WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
For over five years, the owner of Runway Bridal, Brooke Miller, had been dreaming of a new space for the ever-growing bridal business. Last Thursday, Mayor Mitch Panciuk, Belleville Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith representative David Joyce and Executive Director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA Marijo Cuerrier congratulated Miller on her new expanded boutique located at 282 Front Street. Working closely with a contractor and the property owners at 282 Front Street, Miller transformed her vision of the perfect bridal boutique into reality. “The new store is more aligned with our brand,” said Miller. “It’s warm yet modern and elegant. It also gives me a chance to grow the business further.” The new space for Runway Bridal features over 2,000 square feet of shopping space that will allow for exciting opportunities and events in the future. The new boutique also has large private changing rooms and plenty of Instagram worthy backdrops. “Moving your business is scary at any time, but I’m happy I did it, there will never truly be a perfect time” said Miller. “With COVID restrictions we could only have one appointment at our old location. With this beautiful new space, we can double our capacity, and when the pandemic settles, even more clients at one time.” Runway Bridal provides individual and unforgettable service in the locally owned boutique, showcasing some of the most sought-after exclusive wedding dresses in the area. From veils and jewelry to bridesmaids’ dresses, tuxedos, prom dresses, Runway Bridal offers the complete formal wear experience. Runway Bridal is a full-service bridal boutique that offers clients a fun and exciting experience. The boutique has drawn attention from brides seeking the perfect dress across the country. Runway Bridal has begun planning for wedding and prom seasons for 2021 and encourage residents interested in visiting the boutique to schedule an appointment online at www.runwaybridal.ca or call 613-966-0122.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has launched a new land registry that it says will help combat money laundering and make the real estate market more transparent. Beginning Monday, any corporation, trustee or partnership that buys land in B.C. must disclose the interest holders of that land through the Land Owner Transparency Registry. Existing registered land owners have one year to register and disclose their interest holders. The government says in a news release the information provided may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crack down on illegal activity. It says the registry was formed after an expert panel on real estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the "single most important measure" that can be taken to address money laundering. The panel's 2019 report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through B.C. in 2018, including $5 billion through real estate. "British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn't happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash," Finance Minister Selina Robinson said in a news release. "This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
Local businesses are frustrated and exhausted as they weather the storm in Toronto’s second lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The province announced Nov. 20 that Toronto and Peel were going into its Lockdown/Grey level of its pandemic response framework as of Nov. 23. The regions had seen continuous spikes of cases of COVID-19 since the end of summer, and hospitalizations and ICU admittance had drastically increased. But as the lockdown aims to reduce the spread of the virus, business owners in East Toronto are asking why big box stores are still permitted to remain open. “It’s just another hammer on the head,” Skaut Design owner Inese Korbs said. Her store on Kingston Road sells home decor, furniture, and other design products. Korbs doesn’t have the staff to move her inventory online for customers as a lot of her products are vintage pieces. “It’s another full-time job,” she said. Instead Korbs relies on “virtual visits” where people can phone in via video conference and she’ll walk them through the store. She said before the lockdown, while there were fewer visitors than normal years, individuals were buying more per visit. That came to a grinding halt last week. “The most difficult part is knowing that big box stores are allowed to operate,” Korbs said. “It’s kind of like they have different rules.” Walmart and Costco are some of the bigger chains permitted to open, while Amazon still remains ever popular for online shopping. It’s difficult to compete with bigger chains as it is, let alone if you can’t even stay open, Korbs said. Lita Yiu owns and operates the clothing store Set Me Free on Queen Street East. She expressed the same frustration that Korbs did about big box stores staying open. “If you really want to control the spread, shut down big box stores,” Yiu said. “I’m happy to have one or two customers allowed in the store at a time, we don’t have the same clout as big businesses, we can’t absorb the shock.” Yiu said she and her staff are uploading their inventory on e-commerce platforms online, but between all the clothing, accessories, and gifts, it’s a lot of work. “It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and you don’t make much money. It’s not the same as walk-in.” However, Yiu and Korbs have been overjoyed by the local community’s support of their businesses. Before the lockdown, both business owners were receiving many local customers who were eager to support their neighbourhood businesses. “People came in, they expressed condolences, supported our store,” Korbs said of the weekend before the lockdown began. “The people in this neighbourhood are very supportive, and they’re going out of their way to help us.” It’s been the case throughout the pandemic, Yiu said. From the beginning to now, local customers have supported her. “They’re amazing,” she said. “They always try to shop local, especially after the first lockdown.” Like many small businesses across Canada, Yiu and Korbs have taken advantage of the federal government COVID-19 supports for businesses. It’s helped them with expenses such as rent and wages, but nothing will recover the loss of revenue in December and the anticipated holiday shopping seasons that so many retail businesses rely on. “The vast majority of small businesses adhere to the restrictions equally if not better than large chains,” Beach Village BIA executive director Anna Sebert said. “Most of the businesses on Queen Street can make a go of it with one or two people in the store at a time.” “Just because there are some bad apples, doesn’t mean all businesses should suffer,” she added. Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford agrees the “rules around some of the closures haven’t always made sense” regarding big box stores, but warns that the virus remains a threat. “There’s no doubt about it, the lockdown is taking a toll on all of us but we have to push through. It’s the only way out of this,” he said. “We’re all seeing the news of the businesses staying open in protest and people rallying against the closures. That’s concerning as it puts us all at risk, especially gathering in the way we’ve seen.” Bradford has received calls from local businesses asking if it is possible to ease up bylaw enforcement to allow some businesses to remain open. “I can understand the way they’re feeling,” he said. “We’re all tired, we’re hurting, but we have to follow the guidelines.” Cases have been among the lowest in the city for the Beach area, an achievement Bradford applauded as the community “is looking out for each other.” He said he’s making efforts to get relief for businesses from the federal and provincial governments. “What we need to focus on is getting the full weight of financial support possible for local businesses,” he said. “We also need clearer, fairer and more evenly applied rules if and when closures continue. City council doesn’t get to make these decisions – but we can elevate the voice of the impact they’re having on our communities and main streets.” Business owners say they understand the severity of the pandemic, and agree with most public health measures, but worry about local businesses in the community – especially restaurants, bars, and cafes. “I feel horrible for the restaurants,” Korbs said. “If they all survive that would be a miracle, their hands and feet are tied.”Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
You should expect to see a lot fewer people gathered around the tree this Christmas. According to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, celebrating the holidays with people outside your household is a recipe for disaster. “I know many people are looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We’re asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.” Those who live alone are encouraged to celebrate the holidays with only one additional household. As well, any post-secondary students living away from home are asked to consider a self-quarantine for 10 to 14 days before returning home. Dr. David Colby echoed Ford’s message, adding he doesn’t want people looking for loopholes in COVID-19 rules. The 10-person limit isn’t an excuse to invite over friends or relatives if you have a small household. Colby said a household and family members are two separate things. He defined a household as the people you live with. They are the ones who reside at the same address. They are your household and within your own living space. “I think it’s time to get away from rules. I mean, rules are helpful, but whenever there are rules, people are sort of saying, ‘Well, if I do this, can I circumvent the rules?’” said Colby. He added you not only have to look at the letter of the law but the spirit of the rule. “The spirit of the rule is to keep everybody safe,” said Colby. “Rather than worrying about whether the rules are being followed, we all have to ask ourselves, ‘What is the safest course of action for all concerned in this particular scenario?’ We’ve talked about that endlessly.” Additionally, Colby said people travelling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction is a big problem. He said when he does contact tracing, the trails always lead outside of Chatham-Kent. According to Chatham-Kent’s top doctor, smaller household parties mean less risk of catching and spreading the virus. Colby said this is something he has been “hammering away at for the last few weeks”. “There is clear evidence that the more people that you assemble, the higher the risk,” said Colby. “Indoor gatherings are riskier than outdoor gatherings, so having a large number of people, especially people who have travelled from a higher-prevalence jurisdiction, this is potentially a recipe for disaster.”Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
The provincial government confirmed to the East Central Alberta (ECA) Review this week that the Minister of Municipal Affairs will make a decision on how the Village fo Morrin will be governed after two of the three elected councillors recently quit. A few weeks ago both Mayor Howard Helton and Melissa Wilton tendered their resignations; Wilton in fact resigned a few times before coming to a final decision. At the organizational meeting in October, remaining Coun. M’Liss Edwards was elected mayor. Since there’s no quorum for the village council, it was unclear to the community and media how or if regular council meetings would proceed. The ECA Review newspaper contacted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Nov. 23 to find out how and if regular council meetings would proceed and how taxpayers could get information about their village government. Justin Marshall, press secretary for the Minister of Municipal Affairs, responded via email by Nov. 30. “Right now, two of the three Village of Morrin councillors have resigned leaving council with no quorum and therefore, the village is unable to conduct business or hold regular council meetings,” stated Marshall in the email. “A decision will be made in the coming weeks and Minister (Tracy) Allard is quickly reviewing the situation as local government is important to our democracy. “When the number of councillors is less than a quorum due to resignations, the Minister of Municipal Affairs may appoint an official administrator who has the powers of the council or ordering that the remaining councillors constitute a quorum. “The MGA clearly states that the meetings have to be public, press has to be allowed in the council chambers and they must to be able to record. The only time this is different is when council goes into camera.” Morrin council had a regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 18, but no information was posted on how or if the meeting would be held. The ECA Review sent a text message to Village of Morrin Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner Nov. 18 which went unanswered, this was followed by an email to Mayor Edwards the same day. Edwards responded at about 7:30 p.m. that night, half an hour after the meeting was supposed to have started. "There was no council meeting as we don’t have a designated councillor from Municipal Affairs,” stated Edwards in an email. "Maybe follow the Morrin Discussion Facebook page. Information gets posted there usually.” Several ECA Review staff members follow the social media page in question, and no information could be found about Morrin council meetings. However, it should be noted that Nov. 19 Edwards posted an explanation why the 2019 Financial Statements apparently still remain under review. During the discussion dated Nov. 19 Edwards stated, “To clarify some issues. The auditor is not only preparing the regular audit but has also been tasked with making sure all the tracking of expenses is up to date. “The old computer crashed and could no longer be upgraded. A new computer was purchased at an excellent price from a local source. "Now the auditor has made sure that the proper programs are in place and that the CAO is up to date on the software. “When we have a councillor in place appointed by Municipal Affairs we can then publish the finances of the Village and minutes, etc.” The next regular council is scheduled for Dec. 18.Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
VANCOUVER — A legal battle over a missing diamond-encrusted eagle statue valued at nearly $1 million will continue, more than four years after the artwork was stolen during a robbery in Delta, B.C.In a unanimous ruling issued Monday, the B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with Lloyd's Underwriters and agreed that a default judgment against the insurer should be set aside.Ron Shore, president of a company called Forgotten Treasures International, won the judgment in 2018 requiring Lloyd's to pay a claim for the loss of the sparkling statue.Court documents show Lloyd's denied Shore's claim, arguing he violated conditions of the insurance policy, including that the statue be constantly safeguarded by two people.The eight-kilogram gold creation studded with 763 diamonds and appraised at $930,000 was going to be the final prize in an international cancer fundraiser.Justice Peter Voith agreed with a B.C. Supreme Court decision that set aside the default judgment, saying the insurer appears to have solid evidence to oppose the claim.On its website, the Supreme Court says default judgments can be filed against defendants if they fail to respond to the notice of a civil lawsuit, do not comply with the rules or a response to a civil claim is withdrawn.With the default judgment set aside, the matter may return to Shore's civil claim filed in May 2018, alleging breach of contract and failure to investigate the insurance claim in a timely manner, among other things.The statue remains missing after Shore reported it was taken in May 2016 by what the court describes as "unknown assailants'' as he placed a knapsack carrying the statue in the trunk of his car.Shore made an emotional plea for the return of the statue at a news conference shortly after it was taken, saying two men ambushed him, hit him over the head with a large flashlight and stole the eagle, plus a less-valuable decoy.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The big takeaways for agriculture in Ontario’s behemoth $187 billion 2020 budget are funding for rural broadband infrastructure and the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The provincial government has made available an additional $680 million across four years to bring reliable internet connectivity to rural and underserved areas of the province. “We look forward to seeing that infrastructure actually put in the ground,” said Peggy Brekveld, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s newly elected president. Over three years, the budget allots $25.5 million to the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The cost-sharing funds are available for projects to mitigate disruptions to farm business from COVID-19 through technology. Brekveld said she believes the funds “will help us continue to find ways to innovate and invest in new technologies” to push back against COVID-19's effects on the sector. The budget reads that innovation funding will lead to “increased efficiencies and productivity” while supporting “resilience and long-term sustainability and growth in the agri-food sector.” Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, also highlighted the innovation funding as the budget’s main appeal for the agri-food sector. “There’s not a lot really other than that,” he said. Only a small element of the budget, there’s also $5 million set out for Ontario’s struggling agricultural and horticultural societies. For the societies, who put on many of the province’s fall fairs (there are three in Niagara put on by agricultural societies) the funding is significant. Speaking to Niagara This Week for a November story on the funding, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies manager, Vince Brennan, said he’s never seen anything like it before and called it the “single largest influx of dollars for our organizations.” For the 2020-21 fiscal year, a record provincial deficit of $38.5 billion is projected in the budget. Reflected as a percentage, the net debt of the deficit makes up 47 per cent of all of Ontario’s economic production or gross domestic production (GDP). Ontario’s GDP is also projected to fall 6.5 per cent during 2020. Two deficit outlook scenarios are presented, one for slow growth and another for faster. Under a fast growth projection, the provincial deficit by the 2022-23 fiscal year would decline to $21.3 billion. Under slow growth, the projection for the same period would be a decline to $33.4 billion. Currently, the 2020 budget projects the deficit to decline to $28.2 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Of the total $187 billion in spending in the 2020 budget, $12.5 billion is forecasted to be spent on paying interest on government debt. There is also $2.5 billion being kept in reserve to weather any unforeseen circumstances. There was no plan presented to balance the multi-year budget, as is required by law, and the province will be seeking a pause on the requirement given the "volatile and uncertain economic situation” of the pandemic. The province plans to table a path to balance in the 2021 budget.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Even on its worst COVID-19 day so far, New Brunswick's case numbers are well below most other provinces when populations are factored in.On Nov. 20, New Brunswick recorded 23 new cases — the highest daily increase since the pandemic began. But on a per capita basis, that's well behind most other provinces outside the Atlantic region. It works out to 2.9 cases per 100,000 residents. Most other provinces have recorded their record highs since Friday, including Alberta, which recorded 1,731 cases on Saturday. Although Ontario recorded more cases the day before, some quick calculations reveal Alberta's rate for 100,000 is 40.0, while Ontario — despite a record number of 1,855 recorded on Friday — was only 12.5. Quebec's all-time high, also recorded on the weekend, converts to a rate of 17.2, Saskatchewan's is 29.7, and Manitoba's 34.7. Thanks to a one-day high of 25 new cases on Nov. 20, sparsely populated Nunavut has the highest rate at 62.6.Closer to home, Nova Scotia's highest daily total of 14 was recorded on Saturday, but its rate per 100,000 was only 1.4 — roughly half of New Brunswick's worst day. Figuring out rates per 100,000 helps put things into perspective, says Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist. He said it's easy to think things are pretty grim in New Brunswick when we compare ourselves to other Atlantic provinces. After all, our worst-day rate is double that of Nova Scotia's. He said it's important to compare it to what's happening outside the relative safety of what used to be the Atlantic bubble. Furness said "the news is actually really good" in New Brunswick. "Even when you're having a rise in cases, which is what you went through this month, you managed it. New Brunswick managed it really well. It never got out of control."Furness said looking at infection rates based on population is "incredibly informative," especially when it comes to the capacity of hospitals to handle a worst-case scenario. If roughly 20 per cent of positive cases need medical intervention, suggested Furness, in Alberta that would be eight per 100,000. He wondered if there would be eight ICU beds per 100,000 population. "That would be an interesting comparison," he said. > If you want to stay safe, steer clear of gatherings without masks. \- Colin Furness, epidemiologistFurness said it's important to remember that officials only really know the worst day when the pandemic is over. This is more of a "worst day so far" look at the numbers. And, he said, New Brunswickers should expect to have "more worse days ahead of you."He predicts January in the northern hemisphere "is going to be awful."But there are ways to limit the spread, said Furness. "I think the one thing that hasn't gotten out quite enough is that COVID is not nearly as contagious as people think. "You don't get it off a toilet seat. It doesn't come under the door to get you when you sleep. COVID spreads when lots of people are together sharing air without masks. That's how it spreads."The culprit is the "super-spreader event," he said."It's where people are congregating without masks. That's what's dangerous. And so if you want to stay safe, steer clear of gatherings without masks."He said all super-spreader events have one thing in common — people not wearing masks. The solution, he said, is easy — don't go into a room with people who aren't wearing masks. With more than half the province now in the orange phase of recovery, it might be easy to forget how well the province had been doing. According to statistics provided by Health Department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane, the longest stretch without a positive case was 17 days — from April 17 to May 4. Since then, the province has had three separate stretches of 16 days each without any cases. And while the highest daily total was recorded on Nov. 20, Macfarlane noted the highest weekly total of 79 was recorded between Oct. 6 and 12, which coincided with the outbreak at a special care home in Moncton. The highest number of tests done in a single day happened on June 1, which coincided with the outbreak at a special care home in Atholville. On that day, 2,064 tests were processed. Another notable statistic provided by the province illustrates the changing face of COVID-positive cases. Since Nov. 1, about half of all cases are people in their 20s and 30s.
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama; Former communist official Sergei Kirov is assassinated in Leningrad; Beatlemania arrives in America; Actor and director Woody Allen is born. (Dec. 1)
The NDP of P.E.I. has passed a resolution that would allow newcomers with permanent resident status to take out a party membership.Permanent resident is a status granted to someone who has the right to live and work in Canada while holding citizenship in another country. Permanent residents are not eligible to vote in Canadian elections, as all voters must hold Canadian citizenship, but many parties allow permanent residents to join regardless."We want to be inclusionary to Islanders and newcomers, and so part of that was definitely putting it in our provincial constitution," said provincial party president Jason Alward."We would welcome anybody to come on and join as an NDP member and again, push for a policy that reflects their situation, their concerns."> We want to work with different groups on the Island because we feel that those voices need to be heard. — Jason AlwardP.E.I.'s Green Party also allows those with permanent resident status to join the party, as do all of the major federal parties.A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.Virtual AGM The resolution was passed at the party's annual general meeting over the weekend, which had about 40 people attend virtually. Alward said the newcomers will have full voting privileges for elections within the party, like the executive, or in a contested race to choose who would represent the party in an upcoming election."We want to work with different groups on the Island because we feel that those voices need to be heard," he said. "Come on and push our policy forward and create policy that includes those voices that might not be heard in the legislature."The president said the P.E.I. New Democrats are also looking at other ways to be inclusive of all Islanders, including establishing new committees.He said the party launched a Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) committee and a sexual orientation, gender identity committee recently.The hope is "to bring in people into the party and have their voices heard in those groups," he said."There's definitely a matter of privilege in the legislature and I don't think a lot of those voices are being heard by the three parties in there right now."P.E.I.'s NDP has not had a member elected to the legislature since then party leader Herb Dickieson in 1996. NDP candidate Lynne Thiele received 37 votes in the District 10 byelection earlier this month. The party is currently without a leader after Joe Byrne stepped down in September after two years. Alward said the party will have more news to share about the leadership in the coming days.More from CBC P.E.I.
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— Film history fans will get a meal out of David Fincher’s “Mank,” about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz who is masterfully played by Gary Oldman. Shot in gorgeous black and white, “Mank” transports you into the depression era studio system, Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies’s elegant parties and to that bungalow in Victorville where the first draft of the classic Orson Welles film was composed. Available on Netflix on Friday, “Mank” is one of the year’s very best films and both a tribute to and searing critique of Hollywood’s golden age. Amanda Seyfried, as Davies, is one of the great performances of the year.— Another film full of excellent performances is “Sound of Metal,” starring Riz Ahmed as a punk metal drummer who experiences sudden severe hearing loss. The film, which is captioned in English, dives into the world of the deaf community with Ruben (Ahmed) in a way you’ve never seen or heard before. It’s the directorial debut of Darius Marder (a writer on “The Place Beyond the Pines”), who assembled an crack team of sound mixers and editors to create a unique auditory experience to simulate what Ruben is going through as he loses his hearing entirely.— If $30 was a little steep for your tastes to rent the new live-action “Mulan,” it’ll finally be free for Disney+ subscribers Friday. From director Niki Caro, this adaptation of the Chinese folk tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army, is breathtakingly beautiful, from the stunning landscapes to the colorful costumes. Although it may fall short on the kind of intoxicating story magic that the Disney label signifies, it is worth a watch and may just inspire some curious young viewers to delve into more Asian cinema classics. Also, if you find yourself missing the songs and Eddie Murphy, the animated 1998 version is also available on the service.— AP Film Writer Lindsey BahrMUSIC— A house is not a home during the holiday season if Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not blasting – daily! During a normal, non-pandemic year, Carey and her Christmas craziness would be on a holiday tour, bringing joy to fans and lambs in-person. Because live shows aren’t really a thing in 2020, she’s launching a holiday TV special on Apple TV+ on Friday. “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” will includes a mix of musical performances and dancing with amination. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Misty Copeland and Carey’s 9-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, will make special appearances.— Shawn Mendes released his debut album in 2015 and he’s dropping his fourth effort Friday. “Wonder” continues to showcase Mendes’ growth as a singer, songwriter and performer. The album features the singles “Wonder” and “Monster” with Justin Bieber, which debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot chart this week. Along with the album is the Netflix documentary called “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder,” which is available for streaming and follows Mendes’ rise and journey over the last few years.— Christmas came early when Carrie Underwood released her first holiday album in September, and on Thursday she’ll debut a musical TV special to accompany the album. On HBO Max’s “My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood” — conducted by award-winning musical director Rickey Minor — the country superstar is backed by a live orchestra, choir and her band. John Legend makes a special appearance and viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at Underwood’s 5-year-old son, Isaiah, recording his vocals for their version of “Little Drummer Boy.”— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— “Selena: The Series” is described by Netflix as a coming-of-age drama that follows Selena Quintanilla from talented youngster to musical phenom, aided by her family. A breakthrough star in male-dominated Tejano music, the singer was just shy of her 24th birthday in 1995 when she was fatally shot by a former business associate. The two-part series debuts Friday with Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”) as Selena and Gabriel Chavarria (“East Los Angeles’) and Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) among the cast members.— The 11th and final season of the Showtime dramady “Shameless” debuts 9 p.m. EST Sunday, weaving the pandemic, urban gentrification and personal pressures into the lives of the Gallaghers of Chicago’s South Side. Aging patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) is facing the toll of longtime alcohol and drug abuse, while and Ian and Mickey (Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher) struggle as newlyweds. Deb (Emma Kenney) stands ready to give her all to single motherhood and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) feels the same about his nascent law enforcement career.— Two respected veterans are behind “A Suitable Boy,” a limited series directed by filmmaker Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”) and written by Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “House of Cards”). An adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1,300-plus page novel of the same name, the 1950s, India-set drama revolves around a university student who’s shaping his identity as his newly independent country does the same. The all-Indian lead cast includes Tabu (“The Namesake,” “Life of Pi”) and Tanya Maniktala. The series debuts Dec. 7, on Acorn TV.— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has confirmed another case of COVID-19 at the University of Windsor.In a news release, the university said that this case was unrelated to previous confirmed cases at the institution. According to the University of Windsor's COVID-19 information page, the university has had 10 confirmed on-campus cases, all of which have come this month. Eight of those cases are marked as "resolved.""The member of the campus community is self-isolating and all appropriate protocols and cleaning measures have been taken," the university said in a press release. "As with all COVID-19 cases, the WECHU will take the lead on contact tracing. The University continues to work with and support the Health Unit as needed.""There is no additional risk to the campus community at this time," it added.Most of the university's classes are being taught online this semester.
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Tensions are rising in Lambton Shores as a contentious plan to tackle gypsy moths goes before council Tuesday, a report one community group is blasting as a “do-nothing” approach. After Port Franks and the surrounding area were ravaged by an outbreak of the invasive insects this summer, some residents mobilized into the Gypsy Moth Citizens Action Group, pushing for a municipally-led insecticide spray to combat the infestation. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a spokesperson for the group which represents about 4,000 residents in more than 12 subdivisions, says that option was never properly considered by staff and is urging them to reconsider. “(The report) did not investigate, compare or evaluate the merits of a municipally-led spray programme against a privately-organized effort,” she said. “(It) provided council with inadequate information because it assumed one path forward.” The gypsy moth report – originally sent to council Nov. 10 – includes recommendations like creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to combat gypsy moths, and not objecting to any spraying on private properties adjacent to municipal property. Council voted 5-4 to defer the report until Dec. 1, citing the need for more public feedback. But Smith-Fullerton is calling into question the municipality’s openness on the issue. She said her request to present to council on behalf of the citizen’s group was denied without sound reasoning. Both Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber and Clerk Stephanie Troyer-Boyd cited COVID-19 safety restrictions as the reason why public presentations are disallowed. At the beginning of the pandemic, many municipalities, including Lambton Shores, amended their procedure bylaws to switch to electronic meetings; including a caveat that public presentations could be denied. But Lambton Shores’ council has been meeting in person since the fall, with the procedure bylaw stating, “the Mayor or Clerk may deny delegations to council during an electronic meeting.” Troyer-Boyd did not respond to a request to clarify if the policy had been extended to in-person meetings. Meanwhile, a transit presentation is on the Dec. 1 agenda. Weber said the presenter is a staff member, adding some presentations have been allowed at past meetings for statutory or Planning Act matters. “COVID is a bit of a convenient excuse to stifle democracy,” Smith-Fullerton said, adding she’s filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman. “I deserve an explanation,” she said. “They’re not playing by the rules as far as I can see. There are inconsistencies in their policy.” Council previously waved the restriction in July, allowing Smith-Fullerton to present virtually on the gypsy moth issue. A written delegation from the citizens' group has been accepted for Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s very weird to feel like this is a matter that is clearly of high public interest … And yet, the person who is the spokesperson for thousands of people right across this municipality, they’re not interested in me speaking to them,” Smith-Fullerton said. “(The group) certainly have put in letters and their position and presentation has been distributed through the agenda,” Weber said. The hot-button issue and report have drawn a swarm of response from the community, with dozens of letters sent to council as correspondence — there are more than 300 pages' worth — with the vast majority advocating for an aerial spray or greater assistance from the municipality. “We need council to develop an all-encompassing bylaw that permits the municipality to treat all the infested trees. Anything less will be unsatisfactory and a waste of money,” writes Port Franks resident David Hilliard. “We call on the municipality … to take immediate and effective action to address the gypsy moth threat before damage is done to our environment and tourism economy,” says a letter from the Grand Bend and Area Chamber of Commerce. Five letters attached as correspondence to the agenda oppose a municipally-led aerial spray, a view shared by the mayor. “I believe this should be a private property matter,” Weber said. Lambton Shores chief administrator, Kevin Williams, who drafted the report, did not answer questions emailed to him by The Free Press about the subject. “Let’s see what happens at Council" Tuesday night, he said. He previously said no environmental assessment on the extent of defoliation caused by the insects was ordered, nor was an egg mass assessment. Widespread spraying of a bacteria — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk, — to control caterpillar pests has been the route taken in other municipalities in the past, including Sarnia and Pelham, as well as in parts of big cities such as Toronto and Hamilton. Many residents say it’s vital the municipality takes a lead in combatting the caterpillars as they pose serious threats to personal health and Port Frank’s diverse tree canopy. MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Nova Scotia Power customers will shell out $172 million in 2021 to pay for the Maritime Link, the transmission system built to bring electricity from the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador across the Cabot Strait into Nova Scotia.Regulators approved the charge Monday, but in an unusual move asked NSP's parent company, Emera, to reduce shareholder returns because benefits from the Maritime Link have been "grossly overestimated."The cost recovery approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will not raise customer bills because it has been factored into rates.The $1.5-billion link was completed in 2017 but has not carried a single kilowatt of electricity from Muskrat Falls into the province because of delays and overruns at the hydro dam site in Labrador and a receiving station in Newfoundland.Nova Scotia ratepayers, however, have been paying for the Maritime Link since it became operational in 2018.The link is owned by a subsidiary of Emera, Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link. The company had assured the utility and review board the project would be a net benefit for ratepayers in Nova Scotia since the link can carry electricity the other way into Newfoundland.Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link estimated those benefits at $120 million per year. In reality, the line has made just $5 million a year."Customers have gotten considerably less than they bargained for," said Bill Mahody, consumer advocate representing NSP's 444,000 residential customers.Mahody and lawyers representing NSP's industrial customers asked the review board to reduce the rate of return Emera earns on its investment in the link from nine per cent to 8.75 percent."I appreciate the Maritime Link offers a long-term benefit for customers. There's no question about that. And once the Nova Scotia block is flowing, we'll be in a much better position. But until that flows, it would be appropriate for this utility to consider taking less of an equity return for a period of time," Mahody said."It is somewhat unique, but it is a fair balance, I would suggest, between the risks that ratepayers have been burying now for several years."The company objected, and on Monday the regulator said it did not have evidence before it to unilaterally cut the return, costing shareholders $1.4 million in 2021. But it asked the company to voluntarily lower its rate of return."NSPML and NS Power grossly overestimated the value the Maritime Link would provide, even absent the Nova Scotia Block," the board wrote."Given the gross overestimation of the benefits of the Maritime Link versus the actual benefits as noted above, and given the costs of the further delays caused by COVID-19, which are being entirely borne by ratepayers, the Board believes it very reasonable to ask NSPML to reconsider its position."On Monday, the review board approved a cost to be recovered in 2021 from NSP ratepayers, pending a response in one week to its request that the company voluntarily reduce its rate of return.The company did not provide a response to CBC News for this story.MORE TOP STORIES
MONTREAL — As experts mull recommendations regarding ventilation and COVID-19 transmission ahead of the winter, Quebec health officials said Monday that air quality tests carried out in long-term care homes and hospitals earlier this month revealed satisfactory readings.Health Minister Christian Dube said an analysis of carbon dioxide levels was done at his request between Nov. 19 and 23 in about 70 establishments, mostly in the Quebec City area and in central Quebec.The Health Department said CO2 levels are considered a good indicator of ventilation efficiency, and authorities carried out tests in different settings including bathrooms, waiting areas and patients rooms.The results come as a group of experts examining the link between air quality and COVID-19 spread is set to issue recommendations in early December, with particular attention to schools and health-care facilities.The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have both said aerosol transmission and spread of COVID-19 is a concern."The expert group will therefore have to look in particular at the additional preventive and, if necessary, mitigation measures that could be put in place, if necessary," the Health Department said in a statement.Concern about indoor air quality has been heightened in the province, which on Monday reported 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 additional deaths linked to the virus, along with an increase in hospitalizations and patients in intensive care.The results announced Monday were from tests done mostly in so-called cold zones without COVID-19 patients, but some were in hot zones, and the testing covered different kinds of ventilation systems, including just open windows.The results for Quebec City came back at 651 parts per million and at 707 parts per million in central Quebec — both below the maximum target of 1,110.But one Montreal health official questioned whether the ventilation systems in place in long-term care centres are adequate to deal with a disease as contagious as COVID-19.Francine Dupuis is associate CEO of the Montreal regional health authority that on Sunday had to transfer 20 COVID-19 patients from a long-term care home, the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, to local hospitals.“We are waiting for the recommendations of public health, but probably too many people at the same place is not a good idea for the ventilation system,” Dupuis said in an interview Sunday.“These ventilation systems have been created for long-term care facilities, not acute care facilities like hospitals."In some cases, authorities are emptying wards to air them out before bringing patients back, but Dupuis says the cost of upgrading ventilation systems in long-term care would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.On Tuesday, Quebec's schools will also have their air quality tested. Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge, in announcing tests last week, said any necessary improvements would be made over the Christmas break.Last week, a group of doctors and experts concerned about air quality in schools and the transmission of COVID-19 unveiled the results of a clandestine project where teachers measured air quality in 25 classrooms, finding that 75 per cent had CO2 levels that exceeded acceptable levels.Authorities did not hold a briefing on Monday as Montreal led the way in new infections, reporting 400 new confirmed cases, followed by the Monteregie, the greater Quebec City region, Saguenay Lac-St-Jean and Lanaudiere."The situation of the last days is worrying," Dube said via his Twitter account on Monday. "I would remind you that we must continue to respect all measures and limit our contacts for (a reduction in) the number of cases."Eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours while 14 others were from the last week.The province has now reported 142,371 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,056 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, adding another 1,108 recoveries for a total of 122,014.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— With files from Jillian Kestler-D'Amours in Montreal.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press