Iconic British actor Richard Burton was knighted at Buckingham Palace. (Nov. 12)
Iconic British actor Richard Burton was knighted at Buckingham Palace. (Nov. 12)
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 41 confirmed COVID-19 patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam Thursday despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules. About 426,340 students were taking the one-day exam at about 1,380 sites across the nation, including hospitals and other medical facilities where the 41 virus patients and hundreds of other test-takers in self-quarantine sat separately from others, according to the Education Ministry. The annual exam, called “Suneung,” or College Scholastic Ability Test, is crucial in the education-obsessed country, where job prospects, social standing and even who you marry can often depend on which university you attend. Defence and land ministries said they temporarily banned military exercises and stopped air traffic to reduce noise during the English-language listening parts of Thursday’s exam, as they did in past years. Government offices and many private companies asked their employees to come in late, and the country’s stock market delayed its opening to clear roads for test-takers. This year’s exam had been originally scheduled for November but was delayed due to the virus outbreak. Experts say on-and-off online classes have widened the gap between high achievers and low performing students due to reduced interaction with teachers, digital distractions and technical difficulties. “If the exam had been delayed again, our kids would have felt much more psychological pressure ... I think it’s fortunate the exam is taking place now,” said Kim Sun-wha, the mother of a test-taker. “I hope everyone will avoid making mistakes, do their best and get good results.” Mothers hugged their children and patted their backs before they entered a temporary exam site set up at a high school in Seoul. One shouted, “Don’t be nervous! Do Well!” and another screamed “Cheer up!” Students were required to have their temperature taken before entering the test sites, wear masks throughout the exam and maintain their distance from each other. They had to bring their own water and lunch because they weren't allowed to use water purifiers or drinking fountains at the sites or go outside to get meals. Those with a fever were to go to separate testing areas. There were a total of 1,383 sites, an increase of 198 from last year, according to the Education Ministry. In recent days, the government has urged the public to stay home and avoid social gatherings as much as possible to provide a safe environment for those taking the exams. Park Yu-mi, an anti-virus official in Seoul, said authorities asked companies to have at least one-third of their employees work from home. There are worries that the nationwide exam could accelerate the spread of the virus. During a briefing Thursday, health official Lee Sang-won said he felt “really sorry” that he had to ask students to be vigilant and avoid gatherings even after the exam is over. “I’d like to offer words of consolation to test-takers who have studied and come to take the exam under a particularly difficult situation,” Lee said. “I want to tell you to put aside stress and enjoy yourselves fully (after the test), but it’s regrettable that I can’t say that under the current situation.” South Korea has relatively successfully contained previous viral outbreaks this year thanks to its internationally acclaimed rapid tracing, testing and treatment strategy, combined with the widespread public use of masks. But it’s now grappling with a spike in infections after it eased distancing rules in October. Authorities last week restored stringent distancing restrictions in the greater Seoul area and other places. On Thursday, South Korea reported 540 new cases, taking the total to 35,703 with 529 deaths. ___ Associated Press journalists Kim Tong-hyung and Kim Yong Ho contributed to this report. Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press
Tahothoratie Cross remembers his first semester of college as being filled with feelings of isolation. But now he will soon be graduating as a student ambassador who has spent the last four years leading changes at Champlain College Saint-Lambert near Montreal. He hopes it has become a welcoming place for Indigenous students."I want to provide these opportunities to students that are coming up so that they don't have to go through those types of experiences of isolation," said Cross, who is a Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) student from Kahnawake, Que."It's important for us to do the work while we're here to make sure that students have the best experience that they can."Cross is a founding member of the Indigenous ambassadors program, which has provided Indigenous students with peer support, mentorship, leadership, and advocacy opportunities since 2016.It started after he wore a Boston Bruins jersey to class and was stopped in the hallway by David Persons, the financial aid officer at the college's student services. A conversation about hockey jumped to the struggles of isolation Cross was facing, and soon snowballed into gathering a group of other Kahnawake students to discuss improving support on campus.The program has since grown to include faculty, staff, and community partnerships. Quebec's First Nations Adult Education School Council provides guidance and support.Tanu Lusignan, executive director of the First Nations Adult Education School Council, said he heard challenges of isolation, barriers linked to the French language, and experiences with faculty and classmates who knew little about about Indigenous people as a whole."There was a sense of disconnect," said Lusignan."We wanted to reinforce and engage in ensuring that the services available at Champlain were meeting the needs of Indigenous students."Advocacy on campusThrough the program, the student ambassadors have provided input on curriculum, hosted presentations, organized awareness events, and shared experiences with faculty during professional development training. It's work that they're now paid to do as a result of a partnership with Kahnawake's economic development commission. But, for the students, it's not about the money. They're motivated to see change."We were actually given the chance to work with teachers on curriculum and other types of work, which is something that not many students actually get to do," said Cross."I think it was something important that as Indigenous students, we were able to voice our opinions on what was actually being taught to students."For Iekenhnhenhá:wi Alexa Montour, it's about the opportunity to spread awareness of her culture and language. She helped organize a two-week Indigenous awareness event that included a mural, hoop dancing, and guest speakers."Sometimes it's hard speaking to people and trying to teach them about us because I'm not a professional in that way. But it's also not hard because I'm so passionate about it," said Montour."It comes out from the heart. That's what motivates me to keep doing this."The efforts of the ambassadors led Champlain College to give a land acknowledgement for the first time at its convocation ceremony, and provide a space for an Indigenous resource centre, along with other long-term commitments."The first real success that we had was getting an Indigenous resource centre that was ours. We made it into what we wanted," said Cross."We felt that as Indigenous students, one of the things that really lacked at the school was a place for us to feel safe, a place for us to go hang out and be with people that we can connect to."Hannah McGregor-Pelletier, who is now an Indigenous ambassador from Kahnawake, said the program made an impact on her life as a student."I came in knowing that this program was happening, so I felt more comfortable and it helped me grow as a person and has helped me to be more involved," she said."It was really nice having fellow community members where I don't have to be on that much alone as I was in classrooms."Currently, only students from Kahnawake have actively been involved with the program but Cross hopes that expands in the future."We've made big strides in changing the culture of Champlain through administration and the teachers, and I hope that continues. But, I think the ultimate goal is that the ambassadors program spreads to the other English colleges in the area," he said."I just want to keep seeing it grow and grow. The more Indigenous people that we make feel comfortable in their systems is really beneficial. And the more non-Indigenous people that we can make aware of exactly who we are, I think that's the ultimate goal."
Laboratories testing for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia are now equipped to handle as many as 5,000 tests per day.It's a number that has yet to be reached, but the amount of daily tests has been creeping up since the start of the second wave earlier this fall, reaching a record high of 4,138 reported Tuesday."We're adjusting our capacity essentially in real time as the pandemic shifts," said Tim Mailman, senior medical director for the pathology and lab medicine program at Nova Scotia Health.Epidemiologists tracking the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia predicted about two weeks ago that demand for testing would grow to 5,000, said Mailman. That's double the daily tests the province could handle in mid-November, so the labs started shifting resources."It's been a complex logistical system to ramp up in a short period of time, but we've managed to do it," said Mailman.Once centralized at the QEII Health Sciences Centre microbiology lab, some regional hospitals around the province are now processing tests, and Mailman said there are plans to bring more locations on board.The next level of growth would be for 7,000 tests per day — something that's been talked about, but isn't yet in the works. For now, Mailman said Public Health has asked the health authority to stay ready for 5,000 daily tests.Lab technologists highly sought afterThe biggest obstacle to growing lab capacity is the availability of trained lab technologists. While the health authority has been able to recruit more clerical staff, technologists have been harder to find."The biggest challenge has been human resources. There's been a long-standing Canadian shortage of medical lab technologists. It's a very highly sought after specialty," he said."There are no unemployed lab technologists in the province — at least, none that want to be working."With that dearth of workers, the health authority has scaled back on lab activity not related to the coronavirus to accommodate the surge in COVID-19 swabs coming in. Some testing that is considered routine has been put on pause or is only going ahead with a special request from physicians.Routine testing is one of three broad categories used in provincial labs. Mailman said the other two categories — urgent testing, which physicians need completed within a matter of hours to properly diagnose and treat patients, and stat testing, needed within minutes — won't be affected by COVID-19 protocols.Included in the routine category is screening for some sexually transmitted infections. Dr. Joyce Curtis, medical director of the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, said that leaves the possibility of an uptick in STI spread — although it isn't a top concern for her."We can always do presumptive treatment," Curtis said.By Mailman's estimation, limiting some routine lab work will be no more than an inconvenience."For the vast majority of Nova Scotians, the scale backs will be invisible," he said.New instruments on the wayNew testing equipment from the national microbiology lab in Winnipeg is en route to Nova Scotia, according to Mailman, which won't necessarily make a big mark on capacity, but will offer an important refinement to the province's testing practices.The instruments test for over 20 respiratory viruses at once."So as we approach flu season, that's going to be quite helpful because those platforms will allow us to distinguish COVID from the common cold, from influenza," said Mailman.Not every possible COVID-19 case that comes in for testing will go through those instruments; they'll likely be reserved for those who are admitted with symptoms, or people who need to be screened before surgery.MORE TOP STORIES
Since marijuana was legalized in Canada in 2018, Windsor-Essex has seen an influx of cannabis growers in the area, most raising crops in a highly controlled environment, such as under greenhouse glass and wild bright lights, designed for year-round farming.But 7 Farms Down, a company in Merlin, Ont. in the Chatham-Kent region is going the old fashioned route — it will grow their crops outside in the field.Jason Guttridge, one of the owners of the company, said after four years of bouncing around the idea with his brother and trying to make it a reality, they finally received their cultivation license on Friday. "I can't say it was easy because it definitely wasn't, but I think it would be worth it in the long run to bring a different product onto the shelf," he said.Guttridge said he and his team come from an agricultural family and are already familiar with traditional agricultural practices, and will apply those harvesting techniques to grow "small-batch, handcrafted outdoor cannabis.""There's a lot of proven agricultural techniques that are already kind of readily available to us. I don't really have to go reinventing the wheel," he said.He said growing outdoors has many benefits compared to growing in a greenhouse, including reduced costs, and "free sun and rain."Pests also becomes less of an issue when growing outside because he says "there's going to be beneficial insects around.""For every insect that's out there, there's an equal and opposite insect that wants to take care of itself," he said. "We grow well and we're adaptable. So, you know, whatever Mother Nature wants to throw at us, we're pretty confident that we can, you know, contend with it."'New, growing industry,' says company ownerWhen asked about how his neighbours feel about him growing cannabis, Guttridge told CBC News that he's just trying to give "a little bit of success to a small community.""There's a lot of opinions, but what I'm trying to do here, you know, is 100 per cent by the books. We jump through every hoop to get through Health Canada. I'm trying to build something positive for my local community where I was born and raised. And we can bring some economic activity here," he said."At the end of the day, this is a new, growing industry."Small-batch, handcrafted outdoor cannabisGuttridge said the company expects to grow less than five acres of marijuana this spring."It isn't so much about how much can we plant and how much can I put out like from a production level, but how high of a quality can I put out? So, you know, we might be able to fit a thousand plants in an acre, might even be able to fit 1,500 plants in an acre at the end of the day. That isn't my main concern," he said."My main concern is, you know, how much high quality product came out of that acre. So that number will change."He hopes his company's products will be hitting shelves by late summer or fall of next year.
An outbreak of COVID-19 on the third floor of the rehab unit of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) has grown to 23 cases, according to the hospital.In a news release Wednesday, the hospital said that six patients and 17 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus. It added that it's still waiting on some test results from the weekend.The hospital first declared an outbreak at its rehab unit on Sunday."In consultation with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, HDGH has paused all admissions to our inpatient Restorative Care programs. Both Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores HealthCare are aware of this," the release reads. "This includes CMC, Palliative and Rehab. We will also be pausing all transfers out to Long Term Care etc. This will be assessed every 24 hours. Further, we will be cohorting all COVID-19 positive patients on the third floor of our Rehabilitation Unit."In an interview with CBC's Afternoon Drive, HDGH President and CEO Janice Kaffer said that two of the patients had been transferred to acute care at Windsor Regional Hospital, three are still at HDGH, and one has been discharged.In spite of the outbreak, Kaffer was optimistic it could be addressed."[The outbreak] has put some additional strain on all of us," she told Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. "But our people are stepping up, they're continuing to come into work, and we're doing the best we can."She said the the investigation by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit with respect to the origins of the outbreak continues."Our focus at the hospital has been addressing the outbreak, containing it, and making sure our staff and our patients have the supports and that the needs are met across the hospital," she said.Kaffer said HDGH has about 20 test results pending from the affected area, and that testing across the hospital will continue this week.She added that they're expecting to see some positive results among the 1200 staff at the hospital that will be from community spread, and not related to the outbreak.The hospital said the outbreak is not affecting outpatient and mental health programs. Those will will be continued so long patients and clients wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, and that patients who require a family member to be present for their care only have one visitor, who is expected to follow all instructions given by staff."It is important to note that Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is and remains a safe place for outpatient and mental health visits," the release said."During this difficult time, services at this time will not look the same. Individuals should expect delays and should anticipate that they are expected to wear an approved mask."
Don never thought he'd end up homeless, but that's what happened to the 58-year-old earlier this year. The St. John's man — CBC is withholding his surname — said that for most of his adult life he had steady employment and a place to live.But Don got divorced and had difficulty holding down a job due to mental illness. When Newfoundland and Labrador went into lockdown in March, he had just moved out of his apartment. "I was about to move from a rental property I had, and at the time, with the pandemic," he said. "I really had nowhere to go.… I was never homeless in my life until this year." Don has been living in a shelter for seniors on Prince of Wales Street in St. John's since then. It's called Connections for Seniors and it's a shelter for people over the age of 55. Co-founder and executive director Mohamed Abdallah said the eight-bed facility has been full since it opened in early 2018. Abdallah said he and his co-founder saw a need in the community and went into action."I remember we said, 'Let's not complain about it and let's start to do something about it.'"To date, the organization has helped more than 450 people, and running it has become Abdallah's full time job.The people who come to the shelter are also given meals and transportation to appointments. Abdallah called it a "wrap-around service" to help people navigate the health-care system and find permanent housing. For him, helping seniors is also about respect."We still need our seniors' experience. We still need their wisdom, we still need to respect our elders," he said. Demand rising Older adults, like Don, without proper housing are not alone.Thousands of seniors in the St. John's area are in need of more affordable, and accessible, housing, says Elizabeth Seigel, director of information and referral services at Seniors NL.Seigel said in 2019 she got about 500 calls from people who needed a place to live, some of them urgent. "Quite often it does mean that people are living in 'not great' situations. Sometimes they go into rooming houses. We've heard cases of elder abuse because people are sort of forced into situations that they wouldn't otherwise be in." When people get older their housing needs change, said Seigel. Income can change, especially if one loses a spouse. "They can't live in their house anymore because of accessibility, mobility.… It's hard keeping up with snow clearing, that sort of thing," Said Seigel.After January's massive blizzard, Seigel's office got even more calls."We heard from so many people who said, 'I just can't do it anymore,'" she said. Many new options There are a number of new facilities being built — and opening up this fall — specifically for seniors, on the Northeast Avalon. Seigel said that proves the need is rising, but added some of them come at a great cost — probably $3,000 to $4,000 if you include food, she said."People have to realize that that's for a certain segment of the population, and the other segment of the population probably doesn't have a place to go." Seigel said many of the lower-cost and subsidized options have significant wait times. For example, she said, the 54 independent living cottages at St. Luke's in the west end of St. John's can have wait times of up to 10 years.Subsidized units from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing can be a one- to two-year wait said Seigel, but seniors don't have that kind of time. "When people decide to move, it's because they need to immediately," she said.Shelter expansion Abdallah hopes to help more seniors who need immediate shelter. Connections for Seniors is working with the City of St. John's to provide more supportive housing units in the near future. That's the kind of solution that Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary is pushing for. She said the city operates more than 450 units in its non-profit housing division.O'Leary told The St. John's Morning Show that many of those are geared toward seniors, such as the two-bedroom apartments at Riverhead Towers on Hamilton Avenue, 11 units on Campbell Avenue and a newer building on Convent Square. She said there is an application process and that wait times vary, but it's longer for the most affordable units.O'Leary said demand for affordable housing is rising."We have a long way to go in terms of serving the needs of people with housing insecurity in the community — and with the pandemic, we are seeing more and more people moving in this direction." She said the city is working to make land available and hopes to partner with more organizations, and the private sector, to build more affordable homes. As for Don, he said things are looking brighter. He said he's close to securing a unit from NL Housing thanks to Abdallah and the staff at Connections for Seniors."It looks like I'm on the road to recovery and finding my own place through them helping me," he said. "They don't turn their back on you. I think it's amazing."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Ontario's annual greenhouse gas emissions rose for the first time in nearly a decade during the first year the Ford government was in power.It's a sign that the province's climate change targets are in jeopardy, according to a new report. The report, to be released Thursday by the group Environmental Defence, calls the increase "a big step backwards" in Ontario's progress toward reducing carbon emissions."Ontario is trending dangerously in the wrong direction on climate change, and the gap between Ontario's carbon reduction targets and actual emissions levels is growing," says the report, a copy of which was provided to CBC News ahead of Thursday's publication. The report — entitled Ontario Climate - Yours to Recover — also says the government has an opportunity to make investments that would both stimulate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce emissions, yet hasn't made moves to do so. The latest federal figures, which are published with a two-year lag time, show the province's emissions rose by 10 megatonnes (MT) in 2018 over the previous year. This marks Ontario's first annual increase in emissions since 2010, the year the province's economy emerged from the last recession. The increase in emissions in 2018 means the government will have to make even more reductions than previously promised just to hit its own targets, said Sarah Buchanan, clean economy program manager for Environmental Defence. "Yes, it's possible they could still meet their 2030 carbon reduction targets, but it's becoming increasingly distant of a possibility," said Buchanan. "It's something that we don't have the luxury of time to fix."The government remains committed to its emission reduction target for 2030, said a spokesperson for Environment Minister Jeff Yurek. "We have taken some important steps over the past two years to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the province," said Yurek's press secretary Andrew Buttigieg in a statement. The report argues some of the government's most significant steps actually contribute to higher emissions. Shortly after forming government in 2018, Premier Doug Ford scrapped Ontario's cap-and-trade system, cancelled home energy efficiency programs and eliminated incentives to purchase electric vehicles. Yurek's predecessor as environment minister, Rod Phillips, now the finance minister, set new, less-stringent targets for reducing emissions in what the government dubbed the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan. The plan proposed about 18 MT of reductions in annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030: * Renewable fuels: 3.5 MT. * Natural gas conservation: 3.2 MT. * Electric vehicles: 2.9 MT. * Industrial emission performance standards: 2.7 MT. * Technological innovations: 2.7 MT. * Federal clean fuel standard: 1.3 MT. * Emission reduction fund: 0.7 MT. * Other policies: 1.1 MT."Our plan is an evolving document, and our estimates will continue to evolve as policies and commitments are reviewed and refined, and as we begin to see results of initiatives already in motion," said Buttigieg. The Environmental Defence report examines how much progress Ontario has made on each of those promised reductions. It builds on work by the province's auditor general last month that concluded the government is at risk of missing its emission targets. A significant portion of the top source of reductions, renewable fuels, would come from boosting the minimum renewable content (such as ethanol) in gasoline to 15 per cent. Last week the government announced a slower timetable for the change than previously planned. Also last week, the government waffled on whether its target for natural gas conservation — its second largest proposed source of emission reductions — is actually a target at all. In a letter to the Ontario Energy Board, Yurek and Bill Walker, the associate minister for energy, said the 3.2 MT figure for reduced emissions is merely "an estimate of the potential for actions related to natural gas conservation" and "is not intended to be a prescriptive target." "There's been no action, not even a hint of action towards implementing and expanding natural gas conservation programs," said Buchanan. When Ontario's emission figures for 2020 are published, they will almost certainly show a drop from 2019 because of the pandemic's impact on commuter habits and industrial output. Environment Defence argues that such a drop would not be evidence that the Ford government is making progress on climate change, nor would it be sustained if the government continues on its current path. The government's plans for economic recovery from COVID-19 don't reflect a climate-friendly approach, says the report. "Ontario's recovery actions announced to date have not incorporated any programs promised in the Environment Plan to reduce GHG emissions, despite many actions with high potential for economic stimulus," the report says."This is a missed opportunity to invest in proven job-creating solutions like public transit, energy efficiency, and green building."Environmental Defence accuses the government of "adopting an outdated view of economic stimulus based on accelerating large infrastructure projects like highways, which will make climate change worse."The organization points to the proposed Highway 413, to run from the northern part of Vaughan through Caledon to where the 401, 403 and 407 intersect. The government in turn points to two recent announcements that auto sector giants will retool their Ontario assembly plants for production of electric vehicles: Ford in Oakville, and Fiat Chrysler in Windsor. "We will continue to look to industry, who we are counting on to do their part to drive innovative solutions that will help us meet our goals for the environment and climate change," said Buttigieg.
A group representing francophone and Acadian communities on P.E.I. is encouraging Islanders to write to their MPs about modernizing the federal Official Languages Act. Société acadienne et francophone de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard (SAF'Île) says the 50-year-old act is out of date and that's creating inequalities in the way Islanders receive French-language services. "If we say that we are a bilingual country, then the federal government really needs to put the means and resources to live up to it," said Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, executive director of SAF'Île (formerly the Société Saint-Thomas d'Aquin).Lack of bilingual workforce Dasylva-Gill said one of the big issues is a lack of a bilingual workforce to provide services in areas such as child care, education, and health care. And that affects francophones trying to access services in their first language."If you want to register your child for French-language daycare [on P.E.I.], well most of the time there is a huge waiting list," said Dasylva-Gill."Because there are not the resources available to be able to have a spot."When that happens, said Dasylva-Gill, parents must put their kids into English-language daycare, which can lead to assimilation.Dasylva-Gill emphasized that the act also affects anglophones on P.E.I., in particular parents who want their children to have equal access to learn French through an immersion program. "If you don't have the resources to provide those programs, that's where the act is not living up to the demand," Dasylva-Gill said. Group says act not accountable enough She said that if Islanders feel they are not getting equal treatment under the act, it's hard to know where to speak up about it. "The mechanisms that are in place are not reliable enough to make sure that the act actually is respected by the federal institutions."The act also includes targets for bilingual immigrants who can work in the health care and education sectors.> As a society, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard — Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, SAF'Île"Year after year, there is less than two per cent of immigrants that settle outside of Quebec that are French speaking," said Dasylva-Gill. She said it's an asset for all businesses to be able to employ more bilingual workers, which helps the economy. "Really, it's the act of all Canadians when you think about the bigger picture." SAF'Île wants Islanders to send a letter to their MP about modernizing the Official Languages Act, and it has a template on its website. "As a society, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard," said Dasylva-Gill.More from CBC P.E.I.
After not being able to access help herself, a 19-year-old Ontario woman is pushing for a three-digit suicide help line and politicians are starting to listen. Madi Muggridge, from London, Ont., struggled with anxiety and depression at a young age, but the situation got particularly bad when she was 13 years old and scary thoughts started to trickle in, she told CBC News. That year was the first time she reached out to an online suicide prevention chat service, but the young teen said no one replied to her cry for help."I sat there for about two to three hours and no one ever came on. They just kept saying that I was next in line," Muggridge recalled. "I just felt really, really alone because if the people that are supposed to help you can't even help you, what do you do then? It was definitely a very devastating experience and the biggest thing I remember is feeling alone in that."The next day Muggridge wrote a suicide note and left home. Luckily, a friend had flagged some warning signs to her family and they were able to immediately step in and get her professional help.But Muggridge recognizes that not everyone has people in their lives who can intervene. That's why the teen started an online petition, which has garnered more than 30,000 signatures, calling on the federal government to adopt a three-digit suicide and crisis hotline: 988, which she hopes eventually turns into a dispatch service to match people in crisis with medical and mental health professionals. Currently, Canada Suicide Prevention Service operates a national 10-digit, 24-hour hotline for suicide prevention services, but Muggridge said that when a person is in crisis a long number like that can be difficult to recall. "I bet they do great work ... but I just feel like it's not actually something that everyone knows about. When you're in an emergency that doesn't involve mental health you know to call 911. You don't have to Google it ... So I just think it'd be a lot more helpful if we had a number that was much shorter and much more widely-known." Muggridge is pushing for the country to adopt a 988 hotline, like the United States. That country is set to have its crisis line in place by 2022 at a cost of a half a billion dollars in the first year of operation.Recently, Todd Doherty, MP for Cariboo-Prince George and special advisor to Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole on mental health and wellness, tabled a motion in Parliament to bring together the country's existing suicide prevention services under the 988 number.He commends people like Muggridge, who he's been in contact with, and mental health advocate Kathleen Finlay for pushing for an easy-to-remember crisis line."This initiative is definitely one that will remove a critical barrier to those that are seeking help," Doherty told CBC News. "People shouldn't have to try to remember a 10-digit number. They shouldn't have to call a number only to get a complicated directory or to be asked to be put on hold when minutes count and when time is of the essence.""Those that are seeking help should be able to get it and a simple three-digit number is the way to go."Like many Canadians, the issue is close to Doherty's heart. He described how when he was a teenager his best friend died by suicide at age 14. He said he'd like to prevent more Canadians from living with the pain, grief and endless questions left behind when someone close to them dies by suicide. Muggridge is hopeful the hotline could turn into a dispatch centre, just like 911, however, Doherty said that while he'd like to see something like that, the initial focus is establishing the hotline. "Our first step is to build the political will across the way with our colleagues from all sides of the House," he said, adding that what the final iteration will look like isn't for him to decide. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for suicide prevention services by 200 per cent, Dr. Allison Crawford, the chief medical officer of the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, said.Health Minister Patty Hajdu has signaled that she's open to exploring how a three-digit national prevention number can be implemented.Doherty asked Hajdu in the House of Commons whether she would try to ensure his motion for the hotline received unanimous support, and while she didn't give a clear answer, she said she would work with Doherty to ensure people in crisis get immediate care. As for Muggridge, while she thinks establishing the line is a great first step, she said she'll keep pushing until the crisis line becomes a dispatch service as well."I've received so may comments from people telling me how much this means to them, how much they think it could help people ... I don't plan on giving up after they just implement the crisis line," she said. If you need help:Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text) | crisisservicescanada.ca (Chat).Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre .Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca.Young people can also text the word CONNECT to 686868 to chat confidentially with a trained, volunteer Crisis Responder for support. 24/7/365.
Donna Gerardi says her 28-year-old son fell through the cracks of the healthcare system when his cancer diagnosis went undetected for months and progressed to a late stage. At the end of last year, Gerardi said her son was referred to a specialist with a number of symptoms, including lower abdominal pain. Gerardi did not want to disclose his original diagnosis but said he was given antibiotics. The specialist said surgery was a likely next step. At that time, there was no talk of cancer, Gerardi said. While taking the antibiotics, he began to feel a little better, but it didn't last long. By then, the pandemic was in full swing and Gerardi's son welcomed a baby, so he attributed his fatigue and body pains to having a newborn. He was also having a difficult time trying to see his family doctor and his specialist with all the restrictions, Gerardi said.Throughout the summer he had two phone consultations with the specialist, whose office was not open to in-person visits. She says despite the pain he was feeling, he didn't go the emergency room because he believed he had received his diagnosis and was waiting for surgery. But by August, Gerardi said she instantly knew he needed immediate attention. "I looked at him, I said to him, 'you have to go back to your family doctor. You have to go see somebody. You're getting worse, something is seriously wrong," she said. "At the beginning when he couldn't see his doctor, I actually said ... 'okay, I don't understand this. Why can't you see doctors? What happens to these patients who are really sick right now and may have even cancer?" As it turned out, he was really sick — when he finally saw his primary care doctor in September and got an ultrasound, he was diagnosed with stage 3 germ cell cancer.Four tumours were located throughout his body. Though he experienced symptoms back in December 2019, he wasn't diagnosed until late September. Gerardi said her son is focusing on his recovery — he is being treated by Windsor Regional Hospital's cancer centre — and did not want to be interviewed.But she's decided to speak out because she thinks others may have also been negatively impacted by pandemic-related healthcare shutdowns. And according to board chair of Patients Canada Francesca Grosso, the inability to attend an in-person medical exam and the hesitation with accessing care, were not uncommon at the start of the pandemic. Health care system doesn't prioritize patientsWhen COVID-19 first hit, Grosso said the combination of healthcare shutdowns and restrictions, along COVID-19 fears caused many patients to not be seen. "A lot of patients postponed going in to get diagnostic testing done because they were afraid ... you're worried that you're going to run into people who may be infected with COVID ... there was a lot of unknown, people were terrified," she said. On top of that, primary care physicians and specialists chose to operate in different ways, with some only taking video or phone appointments.'I think that there should have been more outreach for those patients that are really dire ... but we don't have a system that really prioritizes patients in a way that flags for the doctor that a certain cohort of their patients require urgent follow up," Grosso said. "It's sort of left up to the patient, the squeaky wheel, or its left up to the doctor's office to call them, which often doesn't happen."As for Gerardi's son, Grosso said she said it sounds like he tried to be the "squeaky wheel, but couldn't get through."These situations, Grosso said, are not unique to COVID-19, rather the pandemic has only pulled back the curtain on the province's health care faults. And based on recent data, Gerardi's son isn't the only one facing a dire prognosis because of these faults. With the Ministry of Health suspending some types of cancer screening and select municipalities cancelling surgeries at the start of COVID-19, there is now reportedly an increase in late-stage cancer diagnoses across the province. Locally, Windsor Regional Hospital said its cancer centre was one of few locations in the province that kept up with cancer treatments and surgeries. A hospital spokesperson said their centre completed 549 cancer surgeries between April 1 and the end of October. They said the cancer centre never shut down and patients were seen virtually as well as in-person. But that only covers people who received a cancer diagnosis pre-COVID. "My concern [is] how did patients get diagnosed with cancer through COVID?" Gerardi said. "[My son] wasn't considered in all that math, and I'm sure there's other people out there that were getting sick and they couldn't see anybody. It was so frustrating to find this out. Okay, I get it, [he] has cancer. But why did it have to get this far? Why did it have to get this bad? I get that back in March the government shut the whole place down, but he was sick." Cancer centre referrals downAccording to data from Windsor Regional Hospital's cancer centre, there has been a decrease in cancer treatment referrals. Between April and September this year, the hospital is reporting an 11.6 per cent decrease in radiation treatment referrals and a six per cent decrease in systemic or chemotherapy treatment referrals compared to the same time period in 2019. "There's always concern," said WRH's regional vice president of cancer services Monica Staley Liang of the decrease in referrals. "What I can say is and what I'm confident in saying is that we have a plan for resumption of screening and resumption of services and innovative ways to optimize capacity."As for whether Windsor has seen a jump in late stage cancer diagnoses, the hospital said the region hasn't see it and is uncertain whether it will. "I can't foresee that ... we don't know what we don't know," she said. "We do look at what we've seen in other parts of the province, we look at that and we prepare for that ... there is that population of the unknown that have not been screened who have not arrived at primary care yet and we'll have to wait and see what that looks like in the near futureShe added that they continue to encourage people to access hospital resources during the pandemic. 'A long way ahead of him' While what's done is done, Gerardi firmly believes that her son shouldn't have gotten to this point. "Now that we've sat down and the fear and the sadness have settled, that's when the anger comes in. How did this kid get to stage three, where his life is turned upside down?" she said. These days, Gerardi stays in complete isolation so that she can continue to see her son and support him during his treatments. With tumours on both of his lungs, he can't risk getting COVID-19, she said. At this time, her son seems to be responding well to treatment though she said he still has "a long way ahead of him."
Do “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work?Without rigorous independent studies, experts say it’s hard to verify claims of “self-cleaning” or “antiviral" surfaces that have popped up during the pandemic.But they also say you shouldn’t worry too much about how well such features really work.COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Research suggests it would be difficult to catch the virus from surfaces like an elevator button.“You get it through what you breathe, not through what you touch,” said Emanuel Goldman, who studies viruses at Rutgers University.Studies showing the virus can survive several hours on plastic or metal surfaces do not mimic real-life conditions, said Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care.Companies are selling antibacterial and antiviral elevator button or door handle covers. But building or office managers looking to protect employees or tenants would be better off buying hand-sanitizing stations instead, Winslow said.And anyone wanting to avoid the virus should continue taking regular public health precautions: mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding indoor events, bars, dining and gyms.Routine hand washing is also recommended, whether there's a pandemic or not, Goldman said.___The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.Read previous Viral Questions:Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection?Will social distancing weaken my immune system?The Associated Press
It's been two days since a Sussex-area woman became trapped inside her home after rising water surrounded her property earlier this week.And she's still waiting for help."I have no way out of here," said Mary Ann Coleman from inside her house.The 63-year-old lives on Creek Road in Waterford, about 90 kilometres east of Saint John. Her driveway, which links her property with the main road, was "washed out" by the heavy rains overnight Tuesday. At around midnight Tuesday, the culvert a few metres from her house was dammed by fallen trees and debris, causing the area to flood and her bridge to float away, she said."The water levels were higher than I've seen. I moved here 40 years ago," Coleman said. "I'm in complete, complete, desperate situation here … I'm stranded."Part of her driveway was made from the metal frame of a pulp truck and anchored with concrete abutments. It created a 20-foot bridge over Trout Creek.Coleman said she only had two hours of sleep overnight Tuesday. She said the creek between her house and the road is about a metre deep, it's rushing quickly and is 20 feet wide."I had some rest last night but I'm still pretty anxious," she said Thursday afternoon.Premier notes 'severe' damage in Sussex areaAt a COVID-19 news briefing on Thursday, Premier Blaine Higgs used his opening remarks to address the situation in the Sussex region and offer his condolences to residents."My thoughts are with everyone who is affected by the heavy rainfall," Higgs said. "Thank you to the emergency services who have helped the people in need. I'm thankful for the unbelievable community spirit that the people of New Brunswick and emergency services have shown."Higgs noted that the damage is still being assessed, but is "severe" in the Sussex and Sussex Corner areas.He said 30 households have received accommodation and support from the Canadian Red Cross, which has also offered flood cleanup kits for residents.Province isn't stepping inColeman said she called the Department of Transportation, which told her to call the Emergency Measures Organization, but EMO told her to call 911. She called 911 and was directed her back to EMO. She said she doesn't know what to do next."That's just stunning to me," she said. "I think everybody should be worried about that."Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization, said he couldn't comment on individual cases like this one.Meanwhile, Department of Transportation spokesperson Mélanie Sivret said the department "recently became aware of this incident," and is looking into it.Coleman, who describes herself as an active person and cycles every morning, has been trying to stay busy. She's been working from home, talking to people on the phone and she's been trying to keep her wood fire going so she doesn't lose heat.Luckily, Coleman grows some crops in her garden so she's been relying on vegetables for the past two days. "There's not too much anybody can do."Coleman said she believes the flooding was caused by a new culvert built by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, which was previously too big to be blocked by debris. It was rebuilt in 2019, she said. Coleman said she wants the department to "take responsibility." 'It's my mom'Coleman's daughter, Jessica Coleman, has been calling and texting her mom several times a day. On Wednesday, she went down by the river with her two kids to see her mom. The sound of the water rushing was so loud, all they could do was wave. After this year, it's one of those things that tops the cake," she said. "I have no idea when she will be able to leave."She said what's making it more difficult is trying to get answers and figuring out what can be done for her mother. She said she'd like to see a temporary walking structure put in place and a permanent fix after."It's my mom, and she's in her 60s, and she's there on her own."Advice from EMOThe province's health and safety inspection teams are in the Sussex area and cleanup is underway. New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization spokesperson Geoffrey Downey urged residents to clean up "as soon as possible.""The longer it sits the worse the damage gets."Although water levels have gone down, some roads in the area are still closed, and residents should only return to their homes when it's safe to do so.Residents whose homes have been damaged should register with the province at 1-888-298-8555 to receive a free inspection. The damage report line program allows residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to receive information and register their flood-related damage.Damage assessments will be reviewed, and health and safety inspection teams may be dispatched if required.Residents are also reminded to: * Contact their insurance companies immediately to report damage. * Take photos of damage to their homes or properties. * Keep receipts of any repairs and replacement purchases. * Log the number of hours of work undertaken for residents who are cleaning their own properties, or family members or those who have assisted in the cleanup of their property.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 3 ... What we are watching in Canada ... The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the 2019 election campaign to introduce such a bill, developed with Indigenous people, by the end of this year. The bill is expected to echo a private member's bill introduced by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, which the House of Commons passed two years ago. That bill stalled in the Senate, where Conservative senators argued it could have unintended legal and economic consequences, and then died when Parliament dissolved. The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands. It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights. --- Also this ... The trial of a teen boy accused of sexually assaulting two fellow students at a renowned Toronto high school is set to continue today. The teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon in connection with two incidents at St. Michael's College School in the fall of 2018. Earlier this week, court viewed part of a video in which one of the complainants, also a teen boy, told police about an October 2018 incident in the school's locker room. In the video, the complainant recalled hearing a group of students laugh as they held back his arms and sexually assaulted him with a broom handle after football practice. The role of the accused was not specified in the portion of the video played in court, and the complainant did not mention him by name in that part of the footage. More of the video is expected to be shown in today's hearing, which is taking place in court and over video conference. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... Advocates and lawyers anticipate a flurry of clemency action from U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks that could test the limits of presidential pardon power. Trump is said to be considering a slew of pardons and commutations before he leaves office, including potentially members of his family, former aides and even himself. While it is not unusual for presidents to sign controversial pardons on their way out the door, Trump has made clear that he has no qualms about intervening in the cases of friends and allies whom he believes have been treated unfairly, including his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The list of potential candidates is long and colourful: Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, imprisoned for financial crimes as part of the Russia investigation; George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, just like Flynn; Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. “Joe Exotic," who starred in the Netflix series “Tiger King”; and former contractors convicted in a Baghdad firefight that killed more than a dozen civilians, including women and children. Trump, long worried about potential legal exposure after he leaves office, has expressed worry to confidants in recent weeks that he, his family or his business might be targeted by president-elect Joe Biden’s Justice Department, although Biden has made clear he won't be part of any such decisions. Nonetheless, Trump has had informal conversations with allies about how he might be able to protect his family, though he has not taken any steps to do so. His adult children haven't requested pardons nor do they feel they need them, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the UN General Assembly’s special session starting Thursday on the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in countries rich and poor. Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said when he took the reins of the 193-member world body in September that it would have been better to hold the high-level meeting in June. Nonetheless, he said Wednesday it "provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat COVID-19." "With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right," he said. "The world is looking to the UN for leadership. This is a test for multilateralism." When financial markets collapsed and the world faced its last great crisis in 2008, major powers worked together to restore the global economy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been striking for the opposite response: no leader, no united action to stop the pandemic that has circled the globe. --- On this day in 1970 ... The "October Crisis" ended when British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by his FLQ kidnappers in Montreal. Cross was seized from his home in October, and another FLQ cell later kidnapped and murdered Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte on Oct. 17. --- In entertainment ... William Shatner, the Canadian who played the iconic commander Capt. James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," has taken to Twitter to urge Alberta use the federal COVID-19 app rather than its own. Shatner writes, “you just need to get Alberta on board,” adding that the province cannot go its own way in a world interconnected by travel. Shatner writes Alberta’s approach is, “bizarre and dangerous,” but also says “what do I know? I’m just an actor.” Premier Jason Kenney’s government has avoided signing onto the federal app, saying it’s not as effective because Alberta’s app is connected to contact tracing rather than simply delivering notifications of close contacts. Alberta’s app has tracked down just a handful of cases in six months, but the government says the program will be more effective as more people sign on. --- ICYMI ... Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is accusing the City of St. John's of taking Christmas away from the residents of a subdivision he developed on the city's outskirts. Williams says that just as he did last year, he recently installed a 10-metre Christmas tree in the centre of a traffic roundabout in the Galway subdivision, which was developed by his company DewCor. But this year, he says the city took issue with the tree, requiring that he take out an insurance policy and asking him to keep it unlit due to traffic concerns. In a statement emailed Wednesday, city staff in the transportation engineering department say they're open to considering other locations for the tree in Galway that don't interfere with an intersection. Kevin Breen, the St. John's city manager says the tree went up last year without a permit. Meanwhile, the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl has offered to give the tree a proper home with lights, and Williams says the tree will be delivered there within the next two days. "All's well that ends well," Williams said in an interview. "It's going to the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl, and to be quite honest with you, if Galway could be part of Mount Pearl, that would be my choice." --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020 The Canadian Press
A fishing tournament organizer and TV personality has brought his business to New Brunswick after being fined $9,000 and losing his Ontario fishing licence for not reporting the nearly 200 dead bass he threw into a dumpster.Ben Woo was convicted of failing to abide by the terms and conditions of the licence allowing tournament organizers to transport fish to be weighed and measured before they were returned live to the water. After the incident, Woo relocated to southern New Brunswick, where he's continued to organize fishing tournaments under the name B1 Fishing, including two in partnership with the City of Fredericton. According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 195 dead bass were found after Woo's tournament on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque on July 15, 2019. Of that number, 188 were in plastic bags at the bottom of a dumpster. It's one of the largest fines handed out, and one of the most serious violations the department has recorded. "This was by far the most heinous one I've ever seen," said Greg Bourne, a staff sergeant who has been with the Ontario ministry for 21 years.Bourne said anglers called in the tip about the fish-dumping on the opening day of the two-day weekend tournament. "People who were at the tournament called our communication centre and complained that there seemed to be a lot fish dying at this bass tournament," said Bourne. Bourne said someone was dispatched on the second day of the tournament to check it out but was reassigned to another call. An officer didn't make it to the marina where the fish were being kept until the day after the tournament ended. But anglers also contacted Bruce Tufts, a professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., head of the Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Lab, and the biologist who helped craft Ontario's guidelines for handling fish during tournaments. They sent him photos of the fish — some already dead — in the tank where they were kept after being measured and weighed. Tufts said the pictures bothered him so much he barely slept that night. "I called my lab manager at 6 o'clock in the morning and said 'This is really bugging me, there's got to be a ton of dead fish down there,'"Tufts, along with some of his students and another angler, got permission from the marina owner to search the area for what they suspected would be a large number of dead bass. They were later joined by a conservation officer from the Ministry of Natural Resources. "We started finding dead fish in the bushes," said Tufts. "We found a few dead fish in the water." Tufts said a marina employee pointed them to a dumpster. "In the bottom, there were 17 bags of smallmouth bass that were the biggest, best, broodstock in our fishery," said Tufts.According to both Tufts and Bourne, the fish died as a result of lack of oxygen and inadequate water temperatures in the holding tank where they'd been placed after being weighed.The Ontario ministry requires that if more than five per cent of the fish caught during the tournament die while in the possession of the event, the government must be immediately contacted. "We believe the organizer was negligent in the way he handled the fish, and that's what resulted in the deaths of so many," said Bourne.Tufts said the fish were double-bagged, and other garbage had been piled on top. Woo originally faced 11 charges, including giving a false statement to a conservation officer, but in the end pleadedguilty to one: failing to abide by the terms and conditions of a licence. Move to New Brunswick Woo and his family moved to Tracyville, about 28 kilometres south of Fredericton, last year.The former Montreal resident is prohibited from holding a fishing licence in Ontario, but that does not bar him from fishing in other provinces. He said his move to New Brunswick was for personal reasons and not an effort to circumvent the Ontario penalty. Inthe wake of his conviction, he said, he's no longer hosting fishing tournaments."Absolutely 100 per cent done with that," Woo said this week. "And to be very transparent that not only due to this, but it's also due to COVID."But Woo and B1 Fishing did host tournaments this past summer and he was scheduled to host an event in Fredericton as recently as October. That event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.Until his recent conviction, Woo had also been partnering with the City of Fredericton on tournaments.The City of Fredericton hosted two B1 Fishing tournaments in 2019. Both took place after the Gananoque tournament, but the city said it worked with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure proper fish handling. "However, we will not be working with Mr. Woo on future tournaments," wrote Bobby Despres, Fredericton sport tourism co-ordinator. "Protecting our natural environment is the city's top concern and we want to work with organizers who are fully committed to this principle." Woo also has a working relationship with the New Brunswick Department of Tourism. The fishing show he hosts, Fish East, is set to premiere this month on the Wild Television Network and the website states: "Woo sets out to explore the East Coast through a nine-episode series filmed exclusively in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia."The government of New Brunswick is listed as a partner with the production. Woo denies hiding fishWoo claimsthe only thing he did wrong was to not immediately contact the Ontario government after more than five per cent of the fish caught died on the first day of the tournament. He said he filed a report with the ministry on the Tuesday following the tournament, then resubmitted a more detailed report the following Friday. He said his only option was to throw the fish in the garbage. "What would be the other option, take them off-site? I'm not sure where we would have put them," said Woo. "Or do we go and announce to everybody 'Hey, we have 200 dead fish here, what do we do?' I'm not sure that would have been the politically correct thing to do. There's no precedent here." "We panicked," Woo wrote on the B1 Fishing Facebook page when explaining why fish were thrown in the garbage. He denies trying to hide them. Woo thinks whatever killed the fish is still uncertain. Water quality blamed "This was an anomaly," said Woo. "It never happened before; it's never happened since."Woo points the finger at the venue, the river water quality, as one of the factors in what happened to the fish."But certainly, there was no negligence on our side of things as far as the procedure or the fish handling is concerned," said Woo. Woo said he takes full responsibility and regrets what happened.
UK officials have claimed that Brexit allowed them to fast-track approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
For Pascal Imperato, acommunicable disease epidemiologist who in 1976 was in charge of immunizing New York City against a potential swine flu epidemic, the effort to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 feels like a familiar challenge."We were going to vaccinate six million people in six weeks," he said in a phone interview. "And we were absolutely certain we could pull it off. And we would have."Would have, because, ultimately, the largest national immunization program that had ever been undertaken in the U.S. was cut short as the epidemic never materialized, and public skepticism about the program began to mount.Still, while the COVID-19 pandemic is very real, and the population is much larger, the vaccination program of 1976 may offer some lessons as governments around the world prepare to inoculate the public at large."If the program is well organized, mobilizing all of the resources that are capable of administering this vaccine, there [shouldn't] be any problem whatsoever," Imperato said. In March 1976, the administration of then president Gerald Ford launched a $137 million US nation-wide vaccination program to immunize every American citizen by the end of the year.The diagnosis of swine flu on a New Jersey army base had led to panic among top U.S. scientists and officials who feared the disease could spread and potentially precipitate a health crisis similar to the deadly Spanish flu outbreak of 1918.Even though it was cut short, by December 1976 more than 40 million Americans — about one-fifth of the population — had been vaccinated, and about 650,000 in New York City.Utilizing volunteers, setting up sitesImperato said that on any given day they had about 900 people who were involved in getting the vaccine out to the general public. That included 500 to 600 volunteers who were recruited each day through the city's chapter of the American Red Cross.University graduates, sanitary inspectors and public health nursing assistants were also hired and trained to use automatic jet injectors and to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Sixty vaccination sites were established in places that included schools and police precincts."Anywhere we could," said Imperato, who is the founding dean and distinguished service professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health.As well, 15 mobile teams were created to vaccinate over 40,000 people in more than 200 nursing homes and about 100,000 people in 150 senior citizen centres."This required military organization, if you will, and we were able to put together a team and put into place the people that we needed to bring this about," he said.A great deal of administrative and clerical support goes into a program of this kind, he said."We have to have people register. We had to have as much information about them as possible, because we needed to know who we were vaccinating and if any of them had any reaction. We had to have teams of people checking on adverse events."Local capacity can be the 'weak link'Nationwide, however, there were some logistical problems, saidHarvey Fineberg, a physician who was tasked with co-authoring a review into the 1976 Swine flu vaccine program.The actual immunizations were quite erratic in their frequency in different communities, he said."So a lesson that's still relevant today, whether in different provinces in Canada or different states and counties and the U.S., is the local capacity," he said."That last mile, getting the immunization into the arms of the recipients, that's the weak link in the chain."What made the difference was the degree of organization and capacity of the public health departments in each community to plan and administer the vaccine, Fineberg said."So it wasn't that it was only cities or only rural, rich or poor. It boiled down to ability to deliver."WATCH | Experts discuss strategies for Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout Dealing with 'coincident events'But one of the more significant problems of the program was the poor job officials did in communicating to the public when headlines emerged linking potential adverse effects to the vaccine, experts say."There are definitely — and this is going to be true this coming year — there will be coincident events," Fineberg said."Preparing the public for expected coincidences simply because stuff happens every day, that's really, really key," he said.During the 1976 vaccination program, three elderly people in Pittsburgh had heart attacks after receiving their vaccine. The publicity and headlines it generated led to a handful of states suspending their vaccination programs while they investigated a potential association, said George Dehner, an associate professor of history at Witchita State Univeristy and author of Influenza: A Century of Science and Public Health.While no link to the vaccination was found, polls at the time showed a significant decrease in the number of people who said they would get the vaccine because they feared some adverse effect, Dehner said.There will be a certain expected death rate of people of a certain age on any given day, Pascal said. And what one has to look at is the death rate above the expected rate when running an immunization program."And so the CDC in this particular case did not do a good job of anticipating that and explaining that," Dehner said.But the vaccination rollout also saw dozens of people come down with the rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome at a much higher rate than would be expected. Unlike the heart attacks, where no link was found, a scientific review has found there was an increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome after the swine flu vaccinations, according to the CDC. The exact reason for this link remains unknown.In a 2009 interview with the The Bulletin, the health journal of the World Health Organization, Fineberg said those cases wouldn't have been "a blip on the screen had there been a pandemic but, in the absence of any swine flu disease, these rare events were sufficient to end the programme." Focus on science, not politicsWhen Guillain-Barre syndrome increased, some members of the public "became very skeptical and saw the whole thing as politically based, and not science-based," said Richard Wenzel, emeritus chairman and professor of the Department of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University."There was a concern that maybe politics was driving some public health responses," he said."One of the things that I would say we're still trying to learn is: policy should be scientifically based.... whoever gives the message has to say, 'Here's what we know; here's what we don't know; and here are the assumptions we're making currently that guide our policy.'"That sounds simple, but it's rarely done, even today."
Ottawa's success at reducing its COVID-19 case count — and keeping it relatively low — over the past two months may be unique in the world, say Canadian epidemiologists."I don't know any other city like Ottawa in the world," said Doug Manuel, a physician and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital."The leader board has changed," said Manuel. "We were [among] the highest in the country not even two months ago, and now we're bucking the trend internationally."But as much as experts say Ottawans should be proud of their accomplishment, they also warn that a slip in following the rules — keeping two metres apart, wearing masks, and especially not socializing outside our own households — could rapidly lay all that hard work to waste.'It's pretty remarkable'In mid-October, Ottawa saw its COVID-19 infection rate reached 132 active cases per 100,000 residents — higher than Toronto's and many other Canadian cities. The people of Ottawa were shocked. There were official warnings, there were public scoldings and there was a four-week partial lockdown. That seemed to work, as Ottawa's COVID-19 daily case count has been generally declining for the past seven weeks.Our infection rate now sits at 29.5 per 100,000 residents, which is still serious enough to keep us in the "orange" or intermediate zone of the province's five-tier system for scoring COVID-19 severity. But our stats keep us well away from the top-level grey zone that Toronto and surrounding municipalities find themselves in.It's not that other cities aren't also seeing their COVID-19 numbers come down, said Manuel, but in other places around the globe, the cases are generally declining from a relatively high level. For example, in London, England, the number of new daily coronavirus cases has fallen by about half over the last four weeks of an economic lockdown in that country, but there are still 154 active cases per 100,000 residents."We kind of woke up and got some messages and got back together when we were about 100 to 150 cases a day," said Manuel. "I don't know anyone who's done that.… It's pretty remarkable." Great public health, white-collar populationColin Furness, an epidemiologist and assistant professor with the faculty of information at the University of Toronto, said Ottawa is "absolutely going in the opposite direction to almost everybody else," especially in the northern hemisphere.He believes Ottawa's success is due largely to the capital's demographics and its public health leadership.The relatively large proportion of government and high-tech jobs in Ottawa means that many more people are able to work from home than in other cities."You've also got a population that is educated and able and compliant and therefore equipped to respond," he said. "And so the outcome was quite positive." Furness also gives kudos to Dr. Vera Etches and the team at Ottawa Public Health for their ability to reach out to the community with the ever-shifting advice on how to keep COVID-19 at bay."You've got excellent public health leadership in Ottawa," Furness said.Etches in particular has a way of connecting with the people of Ottawa. Not many public officials would admit to showing up to work so frazzled that she forgot to put on her skirt."I think this makes a difference — we really need to be able to connect to people," said Dr. Peter Jüni, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Toronto, and a director of research at St. Michael's Hospital.Jüni is also the scientific director of the province's Science Advisory Table.He agrees that Ottawa is "really unique" in being able to keep COVID-19 cases relatively low, but warns our success will be fleeting if we let our guard down.'Playing with fire'Some in Ottawa may be wondering why, despite our world-beating numbers, we have to follow the same restrictions as cities faring worse, especially during the upcoming holidays.Experts say those feelings are understandable, and even logical. But the COVID-19 situation is precarious — as Manuel put it, like "trying to balance a broom on your finger."Manuel pointed to the fact that the daily numbers, including the virus count in the wastewater — data that Ottawa alone makes public — have been edging up slightly in recent days. If we begin to socialize more, especially indoors, we risk the chance of a few "superspreader events" that will send COVID-19 numbers rocketing skyward."This thing is really contagious, and it is contagious, unlike SARS, when we're not symptomatic, and that makes it very challenging," Jüni said. He likened the spread of COVID-19 to throwing a match into the brush. One time, maybe the second time, nothing happens. But that third match starts a devastating blaze."So now, right now, it's just playing with fire."Furness uses a different metaphor to describe Ottawa's efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay."We're on a parachute and we're descending nice and slowly," he said. "So this is going really, really well. Who among us wants to take the parachute off now?"
The number of families seeking holiday help has increased in Cape Breton, including people who are finding themselves in need for the first time.With fundraising impacted by the pandemic, resources are spread particularly thin this year, said Maj. Corey Vincent of the Salvation Army.The Christian organization will support 900 families in Cape Breton this Christmas — an increase of about 25 per cent. "These are families that have never sought help before or assistance," said Vincent. "They're unfamiliar with Christmas assistance because they've been able to provide for their families in the past, but because of COVID and unemployment, they've just been stressed to the max." Kettle campaign down $14KThe pandemic has brought a wide range of challenges for the Salvation Army on the island. Partnering organizations have been unable to sponsor as many families this year. Another blow has been dealt to the well-known kettle campaign, which Vincent said is down by $14,000 compared to last year. "That worries me," said Vincent. "But in previous years, we've always noticed that in December a lot of people who give, they're giving more. "I'm very, very confident that the people of Cape Breton will step up to the plate." Each year, volunteers with the Every Woman's Centre in Sydney help by purchasing gifts and other items for families sponsored by the organization's adopt-a-family program.Louise Smith-MacDonald, executive director of the centre, said the extra help contributes to about half of the Christmas items purchased. "Our unknown was whether people were going to feel comfortable in going out and shopping for the family that they adopted," she said. "It worked out absolutely wonderful. People took their families, they shopped, they shopped early."Providing meals a necessityMembers of the Sydney Sunrise Rotary Club decided early that fundraising from last year would be spent on COVID relief.The club recently donated $2,500 each to the Glace Bay food bank and Loaves and Fishes in Sydney. "We did a little bit of research and for us, we felt the money was best put to help with food insecurity," said Michele McKinnon, the club's public relations chair. "That's where we saw our money could perhaps benefit most people."McKinnon expects next year giving will be impacted by the pandemic's cancellation of two major fundraisers for the club. Cape Breton poverty visibleVincent, who has been ministering with the Salvation Army for almost 20 years across Canada, said poverty is more visible in Cape Breton compared to other areas where he's lived."Every day we're seeing clients coming through our facility that are basically living on the edge," he said."We see a lot of working-class poor where they're getting hours, they're working — but it's just not enough to meet the demands."MORE TOP STORIES
We're serious, Clark: A family in Stittsville is going full Griswold for the holidays, and it's a full-blown, four-alarm celebration of one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.Fans of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation will immediately recognize the over-the-top decorations made famous by the fictional Griswold family. The holiday classic starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie was released 31 years ago.Fast forward to 2020, and the Turcotte family is recreating the movie's look and feel with the help of 2,500 multicoloured lights — the fun, old-fashioned kind."We actually went [for] the old-fashioned glass incandescent lights," said Shawn Turcotte, vice-president of construction for Mattamy Homes. "So it's really lit up the neighborhood." And like the famous scene from the 1989 movie, the electrical load proved too much, at first. "We had a few breakers pop. We had to [move] our extension cords to different outlets in the house to make sure we didn't blow the breaker panel," said Turcotte. The Turcottes are known for going all out with festive lights and decorations, but after last year's display, daughter Kennedy, 13, challenged the family to up their game in 2020. "'Dad, if we do this, we're all in,'" was the pitch, Turcotte told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "So we're all in."While they've been planning the caper since last Christmas, the COVID-19 pandemic only made them want to go bigger, for themselves and the whole neighbourhood. That meant doing their research — Turcotte said they watched the movie 10 times in preparation — and finding the perfect prop: the Griswold family station wagon.In the movie, the family heads out to cut down a Christmas tree, but the hapless Clark forgets to bring along a saw. The scene ends with a shot of an enormous tree, complete with root ball, lashed to the top of the wood-panelled wagon. "It's not the exact car from the movie, but it's very close. It's a 1980 Chevrolet Caprice station wagon," said Turcottte, who spent a year searching for just the right ride, and bought it on Kijiji from the original owner in Toronto.Last weekend, the family even drove the car to get their own Christmas tree at a local farm. "We decided to go through the McDonald's drive-thru with the car, and the tree," said Turcotte. "We got a lot of attention." Raising money for food bankThe Turcottes are hoping to tap into the interest in their Griswold-style scene at 18 Cypress Gardens to raise money for the Stittsville Food Bank, which has 1,000 more clients now than this time last year, according to Turcotte. Gawkers will be encouraged to donate directly from their cell phones. "Show up, enjoy the decorations, take some pictures," urged Turcotte. And then consider scanning a QR code that will link to the food bank website. And what's going to happen to the vintage station wagon once Christmas is over?"I've got a 16-year-old son who's very interested in it. His buddies think it's the coolest thing in the world," said Turcotte. "So we may let him cruise around with it after Christmas."