A salsa song about voting for President Donald Trump, first performed by the Cuban band Los 3 de la Habana at a private party in Miami, has traveled widely and now plays at rallies and early polling locations. (Oct. 30)
A salsa song about voting for President Donald Trump, first performed by the Cuban band Los 3 de la Habana at a private party in Miami, has traveled widely and now plays at rallies and early polling locations. (Oct. 30)
WASHINGTON — The federal government recognized President-elect Joe Biden as the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election on Monday, formally starting the transition of power after President Donald Trump spent weeks testing the boundaries of American democracy. He relented after suffering yet more legal and procedural defeats in his seemingly futile effort to overturn the election with baseless claims of fraud.Trump still refused to concede and vowed to continue to fight in court after General Services Administrator Emily Murphy gave the green light for Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration. But Trump did tweet that he was directing his team to co-operate on the transition.Monday’s fast-moving series of events seemed to let much of the air out of Trump’s frantic efforts to undermine the will of the people in what has amounted to a weekslong stress test for American democracy. But Trump’s attempts to foment a crisis of confidence in the political system and the fairness of U.S. elections haven’t ended and are likely to persist well beyond his lame-duck presidency.Murphy, explaining her decision, cited "recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.”She acted after Michigan on Monday certified Biden’s victory in the battleground state, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.It also comes as an increasing number of Republicans were publicly acknowledging Biden’s victory, after weeks of tolerating Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. The president had grown increasingly frustrated with the flailing tactics of his legal team.In recent days, senior Trump aides including chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone had also encouraged him to allow the transition to begin, telling the president he didn’t need to concede but could no longer justify withholding support to the Biden transition.Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, said the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, has faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration. The delay denied Biden access to highly classified national security briefings and hindered his team's ability to begin drawing up its own plans to respond to the raging coronavirus pandemic.Murphy insisted she acted on her own.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” she wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted moments after Murphy's decision: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, criticized the delay but said Biden’s team would be able to overcome it.“Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges," he said. "The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the GSA action “is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue.? Noting that the nation “faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition,? Schumer urged Democrats and Republicans to “unite together for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America.?Murphy’s action came just 90 minutes after Michigan election officials certified Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state. The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one GOP abstention. Trump and his allies had hoped to block the vote to allow time for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump has claimed without evidence that he was the victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes there.Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That long-shot bid is no longer possible in Michigan.“The people of Michigan have spoken. President-elect Biden won the State of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, and he will be our next president on January 20th,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said, adding it’s “time to put this election behind us.”Trump was increasingly frustrated by his legal team, led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose erratic public performances drew bipartisan mockery in recent weeks. Still, the legal challenges were expected to continue, as Trump seeks to keep his supporters on his side and keep his options open for opportuntities post-presidency.In Pennsylvania on Saturday, a conservative Republican judge shot down the Trump campaign’s biggest legal effort in the state with a scathing ruling that questioned why he was supposed to disenfranchise 7 million voters with no evidence to back their claims and an inept legal argument at best.But the lawyers still hope to block the state’s certification, quickly appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which ordered lawyers to file a brief Monday but did not agree to hear oral arguments.The campaign, in its filings, asked for urgent consideration so it could challenge the state election results before they are certified next month. If not, they will seek to decertify them, the filings said.Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.Pennsylvania county election boards voted Monday, the state deadline, on whether to certify election results to the Department of State. The boards in two populous counties split along party lines, with majority Democrats in both places voting to certify. After all counties have sent certified results to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, she must then tabulate, compute and canvass votes for all races. The law requires her to perform that task quickly but does not set a specific deadline.In Wisconsin, a recount in the state’s two largest liberal counties moved into its fourth day, with election officials in Milwaukee County complaining that Trump observers were slowing down the process with frequent challenges. Trump’s hope of reversing Biden’s victory there depends on disqualifying thousands of absentee ballots —- including the in-person absentee ballot cast by one of Trump’s own campaign attorneys in Dane County.___Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Jonathan Lemire in New York, Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta and John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich., contributed to this report.Zeke Miller, David Eggert And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
COVID-19 vaccines are at risk of being undermined by vaccine hesitancy. Pharma must take steps to ensure transparency in data monitoring committees and trial data to build public trust in vaccines.
TORONTO — A new study suggests people who visit a hospital emergency room at least twice in 12 months because of alcohol are more likely to die within a year.Researchers at ICES and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found one in 20 people who ended up in hospital two or more times in a 12-month period for mental and behavioural issues related to alcohol died within a year of their first visit.The risk of death was double for those who went to hospital five or more times.The study looked at nearly 26,000 people in Ontario over the age of 16 who landed in the ER at least twice within a 12-month period between January 2010 and December 2016. Of those, two-thirds went to hospital twice, 22 per cent went three or four times, and 12 per cent had five or more visits.More than two-thirds of those with five or more visits were male, almost half were aged 45 to 64 years, and nearly 90 per cent lived in urban centres, with 40 per cent of those coming from the lowest-income neighbourhoods. Senior author Dr. Paul Kurdyak, a scientist at CAMH and the non-profit research institute ICES, says frequent visits should signal the need to screen patients for problematic drinking and unmet social and health-care needs.The majority of deaths were from accidental poisoning, suicide and trauma, as well as diseases of the digestive system. The study was published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
A former chief of Siksika Nation and Blackfoot leader, Isapo-muxika, is one of several historical figures under consideration to be featured on the Bank of Canada’s new $5 bill. Eight shortlisted candidates are being considered for the new note selected from a list of 600 eligible nominees from a six-week public consultation process that ended March 11, 2020. Over 45,000 Canadians participated in the process. Isapo-muxika or Sahpo Muxika, known more commonly as Crowfoot, was born circa 1830 near Belly River, Alta. and died April 25, 1890 near Blackfoot Crossing. Crowfoot was a leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy and known for his judicious use of diplomacy, and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples. Others shortlisted for the $5 bill include Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, and Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft). The list will be submitted for consideration to the Minister of Finance. Each candidate will be judged on enacting positive change, being a national icon, universality (impacting Canada, reflecting values), uniqueness, and relevancy. The selected candidate will be announced in early 2021.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Canada's seafood industry is breathing a sigh of relief after the signing of a temporary free-trade deal between Canada and the United Kingdom.The agreement announced on the weekend keeps tariffs off Canadian seafood exports — valued at $131 million last year — to the U.K. post-Brexit.Tariffs on Canadian seafood were eliminated under the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement."It cements the access that we've currently enjoyed under CETA. The U.K. is our fifth largest single country export destination, so it is important for our sector and we're pleased that this transitional deal was reached," said Paul Lansbergen, president of the Fisheries Council of Canada."Our analysis was that it would have resulted in about an average of a 10 per cent tariff on our products, and that would certainly be enough to disadvantage us in the marketplace if other countries reached a transitional deal."Industry says it was facing $11M in tariffsThe Fisheries Council of Canada, a non-profit trade association representing seafood harvesters, processors, importers and marketers, said the top seafood exports to the U.K. are salmon (35 per cent), shrimps and prawns (26 per cent), lobsters (25 per cent), and scallops (five per cent).The council said applicable tariffs would have added roughly $11 million on the top four exports in absence of an agreement.The office of International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the deal maintains "a competitive edge and preferential access to the U.K. market" for Atlantic Canadian seafood companies."It's vital for the hard-working people and businesses in the fish and seafood industry who would have faced increased tariffs on their exports to the U.K. once the Brexit period ends," said press secretary Youmy Han in a statement to CBC News.The interim deal is good news for some of Atlantic Canada's biggest seafood companies like Ocean Choice International in Newfoundland and Labrador and Clearwater Seafoods in Nova Scotia.Clearwater 'very pleased' with deal"We are very pleased with the Canada-U.K. trade deal," said Christine Penney, vice-president of sustainability for Clearwater Seafoods, in an email. "The deal will provide a seamless transition for trade between Canada and the U.K. as the U.K. exits the European Union." The deal must be approved by both governments.In Canada's case, legislation to change regulations and laws, including its custom tariff, to comply with the new agreement must be approved by Parliament before the deal can take effect.The Fisheries Council of Canada is urging Parliament to ratify the deal as soon as possible."Canadians working in the fisheries sector supply chain will thank you," the council said in a news release.Negotiations for a permanent free-trade deal with the U.K. are planned for next year.MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
LONDON — Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world. The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine. AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. “I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said at a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.” The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in one of the dosing regimens tested; it was less effective in another. Earlier this month, rival drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. While the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), the Pfizer and Moderna products must be stored at temperatures approaching minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 Fahrenheit). The AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed. AstraZeneca applied for approval of its vaccine candidate in Canada on Oct. 1, under a special process that is allowing Health Canada to review COVID-19 vaccines for use at the same time as the vaccines are finishing their final clinical trials. Pfizer and Moderna have also applied for the rolling-review process. Canada signed a deal with AstraZeneca at the end of September to secure 20 million doses of the highly touted vaccine. The federal government has not said when those doses would be available to Canadians, but they can't be distributed here until Health Canada gives the vaccine the green light for use. Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed they weren’t competing with other projects and said multiple vaccines would be needed to reach enough of the world’s population to end the pandemic. “We need to be able to make a lot of vaccine for the world quickly, and it’s best if we can do it with different technologies so that if one technology runs into a roadblock, then we’ve got alternatives, we've got diversity,'' professor Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford team, told The Associated Press. “Diversity is going to be good here, but also in terms of manufacturing, we don’t want to run out of raw materials.” AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries. The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective. That means that, overall, when both ways of dosing are considered, the vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 70%. Gilbert said researchers aren't sure why giving a half-dose followed by a larger dose was more effective, and they plan to investigate further. But the answer is probably related to providing exactly the right amount of vaccine to get the best response, she said. “It's the Goldilocks amount that you want, I think, not too little and not too much. Too much could give you a poor quality response as well ...,'' she said. "I’m glad that we looked at more than one dose because it turns out to be really important.” The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body. Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated with a given supply of the vaccine. “The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.” The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Of those, 11,636 people received the vaccine — while the rest got a placebo. Overall, there were 131 cases of COVID-19. Details on how many people in the various groups became ill weren’t released Monday, but researchers said they will be published in the next 24 hours. Late-stage trials of the vaccine are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries. Researchers said they expect to add the half dose-full dose regimen to the U.S. trial in a “matter of weeks.’’ Before doing so they must discuss the changes with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The AstraZeneca trials were paused earlier this year after a participant in the U.K. study reported a rare neurological illness. While the trials were quickly restarted in most countries after investigators determined the condition wasn’t related to the vaccine, the FDA delayed the U.S. study for more than a month before it was allowed to resume. AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month. Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world. “This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca. Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators. Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said. From the beginning of their collaboration with AstraZeneca, Oxford scientists have demanded that the vaccine be made available equitably to everyone in the world so rich countries can't corner the market as has happened during previous pandemics. Leaders of the world's most powerful nations on Sunday agreed to work together to ensure “affordable and equitable access" to COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines. “If we don’t have the vaccine available in many, many countries, and we just protect a small number of them, then we can’t go back to normal because the virus is going to keep coming back and causing problems again," Gilbert said. “No one is safe until we’re all safe.” ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
HURON COUNTY – Residential development proposals will soon have a comprehensive document to ensure that housing developers understand the community’s goals and expectations. Andrea Sinclair, urban designer for MHBC Planning Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, presented the final Residential Intensification Guidelines (RIGS) to Huron County council on Nov. 4. The motion was approved to accept the guidelines, and staff will distribute copies to local municipalities for information. These guidelines will help when evaluating development proposals and provide the community with more housing choices. The document mainly focuses on multi-unit development and will apply to all residential intensification projects in the county. The guidelines also address residential conversions and Additional Residential Units (ARUs). The RIGS are intended to be used by the builder and development community to guide residential developments. The guidelines address a full range of design considerations, including site layout, building design, parking, and landscaping. The guidelines, not meant to add more red tape to the process, are expected to streamline the process by setting out the design expectations early on and avoiding the development community and planning staff’s back-and-forth. By setting clear design objectives and priorities early in the process, the development community will understand what staff will be looking for when reviewing applications. The RIGS will ensure that neighbourhoods continue to be diverse while maintaining the need to accommodate a growing community. The County of Huron’s website states, “single detached dwellings meet many residents’ needs – but not all of them. When housing takes a wide range of forms, it can better meet the diverse needs of community members: those who rent, families requiring multiple bedrooms, seniors who are interested in downsizing, first time home buyers who can afford a house provided they can rent out the basement unit. “Neighbourhoods are dynamic places; the shifts anticipated in the next 20 years will bring about a renewal of our housing stock and the introduction of more dense forms of housing. This document is a tool to help manage that change and ensure that housing is available – and affordable – for all who call the county home.” For more information or to see the Residential Intensification Guidelines visit the Huron County website at www.huroncounty.ca.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
B.C. health officials have confirmed another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, a weekend which also saw 17 more people die of the disease.The number of patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is at 277, another new high, with 59 people in intensive care. There are now 7,360 active cases of the virus across B.C.Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional during Monday's briefing, as she addressed the growing spread of the virus in long-term care and assisted living, saying the majority of those who died this weekend were seniors and elders living in long-term care.She said it is urgent for everyone to do their part to reduce their social interactions and get the spread of this virus under control, but also offered reassurance that health officials and members of the public. have the tools and the knowledge to do that."I say this to fuel that fire of determination and resilience that I have seen in people across this province," Henry said.Monday's update included six new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and six in acute care units of hospitals. The majority of the new cases announced Monday — about 89 per cent — continue to be in the regions covered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.To date, 27,407 people in B.C. have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 348 people have died. There are now 10,200 people in isolation and under active monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the disease.'The next leg is not in sight'The weekend was the first in B.C. under a long list of public health orders and recommendations that came into effect on Thursday.The orders, which include mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and social gatherings that are restricted to members of the same household, will be in effect until at least Dec. 7. All indoor and outdoor events of any size have been suspended — that means popular events like the Stanley Park Christmas Train and VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights in Vancouver have been put on hold.Henry clarified Monday that despite some confusion over the weekend, movie theatres must also close for now.Initially, stricter orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 only included the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which were seeing a disproportionate spike in case numbers.Monday marks 16 days since Henry enacted those first regional orders. It takes at least 14 days, the incubation period for COVID-19, to be able to determine whether those measures are working.During Monday's briefing, Henry compared the pandemic to an Iron Man triathlon competition, with "three different, strenuous legs."We got through the swim — just barely. And now we're on the bike ride and we've got some big hills to climb ahead of us," she said."Right now, we have a distance to go. The next leg is not in sight."The final leg of this pandemic will only come when a vaccine is available, Henry explained.New measures and restrictionsSocial gatherings in B.C. are now restricted to household members only. That means no one should be meeting for social reasons with anyone outside of their immediate household, although a physically distanced walk with a friend or arranging for grandparents to pick up the kids from school is still acceptable.People who live alone can create a small exclusive "bubble" with one or two others, Henry has said.Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that there can be no bartering or compromise when it comes to the orders that are currently in place."We cannot negotiate with the virus. We can't deal with it that way — there's no litigation to be had," he said.In response to questions about how much notice event organizers might receive about when they're able to reschedule because the current orders are being lifted, Henry said she didn't have an answer."Things we were able to do in the summer — we had a buffer, we had the weather on our side. We can't get away with that anymore. We will see if that is going to make a difference over the next coming weeks," she said.The new mandatory mask mandate is a requirement for workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.The order for mandatory masks does not include schools.Henry said Monday that schools aren't public places where strangers can come and go at will. Instead, the same people are spending time together every day.However she said that masks are encouraged within school environments, particularly for adults.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is putting their season on pause following new public health measures and guidance from the province. The KIJHL provided an update on league operations following the provincial health orders issued Nov. 19 and later clarification provided by Viasport, a B.C. government non-profit sports organization, on Nov. 20. "In light of the new parameters outlined on Friday evening by Viasport, which include restrictions concerning travel between different communities, the KIJHL will pause all regular season game play beginning Saturday, Nov. 21. Under the current Provincial Health Order, competition between teams cannot resume until Monday, Dec. 8 at the earliest. Other Phase 3 activities, including team practices, may proceed so long as they adhere to all aspects of the KIJHL’s Return to Play policies," says a statement on the KIJHL website dated Nov. 21. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the KIJHL says it has made the health and safety of athletes, staff, volunteers, billet families and fans a top priority and the league is closely observing all of the guidance and protocols outlined by the province, Viasport, Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and team’s home facilities. Teams had been sorted into "cohorts" grouped together to reduce travel and exposure to other groups. The Osoyoos Coyotes had played three games thus far this season, with a record of one win, one loss and one overtime loss, sitting at third place in the Neil Murdoch Division. "On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced additional province-wide restrictions, and we have been working hard to clarify their impact on our league," the statement from KIJHL says. "We recognize that circumstances can change quickly, and we will update our plans as soon as new information becomes available. The KIJHL appreciates the patience and support of our fans, volunteers, billet families and sponsors as we navigate this process."Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
ATLANTA — After the Trump campaign requested a recount of the presidential ballots in Georgia, county election workers have just over a week to complete the new tally, a top elections official said Monday.The election results certified last week by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger showed Democrat Joe Biden beating Republican President Donald Trump by 12,670 votes out of about 5 million cast, or about 0.25%. Under state law, a candidate can request a recount when the margin is less than 0.5%.The Trump campaign on Saturday sent a formal request for a recount to the secretary of state’s office.The counties can begin the recount at 9 a.m. Tuesday and must finish by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state's new voting system for the secretary of state's office, said during a video news conference Monday. The counties are to give public notice of when during that period they will be counting so monitors from political parties and any interested members of the public can be there to observe, Sterling said.This will be the third time the votes in the presidential race have been counted in Georgia. After the initial count following Election Day, Raffensperger selected the presidential race for an audit required by state law. Because of the tight margin, he said, the audit required every vote in that contest to be recounted by hand.County election workers completed that hand tally last week. Because some previously uncounted ballots were discovered during the audit, several counties had to recertify their totals. Then the secretary of state certified the results and Gov. Brian Kemp certified the state's slate of 16 presidential electors.A state election board rule mandates that the recount requested by the Trump campaign be done by machine. County election workers will create test decks of 100 ballots — 75 marked by touchscreen voting machines and 25 marked by hand — and count those ballots by hand, Sterling said. Then they run those ballots through a scanner to make sure the tallies match. Once they determine each scanner is counting accurately, every single ballot will be rescanned, he said.Sterling also addressed a request the state Republican Party made Sunday urging the secretary of state to order an audit of the absentee ballots cast in the 2020 election, including verification of the signature match process.When Georgia voters return an absentee ballot, they have to sign an oath on the outer envelope. County election office workers are required to ensure the signature matches the one on the absentee ballot application and the one in the voter registration system, Raffensperger has said. Once the signatures are verified, to protect ballot secrecy enshrined in Georgia law, the ballots are separated from the envelopes and can't be matched back to individual voters.Sterling said the secretary of state's office is still reviewing whether any sort of investigation is appropriate, but he said there hasn't been any specific claim that the signature match process was not done properly.“We can't really see a legal path that makes any sense because if you open up investigations on a generalized grievance without any evidence, that leaves it open for somebody else in the future to do the exact same thing,” Sterling said.Also Monday, the state election board held a special called meeting and approved an extension of two emergency rules meant to accommodate the large number of absentee ballots expected because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One rule authorizes absentee ballot drop boxes in each county. The other allows counties to begin opening and scanning absentee ballots about two weeks before the election, and the board added a requirement for them to begin that processing one week before Election Day.The election board had planned to discuss another possible emergency rule on verification of residency during the voter registration process. But secretary of state's office general counsel Ryan Germany told the board members that it turns out state law already addresses the issue, and the secretary of state's office decided instead to send county election officials instructions reminding them of their authority and responsibilities under that law.Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
A local woman, along with her husband, is preserving history despite making renovations to a house that was in the Sifton family for years. “It’s a different type of house,” said Arlene Melanson, who purchased the house on Talbot Trail. “It’s a large Georgian stone house, not too many in the area. And it has like a second balcony, on the second floor. So it is pretty original. I don’t see any other houses like it around.” According to Melanson, the house carries centuries worth of history. The house, named Ellistone Farm, was built in 1901 by the Sifton family. She added Harry Sifton, who built the first subdivision in London, Ont., was born in the house. “The house and the property go back probably way before 1814,” said Melanson. The original house still sits on the property built in around 1814 that was built by the Stewart’s. That house sits on top of our drive shed.” When she went to look at the house when it was for sale, Melanson said a book about the Sifton family was on the dining room table. “I started going through it, and that’s when I started doing all the history of the Sifton family,” added Melanson. However, Melanson said she was attracted to the house long before she knew about the history attached to the house. “It’s just a very unusual home to begin with. It has all the original woodwork still in the house. It’s never been painted. There are only a few things that have actually been changed in the house, so it is pretty original,” said Melanson. When it comes to older houses, Melanson is no stranger. She has previously done renovations on homes built as early as 1850. Despite her love for the house’s original aspects, Melanson admitted there were urgent updates that needed to be done. “We had to redo the bathroom and the kitchen because of the plumbing,” said Melanson. “The upper deck porch and the lower porch on this home were completely rotten.” According to Melanson, the house remains rather original despite the repairs. The only thing that has been changed is the kitchen. The bathroom on the second floor was enlarged, but not by us. Also, the second staircase was taken out. And that’s probably about it,” said Melanson.Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
ÉCONOMIE. Les exportations internationales de marchandises du Québec ont augmenté de 6,2 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent (+ 2,3 % en août). Avec ces hausses, le niveau des exportations du mois de septembre est de 6,5 % inférieur à celui de février 2020, soit avant que les effets de la pandémie de COVID-19 ne se fassent ressentir. L'augmentation des exportations québécoises en septembre est notamment due à la croissance des exportations de carburants diesel et biodiesel (+ 311,4 %), d'aéronefs (+ 30,1 %), de porc frais et congelé (+ 39,3 %) et d'électricité (+ 121,5 %). À l'opposé, les exportations d'aluminium et d'alliages d'aluminium sous forme brute (- 11,3 %), d'essence à moteur (- 57,1 %) et d'or, d'argent et de métaux du groupe du platine sous forme brute et de leurs alliages (- 56,3 %) ont diminué en septembre. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, les exportations internationales de marchandises du Québec en dollars constants se sont repliées de 9,3 % par rapport à la même période de 2019. Par ailleurs, les importations internationales de marchandises du Québec, désaisonnalisées, en dollars constants, connaissent une hausse de 7,3 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent, à la suite d'une baisse de 3,7 % en août. Ce faisant, les importations atteignent leur plus haut niveau depuis le mois de janvier 2020 et surpassent de 2,3 % le niveau de février. La hausse des importations totales en septembre est principalement due à la croissance des importations de pétrole brut classique (+ 40,0 %) et, dans une moindre mesure, de camions de poids léger, de fourgonnettes et de véhicules utilitaires sport (+ 4,5 %) ainsi que de vin et de brandy (+ 71,7 %). À l'inverse, les importations de fournitures médicales, dentaires et de protection personnelle (- 45,2 %) et de formes primaires et de produits semi-ouvrés de métaux et d'alliages de métaux non ferreux (- 53,9 %) ont connu de fortes baisses en septembre. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, les importations internationales de marchandises du Québec en dollars constants ont diminué de 18,1 % comparativement à la même période de l'année précédente. Au niveau canadien, selon les informations publiées par Statistique Canada le 4 novembre dernier, les exportations de marchandises, désaisonnalisées, en dollars constants, ont augmenté de 1,2 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent, à la suite d'une stagnation (0,0 %) au mois d'août. De leur côté, les importations de marchandises ont connu une hausse de 0,6 % en septembre (- 0,3 % en août). Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, comparativement à la même période de 2019, les exportations de marchandises du Canada ont reculé de 8,2 % et les importations canadiennes de marchandises ont diminué de 12,0 %. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Monday spoke during a virtual House of Commons session of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, where he underscored the power that China has in the world, and stated multilateralism is key in ensuring "global stability and security in a world where China is a powerful actor." Champagne said Canada is working with "like-minded countries" to defend rules-based international order to ensure China abides by its obligations to abide by international human rights law.
RCMP are looking to speak to a woman who allegedly assaulted an employee of Skaha Lake Liquor Store in Penticton after he had asked her to wear a mask. Penticton RCMP say they responded to a report of an assault at the Skaha Lake Liquor Store on Nov. 21, 2020 at 1:48 p.m. In a post on social media, Skaha Lake Liquor store alleges (with video) that a woman entered the store without a mask and when asked to put one on, she damaged the employee’s cellular phone and spit at the employee. The woman who was wearing a black and pink coloured jacket is described by RCMP as: “It’s extremely troubling an employee who was only following the provincial health orders, was subject to an assault of this nature,” said Sgt. Jason Bayda, Media Relations Officer for the Penticton South Okanagan RCMP. “Spitting at someone is a concern anytime, let alone in the midst of a pandemic.” RCMP are aware of the security footage of the woman making the rounds on social media, and police say they “would like to first provide her an opportunity to come forward and speak to investigators about the matter.” The post on Skaha Lake Liquor Store’s Facebook page also alleges the woman made “racial comments” towards the employee. Penticton RCMP are asking the woman or anyone else who may have information into this matter to call them at 250-492-4300 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees. A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty. The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year. This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage. Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years. “We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost. Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them. Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before. The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.” “This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said. The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents. Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle. “The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager. The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way. That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July. The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said. “It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said. Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to. “You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices. Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache. “Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees. New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan. “I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.” ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine — Hundreds of retirees staged a protest in the Belarusian capital on Monday to demand the resignation of the country's authoritarian leader who won his sixth terms in office in a disputed election.Over 2,000 pensioners were estimated to have marched down a central avenue in Minsk in what has turned into a regular Monday rally, carrying red and white flags that have become the main symbol of the country's protests. They also held aloft portraits of opposition supporter Raman Bandarenka, who died earlier this month after reportedly being beaten by security forces.“Grandmothers and grandfathers heal poorly from new wounds,” read one of the banners carried by demonstrators. At on point the crowd ran into a police cordon and broke up into smaller groups that went into different directions.Mass protests gripped Belarus since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She and her supporters refused to recognize the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud.Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the largest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Police used stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse the rallies. Thousands have been detained and many of them beaten since the election, human rights advocates say.Belarus' Interior Ministry said Monday that 345 people were detained during protests across the country a day earlier. The Viasna human rights centre puts the number at 390.According to Viasna, at least one person was detained at Monday's protest.The Associated Press
Pour exporter davantage de marchandises vers l’Europe, des acteurs économiques du Manicouagan proposent de construire un chemin de fer de 370 km entre Dolbeau-Mistassini et Baie-Comeau. Ce corridor nordique, évalué à 2 G$, ne fait toutefois pas l’unanimité, car plusieurs acteurs du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean voient le projet comme une manière de contourner la région. Le Quotidien vous aide à y voir plus clair. \+ TIRER SON ÉPINGLE DU JEU AVEC UN CORRIDOR NORDIQUE Le projet de Qc Rail a pris naissance dans la MRC de Manicouagan lorsque les acteurs économiques ont analysé les programmes de financement disponibles. « En analysant la situation locale et nationale, on cherchait des projets pour qu’on puisse tirer notre épingle du jeu », explique Marcel Furlong, préfet de la MRC de Manicouagan. C’est le Fonds national des corridors commerciaux, doté d’une enveloppe de 2,3 milliards de dollars provenant d’Ottawa, qui a fait germer l’idée de Qc Rail, une société en commandite créée par Innovation et Développement Manicouagan et la Société du Plan Nord, ajoute l’homme qui en est devenu le président du conseil d’administration. « Les exportations vers l’Europe ont crû de 28% depuis 2015 selon les données du gouvernement fédéral », remarque Marcel Furlong, soulignant la hausse depuis la signature d’un traité de libre-échange. Selon ce dernier, l’augmentation du volume de transport est la prémisse pour développer un projet comme Qc Rail, qui propose un corridor nordique comme alternative au réseau en milieu urbain. Ce corridor prendrait la forme d’un chemin de fer de 370 kilomètres entre Dolbeau-Mistassini et Baie-Comeau, en pleine forêt boréale. « On ne travaille pas en concurrence avec les autres ports du Québec et on travaille de manière la plus transparente possible », ajoute-t-il. Pour l’instant, le projet n’en est qu’à l’étude de faisabilité technico-économique. « On doit d’abord déterminer si c’est possible de construire une infrastructure entre Dolbeau-Mistassini et Baie-Comeau, puis de savoir si ça peut être rentable », souligne Marcel Furlong. Pour réaliser cette étude, Qc Rail déboursera 15 millions de dollars, financé à parts égales par les gouvernements provincial et fédéral. La firme Systra a récemment reçu le mandat de supervision du projet, mais le contrat de réalisation de l’étude sera octroyé au cours des prochains mois. À l’heure actuelle, le projet est évalué à près de deux milliards de dollars, mais c’est l’étude de faisabilité qui viendra confirmer un montant plus exact. « On doit d’abord déterminer si c’est possible de construire une infrastructure entre Dolbeau-Mistassini et Baie-Comeau, puis de savoir si ça peut être rentable. » — Marcel Furlong, préfet de la MRC de Manicouagan En lançant ce projet, les promoteurs savaient qu’ils allaient « soulever de la poussière », selon les dires de Marcel Furlong. « C’est pourquoi on veut travailler avec les acteurs locaux et les communautés autochtones pour trouver les conditions gagnantes », dit-il, en ajoutant qu’il a rencontré les élus de Saguenay, ainsi que les préfets des MRC de la région. Qc Rail vise notamment l’exportation de grains et autres produits alimentaires en utilisant le corridor nordique optimisé entre Winnipeg et Baie-Comeau. Selon un reportage publié dans Le Soleil le 3 novembre, le CN et le CP, les deux principales compagnies de chemin de fer au pays, ont transporté un record de 6,3 millions de tonnes de grains en octobre, une croissance de 13,5% et de 14,2% respectivement sur une année, souligne Marcel Furlong. L’étude de faisabilité se basera uniquement sur les industries existantes, évitant les marchés miniers potentiels dans le nord du Québec, ainsi que le transport de charbon et d’hydrocarbure, ajoute Marcel Furlong. « Ça ne sera pas nous autres qui allons construire ou exploiter le chemin de fer », remarque toutefois Marcel Furlong. Si les conclusions sont positives, l’étude servira d’argument pour convaincre des investisseurs potentiels, comme le CN, qui décidera quels produits seront transportés pour avoir des opérations rentables. À cette étape préliminaire, aucun joueur de l’industrie n’a annoncé son intérêt. Les résultats de l’étude de faisabilité sont attendus en 2023. « Aujourd’hui, personne n’accepterait de construire un chemin de fer dans des zones urbanisées ou sur le territoire agricole, parce que ça dérange la vie des gens. Un corridor nordique peut être une solution idéale pour tous et on doit au moins se donner la chance d’évaluer cette option », conclut Marcel Furlong, qui rêve même à l’idée d’utiliser les locomotives électriques sur ce futur réseau nordique. Le taux d’occupation du Port de Saguenay n’est que de 20% et pourrait accueillir davantage de marchandise. COURTOISIE \+ UN PROJET POUR CONTOURNER LA RÉGION? La Ville et Port de Saguenay estiment que le projet de Qc Rail est tout simplement une manière de contourner la région en faisant transiter les ressources par la Côte-Nord, car les installations portuaires de la région ne sont occupées qu’à 20%. « On est déjà équipé pour desservir ce marché et il y a déjà des voies ferrées qui se rendent jusqu’au port de Saguenay, alors je ne vois pas à quel besoin le projet de Qc Rail vient répondre », lance d’emblée Carl Laberge, le président-directeur général de Port de Saguenay. Pour l’instant, le taux d’occupation au port de Saguenay est de 15 à 20% et Carl Laberge estime qu’il faudrait d’abord optimiser les installations existantes avant de développer de nouveaux réseaux. S’il existe un besoin pour exporter du grain, ou d’autres produits, le port de Saguenay est en mesure de le faire, dit-il. Même si le réseau ferroviaire du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean doit être amélioré, il est tout de même sous-exploité à l’heure actuelle, ajoute le PDG. « Le danger de ce projet, c’est qu’il va contourner la région et faire transiter les ressources par la Côte-Nord, un projet qui pourrait difficilement trouver d’acceptabilité dans la région », renchérit Josée Néron, la mairesse de Saguenay. Saguenay souhaite plutôt optimiser le réseau régional. Le Fonds d’appui au rayonnement des régions (FARR) a d’ailleurs autorisé un financement de 696 000 $ pour la réalisation d’une étude d’optimisation du réseau régional, ainsi qu’un autre montant de 50 000 $ pour développer le tracé optimal, avec les zones de transbordement stratégique, notamment. « Nous allons présenter prochainement au gouvernement une alternative crédible à QC rail », a ajouté Josée Néron. Développer le réseau ferroviaire régional « On va proposer plusieurs scénarios d’aménagement ferroviaire aux élus au cours des prochains mois afin de déterminer les meilleures solutions pour la région », explique Claude Asselin, le coordonnateur de CMAX Transport, qui pilote sur le projet d’optimisation du réseau ferroviaire. Par exemple, l’organisation présentera des scénarios qui permettront d’augmenter le volume et la fluidité de transport provenant des mines du nord. « On doit améliorer le service aux clients industriels », ajoute Claude Asselin, qui cite en exemple le piètre état du réseau entre Chapais et La Doré. « Améliorer le réseau ferroviaire implique de gros budgets et on doit travailler avec les propriétaires, les infrastructures et les dessertes qui sont en place », dit-il, ajoutant quelques améliorations pourraient amener de bons résultats. Les résultats de l’étude de CMAX Transport seront connus au début de 2021, après la consultation des élus. « On va proposer plusieurs scénarios d’aménagement ferroviaire aux élus au cours des prochains mois afin de déterminer les meilleures solutions pour la région. » — Claude Asselin, CMAX Transport Un projet de 60 M$ au Port de Saguenay Carl Laberge préfère ne pas commenter le financement de 7,5 M$ pour l’étude de Qc Rail, mais ce dernier mentionne que le Port de Saguenay a aussi déposé une demande de 20 M$, en vain, au Fond national des corridors commerciaux, dans le cadre d’un projet de 60 M$, pour financer l’installation de convoyeurs entre les bateaux et les trains afin d’optimiser le transport de marchandises en vrac. « Ça améliorerait la fluidité en éliminant le transport par camion et ça serait beaucoup plus sécuritaire », explique Carl Laberge qui qualifie ce projet de structurant, car il est essentiel à la croissance du port. Jusqu’à aujourd’hui, le fonds a financé 86 projets pour un total de 1,8 milliard de dollars. Aucune prise de position dans le Haut-du-Lac Alors que le projet de Qc Rail suscite plusieurs inquiétudes dans la région, les élus du Haut-du-Lac et la communauté de Mashteuiatsh préfèrent ne pas prendre position pour l’instant, jouant plutôt un rôle d’observateur. « On nous a approchés pour siéger sur le conseil d’administration, mais pour l’instant, on a choisi d’être seulement un observateur, parce que c’est un projet qui pourrait passer chez nous et qui aura un impact sur l’aménagement de notre territoire », soutient Luc Simard, le préfet de la MRC de Maria-Chapdelaine. Malgré l’opposition régionale, ni Luc Simard ni Pascal Cloutier, le maire de Dolbeau-Mistassini, ne veulent prendre position pour ou contre le projet pour l’instant. « On doit se tenir au courant, mais le projet n’est pas encore assez mature pour savoir ce qui va être transporté et s’il y aura des opportunités ou des retombées pour nous », soutient Pascal Cloutier, qui mise davantage sur l’amélioration du réseau régional. Mashteuiatsh préfère aussi attendre d’avoir plus d’information avant de prendre position sur le projet, a soutenu Karen Robertson, la responsable des communications de Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan. NoneGuillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
As Toronto enters a new lockdown Monday, Mayor John Tory says an additional package of supports for those living in communities hardest hit by COVID-19 is coming."We owe it to the most vulnerable to make sure that extra measures are provided, extra supports are provided in their fight against COVID-19," he said at a news conference Monday. Tory said there will be expanded testing in the northwest parts of the city and northeast part in Scarborough that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 since the pandemic began. COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing systemic health inequities related to racism, he said, noting Black people and racialized people who may be living in multi-generational households are at a far higher risk than others.He added that data demonstrates that COVID-19 hot spot neighbourhoods are experiencing lower testing rates and higher positivity rates. These neighbourhoods often house more essential workers who feel pressure to go to work, even when sick, he said. New supports involve a partnership with 11 community based organizations, and will include a broader sharing of public health information, expanded testing in harder hit neighbourhoods and increased public transportation to those testing sites. Tory also said an eviction moratorium is crucial along with better access to emergency services. "The city has been clear that the residential eviction ban in place earlier this year should continue. And we repeat that request to the provincial government again today," he said. As well, mayors and chairs across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton have gathered this week and are now calling on companies and governments to reassure workers that self-isolation after a positive test will not result in job loss or loss of income, said Tory.They are seeking additional assurances from the province that workplaces will be inspected to guarantee that they are following public health protocols, protecting workers and not requiring employees to be on the job while ill.Testing hesitancy an issue in hard-hit areas: CressyCoun. Joe Cressy, also the city's board of health chair, said new support measures will be implemented immediately for neighbourhoods in the northeast and northwest.Extra city facilities will be transformed into testing centres and buses will be retrofitted as mobile testing centres, he said.Testing hesitancy continues to be an issue those communities are grappling with, said Cressy. "For many residents, they're worried that a positive test result will mean staying home, which can mean lost income," he said. WATCH | Premier Doug Ford addresses business closures during lockdown:To address those concerns, the city is rolling out an outreach program that will be operated by "trusted local community outreach workers on the ground," he said.Those workers will also help residents with access to the city's isolation centre, so they know they can isolate safely without infecting other family members. Limit contact to support essential workers: de VillaThere are 331 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto on Monday, along with 167 people in hospital. Forty-one of those people are in intensive care units, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, at the same news conference.Since de Villa's last update on Wednesday, there have been 2,177 new cases of COVID-19 in the city, she said. Toronto has reported 45 per cent of all cases for entire pandemic since Oct. 1.De Villa echoed Tory's comments in asking Toronto residents to stay home — as many essential workers do not have the option to do so.City data shows the risk of infection for those who live in more severely impacted neighbourhoods is close to double other areas, which house more essential workers, she said. "They're there because that's where we need them to be," she said. "So we owe it to them, those of us who can choose to keep more apart than others."Tory also spoke about retailers doing their part to limit the spread as well by not holding in-person Black Friday sales this week."You are open by order of the province so residents can buy essentials. You are not open to cash in on Black Friday," he said. Torontonians should engage with Black Friday sales online only, or use the curbside pickup option for smaller, independent retailers in the city, he said. Charges laid after large weekend gatheringsMatthew Peg, Toronto's fire chief and head of emergency management, announced a series of charges laid over the weekend due to large gatherings. He also provided an update on a variety of other COVID-19-related violations reported in the last few days.A large party in a storage unit held Friday night resulted in one charge, he said. Similarly, a crowded gathering on Lawrence Avenue West in the area of Allen Road on the same night resulted in 15 charges. Enforcement teams also extinguished 35 bonfires on Toronto beaches over the weekend and laid 33 charges in relation to trespassing on beaches and parks. Another 39 charges were laid after complaints were called in to 311 about at-home gatherings. Tory, de Villa address mental health, opioid crisisThe mental health of all residents, specifically those who are more impacted by the pandemic, is also a concern for the city and a " dramatic improvement and expansion of the mental health system" is required, Tory said in an interview Monday with CBC's Metro Morning."I mean, it's scandalous, really what we started with when the pandemic started. We should have been on a much better foundation before we began in terms of treatment programs for people with mental health and substance use issues," he said. While the city has expanded it's 211 service — where residents can call a hotline to speak to a mental health professional directly — there's much more left to be done, he said. In Toronto, as is the trend for Ontario overall, there's been a dramatic increase in opioid deaths over the course of the pandemic. A report from the start of November showed a total of 132 people in Toronto died between April 1 and Sept. 30 due to a suspected opioid overdose, nearly double the number from the same period in 2018 and 2019.Toronto officials have urged actions to tackle the opioid crisis including further collaboration with other levels of government. When asked about the increase in opioid-related deaths at the news conference, Tory said there hasn't been enough focus on the crisis.While the city has a "significant" harm reduction program, more needs to be done through the provincial health-care system, he said. De Villa also addressed opioid overdoses, stating that the city's board of health wants to move forward on recommendations to address the issue."COVID-19 has been an almost all consuming challenge for us to deal with. But that doesn't mean that we're not paying attention to other challenges," she said."So we continue to advance our overdose action plan. And we are certainly advocating at the other levels of government."
Chatham-Kent has received notice of a school outbreak. Dr. David Colby, Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent, has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Winston Churchill Public School. This is the first school outbreak in Chatham-Kent. An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a school community, where transmission has been confirmed to have occurred within the school. According to a release, CK Public Health has notified the school community, including students, staff, parents and guardians. All close contacts were directed to isolate and were tested. If CK Public Health has not contacted you, no testing is required at this time. Residents are asked not to contact the health unit for questions in order not to clog up services, adding they will be contacted if necessary. The health unit asks residents to continue to follow public health advice to keep COVID-19 controlled within the community. This includes only travelling for essential purposes, physically distance (2 metres) from others, wear a mask, wash your hands or use 70 percent alcohol hand sanitizer frequently and stay home if you are unwell. The school will remain open.Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News