Here's the latest for Monday October 19th: Congress runs out of time for coronavirus aid deal; COVID-19 rates rising quickly in El Paso, Texas; Trump & Biden campaign in swing states; SpaceX sends internet satellites into orbit.
Here's the latest for Monday October 19th: Congress runs out of time for coronavirus aid deal; COVID-19 rates rising quickly in El Paso, Texas; Trump & Biden campaign in swing states; SpaceX sends internet satellites into orbit.
SOUTH BRUCE – Sixty-four per cent of South Bruce residents would vote ‘no’ to a deep geological repository (DGR) if a vote were held today, according to results from an independent survey held in October. Sixteen per cent of respondents indicated they would vote for the proposal while 20 per cent said they were not sure. A total of 284 adult residents participated in the survey. The survey intended to represent the adult population of South Bruce. Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste (POW-NNW) commissioned Mainstreet Research, one of Canada’s top public opinion and market research firms, to ask residents of South Bruce “if a community vote were held today would you vote for or against creating a deep underground storage facility in South Bruce for high-level radioactive nuclear waste?” Residents were also asked how informed they felt about the issues. Sixty-four per cent answering they feel either very informed or somewhat informed. Only 13 per cent said they felt not informed at all. “This is a clear and resounding rejection of the proposed DGR,” Michelle Stein, president of POW-NNW said, “and residents feel informed enough to make the decision that they are not a willing host.” These findings echo the Municipality of South Bruce’s smaller poll from September 2020, which indicated that 74 per cent of residents want a referendum to vote on the project and 81 per cent of residents disagree with the municipality’s 36 principles for determining the community’s willingness to host the project. “Mayor Buckle and council have said repeatedly they are ‘willing to listen,’” added Ron Groen, a board member for POW-NNW. “I expect Mayor Buckle to listen to this message from a clear majority of the community and tell the NWMO our community is not a willing host.”Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
A former chief of Siksika Nation and Blackfoot leader, Isapo-muxika, is one of several historical figures under consideration to be featured on the Bank of Canada’s new $5 bill. Eight shortlisted candidates are being considered for the new note selected from a list of 600 eligible nominees from a six-week public consultation process that ended March 11, 2020. Over 45,000 Canadians participated in the process. Isapo-muxika or Sahpo Muxika, known more commonly as Crowfoot, was born circa 1830 near Belly River, Alta. and died April 25, 1890 near Blackfoot Crossing. Crowfoot was a leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy and known for his judicious use of diplomacy, and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples. Others shortlisted for the $5 bill include Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, and Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft). The list will be submitted for consideration to the Minister of Finance. Each candidate will be judged on enacting positive change, being a national icon, universality (impacting Canada, reflecting values), uniqueness, and relevancy. The selected candidate will be announced in early 2021.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
TORONTO — A new study suggests people who visit a hospital emergency room at least twice in 12 months because of alcohol are more likely to die within a year.Researchers at ICES and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found one in 20 people who ended up in hospital two or more times in a 12-month period for mental and behavioural issues related to alcohol died within a year of their first visit.The risk of death was double for those who went to hospital five or more times.The study looked at nearly 26,000 people in Ontario over the age of 16 who landed in the ER at least twice within a 12-month period between January 2010 and December 2016. Of those, two-thirds went to hospital twice, 22 per cent went three or four times, and 12 per cent had five or more visits.More than two-thirds of those with five or more visits were male, almost half were aged 45 to 64 years, and nearly 90 per cent lived in urban centres, with 40 per cent of those coming from the lowest-income neighbourhoods. Senior author Dr. Paul Kurdyak, a scientist at CAMH and the non-profit research institute ICES, says frequent visits should signal the need to screen patients for problematic drinking and unmet social and health-care needs.The majority of deaths were from accidental poisoning, suicide and trauma, as well as diseases of the digestive system. The study was published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
A Black man who was stopped by police while dropping his son off at daycare eight years ago was racially profiled, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has found.The tribunal ordered the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, a Longueuil police officer and a former police officer to pay Joel Debellefeuille $10,000 in damages, plus interest.Debellefeuille was stopped by police outside his son's daycare in March 2012, after police followed his car for more than a kilometre.In his decision, Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that would include providing training to officers, and collecting and evaluating race-based data on people who are stopped by police. Brunelle also said Quebec's human rights commission must pay the plaintiff's legal fees, ruling that the delays in responding to Debellefeuille's complaint were abnormally long and unacceptable. In addition, Dominic Polidoro, who remains a police officer, was ordered to pay $2,000 in punitive damages.The tribunal's ruling is binding, unlike those of the human rights commission.According to the decision, Polidoro testified that he followed Debellefeuille's vehicle because he thought Debellefeuille was looking at him, had gestured toward him and had said something to him while the two vehicles were stopped at a stop sign.Brunelle found that Polidoro's explanation didn't justify his stop of Debellefeuille."It is highly improbable that a white man (or woman) who, while driving their vehicle observed a police officer while continuing to talk with the other passengers and gesticulating — as many people do incidentally while expressing themselves — would be considered a suspect for that sole reason," Brunelle wrote.Brunelle found that Polidoro's actions could only be "rationally explained by the prejudices he maintained, whether consciously or not, toward a Black man driving a luxury car."Debellefeuille, who was driving a BMW at the time, told the tribunal that he had been stopped "numerous times" by police.The other officer who stopped Debellefeuille, Jean-Claude Bleu Voua, was not ordered to pay additional punitive damages because he is no longer a police officer and could not be found by the tribunal.He is believed to have left the country.'This is how we make progress'Collecting race-based data is an important step, said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, which supported Debellefeuille's complaint.Niemi said that data will make it harder for the police department to deny that racial profiling exists.He said his organization is looking to the courts, because municipal and provincial politicians aren't taking action to stop racial profiling."What we are seeing now is that these battles will have to be fought in the courts and when the court sides with us and imposes these decisions," Niemi said. "This is how we make progress."Neither the Longueuil municipal government — which sought to have the case dismissed — nor its police service responded to a request for comment on Saturday.Quebec's human rights commission praised the decision in a statement.The commission is also calling for another Montreal suburb and three of its police officers to pay $35,000 in damages to a Black man who says he was racially profiled.Francois Ducas was also driving a BMW when he was stopped by Repentigny police.Ducas, who objected to the stop and refused to identify himself, was handcuffed and searched.Police issued Ducas, a secondary school teacher, two tickets: one for obstruction, the other for injuring a police officer.The commission believes he was stopped because of his race.Repentigny is challenging the commission's decision. That challenge will be heard before the Human Rights Tribunal.Marlène Girard, the director of communications for Repentigny, said she couldn't comment on the case but that the municipality has "increased the number of initiatives seeking to bring the police service closer to the diversity of its population" over the past few years."Today we acknowledge that we still have work to do," Girard wrote in an email. "We are being proactive, we are not waiting for the outcome of current cases of alleged racial profiling or future allegations in order to take action."Last week, the Repentigny police service announced it had hired a consulting firm to develop a plan to be more inclusive.However, Niemi said he believes the Repentigny police are still denying the seriousness of the problem.
Wheatland County has updated its public behaviour bylaw to modernize it and make it consistent with provincial legislation regarding smoking and vaping. The updated bylaw prohibits smoking or vaping tobacco in, on or within five metres of an outdoor skating rink, playground, skate park or sports field accessed by the public, and within five metres of an entrance or exit to a public premise. The bylaw also prohibits any consumption of cannabis in any public place, unless they are medically entitled to do so under provincial regulation. These offences were already prohibited under provincial law. The bylaw also requires no-smoking signs to be posted at each entrance to any public place, workplace or public vehicle, as well as inside each public place. Smoking or vaping in prohibited locations warrant a $250 fine for a first-time offence and a $500 fine for subsequent offences. The county’s public behaviour bylaw, first passed in 2012, establishes restrictions on certain behaviours to ensure safe public spaces, including public defecation, fighting, loitering and trespassing. The county’s operations and building management department requested to add some restrictions to address tobacco and cannabis vaping and use within certain distances of doorways on county owned facilities. This was to ensure the bylaw was in-line with the provincial Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act, last amended in June 2018. All RCMP detachments serving Wheatland County were circulated the updated bylaw. No written comments were received, but the detachments supported the changes verbally, said Kris Permann, senior community peace officer with the county. During its regular meeting on Nov. 10, council passed the bylaw unanimously through three separate readings.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
WALKERTON – PJ Mack, known outside music circles as Pat McNinch, has been entertaining his neighbours all fall (in good weather), putting on impromptu concerts in his Walkerton driveway. The popular local singer and songwriter had about 100 bookings at the beginning of the year, and played regularly until COVID-19 hit. Then everything stopped – except the music. Mack’s style is deeply personal, with a country-folk sound and words that mean something – songs like “The Message” that he wrote with Tom Traversy and performed to considerable acclaim at the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 102 hall last year. Apart from a few concerts such as Music by the Gazebo at Victoria Jubilee Hall, this year Mack’s stage has mostly been his driveway. It all started when he got together with his old bandmates from Yesterday’s Wine and did a driveway concert for about 50 people. But now Mack is moving to the recording studio. “It will be all original songs,” said Mack. He’s already made at least one sale – a neighbour asked if the CD would feature the songs the musician has been playing in the driveway – and if so, he wanted one. “The CD is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years,” said Mack. He hopes it will be ready for Christmas. After that, a lot of what happens depends on COVID-19. Mack said, “Who knows how long it will last?” In all likelihood, he’ll be resuming his driveway concerts in the spring, for one simple reason. “People love it,” the musician said.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Rick Massini has dedicated a good chunk of his time to public education, and helping students learn. This week he was honoured by the Alberta School Boards Association with the President’s Award. “I found out about this second hand, actually,” said Massini. “I was shocked and extremely honoured to get this award. “I’ve met so many great trustees around the province, and to be chosen for this award is amazing. “I’m speechless.” The award is given out every year to someone in the province who has made “an exemplary contribution to education.” Alberta School Boards Association president Lorrie Jess picked the winner of the award. Massini started teaching in the Hat in 1980 and began his career in Calgary eight years before that. He started in the Hat at Medicine Hat High School as a science, math and physical education teacher. He then went into a counselling role at Hat High. He then moved into the role as vice-principal at the same school. After that he moved to Ross Glen School to be principal. He is now the vice chair of the public school board. “It’s always been about helping people learn for me,” he said. “I really identified with students who may not have learned in traditional ways and may not have learned as fast, because I am a non-traditional learner. “Education is so important to me and I’ve always wanted to help students learn.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
BROCKTON – Council has renewed its contract with Veolia Water Canada for five years, for the operation, maintenance and management of Brockton’s water and wastewater. The report presented by director of operations Gregg Furtney outlined Veolia’s history with the municipality, beginning in 2006. The most recent agreement renewal was awarded in 2016, for five years. The term ends in June, 2021. Because the municipality is entering into 2021 budget discussions, staff spoke with Veolia representatives about “what a renewal and amended agreement may look like.” The five-year extension to the present agreement would involve an adjustment to the annual fee from the current rate of $702,645 to $727,376, an increase of $24,731, with subsequent increases based on the previous year’s price plus an adjustment for inflation. Furtney’s report stated there was discussion related to “operations and costs associated with a significant event, such as a pandemic, that could make operating significantly more onerous.” Veolia has stated the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, has not proven to be significantly more onerous. Veolia staff have operated safely and successfully throughout the pandemic. The renewal agreement will include the addition of the Fischer Dairy sewage pumping station and the upcoming Walker West booster pumping station. It also includes additional sampling and operational oversight of the water systems at various community centres including the Bradley School House, Cargill Community Centre, and Elmwood Community Centre. Furtney’s report noted “Veolia Water Canada Inc. staff have been great partners in Brockton. They have highly trained and knowledgeable staff that work hard to provide our residents with safe drinking water and maintain important Brockton-owned infrastructure.” He further noted their response time to emergencies has been excellent. Veolia has donated to the Walkerton Clean Water Legacy Scholarship Fund. There was some discussion among councillors about looking into taking on the task of managing water and wastewater in-house. Furtney said wages alone would make that prospect a daunting one, not to mention the need to purchase vehicles and other equipment. It’s not something that could be planned in a few months. “If, in two years, council wants to do this, we can start planning.” Mayor Chris Peabody stated the municipality has been quite pleased with the agreement with Veolia. He suggested if council were to decide to look into managing water and wastewater in-house, that partnering with another municipality would make it more affordable. “After 15 years, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate (the possibility),” he said. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said the Veolia contract is one of the two largest contracts the municipality has – the other is with the OPP. He noted Veolia “appears to be a good partner” for the municipality. Coun. Steve Adams said he supports Furtney’s report. “It would be very expensive and risky to do it on our own,” he said, adding that the agreement with Veolia has provided “good value and safe drinking water” for the municipality.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopia’s government is again warning residents of the besieged capital of the embattled Tigray region as the clock ticks on a 72-hour ultimatum before a military assault, saying “anything can happen.”Senior official Redwan Hussein told reporters Monday that the Tigray regional leaders are “hiding out in a densely populated city; the slightest strike would end up losing lives.”Human rights groups and others were alarmed over the weekend when Ethiopia’s military warned civilians in the Tigray capital, Mekele, that there would be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before the offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders. Amnesty International warns that deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects “is prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes war crimes.”Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister, issued a 72-hour ultimatum Sunday for the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, to surrender.Redwan said that Mekele, a city of around 500,000 people, is now encircled at a distance of about 50 kilometres (30 miles), and with rougher terrain left behind “what remains is the plain land, easier for tanks.”He added, “by providing a brute fact, it is letting people to understand the reality and make the right choice.” Ethiopia’s government is urging Mekele residents to separate themselves from the TPLF leaders in time.Cara Anna, The Associated Press
It’s been just over a year since Nalcor Energy impounded the reservoir at Muskrat Falls. How much methylmercury that would release into the water downstream and subsequently the impact it would have on the food chain in central Labrador has been the topic of much debate over the years, and that debate is still going on. Ryan Calder, an assistant professor of environmental health and policy in the department of population health science at Virginia Tech, and the lead author of the 2016 Harvard paper "Future Impacts of Hydroelectric Power Development on Methylmercury Exposures of Canadian Indigenous Communities," took to social media recently to express his concern over the methylmercury readings for the first year following impoundment. Calder said the increased levels showing at a station downstream from Muskrat Falls, N5, are more in line with what his group at Harvard estimated, and exceed the projections made on behalf of Nalcor Energy. He said he wishes they were wrong in their predictions, but based on what he’s seen so far it doesn’t appear to be so. “Nalcor and the government of Newfoundland claimed that there was no possibility for risk to people or the environment, spent years claiming up and down there was nothing to worry about, and now monitoring is coming out showing that the peak levels are still increasing and are within the range that was forecasted,” he said. Data from the last four years available online shows that the recorded levels in the water exceeded the Nalcor predicted peak of 0.1 namograms per litre a couple times in the last year and does show an increased overall level of methylmercury. Calder said it’s common for levels to increase in the first year after impoundment and stay higher for a few years before levelling off, but any increase corresponds to an increase in risk. “It’s known that when you flood a reservoir there are increased methylmercury levels. Nalcor doesn't deny that creation of the reservoir accelerates the production of methylmercury. They accept that there are impacts on water, they accept that people eat the fish, but they don’t accept there’s any risk to the people and that’s logically inconsistent.” It’s too early at this point to assess any risk to people, he said, and that would require more data on methylmercury in fish, which has not been released yet for 2019, but increased methylmercury levels in the water are the first signal. When asked by SaltWire Network about the levels, Nalcor Energy said the measured values in water are very similar to those predicted and are within safe limits. James McCarthy, senior associate biologist with Wood, the firm that handles the monitoring for Nalcor, said he doesn’t see anything in the levels that would cause concern from a human health perspective. “Ultimately, it’s the fish concentration that matters, that’s the interaction with people. Even though water is an early indication it’s really the fish that matter most to people. We just finished the sampling for 2019, so that’s a full year of flooding, but had three years of head pond formation, and we’ve seen nothing really in the fish.” McCarthy said the increased levels are in line with projections made for Nalcor in 2018, which did differ from lower predictions in previous years, and so far everything appears to be on track. The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities told SaltWire Network methylmercury levels are below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines for aquatic life and at no time have levels presented a risk to public health.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
B.C. health officials have confirmed another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, a weekend which also saw 17 more people die of the disease.The number of patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is at 277, another new high, with 59 people in intensive care. There are now 7,360 active cases of the virus across B.C.Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional during Monday's briefing, as she addressed the growing spread of the virus in long-term care and assisted living, saying the majority of those who died this weekend were seniors and elders living in long-term care.She said it is urgent for everyone to do their part to reduce their social interactions and get the spread of this virus under control, but also offered reassurance that health officials and members of the public. have the tools and the knowledge to do that."I say this to fuel that fire of determination and resilience that I have seen in people across this province," Henry said.Monday's update included six new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and six in acute care units of hospitals. The majority of the new cases announced Monday — about 89 per cent — continue to be in the regions covered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.To date, 27,407 people in B.C. have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 348 people have died. There are now 10,200 people in isolation and under active monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the disease.'The next leg is not in sight'The weekend was the first in B.C. under a long list of public health orders and recommendations that came into effect on Thursday.The orders, which include mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and social gatherings that are restricted to members of the same household, will be in effect until at least Dec. 7. All indoor and outdoor events of any size have been suspended — that means popular events like the Stanley Park Christmas Train and VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights in Vancouver have been put on hold.Henry clarified Monday that despite some confusion over the weekend, movie theatres must also close for now.Initially, stricter orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 only included the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which were seeing a disproportionate spike in case numbers.Monday marks 16 days since Henry enacted those first regional orders. It takes at least 14 days, the incubation period for COVID-19, to be able to determine whether those measures are working.During Monday's briefing, Henry compared the pandemic to an Iron Man triathlon competition, with "three different, strenuous legs."We got through the swim — just barely. And now we're on the bike ride and we've got some big hills to climb ahead of us," she said."Right now, we have a distance to go. The next leg is not in sight."The final leg of this pandemic will only come when a vaccine is available, Henry explained.New measures and restrictionsSocial gatherings in B.C. are now restricted to household members only. That means no one should be meeting for social reasons with anyone outside of their immediate household, although a physically distanced walk with a friend or arranging for grandparents to pick up the kids from school is still acceptable.People who live alone can create a small exclusive "bubble" with one or two others, Henry has said.Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that there can be no bartering or compromise when it comes to the orders that are currently in place."We cannot negotiate with the virus. We can't deal with it that way — there's no litigation to be had," he said.In response to questions about how much notice event organizers might receive about when they're able to reschedule because the current orders are being lifted, Henry said she didn't have an answer."Things we were able to do in the summer — we had a buffer, we had the weather on our side. We can't get away with that anymore. We will see if that is going to make a difference over the next coming weeks," she said.The new mandatory mask mandate is a requirement for workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.The order for mandatory masks does not include schools.Henry said Monday that schools aren't public places where strangers can come and go at will. Instead, the same people are spending time together every day.However she said that masks are encouraged within school environments, particularly for adults.
The Nova Scotia government is using $21.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to purchase thousands of new computers for students and upgrade servers and Wi-Fi systems in schools.The news comes several days after two schools were shut down and moved to at-home learning for two weeks due to several COVID-19 cases.Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province will buy 32,000 new computers, 24,000 of which have already been ordered and are expected to arrive by next month. The rest are to come in the new year.This is in addition to the 14,000 devices the province has already purchased. During a virtual briefing, Churchill said the level of need was determined by surveys submitted earlier this year by students and parents, as well as local input from regional education officials. The minister said the new supply would be able to meet demand."This is about ensuring that there's not a digital divide in our education system, that all of our students have equitable access to the tools they need to learn and succeed, even in an at-home learning environment," he said.The computers are coming from IMP following a tender process.A silver lining for the departmentThe timing is particularly relevant because on Friday the province closed Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour and Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook for 14 days after three cases of COVID-19 were detected between the two schools.When schools were shut down last spring and learning moved to an at-home model, it caused a number of problems for families and teachers. Churchill said much has been learned from that experience and he expects things to go more smoothly this time.Along with ensuring people who need technology have it, there are guidelines in place to help teachers and other staff and options such as teleconferences, USB drives for the sharing of work and appointments to attend schools in cases where students do not have high-speed internet at home.If there is a silver lining to the situation, Churchill said it's that his department has been forced to consider technological capacity and assess who does and does not have access to digital learning tools sooner than perhaps was otherwise planned."I don't see us moving back from this. In fact, I see us enhancing our ability to utilize technology in the learning environment at school and at home for the long run," he said.Erring on the side of cautionIn announcing the school closures on Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil acknowledged that it was as much about addressing concerns parents, students and staff had about the situation as it was anything else. Churchill said Monday that officials will err on the side of caution when it comes to determining whether a school should shift to a blended learning model or full at-home learning."Even if the risk may be low, we want to make sure that we're responding in a way that minimizes the risk of spread to the best of our ability."Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, has confirmed that evidence of community spread now exists in the greater Halifax area and his office has started announcing new restrictions. As of Monday, there were 51 known active cases of COVID-19 in the province.The funding announcement is in addition to the $40 million the province announced in August to help with the restart of the school year. Although the issues with technology were well established before September, Churchill said his department was awaiting access to the money from Ottawa before it could act.It's his hope the upgrades to servers and Wi-Fi systems will be completed before the end of the school year. The funding also includes money for 10 new full-time positions to help support the new devices, infrastructure upgrades and general at-home learning needs.MORE TOP STORIES
HURON COUNTY – Residential development proposals will soon have a comprehensive document to ensure that housing developers understand the community’s goals and expectations. Andrea Sinclair, urban designer for MHBC Planning Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, presented the final Residential Intensification Guidelines (RIGS) to Huron County council on Nov. 4. The motion was approved to accept the guidelines, and staff will distribute copies to local municipalities for information. These guidelines will help when evaluating development proposals and provide the community with more housing choices. The document mainly focuses on multi-unit development and will apply to all residential intensification projects in the county. The guidelines also address residential conversions and Additional Residential Units (ARUs). The RIGS are intended to be used by the builder and development community to guide residential developments. The guidelines address a full range of design considerations, including site layout, building design, parking, and landscaping. The guidelines, not meant to add more red tape to the process, are expected to streamline the process by setting out the design expectations early on and avoiding the development community and planning staff’s back-and-forth. By setting clear design objectives and priorities early in the process, the development community will understand what staff will be looking for when reviewing applications. The RIGS will ensure that neighbourhoods continue to be diverse while maintaining the need to accommodate a growing community. The County of Huron’s website states, “single detached dwellings meet many residents’ needs – but not all of them. When housing takes a wide range of forms, it can better meet the diverse needs of community members: those who rent, families requiring multiple bedrooms, seniors who are interested in downsizing, first time home buyers who can afford a house provided they can rent out the basement unit. “Neighbourhoods are dynamic places; the shifts anticipated in the next 20 years will bring about a renewal of our housing stock and the introduction of more dense forms of housing. This document is a tool to help manage that change and ensure that housing is available – and affordable – for all who call the county home.” For more information or to see the Residential Intensification Guidelines visit the Huron County website at www.huroncounty.ca.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
It’s no secret that many rural and remote Indigenous communities suffer with lower-quality internet or no connectivity at all. COVID-19 restrictions have shone a light on broadband inequity which limits the ability to work from home, attend school online, or access services such as healthcare virtually. The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), announced by the federal government recently with additional funds, is looking to rectify some of those concerns. But it remains unclear how, or if, Indigenous communities will really benefit. The fund, which contributes $1.75 billion to “advance large, high-impact projects, which will leverage partnerships including with the Canada Infrastructure Bank broadband initiative,” was originally announced in the 2019 budget as a $1 billion investment, with an addition of $750 million added this month in the wake of the pandemic. “Today's investments will help make progress on the Government of Canada's commitment to create over one million jobs, and its work to support Canadians living in rural, remote, and northern communities,” a media release on the project said. "High-speed Internet access is more than just a convenience,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of Health and Liberal MP in the riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North. The Government of Canada website states that the “goal is for all Canadians to have access to high-speed Internet of at least 50 Megabits per second download and 10 megabits per second upload speeds.” But not everyone in the House of Commons believes it’s time to celebrate. “One thing I’ve learned about broadband promises is that I wait until I see the money out the door,” said Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay. “I’ve seen multiple big ticket promises that they’re going to connect everybody within two or three or four years and yet we still see that we’re in the same situation.” The broadband fund announcement states it will allocate $50 million of the total budget for “mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples.” “This investment will help connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026 so that they can better participate in the digital economy,” the release states. “These mobile projects are expected to extend 4G LTE coverage or better mobile services to unserved areas. Projects must target Indigenous communities, roads within or leading to Indigenous communities, or highways and roads where the deployment of mobile network coverage would benefit Indigenous peoples. Unserved sections of roads that would be deemed strategic for the socio-economic development or public safety of Indigenous peoples could also be eligible,” the government website reads. But Angus says he’s unsure of exactly whether that’s enough funding to help out an impactful number of Indigenous communities. “The fact that they’re talking about $50 million set aside for First Nations… That seems to be a very small amount for regions that are among the most isolated in the country, and there’s no clear timeline which is concerning,” he said. “In the first wave of the pandemic when so many people had to work from home and students had to work from home — in isolated or even just rural communities — people were being shamelessly gouged by the telecom giants. This was a moment where the government did nothing.” Angus also raised a concern that the projects in Indigenous communities might be investing only in older satellite technology, rather than more modern fibre optic initiatives. “If you want communities to participate in the modern economy, you’re going to need to invest in fibre. To me, it’s a stopgap, not a solution,” he said. Angus drew parallels with the ongoing issues with boil water advisories in 61 Indigenous communities that the Trudeau Liberals promised would be resolved by 2021. “Broadband is another huge promise,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem to have the same levels of accountability mechanisms to make sure government actually delivers.” Windspeaker.comBy Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The Municipality of McDougall currently has two projects for which it would like to apply for funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan COVID-19 Resilience Stream. McDougall chief administrative officer Tim Hunt said that if the municipality is approved, it could see $100,000 to support projects. “The two I’d like to move forward with an application for funding is to complete the renovations at the municipal office (and) for accessibility renovations at the Nobel church,” he said during the Nov. 18 council meeting. The municipality is considering taking ownership of the facility as a recreation centre. Hunt said there would be accessibility issues for the entrance, washrooms and general cleanup of the building. “This funding is not going to cover any major renovations we want to do, but it will certainly put us in the position where we can operate the building in a positive (and) respectful manner to the citizens,” he said. Mayor Dale Robinson stated there was flexibility for the money to be moved around depending on the needs of the two projects. Coun. Joel Constable raised the question if there was any thought to replacing the municipal office down the road. “For the amount of money (contractors) were looking for to replace the windows and do some front repairs, it made me think, ‘is it worth doing?’” he asked. The reply from Hunt was, “I don’t see it happening in the very near future … I think this building will last us another few years, for sure.” However, Robinson noted that during the recent wind storm and power outage, it became evident there were some improvements that could be made to the offices. “We have older, outdated electric furnaces heating this building, which is not ideal and we don’t have a generator system that’s capable of powering it,” he said, adding the importance of striking a balance on renovation needs. Council advised staff to move forward with the grant application for the two projects for the Dec. 21 deadline.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
At a briefing Monday on how COVID-19 is affecting Horizon Health Network, president and CEO Karen McGrath said, "we could easily be overwhelmed with a very few new cases." McGrath said each of the regional Horizon Health centres tries to keep three to five medical beds open, and two to three ICU beds are kept open at each of the five largest hospitals to have room for a surge in COVID-19 patients."That doesn't sound like a very large number and it's not a very large number," said McGrath."So if, in fact, you have seven or eight people being admitted in a very short time, then in addition to everybody else we're providing care for, that small number could really impact the system and we could become overwhelmed really quickly."McGrath said, despite possible COVID fatigue, people should follow provincial guidelines and do what they can to stop the spread of the respiratory virus because only a few cases can impact the entire system."What happens is then we work very hard to get people out of hospital," said McGrath.She said if numbers of COVID-19 patients start to rise the first step is to cancel surgeries.64 staff isolatingMcGrath said 64 Horizon staff members are currently in isolation. She said there are not staff to fill in for these vacancies. "We are actually looking hour by hour as to how we staff particular areas," said McGrath.McGrath described the ICUs, emergency rooms and medical beds as "mission critical," meaning that these areas have to be properly staffed."That probably means when we get to a certain level, we are redeploying staff from other areas," and other services like surgeries are then cancelled. Stan Cassidy outbreakHorizon Health Network and New Brunswick Public Health are investigating a potential COVID-19 exposure at Horizon's Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton.McGrath said that about five patients and five staff who had direct contact with the staff member were tested, along with all other staff. Patients at the centre are also being tested for COVID-19.She said outpatient services have been cancelled for at least a week, while people receiving inpatient care will remain at the centre, but extra precautions are being taken."We have isolated patients within our facilities," McGrath said.She said the health care worker who tested positive for COVID on Saturday was not working at other places within Horizon.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, talks about the difficulty of finding the balance between keeping society open and maintaining the integrity of the health-care system.
Victory is always sweet in municipal politics, said Mayor Duane Favel, and this year, victory has meant starting his fifth term as leader of the Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse. Duane defeated fellow mayoral candidate Peter Durocher with 323 votes to 257, with 580 total votes cast. This will be a long four years of council, Favel said, with many challenges facing northern Saskatchewan communities and with COVID-19 those challenges are going to get bigger, he said. In a previous interview before the election, Duane said physician retention and high water levels have been a challenge for the community for years. Joining Duane at the council table will be incumbents Vincent Ahenakew, Bodean Desjarlais, Myra Malboeuf, and Gerald Roy, and new councillors Noel McLean and Kevin Favel. Having a mix of old and new councillors is good to have for both continuity and bringing new voices to the table, Duane said. “It's nice to have a council who clearly has a good background on some of the things we've been working on and to bring those two councillors up to speed. Certainly, their voices will be heard as well.” Mentoring the new councillors will be an important step in the coming term, Duane said. Duane said he would like to thank the outgoing councillors who have stepped away from the table, including Durocher, who decided to run for mayor. The open spots allowed for two new voices to join the conversation and Duane said he is excited to work with this new council. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is putting $500,000 from the Ending Violence Association of BC towards sexual assault response service programs over the next three years. The acquisition of the funding, announced by the ONA Nov. 20, is set to build on the work already carried out by the ONA’s “You Empowered and Strong” (YES) program. The program supports Syilx Okanagan Nation individuals, families and communities dealing with the impacts of trauma caused by violence including sexual assault and human trafficking. The funding is in line with the 231 outlying calls to justice coming out of the The Final Report on the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released in 2019, which includes the development of “self-determined and Indigenous-led solutions and services.” The YES program was launched after the ONA Wellness Committee identified needs to address family violence in the Okanagan Nation in 2015. In July 2019, the ONA Chiefs Executive Council passed a Tribal Council Resolution to support the calls to justice out of the Final Report and the continuation of the YES program. Each community determines how to provide the services the YES program offers baed on individual community needs. “The roots of violence toward Syilx women and girls can be traced back to the trauma and systemic racism that communities have experienced over years of colonization. The ONA remains committed to ensuring that Syilx individuals and families across the Nation have proper support, safety and healing,” said Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Chairman. “Through such initiatives as this we are taking decisive action to provide access to community-drive, culturally appropriate and effective services. This work must continue.”Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle