple of pedestrians to walk it. “I don't support it one iota,” continued Norris. “I think there is a policy in place as to what sidewalks we actually do and I doubt this is actually going to be covered under it.” And not to mention the costs of having to maintain it with sand, he said. “There's more to it than just clearing it off,” said Norris. “What's the rough cost on it?” Staff didn’t have an immediate answer as to how much it would cost to clear the two-kilometre pathway and were asked to bring back a report to a December meeting for a final decision. When asked for her reaction to council's decision, Burns wrote in, "I'm hopeful that council will go ahead with plowing 1st Ave., but if not, that will be alright ... I'll try again for next year."Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
QUEBEC — The Quebec government says it will spend $18.6 million over the next five years to improve policing in Indigenous communities. Among the measures announced at a press conference Friday is funding to enable members of Indigenous police services to stay in their communities while taking specialized training courses around conjugal violence and sexual assault investigations. Currently those courses are only offered at the provincial police academy. Shawn Dulude, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service and a vice-president of the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association, said that many of Quebec's 22 Indigenous police services are small. A service with four or five officers can't afford to send one of them away for up to a month, he explained at the press conference. The government will look at ways to deliver the training in communities, and in the languages that Indigenous police officers speak, Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said. Dulude said the training will allow Indigenous police services to investigate crimes such as sexual assaults in their communities without having to call for support from the provincial police. "We want to be equal" with other police services, he said. Guilbault said the province will also fund basic police training for up to 24 members of Indigenous communities a year and take steps to encourage more people from those communities to consider a career in policing. Currently between 18 and 23 people from Indigenous communities graduate from Quebec's police academy every year — just over three per cent of graduates, Guilbault said. But Indigenous police services struggle with recruitment and retention. Many officers leave for police services in large cities or the provincial police, which offer better pay and benefits, Dulude said. The unique challenge of policing a small community where officers are often related to many residents can also contribute to burnout, he added. “You may be called for a conjugal violence at a home where it’s your cousin that’s the suspect, it could be your cousin that’s the victim," he said. "You can’t say I’m going to give the call to somebody else, because there’s nobody else. Often you’re alone with your partner working that shift." Dulude said he's optimistic about future negotiations with Quebec City and Ottawa around funding. Currently, Indigenous police services in Quebec receive 52 per cent of their funding from the federal government and 48 per cent from the province. In an additional measure, all members of the province's correctional service will receive training on the realities faced by Indigenous people, Guilbault said. The funding announced Friday comes after an inquiry overseen by retired judge Jacques Viens issued a damning report last year on the relationship between public servants in Quebec and Indigenous people. Guilbault said the announcement responds to several of the recommendations made in Viens' report. That inquiry was launched after a number of Indigenous women in Val-d'Or, Que., accused police of sexual assault and other forms of abuse. A report released in October on the provincial police watchdog's investigation into those allegations found that since the women came forward in 2015, more than 200 investigations have been opened into allegations of police misconduct toward Indigenous people. Le Devoir reported Friday that the complaints have led to charges against 17 police officers. On Friday, Ian Lafreniere, Quebec's minister responsible for Indigenous relations, said the fact that people are making formal complaints is a sign they have confidence in the system. Guilbault said that small number of charges that have resulted from investigations by the police watchdog is not necessarily a sign of how the agency is performing. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. — Written by Jacob Serebrin in Montreal ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
The City of Vancouver says work to bring eastbound vehicle traffic back to Beach Avenue between Denman and Jervis streets will begin next week.In April, when few cars were on the road because of stay-at-home orders by public health officials, Beach Avenue's eastbound lanes were closed to motorists all the way to Hornby Street. The changes were made to allow park users more room for physical distancing due to COVID-19 concerns. Cyclists in Stanley Park had a two-lane road to themselves and pedestrians got exclusive use of the seawall.Under the new plan, traffic will still be banned from Jervis to Hornby streets, as the city works to establish a more permanent plan for the area."These interim changes are based on feedback from more than 2,500 residents during the fall on the current street design," according to a statement from the city.The changes include: * Painting crosswalks to better prioritize pedestrians crossings. * Adding median islands to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. * Incorporating accessible design features like level bus boarding islands and modified traffic signals. * Replacing traffic cones with sturdier and harder-to-move concrete barriers.In September, the City of Vancouver launched an online survey to gather public input on the future of the Beach Avenue bike lane and the path.A plan to gather feedback on the longer-term vision for the area, and whether the changes should be permanent will be rolled out in 2021.The budget for the changes was not mentioned in the statement from the city.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 7:15 pm. Yukon is reporting three more cases of COVID-19. Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, says the new cases bring the territory’s total to 54. Twelve cases are active in Yukon. Hanley says the three new cases are in Whitehorse. --- 5:50 p.m. Alberta is reporting 1,828 new cases of COVID-19. And again, the province has surpassed the daily case numbers in Ontario. Alberta has 533 people in hospital with COVID-19, with 99 of them in intensive care. The province says 15 more people have died, bringing that total to 590. --- 4:18 p.m. Restaurants and bars in Yukon will soon be required to collect contact information from their patrons. The territory says in a news release that chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley introduced the requirement to assist with COVID-19 contact tracing. It says beginning Monday, one patron from each party will be required to sign in, and the eating and drinking establishments must keep the daily lists for 30 days. The lists will only be shared with Yukon Communicable Disease Control if an exposure has been identified. --- 2:43 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 283 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death. Health officials say the person who died was in their 80s and the province's death toll from the pandemic sits at 55. There are more than 4,000 active cases of the virus in the province, many of the infections concentrated in and around Regina and Saskatoon. Hospitals are treating 126 COVID-19 patients, with 25 of them in intensive care. The province's seven-day average of daily cases is 262. Premier Scott Moe hopes to see a dip in transmission of the virus so more visitation can be allowed in long-term care homes over the holidays. --- 1:40 p.m. Manitoba is announcing nine more deaths from COVID-19 and 320 new infections Friday as health officials released new modelling showing the impact of the pandemic on the province. It shows that three people end up in hospital and one person dies for every 48 cases of COVID-19. Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer, says if no public health measures had been put in place, there would have been up to 1,055 new infections a day by this Sunday. Daily cases have been tracking between 300 and 500 recently. --- 1:29 p.m. Nunavut will look to get the Moderna vaccine once it is available in Canada. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Moderna is preferred because the cold storage and shipping of the Pfizer vaccine is too difficult in Nunavut. Patterson also announced today fewer than five Nunavut residents with COVID-19 were flown to a Winnipeg hospital this week and are in stable condition. Patterson would not comment on exactly how many people were in hospital or what communities they come from. --- 1:22 p.m. Ottawa is increasing its order of prospective COVID-19 vaccines. Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is exercising its option to obtain another 20 million doses of Moderna's two-dose candidate, bringing its total order to 40 million in 2021. That's expected to be enough to vaccinate almost 20 million people. Moderna is one of several manufacturers Ottawa has struck deals with for prospective COVID-19 vaccines, which will be delivered in batches. In early 2021, Canada expects a combined total of six million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, if authorized for distribution. --- 1:07 p.m. The group instructing provinces and territories about who should be first in line for COVID-19 vaccines has updated its advice. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says the first doses of authorized vaccines should go to residents and staff of congregate living settings for seniors. They should also go to older adults starting with people aged 80 and older, then decreasing the age limit to 70 as supply becomes available. Health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences are also on the list. --- 12:45 Public Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting three new cases of COVID-19. There are now 27 active cases in the province, for a total of 343 cases since the pandemic began. Premier Andrew Fury says he will announce the province's position on the Atlantic travel bubble Monday. Newfoundland and Labrador withdrew from the arrangement on looser travel restrictions within the region last month. --- 12:30 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say 11 cases are in the Halifax area, including a case at Citadel High School in Halifax reported late Thursday. Three cases in the northern health zone are close contacts of other cases, and one case in the western zone is related to travel. A case has also been identified at Park West School, a primary to Grade 9 school in the health zone that includes Halifax. --- 11:38 a.m. Nunavut is reporting eight new cases of COVID-19. The territory says all the new infections are in Arviat. The community on the western edge of Hudson Bay now has 44 active cases. Nunavut mostly lifted a two-week lockdown earlier this week but restrictions remain in Arviat where numbers are highest. --- 11:18 a.m. Public Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting eight new cases of COVID-19. There is one new case in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Fredericton area and four in the Edmunston region. All the individuals are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick is 528 with 111 currently active. --- 11:10 a.m. There are 1,780 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario today and 25 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 633 new cases in Toronto, 433 in Peel and 152 in York Region. She says that the spread of COVID-19 has "hit a critical point." The minister is asking Ontarians to wear masks and remain physically distant from each other. --- 11:08 a.m. The Quebec government is reporting 1,345 new COVID-19 cases and 28 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The Health Department says of the five of the deaths occurred in the past 24 hours. The number of hospitalizations has increased by 24 for a total of 761 with 97 people in intensive care. The province has reported a total of 147,877 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,183 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
Ahead of a looming year-end deadline, only 1,785 out of about 20,000 short-term rentals in Toronto have registered with the municipality. With fines beginning at $1,000 for both property owners and host platforms, the race is on to come into compliance. Matthew Bingley reports.
A trilingual 16-year-old budding baker has launched her own business in St. Albert. Valeria Fonseca is turning her passion for baking into a home business by offering her cakes for sale online. “I feel really happy. I am very happy because I have a new business and because the kitchen is my passion,” Fonseca said. Fonseca’s passion for baking and cooking ignited just one year ago after her parents separated. Fonseca lives with her mom, Catherine Varvas, who after the separation started to take over the family cooking and asked her daughter for help. Fonseca quickly took to cooking and discovered her passion for creating food with her own hands. Varvas said she loves baking and cooking with her daughter because it makes her happy and calm. "She dances, she sings – she's so happy," the mom said. Fonseca started watching baking and cooking shows, like Master Chef, and wants to be a chef when she grows up. The business really took off this year during COVID-19, when the teen had more time at home. Fonseca is doing online learning this year and makes time to bake on Tuesdays and Sundays. Making the cakes has been good for the teen's self-esteem. “People say, ‘A beautiful girl with delicious cakes,’ and I am so proud,” Fonseca said. Fonseca began her cake-making venture by baking one for a friend, who remarked that the cakes were delicious. The friend suggested the family make a video of Fonseca making the cakes to promote her baking skills, and after the video was posted to Facebook, the family got very positive feedback. "People had a very good reaction and liked the cakes," Varvas said. Fonseca said her favourite cake to make is a red fruit cake, with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The teen is also passionate about cooking, loves to make Mexican food and hopes to specialize in cooking that cuisine when she is older. Fonseca, who speaks English as a third language, moved to St. Albert two years ago. The family is originally from Columbia but emigrated to Montreal five years ago. Varvas said the family left Montreal to find more inclusive education for her daughter, who has Down Syndrome. Back home in Colombia, Fonseca was learning alongside all of the other children in a classroom and getting an inclusive education, but in Montreal they didn’t have that same experience. So Varvas moved the family to Alberta so Fonseca could have the very best education possible. "We came to Alberta and we've found the door open, and we are so happy here," Varvas said. To order Fonseca's cakes, you can visit Valecakes on Facebook.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
A Fort St. James man has been fined $1,000 for flying a drone while out on a hunting expedition. Paul James Hesse was issued the penalty on November 9 in Fort St. James Provincial Court. He was also prohibited from hunting for one year and assessed a $150 victim surcharge. The outcome stems from a complaint conservation officers received on Sept. 22, 2018. The next day, officers attended a cabin on Marie Lake, southwest of Fort St. James, where they seized the drone along with a harvested bull moose. After securing a search warrant, they gathered photos and videos from the machine and forwarded the matter to Crown prosecution. Conservation officer Richard Keenan-Toop, who was the lead investigating officer on the file, said it was the first conviction for the offence in British Columbia. The Wildlife Act was amended in July 2016 to make the use of drones while hunting illegal. "It was definitely a different one and definitely a learning experience for the Conservation Officer Service for sure," Keenan-Toop said. "But it's not something we see very often, thankfully, because hunting with a drone completely defeats fair chase for wildlife." However, Connie Morrisey, a native court worker in Fort St. James who helped Hesse put together a defence against the charges said he never actually used the drone for actual hunting. Instead, she said he was using it to get images of the cabin and a route planned for a trail from big Marie Lake to little Marie Lake, but because he was at the cabin as part of a hunting trip, he was charged. "The minute you leave your house to go hunting to the minute you get back to your house, that's considered a hunting expedition," Morrisey said. "He did not use it to hunt but he flew it when he was at the cabin." She said Hesse uses the drone for work purposes and had it with him in camp. When he came back to Fort St. James, his father picked him up and went to the cabin. "He said 'I know you can't use it for hunting but if I had known you can't even have it one you, I would've went home, dropped the drone off and went out," Morrisey said. As part of the prohibition against hunting for a year, Hesse is also prohibited from accompanying other hunters and the drone was forfeited to the Crown. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Two people were found dead in a home in Milton, Ont. Friday afternoon, Halton Regional Police say. Police said in a statement they were called to a residence just after 3 p.m. near Bronte Street South and Louis St. Laurent Avenue in Milton, Ont.Officers found the bodies of a male and a female inside the home, they said. There are no suspects and no threat to public safety, said police.An investigation is ongoing and police say they will be providing no further details at this time.
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it has reached a settlement with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent hotels to expropriate the derelict properties on the Downtown Eastside.The hotels, which had been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city's most vulnerable people before they were ordered shut over safety concerns in 2017 and 2019. The city says in a news release Friday that the settlement ensures it can move forward with BC Housing to turn the buildings into safe and secure low-income housing. It approved the expropriation of the buildings for $1 in late 2019 but faced a legal challenge from the owners.The news release says the city decided to settle to lessen the financial risk posed by the upcoming judicial review and potential claims for greater compensation and to enable planning to begin on the future of the properties. It says it cannot share the value of the settlement under its terms. "Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of," Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in the release. "Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community." The settlement marks the end of many years of enforcement and legal action against the owners, who oversaw decades of underinvestment and unaddressed safety issues, the city says.Parkash Kaur Sahota, 90, and Pal Singh Sahota, 81, are identified as the owners in the petition for judicial review. They could not be reached for comment. Staff plan to report back to council, which approved the settlement, on the next steps and timeline for the revitalization of the properties early next year. Given the significance of the two properties to the Downtown Eastside community, the city says community engagement regarding their future is a priority and will also begin next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
The fortress that was Vancouver Island has been breached when it comes to the low COVID-19 case numbers it enjoyed compared to B.C.’s Lower Mainland during earlier stages of the pandemic. Provincial health authorities noted this week that though numbers are still high, there has been a levelling off of cases in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. But case numbers are rising in the province’s Northern and Interior health regions, and Vancouver Island is also continuing to see new cases. Ten of the 694 new cases in B.C. were in the Island Health region, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing. There were also 12 new deaths due to the virus, all in the Lower Mainland. There are now 9,103 active COVID-19 cases across the province, including the 277 active cases in Island Health, with 12 people in hospital and four in critical care. Henry acknowledged that some regions of the province were struggling to contain numbers they had not experienced before. “Many of our communities around this province are affected right now, many of whom went through the first wave and the first number of months of this pandemic without having cases, without having it touch close to home,” Henry said. But the doctor urged people to continue to follow pandemic protocols to protect the elderly, as well as strained and tired health-care workers. “We need to do our bit everywhere, to make sure that we support and protect them, too.” Island Health announced Wednesday that two hospitals — Saanich Peninsula Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni — are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Two First Nations communities in the Island Health region remain under lockdown while dealing with outbreaks: the Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation community near Zeballos and the Klahoose Nation on Cortes Island. However, the battle to flatten the curve on Vancouver Island can still be won if people continue to follow pandemic protocols, said Daniel Coombs, an expert in the modelling of infectious disease. Until recently, the Vancouver Island region saw a handful of daily cases, but since November, new cases of the virus have largely run in the double digits. “If Vancouver Island wants to maintain its really impressive record with the virus, it remains critical that people remain vigilant and follow the public health guidance that we're getting,” said Coombs, a mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia. At the moment, the COVID-19 situation on Vancouver Island is akin to the potential for wildfire in dry summer conditions, he said. “The forest fire analogy is a good one,” Coombs said. The virus won’t have fuel to spread if people continue to avoid crossing back and forth to the mainland except for essential travel and don't indulge in any social gatherings outside their households. “If physical distancing, mask protocols and other measures are maintained on Vancouver Island, it prevents those sparks (of COVID-19) from growing and getting out of control,” he said. Over the past two weeks, the Central Vancouver Island health service delivery area recorded 118 COVID-19 cases, followed by 66 cases in the South Island and 37 in the North Island area, data released Thursday showed. Island Health currently has exposure notices for eight schools in the region, including six in Port Alberni, one in Victoria and one on Salt Spring Island. As well, an outbreak at Veterans Memorial Lodge long-term care home in Victoria was announced over the weekend, and the lockdown of the Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens facility in Port Alberni remains in effect. The greatest areas of concern for outbreaks are in long-term care homes and multigenerational households where the elderly people are most at risk from the virus, Coombs said. As well, smaller rural communities on the surrounding islands or spread across Vancouver Island are more vulnerable due to the lack of medical resources and the difficulty of accessing rapid testing, he added. Henry also expressed the need for individuals to make the right choices to protect groups most at risk. “We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable. It's the biggest challenge that we are facing,” she said. “I recognize that this sacrifice is one that all of us are taking, and the vast majority of people around B.C. have taken this to heart.” Though the daily COVID-19 case numbers on Vancouver Island are still fluctuating up and down, overall, the numbers appear to be flattening, Coombs said. But keeping it that way will depend on people adhering to physical distancing, Coombs said. This will be necessary for some time into the future, despite hopes vaccines are around the corner. “We’ve been hearing a lot about vaccination at the moment,” he said. “But if we haven't actually deployed the vaccine fully in our communities in B.C., there’s a risk that people are going to loosen up too quickly or too early. “Yet, I can definitely foresee some restrictions lasting into the summer, or maybe even longer.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A search continues in Haines, Alaska, for two people still unaccounted for after heavy rains this week caused landslides, washed-out roads, and widespread flooding in the small coastal community.Mayor Doug Olerud said that Alaska State Troopers were leading the search efforts for the two missing people."They've had teams out on the water, with search dogs combing the beaches, and on the beach they've got crews that are trying to remove some of the materials to get into some of the areas," Olerud said."So the efforts are ongoing."Olerud said Thursday that weather is still a concern. It was raining again on Thursday afternoon, and he said the forecast was calling for more rain or snow in the coming days."It's not stopping and giving us a break here," he said."We've got two missing individuals, but everybody else that has requested evacuation, we've gotten them out safely. We don't have any other missing individuals. And so to the best of our knowledge, everybody else in the community is safe."Olerud said local crews are doing their best to deal with the extensive damage around town, but it's been difficult to get a handle on things. "It's kind of one of those [where] we've got so many places that where do you put the crews first?" Olerud said.Alekka Fullerton, interim manager of the Haines Borough government, said there are about 50 homes that have been ordered to evacuate because of potential mudslides."Unfortunately last night we had to evacuate several other areas of town so we have a lot more people who have been displaced now and so our hotels are all full," Fullerton said.Fullerton said with all the rain, the ground is getting saturated and dangerous for residents in certain areas.A geological team from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources that was supposed to arrive Thursday to help determine the stability of the area, was weathered out and didn't arrive until Friday.They arrived by ferry as the weather made flying impossible, Olerud said."We really are discouraging people from coming to town, we do not need any more volunteers, we don't need people coming to town," Fullerton said.Olerud said the community has already received a lot of support, from within the state and beyond. He said it's been tough especially with two local residents still unaccounted for."It's hard. You know, everybody knows each other," Olerud said."I hope we get a break here. We've got a lot of talented people doing everything they can to keep everybody safe. And I have faith that they're going to do that."
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has appointed two close allies of President Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, to a defence advisory board, continuing a post-election purge in the final weeks of the administration.The acting secretary of defence, Christopher Miller, who was installed by Trump on Nov. 9 after he fired then-Defence Secretary Mark Esper, said in a written statement Friday that nine members of the Defence Business Board had been replaced with the appointment of 11 new members.Lewandowski and Bossie are among Trump's most vocal supporters. The nine other appointees are Henry Dreifus, Robert McMahon, Cory Mills, Bill Bruner, Christopher Shank, Joseph Schmidt, Keary Miller, Alan Weh and Earl Matthews.“These individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our department and our nation well,” Miller said.The Miller statement initially said the nine individuals removed from the board had been serving in ”expired positions," implying they were overdue to leave. But later the Pentagon amended the statement to say some board members had been “terminated.” It gave no reason for the firings.The board's charter says members are appointed for terms ranging from one to four years, with annual renewals.The board's charter says members must possess “a proven track record of sound judgment and business acumen in leading or governing large, complex private sector corporations or organizations and a wealth of top-level, global business experience in the areas of executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources, economics, technology, or healthcare.”The role of the Defence Business Board, which was established in 2002, is to provide the secretary of defence and deputy secretary of defence with independent advice and recommendations on overall Defence Department management, business processes and governance from a private-sector perspective.Lewandowski was Trump’s first of three campaign managers in 2016, and both he and Bossie were regulars on the campaign trail with Trump this year.Bossie was brought on as part of a 2016 campaign team shakeup to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. He briefly fell out of favour with Trump aides over his involvement with political groups that sought to fundraise off Trump’s name but did not benefit his reelection campaign. He found his way back into Trump’s orbit earlier this year thanks to his vigorous advocacy of the president.—Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Talk about Canadian, eh? Some Southwestern Ontario golf courses have done such brisk business through the pandemic, they’re opening through the winter, even in the snow. White Squirrel Golf Club, located outside Zurich, north of Grand Bend, is teeing off on winter golf for the first time to give house-bound and pandemic-weary folks a safe, outdoor activity. “It’s more about getting outside and swinging a golf club than taking your score seriously,” said Brittany Nigh, White Squirrel’s manager of golf operations. “It’s a bit more fun.” The fundamentals of the summer sport stay the same on frozen ground. Snowy golfers will still find the fairway in play, but there are no tee blocks and the green isn't used for putting. Instead, temporary greens have been crafted to protect the course. Nigh said COVID-19 pandemic safety restrictions have spurred creativity and the desire to keep the course open year-round. “We do try to always think outside the box and do things a little differently,” she said. “Let’s not focus on what we can’t do, let’s see what we can do within the restrictions and can do safely.” But what about tracking down a white ball in swaths of fluffy snow? Nigh recommends playing a fluorescent or coloured golf ball and still keeping the weather forecast in mind. “You can do it in some snow, but obviously if the entire course is covered in two feet of snow, it’s going to be pretty difficult to find a patch to hit the golf ball from,” she said. She also recommends wearing gloves and waterproof shoes, dressing in layers that still let you swing your arms, and packing a thermos. The club also has transformed its front nine holes into a hiking trail, free for the public to use, and is keeping its restaurant open year-round. Nigh said locals have warmed to winter golf. “It’s offered our community a nice outlet,” she said. Another course, the Fox Golf Club, just north of London near Granton, also is open for the winter, with similar snowy weather adjustments. The Fox is run by Waterloo-based company GolfNorth, which has set up eight of its Southwestern Ontario courses for winter play, including ones in Forest, Petersburg and Baden. “We thought golf was safe and fun and people felt comfortable doing it all summer, and in the winter this year, people need something to do,” said Doug Breen, GolfNorth’s vice-president. “It’s just a way to get outside, get some exercise, do something fun with your buddies.” He said any day that would be appropriate for skiing would be good for winter golf. If the pandemic brainchild of winter golf is popular, GolfNorth plans to keep running it in future years. And so far, the frosty conditions haven’t deterred any golfers. Breen said earlier this week, groups played their courses even after Tuesday’s storm, with snow up to their shins. “It’s absolutely a quintessentially Canadian thing to do to embrace the cold,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says tougher health restrictions likely to be aimed at Calgary and Edmonton are coming if current public-health orders don’t bend the curve down on COVID-19.Kenney, taking questions on a Facebook town-hall meeting, says it makes sense to target the novel coronavirus where it’s having the most impact.“If you’re in a remote community with a negligible number of COVID cases, where there are no cases in the local hospitals, that is not the issue right now,” Kenney said Thursday night.“The issue is the hot zones in Calgary and Edmonton — and that’s what we’ll be addressing with increasing focus in the days to come.”His comments came just hours after Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical health officer, reported a concerning rise in rates in rural areas. She stressed that even one case can move like wildfire and COVID-19 doesn’t respect geographical boundaries. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem,” Hinshaw said.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn't care where you live or what your postal code is."The province reported 1,828 new cases on Friday. Active cases stood at 18,243. There were 533 people in hospital, 99 of them in intensive care, and a total of 590 Albertans had died.Alberta Health says more than 15 per cent of active infections are in areas outside the Edmonton and Calgary medical zones. About 30 per cent are outside the four largest cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge. Areas with high active case counts per 100,000 population include Banff, the Municipal District of Acadia and Smoky Lake County.Kenney has been lauded and criticized for taking a regional, nuanced approach to try to stem the spread of the pandemic while trying to keep open as many businesses and community centres as possible.It's not going well.Alberta has registered well over 1,000 new cases a day for two weeks and, on some days, has had more new cases than larger provinces such as Ontario. Health officials are reassigning staff, space, and patients to free up more intensive care beds, while dealing with outbreaks at 22 hospitals and health facilities. The government is also exploring bringing in medical field tents from the Red Cross if needed.Last week, Kenney introduced tighter provincewide health restrictions that included a ban on indoor gatherings. But there are looser measures for areas with low infection rates. They don’t have to follow a 25 per cent capacity limit in businesses or a maximum of six people — all from the same household — at one table in restaurants. Nor do they have to abide by a one-third capacity rule for worship services.Most municipalities have made it mandatory to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Kenney has, unlike all other premiers, refused to implement that provincewide. He has said it’s unnecessary in remote areas and some rural folk would refuse to wear masks if it were an order. Cold Lake, a city of almost 15,000 in the province's northeast, has twice voted down a mandatory mask bylaw. Mayor Craig Copeland said Friday masks don't need to be required, because people are following guidelines from Hinshaw."Ninety per cent of the people in Cold Lake now are wearing masks," Copeland said. "Do they really need to be told by a mayor and council to wear a mask?"Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said Kenney’s public-health directives cater to his rural political base and the anti-mask fringe he wants to keep happily ensconced in his United Conservative Party.“(Kenney) is more interested in protecting his political fortunes with a small minority of folks who are going to resist."In Smoky Lake County, northeast of Edmonton, restaurant owner Hong Hu said her Maple Gardens Restaurant is one of the few in the area that is doing takeout only."If it gets worse, of course I (will) worry about it," said Hu, who added she's more worried about the mounting cases in Alberta than the cases in her region.She said the county has a mask bylaw and has put notes up at businesses reminding people to wear face coverings and to sanitize regularly.Back in Cold Lake, resident Cathy Olliffe-Webster, 60, said she is disappointed in the premier and her mayor for not making masks mandatory.Cold Lake is still holding indoor events such as Christmas craft sales, despite the area's first COVID-related death this week and active cases rising to more than 70, she said."I understand that Alberta's economy has been hit harder than most, but I'm really sick of people putting money before people's lives," Olliffe-Webster said.She said she was moved by an emotional speech Thursday by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who begged people to follow COVID-19 rules."I just wish Jason Kenney was a little like him."— With files from Fakiha Baig and Daniela Germano in EdmontonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press