Infectious diseases expert Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti joins The Morning Show with the latest coronavirus updates and changes Canada needs to make to handle growing case numbers of COVID-19.
Infectious diseases expert Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti joins The Morning Show with the latest coronavirus updates and changes Canada needs to make to handle growing case numbers of COVID-19.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The man who drove a van down a sidewalk and killed 10 people in Toronto struggled to understand others throughout his entire life despite his high intelligence, court heard Monday. Alek Minassian, from Richmond Hill, Ont., was terrified of girls and women, had deep esoteric obsessions and had a "striking absence" of empathy, said Dr. Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist who specializes in autism. Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. The defence argues he is not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder. Westphal, a professor at Yale University in the U.S. who is testifying for the defence, is expected to be the only expert to say that Minassian should be found not criminally responsible because of his autism. "He's got a very substantial impairment in interpersonal skills that translates into very limited social circles and no romantic relationships in his history," Westphal said. Westphal said Minassian scored in the 92nd percentile in the verbal portion of an IQ test, but that his overall "adaptive skills," on a different test, is similar to that of a young child. "The disconnect between his intellectual ability and his ability to apply it to real life is stark," Westphal said. The psychiatrist testified based on interviews with the accused, his family and old medical records. He said Minassian has trouble interacting with the world. "If you sit down with Mr. Minassian, you get a sense of someone who has a lot of words and is highly articulate, but in a sense it is quite easy to get distracted by that veneer and lose sight how disabled he is," Westphal said. Minassian was diagnosed at five years old with pervasive developmental disorder, which is now considered part of autism spectrum disorder. His parents noticed he never made eye contact and often played alone. He'd eventually learn to make eye contact after being taught, and he also did not smile much, Westphal said. "He didn't smile socially, it was just not part of his facial repertoire." Minassian also became obsessed with Mr. Bean, a popular British sitcom, Westphal said, and imitated the character's way of speaking. He said it may have been Mr. Bean's "hyperemotivity," or exaggerated facial expressions, that attracted Minassian. Minassian never showed aggression to others, just himself, prior to perpetrating the attack, Westphal testified. He said Minassian's only known aggression in life was as a young child when he would thrash his head against the wall. Throughout high school and into early adulthood, Minassian, now 28, told Westphal he was scared of women and girls. One of Minassian's stated motivations for the attack is retribution against society for years of rejection by women. He has told psychiatrists as well as the police that he became entangled with the so-called "incel movement" online where men discuss their hatred of women. Incels believe they are on the lowest rung of society and large-scale attacks would destabilize society, which would then give incels the chance to come out on top. Westphal testified that when Minassian saw girls in school, he would jump back, saying, "Don't hurt me, don't hurt me." He was so uncomfortable around women that he could not give his order at a restaurant if the wait staff was female, Westphal said. Minassian has never had a relationship with a woman, Westphal testified. "The closest he got to any romantic relationship was a girl who he got her phone number from and when he texted her, she didn't text him back," Westphal said. Another psychiatrist previously testified that Minassian did not show any anger toward women and, at one point, recanted his hatred towards women as his motivation. Minassian has also said he was motivated by the notoriety an attack would bring as well as "extreme anxiety" related to starting a new job. Minassian was teased and bullied throughout school, the psychiatrist said. "Being picked on because of his disability is something that occurred throughout his childhood," Westphal said. "It’s one of the things he's identified in as much he's identified a causal reason for his actions." Last week, Westphal refused to testify if court didn't seal his videotaped interviews with Minassian and play the clips to court in secret. The judge gave in to sealing the videos after the psychiatrist warned they could incite more violence, but will allow journalists to watch them. Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attacks. His state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial. Westphal's testimony will continue tomorrow. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
There is no doubt in Georgina Lightning’s mind that had an organization like Creatives Empowered been there when she first started acting, “intimidation and fear” wouldn’t have been what controlled her life then. Creatives Empowered launched late November. It’s a collective of Alberta-based artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who empower each other as an allied community. “Creatives Empowered would have been so valuable. It would have blown my mind,” said Lightning who has built a career as an actor, director, writer and producer in both the television and film industry. And all of that in spite of Hollywood. In 1990, Lightning, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, left Edmonton to attend a three-year prestigious acting academy in Los Angeles. She graduated top of her class, won awards and was ready to take on any acting role. “But once I got to Hollywood, I was completely heartbroken… I can play anything on the planet, but Hollywood didn’t see me as that. The second I walk in they see an Indian. They see a race before they see talent. They don’t even look at talent. They see a race. They see ‘She doesn’t fit.’ That’s how racist it is,” said Lightning. She soon learned that there were two seasons for Native Americans to audition. In spring, they auditioned for the western movies that were shot over the summer. Late in the year, they were called on for American thanksgiving productions. In response to these lack of opportunities, Lightning eventually co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions and Native Media Network. “I trained at a classical school so I could play any role, be considered an actor. I didn’t want to be an Indian actor. I wanted to be an actor. I really truly believed if I worked hard enough, excelled, was a cut above the rest, I could make it. That would be my ticket in…. I was qualified, but they still didn’t let me in. It did not matter what kind of credentials I had. So it was colour before talent,” said Lightning. That is a story far too often told by non-Whites in the entertainment and media industries, says Creatives Empowered creator Shivani Saini. “I think it’s safe to say for anyone who is Black, for anyone who is Indigenous, for anyone who is a Person of Colour, that we would all collectively agree that this equity is long overdue. Now is the perfect time for us to start,” said Saini, who is South Asian. Saini has worked in both professional media and the arts for 25 years. Among her work is marketing and communications director for the world premier of Making Treaty 7, and associate producer for the first seasons of the TV drama Blackstone. Inequity, she says, manifests in a variety of ways: negative stereotyping; lack of acknowledgement of the talent of BIPOC; always being considered “emerging talent” even after years of experience; and the belief that hitting a “diversity target” means a mediocre project or result. “Anyone who is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour who, for example, has found themselves to be fulfilling a diversity target somewhere can probably relate to the experience of being tokenized. And tokenism is in and of itself really discriminatory and racist.” “I think it’s safe to say it’s just time for this to start to change. It’s so exhausting for us to be walking into rooms, walking into spaces and for us to be tokenized, for us to be stereotyped, for us to be viewed differently because of these mindsets that exist about BIPOC or IBPOC talent,” said Saini. It's an exhaustion that Lightning can relate to. She remembers always having to work harder, always being worried about being seen as a failure, always pushing herself to be a better actor. And she remembers keeping her silence when she was the target of abuse. “When you do speak up about assaults and abuses against you, they turn against you. It’s like I’m the one who’s punished. You learn (to stay silent),” she said. Saini had been thinking about Creatives Empowered since 2019 as she had a “mixture of professional experiences within that year that were both really empowering and some of which were really disempowering.” But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit that she had the time to develop the concept further. And then there was the building awareness of inequalities, awareness sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, other Black people and Indigenous people. “We really are living in an unprecedented time right now. I think there’s just a tremendous opportunity we have to leverage what’s going on to really create true equity within Alberta’s arts and culture sector,” said Saini. “We all know it’s a necessity. The work has to be done,” said Lightning, who is back in Alberta working on a number of projects. Creatives Empowered is an opportunity for BIPOC to support and encourage each other emotionally and financially, she adds. “Now is the time for change. What are we going to do with a platform for moving forward? This initiative with Creatives Empowered it’s about bringing Indigenous or People of colour into the fold, and not just exploiting them. It’s empowering them, letting them be intellectual property owners and that’s where the value is,” said Lightning. Longer term goals, Saini said, is having Creatives Empowered serve as an organization that can find ways to work with key stakeholders in the Alberta cultural sector. It would become a resource or a point of access for the larger communities to tap talent. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of the advocacy work by building those relationships,” said Saini. Already Creatives Empowered has attracted a large number of members and that base keeps growing. “I really do believe that if we can develop a really strong membership base then it’s going to help to dismantle a lot of those negative stereotypes, because we’re going to be able to show the cultural sector that we do, in fact, exist and that our talent is beautifully potent. It’s really important, I think, for this space, this community to exist,” she said. Membership for BIPOC individuals and BIPOC organizations is free and open to Alberta-based artists and media professionals. There will be a fee for ally organizations based on their annual operating budgets. At this point, says Saini, Creatives Empowered remains a collective. That may have to change in order to access government funding or donations. Saini and Lightning understand there is much ground to be broken down before equity for BIPOC is achieved in Alberta’s cultural and media sectors and that it’s going to take time. “With the dialogue with racism and the global discussion on inclusivity and with all that’s happening … it’s time now. It’s being shaken up by force and now everyone is forced to look at reality,” said Lightning. “What I think is very exciting about the time we're living in is that I think we're actually going to be able to make some real significant progress even within my lifetime… I never thought I would see the kind of time we're living in right now where there's this level of awareness, this type of conversation happening around equity,” said Saini. CFWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CFWE, CFWE
No matter what's been thrown their way, organizers of this year's Jasper Santas Anonymous program are doing their best to see that families have food and gifts to enjoy this Christmas season. This year, more families than ever will be accessing Santas Anonymous due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to more unemployment, isolation and financial stress. Pattie Pavlov, general manager of Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, said this year, as many as 100 families are participating. In years past, it has hovered around the 70, 80 point. She and Ashley Chorley, operations manager with Chamber, are working with "the new and different nuances" that have been presented by the COVID pandemic. With COVID as one of the primary concerns, they wondered how they would get items to families safely, Pavlov said. "It's very important that we adhere to COVID (protocol), in collecting and distributing the items donated," she said. "We did consult with the Edmonton Santas Anonymous group. We were on the right track. We just wanted to confirm we were doing this properly. It was a learning experience." Chorley some items, including fabric, plush items, plastics and toys have to be put in isolation to discourage COVID transmission. For example, she said, plastic items have to sit for about 72 hours and plush items for a week, which complicates packaging them. Fortunately, with a list of families in the program already started, she and Pavlov can organize items by group. Some of the usually-held get-togethers have been cancelled, including Skate with Santa at Mildred Lake, and a photo opportunity with Santa at Bearhill Lodge. Pavlov said, “With the (allowable) gathering of 10, how are you going to restart the number of families? Pieces of the puzzle just don't come together." But other plans are coming together: the Mitten Line fundraiser at TGP, for example. At the grocery store, mittens are available at the cash registers with values of $10, $20, $50 and $100 with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. "Some people have already purchased mittens and we're excited about that,” Pavlov said. Shoppers at TGP can also designate a portion of the money paid for groceries to the campaign at the time of purchase. Then there's The Snowball Fight. "We cut out a quantity of snowballs and we are giving them to banks specifically, and encouraging them to compete against others - a friendly competition," Pavlov said. "We're asking them to be creative with their displays." Folks can purchase a snowball for whatever amount they choose, with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. The pastry team at Jasper Park Lodge has also added to the festive mix of fundraisers. Pavlov said they created an “absolutely unbelievable” gingerbread cottage to be raffled off. The detail in the house is something to behold - there are books on bookshelves, the inside of the log cabin lights up, and there's a pond outside with cattails along the shore. “It's big and so beautiful," Pavlov said. The masterpiece is on display at the Santas Anonymous Facebook page and tickets can be purchased at $5 apiece from Jasper Community Team Society board members. "As has been the tradition since Santa's Anonymous started," Pavlov noted, "there have been collection boxes placed throughout town. Anything you want to support Santas Anonymous with can be done through donations - toys, toques, mitts." Sites include Pharmasave, IDA Rx Drug Mart, Jasper General Store, Ransom, the Jasper Library and Nesters Market. Pavlov said the Chamber will also accept donations at Robson House. "Give us a call and we'll grab it (where it has been safely left),” she said. “I'd also encourage people to bring gift cards.” Another way to donate in a contactless way is via e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winning ticket for the gingerbread house will be drawn on Dec. 17. Proceeds from the Snowball Fight and Mitten Line fundraisers will be announced on Dec. 22.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville held a silent auction to raise money for Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It was Jac’s Boutique employee, McCall Laframboise, who came up with the idea for the auction. Big Sky Ranch is in desperate in need of support, because they had to close their doors to the public due to the pandemic. This meant that many of their programs, which usually help with fundraising throughout the year, had to be cancelled. “They do great things at Big Sky Ranch,” McCall says. “This way I could support them and support Jac’s Boutique.” Big Sky Ranch’s Office Manager, Pauline Lafleur, says they were thrilled when McCall reached out to them to offer their support. “We were very happy and grateful that the animals were remembered, even though we have been closed since March because of COVID-19,” she says. “The animals are still in people’s hearts!” Jac’s Boutique ran the auction through their Facebook page and raised $655, with everything going for above the starting bid. Owner, Jackie Taylor, decided to match the dollars raised, bringing the grand total to $1,310. “It feels amazing, especially around the holidays,” McCall says about the success of the auction. “I know they need food for the animals, and it’s great that we were able to help out in this way.” This time of year is difficult for the sanctuary, because of higher costs. They also have to keep in mind that hay will have to be ordered for the spring, so this auction couldn’t have come at a better time. “We are humbled and amazed by the dedication, generous hearts, kindness, and community spirit of everyone in Kemptville, and all the surrounding communities,” Pauline says. Big Sky Ranch is still open for adoptions and surrenders, and they currently have about 119 animals at the sanctuary, most of whom are now in the barns for the winter. The ranch has been in operation for 15 years and has found forever homes for over 3,500 animals, and housed many others who needed a safe, comfortable place to spend the rest of their lives. They are currently in need of Lysol wipes, Clorox bleach spray, and bleach, as well as feed for the animals, which can be purchased at Willows Agriservices in the South Gower Business Park. Monetary donations can also be made through their website www.bigskyranch.ca.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):6:40 p.m.British Columbia health officials say 46 people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, the highest number they have yet reported.The figure brings the total number of deaths in B.C. to 441 and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says about 80 per cent died in long-term care facilities.She says the deaths reflect the challenges COVID-19 is creating and, as we face a “significant storm surge” in cases, she says we need to push back against the virus by continuing to reduce our contacts and stick with our households.Henry also announced a total of 2,364 new cases, including all those diagnosed between Friday and Monday and another 277 historical cases added in a data correction.\---5:45 p.m.Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Health Canada's approval.It's the fourth potential vaccine sent for assessment in Canada and the first that would require one dose to confer immunity instead of two.Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what's called a "rolling review."If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada's standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option on up to 28 million more.\---5:45 p.m.Alberta is reporting a new record of daily COVID-19 cases.The province says there are 1,733 new infections — 13 fewer than Ontario announced today.Alberta’s previous high was 1,731 new cases on Saturday.The province says there have also been eight new deaths and 453 people are in hospital, with 96 of those in intensive care.\---3:20 p.m.Health Canada has confirmed that it should be ready to approve another vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of December.Last week, Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said the emergency review of Pfizer's vaccine was the most advanced and that Canada should be ready to greenlight it when the U.S. does. That is expected to happen around Dec. 10.Today, a spokesman said other vaccines should also be approved at the same time they are given emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Moderna today applied for that U.S. approval and the FDA will meet Dec. 17 to consider it, a time frame Health Canada said Canada will also be on track to meet.\---2:10 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138.Fifteen of the cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and the other is a school-based case connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, N.S., that was reported on Sunday.Premier Stephen McNeil says there continues to be strong public interest in the asymptomatic pop-up rapid-testing locations around the province.Health officials say 628 tests were administered at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Dartmouth yesterday with six positive results.\---2:05 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting 342 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. The government enacted strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, yet the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent. The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says people have to reduce the number of contacts they have if the numbers are to come down.\---1:25 p.m.The Northwest Territories has confirmed one new case of COVID-19.But the new case will not be included in the territory's tally of infections because the individual contracted the virus before arriving.Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says one close contact of the non-resident worker, who entered the territory on an exemption, has been identified and is in isolation.Kandola says all high-risk essential workers are now being tested for COVID-19 upon entry to the territory.\---1:20 p.m.Nunavut will start lifting lockdown measures on Wednesday as more people recover from COVID-19.The territory reported four new cases today, bringing the total to 181, and the chief public health officer says 73 people have recovered.Dr. Michael Patterson says only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks and travel to the community will still be restricted.The territory-wide lockdown was put in place on Nov. 18 and Patterson says restrictions will be reintroduced if another outbreak occurs.\---1:10 p.m.Yukon is offering extra help to tourism-dependent businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean says $1 million will go to tourism operators and food and beverage businesses that rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their revenues.McLean also announced a total of $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations.She says the two newly created programs are part of a broader funding package for the Yukon tourism industry that will roll out over three years. \---12:52 p.m. Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 today.The woman is a close contact of a previously identified travel-related case.Another infection announced Sunday has been found to be travel-related.Newfoundland and Labrador now has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:44 p.m.Public Heath officials in New Brunswick are reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today.There are two cases in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Bathurst region and one in the Fredericton region.The total number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 501, including 374 recoveries and seven deaths. The number of active cases is 120 with no one currently hospitalized due to the virus. \---12:12 p.m.The COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting drop in commuter traffic is prompting another refund for Manitoba drivers. The province says it plans to offer rebates of an average of $100 per policy-holder by early in the new year, subject to approval from the Public Utilities Board.Another refund worth an average of $150 was offered earlier this year. The province says a sharp drop in traffic has resulted in fewer collision claims to Crown-owned Manitoba Public Insurance.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.The province's Health Department says there are 693 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 28 more than the previous day.Ninety-four people are in intensive care, an increase of two.Officials say eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours, 14 others were from the last week and one occurred on an unknown date.\---10:40 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more people have died due to the virus in the province.Tougher public health restrictions under the provincial framework take effect in five regions today, with Windsor-Essex moving to the strictest level short of a lockdown.Haldimand-Norfolk is moving to the orange level, while Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern are going into the yellow level.\---10:30 a.m.A spokeswoman for the American biotech company Moderna says the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month.Global deliveries, including to Canada, to begin in the first quarter of 2021.It applied to Health Canada for approval in October.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven death on Monday.
Ottawa is rolling out a wave of new funding for pandemic-battered industries including tourism, the arts and regional aviation, with smaller companies top of mind — and large airlines notably absent.The Liberal government's fiscal update sketches out a program that will provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million for badly hurt entrepreneurs.The aid, dubbed the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), comes on top of a newly expanded emergency loan program already in place for small businesses, and technically is not limited to certain industries.Meanwhile the devastated tourism sector will have access to one-quarter of the more than $2 billion that Ottawa is doling out to regional development agencies through June 2021, including a $500-million top-up announced Monday.The move aims to bolster an industry made up largely of small and medium-sized businesses and that accounts for roughly 750,000 jobs and two per cent of GDP, according to the government.Another $181.5 million will flow to show business and performers via the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, the fall economic statement says.Rent relief and nearly $700 million in capital investments are en route to airports over six years. About $206 million in further support is bound for regional aviation, including smaller airlines, via a new "regional air transportation initiative" overseen by development agencies.But an aid package targeting big players such as Air Canada and WestJet Airlines remains in the works as talks with Ottawa drag on, with the lack of specifics in the fiscal update frustrating industry leaders.“We had hoped to get a better sense of where the government was going. Instead they repeated the line that they've repeated several times over the past several months — that they’re ‘establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance,’ ” said Mike McNaney, head of the National Airlines Council of Canada.Countries around the world have given carriers US$173 billion in support, he said. Many have also required airlines to offer refunds for cancelled flights, something Ottawa says will be a condition of any bailout."We are very much a global outlier and are ostensibly stuck at Stage Zero on the government planning process," McNaney — whose industry group represents Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Jazz Aviation — said in a phone interview.The regional aviation support comes with question marks, as well."A regional initiative, what’s that?" asked John McKenna, CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, which represents some 30 regional airlines. "We have no idea. We have not been consulted," he said in a phone interview. "Never mind new initiatives, try to support the existing services so they survive."In a speech to the House of Commons, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the benefits of the broader government-backed loan program for smaller companies."We know that businesses in tourism, hospitality, travel, arts and culture have been particularly hard-hit," Freeland said."So we’re creating a new stream of support for those businesses that need it most — a credit availability program with 100 per cent government-backed loan support and favourable terms for businesses that have lost revenue as people stay home to fight the spread of the virus."The HASCAP credit program will offer interest rates below the market average, according to the fiscal update, with more details coming "soon."It also said the government is "exploring options to enhance" a federal loan program for big companies, little-loved by industry since its inception in the spring.The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) offers loans of $60 million or more to large businesses facing cash problems, but comes with an interest rate that jumps to eight per cent from five per cent after the first year — far above typical private-sector lending rates.Only two firms have been approved for LEEFF loans since the Liberals announced the program on May 11, according to the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation: a casino company and a producer of metallurgical coal.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the government for failing to offer industry aid that includes explicit job protections."They have not rolled out any sector-specific supports, meaningfully, that are tied to jobs," he said.Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet slammed the lack of "precision" in the fiscal snapshot."They basically say that there is no limit to what they will spend, without saying or without admitting how badly you spend it," he said.The $686 million in airport aid includes $500 million over six years, starting this year, to back infrastructure spending at large airports that would include massive transit projects, such as the new light-rail station at the Montreal airport.The government is also proposing to extend $229 million in additional rent relief to the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to Ottawa, with "comparable treatment" for Ports Toronto, which operates Billy Bishop airport in downtown Toronto.The supports unveiled Monday come on top of Ottawa's pan-sectoral announcement to raise the wage subsidy to 75 per cent of company payroll costs — it was reduced to a maximum of 65 per cent in October — as well as an extension of the rent subsidy to mid-March from the end of 2020.David Chartrand, Quebec coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, applauded the wage subsidy, but lamented the radio silence on large airlines."After almost 10 months of crisis, still nothing," he said in a release in French.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
How did the two giant pandas from the Calgary Zoo make it to the Chongqing Zoo in China?With lots of snacks, crate training, naps and animal flatulence."They fart … a lot," said Calgary Zoo CEO and president Clement Lanthier on The Homestretch.The two pandas, female Er Shun and male Da Mao, were loaded via crates onto and airplane at the Calgary International Airport early Friday morning.Animal keepers had been training the pandas to get in and out of their crates and eat in their crates for weeks, said Lanthier."The caregivers have been training the pandas to feel safe and to feel comfortable in the crate," he said."The attendant told me that they slept all the way from Calgary to Frankfurt."The pandas had to be sent back to China three years earlier than was planned due to issues of securing a steady supply of bamboo, their diet staple, during the pandemic."Since the early COVID-19, we had a very severe disruption of the supply chain, so we could not secure bamboo on a regular basis," said Lanthier."Every week, every second week, that was a problem … mostly on the transportation of bamboo, because of the lower capacity in the airplane, on the cargo plane or in the trucking business."Moving the animals, Lanthier said, "was extremely complicated," because not only were several permits needed, but China had recently changed its quarantine requirements."They had to go through Frankfurt because the only carrier that was willing and able to accommodate the need was Lufthansa."Er Shun and Da Mao landed in China sometime on Saturday, Calgary time, but it was already Sunday in China, said Lanthier.The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding — where cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue resided after departing from the Calgary Zoo in January — was under renovation, so the two adults had to be transported to the nearby Chongqing Zoo for their quarantine.Lanthier said he wants to "acknowledge the sacrifice and the commitment of the staff" who travelled with the pandas.Right now, they, too, are quarantined, but in Chengdu, apart from the pandas. They will also have to quarantine when they return to Canada."We are extremely relieved to see the pandas back in China where the bamboo is abundant," said Lanthier.The pair arrived in Canada in 2013, and they lived for five years at the Toronto Zoo — and where twins Jia Yueyue and Jia Panpan were born — before being moved to Calgary.They were supposed to stay in Canada for 10 years as part of an agreement between Canada and China before the pandemic cut that short.With files from Nassima Way and The Homestretch.
Yukon's tourism minister announced $1.3 million in aid for tourism businesses and non-profits on Monday, saying they want to help struggling operators survive the winter.Tourism Minister Jeanie McLean announced "non-accommodation" businesses can get $20,000 per month, for a maximum of $60,000. Tourism operators, as well as food and beverage establishments, are eligible if they rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their profits.The territory also earmarked $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations. Non-profits that are projecting 10 per cent deficits can receive up to $20,000 each.The funding will help businesses "survive through winter" and break even, said a government press release."We are not through the pandemic yet," Maclean said.She estimated up to 60 businesses could be eligible for the funding, which totals $1 million.Yukon's tourism sector has been battered by low visitor numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the territory recently ended the Yukon-B.C. "bubble," which allowed visitors to travel freely between the two regions.Tourism association applauds announcementNeil Hartling, chair of the Tourism Industry Association, said he was pleased with the announcement."This should bring everybody up to a sustainable, survivable level," he told CBC News.Hartling said some businesses were "falling through the cracks" with previous funding packages that mainly covered fixed costs.There are 400 tourism businesses in Yukon, he said, employing 4,000 people.Hartling estimated that less than 10 percent of Yukon businesses have closed during the pandemic, while a number have chosen to "hibernate" until conditions improve. The Yukon Bureau of Statistics last looked at the impact of COVID-19 on business in May, but they're expected to publish an update Wednesday.Opposition party critiques 60% thresholdThe announcement drew criticism from the opposition Yukon Party.Leader Currie Dixon questioned the plans for the rest of the $15 million in funding, and accused the government of "trickling out" funding for political purposes.Dixon also said it seemed "arbitrary" and "difficult" for businesses to calculate whether 60 per cent of their revenue comes from tourism."Given the fact there are zero tourists coming to the territory, and so few Yukoners are going out themselves for dinner or going out for a drink and patronizing these businesses, they're facing a real challenge," Dixon said."We think that's an odd stipulation. And we'd like to know how the minister arrived at that inclusion and that amount."The government says the funds announced Monday are part of a total $15 million in promised tourism relief over three years. Most of that funding has yet to be announced.In October the government announced $2.88 million for hotels and other accommodation businesses.In order to qualify for the newly-announced relief, businesses must have maxed-out their eligibility in Yukon Business Relief Program and CanNor's Northern Business Relief Fund.A third party will administer the funding for non-profits, the government says.
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
SAN DIEGO — The Navy said Monday that it will decommission a warship docked off San Diego after suspected arson this summer caused extensive damage, making it too expensive to restore.Fully repairing the USS Bonhomme Richard to warfighting capabilities would cost $2.5 billion to $3 billion and take five to seven years, said Rear Adm. Eric H. Ver Hage of the Navy Regional Maintenance Center.The amphibious assault ship burned for more than four days in July and was the Navy’s worst U.S. warship fire outside of combat in recent memory. The ship was left with extensive structural, electrical and mechanical damage.Restoring the 22-year-old ship for another use, perhaps as a hospital, would take almost as long as full restoration and cost $1 billion. Decommissioning the ship will take nine months to a year and cost $30 million, Ver Hage said.“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Navy Secretary Kenneth J. Braithwaite said. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her."Navy officials and industry experts studied the cost and schedule with an eye toward “the art of the possible,” Ver Hage told reporters. They considered the impact that restoration would have on other spending priorities.“The dollars definitely would disrupt our strategy for investment,” Ver Hage said.Arson is suspected in the July 12 fire, and a U.S. Navy sailor was questioned as a potential suspect, a senior defence official said in late August.The sailor was questioned as part of the investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an official with knowledge of the investigation said in August. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to provide details not yet made public. The sailor was not detained.Ver Hage declined to comment Monday on the status of several investigations and he didn't give a timeline for their completion, saying they "will conclude when the time is right.”Ver Hage said about 60% of the ship would likely need to be replaced to have it fully restored, including the flight deck, mast and many levels directly below the flight deck.The ship will likely be decommissioned in San Diego. Crew members will be notified of reassignment.The Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a two-year upgrade estimated to cost $250 million when the fire started.About 160 sailors and officers were on board when the flames sent up a huge plume of dark smoke from the 840-foot (256-meter) amphibious assault vessel, which had been docked at Naval Base San Diego while undergoing the upgrade.Firefighters attacked the flames inside the ship while firefighting vessels with water cannons directed streams of seawater into the ship and helicopters made water drops.More than 60 sailors and civilians were treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.Lawrence B. Brennan, a retired Navy captain and adjunct professor of law at Fordham Law School, said the decision to decommission was “inevitable and correct.”Aside from the ship's extensive damage and advanced age, evidence would have to be preserved for any prosecution, delaying repair work, he said. Defence attorneys would be entitled to examine the wreck for expert witnesses to testify at trial.Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are proposing $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter and vowing tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.The government's fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year as well as to put cash into skills training and to create new jobs.For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of business payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March.There is also money for long-term care facilities and the stock of the nation's personal protective equipment, while dropping federal sales tax on face masks and shields.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's update makes clear the measures will be removed once the economy improves, although the timing is tied to the path of the pandemic.The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Freeland's update largely adds cash to existing programs, but tees up work already underway to craft a spring budget. She said it will focus on an economic recovery that will include a three-year stimulus plan worth up to $100 billion, depending on the twin paths of the economy and the pandemic."If it's pre-committed and locked in, the risk is you overstimulate the economy, whereas this seems more that if things go the other way, there's more to come, which will support growth," said RBC chief economist Craig Wright.While the details have yet to be worked out, Freeland said the stimulus plan will include time-limited spending on things like a green economy bio-manufacturing — the industry that makes vaccines and medication.Freeland argued some of the down-payments on that plan are in Monday's update, including proposed grants for homeowners to make energy-efficiency upgrades. Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the economic statement provides some short-term help, but it still "presents a plan to create a plan" for recovery.There is no specific "fiscal anchor," a measurement to moor government spending to keep it from drifting off target, guiding the plan. In its place are economic indicators like the unemployment rate and hours worked that the Liberals will use to decide when spending can ease off or when the taps need to be opened wider."As we build our growth plan, and as we deploy it, the measure we're going to be looking at to see if we've got the job done is really around jobs," Freeland told reporters.Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics with Scotiabank, said the scant details about long-term plans will likely create unease in financial markets."The creation of vaguely defined guardrails with no real line of sight on the end of stimulus spending, let alone its composition, has arguably added more uncertainties to the fiscal outlook rather than less," she said.The country has recovered about three-quarters of the three million jobs lost during spring lockdowns. The Finance Department estimates the unprecedented spending to date prevented a further loss of about 1.2 million jobs.The document Monday updates the accounting on many programs, showing under-spending on some that the Liberals now want to top up, such as the wage-subsidy program that is now supposed to cost over $83.5 billion. A revamped commercial rent-relief program will cost $2.18 billion this fiscal year. The two programs are, combined, estimated to cost about $16.2 billion next year.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, noted the changes to business aid will help small businesses plan for an uncertain foreseeable future."Still, it is disappointing that government has not announced further fixes for new businesses and self-employed Canadians, who remain ineligible for nearly all of the key support programs," he said.Spending next year on extra child benefits will send $1,200 tax-free to families with net incomes up to $120,000, and $600 for families that make more than that.The cost will be about $2.4 billion, a little more than the $2 billion for extra Canada Child Benefit payments this year, bringing the total cost for the program next year to $27.9 billion.And while the document includes money for long-term care facilities, there is no specific bump planned in health transfers for the provinces. What the Liberals are proposing is to provide more money to provinces that see sudden drops in revenues through an existing fiscal-stabilization program, an increase provinces asked for last year.To pay for some of it, the Liberals are proposing to make digital companies like Netflix and Airbnb collect and remit sales tax on their products.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
A local writer has published a book of poetry that reflects the highs and lows of the COVID-19 pandemic. Katie Nolan is no stranger to creative writing; but she says she hadn’t written a lot of poetry until the pandemic hit in March. “It just seemed like there were so many unbelievable things happening that I just got an urge to start writing about it in little, short, observational ways,” she remembers. “Haiku is such a great format for that.” Katie has not only been writing daily haikus, but she has also been sharing them on Facebook, garnering a lot of support from her network. As soon as she started posting, she found that a lot of people connected and resonated with her poetry, which drove her to write and share even more. “I sort of got to the point where I had this table at home that was just covered with post-it notes with all the haikus on them. There were so many things to say. It just happened very organically and, as I saw that people were enjoying reading the poems, I just kept going.” Katie’s new book of poetry includes 238 haikus, one a day from March 25 to October 31, which reflect the variety of feelings and emotions that come with living through a global pandemic. At first, some of them were kind of funny, reflecting the disbelief that many people were feeling during the early days of COVID-19. As the pandemic drew on, they morphed into having a more serious tone, epitomizing some of the other world events happening at the time, as well as the deteriorating mental health that many are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. “A lot of the poems deal with how we can maybe help each other through hard times. But there is also a kind of back and forth between us as humans and this virus that has turned our lives upside down.” Katie decided early on that she wanted to put together a collection of the poems, so that her readers online could have a hard copy of the haikus. She partnered with local artist, Meredith Luce, who illustrated the collection with one black and white image for each of the months represented in the book. “Seeing Meredith’s concepts for each month was so emotional for me, because she’s pulled out the phases of the pandemic and kind of what some of our hot issues were as you span that given month. To see them all depicted like that as a flow of images is really amazing.” For Katie, writing the haikus has been a very meditative practice and an interesting way to connect with the community. “It’s kind of a way to connect with people and maybe give voice to some of the things that are hard to say sometimes. It’s just a small thing everyday that I do. It doesn’t take much time. But, taken all together, it becomes a bigger piece that really tracks the trail we’ve walked.” The first edition of COVID Pandemic in Seventeen Syllables is being printed locally at COBA Studios in Merrickville. It is $10 and is now available for pre-order at www.luceends.com. All profits from the book will be going to support local charities, and books ordered before November 25 are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas. Katie hopes that this collection of haikus will help people feel connected, and that they see some of themselves reflected in the pages. “[I hope] they enjoy having a kind of diary, if you will, of what this year has been about.” To keep up with Katie’s writing and her daily haikus (which are ongoing), find her on Facebook under Katie Nolan, author.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
A forensic psychiatrist testified in court Monday about whether Alek Minassian's autism could be a reason to find him not criminally responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Toronto van attack, a potential finding the autism community is concerned could stigmatize their members.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was somber today as she announced 46 more people lost their lives to COVID-19 last weekend. Eighty per cent of these people were living in longterm care, which Henry says speaks to the fact that the virus can cause such devastation when it gets into care homes. Health Minister Adrian Dix added that this is a “difficult and gutting time under these circumstances.” Henry listed five new healthcare outbreaks and declared two to be over. There are now 62 active outbreaks in the healthcare sector, including 57 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and five in acute care facilities. These outbreaks currently account for 1,338 active cases, including 847 residents and 487 staff members. Under current rules, staff at longterm care homes can only work at one location, but are permitted to have secondary employment such as being a private home aide. Dix said that the single-site order is “critically important,” but that all people are part of the order that aims to protect longterm care. “We can’t prevent people from having the means to live and the needs that they have in their family, but we do pay a lot of attention—all of us in healthcare—to making sure that we’re monitoring our health every day before we’re going to work and making sure that we’re not participating in risky activities,” said Henry. Between Friday and Sunday, there were 2,077 new cases of COVID-19 around the province—750 of those from Friday to Saturday, 731 Saturday to Sunday, and 596 in the last 24 hours. Three of the weekend’s new cases are epidemiologically linked. Henry also noted an additional 277 historical cases in the Fraser Health region based on the data correction from last week, bringing BC’s cumulative case total to 33,238. Of the new cases, 371 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 1,365 in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 212 in the Interior Health region, 73 in the Northern Health region and one new case in a person who normally lives outside Canada. The number of active cases has risen to 8,855. There are 316 people in hospital across BC—a number that has doubled in less than three weeks—of whom 75 are in critical care. There are 10,139 people being actively monitored by public health. One new community outbreak was announced at Newton elementary school in Surrey, which has been closed for the next two weeks with students and staff self-isolating. 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
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
REGINA — Premier Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party government says it will work to preserve people's "lives and livelihoods" as the province battles its worst spread of COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived. Lt.-Gov. Russell Mirasty delivered the throne speech Monday to start a new legislative session. Physically distanced politicians wore masks and sat behind desks with $12,000 worth of new Plexiglas shields. The speech said the top priority for the government is to contain spread of the novel coronavirus. "Saskatchewan is facing the most difficult moment of the pandemic to date," Mirasty read from the speech. "At the same time as we are working to protect lives, my government is also taking steps to protect livelihoods. We can, and will, do both." The government said more measures to fight COVID-19 "will be added if needed" on top of recently imposed public health orders that limit capacity in public venues to 30 people and ban most team sports for the next three weeks. The speech also detailed how the government plans to fulfil campaign promises Moe made before the Sask. Party was re-elected in October. The first piece of legislation to be introduced in the two-week sitting will be for a home renovation tax credit. Moe's government also intends to introduce legislation allowing victims of sexual assault in a rental home to break a long-term lease. And there is to be legislation that provides greater protection against human trafficking. Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili called the speech status quo and criticized it for failing to address the toll the pandemic is taking on health care and small businesses by not promising extra supports. “Businesses are being told to stay open while their customers are being urged to stay home: it’s a recipe for economic disaster,” Meili said in a news release. “We need clear, consistent messaging and a real plan that helps people – instead of mixed messages and half-measures that won’t get the job done." The speech opened with some familiar thank-you messages. "Thank you to the people of Saskatchewan for working together to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few months have been difficult for everyone in our province and there are still challenging days ahead." It went on to give a nod to those "in our health-care system — doctors, nurses, technologists, pharmacists, cooks, cleaners, maintenance workers, and the students, volunteers and retirees supporting the effort." Some of the phrases were exactly the same as ones used by Moe during a televised address in the spring, when he announced non-essential businesses could start reopening because the COVID-19 curve had been flattened. At that time, Saskatchewan had recorded 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On Monday, the province announced 325 new cases in one day, for a total of 8,239 infections. "The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone," Moe said in the April speech. "Thank you to everyone working in our health-care system. Doctors, nurses, technologists and pharmacists. Cooks, cleaners and maintenance workers. Students, volunteers and retirees who have returned to the workforce." Both the address and the speech also thanked "workers delivering food and parcels to our homes. The truckers keeping our supplies moving … the utility workers ensuring we have power, heat and clean water." Moe's press secretary said workers are being praised as they were in the spring because it is deserved. "As Saskatchewan is faced with increased case numbers placing greater strain on these same workers, saying thank you is even more relevant and important today, particularly in an event as significant as the throne speech," Julie Leggott told The Canadian Press. "The use of similar language is an acknowledgment that the same workers have consistently risen to the challenges brought by COVID-19, and continue to deserve our thanks for doing so." After the throne speech, Moe said discussions are still underway as to what supports could be provided to businesses and individuals hit hard by the pandemic. He said he couldn't provide a timeline on when a decision would be made but noted that in the spring his government helped people through programs like an emergency grant for small businesses and financial aid for people self-isolating. "We have been there throughout this pandemic to support not only the jobs in our communities but to support the individuals. And we're continuing to look at ways that we may be required to do that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has a new baby.Amanda McDougall confirmed to CBC News that she gave birth to a son on Saturday evening. McDougall said she, along with her fiancé and stepson, are brimming with love for the new addition. She first spoke of her expanding family last summer while announcing her mayoralty bid. In October, the former first-term councillor and non-profit leader defeated incumbent Cecil Clarke by nearly 4,000 votes. During her run to the mayor's seat, McDougall spoke of chauvinistic attitudes she encountered. Time away with babyEarlene MacMullin, the deputy mayor, will be stepping into McDougall's shoes as she takes time off to be with her family. "Whether it's a week, or two weeks, or a month, between myself and staff [carrying out her duties] … and she's always just a phone call away," said MacMullin."The important thing right now, really, is to give her and her family the time that they need to adjust to the new bundle."MacMullin said mom and baby were expected to leave the hospital on Monday.Advice for McDougallEmily Lutz was caring for a toddler when she decided to run in the Municipality of Kings County in 2016. Now she has a five-year-old, two-year-old and five-month-old baby.Lutz has raised a newborn as a councillor, and in her current role as deputy mayor. She admits to encountering misogynistic attitudes in balancing work and family responsibilities. "Being a young mother does not negate your ability to do your job, and in fact it enhances your ability to do your job," Lutz said. "It can certainly add a new level of complexity, but it's very much something that goes hand-in-hand."She has some advice for McDougall: Don't be afraid to delegate tasks and don't be too hard on yourself."It's OK to take time away," she said. "Folks take time away from council for a number of different reasons."'It's a wonderful thing'Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood was asked whether McDougall might be the first Nova Scotian to give birth while holding the mayor's office."I have no idea, and I actually don't think it matters," Mood said. "I think it's a wonderful thing. That's what women do. They give birth."But there's no glossing over the impact McDougall's motherhood will have on municipal politics, Mood said. "It's an amazing example that she's set. It almost gives women permission to step into politics and know that, you know, the path has been forged before them." When she announced her mayoral bid, McDougall said having a baby would be a constant reminder that council decisions must take into account future generations.MORE TOP STORIES