Arizona expects to get enough doses of new coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year to inoculate more than 383,000 health care workers and long-term care facility residents, the state's health director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday. (Dec. 4)
Arizona expects to get enough doses of new coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year to inoculate more than 383,000 health care workers and long-term care facility residents, the state's health director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday. (Dec. 4)
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
The Town of Gananoque will seek funding to develop an environmental action plan. In July 2019, Gananoque council declared a climate emergency, and in early 2020 created an environmental working group. Now, Coun. David Osmond, who sits on the working group, has proposed a motion to apply for funding to pay for an environmental action plan to be developed by a consultant. "I see this as a motion that's a follow-up to a promise we made when we declared a climate emergency, so we hand over the municipality in better shape than we received it," said Osmond, adding: "This climate crisis isn't going away, and it affects every resident and business in this community." Although there was some hesitation, the motion passed, and it authorizes staff to apply for funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities under the Green Municipal Fund for up to $40,000 to cover 50 per cent of the cost to develop an environmental action plan for the town. Osmond told council he had done some preliminary research and learned that a formal action plan by a qualified consultant could cost up to $80,000. "I feel this is an important issue, but to spend $80,000 on a consultant seems steep. We can put a plan in place in-house and it doesn't have to cost us anything," said Coun. Adrian Haird. His sentiments were echoed by Mayor Ted Lojko, but as the town's chief administrative officer Shellee Fournier explained, that would be a challenge. "We don't have anyone in-house with environmental expertise," said Fournier, adding that for staff to apply for the funding it would need to have a commitment from council for the other half of the money. "FCM won't consider the application unless council has committed the other piece of the funding," said Fournier. If the town's application is successful, council has committed to kicking in the balance of funds ($40,000) out of reserves, according to town treasurer Melanie Kirkby. It's not clear whether the town will forge ahead if the application fails to secure the funds, but the issue will come back to council. The idea of putting an action plan in place is to set clear objectives and provide the town with a starting point so staff can apply for green grants and start implementing environmental initiatives in town, said Osmond. "Just like the FCM grant we are going after to help cover 50 per cent of this plan, funding bodies require documentation to support applications' most if not all government grants want to know and see a municipality has a plan before they are considered for funding," said Osmond. The current environmental action group is made up of volunteers with a keen interest in the environment. "People and organizations can't sit back and wait, but we urge people to get involved, start something and reach out. It doesn't need to come from this working group to happen or even get support," said Osmond, adding that there is no formal membership for the group and people come and go as they please. At this time the group shares tips and stories through social media. Among its successes was the sharing of an easy way to build compost boxes which, according to Osmond, reached over 1,200 people. "Our site and members promote the green grant to help take-out restaurants switch to biodegradable containers. This got off to a slow start but as people become informed applications have increased significantly, which will have a real impact on waste reduction and keeping our town and rivers clean," said Osmond. The group was also behind setting up a Styro-bin so residents could drop packing grade Styrofoam to be sent to a Belleville company that recycles Styrofoam into solid blocks which eventually become picture frames and trim. "We have already filled one shipping container, which would have all gone to a landfill," said Osmond. There have been other initiatives brought forward by the group that the town has investigated but deferred for now.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
An avid fan of the great outdoors, Aidan Burbank was a regular fixture on the Town’s outdoor rinks and any local ponds frozen enough to allow he and his friends to have a casual game of three-on-three hockey. It was not only a passion, but a way for them to catch up after going their separate ways for school and work – and, for Aidan, an environmental science student, it may have been something of a release. After his death in October following a struggle with mental health that plagued him since childhood, his friends decided that the tradition would continue, laying the groundwork for the inaugural Aidan Burbank Pond Hockey Tournament which, in future years, will set out to raise money and awareness for mental health. Spearheaded by friends Cameron Palmer and Charles Peters, and a group which included Aidan’s brother Bryn, they hit the ice at Case Woodlot over the holidays to honour Aidan in a new tradition. “This was fitting because Aidan loved to spend his time outdoors and when I think of him I think about how much he liked to be outside,” says Charles. “We used to go out to the pond pretty well every year and meet him and Cameron and a couple of other buddies – we would always be going out to the ponds, so we figured that was perfect.” For mother Martha Burbank, her son’s peers’ idea to further Aidan’s legacy by carrying on and doing what he most loved to do, while making a tangible difference for those living what was Aidan’s everyday struggle, the inaugural tournament “means everything.” Martha had imagined the same idea – a holiday pond hockey tournament for Aidan – and was thrilled that his friends had independently thought of it. “Aidan was an amazing runner, a hockey lover and an avid outdoorsman,” says Martha. “He loved the forest, he studied hundreds of species of trees in field labs at university and thrive on that. Nature, quiet and being outside helped immensely with his happiness.” For the Burbanks, Aidan’s struggle was something they lived with every day since he was nine years old. When he lost his fight, the family began researching what they could do to have a positive impact on mental health charities. Among the organizations they earmarked were the Canadian Mental Health Association and Jack.org, an organization with a specialization on youth mental health. “When we publicized Aidan’s obituary, a lot of people donated to Jack.org, others decided the Canadian Mental Health Association. There have been tens of thousands of dollars to date in Aidan’s name from maybe 70 to 80 people. The response to mental health support from neighbours, friends and people whose life Aidan touched has been overwhelming,” says Martha. “We didn’t want charitable donations for this year’s tournament, but with this tournament, we wanted to establish a tradition of keeping mental illness at the forefront of discussion and be clear that it is important to be talked about.” The inaugural tournament, she says, was, despite the weather, a beam of sunlight that helped cut through the clouds. “We have had a bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs on a lot of these days since our son died, but this day was so wonderful,” she says. “I was chatting with these young men who are about 21 and I have known many of them since they were five, and maybe six other moms just independently arrived onto the ice. Everyone had a lot of compassion. A couple of the boys had a difficult time, one who plays baseball in the States was almost in tears and we were going through a lot of emotions.” In addition to a fundraiser in Aidan’s name, it was also a reunion in his honour. “I was just happy to be there with all these people,” says Cameron, who says he hopes the tourney will become an annual tradition. “Pond hockey is something we used to do every year and being there was really important. It was a good opportunity to just get everyone together and reflect on the positive stuff. We shared good stories and good memories.” Adds Charles: “It was nice that everyone could make it out for such a special cause and pay tribute. It was a little tough at first to just be out there thinking about it, but once we were all there and everyone was sharing stories, it became more of a fun event, almost like a celebration of life.” Aidan Burbank lost his fight on October 15 at the age of 21. Pursuing his degree in Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of New Brunswick right up until the time of his death in mid-October, he was previously a French Immersion student at Lester B. Pearson Public School and Aurora High School. “We had been struggling with Aidan’s mental health since he was nine,” says Martha. “This was a very long-term challenge for us. Parents really need to continue to follow through, call, email, whatever it is – if their child is in a situation and they are struggling and you’re waiting for counselling or therapy, you really have to pursue that with a lot of proactivity. Parents need to be as proactive and blunt as possible if their child is suffering and communicate with them about their suffering. They have to reach out and do everything they can to look for support systems.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
The COVID-19 pandemic brought Tamara Whitton's cotton candy business to a standstill in March; within just two days, the cotton candy maker lost every order on her books. Yet despite the cancellation of scores of festivals and fairs, where cotton candy is typically sold, Whitton's business has thrived during the pandemic. Her retail store in Fort Saskatchewan saw record walk-in traffic during the holiday season and customers bought containers of her cotton candy for drive-by birthday celebrations and virtual parties. Whitton said getting her cotton candy — available in a staggering 96 flavours — on major grocery store shelves helped boost the business during the past year, but so did the product's inclusion in a cardboard box packed with local items. In late October, Sobeys introduced The Alberta Box, a package of 22 locally-produced products for $49.99. Along with Whitton's gummy-bear-flavoured cotton candy, boxes included steak spice from Canmore, craft soda from Crowsnest Pass, gluten-free oatmeal from Calgary, energy bars from High River, and other items. Alberta business owners whose products were included in the box say it was not a big money-maker for them — they provided smaller versions of their products to the company — but the local boxes did help spread awareness of their brands across the province. "Any time when you're getting a product into people's hands, that's advertising," said Whitton, who has received new customers as a result of the box. Other local businesses owners also appreciated being included. "If I gained 25 per cent of the people that purchased those, I would be very happy with that," said Michael Heinen, sales manager for Gramma Bee's Honey in Sturgeon County. For Maureen Obrigewitch, who owns Souptacular Soups in St. Albert, getting her peas and barley soup into smaller communities via the box was a great opportunity. "That's what really appealed to us," she said. People who received the box as a gift and tried her soup have been emailing her with positive reviews, she said. Gary Hughes, a development manager for Sobeys, manages merchandise for 149 Sobeys, Safeway and IGA stores in Alberta. To assemble the box, he compared products from the several hundred Alberta suppliers he has relationships with and selected items that were either unique or "highly consumable." "The intent is to drive more business for some of these local companies," he told CBC Edmonton's Adrienne Pan. The box also helped grocery stores nudge customers to try new products. Pre-pandemic, suppliers were encouraged to offer samples in stores. "That's not really an option right now," Hughes said. The boxes are 90 per cent sold out, but the company is working on a spring version and plans to continue releasing them seasonally. Many business and municipal leaders, including Edmonton mayor Don Iveson, have encouraged Albertans to buy local in recent months. Kyle Murray, a marketing professor at the University of Alberta, said the movement started long before the pandemic. "Part of the reason you're seeing it crack grocery store shelves is simply because of demand," he said. Grocery stores, which operate with thin profit margins, can use unique, local merchandise as a way of drawing more customers to stores, he added. Heinen said he suspects people are spending a little more on local products now because they are saving money they would have otherwise spent in bars and restaurants. Whether the boxes continue to be a fixture in stores or not, multiple business owners included in the Sobeys box said they think the pandemic is changing the way Albertans shop. Heinen used his own product — raw honey — as an example. "You get those people who are now trying it because they have that extra dollar or two to buy something local and they realize, 'Hey, this tastes better. Why don't I keep doing this?'"
A bail hearing for a Moosomin First Nation man didn’t proceed in North Battleford Provincial Court Jan. 14 as scheduled. A lawyer representing Jonathan Swiftwolfe asked the court to adjourn the hearing for a week. Swiftwolfe’s appearance in court was also waived. Swiftwolfe has been in custody since his arrest Dec. 6, 2020, after multiple RCMP detachments worked together to locate him. He was wanted on charges of assault, uttering threats, several weapons-related offences, and flight from police. He was considered armed and dangerous when he was at large. When police arrested Swiftwolfe they say they found a loaded firearm in the vehicle within his reach. The charges against Swiftwolfe haven’t been proven in court. His bail hearing was adjourned to Jan. 19 in North Battleford Provincial Court. Moosomin First Nation is about 22 kilometres north of North Battleford.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
If you’re a diabetic, you probably know what it’s like to prick your finger to get a blood sugar reading. If you’re not, Canada may be calling you to let a little blood as a civic duty. The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force recently rolled out its latest wave of antibody home test kits in its effort to map the prevalence of COVID-19 in the country. This past week, 22,000 of the test kits were mailed to randomly selected Canadians. That’s in addition to 4,000 that were sent before Christmas. In total, 48,000 test kits will be distributed, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s share of that will be almost 3,600. Dr. Catherine Hankins, chair of the task force, says she hopes people realize the service they’re providing by participating. “There are two big reasons to participate,” she said this week. “One is you’re being called to serve, in a sense — to serve your province and your country by helping gather information that’s going to be useful to decision-makers … but also, you get to learn your own result, and I can tell you a lot of people are curious.” However, you can't volunteer to do the test unless you've received a kit. The daily count of COVID-19 cases that appears in the news only tallies those who have tested positive for the disease through PCR testing. That’s a genetic test that can detect even the smallest amount of virus in a person's airways. An antibody test is different. It detects the cells a person's body creates to combat the virus. They can linger for months, or even a year or more, long after a person has recovered. They will also be there even if a person didn’t know they had the disease. One advantage of the Canadian-made test the task force is using is that it can detect the difference between the antibodies that occur naturally to fight viral infection, and those that are induced by a vaccine. Commercially produced tests have not been able to do that until now. Michael Grant, an immunologist at Memorial University in St. John’s, says tests they conducted last year did not have that capability. In his study, Grant said, they recruited people who had COVID-19 or thought they might have it or been exposed to it. Out of 160 volunteers, they found only two cases of people who tested negative for the coronavirus but actually had the antibodies. One of them was someone who had quarantined during a cruise, and tested negative when they got back. However, Grant says he was encouraged by the fact some people still had antibodies in their system several months after being exposed. “It would suggest to me that the (infection) immunity is going to last at least as long as the vaccine-based immunity," he said. “That’s all we can say so far, because it hasn’t been that long a time.” Grant said the task force study will offer some important insights, and may even help inform who is best to vaccinate after the high-priority groups are covered. “Right now, the public health approach is that everyone should get the vaccine,” he said. But he adds that 48,000 tests will only tell so much. “They would have to get out a lot in order to cover the entire country and be able to get an accurate idea of prevalence in different regions,” he said. Hankins agrees the sample size won’t give a clear picture of specific regions of a given province, and tests aren’t being distributed to Indigenous reservations, military facilities or prisons. But the algorithm used by Statistics Canada ensures a representative cross-section of age and gender. That’s why she is hoping for a high participation rate. “You’re representing not just yourself,” she tells test recipients, “but everybody else your age, your sex and your province, so you’re really important.”Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Toutes les régions administratives du Québec ont connu des changements démographiques importants entre le 1er juillet 2019 et le 1er juillet 2020. Selon l’Institut de la statistique du Québec, la Covid-19 a évidemment un lien, avec entres-autres, tous les décès, la fermeture des frontières, le ralentissement de l’immigration, ainsi que la diminution des échanges migratoires entre les régions.Alors que plusieurs régions éloignées, tel que le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie ont connu une croissance de leur population, la Côte-Nord est la seule où le nombre d’habitants a diminué, mais la décroissance aurait tout de même ralenti relativement aux années antérieures, avec une baisse de 1,9 pour 1000 habitants.C’est donc dire que la population actuelle de la Côte-Nord serait de 90 529 habitants, versus 92 713 en 2016, la classant au 16ème rang des 17 régions administratives du Québec.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
REGINA — The head of the Saskatchewan Health Authority says the province's health-care system is at its most fragile point yet during the pandemic as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb."With all the other pressures the system is experiencing ... and now with immunization and helping to manage outbreaks, we're pushing ourselves to the absolute limit," CEO Scott Livingstone said during a briefing. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the province has the country's highest rate of active cases per 100,000 people at 319. Another 312 infections were reported Thursday.Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer, said he will recommend the government introduce stricter public health measures if he keeps seeing 300 or more new infections daily,Premier Scott Moe and Shahab decided earlier this week to wait another 14 days to see if existing public health orders bring down a spike in cases, which the pair attributed to holiday gatherings. A virus expert cautioned against the idea that the current spread is a reflection of Christmas."There is always a danger in looking at or viewing it from that perspective because there's maybe the tendency to think that, 'OK, in a few weeks time things will turn around," Dr. Jason Kindrachuk said from Saskatoon. "Once the transmission chains start we have to try and slow those down."Current measures forbid guests in private homes, but people can still gather outdoors in groups of 10, go shopping and visit restaurants — although businesses must restrict their capacity. Same with personal services, such as hair salons. Bingo halls and casinos are the only activities shut down and team sports are banned, except for kids in small practice groups."If we want our numbers to go down, we need to actually hit the brakes," said Kyle Anderson, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon."We need to either compel people or convince people that they need to be more responsible in what they're doing."Moe, citing concern over job losses and people's well-being, has rejected returning the province to a full economic shutdown."We all know the right things to do even if we aren't forced to do it. And the fact that Saskatchewan has the worst numbers means we are following the rules the least," said Anderson.As of Thursday, 206 people were in hospital with COVID-19 — the most to date — and 34 of them were receiving intensive care. For weeks, health officials have warned about the strain the pandemic's second wave has been having on contact tracing and ICUs. The health authority said normally the province has 75 intensive care beds and has created 16 more, which are used depending on demand. Of the 91 available beds, 82 were full Thursday, with 34 of the patients sick with COVID-19. Anderson said he expects to see more hospitalizations because people who are in those beds now became infected weeks ago, and there's a lag time before more recent cases result in hospital admissions.Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, also a professor at the University of Saskatchewan in community health and epidemiology, said circumstances change quickly in a pandemic, and the province's active case rate could be lower by the weekend. But he doesn't believe Saskatchewan would fall far behind that many other provinces. He suggested what's more important is to watch the trajectory of new infections, which has formed a "steep slope.""There is a correlation, connection between more cases, more hospital beds occupied, also more ICU care needed and more deaths."It's more, more, more."He said another concerning trend is how many people are dying each day, including those who weren't living in long-term care homes or who were younger than 50.Since the start of January, health officials have reported 51 deaths. "That worries me," said Muhajarine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Saskatchewan Rivers School Division trustees are continuing professional development despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually there are provincial gatherings to help trustees, but they've stopped since the start of the pandemic. Some discussion about that issue took place at the board’s regular meeting on Monday. Education director Robert Bratvold said they're really focusing on learning and development, even though the circumstances can make it challenging. The board will engage in a planning seminar on Jan. 15 and 16 to review and discuss a number of items related to effective governance and leadership. One topic of conversation will be a letter the board received from the School Community Council of Wild Rose School about their trustee representative in the school clusters. “It came as a correspondence item that the board was informed about and then further discussion about that will happen at the seminar,” Bratvold explained. The letter states that another meeting should be held between the parties on Jan. 19. “Obviously, there is some communication and some understanding of what the role of the school clusters are and what a role of a trustee is and those sorts of things, so (there are) lots of opportunities for communication,” Bratvold explained. Bratvold added that trustees will be participating in over 20 online modules scheduled in 90-minute blocks over the next month through the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). He said these sessions will support new and returning trustees in their role as educational leaders and as effective voices in local government. “I know there are going to be over 20 sessions on everything from legal aspects of being a trustee to student support services to anything you can imagine to make them a better trustee. Our trustees are taking part in those sessions in a big way,” Bratvold said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril, under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Karsen Roy has made her mark as a leader on the soccer pitch, on the ice, and within Country Day School. Last year, her work was recognized by the Town of Aurora with the 2020 Youth Volunteer Award, part of the Town’s Community Recognition Awards program. The Youth Volunteer Award is presented to a citizen up to the age of 19 who has made a significant contribution to the community through volunteerism and being a positive leader. “Karsen Roy is an exemplary youth who cares deeply about her community,” said Mayor Tom Mrakas, who presented the award virtually in June. “She has accumulated more than 220 community service hours by contributing to a variety of programs and projects. She is a high-level athlete who spends a lot of time volunteering with various groups like the Special Needs Soccer Program and the Younger Panthers Team. She has supported organizations like Me to We, Run for the Cure, and was one of the original members of the Country Day School Cares team. This group is [comprised] of students and faculty members who organize schoolwide food and non-food donation drives and deliver homemade lunches to the homeless.” She was also honoured for her work on Country Day School’s annual Terry Fox Run and efforts to underscore the immediacy of the annual event to her peers. “I wanted to express my gratitude in receiving this award as it truly means a lot to me,” said Karsen. “Thank you so much for the Town of Aurora for giving me a chance to volunteer in the community while bettering myself. Something else I would like to mention while I have the chance is that in my efforts to volunteer, it has always come from my sincere hope to make the community a more generous, genuine and inclusive environment. “Volunteering has taught me to trust the process, to reach out to those in need, to teach others, but not only to teach them but to learn from them as well. Just before I conclude my thank you, I want to explain that volunteering has never been about the award given to me in the end or reaching the 40 hours of volunteering community service required to graduate; it has always meant that the processes and lessons taught will carry a much greater value with me in the end.” Added Mayor Mrakas: “She spreads her sunshine and positivity wherever she goes. Not only is she a wonderful role model for young people, she reminds all generations that our hearts do not have a limit and giving is an action that never runs dry.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Plans for a controversial open pit gold mine on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore have been pushed back by several years amid uncertainty over its water supply. Atlantic Gold intended to begin construction at its Cochrane Hill property next year and enter production in 2023. Now it says an environmental impact statement won't be ready until late 2024. An investor presentation from parent company St Barbara Limited last month linked the new schedule to a decision by the provincial government last fall that left the project's water supply undetermined. In October 2020, the province said it needed to further evaluate plans to declare 684 hectares in and around Archibald Lake as a protected wilderness area. The designation would have denied the Atlantic Gold its planned water source. The presentation contains a note on Cochrane Hill: "Decision in October 2020 on Archibald Lake defers any decision on conservation subject to outcome of [environmental impact statement] process." 'Salmon rivers and gold mines don't mix' The delay at Cochrane Hill is being welcomed by opponents like Mike Crosby of the Nova Scotia Salmon Association. "That's a good thing," he said. "However, I think it should be pushed off to eternity." He and other critics say the mine's six-year production life and the jobs it will create are not worth the risk to the nearby St. Marys River. Millions of dollars have been spent in an effort to restore the river and bring back Atlantic salmon. "The fact is salmon rivers and gold mines don't mix," he said. "The mine is close enough that every model that's been built says that should a catastrophic event happen at a tailings pond … it would obliterate the whole river system," he said. Company juggling other projects Cochrane Hill is one of three proposed open pit "satellite mine" projects the company is juggling on the Eastern Shore. The others are Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream. All are designed to supply gold ore to a central processing plant at Moose River where the company's Touquoy Mine is already up and running. Dustin O'Leary, Atlantic Gold's Nova Scotia spokesperson, said the delay at Cochrane Hill, first reported in the Guysborough Journal, is connected to the permitting schedules for Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream. "St Barbara Ltd remains committed to the Cochrane Hill Gold Mine project and the positive benefits it will deliver to our province's Eastern Shore," O' Leary said in an email to CBC News. What the company told investors Craig Brownlie, Atlantic Gold general manager, updated investors on the schedule on Dec. 15. "For Cochrane Hill, the time horizon appears to be a little longer. But the focus will be on getting Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream approved and into production, then focusing Atlantic Operation's efforts on advancing the Cochrane Hill project as seamlessly as possible." he said according to a transcript. Brownlie said the company wants Beaver Dam in production by mid-2023. That also worries Crosby and Kris Hunter of the salmon federation. Hunter said Beaver Dam is also near another ecologically sensitive area where millions of dollars have been spent to restore Atlantic salmon. "Delay in the Cochrane Hill project we view as good news for now. It means the project's not going ahead right away. But we are concerned that it does mean that Beaver Dam is going to be moving forward. So this is sort of good news, I guess. But it's also bad news kind of as well, too," Hunter told CBC News. Mine says its committed to the environment O'Leary said the company is taking into account community concerns, including those surrounding St. Marys River. "Our operations respect the local environment and aim to coexist with all local water bodies. The proposed mine plan takes into account environmental considerations and regulations, as well as community input and social objectives," he said. Atlantic Gold says Cochrane Hill will employ 202 people when in production. It would extract two million tonnes of gold-bearing ore per year. The mine waste tailings pond will be contained with an embankment 70 metres high. The company said it will need between 300,000 and 500,000 cubic metres of water initially and then 50 cubic metres a day during production. MORE TOP STORIES
With less than a week until president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, security in Washington is ramping up as law enforcement prepares for potential violence before and after the Jan. 20.
The latest COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:50 p.m. Alberta is reporting 967 new cases of COVID-19. There have also been 21 additional deaths linked to the virus. The province says there are 806 people in hospital, and 136 of those are in intensive care. --- 6:45 p.m. Alberta is easing some of its public-health restrictions imposed in December to limit the spread of COVID-19. Health Minister Tyler Shandro says personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit of people attending funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. The changes are to take effect Monday. --- 6:15 p.m. British Columbia health officials say they have detected their first case of the South African strain of COVID-19. The province also has four cases of the U.K. variant of the virus. Officials reported 536 new infections and seven new deaths. This brings the total number of cases in B.C. to 59,608 and deaths to 1,038. So far, 52,605 have recovered from the virus and 69,746 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered. --- 5:05 p.m. Prince Edward Island has confirmed one new case of COVID-19. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a man in his 50s who arrived in the province following travel outside Atlantic Canada. After an initial negative test, he tested positive in routine testing and is self-isolating with no symptoms. P.E.I. has eight active cases of COVID-19 and has had a total of 104 cases since the pandemic began. --- 3:15 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 related to international travel. It says the case involves a man aged 20 to 39 in the eastern health region who is self-isolating at home. Health officials say there are currently four active cases in the province and one person is in hospital. --- 2:15 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today. Three cases were identified in the central zone -- one of which involved a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax who lives off campus. The other cases were identified in the northern zone and are connected to previously reported cases. Nova Scotia says there are 32 known active COVID-19 infections across the province. --- 2 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 261 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. That brings the death toll in the province due to the virus to 755. The province says there are 290 people in hospital and 37 of them are in intensive care. --- 2 p.m. New Brunswick is reporting 23 new cases of COVID-19 today. There are now 246 active reported cases in the province. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says more than 2,000 people in New Brunswick are in self-isolation. The province has reported three COVID-related deaths this week. --- 1:30 p.m. Quebec’s health minister says the province plans to wait up to 90 days before administering booster shots to patients who have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Christian Dube says the strategy will allow Quebec to vaccinate more vulnerable seniors and reduce the pressure on the health system. Dube says health officials will be able to reduce the interval between first and second doses once more vaccines are available. Canada's vaccine advisory committee has recommended the second dose of approved COVID-19 vaccines be given a maximum of 42 days after the first, but Dube says the committee has acknowledged that the interval can be extended when necessary, based on the disease's progression. --- 12:50 p.m. Canada has seen 7,727 cases of COVID-19 on an average day in the last week and hospitalizations and deaths are still increasing. In her daily national update on the pandemic, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the burden is worsening on hospitals and local health authorities. She says infection rates are highest among people older than 80, who are most at risk of serious illness. If there's good news, it's that no new cases of the so-called U.K. or South African variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 were detected in Canada yesterday. --- 12:30 p.m. Canada will have received a total of 929,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the week. Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, says that includes the delivery of 380,000 fresh doses this week alone. The shipment is set to include about 208,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine and 181,000 doses of the one developed by Moderna. Fortin says weekly deliveries will grow to one million total from both companies by April. --- 11:45 a.m. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the Liberal government to ease access to paid sick leave for Canadian workers to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Singh is criticizing the lag between filing for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receiving it, a delay he compared to applying for employment insurance. He is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to recall Parliament and legislate 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated employees through the Canada Labour Code, and to further promote the one-week, $500 benefit that is already in place. The New Democrat leader says uptake of the benefit is low, which suggests a lack of awareness among sick workers as well as what he deemed an “impossible choice” between working and staying home. Singh is also calling for tighter restrictions on travel, but did not specify an “exact mechanism” to limit trips abroad. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,132 new cases of COVID-19 and 64 more deaths, including 15 that occurred in the past 24 hours. The province says hospitalizations rose by seven, to 1,523, and 230 people were in intensive care, a rise of one. Health Minister Christian Dube is scheduled to hold a news conference about Quebec’s vaccination campaign. The province had administered 107,365 doses as of Tuesday. Quebec has reported a total of 236,827 COVID-19 infections and 8,878 deaths linked to the virus. -- 11:10 a.m. Ontario labour inspectors will will blitz big-box stores this weekend to enforce public health rules. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says inspectors will visit stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region. He says the inspectors will have the power to issue tickets of up to $750 to store supervisors, workers, or patrons if they're not following public health rules. Inspectors will focus on ensuring people are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and following safety guidelines. -- 10:30 a.m. The province of Ontario says there are 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 968 of those new cases are in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Vaccinations continue across Ontario with 14,237 doses administered since Wednesday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said in the 12:30 p.m. entry that weekly deliveries will grow to one million each for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern vaccines. In fact, it will be one million total doses a week.
A Yukon farmer was in court Wednesday asking for more time to file an appeal to an order requiring him to get rid of his goats. Jim Dillabough appeared before Yukon Supreme Court Justice Edith Campbell in Whitehorse, arguing that he had always opposed the order but didn't have the financial resources to formally fight it. Dillabough's legal issues stem from the fact that he owns about a half-dozen goats, which he keeps on his property along the Klondike Highway outside of Whitehorse. He was convicted in October of failing to keep the animals in an approved enclosure, a requirement under a territorial animal control order that came into effect in 2020. The order is intended to prevent the spread of a pneumonia-causing pathogen, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae or M.ovi, from domestic goats and sheep to wild populations. Following his conviction, a judge ordered Dillabough to either slaughter his goats or move them outside the territory; to date, he's done neither and is also about three weeks past the 30-day deadline to appeal court decisions. He filed an application in December asking for an extension. Goats have 'every right' to be on property, he argues The hearing of the application Wednesday was scheduled to take 20 minutes but went on for nearly two and a half hours, with Campbell often pausing the proceedings to explain legal concepts or procedure to Dillabough, who was self-represented. She also took the unusual step of having Dillabough sworn in as his own witnesses, noting that he was both giving evidence and making legal arguments at the same time. Dillabough told the court that he had opposed his conviction and the subsequent order about his goats "from the get-go," but didn't have the money to order transcripts of the trial that he needed to file a formal appeal. He also said he couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, explaining that he had called two but both had asked him for $5,000 up-front. "What did you do after that?" Campbell asked him. "Well, I had to do it myself," he replied, referring to mounting a legal appeal. Dillabough levelled a number of accusations at Yukon government animal health officials throughout his submissions, alleging that "they're trying to force some of us right out of business" and that no one would come out to check his goat fence or test his animals for M. ovi. You people want to screw up agriculture? Don't forget you have to eat too. - Jim Dillabough, Yukon farmer He also argued that the animal control order made no sense, questioning why anyone would spend money to build a proper enclosure only for their goats or sheep to be killed if the animals ended up testing positive for M. ovi. He claimed he had never seen any wild sheep or goats near his farm (Dillabough lives in thinhorn sheep habitat range), and that the fence he'd built around his goat enclosure was the strongest in Canada. His goats, he argued, had "every right to be on [my] property." "There's no way I'm going to give up my livelihood," Dillabough said. "I was out there raising animals before any of you were born." Rules matter, Crown says Territorial Crown Megan Seiling argued against granting Dillabough's application. "There really needs to be special circumstances in place because the rules are there for a reason," she said, later adding that just because he doesn't like the rules doesn't mean he doesn't need to follow them. Dillabough had plenty of time to deal with both his animal and then legal issues, Seiling argued, noting that officials had tried to work with him for months to get him to comply with the animal control order before finally charging him. He also gave no indication that he intended to appeal his conviction until the government filed a legal petition to seize his goats. Seiling argued there was an added need to deal with the matter because it was an ongoing offence, not a one-off, and sends a poor message to the "many" other goat and sheep farmers who had suffered "significant" costs in order to comply with the control order. "[Dillabough] waited for the consequences to come to him," she said. "At the end of the day, the rules matter … It's not in the interest of justice to allow this appeal to be heard." Dillabough remained defiant to the end of the hearing, accusing Seiling of "bitching" about how he had filed his legal paperwork and at one point muttering, "You people want to screw up agriculture? Don't forget you have to eat too." Campbell is expected to give her decision on Dillabough's application next month.
NEW YORK — A bound edition of materials about President Donald Trump's second impeachment will feature a foreword from an estranged associate — former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Skyhorse Publishing announced that “The Second Impeachment Report: Materials in Support of H. Res. 24, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanours by the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary" will come out Feb. 9. Publishers do not require permission to release Congressional reports as books because they are not copyrighted. The House impeached Trump earlier this week on a single charge, incitement of insurrection, over his role in last week's bloody attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump also was impeached a year ago for pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate President-elect Joe Biden. The Senate voted to acquit him. Cohen already has written a book about his falling out with Trump, the bestselling “Disloyal.” In his foreword to the new book, he writes, “We should never have to call Donald Trump ‘Mr. President’ again after January 20, 2021.” The Associated Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit non-essential travel to the province during the pandemic, the premier says. Premier John Horgan told a news conference Thursday there is concern about people coming from other provinces or territories and spreading COVID-19. Horgan said he and other premiers have made the case for Canadians to stay home during the pandemic, but people continue to travel. The issue has been discussed for months and it's time to determine if the government can act, he added. "I want to put this either to rest, so British Columbians understand we cannot do that and we're not going to do that, or there is a way to do it and we're going to work with other provinces to achieve it." Public health orders issued by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, which are in effect until Feb. 5, tell B.C. residents not to travel for vacations, recreation or social visits. The Atlantic provinces formed a bubble that required people from outside the region to get approval before travelling there, but Horgan said a similar plan might not work for B.C. "There's only a few ways in or out and it's easier to manage than it would be here in B.C.," he said. Henry said during a COVID-19 briefing Thursday that she did not believe she had the authority to limit out-of-province travel nor was she considering adding such orders. "It's hard to see how that is feasible in British Columbia for many reasons," she said. "Our borders are very different, we have many ways that people can cross — particularly from Alberta — and we know that there are many services and workplaces that people live in one or the other province and move back and forth." Health Minister Adrian Dix said it's important to remember that as B.C. examines the legality of limiting travel, residents need to think of their own actions. "This applies to British Columbians travelling there. We have an obligation as well not to engage in non-essential travel to other provinces," he said. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control lists 39 COVID-19 public exposures on flights coming into B.C. from other provinces between Dec. 31 and Jan. 8. Big White Ski Resort, which has reported more than 130 COVID-19 cases among staff members and locals, cancelled all non-local bookings until Feb. 5 as a result of Henry's orders. Michael Ballingall, Big White Resort's senior vice-president, said in a statement that the company was encouraging visitors from around Canada to follow the provincial health guidelines. "Following the rules is not about the bottom line, it’s about bending the curve and staying open for our season passholders and local skiers and snowboarders," he said. Limiting interprovincial travel and the advice received by legal experts will be discussed during the NDP government's virtual cabinet retreat over the next two days. The desire to seek legal clarification also comes after politicians and public figures across Canada travelled outside the country around Christmas. No B.C. provincial politicians travelled during the holiday season, Horgan said, but he understands the issue of international travel is frustrating to British Columbians. "I think that we've tried our best to appeal to people's common sense," Horgan said about discouraging travel. "Those are individual choices at the end of the day, there's no prohibition in terms of a legal requirement." The B.C. government was one of the first in the country to push for stricter international border measures, he added. — By Nick Wells in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
Residents in small municipalities with water and sewer systems constantly feel the pain of ever-increasing rates, a problem the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands wants to take up with the province. Township council members are struggling to keep rates at a level that residents can afford, but with only 300 users on their system it’s a losing battle, unless they can successfully lobby the Ontario government. "The legislation is that rates must recover operation and capital costs of a water and wastewater system; it cannot come out of taxes,” said Kate Tindal, director of finance. Right now the township is looking to increase water and wastewater rates by 3.5 per cent, well below the 10 per cent annual increase recommended by the water and wastewater study completed by Watson and Associates in 2020. "These water and wastewater systems were put in by a very zealous (at the time) provincial government and the ultimate unintended consequence is in the magic word 'unaffordable' for small communities. I think we as a township have to knock on the provincial door and say 'you constructed this thing for us generously but didn't think it through' – how is a community of 300 households going to pay for a $20-million asset?" asked Coun. Brock Gorrell. As Tindal warned council at the outset, adopting lower than recommended rate increases will put the township behind in achieving full cost recovery as per the provincial mandate. "Ultimately rates are going to get beyond what our folks can afford. We have a policy issue that users have to pay for the system, so we should take the initiative to open the dialogue with the provincial government to see what remedies there might be in the mid-term," agreed Coun. Mark Jamison. Leeds and the Thousand Islands is not alone. There are numerous other small rural municipalities in the same boat. As things stand under the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act, there is an expectation that only users pay for the system. If there is a catastrophic failure within a system that needs to be addressed in a single year, a municipality would have to borrow money to pay for the repairs and then recover that outlay from the ratepayers. Water and Wastewater are not and cannot be tax-supported under provincial legislation. "The way the legislation is written, it's intended that the rates recover the money necessary to fund operating and capital operations, and yes it's going to be very challenging with the number of users on the system," said Tindal. Water and wastewater users in Lansdowne already pay on average $1,751 per year for the service. If the township adopted the Watson and Associates recommendation of 10 per cent increases per year for 10 years, those same ratepayers would have to pay $3,639 a year by the year 2030 – more than double what they're paying today. During budget deliberations last month, council members balked at such a hefty increase and opted for a much lower 3.5 per cent increase to be reviewed within two years once the asset management plan gets caught up with the projected needs of the system. But as the township gets ready to ratify the increase, councillors are realizing that user rates are not a reasonable solution for systems that cost tens of millions. "Perhaps we can do some outreach through AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario) and see if they have a working group addressing this issue. I will undertake that," said township CAO Stephen Donachey.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
In the first wave of COVID-19, Aurora rarely had more than 20 active cases of COVID-19 at any one time. Now, there are more than 100 active cases of the virus, most of which have been acquired within the community. By Tuesday, January 12, Aurora was grappling with 104 active cases of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 718 confirmed cases of the virus within the community, 23 of which have proved fatal. 591 cases are now marked as recovered. The twenty-third Aurora resident to lose the fight against COVID-19 was a 90-year-old female resident of Willows Estate, a long-term care home in Aurora’s south end, one of two active long-term care outbreaks in the community. She lost her fight at the residence on January 11 after receiving positive test results and the onset of symptoms on January 4. The twenty-second resident, this time a 91-year-old female resident of Kingsway Place Retirement Residence, lost her fight at Southlake on January 6 after receiving positive test results on December 16. Willows Estate was issued an order under the Province’s Health Protection & Promotion Act on Thursday. The order instructs Willows Estate, which has been in outbreak mode since Christmas Eve, “to take a series of actions to ensure the health and safety of their residents and staff,” said Patrick Casey, Director of Communications for the Regional Municipality of York. The order, issued by Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, states that York Region Public Health “has received information and conducted inspections evidencing” that the residence has “inadequate staffing levels to meet the needs of residents; has inadequate senior leadership (supervisory staffing) presence on the institution’s units, at all times, to ensure appropriate adherence to IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control) measures; and has inadequate and/or insufficient IPAC knowledge and processes to protect resident needs and requires assistance from York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Public Health Ontario, and the Local Health Integration Network to provide IPAC expertise to the institution to help contain the stop of COVID-19 outbreak at the institution.” According to Patrick McCarthy, President & CEO of OMNI Health Care, which operates Willows Estate, the residence will work closely with the Region, Southlake, and the Ministry of Long-Term Care to support staff and residents. “The situation evolved rapidly over several days, as test results were received by the home,” said Mr. McCarthy. “In addition to the increase in residents affected, several key staff from the leadership and nursing team were quarantined and unavailable. OMNI mobilized its response team with our Director of Operations on site to assume leadership. As well we have brought in management and nursing staff on site from other OMNI homes as support, and recruiting additional staff and agency contract staff to supplement our existing staffing during the outbreak. “We continue to work closely with York Region Public Health, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health and have arranged a site visit this week with federally sponsored Canadian Red Cross for IPAC and possible ongoing staffing supports.” At press time this week, 32 of Aurora’s 104 active cases of COVID-19 were related to institutional outbreak. 71 active cases are attributed to local transmission or close contact, with 94 new cases in this category reported to York Region Public Health in one week alone. 1 active case is attributed to workplace cluster and there are zero travel-related cases.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran