HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Clayton Dixon has always had a sweet tooth – with a particular penchant for the sometimes creamy, sometimes dark, always satisfying confections that come out of traditional chocolateries. It was a love he balanced for many years with a career in finance, but, as he approached his 50th birthday, he decided it was now or never to live his dream and bring his sugary vision to the masses, starting in Aurora. Mr. Dixon, a resident of Whitchurch-Stouffville recently opened Chocolate & Company, a chocolate and gelato shop on Yonge Street and Brookland, which operates on the simple philosophy of “quality, decadence, all made on site.” “We wanted something better than what we could find,” says Dixon. “After doing cooking classes in my early 20s, I started playing around about 12 years ago, taking what I thought I could do a bit more seriously. I started practicing, built a little hobby kitchen in the basement and went from there.” From the basement, he decided he wanted to build something for the ground-up. But what? He knew what he had in mind: a chocolate that was more than a chocolate; a chocolate that was a dessert unto itself. At first, he envisioned an industrial kitchen to make his hand-made chocolate which would then, in turn, be sold to restaurants and retail shops. But, as he approached his milestone birthday, he decided he wanted to bring his dream confections directly to customers. “Welcome to my midlife crisis,” he joked, opening his door to The Auroran on Friday morning. “I wanted to sell to restaurants, but it just didn’t fit with what I wanted. I wanted a retail storefront because it would give me much more feedback from customers on what they really want. I take the approach almost like a two-bite brownie; two bites for a really luxurious dessert, something you can have with coffee or a glass of wine. It is not a pastry, but pure chocolate.” The ingredients, he says, are the best of the best. Although he does not roast his cocoa beans himself, he sources his chocolate – the obvious starting point – from Belgium and France. Then come the flourishes: pure hazelnut paste for the nutty confections, real raspberries, mango and more if you like your chocolate on the fruiter side of things, and hand-blended milk and dark chocolates for the perfect flavour balance. “I strive for something different, that extra level of decadence,” he says, noting that he and his daughter are often engaged in a battle over milk and dark chocolate, with his daughter a big fan of the former and dad veering more towards the dark side. “Now that I have opened to the retail market, I am bringing more milk chocolate into my recipes, so my daughter is happier!” As we get closer and closer to the holiday season, particularly during this challenging time, businesses and advocates are doubling down on their efforts to underscore the importance of shopping local. Chocolate & Company is no exception as they offer an array of flavours to suit every taste, with boxes of as few as two treats to as many as 27. “There’s a very strong Support Local base now because of COVID, but I think Support Local has been going on for quite some time, just extra-focused right now,” says Dixon. “People have [asked me] about starting a business at a tough time, but it is the whole Magic 8-Ball thing. I’m not really reinventing the wheel here, but I just figure the first six months are going to be tough anyway, and I am focused…on the store. It was meant to be and I kept being pulled in this direction. “I want to take the level of quality as high as I can take it. That is very important to me.” For more information, visit www.chocolateandcompany.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver's transit authority is confirming that it was the target of a ransomware attack on part of its information technology systems.Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables part of a computer system or access to data until a ransom is paid. TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says in a statement that the transit authority is conducting a comprehensive forensic investigation to determine how the incident occurred and what information may have been affected.Desmond offers assurance to customers that TransLink does not store fare payment data and uses a secure third-party payment processor for all fare transactions, so TransLink doesn't have access to that information. He says the transit authority took immediate steps to isolate and shut down key software and systems to contain the threat upon detection and is now working to resume normal operations. Customers can once again use credit and debit cards at Compass vending machines and tap-to-pay fare gates, features that were put on hold for several days. Customers who recently purchased monthly passes or stored value will soon see the credit loaded on their Compass Card, the statement says.It says all transit services continue to operate regularly and no transit safety systems are affected."We are sharing as much as we can at this point considering this is an active investigation," Desmond says in the statement. "We will provide further updates as more information becomes available."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
A local trustee has been chosen as the vice-president of the provincial school board association. At last week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA), Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor was elected vice president. Smith-Windsor was recently re-elected to her fourth term as a rural trustee and was gratified to be elected by the association. “It’s very humbling and a very exciting opportunity to be entrusted to represent 27 school boards in Saskatchewan. I think we have got a long tradition in this province of providing a local voice in education and being able to represent the trustees and boards that are democratically elected is a real honour,” Smith-Windsor said. She she served two terms as the Central Constituency representative on the executive where she represents Saskatchewan Rivers, the North East School Division (NESD), Horizon School Division, North West School Division, Prairie Spirit School Division and Living Sky School Division. She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic offers challenges and opportunities for boards of education. “There is going to be the opportunity to innovate and do some really creative things. And I think boards are doing this at a local level. I think there is also going to be challenges in the areas of staff and student’s mental health and addressing some of the inequities that existed before the pandemic. Almost certainly there is going to be fiscal challenges. But I know that boards are going to continue to put the needs of their communities first and that is the power of a local voice,” Smith Windsor explained. She sees the role of the association as another voice for education in the province. “I think the SSBA is another strong platform to help the public connect to that idea that education does belong to communities. It is a real opportunity to have someone who is local to sit on the provincial executive in that role,” she said Shawn Davidson was returned as president for another term. “I have worked with Shawn for two terms now, we have been through a number of significant changes in education over the last four years and I am confident in his leadership and our ability to work together on behalf of boards,” she said. Smith-Windsor explained that she was the only nominee to come forward and was acclaimed to the position. With Sask. Rivers she has served on the Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change, Board Development committee Employee Bargaining Committees, as well as a number of ad hoc Board committees such as the recent election committee. “The local Board of Education appreciates Trustee Smith-Windsor’s strong voice, is proud of her election to the position of Vice President and looks forward to her continued advocacy for education and for students,” the division said in a release. Other SSBA officials elected were Davidson and Smith-Windsor, Catholic Constituency representative Jerome Niezgoda, Central Constituency representative Christine Grandin, CSF constituency representative Elizabeth Perrault, Indigenous Constituency representative Kimberly Greyeyes, Northern Constituency representative Nathan Favel, Southern Constituency representative Janet Kotylak and Urban Constituency representative Donna Banks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the AGM was held virtually this year. Smith-Windsor explained it was a total shift from having 227 trustees, directors, SSBA staff and others all in one room having a lively engaged meeting. “We do all of our voting on paper ballots collected in ice cream pails. And this time it was a complete shift to an online platform and electronic voting connecting to all of those people across the entire province through electronic means,” Smith-Windsor said. “It was quite an event to train for and to pull off and I think it went relatively well,” she explained. Each year the school divisions in the province have an opportunity to bring forward motions that are of interest to the AGM. The Saskatchewan Rivers board discussed these in meetings that took place before the AGM. “If there is agreement to take that to the provincial assembly then that goes forward to the provincial assembly and all of the boards have an opportunity to vote on that. If those resolutions pass than they become the work of the SSBA executive that essentially feeds forward into our work for the future years,” she said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Les conservateurs utilisent leur journée d’opposition à la Chambre des communes pour exhorter le gouvernement Trudeau à dévoiler son plan sur la distribution concernant chaque vaccin d’ici le 16 décembre. Les conservateurs veulent savoir la date à laquelle chacun des sept vaccins réservés sera distribué, et quels seront les taux mensuels de vaccination envisagés. « Alors que des pays entiers vont sortir du confinement, les Canadiens vont les regarder avec incompréhension. Pourquoi sommes-nous si en retard ? », a lancé le chef du Parti conservateur, Erin O’Toole, en conférence de presse. Il a reconnu la difficulté qu’Ottawa pourrait avoir à publier un calendrier précis, mais il pose des questions d’ordre logistique sur la suite du processus après les livraisons des doses de vaccin. « Quel est le plan immédiatement après ça ? Est-ce qu’on a des congélateurs pour les vaccins de Pfizer ? Quel est le plan pour les communautés rurales, pour les communautés autochtones, pour nos forces armées », s’est-il interrogé en conférence de presse. Le Bloc québécois s’est dit en accord avec le sens de la motion conservatrice. Une expérimentation humaine Le chef du Parti conservateur ne s’est pas prononcé sur la pétition parrainée par son camarade Derek Sloan pour critiquer les vaccins contre la Covid-19. Le député opposé au port obligatoire du masque soutient cette pétition selon laquelle « les vaccins contre la COVID-19 ne sont pas conçus pour empêcher l’infection ou la transmission » et qu’il s’agirait d’une simple expérimentation lancée dans la précipitation au mépris des protocoles standards. Erin O’Toole s’est contenté d’exiger la publication d’un plan détaillé qui permettra « d’éduquer » et que « l’information aidera à apporter une certitude à beaucoup de Canadiens ». La pétition ouverte de façon virtuelle jusqu’en février a déjà enregistré 24 000 signatures, dont environ 2000, au Québec. Les réfrigérateurs des vaccins En conférence de presse, le major général Dany Fortin qui coordonne les opérations de distribution des vaccins a annoncé que les provinces et les territoires recevront les réfrigérateurs consacrés dans les prochains jours. Le vaccin de Pfizer/Biotech sera livré directement par les firmes pharmaceutiques aux points identifiés par les autorités provinciales. Les réfrigérateurs devront être en place au plus tard le 14 décembre prochain selon le major général. Les vaccins doivent cependant être approuvés par Santé Canada. Plusieurs sources annoncent le délai d’une dizaine de jours. Le Canada devrait recevoir au moins six millions de doses du premier vaccin au début de la nouvelle année selon les autorités de la santé publique. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
The Aurora Farmers’ Market had a late start this spring due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but did they ever make up for lost time. As the Market wound down on Hallowe’en, they were looking back on a season of firsts – and some impressive numbers. Last year, the Aurora Farmers’ Market, which runs each Saturday morning from May through October, welcomed 13,493 visitors to Town Park. This year, they logged a staggering 18,306. “At the beginning of each Market day, I would get my team of volunteers together – we had 32 volunteers that helped us over the course of 24 Market days – and say, ‘This is probably going to be the last day that we’re allowed to be running, so make it a good one,’” recalls Market Manager Anna Kroeplin. “Every week we had tally sheets at the dedicated entrance (on Larmont Street) and at Wells Street as well, and we would count every single person in and out at 15-minute increments. “At the beginning, we were only allowed 32 people in and we had 13 vendors. Once the Market Board started talking more and more to Public Health and Farmers’ Markets Ontario, restrictions were lifted and they based it on our square footage of where customers would actually be.” It turned out to be a winning system this year, and one other municipalities looked to when trying to get their own markets up off the ground. “In March, there was a state of emergency and then in April they closed the schools and businesses, but it was incredibly important that the Government deemed Farmers’ Markets essential services,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “That was able to help the Board pre-plan and be ready. They got in touch with York Region Public Health, the Town of Aurora and Farmers’ Markets Ontario to get all of their approvals – and they did so we could set up on May 23. We were only a couple of weeks out of our normal season to start. I was so pleased that the Farmers’ Market was deemed safe. We actually had so many people come and we had about 99 per cent of people wear masks. It was mandatory for vendors to wear their masks or face shields, but everybody wore masks and felt so comfortable and safe there. “What really surprised me and blew me away is that other towns got in touch with us and either their staff or their market managers came to the Market after the first three weeks because we had built some great reputation that they wanted to model the Market after them. The biggest one was the City of Toronto.” Having that “incredible exposure” to new customers really helped the Aurora Farmers’ Market reach such impressive numbers, with each customer being respectful of one another and exercising patience while waiting in line to get in. Helping them to pass the time before they could get in to buy their fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods and artisan crafts were space markers drawn out on the pavement in chalk to not only promote social distance but put smiles on faces. Volunteers drew smiley faces instead of simple circles more than two metres apart. Once things were deemed safe enough to allow students in to volunteer and collect their community service hours, these markers started to get a bit crafty. “We started with 13 adult volunteers because of the health risk at the beginning of the season,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “We weren’t comfortable having students there until we started proving our safety measures were incredibly important. [In the end] we had 19 students come to get their hours an they came from Aurora, Pickering, Sutton, and it was just crazy because there weren’t a lot of opportunities for these kids to earn heir hours. What I found interesting this year is the majority of the time parents would come with their child the first day they were on shift and I would make sure they had my phone number and the parents felt safe leaving their kids there. In all, they earned a total of 939 hours.” Although the Aurora Farmers’ Market’s outdoor season has come to a close, there will still be a few more chances to meet market vendors in the lead-up to the holiday season. On December 5 and 12, many Market favourites will be on hand for the Town’s annual Christmas Market, which will be held at Town Park for the first time this year, a perfect opportunity to shop local as the holiday season approaches. “A lot of Towns didn’t support their markets, so they stayed closed or they did not open long,” says Cathy Williams, Board Chair for the Aurora Farmers Market. “Aurora supported us, made sure things went well for us, gave us volunteers from their staff, and they wanted us to open, which was just really good. When our numbers started going up and we had lineups and the vendors were coming to us to say they were sold out, I thought, ‘You know what? This is going to work.’ “I would like to thank the Town for being so supportive. I would like to thank the volunteers for being so wonderful and for helping out so much – and the Board of the Market for working so hard to get it open, for Public Health being behind us, and for the people of Aurora for coming out and supporting us.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
EDMONTON — The three Prairie provinces have become the epicentre of COVID-19's second wave in Canada — surpassing Ontario and Quebec, the two most populous provinces that were initially the hardest hit. Some infectious disease experts say the exponential growth in cases on the Prairies can be linked to pandemic fatigue and a reluctance by politicians to impose stricter health measures in the fall. "Ten infections in Manitoba means something completely different than 10 infections in Toronto or New York City," said Dr. Kelly MacDonald, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. "Our rates didn't look like a problem for quite a long time when they probably were," said MacDonald, who added that there has been "a complete lack of appreciation for the case per unit of population." Since the fall, the spread of COVID-19 has increased everywhere, but daily case numbers on the Prairies have been matching areas with about double the population. The three provinces have about 6.7 million residents combined and reported a total of 2,480 new cases on Thursday. Alberta alone reported 1,854 new infections. Ontario, with a population of about 14.5 million, reported 1,824 cases. Quebec, which has almost two million more people than all three Prairie provinces, had 1,470 new infections. When the first wave of the pandemic hit Canada in the spring, Ontario and Quebec were particularly affected. Now, the infection rate per capita is highest in Alberta, followed by Manitoba and Saskatchewan. On Wednesday, Ontario's health minister singled out Alberta. "You want to speak about who is in crisis. Have you taken a look at Alberta, where they're doubling up patients in intensive care units? We're not doing that in Ontario," said Christine Elliot. A spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said she spoke Wednesday night with Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro about the surge in cases and offered federal resources. It's a major turnaround since April when Premier Jason Kenney, standing in front of a wall of personal protective equipment, touted the success of his province's COVID-19 response and announced Alberta was sending supplies to Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Last week, Kenney announced tighter restrictions after mounting pressure from public health experts. The measures ban indoor social gatherings and some students are back at home learning online. Bars, restaurants and places of worship remain open. Dr. James Talbot, a professor of public health at the University of Alberta, said there is a reluctance by the United Conservative government to impose another lockdown, even though contact tracing has become impossible with the jump in infections. "There are a number of things that interfere with our ability to bring this under control," said Talbot, who is also a former chief medical health officer in the province. COVID-19 fatigue has descended along with colder weather preventing people from meeting outside as much, he said. "Another part of it is we have inconsistent regulations," said Talbot, pointing to bars and restaurants being open, while people cannot have guests over. "When people think something is unfair or illogical, then they just make decisions not to follow the rules that are out there," he said. "Until you regain their confidence, the situation is going to continue to get worse." In Saskatchewan, team sports are suspended and home gatherings are limited to five people. Manitoba was the first Prairie province to impose stricter health measures two weeks ago when it had the highest per capita infection rate in the country. Businesses can't sell non-essential items and gatherings in homes are banned. MacDonald said those restrictions were brought in when case rates were expanding exponentially, so "you can slightly level them off, but you are not going to drop the rate of infection very rapidly." Talbot suggested it's not too late to turn the numbers around and save as many lives as possible. But he added restrictions need to stay in place until Canada distributes a COVID-19 vaccine in the new year. "This isn't personal. This isn't about criticizing anyone," he said. "If we all do our part and if we are effective, the virus will let us know by infecting fewer people two weeks from now." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Police in Abbotsford, B.C., say a federal inmate is back in custody following a brief escape. They say in a statement that they responded to a report of shots fired Thursday just before 3 p.m. Police say Correctional Service Canada officers were escorting a federal offender to a medical appointment when he escaped.Police say that while officers tried to apprehend the offender, a correctional officer shot a gun but no one was injured. They say the inmate, who was not identified, was found with the help of police, police dogs and an RCMP helicopter.Police say the public is not at risk and major crime detectives are investigating.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
Mayor John Tory is backing up plan to tax Toronto properties that are vacant for more than six months. Well the move would generate millions of dollars, the spirits of it is to increase vacancy and affordability. Matthew Bingley reports.
A fellow councillor's negative opinions about staff and peers are indicative of confrontational and unnecessary hostility, says complainant. Coun. Jon Main told MidlandToday people are missing the point by focusing on Bill Gordon's 'snowflake comment' that was part of a series of communications and dialogue shared with the integrity commissioner. Main said he just rolled his eyes at Gordon's 'lame and corny' snowball comment directed at him. "At the end of the day, we were discussing an issue we both agreed on," he added. And even though it did happen earlier in the year, Main said he wasn't 'sitting' on information or gathering evidence to present to the integrity commissioner. "We went in communication with the integrity commissioner in summer," he said. "The complaint would have been filed in the middle of summer and we've been discussing it this fall." Providing context to the dialogue, Main said it was a back-and-forth exchange about responding to the pandemic and what council and the town were going to do. It was spurred by a warning from him, cautioning Gordon to be careful about communicating to all of council. "We're not supposed to be discussing issues with each other over email because of closed door policies and all," said Main. "We were talking about what's the best way of bringing information forward. It was a simple exchange of information and it kind of spiralled and clearly crosses a line." But he said he would like to bring attention to the fact that it's part of a larger pattern of disrespectful of conduct from councillor to councillor. And a second matter of concern: disrespect in council and staff relations. It's indicative of a personality, confrontational and unnecessary hostility. "This isn't a Main vs. Gordon issue," said Main. "This is really a Gordon vs. code of conduct issue." And, he added, it certainly isn't (that) he, Coun. Jim Downer, and Deputy Mayor Mike Ross are out to get Gordon. "There's no animosity between us," said Main. "We're really just trying to work with our colleague to make him step up his game so we don't see these code of conduct lapses and issues." Another key point that he said residents need to realize is that of undue influence on town staff. "I don't have any instances of that happening before," Main said, talking about the one set of circumstances quoted in the report. "I think this incident is quite important to review to make sure we follow the rules around council roles and responsibilities and staff responsibilities and make sure we don't cross the wires." Main said prior to lodging the complaint, he had approach Gordon peer about his communication style. "From my communication, I've said it in the nicest way possible to soften his approach and offered constructive criticism on how to go about raising issues and who to contact (for town-related matters)," said Main. "Those suggestions and advice have not been heeded or appreciated." Ross played to a similar tune. "Coun. Main reached out to Coun. Gordon and was pretty much told to go away and (Gordon said), 'I'll do politics my way and you do it yours way,'" he said in a conversation with MidlandToday. "I give Coun. Main credit for doing that. I was surprised by Coun. Gordon's response." Ross added that in his opinion, Gordon could be one of the best councillors the town has. "But unfortunately, he doesn't want to follow the rules," he said. "I have no idea why not. Maybe he's upset due to the fact that council of the day took him to court around the Midland Police Services Board. I would hope that isn't it, but he's said it in the past that it was his motivation to get on council." And it's not a question of Ross against Gordon, said the deputy mayor. "It's the code of conduct we all agreed to follow," he elaborated. "Unfortunately, things have happened that it's not been followed or adhered to. We all want to work together." And where there are no conversations between the two included in the report, Ross said, he felt he had to back up his colleagues. Addressing Gordon's suspicions around monetary sanctions, Main said, that wasn't up to him alone, adding he wasn't thinking of going that route anyway. "I think people need to understand what a reprimand is," he said. "Financial sanction isn't the end-all and be-all of the integrity commissioner's report. The reprimand is really the only tool that council now has to censure somebody for misconduct. "We're not looking to recall somebody or have anyone impeached or a special election called. This is basically saying we all agreed to this certain set of rules and we want to make sure everyone follows it. We are paid to agree or to disagree. The community expects us to work collaboratively and put all differences aside." Ross was in the same corner. "I'm not looking to push for monetary sanctions," he said. "I just want him to realize he's breaking the rules that were set out for all of us to follow. Be respectful to others, that's all I'm looking for. It breaks my heart that it came to this." The code of conduct, Ross said, are rules all elected officials agreed to follow. But why even have a code of conduct then? To that, Ross said he didn't have an answer. "I try go the other way and avoid being on social media," he added. "I do not want to be in a position that anything like this would happen. I don't want to be engaged with constituents there. If you want to talk to me, give me a call. I conduct town business that way. I think social media and the rest of it is so easy to get away with comments people won't say to you to your face." Both said they want the matter to end on a hopeful note with all of council working together on common goals for the betterment of the town. The matter will be discussed at council's Wednesday meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:23 p.m. Another 12 people have died from COVID-19 in British Columbia, continuing a daily surge in deaths in the last week and bringing the death count to 481 since the pandemic started. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says 694 people have tested positive for COVID-19 for a total of 35,422 people. Henry says when vaccines become available in the province, there will be limited amounts available, so for the weeks and months ahead, people must stay strong and stick to the restrictions. She says she knows the majority of people are following the rules and she recognizes the sacrifices that everyone is making in the province. --- 5:43 p.m. Alberta has recorded 1,854 new COVID-19 infections, a new daily record. The province also reported 14 additional deaths in Thursday's update, bringing total fatalities to 575. There are 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care. Out of the more than 19,600 tests conducted since the last update, 9.4 per cent came back positive. --- 4:16 p.m. Health officials in Saskatchewan are diverting hundreds more staff to fight COVID-19 as daily cases are forecast to exceed 500 in two weeks. The Saskatchewan Health Authority expects the number of people in hospital and receiving intensive care could soon double. Officials are planning for the surge by redeploying 600 health-care staff, which means other health services will be temporarily suspended. --- 3:57 p.m. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says people who don't think COVID-19 is real are idiots. Pallister says he knows he is unpopular in some quarters because of the restrictions his government has imposed on public gatherings and businesses. But he says the rules are needed to save lives, and everyone needs to work together to reduce the spread of the virus. --- 3:51 p.m. Public health officials in Prince Edward Island announced one additional positive case of COVID-19 in the province Thursday. The individual is a man in his 20s, a rotational worker who recently travelled to P.E.I. from outside of the Atlantic region and has been in self-isolation since arriving. This case is not related to any of the other recent positive cases of COVID-19 in the province. P.E.I. currently has five active cases of COVID-19, and there have been 73 positive cases since the onset of the pandemic. --- 2:40 p.m. Saskatchewan is announcing 259 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. Health officials say the person who died was in their 80s. Most of the new infections are located in and around Regina and Saskatoon. There are 104 people in hospital, with 24 people receiving intensive care. The seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 269. --- 1:56 p.m. Nunavut is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 in Arviat today, bringing the community's active case count to 68. All cases in Rankin Inlet have now recovered. There are seven active cases in Whale Cove. Nunavut has 75 active cases of COVID-19 and 123 recovered cases. --- 1:50 p.m. Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting six new cases of COVID-19 in the province Thursday. There is one new case in the Moncton region, three new cases in the Saint John region and two in the Fredericton area. There are now 111 active cases in the province. New Brunswick has had a total of 520 cases and seven deaths since the pandemic began. --- 1:32 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 367 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths today. The province continues to have a high rate of people testing positive — 13 per cent, on average, over the last five days. --- 1:15 p.m. The Quebec government is cancelling its plan to allow gatherings over four days at Christmas. Premier Francois Legault announced today the province will no longer permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people between Dec. 24 and 27, as had been planned. Legault first announced the Christmas plan on Nov. 19, saying people could get together as long as they quarantined for a week before and a week after the holiday period. But with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the rise and a health system deemed fragile due to a lack of staffing, Legault says it’s not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas. --- 1:12 p.m. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, says she expects to get some final documents from Pfizer on Friday that will provide information on the manufacturing process and which lots of vaccine doses will be sent to Canada. That is the final thing needed before Canada can approve the vaccine. Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, says he fully expects the decision to be "favourable." --- 12:45 p.m. Moderna's vaccine is to be delivered to one site in Canada rather than to each province and Canadian logistics will then distribute it to the provinces as required. --- 12:30 p.m. Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo says while initial supplies of vaccines will limit vaccinations to three million people, there will eventually be a COVID-19 vaccine for every Canadian. Pfizer's vaccine is expected to start being delivered first in January, and will be sent by the manufacturer to predetermined points in each province. --- 12:05 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19 today. The number of active cases in the province s now stands at 119, that's down from the 127 cases reported on Wednesday. Nine of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes Halifax, while the other two cases are in the northern zone. The province has had a total of 1,342 cases, while 1,159 are resolved and there have been 65 deaths. --- 11:12 a.m. The Quebec government is reporting 1,470 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 additional deaths linked to the pandemic. Twelve of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while the rest happened earlier. Hospitalizations declined by three to 737, while the number of people in intensive care remained unchanged at 99. There have been a total of 146,532 cases and 7,155 deaths in the province since the pandemic began. -- 11 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,824 new cases of COVID-19, and 14 new deaths due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 592 new cases in Peel Region, 396 cases in Toronto, and 187 cases in York Region. The province says it has conducted 52,873 tests since the last daily report. In total, 666 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 195 in intensive care. -- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
The average price people are willing to pay for real estate in Windsor-Essex continues to skyrocket even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.In general, the average property price in the region has increased by nearly 25 per cent over the last year. "It has escalated lately," Damon Winney, president of the Windsor-Essex County Realtor's Association said. According to a monthly report by the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors, the average property price last year in the month of November was $338,338.This year, it's nearly $82,000 more expensive, with prices sitting at $420,007.Property sales notably dipped in the months of April and May, as the community locked down and the main concerns were centred around the virus."As the economy grew and opened up again, we've seen people back into the market and in fact we've seen people come from other areas." He said because of COVID-19, people have been moving to the area from the GTA and the surrounding region. Winney said he thinks that while a slowdown is inevitable, low interest rates are helping drive the interest in the market. "We've got a federal government trying to keep the economy going and I think that housing is one of those marvellous factors that actually helps drive the economy over the long term," Winney said.More people are listing their homes as well, with listings up by almost 10 per cent. The number of sales are also up more than six per cent.Playing catch up "We're just, pretty much, catching up with cities that are equivalent to us in terms of population," Rasha Ingratta a mortgage agent with Mortgage Intelligence said.She also points toward the extremely low interest rates that are giving people a big incentive to get into the market with much lower monthly payments."I say to [people considering getting into the market] this is the best time to buy," Ingratta said. "Because I think prices are going to keep going up for the next year or so until it flat lines."
As a student at Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School, Andrew King struggled to keep up. Living with anxiety and wanting to be anywhere but in the classroom, he hit his stride when he was able to get out of the sandy-coloured walls of Dunning Avenue into the community through co-op placements. He found “getting out into the real world” helped him “get through the rough points,” and now, into the much wider world, he is staking a claim as a travel writer with a new book on the wonders of the far north. King recently published “A Visual Journey to Alaska”, a book that combines his first-hand observations from his journey to the 49thstate, not to mention the stunning visuals he collected along the way. “During the pandemic, writing was something I wanted to try and see if it would stick,” King tells The Auroran. “I have done a lot of travelling over the years and with travel being hit hard I just wanted to have something out there so people could have something to look forward to when they can eventually get this virus all settled.” King’s love affair with Alaska began quite by chance. One summer while helping his parents plan for a family vacation, they wanted to visit a place that was new for everyone. Browsing cruise options, they happened upon Alaska and, King says, he was mesmerized by both the scenery and the way it made him feel. “It made me feel calm, relaxed, and it is just a great place to go and see,” he says. “I wanted to get that whole immersive experience of Alaska, including the ice and seeing wildlife you don’t normally see here in Canada. I used my photography and my personal experiences to capture memories and it came to the point of getting to the book. It was about sharing it with others and helping people feel better about how things could be after this is over and have a whole new experience.” Since his first trip up north, King has explored many parts of the world, including cruises throughout the Caribbean and trips overseas to locales as varied as Italy, Malta, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, and transatlantic cruises. So struck was he by his cruises through the Caribbean, they will be subject of his next book that is already in the works. As he works on his next book, King says he’s itching to get back out there and see more of the world. At the start of the pandemic, he had a trip to Europe planned which, of course, had to be cancelled. He’s tentatively re-booked a trip for the summer ahead: a cruise to the evocative landscapes of Iceland. Now that he’s been bitten by the writing bug, will this be the subject of a third book from King? Only time will tell, but, as he says, “A Visual Journey to Alaska was a big accomplishment in my life. It would be great to see someone who goes from a struggling background to an accomplished writer.” For more on the book, visit amazon.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Three Métis researchers have been directed by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) to undertake a “deep dive” into the communities the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has extended citizenship to as historic Métis communities. In a yet-to-be-released report, Will Goodon of the MMF, says work undertaken by researchers Darryl Leroux, Darren O’Toole and Jennifer Adese indicates the connections in the Mattawa/Ottawa River Métis community that the MNO claims as their own are actually ancestral connections to Algonquin and Nipissing First Nations. “So basically the MNO is claiming the same ancestors that the First Nations are claiming. It’s a bit of a mess. Actually quite a bit of a mess. And it’s a bit of a tangle as well to try and pull all these things apart,” said Goodon. In 2017, the MNO and Ontario government jointly released a statement saying that after studying historical reports and based on the criteria provided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Powley decision, historic Métis communities went beyond Rainy River/Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. The MNO and Ontario government identified Sault Ste. Marie (where the Powleys resided), Northern Lake Superior, Killarney and Georgian Bay (which comprise the Great Lake Métis), as well as Abitibi Inland and Mattawa/Ottawa River as historic Métis communities. The Métis National Council (MNC) has accepted the Rainy River/Lake of the Woods Métis community as part of the Métis homeland, but they reject the rest. As far as the MNC is concerned, the historical Métis homeland includes the entirety of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and only parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and in northwestern Ontario. Their homeland map excludes the Powleys’ community, although it was the Powley decision in 2003 that affirmed Métis hunting rights were protected under Sect. 35 of the Constitution. The MNO helped advance the Powley harvesting case all the way to the Supreme Court. The map is in keeping with the MNC’s definition of Métis: “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.” That definition was adopted in 2002 by the MNC. The MNO and the MMF, along with the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation-British Columbia, are the five Métis governments that comprise the MNC. In 2018, the MNC put the MNO on probation for accepting into its membership people from the Métis communities that resided outside of northwestern Ontario. Since then angry words have flown between MNO President Margaret Froh and various MNC representatives, including MNC President Clement Chartier and MMF President David Chartrand, who often serves as spokesperson for the MNC. Froh, however, does not stand alone. MNO has garnered the support of the presidents of the MNA and MN-S. The three Métis governments entered into a tripartite agreement in 2019. Goodon says the MMF has spent a lot of money and energy battling MNO. The research paper to be released in the coming weeks is the second such paper commissioned by MMF. He says while housing, his portfolio for MMF, and education are priorities, so is this. “To me it’s about the integrity of the Métis Nation. If MNO gets to decide who’s a citizen without the input from the rest of the Métis Nation then we have abdicated our rights to decide who we are,” he said. “Obviously Indigenous people have the right to self-determination, self-identification, and the Métis Nation have done that, but the problem is that the MNO is affiliated with the Métis Nation through the MNC,” said Goodon. Had MNO presented these additional communities to the MNC for political affiliation, that would have been a different matter, he said. “Even though we know they’re not part of the Métis Nation, they are a different people, but we will affiliate with them. They never asked us. They never asked the Métis Nation if that would be appropriate. “To me that would be one of the first things they do. To say, ‘We’re not you… we are our own peoples, but we want to be affiliated with you’,” he said. Presently, MNO is suspended from MNC. That decision was taken unilaterally by Chartier, says Froh, and should not have been made. Should MNO remove itself from the MNC and want a political affiliation instead, Goodon says that would be a difficult conversation “because there are some pretty hard feelings on both sides.” “I think if cooler heads were to settle down and say, ‘Hey, maybe we could have that conversation.’ Maybe. I think it could have been handled a little more properly on MNO’s side to say, ‘Look, we know, we understand nationhood. We understand who you are. This is us. Can we have a conversation?’ I think that could have happened and that still could happen if there’s good will. Good will is kind of hard to find at this point, I think,” said Goodon. However, a political affiliation is not what Froh is after. In an open letter on Nov. 27 to the Métis Nation leaders and citizens Froh addresses being “cut off” by the MNC. “It is apparent to the MNO that the current MNC leadership’s next steps will be to suggest that funding to the MNO and the Great Lakes Métis, including the Powley community, be cut off because of the new MNC map. “Let’s be clear, the MNO and Canada won’t allow for these types of crass political games, which disregard the Crown’s constitutional duties owing to the Powley community and other Ontario Métis communities, to happen.” In 2019, the MNO and Canada signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement. At the MNO’s annual general meeting in November, the MNO informed membership of steps it was taking to implement that agreement. “The MNO will continue to represent, defend, and stand up for the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, the Great Lakes Métis, as well as the other Métis communities it represents within Ontario as it has for the last 28 years,” Froh wrote in the November open letter. Goodon admits that MNO’s claims aren’t new, but MMF had its attentions focused on other matters. However, when MNO started accepting new communities, the issue was pushed. “We the Métis Nation decides who the Métis Nation is and a small part of the Métis Nation, maybe MNO, the small part of Ontario that is a part of the Métis Nation, maybe five, 10 per cent. That 10 per cent can’t decide they’re going to expand by 90 per cent. The Métis Nation should make that decision on who is the Metis citizen,” said Goodon. Froh points out in her letter that the MNC benefited from the Powley decision. “From 2003 to the present, Canada has provided well over $150 million… to the MNC and its Governing Members because of the Powley case to support Métis registries, Métis harvesting laws and policies, and research on other Métis Nation communities,” she wrote. As far as Froh is concerned, the MNC has “become dysfunctional … controlled by a few individuals.” MNO’s open letter is accompanied by a series of fact sheets, which Froh wrote are “to set the record straight ...(so) … people can make their own informed decisions.” She also wrote that the MNO would not be “engaging in a subsequent back-and-forth” with the MNC over what is presented in the letter. Windspeaker.comBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Growing up in Aurora, Keenan Hull says he experienced little racism in his youth – but there came a point where the tide began to turn. “I didn’t see any aggressive racism until I got older, turning into a Black man instead of a Black boy,” he said. “It was more microaggressions and [people] would just have those assumptions about me.” He saw those assumptions manifest themselves in many ways, including systemic, and it is that lived experience he has brought to the table as a member of Aurora’s recently established Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism Task Force, which convened for the first time last Wednesday night. “My goal [on the Task Force] is to make sure that people like me will be able to just live in Aurora and surrounding areas without having any fear of persecution from other people in the community that should be protecting us,” he told the group. Mr. Hull, who was one of the co-organizers of this spring’s Solidarity Walk following the death of George Floyd, outlined his goals near the start of the November 25 meeting where he and his fellow Task Force members began the process of hammering their goals and priorities. Although a list is still a work in progress, their initial message was clear: action rather than education is key to making a difference. Aurora’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism Task Force represents a cross-section of the community. Chaired by Noor El-Dassouki, joining her and Mr. Hull at the table are Tricia Wright, Phiona Durrant, Mark Lewis, Mae Khamissa and, representing Council, Councillor Harold Kim, who brought the idea to Council alongside Mayor Tom Mrakas. Like Mr. Hull, Ms. El-Dassouki grew up in Aurora. As a Muslim Arab woman, she told the Task Force she has experienced her “fair share of racism and discrimination” over the years, but she also recognizes “a lot of the privileges” in her life. “I acknowledge the fact I am not the target of anti-Black racism or anti-Indigenous racism and I think it is really important to centre those experiences, especially Black and Indigenous people, in experiencing racism because their lives are the ones who have been most affected and most at risk because of systemic racism,” she said. “I would like to see some real action and some actionable change, especially in the institutional racism of Aurora [in that] I hope we can work to kind of look at policies and practices that are embedded in institutions and understand how they are designed in a way that is inherently biased and racist. [It] might not be intentional, necessarily, but that is the way systems are designed in this country and a lot of areas around the world.” “The more effective way of bringing about change is to increase the implementation of anti-racist actions as opposed to just raising awareness of diversity and anti-racism and all of those items.” Added Ms. Durant: “From a leadership perspective, our community knows how our leaders feel about racism, about any form of discrimination, anything that makes anyone feel less than. As long as we know where they stand, it is easier for us to know how to move forward.” A native of Markham, Mr. Lewis says he experienced systemic racism every day as he watched his parents, teachers with the Toronto District School Board, “navigate racist constructs within our community and the education system while trying to provide a high quality of life for me and my siblings.” He moved to Aurora 17 years ago, choosing this community to raise his family as it reminded him of “Markham of the 1980s.” “I was not disappointed,” he said. “Like any fast-growing municipality, I watched Aurora’s growth drive more diversity among residents in our Town, which challenges the community to respond to growing racism, which has to be dealt with by both residents and business owners. For me, the biggest challenge as a father and a resident in Aurora is a little heartbreaking that my daughter is still experiencing the same [type and level] of racism that I experienced when I was her age so many years ago. It is time for us to make a positive impact and make Aurora a great place for all of us to raise our families.” Ms. Wright has lived in Aurora for 17 years as well, having come to Canada in her teens from a country where Black people are the majority. “If I did experience racism [in Canada], I didn’t take it that way, it was more that they didn’t like me because of something else because that isn’t necessarily what I grew up with,” she shared. “I think my goal on this would be to really continue to sort of raise the awareness. I think the more people know, the less they become afraid of something, with lack of knowledge and lack of information there is huge fear. Bringing topics and displaying different cultures, I think that will be a huge part of breaking down any barriers.” While the Task Force is just getting off the ground, several directions are being explored. In addition to Council’s recent efforts on workplace diversity within the municipal structure, Mr. Lewis suggested more can be done to examine diversity “within the construct of Aurora itself…ensuring the diversity of its suppliers in all aspects of the Town’s business.” Members also pointed out there should be a concerted effort to ensure Indigenous voices are also represented at the table after this integral group was not represented amongst the applicants who came forward, as well as to clarify their mandate. “I see a distinction between anti-racism and diversity and inclusion-related work,” said El-Dassouki. “I think there is a little bit of a distinction to me and I think it would be important for us as a group to have a common understanding and identify kind of common goals around those terminologies to guide our work going forward.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Long-term care and assisted living facilities in B.C. are facing an increasingly deadly second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, while at the same time imposing restrictions that leave seniors increasingly isolated. And the province’s seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie says the government needs to overhaul the measures put in place in the pandemic’s early weeks and ease restrictions on visitors that are depriving residents of essential care and time with loved ones, and which could be costing more lives than they are saving. Mackenzie said this will be the last holiday season for about a quarter of residents, and the province needs to do everything in its power to support meaningful connection between residents and their families. “I don’t think it was ever intended that these measures would be in place for as long as they have been. I think it was intended to give care operators the opportunity to figure out how to manage these visits,” she said. “And we just got stuck in how we started out the visits in July, with how we’re doing the visits now, in December. We just need to shift that.” COVID-19 case numbers and deaths, the majority of which have been long-term care residents, have risen to unprecedented levels. About 35 people in long-term care died of the disease last weekend alone. B.C. introduced policies to limit the number and frequency of visitors quickly in the spring, also requiring staff to work at a single site to prevent spread between facilities. Each resident could have one 30-minute essential care visit per week. About half the people who applied to be designated as essential were rejected. The restrictions worked, quelling outbreaks that resulted in lower care-home deaths than in Ontario and Quebec. In June, B.C. announced each resident could have a designated social visitor as well, an expansion that rolled out slowly and inconsistently across the province. But after 10 months, the restrictions have devastated the physical and mental health of residents and failed to prevent outbreaks as community cases increase. There are now 54 active outbreaks in B.C.’s long-term care and assisted living facilities. “The challenge that we are facing right now, is that this surge in our communities has dramatically increased the risk in long-term care,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Wednesday. But earlier in the week Henry noted visitors are not causing outbreaks, which are more often caused by staff unknowingly spreading the virus. Mackenzie said health officials should allow more frequent and longer visits with the current designated visitors rather than increase the number of visitors per resident. When asked by The Tyee, Henry said the province is working to maintain and extend the current visitation level allowing one designated visitor. “But expanding to allow more social visits is not going to happen during this risky period right now,” she said Henry did not say when current visitors might be allowed to see loved ones more frequently. “I understand the reluctance,” said Mackenzie, who used to run care homes before being appointed B.C. seniors advocate by the government. “But increasing the frequency of visits, allowing their visits to happen in the privacy of the residence room, that’s not going to significantly increase the risk at all, and arguably could be decreasing the risk, because the care home is going to be able to rely on those family members to provide some help.” Current protocols that require visits occur in common areas also put strain on already overworked care workers and nurses by requiring them to transport residents from their rooms for visits. Visitors also need to be screened and escorted to the space, rather than finding their way to the residents’ rooms. “Irrespective of how meaningful visitors’ increased presence will be for the resident, their increased presence is going to help us as well,” said Mackenzie. “There’s going to be an extra pair of hands there to help with the feeding, to help with the toilet, to help with things that some of them were helping with before the pandemic.” And experts say the increased workload around visits and decreased family support has shed further light on the overworked and fragmented sector, where many care workers don’t have paid time off, sick days or health benefits. “Everything has changed, but nothing has changed,” said Joanie Sims-Gould, an expert in seniors’ health at the department of family practice at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine. “But everything’s changed in the wrong direction.” Research co-conducted by Farinaz Havaei at UBC’s school of nursing found that during the pandemic’s first wave residents’ direct nursing care plummeted by about 10 hours per month as facilities scrambled to control the virus. Nurses are responsible for just under 30 patients in an average shift, while care aides look after around 10 patients each shift. Havaei, who researches human resources in the health-care sector, said the pandemic placed alarming pressure on staff. “I even get goosebumps, because I think... it’s a very stressful context for long-term care staff.” Registered nurses recorded the largest decline in hours compared to licensed practical nurses. Their hours had already been in slight but steady decline since 2018. Meanwhile, the relative hours of care performed by care aides is steadily increasing, leading Havaei to ponder how care aides may be replacing nurses in some care situations. Based on research from her coming report, Havaei says supporting staff with flexible sick leave, paid time off and proper personal protective equipment can improve their lives, which in turn will improve the care residents receive. “If you think about the mental health implications of all of that (stress), and how that influences staff’s work behaviours and decisions when giving care, you can see that the implications are really huge,” said Havaei. The federal government announced $1 billion in funding for the long-term care sector, and B.C. has committed $44.1 million to hire more than 5,000 new health-care support workers. “Adequate resources translates directly to safe staffing levels,” added Sims-Gould. “The situation is so grave, and these facilities are doing the best they can.” Henry would not commit to a timeline when families could see visits expanded, but Mackenzie hopes the right balance will be found and implemented as soon as possible. “Time is marching on,” she said, noting residents won’t have access to a vaccine until February or March at the earliest. “Arguably, not only can we [expand visits] now, I think now makes it more important to do it, because the system is under more stress,” said Mackenzie. “And these family members can actually help us, in addition to visiting their loved one, and all of those positive quality-of-life benefits.”Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
The organizers of Edmonton's temporary downtown shelter say they will deploy additional security resources inside and outside the venue. The four agencies that run the Edmonton Convention Centre's winter shelter said in a statement Thursday they are focused on improving security. "We continue to evaluate and modify our security protocols based on the unique needs of our guests and the need to continue to provide a strong and proactive security presence," Elliott Tanti, a spokesperson for Boyle Street Community Services, said in an email. "We are collaborating with all operational partners to deploy additional security resources in the coming days, including a more robust security presence in both outdoor and indoor spaces and issuing a new code of conduct which guests must verbally acknowledge upon entry." Clients of the shelter spoke about safety concerns in interviews with CBC News earlier this week. A 45-year-old man was attacked outside the centre at around 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, police said in a release. A 23-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public in relation to that attack. The victim is in stable condition. Tanti confirmed that medical and security teams responded to a "critical incident" outside the facility on Tuesday night. None of the staff involved in the response were injured. The shelter opened in early November to give people staying in encampments an indoor space that follows COVID-19 protocols. Organizers are currently dealing with an outbreak. The original capacity of 300 overnight residents has been lowered to 150 to deal with the outbreak. Edmonton Police said they responded to 60 incidents at the centre between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. Those included six assault causing bodily harm or assault with a weapon charges, five assaults, and two sexual assaults.