Californians are voting in record numbers, with more than a third of the state's 22.3 million ballots already returned to county election offices one week before Election Day. (Oct. 27)
Californians are voting in record numbers, with more than a third of the state's 22.3 million ballots already returned to county election offices one week before Election Day. (Oct. 27)
Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
Four sections of sound walls next to busy Calgary roads will be tumbling down this month.Inspections found the concrete walls are in poor condition so they'll be removed by the city before they actually fail.What isn't known is how long it will take to replace them.The four sections are located at: * southeast corner of 14 Street and Southland Drive S.W. (70 metres). * east side of 14 Street S.W. between Glenmore Trail and 75 Avenue (255 metres). * Crowchild Trail S.W. between 22 Street and 22A Street (140 metres). * Crowchild Trail S.W. between 24 Street and Richmond Road (50 metres).An official with the city's roads department, Chris McGeachy, said the four sections will be taken down by the end of December.At each of those sections, the city is planning to install temporary chain link fences or post-and-cable fences to keep people away from the openings."Instead of just changing out a section, we actually replace the entire wall from endpoint to endpoint. As part of that, we need to allot capital budget to that and that's not one of our regular programs," said McGeachy.All of the walls, which date back to the 1980s or 1990s, are near the end of their life cycle.McGeachy said new walls are built differently and now come with the expectation they'll last 50 years.Councillor suggests tapping reservesDuring city council's budget deliberations in November, Coun. Jeromy Farkas suggested the city take $4 million from a reserve fund to pay for new walls.However, council voted to refer the matter to December's meeting of council's transportation and transit committee. Farkas said the delay could mean that citizens who live near the soon to be demolished walls will notice an increase in traffic noise."I'm pushing for an immediate like-for-like replacement," said Farkas."It doesn't make sense to demolish the sound walls, put up a chain link fence and then come back in a few weeks or months to take down the chain link fence and then put up a new wall."He's proposing the city temporarily shore up the walls or fence them off to keep people away from them until the money is found to built new barriers. Then the city could tear them down and replace them with new barriers."It's possible that certain citizens might actually have to be waiting for many months or potentially years if council doesn't make the decision to replace the sound walls," said Farkas.The city says sound measurements will be taken before the walls are removed."We do encourage if there are adjacent residents noticing big changes to contact 311 and let us know as soon as possible," said McGeachy.
THE LATEST: * Health officials announced 711 new cases Friday, as well as 11 more deaths. * There are now 9,050 active cases of COVID-19 across B.C. * 338 patients are in hospital, with 76 in intensive care. * 492 people in B.C. have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * There are two new health-care facility outbreaks.As British Columbians head into a weekend that would typically see the beginning of holiday parties, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging everyone to "stay small and stay local" to slow the spread of COVID-19."We can still be festive, we can still have fun, but let's ensure it is only with our immediate household," Henry said.On Friday, she announced 711 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths. There are 338 patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, 76 of whom are in intensive care.Two new health-care facility outbreaks were announced, one at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge in White Rock, the other at Richmond Hospital. The outbreak at Youville Residence is over.Snowboarder finedOn Friday, a snowboarder who broke Canada's quarantine rules early to try to go to Whistler, B.C., was fined $1,150 under the Quarantine Act , according to police.West Vancouver police said the man was caught driving north on the Sea-to-Sky Highway Monday. An officer on patrol noticed his Audi had California plates with expired tags. The officer called public health officials and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and confirmed the man still had two days left on his 14-day quarantine.Party hosts ticketedMeanwhile, five different Burnaby, B.C., party hosts were slapped with tickets for violating the COVID-19 Related Measures Act during the month of November, according to police, including one with 58 people in their apartment and another who was ticketed for a second time.And new data released Friday shows families with children and adults aged 18-29 reported being hardest hit by the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.While seniors aged 70 and older experienced the most severe health effects, younger adults and parents of young children reported the pandemic taking a higher economic, mental and emotional toll, according to the provincewide COVID-19 Survey on Population, Experience, Action and Knowledge conducted in the spring and funded by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health.Adults aged 18-29 were nearly twice as likely to be out of work due to the pandemic, with 27 per cent of respondents of this age group affected, compared to16 per cent for the province overall.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaAs of 3 p.m. on Friday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 401,859, with 70,008 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 12,485.Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, also warned Friday that daily new cases could top 10,000 by January. Alberta announced Friday its positivity rate for COVID-19 is now 10.5 per cent, which the province's chief medical health officer called a "grim milestone."Meanwhile, federal officials are making plans for how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.Eventually, there will be 205 "points of issue" locations across the country where health-care professionals can administer it.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years.Buried amidst the ongoing COVID confusion and controversy this week in Alberta came a bit of unusual news: the UCP government and NDP opposition agreed on something.It wasn't exactly a Kumbaya moment but the two battling political parties that have turned the legislature's daily question period into a form of trench warfare finally see eye-to-eye on an issue.They're both unhappy with the announcement on Monday from federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland involving much-anticipated changes to the fiscal stabilization program that provides money to provinces experiencing a significant drop in revenue year-over-year.Alberta, of course, has been experiencing chronic revenue drops year-over-year-over-year. Because of a series of bad years topped off by a COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta's revenue ride is less like a roller coaster and more like the Drop of Doom.The fiscal stabilization program wasn't designed for that kind of multi-billion-dollar collapse in revenues.In 2016, for example, the Alberta government under the NDP complained that it lost $6.5 billion in revenue because of low oil prices but only received $250 million from the stabilization program that was capped at $60 per provincial resident.After forming government in 2019, the United Conservative Party took up the fight and this year demanded $4 billion instead of the $266 million offered. Not only that, the UCP wanted the higher stabilization payments to be retroactive to 2015.On Monday, Freeland announced the cap is being hiked to $170 per capita, meaning the province is now entitled to receive $750 million this year. But the payments will not be retroactive."[I am] very disappointed that the caps weren't lifted entirely," said Finance Minister Travis Toews. "It really doesn't go far enough."For her part, NDP Leader Rachel Notley sounded like a clone of Toews: "I would continue to advocate for the removal of the cap and I would also suggest that this should be retroactive to when Alberta deserved a fair fiscal stabilization formula in the first place."But the fight to remove the cap completely has gone from difficult to impossible because of the pandemic.WATCH | Alberta politicians unhappy with federal stabilization changesThis year, every province will probably be applying for aid under the stabilization program. Ottawa, already neck-deep in pandemic debt, would be swamped with billions of new claims under a sky's-the-limit fiscal stabilization program.And, besides, premiers who had been supporting Jason Kenney's call for a capless program will likely be happy enough to receive almost triple the amount of money than was available under the old formula.Change of heartBut Kenney's disappointment with Ottawa on Monday shifted to satisfaction on Wednesday.He performed such a sudden change in direction he might need a neck brace for whiplash. But that's the kind loopy politics you get during a pandemic.On Monday, the issue was money.On Wednesday, it was a COVID-19 vaccine."We've been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year," said Kenney, putting the kind of faith in the federal government apparently not shared by federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.Setting a firm timeline for a vaccine rollout is not particularly risky for Kenney. If the plan works, great. Albertans might be happy enough that Kenney sees his approval ratings start to rise after a year of steady decline. If the vaccines don't arrive on time, Kenney can blame Ottawa yet again for Alberta's problems.Of course, a third scenario is Ottawa delivers the vaccine as promised but Alberta has trouble with the logistics of getting Albertans vaccinated.To that end, Kenney has called in the military — sort of. He has appointed Paul Wynnyk, the deputy minister of municipal affairs and a former general in the Canadian Forces, to lead the province's vaccine task force.In the meantime, as Alberta continues to lead the country in COVID cases, playing in the background is a plan to call on the federal government and Red Cross to set up emergency hospitals should the virus overwhelm our health-care system.Kenney is still trying to spin a positive tale out of the distressing pandemic reality, still trusting that Albertans will take personal responsibility to flatten the curve, still insisting there is "light at the end of the tunnel."But that light might just be a Red Cross truck coming with a field hospital to house Alberta's ever growing number of pandemic patients.
CBC Toronto's wonderful audience has already donated more than $418,000 to support those facing food insecurity Friday, as our annual fundraiser Sounds of the Season gets underway.The big jump comes from a generous donation from several major banks headquartered in the city, as well as a donation-matching offer from the Toronto Foundation. There are also a number of challenges worth bidding on, including a chance to win a script from Kim's Convenience. It's different this year due to COVID-19, no doubt, but Metro Morning got the day started by playing some classic holiday tunes and there will be more special programming throughout the day.For more on Sounds of the Season or to donate, click here.
Ontario’s justice system will continue to push forward and modernize beyond the rapid transformations forced by the pandemic, Attorney General Doug Downey told the Empire Club of Canada on Thursday. During the lunchtime virtual meeting, Downey talked about some of the advancements made in the province's justice system since emergency measures were enforced in March to ensure it could operate safely. “It wasn’t long before capacity was expanded to conduct 100 per cent of proceedings involving a person in custody” and advancing to remote hearings, said Downey, who is also the local MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “Behind the scenes, we were making targeted investments to update technology in a sector where fax machines were still an acceptable way of doing business.” The initiatives included remote court access, the new use of digital signatures and service by email, all of which are now becoming permanent staples of the system. As a result, he said, the system has become stronger by becoming more accessible and more resilient. “We really did rely on fax machines, millions of pages of paper, and technology that was just slightly better than Morse code to share information,” he said, adding that just two days ago the word 'telegram' was replaced by 'email' in a civil rule. Within months, the old paper-based system has been modernized to allow for online filing of more than 450 different documents. As a result, 95 per cent of civil proceedings are filed online and more than 70 per cent of family matters. Information about court cases are now available online, meaning people don’t have to line up at the courthouse to gain access. And a platform to power online and in-person hearings was also adopted. Last June, the changes allowed 20,000 people to log into an online Superior Court hearing to witness a judge deliver a sentence in a high-profile case. In September, the Superior Court reported 50,000 hearings had been conducted virtually. The lesson, Downey said, was to not just address yesterday’s issues, but to look at solutions for tomorrow’s sustainability and resilience and to not be afraid of change. He also suggested adopting a design for a courthouse implementing some of the customer service elements available in an airport. Or creating an app that allows the user to schedule a court appearance from a cellphone. “The pandemic showed us, in stark terms, how far behind Ontario’s justice system had fallen,” he said. “Now we know better, and we’ll do better. In this new approach, justice accelerated means justice delivered.” During a question period, he pointed to Ontario’s tribunals, which were largely shut down after the COVID-19 crisis and prevented normal interaction. Downey said he’s struck a deal with British Columbia’s attorney general to adopt its four-year-old online tribunal system for $1, provided Ontario takes care of the updates.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
OTTAWA — The national unemployment rate was 8.5 per cent in November. Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities. It cautions, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. Here are the jobless rates last month by city (numbers from the previous month in brackets):— St. John's, N.L. 9.3 per cent (8.8)— Halifax 6.6 per cent (7.7)— Moncton, N.B. 8.9 per cent (8.3)— Saint John, N.B. 10.2 per cent (10.0)— Saguenay, Que. 5.2 per cent (5.0)— Quebec City 4.3 per cent (4.5)— Sherbrooke, Que. 6.4 per cent (7.0)— Trois-Rivieres, Que. 5.7 per cent (6.0)— Montreal 8.5 per cent (9.6)— Gatineau, Que. 7.2 per cent (7.9)— Ottawa 7.1 per cent (8.2)— Kingston, Ont. 7.2 per cent (8.5)— Peterborough, Ont. 11.9 per cent (11.7)— Oshawa, Ont. 7.9 per cent (8.3)— Toronto 10.7 per cent (11.5)— Hamilton, Ont. 8.0 per cent (9.2)— St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 7.2 per cent (7.5)— Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 9.1 per cent (10.8)— Brantford, Ont. 6.6 per cent (7.2)— Guelph, Ont. 7.0 per cent (8.3)— London, Ont. 8.4 per cent (8.9)— Windsor, Ont. 10.6 per cent (10.8)— Barrie, Ont. 10.6 per cent (9.2)— Greater Sudbury, Ont. 7.6 per cent (7.9)— Thunder Bay, Ont. 7.5 per cent (7.6)— Winnipeg 8.1 per cent (8.7)— Regina 5.4 per cent (6.1)— Saskatoon 7.8 per cent (8.1)— Calgary 10.7 per cent (11.3)— Edmonton 11.3 per cent (12.0)— Kelowna, B.C. 4.7 per cent (6.2)— Abbotsford-Mission, B.C. 8.1 per cent (8.6)— Vancouver 8.1 per cent (9.7)— Victoria 6.3 per cent (7.6)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 and was generated automatically.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the country's merchandise trade deficit held steady at $3.8 billion in October as both exports and imports climbed higher.The agency says the deficit was about the same as its revised reading for September which as also showed a deficit of $3.8 billion compared with its initial report of a $3.3-billion deficit.Economists had expected a deficit of $3.0 billion for October, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Statistics Canada says exports rose 2.2 per cent to $46.5 billion in October, but remained $1.7 billion down from the level posted in February before COVID-19 pandemic began.The increase came as exports of energy products rose 7.8 per cent, led by higher exports of crude oil and natural gas.Meanwhile, imports climbed 1.9 per cent to $50.2 billion to top their February level for the first time as imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts led the way higher.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
SANTÉ. Par une triste coïncidence, c’est au moment où l’on apprenait un autre cas de maltraitance d’enfants à Granby où la DPJ s’est fait pointer du doigt pour son inaction que le CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS a présenté son Rapport annuel de gestion 2019-2020. Bien que l’on y mentionne «les services de protection de l’enfance, une priorité absolue», Marie-France Thibeault, chef de service relations publiques et partenariats au Service des communications n’a pas cru bon acheminer les questions du GranbyExpress au président-directeur général, Stéphane Tremblay. «En lien avec la fillette de Granby et le cas révélé aujourd’hui (26 novembre), est-ce que des sanctions ont été imposées à des employés sous la responsabilité du CIUSSS de l’Estrie? Si oui, lesquelles? Si non, pourquoi?» Bien que l’on ait sollicité ses questions tant par courriel que lors du Facebook Live du 26 novembre dernier, l’organisation n’a pas répondu à nos demandes. «La séance d’information annuelle du conseil d’administration de ce soir n’est pas un point de presse. Nous pouvons parler des services jeunesse en général ou du plan d’action à venir, mais nous ne commenterons pas une situation particulière. Merci», a fait savoir Marie-France Thibeault, chef de service relations publiques et partenariats au Service des communications du CIUSSS de l’Estrie. Rappelons que le 13 novembre dernier, une mère de famille de Granby a été condamnée à une incarcération de huit ans pour des sévices effroyables qu’elle a fait subir à son fils de 17 ans. «À l’instar de deux pédiatres qui ont pris soin de X, le Tribunal considère que le présent dossier demeure un des pires cas de maltraitance à lui avoir été soumis», indique le juge de la Cour du Québec Conrad Chapdelaine dans son jugement. «S’acharner de cette façon sur un enfant blessé, défiguré, sans défense, devant se déplacer à quatre pattes pour se mouvoir ou s’occuper de ses deux jeunes frères, isolé socialement, sans aucun filet de protection, comme l’école par exemple, dépendant à tous points de vue de son seul parent, l’accusée, constitue un comportement d’une cruauté extrême», ajoute-t-il. Dans son jugement, Conrad Chapdelaine a également dénoncé la DPJ de l’Estrie. En effet, une dizaine de signalements concernant cette famille n’ont pas mené au retrait de l’enfant qui avait de nombreuses plaies, des os brisés et une maigreur effroyable qui s’apparentait aux victimes des camps de concentration selon Francis Livernoche, un des pédiatres qui l’a traité, a rapporté le journal La Presse. C’est l’appel aux policiers d’un huissier, Louis Martin, qui a découvert son état lamentable le 14 février 2019 lors de l’exécution d’une ordonnance d’éviction de la Régie du logement qui a mené à l’arrestation de la mère. Cet autre cas de maltraitance à Granby a trouvé écho en ouverture de la conférence de presse du premier ministre du Québec du 26 novembre. François Legault a qualifié la situation de «terrible» et «gênante». Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Fort McMurray's tutors have been busy throughout the pandemic, with many saying they've seen their enrolment double. Phanisree Timmaraju, director of Brite Academy, said she had to hire two additional tutors to keep up with the demand. "Even now, every day we do get new inquiries," said Timmaraju. She said many are looking for help with math and English. In a typical year Timmaraju gets most of the inquiries in September and early December, but this year she has had people reaching out for tutoring almost every day. "They used to know whether they need tutoring or not at the beginning of the term," said Timmaraju. She said some of the new students that have come in are around a year behind in their studies. "It's a very significant impact on the children," said Timmaraju. "It's mostly the motivation to study. It's very hard to maintain that." Many parents have recently asked Timmaraju about getting their children in tutoring, but she's booked-up. More students would fit into the online tutoring program, but Timmaraju said parents are mostly looking for in-person learning. Tammy McAnaul started tutoring six years ago. She said parents aren't just asking for tutoring, they're also asking for help teaching their children. "I've also seen an increase in my need at home to help my own daughter who's in Grade 7," said McAnaul. Sometimes the solution is simple, like encouraging her daughter to reach out and ask her teacher more questions. McAnaul says she hasn't noticed a large gap in her students' reading, but said there is a noticeable difference in math. "There's stuff that my grade nines and tens are learning this year that they didn't get to before the pandemic," said McAnaul. She added that there have always been families that would like to get tutoring for their children, but can't afford it. "It's definitely worse since the pandemic," said McAnaul. "There's no funding or coverage or anything for that." McAnaul isn't the only one who has noticed families that can't afford tutoring during the pandemic. Ijeoma Uchea-Ezeala is the director the is the director for the Kumon Math and Reading Centre in Fort McMurray. She says she tries to help families who can't afford tutoring. "People are being laid off, hours are reduced," said Uchea-Ezeala. "Some parents are able to afford it. Some parents are not." Uchea-Ezeala said she would like to see grants from the province to help fund tutors. "This year we had over 90 per cent of parents asking, 'Why is the government not giving funding for things like this?'" Nicole Sparrow with the province's education ministry told CBC News in an email that education funding needs to go to the classroom. "The funding model directs as many dollars as possible to where it has the biggest impact for students, in the classroom — whether in-person or virtual," she said. "We know it's best to maximize taxpayer dollars to school authorities in order to meet the needs of students, as they are accountable for learning outcomes."
NEW DELHI — A chilly breeze whirls through New Delhi in the mornings and the sun is partly obscured by toxic haze, a marker of another winter in the Indian capital. But along the city's borders, this year is visibly and viscerally different.The perpetually busy arterial highways that connect most northern Indian towns to this city of 29 million people now pulse to the cries of “Inquilab Zindabad” — “Long live the revolution.” Tens and thousands of farmers with distinctive, colorful turbans and long, flowing beards have descended upon the city's borders, choking highways in giant demonstrations against new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation.For more than a week, they’ve marched toward the capital on their tractors and trucks like an army, pushing aside concrete police barricades while braving tear gas, batons and water cannons. Now, on the outskirts of New Delhi, they are hunkered down with food and fuel supplies that can last weeks and threatening to besiege the capital if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government doesn't meet their demands to abolish the laws.“Modi wants to sell our lands to corporates,” said one of them, Kaljeet Singh, 31, who travelled from Ludhiana city in Punjab, some 310 kilometres (190 miles) north of New Delhi. “He can’t decide for millions of those who for generations have given their blood and sweat to the land they regard as more precious than their lives.”At night, the farmers sleep in trailers and under trucks, curling themselves in blankets to brave the winter chill. During the day, they sit huddled in groups in their vehicles, surrounded by mounds of rice, lentils and vegetables that are prepared into meals at hundreds of makeshift soup kitchens, in enormous pots stirred with wooden spoons the size of canoe paddles.Anmol Singh, 33, who supports his family of six by farming, said the new laws were part of a larger plan to hand over the farmers' land to big corporations and make them landless.“Modi wants the poor farmer to die of hunger so that he can fill the stomachs of his rich friends,” he said. “We are here to fight his brutal decrees peacefully.”He paused, then reconsidered: “Actually, let him and his ministers take us on. We will give them a bloody nose.”Many of the protesting farmers hail from northern Punjab and Haryana, two of the largest agricultural states in India. An overwhelming majority of them are Sikhs. They fear the laws passed in September will lead the government to stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and result in exploitation by corporations who will push down prices. Many activists and farming experts support their demand for a minimum guaranteed price for their crops.The new rules will also eliminate agents who act as middlemen between the farmers and the government-regulated wholesale markets. Farmers say agents are a vital cog of the farm economy and their main line of credit, providing quick funds for fuel, fertilizers and even loans in case of family emergencies.The laws have compounded existing resentment from farmers, who often complain of being ignored by the government in their push for better crop prices, additional loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water during dry spells.The government has argued the laws bring about necessary reform that will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment. But farmers say they were never consulted.With nearly 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing farmer rebellion has rattled Modi’s administration and allies. His leaders have scrambled to contain the protests, which are fast resembling last year’s scenes when a contentious new citizenship law that discriminated against Muslims led to demonstrations that culminated in violence.Those demonstrations were much bigger in scale, but the farmers' rumblings are growing fast and gaining widespread support of ordinary citizens who have started joining them in large numbers.Modi and his allies have tried to allay farmers’ fears about the new laws while dismissing their concerns. Some of his party leaders have called the farmers “misguided” and “anti-national,” a label often given to those who criticize Modi or his policies.The government is holding talks with the farmers to persuade them to end their protests, but they have dug in their heels.On Friday, a group of 35 leaders of the farmers called for a nationwide shutdown on Tuesday and said the protests would continue until the laws are revoked.Farmer Kulwant Singh, 72, said that when he left his home in Haryana for the protests, he gave his wife a garland of flowers for two possible scenarios.“Either I return victorious and she places it around my neck in celebration, or I die here revolting and the same garland is put on my body when it reaches home,” Singh said.Such passions run deep among the protesters who have found social, economic and generational barriers tumbling during the demonstrations.Singh isn't the only one from his family who travelled to New Delhi for what he called “Qilah Fatehi," an Urdu term that translates to “laying a siege.” His son and grandson also accompanied him.“It's a fight for my generation too,” said Amrinder Singh, 16.As demonstrations grow, the protesters have also started to drive a political message home.Not satisfied with Modi's federal policies, many of which have attracted widescale resentment from his critics and minorities, protesting farmers say it's time he stops what they call his “dictatorial behaviour.”“India is in a recession. There are hardly any jobs and our country's secular fabric is in tatters,” said Gurpreet Singh, 26, a biotechnology student who comes from a farming family. “At a time when India needs a healing touch, Modi is coming up with divisive, controversial laws. This is unacceptable and defies our constitutional values.”Modi's second term in power since May 2019 has been marked by several convulsions. The economy has tanked, social strife widened, protests have erupted against discriminatory laws and his government has been questioned over its response to the pandemic.The farmer protests present a new challenge for the government.The protesters' desire to stand up to Modi and his policies extends to a sexagenarian farmer couple who drove 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Chandigarh city in a hatchback Sunday to participate in the demonstrations.Dharam Singh Sandhu, 67, and Vimaljeet Kaur, 66, are spending nights in their car parked near the protest site. In the morning, they share breakfast at a makeshift soup kitchen. The latter part of the day is spent taking part in the demonstrations.“Our land is our mother. If we can’t protect it then we have no right to live," Sandhu said about the protests.His wife spoke passionately of a larger purpose as she made her way to the protest site through a stream of vehicles honking incessantly to get past congested traffic.“Our country is like a bunch of flowers, but Modi wants it to be of the same colour. He has no right to do that. I am here to protest against that mindset," Kaur said.As Kaur walked hand in hand with her husband, a great cry emerged from one of the vehicles: “Inquilab Zindabad.”The crowd turned and followed their gaze toward a young man with a black beard who held up his fist through the car's window.The protesters, including Kaur, roared back: “Inquilab Zindabad!"Sheikh Saaliq, The Associated Press
Residents of a normally quiet Halifax street say they've had enough.For several months, an excavator has been jackhammering at rocks to clear the way for a new house to be built on Armshore Drive near the Armdale Roundabout."The noise started around the end of May and we were told in the beginning that it was only going to be about three weeks," said Adriana Dolnyckyj, whose home is about 15 metres from the work site."It's been going on for about 10 hours a day. It's just been going on and on and on and there seems like there is no end in sight."Like many people on the street, Dolnyckyj is working from home during the pandemic."It's constant pneumatic jackhammering with an excavator and it's not just the noise that irritates you but it's also the constant vibrations through our house."Adrienne Power's house sits next to the site.She's had rocks fly up against her house and land on her deck.After a recent visit from a provincial labour inspector, the contractors at the site built a fence between the properties and attached it to her house."The fence was put in about a week and a half ago," said Power, who bought her house this summer. "There was some communication on the fence but definitely not about attaching it to the side of my house."Power said she's had enough of the constant noise right outside her door.Halifax police were called on Remembrance Day when a subcontractor began jackhammering shortly after 7 a.m., two hours earlier than when they were allowed to start that day.Viking Ventures, the company that will eventually build a house on the property, say its subcontractors have abided by HRM noise bylaws except for that one day.Mike MacArthur, owner of Viking Ventures, says the amount of rock at the site was unexpected.Power and Dolnyckyj were surprised to find the company didn't need any permits to begin working on the site."We were told it's considered landscaping," said Power. "Everything that is being done here does not require any kind of building permit."Power said she has called the municipality several times to complain but the jackhammering drags on.The HRM councillor for the area has also heard the residents complaints."Until they actually start pouring their footings and foundation they don't need any permit," said Shawn Cleary, who represents Halifax West Armdale. "Site prep is considered landscaping and this is a gap in the construction and noise bylaws because really this kind of thing shouldn't be going on for as long as it has."Cleary said he plans to propose changes so residents won't have to deal with long-term noise while a home site is being prepared.Part of the problem is the excavator at the site isn't big enough to deal with the thick rock in a timely fashion.Armshore Drive is a short, dead-end street connected to Herring Cove Road by a small bridge over a brook. Bigger machines can not pass over the bridge."We just want to make sure that somebody is paying attention," said Dolnyckyj. "We understand there are extenuating circumstances and nobody could have predicted something like this but it's happening and we want to know what we can do about it so it doesn't happen to somebody else."Patience is running thin for the residents who live near the work site.The home builder said the end of the jackhammering is in sight but couldn't say when it will end.MORE TOP STORIES
Canada's economy added 62,000 jobs last month, which is better than economists had been expecting, but it's also the lowest total since the labour market recovery from COVID-19 began in May.Statistics Canada reported Friday that the jobless rate ticked down four basis points to 8.5 per cent. That's down from a peak of 13.7 per cent in May, but still well above the 5.6 per cent rate seen in February, before the pandemic.Canada lost more than a million jobs in March and another two million in April, before the job market started to recover in May. According to Statscan, more than 19.1 million Canadians aged 15 or over had some sort of job in February. Last month, that figure stood at just over 18.6 million.There are currently 1.7 million people in Canada officially categorized as unemployed, which means they would like to work but can't find any. Roughly one quarter of them — 443,000 people — have been out of work for more than half a year.Manitoba lost 18,000 jobs last month, while Ontario added 36,000 and Quebec 15,000. British Columbia added 23,000 and the Atlantic provinces added a total of 17,000.Mostly full timeWhile the overall rate of job gains is undeniably slowing, economist Royce Mendes with CIBC did see some reason for optimism in the numbers, specifically the fact that most of the new jobs were full time, which boosted the total number of hours worked by 1.2 per cent — faster than the increase seen a month earlier.But with cases spiking across Canada and more regions locking down more parts of the economy, he thinks the streak of job gains will come to an end this month. "It's likely that COVID will catch up with the Canadian economy in the December data, with a decline expected in both employment and overall economic activity," Mendes said.Leah Nord with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the job slowdown shows that the government needs to do a better jobs of testing for COVID-19 and tracing contacts, and making much broader use of rapid testing to ensure businesses stay open for the long Canadian winter ahead."The short-lived partial rebound in jobs is turning an unfortunate corner heading into a potentially protracted second wave," she said. "As we look forward, we believe there is increasing risk for a steady decline in employment over the coming months as governments and health authorities grapple with transmission mitigation."
Area grandmothers are tying orange ribbons on fixtures in downtown Brighton to raise awareness about gender-based violence. Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) Northumberland is leading the orange campaign locally. Orange has been chosen by the United Nations as the colour to represent the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world by 2030. “To this end, our group (decorates) downtown Brighton with orange bows and cards, as well as mans a display at the Brighton Public Library to promote increased awareness of the impact of violence against women and girls,” GRAN Northumberland’s Betty Ann Knutson told the Brighton Independent. Sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign that occurs annually. The campaign runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, commencing on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and winding down on Human Rights Day. “We now have lots of orange bows on Main Street, at King Edward Park, at the municipal building/library and even at Tim Hortons,” added GRAN Sharon Graham. GRAN is described as a dynamic network of volunteers across Canada advocating at local, national and international levels. The group strives to garner Canadian and international support for measures that will significantly improve the quality of life for Africa's grandmothers as they strive to hold their families and communities together in the face of the AIDS pandemic. “Our current efforts focus on ensuring access to affordable medicines, improving access to education, ending violence against women and girls and (granting) the right to economic security and social protection,” Graham noted. GRAN Northumberland welcomes women from across the county to join in on its advocacy work. Call Graham at 613-475-2094 or e-mail email@example.com and/or visit www.grandmothersadvocacy.org for more information. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, said a cry from a patient prompted a spontaneous hug in a difficult moment. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has returned to work after recovering from COVID-19, his office said. Young's staff said the veteran Republican lawmaker was back at work in his congressional office in Washington, D.C., The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday. The 87-year-old announced Nov. 12 he had tested positive for the coronavirus. In March, Young referred to the coronavirus as the “beer virus” before an audience that included older Alaskans and said the media had contributed to hysteria over COVID-19. His campaign manager told the Anchorage Daily News at the time that the virus’ impact is real and that Young was trying to urge calm. After contracting the virus, Young said he had not grasped the severity of the illness. “Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” Young said following his release from an Anchorage hospital Nov. 16. Young is now “preparing to fight harder than ever” for Alaskans, spokesman Zack Brown said. Voters last month reelected Young, Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, to serve his 25th term in office. Young has held his seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That's made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans. The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a “patriotic duty" and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce. Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. “On the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction” in the virus, Biden said. The president-elect reiterated his call for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a coronavirus aid bill and expressed support for a $900 billion compromise bill that a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced this week. “That would be a good start. It's not enough,” he said, adding, “I'm going to need to ask for more help.” Biden has said his transition team is working on its own coronavirus relief package, and his aides have signalled they plan for that to be their first legislative push. The president-elect also said he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration, “in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents,” as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert. He said he's asked Fauci to be a “chief medical adviser” as well as part of his COVID-19 advisory team. Fauci told NBC's “Today” show on Friday, “I said yes right on the spot.” Regarding a coronavirus vaccine, Biden offered begrudging credit for the work Trump's administration has done in expediting the development of a vaccine but said that planning the distribution properly will be “critically important.” “It’s a really difficult but doable project, but it has to be well planned, " he said. Part of the challenge the Biden administration will face in distributing the vaccine will be instilling public confidence in it. Biden said he'd be “happy” to get inoculated in public to assuage any concerns about its efficacy and safety. Three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — have said they'd also get vaccinated publicly to show that it's safe. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work,” Biden said, adding that “it matters what a president and the vice-president do.” In the same interview, Biden also weighed in on reports that Trump is considering pardons of himself and his allies. “It concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice," Biden said. Biden committed that his Justice Department will “operate independently” and that whoever he chooses to lead the department will have the “independent capacity to decide who gets investigated.” “You're not going to see in our administration that kind of approach to pardons, nor are you going to see in our administration the approach to making policy by tweets," he said. In addition to considering preemptive pardons, Trump has spent much of his time post-election trying to raise questions about an election he lost by millions of votes while his lawyers pursue baseless lawsuits alleging voter fraud in multiple states. Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, have largely given the president cover, with many defending the lawsuits and few publicly congratulating Biden on his win. But Biden said Thursday that he’s received private calls of congratulations from “more than several sitting Republican senators" and that he has confidence in his ability to cut bipartisan deals with Republicans despite the rancour that’s characterized the last four years on Capitol Hill. Trump aides have expressed skepticism that the president, who continues to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud, would attend Biden’s inauguration. Biden said Thursday night that he believes it's “important” that Trump attend, largely to demonstrate the nation’s commitment to peaceful transfer of power between political rivals. “It is totally his decision," Biden said of Trump, adding, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.” Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
WELLINGTON COUNTY – A newly-announced mobile addictions services van in Wellington County aims to bridge healthcare gaps in rural areas of the county. Stonehenge Therapeutic Community recently got $900,000 in funding from Ontario Health to enhance their addiction services. Kristen Kerr, executive director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, said about a third of this is going toward a project to serve the needs of rural Wellington County residents who face substance use issues. They are expanding their Rapid Access Addiction Clinics (RAAC), where there is only one in Wellington County, with a mobile van that can address issues with transportation, a common gap in health services in the county. “These clinics offer specialized medical addiction services and that can be hard to access when you live in a rural community,” Kerr said. “Sometimes it can be quite a long geographic distance to get to a clinic that is stationary. We have four existing clinics but most of them are far from Harriston for example.” Kerr said another issue in rural areas when accessing addiction services relates to anonymity. The thought is In a smaller community, people who are using such services can be more easily identified by other residents. The van itself will act as a mobile medical clinic that is staffed with a nurse practitioner. “It will be able to go to more central or accessible locations so that folks from the rural areas can more easily access the clinic,” Kerr said. The nurse practitioner can provide medicine services, addictions counselling and referrals. Kerr said they are working out the fine details with their rural healthcare partners such as precisely where the van will go in the county and therefore couldn’t say exactly where it will be making stops. Some of the funding is also going toward enhancing supportive housing they have in Guelph for those who face substance-use issues and have some level of involvement in the justice system. Kerr said the van concept was created from feedback about barriers clients face in rural areas and they will continue to listen and learn how they can improve. “I think listening to those who need to access service and listening to the voice of people with lived experience is key to knowing what more we need to do,” Kerr said. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president says he would get vaccinated against the coronavirus to set an example for his country's citizens.“There is no problem for me to get vaccinated,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after Friday prayers in Istanbul. “It is necessary to take this step as an example for our citizens.”The Turkish government plans to buy multiple vaccines, Erdogan said.Turkey has ordered 50 million doses of Chinese company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, and the first shipment is due to arrive Dec. 11. The government also is talking with Russia about securing the vaccine developed there.Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told the official Anadolu news agency that he would work to convince people to get immunized by getting the Chinese shot himself as soon as Turkish authorities approve its use.Turkey also has ordered 1 million doses of the vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German company BioNTech. Erdogan said he spoke with BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin, who is of Turkish descent.Turkey is experiencing a surge in infections with confirmed cases hovering above 30,000 per day on a 7-day average. The country's death toll since March has reached 14,316. A weekend lockdown, the first since the end of May, is set to begin Friday evening.The Associated Press
When Stéphanie Chouinard and her husband, Sean, were looking to buy their first home in Toronto this year, they discussed how kids would fit into the picture — searching for a home near a French school, but also one that offered enough space. The couple had been living in a one-bedroom rental, and despite saving, recognized that some areas were out of reach. Their search narrowed in on East York, but even there, Chouinard said any “livable” houses or townhouses they saw were north of $800,000. So a federal program offering help to first-time home buyers, which capped purchase prices at around $505,000, wasn’t an option. “When we saw that program, we knew right away that this wasn’t going to be helping us at all,” said Chouinard. While their combined income was enough for a family-sized home — and high enough to also render them ineligible for the incentive — Chouinard believes the federal rules may have excluded other young families who were looking to have children in their first homes. “If you have a family or are planning to have a family in the near future, that program will very likely not be of much use to you,” she said. And though a federal economic update this week outlined changes to the program to come for Toronto in the spring, Chouinard believes families looking for something beyond a modest apartment will still be “very, very limited.” The federal program offers a shared-equity mortgage through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to reduce the amount that first-time buyers need to save for a down payment and lower monthly mortgage costs. Ottawa pays either five or 10 per cent of the price, and homeowners later pay back that same percentage of the home’s updated value. In its first year, fewer than 10,000 mortgages across Canada were approved through the program — despite a three-year goal of helping 100,000 families. Alberta and Quebec have seen the most uptake: from Feb. 1 to Sept. 1 this year, there were 712 mortgages approved and accepted in Edmonton, 378 in Calgary, and 55 in Airdrie, Alta., but just one in Vancouver, six in Victoria and 16 in Toronto. From Sept. 1, 2019 to Feb. 1, there were more than 4.5 times as many approved and accepted mortgages in Calgary than there were across the Greater Toronto Area. Montreal saw nearly seven times as many approved and accepted mortgages as the GTA in that time. The government has recognized since at least the last election that changes were likely needed for Canada’s hottest markets, and said this week they were coming in spring. Households earning up to $150,000 instead of $120,000 will soon qualify in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, and their purchases can total 4.5 times their income, instead of only four times. “It’s not going to get you a three-bedroom downtown or anything, but it’s more aligned with the Toronto housing market,” said Heather Tremain, CEO of the non-profit developer Options for Homes. She sees the changes as positive, but she urged Ottawa to dig deeper into why some may have resisted using it in its first year, including the fact it effectively requires the buyer to pay mortgage insurance, by keeping down payments below 20 per cent. Tremain believes some first-time buyers may have balked at that extra monthly cost, and pursued other options to try to reach that 20 per cent mark instead. She said she’d also heard concerns from lenders about the government sharing any home value appreciation. Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, echoed those concerns and added that some buyers may also struggle with the very idea of co-owning their homes. Though he believes the changes coming in the spring are a “net positive,” he also questioned whether the incentive would be as successful as the feds had projected. When asked by the Star about the first-year numbers for the program and several of the concerns in this story, a federal department of finance official reiterated in an email the rule changes planned for spring 2021. They would “make homeownership more affordable,” they wrote. Both Tremain and Ken Bowman of Meridian Credit Union backed the incremental approach that Ottawa seemed to be taking. “I don’t think frenetic change on something as important as a housing strategy is particularly inspiring,” Bowman said. Both speculated that the pandemic may have hindered uptake in 2020. But UBC professor Paul Kershaw, founder of the research and advocacy group Generation Squeeze, believes a fundamental shift is needed to address the challenges that first-time buyers face in big cities. While he believes the strategy is “well thought-out,” he urged more attention to the root causes of unaffordability. He pointed to a Generation Squeeze report last year, which found that it took a typical 25- to 34-year-old in the GTA 21 years to save up a 20 per cent payment for an average-priced home. If first-time buyers were getting older in the city, Kershaw said others may find themselves in the same situation as Chouinard. “They need to have enough space in that home so that they’re not using closets as a nursery,” he said. Diana Petramala, a senior economist with Ryerson University, said even with the updated rules, new buyers looking near downtown Toronto would be limited mostly to one-bedroom units, or older two-bedrooms. Buying a townhouse might be more possible, she said, in the outskirts — areas like Durham or Simcoe. While Chouinard and her husband were ultimately able to purchase a first home with three bedrooms within the city, it took a combined household income well above the cutoff for federal help and renting into their 30s to do so. Chouinard said a friend of hers recently left the city after nearly a decade, feeling it just wasn’t affordable; she suspects others are in the same boat. “It does eat away at the attractiveness of Toronto as a city for young professionals,” she said. Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star