Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
Le gouvernement albertain se dit prêt à recevoir et à distribuer le vaccin au cours de l’année 2021. Cependant, nul ne sait encore ce qu’il adviendra précisément de la politique de vaccination dans la province. L’Alberta a annoncé que près de 435 000 Albertains se verront proposer un vaccin au cours du premier trimestre de l’année prochaine. À l’instar du Royaume-Uni, premier pays à autoriser dès la semaine qui suit le vaccin Pfizer/BioNTech contre la COVID-19, est-ce que le vaccin Pfizer sera celui utilisé pour vacciner les habitants de l’Alberta ? Dans un sondage en date du 16 novembre, la firme de sondage Léger s’est penchée sur cette question, en interrogeant 1522 Canadiens de la province sur la venue de ce vaccin et son usage éventuel dès avril 2021. « Ce vaccin nécessiterait que vous receviez deux doses sur une période de deux semaines. Prendriez-vous ce vaccin au printemps 2021 ? » En Alberta, 20 % ont répondu qu’ils ne savent pas, 28 % le refuseraient carrément, contre 52 % qui ont répondu par l’affirmative. Des chiffres qui frisent le 50/50. Car les incertitudes, mais aussi les inquiétudes, demeurent quant aux effets au long cours concernant une conception qui aura mis moins d’un an à se faire. Ubaka Ogbogu, professeur associé à la Faculté de droit de l’Université de l’Alberta depuis 2011, et spécialisé dans la politique de vaccination explique que l’autorisation d’un vaccin ne peut se faire sans l’aval d’un organisme de réglementation en matière de santé. « Santé Canada doit mener sa propre évaluation indépendante du vaccin », rappelle-t-il. « Je pense que cela se fera par un processus accéléré similaire à celui du Royaume-Uni. Si tout se passe bien, les Canadiens devraient s’attendre à ce que le vaccin soit distribué au cours du premier trimestre 2021 », poursuit-il. Un discours qui vient corroborer l’annonce de la veille de Jason Kenney, concernant la disponibilité prochaine d’un vaccin contre la COVID-19. Politique de vaccination Face aux doutes d’une portion de la population albertaine, le gouvernement pourrait-il rendre alors la vaccination obligatoire ? Pour Ubaka Ogbogu, « il peut, mais je ne pense pas qu’il doit le faire », explique-t-il. Selon ses évaluations, il faut s’attendre à assister à une augmentation de la demande par rapport à l’offre de vaccins disponibles. De façon générale, « Le Canada n’a pas constitué de stocks suffisants pour vacciner l’ensemble de la population », note-t-il. Une réalité d’autant plus vraie pour la province de l’Alberta. Pour le professeur en droit de l’Université de l’Alberta, la question de la vaccination obligatoire n’est non seulement pas centrale, mais également sans objet. La vraie question est ailleurs. « Plutôt que de discuter de la vaccination obligatoire, nous devrions nous concentrer sur l’élaboration de critères d’attribution, afin de garantir que ceux qui en ont le plus besoin l’obtiennent en premier; nous devrions nous concentrer aussi sur la logistique de distribution [le vaccin nécessite un entreposage très froid, des équipements et des processus spécialisés pour sa distribution] et sur la transparence des processus », résume-t-il. Pour les plus sceptiques, M. Ogbogu souhaite faire une campagne de sensibilisation, pour lutter contre la désinformation sur les vaccins. Enseignements À la suite de « l’expérience » de la COVID-19, quelles seront les leçons à tirer, mais aussi les mesures à prendre en matière de politique de vaccination au niveau provincial ? Sur la base de son expertise, le professeur entrevoit déjà l’élaboration de critères d’attribution clairs pour les vaccins (et éventuellement pour d’autres thérapies de pointe) qui sont très demandés selon lui, par rapport à l’offre. « Je pense également que nous allons apprendre beaucoup sur la manière de concevoir des programmes de vaccination pour faciliter leur bonne utilisation. J’espère en tout cas que ce sera le cas », conclut-il. En attendant, si l’année 2020 s’achève avec la garantie de donner un vaccin à près de 435 000 Albertains, en 2021, la situation, elle, devient de plus en plus critique. Aux dernières nouvelles, l’Alberta prépare un plan de contingence dans lequel elle demande l’aide du gouvernement fédéral et de la Croix-Rouge, afin de soulager ses services de soin en santé.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
A unique housing project in Surrey, B.C., to support veterans and first responders got a boost from the provincial government Wednesday.The province is putting forward funds to support 91 affordable housing units for veterans with disabilities in the Legion Veterans Village, as well as a rehab centre for veterans."It means a tremendous amount," says Tony Moore, the president of the Whalley Legion Branch 229.The Whalley Legion is one of the main partners in the Legion Veterans Village, a development that will include nearly 500 units of market housing, health-care supports including a PTSD and brain injury clinic, and Legion facilities.The affordable housing units, said Moore, will address a dire need in the community."We have lots of veterans out there that are on the street and other places that need accommodation and a place to live," he said. Being located in Whalley makes it even more pertinent, he says. "We were known as the Legion on Skid Row for a while because we had 135a [Street] behind us," he said."We felt there was a need for it. And by God, we were working at it and we're going to get there."The ambitious project, with an estimated price tage of $312 million, is one of the first of its kind in Canada for a legion. It's something that doesn't faze Moore — too much."I worry about it every night when I go to bed. But, you know, we've had so many inquiries from across Canada," he said. "I hope by everything that's good that we can get more Legion Veterans Villages built across Canada."Construction of the development is already underway. Moore is hoping the development will open on November 11, 2022.
Northern Health has already received more influenza vaccines in 2020 than it administered during the whole flu season last year, with more vaccines on the way, according to a spokesperson for the health authority. “There's been more interest in people getting their flu shot this year,” said Eryn Collins of Northern Health last week. “People were quite motivated.” As of late November, the Ministry of Health had distributed more than two million flu shots to health authorities across the province, with about 77,000 doses allotted to the north. Last year, Northern Health distributed about 66,500 shots during the entire 2019/20 influenza season, which typically runs about November until early spring. “We're doing record numbers of immunizations against influenza,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix last month. As of Nov. 23, more than 1 million of the vaccines that had been distributed in the province were administered in arms, said Dix. More updated numbers were not available as there is a time lag between shots given and when they are reported to public health. So far, more than 800,000 of the shots were given in the province by pharmacists, representing an increase of 300,000 shots compared to the same time last year, Dix said. Primary care providers had administered 100,000 more flu vaccines in 2020 than by the same date in 2019 in B.C., he said. “This is an extraordinary achievement,” said Dix. Initially, public health officials recommended those who were highest risk should get their shots first, including seniors, people with chronic diseases, essential workers and others who could potentially transmit the flu to people vulnerable to infection. “Those are well underway,” said Collins and everybody is encouraged to book an appointment with a flu clinic, local pharmacist, or primary care provider, depending where the vaccine is available in each community. Initial heavy demand for the vaccine created temporary shortages in different parts of the north, but more vaccine doses are expected in December and additional clinic opportunities will be available, Collins said. “Even though the current levels of flu activity in BC are extremely low right now, it is a very potentially serious illness for a lot of people,” said Collins. Northern Health recommends people most at risk for severe symptoms due to the flu should get vaccinated, including those with heart, autoimmune, kidney, liver, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cancer patients, seniors, people who are obese, pregnant women, children under 5 years old, Indigenous people, and people working with poultry. Front line healthcare workers, visitors to long-term care or assisted living facilities, people living with high-risk individuals, and first responders are also encouraged to get the vaccine. “It's never too late to get your flu shot,” said Collins. “Getting your flu shot now gives you the immunity that will carry you through influenza season.” For more information, go to immunizebc.ca. Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanorFran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is on the brink of a new stay-at-home order that would close businesses and curb travel in regions that could see hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules that take effect Saturday, designed to keep local health systems from collapsing under the weight of skyrocketing COVID-19 caseloads. Previous restrictions were based on infection rates in counties.The new order divides the state into five broad regions and restricts those with intensive care unit bed capacity below 15%. On Thursday, Newsom said four regions — all but the San Francisco Bay area — could meet that threshold “within a day or two.”California’s virus hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled since mid-October and now stand at 8,240, including 1,890 in intensive care units. The Department of Public Health reported 19,437 deaths since the start of the pandemic, including 220 health care workers.“If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see our death rate climb, more lives lost,” Newsom said.Affected regions must close hair salons, barber shops and movie theatres, ban restaurant service except for takeout and delivery, shutter playgrounds, and limit retail stores and shopping centres to 20% customer capacity.The new stay-at-home order will last at least three weeks, cutting sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threatening financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.“This means no income for the rest of the year,” said Lam Nguyen, who owns a nail salon in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights. “I’m sad and scared, not only for myself but all my friends with nail and hair salons. A lot of us are in debt.”Amy Lovece, a hairstylist who rents a chair at Salon 544 in downtown San Luis Obispo, said she already lost about half of her yearly income.“It’s sad that (Newsom) keeps closing us down. It’s unnecessary because salons are not the problem,” said Lovece, 56. “For the ones who are following the rules, it’s just not fair. I just go between home and work. I don’t go to parties or bars and I just want to keep working.”Lovece said she was angry that the county was grouped in the Southern California region with counties hundreds of miles away with far greater demands for ICU beds. Only one out of 53 ICU beds in San Luis Obispo county was occupied with a COVID-19 patient as of Thursday.The order is the latest balancing act as the state tries to slow the exploding infection rate — blamed on people gathering outside of their households — without further crashing the economy.After California closed all but essential businesses in March, the state lost 2.6 million jobs in two months. About 44% of those jobs returned when restrictions were eased as people heeded social distancing and mask-wearing precautions and new cases fell dramatically.But by fall people were congregating more for holidays and celebrations, while cooler weather drove them inside, where the virus flourishes. California is now averaging nearly 15,000 newly reported cases daily.Public health officials warn that the toll from Thanksgiving gatherings could start to swamp hospitals by Christmas.In the last month, the state imposed restrictions in 52 of the state’s 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew for all but essential trips, such as getting groceries.But it hasn't worked because data shows people are ignoring the rules, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top public health officer, acknowledged Thursday.“We of course had hoped and wanted to see more from that already, but we haven’t,” he said.The state might not need such a broad shutdown if it had better data on where people are being infected, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health.Are stores and nail salons chiefly to blame or should restrictions be focused elsewhere? Lack of that knowledge reflects “a failure of public health," Klausner said.He likened the current approach to shutting down food production, restaurants and grocery stores because of a salmonella outbreak.“That’s not the way we traditionally work in public health,” he said.Some counties also have bucked the rules, following cues from state and local elected officials who have criticized the governor for going too far.Shannon Grove, Republican leader in the state Senate, criticized Newsom on Thursday for continuing “to disrupt life as we know it without releasing the full data behind his decisions.”But in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest with 10 million residents, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that his department would be conducting “targeted enforcement on super-spreader events." The sheriff previously said he had relied on voluntary compliance with health orders.Even state government has felt the impact. Newsom and his family are self-quarantining at home after three of his children were exposed to an infected person. Two staff members in the governor’s office have tested positive for COVID-19 but hadn’t been in contact with Newsom, the office said.Beginning Monday, state government offices will close for three weeks except for those involved in “critical functions” such as public safety, prisons, social services and unemployment insurance claims processing, according to a Human Resources Department email sent to department leaders, the Sacramento Bee reported.Newsom acknowledged the difficulty in following the rules. But he urged people to stay vigilant and said progress is being made on a vaccine.“There is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.___Associated Press writer Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.Adam Beam And Kathleen Romayne, The Associated Press
Saskatoon– A few days after the global pandemic was declared, Jim Boire got a text from his daughter. Rebecca Erker, a Royal University Hospital intensive care unit nurse. She is working on her PhD with the respiratory research centre in Saskatoon. As a result, she had a good understanding of what was at stake with COVID-19, and reason to be concerned. Thankfully, Boire is president of RMD Engineering, a Saskatoon firm whose expertise ranges from beamlines for the Canada Light Source Synchrotron to industrial processes in potash mining, and a whole lot in between. They’ve worked in uranium, agriculture, and a lot of research and development. His company (which Boire owns with four other partners, all employees) had the expertise and capacity to do something about it. And so they did. “I got my text from my daughter on March 18. March 24, we had our first prototype built,” Boire said by phone on Dec. 3. Now the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced on that December day it would be taking delivery of 100 new ventilators, known as the EUV-SK1, in short order. The first 20 are ready to go out the door, and the company has most of the parts in place to build as many as 1,000 units. RMD Engineering Inc.’s subsidiary, One Health Medical Technologies, recently received COVID-19 Medical Device Authorization from Health Canada for an in-house designed, developed and manufactured ventilator. Collaborating with the University of Saskatchewan and SHA subject matter experts, RMD Engineering was able to successfully prototype an emergency use ventilator for Health Canada certification. According to a Ministry of Health press release on Dec. 3, there are currently approximately 650 ventilators available in Saskatchewan’s health system, enough to meet the need. They range from high-end critical care type ventilators to more basic sub-acute ventilators. The SHA’s purchase from RMD will increase that number to about 750. But getting from a text to a prototype for an approved ventilator wasn’t easy, nor was it quick process. Very early on, the deans of both the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering and College of Medicine got involved. Top respiratory technologies, respirologists, and ICU nurses were brought in within short order to develop this totally new product. Boire said, “As soon as we asked for them to help, they helped with open arms. And you have a team like that that knows exactly what something is supposed to do. And the capability to build something that can do that, then all you need are the codes and standards and validation equipment to make sure it meets the required level of quality.” Asked if it was like converting to war production in 1940, Boire said, “I’ll tell you, that’s exactly the way it started. “It felt like a military operation, if I was ever involved in a military operation, but I wasn't. However, as soon as we got through the point where this is going to work, this design is going to work, here's what we have to do now, a group of people said, ‘You know what? We get it. This is like a military operation, everybody's doing this, let's just go go go.’ “They stopped and said, “You know what, it's probably time now that everybody starts looking at this as the biggest humanitarian effort this company has ever done.” And it was just an awesome way to get out of that firefighting mode. And then one of our instrumentation leads said, ‘This is not a sprint. You guys can't keep working 18 hours a day. This is going to be a marathon.’ “And it really helped pull the whole team back down to the ground, and get them out of that adrenaline mode, and really start focusing on the work breakdown, structure in the tasks at hand, and who's responsible for what and what's this timing going look like and when is this going in.” His references to firefighting are authentic, as the company has built support equipment for water bombers. Worldwide shortages They soon realized that the whole world was looking for critical parts, which almost immediately went into short supply and were being hoarded. Some items, like wire, saw huge price spikes. So RMD quickly realized it had to work on this project quietly, and develop a product that avoided critical path component shortages. Boire said, “Instead of using the newer, more conventional turbine method, we knew those would be a hot commodity, when the world proclaimed they needed over a million of these. As you can imagine, that turbine is a complicated piece of equipment. We went the other way. We went back to being simple,” Boire said. “We have very, very few moving parts in our machine. There’s four moving parts.” He explained, “This is an emergency use ventilator, so it needs to be used in the hospital or in an emergency hospital situation where they have line medical air and line oxygen so that'll be running at 50 PSI. And then we control everything with proportional solenoids.” There are two tubes coming into the device, which is in a large Pelican case, and two tubes coming out. They had them on hand because of another government project they’re working on. The lid includes an IBM screen. “They’re all high reliability components,” he said. It runs off 110 volt AC power. You set it up beside the bed, hook up the lines, hook up the power and put in the appropriate prescription. High standards They had previously made the biomedical imaging line for the Canadian Light Source, but they weren’t a medical device manufacturer. The list of specifications, protocols and standards was extensive. And those standards, in some ways, simplify things. Boire said, “We don't have any proprietary stuff on there, so all of the circuits, all the nebulizers everything fits on there. All that is covered off in standards. And I think that's one of the biggest things to understand is when you go down this path, it is very prescriptive on everything. The machine has to do all of the standards it has to meet, including operational standards.” He added, “It's probably a foot tall, the stack of standards, when you put them together. You have to meet the electrical requirements, the operational requirements, the safety requirements. You don't get to just build something in your backyard, and then tell everybody you have it. When you go and look at the requirements, when you submit to Health Canada, it is an armful. And I think we've spent just about $30,000 on standards. There is a lot of standards that you have to meet.” It is very unique, he said. “We looked at the critical components like flow meters, how you measure flow and pressure, because we’re talking very low pressures that have to be measured very accurately.” This is where the consultation with respiratory technicians, anesthesiology repair technicians from the health region made a difference. Because there was such high demand for ventilator components, he said, “You have to figure out how to do that with readily available things that are very safe.” “So when we started doing our production testing, we had to do accelerated testing on components that, in the period of two or three weeks, we could get an effective 25 million cycles on a component that we designed.” By the end of December, they’ll likely have the remaining 80 units ready. They’ve also built a training version to be used in remote areas or to train people on a simulation patient or a “test lung.” They submitted their application to Health Canada on May 5. “In that period of time is when we refined our design, did our testing, had to send it out to third party,” Boire said. Commitment Quality assurance and traceability were very important, he said. “Since March, we’ve got 40,000 to 45,000 hours in already, in the development and testing and verification side.” This happened just as the company was in the middle of expanding their facility, much of which was accomplished with their own staff. “We're probably going have to hire another 12 to 15 people, and train them,” he said, noting training is a big part when dealing with healthcare devices, especially when it comes to things like quality control. “We’ve currently got 15 people now on the manufacturing side of it and the programing side, and the testing side.” They are working on getting their Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) certification, which he calls a “quality control program on steroids.” Asked if they were going to stick with it, he said, “We're going to stay as a medical manufacturer.” Boire added, “The medical device manufacturing will just be another part of our company. We're going to stay with theses rugged use ventilators, like this emergency type ventilator. We do not intend to compete with Panasonic or anybody at Philips, anybody that's making mainstream, high-volume ventilators. We’ll stay with a rugged use ventilator, because unfortunately, when you look at the numbers and look at this type of virus, the feeling is this could be around for a long time. And the government is coming out with a program that those of us that produced a medical device will have the opportunity over the next couple of years to convert that to a full medical device licence. And we'll take advantage of that just so we can make sure we keep this, here in Saskatchewan. We've already spent the money. Whatever happens now, happens. “So we want to make sure that we leverage that into good technology and good expertise for the years to come, not just, ‘Oh well, there's no more ventilators to make, we'll just do something else.’ Boire said they found that Saskatchewan really needs to focus more on trades and “getting trades educated with higher-end things.” “We have to bring manufacturing back to Saskatchewan,” he said. They were going to do it Why did they choose 1,000 units? Boire explained, “Saskatchewan said, ‘Our numbers show we need 1,000 ventilators in Saskatchewan.’ “We’re from Saskatchewan. We said we’re going to pick to do this, based on what we can do in this province. And what we did instead is while we were building this, we've built a whole project management system and basically a tool kit that if need be, if this type of ventilator is required in other places, we now have a system that we can go and work with another company very similar to ours, that has similar manufacturing capabilities and get them up and running to produce locally to them.” Boire said, “If we sold, half of what we had expected to make, we will break even. But again, it's not why we did it.” “This initiative exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship we’re so proud of in our province,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a release. “Our government fully supports this work, and we are pleased that residents in Saskatchewan and across the country will have access to this equipment, if they need it.”Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kick-start your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 4 ...What we are watching in Canada ...Premier Doug Ford is expected to unveil Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine task force today.Ford said yesterday the team is being finalized and the province will be ready to distribute the vaccine whenever it arrives.The task force will include medical, information technology, and logistics experts.Earlier this month, the province announced retired Gen. Rick Hillier will lead the task force. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the team will also include a bioethicist who will make recommendations about who should receive access to the vaccine first. The province's chief medical officer of health has also said some regions of the province could be moved today into further restricted measures in the province's pandemic response.\---Also this ...Statistics Canada will say this morning how Canada's job market fared last month as COVID-19 case counts rose along with a new round of public health restrictions.The labour force has clawed back about three-quarters of the three million jobs lost during lockdowns in March and April.The country has seen six consecutive months of job increases since then, but the pace of gains slowed between September and October.Expectations for November is that the country will eke out another gain.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...Joe Biden says he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.The move marks a notable shift from U.S. President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That's made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a "patriotic duty" and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on inauguration day, Jan. 20."On the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction" in the virus, Biden said.Biden also said he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration, "in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents," as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...Four people died following an explosion in a silo that holds treated biosolids at a wastewater treatment plant near the southwest England city of Bristol, police said Thursday.Three Wessex Water employees and one contractor died in the incident, which is not being treated as terror-related, Avon and Somerset Police Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said at a media briefing. A fifth person was injured during the explosion at the plant in the industrial area of Avonmouth, but the injuries are not considered life-threatening, Runacres said."The fire service led the rescue operation but sadly, despite the best efforts of all those involved, we can confirm there have been four fatalities," he said.Runacres would not speculate on the cause of the explosion. He said it took place in a silo holding organic matter from sewage before it "is recycled to land as an organic soil conditioner."He said the explosion did not create any ongoing concerns for public safety.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "our hearts go out" to the victims and their families.\---On this day in 2008 ...Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean granted an unprecedented request from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late January, a move that avoided a non-confidence vote set for Dec. 8, that would have brought down the minority Conservative government.\---In entertainment ...Quebec pianist and composer Andre Gagnon has died at the age of 84 from Lewy body disease, a neurodegenerative disorder.During a career spanning 40 years, Gagnon embraced many styles from baroque, to classical and disco.Born in Saint-Pacome-de-Kamouraska, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River on Aug. 2, 1936, Gagnon composed from the age of six. After attending the Montreal Conservatory of Music, he studied in Paris after obtaining a grant from the Quebec government.The following year, in 1962, the jack-of-all-trades musician became Claude Leveillee's official accompanist until 1969. He also worked with other singers, including Jacques Blanchet, Pierre Calve, Renee Claude, Claude Gauthier, Pauline Julien, Pierre Letourneau, Monique Leyrac.\---ICYMI ...Just days after the discovery of a large party in one of its rental properties, Airbnb says it has a plan to curb New Year’s Eve parties this year while Canada works to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.In addition to its ongoing ban on parties, Airbnb now says guests will need a history of positive reviews on its app to reserve an entire home for New Year’s Eve in Canada. The policy also extends to the U.S., Mexico, Australia, the U.K., France and Spain."We believe this plan will help prevent large gatherings while supporting the type of safe, responsible travel that benefits guests, hosts and the neighbourhoods they call home," the company said. Airbnb is making an exception for one-night bookings made up to Tuesday, based on data that suggest bookings made before early December rarely involve parties.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020The Canadian Press
The European Union has not yet won over countries seeking more cash and conditions in exchange for committing to sharper emissions cuts, as it tries to strike a deal on on its new climate target by the end of the year. The EU has promised to make a tougher emissions-cutting target this year under the Paris climate accord, a move U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said is "essential" to global efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change. Poland and Hungary are threatening to veto the bloc's next budget, which could freeze the cash they and other countries say they need to curb their emissions.
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
NEW DELHI — A chilly breeze whirls through New Delhi in the mornings and the sun is partly obscured by toxic haze, a marker of another winter in the Indian capital. But along the city's borders, this year is visibly and viscerally different.The perpetually busy arterial highways that connect most northern Indian towns to this city of 29 million people now pulse to the cries of “Inquilab Zindabad” — “Long live the revolution.” Tens and thousands of farmers with distinctive, colorful turbans and long, flowing beards have descended upon the city's borders, choking highways in giant demonstrations against new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation.For more than a week, they’ve marched toward the capital on their tractors and trucks like an army, pushing aside concrete police barricades while braving tear gas, batons and water cannons. Now, on the outskirts of New Delhi, they are hunkered down with food and fuel supplies that can last weeks and threatening to besiege the capital if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government doesn't meet their demands to abolish the laws.“Modi wants to sell our lands to corporates,” said one of them, Kaljeet Singh, 31, who travelled from Ludhiana city in Punjab, some 310 kilometres (190 miles) north of New Delhi. “He can’t decide for millions of those who for generations have given their blood and sweat to the land they regard as more precious than their lives.”At night, the farmers sleep in trailers and under trucks, curling themselves in blankets to brave the winter chill. During the day, they sit huddled in groups in their vehicles, surrounded by mounds of rice, lentils and vegetables that are prepared into meals at hundreds of makeshift soup kitchens, in enormous pots stirred with wooden spoons the size of canoe paddles.Anmol Singh, 33, who supports his family of six by farming, said the new laws were part of a larger plan to hand over the farmers' land to big corporations and make them landless.“Modi wants the poor farmer to die of hunger so that he can fill the stomachs of his rich friends,” he said. “We are here to fight his brutal decrees peacefully.”He paused, then reconsidered: “Actually, let him and his ministers take us on. We will give them a bloody nose.”Many of the protesting farmers hail from northern Punjab and Haryana, two of the largest agricultural states in India. An overwhelming majority of them are Sikhs. They fear the laws passed in September will lead the government to stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and result in exploitation by corporations who will push down prices. Many activists and farming experts support their demand for a minimum guaranteed price for their crops.The new rules will also eliminate agents who act as middlemen between the farmers and the government-regulated wholesale markets. Farmers say agents are a vital cog of the farm economy and their main line of credit, providing quick funds for fuel, fertilizers and even loans in case of family emergencies.The laws have compounded existing resentment from farmers, who often complain of being ignored by the government in their push for better crop prices, additional loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water during dry spells.The government has argued the laws bring about necessary reform that will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment. But farmers say they were never consulted.With nearly 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing farmer rebellion has rattled Modi’s administration and allies. His leaders have scrambled to contain the protests, which are fast resembling last year’s scenes when a contentious new citizenship law that discriminated against Muslims led to demonstrations that culminated in violence.Those demonstrations were much bigger in scale, but the farmers' rumblings are growing fast and gaining widespread support of ordinary citizens who have started joining them in large numbers.Modi and his allies have tried to allay farmers’ fears about the new laws while dismissing their concerns. Some of his party leaders have called the farmers “misguided” and “anti-national,” a label often given to those who criticize Modi or his policies.The government is holding talks with the farmers to persuade them to end their protests, but they have dug in their heels.Farmer Kulwant Singh, 72, said that when he left his home in Haryana for the protests, he gave his wife a garland of flowers for two possible scenarios.“Either I return victorious and she places it around my neck in celebration, or I die here revolting and the same garland is put on my body when it reaches home,” Singh said.Such passions run deep among the protesters who have found social, economic and generational barriers tumbling during the demonstrations.Singh isn't the only one from his family who travelled to New Delhi for what he called “Qilah Fatehi," an Urdu term that translates to “laying a siege.” His son and grandson also accompanied him.“It's a fight for my generation too,” said Amrinder Singh, 16.As demonstrations grow, the protesters have also started to drive a political message home.Not satisfied with Modi's federal policies, many of which have attracted widescale resentment from his critics and minorities, protesting farmers say it's time he stops what they call his “dictatorial behaviour.”“India is in a recession. There are hardly any jobs and our country's secular fabric is in tatters,” said Gurpreet Singh, 26, a biotechnology student who comes from a farming family. “At a time when India needs a healing touch, Modi is coming up with divisive, controversial laws. This is unacceptable and defies our constitutional values.”Modi's second term in power since May 2019 has been marked by several convulsions. The economy has tanked, social strife widened, protests have erupted against discriminatory laws and his government has been questioned over its response to the pandemic.The farmer protests present a new challenge for the government.The protesters' desire to stand up to Modi and his policies extends to a sexagenarian farmer couple who drove 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Chandigarh city in a hatchback Sunday to participate in the demonstrations.Dharam Singh Sandhu, 67, and Vimaljeet Kaur, 66, are spending nights in their car parked near the protest site. In the morning, they share breakfast at a makeshift soup kitchen. The latter part of the day is spent taking part in the demonstrations.“Our land is our mother. If we can’t protect it then we have no right to live," Sandhu said about the protests.His wife spoke passionately of a larger purpose as she made her way to the protest site through a stream of vehicles honking incessantly to get past congested traffic.“Our country is like a bunch of flowers, but Modi wants it to be of the same colour. He has no right to do that. I am here to protest against that mindset," Kaur said.As Kaur walked hand in hand with her husband, a great cry emerged from one of the vehicles: “Inquilab Zindabad.”The crowd turned and followed their gaze toward a young man with a black beard who held up his fist through the car's window.The protesters, including Kaur, roared back: “Inquilab Zindabad!"Sheikh Saaliq, The Associated Press
The U.S. government's first shipment of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses to be divided among states and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, will fall far short of protecting high priority groups such as healthcare workers, a Reuters analysis has found. Across the country, state health departments are preparing local hospitals for the first shipments of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes it, possibly as early as mid-December. The first shipment is expected to cover inoculations of 3.2 million people, nowhere near enough for the 21 million U.S. healthcare workers.
A new tenants rights group in the province hopes to help renters navigate the rules and regulations of renting, and work to change those rules."New Brunswick is far behind as compared to other provinces in terms of what kinds of protections are afforded to tenants," said one of the group's organizers, Aditya Rao. The New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights was formed by a group of renters. "Tenants in New Brunswick have far fewer rights than almost anywhere else in the country. We've seen this to be quite clear over the last several weeks with stories about rent increases and evictions," said Rao. The coalition is currently calling for a moratorium on all evictions during the pandemic.In Thursday's news conference, Premier Blaine Higgs was asked about the number of evictions renters have faced this year. "They're currently lower than in previous years," he said.While Service New Brunswick has received 1,525 eviction requests in the first 10 months of this year (2,518 in 2019 and 1,688 in 2018), it doesn't track lease terminations, which are used in many cases to remove a tenant, for reasons such as renovations. Rao said it's a practice he's been hearing is used often. The group wants to institute regulations that would ensure inspections are done regularly at rental properties. "So that they cannot get to the point that they're so dilapidated that tenants need to be unhoused in order for the apartment to be fixed," he said.Higgs said his government is in talks with landlords in an effort to understand the rental situation in the province. Low housing availability has become a big problem in the province's three major cities, with Fredericton's vacancy rate at about 1.4 per cent. "We know that there are new buildings going up," said Higgs. "We know that renovations are going on in apartments. But we're being told by the landlords that … the rental rate increases are low. We will pursue to understand that before we act on a policy that may have been necessary somewhere else, and may, or may not be necessary here."Rao said the coalition will be launching policy proposals over the next few weeks. "We're calling on the government to significantly overhaul the Residential Tenancies Act with a view to protecting tenants rights, including by instituting rent control, of course, but also by creating an eviction prevention program, among other things." On its website, the group is asking people to write their MLA's to add some of these reforms to the Act.
MADRID — Spain's Supreme Court has revoked a less restrictive prison status awarded to nine Catalan political figures previously sentenced to jail for their part in a secession attempt in Catalonia. The status would have allowed them almost daily release.The court said Friday that such a measure was “premature” given that none of the nine had served half their sentence and most not even a quarter of it. The sentences ranged between nine and 13 years.The nine were convicted in 2019 of sedition and misuse of public funds following the failed independence bid two years earlier. After they were transferred to prisons in the northeastern region, the pro-independence Catalan regional government granted them third-grade status last July. meaning they could leave prison during the day to carry out certain activities.The July measure was quickly suspended following appeals by prosecutors.The new court ruling comes as the leftist Spanish government is considering possible pardons and a reform of the sedition law that would favour the nine.The nine include the former vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, and five ex-regional cabinet members.Former regional president Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium and is still sought by Spanish authorities.Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secession push in Catalonia was Spain’s most serious crisis in decades. Polls have long shown the wealthy region’s 7.5 million inhabitants are roughly evenly divided over independence. Spain’s constitution says the country is indivisible.The Associated Press
Northumberland Paramedics recently recognized fellow Canadian first responders who were killed in the line of duty. Fallen civilian and military paramedics were honoured at a service hosted Dec. 2 by Northumberland Paramedics. The service kicked off a three-day tour through the county of the Paramedic Memorial Bell, which is a monument recognizing those who have died. “We have gathered on this solemn occasion to recognize the men and women who, while serving as military or civilian paramedics, lost their lives in the line of duty,” said Northumberland Paramedics Chief Susan Brown. “Northumberland Paramedics (is) privileged to host the Paramedic Memorial Bell this week – a tribute to these individuals. By reading each name inscribed on the bell, we bear witness to the ultimate sacrifice made by these first responders while serving their community -- honouring individuals who are gone but never forgotten.” Co-ordinated by the Paramedic Memorial Foundation, the bell travels through communities each year as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness and funds for the construction of a stationary national monument to memorialize fallen paramedics. The bell sits atop a three-tiered wooden base, where the 51 names of those being honoured are engraved onto small plates, dating as recent as this year and going back to 1980. The Paramedic Memorial Bell is typically part of the Paramedic Memorial Ride tour, which is an inter-provincial cycling journey. With this year’s rides cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have arranged for the bell to travel between paramedic services across Ontario for local ceremonies. The tour started in Windsor in June and will continue moving through eastern Ontario and onwards to Ottawa for a closing ceremony on Parliament Hill. “As this monument makes stops across Ontario on its journey to Ottawa this year, let it be a reminder of the individuals who responded to the call of duty despite significant personal risk,” said county warden Bob Sanderson. “And let us express our gratitude for the paramedics who continue to carry the torch and deliver the vital pre-hospital health care that keeps our community safe, strong and healthy.” The Paramedic Memorial Bell will be received Dec. 4 in several Northumberland communities by local officials. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The minimum price of gas is back up over $1 on P.E.I. after spending a couple of months below that mark.The minimum price for regular, self-serve gas was up 1.1 cents on Friday in the regular weekly price review from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.That sets the price at $1.005 per litre. The last time the price was over $1 was in early October. The price fell as low as $0.938 last month.Diesel was also up, with the minimum price for self-serve set at $1.093. That's 1.2 cents higher than last week.Heating oil prices did not change.Propane prices were up and down, depending on the retailer. Here are the maximum prices for bulk delivery. * Irving: Down 0.1 cents to $0.75 per litre. * Island Petroleum: Up 0.5 cents to $0.752 per litre. * Kenmac: Down 0.5 cents to $0.751 per litre. * Noonan: Down 0.5 cents to $0.751 per litre. * Superior: Up 0.2 cents to $0.752 per litre.The next scheduled price review is Dec. 11.More from CBC P.E.I.
ROME — Qatar's foreign minister said Friday that his country remains committed to the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem, and that progress on that front would need to be “at the core” of any agreement to normalize relations with Israel. “Right now, I don't see that the normalization of Qatar and Israel is going to to add value to the Palestinian people,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogue. There was speculation that Qatar — which already co-operates with Israel in providing aid to the Gaza Strip — might be the next Arab country to normalize relations after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan established diplomatic ties with Israel earlier this year. But the foreign minister said Qatar remains committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab countries would recognize Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. The foreign minister noted that his country has a “working relationship” with Israel to provide aid to Gaza, where the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. “But for the full normalization, I believe that the (Palestinian issue) needs to be at the core of any agreement of normalization between Qatar and Israel,” he said. The wealthy Gulf country's aid to Gaza has provided a lifeline to the territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power. It has also been a key element in a shaky, informal truce that has prevented any major outbreaks of fighting in recent years. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars — the most recent in 2014 — as well as countless smaller skirmishes. The normalization agreements with Israel, brokered by the United States, were widely seen as a breakthrough in Mideast diplomacy. But the Palestinians condemned the agreements as a betrayal because they marked a major erosion in Arab support for their cause, a key source of leverage in any future peace talks. The Associated Press
Fishing rights continue to be a stumbling block in Brexit trade talks with both sides digging in their heels. View on euronews
For more than three decades, CBC Vancouver's annual Open House and Food Bank Day has raised money for those in need, and the tradition continues Friday — with a safety-promoting twist.This year, the fundraising festivities have been adapted so you can watch special broadcasts, meet your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts virtually, and donate to Food Banks B.C. all from the comfort of your home.The day's programming has ended, but you can continue to donate through the night and all weekend.So far, the event has already raised $1,756,100.To donate now, visit www.FoodbanksBC.com and click on the CBC Open House in Your House image.In 2019, over $1 million was raised, bringing the 33-year total to $10 million — and this year, the need is greater than ever.Since the start of the pandemic, over 50 per cent of provincial food banks have reported an increase in demand.Many of us have been affected financially by the pandemic, limiting us in ways we might traditionally contribute. But there are many opportunities to spread generosity and kindness aside from making monetary donations.New for 2020, in addition to raising funds for local food banks, CBC Vancouver will be encouraging acts of kindness in the community to spread goodwill and cheer during an especially challenging holiday season.For ideas and inspiration for your generous act, go here.You can also visit the Food Banks B.C. website to find your local food banks and learn about volunteer opportunities available in your community.
A Calgary police officer has been promoted just weeks after he was ordered to a disciplinary hearing for his role in the shooting death of an unarmed man inside a hotel room. On Nov. 18, Lon Brewster was promoted from sergeant to staff sergeant, six weeks after Chief Mark Neufeld released a decision sending the officer and three others to a Police Act hearing for offences which include unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority and neglecting duties as police officers.Anthony Heffernan, 27, was fatally shot inside a northeast hotel room in 2015, after police were called for a wellness check.The latest move by CPS is another gut punch to Heffernan's parents, Pat and Irene. "It's totally unreasonable," said Pat in reaction to news of the promotion.Irene called the promotion "unconscionable." "I guess they don't really consider taking someone's life to be very important."72 secondsHeffernan had relapsed and was taking drugs at the time he was shot.Five officers busted in his hotel room, justifying it because they said they were concerned for his safety.Just 72 seconds later, he'd been shot four times, including three in the head and neck.Brewster was not the shooter or the one who made the call to enter the hotel room but was the highest ranking officer at the scene. According to CPS, Brewster has never faced disciplinary action before or since the hotel incident and has "demonstrated a strong commitment to policing and the community over his 14-year career.""We consider factors like when the incident occurred, what their role was in the incident, whether there is a pattern of misconduct or incompetence, and whether they have demonstrated a commitment to our values over their career," said the service in a written statement provided to CBC News.Losing hopeBut the Heffernans say they are losing hope for accountability."When a person is killed when they're on a health and wellness check, this is extremely serious, this isn't just some minor thing where someone said he misspoke to them or treated them poorly … and yet the police are sloughing it off," said Pat Heffernan."The message it sends to us is that they don't want to be held accountable."On the afternoon of March 16, 2015, officers were called to the hotel after Heffernan stayed past his check-out time. It was determined that Heffernan was likely doing drugs inside the room and officers requested and received permission from an acting staff sergeant to break in. Of the five officers who entered the room, Brewster was the only one who did not walk in with his gun or Taser drawn.Anthony's death an 'inconvenience' to CPS, says familyOnce inside, the officers reported Heffernan was holding a syringe and wasn't responding to their commands. A Taser was deployed but hit Heffernan's shirt. He tried to remove the probes and moved toward the officers in a motion Brewster described as a "lunge."That's when Const. Maurice McLoughlin opened fire, shooting Heffernan four times.The syringe officers had spotted in Heffernan's hand was ultimately found without a needle."Anthony's death to them is an inconvenience but it's not anything they're going to look at to make changes so this does not happen again," said Pat Heffernan.Officer who shot Heffernan resignsThe salary range for a sergeant is $126,922 to $130,728 per year, while the compensation increases to $137,322 to $141,461 for a staff sergeant.McLoughlin, the officer who shot Heffernan, resigned from the force prior to the decision by the police chief and will avoid any hearings or penalties as a result — a move the Heffernan family has previously called "cowardly."Following an investigation, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) recommended he be charged. The Crown prosecution service did not pursue charges. Alberta is one of the few, if not the only, jurisdictions in the country where police officers can resign in the face of discipline and maintain a clean record.The disciplinary hearing is likely to take place in late 2021.