WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
There self-isolation rules for returning rotational workers are tightening slightly, the government announced Monday — while the RCMP confirmed it's investigating a complaint that a rotational worker who returned to the Deer Lake area did not follow self-isolation guidelines. Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical officer of health announced new rules for rotational workers returning to the province at late-morning press conference Monday.Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said rotational workers will now have to wait until Day 7 — instead of Day 5 — to get a COVID-19 test, starting Wednesday. This will reduce the chance of a false negative, said Fitzgerald.If a worker receives a negative test they qualify for a modified quarantine, Fitzgerald added."They can leave their house and visit public places and other family members," she said. "They must not attend mass gatherings or crowded spaces, and must not enter a long-term-care facility, personal-care home or assisted-living facility during the final seven days of their modified quarantine," she said. However, the rules for workers returning from a site or camp where a COVID-19 outbreak has been confirmed must self-isolate for the full 14 days upon arriving back home. During Monday's news conference, Premier Andrew Furey called on camps and companies to change their schedule for rotational workers to one month on, one month off, to reduce the isolation requirements, and reduce total travel for those workers. New rules for family members of returning rotational workersThere are changes for some family members in the household of rotational workers. Any adults within the same home of a rotational worker must now wear a mask when interacting with anyone outside their household, including other family members.It was back on Sept. 9 that N.L. originally loosened, on a trial basis, self-isolation timelines for rotational workers returning to the province. Previously, workers had to self-isolate for the full 14 days. On Nov. 2, the provincial government said there had been no significant increase in cases related to rotational workers, and the less-strict rules would continueHowever, that has changed over the last two weeks. For returning rotational workers who do not have symptoms, they can: * Interact with family members within their household. * Go outside on their property. * Go for a walk, drive, bike ride, but while physical distancing from people outside the household.Family members of rotational workers are not under restrictions on where they can go; they are permitted to go to school, work, stores and other places. It is recommended they avoid long-term-care facilities, but it is not a rule. Rotational workers facing backlashEarlier Monday, before the changes were announced, the mayor of Grand Bank said the town is grappling with a great deal of anxiety, but now that contact tracing is complete, they're hoping to have turned the corner."The uncertainty — one day is great, the next day is not so great," said Rex Matthews.Monday's latest COVID-19 update did not include a new case related to the Grand Bank cluster, which is six cases — two of them senior citizens in the community's nursing home — and originated from a rotational worker who didn't test positive in Newfoundland and Labrador.When asked Monday how that's possible, Fitzgerald said not every person gets tested in N.L.; essentially, that person could have been diagnosed in another jurisdiction. Grand Bank has been a hotbed for rumours and speculation about the source of the infections, leading to a flurry of online comments condemning rotational workers who travel back and forth from places like Alberta.In a social media group for rotational workers, some people report having the RCMP called on them for doing mundane tasks around their own property, like putting up Christmas lights."They do sacrifice," Matthews said. "They travel to other provinces of this country for employment, they leave their families, they leave their home, they leave their community, and it helps our economy. So under normal circumstances there's no issues, but these are extraordinary times."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
NORTH HURON – A new investigator was appointed by North Huron to look into livestock and poultry incidents, when they have been injured or killed as a result of wildlife predators. The current municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer, Keith Black, notified the township of his resignation recently and was thanked for his many years of service. Following Black’s resignation, the township initiated a public recruitment process to fill the position. According to Carson Lamb, who prepared the report for council, at the closing date of the advertisement, no applicants expressed interest in the position. Randy Scott expressed his interest after the township reached out to other area municipalities to see if any individual would be interested in the position. Scott brings his knowledge and experience to North Huron. He will be enlarging his present territory of Howick Township, where he currently holds the investigator position. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture administers the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP). They provide compensation to eligible applicants whose livestock, poultry, or honeybees have been damaged or killed due to wildlife. The OWDCP stipulates that municipalities must appoint a municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer to investigate incidents of damage that have been reported to the clerk of the municipality. Under the OWDCP, the municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer is responsible for: · Carrying out a full and impartial investigation within 72 hours of receiving the notification of the injury or death of livestock or poultry. · Taking three to six colour photos per eligible kill/injury incurred and collecting all necessary information to complete the application accurately. · Providing a completed program application to the owner and the clerk of the municipality within seven business days of completing an investigation.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have hired Dave Lowry as an assistant coach.The 55-year-old from Sudbury, Ont., joins the Jets after spending the 2019-20 season as head coach of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings. He led the club to a 35-22-6 record and the Wheat Kings had clinched a playoff berth before the season ended March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Lowry most recently worked in the NHL as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings from 2017-19. Previously, we was an assistant coach in Calgary from 2009-12.Lowry has also been a head coach of Calgary and Victoria in the WHL.Lowry's son Adam is a forward with the Jets, whose 2019-20 season came to an end after a 3-1 loss to Calgary in a playoff qualifying series in Edmonton.Dave Lowry won a gold medal as an assistant coach for Canada at the 2015 world junior championship before serving as head coach for in 2016, when the Canadians lost to Finland in the quarterfinals. He also served as an assistant coach for the WHL all-stars in the CHL Canada/Russia Series in 2012-13 and the head coach for their entries in 2014-15 and 2015-16.As a player, Lowry was drafted by the Canucks in the sixth round (110th overall) in the 1983 NHL draft and went on to play 19 seasons for Vancouver, St. Louis, Florida, San Jose, and Calgary. He recorded 351 points (164 goals, 187 assists) and 1,191 penalty minutes over 1,084 career regular-season games."Dave brings a tremendous amount of experience to our coaching staff in a variety of different areas," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said in a release. "His success working with young players in their development can't be denied as he had an excellent season last year in Brandon and has coached the country's top junior players. He has worked in all aspects of special teams during his time as an NHL assistant coach. "We're very excited to bring Dave on board and join our staff." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo and museums have closed once again amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the Washington D.C. area. (November 23)
A Black man who was stopped by police while dropping his son off at daycare eight years ago was racially profiled, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has found.The tribunal ordered the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, a Longueuil police officer and a former police officer to pay Joel Debellefeuille $10,000 in damages, plus interest.Debellefeuille was stopped by police outside his son's daycare in March 2012, after police followed his car for more than a kilometre.In his decision, Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that would include providing training to officers, and collecting and evaluating race-based data on people who are stopped by police. Brunelle also said Quebec's human rights commission must pay the plaintiff's legal fees, ruling that the delays in responding to Debellefeuille's complaint were abnormally long and unacceptable. In addition, Dominic Polidoro, who remains a police officer, was ordered to pay $2,000 in punitive damages.The tribunal's ruling is binding, unlike those of the human rights commission.According to the decision, Polidoro testified that he followed Debellefeuille's vehicle because he thought Debellefeuille was looking at him, had gestured toward him and had said something to him while the two vehicles were stopped at a stop sign.Brunelle found that Polidoro's explanation didn't justify his stop of Debellefeuille."It is highly improbable that a white man (or woman) who, while driving their vehicle observed a police officer while continuing to talk with the other passengers and gesticulating — as many people do incidentally while expressing themselves — would be considered a suspect for that sole reason," Brunelle wrote.Brunelle found that Polidoro's actions could only be "rationally explained by the prejudices he maintained, whether consciously or not, toward a Black man driving a luxury car."Debellefeuille, who was driving a BMW at the time, told the tribunal that he had been stopped "numerous times" by police.The other officer who stopped Debellefeuille, Jean-Claude Bleu Voua, was not ordered to pay additional punitive damages because he is no longer a police officer and could not be found by the tribunal.He is believed to have left the country.'This is how we make progress'Collecting race-based data is an important step, said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, which supported Debellefeuille's complaint.Niemi said that data will make it harder for the police department to deny that racial profiling exists.He said his organization is looking to the courts, because municipal and provincial politicians aren't taking action to stop racial profiling."What we are seeing now is that these battles will have to be fought in the courts and when the court sides with us and imposes these decisions," Niemi said. "This is how we make progress."Neither the Longueuil municipal government — which sought to have the case dismissed — nor its police service responded to a request for comment on Saturday.Quebec's human rights commission praised the decision in a statement.The commission is also calling for another Montreal suburb and three of its police officers to pay $35,000 in damages to a Black man who says he was racially profiled.Francois Ducas was also driving a BMW when he was stopped by Repentigny police.Ducas, who objected to the stop and refused to identify himself, was handcuffed and searched.Police issued Ducas, a secondary school teacher, two tickets: one for obstruction, the other for injuring a police officer.The commission believes he was stopped because of his race.Repentigny is challenging the commission's decision. That challenge will be heard before the Human Rights Tribunal.Marlène Girard, the director of communications for Repentigny, said she couldn't comment on the case but that the municipality has "increased the number of initiatives seeking to bring the police service closer to the diversity of its population" over the past few years."Today we acknowledge that we still have work to do," Girard wrote in an email. "We are being proactive, we are not waiting for the outcome of current cases of alleged racial profiling or future allegations in order to take action."Last week, the Repentigny police service announced it had hired a consulting firm to develop a plan to be more inclusive.However, Niemi said he believes the Repentigny police are still denying the seriousness of the problem.
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott told Sudbury MPP Jamie West this past week that while many parts of Ontario do not have all the mental health resources that many people need right now, there is a plan in place to have provincewide mental health and addictions services. Elliott was responding to West's plea for the government to take action to immediately increase funding for mental health services in Sudbury. “Sudburians are suffering,” said West during question period at the Ontario Legislature. “Family members are mourning and local health resources are overwhelmed," he added. West described how he had met with Denise Sandul of Sudbury, the mother of 22-year-old Myles Keaney, who died of an opioid overdose earlier this year. He also told the legislature that a cross had been erected in downtown Sudbury close to where Keaney died, as a memoriam to a young life lost. West said the number of crosses had increased dramatically to the point where it is expected more than 50 crosses will be in place before too long. “Will the premier commit to immediate increased funding to help Sudburians like Denise and her family?” asked West in the legislature. Health Minister Elliott stood to respond and offered her sympathies. "First, let me express my condolences to Myles’s family and all of the other families who have lost anyone through an overdose, through addictions of any kind. That is something none of us want to see happen in the province of Ontario," said Elliott. She added that Ontario has a plan in place to address mental health concerns across the province. "That is why we brought forward our Roadmap to Wellness, to make sure that across Ontario — that includes Northern Ontario, southern, eastern and western Ontario — we can have that core basket of addictions and mental health treatments," said Elliott. The Roadmap to Wellness is a joint federal-provincial 10-year action plan to address several concerns that include too long wait times, barriers to access, fragmented services, uneven quality of services and lack of data. Elliott said the addictions and mental health crisis is similar to what existed several years ago with the shortfalls in cancer care in Ontario. Elliott said it took time and money before cancer care was improved significantly. She said work is underway, costing billions of dollars, to ensure that all parts of Ontario get better mental health and addictions support. In his comments in the Legislature, West also stated the opioid overdoses are involved in as many as 50 to 80 deaths per week in Ontario. In a study published earlier this year by Public Health Ontario (PHO), it was stated that opioid deaths were quickly outpacing the number of deaths that occurred in Ontario in 2019 and the increase might be as much as 50 per cent higher by the end of this year. "If the number of opioid-related deaths continues to increase at the weekly pandemic rate for the rest of 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 2,271 opioid-related deaths in the province by the end of the year. This would represent a 50-per-cent increase from the year prior (1,512 opioid-related deaths in 2019)," said the PHO report. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Users, who could previously share snaps or stories with friends, can now share them directly to Spotlight and garner more followers, Snap said in a blog post https://press.snap.com/introducing-spotlight. Facebook Inc earlier this year launched Instagram Reels - the company's version of TikTok wherein users can record short mobile-friendly videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.
BROCKTON – Council has renewed its contract with Veolia Water Canada for five years, for the operation, maintenance and management of Brockton’s water and wastewater. The report presented by director of operations Gregg Furtney outlined Veolia’s history with the municipality, beginning in 2006. The most recent agreement renewal was awarded in 2016, for five years. The term ends in June, 2021. Because the municipality is entering into 2021 budget discussions, staff spoke with Veolia representatives about “what a renewal and amended agreement may look like.” The five-year extension to the present agreement would involve an adjustment to the annual fee from the current rate of $702,645 to $727,376, an increase of $24,731, with subsequent increases based on the previous year’s price plus an adjustment for inflation. Furtney’s report stated there was discussion related to “operations and costs associated with a significant event, such as a pandemic, that could make operating significantly more onerous.” Veolia has stated the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, has not proven to be significantly more onerous. Veolia staff have operated safely and successfully throughout the pandemic. The renewal agreement will include the addition of the Fischer Dairy sewage pumping station and the upcoming Walker West booster pumping station. It also includes additional sampling and operational oversight of the water systems at various community centres including the Bradley School House, Cargill Community Centre, and Elmwood Community Centre. Furtney’s report noted “Veolia Water Canada Inc. staff have been great partners in Brockton. They have highly trained and knowledgeable staff that work hard to provide our residents with safe drinking water and maintain important Brockton-owned infrastructure.” He further noted their response time to emergencies has been excellent. Veolia has donated to the Walkerton Clean Water Legacy Scholarship Fund. There was some discussion among councillors about looking into taking on the task of managing water and wastewater in-house. Furtney said wages alone would make that prospect a daunting one, not to mention the need to purchase vehicles and other equipment. It’s not something that could be planned in a few months. “If, in two years, council wants to do this, we can start planning.” Mayor Chris Peabody stated the municipality has been quite pleased with the agreement with Veolia. He suggested if council were to decide to look into managing water and wastewater in-house, that partnering with another municipality would make it more affordable. “After 15 years, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate (the possibility),” he said. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said the Veolia contract is one of the two largest contracts the municipality has – the other is with the OPP. He noted Veolia “appears to be a good partner” for the municipality. Coun. Steve Adams said he supports Furtney’s report. “It would be very expensive and risky to do it on our own,” he said, adding that the agreement with Veolia has provided “good value and safe drinking water” for the municipality.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
WALKERTON – Despite an icy wind and requests for people to stay home because of COVID-19, a small group of people went to the Walkerton cenotaph to view an abbreviated Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Most people remained safe at home and viewed the ceremony on Facebook. Brief though they were, the ceremonies in Walkerton and Mildmay were fitting and dignified. Although there were no parades, there were many wreaths set in place prior to the ceremony. There was a solemn two-minute silence. And there were heart-felt words from all levels of government. In Walkerton, representatives of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 102 were joined by members of the Ontario Provincial Police, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. The Legion and government representatives gave short speeches thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and who continue to do so – members of the Armed Forces, police, emergency services and volunteers. Thompson spoke about a 97-year-old veteran who told her he hopes no one ever has to go through what he did. Peabody summed it up by stating, “Thank you for your service.” The poppies carefully placed beside many of the names on bricks in the walkway said the same thing. We will not forget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The Nova Scotia Health Authority has stopped hospital visits in the central zone amid rising case numbers and community spread of COVID-19 in the Halifax area.The restrictions include NSHA facilities in Halifax Regional Municipality, Eastern Shore and West Hants. However, up to two people will still be allowed in to support patients at the end of life, in palliative care, women in labour, and children under 18 who are admitted.There are also circumstances where one person is allowed to help a patient. They include children in outpatients and those who have physical, intellectual, cognitive and emotional conditions. NSHA also says people coming for an early labour assessment can also bring one person with them. Caught off guardThe pause on most hospital visits in the central zone was announced on Twitter Friday night, hours after a public briefing with Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, catching some families off guard. Tim Houston, the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, criticized the way people were informed, and said it should have been announced at the briefing. "There has to be a plan in place to ensure that families know what is happening to their loved one in hospital," he said in a news release. "I understand the restrictions for safety, but if families can't visit, they need a point of contact."On Monday, NSHA apologized to patients and their families for the timing. "This is a very difficult time for everyone and we acknowledge that the sudden change came as a surprise," it said in a statement. "Based on advice and a recommendation from our clinical teams, we felt it was important to act quickly. Our priority is keeping COVID-19 out of our hospitals, which, as we've seen in other areas of Canada and around the world, can have serious implications."The health authority said it will continue to monitor case numbers and more changes may be made in the future. MORE TOP STORIES
The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is putting $500,000 from the Ending Violence Association of BC towards sexual assault response service programs over the next three years. The acquisition of the funding, announced by the ONA Nov. 20, is set to build on the work already carried out by the ONA’s “You Empowered and Strong” (YES) program. The program supports Syilx Okanagan Nation individuals, families and communities dealing with the impacts of trauma caused by violence including sexual assault and human trafficking. The funding is in line with the 231 outlying calls to justice coming out of the The Final Report on the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released in 2019, which includes the development of “self-determined and Indigenous-led solutions and services.” The YES program was launched after the ONA Wellness Committee identified needs to address family violence in the Okanagan Nation in 2015. In July 2019, the ONA Chiefs Executive Council passed a Tribal Council Resolution to support the calls to justice out of the Final Report and the continuation of the YES program. Each community determines how to provide the services the YES program offers baed on individual community needs. “The roots of violence toward Syilx women and girls can be traced back to the trauma and systemic racism that communities have experienced over years of colonization. The ONA remains committed to ensuring that Syilx individuals and families across the Nation have proper support, safety and healing,” said Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Chairman. “Through such initiatives as this we are taking decisive action to provide access to community-drive, culturally appropriate and effective services. This work must continue.”Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
The provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, announced Monday morning that anyone arriving to the provinces from other regions in the Maritimes will have to self-isolate for 14-days, breaking down the Atlantic bubble.
A former chief of Siksika Nation and Blackfoot leader, Isapo-muxika, is one of several historical figures under consideration to be featured on the Bank of Canada’s new $5 bill. Eight shortlisted candidates are being considered for the new note selected from a list of 600 eligible nominees from a six-week public consultation process that ended March 11, 2020. Over 45,000 Canadians participated in the process. Isapo-muxika or Sahpo Muxika, known more commonly as Crowfoot, was born circa 1830 near Belly River, Alta. and died April 25, 1890 near Blackfoot Crossing. Crowfoot was a leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy and known for his judicious use of diplomacy, and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples. Others shortlisted for the $5 bill include Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, and Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft). The list will be submitted for consideration to the Minister of Finance. Each candidate will be judged on enacting positive change, being a national icon, universality (impacting Canada, reflecting values), uniqueness, and relevancy. The selected candidate will be announced in early 2021.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged 40 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, while marking 57 more cases resolved, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 347.Both that number and the rolling average of new cases have returned to levels unseen since mid-September.OPH also reported the death of another resident at a long-term care home where an outbreak has been declared, bringing the city's death toll to 367.More than sixty per cent of the city's latest cases are people under the age of 40.A total of 8,212 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19. The vast majority of those cases — 7,498 — are considered resolved.In the Outaouais, which has about one-third of Ottawa's population, 48 more people have tested positive for COVID-19. The region is now averaging 39 new cases a day.More than 85 per cent of the cases in western Quebec are in Gatineau, currently a red zone on the province's pandemic scale. With 42 patients curently in hospital, the Outaouais is outpacing Ottawa in that category as well. Thirty patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, including two in intensive care.An outbreak is over at École élémentaire catholique des Pionniers, leaving active outbreaks at four schools, nine long-term care homes and one hospital in Ottawa.Elsewhere, an outbreak at École secondaire publique L'Héritage in Cornwall, Ont., has also ended, the last COVID-19 outbreak at an eastern Ontario school outside Ottawa.Colour by numbersAmong the key indicators that could allow Ottawa to move from orange to yellow on Ontario's pandemic scale: * The per-capita rate of COVID-19 sits at 24.6, just below the orange zone threshold of 25. * The test positivity rate is 1.8 per cent; the yellow zone threshold is 1.2 per cent.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has moved from orange to the less severe yellow, while the health unit covering the Kingston, Ont., area went from green to yellow.The rest of eastern Ontario is green, the lowest level on the province's pandemic scale.
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees. A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty. The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year. This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage. Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years. “We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost. Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them. Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before. The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.” “This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said. The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents. Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle. “The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager. The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way. That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July. The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said. “It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said. Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to. “You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices. Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache. “Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees. New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan. “I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.” ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy ___ 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. Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
NORTH HURON – The Howson Dam spillway will be tested for stability to provide information to North Huron council that will ensure the structure’s safety, before any more plans are put in place regarding the dam. A report was submitted to council on Nov. 16 by Jamie McCarthy, director of public works, that included a proposal from Chant Limited to test the spillway, “a passage for surplus water from a dam or reservoir,” according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. This testing is to confirm the suitability of the existing concrete for rehabilitation and provide information regarding the dam’s safety if it were to be left in place. After decades of discussion, studies, and proposals, councillors recognize the need to move forward with some form of decision. Even though the money to do yet another study seems redundant, they passed the motion to accept the proposal. In a recorded vote, which passed 5–2, council authorized the first of two phases in the proposal at a total of $46,860 (exclusive of taxes). It will revisit phase two at a later date, once they have some answers from Chant Limited. According to the report, Chant Limited was the only company that submitted a bid for the Howson Dam Request for Proposal (RFP). Chant Limited’s submission was complete and provided costing for Phase One and Two. Phase One is the core sampling, testing, and reporting to North Huron council on the findings. Phase Two is the development of detailed estimates for all costs associated with removing the bridge and rehabilitation of the Howson Dam spillways. Their bid is as follows: A. Phase One – Concrete Spillway Testing - $46,860 B. Phase Two – Project Estimate (AACE Class 3) - $47,835 This engineering will be funded from the existing Howson Bridge Reserve Fund, which has a balance of $93,759. If through Phase One, core sampling and testing provide the outcome that triggers Phase Two, there will be a shortfall of $936. The outcome of Phase One will provide the information necessary for council to begin fundraising to rehabilitate the dam or to assure that the dam can stay in place as it is, safely.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times