U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden needs to stick to a consistent message against President Donald Trump's 'incoherent' one in Tuesday night's first presidential debate, says former Clinton adviser Philippe Reines.
For the first time, the province of Nova Scotia is proposing to poison a lake to kill off an invasive species.It's a last resort to stop the spread of smallmouth bass from a headwater lake that flows into the St. Marys River system, which is home to trout and a surviving Atlantic salmon population."We want to eradicate them from this lake to ensure the integrity of the St. Marys River watershed is left intact," says Jason LeBlanc, manager of resource management at Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture.Since the illegally introduced bass were first detected in July 2019, biologists have removed hundreds from Piper Lake in Pictou County, a five-hectare lake located halfway between Stellarton and Sheet Harbour.Netted, fished, stunned and starved of oxygenThe fish were netted, angled, stunned with current from an electrofishing boat, even starved of oxygen when a pump lowered water levels last fall ahead of the winter freeze."We were close, yet still they managed to survive the winter and in fact, this spring successfully spawned again. We knew that we were going to have to do something a little bit more drastic," says LeBlanc.Drastic now means pumping around 35 litres of the pesticide rotenone into the shallow lake — its deepest point is three metres.In addition to illegally introduced smallmouth bass, it also contains native yellow perch, brown bullhead catfish, shiners and minnows.The pesticide — LeBlanc refers to it as a toxicant — is taken up through the gills and targets fish."So for the most part, other organisms are unaffected. The concentrations of rotenone we will be using in this lake are very, very small. It's a product that's approved through Health Canada, used in several other jurisdictions specifically for this purpose. And rotenone actually breaks down very, very quickly. It starts to break down within hours and within a few days would be undetectable," he says.Lake sealed offThe department will temporarily block the outflow so rotenone will be confined to Piper Lake.A beaver dam that had blocked the outflow was quickly replaced last year with a berm and screened culvert.Environmental DNA tests that can detect traces of DNA left behind by a species were taken downstream. No presence of smallmouth bass were found, offering hope they have not spread from Piper Lake.It's believed the bass were illegally dumped in the lake in 2018."We feel lucky that we were able to detect the population early enough that we do have a really legitimate good chance of success," says LeBlanc.Application before provincial and federal regulatorsNova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture has applied to the provincial Department of Environment and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans for permission to use the pesticide.The application is in the middle of a 30-day public comment period.If approved, rotenone would be pumped into the lake in mid-October.Several groups have written letters of support, including the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax. The environmental group normally opposes pesticides but says in this case its use is "appropriate and necessary" to protect native trout and salmon."We recognize the clear and immediate threat to the entire St. Marys River system if this invasive species spills out of Piper Lake," said EAC senior wilderness co-ordinator Ray Plourde, in a letter to Keith Colwell, the minister of fisheries and aquaculture. Scott Beaver of the St. Mary's River Association praises the province for its quick response once bass were detected.Millions of dollars have been spent on habitat restoration and conservation efforts to maintain Atlantic salmon in the St. Marys River."What's at stake literally will change the entire ecosystem. It may take many years, but literally the entire ecosystem, we could lose the entire population. Other systems have lost the entire population. All the work that we've done over the years with the salmon population," says Beaver.Kris Hunter of the Atlantic Salmon Federation is also on board."It seems like an oxymoron to say that to help fish, you're going to kill fish," says Hunter."It's not something you entertain lightly or easily. There's a lot of healthy debate and science that goes into making that decision. We view this as sort of a preventative conservation effort that you're not just doing what's good for now, but you're doing what's going to be good for the long-term health and future of the system."The federation is supporting the use of rotenone in New Brunswick on a 15–kilometre section of the Miramichi River and to Miramichi Lake. The project is on hold after the province's environment minister decided it must first undergo an environmental impact assessment.LeBlanc says after the application is used, he expects native fish species will naturally repopulate the lake over time. Annual monitoring will be conducted to assess recolonization of native species and restocking will occur if required.MORE TOP STORIES
Less than three weeks into the 2020 school year, new COVID-19 guidelines have already become a sore spot between teachers, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and the provincial government. At the heart of the issue is whether teachers should be required to use sick leave when they cannot go to work as a result of following COVID-19 guidelines that the provincial government and the school district have implemented. The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association contends that if a teacher misses work because they are following provincial government's guidelines, that teacher should be provided with paid leave instead of using their own personal allotment of sick days."The association doesn't accept that government has the authority from either the context of our provincial or Lab-West [collective] agreements, or for that matter the Schools Act, to direct teachers to use their sick leave because they're exhibiting symptoms which may or may not interfere with how they're able to perform their duties," said NLTA president Dean Ingram.The NLTA has filed a group grievance with the NLESD and the Department of Education to try to get paid leave for teachers in these situations.'Our sick days are dear to us'CBC spoke with one teacher who is part of the NLTA's group grievance, and is not identifying her. The teacher said she had to miss a day's work during the second week of school because she failed the government's COVID-19 self-screening checklist. "I had some gastrointestinal issues throughout the night, along with that I had a headache.So I thought I better check the COVID screening from the district just to see if these are on the list, and they were," she said. Under normal circumstances, this teacher — indeed, like many others working in various jobs and industries — said she likely would have taken some over the counter medication for her symptoms and tried going to work.But this year, the provincial government has implemented the use of a self-screening questionnaire that teachers, school staff, and students must use when deciding whether they should go to school on any given day. The questionnaire includes a checklist of potential COVID-19 symptoms, such a fever, cough, runny nose, as well as gastrointestinal issues and headache.If someone exhibits two or more of the symptoms listed, or if they answer "Yes" to one of the other questions such as whether they've been outside of the Atlantic Bubble in the past 14 days, the questionnaire states they are to not enter the school.Instead, they are directed to stay home and use the Department of Health's online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.The teacher notified her assistant principal that she had not passed the screening checklist, and would be following the stated protocols. Later, the assistant principal sent her a follow up email, notifying her that she would have to use one of her sick days because she did not go to work."The district had advised that this would be a code 1, which is sick leave, so I was to use my sick leave for this incident even though in pre-COVID times I would probably have taken a Tylenol and [gone] to work," she saidShe says the policy of making teachers use sick leave instead of providing them with paid leave for work missed due to failing the COVID-19 questionnaire in concerning because it's time that teachers normally wouldn't be taking off."Just because you didn't pass two of the screening questions doesn't mean you're not able to work," she said. "Our sick days are very dear to us, I guess, and we use them when absolutely necessary."Extenuating circumstancesMeanwhile, Ingram says the teacher's collective agreement already contains language that would allow for the provision of paid leave under extenuating circumstances.And the NLTA considers work missed due to the government's COVID-19 screening questionnaire should be considered one of those situations."We believe that the collective agreements in concert with the School's Act provide that mechanism and certainly support our case with regards to the grievance," Ingram said.CBC requested interviews with representatives from the NLESD and the provincial Department of Education.The NLESD declined the opportunity to speak, however provided the following statement: "The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District respects the provisions of the NLTA Collective Agreement, and the dispute resolution process. The District contends it would be inappropriate to comment publicly on any ongoing matter proceeding through that process."The Department of Education, meanwhile, indicated it would provide some form of response, but has yet to do so. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
NEW YORK — Two weeks shy of a year after abruptly quitting Fox News Channel with a declaration that “truth will always matter,” Shepard Smith returns to television this week at his unexpected new home.He begins a general interest nightly newscast Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the financial network CNBC, putting him back in the time slot he loved before Fox moved him to the afternoon seven years ago.The 56-year-old newsman, a Fox News original who joined that network at its start in 1996, says he's relishing the fresh start.“We're going to come out and do just the news,” he said. “We're not planning to do any analysis in our news hour. We're going to have journalists, reporters, sound and video. We're going to have newsmakers and experts ... but no pundits. We're going to leave the opinion to others. It's exactly what I've been wanting to do. It's what I've been working at for 30 years.”He'll work out of a new studio that's been built for him at CNBC's New Jersey headquarters by three crews that kept construction going 24 hours a day over eight weeks.Smith left more questions than answers upon his Fox exit, leaving others to speculate about why. His 3 p.m. newscast stood out at a network where opinion is king, and sometimes he challenged statements made by the network's prime-time hosts.Figuratively speaking, he didn't smash windows on the way out and still doesn't.“I built a career at Fox News and I have some deep friendships, ones that I'm going to keep forever,” he said. “But simply, I just felt it was the right time to leave. I asked them if I could and they eventually allowed me to do that.”At Fox, “their business model is working very well for them,” he said. “Their opinion people state their opinions and they draw big audiences. I have no problem with that.”Smith's 2013 removal from the evening schedule, where the biggest cable news audiences reside, was an early sign that the balance was tipping toward more opinion — and not just at Fox. It was announced that he would be on call to anchor in prime-time during big stories, but there proved little interest in pre-empting the stars.His 3 p.m. newscast was influential, even if unpopular with many core Fox viewers, and the network's willingness to pay its personalities well no doubt eased hurt feelings.He left Fox two weeks after an ugly incident with Tucker Carlson, who brought on a guest who said Fox's Andrew Napolitano was a “fool” for analysis offered on Smith's show. Smith said on the air that Carlson's attack was repugnant.Asked about it, Smith said that “I had felt like it was time for a new challenge for a long time. Nothing about any talent, any on-air people at that place, pushed me out the door.”Smith, a Mississippi native, said he enjoyed some down time, with a couple of vacations. He also took meetings with plenty of media suitors.“He's smart as a whip, agile, super curious and an amazing broadcaster,” said news consultant Michael Clemente, Smith's former boss at Fox News and a longtime ABC News executive. “He's in the same league as Peter Jennings. He's probably got better chops than just about everyone who is out there, and he's not a product of New York. He’s not from Los Angeles. He's from the core of the country.”Every few years when Smith approached the end of a contract, CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman would check in with Smith's agent, Larry Kramer. In a nearly empty Manhattan restaurant just before the COVID shutdown, the three men met.With CNN, MSNBC and the broadcast networks courting Smith, CNBC was considered an underdog, at best.“My feeling was that it was not an obvious, conventional move for him,” Hoffman said. “But at the same time I felt we had a concept we had been thinking about for a number of years that just might fit his interests. It just so happened that it was, item for item, exactly what Shep was looking for.”CNBC offers financial news during the day and general interest programs that appeal to an affluent audience at night, things like “Shark Tank," “Jay Leno's Garage” and “Secret Lives of the Super Rich." The network needed something to serve as a bridge between the day and night identities, and thought a smart, straight newscast could do the trick, he said.“We really clicked at that first meeting,” Hoffman said. “It was one of those easy conversations. It wasn't a sales pitch. We didn't talk about what we wanted him to do. I just talked about what we wanted to do. We had a nice chemistry and our interests seemed to be aligned. I would say he left the meeting intrigued and then it moved from there.”That was their last face-to-face meeting. Negotiations were done via Zoom.Smith said he heard great ideas from other networks. “It’s just that this one fit better,” he said.Being part of the larger NBC News family would hold potential future options for Smith, as well as providing journalists whose work could be included in his new CNBC show.Otherwise, CNBC offers the closest thing to a clean slate you can find in television news. Fox News Channel is averaging 2.7 million viewers in the 7 p.m. time slot this year. MSNBC has 1.7 million and CNN has 1.5 million, the Nielsen company said.At the same time on CNBC, “Shark Tank” has been averaging 153,000 viewers.There's really no other place to go but up.“It’s not an easy thing to start from scratch,” Smith said. “There’s no muscle memory at CNBC in terms of doing a general newscast. We’re creating all of that. And that’s fun. It was fun creating in 1996, and it’s fun creating in 2020.”David Bauder, The Associated Press
Dangerous driving, lack of physical distancing and disregard for public gathering limits led the Ontario Provincial Police to start turning motorists away from Wasaga Beach on Saturday night. The Town of Wasaga Beach saw a large influx of car enthusiasts over the Sept. 26 weekend for what police called an unsanctioned car rally. Police say most participants were not from the local area. Late on Sept. 26, OPP officers set up at the entrances to town and began turning away motorists that were not Wasaga Beach residents. “There was an overall disregard of any kind of rules at all, so they made the decision in the interest of public safety to shut down the town, for lack of a better word,” said OPP Sgt. Jason Folz. “It's just a matter of time before somebody gets injured or killed based on these kind of driving behaviours.” Folz said there was a lack of physical distancing and complete disregard for the limits on outdoor social gatherings (25 people), which were implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Folz said the car "take-over" continued on Sunday Sept. 27, and that police maintained an active presence throughout the duration. “I get the sense that certainly some of the local residents were frustrated with the number of people and the lack of respect for rules and dangerous driving behaviour,” he said. OPP were assisted by a helicopter, which Folz said was used to track people fleeing from police, monitor gatherings, and collect evidence. Police from York Region and Peel Region also assisted. Folz said information on the number of tickets and charges handed out over the weekend is not available yet. “It's very concerning for all police agencies involved,” Folz said. “We're trying to eliminate that culture where people think they can drive anywhere they want just because they bring lots of numbers of people to block roads and do whatever they please.”Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
White Rock's iconic, white boulder was partly covered this weekend in black paint and the social justice slogan, "Black Lives Matter." White Rock RCMP say an investigation is underway. Anthony Manning, a White Rock city councillor, told CBC News he spotted the paint Sunday morning while taking part in the annual Canadian Walk for Veterans."I support anyone's right to express their opinion, but defacing or destroying property is not the way to get one's message across," Manning said. "It undermines their position and emboldens the opposition."He said the incident was particularly unfortunate because the rock is considered sacred to the local Semiahmoo First Nation. The Nation could not be reached for comment."All in all, not a great way to put the very worthy BLM cause in the best light," added Manning.He expects the city to quickly paint over the message as it did a few months ago when people spray-painted an anti-police acronym onto the landmark.The city was not available for comment.
MADISON, Wis. — A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin's presidential election, a momentary victory for Republicans and President Donald Trump in the key presidential battleground state.As it stands, ballots will now be due by 8 p.m. on Election Day. A lower court judge had sided with Democrats and their allies to extend the deadline until Nov. 9. Democrats sought more time as a way to help deal with an expected historic high number of absentee ballots.The Democratic National Committee, the state Democratic Party and allied groups including the League of Women Voters sued to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots after the April presidential primary saw long lines, fewer polling places, a shortage of workers and thousands of ballots mailed days after the election.U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled Sept. 21 that ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day will count as long as they're postmarked by Election Day. Sunday’s action puts Conley’s order on hold until the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court issues any further action.No further details were immediately posted by the appeals court.State election officials anticipate as many as 2 million people will cast absentee ballots to avoid catching the coronavirus at the polls. That would be three times more absentee ballots than any other previous election and could overwhelm both election officials and the postal service, Conley wrote. If the decision had stood it could have delayed knowing the winner of Wisconsin for days.The Republican National Committee, the state GOP and Wisconsin's Republican legislators argued that current absentee voting rules be left in place, saying people have plenty of time to obtain and return their ballots.Conley in April had ruled that absentee ballots in the state's presidential election could be submitted up to six days after election day. The 7th Circuit let that decision stand but the U.S. Supreme Court said only ballots postmarked on or before election day would count.Conley on Sept. 21 also extended the state’s deadline for registering by mail or electronically by seven days, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21 and declared that poll workers can work in any county, not just where they live. Clerks have reported fears of the virus caused shortages of poll workers in both Wisconsin’s spring presidential primary and state primary in August. Loosening the residency requirements could make it easier to fill slots.Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point — fewer than 23,000 votes — in 2016 and the state figures to be a key battleground again in 2020. Polls show Democrat Joe Biden with a slight lead but both sides expect a tight race.Todd Richmond, The Associated Press
Canada's most populous province is reporting a surge in new cases of COVID-19 today, nearly half of them in Toronto. Ontario reported 700 new cases of the novel coronavirus — 344 in Toronto, 104 in Peel Region, 89 in Ottawa and 56 in York Region. Big cities are also proving to be hot spots in Quebec, where new cases of COVID-19 have spiked in recent days.
Montreal and Quebec City will be upgraded to the highest COVID-19 alert level "in the coming days" according to provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé.He confirmed the two cities would move from orange to red alert while speaking on Radio-Canada's popular Sunday night talk show, Tout le monde en parle."Montreal and Quebec City are the hardest hit areas at the moment. They're very close to the red zone," he said. "We're going to announce in the coming days because I think we've arrived at that point. We're there and we have to act because people are expecting us to be transparent."Dubé said that difficult decisions lie ahead but didn't give details on exactly what the red zone restrictions would look like.The number of COVID-19 infections in the province continues to surge, with Quebec reporting 896 new cases on Sunday. The island of Montreal has the most new cases at 375. The Quebec City area clocks in at 120 and the Montérégie has 83 new cases.Dubé and public health officials have been calling on people to stop socializing for the next month in order to slow the spread of the virus.
A hazmat team was called to Stanley Park's Second Beach on Sunday morning after park rangers found mercury in a public washroom.Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services said park rangers were opening up the washroom when they found a substance that looked like mercury on the ground. The hazardous materials team responded around 8:45 a.m and confirmed the substance was mercury, an element that even in small amounts may cause toxic effects and serious health problems for humans if contact occurs. "The mercury was kind of spread around, it was in fine droplets," said assistant chief of operations Trevor Connelly, who noted the toxic substance was spread around the floor and in the toilets. "It was a tedious process for the hazmat team to clean it up, but after an hour or so they did get it all cleaned up and the washroom was opened."Connelly says the amount of mercury was consistent with what you might find in an older type of thermometer.He said occasionally the fire department will attend a mercury spill in industrial settings, but it's rare to see a mercury exposure in a public place. "I really don't pretend to understand the intent of anyone doing that," said Connelly. He said the City of Vancouver's park rangers are following up on the incident.
A total of 50 patients and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.Alberta Health Services confirmed on Sunday that five additional patients, for a total of 25 patient cases, and seven additional health-care workers, for a total of 25 staff cases, have tested positive.Four patients have died.As of Sept. 25, 136 health-care workers were self-isolating. AHS said that number will be updated twice weekly.The first case was detected at one of the cardiac units in the hospital on Sept. 18, and the first case in the hospital's general unit was found the next day. Cases were also identified in a second cardiac unit.Now, two additional units are part of the outbreaks. Cases at the transitional medical unit are linked to the current outbreak, but cases at a short stay unit are not believed to be connected.AHS said all patients and health-care workers who may have been affected have been identified and testing is underway."Multiple teams are working daily to determine where the infection may have started, how it was transmitted and who needs to be contacted and tested to limit exposure. This is standard procedure in our contact tracing that we implement with any outbreak," AHS said in an emailed statement. The COVID-19 outbreaks at Foothills hospital in Calgary are raising concerns about how hospitals around the province will be able to cope as cases mount.Alberta Health Services has said it is using overtime and reassignment of staff to cover shifts at Foothills.In Alberta, there were 1,497 active COVID-19 cases as of Friday, 518 of which were in Calgary.
An elementary school in Scarborough will temporarily close for a week after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared by Toronto Public Health. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said on Twitter that there has been an outbreak at Mason Road Junior Public School, near Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road. According to the TDSB, there are four confirmed cases at the school. Of the cases, one is a student and three are staff. The elementary school will be closed from Monday, Sept. 28 to Friday, Oct. 2.The TDSB said this information has already been shared with the school community. This is the second outbreak at a Toronto school since classes started. An outbreak was declared at Glen Park Public School in North York on Friday, after two students tested positive for COVID-19.Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said that two grade 5/6 classes will go into isolation for 14 days. A teacher is isolating as well. For a complete list of COVID-19 cases at TDSB schools, the board has created a COVID-19 Advisories webpage.
The only gas station in the Labrador coastal community of Rigolet is facing down Wednesday's deadline for imminent closure, and the community's government is taking it over once again.The Rigolet Inuit community government sent a press release Monday saying it will take control of the pumps while the Nunatsiavut government works out a short-term solution.That signals the problem has gone in a circle, as Nunatsiavut's previous short-term solution — an agreement with the for-profit business arm of the government — is coming to an end.The federal government is also involved in trying to keep an active fuel supply to the 300 residents in the isolated coastal Labrador community.Yvonne Jones, the Liberal MP for Labrador, said she has had numerous discussions in the last two weeks with government officials, particularly within the Department of Northern Affairs, to find a way to keep the fuel flowing.The station has teetered several times on the brink of closure in the last year or so, changing operators from Rigolet's local Inuit government to the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies in July 2019. Neither group has been able to make it financially viable, and NGC set a Sept. 30 deadline to shut it down, as no private business owner had stepped up to take it on."Obviously, this is an unprecedented situation for us in the federal government," Jones said.It's also a dire situation in Rigolet, as without the gas station the community's residents would need to ship fuel in by boat, ATV or — in the winter — snowmobile.Entrepreneurs wanted"We're looking at some kind of emergency or temporary relief with the federal government right now that we might be able to use in Rigolet, but it's not a permanent solution," Jones told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.A permanent solution, according to Jones, would be turning the station over to private hands."They have some really good businesses in the community that are very solid, that are providing good services to people already. And we know there is some entrepreneurial interest to take over that service," she said, adding the federal government may be able to assist a potential candidate."We're very interested in working with them to do that."While there has previously been private interest in running the gas station, Jones said she wasn't involved in those discussions and doesn't know why any past efforts stalled. Moving forward, she hopes any privatization problems can be avoided."There's going to be obstacles and challenges to doing that, but I'm certainly going to be there to help them and to see how the federal government can assist them through that process," she said.In the meantime, she said any short-term aid Ottawa can supply would last a few months — but as Wednesday's fuel deadline approaches, Jones as of Friday had no timeline when that aid may kick in.The Rigolet Inuit community government says it hopes to take over the station as soon as possible, but said it's likely there will be a gap between the station closing on Wednesday and then reopening again.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A group of Strathmore, Alta., residents learned a bit more about their Siksika neighbours this past week when they took part in a unique Indigenous history lesson known as a blanket exercise.Throughout the exercise, participants stand on blankets that symbolize the land inhabited by Indigenous people that eventually became Canada."This is so amazing that in our time, 2020, we can actually teach non-Indigenous people about our history and why we have the circumstances that we do today as a result of our history with Canada and it wasn't always a good picture," said Charlotte Yellow Horn McLeod, the Indigenous cultural coordinator for a group called the Aspen Commons Family Resource Network, which hosted the event.Yellow Horn McLeod said it was a good opportunity for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together and work toward healing."I think in school people learn about the benevolent part of Canada without learning part of the story, so the blanket exercise kind of touches on our part of the story," she said.Yellow Horn McLeod walked participants through a timeline of historical events leading up to present day, illustrated through the symbolic artifacts on the blankets — moccasins, shawls and beadwork.The lesson sheds light on European colonialism and the mistreatment of Indigenous people in Canada.Strathmore resident Marcie Burtniak was shaken after the experience."I feel pretty emotional," she said. "When I played the part of the child that was forced from the community to go to residential school, that was one thing. But then they said, 'Turn your back because you're not really recognized by your community anymore' — Wow. That was so hurtful, and so heartbreaking."The retired teacher said she hopes the country can learn from the mistakes of the past."To have a government in the day, do that to the first people of our country was … so wrong," she said.Another attendee, Strathmore resident Roseanne de Beaudrap, said she had come to seek a better understanding of her country's history."I grew up in Saskatchewan in an area that was a large population of Indigenous people … I have a good base but there's a lot that I don't know, so I'm here for more understanding," she said. "Here in Canada we are such a diverse culture, I think it just helps us to live more cohesively if we understand each other and where we're coming from."Afterward the blanket exercise, de Beaudrap was emotional."I'm overwhelmed, and yet hopeful in a way, that this is maybe something that can ripple out, and there can be healing and more education to other people, that hopefully there will be more understanding," de Beaudrap said. "There's so much that I learned, my eyes have been opened. I'm grateful for this experience and I hope others experience it too."Mildred Broad Scalplock, from Siksika, said she hopes the communities continue to work together toward reconciliation through such simple but powerful exercises."I have a warm feeling in my heart knowing that people listened to my story and I felt accepted, and just hearing the impacts of everybody was really emotional," she said. "Also, building, bridging the gaps between Siksika and Strathmore, I feel empowered and I think that's something that should have been done a long time ago."
With cases of COVID-19 increasing in Quebec at a rate not seen since the spring, health experts are urging the government to take more drastic measures in order to spare the beleaguered health-care system from further stress. On Sunday, Quebec reported 896 new cases, a figure close to the worst days in April and May. Hospitalizations and deaths, though, are currently much lower than they were during the first wave.Nevertheless, hospitalizations have risen 46 per cent over the past week. There are currently 216 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 41 in intensive care.According to experts, the lower hospitalization numbers can be explained by the larger percentages of young people who are testing positive for the disease. At that age, they are less likely to develop complications.But hospital doctors in Montreal say they are in fact admitting younger patients, which potentially poses a new set of challenges for the health system.Dr. François Marquis, head of intensive care at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, said the younger patients he's seen have taken longer to recover. "We could wind up, in this second wave, with a problem where a small number of young people fill our beds in intensive care because they don't die, but they don't get better. They're stuck between the two," Marquis said in an interview with Radio-Canada. "That's a reality the population has not understood and that young people, unfortunately, have not understood."Dr. Matthew Oughton, a physician of infectious diseases at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, said he expects hospitalizations to increase more rapidly in about a month, as young people transmit the virus to older generations. "We're going to be back into the sort of crunch that we know many hospitals in Quebec were in back in the later part of March and April," Oughton said.Concern again about long-term careAnother area of concern as cases rise is the fate of long-term care homes. In the first wave of the pandemic, hundreds of publicly run facilities (known as CHSLDs) had outbreaks, which killed nearly 4,000 people.The government promised sweeping changes to protocol and staffing levels to prevent a similar disaster from taking place again. But in recent days, outbreaks at a number of CHSLDs and seniors homes have worried observers.Visits had to be suspended at the CHSLD Idola Saint-Jean in Laval Saturday, after 11 patients and seven employees tested positive for the virus.Meanwhile, 10 people tested positive at Residence l'Initial in the Outouais region and patients at the CHSLD Herron —where 38 people died in the spring — are once again in insolation after a staff member tested positive there."This is extremely concerning. This shouldn't be happening anymore," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, an infectious disease specialist at the Université de Montréal hospital. "The government was firm on this and said it wouldn't happen anymore, but it is happening again." Tremblay said that while the government did hire more patient care attendants, long-term care homes are still dealing with a shortage of nurses and staff-to-patient ratios are less than ideal. Need tougher measures, experts sayIn an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Quebec government has been urging people to avoid all social gatherings, especially in private homes, for the next month."The high increase in cases is mainly associated to community transmission of the virus," Health Minister Christian Dubé wrote on Twitter, Sunday.Tremblay said the virus is spreading out of control, and suggested the government consider taking tougher measures to prevent the death toll from increasing. Making masks mandatory for students inside the classroom was among the measures she proposed."It is extremely important that people understand we are heading straight for a second wave that will be at least as bad as the first one, if not worse," she said.Oughton also said the government needs to do more. Simply asking people to reduce their contacts, he said, hasn't been enough. "It's a request, but it doesn't have any force to it. And as a result, I have a feeling that some people don't see this as being anything more than a suggestion or a recommendation," he said."Right now the message isn't getting through with sufficient clarity. The government needs to take firm and clear action to explain to people why this is such an issue."
Four individuals at Yorkton Regional High School have tested positive for COVID-19 and as a result, Good Spirit School Division has moved the high school to full mandatory remote learning.Quintin Robertson, the director of education for the school division, said in a statement the source of the infection is believed to be from community spread but school transmission has not been confirmed.The statement did not say if the positive cases were students or teachers at the high school.Classes for the high school will be hosted online until Oct. 16 with students returning to the school on Oct. 19, based on advice from the local medical health officer."The [Yorkton Regional High School] staff have been preparing for remote learning since the spring and are confident that the move to an alternate instructional model will not impact learning," Robertson said.Robertson said anybody who is identified as a close contact to those who tested positive will be contacted directly by public health.The statement said the facility team at the Good Spirit School Division will fully disinfect the high school before staff and students return.
A major road work project on one of the steepest, most precipitous climbs on Cape Breton's Cabot Trail is almost finished.Work to upgrade three kilometres of road on the south side of Cape Smokey near Ingonish, N.S., began last year, and had traffic down to one lane on the south slope of the mountain for much of the summer."This project ... is probably one of the biggest and most challenging projects on the Cabot Trail," said Trevor Partridge, a superintendent for Zutphen Contractors and site supervisor for the Smokey project."You have ledges and drop-offs that are a couple thousand metres down. You're working machinery on the side of them," he said. "You have to be competent in what you're doing and focused on your task."Drivers familiar with Smokey can visualize the ocean far below the narrow two-lane roadway with its sharp turns, and steep inclines and the smell of burning break pads.The $11 million upgrade and realignment project involved smoothing out some of those turns, including the hairpin bend at the bottom."You'd know it because if you went too fast you wouldn't make it," said Alex Small, a project engineer with the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal."The guardrail was always damaged from the trucks that were trying to make it. So now there's going to be a much smoother transition coming around there."The project also involved blasting into the mountain to widen the road from six meters to almost nine meters."We were limited on how wide we could make the road out toward the water end, so the mountain was about the only way," said Small.The rock coming off the mountain was more brittle than expected, so more of it had to be removed to scale the faces safely."In the original design we were going to have a very steep slope," said Small. "But the nature of the rock and the way it was fractured, we couldn't do that. We had to go back into the mountain a lot more to reduce the slope on it just to make sure that we weren't going to have rock coming down onto the road."The project has also added new steel guardrails, active transportation lanes, and a scenic lookoff.The paving should be finished by the end of the week and the whole project should be wrapped up by the end of October.MORE TOP STORIES
Shoppers in Moncton say not only are they ready for the switch away from single-use plastic bags, many have already stopped using them.Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview's tri-community plastic bag bylaw, which restricts retailers from distributing most single-use bags, comes into effect on Oct. 1.The bylaw was supposed to go into effect July 1, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Outside the grocery store, Amanda Hopper said the bylaw makes sense and will mean less waste."Just keep some in your car," Hopper said when asked how she remembers to bring her bags.Jolene Girouard agreed and said reducing the amount of plastic in the environment is "obviously" a good idea."It's a good thing. That's what we have to get used to — the new normal."Retailers are readyElaine Aucoin, director of environmental planning and management for the City of Moncton, said people have had a while to get used to the idea."I think the community is ready for this, and they were expecting it, so we didn't get any major objections from either the consumers or the retailers on it."Jim Cormier, Atlantic director for the Retail Council of Canada, said retailers are now prepared for the move away from single-use plastic.When it first came up, business owners asked for one year's notice so they would have time to plan, use the plastic single-use bags they had on hand, and order something different.Cormier said retailers also appreciate that there are exceptions in the new bylaws."Things like when you're needing a bag for fresh produce or for fish, meats," he said. "Even in some of the hardware stores where you might need a small bag to pick up a few washers or screws, that sort of thing."As for concerns about bringing in the bylaw during a pandemic, Cormier said retailers were polled in August and asked if they wanted to push for a continued delay."The vast majority came back and said, 'No, no, we're fine. We're ready to go,'" he said.Aucoin said the new rules are consistent with the rest of Atlantic Canada, and stores will still be allowed to provide paper bags to shoppers, but there will be a fee."It is consistent with Newfoundland and Labrador, whose act is in effect Oct. 1 as well as Nova Scotia, whose Plastic Bag Reduction Act takes effect on Oct. 30."Violating the bylaw in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview could result in a fine between $140 and $2,100.But Aucoin is expecting that won't be necessary, and that people will embrace the changes."I think people are ready and a lot of people already bring their reusable bags to the store, so I think if you haven't done so already, put some in your vehicle, put some smaller bags in your purse, and be ready to bring them with you anytime you visit a store," she said.The three communities have created a website, mybagplan.ca, to provide more information for consumers and retailers.
A University of Ottawa professor is calling a sluggish online booking system for COVID-19 tests launched by eastern Ontario's children's hospital "unethical" and "discriminatory."CHEO's online MyChart system, which came online last week, lets parents schedule appointments for children younger than 18 at the Brewer Arena test site.Available test slots are posted online at 8:30 p.m. the night before, with spots that open up due to cancellations added throughout the day.But according to Timothy Lethbridge, who teaches software engineering and computer science — and has been isolating ever since his 13-year-old daughter developed COVID-19 symptoms early last week — scheduling a test using the site is "basically a lottery.""The rule of thumb is, in order to get an appointment, you have to game the system," Lethbridge said.'A mad rush'Problems with the MyChart system begin right off the bat, said Lethbridge, as it often takes minutes to gain access while the system sluggishly tries to handle the number of requests."At 8:30 it's a mad rush," said Lethbridge.Part of what makes booking an appointment a game of chance, he said, is that MyChart doesn't tell you whether someone else is filling out the same slot as you.Lethbridge said he spent much of Wednesday refreshing the page, hoping a cancelled appointment would become available — with no luck. He then tried to book one online that evening for the next day, but also came away empty-handed."It's discriminatory against people who don't have multiple devices or friends who can help them. It's discriminatory against people who don't have tech skills," Lethbridge said. "It's also discriminatory against people who live in rural areas because their internet will be slower. They'll have almost no chance at all. It's discriminatory against people who are disabled in various ways."Delays result of 'demand issues:' CHEOLethbridge isn't the only one who's had problems, however.Josh Hendry said he made several failed attempts to land an appointment for his three-year-old — both in person at the Brewer site and online — before finally getting a test after heading down early Friday morning."Lining up at 5:45 a.m. in the morning made me realize pretty quickly this can't be how it works to get in," Hendry said. "We can't have people lining up to get in when the weather gets colder."No one from CHEO was available for an interview Friday, but in an email, spokesperson Patrick Moore called the problem a "demand issue.""Our booking system may be slow for some people to access because of the incredible numbers accessing it," Moore wrote.Like buying concert ticketsLethbridge was able to secure a COVID-19 test Thursday after heading down to the assessment centre at around 5 a.m.He said he's learned from others that the winning strategy for booking with MyChart involves having family or friends help, using multiple devices to nab one of the available spots."You need to do exactly what you'd do if you were buying a U2 ticket for a concert," he said.The computer science professor is now creating a demonstration of a more efficient system for CHEO, in the hopes of showing the children's hospital that a competent tech team could add a few user-friendly features within a few days. He said the current system just isn't equipped to deal with the current high demand. "It could just, in the simplest case, emulate the way they do it when you show up for one of those lucky, in-person appointments at six o'clock in the morning," he said. "You know, the first people in say, 'I'd like an appointment.' And they give you the next one available."
After a feisty first week of the B.C. fall election campaign, our Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey has a look at what we can expect as the leaders reach out to voters in week two.