In his first speech after securing the White House, President-elect Joe Biden said Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, that the United States is at "an inflection point" and that the country "must restore the soul of America." (Nov. 7)
In his first speech after securing the White House, President-elect Joe Biden said Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, that the United States is at "an inflection point" and that the country "must restore the soul of America." (Nov. 7)
Opponents of a planned correctional facility in Kemptville are organizing a Zoom meeting on Tuesday. "The recent public engagement session hosted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General provided one view of the issue; we think it is important for people to hear from other voices on this matter," said Victor Lachance, a member of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) and the evening's moderator. The province plans to locate a 235-bed correctional facility on agricultural land in the community. The online meeting, dubbed an information session, will be held on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to a press release issued by CAPP, participants at the event will hear from experts in the field of incarceration, prison reform, and construction, as well as an Indigenous political leader. Eight speakers are on the schedule, including: Kim Beaudin, Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; Bryonie Baxter, former executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa; Paul Cormier, chairman of RANA Development Inc.; Marie-Therese Voutsinos, who will talk about the importance of preserving agricultural land; Aaron Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University; Justin Piche, associate professor at the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa; and Kirk Albert, spokesperson for the local Jail Opposition Group. "Our goal is to emphasize a positive vision for the future of Kempville and North Grenville," said Lachance. CAPP is made up of a group of residents opposed to the planned construction of the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex on 182 acres of farmland that was previously part of the Kemptville agricultural college. "It’s an important piece of the agriculture and farming heritage of the area," said Colleen Lynas, spokesperson for CAPP. According to the press release there will be a "robust" question-and-answer period following the presentations and anyone interested in participating is invited to register at email@example.com.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The outbreak started at a funeral for a young girl who died from cancer. About 200 people from the community of Pimicikamak were in attendance, including someone unknowingly infected with COVID-19. Days later, Pimicikamak Cree Nation leaders were notified about that positive case along with a family of four who also attended the funeral and all contracted the virus. The leaders sounded the alarm immediately, says Chief David Monias. “Absolutely people are scared and people are upset,” Chief Monias said, recalling when he had to announce the first cases to the community of about 8,600 members on Oct. 24. “They said how could you let this person in or how did this person get through?” Pimicikamak is one of a number of First Nations in Manitoba hit with recent outbreaks as COVID-19 infections almost tripled across the province in November and deaths hit record numbers. While they represent about 10 per cent of Manitoba’s population, First Nations people make up 25 per cent of all new cases and 42 per cent of those in intensive care units, according to data from the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team. The outbreak can be devastating for those living in overcrowded homes and with underlying health conditions. Nation leaders have acted swiftly to impose lockdowns and secure testing and isolation spaces – offering lessons to other communities grappling with outbreaks. Chief Monias said Pimicikamak’s approach was to stop the spread of the coronavirus by restricting people to their homes, shutting down public places with the exception of essential services and sending people who tested positive, and those who were in contact with them, to Winnipeg to isolate. “That was the main message, to stop the spread. And the only way to stop the spread is actually by shutting down mobility of people in our community,” Chief Monias said. A rapid response team made up of primarily First Nations doctors, nurses and other health professionals was deployed to conduct testing and contact tracing. Chief Monias said the community’s own pandemic team is made up of about 23 people including emergency response workers, doctors, nurses, elected leadership, social workers and others who ensure supports are in place for people to safely isolate and lockdown. By Oct. 29, the province had issued a public-health order supporting the community’s measures to close schools, businesses and restrict gatherings outside of households as the remote community moved into critical red alert on the province’s pandemic response system. Chief Monias says anyone who tested positive along with their contacts were sent to isolate in Winnipeg hotels, “just in case.” More than 200 people identified as contacts were sent to isolate in a Winnipeg hotel covered by the Red Cross and 70 confirmed cases isolated in a separate hotel provided by the federal government. “We did not ascertain the difference between close contact and contact, to us if you’re a contact, you’re contact and should be isolated. That’s just to make sure that you don’t spread it,” he said. Checkpoints were set up in five different areas of the community to monitor traffic and a shopping schedule implemented for residents. The community’s personal care home was restricted to staff only, who themselves were instructed to limit contacts outside of the home. Signs were also put up outside elders’ homes. “An elder lives here, is vulnerable, please do not enter,” they read. Chief Monias says it took five weeks to resolve all 70 COVID-19 cases from the outbreak. There’s no more community transmission, but they are now trying to contain additional cases that have popped up since, including in dialysis patients who have been staying in Thompson while they get treatment. Pimicikamak isn’t the only First Nation to successfully beat back an outbreak. About a week after the funeral in Pimicikamak, people attending a funeral in Opaskwayak Cree Nation were exposed to the virus, leading to community transmission. The spread within the community reached all 28 residents and 13 staff from the Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home, and one resident died as a result. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak says they had to move quickly to contain the spread of the virus, which has infected close to 200 people so far. Onekanew Sinclair said they requested military support from the federal government following the death of the care-home resident. A team of 12 people from CFB Edmonton and Shilo stayed on the ground at the residence for about 10 days, supporting frontline staff, some of whom slept there and worked around the clock, Onekanew Sinclair said. He said one resident was sent to an intensive-care unit in Winnipeg and the rest were isolated and treated within the care home. “We are proud and very happy, relieved to announce that they have all fully recovered and are now able to move about freely within the care home again instead of being isolated in their rooms,” Onekanew Sinclair said. The community has more than 3,000 living on-reserve and is a service hub for surrounding communities in the region, which means checkpoints have been established at main access points to monitor traffic going in and out. They remain on a lockdown with schools closed and students doing remote learning from home. Opaskwayak converted their 60-room hotel and another 45-bed facility for isolation units but Onekanew Sinclair says there are cases where entire families have become infected and opt to stay home. “We have to do what we can with our resources available,” Onekanew Sinclair said. “And when it’s time we’ll call on the federal government as our treaty partner for assistance where needed, as needed.”Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
A bill that will criminalize international doping conspiracies became law Friday with President Donald Trump's signature, closing out a two-year legislative process during which the only true opposition to the bill came from outside the United States.The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act had earlier passed both houses of Congress on voice votes. It passed despite lobbying efforts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said it will “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework.”The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are involved as athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. It is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who helped uncover widespread cheating directed by the Russian government to help the country's athletes at the Sochi Olympics and other major events.It was the response to the Russian scandal from WADA, the IOC and other international sports federations that led the U.S. to pursue the law. Representatives from the U.S. drug-control office bristled at WADA's efforts to lobby for extensive changes in the bill.Rodchenkov's attorney, Jim Walden, said the law gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”The law is in line with others that have helped U.S. authorities crack down on international corruption in different areas. It calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.It is not designed to go after individual athletes.Among WADA's concerns is that this law will tempt other countries to consider similar legislation that could undermine the harmonization of the global anti-doping rules.Eddie Pells, The Associated Press
A large mixed-used development in the Moodyville area, set to offer more affordable living options and create a neighbourhood hub, will move ahead after a “compromise” was reached between City of North Vancouver council and developers this week. After a mammoth two-night public hearing, with more than 100 speakers, council voted in favour of allowing the Cascadia Green Development proposal for 402-438 East Third St. and 341-343 St. Davids Ave. to move forward, with an amendment to lower the height of one of the three buildings within the corner block project. Council voted five to two in support of the developer’s application to change the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaw to allow the increase of one building from four storeys to five storeys as well as add a commercial laneway and extra retail and office spaces to the project at Tuesday’s meeting. The 5,516.5-square-metre development’s three buildings include the west building, a four-storey 14.6-metre (47.9 ft.) building along East Third Street with 82 market strata residential units, including ground-floor live-work townhouse units; the east building, a five-storey 19-metre (62.4 ft.) mixed-use building with 71 market strata residential units, 14 commercial retail units, office spaces and a childcare facility, and the north building, which was originally going to be four storeys or 14.8 metres (48.6 ft.) at the lane, stepping down to two storeys at East Fourth Street, with commercial retail units facing St. Davids Avenue and the lane, and 16 residential units. The east part of the lane will be closed to traffic to create an outdoor market, with small shops sheltered by a colourful canopy. At the public hearing, those in support praised the project for offering relatively affordable housing, with a rent-to-own and affordable home ownership program, its pedestrian "walkable" orientated design, the proposed mix of neighbourhood retail and restaurants and a new daycare centre with 16 spots. Many residents who spoke against the changes to the OCP said they weren’t “anti-development” they just believed the project in its current form was “too massive” for the neighbourhood. Residents on East Fourth Street echoed the same concerns about the heights, size, expected density, and shadow impacts of the three buildings. After hearing endless comments from neighbours that the “monstrosity” would cast a shadow over their homes, Coun. Angela Girard put forward a motion to amend the bylaw and reduce the height of the development’s north building by one storey or 10 ft., taking it down to a maximum height of 11.5 metres (37.8ft) and to keep the building terraced to reduce shadowing, which was supported by Mayor Linda Buchanan and all councillors. Farzad Mazarei, chief executive officer at Cascadia Green Development, accepted the proposal change but said it would mean a loss of community amenity contributions of upwards of $500,000 and a reduction of between five to 10 units in the “much-needed rent-to-own program” – one of the most supported features of the project. “It is disappointing for us to really reduce the number of rental units, but, I think, given the fact that we have been in this project for more than four years now, I guess we don't have that much of an option in front of us because of the carry-on costs and everything else that goes with a project of this size,” he said. In question time, Mazarei had pointed out that if changes were made to the taller east building on Third Street, it would mean the loss of the daycare centre and a significant reduction to the development’s breezeway, which was widened to allow more light into the space, and if changed back would create greater shadow impacts. Commenting on the loss of some of the rent-to-own program due to the height change to the north building, Girard said it was “regrettable,” but felt it was the “right thing to do for the community.” Coun. Tony Valente agreed it was a “positive step in the right direction.” "I think this is about a compromise and this is certainly the start of that,” he said. “I realize this is a reduction in some of the benefits, but I think it's a reasonable reduction that actually does address some of the things that we've heard back from the community.” Councillors had a robust discussion, raising questions about potential traffic woes, shadow impacts of the buildings, local school capacity and the rent-to-own program before voting on the amended bylaw. “I have found making this decision on this project difficult,” Girard said, in her closing comments. “I know that if I were living on the south side of East Fourth Street … and having to consider the possibility of sharing that lane with a strata complex with a significantly greater number of people, plus commercial, I too would be feeling that this was a big change for the neighbourhood. "However, there are components of this project that I believe have great merit and could bring real benefits and change to that neighbourhood and to the broader community.” While she sympathized with neighbours’ concerns with the height of the east building, she felt the impacts to making changes to that plan were too great, and would have resulted in a greater loss to affordable housing units which a number of young people and front-line workers called up to support. Coun. Don Bell put forward a motion to lower the east building to four storeys from the lane but was not supported by fellow councillors. He then voted against the proposal moving forward, saying the heights would make a “drastic change” to the area that wasn’t fair to the residents who live on East Fourth. Similarly, Coun. Holly Back agreed with many of the positive aspects of the development but labelled the amendment “a very quick knee-jerk reaction” and did not support the proposal, calling for further discussion with developers. Melissa McConchie, who lives on East Fourth, and was one of many nearby residents calling for the developer to scale back the development, said she was thankful to her neighbours for speaking up to help “preserve the character of their neighbourhood” and to council for hearing their concerns. “We are pleased that council took the initiative to require the developer to reduce their north building at Fourth Street from four storeys to three storeys so that it fits in better with the rest of the duplexes on this street,” she said. McConchie said while the community was disappointed council did not require the developer to reduce the building heights on Third Street, they were pleased that there was some discussion on changing the practice of measuring the height of buildings, which she said had led to a lot of confusion for community members. When it came to the commercial laneway, she said she “really hopes the city and the developer will ensure that agreements for a commercial loading zone and good neighbour agreements can be put in place so that this ends up being a positive experience.” Buchanan said she recognized this process was emotional for people in the Moodyville neighbourhood and mentioned it wasn’t all that easy on council either. “The concerns from the residents that we've heard over the last two nights as well as over the year are real and we understand that, but they're also very real for the people who came forth to say that they would really like to be in this neighbourhood, they’d really like to be part of this city, they'd really like to downsize or get into homeownership,” she said. Buchanan said the city had a responsibility to look at innovative ways to deliver new housing, and this project would make it a reality through the rent to own and affordable home ownership programs. “What we're all trying to do is make it [the city] the best place for all of us, but we're also looking at how can we make it the best place for people in the future as well,” she said.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
A new chamber of commerce partnership program designed to help businesses connect with new talent, and gain access to financial incentives, has just launched. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Magnet and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOP) to connect chamber of commerce members to the Magnet platform, a digital social enterprise out of Ryerson University. Through Magnet, businesses can get connected with new talent, and get access to business growth opportunities and tools to navigate the impacts of the changing labour market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to the partnership between Magnet and local chamber is access to wage subsidies through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Funded by the Government of Canada, SWPP lets employers tap into wage subsidies of up to $7,500 when they hire a Canadian post-secondary student, in a co-op style environment . "The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. This chamber partnership initiative brings together local chambers and boards of trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, job-seekers, and post-secondary institutions to support opportunities for student job seekers from coast to coast, across Canada, in an effort to boost economic recovery. "The initiative represents an innovative and necessary approach to helping small businesses grow, connecting early talent to new opportunities to emerge from this challenge stronger and better," said Kirkland. Creating an account with the Magnet Business Growth Portal is free for businesses of all sizes and industries. The Magnet Business Growth Portal helps small and medium enterprises strategize, adapt, and grow with notifications about funding, wage subsidies, training and hiring programs, market research, and COVID-19 support, according to the portal. "Ensuring a strong economic recovery depends on the success of our students and youth. Programs like the Student Work Placement Program exist to provide post-secondary students with the chance to grow professionally and develop new skills while working in sectors that are in line with their interests and field of study," Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement. The SWPP can help business, working towards recovery, offset the cost of hiring, while giving youth an opportunity to gain work experience. "Our government's investment in Magnet will go a long way in helping young Canadians gain meaningful placement opportunities in a variety of disciplines including health care and other high demand sectors, all of which play an especially important role in responding to the current pandemic," said Qualtrough.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Gananoque kicks off its Christmas celebrations this weekend. The three-week event will start on Saturday with the Festival of Light and a stand-still parade on King Street, organized by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. "We lit up the whole visitor centre, Town Hall, the bandshell and 20 trees today, thanks to Hydro One; they showed up today with four bucket trucks and 20 guys and they did an amazing job," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the chamber. On Saturday the parade will be a little smaller than previous years but no less spectacular. So far there are 29 confirmed floats and Kirkland says she is expecting another eight to show up on the day, bringing the total to 37 floats. "Before the parade starts at 5:30, the Gananoque Curling Club will be handing out free hot chocolate and apple cider in Town Park between 2 and 4 p.m.," said Kari Lambe, the town's manager of recreation. The 1000 Islands History Museum will also be lighting up the museum and is offering a walk-by window exhibit, "Toys of Yesteryear," on Saturday. The town is billing this year's celebrations as "A Wonderful Life in Gananoque" with a variety of festivities planned for the holiday season. "Starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his grotto in Town Park, where proper social distance and safety measure have been put in place," said Lambe, adding that there will also be carolling on the front steps of Town Hall from 3 until 4 p.m. The Gananoque Fire Service will be setting up firepits in Town Park from 2 until 5 p.m. Every Wednesday just after 6 p.m., Santa will be reading children's stories on 99.9 MyFM, with the final reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas scheduled for Dec. 24, just before the man in red takes off on his big journey. The town is also hosting a Winter Lights competition, and residents are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Lambe said a group of judges will pick a winner from each ward, North, South and West, and one award will be given to the business with the best window and/or light display. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18 on the town's Facebook page. The Christmas celebrations are the work of several community groups, including those mentioned earlier as well as a committee of council, the Municipal Accommodation Tax Tourism Advisory Panel, 1000 Islands RV, the Thousand Islands Playhouse and several town volunteers. A full schedule of events is posted on the town’s website.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The fortress that was Vancouver Island has been breached when it comes to the low COVID-19 case numbers it enjoyed compared to B.C.’s Lower Mainland during earlier stages of the pandemic. Provincial health authorities noted this week that though numbers are still high, there has been a levelling off of cases in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. But case numbers are rising in the province’s Northern and Interior health regions, and Vancouver Island is also continuing to see new cases. Ten of the 694 new cases in B.C. were in the Island Health region, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing. There were also 12 new deaths due to the virus, all in the Lower Mainland. There are now 9,103 active COVID-19 cases across the province, including the 277 active cases in Island Health, with 12 people in hospital and four in critical care. Henry acknowledged that some regions of the province were struggling to contain numbers they had not experienced before. “Many of our communities around this province are affected right now, many of whom went through the first wave and the first number of months of this pandemic without having cases, without having it touch close to home,” Henry said. But the doctor urged people to continue to follow pandemic protocols to protect the elderly, as well as strained and tired health-care workers. “We need to do our bit everywhere, to make sure that we support and protect them, too.” Island Health announced Wednesday that two hospitals — Saanich Peninsula Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni — are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Two First Nations communities in the Island Health region remain under lockdown while dealing with outbreaks: the Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation community near Zeballos and the Klahoose Nation on Cortes Island. However, the battle to flatten the curve on Vancouver Island can still be won if people continue to follow pandemic protocols, said Daniel Coombs, an expert in the modelling of infectious disease. Until recently, the Vancouver Island region saw a handful of daily cases, but since November, new cases of the virus have largely run in the double digits. “If Vancouver Island wants to maintain its really impressive record with the virus, it remains critical that people remain vigilant and follow the public health guidance that we're getting,” said Coombs, a mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia. At the moment, the COVID-19 situation on Vancouver Island is akin to the potential for wildfire in dry summer conditions, he said. “The forest fire analogy is a good one,” Coombs said. The virus won’t have fuel to spread if people continue to avoid crossing back and forth to the mainland except for essential travel and don't indulge in any social gatherings outside their households. “If physical distancing, mask protocols and other measures are maintained on Vancouver Island, it prevents those sparks (of COVID-19) from growing and getting out of control,” he said. Over the past two weeks, the Central Vancouver Island health service delivery area recorded 118 COVID-19 cases, followed by 66 cases in the South Island and 37 in the North Island area, data released Thursday showed. Island Health currently has exposure notices for eight schools in the region, including six in Port Alberni, one in Victoria and one on Salt Spring Island. As well, an outbreak at Veterans Memorial Lodge long-term care home in Victoria was announced over the weekend, and the lockdown of the Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens facility in Port Alberni remains in effect. The greatest areas of concern for outbreaks are in long-term care homes and multigenerational households where the elderly people are most at risk from the virus, Coombs said. As well, smaller rural communities on the surrounding islands or spread across Vancouver Island are more vulnerable due to the lack of medical resources and the difficulty of accessing rapid testing, he added. Henry also expressed the need for individuals to make the right choices to protect groups most at risk. “We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable. It's the biggest challenge that we are facing,” she said. “I recognize that this sacrifice is one that all of us are taking, and the vast majority of people around B.C. have taken this to heart.” Though the daily COVID-19 case numbers on Vancouver Island are still fluctuating up and down, overall, the numbers appear to be flattening, Coombs said. But keeping it that way will depend on people adhering to physical distancing, Coombs said. This will be necessary for some time into the future, despite hopes vaccines are around the corner. “We’ve been hearing a lot about vaccination at the moment,” he said. “But if we haven't actually deployed the vaccine fully in our communities in B.C., there’s a risk that people are going to loosen up too quickly or too early. “Yet, I can definitely foresee some restrictions lasting into the summer, or maybe even longer.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
JUNEAU, Alaska — A recount Friday affirmed a win by Democrat Liz Snyder over Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt for an Anchorage House seat, though her margin of victory narrowed slightly.Results certified Monday showed Snyder had defeated Pruitt by 13 votes. But Friday’s recount showed an 11-vote margin of victory, with 4,574 for Snyder and 4,563 for Pruitt. This year’s election was a rematch from 2018, when Snyder lost to Pruitt.The recount was not requested by Pruitt but by 11 others identified in their petition as voters in the Anchorage House district. State law allows a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake was made in the ballot count to request a recount.Pruitt by text message Friday said the encouragement he had received “led me to believe that there was no one better to request this recount than those who kept reaching out asking how they could help. I am humbled by their continued and unwavering support!”Two attorneys representing the recount request group, Joe Geldhof and Stacey Stone, attended the recount in Juneau, as did Snyder and Holly Wells, an attorney for Snyder. The hand count was conducted by members of a bipartisan review board, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections.More than 9,000 votes were cast in the race. Absentee ballots went through the recount process twice after the tallies during the initial recount were off from the certified results. Pruitt ultimately picked up an absentee vote and Snyder lost one in the final recount.Snyder said the goal “was making sure all valid votes got counted, and it feels like that was achieved.”Stone described the process as smooth and said she was pleased with it.She cited concern, however, with polling location changes ahead of the election, “which we believe may have impacted the vote, and we're investigating that now.” An issue of concern is whether there was any voter disenfranchisement, Stone said.Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director, said notice was given of polling location changes, including flagging changes on the division website.Neither the House nor the Senate has organized ahead of the next regular session, which starts in January. In Alaska, the chambers don’t necessarily organize along party lines. Personalities and policy positions can also factor in.Separately, Montemayor said an audit of a statewide ballot measure that narrowly passed last month would begin Monday. The audit was sought by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections. Meyer has said the audit is intended to help put to rest questions some have raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses.The measure, which would end party primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections, passed with 174,032 votes, compared to 170,251 no votes, according to the certified results. Meyer has said he believes the measure passed fairly.A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been filed.Cori Mills, a chief assistant attorney general with the Department of Law, said Friday's recount “verified that the voting equipment is accurate and the results, all the results, can be trusted.”Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Le sud-est de l'Estrie, la Beauce, le Bas-Saint-Laurent et une partie de la Gaspésie peuvent s'attendre à recevoir de 20 à 30 centimètres de neige cette fin de semaine, selon Environnement Canada. Cette première bordée importante de la saison pour ces régions est attribuable à une dépression qui remonte le long de la côte-est américaine pour traverser le golfe du Maine lors de la journée de samedi et le Nouveau-Brunswick durant la journée de dimanche. Tous les secteurs qui sont en bordure, donc tout juste au nord de la trajectoire de cette dépression, en subiront les effets principalement sous forme de neige abondante et de vents, a expliqué le météorologue Alexandre Parent, d'Environnement Canada. «Ça pourrait même dépasser les 30 centimètres de neige dans les secteurs de Kamouraska, de Témiscouata, de Rimouski et de la vallée de la Matapédia», a estimé M. Parent lors d'une entrevue avec La Presse Canadienne. La neige devrait débuter en fin de journée samedi ou dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche. Les vents se mettront également de la partie, principalement dimanche matin. M. Parent prédit que ces conditions pourraient être difficiles en première moitié de journée dans l'est du Québec et que la visibilité sera probablement nulle par endroits. Il suggère «fortement» d'effectuer les déplacements samedi plutôt que dimanche. Le Grand Montréal ne devrait rien recevoir de cette dépression. La région de Québec pourrait quant à elle recevoir de 5 à 10 centimètres. La semaine prochaine devrait être «tranquille» avec pratiquement pas de précipitations et des températures près du point de congélation. \- Texte de l'Initiative de journalisme local.Michel Saba, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The island kingdom of Bahrain said it has become the second nation in the world to grant an emergency-use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. The state-run Bahrain News Agency made the announcement on Friday night, following an earlier announcement by the United Kingdom on Wednesday, making Britain the first in the world. “The confirmation of approval by the National Health Regulatory Authority of the kingdom of Bahrain followed thorough analysis and review undertaken by the authority of all available data,” the kingdom said. Bahrain did not say how may vaccines it has purchased, nor when vaccinations would begin. It did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. The Pfizer shots, a so-called “mRNA vaccine,” contain a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus. Pfizer later told the AP that the details of its sales agreement with Bahrain, including the “timing of delivery and the volume of doses,” was confidential and declined to comment. “We have developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring," Pfizer said. “Our distribution is built on a flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials to the point of vaccination.” The immediate challenge for Bahrain would be the conditions in which the vaccine must be kept. It must be stored and shipped at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit). Bahrain is a Mideast nation that regularly sees temperatures in the summer of around 40 C (104 Fahrenheit) with high humidity. Bahrain operates a state-owned carrier, Gulf Air, that could be used to transport the vaccine. In the nearby United Arab Emirates, the Dubai-based long-haul carrier Emirates has already said it is preparing its facilities to distribute vaccines at ultra-cold temperatures. The vaccine also requires two doses be given three weeks apart. Bahrain had already granted emergency-use authorization for a Chinese vaccine made by Sinopharm and has inoculate some 6,000 people with it. That vaccine, an “inactivated” shot made by growing the whole virus in a lab and then killing it, also is in use in the UAE. Pfizer's vaccine does not contain the coronavirus itself. “The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will add a further important layer to the kingdom’s national COVID-19 response, which has strongly prioritized protecting the health of all citizens and residents during the pandemic," said Dr. Mariam al-Jalahma, the CEO of Bahrain's National Health Regulatory Authority. BioNTech, which owns the vaccine, said it has so far signed deals to supply 570 million doses worldwide in 2021, with options to deliver 600 million more. It hopes to supply at least 1.3 billion in 2021. Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. With a population of 1.6 million, it has reported more than 87,000 cases and 341 deaths, according to the government. Over 85,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 illness that is caused by the virus. The country is also home to a large expatriate population, with many low-paid labourers from Asia living in tight housing. In July, authorities told the AP they had moved 8,000 labourers to new accommodations, disinfected housing and implemented a rule requiring no more than five labourers per room, with about 3 metres (10 feet) of space for each one. The Bahraini government says it has conducted over 2 million coronavirus tests across the island. It initially blamed its higher per-capita infection rate on that. ___ Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
The union for blue-collar workers in Montreal says it wants to put pressure on the city to speed up negotiations and says it has issued a strike notice that will come into force in the next couple weeks. The city's 6,500 blue-collar workers have been without an employee contract since Dec. 31, 2017. In a news release sent by the union representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, "discussions are ongoing but we want to put some pressure to get things done.""Blue-collar workers want a new employment contract that is fair and respects the work they provide on a daily basis," the release said. It said in mid-November 2,846 members voted 97.2 per cent in favour of a mandate giving them the right to exercise pressure that could go as far as a general strike.The assembly was held in a temporary drive-in installed on the site of the Royalmount project, where members arrived by car. The City of Montreal says it is aware of the union's decision but that it has not been informed of the pressure tactics workers plan on taking, or which essential services they will continue to offer.
More Richmondites are working remotely than the BC average, according to the results of a province-wide COVID-19 survey released today. The May survey by the BC Centre for Disease Control shows that 60.8 per cent of Richmond respondents said they were working from home, compared to the provincial average of 54.9 per cent, but slightly below the Vancouver Coastal Health region average of 65.1 per cent. Overall, it seems that Richmond respondents are coping with the pandemic in healthier ways, with just 17.9 per cent saying they’re consuming more alcohol than they did pre-pandemic (compared to 26.9 per cent across BC and 27.9 per cent across the Vancouver Coastal Health region). And 33.1 per cent of Richmondites said they’re sleeping more, higher than both the BC and regional averages (26.2 and 31.3 per cent respectively). However, there are still some local challenges. Fifty-five per cent of Richmond respondents said they had difficulty accessing their family doctor, compared to 51.8 per cent provincial and 49.4 per cent regional averages. And 20.1 per cent of Richmondites said they’re worried about food security, compared to just above 15 per cent on average at the BC and Vancouver Coastal Health levels. A greater percentage of Richmondites (32.3 per cent) are concerned for their own health than the provincial average of 26.9 per cent, with the regional average at 26.4 per cent. But the same percentage of local respondents reported being quite stressed most days, around 18 per cent total. Among respondents with kids, 67.9 per cent of Richmondites said their kids had less contact with friends after schools closed in-person, compared to a much higher provincial (77.6 per cent) and regional average (76.5 per cent). But across the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including in Richmond, more parents of children aged 1-4 lost or discontinued their childcare during the pandemic than the provincial average (75.3 per cent locally). And just 51.2 per cent said their children experienced more stress after schools closed, compared to 59.2 per cent provincially and 56.8 per cent regionally. To read more results from the province’s survey, including from Richmond respondents, click here.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Alberta's United Conservative Party government denied the chief electoral officer's request for a four-month extension in a complex investigation into alleged election wrongdoing, the officer said. Glen Resler told an all-party legislative committee Friday the COVID-19 pandemic and other complications were interfering with his office's ability to finish some investigations within the required three-year time limit. Worried about one case in particular, which Resler did not identify, he sought a 120-day extension from the government, and was denied. The Opposition NDP said the timelines and details of the case line up with the investigation into the 2017 UCP leadership race. NDP democracy and ethics critic Heather Sweet said the government should acknowledge if it interfered with the investigation into its own party. "I think the government should get out of the way and they should allow the elections officer to do the investigation," Sweet said in an interview. Staff for the justice minister did not respond to emails and calls Friday afternoon. Steve Kaye, Elections Alberta's director of compliance and investigations, told the legislative committee the pandemic was one of several factors hampering the investigation. He said the complaint came 15 months after the alleged misdeed, and people didn't co-operate. "We then encountered challenging subjects and complainants that we personally served notices to attend and notices to appear before the commissioner," Kaye said. "We had to apply to the courts at one point to seek a court order compelling someone to appear before the [former election] commissioner." When the request for an extension was denied, the office shuffled around duties so more people could focus on completing the work in time, he said. The NDP believes the case in question is the alleged "kamikaze" campaign inside the UCP's 2017 leadership race. Now-Premier Jason Kenney and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean were considered front runners to take the help of the newly united party. Allegations from insiders and leaked records suggest money improperly flowed to leadership candidate Jeff Callaway, who would attack Brian Jean before abandoning the race. Alberta's former election commissioner had levied more than $200,000 in fines in relation to the leadership race for improper campaign donations, collusion and obstructing investigations. Several parties have appealed those fines to the courts. Leaked documents also suggest the Kenney and Callaway campaigns shared information and strategies. Last year, the UCP government fired the election commissioner and merged his office with the chief electoral officer, arguing it would save money on administration. Approval of auditor's budget delayed Also at Friday's meeting, the government member-dominated committee voted to stall approval of the budget of the province's auditor general. Auditor Doug Wylie had requested $26.3 million for the 2021-22 year, which is $2.5 million less than his budget this year. UCP MLA Brad Rutherford made the request to delay approval, saying he had more questions for the auditor. Rutherford could not be reached Friday afternoon. "This did come as a surprise," auditor spokesperson Val Mellesmoen said Friday afternoon. "It is unusual." Sweet said the government is playing politics with the auditor, who last month identified $1.7 billion in accounting errors in the government's 2019-20 financial statements. The committee approved the budgets of six other independent officers of the legislature, including the chief electoral officer. Resler asked for, and received, a 28 per cent budget increase for next year. About 12 per cent of his 2021-22 budget will be spent preparing for and running provincial senate elections and referendums promised by the UCP government. His office needs about $1.4 million to create and distribute election supplies, such as ballots and signs, advertise the elections, educate municipalities on running the votes in conjunction with civic elections and to operate a call centre, Resler said. Fulfilling a campaign promise, the government passed legislation in 2019 allowing Albertans to elect the people they'd like to serve as senators in Ottawa. A national selection committee is not obligated to choose candidates Alberta elects. Kenney has also proposed several referendums be held in 2021, including a vote on whether Albertans wish to continue participating in the federal equalization program. Creating a provincial pension plan and abandoning twice-yearly clock changes could also be on the ballot. Resler said the budget does not include money for other democratic measures the government is considering, including promised recall legislation, or democratic initiatives such as citizen-led referendums.
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it has reached a settlement with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent hotels to expropriate the derelict properties on the Downtown Eastside.The hotels, which had been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city's most vulnerable people before they were ordered shut over safety concerns in 2017 and 2019. The city says in a news release Friday that the settlement ensures it can move forward with BC Housing to turn the buildings into safe and secure low-income housing. It approved the expropriation of the buildings for $1 in late 2019 but faced a legal challenge from the owners.The news release says the city decided to settle to lessen the financial risk posed by the upcoming judicial review and potential claims for greater compensation and to enable planning to begin on the future of the properties. It says it cannot share the value of the settlement under its terms. "Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of," Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in the release. "Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community." The settlement marks the end of many years of enforcement and legal action against the owners, who oversaw decades of underinvestment and unaddressed safety issues, the city says.Parkash Kaur Sahota, 90, and Pal Singh Sahota, 81, are identified as the owners in the petition for judicial review. They could not be reached for comment. Staff plan to report back to council, which approved the settlement, on the next steps and timeline for the revitalization of the properties early next year. Given the significance of the two properties to the Downtown Eastside community, the city says community engagement regarding their future is a priority and will also begin next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
A Vancouver home builder isn’t waiting for government regulations to change to demonstrate his idea for quickly offering emergency housing to homeless people. Bryn Davidson is putting the finishing touches on a prototype of what he calls a “tiny townhome,” a basic shed-like structure that Davidson has suggested could be an alternative for people who are homeless and live in a tent or without any shelter at all. “We’ve listened to people just talk, talk, talk for ages, and it seems like very little ever happens,” said Davidson, the owner of Lanefab Design/Build. “The ability to just jump in and do something is appealing.” Once the 100-square-foot prototype is finished Davidson hopes to put it up at a yet-to-be-determined location to give people a sense of how the idea could work. The prototype will meet the City of Vancouver’s current zoning rules for a shed, but Davidson said a bathroom and kitchen module could be added to the tiny dwelling. The basic unit Davidson is building costs around $15,000. Davidson posted a video tour of the under-construction tiny townhome on Twitter. Davidson first suggested his idea earlier this fall as the city was grappling with what to do about rising homelessness and a growing tent city at Strathcona Park. Out of several options — including trying out a tiny home village — city councillors opted to prioritize buying or leasing more hotels rooms and apartment buildings to provide housing for people who are homeless. That option provides the highest quality housing but takes time to put into place. Meanwhile, COVID-19 capacity restrictions mean Vancouver has 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter. Another city council motion from Coun. Pete Fry asked city staff to look at what zoning and building code regulations would have to change to allow tiny homes. But Davidson doesn’t expect to see any actual changes to the building code or zoning until summer 2021 at the earliest. “I feel like something needs to be done,” he said. “The city was analyzing all these options from the city’s point of view. The advantage of [the tiny homes] strategy is it’s something the private sector and private individuals can just jump in and contribute to.” Tiny home villages have sprung up in many North American cities, and range from prefabricated structures with power to very basic dwellings with no heat or electricity. City staff have expressed concerns about designs for tiny homes that don’t include heat and electricity or a private bathroom. Current zoning would also require dwellings to include a fire suppression system. But Davidson and other tiny home proponents say the idea is to provide a temporary solution that provides better shelter and security than a tent. People who store their belongings in tents often have their stuff stolen, and when tents leak in cold, wet weather it’s difficult or impossible to dry out bedding and clothing. The prototype is insulated but would need to be hooked up to electricity to allow heat and ventilation. Davidson said he’s currently talking with the city, church groups and non-profits about a location for the prototype. Davidson envisions small “villages” of 10 to 20 tiny townhomes across Vancouver, placed in vacant lots that are awaiting development, for instance. When the prototype is finished, Davidson plans to try sleeping inside with his family to see what it’s like. “I think that there should be one of these little villages in every neighbourhood in the city,” Davidson said. “It’s not just something where somebody in Dunbar thinks, ‘Oh, that’s just a Downtown Eastside problem.’ I’d like to see every neighbourhood contributing.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Feist and a "Barenaked Ladies" member are also criticizing how homeless communities are being treated.
Those most at risk will be getting the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — including health-care workers, seniors over 70 and adults in Indigenous communities. The process is expected to use all of the initial allotment and be finished by the end of March 2021.
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it.U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted.The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position.On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year.Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program.Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4.An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security.“Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration.DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew.The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court.In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so.About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program.The Associated Press
A search continues in Haines, Alaska, for two people still unaccounted for after heavy rains this week caused landslides, washed-out roads, and widespread flooding in the small coastal community.Mayor Doug Olerud said that Alaska State Troopers were leading the search efforts for the two missing people."They've had teams out on the water, with search dogs combing the beaches, and on the beach they've got crews that are trying to remove some of the materials to get into some of the areas," Olerud said."So the efforts are ongoing."Olerud said Thursday that weather is still a concern. It was raining again on Thursday afternoon, and he said the forecast was calling for more rain or snow in the coming days."It's not stopping and giving us a break here," he said."We've got two missing individuals, but everybody else that has requested evacuation, we've gotten them out safely. We don't have any other missing individuals. And so to the best of our knowledge, everybody else in the community is safe."Olerud said local crews are doing their best to deal with the extensive damage around town, but it's been difficult to get a handle on things. "It's kind of one of those [where] we've got so many places that where do you put the crews first?" Olerud said.Alekka Fullerton, interim manager of the Haines Borough government, said there are about 50 homes that have been ordered to evacuate because of potential mudslides."Unfortunately last night we had to evacuate several other areas of town so we have a lot more people who have been displaced now and so our hotels are all full," Fullerton said.Fullerton said with all the rain, the ground is getting saturated and dangerous for residents in certain areas.A geological team from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources that was supposed to arrive Thursday to help determine the stability of the area, was weathered out and didn't arrive until Friday.They arrived by ferry as the weather made flying impossible, Olerud said."We really are discouraging people from coming to town, we do not need any more volunteers, we don't need people coming to town," Fullerton said.Olerud said the community has already received a lot of support, from within the state and beyond. He said it's been tough especially with two local residents still unaccounted for."It's hard. You know, everybody knows each other," Olerud said."I hope we get a break here. We've got a lot of talented people doing everything they can to keep everybody safe. And I have faith that they're going to do that."