Canada hit another milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday when the death toll reached 10,000 people. Most of the deaths — more than 90 per cent — have been reported in Quebec and Ontario.
Canada hit another milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday when the death toll reached 10,000 people. Most of the deaths — more than 90 per cent — have been reported in Quebec and Ontario.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Fisheries appear to be taking a more prominent role in B.C. Premier John Horgan’s new cabinet. On Thursday, Horgan announced a new parliamentary secretary for fisheries position within the Agriculture Ministry. Fin Donnelly, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, will take up the portfolio that is focused on revitalizing salmon population, protecting habitat, creating a provincial-level “coastal strategy” and increasing domestic fish processing capacity. Fisheries are a major industry in the province, with the wild harvest worth roughly $476 million in 2018. But unlike its East Coast counterparts, B.C. doesn’t have a fisheries ministry. That has meant responsibility for the sector’s myriad issues has been scattered across multiple ministerial portfolios. Those include environmental issues, rehabilitating wild salmon populations, the creation of culturally relevant jobs in rural communities and First Nations, food security (most fish caught in B.C. is exported) and ensuring the economic benefits of B.C.’s fish remain in the province. Donnelly’s mandate will require him to co-ordinate with at least three ministries — agriculture; environment and climate change; and forests, lands, natural resources operations and rural development. But without the administrative resources of a ministry, Sutcliffe expects it will be hard for him to address the plethora of environmental, social and economic issues facing the sector. For some environmentalists, concerns about the previous government's approach to wild salmon restoration have been amplified by Donnelly's new mandate. “We’re concerned (about) the directive to support innovation in fish hatcheries, which on the surface of it sounds great, but there’s a large body of science that shows hatcheries pose a lot of risks to wild salmon,” said Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, an environmental non-profit focused on rebuilding B.C.’s wild salmon. Unlike open-pen fish farms — a controversial type of aquaculture where Atlantic salmon are reared in floating nets — salmon hatcheries raise young Pacific salmon and release them into creeks and streams, allowing them to migrate into the Pacific to reach adulthood. Then, like wild salmon, they return to the streams of their birth to spawn. In Alaska, “ocean ranching,” or widespread hatchery use, is essential to sustaining the state’s massive commercial salmon industry. However, it has proved controversial, as hatchery-raised fish compete against wild fish for food and, through interbreeding, reduce wild fish populations' genetic diversity and resilience to environmental change. In contrast, open-pen fish farms threaten wild salmon through parasites, diseases, pesticide use and interbreeding with wild Pacific salmon. B.C. is the only jurisdiction on the West Coast where the salmon aquaculture industry can operate. A 2019 policy report prepared for the province by an appointed advisory committee to inform its salmon-related policies recommended that hatcheries be used only to “rebuild weak or extirpated stocks ... or for short-term interventions to help rebuild stocks for southern resident killer whales.” Protecting and restoring spawning habitats and developing a more equitable distribution of the fisheries' economic benefits are more important priorities, the report noted. However, the report has been criticized by Hill and other conservationists for having a pro-industry bias (many of the committee members are involved in the fisheries, according to Hill) and “failing to address the root causes of the salmon crisis.” Still, the province’s continued focus on salmon and Donnelly’s appointment were welcomed by Robert Chamberlin. The former chief of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation and former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs played a key role in the removal of open-pen fish farms from the Broughton Archipelago through a collaborative, nation-to-nation process he hopes can be replicated in other areas of the province. “I think (Horgan) put in key players,” he said, noting that in addition to Donnelly, Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and Nathan Cullen will also be shaping future provincial fisheries policy, and all are familiar with the Broughton Island process. Cullen is the MLA for Stikine and provincial minister of state for lands and natural resource operations — another new role — tasked with a suite of responsibilities, including habitat protection and co-developing a coastal strategy with Donnelly. “(Their appointments) match the statements (Horgan) made about sending a strong signal to Ottawa that the B.C. government is taking a very strong focus on salmon.” But that focus on salmon, while important, still leaves out large parts of the province’s fisheries, Sutcliffe said. “Salmon is iconic, it is rooted in our identity and affects the lives of so many people — you don’t have to be a fisherman to care about salmon. (But) we also can’t ignore the fact that many other species are fished and relied upon for the same reasons. If we want a healthy B.C. food system, it’s not enough to just focus on salmon.” Many of the challenges facing fisheries and the communities that rely on them aren’t about salmon, but the dozens of other species harvested in the province such as prawns, crabs and halibut. Those include everything from issues of unequal wealth distribution to access to credit to participation in conservation decision-making. While many of these issues fall primarily under federal jurisdiction, she said that federal efforts at reform will be hampered without the support that a dedicated provincial ministry could provide. “To realize a new direction in fisheries that maintains the level of ecological resilience we need, in an uncertain climate ... that brings the benefits of the fishery back to harvesters and their communities, requires not just federal, but also provincial leadership,” she said. “One can hope that with (Donnelly's appointment) the province will step up and play their role in supporting needed changes in the socio-economics of fisheries.”Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:50 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 656 new cases of COVID-19 today, with 8,796 active cases across the province.There have been 16 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 457 since the pandemic began.In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say 336 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, and 76 of them are in intensive care.Another 10,123 people are being monitored after they were exposed to a known case of the novel coronavirus.\---2 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19.Public health officials say all the new cases were found in the central zone, bringing the province's total active case count to 142.Rapid testing was administered at pop-up sites Monday in both Wolfville and Halifax and no cases were found at either site.A total of 4,138 COVID-19 tests were administered in the province Monday.\---1:50 p.m.Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 in the province Tuesday.Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are four new cases in the Saint John zone and three new cases in the Fredericton zone.There are currently 116 active cases in the province, and there have been 508 cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.There have been seven deaths and no one is in hospital.\---1:35 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 282 new COVID-19 cases and a record 16 deaths. The test positivity rate remains high at 13 per cent, and Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on business openings and public gatherings may have to remain in place for some time.\---1:10 p.m.Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government will decide in 10 days whether the province's COVID-19 situation will allow for multi-household gatherings at Christmas.He says an increase in hospitalizations is straining the health-care network, and some hospitals are nearing the limit of how many COVID-19 patients they can treat.The premier says the situation in hospitals and the toll on health-care workers will be the most important factors in determining the plan for Christmas, adding that things are not headed in the right direction.Legault had announced last month that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed between Dec. 24 and 27.\---1 p.m.Another measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect in Yukon today, as masks are now mandatory in all indoor, public spaces.Yukon's chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley says everyone over the age of five who does not have a medical exemption will be required to wear a mask.The order imposed under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act carries a fine of up to $500 but Hanley says Yukon residents will first be given a chance to adapt before any enforcement begins.Premier Sandy Silver reports eight new cases of COVID-19 in the territory since the briefing last Tuesday, bringing the total number to 47 since the start of the pandemic.Seventeen cases are still considered active, but none related to community transmission.\---12:55 p.m.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says when looking at people experiencing the most severe illness, older Canadians are more at risk than younger Canadians with pre-existing conditions.She says that suggests after the initial round of vaccines goes to people in high-risk living or work situations, like long-term care centres and hospital staff, the next round of immunizations should be done by age, with the oldest Canadians at the front of the line.\---12:52 p.m.Manitoba handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week.The provincial government brought in restrictions three weeks ago to deal with surging COVID-19 case numbers that set strict limits on public gatherings and require non-essential businesses to close.Two churches that held services recently are among the establishments that have been ticketed.\---12:50 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.The case affects a man in his 50s who returned to the province from work in British Columbia.Health officials say the man is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.Newfoundland and Labrador has 33 active COVID-19 cases, with 339 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on public gatherings and business openings could continue into the winter.Pallister says with cold weather ahead, there's a risk of greater COVID-19 transmission as more people stay, and perhaps gather, indoors.Manitoba's daily rise in cases has levelled off somewhat after spiking last month, but health officials say it is still straining the health-care system.\---12:25 p.m.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal to get doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.She says it was also the fourth to sign a deal with Pfizer, and the first country without the ability to mass produce the vaccine domestically to sign with AstraZeneca.Anand says there has been "significant misinformation" about the doses procured and when they will arrive.\---11:50 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is taking on billions of dollars in more debt to protect Canadians from having to do the same thing.Trudeau says the average credit card interest rate is more than 19 per cent, and that it makes more sense for Ottawa to shoulder more of the burden through the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn because it can borrow at rates now close to zero.The prime minister also says his government has no intention to start cutting spending at this time, saying now is not the time for austerity.The fall economic update released Monday proposed $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter promised tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.\---11:40 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is launching efforts to support two more northern communities that are struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases.The Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, where Trudeau says they will provide health services and support elders.\---11:35 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 80 per cent of the money spent to support and protect Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic has come from the federal government.The prime minister says that includes tens of millions of rapid tests that are starting to be distributed across the country, as well as billions of doses of yet-to-be-delivered COVID-19 vaccines.Trudeau says Canada is guaranteed to receive some of the first doses of the vaccine produced by U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna once it has been approved by Health Canada.The Moderna vaccine candidate is one of four currently being reviewed by the department.\---11:30 a.m.Prince Edward Island's chief health officer says she expects the COVID-19 vaccine to begin arriving in her province in January 2021.Dr. Heather Morrison says discussions are continuing between the federal and provincial governments around vaccine allocation, distribution, procurement and logistics.She says P.E.I. will be following the national recommendations for priority groups to be immunized, but all Islanders who want the vaccine will receive it over time.Morrison says it will take many months for all Islanders to be immunized.She said the arrival date and the actual number of doses will be made public once the details are known.\---11:05 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,177 new cases of COVID-19 today and 28 additional deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.According to public health authorities, three of those deaths took place during the past 24 hours and the rest occurred earlier.The Health Department says 719 people are currently in hospital, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people are in intensive care, an increase of four from the previous day.Quebec has reported 143,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 7,084 deaths associated with the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
Visitor parking is about to get tougher in Tiny Township. After a slew of parking-related complaints received this summer when visitors flocked to the area, staff sat down to come up with a parking strategy to be implemented next year. The result is an extended permit parking season and increased parking fines. "Currently, it's necessary to display one between May 15 and Sept. 15," said Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer. "But as council has seen over the last few years with nicer weather over the fall, this year, we extended the season to Oct. 5. Staff is suggesting the parking permit season be extended by a month at each end, April 15 to Oct. 15." As for parking fines, he said, currently, a no-parking ticket is $50 if paid on time and $60 with penalty. "These are costs equal to a full-day parking," Harvey said. "We're recommending increasing it $75 and $90." A third part of the strategy is around the township's parking boundaries, he said. "During this summer, we received a lot of communications from residents on the eastern shoreline that were affected by day trippers that were using the little parks and walkways to beaches," Harvey said talking about Corrie Hamelin Park on Champlain Road and Peek-a-boo Trail at Tee Pee Point Park. In his report, he outlined five options for council to consider. Staff is suggesting targeted permit parking program at a specific parking lot, converting targeted open parking to permit parking, converting open parking along the eastern shoreline to permit parking or converting open parking across the township to permit parking. Council could also choose to take no action and see how it goes in 2021, said Harvey, adding staff recommended the second option be adopted with a clause that staff report back on the feasibility. Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma and Coun. Tony Mintoff both supported the option recommended by staff and suggested removing the need for staff to report back on the parking boundaries option. "We can adapt and increase the plan if we find ourselves in a similar position next summer," said Walma. Tiny sells 175 'non-resident' permits on a first-come, first-serve basis with a non-resident being defined as a resident of the Town of Midland, the Town of Penetanguishene, the Township of Tay and the Township of Springwater. Permits cost $100.00 and are not transferable. The decision will be ratified at a future council meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
NEW YORK — “Papa!” screams a hospital worker, covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit and PPE, in the opening moments of the documentary “76 Days."This is in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, back in January and February when the city of 11 million went into a 2 1/2-month lockdown and hospitals were overrun. The health worker's father has just died, and her agony at not being able to sit by his side is overwhelming. Her colleagues restrain her as she sobs, moaning, “Papa, you'll stay forever in my heart.”“76 Days," shot in four Wuhan hospitals, captures a local horror before it became a global nightmare. Given the constraints at the time on footage and information from Wuhan, it's a rare window into the infancy of the pandemic. The film is directed by the New York-based filmmaker Hao Wu, who worked with two Chinese journalists — one named Weixi Chen, the other is remaining anonymous — to create of a portrait of the virus epicenter.Some of the images document the fear and confusion of those early days: A group of patients mill outside the hospital doors, pleading to be let in. Others are by now more familiar: Solitary deaths followed by phone calls to family members.“There has been so much news coverage and commentary about the pandemic but most of that has primarily been about statistics and our political divide," Wu said in an interview. “What I think is missing is the human stories, the human faces of the pandemic.”That may be especially true for stories of the pandemic from China, which President Donald Trump and his supporters have been highly critical of, blaming it for the “Wuhan virus.” Wu's film, though, consciously avoids politics to concentrate on the humanity inside the hospitals — even if the workers are so obscured by their Hazmat suits that they're only identifiable by the names penned in sharpie on their backs.“I feel like right now there is such a toxic background to a lot of the discussions around the virus,” Wu says. “The virus is an enemy that doesn’t care about your nationality.”“76 Days," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is being released Friday by MTV Documentary Films is more than 50 virtual cinemas. Last month, it was nominated for best documentary by the IFP Gotham Awards.It's among the first in a coming surge of coronavirus documentaries. A handful have already arrived, some — snapshots in an ongoing drama — hurriedly edited even as the scope of the pandemic has continued to expand. In October, Alex Gibney released “Totally Under Control," a two-part indictment of the federal U.S. response to the virus. In August, the artist-activist Ai Weiwei debuted “Coronation,” a documentary he directed remotely with dozens of volunteers to capture the lockdown experience for ordinary Chinese people.For some, the films are too harsh a reminder of an all-consuming reality. But “76 Days" feels like a vital early draft of history. Wu's first instinct had been to create a more straightforwardly journalistic film examining what happened in Wuhan. But Wu — a Chinese native who lives in New York with his partner and two children (he depicted his journey as a gay man in a traditional Chinese family in the 2019 Netflix documentary “All in My Family” ) — soon recognized the difficulty of access and the rapidly changing situation would make such a film either very difficult or potentially stale by the time it was finished.“The images coming out of Wuhan were so harrowing. Everyone was scouring social media, trying to find out what happened in Wuhan, how it got so bad. A lot of us were so angry,” he says. “I started getting away from wanting to assign blame."The journalists, working with press passes, would have typically been closely watched by Communist party minders but in the chaos were given more free rein. Wu leaned into a more observational approach without talking heads, and urged his collaborators to focus on the people and the details. One poignant shot shows the ziplocked cellphone of a deceased person quietly ringing.Wu's last trip to China was in January and February. Right after he came back, his grandfather was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. He would die a month later. Wu, unable to visit because of travel restrictions and busy on the film, wasn't able to say goodbye in person.“For me, I was compelled to tell the story. It’s almost like a tribute to my grandfather,” says Wu. “The shots that attracted me were those that showed the details of people willing to be nice to each other. I guess it was guilty about not being able to say goodbye to my grandfather, to hold his hand.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press
San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at a posh Napa Valley restaurant the day after California's governor was there. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo went to his parents' house for Thanksgiving. And a Los Angeles County supervisor dined outdoors just hours after voting to ban outdoor dining there.All three local officials were on the hot seat Tuesday after various reports that they violated rules aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus — or at a minimum, violating the spirit of the rules as they repeatedly urged others to stay home.Breed joined seven others at the three Michelin-starred French Laundry on Nov. 7 to celebrate the 60th birthday of socialite Gorretti Lo Lui, the mayor's spokesman confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle. She dined in the same kind of partially enclosed indoor/outdoor room Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated in a day earlier.Newsom, who has appealed to Californians to “do your part" and stay home, apologized when the 12-person dinner was reported, then again when photos emerged showing him, his wife and others sitting close together at the same table without masks.Breed's spokesman, Jeff Cretan, called the mayor's French Laundry dinner a “small family birthday dinner." He did not immediately respond to a telephone message Tuesday inquiring whether the dinner involved more than three different households, which are prohibited under the state's rules.Before the Chronicle's story was posted Tuesday, Breed thanked residents for doing their part by limiting contact with others, saying on a live stream that “as someone who basically lives alone, it’s been a tough year for me personally."Earlier in the day, Liccardo apologized for attending a Thanksgiving get-together at his parents' home that included people from five different households.“I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family," Liccardo said in a statement. “I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better.”Liccardo said there were eight members from five different households and that they all dined outside at separate tables on the back patio, wearing masks when they were not eating.The outing was first reported by KNTV in San Jose.A day earlier, Liccardo tweeted that cases were spiking because people were letting their guard down with family members and friends. “Let’s cancel the big gatherings this year and focus on keeping each other safe," he wrote.Meanwhile, KTTV in Los Angeles reported that LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl enjoyed an outdoor meal at a restaurant just hours after voting last week to ban outdoor dining at the county’s 31,000 restaurants over coronavirus safety concerns.Kuehl was seen eating outside on Nov. 24 at Il Forno Trattoria near her home in Santa Monica, the station reported. Earlier in the day, Kuehl was among the supervisors who voted 3 to 2 to prohibit outdoor dining in Los Angeles County. Indoor dining has been banned for months during the pandemic.“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible," Kuehl’s office said in a statement Monday. "She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit."Los Angeles County imposed a new stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents effective this week as coronavirus cases surge across the state and country.During last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl referred to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” because of the possibility of virus transmission among unmasked patrons.“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said.Juliet Williams, The Associated Press
After nine long months of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns people around the world are truly feeling the emotional and physical crunch. Humans are social creatures and this pandemic has succeeded in separating us from one another more than anything else in recent memory. In our desperate attempts to slow the spread of the virus throughout our communities, much of what we commonly experience together as communal acts of collective joy have become greatly restricted or shut down completely. One of the areas hardest hit is the live music industry. Venues have closed up, and over time we have seen repeated announcements in the news that many will not be able to ride out the storm and reopen in the future. Festivals both large and small were forced to go on hiatus this year sending out waves of financial crisis through the entire industry, from the producers at the top to the thousands upon thousands of musicians who rely more than ever on live performance engagements for their livelihood. In an attempt to utilize digital media to bridge the wide physical expanse, many organizations working in the music industry have turned to live streaming over the Internet to remain connected with their audiences. One organization operating as a music industry hub is the non-profit Canada's Music Incubator - Canada's Music Incubator (CMI). “We’re national. So we're based out of Toronto, but we also do a lot of our programming in the west as well in Alberta, out of the National Music Centre,” said CMI Live Events director Jesse Mitchell. The centre is a music performance venue located in Calgary. Much of the work that CMI does involves live music curation, as well as connecting musicians and managers with promoters and performance opportunities. But the organization also goes beyond that by producing music industry workshops and mentorships which serve to educate music creators and to invigorate the Canadian music landscape. Because of CMI’s success over their 10-year history, Mitchell and his associates were approached by representatives at the TD Bank, an organization with a long and prominent history of sponsoring and supporting many high profile music and cultural events across Canada. During these times of quarantine TD was seeking alternatives to sponsoring live events and approached CMI to spearhead a nationally-produced streaming performance program. Together the two partners came up with the Connected Music Series. Produced over the last few months and premiering on CMI’s YouTube channel, the Connected Music Series features 20 performances by Black, Indigenous and South Asian musicians. The artists selected were asked to stage their performances at venues in their community that held significance to that place. CMI also had a mandate to include local creators and media production crews to capture the performances. “The series has a focus on showcasing artists, but at the same time we’re interested in also showcasing significant spaces,” Mitchell explained. “But because this is online and it’s being videoed, we’re also highlighting media creators who work in these different communities.” The Connected Music Series features 20 prerecorded 30-minute musical performances airing between Nov. 19 and Dec. 20. The series hosts an incredible selection of Canadian talent, including many acclaimed Indigenous artists such as 2020 JUNO Indigenous Artist of the Year Celeigh Cardinal; Mi'kmaq Rapper Wolf Castle; two-spirit Mohawk singer Shawnee; Cree R&B; musician Sebastian Gaskin; Mohawk musician Logan Staats, and Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. The venues chosen by the performers range from the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Alberta, both in Edmonton, and the Pabineau First Nation Band Hall in Bathurst, N.B., to intimate locations like The Garden Strathcona in Vancouver and community-minded retail spaces like hip hop fashion store Friday Knights in Winnipeg. “There's lots of beautiful and incredible places where I could have taped my performance, but it was already winter here,” said Gilday, who makes her home in Yellowknife. “So shooting a half-hour performance outside in winter here is not possible because I play guitar.” “I chose the Bullock’s Bistro, which is our local fish and chips place, and it's like an iconic Yellowknife location.” Gilday appreciates the Yellowknife restaurant’s attraction as a community and tourist hub, established over the past three decades, and how “it’s connected to the water in a very special way.” Owners “Renata and Sam Bullock get their fish fresh out of Great Slave Lake literally a hundred feet away.” For Gilday, that speaks to her deeply about “food security and that connection to the water.” Whether locked down within the vast urban landscape of a city like Toronto or tucked in for the winter in the remote communities of Northern Canada there’s no denying the significance of how much digital media is helping to keep everyone connected in these trying times. Many of the artists featured in the series would normally be touring and performing in various corners of the world. During the pandemic, however, sponsored streaming events have been adopted by many producers and promoters to serve as an antidote to the moratorium placed on public gatherings and live music events. The Connected Music Series returns Dec. 3, streaming dynamic performances from unique Canadian locations by acclaimed Canadian BIPOC musicians and creators right through until Dec. 20. Visit the Connected Music Series YouTube channel to view the recorded performances so far. Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) opened its doors last week to a new primary care clinic located on reserve at the OKIB Health Centre. The new clinic is a partnership between Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Interior Health. The primary care clinic, which is open to OKIB members living both on and off-reserve, is an expansion to the existing facility but now providing patients with access to doctors. “There has been a need for a long time for these types of services,” says Chief Byron Louis of Okanagan Indian Band. “The idea has always been there, it’s based upon community growth.” OKIB, which is located at Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake), near Vernon, B.C., currently has 2030 members, with half of its members living on reserve. It’s the growing population that has fueled discussions of the need for a new primary care clinic. “We also have a growing need when we start looking at that,” says Louis. “Even with half of our population being non-reserve, but band members, you’re starting to get into the size of a small community.” The clinic is now open and accepting new patients via appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. The services available range from medical assessments, to diagnosis and treatment plans, diabetes and physical exams for newborns, seniors and elderly care. (See the full list here.) “It represents a new approach to providing health care services and access to doctors on OKIB reserve land. Now, OKIB members can receive care at all stages of life, right here in community,” Louis says. A healthcare system right at home in the community builds on pre-existing programs and services, but meets the needs of “the ageing population,” he explains. “It’s good that you’re able to provide a home base for your health care.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Two non-profit groups in Charlottetown dealt with separate incidents of vandalism this week. At Beaconsfield Historic House, staff arrived Monday morning to find four of the property's five antique lamp posts smashed. One of the posts was knocked completely down. And at the Stars for Life Foundation on Maypoint Road, a home for adults who have autism, someone spray-painted graffiti on the front sign. Ron Casey, executive director of Stars for Life, cleaned the spray paint off the sign himself — a job he said took about 45 minutes. > We've been really good that nobody's been around bothering us. — Ron Casey, Stars for Life "I had to go and get some graffiti remover and just sprayed it on and took it off. [You've] got to do a little elbow grease," said Casey. Casey added that it's the first time Stars for Life has been the target of vandalism. "I've seen some down around the downtown a little bit, but it's the first time I've seen any around here," Casey said."We've been really good that nobody's been around bothering us and stuff like that."Beaconsfield preparing for Christmas tours Staff at Beaconsfield wrote about the "unfortunate vandalism" of the damaged lamp posts on Facebook, adding that "A few broken lights won't dampen our festive spirit!"Beaconsfield site manager Nicholas Longaphy said it could take staff some time to repair the lamp posts, as it's a busy few weeks at the house. Staff began decorating Beaconsfield for Christmas on Monday, in preparation for their special Victorian Christmas tours, starting next week. Both property owners said they will notify police about the vandalism.More from CBC P.E.I.
SAN RAMON, Calif. — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft.The acquisition announced Tuesday is by far the largest in the 21-year history of Salesforce. The San Francisco company was one of the first to begin selling software as a subscription service that could be used on any internet-connected device instead of the more cumbersome process of installing the programs on individual computers.Salesforce’s flamboyant founder and CEO Marc Benioff hailed the “cloud computing” concept as the wave of the future to much derision initially.But software as a service has become an industry standard that has turned into a gold mine for longtime software makers. Microsoft for one has developed its own thriving online suite of services, known as Office 365, which includes a Teams chatting service that includes many of the same features as Slack’s 6-year-old application.Slack in July filed a complaint in the European Union accusing Microsoft of illegally bundling Teams into Office 365 in a way that blocks its removal by customers who may prefer Slack.Microsoft also has been posing a threat to Salesforce’s main products, a line-up of tools that help other companies manage their customer relationships.“For Benioff, this is all about Microsoft,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said of Tuesday's deal. “It’s just clear Microsoft is moving further and further away from Salesforce when it comes to the cloud wars.”Benioff left no doubt he considered the deal to be a major coup, after losing out to Microsoft in 2016 when the two companies were both vying to buy the professional networking service LinkedIn.“It's a match made in heaven," Benioff said during an ebullient conference call. “We see in Slack a once-in-a-generation company and platform. It’s a central nervous system for so many companies."Salesforce has been building on its success in recent years to diversify into other fields, largely through a series of acquisitions that included its previous largest deal, a $15.7 billion purchase of data analytics specialist Tableau Software last year.Many of the deals have been financed with Salesforce’s stock, which is worth nearly seven times more than it was a decade ago to lift the company's current market value to $220 billion. Salesforce is using its stock to pay for roughly half of the Slack purchase, with the rest being covered with some cash, with some of the money being borrowed during a time of extraordinarily low interest rates.Slack, on the other hand, hasn’t proven as popular with investors, even though its service that publicly launched in 2014 is being increasingly used by companies and government agencies looking for more nimble alternatives than email. Before news reports of a potential deal with Salesforce surfaced last week, Slack’s stock was still hovering around its initial listing price of $26 when the company went public nearly 18 months ago.“This is a stellar exit strategy for Slack,” said Kate Leggett, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Microsoft Teams is eating Slack’s lunch.”Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield will be hoping this sale works out better than when another company he started, photo sharing service Flickr, was sold to Yahoo 15 years ago. Flickr got lost in the shuffle at Yahoo amid years of turmoil before it was finally sold again in 2018 to SmugMug.In his next act after leaving Flickr, Butterfield decided to focus on gaming with a startup called Tiny Speck that launched in 2009. A few years later, he shifted to the instant messaging service whose name was an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge."Leggett predicted Salesforce would benefit from owning Slack because it will add a popular collaboration tool to its own software suite, which is focused on managing customer relationships for businesses and government agencies. She said the need for customer-relations agents and other Salesforce users to swarm around a topic and collaborate remotely has only grown with the coronavirus pandemic that has sent so many office workers home and got many hooked on new online tools.If all goes smoothly, Salesforce hopes to take control of Slack sometime from May to July next year.Slack, which is free for people who use the basic version, found quick adoption in the tech industry for its ease of use and its fostering of a more casual mode of conversation than email. The company stopped releasing its daily user count after topping 12 million last year, focusing instead on paid customers, which Butterfield said in March have shown a “massive outpouring of interest” because of the way the pandemic has forced people to work from home.“I think the pandemic’s played a massive role" in paving the way for the deal, Ives said. “The Zooms, the Slacks, the Microsoft Teams, that’s going to be a new part of the workforce.”Ives said Benioff was also running out of time to catch up to Microsoft, which remains a secondary player in Salesforce’s core customer-relations-management business, known as CRM, but way ahead in providing a broader array of cloud-based services.Slack and Salesforce are headquartered about a block away from each other in San Francisco. Slack's office is in the shadow of the 62-story Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in Northern California.“I get to look right out my window and you know what I see? Slack," Benioff said.___O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.Michael Liedtke And Matt O'Brien, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is extending ferry service to Campobello Island until the end of the month to help address residents' pandemic concerns.Residents of the Canadian island — which is connected by a bridge to the state of Maine — want a year-round ferry service so they don't have to enter the United States in order to get to the New Brunswick mainland.The seasonal ferry service ended Sunday after it had already been extended from September to help address concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic."We have negotiated with the private company to continue that service to the end of December," Transportation Minister Jill Green said in an interview Tuesday.She confirmed the province will subsidize the private ferry service — run by East Coast Ferries — until the end of the month but would not say how much is being spent because negotiations were ongoing. The extended service will operate four days a week, weather permitting.The extension falls short of the year-round service that residents have been seeking. "The premier promised he would set up a committee or a study to take to the federal government to help us, so the federal government could get involved," Campobello resident Ulysse Robichaud said. "The plan that he said he was going to work on for us hasn't done a thing."Premier Blaine Higgs made the commitment during a video meeting with members of the ferry committee in May."It's getting more and more frustrating, because we feel totally abandoned. Are we real Canadians? Are we fake Canadians?" Robichaud asked.Campobello Island — with a population of 900 — is a popular summer tourism destination and was the summer home of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.The island's residents have been given an exemption to travel into Maine for gas and medical needs without having to self-isolate upon return.Robichaud said while they are exempt to travel into Maine, they are not exempt from contracting the COVID-19 virus. There have been almost 12,000 COVID-19 cases in Maine and 214 related deaths since the pandemic began."I encourage residents of Campobello Island to limit trips off the island to minimize risk,” Higgs said last week. Green said the province is open to talking with the federal government about a permanent ferry connection, but no talks are planned at this time. "The department has reached out to our federal counterparts more than once, and they have not jumped on the bandwagon to do that," she said.When asked for comment on year-round service for Campobello, a spokesperson for federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau referred questions to the ferry operator."Transport Canada does not determine when East Coast Ferries provides its services between Campobello Island and Deer Island, N.B.," press secretary Allison St-Jean. "East Coast Ferries is a privately-owned operator."Kathy Bockus, the Progressive Conservative member for the provincial riding that includes Campobello Island, said she was pleased with the extension and will continue to push for a permanent ferry for the island.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
Et la lumière fut! Samedi en soirée, à Natashquan, la croix de fer a de nouveau illuminé le promontoire en face de l’église du village. L’installation des ampoules DEL et l’illumination de la structure constituaient la dernière étape d’un projet de restauration mené par le comité de soutien à la Fabrique de l’église. Le sablage au jet et la peinture, tout comme les manœuvres de déboulonnement et de réinstallation, ont été effectués par de généreux bénévoles. La compagnie Mini Équipement du Havre s’est chargée du retour de la croix de plus de 2220 livres vers son socle. C’est la compagne GLR qui avait fourni le camion pour le transport de la structure vers le garage où les travaux devaient être accomplis. Grâce à une campagne virtuelle via la plateforme GoFundMe et de nombreux dons faits en mains propres, le comité de soutien a amassé 5649 $ dollars, dont 2562 $ ont servi à la remise à neuf de la croix. Le montant restant servira aux autres projets du comité, notamment la réparation de la porte du cimetière. Construite en 1987 par Jacques Landry, son père, Normand, et d’autres proches, la croix de fer fait partie du patrimoine religieux des Macacains et des Macacaines.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Port Alberni, BC - As part of the nation’s safety protocols, patrons are required to wear a facemask and sanitize their hands before entering the market. Increasingly, staff has been met with “grumbling” customers who reject the safety measures, said Hugh Braker, Tseshaht Emergency Operations Centre information officer. The issue escalated mid-November when a customer entered the market and started yelling vulgar phrases, objecting to sanitizing his hands. After walking towards a female employee in what she described as an “aggressive” approach, male staff intervened and escorted the customer out of the store. Before driving away, staff took photos of his vehicle. At approximately 5:30 a.m. the following morning, a male threw a glass bottle at the market and shattered the glass door. Security cameras confirmed that the vehicle involved in the incident correlated with the car from the day before. “There is no place for this type of behaviour in a civilized society,” Braker said in a release. “Our staff and customers were exposed to unruly behaviour and assault. People must accept the measures we are taking in our community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or they can stay away.” In the morning of Nov. 11, the incident was reported to the Port Alberni RCMP detachment. After accessing CCTV footage, investigators identified the perpetrator as Joel Desjardins-Lavoie, said Cpl. Jason Racz. Desjardins-Lavoie was arrested for mischief and remains in custody. He was also wanted on warrants from the province of Quebec for uttering threats, said Racz. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 16. Braker said the nation is doing “everything” they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. With four confirmed cases within Tseshaht’s membership, Braker said the pandemic is “top of mind.” “Living on reserve we have about 70 elders and we’re sensitive to the fact that they are extremely vulnerable,” said Braker. “Other members in our tribe have compromised immune systems and they are very vulnerable. We’re doing everything we can to protect these people.” Yesterday, Tseshaht began distributing cleaning packages that will go to every member’s household within the Port Alberni area. They include: hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, Clorox disinfecting spray, gloves and masks. “I would like to remind people of the responsibility we have to keep everyone safe,” said Ken Watts, Tseshaht councillor and member of the Tseshaht Market board of directors. “The Tseshaht council condemns the actions of this individual. We encourage everyone to embrace Dr. Henry’s thoughts on this being our time to ‘be kind, be calm and be safe.’” -30- Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.“The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote.The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States."The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule.The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations.“Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote.The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time."This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.”The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned.The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
OTTAWA — The Liberals are pushing back against allegations from their political rivals that the federal government has failed Canadians on COVID-19 vaccines, noting Canada was one of the first countries to order doses from several foreign suppliers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that other countries with domestic vaccine production are likely to inoculate their citizens first before shipping doses to Canada, which prompted an outcry from the opposition parties.The Conservatives have also accused the Liberals of having put too much faith in what was ultimately a failed partnership between the National Research Council and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.The Liberal government confirmed in August the deal with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart, after the Chinese government blocked the shipment of doses for clinical trials in Canada. The Tories are now pushing for parliamentary hearings into the arrangement.On Tuesday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal with U.S.-based pharmaceutical firm Moderna — and that the company has confirmed it will be one of the first to receive doses of its vaccine.Anand decried what she described as “misinformation” around vaccines, noting that Moderna “has stated publicly that Canada is at the head of the line for its vaccine doses.”Canada signed a deal to purchase 56 million doses of vaccine from Moderna on July 24, according to the government. That was 18 days before the U.S. government reached its own agreement with the firm, and months before Britain, the European Union and Japan. Canada was also the fourth country to finalize a deal with Pfizer after the U.S., Britain and Japan, Anand added, again noting the company has confirmed the timeline. And it was the first country without the ability to mass produce vaccines domestically to ink an agreement with AstraZeneca. The three vaccines, along with another developed by Johnson & Johnson, are now being reviewed by Health Canada for approval. The government is hoping distribution to Canadians will begin in the first quarter of 2021.The timing of any vaccine delivery and distribution has become a major question for the government, opposition parties and Canadians who have been struggling physically, financially and emotionally through nearly nine months of the pandemic.Anand listed numerous other measures to ensure Canada is ready to start immunizing people when the vaccines are approved, including the purchase of freezers to store doses and enlisting the military to help with logistics.Asked exactly when the vaccines will arrive, however, Anand replied: “It is not possible to circle a single date on a calendar.” She went on to suggest the question has become politicized, but that safety will trump any political considerations.Opposition parties continued to demand more information from the government while repeating past allegations that the Liberals dragged their feet on vaccines."There's no question that other countries landed priority on vaccines ahead of Canada while Trudeau was dithering and spinning his wheels in the middle of last summer," said Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said. The Conservatives also pushed to probe the deal with CanSino at the House of Commons industry committee. The Tories want more information about a $44-million project to upgrade a National Research Council facility in Montreal as part of that arrangement, and how the deal with CanSino might have affected the timely procurement of vaccines from elsewhere.Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet appeared to suggest the Liberals should have used emergency laws in the spring to take existing technology from elsewhere and put it to use for Canada, dealing with the intellectual property issue after the fact.Governments across the country are also figuring out who will be immunized first.Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that according to what science suggests about who is most at risk from COVID-19, the initial round of vaccines should go to those in high-risk situations such as hospitals and care homes. The next batch, she added, should be distributed by age, with the oldest at the front of the line.Trudeau declined to get into specifics, including whether he should be one of the first inoculated, saying he is “going to trust experts to make the right determination of what the priority populations are.”Meanwhile, the prime minister said the federal government is stepping up assistance in two northern communities struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases, while the Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to the Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan.The moves come as provinces reported thousands of new cases across the country Tuesday, along with dozens more deaths.Alberta, the province with the highest rate of COVID-19 — 223 per 100,000 people — reported 1,307 new cases and 479 people in hospital. Leaked health projections show hospitalizations there could soar to 775 by mid-December, with 161 people in intensive care.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said restrictions on public gatherings and business openings in the province, where the daily rise in cases has levelled off after a spike last month, could remain into the winter as the health-care system continues to strain. The province also said it handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week, after setting strict limits on public gatherings and requiring non-essential businesses to close.A mandatory-mask order was also implemented for all indoor public spaces in Yukon as Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases in the territory over the past week, bringing its total to 47 since the start of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.—With files from Beth Leighton in Vancouver, Steve Lambert in Winnipeg, Mia Rabson in Ottawa and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
Health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronavirus vaccine shots become available, the influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended Tuesday. (Dec. 2)
Premier Scott Moe recently raised the possibility of lifting some of the restrictions on gatherings during the holiday season, if it is safe to do so. But some Saskatchewan doctors are ringing alarm bells — not Christmas bells — about the rising case numbers. At a physician town hall last week, Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the current trajectory puts Saskatchewan on track to have 14,000 cases of COVID-19 by mid-December.As of Tuesday, there have been 8,745 cases to date, with 3,819 considered active.Kryzanowski also worries about the possibility of under-counting active cases at this stage in the pandemic. "When we're in exponential growth, we know active cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and we know there's a huge iceberg under the water that represents the undiagnosed cases," she said."That's also growing exponentially, and we have momentum behind the growth in cases that's increasingly difficult to turn around." According to models presented by senior medical information officer Dr. Jenny Basran, COVID-19 patients may soon account for half of all available hospital beds — and that situation is projected to last well into the spring. By January, there may not be enough ventilators in Saskatchewan's ICUs for all the patients who will need them, the models suggest. Skip this Christmas so family is here next year: doctorKyle Anderson, an assistant professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, says Moe's comments about lifting restrictions do not reflect the reality of where the pandemic is headed. He worries that type of thinking will lead to a false sense of security. "People will think things are going to be turning around, because the premier must have the most up-to-date information, and he would be guiding us with the best medically sound advice," said Anderson. "In this case, there's no way you could claim that the best sound medical advice would allow us to start loosening things up. We are not there."Anderson hopes residents will remember that a great deal of community transmission is driven by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people. In many cases, these people have not even gone to get a COVID test, because they don't feel ill. "These are the people who are spreading it to other people," Anderson said. "They're going to play hockey. They're going to a restaurant. They're going for that one-on-one dinner with a friend. They're getting in close contact, unmasked, because they think they're safe."If more people are allowed to gather for the holidays, more people will unknowingly spread the virus to their families and loved ones at a time when the hospital system is already overloaded. "The only way we can try to make sure we don't worsen the situation at Christmas is to say, just like we told the kids at Halloween, we're skipping it this year," said Anderson. "We can skip these holidays. Having someone here next Christmas is more important than going to see them this Christmas." Looking for loopholesAs case numbers in the province continue to rise despite the new public health measures, doctors are advocating for more public education and greater clarity about why certain things are allowed and others forbidden. At the town hall meeting, Moose Jaw family doctor Brandon Thorpe said the uncertainty is leading some people to look for loopholes."I'm hearing all sorts of devious ways of how people are getting by the new rules," he said."The joke is that 'I'm going to go and have a funeral for my turkey on Christmas day with 30 people in a restaurant.' So … I just feel that the presentations Mr. Moe and [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab are doing are not sufficient. They're too vague, and they don't give enough education." For the government to promote an effective public health message at this point in time, everyone must present a clear and united front, Anderson says."Education is one of the biggest things we can do to get us out of this mess, and I think the government is sort of dropping the ball on that," he said."They're not consistently getting the messaging out about what we need to do to actually succeed at this pandemic. They're saying, 'Well, maybe if you could, it would be nice if some people did this.' That's really not the messaging people need right now."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press