Biden wins White House, vows new tone for nation
Biden wins White House, vows new tone for nation
BUENA VISTA, Ga. — Across the grounds of a south Georgia courthouse, scores of masked and socially distanced voters bowed their heads in prayer for the 260,000-plus Americans who have died from the coronavirus.Then Democratic Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock took the microphone, promising to push for more economic aid for businesses and people affected by the pandemic and touting Democratic plans to combat long-standing racial and wealth disparities highlighted by the crisis.A day earlier, Vice-President Mike Pence campaigned with Warnock’s opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and her fellow Republican senator, David Perdue. But in heavily Republican north Georgia, there were only scant mentions of the public health calamity that helped lead to President Donald Trump’s defeat: aid programs that passed Congress months ago and a vaccine that is still weeks — or months — from mass distribution.“Before the end of this year, we’re going to see 40 million vaccines all across America,” Pence predicted, attributing the possibility to “the leadership of President Donald Trump.” His crowd -- distanced only in certain seating sections and many not wearing masks -- roared as the vice-president added a kicker: “We’re in the miracle business."It's two starkly different worlds on display in Georgia, where the national political spotlight is shining on twin Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls the chamber at the outset of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration. Republicans need one more seat for a majority; Democrats need a sweep on Jan. 5.For Republicans, the pandemic is secondary in a runoff blitz defined by dire warnings about what it would mean if Warnock defeats Loeffler and Perdue falls to Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Democrats, meanwhile, are more than eager to discuss COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The messaging differences bleed over to the two sides’ public health protocols, as well. The approaches largely track the fall presidential campaign, when Trump wanted to talk about anything but the virus, while Biden centred his pitch around Trump’s handling of it.The November results in Georgia explain why neither side is deviating. Biden clipped Trump in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast. But Perdue led Ossoff by about 100,000 votes, finishing just short of the outright majority Georgia requires to avoid a runoff. Warnock led Loeffler in a separate special election. Both sides share a common conclusion: Each party has a pool of potential voters approaching 2.5 million. It’s just a matter of which side can coax more to cast ballots in a second round.Republicans’ reprisal will depend again — in part — on generating enthusiasm via in-person campaigning, even as coronavirus cases spike nationally. Trump has announced plans for a Dec. 5 rally in Georgia, after weeks of speculation about whether he’d come amid his continued refusal to concede to Biden. As with the president’s October blitz of rallies, there’s no suggestion that his Georgia event will include social distancing or require masks, as recommended by public health officials.Neither Perdue nor Loeffler echoes the president’s mockery of public health standards. But so far in the runoff campaign, they’ve held multiple indoor events with no social distancing and without compulsory masks. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, appearing with Loeffler, drew hundreds of suburban Republicans to the Cobb County GOP headquarters, surprising organizers and crowding the facility to the point that some voters left without attempting to enter.Florida Sen. Rick Scott drew a similar throng to a restaurant in suburban Cumming for an event with both Georgia incumbents. Days later, Scott said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been exposed the same day he travelled to Georgia. Loeffler later announced her own positive test, as well, though consecutive negative tests followed in subsequent days, leading her to end a brief quarantine.Loeffler acknowledges the pandemic in her standard speech by highlighting her and Perdue’s votes for the spring economic relief package.Warnock and Ossoff counter with almost exclusively outdoor or virtual campaigning. Warnock has, however, held outdoor photo lines that do not involve social distancing.“We’ve seen no real national public grieving because it is the kind of death that doesn’t show up in one fell swoop,” Warnock said in Reynolds, where he campaigned under an outdoor picnic canopy. “We see no real recognition of what is happening. ... Meanwhile, we’re having a debate about science. Wearing a mask is somehow a political statement? No, it’s not a political statement. It’s common sense.”Ossoff launched the second round of campaigning with a statewide tour of drive-in rallies similar to those Biden used after Labor Day. Ossoff went into isolation in July after his wife, an OB-GYN, contracted COVID-19. His ads frequently show him greeting voters in masks.The two Democrats have also criticized Loeffler and Perdue for well-timed stock trades after a series of private congressional briefings on the then-burgeoning pandemic.“While you were sheltering in, she was sheltering her investments,” Warnock said in Buena Vista.A recent Ossoff ad says Perdue “profited from the pandemic” instead of “preparing our country.”Senate ethics officials and the Justice Department have found no legal wrongdoing in either Georgia senator's financial activity.Ossoff also has sought to tie Perdue’s loyalty to Trump back to the pandemic. The president has spent weeks asserting baseless claims of voter fraud in Georgia and other battleground states Biden won, without Perdue disputing the claims.Trump's foot-dragging on an orderly transition, Ossoff said in an interview, has hampered Biden’s ability to organize a governmentwide coronavirus response.“What Sen. Perdue should be doing, if he had the people’s best interest at heart and not just his own,” Ossoff told The Associated Press, “is encouraging the president to recognize reality.”___Associated Press writer Ben Nadler contributed to this report from Atlanta.Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Residents of a house in East York were left with minor injuries after an explosion Friday evening. Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Peter Chow said crews were called to the area of Woodbine and Lumsden avenues shortly after 5 p.m. following reports of a small fire in the basement of a residence.Soon after fire crews arrived, they quickly put out the small fire, Chow said.Chow told reporters that a family of four lives in the basement but were able to make it out. He also said three men live on the second floor and one woman lives on the first floor.Wendy Giera, an area resident, said she saw "the front windows blown out of the house, there was smoke pouring out."Police say people were treated for "non life-threatening" injuries at the scene. Chow said crews are waiting for engineers to arrive and inspect the building before they go back in. Investigators have also been called to the residence."We have to wait until the building is actually deemed safe," Chow said.He said a hazardous materials truck has also been called to the scene to do air monitoring to ensure the building is safe for crews to re-enter. Chow said there is also a strong odour coming from the residence.Toronto police aren't sure what caused the blast, spokesperson Laura Brabant said.Roads in the area have been closed and police are asking people to avoid the area.
Beset by ongoing questions about Canada's COVID-19 vaccine strategy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to assuage the public with assurances most Canadians could be inoculated by September 2021, with distribution led by a former NATO commander. Trudeau faced a barrage of questions about when and how such a rollout would unfold at a morning press conference on Friday, acknowledging public anxiety amid alarming infection rates and hospitalizations that have already scuttled holiday hopes for much of the country. But while promising vaccine news offered "light at the end of the tunnel," Trudeau said "we must hold on a little longer." "What really matters is when we get across the finish line ... The fact that the doctors highlighted that if all goes according to plan, we should be able to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September, puts us in very good stead," he said, offering the government's most specific timeline yet. "We're going to continue to do everything we can to deliver for Canadians, listening to experts working with top people to make sure that we're doing this right, and quickly and safely." Trudeau said Canada has turned to Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead distribution and handle logistics that include cold storage requirements, data sharing, and reaching Indigenous communities. He insisted Ottawa was committed to working with the provinces and territories on securing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible. That wasn't good enough for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who later Friday roasted Trudeau for failing to give provinces and territories specific information they need for a potential vaccine launch. Ford said a conference call Trudeau held with premiers Thursday night was sorely lacking. "I didn't get the answer we wanted to hear, none of the premiers got the answer they wanted to hear," said Ford, who appeared at a Friday press conference alongside the new head of the Ontario's vaccine distribution task force, retired Gen. Rick Hillier. "I can't emphasize enough to the prime minister: The clock is ticking. We're going to be hopefully getting these vaccines sometime — again, hopefully — in January. I asked him the three simple questions: When are we getting it? What type of vaccine are we getting? And how much of that vaccine are we getting? To have Gen. Hillier make a proper plan, we need to know." Ontario called on the federal government to immediately disclose its allocation plan, noting reports that other countries have already announced plans to receive doses. U.S. officials have said 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine could reach some priority citizens within 24 hours of regulatory clearance, while Moderna's vaccine could be available by the end of the year, although the general public likely wouldn't get doses until the spring. No matter when a vaccine arrives in Canada, Hillier said Ontario's vaccine distribution plans would be ready on Dec. 31. In Ottawa, Procurement Minister Anita Anand also faced questions over a precise delivery date but insisted she is in constant contact with suppliers to make sure they can be deployed as soon as they are approved for use. "This is a complex process. This is an uncertain environment. But we are on top of it," said Anand. "I personally will make sure that we have vaccines in place in Canada when Health Canada has provided the regulatory approval." Trudeau's September timeline was echoed by deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo, who had last week suggested the possibility of a fall goal line for vaccinating the majority of Canadians. Njoo said Friday the Prime Minister's prediction is "in the same ballpark" as previous rollout plans, and a good target to work toward. But he cautioned there are still "a lot of unknowns." "Certainly we've always been sort of optimistic, cautiously optimistic, about what the vaccination rollout will look like," said Njoo. "Right now it's a bit of a moving target. We have two vaccines which are very promising but they're still in the process of going through the regulatory process. If all goes well, and they are approved, then they're the first two out of the pipeline." The news follows more alarming daily COVID-19 case numbers from Ontario, which reported a record 1,855 new cases, and 20 more deaths on Friday. Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the virus, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours. Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. Manitoba and Nunavut were close behind. The Nunavut government said it plans to spend $1 million towards community food programming, including extra funding for communities affected by the pandemic. Ottawa has finalized agreements with five vaccine makers and is in advanced negotiations with two more. The deals would secure 194 million doses with the option to buy another 220 million, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada. British Columbia announced a single-day record on Friday with 911 cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 30,884 cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry appealed for people to respect store and restaurant employees as she raised recent confrontations by aggressive customers who refuse to wear masks at indoor public places. "If you are opposed to wearing a mask then I ask you to shop online, order takeout or stay outside or stay home and not put other people at risk," she said. Eleven more people have died in B.C., bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Cassanda Szklarski, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is for now staying out of a dispute involving the state of Louisiana and a Baton Rouge-area pastor charged with violating state coronavirus restrictions by repeatedly holding large church services. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday evening turned away a request from Life Tabernacle Church pastor Tony Spell to get involved in the dispute. Alito denied the request himself, without asking Louisiana officials to respond and without referring the matter to the full court as often happens when a case is particularly significant or contentious. Spell sued state and local officials in May after being charged with violating state restrictions. Lower courts ruled against him. The Associated Press
Concerns are growing about the number of hospitals dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta.According to information published by Alberta Health Services, there are more than 160 COVID cases connected to active hospital outbreaks right now — and at least 20 deaths.Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease specialist in Edmonton, says such trends are a sad inevitability when it comes to a virus that has such widespread community transmission."It's just such a sneaky virus, and that's why you can try your best to protect those who are vulnerable," Asadi said. "You can try your best to keep areas safe from it. But it just hasn't worked."Hospitals with outbreaks or on watchIn Calgary, every hospital aside from the South Health Campus is either battling COVID outbreaks or has units on watch. Being on watch means there is evidence a confirmed case had recently interacted or stayed in the unit."Essentially, if there's an exposure that's concerning, you would call that a unit on watch," said Dr. Ash Sonpar, an infection prevention and control physician in Edmonton. "If there's a case that was acquired on the unit, then you would call that an outbreak. So as you see more community cases, you are going to have units on watch."As of Friday, AHS said Calgary hospitals with COVID-19 outbreaks or units on watch included: * Foothills Medical Centre has two units on outbreak. Two units at Foothills are now under watch. * Peter Lougheed Centre has four units on outbreak. One unit is currently under watch. * Rockyview General Hospital has four units on outbreak. One unit is currently under watch. * Alberta Children's Hospital has one unit currently under watch.In addition, a single site order is in place for Unit 59, a transition unit at Rockyview General Hospital, with at least 19 cases. That means staff, such as nurses, health-care aides and administration, cannot work on any other unit.AHS said in a memo to staff that there may be ongoing transmission on the ward, but the source isn't yet known. The possibility of worker-to-worker transmission has not been ruled out.Susan Slade, a vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said many health-care workers are exhausted, with many working double shifts when colleagues go into isolation."It's a scary world in health-care right now, and it's just a tragedy what's happening in the health-care system right now," Slade said.
Nunavut’s COVID-19 active caseload edged upward Friday but was almost offset by news that three people previously diagnosed have recovered. Eight people in total have recovered since the territory’s first case was reported on Nov. 6. The territory had 151 active cases as of Friday, including four new ones reported in Arviat, the community hardest-hit since the new coronavirus was first detected in Nunavut in early November. No deaths have been reported in Nunavut. Friday’s single-digit increase followed the first day in several weeks that no new cases were reported. Nunavut had been adding double-digit increases in confirmed cases in mid-November. The territory reported its first case on Nov. 6 in Sanikiluaq, but after that the caseload grew quickly with cases confirmed in Rankin Inlet, Arviat and Whale Cove. Nunavummiut who were initially infected with COVID-19 had been visiting Winnipeg. As cases continue to rise in southern jurisdictions, Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said on Friday at a news conference that his office is “taking a closer look at every exemption request, whether critical worker or compassionate.” Patterson said it would be harmful to increase the isolation period in southern hotels beyond 14 days. However, he did say that when the resources are available, that isolation period will also include tests. The increase of COVID-19 cases across Canada reinforces the need for Nunavummiut to “really consider if travel is essential before they go south,” Patterson said. “The more people who go south, the higher the risk of introducing COVID-19 back into the territory is going to be.” Nunavut is heading into the second weekend of a government-imposed lockdown that took effect on Nov. 18 and is to remain in place until Dec. 2. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, the GN has enacted a public health emergency every two weeks. It allows the government to limit the sizes of gatherings and close businesses, gyms and schools. It’s also what allowed the GN to impose a lockdown across the territory for two weeks, starting on Nov. 18. Patterson emphasized the public health emergency is not the same as the current lockdown, but it is what allows the GN to order the lockdown. As the lockdown draws to an end next week, the GN will adjust measures for each community based on the level of COVID-19 in the community at the time. Even once the territory-wide lockdown ends, strict measures will remain in place in locations with evidence of community transmission, which has so far only included Arviat. For the rest of the territory, businesses will be open and gathering sizes will be limited — similar to restrictions that were in place in June and July, Patterson said. Patterson was to meet with the Department of Education Friday afternoon to discuss how schools will reopen after the lockdown. Schools will be in a different position when reopening happens, he said, “based on what we know of the increased risk of COVID-19 coming into the territory in all communities.” The school reopening plan will likely be announced on Monday, Patterson said. Along with nearly $19 million in federal funds to help with COVID-19 relief, Nunavut is also getting support in other ways. Four infection experts with the Red Cross were to arrive in Arviat Friday or Saturday, Patterson said. They will help with assessments. They are not isolating before entering the territory, and Patterson said they will wear masks and isolate when they’re not working. There will also be a liaison officer in Iqaluit from the Public Health Agency of Canada, who will “help streamline requests for support from the federal government and provide additional assistance on the ground,” Patterson said. Across Canada, as of Nov. 26, more than 353,000 cases have been reported since March when the pandemic began. More than 11,700 people have died.Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
Edmonton peace officers now have the authority to hand out $1,000 fines to people violating Alberta's COVID-19 public health orders, city managers confirmed Friday. The city had been waiting for the green light after Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday the province would extend the authority to municipal officers. Interim city manager Adam Laughlin told city council's emergency advisory committee just as he received an email confirmation from the Justice and Solicitor General's office. "We are going to be more aggressive in our enforcement," Laughlin said. "We're at the point where we need to make sure we're doing everything to reduce this." The move comes as COVID-19 cases in the Edmonton zone spike to over 6,000, nearly half the total cases in Alberta and the province imposes new restrictions. Justice Minister Kaycee Madu announced Friday that about 700 peace officers in the province would be given the authority to enforce the province's health orders. Previously, only police and Alberta public health inspectors have the authority to fine businesses and people found breaking provincial health orders in the city. About 150 peace officers will get training in the next week to be equipped with enforcing the orders and coordinating with police and health inspectors. The authority will not be extended to municipal bylaw officers, who have the power to give out fines to people violating the city's face-covering bylaw that's been in effect since Aug. 1. To date, the city has been trying to educate and raise awareness to encourage the public to follow health measures. Laughlin said people will likely notice stronger, quicker actions. "Folks will get upset but quite frankly that's what we need to do at this point in time," Laughlin said during a news conference after the meeting. "Folks need to start honouring these measures that are in place." Public health orders include maintaining two-metre distance from others, no indoor social gatherings, and 25 per cent capacity in retail stores and entertainment venues. The city will explore further restrictions under the Municipal Government Act if cases aren't down by Dec. 15, Laughlin added. Laughlin is also asking people to limit non-essential travel in the city, and shop local Mayor Don Iveson noted that Edmonton's infection rate is 500 per 100,000 people. "In any given group of 200 people passing in and out of any place, one of them is going to have the virus at this point." Iveson said as the risk compounds, he's hearing health experts and university professors call for stronger measures, "which I would personally support." 22 arenas closed The city is closing 22 arenas from Dec. 1 to 18. Laughlin noted a lack of bookings and the provincial restrictions banning group fitness classes until Dec. 13. The Downtown Community Arena will remain open under the provincial exemption granted to the IIHF World Junior Championship. Three city-run senior centres and the St. Francis Xavier Sports Centre will also close. All indoor events and group activities at City facilities will be cancelled. Starting Dec. 1 at recreation facilities and the Edmonton Valley Zoo, anyone not wearing a mask will be refused entry, regardless of the individual's exemption status. Patrons are still allowed to remove their masks while exercising. The perennial favourite Candy Cane Lane will be a drive-thru-only this year. Business concerns Some restaurants have voluntarily closed in-house dining and switched to take out and curb-side pick up because of the risks to staff and patrons, Iveson said. Because it's their choice to close and not an order in Alberta, they're not eligible for a top-up of the federal rent subsidy, Iveson said. "That represents an inequity and a concern for those businesses relative to other parts of the country — where with much lower infection rates than we've seen here, closure orders have come into place." Iveson said the city is going to see whether there's anything they can do to support the entrepreneurs who've chosen to close. Coun. Aaron Paquette said he's worried about businesses not being able to sustain themselves amid dwindling consumer confidence about safety. "I'm deeply concerned," Paquette said. "I'm actually horribly concerned that our economy is being driven into the ground and it will take much longer to recover through inaction." Paquette said Edmonton isn't generating enough revenue and the municipality needs help from the federal government. "I'm just wondering, is there some way that we can move forward, that we can actually help these businesses to shut down, in order to access federal funds?" Paquette asked. Laughlin said the city is reviewing the Municipal Government Act to weigh options of "certain industry closure, depending on what's appropriate." They haven't had enough time to assess the risks associated with that, Laughlin added. @natashariebe
Business is booming for professional Christmas light installers as people search for a bit of brightness during the pandemic.
VANCOUVER — The Mountie who says he warned against arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou by boarding her plane when it landed in Vancouver says he made his own decision to come into the airport and help that day. Sgt. Ross Lundie agreed under cross-examination at a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Friday that the RCMP members making the arrest in December 2018 did not ask him to be present that day.But he said when the arresting officers called him the night before the incident asking for advice, he suggested they arrange a meeting with Canada Border Services Agency officials for the next morning and decided he would attend."It was obviously very important from what I'd heard," Lundie testified."Were you concerned that by asserting yourself, that would assist in avoiding some kind of major problem between CBSA and RCMP?" Meng's lawyer Richard Peck asked."I wanted to ensure that went smoothly as well, yes."Lundie, an officer with national security experience based at the airport, said he believed it was important to keep CBSA in the loop because he understood they had their own mandate and responsibilities.His testimony is part of an evidence-gathering hearing in Meng's extradition case where her lawyers are gathering information to bolster their allegations that Canadian officials improperly collected evidence against her.Meng is wanted on fraud charges in the United States that both she and Huawei deny. Meng's lawyers allege that an early plan to arrest her aboard the plane was changed to allow for a "covert criminal investigation" under the guise of a routine immigration exam at the behest of U.S. authorities. Ultimately, Meng would undergo screening by border officers for nearly three hours before she was informed of her arrest and right to counsel.Border officers working at the airport that day have testified they had their own concerns about Meng's admissibility to Canada and deny the allegations made by her lawyers. Lundie told the court that he always discourages his officers from conducting arrests aboard flights unless there is an immediate public safety concern. Meng herself didn't pose any risk to his knowledge, he said, but planes are tight spaces and there can be dangers. It's safer to conduct an arrest in the gate, border screening area or elsewhere, he said. Lundie testified the arresting officers phoned him the night before the arrest while they were driving to the airport to confirm if Meng would be on the flight. That's when he learned of the plan to board the plane, he said.Peck suggested that couldn't be. Phone records show that the arresting officers' boss, Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf, phoned them later that night after speaking with her own superior, whom court has heard was the source of the plane-arrest plan. If Vander Graaf's records are correct, then Lundie couldn't have learned the arrest plan when he said he did, earlier that evening, Peck suggested. "My final suggestion is that you're confused in your memory," Peck said. "OK," Lundie said. Court has also heard that phone records suggested Lundie did have three-minute phone call with a national security Mountie in Ottawa with knowledge of the case that night. Lundie said he has no memory of the call.The hearing will continue on Dec. 7. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
Peterborough County politicians are shocked by the tragic death of a one-year-old baby boy who was fatally shot on Thursday after being abducted by his father from a home in Trent Lakes. “There’s now a mother out there without a little boy and I would expect grandparents without a grandson … it’s just a tragic series of events,” said Joe Taylor, former warden of Peterborough County and mayor of Otonabee-South Monaghan Township. The incident began at about 8:48 a.m. Thursday when Peterborough County OPP officers were called to a location northeast of Bobcaygeon in Trent Lakes after a 33-year-old father abducted his son in what police called a domestic dispute involving a firearm. The baby was found dead of a gunshot wound in his father’s pickup truck after it collided with an OPP cruiser on Pigeon Lake Road, east of Lindsay, which was followed by altercation in which three officers shot at the man. Emily Poulin, executive director at Victim Services of Peterborough Northumberland (VSPN), said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a huge increase in the need to help high-risk victims of domestic violence. While there are many tools the agency offers, as well as several service providers that do work in tandem to try and support these high-risk individuals in both Peterborough city and county, Poulin said there also needs to be prevention of domestic violence. “With COVID, we’re seeing a lot of differences in the way people are arrested and released, because they don’t want to overcrowd the jails, but when you’re talking high-risk offenders, more has to be done on that end,” she said. “It can’t all be on the victim to try and stay safe. There should be more measures put in place to try and keep offenders from doing this in the first place.” Lisa Clarke, executive director at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, said in just six months of the pandemic, their crisis services at the centre have doubled those of the MeToo movement in 2017 and 2018. “There are alarming rates of sexual and gender-based and internet-partner violence happening in this community, and the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre encourages all families and friends to check in and support and listen without judgment, to those who may be experiencing family violence in the home,” she said. There are many barriers for people living in rural areas to seek services, Clarke said. “Everybody knows everybody and so it can feel like reaching out means that family and friends will know what’s happening in the home. Our services are confidential and can be anonymous. We recognize that those are the types of services needed for people in rural areas to reach out and we have many survivors each year reaching out from more rural areas of our region,” she said. What happened is incomprehensible, Poulin said. “I mean it’s an absolute tragedy what happened and my heart goes out to the family and friends,” she said. The loss of a life, but particularly the loss of a young life, is heartbreaking, said Andy Mitchell, deputy warden of Peterborough County. “It’s a really, really tragic event and my heart is heavy and sorrowful for all of the folks that are being impacted by this,” he said. Trent Lakes Mayor Janet Clarkson said the outcome of Thursday’s incident is extremely unfortunate. “It’s hard to say when it all comes out, just exactly what happened,” she said. Taylor said he believes the community is going to do what they can to support the family in this time of need. “There’s no point in trying to understand it, or rationalize it, or explain it, or make any sense out of it,” he said. “It’s just really, really sad.” The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre’s 24/7 crisis phone line is 1-866-298-7778. Their new 24/7 crisis text line is 705-710-5234. VSPN’s toll-free number is 1-888-822-7729 and its website is at victimservicespn.ca/. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Manitoba Education is seeking back-up for its remote-learning hub from staff who work in the province’s 37 public school divisions. “The province issued a call to school divisions for staff who might be interested in working with the Manitoba Remote Learning Support Centre as part of a team,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement Friday. Division participation is voluntary, but the spokesperson said interested administrators are expected to identify staff, resources and best practices for the support centre. The team of staffers, which is separate from the teaching positions the province is currently hiring for, will help create the centre’s bank of distance-learning lessons and assessment resources, the spokesperson added. The Brandon School Division confirmed Friday one of its staff members will work with the hub once it launches. In a statement, assistant superintendent Mathew Gustafson said BSD joined a group of other divisions to create the Westman Consortia to provide remote learning for students with medical exemptions this fall. The new centre will provide additional resources the division “will explore and utilize as the centre evolves,” Gustafson said. Also Friday, the Hanover School Division indicated one of its instructional coaches will help develop the centre, but will remain a division employee. When reached Friday, superintendents at Seine River, Seven Oaks and Prairie Spirit divisions indicated they had no plans to redeploy staff to support the centre. “We’d much rather keep our students connected to their home schools,” Brian O’Leary of Seven Oaks wrote in an email, in which he noted current programming keeps students connected to their classrooms. Earlier this month, the province announced plans to hire 100 teachers to staff the $10-million support centre for teachers and parents doing remote instruction. The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, among other critics, have questioned how the province will find qualified applicants, given schools are struggling to cover substitute requests because of public health directives to stay home if symptomatic and COVID-19 exposure quarantine periods. The province confirmed Friday it will accept applications from outside Manitoba. The centre is expected to launch next month; the education minister suggested it would be up and running this month when he unveiled the project, but the province extended the job application deadline to Dec. 2.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is recruiting retirees and volunteers to help with contact tracing investigations, according to a health authority spokesperson.The SHA has more than 350 staff trained for contact tracing, the spokesperson said. But as COVID-19 cases and the number of close contacts rise, the investigations take longer to conduct.So the health authority is recruiting more contact tracers, including retirees and volunteers, in anticipation of a potential surge in cases."Our contact tracing system is certainly under strain," health authority CEO Scott Livingstone said during a news conference Thursday."A single positive case each and every day provides hours of work for contact tracers over the two-week time period" after a positive result, he said. "But that work can grow exponentially when you factor in the number of contacts."As of Thursday, Saskatchewan averaged 214 new COVID-19 cases per day over a two-week period. Each case had about seven or eight close contacts on average, which creates 32,000 total hours of work over the two-week period, said Livingstone.He noted that the average number of contacts is down slightly from recent weeks, but the health authority is planning an effective contact tracing strategy in case the province approaches 450 cases per day.Early in the pandemic, the provincial government authorized retired nurses to obtain emergency licences through the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, the regulatory body for the province's nurses. The most recent licence was issued Thursday.The association is working with the health authority on the workforce plan, and shares its emergency practice licence list every week with the SHA "and other employers," an association spokesperson said.Once nurses retire, they are no longer part of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses. But if issued an emergency licence, they are unionized temporarily, said SUN president Tracy Zambory."It is just extremely important that the resources are given to [contact tracing] that it requires," she said."It's about resumption of health-care services, and pulling back on some of the slower areas so that the human resources can be freed up to be able to assist in contact tracing."'Real consequences'Contact tracing aims to identify COVID-19 cases before they can unknowingly spread the illness throughout the community, explains Dr. Cory Neudorf, a public health physician and University of Saskatchewan professor of community health and epidemiology.Finding close contacts means they can self-isolate and be tested sooner."You interrupt that chain of transmission, and you can start to get a handle on the pandemic," he said. The health authority's announcement that contact tracing investigations are taking longer signifies that Saskatchewan residents are not following public health rules as closely as they should be, or that COVID-positive people are visiting public spaces, says Neudorf.Time-consuming investigations can also make it tougher to find contacts and curb the spread of COVID-19, because people may forget who they met and where they went over time, he said.But the strain on contact tracing also has consequences for the overall health-care system as well, Livingstone said Thursday.A finite number of workers are trained to do contact tracing, so some health-care workers have been moved around the health-care system to conduct investigations. But that is only a Band-Aid solution, says Neudorf."As the outbreak progresses, and you start getting a lot of COVID-19 cases in the hospital, those workers need to be brought back to care for the COVID-positive patients," he said. "You can't be using the same stuff for both purposes, so that's only a short-term fix."Redeploying staff also causes disruptions in other health-care services, he added.Saskatchewan residents can help reduce the length of contact tracing investigations by only going out in public for essential reasons, regardless of what the province's public health rules allow, to reduce the number of close contacts, Neudorf said.When people do go out, they should mind physical distancing and wear a mask, he added.Neudorf also suggests keeping a weekly list of where you go, who you see and when, especially if you have to be in public often. Such lists help tracers easily track contacts down, should a person test positive.As of Friday, 2,237 COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan are under investigation by public health officials.
À l’heure où la propagation du virus gagne du terrain en Alberta, la collaboration entre les représentants du gouvernement provincial et ceux du service de soins en santé fait défaut pour lutter contre la pandémie, comme l’indique CBC. Cette semaine, la chaîne nationale en anglais a révélé des tensions en se procurant certains documents confidentiels et des enregistrements audio. Ubaka Ogbogu, professeur associé en droit à l’Université de l’Alberta, a eu accès à ces documents stipulant que des recommandations faites par la médecin en chef, la Dre Deena Hinshaw, avaient été ignorées par le premier ministre, Jason Kenney. Il explique aussi que les agissements de « certains membres des opérations du cabinet du premier ministre interfèrent avec les activités de certains membres de l’équipe de soins en santé. Le gouvernement pense que les Albertains doivent être responsables d’eux-mêmes ». Or, des membres de l’équipe médicale ont exprimé leur mécontentement auprès des membres du cabinet, expliquant que cette méthode d’autoresponsabilisation auprès des Albertains était inefficace, chiffres à l’appui. En effet, dans les transcriptions auxquelles M. Ogbogu a eu accès, certains collaborateurs de l’équipe de la Dre Hinshaw se disaient stressés et fatigués par le nombre croissant de cas. Il explique aussi, sans entrer dans les détails, que la Dre Hinshaw aurait agi différemment à propos du port du masque et des tests pratiqués dans la province. Le manque de collaboration entre les deux parties paraît pour lui évident, démontrant que le gouvernement priorise l’économie. Division au sein des représentants Noël Gibney, médecin urgentiste, dit ne pas être étonné par ces révélations. « C’est ce que nous soupçonnions depuis un certain temps », déclare-t-il. « Cela explique pourquoi le gouvernement de l’Alberta prend des décisions aussi dangereuses », ajoute-t-il. M. Gibney était l’un des 79 médecins qui avaient signé une lettre au premier ministre, voilà plusieurs semaines, le pressant d’établir un confinement total à l’instar du Manitoba. Selon le médecin, la situation de la Dre Hinshaw est délicate. « Je la vois comme un otage de M. Kenney. Elle est dans une situation où elle doit accepter la position du gouvernement ou démissionner. C’est là où elle est rendue en ce moment », dit-il. Cette fuite dans les médias est le signe aussi, selon lui, d’un désaccord au sein même de l’équipe de lutte contre la COVID-19, et pas seulement avec les représentants du gouvernement. « L’équipe de santé publique n’est pas unie. Certains membres sont en désaccord avec ce que le gouvernement fait, mais aussi avec la Dre Hinshaw, qui ne conteste pas assez, selon eux,ce qui se passe », résume-t-il. Rupture du lien de confiance Dans son point de presse de jeudi et sur son compte Twitter, la médecin en chef, elle, n’a pas caché sa déception devant cette fuite dans les médias et le sentiment de trahison qui l’habite. « Je suis déçue que des conversations internes confidentielles aient été diffusées, ce qui constitue une violation du serment public et du code de conduite. Ces réunions devraient être un espace sûr, où les fonctionnaires peuvent avoir des conversations et des débats francs et continus », a affirmé la Dre Hinshaw. Lors de son point de presse, elle a aussi précisé que ces indiscrétions feraient l’objet d’une enquête. Un coup d’autant plus rude à accuser pour la médecin en chef que la fuite de ces informations provient directement de l’un des membres de son équipe. Elle dit pour le moment ignorer qui en est à l’origine. Un comité consultatif de la COVID-19 Pour le moment, le Dr Noël Gibney et le Dr James Talbot, ancien médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Alberta, coprésident un comité consultatif de la COVID-19 qu’ils ont formé avec l’Association du personnel médical de la zone d’Edmonton. Cette initiative regroupe plus de 1700 médecins actifs. « Nous avons des membres représentant un certain nombre de spécialités qui participent à l’intervention contre la COVID », précise-t-il. Ils souhaitent, par cette démarche, « répondre aux actions (et à l’absence d’actions) du gouvernement provincial ainsi qu’informer continuellement le public et les médias sur la lutte appropriée à mener contre cette pandémie mortelle ». Contactée par Le Devoir au sujet de ces divulgations dans les médias anglophones, Christine Myatt, l’attachée du premier ministre Jason Kenney, a renvoyé la balle à la Dre Hinshaw. « La Dre Hinshaw a longuement abordé ce sujet lors de son point de presse », a-t-elle dit. En date du 27 novembre, l’Alberta comptabilisait 14 217 cas actifs de COVID-19 et 519 morts liées à cette maladie.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
The latest updates from Ontario and around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The grey clouds above Vancouver sent down the cold heavy rain of November Monday morning. In an industrial corner of the Downtown Eastside, Bill S. had left the tent he’d pitched against the side of a building to go have breakfast at the city’s Evelyne Saller Centre, which serves low-cost meals. When he returned, his tent and all his belongings were gone — taken, he assumed, by city workers, who had told him to pack up at around 8:30 that morning. “Where do they expect us to go?” asked Bill, who requested The Tyee not use his last name because of the stigma of being homeless. “We’re people too.” A health worker who Bill spoke with that day called Sarah Blyth, the founder of the Overdose Prevention Society on East Hastings. People donate sleeping bags and blankets to the society all the time, so Blyth was able to set Bill up with a new sleeping bag and a blanket. But it just kept raining, and the Overdose Prevention Society had no tents to give out that day, so Bill spent Monday night in a makeshift shelter that wasn’t up to the task of keeping the weather out. “Everything in it was in a puddle, including me,” Bill said, calling the experience “the worst alarm clock ever.” Precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on the Downtown Eastside. The number of people living on the street has grown as many housing providers limited or banned visitors to their buildings. Meanwhile, many drop-in spaces are closed or have reduced capacity. There are 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter in Vancouver than in 2019, because shelters need to limit the number of people allowed inside. Still, every day, city sanitation workers, often accompanied by police officers, spend their days scooping up homeless people’s belongings with pitchforks and dumping them into trucks. Overdose Prevention Society staff give people new sleeping bags and blankets, knowing the replacement items could very well end up in the back of a city sanitation truck the next day. “It’s a terrible cycle and it’s wasteful in a lot of ways,” Blyth said, adding she’d rather see city workers employed trying to help people find housing or make their lives on the street a little more comfortable. “I can’t imagine it’s a very fun job for whoever’s doing it — whether it’s a city worker or the police,” she said. “It can’t be rewarding at the end of the day to go home and say ‘I threw a bunch of homeless people’s stuff out.’” The city says sanitation crews “only clean up what is determined to be garbage,” and work with police to ask people to remove structures that have been put up on city property. Crews ask people who are camping on the sidewalk to “move along” and “will remove structures and material that is clearly garbage but not personal possessions,” the city said in a statement. But both Blyth and Andrew Ledger, the president of the union that represents city sanitation workers, say that’s not what happens. Blyth said she’s watched people cry as the only bedding they have is taken away. “I wouldn’t say we’re forcibly removing things, that’s not the case, but it’s not just unwanted debris that gets removed,” said Ledger, the president of CUPE 1004. “It could be someone’s life in a shopping cart that they’ve left somewhere, and all of a sudden it gets removed — those are the instructions that our members are given.” The Tyee caught up with Bill on East Hastings Street on Tuesday, the day after he’d had all his stuff taken away. Sheltering from the rain under a large black umbrella, Bill said he was planning to sleep outside again that night. Two small bags wedged between a railing and a building wall held all his possessions. Bill has been homeless since August. He can’t stand being in a shelter because of psychological problems that stem from once being in a coma, he said. Staying in a shelter with a lot of other people also brings up the trauma of losing his young son, who was apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “I was a single father for nine months, and after I lost my place I lost control of my depression,” he said. “Being indoors made me think of my son too much. I can’t be indoors, I cry the whole night and I can’t deal with it.” Bill tries to find an out-of-the way spot every night, somewhere he won’t be blocking the sidewalk or the entrance of a building. “You don’t want to impede on somebody’s business because if you’re setting up on a sidewalk, what if you impede customers going in and out, so you’re costing them money,” Bill said. “You’re taking food off their kid’s plate.... It’s hard to find a spot that makes you comfortable and you’re not going to make someone and their business feel uncomfortable.” The place he’d found at Railway Street and Jackson Avenue ticked all those boxes. But he won’t go back there now. Bill said he tries to have good relations with the city sanitation workers, but he admits he’s yelled at them in the past when they tried to hurry him along as he tried to pack up. Then he apologized. “I shook his hand man-to-man and said sorry I was just having a bad day,” he said. “So there weren’t any hard feelings.” Ledger said the job city workers do is challenging, and they’re following instructions from the City of Vancouver to enforce existing bylaws. He said the real problem is that senior levels of government have not done enough to house people who are homeless. But Ledger said even before COVID-19 there weren’t enough spaces for people who are homeless to go during the day. For instance, the Drug Users Resource Centre — a low-barrier gathering place — was closed by Vancouver Coastal Health three years ago, Ledger said. “You could access laundry services, you could access food, washrooms and showers — you could just be in a space and not have to be on the streets all day.” Now because of COVID-19 precautions, there are even fewer places for people to go. “There is nowhere for homeless people to be except on the street,” Ledger said. “To continue to enforce a bylaw, when folks don’t have any other option of where they can be, is a questionable piece.” Ledger added that the city is likely trying to find a balance between the needs of people who are homeless with complaints from business owners and residents about street disorder. Earlier this fall, tenants of a rental building on West Hastings complained they couldn’t access their building because people were always in the entrance way. For several months Canada Post stopped delivering to over a dozen Downtown Eastside buildings because of crowding and blocked doorways. Blyth said it’s common to find a lineup of people waiting to get into the overdose prevention site when she opens the doors in the morning. Recently, staff helped a woman who was so cold that she was shivering uncontrollably. “I see people in the morning when I go in to open up, shaking and sleeping in doorways. People in wheelchairs, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues sleeping outside,” Blyth said. “It’s as bad as you can imagine."Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
This week over 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and representatives from across the country convened to work on setting the stage for systemic change in Indigenous land-based education. The Actua network, a self-professed leader in land-based STEM education, hosted the gatherings. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied way. As parents and educators nationwide struggle with how to make education work in a pandemic environment, Indigenous students, particularly in northern remote parts of the country, have headed back to the land. “We really found that there is a national consensus on the importance of bringing this into the school system. Certainly there are challenges, but the benefits far outweigh those challenges and that there is huge opportunity here for Indigenous learning to actually really contribute to the future classroom,” Doug Dokis, Actua’s Director of Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program, said. According to Dokis, grounding lessons in Indigenous knowledge provides Indigenous students with a sense of pride in their identity and shows them that their cultural perspectives are valued. A press release said that as Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers take the lead, there is an opportunity to work with Indigenous communities, education authorities, industry and post-secondary institutions in reshaping the classroom of the future for Indigenous youth and for all Canadian youth. Dokis explained that with COVID-19 shutting down schools and creating other problems the education system is scrambling to find ways to create safe classrooms. “A lot of those conversations are revolving around more outdoor experiences for kids and what we are saying is that Indigenous land-based … models are ideal for aligning with school systems and existing programming and building that out,” Dokis explained. “It would be beneficial not only to Indigenous kids but all kids.” Actua is a national non-profit whose membership consists of 42 universities and colleges across Canada. “We deliver our STEM outreach through those networks of undergrad students at those universities an colleges. So we are present in all of these regions and territories across Canada,” Dokis said. The member organizations in the province include the University of Regina who hosted through their EYES (Educating Youth in Engineering and Science) program; the other member organizations are the University of Saskatchewan and First Nations University of Canada. Actua works with over 200 Indigenous communities, also building partnerships with the local education sector. “I reached out to a lot of the contacts that I have at a national level in these high level Indigenous or education portfolios and began to build a list of people that were and are actively involved in Indigenous education at the provincial level. From there we also got suggestions from existing relationships,” Dokis explained. The national forum set the groundwork for what is hoped will result in vastly improved educational outcomes for Indigenous students and a real path forward towards reconciliation. “We looked to address some of the systemic problems and challenges within the education system,” Dokis said. “Part of that is that Indigenous knowledge is not recognized or included in or inclusive of mainstream education systems. So we wanted to create an opportunity to better integrate and align Indigenous knowledge and education within the whole system across the country,” Dokis explained. Typically teams from Actua go to communities and work on coding or robotics or other STEM activities. With land-based STEM they work with what is happening at the cultural level around things such as land management. “We would build STEM activities to support the local cultural knowledge and cultural aspects (such as) harvesting fish or harvesting game. Then we would build activities to support that within the land programming.” Students that participate get high school credits. “That helps address high school graduation rates and encourages more Indigenous youth to participate or to follow into STEM careers.” The program has been working in Indigenous communities for over 25 years and the credit component has been around for four years. A national forum held this week presented the outcomes of a series of seven regional roundtable events on Indigenous land-based STEM education. “Part of our outreach consists of Indigenous communities doing workshops in school programs. So the roundtables were primarily focused on Indigenous leadership, Indigenous educators, education authorities, school boards and regional or provincial or territorial ministries that are responsible for that segment of education,” Dokis said. “We are producing a discussion paper from all of these roundtables and the national forum and this discussion paper will be circulated widely across the country. And then we are moving towards the next steps of facilitating some of the conversations that would need to happen around curriculum development, curriculum assessment, all of those kinds of things,” Dokis said. He explained that he didn’t know how long the process would take. “We really are wanting to see systemic change and systemic recognition that this is valuable to the education system in this country,” Dokis said there needs to be recognition at all levels of government in order to make these ideas spread through the education system. “We will continue to advocate and continue to build out this at a local level with the idea that we have recognized through these conversations that these can move quite quickly in the sense of how systems typically move. Certainly the COVID situation with the classroom has kind of opened the door and the conversation more targeting outdoor education or land based learning opportunities,” Dokis said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
MIAMI — South Florida Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez has tested positive for coronavirus, his campaign announced Friday. The former Miami-Dade County mayor and his wife, Lourdes, tested positive Thursday for COVID-19 after having mild symptoms, according to a statement. They said they're self-isolating at home, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and advice from medical professionals. Gimenez served as Miami-Dade mayor from 2011 until this month. The Republican won his congressional race in the Nov. 3 general election, defeating a single-term Democrat. He is set to assume office Jan. 3. “I will continue attending New Member Orientation virtually and preparing our office to serve the people of Florida’s 26th Congressional District from Westchester to Key West until I can resume my normal schedule,” Gimenez said in a statement. "I am extremely grateful for all of the incredible health care workers who are tirelessly dedicated to their patients.” The Associated Press
In the Rotundo household in Buenos Aires, the spirit of Diego Maradona has a living tribute: twin nine-year-old girls, Mara and Dona, named after the soccer legend who died this week. The diminutive playmaker, one of the world's best ever who led Argentina to World Cup glory, inspired avid support through his magic on the pitch and his charisma off it, despite a turbulent personal life dogged by addiction. The naming of the twins was never in doubt, said their dad, Walter Rotundo, who has a tattoo of Maradona on his back and proudly shows a photograph of the soccer star holding a picture of the two girls as infants.
Fraser Health has ordered an elementary school in Surrey, B.C., to close in response to an outbreak of COVID-19.So far, 16 people have tested positive at Newton Elementary School, according to a news release from the health authority.The Surrey School District has been told to close the school for two weeks to break the chains of transmission. It will reopen Dec. 14, according to a letter to parents from school district superintendent Jordan Tinney."We recognize that this has been a stressful time as you wait for further information and appreciate the fact that this closure will cause disruption and inconvenience for many. The safety of our school community is of utmost importance and we appreciate your patience and understanding," Tinney wrote.His email explains that a school outbreak is declared when a significant number of infections are likely to have occurred at a school — beyond one classroom or cohort.The Fraser Health region has been the epicentre of B.C.'s second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 911 new cases confirmed across the province on Friday, 649 or 71 per cent were in Fraser Health.
The New Brunswick Legislature could be holding virtual sittings within the next two weeks.MLAs from four parties sitting on the legislative administration committee agreed Friday to get equipment and technology installed quickly so the assembly can resume its business.It adjourned on Tuesday because almost half of the MLAs are from the two zones that were under COVID-19 orange phase restrictions at the time. The province is discouraging travel into and out of those zones.Since then, a third zone, which includes the legislature itself, has been put into the orange phase.MLAs from the Green Party complained Tuesday that there was still no set-up for virtual sittings eight months after COVID-19 first appeared in New Brunswick.Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said in a statement that a service provider will start installing the system on Monday."The legislature must keep on working through COVID-19 outbreaks and beyond," he said. "This system will allow us to do just that."The new hybrid system could be up and running in time for committee hearings on legislation scheduled for next week.MLAs are scheduled to return for full sittings Dec. 8. Speaker Bill Oliver said he hopes the system will be ready for then, though that date could be pushed back if necessary.