Tornado-warned storms rolled across Southern Ontario Friday evening.
Tornado-warned storms rolled across Southern Ontario Friday evening.
PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s legal team suffered yet another defeat in court Friday as a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the campaign's latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges' assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents.The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, another Republican, had said the campaign's error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called any revisions “futile.” Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Chagares were on the panel with Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” Bibas said in the opinion, which also denied the campaign's request to stop the state from certifying its results, a demand he called “breathtaking.”In fact, Pennsylvania officials had announced Tuesday that they had certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state. Nationally, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered nearly 80 million votes, a record in U.S. presidential elections.Trump has said he hopes the Supreme Court will intervene in the race as it did in 2000, when its decision to stop the recount in Florida gave the election to Republican George W. Bush. On Nov. 5, as the vote count continued, Trump posted a tweet saying the “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”Ever since, Trump and his surrogates have attacked the election as flawed and filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the results in six battleground states. But they’ve found little sympathy from judges, nearly all of whom dismissed their complaints about the security of mail-in ballots, which millions of people used to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.Trump perhaps hopes a Supreme Court he helped steer toward a conservative 6-3 majority would be more open to his pleas, especially since the high court upheld Pennsylvania’s decision to accept mail-in ballots through Nov. 6 by only a 4-4 vote last month. Since then, Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett has joined the court.“The activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud,” Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted after Friday's ruling. “On to SCOTUS!”In the case at hand, the Trump campaign asked to disenfranchise the state’s 6.8 million voters or at least “cherry-pick” the 1.5 million who voted by mail in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other Democratic-leaning areas, the appeals court said.“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote in his scathing ruling on Nov. 21. “That has not happened.”A separate Republican challenge that reached the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week seeks to stop the state from further certifying any races on the ballot. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is fighting that effort, saying it would prevent the state’s legislature and congressional delegation from being seated in the coming weeks.On Thursday, Trump said the Nov. 3 election was still far from over. Yet he said for the first time he would leave the White House on Jan. 20 if the Electoral College formalizes Biden’s win.“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said at the White House, taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day.On Twitter Friday, however, he continued to baselessly attack Detroit, Atlanta and other Democratic cities with large Black populations as the source of “massive voter fraud.” And he claimed, without evidence, that a Pennsylvania poll watcher had uncovered computer memory drives that “gave Biden 50,000 votes” apiece.All 50 states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. Biden won both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaryclairedaleMaryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A former member of Labrador's Inuit government is questioning the methods used to quantify whether he is sufficiently Indigenous after he was removed from his government roles last week. Edward Blake Rudkowski said he was informed Nov. 20 that he was no longer a beneficiary of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement after a review of his status determined he had just 17 per cent Inuit blood. According to the land claims agreement, beneficiaries must have at least 25 per cent "blood quantum," as it's called, to be registered as Labrador Inuit, Blake Rudkowski said. “This development is entirely related to a group of people throwing darts at a genealogy board,” he said in an interview Friday. “You can sit there with your membership for over three decades — over three decades — and then someone says, ‘Hey man, you’re not in anymore?’” Blood quantum is a controversial practice of determining the percentage of one's Indigenous ancestry. Blake Rudkowski calls it “junk science" and says his predicament is an example of how it's an inadequate and inaccurate measure of who belongs and who doesn't. He said he's been a beneficiary under the claims agreement for 34 years, and in all that time, nobody questioned his status as a Labrador Inuk. His family has a long, respected history in Goose Bay, in central Labrador, and his grandfather was one of two Inuit families in Sheshatshiu, an Innu community about 40 kilometres north of Goose Bay, he said. "The footprints of my grandparents are all over Labrador, and my great-grandparents, and my great-great-grandparents,” he said. He now lives in Toronto. In a 2017 byelection, he won a seat as an ordinary member in the Nunatsiavut Assembly representing Labrador Inuit who live outside the land claim area in Nunatsiavut, and outside the Upper Lake Melville area in central Labrador where many beneficiaries live. He won the seat again in 2018 in the regular election. In 2017, he was also appointed Speaker of the assembly. On Friday, after he was told he was no longer a beneficiary, he says he got a call from Nunatsiavut president Johannes Lampe, who said he could no longer hold his seat in the Nunatsiavut Assembly nor his role as the assembly's Speaker — only Labrador Inuit can be members of the assembly. “I feel raw, I feel disappointed, I feel distraught, I feel upset," he said. "Obviously there’s a whole myriad of negative emotions that get associated with a life event like this." In a statement Monday announcing Blake Rudkowski's removal, the Nunatsiavut government said it “plays no role whatsoever in determining the membership of any individual,” and the beneficiary enrolment process is independent from the Nunatsiavut government. Nobody from the Nunatsiavut government was available Friday to speak about its decision to remove Blake Rudkowski from government, or about the blood quantum determination process. Blake Rudkowski said the documents he received indicating his status was under review showed the review was triggered by a political opponent. “I had to apply as anyone who never had any experience with Nunatsiavut would have to apply,” he said. “It’s as if that previous 34 years didn’t exist.” As required, he included extensive details of his family history in his application. “Their determination was that my blood quantum was 17.4, or it might be 17.3 . . . . So you would think with a number that precise would imply there was an empirical calculation . . . to arrive at that output. And for love nor money, I couldn’t tell you what the process was,” he said. Blake Rudkowski said he hasn’t been offered any means to appeal the decision. He wonders what kind of precedent the decision sets. “If it could happen to me, then who’s next?” he said. As for his own next steps, Blake Rudkowski said he hasn’t yet figured those out but he’s not defeated. “I feel a calling to public service, and my days in the political arena aren’t over,” he said. “I’m really upset that my path with Nunatsiavut came to a halt the way it did, especially when it came to questions of my heritage, which are not questionable in my mind.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Alberta is giving 700 more peace officers the power to enforce COVID-19 restrictions as hospitalizations for the virus continue to climb in the province. "We are not asking these officers to stop cold their day-to-day priorities or to harass responsible Albertans going about their everyday lives," Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Friday, as Alberta reported 1,227 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. Police officers and health inspectors also have the ability to enforce the rules. Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. Alberta has 405 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 86 in intensive care. A week ago, there were 55 patients in intensive care with COVID-19. Postponing surgeries is one of the ways the province is freeing up space to accommodate more people severely ill with the virus. New measures came into effect Friday to help blunt the spike in cases. Private indoor social gatherings are banned, capacity limits have been imposed on stores and students between grades 7 and 12 switch to remote learning on Monday. Fines for breaking the rules range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that make it to court. When asked whether there would be crackdowns on anti-mask rallies, Madu said police will make independent decisions. "But as minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable."Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she is disappointed to hear about Alberta Health Services inspectors being verbally abused. "Nobody deserves that, least of all the people who are working to keep all of us safe," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Lauren Krugel, 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
OTTAWA — New research suggests a bump in the number of fathers who planned to take time off with a new baby under a nascent national leave program could be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.It has been just over a year since the government started offering the use-it-or-lose-it extra weeks of paid time off work for non-birthing parents. The program was designed to mostly target fathers, who don't take paternity leave in large numbers.It was modelled after a program adopted over a decade ago in Quebec, which has the highest paternity leave rates in the country.A study published this month in the Journal of European Social Policy noted a five per cent rise in mothers' labour force participation rates after the Quebec policy came into effect, compared to Ontario where parents had no such policy at the time.The authors also noted Quebec mothers were less likely to work part-time or be unemployed than they would have been absent the paternity leave policy. The authors of the study also found the benefits were largest within the first three years of the new program being available to fathers, but fizzled out thereafter.Sample size could have played a role, but one of the authors said another explanation was timing: The period under review overlapped with the last big recession in 2008-2009.That raises questions about whether the impact of the Canada-wide version of the program could be shaped by an even sharper recession caused by COVID-19."It's a bit of a crystal ball in terms of will more fathers take it, will (fewer) fathers take it," said Andrea Doucet, an expert on parental leave policies from Brock University. She was not involved in the recently published study."But there's a whole part of this which is about social norms around gender and gender equality. The conversation (on paternity leave) has just changed enormously."The federal program, which launched in March 2019, includes five to eight weeks of extra paid leave for the second parent, with the length depending on whether a family chooses standard or extended benefits. It was designed to incentivize new fathers to take some time off work to care for their children, even if their partner stays home for much longer.The difference between the federal employment insurance program and the Quebec version lies in the income-replacement rate. Quebec's is about 70 per cent, while EI is 55 per cent, up to a limit. There are also differences in who can qualify, with individuals eligible in Quebec while EI depends on the eligibility of the mother, or first parent.Allison Dunatchik, one of the study's authors from the University of Pennsylvania, said the size of the take-up now depends on how many parents qualify and whether they can afford the drop in income."There's some question about whether that's really enough incentive to get men to change their leave-taking behaviour, particularly when we're in this context of greater economic uncertainty," she said."There is a lot we don't know about how these policies play out in the context of a recession." A report this month from Statistics Canada said the proportion of spouses or partners of recent mothers who claimed, or intended to claim, the EI leave increased to 35.4 per cent last year from 31.3 per cent in 2018 and 29.1 per cent in 2017.Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees EI, couldn't say many parents used the sharing benefit last year and so far this year.Doucet said rates could actually go up as more fathers work remotely and take care of children at home because of school or daycare closures. Research suggests the more fathers are home, the more they want to get involved in care."They want to be involved. They don't just want to go to work the next day," she said. "All that could have some benefit. There could be some implications for fathers working from home, or their take up of leave."But, she added, the policy has to change.Doucet and two co-authors recently called on the government to boost the income-replacement rate and ease access, particularly in light of an economic downturn disproportionately affecting women.As is, about one-third of women don't qualify for EI parental benefits, Doucet said, noting many are mothers from low-income, racialized or new immigrant families."Parental leave is critical to shifting those gender equality patterns, so that if we ever get into another pandemic … things could be different," Doucet said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
RICHMOND, B.C. — A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport.The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet's domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada.The Calgary and Toronto airports have hosted studies to rapidly test passengers who are arriving, rather than departing.The study in B.C. involves researchers from the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care, who are responsible for collecting the samples.The airport authority says in a statement a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 and those who test positive would have to undergo testing approved by Health Canada, with their flights cancelled or changed at no charge.Dr. Don Sin, co-principal investigator and a professor at UBC's faculty of medicine, says the study will help public health leaders understand how people who don't have symptoms of COVID-19 are contributing to the spread of the illness."We know that asymptomatic carriers exist, but what we don’t know is exactly how common it is," he says in a statement.The airport authority says that prior to launching the study, researchers evaluated several rapid tests that use nose swabs and oral rinses, and passengers' test results should be available within 20 minutes.It says researchers plan to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal once the study wraps up, in an effort to contribute to a future testing framework for the aviation industry.The study is open to WestJet passengers who are B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 80, and who haven't tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:54 p.m. EST on Nov. 27, 2020: There are 359,055 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Quebec: 138,163 confirmed (including 6,984 deaths, 119,727 resolved) _ Ontario: 111,216 confirmed (including 3,595 deaths, 94,366 resolved) _ Alberta: 53,105 confirmed (including 519 deaths, 38,369 resolved) _ British Columbia: 30,884 confirmed (including 395 deaths, 21,304 resolved) _ Manitoba: 15,632 confirmed (including 280 deaths, 6,487 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 7,691 confirmed (including 44 deaths, 4,384 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,257 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 477 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 356 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 331 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 296 resolved) _ Nunavut: 159 confirmed (including 8 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 70 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 359,055 (0 presumptive, 359,055 confirmed including 11,894 deaths, 286,500 resolved) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. The Canadian Press
On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at Princess Margaret Public School in Prince Albert. The case was acquired outside of the school. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools who are impacted by the isolation,” the release stated. The division was informed on Thursday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. Princess Margaret will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The division emphasized that despite the challenges it is important that everyone continues to be diligent in performing the daily health screening and self-monitoring, stay home if not feeling well, call the HealthLine at 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practice proper hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, wear a mask when appropriate. The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
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
The N.W.T. office of the chief public health officer has confirmed a positive COVID-19 test in Yellowknife related to a non-resident worker in the territory on an exemption.An investigation found just one contact, who is now isolating. According to a press release Friday, the worker had travelled into the N.W.T. and self-isolated when required.There is no identified risk to any flights as the individual was outside of their infectious period when they flew in.According to Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, all high-risk essential workers are now tested when they arrive in the N.W.T. These include health-care workers, dentists, RCMP, correctional officers and anyone else who is working "in closed and highly vulnerable settings."Because the individual is believed to have contracted the virus outside of the territory, the case will not be included in the N.W.T.'s totals.
The raging COVID-19 pandemic kept crowds thin at malls and stores across the country on Black Friday, which is ordinarily the busiest shopping day of the year. This year, crowds at stores were dramatically diminished as shoppers shift online. (Nov. 27)
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.
SANTÉ. Dans l’optique qu’une ventilation adéquate des milieux intérieurs constitue une mesure de gestion efficace des contaminants de l'air intérieur, incluant les aérosols qui peuvent contenir des virus, le ministre de l'Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, dévoile l'état de situation sur les mécanismes mis en place par les centres de services scolaires (CSS). La compilation des données collectées jusqu'à maintenant montre que les mécanismes de contrôle de la qualité de l'air sont en place dans la presque totalité des établissements. «Je veux rassurer la population : nos milieux scolaires sont sains et sécuritaires. Dans le contexte de la pandémie de COVID-19, il est encore plus primordial d'assurer une qualité de l'air adéquate dans toutes les écoles. Je suis rassuré de constater que les données compilées démontrent que les mécanismes de contrôle mis en place sont efficaces, alors que pour les précédents gouvernements, l'entretien de nos écoles n'était pas une priorité. Nos actions des derniers mois ont porté leurs fruits et nous continuons le travail, en collaboration avec l'ensemble du réseau scolaire», souligne Jean-François Roberge, ministre de l'Éducation. Ainsi, l'implantation d'une approche systématique de gestion de la qualité de l'air est complétée à 96,55 %. Il s'agit d'une série de mesures, comme l'entretien des systèmes, le remplacement des filtres et des grilles d'inspection exhaustives que les CSS doivent appliquer pour garantir la qualité de l'air dans les écoles. L'entretien ménager des systèmes de ventilation a été complété de manière conforme à 97,5 % tandis les normes ont été respectées à 99,5 % pour la ventilation électromécanique et naturelle. Le plan d'entretien électromécanique a été mis en place de façon satisfaisante dans 92,6 % des cas indique-t-on. Rappelons que le réseau des CSS et des CS compte un total de 4 000 bâtiments scolaires, soit approximativement 16,5 millions de mètres carrés et que de nouveaux tests seront effectués, à compter du 1er décembre, pour garantir que la qualité de l'air des classes est conforme aux normes actuellement en vigueur. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
OTTAWA — As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise across Canada, the infection rate in Ottawa has been going in the other direction for weeks, putting the city on the right track to flatten the curve of the pandemic once again.The city's chief medical officer, Dr. Vera Etches, said much of the credit goes to the people who live here, who have been wearing masks — in some cases, such as on public transit, forced to do so earlier than others across Canada — and staying at home.There was a time in early October when Ottawa, despite its initial success flattening the curve in the spring, experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases that saw the city have double the number of cases seen in Toronto and Peel Region at that time. Now the number of new cases is once again much lower than in those areas.There were 55 new COVID-19 cases in Ottawa on Friday, which represents a bigger daily jump from earlier in the week but still puts the city at 5.89 new cases per 100,000 people. Toronto, meanwhile, reported 18.08 new cases per 100,000 people on Friday and in Peel Region it was 37.42 new cases per 100,000.“It's really thanks to the people in Ottawa, and thanks to the employers and others who are doing their part to make it possible," Etches told a news conference this week, adding that people increased their distance from others, wore masks and stayed home when they were sick."These are the things that actually can bring COVID down in a community."Etches said Ottawa Public Health emphasized the importance of wearing masks early on in the pandemic and in June, the city became the first in Canada to make them mandatory on public transit."Building a new behaviour, a new culture where you always have a mask with you when you go out, that's been in place a little bit longer, that might have helped," she said.Meanwhile, employers in Ottawa, a city of just over one million people, enabled people to follow the advice of public health officials by allowing them to work from home, and stay home when they were sick, more than in other cities, she said.Twenty-four per cent of workers in Ottawa work in public administration jobs, according to Ottawa Employment Hub, the local workplace planning board. Some 120,000 people in the National Capital Region, which includes nearby Gatineau, Que., work for the federal government, which has allowed most of its employees to work from home since March."The federal government is leading by example," said Lavagnon Ika, a professor of project management at the University of Ottawa. He said managers and directors at the government were often reluctant to allow people to work remotely before the pandemic, but that has changed. "Because of COVID-19, people have learned (how) to make it work," he saidIka said information technology companies in Ottawa have also been allowing their employees to work remotely because they already have the technology to do so and their employees are trained to use it."If you don't have a centralized information system for all your teams, it's not possible to work at a distance," he said. "I'm talking about the video conferencing tools and artificial-intelligence assistance tools."He said some of the high-tech companies in Ottawa had employees working remotely and customers from all over the world before COVID-19, listing homegrown e-commerce giant Shopify as one of them. "They badly need remote work because of a geographical distribution of some of their team members and their clients," Ika said.The well-integrated health care system in eastern Ontario has also helped in responding to the pandemic efficiently, said Dr. Robert Cushman, the acting medical director of health for the Renfrew County and District Health Unit near Ottawa. "What you've seen in Ottawa, for example, is there's very close work between the hospitals, and the public health unit and the city, and this extends out into the peripheral areas," said Cushman, who was Ottawa's chief medical officer from 1996 to 2005. "We've been working together on this since the beginning," he said. "There's a lot of cohesion."Having all the hospital labs working together through a regional association when it comes to testing COVID-19 is another factor, Cushman said, as efficient testing is key to aggressive and thorough tracing of how the novel coronavirus spreads through contacts."Is your lab turnaround time sufficiently short so that you can actually catch up and even get ahead of this?" he said, adding that it has been challenging to do this across Canada and even in the rest of Ontario. "If you're waiting six days for a test, I mean, this virus can get into a second (or) a third generation."There were plenty of stories about long lineups at COVID-19 testing sites in Ottawa in September once children headed back to school, but that has also improved, including through the ability to book testing appointments online.Cushman said he also believes people in Ottawa tend to trust the public health unit and health professionals, which leads to more people following their guidelines."There's a community spirit here to do the right thing," he said.But Etches warned people in Ottawa not to relax too much as COVID-19 cases in the city decline. She was speaking Tuesday, when Ottawa reported 19 new cases. On Friday, there were 55 new COVID-19 cases reported.“We think we're on the right track, but it's very tenuous,” said Etches, who is telling families to celebrate Christmas and other seasonal holidays with only people in their immediate households to avoid potential COVID-19 outbreaks.“Ottawa Public Health has had the highest rate of COVID in early October and we can go back there again.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe feels it's time to get back on the competition mat.She and teammate Amar Dhesi of Surrey, B.C., intend to represent Canada at a December World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia, unless the COVID-19 virus derails those plans.It's been almost nine months since the two Canadians competed in the Pan American Olympic qualification tournament in Ottawa. Wrestling in front of zero fans in mid-March, they punched their tickets to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Less than two weeks later, the Summer Olympics were postponed until 2021.Wiebe is ready to navigate the pandemic pitfalls and complications of international travel to reboot her competitive journey to Tokyo."It's been really crazy because in my 10 years on the Canadian national team, I've never not competed for this long," said the 31-year-old from Stittsville, Ont."I'm wrestling and training better than I ever have. I've just taken so much time to develop, to really dig into some technical and tactical skills. The training volumes are so different compared to when we're traveling to Europe every month. "When I think about competing in Serbia in three weeks, it's really exciting to just see where I'm at, to experience a competitive environment and go through that process."The reigning Olympic champion in the 75-kilogram class trains in Calgary. Dhesi, a 25-year-old who wrestles in the men's heavyweight division, is currently training at the University of Ohio."All this training doesn't doesn't actually prepare for the real thing on the mat," Dhesi told The Canadian Press from Columbus. "I need to get in front of a real referee and stand beside a real opponent, blow the whistle and see what happens. I'm just grateful Canada is letting us go."The tournament Dec. 12-18 in Serbia's capital city was initially the world championship. With some countries unable or unwilling to attend, it was downgraded to a World Cup.Both Wiebe and Dhesi say there will be enough high-calibre opponents to warrant travelling there.Wrestling Canada wrestled with risk and reward in deciding the World Cup was an option for the Canadian team. Some athletes chose not to go. "We've had athletes that training wise are probably ready to go and compete in Serbia, but don't feel comfortable doing so," high-performance director Lúcás Ó’Ceallacháin said."We haven't forced anybody to do that. We have some athletes that still live at home, that have elderly relatives that live with them that will be considered high risk."Canada's six-person contingent will consist of Ó’Ceallacháin, Wiebe, Dhesi, their coaches and an athletic therapist. Wrestling Canada used the return-to-competition assessment tool developed by Own The Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, as well as consulting medical experts, to determine how safe it was for Canadian athletes to compete in Belgrade."They are precious cargo," Ó’Ceallacháin said. "We take it very seriously how we're going to take care of them."Serbia has been very good at providing extensive documentation in terms of what their plans are and what they're going to do. We feel they're doing everything they possibly can."We're full of trepidation, anxiety, but we're also excited to get back at it."Ó’Ceallacháin says he also sought advice from Canada's winter-sport teams already competing in Europe, as well as the Canadian judo team that travelled to Guadalajara, Mexico, and Budapest, Hungary for competition in recent weeks.Wiebe intends to take part in Alberta's rapid-testing pilot program for international travellers at the Calgary airport upon return.That could shorten her quarantine from the required 14 days if Wiebe tests negative.Competing in Belgrade means she won't spend the holidays with her family in Ontario."It's a really big sacrifice that's really important for me right now," Wiebe said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed was one of the biggest factors. The research, published earlier this week in Nature's Scientific Reports, studied animals killed by trains between 1995 and 2018: 59 bears; 27 wolves, coyotes, cougars and lynx; and 560 deer, elk, moose and sheep. "The top predictor was train speed," said lead author Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta. "More animals died where trains were travelling faster. "Next was distance to water, then the (amount of) water near the site and then curvature in the tracks." Train speed and track curvature, she said, make it difficult for wildlife to detect trains, while being close to water — particularly a lot of water — hinders their ability to get off the tracks before being hit. The study builds on a five-year research project funded by Parks Canada and Canadian Pacific Railway from 2010 to 2015 that focused on grizzly bears being struck by trains in the same two parks. It concluded that giving grizzlies better travel paths and sightlines along the railway was the best way to keep them safe. Cassady St. Clair said she hopes the latest study "will make it possible to identify types and locations for mitigations that will reduce the problems for all wildlife, not just grizzly bears." The research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and the ability of wildlife to see trains, especially at curves in tracks near water. Canadian Pacific noted in a statement Friday that the company has worked with Parks Canada for the last decade to learn more about how wildlife interacts with the railway. "CP has engaged with Parks Canada and the University of Alberta throughout this program to ensure the mitigation measures CP implemented were based on science," it said. The statement didn't address whether the company would consider reducing train speeds. Co-author Jesse Whittington, a wildlife ecologist for Banff National Park, said trains are one of the leading causes of death for animals in the two parks. "The trains (that) travel through Banff and Yoho national parks kill almost 30 animals a year," said Whittington, who added that animals use rail lines for travel and access to food. The latest study, he said, helps Parks Canada understand where wildlife are getting killed, why they are getting hit in that location and the time of year when they are most likely to get hit. "Mortality risk was highest in areas where animals had difficulty detecting trains and where they had difficulty escaping trains," he said. "Animals had challenges detecting trains where trains were travelling fast and in areas with high curvature. "Trains can be surprisingly quiet when they are travelling downhill or coming around a corner." Whittington gave as an example an adult female grizzly bear killed by a train in September. She was in an area with a steep slope next to the Bow River. "There were few places for her to get off the tracks." The latest study also found that grizzly bears were more likely to be killed in late spring when, Whittington noted, water in the Bow River is often higher. Other carnivores and ungulates were more likely to get hit by trains in the winter. "When we have deep snows, we'll often find elk and deer along the tracks." Whittington said some of his Parks Canada colleagues have been working to enhance travel routes for animals away from the rail line by creating more trails through the forest. The agency's fire crews have also been working to create better wildlife habitat throughout the park with prescribed fires. "We have a lot of thick shrubs and deadfall that has accumulated over the years that makes it difficult for animals to travel across the landscape," he said. "To date, we've cleared over 50 kilometres of wildlife trails throughout Banff — both in areas around these hot spots and in other areas that are pinch points. "We're hopeful that will help." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020. Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
There has been a record 911 new cases of COVID-19 in BC since yesterday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today. This brings BC’s cumulative total to 30,884. There were 11 new deaths announced today, bringing BC’s total to 395. In just the last two weeks, there have been 105 new deaths. “The vast majority of these people (who died in the last 24 hours) were people in their 70s and 80s—our seniors, our elders, grandparents, spouses, family members,” said Henry. “Most of the cases today were also people who were living in longterm care, and we know how challenging that has been this last year.” Of today’s new cases, 153 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 649 are in the Fraser Health region, 27 in the Island Health region, 47 in the Interior Health region and 35 in the Northern Health region. There are 301 people in hospital, 69 of whom are in critical care. Across the province, 10,430 people are being monitored by public health. While virus-related hospitalizations continue to rise in BC, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the acute care sector continues to have adequate capacity and staffing. Hospital occupancy is at 71.5 per cent, with critical care occupancy at 55.6 per cent. Henry announced three new healthcare outbreaks and declared one existing outbreak over. There remain 59 total outbreaks in the healthcare system, 54 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and five in acute care facilities. The healthcare outbreaks affect 1,162 people in total, including 718 residents and 434 staff members. Henry said until recently, health officials have included testing of all people in the province together in the testing statistics. But there has been increasing separation in the positivity percentages between MSP funded tests—which test people with symptoms in an attempt to find cases—and non-MSP funded tests, which are often for travel, sport or other industries that test mostly people with no symptoms. “As our cases and our surge has increased in BC, we’ve seen an increase in the difference of percent positive between these two groups,” she said. These two testing numbers will now be reported separately in BC’s weekly situation report, in order to more accurately reflect community transmission across the province. In response to some questions about why certain activities have been stopped, Henry said community transmission has been much higher than in previous months. “This means that things that were safe, using the guidelines we had developed over the last 10 months, are no longer in that safe zone,” she said. “Now we are facing a storm surge, and that is something that we are facing globally.” During the lead-up to the holiday season, Henry has a request of people planning to shop. “If you do plan on shopping, remember to keep your COVID safety plans in mind—and that means keeping your distance, wearing your mask, washing your hands, keeping your numbers small and keeping local,” she said. “Support local businesses who need our support, whether that’s shopping online and picking up, booking ahead or going at a time when it’s not so busy. Support the businesses in your community.” For a list of community exposure events, click here. For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King expressed some concerns Friday about whether or not his capital budget will pass — if it doesn't, it would be a vote of non-confidence in the government, which would trigger an election. King says he wants Opposition support to approve the budget, but said the tone of debate in the legislature right now suggests that might not happen."If we have a couple of members who are not in the house because they're sick or otherwise, it's very realistic that this budget may not pass because it doesn't seem to have any support from the Opposition," King told reporters. "That would be a tragedy — I hope that doesn't happen — but I think that Islanders want us to keep doing what we've been doing as a legislature to serve the interests of Islanders, nobody wants an election and I hope one isn't thrust upon us."Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker told reporters that's not something his caucus intends to have happen."Nobody wants an election at this time for a whole host of reasons," Bevan-Baker said. "We have no intention of bringing government down."Bevan-Baker said he wouldn't seize a moment when some PC members are absent to vote down the capital budget."We have no interest in doing that whatsoever," he said, adding he doesn't think an election is in the best interest of Islanders.Opposition feels 'blocked'However, Bevan-Baker said the tone of debate has changed — he said the Opposition has been frustrated that it has not been getting answers to its questions on the capital budget. "We weren't able to provide the sort of level of scrutiny that I have become used to," Bevan-Baker said. "It felt blocked, in the last week."Taxpayers' dollars, how we spend them, is of utmost importance," he said, adding government's capital budget does not provide enough detail on programs it has planned, nor has government been able to answer the Opposition's questions on projects on which they are spending tens of millions of dollars."I'm not going to pass that section of the budget until I know what I'm saying yes to," he said. King said his PC party is still trying to work as collaboratively as it did when they were in a minority position for the last year. He also said it is a "false narrative" to assume Speaker Colin LaVie will always vote with the government if he must break a tie."We're just doing our best to provide the answers. If we don't have them, we provide that information back as quickly as we can," King said. Debate on the capital budget is scheduled to continue in the legislature next week.More from CBC P.E.I.
The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, inking contracts with seven potential manufacturers and saying six million doses could arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021. The most recent development from Ottawa came Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national distribution effort. But various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here's a look at what they've said so far: —Nova ScotiaThe province's chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information. Dr. Robert Strang said Friday there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year.Strang said a detailed provincial plan, to be released once the federal government has shared more specifics on its end, will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization. He said he's waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics. —QuebecThe province will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1, say senior politicians. Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but did not release details. Legault said the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed by one of the most promising potential vaccine options, currently in development through pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon, and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province's vaccination effort. —OntarioPremier Doug Ford is among those leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials scramble to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy.Early speculation on the number of doses the province could receive was put to rest earlier this week when federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works. But Ford has forged ahead, naming former chief of national defence Gen. Rick Hillier to oversee the province's vaccine rollout. Hillier said on Friday he hopes to have a plan developed by year's end, while Ford urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said.—AlbertaThe province's top medical official has said she expects to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also said a number of hurdles and unknowns remain as the province works to devise its vaccination scheme. "These (vaccine) numbers, of course, depend on many factors,'' Hinshaw said on Nov. 18. "They depend on the final pieces of the trials that are underway going well. They depend on ensuring that the safety and the effectiveness of the early vaccines can be assured. All of those checks and balances must be cleared."On Friday, Hinshaw said the province is working with Ottawa to get vaccine, but it is "a bit of a moving target" on when vaccines might be available."But our goal is that whenever vaccine is available, we will be ready to start immunizing individuals on that highest priority list."—British ColumbiaProvincial health officials announced on Wednesday that a vaccine strategy for the province is already in the works. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's top doctor, said Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.Henry said front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing."It's very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best," Henry said. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to happen."Henry said the province hopes to have vaccines in hand by January.—YukonPremier Sandy Silver told the legislature on Wednesday that the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan. He said the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers.Silver said rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he said he's emphasized with federal authorities. The premier said he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine. “How confusing would it be for 13 different strategies right across the nation?” he said. Silver said the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Derek Mueller, a senior researcher at Carleton University, cut his scientific teeth studying mats of microbes on some of Canada's oldest, thickest and most remote sea ice. "They have some very interesting pigments in their cells to fend off harmful UV radiation," Mueller said in an interview. "It's kind of a tricky thing to do, physiologically. You never know. It could very well be that someday we discover something useful out of that life."That's one reason why he, along with colleagues and Inuit groups, are calling for stronger protections for Canada's northernmost waters as the so-called Last Ice Area rapidly lives up to its name. "It's so poorly understood," said Mueller, co-author of an article in the journal Science that urges the federal government to expand and make permanent the conservation of Tuvaijuittuq, 320,000 square kilometres of frozen ocean off the northern coast of Ellesmere Island.Tuvaijuittuq, which means "the place where ice never melts" in Inuktut, has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic. Because of how ice moves in ocean currents, Tuvaijuittuq is likely to be the last place it remains. The region is provisionally protected until 2024. But Mueller said the pace of Arctic warming argues for permanent status as a Marine Protected Area connected to Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere's north coast.Just last July, 40 per cent of the area's Milne Ice Shelf collapsed within two days -- 80 square kilometres of ice that had been stable for millennia now adrift. It happened so quickly an uninhabited research camp was lost."(The area's) under threat and we're hoping for conservation measures to mitigate that," Mueller said.The Qikiqtani Inuit Association is working with the federal and Nunavut governments to determine if Tuvaijuittuuq should be permanently protected and, if so, how. "QIA is leading an Inuit knowledge study which will really try to tackle what is current and historical Inuit use of the area," said Andrew Randall, the association's director of marine and wildlife stewardship. "(We're) looking at cultural sites, some of the impacts associated with climate change."Inuit want to understand what resources might lie in the area, Randall said. They also want to ensure Inuit play a role in managing and studying it, he added. "(Research) doesn't only mean bringing in more western scientists," he said.The Arctic sea ice ecosystem may seem desolate, but it's anything but, said Mueller. The ice supports a whole range of life important to humans and animals a long way away. As the rest of the circumpolar world shifts under climate change, ensuring that a piece of the frozen Arctic remains free of human disturbance is key to understanding both how things used to be and what they are becoming, said Mueller. Just this year, scientists discovered a whole ecosystem of shellfish, anemones, starfish and brittle stars living on shelves in pockets within the ice."What a wonderful surprise!" said Mueller. "We are now just beginning to understand this environment." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020. Bob Weber, The Canadian Press