WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Pour la première fois depuis jeudi dernier, le bilan du nombre de cas de coronavirus enregistrés en une journée dans la capitale fédérale est sous la barre des 30. Santé publique Ottawa (SPO) rapporte 29 nouvelles infections à la COVID-19, lundi. Il s’agit d’un retour dans la moyenne, puisque dimanche, la capitale fédérale a fait face à un bilan plus inquiétant de ce nombre, qui a bondi à 79 cas répertoriés au cours de la journée précédente, le plus haut total en deux semaines. Si l’on soustrait les cas résolus, le total du nombre de cas actifs actuels à Ottawa est maintenant de 344. Par ailleurs, un Ottavien atteint de la COVID-19 a perdu la vie au cours des 24 dernières heures, déplore également SPO, ce qui porte le bilan à 375 décès liés au virus depuis son arrivée dans la capitale fédérale. Selon le dernier bilan de SPO, 24 personnes étaient hospitalisées en raison du virus dimanche, dont un patient aux soins intensifs. Dans le système de la santé, la santé publique d’Ottawa compte actuellement huit éclosions en foyers de soins de longue durée et neuf en maisons de retraite ainsi que deux éclosions dans des hôpitaux de la ville.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
Information disclosures and other billing issues continued to be at the root of most complaints, Canada's telecom ombudsman said Monday in its 2019-20 annual report which recorded a 19 per cent drop in complaints compared with a year earlier.The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services said the reduction for the 12 months ended July 31 was the first year-over-year decline since 2015-16.Four of the top five issues and most of the top 10 issues raised for the 12 months ended July 31 were related to billing problems, rather than service quality.CCTS chairman Howard Maker said his team wondered if the COVID-19 pandemic would increase the number of service issues after people were told to stay home about midway through the organization's reporting period."And the answer was, we didn't get a great deal of movement in the numbers," Maker said after the CCTS released its 2019-20 report.The top issue raised by customers of all types of service continued to be about the disclosure of information to the customer.Disclosure issues — including the terms of promotional deals — accounted for 6,066 issues raised, or 14 per cent of the total, which was up 10 per cent from last year.The No. 2 issue raised with the CCTS was incorrect charges on monthly plans at 13 per cent of the total raised, but the number of times it was raised fell by 20 per cent The No. 3 issue was intermittent or inadequate quality of service, which accounted to eight per cent of the total — about the same as last year.Maker said the CCTS received slightly more complaints about the quality of home internet between March and July than a year earlier, but "not nearly what we would have seen if the networks not been able to manage the load."The CCTS can't say with certainty what caused an overall decline in complaints, but Maker suggested one factor was relaxed conditions and payment schedules put in place by some carriers in the early months of the COVID-19 closures."There was waiving of fees for data overages, and removing of data caps and some disconnections were halted, and so forth," Maker said.But the CCTS doesn't have any insight about what steps are taken by providers to resolve complaints directly with their customers, before they go to the ombudsman service, he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B, TSX:T)David Paddon, The Canadian Press
No matter what's been thrown their way, organizers of this year's Jasper Santas Anonymous program are doing their best to see that families have food and gifts to enjoy this Christmas season. This year, more families than ever will be accessing Santas Anonymous due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to more unemployment, isolation and financial stress. Pattie Pavlov, general manager of Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, said this year, as many as 100 families are participating. In years past, it has hovered around the 70, 80 point. She and Ashley Chorley, operations manager with Chamber, are working with "the new and different nuances" that have been presented by the COVID pandemic. With COVID as one of the primary concerns, they wondered how they would get items to families safely, Pavlov said. "It's very important that we adhere to COVID (protocol), in collecting and distributing the items donated," she said. "We did consult with the Edmonton Santas Anonymous group. We were on the right track. We just wanted to confirm we were doing this properly. It was a learning experience." Chorley some items, including fabric, plush items, plastics and toys have to be put in isolation to discourage COVID transmission. For example, she said, plastic items have to sit for about 72 hours and plush items for a week, which complicates packaging them. Fortunately, with a list of families in the program already started, she and Pavlov can organize items by group. Some of the usually-held get-togethers have been cancelled, including Skate with Santa at Mildred Lake, and a photo opportunity with Santa at Bearhill Lodge. Pavlov said, “With the (allowable) gathering of 10, how are you going to restart the number of families? Pieces of the puzzle just don't come together." But other plans are coming together: the Mitten Line fundraiser at TGP, for example. At the grocery store, mittens are available at the cash registers with values of $10, $20, $50 and $100 with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. "Some people have already purchased mittens and we're excited about that,” Pavlov said. Shoppers at TGP can also designate a portion of the money paid for groceries to the campaign at the time of purchase. Then there's The Snowball Fight. "We cut out a quantity of snowballs and we are giving them to banks specifically, and encouraging them to compete against others - a friendly competition," Pavlov said. "We're asking them to be creative with their displays." Folks can purchase a snowball for whatever amount they choose, with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. The pastry team at Jasper Park Lodge has also added to the festive mix of fundraisers. Pavlov said they created an “absolutely unbelievable” gingerbread cottage to be raffled off. The detail in the house is something to behold - there are books on bookshelves, the inside of the log cabin lights up, and there's a pond outside with cattails along the shore. “It's big and so beautiful," Pavlov said. The masterpiece is on display at the Santas Anonymous Facebook page and tickets can be purchased at $5 apiece from Jasper Community Team Society board members. "As has been the tradition since Santa's Anonymous started," Pavlov noted, "there have been collection boxes placed throughout town. Anything you want to support Santas Anonymous with can be done through donations - toys, toques, mitts." Sites include Pharmasave, IDA Rx Drug Mart, Jasper General Store, Ransom, the Jasper Library and Nesters Market. Pavlov said the Chamber will also accept donations at Robson House. "Give us a call and we'll grab it (where it has been safely left),” she said. “I'd also encourage people to bring gift cards.” Another way to donate in a contactless way is via e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winning ticket for the gingerbread house will be drawn on Dec. 17. Proceeds from the Snowball Fight and Mitten Line fundraisers will be announced on Dec. 22.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
The Trudeau government is delaying the enactment of gun marking regulations for the third time since being elected — despite promising to bring them into force immediately following the 2015 election.Public Safety Canada announced today it will defer the regulations, which were meant to take effect on Dec. 1, until Dec. 1, 2023. The regulations — first drafted in 2004 but never fully implemented — are designed to help police investigators trace suspects connected to gun crimes.The department said it concluded after consulting with law enforcement agencies and industry groups that the regulations as drafted would be ineffective in the absence of record-keeping requirements for non-restricted firearms."The government will use the deferral period to continue consulting with partners and develop an effective markings regime that is appropriate for Canada, balancing the needs of law enforcement with the impact on firearms businesses and owners, while prioritizing public safety," said the release.History of delaysThe regulations would have required domestically manufactured firearms to bear the name of the manufacturer, the serial number and "Canada" or "CA," while imported guns would have to carry the "Canada" or "CA" designation along with the last two digits of the year of import.The measures would help Canada meet the requirements of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and a convention of the Organization of American States.The Trudeau Liberals promised to enact gun-marking regulations "immediately" after being elected in their 2015 platform. Instead, the government chose to defer them in May 2017 and again in Nov. 2018. The previous Conservative government also delayed the regulations several times since 2006.Governments often cited the need for more consultation when deferring the regulations, although the last time they were deferred in 2018 the Liberals argued the destruction of the gun records contained the long-gun registry reduced the utility of the regulations.Gun enthusiasts, hunters and sport shooters have, over the years, lobbied hard for each deferral and praised every delay.They argued markings would do little to stop gun crime, given that many criminals already file serial numbers off their weapons. It is also widely believed that requiring markings would add to the manufacturing costs and therefore make firearms more expensive.Gun control advocates call for stricter measuresAlso today, gun-control advocates held an online news conference to urge the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms."We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay," said Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient.Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns — but Rathjen said that, several months later, there are no signs of progress on legislation.Rathjen's plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shooting of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student.The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not for hunting or sport shooting.The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported.The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban.PolySeSouvient says it wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do.It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market.Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can't be easily overridden.Besides seeking the legislation the government has previously promised, PolySeSouvient has also called on the government to: * Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; * Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; * Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; * End the importation and manufacture of handguns.The Trudeau government says it plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns.PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows.
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases, compounded by repeat power outages and abysmal weather, has forced an isolated Vancouver Island Indigenous community into lockdown.The Ehattesaht First Nation, home to about 100 people, is located on the northwest coast of the island near Zeballos, B.C. On Nov. 14, one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the community following a four day power outage. Within a week, there were 16 cases and now half the residents are in isolation."We are learning some hard lessons and the best advice we can give to communities like ours is just to stay home — it's the only way we can keep people safe," said Chief Simon John in an interview on CBC's On The Island.John says while no one has been hospitalized yet, some people have been moved into hotels to be closer to medical services if they should need them.The North Island Hospital in Campbell River is almost three hours away by car. And the road in and out of Ehattesaht territory, which, John says, is well-maintained by the Ministry of Forests, can still easily be blocked by a downed tree or two.And it's a distinct possibility right now, as the region has been repeatedly battered by high winds and stormy weather in recent days, causing the community to already lose power twice while people are dealing with the impact of the virus.Environment Canada issued another wind warning for B.C.'s north coastal region Monday, warning that winds of up to 100 km/h are a possibility until Tuesday.COVID-19 exposing other issuesJohn said people in the community have rallied to provide food and what care they can for people isolated at home. He said the current situation may have a silver lining in that the pandemic is exposing issues the nation has been up against for years."It's a really good time to move a lot of our situations forward. Like, our health or even our connectivity to the world could change because of this," said John, adding he hopes the B.C. and Canadian government take notice and help.That help, he said, could include improving hydro and internet connections, as well as access to health services.John said the nation would also like to look at options to expand its land base so it can add more housing for its members. At present, he said many people are isolating in close quarters together.Four people in the community have recovered from COVID-19 so far, according to John.To hear the complete interview with Chief Simon John on CBC's On The Island, tap the audio link below:
A Nova Scotia court has weighed in on another lobster dispute. This one isn't over catching lobster, but shipping them. The dispute pits two transportation companies against one another over a cargo of crustaceans that arrived, in the words of the adjudicator Raffi A. Balmanoukian "bereft of life.""These Homarus americanus who had prematurely joined the choir invisible had to be destroyed or sold 'as is' for salvage value," he said.The choice of words in his decision are familiar to anyone who has watched Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch.Longstanding relationshipThe dispute is between Flying Fresh Air Freight and Connors Transfer. The two companies have a longstanding business relationship shipping lobster and other products.At this time last year, FFAF contracted Connors to truck about 4,700 kilograms of lobster to Quebec and Ontario for eventual shipment to France, Belgium and South Korea.According to evidence at this small claims court hearing, live lobster should be shipped at temperatures between 2-4 C. But that didn't happen in this case."On arrival, all shipments save one had varying degrees of damage due to low shipping temperatures, in some cases well below that which was appropriate," Balmanoukian wrote in his decision. "It was in evidence before me that many lobsters were dead and indeed some are encrusted in ice. Select sub-freezing crate temperature readings were in evidence before me."Limitation of liabilityThe question for the adjudicator was how much Connors owed FFAF.Connors had FFAF sign a limitation of liability agreement years ago, capping the value of lost lobster at just $2 per pound.Balmanoukian found that the agreement applied in this case, so while the losses totalled $21,703.86, Connors is only on the hook for $11,175.80.In his decision, the adjudicator noted that the only trucking story with more Atlantic Canadian flavour is the "Great Moosehead Beer Heist of 2004," in which more than 50,000 cans of beer destined for the Mexican market disappeared from a truck in New Brunswick. A New Brunswick truck driver was subsequently convicted in that case.MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — The province's plan to test asymptomatic students and staff for COVID-19 has uncovered an outbreak in the first school where it was deployed, raising concerns about the spread of the virus in classrooms around the province. Ontario's health minister downplayed concerns about the findings at the elementary Thorncliffe Park Public School in east Toronto over the weekend, where 270 students and 17 staff are self-isolating as public health investigates the outbreak. The Toronto District School Board said 21 people - 19 students and two staff - have tested positive for the virus since the provincial pilot started at the school on Thursday. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the virus is spreading from the community into the schools, and not within the classrooms themselves. "It wasn't a huge surprise because there is significant community spread in that area," Elliott said of the test results. "But it does tell us that we need to be careful to keep the children safe, that teachers stay safe and the staff are safe." The school was the first tested under a new provincial plan to target classrooms in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa announced last week. The expanded voluntary testing will be provided for four weeks and those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said. The province first announced the program this summer but it had not yet taken effect. NDP deputy leader Sara Singh said the results from Thorncliffe Park are just the "tip of the iceberg" of what the province will find in hot spot region schools. "This is why New Democrats have been calling on this government ... to cap our class sizes to get the outbreaks under control in our schools," she said. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the results should motivate the government to take additional measures to keep schools safe, including cutting class size. The tests show Ontario may not actually know what virus rates look like in its schools, he added. "I think it's a scary number that we saw," he said. "And I think as this continues to get rolled out ... we are going to see numbers that will give parents a lot of anxiety." Ontario began the testing at Thorncliffe Park on Thursday - with 433 tests completed last week - and work was expected to continue Monday. Elementary schools in Toronto require staff and students to be screened daily for the virus, wear masks, practice physical distancing and practice proper hand hygiene. Toronto Public Health said it is also now requiring siblings to stay home if there is one child in the household with symptoms of COVID-19. Staff said the positivity rate within the school was approximately four per cent. Associate medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that local data shows positivity rates in the community around the school are approximately 16 per cent. "We're working very closely with Toronto Public Health on what measures need to be done to reduce the transmission and to reduce the infection rate in schools," she said. "It's concerning but it's not surprising." The province said Monday it has begun testing in some schools in Peel Region and Ottawa and is expecting results back in the coming days. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the findings at Thorncliffe Park are a sign the program is doing what it's supposed to. "I think it underscores that a plan is in place trying to work hard to mitigate any further spread," he said. Lecce said the province will bolster its COVID-19 safety programming when all children return to school after the Christmas break. It will ensure students receive a refresher on pandemic safety measures after the pause in class, he said. "I accept that we still have work to do in the context of countering COVID-19 in our community," he said. The province reported 102 new COVID-19 cases related to schools on Monday, including at least 86 among students. Those brought the number of schools with a reported case to 670 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools. Ontario reported 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and eight new deaths due to the virus. Elliott said 390 cases in Peel Region and 217 in York Region. Toronto reported 622 new cases, its highest ever single-day total. In the province's long-term care homes, 710 residents currently have COVID-19 and two new deaths were reported Monday. The province said 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven new deaths on Monday.
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Saskatchewan Health Authority has issued eight fines totalling $44,800, including victim surcharges, to people or corporations that have broken COVID-19 public health guidelines since the pandemic started in March. The number of people alone fined is unclear but two corporations are among those hit with charges, according to data shared Monday with CBC News by Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health.Of the total, $32,000 consisted of actual fines while the rest was made up victim impact surcharges.Those fined vary from a Saskatoon homeowner who hosted a private gathering with 47 people when the limit for private meetings was 30 (it's now five), to the pastor of a gospel outreach centre in Prince Albert where singers went unmasked. The gospel centre was cited as a multi-jurisdictional superspreader.Two corporations were also financially disciplined. The data is reflective of the province's approach so far to policing breaches of self-isolation or gathering limit orders, which was to first educate people about the need to follow guidelines instead of going directly to a fine.That era may be coming to an end, however.On Friday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said "the time for education is now mostly over," adding that "it is important to report noncompliance."The numbers reported by the ministry are different from those of the RCMP, which issues its own charges under the province's Public Health Act.Between March 1 and Oct. 31, RCMP members in Saskatchewan received a total of 2,912 COVID-related calls for service — an average of 364 calls a month.The vast majority of the calls were resolved "by educating members of the public of the potential health and enforcement consequences that can result from non-compliance with the public health order," an RCMP spokesperson said Friday.However, 42 charges for summary violations were issued under the province's Public Health Act, including for people who held large gatherings or did not self-isolate.
The Merrickville Public Library Board is looking for financial support from the municipality to repair the roof and some exterior walls on the library building. Municipal staff presented a report to council at the meeting of November 23, outlining their current lease agreement with the library. In 2010, the building that currently houses the library was donated to the municipality by the Merrickville Lions Club. At that point, the library entered into a 25-year agreement with the municipality to lease the building at $1 a year, with the caveat that they take responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. Councillor Timothy Molloy, who sits on the Library Board, said that, despite the terms of the lease, the library should not be responsible for the maintenance of a building that they do not own. As of December 31, 2019, the Library Board had $84,051 sitting in its reserves; but he argues that, as this money has been accumulated through donations, it should go towards library operations and programming, not building repairs. CAO Doug Robertson confirmed that the estimated cost of the roof and exterior wall repairs is $20,000. “We have an issue where there are requirements for the building that the Library Board needs to take care of, and the money to meet those funds should not be coming from the operational programs that the library runs,” he said. “It would be a detriment to the children, teenagers, adults, seniors in the community.” Councillor Molloy suggested that council meet with the Library Board to go over their concerns and discuss the possibility of renegotiating the terms of the lease. Deputy Mayor Michael Cameron noted that, should they renegotiate the lease and start charging the library for the use of the building, they would have to include the cost of building upkeep in the rent. “Indirectly, they would be paying for the repairs anyway,” he said. According to the staff report, the library did have a building reserve fund that sat at around $64,000 at the end of 2009. Councillor Bob Foster suggested that, if they could discern if there was any money left in the library’s current reserve, that stemmed from this past building reserve, it could be used to pay for the repairs. Mayor Doug Struthers committed to council that he would meet with the chair of the Library Board to hear more about what they think might need to be adjusted with the current lease. Council is also encouraging the board to put their concerns in writing, to be considered by council. “There is no question that our library is a very important asset in service to all the residents of our municipality,” he said. “We are all on the same page on that one.”Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama; Former communist official Sergei Kirov is assassinated in Leningrad; Beatlemania arrives in America; Actor and director Woody Allen is born. (Dec. 1)
VANCOUVER — A legal battle over a missing diamond-encrusted eagle statue valued at nearly $1 million will continue, more than four years after the artwork was stolen during a robbery in Delta, B.C. In a unanimous ruling issued Monday, the B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with Lloyd's Underwriters and agreed that a default judgment against the insurer should be set aside. Ron Shore, president of a company called Forgotten Treasures International, won the judgment in 2018 requiring Lloyd's to pay a claim for the loss of the sparkling statue. Court documents show Lloyd's denied Shore's claim, arguing he violated conditions of the insurance policy, including that the statue be constantly safeguarded by two people. The eight-kilogram gold creation studded with 763 diamonds and appraised at $930,000 was going to be the final prize in an international cancer fundraiser. Justice Peter Voith agreed with a B.C. Supreme Court decision that set aside the default judgment, saying the insurer appears to have solid evidence to oppose the claim. On its website, the Supreme Court says default judgments can be filed against defendants if they fail to respond to the notice of a civil lawsuit, do not comply with the rules or a response to a civil claim is withdrawn. With the default judgment set aside, the matter may return to Shore's civil claim filed in May 2018, alleging breach of contract and failure to investigate the insurance claim in a timely manner, among other things. The statue remains missing after Shore reported it was taken in May 2016 by what the court describes as "unknown assailants'' as he placed a knapsack carrying the statue in the trunk of his car. Shore made an emotional plea for the return of the statue at a news conference shortly after it was taken, saying two men ambushed him, hit him over the head with a large flashlight and stole the eagle, plus a less-valuable decoy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business. COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office. The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others. McConnell is focusing on confirming Trump's remaining judicial nominations, including a vote Monday on a district judge in Mississippi and at least one additional appeals court vacancy. Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet. Top items for December's lame-duck session: ___ KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPEN At a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year. That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding. Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much. At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program. ___ COVID-19 RELIEF Democrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice. The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits. Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments. Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic. At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year. ___ Defence POLICY A spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure. Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Ottawa Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli fully understands the challenge Kendall Hinton faced Sunday with the Denver Broncos.The NFL club activated the rookie receiver from the practice roster to become the starting quarterback in Sunday's 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest before switching to receiver in his senior season at the university, was pressed into action after all four of Denver's quarterbacks went on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.The outcome was predictable. Hinton finished 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards with two interceptions. Sinopoli, a star quarterback at the University of Ottawa before turning pro, certainly could relate."Quarterbacks make the most money for a reason," the native of Peterborough, Ont., said Monday in a telephone interview. "It's a very, very hard job and even the best ones have tough days and tough streaks."To put a guy in who doesn't do that on a daily basis is tough and stressful. I'm sure leading up to the game . . . he probably didn't let on but he was probably really stressed."Before becoming one of the CFL's top receivers — Sinopoli was named the league's top Canadian in 2016 — he played under centre at the University of Ottawa (2007-10).The six-foot-four, 215-pound Sinopoli captured the 2010 Hec Crighton Trophy as Canada's top collegiate player after passing for 2,756 yards and 22 touchdowns in eight games. He was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in 2011 and began his CFL career as a quarterback before converting to receiver in 2013."Here and there I've always jumped in during practice over the years, be it for fun or in that situation where it was a bit of an emergency," Sinopoli said. "I was sitting there kind of stressing about it, forgetting how fast it was back there, but really I just tried to do some mental reps."I'd take the plays and go through them in my mind and go through the exact thing. The coaches were like, 'What pass plays are you comfortable with?' and I picked plays I'd done that were similar in college and I think that's probably what they did with (Hinton) because trying to do a play you're not familiar with and all that's happening around you, you can rush a bit and overthink things and it just becomes a little too much."The quarterback runs the offence on the field. Plays begin on his command and most times his hands are the first on the ball once it's snapped.But what many don't see — or hear — is how the quarterback relays plays in the huddle. Each call specifically outlines the other players' responsibilities regarding pass protections, run assignments and/or pass routes.That puts the onus on the quarterback to clearly — and correctly — relay that information."I think the process of saying the plays is a bigger deal than listening to them," Sinopoli said. "When you're a receiver what the offensive line does in protection doesn't really sometimes apply to you so you hear it but you don't have to be as detailed."But as the quarterback, everything you say matters. I think it's a bit more stressful than people realize to regurgitate the plays. It's under pressure with the time clock and sometimes the play doesn't come in correctly and you have to know whatever the situation is."There's also the matter of the quarterback, upon reaching the line of scrimmage, being able to quickly scan a defence and determine if the play called can work or if an audible is required."You're inevitably going to face struggles as a quarterback and when it's not your job it's a hard hole to get out of because you have to do the opposite of instinct," Sinopoli said. "When things start to get away from you, the instinct is to tighten up and press a little bit more but you have to calm down."If you kind of screw up at receiver or (defensive back), you can take out (the mistake) in some form of physical fashion. If you're a receiver you can make a catch, put your head down and take a good hit and that's the same way on defence."As a quarterback you can't do that. I think the toughest thing is you don't have that outlet to get over those humps, You have to work it out mentally, which, if you're not used to that is tough."And so too is getting into the rhythm required to play quarterback, something Sinopoli said takes time to achieve but can be lost rapidly."When you're not in the offence, that kind of familiar feeling goes away pretty quickly," he said. "I'm sure they probably tried to make some calls easier and not have as much in but I know a big part of it is just having that confidence."The truth is I probably wouldn't feel 100 per cent comfortable like I knew I was because it's all about reps and when you haven't repped certain things over and over, it's almost like everything is kind of new because you're in that new position of running that specific offence. The talk is usually by the end of the second year, (as a starter) now you're getting comfortable with the offence. It does take a long time to kind of get comfortable and used to it all."Sinopoli said if he was pressed into service at quarterback on an emergency basis, he's confident he could make the necessary mental adjustments. However, he wonders if he could make all the necessary throws after undergoing right shoulder surgery three seasons ago."That would be my main worry," Sinopoli said. "It's interesting, when you throw if you haven't been throwing your whole life, you just don't have that flexibility even though you're flexible."A thrower's flexibility is very, very different . . . it's like throwing with your left arm if you're not left-handed. The flexibility in your shoulder isn't used to the stress that's being put on it."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has confirmed another case of COVID-19 at the University of Windsor.In a news release, the university said that this case was unrelated to previous confirmed cases at the institution. According to the University of Windsor's COVID-19 information page, the university has had 10 confirmed on-campus cases, all of which have come this month. Eight of those cases are marked as "resolved.""The member of the campus community is self-isolating and all appropriate protocols and cleaning measures have been taken," the university said in a press release. "As with all COVID-19 cases, the WECHU will take the lead on contact tracing. The University continues to work with and support the Health Unit as needed.""There is no additional risk to the campus community at this time," it added.Most of the university's classes are being taught online this semester.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with Rosemary Barton, CBC's chief political correspondent, about the federal fiscal update and how the government will continue to provide financial support through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.