Speaking to reporters on Monday, Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin outlined his disappointment in the rising numbers of cases in the province as well as the behaviors he says have let the virus "off the hook."
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin outlined his disappointment in the rising numbers of cases in the province as well as the behaviors he says have let the virus "off the hook."
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
A coalition of Black Canadian business executives and leaders is looking to create a $1.5-billion pool of capital to support and empower Black-led organizations and companies across the country. On Tuesday, the coalition released a report outlining a plan to establish the Black Opportunity Fund (BOF), which will make long-term investments in Black-led community organizations and businesses in an effort “to dismantle the barriers created by systemic racism.” The goal is to attract investment from philanthropists, governments and foundations to grow the fund to $1.5 billion over the next decade. The coalition is asking the federal government to contribute $800 million for a permanent stand-alone fund and to initiate a request for proposal process to select an organization “to administer the proposed fund on behalf of the Black community.” In turn, the fund is expected to permanently support upwards of 450 community-based organizations and fill funding gaps for thousands of Black-owned businesses. Rustum Southwell is the CEO of the Black Business Initiative and part of the BOF steering committee. He said the fund will help Black Canadians catch up to their non-Black counterparts in various areas such as business, education and health-care. “The Black Opportunity Fund was created to react to the status of the Black communities across Canada because, perennially, we’ve been behind,” Southwell told The Chronicle Herald. “There’s a lot of catching up to do. I think our employment rate is lower than in the mainstream community and access to capital for businesses has been a challenge for a while.” In Nova Scotia, Southwell said community organizations like the Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC) would be able to benefit from the fund. The HAAC was formed in 2000 to specifically promote and improve the health of African Canadians. According to Southwell, various organizations already support Black initiatives, but their funding is typically short-term and limited. The BOF is designed to make sustained investments in Black initiatives and by extension, Black Canadians.. “I think it’s visionary to look at the fact that the Black community has always been supported, but has always been on the line, like just enough to get by. So having the decision to say, let us do something big so we don’t always have to be going for this small funding is visionary,” he said. The proposal for the BOF comes after a series of town halls, interviews and consultations that included more than 1,000 diverse Black voices from across Canada. Halifax-based Charles F. Milton, founder and CEO of Bursity, attended two of the town halls. As someone who has participated in multiple different accelerators in Canada and the U.S. for start-up companies but has “always felt alone in the room,” Milton said he’s been searching for something like the BOF for “a long time.” “There’s finally a movement happening in 2020 where people are recognizing that if nobody is going to do it for us, let’s come together and to do it for ourselves,” he said. Milton has tried to access funding from venture capitalists, pre-seed investors, grants and subsidies in the past for Buristy, a social venture that helps underserved and marginalized post-secondary students find and apply for financial assistance. He believes “it’s not easy for anybody” to get financial backing, but that there are some unconscious biases when it comes to dealing with marginalized founders in particular. “We don’t always have the leisure of having the experience and sometimes we don’t even have the leisure of the expertise based on our own education and the like. Those things are things that people are going to factor if they think, ‘Can I back this venture?’ or ‘Can I back this business?’” said Milton. If paired with training and building bridges between Black organizations and companies and their non-Black counterparts, Milton said the BOF could go a long way. “As much as I think ($1.5 billion) is an astronomical number, I think it’s a number that founders of colour and marginalized people need, deserve and if they can get access to it, it can change the underrepresentation of founders of colour not just in Atlantic Canada, but Canada in general.” For more information about the BOF, people can visit blackopportunityfund.ca.Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
The position of County warden will be contested this year as both incumbent Liz Danielsen and Coun. Brent Devolin are vying for the position. The two councillors delivered speeches at the Nov. 25 council meeting about their candidacy for the role. Deputy warden Andrea Roberts and Coun. Cec Ryall backed Devolin’s nomination, while councillors Carol Moffatt and Dave Burton backed Danielsen’s. The election by councillors and swearing-in will occur Dec. 15. Danielsen is attempting to break recent historical precedent. Hers was the first multi-year warden term since Murray Fearrey in 2011-2012, and there has not been a three-year warden since at least 2004. Danielsen said her attempt may seem extraordinary but argued for the need for continuity in a time such as this. “I just have tried to remain steadfastly available every single day since the pandemic began,” she said. “I believe that continuity is vital. We do remain under a state of local emergency and I’ve been working closely with a lot of the department heads since early March. And continuity in such times brings consistency in decision making.” Danielsen went unchallenged for the position last year and beat out Burton for the role in 2018. Before that, there had been a one-year cycle for warden since 2013. Devolin, who served as warden for one year in 2017, said the County would face significant changes in the second part of council’s term, with COVID-19, population growth, and diminishing upper government funding. “Changes that will need to occur in Haliburton will involve municipal, County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Eastern Ontario governing bodies to achieve the best possible outcomes. I have a keen interest in nurturing these relationships to achieve outcomes that cannot be achieved alone,” Devolin said. He added he is not an unknown quantity to anyone on council. “By now, all of you pretty well know my strengths and weaknesses that I would bring to the position of warden,” Devolin said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve as you know and I’ll put time and energy to fulfill the role.” Danielsen also recognized the change to come with the County services delivery review. “I can honestly say that I have no preconceived bias or thoughts on the outcome of the services delivery review other than a willingness to work hard to see improvements made,” Danielsen said. “I’d be proud to continue as your warden. I believe I have good community support and a good rapport with all of you.”Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California restrictions on indoor religious services in areas hard hit by the coronavirus in light of the justices' recent ruling in favour of churches and synagogues in New York.The high court's unsigned order, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state.Last week, the Supreme Court split 5-4 in holding that New York could not enforce certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues.With a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put most of the state under heightened restrictions, which include a ban on indoor singing and chanting.The Associated Press
Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade – La mairesse sortante de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Diane Aubut, a déjà les yeux fixés sur l'automne 2021, alors que celle qui cumule deux mandats d'expérience dans la plus prestigieuse chaise du conseil municipal affirme hors de tout doute qu'elle sera sur la ligne de départ en vue des élections municipales prévues dans un an. «Après deux mandats, on connaît bien nos dossiers et j'aime mon travail, alors je prévois continuer», lance d'entrée de jeu Mme Aubut, soulignant que le dossier du développement domiciliaire dans sa municipalité fait partie de ceux qui lui tiennent le plus à cœur. Informée de l'intérêt pour la politique de l'ancien grand patron de Cogeco Media, Richard Lachance, la mairesse affiche un sourire en coin. «S'il veut se présenter, c'est libre à lui, comme aux autres d'ailleurs. Tout le monde est libre de se présenter. Peu importe qui se présente, c'est une démocratie. Ça n'influencera pas ma décision de me présenter ou non, elle est prise depuis longtemps», assure-t-elle. Diane Aubut croit tout de même que les dernières années en tant que mairesse peuvent lui être salutaires. «Je pense que l'expérience que je possède peut être un atout, mais en bout de ligne, c'est la population qui va décider.» Inquiète pour les petits poissons Alors que la COVID-19 continue à frapper, la mairesse s'interroge sur l'orientation qui sera prise par l'Association des pourvoyeurs de la rivière Sainte-Anne. Y aura-t-il de la pêche aux petits poissons cette année? «Les citoyens et moi sommes préoccupés. C'est un événement important chez nous. Je sais qu'ils sont encore dans l'attente et qu'ils réfléchissent», confie-t-elle. Avant de se présenter à la mairie de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Diane Aubut a également occupé les fonctions de conseillère municipale pendant un mandat.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — The body of a woman was recovered Thursday on the Greek island of Lesbos and identified as that of a woman reported missing after a migrant boat sank the previous day. The coast guard said the body was recovered from a rocky part of the coast, bringing the death toll from the sinking to two. Another 32 people, all from Somalia and including three children, had been rescued from the sea after the dinghy they had been travelling in from the nearby Turkish coast sank off Lesbos early Wednesday morning, Greek authorities said. Government spokesman Stelios Petsas accused the Turkish coast guard of refusing to help the migrants when they issued a distress call. “It is clear that the Turkish vessel, despite the request for help, didn’t help, didn’t rescue the passengers of the fatal boat while they were in Turkish territorial waters,” Petsas said Thursday. "On the contrary, it urged them to move forward, it carried out manoeuvrs against the boat so that it would continue its course toward Greek shores.” Petsas said smuggling gangs were knowingly endangering people’s lives by sending them out to illegally cross the European Union’s borders in unseaworthy vessels. “People who are not in danger on land, Turkey sends them into danger at sea, in boats that don’t fulfil any safety requirements and are driven by people without permits or knowledge of the rules of the sea,” he said, adding that turning a blind eye to such practices was a “usual practice” by neighbouring Turkey. Turkey's coast guard vehemently denied the allegation, saying in a statement that it dispatched a boat after the distress call but found the dinghy to be in Greek waters with a Greek coast guard boat close enough to help. “Due to the fact that the scene of said incident was within the Greek waters and there was no response to the calls in any manner, it had not been possible to intervene in the scene of incident; nevertheless, Turkish assets continued to stay and wait within the Turkish territorial waters," the Turkish statement said. The coast guard also provided a recording of a Turkish unit telling its Greek counterparts in a call that the migrants “need to be rescued immediately" or otherwise Greece would be responsible. Greece remains one of the most popular routes into the European Union for people fleeing poverty and conflict in the Mideast, Africa and Asia. The vast majority make their way from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands, often in unseaworthy and grossly overcrowded dinghies and boats. The Associated Press
TransLink says customers can return to using credit cards and debit cards at ticket vending machines and fare gates after three days of being unable to do so because of a ransomware attack on the Metro Vancouver transit authority.CEO of Translink Kevin Desmond issued a statement Thursday afternoon to apologize for the inconvenience and provide more information about the mysterious cyberattack."We are now in a position to confirm that TransLink was the target of a ransomware attack on some of our IT infrastructure. This attack included communications to TransLink through a printed message," said Desmond.TransLink disabled several of its systems "out of an abundance of caution" on Tuesday after strange network activity affected some systems that morning. The transit authority would not release further information about the nature of the network activity, citing an ongoing police investigation.At the time, a spokesperson did not answer a question about whether the activity involved customers' personal information.Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables part of a computer system or access to data until a ransom is paid.However, TransLink said Thursday that upon detection, the transit authority took immediate steps to shut down key IT systems to reduce the impact to its infrastructure and operations. TransLink said a forensic investigation is underway to determine how the incident occurred and what information was affected.The transit authority is trying to reassure customers and said it does not store fare payment data and uses a secure third party to process payments for fare transactions.Metro Vancouver Transit Police confirmed in an email Wednesday it is investigating "in partnership with local and national cyber crime experts."For days, TransLink passengers were able to use cash at vending machines and staff were on site to help customers having problems buying fares. The authority had warned stored value could take longer than usual to load onto a Compass Card but those systems are now back to normal.TransLink's Trip Planner tool had also been disabled. As of Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m., TransLink said it was working to resume normal operations as quickly as possible.
NEW YORK — The retired U.S. Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has a new book coming out. William McRaven's “The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived" is scheduled for April. Grand Central Publishing is calling the book “a ringing tribute” to “everyday heroes” McRaven has met everywhere from battlefields to college campuses. He has said before that while he grew up idolizing Batman and Superman, he came to realize real heroes were entirely human. “Admiral McRaven deploys powerful examples to define innate qualities of the human spirit that will uplift our next generation of everyday heroes — and profoundly shape our future,” Ben Sevier, Grand Central senior vice-president and publisher, said in a statement Thursday. McRaven is also the author of the bestselling “Make Your Bed" and “Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.” ___ This story corrects that McRaven's new book is not his first since “Make Your Bed.” The Associated Press
French police are beginning an unprecedented inspection of 76 of the country's mosques as part of a move against so-called 'religious separatism'View on euronews
Alex Merrick realizes it’s a “very, very long shot” they’ll get an heirloom blanket back in their family circle after it was dropped off in a box of clothes at North Bay’s Value Village this time last year. “But my mom always said that ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ So I figured I’d ask the universe for this,” Merrick explained in a Facebook post that has been shared almost 9,000 times in three days. Merrick said they’re hoping someone in North Bay or the surrounding communities may have bought the pink, cream, and mint green creation by her ‘Gran’ who passed away in 2014. “It was in excellent shape. I feel in my bones that someone with an eye for craftsmanship and a desire for coziness picked it up and has it draped over their couch as you read this.” Merrick, of Toronto, said her mom and a sister live on Alsace Road in Commanda Township, but they’re actually hoping to retrieve it for her older sister in Edmonton. She wants to give the blanket, made more than 45 years ago, to her own daughter as a “legacy gift” that would be handed down to the next generation, “a way to keep our Gran’s memory alive.” BayToday contacted Merrick to see if they’ve received any tangible clues as to where it might be. “No leads, no luck yet,” she said, although the countless messages from people wanting to help is giving them hope and inspiration. “We’ve had so many offers to remake the blanket, which has been really sweet,” Merrick said, referring to the more than 500 comments under her post and private messages. “I guess people can really get behind a blanket your grandmother made and the sentimental attachment to it,” she said, adding they will definitely compensate the person who offers it back – although it would be understandable if they’ve already grown attached to for their own reasons. Merrick said her “Gran was the best. She could knit and crochet without looking, made the best roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, and always snorted when she laughed.” She said her family is “truly overwhelmed” everyone has taken the time to help them bring some Christmas cheer to her sister this year. “Even if the blanket isn’t found, this has been such a bright spot in an otherwise sad story,” she said. “When we exhaust the search, we may take someone up on (the offers to recreated it),” she said about Plan B. “That would be a nice token for this whole experience, to be honest.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Leading up to her graduation from Dalhousie University, Fatou Secka had her eyes on the prize: to find a job in her field and get one step closer to permanent residency in Canada. “I was very hopeful of getting into the work field, getting more practical experience, applying myself ... and being part of an organization,” she told The Chronicle Herald. “I was really looking forward to that.” But after receiving a master's degree in civil engineering at the university in May, the international graduate from The Gambia has been job hunting nearly everyday to no avail. “(A few days) ago, my alarm went off and I felt so anxious and so nervous and worried that I would be unable to find work,” she said. Due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, thousands of international graduates in Canada like Secka are unable to find work and meet the requirements of their post-graduate work permits (PGWPs), according to Migrant Students United, an advocacy group for international students and graduates. International graduates are eligible for time-restricted PGWPs that allow them to remain in Canada post-graduation and gain work experience here. If they complete a minimum of 12 to 24 months of work in certain skilled positions, they can then qualify for permanent residency. While Secka has a three-year PGWP, some international graduates have shorter permits that are either set to expire before year’s end or have already expired, which has left them in a state of limbo, said Sarom Rho, an organizer for Migrant Students United. “With the second wave of COVID-19 related job losses spiking all over Canada and the economic shutdown and economic impact of this, most migrant student workers don’t have access to these jobs,” said Rho. “Even in the best of times, these jobs are difficult to get as migrant workers, but in the middle of a pandemic, when there’s a global economic shutdown, it’s nearly impossible.” The federal government has allowed people with work, study and visitor permits that expired before Jan. 30 to “restore their status” until the end of the year if they stayed in Canada. But PGWPs are currently non-renewable, said Rho, so international graduates are unable to do so. Migrant Students United delivered two petitions with thousand of signatures to federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s office this week, calling for changes to Canadian immigration rules surrounding PGWPs. They’ve asked the federal government to make PGWPs renewable so former students can complete “realistic requirements” for permanent residency in the COVID-19 job market and to lower the threshold for gaining permanent residency by lowering points requirements and counting work that is part-time, in-school or in any occupation. Rho said international graduates have made multiple sacrifices and poured thousands of dollars into education in Canada only to be faced with COVID-19 setbacks at no fault of their own. During this “unprecedented crisis,” they’ve also contributed to Canada by working in the essential industries “that sustain our economy and our communities,” Rho added, but none of that work is counted toward their PGWPs. “You’ll see that it’s migrant students who are working overnight stocking shelves in grocery stores, handling packages in warehouses, working in food service and retail and delivery,” she said. John Paul Patrick Corpus is one of those international graduates. Corpus completed a diploma in business intelligence analytics from Nova Scotia Community College and received his PGWP, which is valid for one year, in July. He’s currently working as a sales associate at the Atlantic Superstore and as a data analyst with the federal government. Although his work with the federal government counts toward his PGWP, Corpus said only 30 hours of the 37.5 hours he puts in each week are counted. This means he has to work straight through to July 2021, which is when his PGWP expires, in order to achieve the 1,560 hours required to satisfy the requirements of the permit, he said. “It’s really pushed my work permit up to the very end,” said Corpus. Corpus is concerned that he may lose his job with the federal government during the pandemic. “I try to work as many hours as I can because you’ll never know if one day, all of a sudden, you lose your job and they don’t issue a permit or visa,” he said. At his grocery store job, Corpus said many of his coworkers are also PGWP holders that are stuck in a similar state of uncertainty. He said they all share the same sentiments: “Hopefully the government will give us at least another year once the pandemic stabilizes, because they should try to be reasonable. How can you find a job if there’s no job? Or how can you prove your work if there’s no grounds to prove your work?” “We just study here and all of a sudden we’re kicked out of the country because, OK, your post-graduate work permit is expired. That’s so sad,” Corpus added. As she continues to look for an engineering job, Secka said she’s trying her best to keep occupied by networking with people in her field and pursuing professional training to make herself “indispensable.” She’s also found work as a caregiver at the Shannex nursing home in Halifax and at the Dalhousie Writing Centre. Secka encourages other international graduates to do the same. “Although I have not been able to find work, I’ve been talking to people in my field and learning from them. So these are things you can do so you have something to look forward to in your day,” she said. The Chronicle Herald reached out to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to ask if the department is considering renewing expired or soon-to-expire PGWPs. In an email statement, IRCC spokesperson Rémi Larivière said that with COVID-19 causing "significant disruptions," the federal government has taken steps to support international students "and we hope to help more of them make the transition to permanent residency." This includes the government's "ambitious" 2021-2023 immigration levels plan that creates more opportunities through Canada's economic immigration programs, he said. According to Larivière, a person whose status will expire has "options to extend it before it does, and a period of time to restore their status if it does expire." He noted the period that temporary residents have to restore their status has been extended during the pandemic. Larivière said the federal government has also "made it easier for former PGWP holders who had to maintain their legal status in Canada as a visitor to quickly start working for a new employer when they find a new job, and for those with employer-specific work permits to be able to quickly switch and start working for a new employer while their new (work permit) application is processed, cutting the delay on working for a new employer from 10 weeks to 10 days." "We will continue to work closely with international students and the wider community to examine new ways to help international students thrive in this country," he added.Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The U.S. services sector, where most Americans work, registered its sixth consecutive month of expansion in November.The Institute for Supply Management reported Thursday that its index of services activity declined slightly to a reading of 55.9 last month, from a reading of 56.6 in October. Readings above 50 represent expansion in services industries such as restaurants and bars, retail stores and delivery companies.Although broadly viewed as a good report, it was the second straight month that growth in the service sector slowed. That could be worrisome as COVID-19 infections rise and the weather turns colder.Many restaurants, whose indoor capacities have been eliminated or reduced greatly, could be facing a make-or-break winter if fewer people take tables at the hastily assembled outdoor dining areas that popped up over the summer. A new surge in COVID-19 cases has already led many mandatory restaurant closures until case numbers decline.But the U.S. is moving in the other direction.On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans hospitalized with the virus eclipsed 100,000 for the first time. And new cases have begun topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.“While the recent string of positive vaccine news is encouraging, services, particularly consumer-facing firms, will not be on a stable footing until broad swathes of the population are immunized and the health crisis is fully over," analysts from Oxford Economics wrote in a note to clients.Respondents to the November ISM survey were anxious about the current business climate.“Conflicting national, regional and local guidelines/requirements for COVID-19 issues are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, leading to a lot of just-in-time-type purchases,” said a respondent from the hotel and food services sector.Several respondents, including one from the health care sector, reported continued difficulty in procuring personal protective equipment due to rising COVID-19 cases.Thursday's report showed that business activity declined slightly as did new orders, although both remained in expansion territory. The index measuring employment increased to 51.5, from 50.1, which was very close to contraction last month. The gauge for prices also increased from October.Out of the 18 service sector categories, 14 reported growth in November, including transportation and warehousing, management and support services, health care and social assistance, hotel and food service, construction and retail trade.The services sector had been growing for 122 consecutive months — more than a decade — before contracting in April and May as the coronavirus outbreak forced many businesses to close and people to stay home.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Two months after the death of Joyce Echaquan in a Quebec hospital, the head of the regional health authority that runs the hospital has been removed from his post.The departure of Daniel Castonguay was announced Wednesday evening in a news release issued by the provincial health minister. The decision was approved after the provincial cabinet saw a report by Lise Verreault, who was appointed in mid-November to study allegations of racism against Indigenous people at the hospital in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.The hospital and its management came under scrutiny in late September after Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, filmed two staff members at the Joliette hospital insulting her as she lay dying, and other Indigenous people came forward with stories of abusive treatment.Wednesday's press release says Verreault interviewed 18 people as part of her mandate to establish whether the bond of trust had been broken between the health authority's management and the Indigenous communities it serves.Castonguay has been reassigned to aid in the preparation of Quebec COVID-19 vaccination campaign and will be replaced on an interim basis by Caroline Barbir, who is also head of a Montreal's Ste-Justine children's hospital.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
Aviation industry opposition to requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for passengers has intensified as impending drug approvals trigger a debate over their role in air travel. Airports Council International, which represents airports worldwide, joined most airlines in calling for a choice between testing or vaccination, fearing a blanket rule imposing pre-flight inoculation would be as disruptive as quarantines. Qantas Airways triggered the debate last week when it said a COVID-19 vaccination would be necessary for passengers on its international flights, which remain largely idle because of Australia's strict border controls.
In a year like no other, the St. John's Board of Trade stepped back from praising the city's best local businesses to celebrate those who have fought and survived a year defined by disease and a history-making blizzard."We couldn't count sales or revenues or judge who moved the most product because the circumstances were different," St. John's Board of Trade's CEO AnnMare Boudreau said.Instead of the usual hardware, the Board of Trade on Wednesday launched what it called the Business Resilience Awards "so that we could measure business differently and keep pace with what our community needed and how our community was acting."There was no gala, either. Rather than renting a hotel ballroom, the Board of Trade organized the event at a studio at Canadian AV and streamed to the BOT's members. Physically distanced because of COVID-19, the even was was a fitting way to honour businesses that had to change their way of doing things as well. Awards were broken down into five categories: Opportunity Seeker, the Boundary Pusher, Service Star, Community Champion and the Overall 2020 Resilience Award. PAL Airlines took home the Opportunity Seeker Award. The company, despite the Snowmageddon event in January, managed to add a new route in 2020."We saw that there was a gap in Atlantic Canada and that there was a great demand to connect Newfoundland with New Brunswick," Janine Brown, PAL Airline's director of business development and sales, said. "That required a lot of hard work and dedication from a lot of people during a very challenging time."Browne described the award as validation for the hard work staff that PAL staff have done to get through the pandemic.PAL also added the Bombardier Q400 to its fleet. "We're really excited about this — a 76-seat aircraft," said Browne. "This is going to make sure that we can meet the demands of Newfoundland, Labrador and eastern Canada, and be sure to fill any gaps that become available."Pushing boundaries The St. John's International Women's Film Festival won the award for Boundary Pusher. The group began working in March to prepare for an event that always draws crowds together into a theatre. "We're known for a big signature event in person connecting audiences with filmmakers and really being able to celebrate and showcase the city," SJIWFF's executive director Jenn Brown said."We normally bring in, you know, 100 presenters alone for our forums and panels."This year, the festival had to figure out how to get people to get involved without actually being together — which meant moving it online. A shift to online streaming allowed the festival to reach audiences outside St. John's and indeed well beyond provincial boundaries. For the non-profit arts organization, being recognized by the Board of Trade was a victory itself. "As soon as COVID hit, people are looking to the arts more than ever for entertainment, but also that sense of community and connection," said Brown. "That's something that's such a core value of ours and so important to our work."Colemans wins pair of awardsSt. John's risk management software company ClearRisk was given the Community Champion Award.CEO Craig Rowe took to Twitter to thank the Board of Trade for the award. Corner Brook-based Colemans walked away with two awards on Wednesday: the Service Star and Overall 2020 Resilience Award.Sasha Persaud, the grocery chain's communication coordinator, said Colemans stepped up during Snowmageddon by paying its workers for shifts missed due to weather and then teamed up with local organizations to offer more access to food and donations. When the pandemic hit, she said, staff quickly got to work to change how they did business. "[We were] among the first to install Plexiglas and have a dedicated shopping hour for our seniors, persons with disabilities and the immunocompromised," said Persaud. Like many others, Colemans also offered online ordering and curbside pickups, something that the company will work to optimize going forward. Receiving the honour is a big deal for Persaud and the company."We can't express how amazing this award means this year, because of everything that we've gone through as a community. And because of that, we don't just accept on behalf of ourselves, but for everyone," she said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
As second lockdown continues, local businesses are speaking out about how they’ve been impacted with the holiday season right around the corner. Peel Region went into lockdown effective November 23 and is to remain in the Grey level for a total of 28 days. Businesses have taken a hard hit, as many smaller retail and non-essential businesses have been ordered to close their doors, and to only allow curbside pickup or takeout. Several Peel businesses understand the whys behind going into lockdown but feel not enough is being done to support them. Forsters Book Garden, a long-time local business, stated that the lockdown was “the appropriate response, given the worsening of the situation.” “Since we are not allowed to let customers in, it has reduced our sales as our items require perusal,” explained owner and local resident Donna Forster. “Now, our customers are not capable of doing that, so they need to know what they want or have to try to choose via our website.” “It is a scramble taking items to people at the curb, trying to do so expediently so as not to make them wait there too long,” she added. “Sales, therefore, will be dramatically reduced.” Forsters Book Garden has been independently serving the Caledon community since 1998 and has been dedicated to providing the community with new books of all genres for the past 20 years. One key issue that several smaller businesses, as well as local officials, are concerned about is with the holiday season being a significant time for shopping and sales, the fairness of big box stores remaining open while smaller business suffer, seems to be in the back of everyone’s mind. “While essential items are important to be able to shop in person for, it is unfair that only the big box stores, who also carry non-essential items, like the ones we carry, can be open for browsing,” said Forster. “That places the burden of limiting exposure to the pandemic on the back of small businesses who are already following all the rules and are equally capable of limiting numbers for physical distancing.” Derrick Noble, owner of Noble Toyz, is concerned for not only his own business, but for all the other small businesses are who struggling to stay afloat during this second lockdown. “We already lost 20 per cent of them across Canada after the first (lockdown),” he remarked. “We were asked to use curbside, which is totally unfair for a shop like mine, and heading into our busy season we would probably only do about 20 per cent of regular holiday sales which is 50 per cent of our yearly sales,” said Noble. “I have opened a few times and received fines and summons. I don’t know what the future holds but we have to fight for the small businesses to reopen.” Businesses like Noble Toyz and Forsters Book Garden are hopeful that the local and provincial government hears their voices and changes can hopefully be made. “Let the small shops reopen. Why can the Walmarts and Costcos stay open while we struggle to pay our bills?” asked Noble. “We went into a big deficit to stock up and fill the store for the holiday season, then they announced we had to close in 48 hours. We are now fighting for our rights and the support has been amazing. “The store is stocked with the latest books, games, puzzles and stocking stuffers for Christmas. We can show some of these off at the door even if we can’t let people browse,” said Forster. “We post regularly on Facebook and Instagram. As much as possible we are directing customers to our website www.forstersbookgarden.ca. On a personal note, we will not see family outside of our own home for Christmas.” The Provincial Government has introduced investments such as over $2.2 million through the Ontario Together Fund in order to provide smaller businesses with free financial advice and online training to help them navigate through this pandemic. The Ontario Together Fund is a $50 million commitment to help businesses with their operations and services to reopen safely. A Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network was introduced for accessibility to digital tools and training and information on different programs. Different types of grants and rebates have been made accessible for the Main Street Relief Grant to help businesses with their property tax and energy costs. But the real question is, is it enough? “Shop local and independent! Help lobby our government to level the playing field,” said Forster. “We have so many amazing small shops in Bolton and Caledon,” concluded Noble. “They need you now more than ever.” To learn more about Forsters Book Garden, please visit forstersbookgarden.ca and you visit Noble Toyz on their Facebook and Instagram.Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
Plans for a new LRT station at Victoria Park/Stampede will involve building a temporary platform during construction.Gone will be the old concrete walkway that leads pedestrians to the current platform and in its place will be a street-level stop. It's the first step in creating a permanent platform and extending 17th Avenue into Stampede Park over a level crossing of the tracks."It's been a challenge to figure out how do you usher so many Calgarians through the site, through to downtown and beyond, and keep construction working and the team has come up with a really ingenious solution to do a temporary platform closer to Macleod Trail," said Kate Thompson, the CEO of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, which is overseeing the project and the transformation of the Stampede Grounds. She said there are three tracks in the location, which frees up space. Thompson said the overhead walkway will come down in the spring. Inside Stampede Park, most of Weadickville is being demolished or moved, the wooden stockade fence has been cut down and the Coca-Cola stage will be torn down to make way for the new roadway. Opening the park to 17th Avenue is happening at the same time as the extension of the BMO Centre gets underway, with the $500 million project slated for completion in 2024. That project involves demolishing the old Corral, which will begin next week. Also pegged for a 2024 opening date is the new arena on the north end of the grounds.
Le préfet de la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay, Gérald Savard, demande au premier ministre Justin Trudeau qu’il accélère le déploiement de l’Internet haute vitesse sur le territoire dans le cadre d’un plan de relance en tant que priorité nationale. Dans une lettre datée du 19 novembre dernier et adressée au premier ministre et aux députés Richard Martel et Mario Simard, M. Savard affirme que 40% des bâtiments de la MRC ne sont pas ou sont mal desservis par l’Internet, faute de rentabilité possible, une situation qualifiée d’inacceptable. M. Savard mentionne que le service Internet de qualité est une condition essentielle pour le développement économique, social et culturel, en plus de contrer le déclin démographique et la vitalité des communautés. Il poursuit en affirmant que le contexte de pandémie actuelle démontre l’importance de déployer l’Internet pour briser l’isolement, faire évoluer les pratiques dans les entreprises avec le télétravail tout en assurant leur survie. En dépit de l’annonce d’un investissement supplémentaire de 750 M$ s’ajoutant aux milliards $ annoncé lors du budget 2019, M. Savard soutient que trop peu de foyers seront branchés rapidement. Selon lui, un des obstacles au déploiement de l’Internet haute vitesse concerne l’accès aux poteaux alors que les propriétaires s’installent rapidement tandis que les autres doivent affronter un processus bureaucratique long et fastidieux pour obtenir les permis nécessaires. Il ajoute que la stratégie pour la connectivité en vertu de laquelle 95% des Canadiens auront accès à la haute vitesse en 2026 est trop longue.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Students at Gilbert Paterson Middle School are belting out their own version of “Oh, Christmas Trees.” That’s trees – plural. As the middle school heads into the holiday season with visions of giving back to the public in a trying year dancing in their heads, they do so with 25 trees draped top to bottom with all sorts of creative themes which will be donated to the community. One of those trees — decked out in tribute to the frontline workers who have served tirelessly in a year rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic — will take up shop in the front window of the downtown Pharmasave Draffins. In fact, it was the pandemic that was the seed for the Paterson Christmas tree idea. “With the school year being unique due to COVID-19 we can’t run our regular auction,” said Gilbert Paterson teacher Shelly David, who teaches two Grade 6 classes. “We’ve been running what we’re calling activity classes in the classes, and as a grade level group we’ll share the planning of those activities.” It was originally an activity planned for the Grade 6 students. “One thing led to another and when I found out I could get a Christmas tree for a pretty decent price I thought maybe the whole grade level could do Christmas trees,” said David. “Then I approached administration (Catherine Thorsen) to get the OK and asked how they would feel if I sent it out to teachers and if they would be willing to do this as a pre-Christmas activity. Thorsen liked the idea and relayed it to Paterson principal Darryl Christiansen, who suggested every grade level partake in the Christmas project. “Now I’ve got 25 trees,” said David. “I’m sort of overseeing the whole thing, but the individual classroom teachers who are teaching the activities to the grade level, those are the ones who are running it in the classroom.” Each class has a four-foot tree, said David. “We brought them back to the school and the teachers had the conversation with their groups about the theme. Once they figured out the theme they went from there and made the ornaments.” The deal was the students had to hand-make the decorations for the trees, said David. “So each class has a different theme and are crafting decorations around that.” Different ideas include a cartoon theme and cartoon strip ornaments and a rustic winter theme with tree cookie snowmen, along with snowballs. Other classes went the North Pole and “Shrek” route, while another class utilized the Among Us app, a popular game. “One of the classes had Christmas Is Among Us, so they’re crafting the players in the game out of salt clay and onto foam balls to look like planets,” said David. “So they’ll string those planets together and they have a tree-topper of one of the Among Us people.” The objective for the tribute tree for frontline workers — done by the Grade 7 classes — was to get it to a high-traffic area, said David. “The intention is this tree will be a tribute and a thank you to the ongoing efforts of everybody on the front line fighting through this thing and even working through shutdowns. The kids wanted that one to go where it could be it could be seen by as many people as possible.” The Christmas tree initiative will also double as a fundraiser. “We had put the call out for donations to help assist with the cost the supplies to craft all of the trees,” said David. “We thought if there are any proceeds left over those would be donated to some charities.” The Gilbert Paterson counselling department, Interfaith Food Bank, Woods Homes, an organization that supports youth, are among the selected charities as well as the YWCA, which has the Virtual Stockings of Hope. David said the dedication and support of the Paterson staff and students has been amazing. “I really thought this could be one more thing being added to the plate of a group of people who are already working hard to make each day happen,” she said. “But they’ve truly grabbed this idea and run with it. “It’s been nothing but positive feedback from the staff. I see the excitement going on. Many of them are playing Christmas carols and they’re crafting things. It’s just a chance for the kids to remember that, yes, we have all these restrictions on us, but there are other ways to give back and still have the cheer part of Christmas and the sharing and the giving.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald