In typical feline fashion, this kitty totally ignores a parrot trying to initiate playtime. Too funny!
In typical feline fashion, this kitty totally ignores a parrot trying to initiate playtime. Too funny!
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration on Wednesday effectively killed a contentious proposed mine in Alaska, a gold and copper prospect once envisioned to be nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon and could produce enough waste to fill an NFL stadium nearly 3,900 times — all near the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.The Army Corps of Engineers “concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest” and denied a permit to build the Pebble Mine under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the agency said in a statement.The rejection was a surprise. It's at odds with President Donald Trump’s efforts to encourage energy development in Alaska, including opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and other moves nationwide to roll back environmental protections that would benefit oil and gas and other industries.The Corps of Engineers also seemed to signal just a few months ago that after almost two decades of political wrangling, Pebble Mine was on a fast track to approval, a reversal from what many had expected under the Obama administration.But unlike drilling elsewhere in Alaska, the mine proposed for the southwestern Bristol Bay region could have negatively affected the state's billion-dollar fishing industry. Conservationists and even Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., sounded the alarm on the project before the administration changed course again.The CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine’s developers, said he was dismayed by the decision, especially after the corps had indicated in an environmental impact statement in July that the mine and fishery could coexist.“One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area,” CEO John Shively said in a statement. The environmental review “clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life. This is also a lost opportunity for the state’s future economy.”He said they are considering their next steps, which could include an appeal of the corps’ decision.“Today Bristol Bay’s residents and fishermen celebrate the news that Pebble’s permit has been denied; tomorrow we get back to work,” said Katherine Carscallen, executive director of the group Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.The group wants Congress to pass laws protecting the region. “We’ve learned the hard way over the last decade that Pebble is not truly dead until protections are finalized,” Carscallen said.In July, the Corps of Engineers released an environmental review that the mine developer saw as laying the groundwork for key federal approvals. The review said that under normal operations, Pebble Mine “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”However, in August, the corps said it had determined that discharges at the mine site would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources” and laid out required steps to reduce those effects.Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which owns Pebble Limited Partnership, said it had submitted a mitigation plan on Nov. 16.Even if the corps had approved the project, there was still no guarantee it would have been built. It would have needed state approval, and President-elect Joe Biden has expressed opposition to the project.Critics saw Pebble Mine as getting a lifeline under the Trump administration. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew restrictions on development that were proposed — but never finalized — under the Obama administration and said it planned to work with the corps to address concerns.However, Trump’s eldest son was among those who voiced opposition earlier this year. After senior Trump campaign adviser Nick Ayers tweeted in August that he hoped the president would direct the EPA to block Pebble Mine, Trump Jr. responded: “As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”The president later said he would “listen to both sides.”“The credit for this victory belongs not to any politician but to Alaskans and Bristol Bay’s Indigenous peoples, as well as to hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts from all across the country who spoke out in opposition to this dangerous and ill-conceived project," said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.Alaska’s two Republican U.S. senators, who support oil and gas development and mining, hailed the rejection of the Pebble Mine permit. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the decision affirmed her position that it’s the wrong mine in the wrong place.“It will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource — Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery,” she said.Sen. Dan Sullivan said he would remain an advocate for good-paying jobs derived from resource development.“However, given the special nature of the Bristol Bay watershed and the fisheries and subsistence resources downstream, Pebble had to meet a high bar so that we do not trade one resource for another,” he said. “Pebble did not meet that bar.”___Associated Press journalist Becky Bohrer in Juneau contributed to this report.Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press
A gathering of scholars and activists on Wednesday pointed to soaring test positivity rates on First Nations and suggested that Indigenous colonialism in Canada is alive and well and killing Indigenous people in the midst of a global pandemic. The online discussion with Pamela Palmater, Winona LaDuke and host Dr. Niigaan Sinclair, spoke about how Indigenous people are dealing with ongoing colonization, what has or hasn’t changed due to the pandemic, and where Indigenous people and their allies can go from here. “Racism impacts health and we see that particularly here in Manitoba," said Sinclair. "Fourteen per cent is the test positivity rate in Manitoba. They closed schools in New York for a 3% positivity rate. “On First Nations, it is 23%. That means one out of every four people is testing positive on First Nations for COVID-19. This proves that racism kills.” Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and professor at Ryerson College, advised Indigenous communities to not forget the power of their sovereignty, peoplehood, nationhood, self-determination and that they are collective. “We have to remember that every single person has something to contribute,” said Palmater. “While the land defenders are out there trying to protect our lands and waters, we also need people behind the scenes supporting the land defenders, advocating in international forums and keeping a close eye on what federal, provincial and municipal governments are doing without our knowledge.” While people were focusing on how the pandemic would impact their communities, Palmater noted that governments not only allowed massive industry projects to continue but were changing laws, legislations and regulations to give them multiple exemptions. “We need people from every skill level and every background to do their part in different forums. I believe that it is one of the most encouraging things that I have seen come out of the pandemic,” said Palmater. “When the Indigenous nations and tribal governments took control of their borders despite the restrictions on gathering, they made sure they were still advocating and defending." Palmater said that by exercising Indigenous voices, they are helping to educate, inform and empower people as well as to raise the alarm on what is happening among Indigenous people. The event also functioned as a launch for Palmater’s and LaDuke’s new books. Both works were published by Fernwood Publishing. “Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence,” is the second collection of writings by Palmater. In the book, Palmater addresses various Indigenous issues such as empty political promises, ongoing racism, sexualized genocide, government lawlessness as well as noting that reconciliation is a lie. Palmater’s book is available now and can be purchased at the Fernwood Publishing website. “To Be a Water Protector: Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers,” by LaDuke — an American environmentalist and former vice-president candidate — touches on global, Indigenous-led opposition to the enslavement and exploitation of the land and water. The book also acknowledges several elements of a New Green Economy and outlines the lessons we can take from activists outside North America. LaDuke’s book can be pre-ordered now and will be available in the first week of December. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Staff asked and council granted. Penetanguishene's staffing complement will be slightly more robust next year, after approval for two part-time contract positions to become full-time jobs in 2021. The first one was for the position of junior planner, for which Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development, made a case. "Largely, the report shows the volume and complexity of applications has increased," she said. "It's the primary function of development to process those applications and get development moving through. There's not a second full-time position dedicated to planning. It's a gap in our service for people." As well, Betty said Penetanguishene is the lowest staffed planning department as compared to its neighbours. She also made a case for increasing the current part-time bylaw contract position to full-time. With that in mind, Coun. Jill St. Amant asked if staff had looked into sharing services with other municipalities for the planning or bylaw position. "We have had those discussions with the four North Simcoe municipalities," Betty said. "All three other municipalities are pretty lean in their planning staff complement. They don't have the ability to share their current resources in that department. In the bylaw department, Tiny has a large complement in summer, but there's limited ability for us to share those resources." The third request was from recreation and community services director Sherry Desjardins, who asked for an additional 80 attendant hours weekly to make the recreation centre's reopening successful and an additional 40 hours for the 2021/2022 ice season. "This comes as a followup to a previous report with the reopening of the arena," she said. "We had requested we hire additional facility attendants to assist with additional pieces that need to be completed to be compliant with public health. It's been going well. We don't know where we will be later on in 2021." Coun. George Vadeboncoeur agreed and recommended going beyond the request. "I felt there was the need within the rec. and community services department to add another full-time staff member," he said. "I was prepared to consider eight months and move to 12 months as we move through a two-year period. The rationale is to provide full-time assistance at the arena for scheduling and knowledge transfer as some of our senior employees are looking to retire." Vadeboncoeur said a second rationale behind his move was that that facility staff will end up working for the parks department as the ice season winds up. "There are some maintenance issues at the parks," he said, "and one of the responses I've received is with respect to resource constraint and it's particularly acute when the arena and parks are going at the same time." Desjardins said she appreciated the consideration, however, facility attendants are very limited in what they can do in other places. "What would be really impactful would be a facility operator, but that has a greater financial impact," she noted. Vadeboncoeur said his suggestion to phase in a facility attendant was to soften the effects on the budget. But Carrie Robillard, director of finance/treausrer, said her recommendation wouldn't change even if the position changed. "It would still be recommended out of our service delivery review budget line," she said. "The purpose of that was to obviously increase our service levels and improve them. We have been transferring to a service delivery review reserve for the last couple years, so timing wise, this would be good and funding is available through that route." Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau wanted to know exactly what kind of money was included in that budget item. "We have $166,000 in the budget line," said Robillard. "That doesn't include money transferred in the reserves." In the end, the public representatives went ahead with approving funding for a full-time facility operator.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
VICTORIA — Doctors and nurses are being asked to support British Columbia's safe supply drug program and other substance use measures, as an average of five people a day die from illicit drug overdoses, the B.C. Coroners Service says. There were 162 overdose deaths in B.C. last month, more than double the 75 recorded in October last year. The number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest monthly total ever recorded, the coroners service said Wednesday in a news release. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the supply of street drugs and is disrupting access to harm-reduction services such as supervised injection sites. "We encourage clinicians to support those at risk of overdose by prescribing safe supply and reducing the numbers of lives lost to toxic substances," she said in the statement. The coroners service continues to advocate for an accessible, evidence-based and accountable treatment and recovery system for drug users, Lapointe added. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry authorized registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs in September. Before that, only doctors and nurse practitioners were able to prescribe drugs, including substitute medications for illicit-drug users. But advocates for drug users say there is still a lack of medical personnel prescribing safe, prescription alternatives to illicit drugs. "They're not prescribing to the extent they should be," said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate and a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver. "They need to be prescribing assertively and doing outreach," she said in an interview. Ward said drug users and advocates feel as if the relentless death toll is like an "ongoing tidal wave." She questioned why there is still a lack of prescribing guidelines related to Henry's September order. "That was two months ago … why aren't they done? This should have been done that day," Ward said. Leslie McBain, the co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, said she's devastated by the latest numbers from the coroners service. "I don't know if it can get much worse than this for people," she said in an interview. There needs to be more people willing and able to prescribe prescription alternatives to illicit drugs, McBain said, and the provincial government needs to listen to drug users about the type of alternative drugs they want. "The drugs being offered to people were not the drugs they were used to or would keep them in a balanced, stable place," she said. October is the fifth month this year that more than 160 people have died and the eighth consecutive month with more than 100 deaths. The latest toxicology testing suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme concentrations of the opioid fentanyl between April and October compared with previous months, Lapointe said in her statement. Henry echoed Lapointe's concerns, saying the pandemic is having a devastating effect on the overdose crisis. "Now more than ever, we must remove the stigma of drug use and remove the shame people feel, which keeps them from seeking help or telling friends and family," she said in a statement on Wednesday. There have been 1,386 deaths from suspected overdoses since January, nearly 400 more deaths than when a public health emergency was declared by the provincial government in April 2016. — By Nick Wells in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020. The Canadian Press
A provincial court judge in Wynyard has set Jan. 12 as the date for former music teacher Gerard Loehr to be sentenced for his three sexual assault convictions. Judge Lloyd Stang found Loehr guilty on Nov. 13 of sexual assaults committed while working as a music teacher with the now-defunct Shamrock School Division in the early to mid-1990s. The case returned briefly to court this week to set a sentencing date. The school division covered the Foam Lake area, between Wynyard and Yorkton. Six former students, all women now, accused him of sexual assault when they were teenagers, all 14 years old or younger. Loehr was in his late 20s and early 30s at the time. He previously pleaded not guilty and the charges went to trial in Wynyard over the summer. Loehr is facing multiple sex-related charges in Ontario related to his work as a music teacher in Ottawa. — with files from The Canadian PressEvan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
Regina, Shellbrook – Sports have not been shut down entirely, but games have, and practices are now reduced to eight people. All but the youngest of children are now expected to wear masks when appropriate. Those were some of the latest restrictions the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health announced another round of new restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. Those restrictions in many ways do not go as far as some of what has been implemented in Alberta and Manitoba in recent days and weeks. Saskatchewan’s new cases on Nov. 25 came in at 164, but the 7-day average is now 214.3, a relatively levelling off over the last four days. While Manitoba has entered another lockdown, on Nov. 24, Alberta announced that it would soon be closing junior high and high schools, reverting to online learning as of next week, and extending the winter break for all students until Jan. 11. Saskatchewan will be doing neither, as it stands. Premier Scott Moe, who is personally self-isolating after a possible exposure to COVID-19 at a Prince Albert restaurant 10 days earlier, made the announcement via videoconference on Nov. 25. He was joined by Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, who was in the Legislature in Regina. The new Saskatchewan measures come into effect at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Nov. 27. Moe said, “Our goal is to find the right balance, on behalf of the people in this province to protect Saskatchewan people from the spread of COVID-19, while at the same time, protecting the Saskatchewan people's jobs and their livelihoods. Our goal is to not shut down businesses, services and activities that ultimately put people out of work, and at times, may threaten their mental health. Our goal is to find ways for those things to operate and to do so safely, so that people can continue to participate in athletics and continue to work, while at the same time, continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.” Public gatherings Moe said, “All indoor public gatherings will be limited to 30 people. This includes all types of social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, as well as worship services. No food or drink maybe present or served at these events, and capacity will also be restricted to 30 people at all casinos bingo halls, arenas live performance venues and movie theatres, as well as any other facilities that currently have the capacity of up to 150 people.” He noted that private gatherings in your home are still limited to five people. Restaurants, bars and night clubs will not be shut down, but they will have to space out indoor clientele even more, with limits of four people per table, and three metres between tables unless they have barriers installed, in which case two metres is sufficient. Sports All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. are suspended, according to the release on Nov. 25. This includes amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups. Examples include hockey, curling, racquet sports, cheerleading, dance practices in group setting, etc. “All team sports are going to be paused until Dec. 17,” Moe said. “However, athletes under the age of 18 may continue practicing or training in groups of eight or fewer.” Masks strengthened Mask use is now required for all indoor fitness activities, except for swimming. Individual and group fitness activities can continue, but with three metre spacings and limits of eight people in a group. “All students, employees and visitors in schools and daycares are now required to wear a mask, except when they need to eat or drink. And mask use is now required in all common areas of businesses and workplaces,” Moe said. Children ages zero to two years-old are exempt from wearing masks. Children ages 3-12 should wear a mask if they are able to. All employees and visitors in all common areas in businesses and workplaces, even in those areas which the public does not have access (e.g. construction sites, manufacturing facilities). “Large retail stores, must limit their capacity to 50 per cent or four square meters per person, whichever is less,” Moe said. Sports led to school, work infections Shahab explained the reasoning behind the sports restrictions, saying that the nature of play always has a risk of transmission, even if you follow all the guidelines. “But over the last two to three weeks, they were becoming so frequent, and many cases, they were resulting in, for example, in children's sports, multiple cases then being imported into schools. For adult sports, multiple cases and became imported into workplaces. So, it was really important to have that pause for three weeks to slow down transmission in that setting.” Once cases come down, Shahab said the guidelines may be adjusted again. Moe explained how these particular restrictions were chosen, saying, “It would be great if we could just pinpoint or two venues or one or two activities where this spread is occurring, and just restrict those zones. But the reality is, it’s COVID, it’s in our communities, and it has been spreading in a number of different places, both inside and outside of our homes, and that's why we need to enact a number of different measures to get our numbers under control.” As for why the restrictions didn’t go further, such as a complete shutdown, lockdown or circuit breaker, similar to what was done in the spring, Moe said, “We do understand this virus better than we did back in the spring. We do know more about how it is spread. And we know what we need to do to reduce the spread of this virus, to keep ourselves and keep others safe. We need to just slow down a little bit. “The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan businesses and their employees in this province are operating safely, day to day. So, it would be terribly unfair, and it would have a huge negative impact, to close down all those businesses and put thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work. Yes, that is what we did, temporarily, this past spring. We took a very sweeping, broad brush approach to shutting down businesses, services and activities in our communities,” he said, adding, “But we don’t believe the solution is another wide-scale lockdown. Moe said, “Putting thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work, devastating small businesses and families, ending their livelihoods in many cases; a much better approach for us is to find the right balance; to find ways for us to operate and to do so even more safely than we have. By ensuring, yes, we are following all the existing guidelines that are in place. And by implementing some additional protocols so businesses and services can remain open and can do so safely.” Moe said, “We’re not prepared to look at a shutdown of our economy, in our communities, at this point in time, and we don’t believe it’s imminent that we will have to do a shutdown, here in the province. But, in saying that, if we’re not able to bend the growth and rate of transmission of this disease, obviously, that is a conversation that may come in the weeks and months ahead.” He said the actions taken thus far, and those added today, will hopefully not only flatten the rate of increase of infections, but bend that curve back down. He thanked the business, athletic and worship organizations that took part in recent consultations with regards to these measures. Both Moe and Shahab held out some hope that some restrictions might be lifted in time for the upcoming holidays. One possibility might be some allowable visits to long-term care homes, with multiple levels of personal protective equipment, but we’re not at that point in time, yet. The Ministry of Health is now posting a listing of outbreaks in long-term care homes on the Government of Saskatchewan website. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
When Treyton Middleton found out who was suspected of shooting his stepfather in the street outside their home on Saint John's lower west side, he looked him up on Facebook. On Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard that Middleton, now 19, sent a message to the man that night, threatening to round up some friends and kill him. In fact, when Const. Connor Bodechon arrived at 321 Duke St. West to take photos about an hour after the shooting, Justin Breau's Facebook profile is on the computer screen photographed in Middleton's bedroom. Breau, 37, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of 42-year-old Mark Shatford. He is accused of shooting Shatford at about 4:25 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2019. Despite numerous surgeries at the Saint John Regional Hospital, Shatford died on Dec. 18. During testimony on Wednesday, Middleton said he awoke to banging and yelling in the early morning hours of Nov. 17, 2019. He peeked out of his bedroom and saw two masked men moving through the second-floor apartment where he lived with Shatford, his mother, three siblings, and his sister's boyfriend. Middleton said he followed the men down the stairs and managed to grab one of them at the front door. He said he threw the man to the ground outside and started punching him. As he continued to fight with the man, he saw his mother and Shatford pass by, heading to a vehicle parked on the street. Middleton said he continued to fight with the man until he heard a gunshot. As he turned, he said, he saw Shatford fall to the ground. He immediately went to Shatford's side. He testified that the man with the gun then pointed it at him and his mother and told them to shut up. Middleton said he tried to grab a large wrench that Shatford had dropped, but his mother wouldn't let him take it. As the vehicle pulled away, Middleton said, he threw the wrench at it but missed. What became of the wrench before police seized it in January remains unclear.Middleton and his mother, Melissa Daley, both testified they don't know how the wrench got back inside the apartment. But pictures taken by Bodechon, who arrived at the scene at 5:50 a.m., appear to show the item on top of the fridge. Bodechon took several pictures inside the home, including the one that show's the computer screen in Middleton's bedroom. "I did that on my own," Middleton said of the Facebook search. "I just wanted to see him."It was under cross-examination by defence lawyer Brian Munro that Middleton was asked about sending a Facebook message to Breau not long after the shooting. Middleton admitted sending a message that he was going to round up some people and kill Breau. He was also asked about his actions immediately after the shooting. Middleton said he went to a "buddy's" place but the person wasn't at home. He was repeatedly asked to name the "buddy" but he refused each time. "I'm not answering it," he insisted, before the jury was led out of the courtroom. After a short time — and some discussion in the absence of the jury and Middleton — the jury was brought back in and cross-examination resumed. Middleton was again asked to name the person and said it was his ex-girlfriend, Bella McCutcheon. He told the court that he called her "buddy" because they were not dating at the time. The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.
Dr. Juveria Zaheer eagerly volunteered to work the sleepless overnight shift on the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health’s new emergency department. Other clinicians, she said, requested the same. “There’s just so much excitement happening,” said Zaheer, a psychiatrist at CAMH. This excitement is driven by the long-awaited unveiling of two new buildings at Canada’s leading mental health hospital: a new emergency department and a state-of-the-art recovery complex at CAMH’s Queen Street West campus, both featuring central themes of bright, open space and natural light. The new spaces are part of an ongoing, ambitious redevelopment plan that began in 2006 to integrate CAMH into one campus and build a vision for what the future of mental health care could look like, CAMH’s CEO Catherine Zahn said. The goal, Zahn said, is for CAMH to move away from an institutional environment by building a bridge with the community that surrounds it, lending to “the acceptance of mental illness, not as something that’s behind walls anymore,” but something that is central to the overall health of the community. “There’s no health without mental health,” Zahn said. Over a two-day period starting Wednesday, more than 200 patients were to be transported from the old building on College Street to the new buildings: The Crisis and Critical Care Building, which includes the new emergency department, and the McCain Complex Care and Recovery Building. It’s a challenging feat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but one that proved to be timely due to the new buildings’ abundance of space. “Moving into these new spaces is actually extremely desirable for us during the pandemic,” Zahn said. The new emergency department is double the size of the old one and features more spacious patient rooms, each equipped with a private bathroom, which will limit the sharing of common spaces. As of Tuesday, CAMH had two patients and seven staff who tested positive for COVID-19, according to the hospital’s website. Zahn said patients will be transported to the new building with the help of moving companies who are following rigorous sanitation procedures to ensure a safe move. The move includes COVID-19 positive patients, where Toronto Public Health was also consulted. In addition to more physical space, the Crisis and Critical Care Building features an outdoor terrace for patients to access fresh air, and more rooms for group therapy sessions and other recovery programs. It also offers more space dedicated to triaging patients. “In our current space, I’ll walk into the (emergency) department and there will be people in rooms, but there will also be people in stretchers and people sitting in seats and sleeping there,” Zaheer said. “Having more rooms will make a world of a difference.” There are 235 new patient beds in total between the new Critical Care Building and the Complex Care and Recovery Building. This includes an increase of Psychiatric Intensive Care Units from nine to 41 — more than quadrupling the previous capacity of beds that were fully at use by both CAMH and patients from other area hospitals. Alongside housing patient beds, the McCain Complex Care and Recovery Building will also serve as a unique, transformative hub for patients to learn life skills needed on their path to recovery. Part of this is a “therapeutic neighbourhood,” which holds a laundry room, an exercise room and an industrial-sized kitchen affiliated with George Brown College, where patients can take classes and learn how to perform daily tasks. The building is also home to music and art studios for various forms of art therapy. Erin Ledrew, a recreation therapist at CAMH, said the McCain complex was created with the help of existing literature on what mental health care can and should look like, and will serve as “a central programming space” for patients. “I think that will create a real sense of community,” Ledrew said. The McCain building also features a library that is open to the public and tied to CAMH’s larger vision of connecting the hospital with its surrounding community. Both buildings also feature artwork from previous CAMH patients, some of whom are Indigenous and channelled their culture and recovery journey into their art. For now, patients will be engaged in physically distant in-person tours of the new space, while virtual ones will be offered simultaneously. Ledrew said the building is large enough to offer some programming in a safe and distant manner as well. “Right now, we have a hybrid model that will allow us to still offer all of that programming, while maintaining not mixing (units) and continuing to follow all the protocols during COVID,” Ledrew said. The hope is that the new buildings will offer better care for patients and their families while providing the space and facilities to guide them in life beyond their time at CAMH, Ledrew said. “We’re really trying to offer spaces for people to feel safe to explore the strategies that work for them in their recovery,” she said. Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_ Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
OTTAWA, Ill. — Canada's watchdog for crime victims is calling on Parliament to overhaul their bill of rights, saying the five-year-old legislation has fallen "far short" of delivering on its promise.Rules meant to amplify victims' voices in the justice system have failed to make them heard following "sporadic" implementation of a regime that needs more teeth, clarity and public awareness, federal ombudsman Heidi Illingworth said in a report Wednesday."The situation of victims of crime has not fundamentally changed since it was passed," she wrote.The previous Conservative government introduced what it called a victims' bill of rights in 2015 that allowed crime victims to get information about offenders in the corrections system and have their views considered when decisions are made about those perpetrators.Illingworth said the legislation should be amended to provide a legal remedy for violations, such as allowing victims to formally challenge authorities on whether their rights have been honoured."There was no right to appeal, there was no right to seek damages," Illingworth said Wednesday in a phone interview.The 2015 statute was an important firs step but "really more of a statement of principles," she added. "It did not give people real rights, because in law you have to be able to have a remedy for rights to be real."The justice system demands heavy lifting from people subjected to a criminal act, including those involved in the 2.2 million crimes reported to police each year."They are expected to report the crime, provide evidence, bear witness, be cross-examined on the stand and relive their traumas over and over again as they tell their truths — yet we provide them with little assistance to do so," Illingworth wrote."Unsupported victims are less likely to come forward. When victims are not treated as full partners in the criminal justice system, the system is less effective."Victims should automatically receive information about their rights, rather than having to ask for it, she said.Up to two-thirds of crime victims do not go to the police, said Irvin Waller, professor emeritus in criminology at the University of Ottawa.Other reforms demanded in the report include a simplified complaint process filtered entirely through the ombudsman's office rather than a patchwork of agencies, more clearly defined obligations for criminal justice officials and more funding to train front-line workers in treating victims with "courtesy, compassion and respect."The ombudsman is also calling for better data collection by courts, prisons and law enforcement agencies to understand police interactions with targeted populations, including Indigenous women and LGBTQ individuals."We know that there’s distrust, and this is especially concerning among communities of colour, racialized communities, Indigenous people. And how survivors of sexual violence are cheated by the justice system has been very, very problematic," Illingworth said.Waller pointed to England and France as models on training guidelines for officials and restitution for victims, respectively. He said up to half of French criminal cases result in restitution payments, access to which should be guaranteed, according to the ombudsman's report.In contrast to Canada, France also grants victims legal "standing" to appeal to courts for review when their rights are not upheld."We are a long, long way behind these countries," Waller said.Illingworth's report further recommends amendments that commit to core funding for community-based restorative justice programs as well as a list of officials who have direct responsibilities to crime victims.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
The federal government has announced more than $50 million for research into marine and freshwater ecosystems across Canada.The projects range from improving habitat for Atlantic salmon to measuring the effects of shipping on whales off the British Columbia coast to studying trout-bearing waters in Alberta's Rocky Mountains where coal mines are being considered."We're targeting entire ecosystems and not just specific species," said Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan. "Working on ecosystems is what's going to protect species at risk."The money, from the previously announced $1.3-billion Nature Legacy fund, will pay for 50 studies run by governments, non-governmental organizations and First Nations across Canada. Some have already begun.The largest chunk of money, nearly $11 million, will be spent on 13 projects in B.C. About two-thirds will go to research and improving fish habitat in rivers such as the Fraser. The rest will be spent studying the effects of shipping noise on whales. The biggest single grant — $5.6 million — goes to Alberta's Environment Department, where the province is to conduct research with other partners to support the protection and recovery of native trout species in the eastern slopes of the province's Rocky Mountains.Biologists are concerned the rivers that originate there — the source of drinking water for most of southern Alberta — are coming under increasing pressure from development.West slope cutthroat trout are considered a threatened species. Fisheries scientists are also concerned about Alberta's bull trout.Alberta recently rescinded a decades-old policy that prohibited any development in large areas of the eastern slopes, the headwaters of those trout habitats. The province, together with the federal government, is currently conducting an environmental review of a proposed coal mine that would remove a mountaintop adjacent to those headwaters.More mining companies are expected to apply to the province's regulator for similar projects."We know that the cutthroat trout are a species at risk and there's a lot of work that needs to be done there," said Jordan. She said Alberta officials have raised the issue with her. Alberta Environment spokeswoman Jess Sinclair said in an email the money will help rebuild habitat for threatened trout species. The projects, with participation from non-governmental groups, are to be complete by 2023.Sinclair said the most important areas in the eastern slopes will continue to be protected."The protective notations reflect our commitment to continue to manage public land in the eastern slopes to preserve watersheds and other sensitive areas and protect areas of high tourism and recreation value," she said.Sinclair added development that is permitted is subject to environmental review. Jordan said the grants announced Wednesday will help more than 100 endangered or threatened species. "That's one of the things we looked at: How many species can be helped by the work that we're doing?" she said. "When you look at the ecosystem that supports the species, you're actually helping more."Most of the projects are expected to take several years to complete. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — On a day Alberta hit a sobering 500 COVID-19 deaths, the Opposition accused Premier Jason Kenney of implementing short-sighted, half-baked health restrictions that will provoke the very economic collapse he seeks to avoid.“The premier is continuing his discredited, libertarian approach of pitting the economy against the health of Albertans, and he’s going to sacrifice both as a result,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley told the house Wednesday in a fiery exchange with Kenney during question period.“Let me be perfectly clear to this premier,” she added. “Your negligence is far, far more dangerous to our economy and the people who rely on their jobs than sound public-health measures.”The exchange came a day after the United Conservative premier announced new restrictions to reverse rates of COVID-19 that are consistently over 1,000 a day and threaten to overwhelm intensive care beds and trigger a disastrous domino effect throughout the health system.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, announced 1,265 new cases Wednesday, with 355 people in hospital, including 71 in intensive care. There were eight more deaths, bringing that total to 500.“This is a tragic milestone,” Hinshaw said, adding that health officials are now working on moving and reassigning patients to free up more ICU beds for COVID-19 cases as needed.The new health rules include a provincewide ban on indoor extended gatherings, even in people’s homes. There are new restrictions on bars, restaurants and pubs, retailers, casinos, movie houses, hair salons, schools, places of worship and other businesses, backed up by fines of $1,000 to $100,000.The changes will be reviewed in three weeks.Kenney said the goal is to reverse COVID-19 case increases while keeping the economy afloat to prevent further harm to those who are relying on it to get by.Notley’s NDP, and hundreds of physicians and infectious disease specialists, have demanded Kenney institute a much sharper business lockdown, even for a short period, to give the beleaguered health system a chance to rest and reset. They say without it, cases will keep climbing and Alberta is headed for a devastating Christmas community lockdown.Kenney accused Notley of wanting to impose a blinkered, one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t mesh with COVID-transmission data and would ultimately do more harm than good.“They’re socialists. They’re addicted to command and control of people’s lives,” Kenney told the house.“What they want to do is put hundreds of thousands of people out of work.”The two leaders vehemently disagreed on the contact-tracing data, with Notley saying the government is flying blind and Kenney responding that it has nine months’ worth of numbers to draw on.In recent weeks, Alberta’s contact tracing system has failed to keep up with the surge of cases. Of the 13,719 active cases, the government says it doesn’t know where 83 per cent of them are coming from.Hinshaw said the lack of recent data has been a challenge but officials also rely on earlier numbers and data from comparable jurisdictions.As of Friday, restaurants can have no more than six diners per table and they must all be from the same household. Owners say they are grappling with how to enforce that."At this point, it's looking like it's an honour system," said Ernie Tsu, an owner of Trolley 5 Restaurant and Brewery in Calgary and founding board member of the Alberta Hospitality Association. The association is meeting with government officials to get "refined details" on how restaurants should enforce the rule.Tsu said he’s pleased restaurants have not been closed to sit-down customers, as has been the case in some other provinces. “We still have to make sure that everyone understands that these restaurants are still paying full rent while employing Albertans and trying to work with diminished capacities," Tsu said.— With files from Lauren Krugel in CalgaryThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Penetanguishene residents will have one less thing to worry about in the new year --- a tax increase. According to treasurer Carrie Robillard, there actually may be good news once all aspects of taxation are taken into account by next March. "Overall, we're anticipating (by the end of March), net impact of zero per cent or below in terms of year over year tax impact." she told council Tuesday evening. "We may be in a position to give money back to taxpayers." That good news came on top of the news that staff had managed to bring back a draft budget with 1.4% tax increase, which is slightly less than the 1.5% council had asked staff to target. The town’s overall 2021 budget includes a zero per cent policing tax impact and a capital tax impact of 1%. The total 1.4% represents an increase of $159,360 for the overall 2021 budget, of which only 0.4% or $49,930 is related to operating budget increases and 1% or $109,430 is due to increased capital taxation investment. Despite the positive news, council members still had questions around certain parts of the presented draft budget with Coun. Dan LaRose wanting to know what the town is applying to its debt reduction. Robillard said she would include the exact amount in the next budget presentation, schedule for Dec. 8. "I can let you know this evening that the fire department debenture is only a partial payment this year and it's finished," she added. "We also had a new debenture for our main street to be paid out of taxation. We were supporting it over the last few years through our asset management reserve, until such time as that fire debenture is paid in full. "Then we're going to reallocate some of those debenture reduction funds from fire to public works. But we are also going to keep some in the fire budget in terms of transferring it into a fire reserve to fund future equipment replacement." Coun. George Vadeboncoeur had questions about road surfacing programs, specifically around McArthur Road and Polish subdivision. "I think the cost is $200,000 and it's scheduled for 2024," he said. "Having driven down McArthur a few times, I know the challenges of keeping out of the potholes. It's a difficult road to maintain. Do you think it can last 'til 2024?" Public works director Bryan Murray replied that the Polish subdivision road has been maintained as a gravel road since its construction. "We've put it in as 2024 for surface treatment, which is a double surface treatment similar to what was done on another sideroad a few years ago...a surface treatment coupled by a slurry seal on top of it," he said. " It looks similar to an asphalt surface, but it is a surface treatment. "We do get a little bit of extra life out of those treatments. This surface treatment is a chip seal similar to what you would find on Gordon Drive or Brunelle Side Road. We're proposing to improve the surface to eliminate ongoing maintenance." Coun. Brian Cummings asked when do maintenance projects become capital projects. Robillard said the capital program is a tangible capital asset or an improvement to a tangible capital asset. "It's really for larger items as well as true tangible capital assets, whether it's equipment, a facility or roads," she said. "We do not have a distinction in our capital program. If it's a higher ticket item or one-time item, we don't want it in our operating budget because of the fluctuation of tax impact on our residents." Coun. Jill St. Amant wanted to know how staff was budgeting or planning to budget for improvements to the existing recreation centre facility or the building of a new one. CAO Jeff Lees responded that it would depend on the consultant's recommendations. "From our perspective, we didn't want to speculate too much about how the report might come out and how council might want to go," he said. "The feasibility study we're going through is a long-term plan. We don't anticipate there's going to be much impact in 2021. We need to start planning for the future and that would be our intent as we know a little bit more from council as to what path we're going down." Vadeboncoeur then questioned staff about COVID-related relief funding the town had received. "We did get a COVID grant for 2020 and the amount could be carried forward to 2021 for any additional expenses related to COVID," he said. "How are we allocating those funds and are we going to bring any of those funds into the 2021 budget?" Robillard said the money is available to offset any potential year-end increase of costs and impact of reduced revenues. "We have implemented cost efficiencies to offset any deficit," she said. "The grant was good news, but we don't allocate it for specific purpose. We're just going to use at year end to offset any potential losses. We were notified that any unused amount that is not required in 2020 can be carried forward to 2021 to offset COVID implications." Moving forward with relief measures, Cummings asked about the latest announcement by the province around giving businesses relief from municipal and education taxes. Robillard said she didn't have a lot of information around the announcement, but said she believed the program will first tackle municipal property tax relief for businesses in hotspots like the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa. "Just recently, we got correspondence related to province-wide tax relief for businesses," she said, adding there isn't yet clear information around the program. "Generally, they are looking to reduce the education rates for the portion of business education taxes that some of the larger municipalities pay. The decision could be put in the hands of each municipality to offer what that might look like versus a province-wide relief or reduction from business tax. In terms of education, the province has offered a few ways to allow us to offer some of that relief without it impacting us directly." A further draft of the budget will be brought to council at its Dec. 8 meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7 p.m.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says public health measures to date haven't been enough to stop the province's spread of COVID-19. Starting Friday, the province is suspending team sports across all age groups. Masks will be required to be worn during all indoor fitness activities.Capacity for casinos, bingo halls and theatres will be limited to 30 people, and it will be the same for worship services, funerals and wedding receptions. No more than four people will be allowed to sit at a table in a bar or restaurant, and large retailers will have to limit their capacity to 50 per cent.\---6:30 p.m.B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the pandemic has dramatically amplified the overdose crisis in the province, with street drugs that are even more poisonous and people who are dying alone.She appealed to those using illicit drugs to ensure their personal safety, to have their drugs checked or go to a doctor for a safe supply.Henry announced another 738 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths, for a total of 371 people.There are now 294 people in hospital and 61 of those are in intensive care.\---4 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 102.Health officials say all of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes Halifax.Nova Scotia has had 1,243 positive cases of novel coronavirus and 65 deaths, while 1,076 cases are now resolved.One person is currently in hospital.\---3:20 p.m.Prince Edward Island has confirmed one new case of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to two.Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the individual is a woman in her 20s who recently travelled to the Island from within Atlantic Canada.P.E.I. has had a total of 70 positive cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, with 68 recoveries as of Tuesday.All cases have been travel-related.\---2:35 p.m.The Northwest Territories has extended its public health emergency until Dec. 8. The public health emergency allows the territory to maintain preventive public health measures. Under current measures, anyone travelling to the Northwest Territories must self-isolate for 14 days. There are 15 recovered cases of COVID-19 and no active cases. It has been 13 days since the territory's last confirmed case.\---2:35 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting 164 new cases of COVID-19, with many of the new cases in and around its capital, Regina.The seven-day average of daily cases is 214.Health officials say 111 people are in hospital, with 19 in intensive care.\---2:30 p.m.Ontario residents are being urged to celebrate the upcoming winter holidays only with the people they live with, regardless of the COVID-19 situation in their region.The government is issuing its initial guidance today, saying it knows Ontarians are already making their holiday plans.It says those who live alone can join another household to celebrate, but everyone else should stick to their own household as well as following any public health guidelines for their area.Premier Doug Ford says Ontarians just "can't take any chances" when it comes to COVID-19.\---1:55 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 349 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths today. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says restrictions on gatherings and store openings implemented in recent weeks appear to be working. He says the province had projections a few weeks ago of up to 800 cases a day by now, and instead the daily numbers are relatively steady.\---1:45 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting three new cases of COVID-19.The province now has 94 active infections, with one person in hospital. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the COVID-19 hot spots in Atlantic Canada right now are Saint John and Moncton in New Brunswick, and Halifax in Nova Scotia.During a briefing today in Fredericton, she advised against any non-essential travel into those three regions.\---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.The new case involves a woman in her 40s who is connected to a growing cluster of cases in the western region of the province.Health officials are warning rotational workers in the province of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Imperial Oil Cold Lake worksite in Alberta.Newfoundland and Labrador has reported 324 COVID-19 infections, 25 of which are considered active.\---12:15 p.m.Nunavut is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19, which brings the territory's active case count to 153.Health officials said today there were eight new cases in Arviat and three new cases in Whale Cove.Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says there are over 300 people in isolation in Arviat. No one in Nunavut is hospitalized because of COVID-19 and Patterson says those infected have mild to moderate symptoms.\---11:40 a.m.The Manitoba Human Rights Commission says it's getting between 50-100 calls a month from people who say being forced to wear a mask during the pandemic is a violation of their rights. Acting executive director Karen Sharma says the calls represent a sharp increase in her agency's workload. She says the province's mandatory mask-wearing order is not a human rights issue, except potentially for people with disabilities.\---11 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,100 new COVID-19 cases and 28 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 12 that occurred in the past 24 hours.Health authorities said today the number of hospitalizations remained stable at 655 and 93 people were in intensive care, a drop of three.The province says it conducted 24,067 COVID-19 tests on Nov. 23, the last day for which testing data is available. Quebec has reported 135,430 COVID-19 infections and 6,915 deaths linked to the virus since the start of the pandemic.\---10:45 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,373 new cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.Health officials said today 11 fewer people are hospitalized with COVID-19, for a total of 523.The number of patients in intensive care remains at 159, and 15 more people are on a ventilator, for a total of 106.The numbers come as the Ontario government is expected to spell out its guidelines for celebrating the winter holidays.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
Two men accused of human trafficking appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. There is now a court ordered ban on publication of the two men’s names. At their first appearance the court placed a publication ban on the identity of the woman who was allegedly being held captive by the two men. One man is a 23-year-old from Kindersley and the other is a 30-year-old from Saskatoon. The Kindersley man is charged with trafficking persons, material benefit from trafficking, two counts of uttering threats, theft under $5,000, breach of a release order, and breach of a conditional sentence order. He was denied bail. The Saskatoon man is charged with trafficking persons, uttering threats, and two counts of breach of a release order. He was granted bail during a show cause hearing in October. The Saskatoon Police Guns and Gang Unit arrested the two men in the 1500 block of Rayner Avenue on July 2. The Guns and Gang Unit became involved after the Saskatoon Police received a report June 29 that a 23-year-old woman was being held at a residence over a period of time. The Saskatoon VICE Human Trafficking Unit assisted police and warrants were issued for the two men. The Saskatoon man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial court Dec. 10 to enter a plea and elect how he wants to be tried. The Kindersley man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court Dec. 9 to enter a plea. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-OptimistLisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole asks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether he has a plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations communities. Trudeau tells him the federal government has stood with First Nations throughout the pandemic and will rely on expert advice in working out how to vaccinate vulnerable populations.
There's a rose-coloured opportunity for would-be hoteliers looking to flaunt their wealth in small-town Canada. A landmark location from the beloved CBC sitcom "Schitt's Creek" hit the market Wednesday, offering buyers the chance to re-enact the show's riches-to-rags saga for a listing price of $2 million. The Hockley Motel in Mono, a town of about 8,000 people northwest of Toronto, served as the exterior set for the Rose family's home on the Emmy Award-winning series. The listing presents the 6.7-acre riverside property as a fixer-upper that would appeal to travellers seeking rural refuge from the commotion and contagion risk of city life in the COVID-19 era. It's a sales pitch that may sound familiar to "Schitt's Creek" fans who have followed the Rose family as they refurbished their motel-turned-home in a town they once purchased as a joke, said property owner Jesse Tipping. "The show obviously created a script that seems to be very fitting for the actual property," said Tipping. "I hope (whoever buys it) can find that happiness that the Roses did on the show." In addition to its status as a stand-in for the Rosebud Motel, the property has appeared onscreen in the 2005 thriller "A History of Violence" and Netflix's superhero series "The Umbrella Academy." Tipping purchased the building in 2012 in hopes of using it as housing for athletes at the basketball academy he was starting at the time. The sale has been in the works for about a year, and while Tipping is sad to part ways with the landmark, he admits he's a bit relieved that he'll no longer have to ward off "Schitt's Creek" sightseers. Colliers Hotels says buyers who are interested in the property can put in offers until Dec. 14. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
A special report released by Ontario's auditor general blasts the provincial government when it comes to how it handled COVID-19 outbreaks among migrant farm workers.The report released Wednesday looked at preparedness for, and management of, the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk criticizes the province for not issuing a province-wide order to protect foreign farm workers instead of what it did issue, a memo "'strongly recommending' that local health units issue their own directives to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID‑19 on farms."The report also points out that this memo came on June 21, eight weeks after the first farm outbreak in April. "Without additional provincial directives, each of the 34 public health units had to make decisions independently, resulting in different responses and measures across the province," the report read.There have been 1,276 positive cases of COVID-19 among farm workers to date in Windsor-Essex County, according to the health unit, and two workers died in the region from the virus. In Chatham-Kent, there were 147 cases detected among farm workers, most of which were attributed to an outbreak at a single Greenhouse facility. Most of the farm workers infected in the two counties were migrant workers living in congregate settings.The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit issued its first order to owners and operators of agricultural farms on May 27, which stated Windsor-Essex agricultural farms are high-risk settings for the spread of COVID-19 and failure to adhere to various COVID-19 measures could result in a $5,000 fine. It also said that prior to the release of that order, the health unit was having regular communication with owners and operators of agricultural facilities.The report goes on to say that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Williams, could have used his power to issue province-wide directives "especially on requirements to wear masks and precautions for temporary foreign workers." The report also compared the response of health officials in Ontario to the response by B.C. officials, who issued an order in April to employers telling them to provide accommodation to temporary foreign workers including those working on farms "to mandate quarantine and other public health measures so as to more effectively and proactively address the risk of their congregate living arrangements," the report read. "No such formal order was made by Ontario," says Lysyk.Others weigh inLeamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald was pushing for higher levels of government to take charge when numbers of positive cases among migrant workers were peaking this summer. She said she doesn't disagree with what is written in the report."There was chaos, there was... a delayed reaction when it came to the agricultural industry, both from the province and from the health board," MacDonald said. MacDonald said while some allowances need to be given, as the play book was being written as things moved along, she said the fact is the reaction was slow."We reacted late and people got sick and some people died."Chris Ramsaroop of Justice for Migrant Workers said that the report reaffirms what his organization has been saying about the government's response since the beginning of the pandemic."The provincial government [and] the chief medical officer have failed to protect the interests of migrant workers," he said. "Migrant farm workers were put in a position where they had to fend for themselves through this pandemic and there was no leadership whatsoever from the provincial government, from the chief medical officer or for anybody who could have intervened to prevent the spread of this pandemic." Joseph Sbrocchi of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers said that the auditor general's comments showed that the situation growers were facing was an unprecedented one."Every situation is different and I really do believe that everybody was doing their best and to suggest that there wasn't confusion would not be correct, there was plenty of confusion," he said.Premier Doug Ford also responded to the report Wednesday saying there was 21 pages worth of inaccuracies in the report, and that it's not the auditor general's job to give health advice but should rather focus on financial matters.No Race-Based information collectedThe report was also critical of the provincial government's decision not to collect "race-based information" and therefore it was not factored into the decision-making when it came to preventing COVID-19 in "high risk" populations. "Immigrant populations have experienced disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19, including higher rates of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19," the report read.
A request for the names, addresses and Farm Business Registration (FBR) numbers of Ontario farmers has been withdrawn. According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), a Freedom of Information request (FOI) asking for potentially sensitive information on farmers in the province has been withdrawn following a period of mediation led by the OFA and supported by their legal counsel. Initially received by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in June, the FOI request was made by an unknown individual and sought to access a list of Ontario farmers that included the names of their businesses, where they were located and their FBR number, an identifier that’s is issued to any farm businesses in Ontario that make declare a gross farm income of $7,000 or more. An FOI request can be made by members of the public under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which says “every person has a right of access to a record or a part of a record in the custody or under the control of an institution,” with exceptions. OFA president Keith Currie celebrated the FOI withdrawal, citing concerns around how the information in the FOI could have been misused to harm farm owners’ businesses. “Together, our farm organizations strongly opposed the release of this information as it has the potential to greatly impact the health, safety and security of our farm operations,” Currie said. “We are very pleased to report that the matter has been resolved, the FOI has been dropped and we can move forward with the significant priorities of the Ontario agriculture sector.” While there was no evidence that the names and FBR numbers that stood to be acquired through the FOI were planned to be used maliciously, the OFA and other farm organizations in the province moved quickly to stall the request when it was first made, citing concerns that bad actors could use the information on a large scale, targeting businesses with protests or making their information public to others. Additionally, online sources speculated that the information could be used to create a database like one created in Australia following a similar information request. That database was subsequently used by activists to stage protests around the country. At the time the FOI request was still pending, Rainy River Federation of Agriculture (RRFA) president Lisa Teeple noted that while the request in and of itself wasn’t reason for area farmers to panic, the uncertainty of who was requesting the information and what they intended to use it for caused the most concern. “The original request, we don’t know where it came from,” Teeple explained at the time. “Who was asking for this information? Is it a university study looking to do a study on farm economics? Is it a think-tank group and how they market more to farm businesses? We don’t know. Is it an environmental activist group? That potentially gives a reason for pause, because we are in a business where environmental and animal activists have been known to be destructive. The big thing is ‘who asked for it’? We can’t find that out.” The OFA, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO and the National Farmers Union–Ontario (NFU-O) collaborated to file a formal appeal against the FOI before the request was withdrawn.Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
EDMONTON — Two emergency room doctors say Alberta's increased public health restrictions don't go far enough to deal with rising COVID-19 cases that are already straining hospitals in the province.The government brought in tighter restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people's homes and changes for schools, churches, restaurants and retailers.Dr. Shazma Mithani, who works at two Edmonton hospitals, said she saw first-hand why more restrictions were necessary a day earlier when she arrived for her shift at the Royal Alexandra Hospital."I saw the most COVID patients ever," Mithani said Wednesday in an interview with The Canadian Press. "I didn't even see that many patients that shift because we were so bed-blocked."Some patients, she explained, were taking up emergency department beds because there weren't enough staffed beds available in the ward they needed.Mithani said she saw about 10 or 11 patients that night."Three of them were confirmed COVID and three were presumed COVID ... and one of them I actually had to put a breathing tube in and send to the ICU," she said."It's here. It's just the beginning."Alberta Health reported 1,265 new cases on Wednesday — the seventh consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 355 patients in hospital, 71 of them in intensive care. Eight more people died, bringing that total to 500.Mithani, who's also a spokeswoman for the emergency medicine section of the Alberta Medical Association, said the rising numbers have been hitting Edmonton particularly hard.There were 175 COVID-19 patients in Edmonton hospitals, with 40 in intensive care. In Calgary, there were 121 infected patients in hospitals and 20 were in intensive care.Dr. Joe Vipond, who works at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, said he hasn't worked an ER shift in about a week, but noted that he's had COVID-19 patients every day in the last month."I've had two deaths in a month," said Vipond, who added he typically only sees a few deaths a year in the emergency department.Both Vipond and Mithani said they would have liked to see stronger restrictions."We're now at the stage that nothing short of a strong lockdown is going to help," said Vipond. "These middle measures are not going to do it, unfortunately."Mithani said the restrictions simply turn earlier recommendations into rules.The only positive step, she said, was banning indoor gatherings, which she suggested should have happened long ago.Dr. Daniel Gregson, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Calgary, agreed it was good to see recommendations on gatherings turned into actual restrictions."The other thing we've done is moved to mandatory masking from a suggestion to a requirement," he said. "That's a good thing as well."However, Gregson said some areas have been left open to interpretation."They've said 10 (people) for weddings and 10 for funerals, which is good to have an absolute number because people focus on what they can do," he said. "But other settings such as faith-based activities, which can be fairly widely interpreted, are not limited to that 10."That's a concern. A lot of our problems have been in group settings where people are not using appropriate precautions ... and that really translates into transmissions in households."Mithani added that the decisions don't appear to be based on data, since contact tracing has broken down and up to 80 per cent of cases have no information about where they were contracted."I'm really disappointed with the half measures that were put in," she said. "I, 100 per cent, understand there needs to be a balance between the economy and managing this pandemic, but we are now at a point where our health-care system is about to break and that needs to be made the priority right now."Our economy relies on the health of Albertans."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press