A Vancouver-based biotech company brought its genetic know-how to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine development. Thomas Madden, president and CEO of Acuitas Therapeutics, explains his company's contribution to the vaccine effort.
A Vancouver-based biotech company brought its genetic know-how to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine development. Thomas Madden, president and CEO of Acuitas Therapeutics, explains his company's contribution to the vaccine effort.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
RED DEER, Alta. — Closing arguments have wrapped up in the trial of a former Mountie accused of sexually assaulting an RCMP colleague.Jason Tress is charged with one count of sexual assault over a March 1, 2012, allegation in Faust, Alta., where he was stationed at the time. The complainant has testified that she was assaulted by Tress at her residence during a party for a fellow RCMP officer.Defence lawyer Maurice Collard focused on the credibility of the woman, who still works as an RCMP constable.Collard told the court in Red Deer, Alta., that she gave numerous versions of what happened and didn't remember very specific details.Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou dismissed Collard's suggestion that the complainant is not credible."This woman is a young woman, became intoxicated in her own house amongst friends and was put to bed by people who she believed were her friends," Papadatou told the court Thursday. "And a colleague took advantage of her."Earlier this week, the woman testified that she initially didn't want to make waves so she didn't press for an investigation at the time. She told court she decided to report what happened years later after hearing that Tress, 34, had been charged with sexual assault and other offences involving women in Red Deer.Court of Queen's Bench Justice Nathan Whitling is expected to hand down his ruling on Friday. (rdnewsNOW) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020 The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Seniors in British Columbia's long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized against COVID-19 starting in the first week of January with two vaccines, the province's top doctor says.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first to be rolled out after approval by Health Canada.However, Henry said only about six million doses are expected to be available across Canada until March."So we won't be able to broadly achieve what we call community immunity or herd immunity, but that will come," she saidAt least two other companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are in the process of submitting data to Health Canada and regulatory agencies around the world in hopes of getting approval for their vaccines. "Those ones we hope will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2021," Henry said."We hope to have everybody done by September of next year," she said of the province's efforts through "Operation Immunize.""By the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized."Henry said B.C. health officials worked with their federal counterparts Thursday on ways to facilitate the delivery of vaccines as they anticipated various challenges that could come up in the immunization process.More details will be provided about the province's vaccine plan next week, Henry said.She reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 35,422 infections in the province.There have been 12 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in B.C. to 481.Henry noted health-care workers are tired from the pandemic as everyone deals with an "anxiety-provoking time," but that it's important to stay "100 per cent committed" to getting through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.Henry has banned all indoor and outdoor sports teams for adults, saying a team in the province's Interior recently tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Alberta."What we have seen in the past few weeks to months is that 10 to 15 per cent of cases have been related to physical fitness and sports activities," she said, an estimate based on cases that have been linked.Most transmissions of COVID-19 among adult involved in sports have been through social activities related to the gatherings, Henry said.— By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
A local trustee has been chosen as the vice-president of the provincial school board association. At last week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA), Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor was elected vice president. Smith-Windsor was recently re-elected to her fourth term as a rural trustee and was gratified to be elected by the association. “It’s very humbling and a very exciting opportunity to be entrusted to represent 27 school boards in Saskatchewan. I think we have got a long tradition in this province of providing a local voice in education and being able to represent the trustees and boards that are democratically elected is a real honour,” Smith-Windsor said. She she served two terms as the Central Constituency representative on the executive where she represents Saskatchewan Rivers, the North East School Division (NESD), Horizon School Division, North West School Division, Prairie Spirit School Division and Living Sky School Division. She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic offers challenges and opportunities for boards of education. “There is going to be the opportunity to innovate and do some really creative things. And I think boards are doing this at a local level. I think there is also going to be challenges in the areas of staff and student’s mental health and addressing some of the inequities that existed before the pandemic. Almost certainly there is going to be fiscal challenges. But I know that boards are going to continue to put the needs of their communities first and that is the power of a local voice,” Smith Windsor explained. She sees the role of the association as another voice for education in the province. “I think the SSBA is another strong platform to help the public connect to that idea that education does belong to communities. It is a real opportunity to have someone who is local to sit on the provincial executive in that role,” she said Shawn Davidson was returned as president for another term. “I have worked with Shawn for two terms now, we have been through a number of significant changes in education over the last four years and I am confident in his leadership and our ability to work together on behalf of boards,” she said. Smith-Windsor explained that she was the only nominee to come forward and was acclaimed to the position. With Sask. Rivers she has served on the Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change, Board Development committee Employee Bargaining Committees, as well as a number of ad hoc Board committees such as the recent election committee. “The local Board of Education appreciates Trustee Smith-Windsor’s strong voice, is proud of her election to the position of Vice President and looks forward to her continued advocacy for education and for students,” the division said in a release. Other SSBA officials elected were Davidson and Smith-Windsor, Catholic Constituency representative Jerome Niezgoda, Central Constituency representative Christine Grandin, CSF constituency representative Elizabeth Perrault, Indigenous Constituency representative Kimberly Greyeyes, Northern Constituency representative Nathan Favel, Southern Constituency representative Janet Kotylak and Urban Constituency representative Donna Banks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the AGM was held virtually this year. Smith-Windsor explained it was a total shift from having 227 trustees, directors, SSBA staff and others all in one room having a lively engaged meeting. “We do all of our voting on paper ballots collected in ice cream pails. And this time it was a complete shift to an online platform and electronic voting connecting to all of those people across the entire province through electronic means,” Smith-Windsor said. “It was quite an event to train for and to pull off and I think it went relatively well,” she explained. Each year the school divisions in the province have an opportunity to bring forward motions that are of interest to the AGM. The Saskatchewan Rivers board discussed these in meetings that took place before the AGM. “If there is agreement to take that to the provincial assembly then that goes forward to the provincial assembly and all of the boards have an opportunity to vote on that. If those resolutions pass than they become the work of the SSBA executive that essentially feeds forward into our work for the future years,” she said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 470 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 146 532. Elles font également état de 30 nouveaux décès, pour un total qui s'élève à 7 155. De ces 30 décès, 12 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 12 sont survenus entre le 26 novembre et le 1er décembre et 6 sont survenus avant le 26 novembre. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a diminué de 3 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 737. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs est demeuré le même, soit 99. Les prélèvements réalisés le 1er décembre s'élèvent à 34 136, pour un total de 3 979 208. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données DateCas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés26 novembre1 26926669 (-6)9029 65227 novembre1 48023678 (+9)93 (+3)24 45028 novembre1 39523665 (-13)92 (-1)27 11529 novembre1 33329693 (+28)94 (+2)20 32630 novembre1 17725719 (+26)98 (+4)27 3731er décembre1 51417740 (+21)99 (+1)34 1362 décembre1 47012737 (-3)99ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires29 novembre30 novembre1er décembre2 décembreTotal des cas01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1427374592502 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean11678117635 46603 - Capitale-Nationale16211918616712 25004 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec846593927 21705 - Estrie9662891264 96106 - Montréal40030638637352 22107 - Outaouais111514293 62308 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue016027509 - Côte-Nord5-11321310 - Nord-du-Québec001-15411 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine63951 38912 - Chaudière-Appalaches2359130865 61513 - Laval9612010413611 82414 - Lanaudière1068910314911 61915 - Laurentides463543508 07716 - Montérégie16519619114520 63417 - Nunavik00002818 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James000016Hors Québec3342122Région à déterminer00003Total1 3331 1771 5141 470146 532 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent2102 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean13503 - Capitale-Nationale45904 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec27305 - Estrie6806 - Montréal3 64907 - Outaouais8308 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 - Chaudière-Appalaches13813 - Laval72814 - Lanaudière33315 - Laurentides33816 - Montérégie88317 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total7 155 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
RED DEER, Alta. — Alexis Lafreniere will not play for Canada in the world junior hockey championship.Hockey Canada said in a statement Thursday that the NHL’s New York Rangers will not loan Lafreniere to Canada’s team for the tournament in Edmonton.The Rangers selected Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick this year in the NHL draft.Lafreniere led Canada to a gold medal at the 2020 junior championship in the Czech Republic. He had four goals and six assists in five games and was named tournament MVP.All activity at Canada’s camp has been suspended from Nov. 25 until at least Sunday after two players and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The Associated Press
EDMONTON — As Alberta recorded another daily record of COVID-19 cases Thursday, its chief medical officer of health warned that rural areas are feeling the effects.“While infection rates in Edmonton and Calgary make up the majority of cases in the province, we’re seeing increased spread in many rural communities,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw Hinshaw said.“COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within the context of a global problem.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is.“It only takes one case entering a community to cause significant spread.”Alberta has been straining under soaring numbers of COVID-19 and currently leads the country in per-capita case rates.It set a single-day record Thursday with 1,854 new cases, even more than in Ontario.There were 511 Albertans in hospital, 97 of them in intensive care. A total of 575 Albertans have died.The case surge has overwhelmed the contact tracing system and strained the health system. The province is now reassigning staff, space and patients to cope and has begun making contingency plans to bring in field hospitals if necessary.Last week, Premier Jason Kenney introduced new health restrictions.However, some of the key restrictions on businesses and attendance at worship services don’t apply to some rural and remote areas with low infection rates.Also, while Calgary, Edmonton and other municipalities have mandated masks in indoor public spaces, Kenney has refused to follow the lead of all other Canadian provinces to make it provincewide.About 16 per cent of the 17,743 active cases are outside the Calgary and Edmonton health zones.Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said if COVID does not respect postal codes, why has the United Conservative government issued half-hearted and varying levels of health restrictions based on geography while refusing to impose a provincewide mask mandate?Shepherd said Kenney is playing politics with the health rules and Albertans are suffering as a result.“Jason Kenney is more concerned about his own political fortunes and concerned about the anti-mask fringe extremists that we know exist in his own caucus and in his own political party and political base,” Shepherd said in an interview.“He is more concerned about satisfying them and losing political capital than he is about showing leadership to protect Albertans.”Kenney has said a provincewide mask bylaw is unnecessary and the health rules are a measured and targeted way to keep Albertans safe while keeping jobs and the economy going.He has also said 90 per cent of Albertans are already under some kind of municipal mask bylaw. During a Nov. 26 Facebook town hall discussion he questioned whether rural residents working and living remotely would even follow it.“Imagine you got a couple of guys working in a big barn way up in the M.D. of Opportunity, hundreds of kilometres away from the closest COVID hot zone,” said Kenney. “Do you really think those guys are going to put on a mask because I ask them to or tell them to?”Kenney said one of his rural caucus members told him some of his constituents would be reflexively rebellious if told to mask up: “He said, ‘You know a lot of these folks who are (masking up) now, they would take it off the moment the government tells them to wear it.’”Provincewide there is a ban on gatherings in homes beyond those who live under the same roof. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. And students in grades 7 through 12 are learning virtually at home through the Christmas holidays.In areas with high caseloads, there are new restrictions on retailers, businesses, restaurants and entertainment options like casinos.Those restrictions don’t apply to low-case areas, which include some rural regions in north and central Alberta.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver's transit authority is confirming that it was the target of a ransomware attack on part of its information technology systems.Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables part of a computer system or access to data until a ransom is paid. TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says in a statement that the transit authority is conducting a comprehensive forensic investigation to determine how the incident occurred and what information may have been affected.Desmond offers assurance to customers that TransLink does not store fare payment data and uses a secure third-party payment processor for all fare transactions, so TransLink doesn't have access to that information. He says the transit authority took immediate steps to isolate and shut down key software and systems to contain the threat upon detection and is now working to resume normal operations. Customers can once again use credit and debit cards at Compass vending machines and tap-to-pay fare gates, features that were put on hold for several days. Customers who recently purchased monthly passes or stored value will soon see the credit loaded on their Compass Card, the statement says.It says all transit services continue to operate regularly and no transit safety systems are affected."We are sharing as much as we can at this point considering this is an active investigation," Desmond says in the statement. "We will provide further updates as more information becomes available."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
A young woman who lived through the difficult Grade 12 graduation season last spring wants to help other youth in Calgary by spearheading an online peer-to-peer support group.Isabella Burton, 18, says schools and the government are not offering enough mental health support for students, who are struggling under the COVID-related pressures of online schooling and uncertainty."There wasn't really enough resources provided by our schools and the government, as well that those services weren't readily available," Burton, who is now studying at the University of Calgary, told CBC.As Burton finished her final year of high school from home, she reached out to a group called Peerify youth, a startup non-profit out of Toronto. At Peerify, volunteers — mostly teenagers — become mentors and can offer online support through one-on-one calls and workshops.She spearheaded a Calgary chapter, which now has 40 local volunteers."With Peerify, you can have that same person talk to you a second time," Burton said. "So if you have to come back, talk to us a second time, you can talk with the same person who you talked with before, as opposed to having to explain your story all over again and then try and hope you find someone who understood as well as the last time."Burton says the free service is aimed at helping people between the ages of 13 and 23, an age group she says often feels too old to see a child psychologist, but don't feel comfortable in an adult setting. A recent report on the mental health of Canadian children found that suicide is now the leading cause of death among children age 10 to 14.The report, Raising Canada 2020, was published by the University of Calgary's O'Brien Institute for Public Health, the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, and Children First Canada, a national children's advocacy society.It concluded that poverty and food insecurity, child abuse, neglect, physical inactivity and instances of anxiety and depression among children may be increasing — or are in danger of increasing — because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, existing services are strained. Kids Help Phone, the charity that offers 24/7 counselling services to young Canadians in distress, has reported that demand for Kids Help Phone's services has been on the rise, with calls and text messages surging since the COVID-19 pandemic began."Currently, to speak with a Kids Help Phone representative, the wait is about 45 minutes," Burton wrote in an email. "Keeping this in mind, it will be no surprise when we see a sharp increase in mental health issues among youth. We acknowledge that these services are vital to the safety of Calgarians, however, there is a lack of free alternatives that will help prevent these calls in the first place."Peerify was founded by Karen Guan, 17 in Toronto. Guan said it's important for people her age to connect through a similar experience."You know having that unfiltered and casual talk, it eases that pain instantly, and for many people having someone they can relate to, is really a transformative experience."The group is holding a free virtual self-care workshop on December 9. For more information go to Peerify Calgary.
A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately. "I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again. He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive."It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said."And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational. "They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre. "That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city."I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said."But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world. As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.
The average price people are willing to pay for real estate in Windsor-Essex continues to skyrocket even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.In general, the average property price in the region has increased by nearly 25 per cent over the last year. "It has escalated lately," Damon Winney, president of the Windsor-Essex County Realtor's Association said. According to a monthly report by the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors, the average property price last year in the month of November was $338,338.This year, it's nearly $82,000 more expensive, with prices sitting at $420,007.Property sales notably dipped in the months of April and May, as the community locked down and the main concerns were centred around the virus."As the economy grew and opened up again, we've seen people back into the market and in fact we've seen people come from other areas." He said because of COVID-19, people have been moving to the area from the GTA and the surrounding region. Winney said he thinks that while a slowdown is inevitable, low interest rates are helping drive the interest in the market. "We've got a federal government trying to keep the economy going and I think that housing is one of those marvellous factors that actually helps drive the economy over the long term," Winney said.More people are listing their homes as well, with listings up by almost 10 per cent. The number of sales are also up more than six per cent.Playing catch up "We're just, pretty much, catching up with cities that are equivalent to us in terms of population," Rasha Ingratta a mortgage agent with Mortgage Intelligence said.She also points toward the extremely low interest rates that are giving people a big incentive to get into the market with much lower monthly payments."I say to [people considering getting into the market] this is the best time to buy," Ingratta said. "Because I think prices are going to keep going up for the next year or so until it flat lines."
Three Edmonton pools and two arenas on the chopping block in Edmonton's 2021 budget won't be closed without a fight. City council heard from about 80 people at a public hearing Thursday into the city's capital and operating budgets. The majority of council favour a zero per cent property tax increase next year and to reach that, administration has identified $64 million in savings in its approximately $3 billion operating budget. Closing Oliver, Scona and Eastglen pools and the Oliver and Tipton arenas will save the city an estimated $1.2 million in operating costs. But community members are lobbying the city to keep them open until they come up with an alternative. A teacher from Strathcona High School who works with the swim team, Ryan de Boer, said 180 students were part of the team last year and they rely on Scona Pool for practice. De Boer said the school has a lot of pride in the aquatics program, having won 34 city championships. "If our pool was to close, unfortunately, we are pretty aware that our swim team would have to fold," De Boer said. "Which is a shame because it's something that's got a lot of continuity. "Older siblings get their younger siblings to join this team because of the success and the positive experiences that they've had, so this makes a huge difference in their lives." The Queen Alexandra Community League is championing funding for another smaller, community-focused Rollie Miles Rec Centre, which would replace Scona Pool. Lisa Brown with the Oliver Community League, said a survey last year shows high demand for the outdoor pool there. "Oliver pool is loved by our community," it is the most popular recreation amenity in the whole neighbourhood, as well as Oliver Park." The city closed Oliver pool in 2019 to repair the drainage system. She argued that closing the pool would be a waste of that investment. City council has approved many new towers in Oliver over the past few years, creating some 4,500 housing units, Brown said. "We need more parks and more recreation amenities in Oliver, not less." John Mervyn, a city employee with CUPE local 30, joined the meeting to urge council to review its contracted services. For example, he said the city used to run its own tire shop but now, that service is contracted out. "When a vehicle gets sent to have a tire fixed, it comes back with four new tires rather than just having one fixed." He also made the case to keep community sports facilities open. "Fitness and recreation are important to Edmontonians, especially right now, and they'll be needing them to help them get through these difficult times," he said. Members from Edmonton adult ice users and power skating also chimed in to keep arenas open. Other cuts The city says it could save $100,000 by eliminating spay and neuter services. Karin Nelson with the Voice for Animals Society, asked council to keep the program. "Cutting this program would be an absolute disaster, in terms of the stray and feral cat population levels," Nelson said. The city is looking at reducing the number of transit peace officers in development services, professional standards oversight, municipal enforcement responsibilities and administrative support services, for an estimated savings of $1.1 million. "These reductions may have some impact on citizens, including slower response times for enforcement issues," the report says. Other areas the city plans to cut are fireworks on New Year's Eve, Canada Day and Family Day. Staffing at spray parks and skateboard parks, youth drop-in programs are also on the list. Janet Riopel, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, was one of the few speakers who lauded the city's attempts at trimming its programs. Riopel noted that nearly 50 per cent of businesses have laid off staff and another 20 per cent expect to lay off staff in the coming months. She championed the city's goal of zero per cent property tax increase and said the city is being flexible and adaptable in its approach to budgeting. That includes exploring partnerships with non-profit and private entities to run rec centres. "It's the right move and it would reduce the cost burden on taxpayers," Riopel said. City administration is expected to present one-time COVID-19 specific budget measures at a meeting next week. Council starts debating the capital and operating budgets on Monday and is expected to pass them by Dec. 11. @natashariebe
Powerful gusts pushed flames from a wildfire through Southern California canyons on Thursday, one of several blazes that burned near homes and forced residents to flee. (Dec. 3)
A resounding no from council will force Georgian Bay Snowriders to find an alternative for the strip near Port McNicoll. A couple months ago the club’s agreement was up for renewal. At that time, when the request came to council, the club asked for access to a part of the municipal trail along Highway 12 towards Triple Bay Road. The agreement was renewed before its Nov. 1 deadline, however, a new request from the club came forward at a later council meeting asking for access to approximately 400m of the TransCanada Trail, just east of Triple Bay Road. “Due to recent water level increases from Hog Bay, the ditch parallel to the highway is incredibly flood sensitive and has become very difficult to maintain,” reads the letter to council. “It also has a new utility line running through the centre that may become difficult to navigate around.” But their request wasn’t enough to melt the hearts of council members. “With me, it's a hard no,” said Coun. Mary Warnock. “I would not even entertain this. There's no recourse to get repairs done to the trail after it's been used and we all know what happened last time they were allowed a little stretch, it got torn up.” She had support from other council members, too. “It's not worth the risk for our bikers, our walkers and our roller-bladers,” said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle. “I'm not in favour of this. We spend a lot of time and money on that trail and I'm not about to let it go at this point.” Coun. Paul Raymond said he could understand the club’s frustration at having to reimagine a trail on a temporary basis, but he was still against it. “We all know the damage (that) will happen,” he said. “What are we saying when we allow a motorized vehicle on the trail when we spend so much time trying to prevent motorized vehicles on trails? “Sorry to the Snowriders, but they have the ability to find alternate routes, I think,” added Raymond. Council voted to take no further action on the request. The Georgian Bay Snowriders did not respond to a request for comment.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
VANCOUVER — Victoria O'Connor says she's reached a breaking point while constantly managing and advocating for the supports she needs for her twin sons, who are non-verbal and have been diagnosed with autism."We are very much a family in crisis," the North Vancouver, B.C., mother said in an interview.One of her eight-year-old sons has been experiencing pain that doctors have yet to diagnose, which can cause him to cry and scream for hours at a time, frightening his brother, she said."I just sort of feel like it doesn't matter how bad your situation is. You're still going to have to jump through a million hoops," she said of navigating B.C.'s support program for children with special needs.O'Connor's is among 545 other families who lent their voices to a survey and report out Thursday from British Columbia's representative for children and youth, which shows the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated long-standing problems with the province's system, leaving families feeling abandoned.Jennifer Charlesworth said it was impossible to examine the impacts of the pandemic outside the context of what she called an outdated and inequitable system for children and youth who have disabilities, chronic health issues or neurological conditions."For far too many of the tens of thousands of B.C. families of children and youth with special needs, there is no down time," the representative said during a news conference."The common dreams of any of us — a good education, bright future for our children, a safe and comfortable home for everyone in the family, even a rare night off — can be tragically elusive."The long wait times for diagnoses mean kids in B.C. may pass through their early years without access to supports unless their families can pay for private services, said Charlesworth, and the funding caps for purchases of key pieces of equipment that help keep children comfortable haven't changed in 30 years.For families who are receiving funding after a diagnosis, the pandemic brought a sudden end to vital therapies and support services at home, in the community and at school, she said."We all need a break from our hectic lives sometimes, but respite for families of children and youth with special needs vanished overnight at the start of the pandemic and for many families remains that way."The report calls for immediate action in eight areas, including the creation of a family-engaged communication strategy in the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the extension of all pandemic-related benefits until next fall for families of children with special needs.Asked "What do you need right now during the pandemic?" 60 per cent of survey respondents said they needed to know whether their family was eligible for any pandemic-related supports in the absence of clear communication and regular contact with social workers.The province offered families a monthly emergency benefit of $225, though just 28 per cent of families surveyed reported receiving it and Charlesworth noted it expired at the end of September.The first round of emergency funding reached more than 1,300 families between April and June, the children's ministry confirmed in an email, and another 3,000 families received the money between July and September. Children diagnosed with autism under the age of six may receive up to $22,000 each year and youth aged six to 18 are eligible for $6,000.B.C. offered their families an extra three months to use unspent money if the timing of their birthdays meant they were set to transition from one level of funding to another during the pandemic, as well as some flexibility in how the funds could be used.But O'Connor said accessing the funds that cover certain therapies, equipment and respite care is often too complicated and frustrating, and she knows families who weren't using all their money as a result — even before the pandemic disrupted access to support services."I'm the kind of person, like, I'm going to get that funding used for my kids if it kills me," she said. "Generally it does burn me right up."Mitzi Dean, the minister of children and family development, responded to the report, saying she knows families are struggling and has asked staff to expedite a new provincial framework for supporting children and youth with special needs that was in progress before the pandemic."I want to hear directly from those who are affected," Dean said in a statement. "That's why I have asked ministry staff to set up an advisory council to help ensure those voices are heard."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Author James McBride and editor Chris Jackson were among those honoured Thursday night by the Center for Fiction. McBride and Showtime received an On Screen Award for the acclaimed adaptation of his prize-winning historical novel “The Good Lord Bird,” which starred Ethan Hawke as the radical 19th century abolitionist John Brown. Jackson, whose authors range from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bryan Stevenson, was given the Medal for Editorial Excellence Award. Jackson runs the One World imprint of Penguin Random House. The Center for Fiction awarded its First Novel Prize to Raven Leilani for “Lustre,” the story of a young Black woman's affair with a married, middle-aged white man. Finalists included this year's Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain.” The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes says the much buzzed-about shower scene that opens his new Netflix documentary was a result of great trust between himself and the director.The singer-songwriter from Pickering, Ont., did a Q-and-A with director Grant Singer via video conference Thursday for members of the media to promote the "Shawn Mendes: In Wonder" film.Mendes said Singer spent a lot of time building their relationship and making him comfortable with having a camera around before filming.He said by the time they shot the hotel-room shower scene, which shows Mendes from the waist up and has generated a lot of chatter online, they had developed a good friendship."Grant, I've been asked so many times about the shower scene and how I felt about doing a shower scene," Mendes said, explaining that the deeper they got into filmmaking, the more they wanted to make it "vulnerable and raw" and develop a sense of closeness."If you were filming me for another year, it would have been like waking up in bed with me in the morning and being like, 'So how did you sleep?'" he added with a laugh.Singer noted they shot the scene on a day when Mendes was on vocal rest."It was like, the door was open and it just felt by that point we had this trust where you knew you were being filmed and there was something that, if it wasn't appropriate for me to be filming, I wasn't going to be in the room," he said."Also keep in mind, when we were shooting that, we didn't know it was going to make it into the documentary. We were just shooting. It just happened to resonate thematically because that was the day where you lost your voice, or the day after. So it narratively played a part and why it's in the movie."Mendes, who releases his fourth album "Wonder" on Friday, allowed Singer to follow him around on tour and in his personal life in the film. Cameras capture him in his childhood home in Pickering, east of Toronto, where he first got the world's attention performing in short videos on the now-defunct Vine platform. The 22-year-old, of course, has gone on to megafame with hits including "In My Blood," "Stitches," "Treat You Better" and "If I can't Have You.""In Wonder" also shows Mendes with his family and his girlfriend, fellow singer Camila Cabello, with whom he made the 2019 hit "Senorita.""As an artist, it's very easy to believe people want to take advantage of you and play into the sides of you that media wants to eat up," Mendes said. "But I know Grant and I know how he is about art."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press