COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb across much of Canada, as the second wave of the disease accelerates. Sarah MacDonald reports.
COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb across much of Canada, as the second wave of the disease accelerates. Sarah MacDonald reports.
Sweden's Ericsson on Monday raised its global forecast for 5G mobile subscriptions to 220 million by the end of this year, citing faster than expected uptake in China. The telecoms equipment maker, which had previously forecast 190 million subscriptions, said it expects China to account for almost 80% of the newly forecast total. "What has fuelled the growth is China, and that is driven in itself by a strong strategic national focus on 5G in China," Head of Networks Fredrik Jejdling told Reuters.
A piece of Marysville history will disappear when part of the old cotton mill is demolished in the coming weeks. The old mill, which is currently a government building known as Marysville Place, is the heart of the neighbourhood's rich heritage. Built in the mid-1880s by Alexander 'Boss' Gibson, the large brick building overlooks the Nashwaak River in the Fredericton suburb .A two-story annex attached to the rear of the building, formerly the dyehouse when the mill was operational, is currently fenced off.A demolition crew is already on site and they're ready to take it down the week of Dec. 7.That part of the building hasn't been used in recent years because it's no longer structurally safe. Terry Arnold, co-chair of the Marysville Heritage Committee, said it's always sad to see part of the old mill go. "It's hard to see it happen, but I can understand why it's happening — if it's unsafe and there's no resources available for fixing it up," Arnold said.He said he believes the annex hasn't been used since the late 1970s, when the mill shut down and the building was acquired by the provincial government.Arnold, who has lived in Marysville his whole life, said he never worked at the mill but remembers being inside it once as a teenager, and remembers its distinct smell. Years later, when Arnold and other members of the Marysville heritage committee, were given a tour of the Annex, Arnold said the building's unique aroma was still there. "It smelled exactly the same as it did to me back in the early 1960s," he recalled. "It still had that — I call it cotton mill smell," adding that it wasn't a bad smell — just distinct.The provincial government has renovated the main building over the years and currently uses it for offices.Jill Green, New Brunswick's minister of transportation and infrastructure, said the former dyehouse is in rough shape."The roof has collapsed, the beams inside are deteriorated to the point where the structure is not safe, so it's time to bring it down so that nobody gets hurt," Green said. Green said she worked at Marysville Place in the late 1980s and remembers the annex was sometimes used for storage.Green said there it still contains old drums that were used to store dye, and added that they will be removed and properly disposed of as part of the project. A small section that connects the mill with the annex will not be torn down, and crews are working to block that section off now. Green said that some of the bricks and the beams in the annex will be reused to build a bicycle storage for people who work at Marysville place.The contractor doing the demolition is also planning to reuse some of the materials in other projects around the province.And while there is no commitment on how the land will be used, the province is considering extending the community garden that's already on site. CNF Maillet is the company doing the demolition. The project will cost the government $426,000 — that includes the demolition and the work to support the remaining wall.The debris will be cleaned up by the end of the year.
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say. Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phoney personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes. “We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public." No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud. “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the agency said in a recent statement. The drug companies are to have safeguards and brand-protection features in place to help avoid fraud, but that may not be available until the second generation of vaccine because everything is operated on such an emergency basis, said Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SIPCA North America, a company that works as a bridge between the government, businesses and consumers. She said that makes it more important to educate health care providers on what the real thing looks like. “When you have anything in high demand and limited supply, there is going to be fraud,” she said. Desperation will drive people around normal channels. Meanwhile, investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online. Earlier this year as cases exploded, hospitals and governments grew short on masks, gloves and other protective gear. Scams grew, too. Tricksters preyed on unwitting citizens to hand over money for goods they'd never receive. Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phoney products and arrest hundreds of people. The effort is headquartered at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcement of its international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft. The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests. Home test kits, for example, were only recently made available to the public in the past few weeks. But investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits in the months before. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names like “coronaprevention.org," attractive to counterfeiters. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 fake websites a day have been removed during the pandemic. A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases have topped 13 million in the U.S. and many cities have started restricting movement again as the country heads into winter. The pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, more than 266,000 of them in the U.S., according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But Francis and other investigators are worried that desperation will make Americans more susceptible. If the FDA allows emergency use of a vaccine, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Gen. Gus Perna, in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the government was prepared to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. There’s a stockpile of the prospective vaccine itself plus kits of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. The secret stash is watched by armed guards. “We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area,” he said. "It’s such a commodity to us, we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.” Who is first in line has yet to be decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses are available by the end of January to vaccinate adults over age 65, who are at the highest risk from the coronavirus, and health care workers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said it may take until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a shot can get one. States already are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. First the shots have to arrive where they’re needed, and Pfizer’s must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures — around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine also starts off frozen, but the company said it can be thawed and kept in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, easing that concern. Governments in other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to buy doses for poor nations, will have to decide separately if and when vaccines should be rolled out broadly. Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send the message now to the public before the vaccines are approved and begin distribution. They say people should only get a vaccine from an approved medical provider. They shouldn't respond to calls seeking personal information. And they shouldn't click on social media posts purporting to sell cures. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Francis said. Colleen Long, The Associated Press
As the city struggles to balance the 2021 budget in the face of a worsening pandemic, councillors are coming to grips with a steep drop in revenue from one of its key money-makers: the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).The agency was expected to chip in almost $60 million this year to city coffers. But steep drops in demand for parking downtown mean that amount has plummeted to just $4.1 million, And the amount it expects to contribute in 2021? Zero. Those numbers,.however, don't shock Coun. Brad Lamb, who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York and sits on the TPA board."They're staggering, but they're not surprising," Bradford said. "If ... folks aren't paying for parking and you do that for several months, it's not surprising that revenue is going to be down.Several October reports by TPA staff — two of which go to the city's general government and licensing committee Monday — indicate the agency lost millions of dollars a month in the first few months of the pandemic.The number of people parking downtown started to pick up in the summer, as the first lockdown eased. But one report warns, "recent evidence has shown a decline in transactions and revenue with the emergence of the second wave of the pandemic."One report going to Monday's meeting shows revenues at some of the TPA's off-street lots plunged by more than 300 per cent in April, compared to 2019.Traditionally, the TPA covers its own expenses, then passes most of the remaining revenues over to the city. After property taxes, which cover about 86 per cent of the city's $13.5 billion annual budget, the TPA is the third largest contributor, records show."The key here is not necessarily to just look at what happened in light of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, but look ahead to the future, how we rebuild, how we respond and how we move forward as an agency and as a city," Lamb told CBC Toronto.In 2021, the report warns, the financial picture for the city is even more bleak:"TPA's budgeted 2021 net income is expected to be nil," the Oct. 19 report reads, "reflecting the assumption that the pandemic will continue to impact the full year of operations."'Absolutely essential'City initiatives like CafeTO, ActiveTO and CurbTO, which were designed to ease the impact of the pandemic on residents and local businesses, chewed up more than 800 paid parking spots as patios and bike lanes took over traffic lanes. But Bradford said the benefits of those initiatives far outweighed the $2.5 million cost of the eliminated paid parking spots."I think it was absolutely essential to get us through the summer months of the pandemic, in an unprecedented time," he said.With the city already facing a $1.8-billion deficit heading into the 2021 budget calculations, Bradford said he and other councillors will look at ways to make up for the hole created by slumping demand for parking."We have to fill those holes," he said "We need to think about service levels. We need to think about revenue tools. We need to work with the provincial and federal government in order to fill that gap."But he said the average person probably won't notice a difference in the level of service provided by the Toronto Parking Authority.Drivers may need to look harder for places to park next year though: One of the reports suggests paid parking spots lost to ActiveTO's accelerated bike lane expansion could be replaced by converting one-hour-free spaces to paid parking spots."TPA has identified approximately 1,660 potential paid parking spaces that fall into this category," the report reads.One bright spot throughout the pandemic has been the TPA-run Toronto BikeShare program.Ridership continued to increase this year, Bradford said, as people looked for alternative ways of moving around the city."It's been a godsend throughout the pandemic," he said. "We have historic ridership numbers, and people are getting out."
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation.Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of colour, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female.President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favourite Fox News shows.In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.”He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”Bedingfield and Psaki are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice-president, and Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department.Others joining the White House communications staff are:— Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs.— Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles:— Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director.— Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson.— Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice-president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director.After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president.The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press.___Taylor reported from Washington.Alexandra Jaffe And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
THE LATEST: * On Monday, health officials announced the deaths of 46 people from over the weekend and 2,364 new cases of COVID-19. * There are 8,855 people with active cases of the disease across B.C. * 316 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 75 in intensive care. * 441 people have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * A total of 10,139 people are under active public health monitoring and in self-isolation because of exposure to known COVID-19 cases. * There have been 33,238 confirmed cases in the province to date.B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday an unprecedented 46 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend.A total of 2,364 new cases were added to B.C.'s total, however 277 of them were historical cases previously missed due to an error in data reporting by the Fraser Health region.There are now 8,855 people with active COVID-19 cases in B.C., 316 of whom are in hospital, including 75 in intensive care.The Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions continue to see the greatest spread of the disease, accounting for 73 per cent of the new cases announced Monday. However, 212 of the new cases over the weekend were located in the Interior Health region.Monday's update includes five new outbreaks in the health-care system. Currently, there are 57 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and five in hospitals.Health officials have told British Columbians to pause all social interactions and be vigilant applying different layers of protection, including physical distancing, washing hands and using masks.Review of PHSA spendingA review into spending by the Provincial Health Services Authority has been ordered by B.C.'s Minister of Health Adrian Dix, following allegations of misspending.On Monday, CBC News reported how whistleblowers with intimate knowledge into PHSA operations have come forward with numerous concerns.They accuse B.C.'s central health authority of squandering $7 million on the purchase of unusable face masks from China; hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary renovations to executive offices; and tens of thousands of dollars on high-end catered meals for executives and their staff."I appreciate these allegations being raised to me," Dix said in a statement to CBC News. "I have directed the deputy minister of health to assess PHSA's decisions and conduct ... and provide advice and recommendations to me." COVID-19 finesSeveral fines were issued in Vancouver over the weekend as people continued to violate provincial COVID-19 health orders.The Vancouver Police Department says it issued fines following health order violations at a pair of house parties, a birthday party and inside a limousine.In all instances, there were too many people from different households gathering together.Violation tickets ranged from $230 - $2,300.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere have now been more than 370,278 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.On Monday, the federal Liberal government announced it's preparing to spend up to $100 billion to kick start the post-pandemic economy as it stares down a record-high deficit projection of more than $381 billion for this fiscal year.In a long-awaited economic statement, tabled today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government's immediate priority is to do "whatever it takes" to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
Mark Hamill pays tribute to Darth Vader star Dave Prowse; U.K. Culture Secretary says "The Crown" should come with fiction disclaimer; World's "loneliest elephant" heads to sanctuary in Cambodia. (Nov. 30)
TOKYO — Organizers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics have declined to confirm widely circulated reports in Japan that the costs of the one-year postponement will be about $3 billion.The estimates have been published in the last several days by some of Japan’s top-circulation newspapers, the national broadcaster NHK, and the Japanese news agency Kyodo. All are citing similar figures and unidentified sources close to the games.“We are in the process of assessing the additional costs associated with the postponement of the games due to COVID-19 and therefore are not able to comment on any details at this time,” Tokyo organizers said Monday in a statement.The statement did not challenge any of the reports.The Tokyo Games are becoming very expensive.The official cost of putting on the Tokyo Olympics is $12.6 billion. However, a government audit last year said it was probably twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.Tokyo said the games would cost $7.3 billion when it won the bid in 2013.The $3 billion for the delay only adds to the totals. A University of Oxford study published early this year — calculated before the postponement — said Tokyo was the most expensive Summer Olympics on record and the meter is still running.The Yomiuri newspaper and Kyodo on Sunday detailed added costs of 200 billion yen, about $2 billion, to renegotiate venues leases, pay staff salaries, and cover other operational expenditure.NHK and the Asahi newspaper on Monday said another 100 billion yen, about $1 billion, was needed for countermeasures against COVID-19. This could include the cost of vaccines, rapid testing, and countless precautions to guard against the coronavirus.The reported cost of the delay because of the pandemic is in line with repeated estimates of between $2 billion and $3 billion in Japan over the last several months.The organizers, the Tokyo metro government and the Japanese national government are expected to explain added costs in December and detail how they will be shared.Organizers in October said they had found cost-savings of about $280 million by simplifying and cutting some frills from next year’s postponed games. This was about 2% of the official costs.The International Olympic Committee has said it would chip in about $650 million to cover some of the costs of the delay, but has offered few public details.The Switzerland-based IOC is heavily dependent on revenue from selling broadcast rights, which account for almost three-quarters of its income.The unprecedented postponement has put financial pressure on the IOC, national Olympic committees, and international sports federations that heavily rely on the IOC for sustenance.The IOC and organizers have been campaigning over the last several months to convince sponsors and a skeptical Japanese public that the Olympics can be held safely in the middle of a pandemic.Domestic sponsors in Japan have paid a record of $3.3 billion to organizers, but there are reports of some balking at further payments during the pandemic-caused economic slide.The Olympics are to open on July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24. They involve 15,400 athletes and ten of thousands of officials, judges, staff, VIPs, sponsors as well as media and broadcasters.Kyodo reported last week that the Japanese government may require visitors from abroad to have private health insurance to cover costs from any COVID-19 complications.IOC President Thomas Bach, who was in Tokyo a few week ago, has said a vaccine and improved rapid testing would help pull off the Olympics. But he cautioned they are not “silver bullets.”Athletes are expected to be closely monitored, held in quarantine-like conditions, discouraged from sightseeing and encouraged to leave as soon as they finish competing.Some fans are expected at the events, but it is unclear if many fans from abroad will be allowed to attend.Japan has controlled COVID-19 relatively well, but has seen a spike over the last several weeks in Tokyo and elsewhere. Tokyo set a one-day record for new infections on Friday with 570. About 2,000 deaths in Japan have been attributed to COVID-19.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsStephen Wade, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia came under renewed pressure Monday to explain the nerve agent attack on opposition figure Alexei Navalny as the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog got underway amid measures aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus.Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later. His allies accused the Kremlin of poisoning its fiercest opponent. Tests carried out by labs in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.The organization's director-general, Fernando Arias, told Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, “the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon.”A group of 56 nations issued a statement as the start of the annual meeting of the OPCW's member states urging Moscow to disclose “in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.”Russia, which denies involvement in Navalny's poisoning, reacted bullishly in its written statement to the conference.“Instead of trying to look into what had happened, Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some ‘independent international investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW,” Moscow's statement said.In October, Moscow asked for OPCW experts to visit Russia to provide “technical assistance” in its investigations. Arias said talks are underway to define “all the legal, technical, operational and logistical parameters in order for this visit to take place.”The European Union has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning. Moscow responded earlier this month by announcing that it had adopted sanctions against a number of German and French officials.The OPCW's annual meeting has been broken into two parts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two days of talks this week will focus on approving the proposed 71.74 million euro ($86 million) annual budget for 2021. The second half of the meeting will take place next year.Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
The Niagara Falls of news releases into any journalist's in-box attest that there is always plenty of contention for the moving spotlight of media attention.As early as March of this year, the Pew Research Institute, a think-tank that studies media trends, observed that people had become "immersed in COVID-19 news."And while other issues have occasionally nudged the pandemic and its economic impact off centre stage, it is hard to think of many subjects that have so consistently hogged the limelight for so many months in a row.According to one of Canada's leading environmental economists, that single-minded focus has both diverted and delayed attention on a subject that he expected in 2020 would finally get its moment in the sun: climate change.Shut out by pandemic"For two months or even three, people like me were shut right out because ministers were dealing with aspects of COVID in cabinet," said Mark Jaccard, one of Canada's foremost climate scientists who is often described as an architect of the pioneering carbon-pricing scheme introduced by the B.C. Liberals back in 2008.With what may have turned out to be bad timing, the Simon Fraser University professor's political manual, The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success, finally hit bookstores in February — just before the pandemic began to dominate the news agenda.While inevitably disappointed, the longtime adviser to governments on practical climate economic policy remains philosophical. Jaccard's biggest idea — one that some climate activists may find frustrating — is that the only realistic path to defeating climate change is political action to install "climate-sincere" politicians and governments and then hold their feet to the fire.While personal attempts to eat less meat, say, or buy an electric car make individuals feel good about themselves and may influence a few others, Jaccard insists that the short-term economic advantages of adding carbon to the atmosphere are so lucrative that they require concerted government action to push things the other way.And putting political pressure on governments means garnering media and public attention, something harder to do when the whole world is worried about something that seems far more pressing — namely a deep economic recession caused by a deadly health crisis that just won't go away."You have policy windows," Jaccard said, referring to those moments such as after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005, or following the past year's devastating forest fires in Australia and the U.S. west, when the public and politicians are forced to take climate issues seriously.He said COVID-19 is just the 2020 version of a series of global events that have redirected attention away from the climate change issue just as it was beginning to take off.'We got really excited'"We got really excited about the Kyoto Protocol in the late 1990s, and then along came 9/11 — and everyone got diverted with the U.S. wanting to invade countries in the Middle East," Jaccard said, referring to terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001."And then you could say the same thing when we got excited about Hurricane Katrina, and you had Republicans and Democrats in the mid-2000s putting together policy ... and China started to say, 'Uh-oh we better get going.' And then along came the  financial crisis."As the world, and especially Canada, seemed to be getting the pandemic under control during the summer, climate advocates were hoping their issue would come to the top of the agenda. But subsequent waves of the disease once again pushed COVID-19 stories to the top of the "most read" columns, narrowing the news hole for climate coverage.While political analysts were expecting a nod to green spending in Monday's fiscal update, they say short-term allocations will mostly be diverted, quite reasonably, to bailing out parts of the Canadian economy devastated by a new round of pandemic lockdowns.Jaccard says that has added to delays, as the latest government plan — to use post-pandemic economic recovery spending to advance the green agenda in a way that will finally put Canada on a path to Paris 2030 — has meant previous policy plans and spending have been deferred.Despite the latest postponement, Jaccard remains hopeful. Conversations with conservatives have left him with the impression that even a change of government would not prevent Canada from moving forward on the climate change agenda.And while he thinks the Trudeau government remains "climate-sincere," he says media attention is essential to keep pressure on the Liberals not to spend too much money on political feel-good plans, such as tree planting, at the expense of real measures to cut carbon output. As The Economist reported recently, growing trees in one place doesn't mean they aren't being cut down elsewhere, and natural systems tend to return their carbon back to the atmosphere."If you're allowing someone to keep polluting and then you're sort of convincing yourself that you have offset that or compensated it," Jaccard said, "the careful evidence doesn't support that."Part of Jaccard's continued optimism is due to the election of what looks like a climate-sincere Democratic government south of the border that — even without the support of a Republican Senate — can begin to make greenhouse gas-limiting regulations.The election of a Joe Biden presidency may have created a new "policy window," he said, as the U.S. moves toward existing Canadian schemes such as the coal phaseout regulation, where Canada is a leader. Meanwhile, Jaccard expects a U.S. push toward such things as the clean fuel standard, which will coax Canada into following suit as manufacturers insist on one set of rules for all of North America.Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is putting a call out for Islanders to find their old phones and consider donating them. The phones would go to clients of the My Place Housing First program, run by the CMHA. Some of the clients of the program had told staff that securing a reliable cellphone was a challenge for them, said Tessa Rogers, a housing support worker with the CMHA.The program works with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, trying to get them into more secure and stable housing situations. "A big part of this is weekly meetings with our clients, getting them into stable housing, but then also connecting them with different resources in the community and, you know, potential employers, things like that," she said."In order to do this effectively, it's very beneficial typically if they have a cellphone, just so you can reach them easily." The organization sometimes has trouble contacting clients, having to call neighbours or friends to get in touch with them, said Rogers. "Some of our clients have reported to us, you know, it's very challenging to book my appointments with you folks, book my appointments with my doctor, various community resources, just because they don't have that reliable communication tool," she said. Keeping connectedAny phone can be donated, said Rogers. Anything from an old brick, all the way up to the latest and greatest — it just needs to hold a charge and not have a shattered screen, she said. "Some of them are looking for something that they can just, you know, quickly answer and have a phone conversation," Rogers said. > Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. — Tessa Rogers, CMHA"And then some of our other clients are looking for something that's more up to date that they can use their social media on and maybe play games to reduce some isolation." The ability to use the internet is important, not only for reducing isolation in the time of COVID-19, but also to be able to access resources if public health measures tighten in the province. "If something does come up with the second wave, and having to shut down, this would allow those clients to still, you know, utilize those resources, whether it be Zoom meetings, Skype, anything like that," she said. Always a needRogers said they've had a number of people already reach out and offer to donate phones. All of the phones will be cleaned, sanitized, and staff will ensure that no data is left on them before passing them on. When the client gets that phone, if the phone gets a plan and how it's paid for is decided on a case-by-case basis, said Rogers. "Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. So a few of our clients are already connected with those resources. Some have it within their budget already. If not, it might look like us advocating for them," she said. "Some of our clients might not even necessarily want a phone plan and just want a phone that they can use with Wi-Fi. So it's really just meeting that client where they are and kind of assessing their needs and working with them to meet that goal." Rogers said there's no set number of phones they're looking for, because they constantly have new clients and there's always a need. More from CBC P.E.I.
In the Kennebecasis Bay, just north of Saint John, three small islands make up what are known as The Brothers, the only reserve land in the southern part of New Brunswick.Some believe that the three islands may be an important key to the Wolastoqiyik reasserting their rights over the land and could play a role to strengthen a recently filed title claim to the Wolastoq, its lands and watersheds."I feel very strongly that it is an important component of the title case," said Patrick Polchies, a council member of Kingsclear First Nation."If we really think about the title claim, for instance, we need to express our territory, I think sometimes by occupation. And even if it's seasonal, it's important. We need to get out to these places and make sure that people understand that it is within living memory of coming to this region."Little is known today about the islands and their history, though a handful of people have memories of visiting them when they were young.Wayne Brooks remembers visiting The Brothers as a youth in the 1970s on camping trips organized by his father and Harold Sappier, the late chief of St. Mary's First Nation."Well, back in the day, like, my dad would always talk about it, and Harold," Brooks recalled. "We've got to start using it, because if not, somebody is going to try to take it over. So, as a community, Harold decided that we'll use it, we'll take kids there for camping trips."Brooks said as he grew older, he brought his sons to the islands when they were young to keep that connection.Though the islands are uninhabited today, they were once used as seasonal campgrounds for hunting and fishing by Simon, Andrew, Jim, Ed and Joseph Paul. The brothers would travel down the river from Quebec and stay on the islands.The islands would later be granted to the "Malicite Tribe of Indians of the River Saint John" in 1838 by Sir John Harvey, the lieutenant-governor, for use of the Paul brothers.Today, Indian and Goat islands are registered to Kingsclear, Madawaska, Tobique and Woodstock, though a spokesperson for the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick said there are plans to have St. Mary's and Oromocto added to the shared ownership.But uncertainty surrounds the title of Burnt Island. In the 1920s, a copper mine was staked on the island. Because of this mineral claim, when the province transferred the administration of reserve lands to the federal government in 1959, Burnt Island was not included in the transfer.There's still evidence of the mine today. Bobby Ring owns a local boat business in Brothers Cove and recalls ferrying Sappier and the youth of St. Mary's First Nation to the islands in the 1970s. He also routinely took a man who staked a claim to copper on Burnt Island. "Burnt Island, it's real close," Ring said. "On the outer face of the island there's a beach that's real rocky. You get out and you walk about 25 or 30 feet up the beach and to your left you'll see a hole full of bushes and trees. That's a copper mine."Ring's son, Geodie, runs the boat maintenance business today. It's on the shore directly across from the islands, just beside the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club.Geodie Ring said the islands are mostly frequented by boaters or kayakers now."A lot of people that just are new to the area, they'll all buy that Walmart or Canadian Tire canoe or kayak and they'll paddle out," Ring said.He said a lot of people, including locals, have no idea any of the three Islands are reserve land. That doesn't surprise Rachel Bryant, a University of New Brunswick professor and colonial historian. She wrote a blog in the summer about the islands, in hopes of raising public awareness about them in the local area."Saint John is not often thought of as Indigenous land. When it is discussed, it is discussed in the past tense," Bryant said. "I'm interested in reminding people of whose land it is."Bryant said there is a term that may explain why locals speak of the area as if it isn't unceded Wolastoqey territory."There's a phenomenon in colonial studies and it's called unwitnessing," Bryant said. "If material or something that you encounter, it doesn't fit within your understanding, or within a collective understanding of history or of place, then that material can't lodge permanently in a collective consciousness." When Bryant published her blog, she heard from people who had visited and had no idea the islands were reserve land. Polchies said it's time to change that. He conducted an informal archeological survey of The Brothers islands in 1990s that didn't turn up anything of interest. But he thinks it's time for more thorough and formal archeological work. "There are a lot of places in the province that we probably need to be looking at to understand where we were on the land," he said. "And particularly now."There's a title claim before the courts, for the entire expanse of our territory, so The Brothers are an interesting component of it."
Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent are expected to see a "multi-day snowfall event" that could last from Monday until Wednesday and bring up to 20 centimetres of snow, according to Environment Canada. Rain mixed with snow are expected for the regions Monday, Environment Canada said in a statement issued around 5 a.m. By Monday afternoon, the rain is expected to change to snow, with five to 10 centimetres of snow possible by Tuesday morning. An additional five to 10 centimetres are also possible for Tuesday into Wednesday morning. "Motorists should be prepared for winter driving conditions," Environment Canada said. In the statement, Environment Canada said that strong northwesterly winds, gusting around 70 kilometres per hour, are possible Monday night and Tuesday, specifically near Lake Huron.Flood watch in effectDue to the strong winds, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) issued a flood watch Monday for the Lake St. Clair shoreline from Belle River to Tilbury North in the Town of Lakeshore and for the western shoreline of Pelee Island in Lake Erie. By Monday afternoon winds are expected to reach speeds higher than 40 kilometres per hour, with some gusts more than 60 km/hr, the statement reads. These conditions could last until Tuesday. Based on these wind speeds, ERCA said in its watch statement that there is the potential for near-shore erosion with wave overtopping and spray along the Lake St. Clair shoreline, specifically between Belle River and Lighthouse Cove in the Town of Lakeshore. Some areas might experience breakwall damage and could erode the western shoreline of Pelee Island. More from CBC Windsor
Recent developments: * Ottawa has 29 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one more death.What's the latest?Ottawa has 29 of Ontario's 1,746 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and one more person's death of COVID-19.Ontario has announced another pandemic education payment for families for things such as technology, school supplies and developmental resources.Families can apply to receive $200 for each child under 12, or $250 for a child or youth under 21 with special needs.The federal government will release its long-awaited fiscal update at 4 p.m. ET.How many cases are there?As of Monday, 8,487 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 344 known active cases, 7,768 cases now considered resolved and 375 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,900 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,500 resolved cases.Ninety people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 80 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays, with people who live away from home such as post-secondary students asked to reduce close contacts for 10 to 14 days before going back.Quebec has shared what it will take to have at most two small holiday gatherings next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout the Outaouais.Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions: * The Eastern Ontario Health Unit. * Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is currently green, the lowest level.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month, with 22 and counting in its Ontario portion and more on the American side of the border. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
MLAs both new and re-elected will begin a two-week fall sitting Monday, which will likely be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saskatchewan Party government's election promises.Monday's sitting begins with the Speaker election at 10 a.m. CST and a speech from the throne delivered by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty at 2 p.m.The speech will be debated and voted on in the days that follow.Following the Oct. 26 election, the governing Sask. Party enters the sitting with 48 members, while the NDP has 13.Pandemic responseWith the province experiencing a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past month, policy announcements by the government will likely be overshadowed by its response to the pandemic.The NDP opposition has asked for a three-week "circuit breaker" shutdown and a plan to compensate those affected.Moe said again last week he preferred targeted measures as opposed to anything that shut down portions of the economy.On Friday, the province's most recent set of restrictions went into effect, which includes suspension of sports, gathering limit restrictions and an expansion of the mask mandate.Election promisesAfter announcing his cabinet shuffle on Nov. 9, Premier Scott Moe said his government would use the sitting to introduce legislation, including bills, to keep its campaign promises.The Sask. Party made $849 million in promises during the October campaign, including: * A two-year home renovation tax credit. * A one-year 10 per cent SaskPower rebate. * A three-year tax reduction for small businesses. * Create 750 licensed home-based child care spaces. * Provide funding to kids living with autism up to the age of 12. * Cover the cost of glucose monitoring up to 18 years old. * Reduce seniors' ambulance costs by 50 per cent. * Increase the post-secondary Sask. Advantage scholarship to $750/ year.It also promised to bring back two programs cancelled in 2016, the active families benefit and the community rink grant. Speaker election The sitting will begin with the election of the Speaker. Saskatchewan Party MLA Mark Docherty has held the position since March 2018. He has put his name forward again and faces five of his caucus colleagues who are also vying for the position: Lisa Lambert, Hugh Nerlien, Greg Ottenbreit, Randy Weekes, and Nadine Wilson.The election will be conducted by secret ballot.The Sask. Party has 11 new MLAs, while the NDP has six.On Nov. 9, Moe shuffled his cabinet, with notable changes including Paul Merriman as Health Minister, Dustin Duncan as Education Minister, Lori Carr as Minister of Social Services and Gord Wyant as Minister of Justice.Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is the deputy premier and Nicole Sarauer is the NDP's deputy leader.All MLAs will have to wear a mask while inside the legislature. Plastic barriers have been erected between desks inside the chamber.
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway. They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene. Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted. No names or suspect information was immediately released. The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
TOKYO — A brightly burning meteor was seen plunging from the sky in wide areas of Japan, capturing attention on television and social media. The meteor glowed strongly as it rapidly descended through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday. Many people in western Japan reported on social media seeing the rare sight. NHK public television said its cameras in the central prefectures of Aichi, Mie and elsewhere captured the fireball in the southern sky. A camera at Nagoya port showed the meteor shining as brightly as a full moon as it neared the Earth, the Asahi newspaper reported. Some experts said small fragments of the meteorite might have reached the ground. The Associated Press
Premier Stephen McNeil has repeatedly said it's not his job to detail what his government has spent this year on COVID-19 stimulus projects, but the three men who want his job are promising to do just that if they are chosen to succeed him.The $228 million in funding is being used for a variety of infrastructure projects across the province, in part to drive employment during the pandemic."Yes, I think public dollars should be transparent because they are public," Iain Rankin said when asked if a list of those projects and their associated cost should be released by the provincial government."I would certainly work to make the list of projects and cost estimates available," said Randy Delorey.Labi Kousoulis said if he were premier, he'd have already posted it, likely on a Nova Scotia government web page."Could even put it on our [access to information] portal or our open-data portal, and it's available to all," he said.Candidates say other changes in orderIt's not the only issue where the leadership contenders differ with McNeil on government transparency.Although he promised to change the law that governs Nova Scotia's access to information ahead of the 2013 election that made him premier, McNeil has since repeatedly said the law is fine as is.Just four days before election day, McNeil promised, in writing, that if he became premier he would "expand the powers and mandate of the [Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia], particularly through granting her order-making power."Though the leadership candidates aren't prepared to commit to those specific promises, Delorey and Rankin both think changes are in order."I do think it's time to look at revamping and modernizing those pieces of legislation," said Delorey."I think we can do more to be proactive with bringing documents forward and not having to go through that whole process," said Rankin, adding he would look at a review of the freedom of information rules."I believe in transparency and I think there's room we can improve."Kousoulis was noncommittal, especially about whether the commissioner should have the power to order that documents are produced, rather than simply recommended, and whether the office should be answerable to that the Nova Scotia Legislature rather than the Justice Department. "I have to think about it," he said. "I never actually gave it thought in terms of what powers the individual should have or not."Mixed response on lobbyist registryKousoulis also offered a similar response about the province's registry of lobbyists, which critics claim is ineffectual and outdated.The federal government system allows the public to know who is lobbying ministers and top officials, and when and how.But Nova Scotia's registry is just a list of lobbyists, the departments they plan to lobby and their general areas of interest."I'd be open to looking at it like I'd look at everything else," said Kousoulis. "But I've never really … given thought to the registry."His rivals were willing to go further."I do think our registry in Nova Scotia is dated," said Delorey. "I think it certainly needs more teeth.""I have been looking at other models like the federal one, actually, to see how we can modernize and bring some more teeth to that registry," he said.Virtual convention in February"Transparency has to be a guiding principle for our democracy," said Rankin. "And so I want Nova Scotia to have the most transparent process that we can practically implement."If Ottawa has a better system then we need to catch up and do that."Party members will elect their new leader, who becomes premier, on Feb. 6. There will be a virtual convention based at the convention centre in Halifax.MORE TOP STORIES
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer.When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.WHAT COMES NEXTThe FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.RATIONING INITIAL DOSESIf the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring.Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.ASTRAZENECA CONFUSIONAstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and BrazilThat vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.STILL IN THE PIPELINEJohnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.____The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press