Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened to a two-year high against its U.S. counterpart on Friday as Wall Street rose and data showed Canada's economy added more jobs than expected in November, with the currency advancing for the third straight week. Canadian employment rose by 62,000 in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, both beating analyst expectations. The market also digested U.S. data showing the smallest nonfarm payrolls gain since the jobs recovery started in May.
Despite a province-wide rental freeze for 2021, Windsorite Amanda Younan says she's "angry" that her landlord is trying to increase her rent for March. Younan, who has been renting a home off of Erie Street for the last seven years, says she was notified three weeks ago that her rent will increase by 1.5 per cent. But in October, the province implemented a rental freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The freeze prevents rental increases for most tenants in 2021. When Younan emailed her landlord about the freeze, she said they told her it only applied to people on social assistance or those who have occupied a residence after 2018. Yet, on the Ontario government's website, it says the rent freeze applies to most tenants, including those living in: * Rented houses, apartments and condos (including units occupied for the first time for residential purposes after Nov. 15, 2018). * Basement apartments. * Care homes (including retirement homes). * Mobile home parks. * Land lease communities. * Rent-geared-to-income units and market rent units in community housing. * Affordable housing units created through federally and/or provincially funded programs. Worries others might be 'taken advantage of'Younan currently pays $900 for her space. Although she acknowledges that the increase is minimal — about $13 — she says it's the "principle of following the rules." "I think everyone just needs to know about it because they're going to be taken advantage of," she said. "I don't want [my landlord] to retaliate against us for anything like we're just trying to follow the rules. They should have to follow the rules like everybody else." Younan said she went to the Landlord and Tenant Board, which confirmed that she shouldn't be subject to the increase.But Younan said her landlord has not responded to her email that includes the board's response. CBC News has reviewed the emails between Younan and her landlord. Home 2 Home Properties Inc. is the property management company for Younan's rental. Marie Latif with Home 2 Home Properties Inc. spoke with CBC News, though she did not want to do a formal interview. Latif said that the tenant does not have to pay the rent increase, though Younan says they have not told her that. Few exemptions to rent freezeIn an email to CBC News, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing confirmed that the government's passing of bill 204, Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, 2020, means that most rents can not increase next year. "There are very few exemptions to this freeze," the statement reads. Exceptions to this include above guideline increases approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board before Oct. 1, 2020. These can still be approved by the board and applied to 2021 rents if they are for "costs related to eligible capital repairs and security services, but not if they are for extraordinary increases in municipal taxes and charges," the website states. Additionally, the website notes that tenants and landlords can still agree on rent increases in exchange for another service or facility, such as air conditioning or parking. The rent freeze is expected to end on Dec. 31, 2021, and landlords are to give "proper 90 days' notice beforehand for a rent increase that takes effect in 2022," the website states. As a result of this, Legal Assistance of Windsor lawyer Anna Colombo told CBC News that anyone given notice of a rent increase does not have to pay it for 2021, regardless of their income level. "[Younan] might want to have a conversation with her landlord ... and communicate that she's not going to be paying that rent increase that those aren't allowed until January 2022 and again providing that proper 90 day notice, within the proper amount and the proper form," Colombo said. MPP says many similar complaints have been heard Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky says Younan is not alone and that what she has experienced is "very common." "It goes back to the fact that the government needs to do a better job of ensuring that the tenants know their rights and that those rights are respected and enforced. But also that landlords know the rules and are clear on what it is that they can and can't do as far as the rent increases come or evictions and things like that," she said. Gretzky attributes uncertainty on this to the government failing to appropriately and consistently communicate. "What we've seen with many government announcements and decisions lately is it tends to be very fluid so things change and people get confused or direction is unclear," she said. She said tenants should continue to voice their concerns or issues to their local MPP.
AL-QAYYARAH, IRAQ (Reuters) - Tuqqa Abdullah and her Iraqi family have wandered from one displaced people's camp to the next in the past three years, buying time and hoping they will one day be able to go home. Just 14 when her father took the family to the then Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul, she has inherited a legacy that might take generations to overcome. When Iraqi forces captured Mosul in the dying days of the three-year-old IS caliphate in 2017, Abdullah's father and older sons were killed.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president says he would get vaccinated against the coronavirus to set an example for his country's citizens. “There is no problem for me to get vaccinated,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after Friday prayers in Istanbul. “It is necessary to take this step as an example for our citizens.” The Turkish government plans to buy multiple vaccines, Erdogan said. Turkey has ordered 50 million doses of Chinese company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, and the first shipment is due to arrive Dec. 11. The government also is talking with Russia about securing the vaccine developed there. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told the official Anadolu news agency that he would work to convince people to get immunized by getting the Chinese shot himself as soon as Turkish authorities approve its use. Turkey also has ordered 1 million doses of the vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German company BioNTech. Erdogan said he spoke with BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin, who is of Turkish descent. Turkey is experiencing a surge in infections with confirmed cases hovering above 30,000 per day on a 7-day average. The country's death toll since March has reached 14,316. A weekend lockdown, the first since the end of May, is set to begin Friday evening. The Associated Press
Canada's economy added 62,000 jobs last month, which is better than economists had been expecting, but it's also the lowest total since the labour market recovery from COVID-19 began in May.Statistics Canada reported Friday that the jobless rate ticked down four basis points to 8.5 per cent. That's down from a peak of 13.7 per cent in May, but still well above the 5.6 per cent rate seen in February, before the pandemic.Canada lost more than a million jobs in March and another two million in April, before the job market started to recover in May. According to Statscan, more than 19.1 million Canadians aged 15 or over had some sort of job in February. Last month, that figure stood at just over 18.6 million.There are currently 1.7 million people in Canada officially categorized as unemployed, which means they would like to work but can't find any. Roughly one quarter of them — 443,000 people — have been out of work for more than half a year.Manitoba lost 18,000 jobs last month, while Ontario added 36,000 and Quebec 15,000. British Columbia added 23,000 and the Atlantic provinces added a total of 17,000.Mostly full timeWhile the overall rate of job gains is undeniably slowing, economist Royce Mendes with CIBC did see some reason for optimism in the numbers, specifically the fact that most of the new jobs were full time, which boosted the total number of hours worked by 1.2 per cent — faster than the increase seen a month earlier.But with cases spiking across Canada and more regions locking down more parts of the economy, he thinks the streak of job gains will come to an end this month. "It's likely that COVID will catch up with the Canadian economy in the December data, with a decline expected in both employment and overall economic activity," Mendes said.Leah Nord with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the job slowdown shows that the government needs to do a better jobs of testing for COVID-19 and tracing contacts, and making much broader use of rapid testing to ensure businesses stay open for the long Canadian winter ahead."The short-lived partial rebound in jobs is turning an unfortunate corner heading into a potentially protracted second wave," she said. "As we look forward, we believe there is increasing risk for a steady decline in employment over the coming months as governments and health authorities grapple with transmission mitigation."
Lawyers fought the latest round of a 16-year legal battle by video conference in the province’s top court on Tuesday and Wednesday. The long-running dispute between Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) and the Saskatchewan government aims to find whether 600 flooded acres of land near Southend is a reserve. The debate centres on whether to uphold Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Dan Konkin’s 2019 decision finding the land was never properly designated as a reserve. That decision also tossed out PBCN’s claim that the flooding meant the province and SaskPower were trespassing on the land. This week, PBCN and the federal government argued it is a reserve — a finding that would throw out the lower court’s decision and help the First Nation’s legal counsel press for compensation based off the trespassing claim. “The important thing here is the ownership of (roughly) 10,000 acres of land is at stake,” said Thomas Berger, a prominent British Columbia lawyer who has long served as PBCN’s counsel on the case. The Saskatchewan government and SaskPower argued to uphold the 2019 decision, saying the reserve was never properly designated. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on a matter before the courts. One part of the dispute centres on a surveyor’s actions almost a century ago. When the surveyor was tasked with finding Barren Lands band members at Southend in 1929, he found members of PBCN. PBCN argued he took steps to create a reserve there. A 1981 federal government cabinet order and the land’s inclusion in the 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement confirmed that designation, PBCN’s factum said. In an interview, Berger said the province’s position on its status was a reversal because “25 years later, they said, ‘we made a mistake.’ ” Saskatchewan legal counsel Mitch McAdam said that’s not necessarily the case. In a factum, he wrote that the surveyor’s “instructions were crystal clear — to survey a reserve at Southend for Barren Lands — and he carried those instructions out ‘to a T.’ ” However, McAdam said the survey was flawed and incomplete. He said the government also never confirmed it as a reserve, meaning the land passed to Saskatchewan under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement in 1930. That brings into question who owns the land that Whitesand Dam floods as it controls Reindeer River’s flow into the nearby Island Falls hydroelectric power station. Berger says his clients are owed their “fair share” of compensation for the flooding, but that partly depends on how the court sides on the question of the land’s reserve status. “If Peter Ballantyne has no interest in the (land), in other words, the (land) is not Indian reserve land, (and) Peter Ballantyne has no claim in trespass,” the SaskPower factum noted. Berger expects to hear the top court’s decision sometime in 2021. NoneNick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have hired former New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch and ex-Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela as assistant coaches for Nick Nurse's staff. Raptors assistant coach Patrick Mutumbo will take over as coach of Raptors 905, a G League team.Raptors assistants Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett also will join the Raptors 905 staff.Finch spent the past three years in New Orleans. Previously, he was an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16).Prior to his time in the NBA, Finch guided Rio Grande to two consecutive appearances in the G League final, including a championship in 2010.Finch also was head coach of the British men's national team at the 2012 Olympics, with Nurse serving as one of his assistants.Mahlalela was an assistant coach with the Raptors for five seasons (2014-18) prior to becoming head coach for Raptors 905 the past two year. A native of Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area.The Raptors open training camp this weekend in Tampa, Fla. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
The Yukon Supreme Court's newest judge says her appointment is a step forward for diversity — but that there's more work to do. The federal government announced Karen Wenckebach's appointment on Nov. 19, marking the third time in the court's history a woman has been chosen as a resident judge. She joins Justice Edith Campbell, who in 2018 was the first woman to be appointed a resident justice, and Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan, the first woman to serve in that role. It's the first time the Yukon Supreme Court's bench has consisted entirely of women. Speaking to media on Thursday, Wenckebach said that fact was "certainly an achievement." "It's a good step for diversity," she said. "Hopefully we'll be taking more steps and becoming more inclusive in terms of people of colour, First Nations judges, that would be great. But it's wonderful." Diversity on the bench, she explained, helps bring in a variety of perspectives on the law as well as people's lived experiences, which in turn "provides a better breadth of understanding and decision-making." "With regards to First Nations, I can't imagine how it is for somebody who is First Nations, who has been subject to this colonial power, having to continue to be subject to it and be faced by somebody who is white," she said. From clerk to judgeWenckebach is no stranger to the Yukon Supreme Court. She worked as a law clerk for both territorial and supreme court judges after moving from Ontario to Yukon in the early 2000s. She went on to work as a lawyer for the Yukon Legal Services Society, also known as legal aid, before switching over to the Yukon government in 2013, where she worked until her judicial appointment. She described going from being a clerk to a judge as "pretty neat," noting that her old office is still being used by the current law clerk. "I think that being a clerk, you get a little bit more understanding of ... how [judges] are approaching things and what they're faced with. So that, I think, gave me a little bit of insight," she said. She added that she thought it was important to bring a "humane perspective" to the law and to make the justice system more accessible to everyone. "It can be a very dehumanizing system," Wenckebach said. "People enter it and what is a very personal experience to them becomes a set of facts that's applied to tests. And it's important to try and have people who are subject to the law feel like they are a part of it and it's not just something that's being done to them." Duncan, who was also at Thursday's news conference, said she and Campbell were "very relieved" at Wenckebach's appointment; the Yukon Supreme Court had been short a judge since former Chief Justice Ron Veale retired in July. "We've been extremely busy in the last few months … So we're very happy to have someone else to share the load with us," Duncan said. Wenckebach is expected to start hearing matters in early 2021.
ROME — Qatar's foreign minister said Friday that his country remains committed to the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem, and that progress on that front would need to be “at the core” of any agreement to normalize relations with Israel. “Right now, I don't see that the normalization of Qatar and Israel is going to to add value to the Palestinian people,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogue. There was speculation that Qatar — which already co-operates with Israel in providing aid to the Gaza Strip — might be the next Arab country to normalize relations after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan established diplomatic ties with Israel earlier this year. But the foreign minister said Qatar remains committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab countries would recognize Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. The foreign minister noted that his country has a “working relationship” with Israel to provide aid to Gaza, where the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. “But for the full normalization, I believe that the (Palestinian issue) needs to be at the core of any agreement of normalization between Qatar and Israel,” he said. The wealthy Gulf country's aid to Gaza has provided a lifeline to the territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power. It has also been a key element in a shaky, informal truce that has prevented any major outbreaks of fighting in recent years. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars — the most recent in 2014 — as well as countless smaller skirmishes. The normalization agreements with Israel, brokered by the United States, were widely seen as a breakthrough in Mideast diplomacy. But the Palestinians condemned the agreements as a betrayal because they marked a major erosion in Arab support for their cause, a key source of leverage in any future peace talks. The Associated Press
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has returned to work after recovering from COVID-19, his office said. Young's staff said the veteran Republican lawmaker was back at work in his congressional office in Washington, D.C., The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday. The 87-year-old announced Nov. 12 he had tested positive for the coronavirus. In March, Young referred to the coronavirus as the “beer virus” before an audience that included older Alaskans and said the media had contributed to hysteria over COVID-19. His campaign manager told the Anchorage Daily News at the time that the virus’ impact is real and that Young was trying to urge calm. After contracting the virus, Young said he had not grasped the severity of the illness. “Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” Young said following his release from an Anchorage hospital Nov. 16. Young is now “preparing to fight harder than ever” for Alaskans, spokesman Zack Brown said. Voters last month reelected Young, Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, to serve his 25th term in office. Young has held his seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Republican in congressional history. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The Associated Press
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COVID-19 has made things difficult for municipalities, especially when it came to tax collection for the 2020 tax year. During a normal year, Tisdale has a reminiscing tax discount period from May to November, with a 15 per cent tax discount for those residents who pay in May and the discount diminishing over the following months by five per cent, said Brad Hvidston, Tisdale’s administrator With COVID causing financial challenges for residents, Hvidston said they changed the rates so the discount dropped by two per cent over the following months so that residents could still take advantage of the discount if they paid later. While Al Jellicoe, Tisdale’s mayor, said this was appreciated by residents, tax payments came into the town as usual with 95 per cent of property taxes paid by the end of May, Hvidston said. People save up during the year, he said, in order to take advantage of that discount. “By the time COVID hit in March and taxes were due in May, a large amount of people had their taxes mostly accumulated by them. I'm anticipating that next year will be the year that we see the impact on COVID.” With tax challenges being expected for the coming year, Hvidston said the council will have to decide how they can help residents deal with this in the future. The tax update was reported during the council meeting on Nov. 30.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Nominations are open to recognize individuals in the territory who “work to strengthen the arts, culture, heritage and languages of the N.W.T.” The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Awards celebrate “outstanding leadership in the North” and raise awareness about the importance of protecting, preserving and celebrating the different cultures and unique ways of life in the territory. There are five categories: According to the GNWT's website, a Minister's Choice Award will also be handed out this year at the discretion of RJ Simpson, the minister. Awards will be given to winners virtually this year, due to COVID-19. Northerners looking to nominate a peer must submit the necessary form by January 8, 2021.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
While the aftermath of the American presidential election continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how exactly the shift of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden will impact Canada-U.S. relations. A former international ambassador cautions it won’t be all sunshine and lollipops ahead for the generally friendly neighbours. Derek Burney, who was born in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) served as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1993 under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Burney is currently chancellor of Lakehead University, chairman of the Burney Investment Group, chairman of GardaWorld’s International Advisory Board, chairman of Enablence Technologies Inc., and a member of the advisory board of Paradigm Capital. He was named an Officer to the Order of Canada in 1993. Last week he gave an online address which was hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, and simulcast by the chambers of Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins. Burney opened by calling the U.S. election a “cathartic” event. “The aftershocks continue to resonate. The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to certify the results, and formally declare Joe Biden as president.” He then spoke of the big takeaways he had from the election. “A huge turnout amplified by massive influxes of mail-in ballots helped ultimately tip the verdict to Joe Biden, even though Trump won 10 million more votes than he received in 2016.” Burney said the 'Blue Wave' that many pollsters had predicted did not materialize. “Too many pollsters seemed more inclined to affect, rather than reflect, the mood of American voters. Biden won with a tightly disciplined, low-key campaign, banking on the fact that he was not Trump, and that the election would be a referendum on Trump, not a choice between the two candidates.” Burney lamented that foreign policy was barely mentioned by either candidate throughout the campaign. “Personalities, character and COVID concerns dominated.” Burney pointed out that regardless of the outcome the United States is in a period of deep division. “The country remains highly polarized — split right down the middle and very difficult to govern. The Democrats are jubilant, but weary. The Republicans are subdued, but not submissive.” He said the election conveyed a messy image of American democracy to the world, and that it regrettably emboldened authoritarian leaders like China's President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take advantage. Domestically, policy ideas from the Republicans and Democrats on matters such as taxes, immigration, health care and energy are seemingly polar opposites. “Biden will definitely bring a less abrasive tone, especially on global issues, but his ability to implement major changes on domestic issues will be circumscribed, if the Republicans hold the Senate. He will also need to consolidate consensus on policies and priorities first within his own party, which is more divided internally, than are the Republicans.” “Biden's pledge to heal and unite the nation is commendable, but maybe unrealistic.” On the positive side, Burney did remark that there was some scope for bipartisan consensus on issues like justice reform, infrastructure, and possibly healthcare. “But if the Congress remains divided, agreements will require nimble give-and-take negotiations. At least Biden and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell are both Senate veterans, and they begin with a degree of mutual respect, a spirit that was entirely lacking between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” Regarding Canada and how a new government will affect Canadian business, Burney, said Biden will be more congenial with U.S. allies. “After 47 years of service in Washington, he is no stranger to Canada, nor to our Prime Minister and other alliance leaders. That alone is good news.” However, Burney said that in reality, the Canada-U.S. relationship is “no longer special” and that Biden’s domestic policies are a mixed bag for Canada moving forward. “Those favouring more action on climate change will be pleased by his quick decision to rejoin the Paris Accord. I personally would be happier if he were also committed to ensuring more timely, and more tangible commitments by major polluters like China and India. The imbalance is startling.” He also cautioned that Western Canada could be in for more challenging times concerning the oil and gas sector if Biden’s positions come to fruition. “If he fulfils his pledge to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit, that would be devastating for our energy sector. In my view, such action would be blatantly discriminatory and should be challenged forcefully by our government, not just the pipeline companies.” The first few months of 2021 will be highly interesting for economic observers on both sides of the border as the two nations, the largest trading partners on the planet, scramble to get their economies rolling again during a global health crisis. “Because we are joined at the hip economically with the U.S., we stand to gain when their economy is robust, and conversely when the U.S. economy slumps, so does ours. That is why my fervid hope is that Joe Biden puts economy recovery first and foremost on his agenda.” Burney told the business-oriented viewers what his overall message is. “At a time of greater instability and uncertainty in the world, my most important message to you is that greater self-reliance is becoming the order of the day. As business operators, you need to be mindful of that increasing trend. Find ways to produce more of what is needed right here in Canada, and rely less on global supply chains that can easily be disrupted, as our experience with COVID, badly demonstrated.”Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
Three years after the death of a child in Bonavista prompted calls for change, it is still legal for children as young as 12 to drive side-by-sides without helmets or seatbelts in Newfoundland and Labrador.The RCMP launched a new enforcement and education campaign on Monday, which served as a reminder that despite assurances from various ministers past and present, the provincial government has still not updated its ATV and snowmobile legislation.The ability to hop on a snowmobile or a side-by-side — also known as a utility terrain vehicle, or UTV — without a helmet, as well as the fines for breaking the act remain too low for advocates to accept.Sherrie Dunn lost her 13-year-old daughter, Heidi, in that Bonavista crash. Heidi Dunn wasn't wearing a helmet when the side-by-side she was driving tipped over. In the years since, her mother has turned her grief into advocacy, and has been disappointed so far."What is it going to take to get them to change those rules?" Sherrie Dunn said on Thursday. "It makes me mad and sad, because like I said, I know what those parents feel like and it can be prevented."The Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act was first introduced in 1996 and has undergone several changes since then. None of them include adaptations for side-by-side vehicles, which have risen in popularity in recent years.The act defines an ATV as a vehicle that a rider sits astride, with one leg on either side. Since that doesn't include side-by-sides, where the driver sits behind a steering wheel akin to a car, they fall under a different set of rules than ATVs.While a driver must be 16 to operate a full-sized ATV, the minimum age for a side-by-side is 12 as long as the driver is supervised by someone 16 or older.In Heidi Dunn's case, she did not have the supervision of a 16-year-old, a fact that earned the owner of the side-by-side a $200 fine — the maximum amount for a first-time offence under the current legislation, including cases that result in death.After Dunn died, the province's Child Death Review Committee issued a set of recommendations calling on the province to close loopholes for side-by-sides, make helmets mandatory, and increase the maximum amount for fines.The committee issued the same recommendations after another child died last winter.The provincial government has said on several occasions that changes to legislation are coming — including an assertion by Digital Government and Service NL Minister Sarah Stoodley that changes were coming this fall — but it has yet to be tabled in the House of Assembly.Stoodley declined an interview for this story. In an emailed statement, the department said a review of the legislation is finished, and several potential changes are on the table."These included training requirements for off-road vehicles; age of operation for vehicles such as side-by-sides; operation of vehicles on municipal roadways; and body size requirements for safe operation," the statement said."Recommendations to enhance safety are being developed for consideration by government in the near future."Don't 'hide behind the law,' says safety advocateATV safety advocate Rick Noseworthy, head of the Newfoundland T'Railway Council, has also been calling for changes for several years. In the absence of change, he doesn't understand why more people aren't taking their safety seriously."Just because it's not the law on a side-by-side doesn't mean you shouldn't wear [a helmet]," he said. "I don't want to make light of it, but it's not against the law to put a cape on and get up on the roof of your house and jump off to see if you can fly. But people don't do it because it's common sense."To hide behind the law and not wear a helmet on a side-by-side because it's not the law, that's no excuse ... [there is] no reason in the world why these helmets shouldn't be worn."According to the RCMP, 15 people died on recreational vehicles so far in 2020.Of those deaths, a 24-year-old woman was killed when the side-by-side she was driving rolled over. She wasn't wearing a helmet.Three people were killed on snowmobiles. Two of them were not wearing helmets, while the other is believed to have been wearing one unbuckled.None of those people were legally required to wear helmets.Sherrie Dunn follows the news and takes note of recreational vehicle deaths. She shudders when she sees people driving on roads, or without helmets. Three years after her daughter died, Dunn still has the same message to the provincial government."Please, take this much more seriously. Sit down and put yourself [in my position]. Call me. I can tell you what I go through every day."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A new program that looks to connect Canada’s resort communities in an effort to tackle climate change has called on the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) to become a founding partner. “We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it,” said David Erb, executive director of Protect Our Winters Canada (POW). “We're a not-for-profit organization that's really focused on aligning the outdoor industry, which includes everyday enthusiasts like myself and, and others that might visit Blue Mountain to ski or hike, professional athletes and industry brands,” he explained during a recent deputation to TBM council. POW focuses its efforts on organizing, educating and equipping businesses, social influencers and the general population to advocate for systemic policy solutions to climate change. In recent months, POW has been approaching municipalities across Canada that rely on adventure tourism in an effort to seek out partnerships for collaboration on an inter-municipal climate awareness plan. Prior to approaching TBM, POW also invited the municipality of Whistler, the Town of Banff, the municipality of Jasper, Ville de Mont Tremblant, the University of Waterloo, interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change and Hot Planet Cool Athletes Canada, to also become founding members. “The fact that we've been identified and have been invited into this group — you'll note that we're the only Ontario municipality — so I definitely think we have to put our commitment behind this and we can't just be their name, we've got to be there in actual action as well,” said TBM Coun. Andrea Matrosovs. “So much can be learned from each other, both across Canada, and the world. I was quite impressed when I did research on POW that this isn't just Canada, but it's a worldwide network,” she continued. The program strives to assist its partner municipalities in developing a Climate Action Plan blueprint by providing projections on impacts, assessment on local and tourist related CO2 emissions and identifying strategies, best practices, technology efficiencies, and engagement strategies. “We aim to increase the resilience and future viability of Canada’s adventure tourism sector by evaluating climate-change risks, developing strategies to decarbonize ski and adventure tourism destinations, and transition resort communities on climate resilient pathways,” Erb explained. POW also plans to create a Resort Municipality Climate Coalition (RMCC), which will leverage the collective experience of Canada’s resort communities to create a forum to exchange information, ideas, successes and challenges. “The intention behind this RMCC is that we can bring together other resort municipalities from across the country, no matter what stage they're at in their climate planning, and create a community where we can really forward each other's efforts,” Erb said. The program will be based out of the University of Waterloo, and is also backed by the Climate Caucus, a non-partisan network of 250-plus elected local leaders working collectively to create and implement equitable policy, which aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services science. Erb adds there is no direct cost to partner municipalities for the first year of the program, as POW is currently in the process of acquiring funding through Canadian Climate Action and Awareness Fund. In the second year of the program, POW will be asking founding partners to make a $50,000 annual contribution for two years. According to Erb, the funds can be allocated directly, indirectly or in-kind. For example, wages for staff working on climate planning or allocation of consultant fees would be considered as indirect contributions. “There's no cost to doing this. It's essentially a working committee that will come together and resource one another,” he said. “However, that would likely lead to part two, which is a commitment for in-kind matching funds. And, that can be a very flexible ask, it doesn't need to be new dollars, we just need to have the ability to point to dollars in your budget that are being allocated toward climate planning.” According to Jeffery Fletcher, manager of solid waste and environmental initiatives for TBM, the town has already begun work in some of these areas through such sub-committees, such as the sustainability advisory committee. “This is a great opportunity for the town to take advantage of some great academia and influential groups like the Climate Caucus. As well as all the other resorts that are involved. Together we can gain some real momentum,” Fletcher said. Erb adds that the threat of climate change is a stark reality for the outdoor tourism industry, pointing to the impact the climate crisis is having on the length of the winter season. “As you may know, ski operators have a magical number of 100 days. If they can operate for 100 days in a winter, that's generally their break-even point and anything above that is a surplus,” Erb said. “But, as soon as they dip below 100 days, it's really questionable if they're able to sustain their overall operations.” “A major engine of our economy is Blue Mountain Resort and the other resorts that operate in the area, not to mention the rest of the outdoor winter activities that happens here and some of our smaller tour operators. It's a big part of economic sustainability, but it's also apart of our social sustainability as well,” Matrosovs added. Following the deputation from Erb, TBM council moved a motion to join the RMCC as a founding member and also directed staff to provide a follow-up report regarding the request for a commitment to allocate in-kind matching funds to the program once federal funding is in place. “This is an important opportunity for us, whatever noise we can make will be amplified greatly by being part of an organization like this,” added TBM Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
The Humboldt Special Olympics Floor Hockey Team took home the Special Olympics Canada Team of the Year Award. TSN hosted the award ceremony on Facebook Live on Dec. 3 with athletes and coaches sending in their thank you videos for the ceremony. The team has been collecting the hardware over the last two years with a bronze medal win during the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational youth games in Toronto and another bronze win at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay 2020. Floor hockey has been part of the Humboldt Special Olympics sporting list for the last 16 years. Ever since the team lost fellow teammate, Brody Hinz, in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, the team has played to honour him, said Vic Rauter, a TSN announcer, during the ceremony. “Since the loss of their friend and teammate, the Special Olympics Humboldt Broncos floor hockey team have been on a mission to honour those lost and those who were affected.” This award comes on the cusp of two provincial awards in October, another team award for the floor hockey team and a coaching award from coach Brain Reifferscheid. Reifferscheid said the award was unexpected and the coaches and players are pretty happy and proud and excited and humbled by the honour, he said. The provincial award was enough of a surprise for the team to wrap their heads around and celebrate but it was not long after before they were contacted by Special Olympics Canada about their national award. This will be the second year in a row that a Humboldt Special Olympics athlete or team has received a national award from Special Olympics Canada, with Tianna Zimmerman from Englefeld taking home Athlete of the Year during the 2019 award ceremony as well as the provincial honour that same year, just like the floor hockey team. This two year stretch at both the national and provincial level said a lot about the Special Olympics Humboldt, Reifferscheid said. “We've got a group of athletes that are very sports-minded and committed to achieving high goals. It also says something about the Special Olympics Humboldt organization, all the volunteers and coaches and all the sports. Everyone has a piece of contributing to helping athletes be successful.” On behalf of the Humboldt Special Olympics floor hockey team, they are honoured to receive this award, Reifferscheid said.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist