Here are the top stories for Thursday, December 24th: UK announces trade deal with EU; Fire at Marine Corps base forces evacuations; Mexico begins vaccination campaign; Christmas traditions altered at the Vatican.
Here are the top stories for Thursday, December 24th: UK announces trade deal with EU; Fire at Marine Corps base forces evacuations; Mexico begins vaccination campaign; Christmas traditions altered at the Vatican.
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
L’annonce de la démission de Julie Payette représente une occasion de renouveler l’équipe dirigeante du bureau du gouverneur général « dans le but de répondre aux préoccupations concernant le milieu de travail que des employés ont soulevées », a déclaré le premier ministre. Prenant acte du départ de celle qu’il avait nommée en octobre 2017, le premier ministre, Justin Trudeau, s’est contenté d’indiquer que Mme Payette avait « rempli ses obligations de préserver la démocratie parlementaire et de servir les Canadiens. » « Tous les employés du gouvernement du Canada ont le droit de travailler dans un milieu sain et sécuritaire, et nous prendrons toujours cette question très au sérieux », a-t-il cependant reconnu, en référence au rapport confirmant les allégations de harcèlement en milieu de travail dont la représentante de la Reine Élisabeth II fait l’objet. Justin Trudeau a ajouté que le juge en chef de la Cour suprême du Canada, Richard Wagner, assurerait l’intérim. « Une recommandation concernant un remplaçant sera présentée à Sa Majesté la reine Élisabeth II et annoncée en temps voulu », a-t-il conclu. Une démission qui arrive « à point nommé » « Bien qu’aucune plainte officielle… n’ait été formulée au cours de ce mandat, ce qui aurait immédiatement déclenché une enquête détaillée comme le prescrivent la loi et les conventions collectives en vigueur, je prends toujours ces allégations très au sérieux », a assuré Julie Payette dans un communiqué, rappelant qu’elle a encouragé « à maintes reprises » les employés à participer à l’enquête sur le climat de travail à Rideau hall. La firme commise en septembre dernier pour faire la lumière sur des allégations de harcèlement à Rideau Hall a remis un rapport accablant au président du conseil privé de la Reine pour le Canada, Dominic Leblanc. Les allégations visaient principalement l’ancienne astronaute et sa secrétaire Assunta Di Lorenzo, démissionnaire. Dans un reportage diffusé sur le réseau de CBC, des agents et ex-employés de Rideau Hall avaient accusé ces deux personnalités d’avoir intimidé et humilié des membres du personnel. « Pour le bien de notre pays, pour l’intégrité de ma fonction vice-royale et de nos institutions démocratiques, je suis arrivée à la conclusion qu’un nouveau gouverneur général devrait être nommé, car, dit-elle, “les Canadiens méritent la stabilité en ces temps incertains”, a indiqué Mme Payette. Sur les raisons de sa démission, elle s’est contentée de constater que “des tensions sont apparues à Rideau Hall au cours des derniers mois”, s’est dite “désolée”, et a ensuite souligné une démission qui arrive “à point nommé” pour des raisons personnelles. “La santé de mon père s’est sérieusement détériorée ces dernières semaines et ma famille a besoin de mon aide”, a-t-elle précisé. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
After arguments between residents who lived near Meadowcrest beach erupted in the later summer, McDougall’s council has decided that boats will not be permitted to launch from that location. At the previous meeting in December, Leduc brought forward three recommendations to council on how to remedy the situation at the small beach. The first option was to operate the beach the same as before the pandemic, with the launching of small boats limited to a vessel that a person can carry to the water. Option two was to operate the beach with the added restriction of no vessel launching of any kind, and the third option was to allow people to launch small boats or vessels on trailers only from ice out until May 31 and then again from Sept. 15 to the time the lake ices. Here are some quotes from the council meeting regarding the decision: “This isn’t a resolution, it’s just direction to staff; currently it is established as a beach and I spoke at the previous meeting about leaving it as a beach and my position hasn’t changed on that,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “Are there any other spots on Portage Lake where it’s possible to look at for future boat ramps?” asked Coun. Joe Ryman. “The spot at Portage Creek right now is municipal property; there is no dock there currently, so there really is no encumbrance for us to put a dock there if we needed to, as it is our property,” said parks and recreation director Brian Leduc. At the Jan. 20 council meeting, three councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the beach remaining simply a beach. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The Pfizer mRNA vaccine and another one developed by Moderna have passed both animal and human trials in which they were tested on more than 70,000 people. The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by reviving earlier Chinese calls for a WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. State media have referenced past scandals at the lab, but China has given no reliable evidence to support the coronavirus theory. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former U.S. President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
Canada's unemployment rate in December was revised to 8.8% from 8.6% on Monday, while the net decline in jobs for the month was amended to 52,700 from 62,600, as Statistics Canada completed a historic review of its labor force data. The revision, undertaken to ensure the data was aligned with recent population and geographical boundary estimates, had "virtually no effect" on employment estimates for the pandemic period of March to December 2020, the agency said.
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
It’s that time of the year again for the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Fire Department: they’re set to host their annual recruitment campaign this February to hire part-time firefighters. The department’s recruitment officer says they’re doing everything they can to bring in and train new members in spite of unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses. Starting Feb. 1 going until Feb. 26, the department plans to go through all applications for the job online, host interviews and begin each member’s required 160 hours of training. “We are taking every measure possible to make sure that everybody that shows up on a regular basis is safe,” said Paul Calleja, the department’s training and suppression officer. “We have, I think, an optical responsibility to the public that we are doing things responsibly.” A communiqué from the Office of the Fire Marshal exempts fire departments from standard social gathering protocols during training, effective Oct. 19. Calleja said their department is trying to adhere as close as possible to the normal guidelines throughout recruitment. This year, instead of an in-person meeting, complete with a tour of the firehall, people will participate in a virtual information session on Jan. 28 and submit applications online. “It is what it is,” he said. In lieu of traditional meeting and networking, Calleja said he’s glad to chat with recruits personally over the phone throughout the campaign. He said he doesn’t have a specific goal for recruitment this year, as the numbers of new recruits fluctuates from 75 to 110 across the years. “We’ll run a recruit class with one person, if that’s all that shows up,” he said. The department is hiring part-time members who work an average of 200 hours a year. “A part-time firefighter is no different than a career firefighter,” he said. Part-timers aren’t stationed at a fire hall: they wear a pager and are called to scenes when there’s an emergency. “We do the same job: suppression, rescue, hazardous materials, public education.” Gary Monaham, the department’s deputy fire chief, said they haven’t seen a consistent increase in calls for service from the fire department since the pandemic began which would require them to recruit more members. “Back in March, when they first announced it, our medical calls dropped dramatically. Nobody wanted to call EMS. By the summer time, medical calls started going high again,” he said. “It’s up and down.” Monaham said calls have dropped “dramatically” in the last three weeks since the lockdown began. Calleja said it can be difficult to recruit people from lower-population communities in Lake of Bays: part-timers are “stationed” in their own communities. “It’s easier to find bodies in Huntsville than it is to find them in Dwight,” he said. With this challenge in mind, Calleja said they look to emphasize the benefits to joining the crew: an hourly wage, a compensation and insurance package, the opportunity to learn new life skills and a foot in the door to a new career in firefighting. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Structure and rhythm are important for Ayden Rana. The six-year-old is on the autism spectrum and requires a little extra help to complete his studies. When the winter break turned into an extended period away from the classroom, keeping most children and teachers at home, it presented a unique challenge for Ayden and his mother, Karen, who found herself playing the role of teacher, therapist, support worker and parent. “He was very receptive the first two days, I would say, to virtual learning because he got to see the teacher and the educational assistants,” Karen said. But the novelty quickly wore off. Studying became much harder. Learning became even more challenging than usual. Touch and sense are key to Ayden’s educational development, meaning the curiously flat, two-dimensional world of pixels on a screen, fell far short of meeting his needs. “The educational assistant realized his needs for tactile material — he’s not grasping the Chromebook — so she put together a binder with all the activities,” Karen explained. “All the math, English, all the subjects he would do at school, along with his puzzles, his timer [and] his favorite pens [are included].” The binder is carefully prepared by his educational assistant every week and left for Ayden to pick up, offering new material to make the best of a difficult situation. For some other students with special needs, learning at home — even with the extra work and resources — isn’t a possibility. As a result, despite the province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home-order, some are still physically in school. A few teachers are on hand, along with a small army of special education assistants. At the Peel District School Board, they are referred to as educational assistants (EAs) and a large number of the board’s 3,800 EAs are reporting for duty. At Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, where they are known as educational resource workers (ERWs) 40 school sites are open and staffed. A major issue for EAs working at PDSB is a lack of coordination and tracking by the board, Natacha Verdiel, president of OPSEU Local 2100, the union representing EAs at PDSB, explained to The Pointer. Unlike students and teachers who cohort together, EAs do not have to sign into classrooms and are not included in contact tracing efforts when an outbreak is declared. “An EA might cross cohorts 14 times on any given day,” she explained. “They might report to 12 different classrooms to provide support to high needs students. They’re now cross contaminating between students, that’s alarming, and no one knows they’ve been in that classroom.” As a result of their specific profiles, many children with special needs are unable to wear a mask. Some even find staff wearing them to be upsetting and can attempt to physically remove them. Depending on a child’s age, size and unique needs, such behaviour can be challenging. In some instances the desire to create normalcy can even lead to aggressive actions by some students. That’s why some personal protective measures to mitigate the risk of viral spread can’t be used. “Here’s what I don’t think the public understands: the students that are reporting to the physical building right now are students who cannot wear masks,” Verdiel said. “They are all unmasked, all of the students are unmasked. Most of them are extremely behavioral, they are our highest needs students in the system.” Verdiel described one situation where a particular student coughs, spits and sneezes as part of their behavioural profile. “The staff in there are covered in bodily fluids, all day long,” she said, lamenting the lack of effective personal protective equipment and how masks can act “as a target” for some students who attempt to remove them or strike the workers wearing them. For the parents of children with special needs, the role EAs, ERWs and the education system play can be nothing short of a miracle. Staff are able to look after children during the day, calm them and tend to their various behavioural and physical needs. “Some of our workers have phenomenal skills… some of them are outrageously amazing at what they can do,” Pam Bonferro, president of the Dufferin Peel Educational Resource Workers’ Association, told The Pointer. “They’re like pied pipers, they walk into a room and the students calm down.” Karen Rana agrees, describing Ayden’s EA as a rock. “He changed three classes [due to COVID-19 attendence variations], so you can imagine,” she said. “Three classes, three teachers, three sets of students, but with the same assistant. She has been the constant and it’s been very positive for Ayden.” The work of classroom assistants is often born of passion. As a vocation, many pursue the work out of a desire to help care for children and assist with their challenging development. “It’s not that they don't want to support the students that are there,” Verdiel added. “They want the Province to acknowledge that those who are reporting in person are unable to maintain any kind of physical distancing at all. Their job is very, very, very high risk in terms of exposure to bodily fluids.” Highlighting the fact the government is working hard during a crisis, but still missing key supports, Bonferro said ERWs and EAs are being inadvertently positioned in opposition to the very families they support. “What they have technically done is they have pitted the EAs against the parents,” she said. “They are taking the EAs voice away, if an EA speaks up, they’re going to be kind of vilified as the bad guy [in the] situation. So they are way beyond stressed and what’s really tearing them apart is: they have a conscience, they care about the kids they work with.” The Ministry of Education did not provide a response in time for publication. Despite working in the same space as teachers, classroom assistants have unique demands, detailed by the unions who represent them. Where teachers can safely distance from pupils, even in the same classroom, EAs and ERWs are unable to make the space. Their duties include helping students use the bathroom, feeding and, when needed, physically helping them to calm down. “The exposure level that a teacher has when they’re standing in front of a classroom teaching versus the exposure that an EA has when they’re being spat in the face or restraining a student [is significantly different],” Verdiel said. The unions have several specific asks of the Doug Ford government to improve the situation. They include pandemic pay, more robust PPE and rapid access to the vaccine. Under the Province’s current vaccination rollout, teachers and classroom assistants find themselves on the list at the same time. The second phase, which also includes older adults living in the community and several other key worker categories, could run as late as July, which risks some EAs and ERWs not being vaccinated until during the summer break. “The government has taken on the position that EAs are now essential workers; however, they are not being provided with the same level of pay or protection,” Verdiel said. “The NDP has long called for pandemic pay for all frontline workers, and believes educators should be included among the groups prioritized to get their vaccine,” NDP Education Critic Maritt Stiles told The Pointer. “Special education assistants, who are now working in classrooms with vulnerable people, should be vaccinated as soon as possible, when the vaccine becomes available.” PDSB provided a statement offering extensive instructions to EAs around wearing PPE. It did not address questions around contact tracing and EAs working in multiple classrooms. “Since returning from the winter break, all students and staff, including EAs, who have returned to in-person learning and working are required to follow the Active Daily Screening process,” a spokesperson told The Pointer. At DPCDSB, contact tracing does not appear to be an issue and ERWs are carefully monitored. “School principals maintain a record of any ERWs that are working in the school and should a positive COVID case be reported, any staff and students that worked with, or could be considered to be a close contact, would be identified for contact tracing,” Bruce Campbell, general manager of communications and community relations for the board, told The Pointer. As most schools remain closed and the majority of children learn at home, EAs and ERWs continue to show up for work feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable. “Everybody is sympathetic, everybody understands,” Verdiel said. “Nobody is willing to do anything.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Niagara Falls Transit has elected to revert to its pre-pandemic winter schedule. The city said in a press release in order to provide the best level of service to riders given provincial restrictions, it will return to regular winter city and WEGO service, minus 30-minute peak services, on day routes. Changes take effect Monday. On Jan. 18, in an attempt to comply with the state of emergency orders issued by the province, Niagara Falls Transit preemptively adjusted its hours of operation to reflect the average business closure of 8 p.m.; however, it acknowledged that it could have been stranding essential service workers. The city issued an apology on its website for any inconvenience it caused transit users. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.com Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Returning to work after layoffs in the first wave of the pandemic was daunting for Brampton resident Nathan Aitken. Between managing his asthma and fibromyalgia, and having just welcomed a newborn at home, COVID-19 was a significant risk due to his serious underlying conditions. As a welder, Aitken said there was some peace of mind in knowing his mechanic-grade respirator and uniform provided an added layer of protection at the Milton auto-industry plant where he works. “I'm just very diligent about…how I do my job, cleaning and everything else, but it’s definitely something I worry about all day,” Aitken said. In the building, floor markings indicate the pathways for workers to follow to promote safe distancing, and staff are also asked to sanitize their stations every four hours. Despite the protocols, Aitken said he’s concerned about the diligence of individual workers, especially those like him with no paid sick days. “I've never gotten that. If I call in sick, I don’t get paid,” he said. Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has joined the Opposition NDP, labour unions and other increasingly frustrated voices across the province calling for paid sick days. She characterized them as “essential” protection during the pandemic in a report two weeks ago and called for the ruling PCs under Premier Doug Ford to legislate five permanent paid sick days, and 10 during a pandemic like the one causing the current public health crisis. Ford continues to ignore the pleas, claiming there’s “no reason” for sick days. He has said the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program, and its $500 weekly payout (with a maximum of two weeks) to sick workers is enough for Ontario’s frontline employees. He has repeatedly said he would do anything to support these heroic residents who have kept the province running throughout the pandemic. From the early second-wave public health restrictions to the current stay-at-home order, little has changed for essential workers who continue to show up on the frontline, said Tim Deelstra, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 175 and 633, which represent about 70,000 members in the province. Data included in the 2016 Census provide a picture of Peel’s labour force that shows why the region has been particularly hard-hit by viral spread among the essential work force. The sector that employs more Peel residents than any other is manufacturing, including jobs that are deemed essential to keep supply chains running and the flow of needed products uninterrupted. Some 90,000 Peel residents worked in the sector, according to the Census figures. Other job categories that also include large numbers of essential workers are also heavily represented in the region’s labour force: There were 69,920 resident working in transportation and warehousing; 59,270 in healthcare and social assistance; 44,755 in construction; and 42,205 in accommodation and food services. Labour unions like UFCW have been calling on the government to implement more robust protections to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus at essential workplaces, including paid sick days as part of the Employment Standards Act and priority vaccine access for those workers most at risk. For many who may be experiencing minor symptoms, the risk of losing pay or even their job, is enough to keep them going to work, potentially putting their colleagues at risk. “Even before the pandemic, we were very critical of the Ford government, that one of the first things they did upon getting elected was removing the two paid sick days” from the Act, Deelstra said. He points to former Progressive Conservative party leaders, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, as being vocal supporters for sick leave. “They’re now seeing the need for their constituents,” he said. Mayor Brown is spearheading a campaign and motion – endorsed by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie – at the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario and GTHA Mayors group to advocate for higher levels of government to support better sick-day policies. He told Brampton city council on Wednesday the provincial and federal governments would be discussing the issue in a conference call this week. “I hope that there's going to be a mechanism that can be found to bring this to the table,” he said. Some of Peel’s largest employers include Maple Lodge Farms, Fiat Chrysler, and PepsiCo Foods Canada, as well as airport-related warehouses and businesses, including airline food catering company Gate Gourmet Group Inc., in Mississauga. In April, Maple Lodge Farms suspended operations at its Brampton poultry plant after three cases of the novel coronavirus were identified in the facility. At that time, there were about 2,864 confirmed and probable cases of infected residents throughout the Region, with about one-fifth of them in long-term care homes. Now, there have been almost 53,000 confirmed and probable cases in Peel since the start of the pandemic, along with 204 outbreaks, according to the Region’s January 22 epidemiological summary and its most recent data. In the 14 days up to January 21, 232 cases were reported as being linked to a workplace outbreak. The region’s test positivity rate fell to 11.9 percent for the week that ended January 16, down from 13.8 percent the previous week. Anything above 2.5 percent in a jurisdiction suggests viral spread is not under control. Peel’s weekly incidence rate, which has consistently been the highest of all Ontario regions since early in the pandemic, decreased slightly to 247 positive cases per 100,000 residents for the week that ended January 16, compared to 262 the previous week. Once the current emergency order is lifted, to be moved down through the grey-lockdown and red-control categories and into the Province’s orange-restrict category, under Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening framework, a region’s incidence rate has to be below 40 cases per 100,000 residents. Of the federal government’s $19-billion Safe Restart Agreement, about $1.1 billion is dedicated for helping workers through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. It has been criticized by some advocates who say that narrow eligibility criteria, including the requirement of an at least 50 percent reduction in income in the prescribed period, while only $500 per week is offered for a maximum of two weeks, leaves many without proper support. “Paid sick days are necessary. Continuing to lob things off to the federal government is not acceptable. We need people to know that they can immediately take time off, make the right decision, and not have to worry that their next pay packet is going to be short,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at a media conference Tuesday. She urged the premier to call Ontario MPPs back to the legislature to advance a private member’s bill introduced last month by Peggy Sattler, opposition critic for employment standards. Following the current winter break, Queen’s Park is set to resume business in mid-February. Among proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act in Bill 239 (the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act) the NDP are tabling the requirement of 14 paid sick days instead of “unpaid leave in situations related to declared emergencies and infectious disease emergencies.” In Brampton, in addition to the risks facing essential workers in the City’s prominent manufacturing, transportation and food processing sectors, non-unionized workers face even more precarious conditions. “They should be confident enough that if I'm feeling any symptoms, right away, I go [get] tested, and I sit at home…I don't have to worry about three or four days that I lose or how I eat, or how I will pay my bills. That should not be the thing to worry right now,” said Gurbaaz Sra, a community advocate and team member of Humans in Brampton, a social media campaign calling attention to the plight of essential workers. Sra, a mechanical engineer, has heard dozens of stories from members of the South Asian-Canadian community in Brampton who also fear professional reprisal for speaking out, and share their experiences anonymously with Humans in Brampton via their Instagram and Twitter. Despite the reach of social media, Sra said digital literacy among new immigrants remains a barrier for accessing updates about the local COVID-19 picture and public health guidance. “The information is changing rapidly…so that needs to be understood,” he said. “To capture that, they need to make sure that the messaging reaches everyone.” Language barriers can also affect workers who are trying to advocate with their employer for further protections. “In certain cases…they are not really able to express their demands fully because a lot of workers in the warehousing industry are new immigrants to this country,” said Gagandeep Kaur, a postal worker and an organizer at the Brampton-based Warehouse Workers Centre for Peel. Social distancing concerns within warehouses is another common concern, said Kaur, who has worked in warehouses for the last 12 years and with the Centre when it launched last January. “Employers are not doing enough to protect the workers, we know with this new variant of COVID-19 that spreads like crazy…people are scared,” she said. In Mississauga, a recent outbreak at the International Mail Processing Centre, also known as the Gateway Postal Facility located at Eglinton Avenue and Dixie Road, resulted in a total 182 postal employees testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of January 1, Canada Post confirmed in a statement to The Pointer. Rapid tests were used on-site to identify new cases. Responding to The Pointer at a Mississauga press conference on Wednesday, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, explained how rapid tests have been deployed in the community but did not detail where, specifically, this has been done. “The idea would be to try to deploy things in a bit of a concentric circle, around the cases and clusters that have been initially identified,” he said. For Nathan Aitken, the option of on-site rapid testing at his auto-sector plant, complemented by an app-based pre-screening protocol to pass through the security checkpoint, and frequent temperature checks, are “good standards and practises to keep things safe, and keep people safe,” he said. While the advocacy around paid sick days continues in Peel, Aitken is facing work precarity on another front, in his role as a hip-hop and R&B emcee and producer under the moniker TempoMental. He previously toured Ontario and did a small project in Japan right before the pandemic, relying on show and merchandise revenue to fund his art. He is holding back his latest music to release it when touring will be possible, but did one show when some venues could reopen, between the first and second waves. Aitken appeared behind a large plastic screen, with a barricade between the stage and audience, with masks mandatory inside the venue, likening the show to a jazz club experience. “I’m a hip-hop dude so everybody usually crowds the stage and jumps around, and we really can’t do that now,” he said. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Canada's opposition leaders attacked the federal Liberal government's COVID-19 vaccination program today in their first encounter in the House of Commons following the winter break. Vaccine deliveries will grind to a halt this week as a shutdown at Pfizer's plant in Belgium disrupts shipments from that company. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said that while the prime minister promised a steady supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots in the first three months of 2021, the country's inoculation efforts are now "in jeopardy" and provinces are scrambling to meet vaccination targets. The delivery delay is already prompting some provinces — notably Alberta and Ontario — to warn that they will have to curtail vaccination appointments in the weeks ahead as they direct the existing supplies of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to patients who need their second shots. "We want to see our government succeed but this prime minister has abandoned us. The Liberal plan for vaccines must be reviewed by all of Parliament. We must work together to improve the Liberal vaccine plan and get Canadians back to work," O'Toole said. "We wish we could trust the prime minister but this situation demands Parliament's urgent attention." WATCH: Opposition leader calls out Liberals over vaccine planning: Earlier this month, the federal government projected that 208,650 Pfizer doses would arrive this week. Instead, Canada is getting no doses at all this week — and a dramatically reduced shipment next week — as the company retools its plant to pump out many more shots this year than planned. While Canada was expecting 366,000 doses of the Pfizer product to be delivered the week of Feb. 1, just 79,000 are now slated to arrive. O'Toole said the Liberal government should have prepared for delivery disruptions like this one with a contingency plan to prevent the provinces from running dry. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, has said Pfizer deliveries will be reduced by roughly 50 per cent over a four-week period — and Canada doesn't know for certain how many doses will arrive over that time period. The Health Canada website that tracks vaccines has been scrubbed of all Pfizer delivery forecasts, citing "changes to manufacturing timelines." "Unknown means there is no real plan," O'Toole said. "Canadians are worried. We're in the second wave of the pandemic, there's U.K. strains and this week we're receiving zero Pfizer vaccines." Moderna, which delivers shots to Canada every three weeks, is expected to deliver roughly 230,000 doses over the first week of February. Later in question period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the "ongoing challenges" with the global supply vaccine chain but said Canada is expecting "hundreds of thousands" of Pfizer doses, some in February. He said Canada expects to have enough doses on hand this year to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. WATCH | Opposition slams government for vaccine delays: Michelle Rempel Garner, the Conservative health critic, questioned that promise, saying that Canada needs to start getting through tens of thousands of vaccinations each day to reach that target. With only 100,000 people fully vaccinated so far, Canada would have to administer well over 200,000 shots a day for the next 248 days to fully vaccinate Canadians with the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna products. O'Toole said the Liberal government never should have partnered with the Chinese firm CanSino Biologics to develop a vaccine — a collaboration that was derailed last summer when China refused to ship vaccine samples to Canada for clinical trial testing. After that partnership was shelved, O'Toole said, Canada then turned to procuring promising vaccine candidates from U.S. firms like Pfizer and Moderna. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand has disputed this version of events. Speaking to reporters in December, Anand said the CanSino deal fell within former industry minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies. Anand has said she started talks with the companies behind promising vaccine candidates in July — companies that were recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force — before Canada walked away from the ill-fated CanSino partnership in late August. Canada was among the first countries in the world to sign deals with Pfizer and Moderna. "Engagement and negotiations with COVID-19 vaccine suppliers began in early July 2020, following the receipt of recommendations from the vaccine task force in June," a spokesperson for the minister told CBC News. WATCH | NDP's Singh questions PM Trudeau about vaccine delivery O'Toole said Canada should have sought domestic manufacturing of vaccine candidates to avoid having to depend on other countries for supply. The government did not pursue domestic manufacturing rights for the AstraZeneca product. Asked what he'd do to jump-start the stalled vaccination campaign, O'Toole said he would encourage Trudeau to obtain doses from the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., which is not experiencing the same disruptions as the Belgian facility and is only 220 kilometres away from the Detroit-Windsor border crossing. "There are vaccines being made not far from us, in Kalamazoo. Did the prime minister ask for the ability to have that plant used, not just rely on the retooled plant in Belgium?" O'Toole said. "There are a lot of options here, but there's never any leadership from Mr. Trudeau." Anand has said the Michigan facility's product is earmarked for the American market in the first quarter of this year. While there will be significant delivery disruptions over the next month, Anand has said that Canada still expects to receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer product and 2 million Moderna shots in the first three months of this year. That would be enough to vaccinate 3 million people by the end of March. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out that the prime minister and his office are mired in a scandal of their own making over the abrupt resignation of former governor general Julie Payette amid reports of workplace harassment. "The focus should be on the pandemic and the struggles that we're going through. This has become a distraction," Singh said of the Payette affair. "The focus ... should be entirely on making sure people are vaccinated."
The Yellowknife YWCA is calling for urgent investment in affordable and transitional housing as the pandemic pushes family homelessness to "crisis levels." A release sent Monday says without "significant investment," more families will be without safe and permanent housing, even as winter's coldest months approach and the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy. The organization provides emergency and transitional housing to more than 100 homeless families in Yellowknife, including 156 children. Their wait list for support is more than 50 families long. "In Yellowknife … the problem is serious," said Hawa Dumbuya-Sesay, the executive director of the YWCA NWT. "That's a pretty high number, given our population." Dumbuya-Sesay said the issue of child and family homelessness is often given less attention than adult homelessness in Yellowknife, with many homeless families "well-hidden" from public view. "You don't see them on the street, you don't see them day to day," she said. "Because when you have a family and you have children to care for, you always have to think about their safety and well-being." 'Couch to couch' Instead of living or lingering on the streets, the release says, homeless families are "often moving from couch to couch and living in dangerously overcrowded, unsafe, and unaffordable housing." That has only been made worse by stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, she said, which have left vulnerable families feeling less safe than ever in crowded, shared family homes. Even so, evictions haven't stopped — the territory's Justice department confirmed seven had been carried out during the pandemic so far. Even when families are housed, Dumbuya-Sesay said, kids can be left neglected as parents are forced to take two or more minimum-wage jobs to meet the expense of a family apartment. "Parents have to decide whether they have to go to work or stay home and care for your children," she said. "So many families can't afford to do both." More transitional housing awaits approval The YWCA is waiting for approval of a proposal sent to the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, which would see them expand their Lynn's Place transitional housing by 21 units. "We really hope they approve our application," said Dumbuya-Sesay. "We have our fingers and toes crossed." Even if it's approved next month, it will still not make up for the loss of more than 30 transitional housing units in 2018's Rockhill apartment fire. The YWCA also rents market units, which it then subleases to tenants unable to secure market housing because of debt or poor tenancy records. But the organization is running up against a wider housing shortage in Yellowknife. "Even finding units that we can rent … is a challenge in itself," said Dumbuya-Sesay. "We really need the infrastructure." Now, the YWCA is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the issue of family homelessness, and hopefully generate some more investment from organizations across the board. "I think we really need tostart finding solutions," she said. "We need to start working together."
Le professeur en Techniques de comptabilité et de gestion du Cégep de Chicoutimi Benoît Rochefort compte sur un nouvel outil pour intéresser ses étudiants au contenu de ses cours et à l’actualité: le balado appelé Benlala. Il compte en quelques mois environ 5000 écoutes pour l’ensemble de ses émissions produites. Benoît Rochefort est depuis près de 10 ans professeur en comptabilité et gestion au Cégep de Chicoutimi. Il a longtemps travaillé dans le domaine du marketing, ce qui l’a mené vers l’enseignement. Au cours de l’été, il a longuement réfléchi à l’enseignement à distance et cherchait un moyen de rejoindre différemment les étudiants. C’est à ce moment qu’il a imaginé la création d’un balado. Son podcast a été lancé le 20 août dernier, sur une foule de plateformes. Puisqu’il avait déjà du matériel à la maison et que le Cégep lui donnait accès à certains logiciels, celui qui est également chroniqueur pour certaines radios a pu rapidement monter un produit de qualité. Dans son balado, il aborde plusieurs sujets qui touchent son contenu enseigné et l’actualité régionale. « Je prends l’actualité comme trame de fond pour parler de la théorie. Je fais référence à ce qu’on apprend, pour amener les étudiants à bien réfléchir. Je veux fournir aux étudiants des outils pour être capable d’interpréter de façon intéressante ce qui se passe, en lien avec ce qui est enseigné », raconte M. Rochefort, dans un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Quotidien. Pour lui, son balado ne doit pas être une charge de travail lourde pour les étudiants, mais une façon différente d’apprendre tout en s’intéressant à l’actualité régionale. Il souhaite avec son initiative encourager la persévérance scolaire. Les épisodes sont de courte durée, d’une dizaine à trentaine de minutes. Les jeunes peuvent facilement l’écouter, n’importe où et n’importe quand. « J’espère qu’avec cet outil-là, en complément avec ce que j’enseigne, que ça puisse contribuer à ce que les jeunes aient du plaisir et à diversifier les plateformes de communication qu’on utilise pour enseigner. Je pense que ça peut les aider à rester motivés », souligne-t-il. Hors série Des épisodes hors série ont également été enregistrés en collaboration avec l’ancien animateur radio Sylvain Carbonneau. Le duo a reçu une foule d’invités spéciaux pour ces épisodes, dont la ministre Andrée Laforest, l’avocat Charles Cantin, le directeur général de la fromagerie Boivin Luc Boivin, l’homme d’affaires Robert Hakim, et bien d’autres. Certains de ses épisodes seront obligatoires pour les élèves de certains cours lors de la session d’hiver, tant leur contenu touche directement la matière qui sera enseignée en classe. Le hors série a amené de la crédibilité à l’émission et a fait exploser le nombre d’écoutes. « Le hors série a vraiment été un succès, qui a permis de propulser la saison 1 à un public plus large », continue M. Rochefort. L’homme compte aujourd’hui près de 5000 écoutes pour tout son contenu produit, ce qui le rend particulièrement fier. C’est au-delà de ses objectifs, pour lui qui n’a jamais vraiment fait de publicité. L’homme est comblée de voir que ce ne sont pas seulement ses étudiants qui sont intéressés par ce qu’il produit. La saison deux La deuxième saison commencera très bientôt. Toutes les semaines, un nouvel épisode sera publié. Déjà, le professeur a plusieurs idées par rapport au contenu. Il touchera les concepts de gestion de projets, commerce international, mais aussi la publicité, entre autres avec un épisode en lien le Super Bowl. Il pense aussi consacrer un épisode sur la fiscalité étudiante avec sa collègue du Cégep de Chicoutimi, Marie-Ève Tremblay, et sur les finances personnelles avec son collaborateur Sylvain Carbonneau, qui est courtier hypothécaire. M. Rochefort espère également trouver des invités jeunesse, qui pourront se servir du balado pour parler directement aux jeunes. Les intéressés sont invités à suivre la page Facebook du projet Benlala balado, ainsi que visiter le site Internet benlala.ca, pour tout savoir sur le projet.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
VANCOUVER — A weekend of Environment Canada warnings about snow over the south coast of British Columbia produced very little of the white stuff and all warnings except the one covering Metro Vancouver have now been lifted. But the weather office says up to five centimetres of snow is still likely for higher elevations of North and West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge. Other areas of the Lower Mainland can expected to see rain or occasional sleet through the day, but little or no snow on the ground. Environment Canada had been calling for as much as 15 centimetres in some south coast regions by Monday morning. Parts of eastern Vancouver Island, higher areas of Greater Vancouver and the eastern Fraser Valley reported modest accumulations over the weekend. Snow also covered highways leading into the southern Interior early Monday, but no warnings or advisories were posted. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
“Every Waking Hour,” by Joanna Schaffhausen (Minotaur) The push-pull relationship between Boston police detective Ellery Hathaway and FBI Agent Reed Markham took a big leap last year in “All the Best Lies,” the third book in Joanna Schaffhausen’s compelling series of crime novels. Now, in “Every Waking Hour,” the world seems determined to pull the new lovers apart. Reed rescued Ellery from serial killer years ago, when she was just a teenager, so their mutual attraction has been fraught with complications from the start. And now? Reed’s ex-wife Sarit disapproves of Ellery. Still bitter about their divorce, Sarit threatens to stop him from seeing his toddler daughter unless he breaks off the relationship. Ellery’s teenage half-sister, a runaway from the father who abandoned Ellery and her mother years ago, shows up and moves in. And Ellery, whose kidnapping was such a huge story that journalists never lost interest in her, is horrified when a news photographer catches the lovers in a tender moment and makes their relationship public. Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl has been kidnapped, battering Ellery with horrible memories of her own ordeal that are never far from the surface. The obvious suspect is the nanny who was supposed to be watching over the child. However, Ellery and Reed soon discover that the girl’s mother’s first child was murdered years ago when he was also 12 years old. That the crime was never solved. Might the two cases be connected? The result is a tension-filled investigation filled with twists that readers are unlikely to see coming. Though not a particularly stylish writer, Schaffhausen spins her yarn with clear, concise prose that keeps the plot moving at a torrid pace. But as usual in this series, the most compelling part of her story is the fragile relationship between the protagonists. Can it — and even should it — survive what the world keeps throwing at them? ___ Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.” Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
Sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers melting 60 per cent faster than in the 1990s
POLITIQUE. Le Bloc Québécois et la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche, sont convaincus que le NPD et les conservateurs accepteront de procéder rapidement à un court amendement législatif à la loi C-4 sur la prestation canadienne de maladie pour la relance économique (PCMRE) si le gouvernement rappelle le Parlement. Selon le chef du Bloc, Yves-François Blanchet, «le premier ministre hésite à régler tout de suite et clairement le grave problème de la prime au voyage de 1 000 $ qui découle de cette loi» malgré la volonté louable de remédier à la situation. Face aux critiques contre le versement de la PCMRE aux personnes de retour d’un voyage d’agrément, Justin Trudeau a promis plus tôt de rectifier le tir sans donner plus de détails. Il a précisé que l’objectif n’avait jamais été d’envoyer un chèque à ceux qui décident de partir en voyage, à l’encontre des avis de la santé publique. «La façon la plus rapide et efficace de procéder est un court amendement législatif à la loi C-4 qui réserve la prestation (PCMRE) uniquement en cas des déplacements essentiels. Cela exclut évidemment les vacances», a tranché la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche, selon un communiqué de son bureau. Elle précise que le rappel du Parlement peut se faire avec moins de 50 députés présents afin d’adopter une motion sur les procédures pour une durée de 24 heures et ensuite voter une loi. «Je n’imagine pas que quiconque voudra profiter de la situation pour soutirer des gains partisans». L’élue de Shefford estime que la solution du Bloc évite au gouvernement «un règlement unilatéral» ou de «pelleter vers l’avant la solution jusqu’au moment des impôts à la fin avril». Manque de leadership «Non seulement le gouvernement de Justin Trudeau a manqué de leadership depuis mars et suscité une vive inquiétude au Québec, mais il n’était pas du tout préparé à livrer les vaccins en quantité et en temps opportun, ce que dénoncent les experts en santé», a expliqué Yves-François Blanchet dans le communiqué. Les bloquistes reprochent à Ottawa d’avoir réagi trop tard lors de l’apparition de la nouvelle variante du coronavirus au Royaume-Uni et de n’avoir pas été rigoureux dans les contrôles auprès des voyageurs. Andréanne Larouche exhorte le gouvernement Trudeau à réduire les passages aux frontières aux déplacements essentiels, à demander des tests au départ et à l’arrivée et à « superviser lui-même de façon étroite les quarantaines.» «Il faut qu’Ottawa, comme les États-Unis et l’Europe, impose le remboursement des billets à des compagnies aériennes qu’il s’apprête à aider généreusement. Il est inacceptable que des gens qui ont acheté de bonne foi un voyage pour leur famille, avant même la pandémie, se fassent dire de renoncer au voyage et à l’argent», a-t-elle plaidé sur les vols annulés, assurant les libéraux de la collaboration sincère du parti. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump’s former chief spokeswoman and one of his closest aides, announced Monday she’s running for Arkansas governor, vying for political office even as the former president’s legacy is clouded by an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. The former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, launched the bid less than a week after the end of Trump’s time in office and as the ex-president faces an impeachment trial. But her announcement reflected how much she expected voters in solidly red Arkansas to embrace the former president, if not his rhetoric. “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defence,” Sanders said in a video announcing her bid. “In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas.” The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders had been widely expected to run for the office after leaving the White House — and Trump publicly encouraged her to make a go. She’s been laying the groundwork for a candidacy, speaking to GOP groups around the state. Sanders joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed current Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat. Sanders launched her bid weeks after a riot by Trump’s supporters at the U.S. Capitol left five people dead. More than 130 people have been charged in the insurrection, which was aimed at halting the certification of President Joe Biden’s win over Trump. Sanders was the first working mother and only the third woman to serve as White House press secretary. But she also faced questions about her credibility during her time as Trump’s chief spokesperson. During her nearly two-year tenure, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary ended after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her about administration policy and the investigation into possible co-ordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. But Sanders earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media. Trump’s tumultuous exit from the presidency may do little damage to Sanders in Arkansas. Republicans hold all of Arkansas’ statewide and federal seats, as well as a solid majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Trump in November won the state by nearly 28 percentage points, one of the biggest margins in his ultimate loss to Biden. Sanders’ nearly 8-minute video prominently features photos of Trump, along with references to his favourite targets such as “cancel culture,” socialism and the Green New Deal. Griffin and Rutledge have spent months positioning themselves ahead of Sanders’ announcement, lining up endorsements from the state’s top Republicans and raising funds. Combined, the two have raised more than $2.8 million. The race could also get even more crowded. Republican State Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of Hutchinson’s, is considering a run for the seat. Sanders, who published a book last year and joined Fox News as a contributor after leaving the White House, enters the race with a much higher profile than any of the candidates. She remains an unknown on many of the state’s biggest issues, though in her announcement she called for reducing state income taxes and cutting off funding for cities that violate immigration laws. Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press
La Banque de développement du Canada (BDC) s’attend à une meilleure performance économique au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean en 2021 que la moyenne québécoise, grâce à la reprise rapide de ses secteurs économiques clés et de l’emploi. Dans la région comme ailleurs dans la province, 2021 sera une année de relance et de croissance, après la contraction de 2020 imposée par la crise sanitaire de la COVID-19, estime Pierre Cléroux, économiste en chef de la BDC. Il aborde la prochaine année avec optimisme pour l’économie régionale, en soulignant la forte demande actuellement pour le bois d’oeuvre et l’aluminium, qui a des impacts sur la hausse des prix et des exportations. «Cela a un impact positif sur la production, et ces deux secteurs-là sont ceux qui vont avoir un impact positif sur la région», a souligné M. Cléroux, en entrevue avec Le Quotidien. Il cite également la relève du secteur manufacturier en général parmi les secteurs qui «performent bien» actuellement. L’économiste s’attend ainsi à une relance plus rapide que celle anticipée par Desjardins, qui estimait en septembre que le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean connaîtrait l’une des reprises les plus lentes et difficiles de la province en 2021. Dans la région comme ailleurs, toutefois, il faut s’attendre à une reprise à deux vitesses, alors que certains secteurs demeurent durement touchés par la crise et les impacts du deuxième confinement. Les pertes d’emploi sont encore importantes dans la restauration, l’hôtellerie, le tourisme et dans les arts et spectacles. Des régions comme Montréal demeureront par exemple plus affectées sur ce plan, en raison de l’importance de ces secteurs pour leur économie, précise Pierre Cléroux. L’économiste demeure confiant de voir un rebond rapide des investissements et de la consommation dans ces secteurs lorsque la vaccination permettra de lever ou de réduire les mesures sanitaires. «Ce qu’on a appris en 2020, c’est que lorsqu’on enlève les restrictions sur un secteur, ce secteur-là revient rapidement», indique-t-il. Plusieurs consommateurs seront prêts à dépenser après avoir diminué leurs dépenses en voyages, activités et loisirs en 2020, croit-il, alors que l’épargne des Canadiens s’est élevée à 200 G$ en 2020. Rétablissement de l'emploi La reprise observée dans les secteurs manufacturier, de l’aluminium et de la forêt a contribué au rétablissement du marché du travail régional à l’automne, souligne en outre Pierre Cléroux. En octobre, l’emploi avait retrouvé son niveau d’avant la crise, le dépassant même légèrement, alors que 19 000 emplois avaient été perdus au printemps. «Ce n’est pas le cas dans l’ensemble du Québec, donc je pense que votre région va mieux performer que la moyenne québécoise», estime l’économiste. Dans la province, l’emploi s’était alors rétabli à 97,2% en octobre par rapport à février. L’emploi a cependant légèrement diminué en décembre dans la région, pour descendre sous le niveau de février, selon les données de l’Institut de la statistique du Québec. Son rétablissement demeure néanmoins au-devant de celui la province, où le niveau d’avant la crise n’a toujours pas été retrouvé. Après avoir été la région affichant le plus haut taux de chômage en mai et en juin, avec des sommets de 16,1% et 16,5%, le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean se situait à 6,1% en décembre, sous le taux provincial de 7,2%. La région termine toutefois l’année 2020 avec un taux de chômage à 9,1%, dépassant légèrement la moyenne provinciale de 8,8,%. M. Cléroux sera d’ailleurs l’un des invités du prochain Rendez-vous économique de la Chambre de commerce et d’industrie Saguenay-Le Fjord. L’événement dédié aux perspectives économiques de 2021 qui aura lieu en ligne jeudi, de 11h à 13h. + LES ENTREPRISES EN MEILLEURE SITUATION Pierre Cléroux, économiste en chef de la BDC, demeure également optimiste pour les entreprises, alors que leur situation s’est améliorée récemment, selon la dernière enquête réalisée par l’institution financière en décembre. Les entreprises disposent de davantage de liquidités. «Dans la restauration, ce n’est pas le cas, mais en général, dans l’ensemble des autres secteurs, les entreprises semblent en meilleure position qu’elles ne l’étaient il y a six mois», constate M. Cléroux. L’endettement des entreprises demeure cependant élevé après cette année difficile qui a amené 7% des entreprises du Québec à mettre la clé sous la porte en 2020, pour un total de 60 000 au Canada. Le virage numérique demeure la clé pour les commerçants afin de leur permettre de tirer leur épingle du jeu, estime l’économiste, qui est également vice-président recherche de la société d’État qui se consacre aux entrepreneurs. L’institution possède d’ailleurs un centre d’affaires au centre-ville de Chicoutimi. Pénurie de main-d’oeuvre Les dirigeants et entrepreneurs ne seront toutefois pas au bout de leur peine, une fois que la relance sera sur les rails. Le défi de la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre, qui représentait l’enjeu économique d’avant la crise, refera surface et frappera plus durement, prévient l’économiste. «En plus, en 2020, on n’a presque pas eu d’immigration, donc ça va amplifier le problème», estime-t-il. En plus de l’immigration, les entreprises devront se tourner vers les investissements dans la technologie et la formation pour faire face à cette situation qui sera selon lui «l’enjeu d’une décennie».Myriam Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” by Joan Didion (Alfred A. Knopf) Back in 1968, Joan Didion identified a problem with the mainstream media. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain, very probably by an Associated Press wire …,” she begins in an essay that goes on to criticize traditional news outlets, including the wire service carrying this review, for pretending that there is such a thing as neutral, unbiased, objective reporting. That article, “Alicia and the Underground Press,” was a snarky ode to alternative newspapers in the 1960s like the East Village Other and Berkeley Barb that might have been “amateurish and badly written” but at least had the virtue of speaking directly to their readers, and speaking to them as friends. Some 50 years later, in a media landscape dominated by players who present “alternative facts” with a straight face, and consumers who get their news through platforms tailored to their specific interests, Didion’s critique seems more prescient than ever. The essay is one of 12 she wrote between 1968 and 2000 that have been collected in a new volume, “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” sure to be of interest to Didion completists and fans of such cultural touchstones as “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Others haven’t aged as well. Another piece from 1968, about Gamblers Anonymous, quotes the people at a meeting in ungrammatical English, speaking “as if from some subverbal swamp.” In “A Trip to Xanadu,” she sneers at tourists at the Hearst Castle in their “slacks and straw hats and hair rollers.” But when she punches up instead of down, the results can be devastating, as in her portrait from the same year of Nancy Reagan, then the wife of the California governor, portrayed as a media-savvy control freak and distant mother to her then 10-year-old son. Similarly, her 2000 profile of Martha Stewart captures what most observers missed at the time — that Martha wasn’t selling homemaking, she was selling success. The best of the bunch have to do with the subject Didion, 86, knows and cares about most — being a writer. In essays like “Why I Write,” whose title she borrowed from George Orwell, “Telling Stories” and “Last Words,” she makes it clear why she has been an essential voice in American arts and letters for more than half a century. Ann Levin, The Associated Press