Those caring for a loved one with dementia say it's difficult to explain to them why things are different now, in addition to the added restrictions that make it hard to be together. Global's Brittany Greenslade has the story.
Those caring for a loved one with dementia say it's difficult to explain to them why things are different now, in addition to the added restrictions that make it hard to be together. Global's Brittany Greenslade has the story.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has launched a new land registry that it says will help combat money laundering and make the real estate market more transparent. Beginning Monday, any corporation, trustee or partnership that buys land in B.C. must disclose the interest holders of that land through the Land Owner Transparency Registry. Existing registered land owners have one year to register and disclose their interest holders. The government says in a news release the information provided may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crack down on illegal activity. It says the registry was formed after an expert panel on real estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the "single most important measure" that can be taken to address money laundering. The panel's 2019 report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through B.C. in 2018, including $5 billion through real estate. "British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn't happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash," Finance Minister Selina Robinson said in a news release. "This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
SASKATOON — Nutrien Ltd. is calling on other members of the fertilizer industry to join its fight against climate change as it launches an agriculture carbon program to drive improved environmental sustainability and boost profits for farmers.The Saskatoon-based company said Monday it plans to use its role as the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services to help growers plan, plant and track practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, trap and store carbon and measure the resulting improvements.It will then help farmers make money from their environmental efforts by facilitating the purchase and sale of carbon credits used by industries to offset their emissions and reduce carbon taxes."We really wanted to make sure that this was a rallying cry for the industry. We can't do it alone ... and we really need the agriculture industry now to step up to tackle climate change," said CEO Chuck Magro on an investor day webcast.After years of study, Nutrien concluded the best way to encourage agriculture to help fight climate change is to create "a carbon economy," where most of the resulting value goes to the farmer, he said.Nutrien will benefit indirectly by helping growers meet their carbon goals, he added."It's our people, our products, and our technology, that's going to drive, I think, a lot of this success, so we will naturally benefit by supplying services, products, technology, using our platform," said Magro.Nutrien is to pilot its new carbon program in certain regions across North America in 2021 and plans to later take it to South America and Australia.In a video presentation on the webcast, Nutrien showed how farmers will be able to track their improvements in environmental sustainability through its Ag Solutions digital hub, an online program that also allows customers to consult with Nutrien advisers, order products and services and pay bills.Products that could be used to earn credits include crop protection inputs, biologicals, micronutrients and slow-release fertilizers, while practices such as no-till cropping and planting cover crops would earn credits by sequestering carbon, said Mike Frank, executive vice-president and CEO of retail.Agriculture accounts for about 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, said Shane Moffat of Greenpeace Canada, adding unabsorbed nitrogen fertilizer creates nitrous oxide which is far more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.Nutrien should be committing to producing less nitrogen fertilizer if it really wants to slow global warming, he said."Generally, Greenpeace considers offsets a distraction from the focus on polluters reducing their emissions," Moffat said."In the case of Nutrien’s announcement, will this also be a distraction from the importance of shifting away from industrial and fertilizer-intensive agriculture towards organic farming?"Demand for carbon credits has more than doubled since 2017, Nutrien said, citing a recent state of voluntary carbon markets report from Ecosystem Marketplace.It says the global market for carbon offsets is expected to increase by 40 to 100 times by 2050.In 2019, Nutrien became one of the first users of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, a project that collects carbon dioxide from its fertilizer plant northeast of Edmonton and other industries and transports it to mature oil and gas reservoirs for use in enhanced oil recovery and storage.By Dan Healing in CalgaryThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:NTR)Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. 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: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Calgary will start being more aggressive in ensuring compliance with health orders meant to fight the ongoing pandemic. Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said rules have been in place long enough to move from education to enforcement. "It's been eight months since we've been educating Albertans on the benefits of face coverings and social distancing," he said. "Given the alarming rise in these numbers, we need to start a more stringent enforcement program."Sampson said there is clarity on what's expected and clarity on the fines that can be levied. On Sunday, Alberta reported 1,608 new cases of COVID-19, and the count of active cases in Calgary sat at 5,752.Ryan Pleckaitis, the head of Calgary bylaw, said only about one-quarter of his peace officers are currently able to issue tickets, but they are working with the province to expand those numbers. Supt. Ryan Ayliffe says officers will be ticketing those who "flagrantly" violate health orders."We're now at a critical point of society with COVID-19 cases soaring," he said. "The time for education has passed."He said it might not be safe to issue tickets on the spot."For example, during a protest or event where emotions are high, in many instances tickets are issued in the hours or days after the infraction, based on evidence obtained at the time of the event," he said.The news conference follows questions over the handling of recent violations against provincial restrictions limiting crowds — including protests against health measures and Black Friday crowds at Chinook Centre. Ayliffe said "a handful" of tickets have been issued today for the weekend protests, but exact numbers were not available. Those tickets include protest leaders. "We know everyone is struggling right now, and our intent is not to punish but to protect the safety of Calgarians as we work together to this," said Ayliffe.New rules brought in by the province allow the Calgary Police Service to levy $1,000 fines against violators, but police said on the weekend they are focused on education over enforcement at this time.
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation. "We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay." The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student. The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported. The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban. Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms. “There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election." PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden. But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays. His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away. "The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded. Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to: — Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; — Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; — End the importation and manufacture of handguns. The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns. PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows. According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018. Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns. "It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
A forensic psychiatrist testified in court Monday about whether Alek Minassian's autism could be a reason to find him not criminally responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Toronto van attack, a potential finding the autism community is concerned could stigmatize their members.
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec recommended on Monday the appointment of a youth-protection director to oversee the entire provincial system.The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, initially due today, until April 2021.The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a "guardian angel" and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.The commission found that the proportion of youth protection cases that are before the courts can vary from 30 per cent to 70 per cent from one region to another, suggesting the interpretation of the law needs to be clarified.Having a director in place would mean they'd be better able to act on the numerous recommendations expected in her report due next year, said Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission.The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection. Laurent says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.However, Laurent's mandate was open-ended, casting a wide net on the system and how users navigate it.Among the recommendations outlined Monday was that youth protection do better in dealing with Black and Indigenous youth, with services better adapted to the realities of those communities. Laurent deplored the over-representation of these families in the youth protection system.She also had positive words for those in the network who are overworked and under tremendous pressure.“The workers are also in distress. They believe that the conditions of practice do not allow them to provide quality services, at the right time and in line with needs," Laurent said.Hearings began in October 2019, and the commission said it has heard from more than 300 witnesses.The commission also held 42 “regional forums” where it heard from more than 2,000 citizens and other stakeholders from across Quebec.In a statement, junior health minister Lionel Carmant said the Coalition Avenir Quebec government intends to act swiftly on the recommendation of a director."The safety and well-being of every child is a top priority for the government," Carmant said. "The creation of a position of national director of youth protection is very interesting and goes in the direction of my reflection."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press
Element AI's ownership is headed across the border and into U.S. hands after years of being touted as one of Canada's most promising technology companies.The Montreal-based firm that creates artificial intelligence solutions for large organizations announced Monday that it has signed a deal to be purchased by ServiceNow, a Santa Clara, Calif., company that offers a cloud‑based workflow technology.The companies did not disclose the financial terms of their agreement, and expect the acquisition to close next year."Element AI’s vision has always been to redefine how companies use AI to help people work smarter," said Element AI founder and chief executive Jean‑Francois Gagne in a statement. "ServiceNow is the clear partner for us to apply our talent and technology to the most significant challenges facing the enterprise today."Though ServiceNow said the acquisition will help it create a Canadian hub for consumer-focused innovation, the deal will see one of Montreal's most prized AI companies put into the control of Americans and jobs slip away.Marc LeCuyer, ServiceNow's director general, would not disclose the current size of Element AI's workforce or the number of job losses that will result from the transaction.Workers not being retained will be connected to recruiters to help them access jobs that are open at ServiceNow, he said in an email.Monday's acquisition should serve as "another cautionary tale" for Canadian politicians because it comes just after Waterloo, Ont., smart glasses company North was sold to Google in the summer, said Jim Balsillie, the former BlackBerry Ltd. co-chief executive and current chairman of the Council of Canadian Innovators."Canada actually has market-proven AI companies with entrepreneurs building successful businesses, and it’s high time they receive the attention they earned," he said in an email to The Canadian Press. Element AI was founded in Montreal in 2016 by Gagne, Anne Martel, Nicolas Chapados, Jean‑Sebastien Cournoyer, Philippe Beaudoin and one of the godfathers of AI, Yoshua Bengio.The company quickly became a pioneer in AI after it raised a Series A funding round of $135 million in its first seven months and opened five offices across North America, Europe and Asia.It got a $5-million loan from the federal government two years later, which it planned to use to expand the company further.Then more cash arrived last year from the Quebec government, pension fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, and McKinsey and Company.The investors handed over $200 million in a Series B round of funding. Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec's minister of economy and innovation, said Monday's deal means that Element AI's business model ultimately did not work, but he was relieved the government still managed to break even with its investments in the company."The bad news is that the Quebec shareholder is no longer what it was, which is sad," he said. He was, however, pleased that at least ServiceNow has found value in Element AI.Before the acquisition, ServiceNow was on a spending spree, buying Israeli AI company Loom Systems, U.S. translation technology firm Passage AI and Belgian data management platform Sweagle in 2020. It also created technology development centres in India, Chicago, Washington, San Diego and Silicon Valley.Then it turned its attention to Element AI and Canada."With Element AI’s powerful capabilities and world class talent, ServiceNow will empower employees and customers to focus on areas where only humans excel — creative thinking, customer interactions, and unpredictable work," said ServiceNow chief AI officer Vijay Narayanan in a statement.The two companies will have to wait for approvals before their deal can close, but expect that to happen in early 2021.They say Bengio, who won the 2018 Turing Award with Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun and runs a Quebec-based AI research institute, will serve as a technical adviser for ServiceNow.— with files from Julien Arsenault in MontrealThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — After a weekend that saw 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, health officials reported 16 more on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 138.Fifteen of the latest cases were reported in the central zone, which includes Halifax.The other case is connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre high school in Canning, N.S. The school will remain closed for the week, and students will be learning remotely. Public health is investigating to determine whether the new case is connected to one previously reported in the school.In a news release Monday, Premier Stephen McNeil said there has been strong public interest in the province's pop-up rapid testing for people without COVID-19 symptoms. "These are important pieces of our collective effort to contain the virus," McNeil said.Health officials said 628 tests were administered at the pop-up site in Dartmouth on Sunday, yielding six positive results. The individuals involved were directed to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued a public exposure notice concerning a bar and restaurant in downtown Halifax. People are asked to book a COVID-19 test if they were at the Highwayman on Barrington Street on Nov. 19 between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.Anyone who visited the Bluenose II Restaurant on Hollis Street on Nov. 23, Nov. 24, or Nov. 25 between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. is asked to do the same. New Brunswick reported six new cases on Monday after 20 cases were confirmed on the weekend. Five of the province's six new cases are in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions, which remain under heightened public health restrictions including restricted travel and mandatory masks in public.Health officials say the remaining case is in the Bathurst area. Newfoundland and Labrador is ramping up its traveller scrutiny as health officials announced one new case of COVID-19 Monday.The province pulled out of the so-called Atlantic bubble last week, closing travel to all non-residents except those arriving for purposes deemed essential. Starting Tuesday, all essential travellers will have to submit a form and obtain a reference number to show border officials when they arrive, according to a news release Monday.Newfoundland and Labrador has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed across the province since the onset of the pandemic.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— Written by Sarah Smellie in St. John's, N.L.The Canadian Press
Regina– The Nov. 30 Saskatchewan Speech from the Throne reads like a checklist, ticking off the boxes of the re-elected Saskatchewan Party’s campaign platform in addition to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The 17-page Throne Speech was read by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty after the election earlier in the morning of Biggar-Sask. Valley MLA Randy Weekes as speaker. Premier Scott Moe said in a release, “Our first two bills will be to create a new Home Renovation Tax Credit and reduce small business taxes, as promised in the recent election campaign.” “We will also be moving quickly to cut everyone’s power bill by 10 per cent starting tomorrow, reduce ambulance charges for seniors and reinstate the Community Rink Affordability grant, as promised in the election campaign.” The speech comes at a time when daily government press releases detail the continuing spread of COVID-19. Just minutes before the speech began, 325 new cases, 49 recoveries, and two deaths were announced for Nov. 30. The speech noted, “Today, Saskatchewan is facing the most difficult moment of the pandemic to date.” “My government’s top priority during this session and in the coming weeks will continue to be working to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In recent days, new public health orders have come into effect, and more will be added if required. But throughout the pandemic, our best defense has been the selflessness and the vigilance of Saskatchewan people in following the good practices that protect themselves and others. “I am confident that will continue in the weeks ahead as we all work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At the same time as we are working to protect lives, my government is also taking steps to protect livelihoods. “We can, and will, do both.” It spoke of distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021 and the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program to top-up the wages of workers in long-term care facilities, personal care homes, integrated health care facilities and to home care workers. SaskPower rebate Key among the commitments is the promised 10 per cent SaskPower rebate. Beginning Dec. 1, SaskPower will reduce electricity charges by 10 per cent for one year. The speech said, “Everyone will benefit, including residential customers, farms, industry and businesses, and institutions such as schools, hospitals and universities. The rebate will save the people of Saskatchewan $260 million – money that can be reinvested into the economy to help drive the recovery. “The government, not SaskPower, will bear the cost of the program.” The new Saskatchewan Home Renovation Tax Credit will see homeowners able to claim a 10.5 per cent tax credit on up to $20,000 of eligible home renovation expenses incurred between Oct. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2022. Homeowners will save up to $2,100 on the cost of their home improvements. “This new tax credit will save Saskatchewan homeowners about $124 million and provide a significant boost to the province’s construction sector,” the speech said. The largest change within government announced in this Throne Speech is the creation of a new Ministry of SaskBuilds and Procurement, which will be charged “to manage infrastructure projects and assets more effectively.” “The new ministry will oversee the development and implementation of standardized government procurement processes and information technology infrastructure, ensuring that Saskatchewan tax dollars go further in providing the best possible value for the lowest possible cost,” it said. The government will temporarily reduce the small business tax rate from two per cent to zero. The change will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2020. By July 2023, the small business tax rate will be restored to two per cent. The reduction means the government will forego $189 million in revenue that would have otherwise been collected from the tax. The idea is that small business will invest that money back into the economy “to further drive a strong recovery.” The province has spent $6 million in marketing campaigns to encourage Saskatchewan residents to shop local, including a $1 million “Together We Stand Saskatchewan” campaign sponsored by local chambers of commerce and other business organizations. Other campaign promises The Throne Speech spoke of increased support for persons living with diabetes by covering the cost of insulin pumps and covering the cost of Continuing Glucose Monitoring up to age 18. The government will extend individualized funding for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder up to age 12, doubling the number of children who are funded from the roughly 500 that receive support now. Children under 12 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder will receive $6,000 a year to cover the cost of individualized therapeutic supports. Deafblind individuals will receive increased supports, with close to 150 people benefitting from enhanced services. The government is hiring 300 new continuing care aides to work in long-term care homes and home care, of which 180 will work in long-term care homes, 63 will go to existing home care services, and 57 will support expanded home care services in rural and remote areas. Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship from $500 to $750 a year, reducing tuition costs for those who qualify. The government will increase funding to the Saskatchewan Veterans Service Club Support Program to $1.5 million a year. It will add 750 new childcare spaces over the next four years. The government will also restart the Active Families Benefit to help families with incomes under $60,00 per year with the cost of children’s sports and cultural activities. Qualifying seniors will benefit from increases to the Seniors Income Plan benefit to $360 a year over the next three years. The maximum ambulance charge for seniors will be reduced from $275 per call to $135. On the legislative agenda, the government also committed to make amendments to The Residential Tenancies Act. Those amendments will allow those who have been sexually assaulted in their rental accommodation to unilaterally break a long-term lease. The Protection From Human Trafficking Act will enable victims to obtain expedited protection orders, allow for the tough enforcement of those orders, and provide civil remedies including the seizure of property and bank accounts and the suspension of driver’s licenses. The speech emphasizes the Saskatchewan Growth Plan which targets by 2030 growing the population to 1.4 million, creating 100,000 new jobs, increasing exports by 50 per cent and investing $350 billion in infrastructure. “This month, the Premier appointed a Legislative Secretary with the job of examining how Saskatchewan can exercise and strengthen its autonomy within the federation,” the speech noted. It highlighted the court case against the federal carbon tax, the appointment of Saskatchewan’s own chief firearms officer, and the future opening of new trade offices in Japan, India and Singapore. Saskatchewan would also discuss “the possibility of assuming greater control over immigration in Saskatchewan,” it said. The fall sitting is expected to last two weeks. There will be a longer legislative sitting in the spring, when the government will present the 2021-22 provincial budget.Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville held a silent auction to raise money for Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It was Jac’s Boutique employee, McCall Laframboise, who came up with the idea for the auction. Big Sky Ranch is in desperate in need of support, because they had to close their doors to the public due to the pandemic. This meant that many of their programs, which usually help with fundraising throughout the year, had to be cancelled. “They do great things at Big Sky Ranch,” McCall says. “This way I could support them and support Jac’s Boutique.” Big Sky Ranch’s Office Manager, Pauline Lafleur, says they were thrilled when McCall reached out to them to offer their support. “We were very happy and grateful that the animals were remembered, even though we have been closed since March because of COVID-19,” she says. “The animals are still in people’s hearts!” Jac’s Boutique ran the auction through their Facebook page and raised $655, with everything going for above the starting bid. Owner, Jackie Taylor, decided to match the dollars raised, bringing the grand total to $1,310. “It feels amazing, especially around the holidays,” McCall says about the success of the auction. “I know they need food for the animals, and it’s great that we were able to help out in this way.” This time of year is difficult for the sanctuary, because of higher costs. They also have to keep in mind that hay will have to be ordered for the spring, so this auction couldn’t have come at a better time. “We are humbled and amazed by the dedication, generous hearts, kindness, and community spirit of everyone in Kemptville, and all the surrounding communities,” Pauline says. Big Sky Ranch is still open for adoptions and surrenders, and they currently have about 119 animals at the sanctuary, most of whom are now in the barns for the winter. The ranch has been in operation for 15 years and has found forever homes for over 3,500 animals, and housed many others who needed a safe, comfortable place to spend the rest of their lives. They are currently in need of Lysol wipes, Clorox bleach spray, and bleach, as well as feed for the animals, which can be purchased at Willows Agriservices in the South Gower Business Park. Monetary donations can also be made through their website www.bigskyranch.ca.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
VICTORIA — A former judge says she found widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system where extensive negative profiling of Indigenous patients affects treatment and care.Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Monday she could not confirm allegations of an organized game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients in B.C. emergency departments, but found extensive harmful profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions and parenting. The former Saskatchewan provincial court judge and one-time children's advocate in B.C. was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix in June to investigate the guessing-game allegations and conduct a broader examination of Indigenous racism in provincial health care."Indigenous people consistently told us, and this was confirmed by the health-care workers who responded and the cases, that they are subjected to negative assumptions, negative assumptions based on prejudice, based on racism, based on beliefs that should not exist in our health-care system," Turpel-Lafond said at a news conference.She said 84 per cent of the review's Indigenous respondents reported some form of discrimination in health care and 52 per cent of Indigenous health-care workers said they experienced racial prejudice at work, mostly in the form of comments."Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in our health-care system today is that Indigenous patients and people are less worthy," Turpel-Lafond said. "That they are alcoholics. That they're drug seeking."These negative assumptions lead to the denial and delay of patient services, and cause some people to stay away from hospitals to avoid further incidents of discriminatory treatment, she said.Indigenous people told the review they feared hospitals and would rather face uncertain health than return to get care, said Turpel-Lafond.The review heard from nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health-care workers. It also examined the health-care data of about 185,000 First Nations and Metis patients.Turpel-Lafond's report makes 24 recommendations. They include bringing in measures and legislation to change behaviour and the appointment of three new positions to focus on the problem, including an Indigenous health officer and an associate deputy minister of Indigenous health.The report also said the government should work with Indigenous organizations to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic racism specifically experienced by Indigenous people, as well as create a new school of Indigenous medicine at the University of British Columbia.Dix said B.C. will work to implement the recommendations and the review's findings will be felt across the country."Racism is toxic for people and it's toxic for care," he said. "I want to make an unequivocal apology as the minister of health to those who have experienced racism in accessing health-care services in B.C., now and in the past."The First Nations Leadership Council, comprising several B.C. Indigenous organizations and Metis Nation B.C., called on the government to act."These are the voices of our families and our relatives and they have to be heard," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said in a statement. "They can no longer be silenced by a narrative of indifference and negligence and a culture of low expectations."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
Strathmore has moved to make its fire department more diverse and inclusive by hiring a deputy fire chief to a new recruitment position. Laurie VandeSchoot, the town’s new assistant chief of diversity, inclusion and recruiting, was introduced during the regular Strathmore town council meeting on Nov. 18. VandeSchoot is a municipal government, change management and strategic planning specialist with a 28-year career with the City of Calgary who also consults internationally and locally and instructs at Bow Valley College in Calgary. “Laurie is known for building inclusive and high-performance cultures that strengthens communities,” said Judy Unsworth, Strathmore Fire Department deputy chief, during the meeting. VandeSchoot has experience in diversity services, equity solutions, mental health, public participation, strategic planning and sustainable development, said Unsworth. Furthermore, VandeSchoot leads the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) diversity leadership program, chairs the International Fire Chiefs human relations committee, and is the national co-chair of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) national subcommittee on diversity inclusion, among other leadership roles. “Under the direction of chief (Trent) West, I am super excited about what we can do here in Strathmore,” said VandeSchoot. “I’m passionate, as you can tell, about diversity and inclusion – it’s kind of my lifeblood. When we talk about diversity, inclusion and recruitment, diversity and inclusion is our purpose, recruitment is where we start from.” Diversity is about more than numbers, she added. “It’s not just about how many people you have that are different, it’s about that sense of belonging, it’s about that sense of inclusion and how we can create a culture of openness, belonging and wellness.” The hiring of VandeSchoot highlights the importance of welcoming all people to Strathmore’s community and environment, said Strathmore town Councillor Denise Peterson. “It shows that we’re not just saying these things, that we’re actually taking action to embrace inclusion and to break down those barriers that we’ve seen.” Peterson added the position will help develop partnerships with Siksika Nation.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the third Georgia congressman to contract the virus.Scott's chief of staff Jason Lawrence confirmed the positive test result in a statement on Monday and said the Republican is “following guidance from the House Attending Physician as well as his personal physician.”Scott represents Georgia's 8th District, which stretches through the interior of south Georgia. The statement from Lawrence did not say if Scott was experiencing symptoms.All three Georgia congressman who've tested positive for the virus have been Republicans.Rep. Rick Allen announced last week that he had tested positive for the virus.Rep. Drew Ferguson tested positive in October after experiencing mild symptoms. He had appeared at an indoor rally with Gov. Brian Kemp days before the November election, sending the Republican governor into quarantine. Kemp never tested positive.U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler had isolated after she got a positive COVID-19 test earlier this month, but later received two negative tests and quickly returned to public campaigning ahead of her Jan. 5 runoff against Democrat Raphael Warnock.The Associated Press
Despite a "significant outbreak" of COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre, there are reports of inmates being triple-bunked, according to defence lawyers sounding the alarm on conditions at the northwest facility. During her afternoon update, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw identified 41 cases at CRC, up from just three last Tuesday.According to a report prepared last week, the CRC has capacity for 34 infected inmates.The CRC is now on total lockdown. Inmates who are mid-trial — including one murder trial — are not allowed to leave the CRC for court and even CCTV appearances have been cancelled. CRC is a secure holding facility for those awaiting trial or a bail hearing. Many, if not all, of the inmates there have not been convicted of the charges they are facing. "It's grossly negligent," said Tom Engel, an Edmonton defence lawyer and president of the Canadian Prison Law Association."It's disturbing to hear about a client triple-bunking and someone tests positive, and they just leave them in that situation. I don't know how they could think this is appropriate."Engel called it a "significant outbreak" taking place in several units. Hinshaw said AHS is working to ensure strict protocols are maintained with aggressive testing underway.Masks are just now being provided to inmates. Previously, only those leaving the facility would have access to a mask.Defence lawyer Chad Haggerty says he has a client who is triple-bunked with new protocols only allowing inmates allowed to leave their cells for 1.5 to 2 hours a day.Alberta Health Services has previously stated provincial facilities are complying with COVID-19 safety protocols but some inmates say that's not the case. "I keep hearing from prisoners that what the government and AHS are saying about compliance with COVID protocols in Alberta jails is just completely false."New transfers to the Calgary Remand Centre spend 14 days on a quarantine unit. If they develop symptoms, they're moved to an isolation unit.The director of the Calgary Remand Centre was scheduled to meet with the Health Ministry Monday afternoon.
What happens when you’ve just returned to your remote community with your newborn? Or if something comes up during your pregnancy and it’s the middle of the night? Where do you go for support? To help answer some of those very questions, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) launched a ‘Maternity and Babies Advice Line’ for Indigenous families in B.C., available 24-7. “With babies and moms, things can happen anytime,” says Dr. Unjali Malhotra, medical director for women’s health at FNHA. FNHA worked with Rural Community Coordination to provide a service to help pregnant and new parents, guardians, and caregivers of newborns. Both family members and health care providers can receive support via the advice line. Doctors will provide advice on urgent and non-urgent maternal and child health topics, Malhotra says, which can include pregnancy, birth, newborn, and postpartum care. The doctors can also arrange referrals to obstetricians or pediatricians, if needed. “I come from a rural community,” says Malhotra, who grew up in Cree/Dene territory, in Northern Saskatchewan. “It's really near and dear to my heart that rural remote communities have equitable access to care, and that’s often not the case, particularly with COVID-19.” Approximately 30 per cent of Indigenous people in B.C. live in rural areas, according to 2016 census highlights, and while Zoom may be popular during this pandemic, 75 per cent of Indigenous communities in B.C. do not have the basic standards of the internet, according to First Nations Technology Council. “It can be very scary for moms and families and communities to have pregnancy concerns or newborn concerns, and potentially no services available to them,” Malhotra adds. The goal was an advice line that offered exceptional service, which includes making it accessible and culturally-safe, she says. “We spoke to as many providers that we knew that offer culturally-safe care, and that were also experts in primary care and obstetrics. We have family doctors who are also obstetricians, and midwives answering the phones,” she explains. The advice line is set up as a triad delivery service, which means people access it with their care provider. The primary care provider sets up an appointment with the advice-line doctor, and attends the appointment with the patient.” “The provider in the community can be your midwife, your doula, your family, doctor, or a traditional healer, whoever is important to you and leading within your community,” says Malhotra. “We would, of course take any call, because the number is publicly available through phone or zoom, but we prefer to have a provider with that patient. What if someone doesn’t have the internet, or a device? “We also have a phone number,” says Malhotra. “So if someone doesn't have wifi or connectivity, they can certainly phone in.” And what if someone doesn’t have minutes on their phone? “That’s our next step,” says Malhotra. She explains the idea was planted in May, funding came quickly, and the team were able to get the advice line up and running by August, but there’s room for growth. “Our next steps, I don’t know in what order yet, would be text and patient direct contact,” she adds. The majority of the providers that participants would connect with work in rural and remote communities, says Malhotra. “Many we have are in First Nations communities and we deliberately invited the providers one by one that we knew are currently offering culturally safe care within their communities,” she explains. “We spoke to as many providers that we knew that offer culturally-safe care, that were also experts in primary care and obstetrics.” Most providers have more than 10 years experience within their communities, and are beloved in their communities, she explains, which is an important aspect of meaningful support. \----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced.Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse