Democrat Joe Biden is making his case against President Donald Trump on the coronavirus in Iowa, one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic. (Oct. 30)
Democrat Joe Biden is making his case against President Donald Trump on the coronavirus in Iowa, one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic. (Oct. 30)
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
There is a new women’s clothing store in Merrickville. Hazel’s Boutique is owned by Julia Provost, who is also the owner of Abel Mountain, next door. She took over the store at the beginning of October from Marilyn and Tim Boyce, who ran Portside Boutique for the last seven years. “I’ve been shop neighbours with Marilyn and Tim who owned Portside, and she had kind of hinted at wanting to retire,” Julia remembers. “And, one day, I jokingly said I should just take over for you, because I’ll miss your store.” Soon after, Marilyn and Tim came to her with a rough outline of some numbers. Julia talked it over with her husband, Carlos, and decided to go for it. “It just made sense.” Marilyn and Tim retired at the end of September and Julia opened up Hazel’s Boutique the second week of October. It was a seamless transition, as Marilyn was able to set her up with many of the brands she has worked with for years, and she even took over some of the stock Marilyn had already ordered. Julia says the first few weeks in business were good, especially since they didn’t have a sign in the door for most of October. Hazel’s Boutique is named after Julia’s ten-year old daughter, Hazel. “Abel is my son, and Hazel is my daughter, so it just made sense that they each have their own store,” she says. Hazel loves having a store named after her, “She’s always like: are we going to Hazel’s? With a little giggle in her voice.” Opening a new store during a pandemic has definitely been a challenge for Julia. The most difficult part has been getting enough stock, because supply is down due to COVID-19, even with local and Canadian brands. “You’ll spend hours sourcing something, and then people will get back to you and half the stuff you’ve spent time sourcing isn’t available.” Julia and her three employees also spend a lot of time cleaning the store to make sure it is safe for customers to shop. They sanitize everything every 20-30 minutes and limit the number of people in the store to four. They also steam all the clothes every time someone tries something on, to make sure the items are safe for the next shopper. Despite the challenges, Julia says the local support has been amazing. “People either liking or sharing your posts on Facebook, shopping in your store, trying to shop more local. COVID has really brought the community together,which is nice.” Portside Boutique always shut down over the winter, and Julia is planning on taking advantage of this to make the store her own. They will be closed in January, February, and the beginning of March to do renovations. “It will be a lot of work for my poor husband,” Julia laughs. “He’s a contractor, so at Abel Mountain he’s built 90% of the displays. Anything I dream up, he will build it for me.” Julia admits that running two stores, especially during a pandemic, is a lot of work. But she keeps going because she feels it is in her blood. “I always really liked Marilyn and Tim, and I’ve always sort of had a vision for how I would like this place to look. So I thought: why not try it?” Hazel’s Boutique will remain very similar to Portside, in that it will focus on women’s clothing and accessories; but it is clear that Julia is looking forward to putting her own personal touch on the shop. “I’m excited to see it come to life,” she says. Hazel’s Boutique is open at 312 St. Lawrence Street, from 10am-4pm, Sunday-Thursday, and 10am-5pm on Friday and Saturday. Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
OTTAWA — The federal government is proposing millions of dollars in new spending as a down payment on a planned national child-care system that the Liberals say will be outlined in next spring's budget.As a start, the Liberals are proposing in their fiscal update to spend $420 million in grants and bursaries to help provinces and territories train and retain qualified early-childhood educators.The Liberals are also proposing to spend $20 million over five years to build a child-care secretariat to guide federal policy work, plus $15 million in ongoing spending for a similar Indigenous-focused body.The money is meant to lay the foundation for what is likely going to be a big-money promise in the coming budget.Current federal spending on child care expires near the end of the decade but the Liberals are proposing now to keep the money flowing, starting with $870 million a year in 2028.The Canadian Press has previously reported that the government is considering a large annual spending increase as it contemplates how to work with provinces to add more child-care spaces while ensuring good learning environments and affordability for parents."I say this both as a working mother and as a minister of finance: Canada will not be truly competitive until all Canadian women have access to the affordable child care we need to support our participation in our country’s workforce," Freeland said in the text of her speech on the fiscal update.Calling it an element of a "feminist agenda," Freeland added that spending the money makes "sound business sense" and has the backing of many corporate leaders.Freeland has been among a group of female cabinet ministers who pushed child care as a federal priority even before the pandemic.A national system won't likely be a one-size-fits-all program, experts say, but it would be federally funded, modelled on the publicly subsidized system in Quebec.A Scotiabank estimate earlier this fall suggested that creating nationally what Quebec has provincially would cost $11.5 billion a year.A report on prospects for national daycare last week from the Centre for Future Work estimated governments could rake in between $18 billion and $30 billion per year in new revenues as more parents go into the workforce.Freeland has made a note in recent days about the need to do something on child care given how many women fell out of the workforce when COVID-19 forced the closures of schools and daycares in the spring.Many have not gone back to work.The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has promoted a long-term plan on child care as an economic necessity, said the Liberals still need to provide immediate help to parents and daycare providers. "The rate at which women are being forced to leave the workforce because of child-care gaps continues to undermine Canada’s economic recovery and requires emergency funding," said chamber president Perrin Beatty.Dec. 7 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which at the time called for governments to immediately get going on a national daycare system.As Freeland noted during a virtual fundraiser last week, many women who were toddlers then are mothers now and the country hasn't moved far enough on child care."Many smaller things are happening from province to province that when we look at those things, put them together, we'd have a lot of the elements for building a national system," said Monica Lysack, an early-childhood education expert from Sheridan College in Ontario."We just need to make sure that in the end every parent who needs it can get it and that it's affordable."The $420 million in to train and retain them was seen by many as a key investment toward that end to deal with what the executive director of Child Care now noted were "very low wages and difficult working conditions" in the sector. "But we must also see significant, long-term federal funding in the 2021 federal budget so that we can replace short-term repairs with robust infrastructure,” Morna Ballantyne said. Her group and others have called for an extra $2 billion in child-care funding in next year's budget, with $2 billion more added on top in each subsequent year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Tensions are rising in Lambton Shores as a contentious plan to tackle gypsy moths goes before council Tuesday, a report one community group is blasting as a “do-nothing” approach. After Port Franks and the surrounding area were ravaged by an outbreak of the invasive insects this summer, some residents mobilized into the Gypsy Moth Citizens Action Group, pushing for a municipally-led insecticide spray to combat the infestation. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a spokesperson for the group which represents about 4,000 residents in more than 12 subdivisions, says that option was never properly considered by staff and is urging them to reconsider. “(The report) did not investigate, compare or evaluate the merits of a municipally-led spray programme against a privately-organized effort,” she said. “(It) provided council with inadequate information because it assumed one path forward.” The gypsy moth report – originally sent to council Nov. 10 – includes recommendations like creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to combat gypsy moths, and not objecting to any spraying on private properties adjacent to municipal property. Council voted 5-4 to defer the report until Dec. 1, citing the need for more public feedback. But Smith-Fullerton is calling into question the municipality’s openness on the issue. She said her request to present to council on behalf of the citizen’s group was denied without sound reasoning. Both Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber and Clerk Stephanie Troyer-Boyd cited COVID-19 safety restrictions as the reason why public presentations are disallowed. At the beginning of the pandemic, many municipalities, including Lambton Shores, amended their procedure bylaws to switch to electronic meetings; including a caveat that public presentations could be denied. But Lambton Shores’ council has been meeting in person since the fall, with the procedure bylaw stating, “the Mayor or Clerk may deny delegations to council during an electronic meeting.” Troyer-Boyd did not respond to a request to clarify if the policy had been extended to in-person meetings. Meanwhile, a transit presentation is on the Dec. 1 agenda. Weber said the presenter is a staff member, adding some presentations have been allowed at past meetings for statutory or Planning Act matters. “COVID is a bit of a convenient excuse to stifle democracy,” Smith-Fullerton said, adding she’s filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman. “I deserve an explanation,” she said. “They’re not playing by the rules as far as I can see. There are inconsistencies in their policy.” Council previously waved the restriction in July, allowing Smith-Fullerton to present virtually on the gypsy moth issue. A written delegation from the citizens' group has been accepted for Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s very weird to feel like this is a matter that is clearly of high public interest … And yet, the person who is the spokesperson for thousands of people right across this municipality, they’re not interested in me speaking to them,” Smith-Fullerton said. “(The group) certainly have put in letters and their position and presentation has been distributed through the agenda,” Weber said. The hot-button issue and report have drawn a swarm of response from the community, with dozens of letters sent to council as correspondence — there are more than 300 pages' worth — with the vast majority advocating for an aerial spray or greater assistance from the municipality. “We need council to develop an all-encompassing bylaw that permits the municipality to treat all the infested trees. Anything less will be unsatisfactory and a waste of money,” writes Port Franks resident David Hilliard. “We call on the municipality … to take immediate and effective action to address the gypsy moth threat before damage is done to our environment and tourism economy,” says a letter from the Grand Bend and Area Chamber of Commerce. Five letters attached as correspondence to the agenda oppose a municipally-led aerial spray, a view shared by the mayor. “I believe this should be a private property matter,” Weber said. Lambton Shores chief administrator, Kevin Williams, who drafted the report, did not answer questions emailed to him by The Free Press about the subject. “Let’s see what happens at Council" Tuesday night, he said. He previously said no environmental assessment on the extent of defoliation caused by the insects was ordered, nor was an egg mass assessment. Widespread spraying of a bacteria — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk, — to control caterpillar pests has been the route taken in other municipalities in the past, including Sarnia and Pelham, as well as in parts of big cities such as Toronto and Hamilton. Many residents say it’s vital the municipality takes a lead in combatting the caterpillars as they pose serious threats to personal health and Port Frank’s diverse tree canopy. MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
A new children's book called A Lemon Tree for Wilshire was inspired by a Calgarian's personal journey with infertility.Gina Thornton, the author of the book, says she wrote it as a tribute to her two children, William and Scarlett, as way to explain their "special" birth story."The concept was inspired by my family's personal journey with infertility and pregnancy loss, and highlights the experience of families growing through non-traditional paths," she told the Calgary Eyeopener.She says that in their family's case, they received help from an egg donor. At the fertility clinic, Thornton says, it was stressed by a psychologist that in the future, they should explain to their children how they were conceived. "I personally struggled with, 'How do you communicate this in a way that's both relatable to our children but also in a manner that was completely transparent?'""We initially set out to find children's books that we could use as a tool to help guide this discussion."That's when Thornton realized there was a gap in children's books that talked about infertility and egg donors."We found countless books that focused on adoption and other alternative family dynamics," she said."So once I recognized there was a bit of a space in the market, I set out to write a story that focused on these important topics."The story follows a child who plans on growing his family tree by venturing out and exploring lemon trees. Thornton's son, William, was the main character, and in order to bring both his and his sister's perspective into the book, the mom says she would press them with questions."I told them that I was working on a special project and I needed some feedback on trees and how they like to play in trees," she said.She says she kept the final reveal of the book a surprise and that her children's reaction was something she will keep close forever."The book has done exactly what I had hoped it would do in terms of prompting some additional dialogue and questions with our children about their amazing story," she said.A Lemon Tree for Wilshire is available for purchase on Thornton's website.With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
What happens when you’ve just returned to your remote community with your newborn? Or if something comes up during your pregnancy and it’s the middle of the night? Where do you go for support? To help answer some of those very questions, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) launched a ‘Maternity and Babies Advice Line’ for Indigenous families in B.C., available 24-7. “With babies and moms, things can happen anytime,” says Dr. Unjali Malhotra, medical director for women’s health at FNHA. FNHA worked with Rural Community Coordination to provide a service to help pregnant and new parents, guardians, and caregivers of newborns. Both family members and health care providers can receive support via the advice line. Doctors will provide advice on urgent and non-urgent maternal and child health topics, Malhotra says, which can include pregnancy, birth, newborn, and postpartum care. The doctors can also arrange referrals to obstetricians or pediatricians, if needed. “I come from a rural community,” says Malhotra, who grew up in Cree/Dene territory, in Northern Saskatchewan. “It's really near and dear to my heart that rural remote communities have equitable access to care, and that’s often not the case, particularly with COVID-19.” Approximately 30 per cent of Indigenous people in B.C. live in rural areas, according to 2016 census highlights, and while Zoom may be popular during this pandemic, 75 per cent of Indigenous communities in B.C. do not have the basic standards of the internet, according to First Nations Technology Council. “It can be very scary for moms and families and communities to have pregnancy concerns or newborn concerns, and potentially no services available to them,” Malhotra adds. The goal was an advice line that offered exceptional service, which includes making it accessible and culturally-safe, she says. “We spoke to as many providers that we knew that offer culturally-safe care, and that were also experts in primary care and obstetrics. We have family doctors who are also obstetricians, and midwives answering the phones,” she explains. The advice line is set up as a triad delivery service, which means people access it with their care provider. The primary care provider sets up an appointment with the advice-line doctor, and attends the appointment with the patient.” “The provider in the community can be your midwife, your doula, your family, doctor, or a traditional healer, whoever is important to you and leading within your community,” says Malhotra. “We would, of course take any call, because the number is publicly available through phone or zoom, but we prefer to have a provider with that patient. What if someone doesn’t have the internet, or a device? “We also have a phone number,” says Malhotra. “So if someone doesn't have wifi or connectivity, they can certainly phone in.” And what if someone doesn’t have minutes on their phone? “That’s our next step,” says Malhotra. She explains the idea was planted in May, funding came quickly, and the team were able to get the advice line up and running by August, but there’s room for growth. “Our next steps, I don’t know in what order yet, would be text and patient direct contact,” she adds. The majority of the providers that participants would connect with work in rural and remote communities, says Malhotra. “Many we have are in First Nations communities and we deliberately invited the providers one by one that we knew are currently offering culturally safe care within their communities,” she explains. “We spoke to as many providers that we knew that offer culturally-safe care, that were also experts in primary care and obstetrics.” Most providers have more than 10 years experience within their communities, and are beloved in their communities, she explains, which is an important aspect of meaningful support. \----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced.Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has launched a new land registry that it says will help combat money laundering and make the real estate market more transparent. Beginning Monday, any corporation, trustee or partnership that buys land in B.C. must disclose the interest holders of that land through the Land Owner Transparency Registry.Existing registered land owners have one year to register and disclose their interest holders. The government says in a news release the information provided may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crack down on illegal activity. It says the registry was formed after an expert panel on real estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the "single most important measure" that can be taken to address money laundering.The panel's 2019 report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through B.C. in 2018, including $5 billion through real estate. "British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn't happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash," Finance Minister Selina Robinson said in a news release. "This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
“Divorce is hell,” begins Justice Cary Boswell’s decision in finding that a Barrie man intentionally ran down his neighbour and “erstwhile best friend” whom he believed was having an affair with his wife. “This is a case where Mr. Pacheco was clearly angry at his wife and (the neighbour) for their relationship,” Boswell wrote in his Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision released Nov. 6. The fact-finding hearing followed Isidoro Pacheco’s guilty plea to dangerous driving causing bodily harm to resolve contested facts Boswell said were relevant to sentencing. Pacheco maintained he didn’t mean to run the man over with his pickup truck during the late summer of 2018, but the Crown prosecutor said he did it on purpose. Boswell found Pacheco was agitated and distressed as he drove along Baker Crescent — near Bayfield Street and Ferris Lane in north-end Barrie — when he saw the neighbour in his driveway helping his wife move out. The neighbour testified that that morning, while helping Pacheco’s wife move, he spotted Pacheco’s truck coming around a bend on his street and as it neared, accelerating, coming right at him with Pacheco yelling out the open window “You son of a bitch!" He, as well as Pacheco’s wife, told the court they weren’t having an affair in September 2018 and claimed Pacheco’s suspicions were not grounded in reality at the time, the judge observed, pointing out the former wife and neighbour now live together. The judge found Pacheco to undoubtedly be remorseful, having difficulty speaking about it to the court, breaking into tears and hyperventilating. But he ultimately concluded Pacheco did aim his truck at his neighbour on purpose. He said there had been a heated dispute the night before after Pacheco saw his wife and neighbour at a laundromat. He was then up all night and in an agitated state, finally breaking down at work and was sent home. Then, as he headed home, he came upon the moving scene, making it more likely for him to react impulsively and angrily, the judge found. “There is no reason for his truck to have left the travelled roadway and made a direct line at (the neighbour), save for active steering in that direction. Mr. Pacheco’s account of how the truck came to leave the road is simply unbelievable,” the judge concluded. “Despite having two flat tires he nevertheless maintained a straight trajectory… “I am satisfied that the only reasonable conclusion on the evidence I accept and rely upon is that the collision was intentional.” Pacheco is scheduled to return to court Dec. 4 for sentencing.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was somber today as she announced 46 more people lost their lives to COVID-19 last weekend. Eighty per cent of these people were living in longterm care, which Henry says speaks to the fact that the virus can cause such devastation when it gets into care homes. Health Minister Adrian Dix added that this is a “difficult and gutting time under these circumstances.” Henry listed five new healthcare outbreaks and declared two to be over. There are now 62 active outbreaks in the healthcare sector, including 57 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and five in acute care facilities. These outbreaks currently account for 1,338 active cases, including 847 residents and 487 staff members. Under current rules, staff at longterm care homes can only work at one location, but are permitted to have secondary employment such as being a private home aide. Dix said that the single-site order is “critically important,” but that all people are part of the order that aims to protect longterm care. “We can’t prevent people from having the means to live and the needs that they have in their family, but we do pay a lot of attention—all of us in healthcare—to making sure that we’re monitoring our health every day before we’re going to work and making sure that we’re not participating in risky activities,” said Henry. Between Friday and Sunday, there were 2,077 new cases of COVID-19 around the province—750 of those from Friday to Saturday, 731 Saturday to Sunday, and 596 in the last 24 hours. Three of the weekend’s new cases are epidemiologically linked. Henry also noted an additional 277 historical cases in the Fraser Health region based on the data correction from last week, bringing BC’s cumulative case total to 33,238. Of the new cases, 371 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 1,365 in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 212 in the Interior Health region, 73 in the Northern Health region and one new case in a person who normally lives outside Canada. The number of active cases has risen to 8,855. There are 316 people in hospital across BC—a number that has doubled in less than three weeks—of whom 75 are in critical care. There are 10,139 people being actively monitored by public health. One new community outbreak was announced at Newton elementary school in Surrey, which has been closed for the next two weeks with students and staff self-isolating. For a list of community exposure events, click here. For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Monday is the last night to weigh in on the City of Edmonton's plan to revamp a core part of Edmonton's river valley. The City's Touch the Water Promenade project proposes redesigning a four-kilometre stretch of land just north of the North Saskatchewan River, between the Groat Road Bridge and the Rossdale neighbourhood. Two riverfront promenade concepts — developed after a round of public consultation last fall — are up for discussion. The Gateways concept proposes creating three large gathering places, as well as restoring the buried Groat Ravine creek. The Threads concept proposes more gathering spaces of a smaller size along the edge of the river. Portions of this plan include separated pathways, accommodating both active commuters and pedestrians who prefer exploring the area at a slower pace. Both plans feature more diverse plants and a widened pathway running along the entire stretch of land. An online poll suggests the Threads proposal is most popular, with 55 per cent of 303 votes cast for that concept, but the Gateways concept has its defenders. Claire MacDonald, who submitted her opinions about both concepts to the City earlier this month, said a daylit creek, educational opportunities and other amenities included in the Gateways plan could attract people who might not otherwise visit the river valley. "What I love about it is that they are creating spaces where people of all abilities are able to gather," she said. Elizabeth Cytko also prefers the Gateways concept. She said she supports the Groat Ravine creek daylighting and preserving natural areas over building more concrete paths. Though she likes the project in general, she said she worries both plans do not go far enough in recognizing the significance of the Rossdale area for First Nations and Métis peoples. "I know the city has done consultation, but when I look at the plan, I wonder if that consultation is reflected in the plan," she said. In a post on its website, Bike Edmonton, the non-profit society formerly known as the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society, praised the Threads concept for prioritizing connectivity and movement but criticized both plans for lacking shelters from the elements. "Having places where you can shelter and warm up is really important," Bike Edmonton's executive director Christopher Chan said in an interview, pointing out that cyclists, runners and pedestrians use the river valley year-round. Shelters would also make the area more accessible to people who cannot be out for very long in the cold, he added. Some residents question the purpose of the entire project, from a cost and ecological conservation perspective. A Facebook post by the Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition argued that the river valley should be protected and restored, not further degraded. Construction funding for the project has not been approved, nor have costs been determined for implementing each concept. "We'll be ready for funding when it becomes available," said Geoff Smith, general supervisor of open space planning and design at the City of Edmonton. "We can complete the planning phase of this project within this mandate of Council, and then it likely will be for future councils to decide which components of the projects they would like to advance," he said.
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it's too early to say whether COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened in time to allow families to gather for the holidays. Moe said residents can expect to see high COVID-19 case numbers for the next few weeks, as officials wait to see if the latest public-health measures have been effective.The province reported 325 new infections on Monday and said there are 123 people in hospital, 23 of whom are receiving intensive care.The premier noted that the new rules, which include suspending all team sports and a 30-person cap on indoor venues such as churches and bingo halls, have only been in place for a few days. The restrictions are to continue until Dec. 17, when the premier said his Saskatchewan Party government and the chief medical health officer will decide what to do next. Moe said they could choose to extend existing measures, bring in added ones or loosen the restriction that limits household gatherings "just a little bit so that we can have a few people in our home for Christmas." The limit now is five people."It's too early for us to say which of those three options would occur," Moe said."We need a little bit of time. We've had three, four days since these … additional measures have come into play, and we need to have a few days to see if they're actually going to make any impact on the numbers that we have."Moe wouldn't say how long his government will wait to see if the restrictions plateau the number of new infections."We're continuously adjusting and finding that balance of what we need to do and what we have to do," said Health Minister Paul Merrimen."We're looking at what we have to do with our hospitals to be able to adjust to the influx of patients … we're making adjustments in rural Saskatchewan to see if we can cover off nurses who have become sick."Merriman said the government's response to COVID-19 is a balancing act that juggles the needs of the health-care system with the economy and people's mental health.Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the novel coronavirus doesn't care about the holidays and Moe is playing politics by suggesting more people might be able to gather at Christmas."We're not going to see my folks at Christmas. Most families aren't and that's the wise thing to do. I hope that the premier is going to make sure that any decision he makes is based on the data," said Meili."The only thing that matters is whether those (case) numbers have come down. We aren't seeing that now. We'll see what happens in the weeks ahead."Meili said if Moe's government was serious about curbing community transmission of COVID-19 in time for Christmas, he should have closed down non-essential businesses several weeks ago to give the health system a break. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The CBSA says health-care workers who could qualify for permanent residency under Quebec's deal with Ottawa to protect the province's so-called "guardian angels" will be able to stay for now.The federal agency received swift criticism from Quebec immigration lawyers Monday evening, after it sent an email warning them it had lifted a months-long moratorium on deportations.Several lawyers pointed out that the deal between Quebec and Ottawa had not yet been ratified and that, legally, the CBSA could remove asylum seekers working in hospitals and long-term care homes before the province determines if they are eligible for residency under its new program.But the CBSA says that is not the case. In a statement sent to CBC Monday night, CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said "the agency will not be removing those who may be eligible to qualify for permanent residency under the guardian angels public policy."The number of deportations will "continue to be significantly reduced for some time, and all individuals will continue to have access to all recourse they are entitled to under the law," Purdy said.The head of Quebec's association of immigration lawyers, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, says the CBSA's announcement won't do much to calm the anxiety that many asylum seekers are dealing with, since they worked essential jobs during the pandemic's first wave that do not qualify under the policy for "guardian angels." "At this time, the program that's been announced only targets orderlies and assistant nurses, and not more," Cliche-Rivard told CBC Montreal's Daybreak."In a second wave of COVID-19 where a lot of provinces are hitting new records, unfortunately, regarding cases per day, are we capable of affording losing janitors or people cleaning hospitals?"A spokesperson for Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault said Quebec is working to launch the program soon, but didn't say when that could be."We are counting on the full co-operation of the federal government to get the program up and running as quickly as possible," the spokesperson, Flore Bouchon, wrote in an emailed statement.CBSA's director general of enforcement, Chris Lorenz, informed immigration lawyers in an email Monday the agency would be resuming deportations Nov. 30, after consulting with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. "This decision was made taking into account the various global factors with respect to COVID-19, such as a gradual reopening of countries, the emergence of viable vaccination options, and coordinated strategies amongst countries and air transport companies to mitigate possible transmission," Lorenz wrote.
The big takeaways for agriculture in Ontario’s behemoth $187 billion 2020 budget are funding for rural broadband infrastructure and the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The provincial government has made available an additional $680 million across four years to bring reliable internet connectivity to rural and underserved areas of the province. “We look forward to seeing that infrastructure actually put in the ground,” said Peggy Brekveld, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s newly elected president. Over three years, the budget allots $25.5 million to the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The cost-sharing funds are available for projects to mitigate disruptions to farm business from COVID-19 through technology. Brekveld said she believes the funds “will help us continue to find ways to innovate and invest in new technologies” to push back against COVID-19's effects on the sector. The budget reads that innovation funding will lead to “increased efficiencies and productivity” while supporting “resilience and long-term sustainability and growth in the agri-food sector.” Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, also highlighted the innovation funding as the budget’s main appeal for the agri-food sector. “There’s not a lot really other than that,” he said. Only a small element of the budget, there’s also $5 million set out for Ontario’s struggling agricultural and horticultural societies. For the societies, who put on many of the province’s fall fairs (there are three in Niagara put on by agricultural societies) the funding is significant. Speaking to Niagara This Week for a November story on the funding, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies manager, Vince Brennan, said he’s never seen anything like it before and called it the “single largest influx of dollars for our organizations.” For the 2020-21 fiscal year, a record provincial deficit of $38.5 billion is projected in the budget. Reflected as a percentage, the net debt of the deficit makes up 47 per cent of all of Ontario’s economic production or gross domestic production (GDP). Ontario’s GDP is also projected to fall 6.5 per cent during 2020. Two deficit outlook scenarios are presented, one for slow growth and another for faster. Under a fast growth projection, the provincial deficit by the 2022-23 fiscal year would decline to $21.3 billion. Under slow growth, the projection for the same period would be a decline to $33.4 billion. Currently, the 2020 budget projects the deficit to decline to $28.2 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Of the total $187 billion in spending in the 2020 budget, $12.5 billion is forecasted to be spent on paying interest on government debt. There is also $2.5 billion being kept in reserve to weather any unforeseen circumstances. There was no plan presented to balance the multi-year budget, as is required by law, and the province will be seeking a pause on the requirement given the "volatile and uncertain economic situation” of the pandemic. The province plans to table a path to balance in the 2021 budget.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 46 more deaths over the last three days, its highest number of fatalities for that time period.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional Monday as she expressed her condolences to families and thanked caregivers for their dedication.Henry says 80 per cent of the deaths were in long-term care homes, and 441 people have now died of COVID-19 in the province.She says 2,364 new infections were diagnosed between Friday and Monday, for a total of 33,238 cases since the pandemic began.Henry says the rise in deaths reflects the challenge of dealing with the virus in communities, and the impact on seniors when it gets into care homes.There are outbreaks in 57 long-term care and assisted living facilities as well as in five in acute-care units in British Columbia."Health-care workers have been at the front lines, or maybe the last line of defence right now," she says. "I know how challenging it is and I'm with you every single day, supporting you in admiration for the work that you're doing."Henry says most faith leaders are supporting her order banning religious services and understand that faith can be practised outside of buildings.The RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to a church in Langley after it held a service on the weekend."We are putting in the measures that we believe are the best we can do to protect communities, to protect our health and to protect us from transmission of this virus," Henry says.She says there's always an ethical dilemma when it comes to balancing the unintended consequences of her orders and how they affect people."How do you do just the right amount to try and keep this virus from spreading rapidly and causing so much suffering? There's no right answer to this, there's no perfect way of doing it and I will always be accused of doing too much or not enough."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Yukon government has rescinded approval of a controversial resource road that would have opened ATAC Resources’ access to vast mineral claims in the Beaver River watershed. A spokesperson with Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources confirmed the decision Monday in an email to The Narwhal. The 65-kilometre ATAC road, which was given a conditional green light by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in 2017, would have created all-seasons access to a portion of the company’s three mineral claims that form the Rackla gold property. The new route would have connected Keno City to the Tiger gold deposit, the site of a proposed open-pit gold mine where ATAC Resources hoped to produce 268,000 ounces of gold. Those who worried the road would have opened an undisturbed watershed to scalable development welcomed the news. “I am ecstatic,” Randi Newton, conservation manager with the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), told The Narwhal. “I’ve hoped for this outcome for many years, and it’s a relief that it’s finally here.” “What this decision does is remove a major looming threat to the environment of the Beaver River watershed and it creates the opportunity to set down a sustainable vision for that watershed,” Newton said. ATAC Resources, a Vancouver-based exploration company, is seeking legal counsel regarding the decision, according to Andrew Carne, the company’s vice-president of corporate and project development. “ATAC does not agree with many material aspects of the government’s decision,” Carne said in an email to The Narwhal. “The Tiger gold deposit remains a high-quality advanced-stage exploration asset with significant value to be unlocked.” A spokesperson with Energy, Mines and Resources said the department was unable to immediately provide comment. The proposed ATAC road would have provided an initial entrance to the company’s 185 kilometres of mineral claims and exploratory projects. During the road’s assessment and eventual approval by the Yukon government in 2018, many conservation groups and Yukoners expressed concern the road would act as an invitation to further industrial incursion in the watershed. ATAC Resources currently accesses its claims through a series of trails and by air, making exploration work costly. The prospect of a new road caused concern for the CPAWS, which noted easy access could lead to an avalanche of new development proposals, none of which were considered as part of the proposed route’s cumulative impact when it was approved. The road flamed frustrations that mineral development is allowed despite the absence of completed land use plans. In a recent public engagement process conducted by an independent review panel, participants pointed to the ATAC road as an example of Yukon’s failure to consider the cumulative impacts of mining and industrial development on the landscape. A report released by the panel found the road “was used as an example of a poor consultative process, where free entry staking was used for the purpose of creating road access to a property against the wishes of the First Nation and community.” The panel found the road’s approval led to the retroactive creation of “a sub-regional land use planning process outside of Chapter 11, with the assumption made by many that the future road would be part of the plan and the landscape.” One participant told the panel, “This is planning done entirely backwards and driven by private industry action without consideration of actual community- and Indigenous-driven processes.” The sub-regional land use plan for the Beaver River watershed was conducted by the Yukon government and the Na-cho Nyäk Dun First Nation, on whose territory the ATAC Resources’ gold claims are located. Without the ATAC road, some hope the sub-regional land use plan can be scrapped for a broader land use plan that will encompass the entire Beaver River region. “What this has done is create space to develop a land use plan that’s right for the region, that respects the long relationship that the First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun has with the land, that respects the ties that Yukoners have to the Beaver River and respects the wild creatures that live there,” Newton said. Na-cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Roads can literally slice and dice the environment, affecting the habitat and ingrained migratory patterns of wildlife. The Beaver River watershed is home to moose, wolves and grizzly bears. The ATAC road would have crossed through wetlands and over rivers, potentially disrupting otherwise intact ecosystems, Newton said. She added the road would have introduced a cascade of impacts to the watershed, including opening up the region to new hunting pressure. “There’s beautiful salmon habitat in the Beaver River watershed that could have been impacted,” Newton said. “This 65-kilometre road was very likely the start of what would have been a very long road network.” CPAWS recently released a report that cautioned the assessment board against approving road projects before land use plans are completed. “Land use planning can take that broader view of how much development is allowable in an area, which areas should we keep remote and free of roads,” Malkolm Boothroyd, the report’s author and campaigns co-ordinator at the Yukon chapter of CPAWS, told The Narwhal in a previous interview. “I think we’re hoping that Yukoners will talk about it and figure out how many roads there should be in this territory and what areas we want to keep road-free,” he said. “I think what’s very special about the Yukon is that there are still areas that you can’t drive to. That’s incredible habitat for caribou and grizzly bears and that’s really rare in this day and age.”Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville held a silent auction to raise money for Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It was Jac’s Boutique employee, McCall Laframboise, who came up with the idea for the auction. Big Sky Ranch is in desperate in need of support, because they had to close their doors to the public due to the pandemic. This meant that many of their programs, which usually help with fundraising throughout the year, had to be cancelled. “They do great things at Big Sky Ranch,” McCall says. “This way I could support them and support Jac’s Boutique.” Big Sky Ranch’s Office Manager, Pauline Lafleur, says they were thrilled when McCall reached out to them to offer their support. “We were very happy and grateful that the animals were remembered, even though we have been closed since March because of COVID-19,” she says. “The animals are still in people’s hearts!” Jac’s Boutique ran the auction through their Facebook page and raised $655, with everything going for above the starting bid. Owner, Jackie Taylor, decided to match the dollars raised, bringing the grand total to $1,310. “It feels amazing, especially around the holidays,” McCall says about the success of the auction. “I know they need food for the animals, and it’s great that we were able to help out in this way.” This time of year is difficult for the sanctuary, because of higher costs. They also have to keep in mind that hay will have to be ordered for the spring, so this auction couldn’t have come at a better time. “We are humbled and amazed by the dedication, generous hearts, kindness, and community spirit of everyone in Kemptville, and all the surrounding communities,” Pauline says. Big Sky Ranch is still open for adoptions and surrenders, and they currently have about 119 animals at the sanctuary, most of whom are now in the barns for the winter. The ranch has been in operation for 15 years and has found forever homes for over 3,500 animals, and housed many others who needed a safe, comfortable place to spend the rest of their lives. They are currently in need of Lysol wipes, Clorox bleach spray, and bleach, as well as feed for the animals, which can be purchased at Willows Agriservices in the South Gower Business Park. Monetary donations can also be made through their website www.bigskyranch.ca.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
EDMONTON — A retired top doctor says public health orders have to balance science with society if they are to be effective."(Measures) will only work if you have a majority of the population that supports it," said Andre Corriveau, who was Alberta's chief medical officer of health from 2009 to 2012. "You can't pass measures that a majority of the public is not supportive of, because it's not enforceable."Corriveau, speaking from Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he was advising that territory on how to deal with its COVID-19 cases, spoke after recordings were released that appeared to show Alberta's current chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, expressing concern about politicians watering down her recommendations.That just goes with the job, said Corriveau, who also served until last year as the top public health official in the Northwest Territories. Experts such as himself or Hinshaw are responsible for winnowing through scientific evidence — often thin on the ground or hot off the research presses — to come up with the best advice they can. But, said Corriveau, judging what's acceptable or how something should be implemented is a political decision."There's a point beyond which you can't enforce any more," he said. "That's the role of the politician — to gauge that."Nor is it appropriate for the chief health officer to advocate for measures not approved by the government, said Corriveau. The two sides have to trust each other and undercutting political decisions would damage that. "There's always other people who can advocate," Corriveau said. "Our effectiveness is built upon trust. If you turn around and you're doing public advocacy, then you've lost the trust and you're not effective any more."Alberta has plenty of other voices for that, he said. Doctors in the Edmonton zone recently formed a group to provide what they see as unbiased, arm's-length COVID-19 advice. Members of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association felt people were losing trust in officials. "There's many considerations when you make these decisions — health ones, economic ones, capacity of hospitals," said association president Dr. Ernst Schuster. "There was a feeling that the political considerations were stronger than some other considerations."The committee is to hold its first meeting Tuesday. The legal powers of a chief medical officer of health are delegated by the minister and may not be absolute, Corriveau said. Hindsight is easy, he noted, and added that everyone involved in the fight against the pandemic is doing it for the first time. Corriveau said he ran into situations where the final decision diverged from his advice, but he saw it as his job to make it work. "It's a fine line to travel but I think it can be done. "It's not necessarily ideal, but I understand the context and why at the political level they might have decided otherwise."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — Follow @row1960 on TwitterBob Weber, The Canadian Press