Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Minister Darren Fisher said during Question Period on Friday that since Oct. 21, 1.5 million rapid tests for COVID-19 have been shipped around the country.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Minister Darren Fisher said during Question Period on Friday that since Oct. 21, 1.5 million rapid tests for COVID-19 have been shipped around the country.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the possibility of involving other countries in efforts to maintain a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered ceasefire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the ceasefire deal, which locked in Azeri advances.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
Leslie Chihuly, the wife and business driver behind glass artist Dale Chihuly, believes these are fighting times, especially for artists. "If we don't have our paintings and art and music and culture and civility, then what do we have?" said the president and chief executive of Chihuly, Inc, who chaired the board of the Seattle Symphony for nine years until 2018. Chihuly, 59, had a chat with Reuters about her personal, professional and philanthropic choices.
If you are a senior staying in your own home during pandemic times, a proposed new senior’s renovation tax credit may help with the cost of renovations to make your home more safe and accessible and keep you in your home longer. The Ontario government has proposed a Seniors' Home Safety Tax Credit for the 2021 taxation year, which would provide a 25 per cent credit on eligible renovations of up to $10,000. The tax credit would be a fully refundable tax credit for the 2021 tax year worth 25% of up to $10,000 ($2,500) in eligible expenses to make homes “safer and more accessible.” Seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes and whether they owe income tax for 2021. Family members who have a senior living with them would also be eligible. Eligible expenses include those that are paid for, or become payable in, 2021. The expenses must relate to renovations that improve safety and accessibility or help seniors be more functional or mobile at home. Eligible expenses could include renovations to allow for first-floor occupancy or a secondary suite for a senior; wheelchair ramps, stair lifts and elevators; grab bars in washrooms to assist with use of the toilet, tub or shower, non-slip flooring, additional lighting, and automatic garage door openers. “This is a very important new program that is available to all seniors, regardless of income,” said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “The intent of the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is to help make homes safer and more accessible for those with mobility issues. I encourage all interested residents to apply.” The government said it expects the credit would benefit 27,000 people and cost about $30 million in 2021. The province plans to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to allow the credit to be claimable through the 2021 personal income tax return. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Big Brothers and Sisters Kincardine and District have launched two innovative ways to fundraise this year, and replace some of the revenue lost due to events cancelled because of the pandemic. The Festival of Wreaths campaign invited local businesses to create a holiday wreath, register it with Big Brothers and Sisters and display it prominently in their own office window. The sky was the limit when creating the wreath, and businesses were encouraged to decorate with chocolate, gift certificates, decorations and anything else that struck their fancy. The entire collection can be viewed at https://kincardine.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/festival-of-wreaths-submissions/and a link is available that will direct the public to the businesses who have created a wreath. Approximately 26 wreaths have been submitted, from businesses including Sleepers Bed Gallery, Mackenzie and McCreath Funeral Home, Victoria Park Gallery and Snobelen Farms. Wreaths created by businesses in Ripley are currently on display at Grey Matter Beer Company and The Cooperators. Each wreath has been donated to BBBS, and they will be auctioned off, with funds directed to the organization. The online auction runs from Nov. 26-30. These keepsakes will be available for pick up just in time to deck your own halls. The more wreaths that sell, the more money BBBS will have to support their programs. “This is a very important fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine & District in a critical time of need,” said executive director Yolanda Ritsema. “All proceeds help sustain our core programs in the community. Each participating business will receive a tax deductible receipt for the cost of their wreath.” The agency has also kicked off its holiday giving and recruitment campaign, giving the public the opportunity to give the gift of mentorship. The initiative hopes to raise $5,000 and recruit 10 new big brothers or sisters for its mentorship program. BBBS is very excited to announce that it has partnered with EPCOR this year, who will match donations, dollar for dollar, to a maximum of $5,000. All funds raised remain in this community. The money will be used to ignite the potential of little brothers and sisters and have a positive impact on their emotional competence. It will be used to increase their educational engagement and employment readiness and empower their good mental health and well-being. “This challenging time has changed the landscape of how vital community organizations fundraise and operate,” said Susannah Robinson, EPCOR vice president, Ontario operations. “We are excited to match the generous donations for the Holiday Giving program that will enable Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine & District to continue to invest in our youth and help set them up for success.” Big Brothers Big Sisters is Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring organization and the Kincardine agency is proud to be a part of this movement. It offers life-changing relationships to inspire and empower youth, with the goal of helping youth reach their potential. Besides matches between mentors and mentees, it offers a range of programs serving you who want a mentor. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The report states that thousands of children were adversely affected by immigration rules introduced in 2012View on euronews
With the holiday season just weeks away and health officials urging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel, there's a push from a number of Windsor groups to encourage people to shop and celebrate locally for the holidays — an initiative that helps local businesses that may be struggling because of COVID-19.Sisters, Rachel and Lauren Vollmer, noticed the "devastating effects" the pandemic has had on small businesses and took it upon themselves to curate gift boxes made of items from small local retailers.They started their venture, Local Provisions, in October and noticed a growth in interested buyers. They've partnered with Downtown Windsor BIA to distribute gifts to corporations looking to buy for their staff, but they've also sold their gift boxes to those looking to buy for their family and friends."I feel like there's no wrong way to shop small. It's just making sure that you support your community. You can do that, you know, in your neighborhood or the town," Lauren said. "Sometimes supporting local business isn't always, you know, to making a purchase ... it could be sharing things on social media."The Vollmers have different themed gift boxes and offer free delivery within the Windsor-Essex area.One of the local entrepreneurs they're partnered with is Craig Marentette, the owner of Red Lantern Coffee Co. in Kingsville, who already has nine bags of coffee going in his first order with Local Provisions."It's pretty great," he said. "Kingsville, you know, is a small town. There's a lot going on here ... but not as big of a market as Windsor. So it's nice to be part of that."Windsorites want to support local businessesSome Windsorites seem to be on board with the idea of supporting the local community."I'll support small businesses more than big business," Dragan Susic said.Hannah Westfall agrees, "I like to support smaller businesses in this time just because they don't get the money.""I try to support the smaller businesses. They're the ones that are hurting the most," Ron Durocher said. "Wal-Mart and Costco, they've been open and people have been going in, but the small stores have really been struggling."Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island is also encouraging people to stay-cation and shop within the region through their events and gift guides, which highlight local virtual events, holiday light maps showcasing houses with light displays and places to shop.Jason Toner, the director of marketing communications, said the gift guide is a big feature this year and it's been getting a lot of engagement online."Last year, it was an eight page guide. This year, it's a 24-page guide that features 175+ either artisans or small businesses to support. And it goes more beyond just gift giving, it goes about where to buy your local produce, where to buy a pre-made meals, experiences that you can give, a winery guide, a brewery guide, distilleries and ways to support small either in person or virtually," he said."We were able to offer it as a free marketing program to all these small businesses. And we know they need the support this year. So, we're really helping amplify that message for them and hope that it helps all of them in turn."These initiatives keep in line with what health officials are urging Canadians to do: keep within your own household and stay close to home."Christmas is not going to be having any kind of large group interactions," Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said. "Even with family, you've got to really think twice. Avoid non-essential travel. Keep to your current household contacts as much as possible."Skip Amazon, buy local, says VollmersThe Vollmer sisters think it's important to support local businesses which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19."There's just so many great small vendors in your area, [you] just might not know about them," said Rachel. "So, I think just even doing a bit of research and finding them, you'll realize that they have a lot of amazing products. A lot of them are handmade. A lot of them use materials that are even from Windsor. So it's all very local. And I think just keeping the money in your own economies is beneficial to everyone, ultimately.""I think if you can afford to do it, try and skip Amazon and buy from your local stores so that they can stick around," she said.Toner echoes the same sentiment."Keeping those dollars local are important ... and showing that support for your neighbours and friends. Half the time you can start up a relationship with that person that you're buying from to grow and repeat business. And I really think it helps people learn what Essex County is all about."
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues CBC North will keep track of the latest confirmed cases in each territory here, and the latest stories, updated every morning.Nunavut * The total confirmed cases as of Nov. 25 are 155, with 153 active, according to the government's Wednesday news release. Northwest Territories * The Northwest Territories has 15 confirmed cases in total, all of which have since recovered as of Nov. 24, according to the government's latest statistics.Yukon * Total confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 24 is 38 with 23 recovered and one death.
GUYSBOROUGH – This past week brought unwelcome news on the COVID-19 front: Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Strang says there is community spread of the virus and some HRM schools have been closed due to positive COVID-19 cases. As the second wave of the pandemic hits the shores of Nova Scotia, PC Leader Tim Houston is on the road speaking to municipal governments and stakeholder groups about his and the PC Party’s vision for the future and how they would handle the current crisis. He spoke to The Journalduring his visit to Guysborough last Friday. For starters, Houston is critical of the government’s response to school cases. The initial reaction of the government to last week’s school cases was to announce that close contacts would be tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. By Friday, the schools involved were facing a complete closure for two weeks. Houston points to this as a failure of leadership and communication on the part of the government. “I think the key is information and setting expectations,” Houston said. “As recently as Tuesday when media was asking government and leadership, what can they expect around schools, can they expect school closures, the answer was ‘We’re a long ways away from that.’ Turned out we were only a couple of days away from it and it is not clear to people what the criteria the government is looking at.” With cases on the rise and additional restrictions put in place in the Halifax area, Houston is in favour of colour-coded zones such as that used in New Brunswick. “That gives people some information…some sense of the risk that is happening around them. In the absence of that we’re solely relying on understanding a decision after it has been made without information as to why it was made.” Houston believes that more testing is the key to containing the virus without locking down the economy. “I am a big advocate for testing, testing, testing and more testing – making sure we have the capacity that when public health identifies that someone has been in close contact with someone or is at a higher risk because of some situation, [we can] test those people. The timing of the test is critical but maybe we can test them twice. It is all designed to take some pressure off the mental health of Nova Scotians and reduce anxiety.” When asked about the price tag of such a rigorous testing regime, Houston said, “This is a time in our province when we are going to have to have deficits for the next few years. We have to invest in people, we have to invest in infrastructure. There are a lot of investments that have not been made over the last few years just for the sake of balancing the budget and our communities are less because of that. This is not the time to do that. The cost to the economy of just locking down or having everyone isolate is significant as well.” The health and well-being of Nova Scotians who live in long-term care facilities has been a major issue during the pandemic. “We know that isolation is a big drain on people’s mental and physical health,” said Houston. “We know that family members and loved ones are a big part of the care giving team…We need to be conscious of the virus – there is a lot of technology that can help; help share information with family members…More than anything it will give family members peace of mind. “Let’s look to technology. Now more than ever we have more technology that helps people stay connected. It’s not the same as a hug but it is a lot better than not having any information at all,” he said. While the second wave of the pandemic is top of mind, there are other longstanding issues that require attention from government, such as physician recruitment and EHS service in rural areas. Of physician shortages, Houston said the health care system needs to modernize to match the needs of today, which are increasingly the issues faced by an older population dealing with chronic, not acute conditions. Part of that modernization plan would be the provision of more virtual doctor’s appointments when and where possible. But that hinges on the availability of reliable high-speed Internet; something rural areas often do without. Houston said, “Access to proper high-speed Internet would be the biggest economic development initiative since the railways…I am completely focused on making sure that everyone has access to cell service and high-speed Internet.” In regard to poor EHS service, Houston said he’d like to see a separation of patient transfer service between hospitals and emergency calls. And he calls for the government to release the Fitch report, an ambulance system review delivered to the government in Oct. 2019, stating, “I’d like to see what recommendations the experts made about how to improve service.” Next month MLAs will return to the legislature for one day, Dec. 18, when the government will prorogue the fall session. Houston said of that decision, “The number of days we’ve sat this year, which will be 14…that will be the lowest number of days that any legislature in Canada has sat probably since confederation and it will be the lowest by half. And when you put that into context of what has happened this year, and the changes we’ve had to our lives, to our economy, to our provincial budget; it’s very remarkable. “This is the latest example of the lack of respect for the democratic process that we’ve seen from the government for seven years. They’ve systematically reduced the ability to be held accountable. They’ve reduced the effectiveness of committees, they’ve reduced the access of media, access of opposition. All of these things make for less democracy and in the long term it is bad for the people because the best decisions are made when people making the decisions know they will be scrutinized,” he said. In light of his disappointment in the course followed by the Liberal government, Houston told The Journal that it will be the PC Party’s practice to let people know where they stand on the issues of the day. He said they’ve been putting out thoughtful, detailed, researched plans, adding, “we won’t criticize without putting a solution forward.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Milan's La Scala will broadcast a music and dance gala from its empty auditorium next month after it was forced to abandon its traditional December opening with an opera for the first time since World War Two due to the pandemic. Its usual new season opening, a highlight of Italy's cultural calendar, will be replaced on Dec. 7 by a show of arias and duets, starring opera and ballet stars from across the world, including tenor Placido Domingo. "I hope ... to tell the world that we are in a difficult moment but still able to create the emotion of opera," Artistic Director Dominique Meyer said during a webcast press conference.
The Alberta government's new measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 cases fall short of what's needed to avoid a crisis in hospitals and in the health-care system, Edmonton doctors say. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, paints a grim picture of the province's current COVID-19 situation. "We're awfully close to the precipice of a complete disaster in Alberta," Schwartz said. Intensive care units are being pushed beyond their capacity, with COVID-19 patients taking up a large portion of that space, Schwartz said in an interview with CBC News Tuesday. Schwartz noted that 66 COVID-19 patients are in ICU right now while the province had previously designated a capacity for 70 ICU beds for patients with COVID-19. "So clearly we're already brushing right up to that maximum capacity." Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro declared another public health emergency and announced new mandatory restrictions on social gatherings and businesses for three weeks. Starting Friday, most retail businesses, such as liquor, grocery, pharmacy and clothing stores must limit their capacity to 25 per cent of allowed occupancy under the Alberta Fire Code. Starting immediately, all indoor social gatherings are banned, Kenney said. The province will allow bingo halls, water parks, racing centres and casinos to remain open. Restaurants, pubs and bars may remain open at 25 per cent capacity, with a maximum of six people at one table from the same immediate household, Kenney said. Schwartz said there are contradictions in the measures. "The definition of social gathering seems to be fairly arbitrary because it doesn't seem to include going to bars or going to a casino," he said. Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, also took issue with the premier's messaging about the measures being designed to target where spread was occurring. "With our contact tracers being overwhelmed, we still don't know where 80 per cent of people are getting COVID from," Mithani said Tuesday. "So to say things like restaurants are not a significant source of spread and bars and casinos are not a significant source of spread, we actually don't know that because we're missing so much of that data." Measures too late Alberta's spiking cases made front-page headlines for several days before Kenney announced new measures on Tuesday. The measures also come three weeks after hundreds of doctors signed letters urging the province to implement a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown. "It comes clearly too late to be meaningful," Schwartz said. Schwartz said he expects things to look worse mid-December. "We know that even if we completely abated transmissions today, we're still going to be in trouble in three weeks from now," Schwartz said. "And so to implement these measures for three weeks seems short sighted." Mithani said the province needs to be on board with the federal contact tracing app, to help collect data on where Albertans are contracting the virus. @natashariebe
The Manitoba government has spent less than nine per cent of the $67 million in climate change funding promised by the federal government, records obtained by the Opposition New Democrats show.Two years after both levels of government squabbled over the money, roughly $5.9 million has been spent on a single project — cutting emissions in the trucking sector — according to the document.The province said Tuesday that's because no other emission-cutting projects have been approved by Ottawa.But NDP environment and climate change critic Lisa Naylor says the province simply hasn't accomplished enough."They sat on this money for a long time before funding one project," the Wolseley MLA said in an interview. "Does this government care at all about doing work on the environment?"The provincial government said money only flows through the federal Low Carbon Economy Fund if the submitted projects adhere to Ottawa's "strict criteria," which require the federal government's review and approval.Ottawa's red tape 'takes time:' province"This work takes time, but is continuing, despite some delays as a result of the global pandemic," a provincial spokesperson said by email. The document, which was obtained by the NDP through a freedom of information request and tabled at the legislature last week, says a "number of other projects" put forward for the federal fund cannot be disclosed because some are under consideration by the provincial cabinet. "It sounds like these projects are stuck in cabinet," Naylor said.Minister of Conservation and Climate Sarah Guillemard said the province is discussing the fund's timelines to ensure the $67 million is spent."Stay tuned, as many projects are in the works," she said in a prepared statement.Meanwhile, the federal government said some Manitoba programs approved by Ottawa are still awaiting formal approval from the province, while federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is assessing two other projects put forward by Manitoba.So far, $5.9 million of federal cash has been dedicated to retrofits, fuel-saving devices and technologies within the trucking sector. The effort is pegged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 150,000 tonnes, the province says.The provincial government said it is offering $2.1 million in rebates to truckers committed to the fuel-efficient retrofits. Many cheques have already been distributed, it said.The provincial and federal governments have been engaged in a war of words over this money for years.It took roughly 14 months for Manitoba, in early 2018, to sign onto Ottawa's climate change plan. The province initially held out in the hopes of securing more health-care funding.By late 2018, the province accused the federal Liberals of threatening to withhold the $67 million over a dispute regarding the carbon tax. Manitoba surprisingly abandoned its $25 per tonne carbon tax plan that fall, after saying Ottawa was giving the province no credit for the green investments it has already made.The dispute over the money was resolved in May 2019 when the funding agreement was signed, Ottawa said.Manitoba's green plan aims to cut emissions by one megatonne between 2018 and 2022. The previous NDP government set emissions targets, but they were not met.
Ontarians across the province should only celebrate the upcoming holiday season with people inside their own household, Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday."Doing so is critical if you live in a lockdown region," Ford said. "If you live alone you can join one other household. Please don't have big holiday parties."A provincial news release also states that anyone "living away from home, including those studying at colleges and universities, should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before returning home for the holidays."Health Minister Christine Elliott said she knows how difficult the last several months have been for people."The holiday season will need to be a little different in order to protect our loved ones and our communities," she said.Ford and Elliott also suggested virtual gatherings as an alternative."To keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted," Ford said.WATCH | Premier gives direction on holiday season:The announcement comes as Ontario reported another 1,373 cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths linked to the illness on Wednesday.The new cases include 445 in Toronto (which the city later updated to 481), 415 in Peel Region and 136 in York Region and drop the seven-day average to 1,389.Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in today's report were: * Waterloo Region: 61 * Hamilton: 49 * Windsor-Essex: 48 * Simcoe Muskoka: 30 * Halton Region: 30 * Durham Region: 26 * Ottawa: 23 * Niagara Region: 17 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 13 * Thunder Bay: 13[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]There were also 162 school-related cases, including 138 students and 24 staff members. There are 688 publicly-funded schools in Ontario, or about 14.6 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Four schools are closed due to outbreaks.The new cases come as Ford's government is under fire for its pandemic response. A new report from the province's Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that the response was hampered by "delays and confusion in decision-making."Meanwhile, Ontario's labs processed 36,076 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a provincewide test positivity rate of 4.7 per cent.There are currently 12,779 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, 138 fewer than yesterday. The number of people with the illness in Ontario hospitals fell 11 to 523. Those being treated in intensive care stayed unchanged at 159, while 15 more patients were put on ventilators.The 35 additional deaths reported today include 29 people aged 70 and over who contracted the virus in an outbreak, most likely long-term care settings. Ontario's official death toll now sits at 3,554.Scathing AG report on pandemic responseThe province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was slower and more reactive than that of other provinces, Lysyk concluded in her report. She said outdated provincial emergency plans played a role in slowing down the provincial response in the winter and spring, as did systemic issues such as a lack of laboratory surge capacity and old IT systems.Lysyk also pointed to an increasingly cumbersome command structure, and one that was not led by public health expertise despite the creation and expansion of a provincial health command table that she says now involves more than 500 people.As well, she found the province's chief medical officer of health did not fully exercise his powers in responding to the pandemic, or issue directives to local health officials to ensure a consistent approach across regions.The auditor general also raised concerns that lab testing, case management and contact tracing were not being conducted in a timely enough manner to limit the spread of the virus, noting that between January and August, all but one public health unit failed to meet the target of reporting test results within a day 60 per cent of the time.The findings are part of a special report released today that examines Ontario's emergency management in the context of the pandemic, and its outbreak planning and decision-making, among other things.In the report, Lysyk said many of the issues her office identified would have been avoidable if the province had acted on key lessons from the 2003 SARS outbreak before or during the health crisis.Ford responded to the report Wednesday, saying that he had "serious problems" with it."This does nothing but undermine this entire health team," Ford said, adding that he "won't stand for this."Ford also directly criticized Lysyk herself, accusing her of sitting in her office and throwing "hand grenades" at the government's health officials."Stick with looking for value for money. Stick with the job we hired you for … stick with the number crunching," Ford said.COVID-19 and the holidaysToronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province's tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions set to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.The province's chief medical officer of health said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower. Previously, Dr. David Williams was derided for his suggestion that the entire province could be in the green zone by Christmas. Five other regions — Hamilton, Durham, Halton, York and Waterloo — are currently classified as red zones, which caps social gatherings at five people indoors and 25 outdoors.Ontario's most recent modelling showed the province is on track to see up to 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December, though those projections are expected to be updated Thursday.
ASPEN, Colo. — March is Aspen's moneymaking season as spring breakers and families head to the mountains to ski.When the coronavirus pandemic hit, all four Aspen/Snowmass ski mountains shut down, along with nearly everything else in the alpine town, which banks on tourism dollars.Then a funny thing happened: As people became more accustomed to life in masks and began venturing out more, Aspen again became a destination.The small town made people feel safer than in big, crowded cities. Outdoor activities are Aspen's calling card, and the mountains were a perfect place to escape the doldrums of months-long lockdowns.Precautions by local government and businesses — and the conscientiousness of nearly everyone in town — added a layer of comfort.“Aspen and all the other mountain towns in Colorado actually did really well because people want to get out of the metropolitan areas and get to the clean air of the mountains,” said Barclay Dodge, chef and owner of Bosq restaurant in downtown Aspen. “We actually did really well this summer. The town was thriving and, surprisingly, it thrived in a safe manner.”Aspen is known as an outdoor mecca, from hiking, biking and rafting in the warm months to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. As the pandemic wore on and health officials began encouraging people to get out and exercise, the town became a popular spot once again.Since Aspen has just three ICU beds, residents and the town were extra cautious with the coronavirus. As restrictions started being lifted in Colorado around the end of May, local businesses took a proactive approach to safety.Aspen instituted an indoor mask mandate in late April and created a mandatory mask zone in most of downtown in July. Signs were placed all over downtown to alert locals and tourists to the mandate and encourage social distancing.Security personnel and volunteers gently remind people to wear their masks, and confrontations have been rare. Hikers pull up their masks when crossing paths on the trails.Businesses put limits on the number of customers allowed in at a time, often with an employee at the front door to keep track.Tickets for the gondola at Aspen Mountain can be purchased online and scanned in with a phone QR code. Only members of the same family are allowed to ride the gondola together, and the outdoor eating at the top of the mountain was expanded.The Aspen Ski Company said it also will institute numerous new measures this winter to keep skiers socially distanced and safe.“Everything other than the skiing will be different,” said Jeff Hanle, vice-president of communications for Aspen Snowmass. “There’ll be some things that may make it more convenient and easier to get up the mountain, in addition to keeping your distance and things.”Hotels revamped their procedures during the lockdown and introduced changes when they were allowed to have guests again.Aspen Meadows Resort, on a sprawling property above the Roaring Fork River, began having its cleaning staff leave sanitizer on all surfaces in the rooms for at least 10 minutes before wiping, and cleaned bathroom amenities. Most everything now must be scheduled, including the pool, fitness centre and room cleaning, to ensure social distancing.Breakfast is to-go only and reservations are necessary at the resort's Plato's Restaurant. Masks are required, and there's dirty and clean pen cups at the front desk.“For those that love hospitality, it really was just another pivot to figure out how to operate the business,” Aspen Meadows general manager Jud Hawk said. “It's certainly been one of the biggest challenges of my career."Restaurants in Colorado were allowed to serve at 50% capacity in late May.Dodge installed a new ventilation system inside Bosq and, like many restaurants in town, has an enclosed outdoor seating area. Bosq does temperature checks at the door and sanitizing on all shared surfaces inside. The restaurant is building an enclosed area for outdoor dining for when it reopens for the winter season on Dec. 10.“Winter brings on a whole other set of what — what’s around the corner, is it going to be great?” Dodge said. “We just don’t know.”___Online: Aspen Meadows Resort: https://www.aspenmeadows.com; Bosq Restaurant: http://www.bosqaspen.com.John Marshall, The Associated Press
CANSO -- The Canso Area Development Association (CADA) would like to bring a Fisheries Heritage Centre to the Canso waterfront. CADA president Harold Roberts spoke to The Journal about the group’s past year and ideas for the future, including the proposed centre, following CADA’s 11th annual AGM on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Canso and Area Library and Resource Centre. The Fisheries Heritage Centre, currently in the preliminary stages of planning, would be an interactive space for sharing the area’s long fishing history. “There is a lot of interest in that,” said Roberts. “This area is the oldest fishing port in the Maritimes dating back to 1604. We really don’t have a way of displaying, in a holistic way, our fisheries heritage.” The centre would highlight the indigenous fisheries, early European fishing and commercial fisheries. “We’ve had ongoing discussions with Parks Canada. We would like to have their support with this heritage centre,” said Roberts, noting that to, “advance this project to another level, we would have to seek out an RFP (Request for Proposals).” The Fisheries Heritage Centre was part of the discussion during the community visioning workshop held on Oct. 21 with Rob LeBlanc from the consulting firm Fathom Studios, regarding community enhancements that could happen through funds earmarked for the former Town of Canso from the sale of the Canso Electric Utility residuals. "Two hundred and eighty surveys were completed and forwarded to Fathom Studios; that shows that there is a lot of interest in how that money would focus on particular projects and initiatives within the former town boundaries,” said Roberts. In other business, CADA has helped several local organizations this past year, including a $250 donation to the Chedabucto Multi-use Trails Association, a donation to the Canso Flying Figures Skating Club to cover registration costs, and support for the Eastern Counties Rate Payers Association. Members of CADA sit on community liaison committees with the Black Point Quarry project and the proposed Maritime Launch Services project. They also work in partnership with MODG Recreation and Public Works to operate the swimming pool in Canso, which due to COVID-19 was not open this past season. They also participate in the Canso and Area Stakeholders Group and the Guysborough and Area Board of Trade. Cape Breton – Canso MP Mike Kelloway joined the AGM by video link.Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
In an effort to redouble efforts to fight against COVID-19, Bruce Power has launched Be a Light: Beating COVID-19 Together, on Nov. 19. The company has committed $1 million to battle the pandemic and work with public health, county and municipal governments, chambers of commerce, hospitals, local MPs and MPPs, and community organizations within Grey, Bruce and Huron counties. “We are committed to contributing in any way we can to the challenge ahead of us here in the coming weeks,” said James Scongack, executive vice-president corporate affairs and operational services at Bruce Power. Bruce Power has been in constant contact with public health, county wardens, the province, federal MPs, and it is “very clear that COVID fatigue is settling in, in everyone’s lives,” said Scongack. As case numbers continue to rise in Grey Bruce and Huron, Bruce Power is “committed to doing whatever they can to make a positive contribution working in unity with the medical officers of health, our elected officials across the board.” The program is focused on how to beat COVID-19, from what Scongack describes as a “glass half full” perspective. He said there is light at the end of the tunnel and each action carried out, directed at defeating COVID, makes the light a little brighter. The initiative is focused on five main areas. The first area, public awareness, involves engaging community newspapers, radio stations, television and social media to reinforce the message from the health unit on how to stop COVID. This information will become even more critical as winter and the holidays approach. Bruce Power has committed $200,000 to this area, which will begin immediately. The second area, providing protection, will provide thermal monitoring equipment in higher risk or high traffic areas. Scongack describes these monitors as an additional tool in the toolbox and notes that use of this new equipment, in areas of high traffic, prompts members of the public to pause and remember to follow other preventative measures. To date, Bruce Power has provided more than $2 million in PPE, $300,000 of which has been distributed in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties. $150,000 will be directed to this area. The third area of focus is a buy local campaign. Businesses have already faced many challenges because of the restrictions because of the pandemic, and these challenges will only continue to grow as case numbers climb. Bruce Power is making a $50,000 investment to further leverage the Grey-Bruce-Huron Strong platform (www.gbhstrong.com). The fourth area focuses on mental and physical health. Scongack says approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the $1 million will be directed to this part of the program. The company will support local organizations which promote mental and physical health activities and programs through the duration of the campaign. By Nov. 27, an announcement will be made detailing how approximately $50,000 will be spent to create COVID-safe, outdoor community events to take place this winter. Money will also be invested in improving trails and recreation in the area. The final area of focus is lending a helping hand. Bruce Power has reached out to food banks, long-term care facilities and community organizations to support these organizations and individuals during this period of time. Approximately $250,000 will be directed to helping those who need assistance, and money spent in this area should be used to support the local economy. Scongack says time and action is of the essence to respond to the urgent situation Ontario and our communities face. The program is being implemented immediately and said they have “two weeks to hit this hard with a hammer.” Bruce Power hosted a COVID-19 information live event with Dr. Ian Arra of Grey Bruce Health Unit on Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. The public was invited to attend, and those not able to view can watch the recorded version at https://www.brucepower.com/events/. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Mamadou Konaté has only lived in Quebec for four years, but he's worked in parts of this province many Quebecers have never set foot in."Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Trois-Rivières, Gaspésie, William, Beaupré, Sherbrooke."Konaté has felled trees for Hydro-Québec, sorted trash in waste management centres, and, most recently, tended to and cleaned the rooms of COVID-positive patients at three long-term care homes. He caught the disease in late April while doing so.But even though the province brokered a deal with the federal government to guarantee residency for many of the asylum seekers who laboured in Quebec's beleaguered long-term care homes, Konaté faces deportation as soon as flights to Ivory Coast are once again allowed."It's really unfair. The UN is trying to get people out of there and [Canada] wants to send me back," said Konaté, who was recently released from an immigration detention centre on a $7,000 caution and a set of conditions that forbids him from working.He was detained after he and his lawyer tried to apply for a stay of deportation and residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.Before that, Konaté had gone underground. His first refugee application was found "inadmissible" because of an obscure section of the Canadian Immigration Act, stating that anyone who participated in the overthrowing of a government cannot seek residency in Canada. "It's basically the clause under which we would make Nelson Mandela inadmissible," said Stewart Istvanffy, the human rights lawyer who's taken on Konaté's case."Anybody who joins the resistance against the Nazis would be inadmissible to Canada under this clause of our law. It's a crazy clause. In a democratic country, we shouldn't have it but it's there in the law."Istvanffy has filed a request for the federal government to waive Konaté's inadmissibility, as well as a writ to try to force the government to make a decision quickly in his case. He has also applied for a temporary resident permit for Konaté. "He was the first face that some of the people in the CHSLD would see in the morning, with smile on his face. He was helping people," Istvanffy said. "I think the work he's done should be recognized and he should be accepted here in Canada."Istvanffy says Konaté, who is 39, was once a member of Les Forces nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (FNCI) rebel group — formed in 2002, in the wake of the country's civil war. Istvanffy says his client fled Ivory Coast a couple of years later and at times required protection from the Red Cross and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He was a refugee in Nigeria and Liberia for years before coming to Canada in early 2016. Another advocate for Konaté, Philippe Desmarais, says Konaté had little choice as a young man but to join the group. Another member of the forces, Guillaume Soro, went on to become the country's prime minister from 2007 to 2012. Desmarais says Konaté's case is unfair to him and is emblematic of the hardships asylum seekers in Canada face, as well as their often unrecognized contributions to society. Desmarais says Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault could use the province's selection power in immigration to ask the federal government to allow Konaté to stay in Quebec. But a spokesperson for Girault, Flore Bouchon, says a selection certificate can't be submitted by Quebec while Konaté's case is still under reviews by the federal government."We are are sensitive to Mr. Konaté's situation," Bouchon said, in an emailed statement. "We continue to follow his case. The minister's cabinet is in touch with her colleagues at the federal government."Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the co-spokesperson of the Québec Solidaire opposition party, joined a rally after Konaté was detained in September. He told the crowd he had urged Girault to put pressure on the federal government to give Konaté residency."Despite all the steps taken in his case, a solid application for residency on humanitarian grounds, his resilience, his patience, his hard work in long-term care homes throughout the pandemic, and evidence he was a prisoner during a war in his country, Mamadou Konaté is detained," Nadeau-Dubois said, in an impassioned speech.A spokesperson for Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino did not respond to a request for comment from CBC.Konaté says he saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking on television one time, saying Canada must help build a better world. "How can we build a better world when there are immigrants here who have no status? Those people aren't bad people," he said. "I worked, like everyone else. I integrated into the society. I believe I deserve a place here."
The Duchess of Sussex reveals she had a miscarriage in July; Beyonce scores multiple Grammy nominations, the Weeknd snubbed; Monolith found in south eastern Utah. (Nov. 25)