Bioethics and Global health professor at the University of Toronto Kerry Bowman talks about the ethical concerns that surround the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bioethics and Global health professor at the University of Toronto Kerry Bowman talks about the ethical concerns that surround the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
People across Saskatchewan are still assessing the damage after a storm ravaged the province overnight. Alex Getzlaf owns a business in Corinne, Sask., that was damaged by the wind. He said they had seen weather damage before, but not like this. "[I] pulled up to the overhead shop door, and I was like, 'Oh crap. I need a new door,' and then I got out of the truck and looked, and I was like, 'Oh. I need a new shop,'" he said Thursday in a Skype interview. "Looked like you opened up a can of tuna to me." The RM of Bratt's Lake, where Getzlaf's shop is, had wind gusts of 143 km/h. If the storm had been rated on the Enhanced Fujita scale for rating tornadoes, it would be an EF-1. The Moose Jaw Airport recorded gusts of 161 km/h. "It's one of those things you know. You've been in business this long and you get to the point where you've created your clientele and things are going pretty smooth and then Mother Nature has different plans for you, I guess," he said. Getzlaf said they lost some smaller supplies that blew away in the wind, and things in the shop are chaotic: there are bins full of snow and fabric rolls that were tipped over. He's hopeful his customers will be back, even if the cleanup and potential rebuild takes some time. Overall, he's keeping a positive attitude. "If you can't laugh, you can't live, so what the hell," he said. Bernard Novak farms in the RM of Bratt's Lake. On Thursday morning, his yard was a disaster area. "From the neighbour's to my vicinity here, roofs are gone, chimneys off houses, one of the neighbours lost the large bi-fold doors off of their equipment shed, that sort of thing," he said in an interview. Novak has lived in the area his whole life. He said he could only think of one other weather event that compared to this. About 10 years ago, a plough wind came through and flattened several barns. The damage was severe then, too. "We certainly don't need that kind of wind again," he said. Buildings like grain bins and greenhouses really don't fare well in this type of weather, he added. The City of Regina was busy Thursday, as well. The pedway across 11th Avenue between Cornwall Centre and the Bank of Montreal building along with the greenhouse at the Regina Floral Conservatory were damaged. As of Thursday morning, the city had gotten calls about 75 trees that were damaged or that had fallen over. SaskTel is also still experiencing problems. "Where it is safe to do so, SaskTel will continue to connect generators to our network sites and to high priority wireless sites to ensure services continue to operate normally," a news release reads in part. "However, we anticipate there will be more service failures as our back-up batteries lose life and fail if we are unable to connect generators." Here's what's impacted: Landline services in Beechy, Elrose, Macoun and Kyle. Cellular services around Beechy, Dinsmore, Elrose and Kyle. maxTV and internet services where there is no power may also be impacted. There is no estimated time of repair.
Québec souhaite mettre en valeur la participation et le leadership des femmes et des filles dans les secteurs du sport, du plein air et de l’activité physique. C’est pourquoi il fait appel à la Fondation Québec en forme, devenue M361, dont le siège social est à Trois-Rivières, pour la mise en place d’une stratégie globale de mobilisation en collaboration avec le ministère de l’Éducation. Le gouvernement a fait connaître son intention dans le cadre d’une annonce de recrutement d’organismes ciblés possédant l’expertise des enjeux liés aux femmes dans les secteurs du sport, du plein air et de l’activité physique. Son choix s’est arrêté sur Québec en forme à la suite d’un accord de gré à gré. Québec en forme était une organisation québécoise fondée en 2002, issue d’une entente de partenariat de 480 millions $ entre la Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon et le gouvernement du Québec. Son mandat était de promouvoir la bonne forme physique et la saine alimentation auprès des enfants de 0 à 17 ans. En septembre 2019, Québec en forme devient M361. Elle se transforme en une toute nouvelle organisation et redirige ses activités vers l’activité physique et la saine alimentation. En vertu du mandat accordé, M361 devra recruter des partenaires et experts oeuvrant en sport, plein air et activité physique pour la mise en commun des stratégies favorisant le recrutement et la rétention des femmes et des filles dans les domaines du sport, du plein air et de l’activité physique. Pour ce faire, ils devront valoriser et mettre en lumière des modèles féminins dans ces secteurs d’activité. Parmi les organismes ciblés figurent Égale Action et Fillactive. Le travail consistera à élaborer une image de marque pour lancer et accompagner la stratégie globale, produire des outils promotionnels, incluant une vidéo ainsi qu’un événement de lancement, tout en assurant le développement d’un site Web. Le projet doit prendre son envol l’automne prochain pour une période de deux ans. Malgré nos demandes d’entrevue par courriel, il n’a pas été possible de discuter avec la direction de M361 pour obtenir plus de détails.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The McKellar Firefighter Association wants to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by volunteering to flood private skating rinks for McKellar residents. At McKellar's Jan. 12 council meeting, Coun. Don Carmichael commented that it was acting fire chief Ron Harrison’s idea. “We have very little public ice available,” said Carmichael. “And now (with) further restrictions of only five people can be together on an ice surface at any point in time, we have two options. One would be to flood public grounds which we would be responsible for or we can flood private grounds which is the responsibility of the homeowner.” In a report submitted to council, Ron Harrison wrote to request the use of the apparatus and equipment to assist in the initial flooding of at-home rinks to provide an opportunity for ratepayers to have additional activities to do at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. “This is a fantastic initiative brought forth that will help the ratepayers of McKellar (by) staying home and skating,” Harrison said. “This will also pose benefit in the reduction of pressure on our municipal rink and reduce the use of the lake ice which can be unpredictable.” According to Carmichael, the fire department would be using the secondary tanker and portable pumps and said the initiative could be used as a training opportunity for the firefighters as well. “It would be another training opportunity to be doing this in freezing conditions which we don’t normally do unless in the event of a real fire,” he said. “So, this is a winter training opportunity in addition to providing a service to our private landowners.” But could it affect fire department response times? Coun. Marco Ancinelli, who is also a firefighter for McKellar, said that it wouldn’t as the fire department wouldn’t be using the main equipment. “It’s a different animal all together when you’re fighting a fire in the summertime or in the winter time so I think it’s great practice,” said Ancinelli. However, David Moore, a McKellar ratepayer, questioned the cost the township could incur with usage of the machinery that has been paid for by ratepayers. “Taking expensive township equipment onto private property seems to have insurance claim written all over it,” said Moore. “Should a malfunction or breakage occur, is there enough available equipment to contend with the next fire call?” But Carmichael said during the meeting that township staff had contacted the insurance carrier who provided suggestions on what landowners should be doing. For a ratepayer to have the fire department provide the initial flooding of their private rink, they must reach out to the township and request to have their rink flooded. Ratepayers will have to provide a site plan, sign a waiver and follow a checklist. The procedure also includes a visit from the fire department to ensure it can be done safely. While some ratepayers expressed their concerns online, Coun. Mike Kekkonen said that he thinks council has covered the due diligence aspect with any liability concerns. “With that, I feel comfortable with the firefighters giving their time,” said Kekkonen. “Some people might say that there’s a cost but then again if a child or a family gets a skating rink and have an enjoyable winter, that’s priceless.” Council voted unanimously in favour of the resolution approving the fire department to utilize the apparatus at the discretion of the acting fire chief to provide a free service to McKellar residents to flood ice rinks on private property. The fire department volunteer staff will not be paid an hourly rate nor accumulate points for this activity. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
COVID-19. La Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) demeure vivement préoccupée par l'état des entreprises québécoises et s'inquiète pour la survie de plusieurs. Elle accueille tout de même favorablement l'ouverture du gouvernement pour maintenir certaines activités économiques tout en rappelant qu'une aide financière directe plus importante que ce qui a été annoncé par le passé devrait être prévue. «Les Québécois sont fatigués. La situation actuelle est extrêmement difficile pour de trop nombreux secteurs économiques et les annonces d'aujourd'hui sont un autre coup dur pour des milliers d'entrepreneurs. Nous reconnaissons toutefois que les décisions du gouvernement visent à maintenir le plus d'activités économiques possible sans nuire aux efforts pour lutter contre le virus, notamment pour le secteur manufacturier et celui de la construction. Les entrepreneurs québécois ont fait d'énormes efforts pour rendre les lieux de travail les plus sécuritaires possible. Voici leur chance d'en faire la démonstration», souligne Charles Milliard, président-directeur général de la FCCQ pour qui le gouvernement doit maintenant plancher sur deux priorités nationales : maximiser la distribution et l'administration des vaccins et s'assurer que les aides de soutien aux entreprises soient les plus directes et les plus efficaces possible. «Le gouvernement doit présenter et exécuter rapidement un plan de vaccination cohérent et efficace. En plus de pouvoir compter sur les professionnels de la santé, il devrait aussi prêter rapidement l'oreille aux offres d'aide du secteur privé pour accélérer la vaccination de la population», indique-t-il. Par ailleurs, pour couvrir un maximum d'entreprises ayant besoin d'une aide financière pour survivre, l'enveloppe globale devrait être augmentée et la notion d'aide directe devrait être privilégiée selon le réseau de 130 chambres de commerce et 1 100 membres corporatifs. «Le surendettement des entreprises était déjà une réalité bien présente qui sera aggravée par ces fermetures prolongées de plusieurs entreprises. La situation est exceptionnelle et impose des mesures exceptionnelles comme le couvre-feu, mais nos entreprises n'ont plus la capacité de s'endetter davantage et le gouvernement doit en tenir compte», précise Charles Milliard. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Municipalities lost revenue in the first year of the pandemic and faced COVID-related costs for such things as masks and plexiglass, but if they hired fewer summer students, cancelled events or found ways to cut costs, many of them couldn't get federal aid from the province. Thirty-eight municipalities didn't bother applying for aid after realizing the decisions they had to make to balance their budgets would make them ineligible under the province's rules. Ottawa allotted New Brunswick $41.1 million for local governments as its share of a $2 billion national rescue package announced in July 2020. Of the 104 municipalities in the province, 66 applied for some help, and all but one received it. Saint John topped the list with $3.37 million in relief, Moncton is set to receive $2.56 million, and Fredericton $1.12 million. The Village of Gagetown, at the bottom of the list, received $460. Sackville's entire claim of $290,000 was denied. "We were a bit frustrated with the lack of clarity around, you know, eligible and ineligible expenses," said Jamie Burke, Sackville's chief administrative officer. He said two town employees spent days poring over the budget, looking at COVID expenses and costs to submit to the province. "It was a considerable amount of work, you know, a considerable work that was there was unsuccessful," said Burke. Like many municipalities, Sackville saved money cancelling events and programs and hiring fewer summer students. Burke said the town submitted costs for such things as masks, sanitizer, plexiglass and setting up a welcome centre for Mount Allison University students in the fall to make sure they had the resources and information to isolate properly if necessary. "Which we felt was really important for the community safety perspective," said Burke. Those expenses were acceptable to the province, but other costs, such as lost productivity and a summer concert on Silver Lake were not. 38 municipalities don't apply Riverview was among the municipalities that didn't go after the federal money. CAO Colin Smith said that looking at the provincial guidelines, the town knew it wouldn't get any. "We're not going to run a deficit for the year and we manage our expenses, so we didn't feel we were in a position to go and submit based on the criteria that the province had put forward," he said. Smith said the town did have a number of expenses, but the greater loss was in programs and events. "While it wasn't a financial loss, it was a loss in services that people didn't see in the community." Challenges different for small centres The City of Moncton asked for $2.9 million and received $2.5 million. Isabelle LeBlanc, director of corporate communications, wrote that one item claimed by the city was denied, but overall she said, the process wasn't too complicated. "We have been tracking the impacts of COVID throughout the year, and we had a lot of the information required already at our disposal," said LeBlanc. But as Margot Cragg, executive director of the Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick said, smaller centres have fewer staff and, "more work gets piled onto onto a smaller and smaller group of administrators." This made compiling the information more difficult for some smaller municipalities. Cragg said it's also important to point out that, "municipalities, as a level of government aren't allowed, by legislation, to run operational deficits." When COVID looked as it was going to cost money, local governments had to act fast because they can't go into the red. "Think of things that look like savings but really represent services that were cut, people that unfortunately didn't have jobs," said Margot. She said some municipalities could have made different choices if they'd known how much of the federal money they were getting. But Cragg does credit the province with giving security to the municipalities in their biggest budget item: property taxes. "In New Brunswick, the province guaranteed municipalities property taxes and that's a big deal," she said. Across Canada, some local governments have to collect property taxes themselves. If citizens are struggling to pay them, the village, town or city goes without. In New Brunswick, the province does this. "They weren't in the situation of literally having to scramble to keep the lights on, this was the situation of other provinces around the country." Another difference is that most provinces paid the federal money out shortly after it was received on a per-capita basis, but New Brunswick went a slower route. Daniel Allain, the minister of local government, said the process was set up to make sure those who needed the most received the most. He said places like Sackville didn't get money because they showed a surplus rather than a deficit. "It was really easy to follow or we weren't overbearing, it wasn't complicated, it was very simple," said Allain. After going over all the applications, a little less than $30 million is left over. Allain said it will be dispersed to all 104 municipalities on a per-capita basis in the next few weeks.
The regular weekly price review of petroleum product prices by P.E.I.'s Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission saw some big increases overnight. The minimum price of a litre of regular, self-serve gasoline is up four cents Friday morning to $1.11. Following a collapse at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, prices for gas rose to hover around a dollar for much of the spring and fall. They fell into the low 90s in early November, but have been on a steady rise since. The minimum price of a litre of diesel is up five cents to $1.16. The maximum price for heating oil is up 4.4 cents to $0.85. Propane prices were also up across the board, and varied by retailer. Irving: up 2.9 cents. Island Petroleum: Up 3.3 cents. Kenmac: Up 3.5 cents. Noonan: Up 3.5 cents. Superior: up 4.4 cents. The next scheduled price review is Jan. 22. More from CBC P.E.I.
One January night at the COVID-19 checkstop at Kahkewistahaw First Nation, about 150 km east of Regina, security worker Mike Bitternose put on his red basketball shorts, an orange tied-at-the-midriff safety vest and his granddaughter's heart-shaped sunglasses. Then he started to dance for the camera. In the resulting video, which has been shared on social media more than 5,000 times, Rod Stewart's Da Ya Think I'm Sexy plays in the background while Bitternose dances toward the camera with a red, handheld stop sign. "I never, ever thought that I would do something like it," Bitternose said with a laugh, during an interview this week about the video. "The outfit that I had on was just a spur of the moment thing." Bitternose works in Kahkewistahaw but is originally from the George Gordon First Nation, about 200 km northwest. Like many First Nations, Kahkewistahaw has implemented check-in stops at its border during the COVID-19 pandemic to screen people as they come into the community. Bitternose did the dance as part of the #RezSecurityChallenge, a social media trend that started late last year to inspire people working at COVID-19 checkstops on First Nations. It can be a tough job, the stops aren't always welcomed by people coming in. Bitternose said he was inspired to join the challenge after seeing a security guard from another First Nation dancing in a video. He almost backed down, but went for it. "If it ever came down to it, I would do something like it again," Bitternose said. "I can't save the whole world. But I can be there for my team. Always be there from my team, day and night." He said he's feeling sorry he didn't wear a mask for the video challenge. He said he normally wears one, and always does when working security. 'It's not getting any easier' The pandemic has not been easy for First Nations, and Bitternose said he wanted to do something to lift up his security team. "It's not getting any easier with this, with everything. It's a challenge," Bitternose said. "A lot of our elderly people are really facing it in the hardest of times. And it's something that we have to recognize as a nation." The First Nation has put in protective rules such as an overnight curfew order to help prevent spread of the virus. Bitternose said he didn't expect the video to go viral. That night, after the camera was off and the song ended, jigging music blasted from the speakers and six other security members joined in for a jigging dance, he said. We need laughter. As Indigenous people, we believe that laughing is our medicine. - Shauna Taypotat Security worker Shayna Taypotat was one of the people who videotaped Bitternose dancing. She said the group wanted to join the challenge because the community has been going through a difficult time. "There's a lot of tragedies and things going on here and so we're kind of having a hard time. So we decided just to do it because we need laughter," she said. "As Indigenous people, we believe that laughing is our medicine." The community recently lost a member — a 52-year-old previously healthy man — to COVID-19. In a social media post, Chief Evan Taypotat said the man was exposed at a housewarming party. In that post, the chief said that as of Jan. 12 there were 14 active cases on the First Nation and that 30 people were waiting for test results. Moments of joy Shayna Taypotat said the death left a dark feeling in the community. "Everyone's scared," she said. "It's very scary." Little moments of joy make help, said Shayna Taypotat, who also said she hopes the video helps community members appreciate what the security guards do. She said people don't usually like being asked the COVID-screening questions, even though the purpose is to keep community members safe. The job can take a toll on security guards, she said. Bitternose said other security groups should join in and issued a challenge to other dancers: "I will do another challenge if you can beat this one." CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
OTTAWA — Harvest Meats is recalling a brand of Polish sausages due to undercooking that may make them unsafe to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the recall affects customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. It covers Harvest brand Polish sausages in 675-gram packages with a March 15 best before date. Customers are advised to throw away or return the product. The agency says no illnesses have been reported. A food safety investigation is ongoing. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is nominating New York emergency department commissioner Deanne Criswell to serve as the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and has tapped former CIA deputy director David Cohen to return to the agency in the same role he served during the Obama administration. The picks, along with a trio of other new nominations confirmed to The Associated Press by the Biden team, come as the president-elect is putting a premium on experience, and perhaps familiarity, as he looks to fill out top positions at federal agencies with less than a week to go before his inauguration. Biden also is tapping former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to help lead the COVID-19 vaccine drive. Kessler has been advising Biden as a co-chair of his advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. The pick of Kessler comes after Biden on Thursday called the Trump administration’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure” and says he will unveil his own plans on Friday to speed up inoculations. Criswell, who also spent more than five years in top posts at FEMA during the Obama administration, is the first woman nominated to head the agency, whose primary responsibility is to co-ordinate responses to major disasters inside the United States that require federal attention. Nancy Ward served as the agency's acting administrator in the early months of the Obama administration before his pick, Craig Fugate, could be confirmed. Cohen, who was deputy CIA director from 2015 to 2017, has travelled the world for years tracking money flowing to terror groups, such as the Islamic State group, and other bad actors on the international stage. His work directing the Treasury Department’s intelligence unit earlier in his career earned him the nicknames of “financial batman” and “sanctions guru.” In 2019, Cohen, who has been leading the financial and business integrity group at the law firm WilmerHale, made a cameo appearance on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Nominees are required to disclose details of their finances and complete ethics agreements as part of the confirmation process. Once confirmed, federal ethics laws can require the officials to recuse themselves from working on issues that could impact their previous business interests. Biden throughout the 2020 campaign lashed at President Donald Trump, saying he eroded public trust in government. Biden pledged his team will abide by “the highest ethical standards.” Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, but his firm does millions of dollars in lobbying work each year on behalf of clients that include the Beer Institute, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Walgreens and American Financial Group. The president-elect is also nominating Shalanda Young, the top staff aide for the House Appropriations Committee, to serve as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and Jason Miller, who was deputy director of the White House National Economic Council in Obama's administration, to serve as deputy director for management at the agency. Young brings a wealth of Capitol Hill experience in budget policy — and politics — to the budget office, along with close relationships with powerful House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Miller was steeped in manufacturing policy in the Obama administration, including an update of automobile fuel efficiency standards. Biden is tapping Janet McCabe, an environmental law and policy expert who spent more than seven years as a top official at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration to return to the agency as deputy administrator. “Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans,” Biden said of his picks in a statement. “I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Criswell has served as New York City’s emergency management commissioner since June 2019. In her earlier work at FEMA, Criswell served as the leader of one of the agency’s National Incident Management Assistance Teams and as a federal co-ordinating officer. In New York, part of her duties included leading the co-ordination of the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between her stints at FEMA and in New York, Criswell was a principal at Cadmus Group, a firm that provides homeland security management consulting and training services for federal, state and local government agencies and private sector companies. The company made about $68 million between the time she joined the firm in 2017 and when she left in June 2019, according to a tabulation of contract spending data from the site USASpending.gov. She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado. Criswell also served in the Colorado Air National Guard, including 21 years as a firefighter and deputy fire chief with deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq. ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
Estonian company Single.Earth has raised millions of dollars to buy forests and wetlands, it said on Friday, aiming to tap into a rapidly growing carbon-offset market and public concern over the amount of logging in the country. The company is a digital platform for landowners that connects them with businesses that will pay them to preserve trees to balance out their own carbon footprints and become "carbon neutral". It could be fertile ground, given the global carbon-offset market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2050, from 600 million in 2019, according to Berenberg forecasts.
Russia announced on Friday it was pulling out of the Open Skies treaty, saying that the pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, had been seriously compromised by the withdrawal of the United States. The move, announced by Russia's foreign ministry, comes days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration amid fears of a burgeoning arms race. Moscow's last major nuclear arms pact with Washington is set to expire next month.
ENVIRONNEMENT. La MRC de la Haute-Yamaska a déposé son bilan de mi-parcours 2019 du Plan directeur de l’eau 2017-2021. Ce plan d’évaluation et d’intervention lancé en 2017 est financé par le Fonds vert. Il a été voté il y a treize ans par le conseil des maires de la MRC. Près de 1,24 M$ seront investis entre 2017 et 2021 dans les huit municipalités du territoire. De ce budget, 200 000 $ ont été dépensés en 2019. «La MRC a activement poursuivi son engagement en matière environnementale, par la mise en œuvre d’actions concrètes pour la santé des lacs et des cours d’eau en Haute-Yamaska. Autant en matière de protection des bandes riveraines, de mise à niveau des installations septiques, de lutte à la pollution ou de contrôle de l’érosion, voire de conservation volontaire des milieux naturels», précise Valérie-Anne Bachand, inspectrice en environnement et chef de projet pour le Plan directeur de l’eau. «Ça contribue à atténuer les impacts des changements climatiques sur les milieux hydriques.» La MRC a été productive. Elle affirme avoir pu compléter près de 92 % des 60 interventions qu’elle souhaitait mener en 2019 dans le cadre de son Plan directeur de l’eau (PDE) 2017-2021 — Pour des lacs et des cours d’eau en santé en Haute-Yamaska. Selon son dernier bilan, plus de 81 % des bandes riveraines du territoire sont aujourd’hui conformes, même si 350 avis d’infraction ont été envoyés aux nouveaux propriétaires riverains au printemps 2019. Par ailleurs, de nombreux efforts ont été déployés pour sensibiliser les propriétaires à la pollution, à l’érosion et à la végétalisation des berges. Plus de 1 600 arbustes ont été distribués. La MRC a aussi versé 25 000 $ à l’OBV Yamaska pour soutenir le projet collectif d’amélioration de la qualité de l’eau en milieu agricole du bassin versant du lac Boivin. La MRC en a profité pour procéder à la caractérisation et à la mise à niveau des installations septiques de la région. Près de 88 % des installations non conformes répertoriées depuis 2010, ont été corrigées ou sont en voie de l’être. «C’est un très bon bilan considérant ce que ça représente comme coûts pour les propriétaires.» Des centaines d’hectares protégés Un projet triennal mené avec la collaboration de la Fondation SÉTHY a permis «entre 2017 et 2019 de signer 55 ententes visant la conservation volontaire de 865 hectares en Haute-Yamaska» et «55 hectares d’écosystèmes à haute valeur écologique seront aussi protégés à perpétuité grâce à la négociation d’ententes de conservation légale entre la Fondation SÉTHY et des propriétaires privés.» Près de 35 000 $ ont été accordés à la Fondation SÉTHY dans le cadre de ce projet de conservation des milieux naturels. La qualité de l’eau est considérée comme généralement bonne, selon les analyses réalisées dans 92 % des 24 stations d’échantillonnage des eaux de surface du territoire, notamment en ce qui a trait à la présence de coliformes fécaux « à l’exception de deux stations dont la qualité de l’eau est ressortie mauvaise ou douteuse (en amont et en aval de la station d’épuration de la Ville de Granby)», écrit-on dans ce rapport. Ceci ne veut pas dire pour autant que Granby ne répond pas aux normes en la matière, précise Valérie-Anne Bachand. «Concernant les résultats du programme d’échantillonnage (dont des coliformes fécaux), le temps généralement plus sec, lors des prélèvements de 2019, pourrait avoir contribué à réduire le taux de dilution de certaines sources d’apports ponctuels (dont les rejets d’eaux usées municipales)», explique Mme Bachand. Une mise à niveau prochaine de la station d’épuration de Granby devrait permettre d’améliorer ces chiffres. Sinon, la quantité de phosphore présent dans l’eau s’améliore. Mais environ 70 % des stations sont encore affectées par une concentration élevée en phosphore total (qualité mauvaise ou douteuse). «On poursuit la mise en œuvre du Plan d’action. Lutter contre la pollution diffuse, l’érosion des berges et protéger les milieux humides figure en tête de liste des priorités de la MRC. «C’est un beau plan d’action qu’on a devant nous», conclut Valérie-Anne Bachand, chef de projet pour le Plan directeur de l’eau, pour la MRC de la Haute-Yamaska. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
The top RCMP officer in the Moncton region was again questioned about why the force isn't ticketing anti-mask demonstrators apparently defying provincial emergency measures meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Irwin Lampert, a retired provincial court judge who sits on the Codiac Regional Policing Authority board, questioned the RCMP's approach to anti-mask rallies that have occurred in Moncton as recently as Sunday. "If you heard the premier and the chief medical health officer [Thursday], they were almost begging for people to co-operate and wear masks to social distance and follow the rules," Lampert said during a policing authority board meeting Thursday evening. "And here we have a group of maybe 20 to 40 people in front of Ciy Hall making fun of the whole idea." Under the orange recovery phase in effect provincewide, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and masks are required outside when physical distancing can't be maintained. He said businesses are being fined and closed for not following the rules, but RCMP officers are only watching the protests. "I don't know why, at the very least, they're not being ticketed," Lampert said. "I don't think they should be able to stand there and make fun of the whole thing when people in the province are getting sick and dying." Codiac Regional RCMP Supt. Tom Critchlow, the commanding officer of the detachment policing Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, said officers observed the protest and have tried to educate protestors. "It's a measured approach, trying to look at the bigger picture, ensuring that everybody's safety is first and foremost," Critchlow told the board that oversees Codiac RCMP. He said ticketing isn't always the best method. "I'm not saying that we won't. It's done on a case-by-case situation." Public Health reported 23 new cases in New Brunswick on Thursday. There have been 12 deaths, and three patients are currently hospitalized. Premier Blaine Higgs said at an afternoon news conference that the majority of New Brunswickers are following the rules, but "we still don't see the compliance we need to." The premier warned that moving back to the red level "is indeed a possibility" if that doesn't change. "That's why the enforcement is going to ramp up and we're going to become a whole lot more serious about people that are not following the rules," Higgs told CBC's Power and Politics on Thursday. Critchlow said police need to respect protesters' rights but will ticket if necessary. He said several of those who attended Sunday's protest have been ticketed in other circumstances for violations of the province's emergency measures order. Critchlow wasn't able to offer more specific details Thursday evening. RCMP in New Brunswick have previously declined to tell CBC how many tickets the force has issued in the province for COVID-19 violations.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he hoped positive steps will be taken on Turkey's role in the F-35 jet programme once U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, describing Ankara's exclusion for purchasing Russian defences as a "serious wrong". Last month, Washington imposed long-anticipated sanctions on Turkey's defence industry over its acquisition of S-400 missile defence systems from Moscow, in a move Turkey called a "grave mistake". The United States has also removed fellow NATO member Turkey from the F-35 programme over the move.
Firefighter Morrison was able to break a path through the ice out to the dog while safely secured by ropes. Just before he got to the dog, it gave out a crying type howl and as soon as he grabbed it, it went completely limp from exhaustion. Video credit Alpena City Firefighters
The first person to die as a result of COVID-19 in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has been identified by family as 53-year-old Eugene Francis. His younger sister, Konzter Gregorie, confirmed his identity to CBC via email after he was reported to have died in an outside hospital from COVID-19-related complications on Jan. 8. Gregorie said her brother was originally from La La Biche, Alta., but had lived in Edmonton since the '90s. People who knew him, posting on Facebook after his death, used his nickname, Magoo. Laugh, love for family won't be forgotten Gregorie said in a text message his memory will live on. "I'll never forget the sound of his laugh," she said. "And he was always very protective about the ones he loved." She said his health deteriorated quickly. "He called and said he had COVID-19 and next thing he was gone, passed away," she said via text, noting it all happened in a "couple of days." Francis' COVID-19 death is the first recorded at the federal facility in Prince Albert and the fourth of an inmate who contracted the virus in a federal prison. Gregorie said the death has been "very emotional" for her and her family, as they hate to think of their brother passing away, "basically alone, with no family." "I pray that no body else has to go through this kind of heartache," she said. Numbers released earlier this week indicate progress is being made on the Saskatchewan Penitentiary outbreak, as active cases continue to fall. As of Jan. 12, Correctional Service Canada data indicates 213 of the 244 cases recorded in the facility — roughly 87 per cent — have recovered, with only 31 listed as active. Saskatchewan is still leading the country when it comes to active COVID-19 cases in federal prisons, followed by Manitoba with 24 cases and Alberta with seven active cases. The Prince Albert outbreak has been extremely difficult for the families of those inside. They say supports and resources are lacking. "I hate it. I hate that my husband's there," said Amber Slippery. She said her husband, Conrad Slippery, contracted COVID-19 in the prison and that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult. Conrad suffered from extreme fatigue as a result of the virus and could hardly leave his cell, she said. She said that while he's sounding better now, the outbreak has been a struggle for her and their two kids. "They're really scared for him," she said. Amber, who works in the health-care sector, said her husband is at high risk due to diabetes. She said he's told her he's had trouble accessing cleaning supplies. Her worries peaked this weekend when Francis's death was reported. "I just never want my husband to die in there too," she said. Amber said her son is also taking the outbreak hard, as the youngster regularly talks to his dad on the phone, a comfort that's become more scarce with outbreak procedures in place. "[My son] cries quite a bit, because he's used to his dad phoning all the time," she said. "The fact that his dad can't call home all the time, and when he can get to call, they're either sleeping or they're at school, so he's really not talking to his kids now and that's affecting them big time." Desperation taking form Bronson Gordon, an inmate at the facility, claims some are getting so desperate to see outbreak procedures ended they are trying to get others infected using what he called a "virus bomb." He said a virus bomb is when an inmate who has tested positive for COVID-19 will cough and sneeze on a piece of property, like a magazine or an article of clothing, and then pass it along to someone else on the range in hope of exposing others. Bronson, who claims he was targeted by a "virus bomb," said the practice started after a guard inside the facility told inmates the only way they'll be able to lift the outbreak procedures is if active cases fall to zero. Bronson said many of those inside are in vulnerable, fragile states as a result of the lock down and are desperate for it to end. "You've got a lot of people who are sitting in here with extreme f--king mental health issues due to this f--cking lockdown," he said. No other sources with knowledge of life in the facility that CBC has spoken to have said they have heard of virus bombs. CSC investigating remarks CBC Saskatchewan requested an interview with a representative from the Saskatchewan Penitentiary about COVID-19 handling at the facility, including allegations of "virus bombs," but Correctional Services Canada (CSC) provided a written statement instead. The statement said CSC takes the allegations outlined by Gordon seriously and will be looking into it. "With regard to remarks to inappropriate staff comments, CSC employees are expected to act according to the highest legal and ethical standards, and are subject to the rules of professional conduct and code of discipline," CSC said. "CSC does not tolerate any breach of its policies and all allegations are thoroughly investigated regardless of the source." The statement said the safety of its employees, offenders and the public remains CSC's "top priority." It also said that while the facility has modified routines, it is not locked down, as lock-down only happens when there is "a clear and substantial danger to safety and security of an institution, staff members, inmates, or to the public." "Given the close living environment, positive inmates and close contacts are medically isolating in their cells. During the isolation period, inmates have access to health care staff as well as institutional staff," the statement said. "Staff and Public Health will determine when it is safe to adjust Saskatchewan Penitentiary's modified routine and allow inmates to have access to standard routines and services again." COVID adds pressure to already-tense environment Pierre Hawkins, public legal counsel for the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan, which advocates for prisoner rights in Canada, said isolation is mentally taxing on inmates to begin with and those stresses are magnified during a global pandemic. "There's no doubt that COVID-19 in the correctional context increases tension among inmates, between inmates and corrections officers and in the facility generally," he said. "We have a population here that disproportionately suffers, not only from mental health issues, but also from a physical vulnerability to complications from the virus. "So you can understand why, that while on lock down with very few things to do, that people just sort of sit and worry and tensions, understandably, build a little bit." Hawkins said he's also heard reports of cleaning supplies being in short supply at the facility, but didn't have specifics. He said it's unfortunate the outbreak at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary was able to spread so quickly, saying he thought the federal government would have been better prepared to handle the situation after dealing with outbreaks at other facilities earlier in the pandemic. "We like to think that lessons would have been learned, that could have been applied at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, I'm not sure that has happened in this case." Back inside the facility, Gordon said he was recently moved to the maximum security portion of the prison, where he says conditions are better. He said he's not trying to cause trouble at the federal penitentiary, but wants to bring attention and hopefully positive change to a situation he feels is inhumane. "All we talked about was: 'F--k, wouldn't it be good to like just go outside and just breathe in fresh air," he said. "All we get is this circulated air and we're stuck in our cell for 23 and a half hours a day."
A former employee of the Surrey Food Bank is speaking out, saying management has done nothing to protect female staff after she was sexually harassed, and then assaulted by a male co-worker in the fall. Janica Izzard began volunteering with the non-profit in December 2019, before being hired on honorarium as its senior registration clerk. She says she was subjected to unwanted advances from her very first shift. "He just came in and was extra friendly and was like, 'Hey, I heard there's a new pretty volunteer,'" said Izzard, 25. "It just continued to ramp up from there." Along with flirtatious comments, Izzard says the man — an older employee who CBC is not naming because he hasn't been charged with a crime — would invade her personal space, brushing up against her and at one point touching her hair. If she tried to set boundaries — telling him to get back to work, that his jokes weren't funny or simply walking away — she says he would get angry, at times calling her "a brat" or suggesting she hug him as atonement. She says she was reluctant to discuss the issues with food bank management, fearing they would be ignored. It was only after a supervisor caught her crying that her concerns were escalated. On Sept. 3, Izzard says the man, a longtime employee, blocked the doorway to the office where she worked. As she tried to enter the room, he grabbed her hands in an attempt to dance with her. She told him to "get off" and ran to another area, but says he followed her. He allegedly continued to touch her, "drawing pictures" on her back despite more requests he stop. She eventually went and hid in a back office, where the supervisor found her, and insisted they report the incident. Izzard took her complaint to Surrey RCMP, who interviewed the male employee and closed the case. Fear of coming forward In an email shared with CBC, Surrey Food Bank manager of volunteer resources Adam Colgrove outlined Izzard's experiences for food bank executives, calling the male employee's behaviour "unacceptable," and suggesting it would "escalate if not addressed." But while executives assured Izzard that they had "dealt with it," she says the behaviour continued. It was only when another employee complained, again on her behalf, that a meeting was scheduled. "I said, 'I'm not satisfied that this is resolved, because he's still doing it,'" said Izzard. She claims no one in the meeting took any notes, but that management promised to talk to the employee. Again the behaviour persisted, so she filed a bullying and harassment claim with WorkSafeBC. The occupational watchdog would not comment on the file, citing privacy concerns. However, an email from Surrey Food Bank executive director Feezah Jaffer shows the non-profit "erred on the side of caution," determining bullying and harassment did occur, and that a formal reprimand would be added to the male employee's file. The non-profit said it also updated its policies according to WorkSafe guidelines, and that a training session for staff is scheduled, but has been delayed until March due to COVID guidelines. Izzard, however, argues the non-profit punished her while refusing to hold her harasser accountable. In a claim with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, she says the food bank covered one of her shifts without explanation shortly after she reported the harassment to WorkSafe; she hasn't been back since. The non-profit claims Izzard was never told directly not to come back, and instead chose not to return. "If I let them get away with it, that's setting the example for every other staff member and volunteer that, hey, if you report something you're probably going to lose your job," said Izzard. She wants the food bank to acknowledge that she was sexually assaulted and to admit her complaint was handled improperly. Current employees, too, worry the accused has been emboldened by the food bank's response. "The harasser has absolutely not changed any of his behaviour," said Sally Lyons, Surrey Food Bank food distribution coordinator. "He made a joke about himself being accused of sexual harassment to me while at work." Clear complaint process recommended Fearing others may face retaliation for speaking out, Izzard filed a complaint with the Food Bank's board of directors. In an email, Surrey Food Bank Society president Sam Sidhu outlined the findings of the resulting investigation, writing that an independent third party determined Izzard's complaint "lacked credibility and that her complaint should be dismissed," despite Jaffer's previous acknowledgement that harassment had occurred. The executive director, meanwhile, says the non-profit is not perfect, but has an "open door policy" and takes matters of sexual harassment and assault seriously. "It's something small businesses need to work on because, I think, there's that family atmosphere in a small knit team, so when something does occur it makes it difficult," she said. UBC Allard School of Law professor Janine Benedet, meanwhile, says small businesses and non-profits need to have well defined sexual harassment policies, including clear processes for complaints, in order to convey what is acceptable behaviour. "The idea that you're being passed off to someone else, that it's not being taken seriously, and that you become the problem employee for complaining, and actually experience retaliation for that, is very common in sexual harassment cases," she said. "It's something that organizations need to be on guard against."
Fears of a post-holiday COVID-19 surge appear not to have materialized in Alberta, and experts say current trends are encouraging, but the province still has some way to go before major public-health measures can be safely lifted. "We look at this big picture and what it's suggesting is that what we're doing in Alberta is working," said Dr. Craig Jenne, an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary. He noted that new daily case numbers have been steadily coming down for several weeks now and, while hospitalizations remain relatively high, they appear to have peaked and have started to decline, as well, albeit somewhat slowly. "They're not coming down as fast as we want," Jenne said. "But at least they're not going up." The province plans to relax, slightly, the limits on outdoor gatherings, funerals and personal-care services effective Monday, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it's too soon to lift the major restrictions that were put in effect in December. Some people have questioned whether Alberta's lower test volumes recently are behind the decrease in cases. Hinshaw acknowledged the province has been doing fewer tests lately, but noted the percentage of tests coming back positive has also been steadily declining, which suggests the viral spread is indeed slowing. "We have no backlog in our lab," Hinshaw said earlier this week. "So our lab is processing all of the samples in a timely way." Before the holidays, Premier Jason Kenney admitted he was concerned that Albertans might misunderstand or disregard the rules restricting family gatherings. "I am concerned, to be blunt, about what we might see coming out of Christmas," he said in December. But it appears Albertans generally followed the rules and limited the spread of the virus. A post-holiday spike in cases would be expected to have shown up in the data by now, but so far there has been no major increase. "The reduction in our positivity rate is encouraging," Hinshaw said. "The reduction in our new daily cases is also encouraging." Still, Jenne believes the numbers need to come down a lot more before public-health measures can be significantly relaxed. "It's unclear if we've gotten the numbers down far enough to fully reopen things, but the plan is working," he said. "And if we can stick to it, if we can continue with this plan, we should expect these trends of declining numbers to continue." Hinshaw echoed that. "Albertans, again, have shown that when we've worked together and followed these restrictions, we have brought our cases down," she said. "But we can't ease up on following those public health measures, or our trends will start to rise again."