WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Three Oaks Foundation will be remembering victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal with a pre-recorded virtual vigil on December 6th, in honour of this year’s annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On December 6th of 1989, a lone gunman entered the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where many students take classes in affiliation with the Université de Montréal. After entering a classroom telling men to leave, he proceeded to express his hatred of feminism to the women he held inside, saying that women were to blame for his inadequacies. The gunman began shooting and roaming the halls, leaving 14 innocent women dead and many others wounded. “There has been an alarming rise in the incidents of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Three Oaks Foundation executive director Sandy Watson-Moyles. “This has not gone unnoticed and has raised serious questions about the safety of women both locally in the Quinte community and worldwide.” In 2019, the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability reported that 136 women were murdered in Canada, and these numbers continue to rise in 2020. “Last year, it was the Toronto van slayings that brought violence against women to the headlines again, and this year the Nova Scotia massacre,” stated Watson-Moyles. “It is not just the obvious victims who can fall prey to an abuser but any one of us. Maybe realizing that will help make people realize just how awful the acts are and how far the perpetrators will go.” Although community members cannot physically come together this year, the pre-recorded virtual event page can be found on Facebook by searching for the December 6th Virtual Vigil Quinte & PEC. The vigil will read off the list of the 14 women whose lives were taken during the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre. 14 red roses will be laid under the three oak trees on Keegan Parkway in memory of each woman. “We would think 31 years after the Montreal Massacre and hundreds of murders of women before and after that tragic date we would have made some movement towards ending this most insidious crime,” said Watson-Moyles. “Yet, each year more lists of murdered women in Ontario and Canada continue to be published with astounding numbers. Once we all take this matter seriously, we will see violence come to an end, or at least reduce significantly. When the most unsafe place for a woman to be is her in her own home, we need to pay better attention.” Residents looking for more information about the local National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women event are encouraged to contact Three Oaks’ training and education coordinator Kristin Farrell at 613-242-6524 or by email email@example.com.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
A delegate to the recent Nipawin council meeting is requesting work be done to improve the tennis courts in Nipawin. Craig Decker with the Nimbledon Tennis Club presented to the Nipawin council during their meeting on Nov. 30 about the state of the two tennis courts at LP Miller Comprehensive. According to the report presented by Decker, the club is borderline unplayable. “Despite the poor condition of the courts, the courts are frequently used. However, it is our position that usage would significantly increase were the courts to be refurbished,” reported Decker. The club has about 20 active members and has been doing as much maintenance themselves as they are able, including the cleaning and weed removal on the court and painting the tennis lines onto the court. “The Nimbledon TC is passionate about tennis, and they have not shied away from spending both their time and money on prepping the courts for the summer season,” reported Decker during the meeting. Looking into some of the larger expenses and more in depth repairs to the court, Decker has received a quote for $60,000 for the asphalt and resurfacing and about $7,000 for a new net. To rebuild the court entirely would be around $250,000 to $300,000. Chelsea Corrigan, the parks and recreation director, said the town contributed to cleaning and weed removal in the past few years and replacing the courts, including finding a more suitable location, has been on the town’s radar for a number of years. While she rarely sees the courts in use, she does admit that that could be because of the current state of the courts. “That's not new to us, [the courts] definitely are in bad condition. (The Parks and Rec department) has been looking into new courts for a number of years and looking at a multi-sport court. It is great that a group of individuals are interested in a new court in Nipawin.” The club would like to expand its programming to youth and junior programs and singles and double leagues, Decker said, and recruitment for these programs would be made much easier with upgrades to the courts.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Windsor West MP Brian Masse, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce president Rakesh Naidu and members of Windsor's aviation community on Tuesday morning called on the federal government to intervene and have Navigation Canada (NAV Canada) remove Windsor International Airport from a list of six airports being studied for possible removal of air traffic controllers."The Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau, must provide a clear and definitive answer that the future of Windsor's Airport is secure and that air traffic control services will be maintained," said Masse.Masse said he will have a petition to the federal government online that reads, "Remove NAV Canada's decision to consider closure, or reduction of services of the air traffic control tower at the Windsor Airport or explicitly express opposition to any decision or recommendation of this nature.""The minister can simply intervene and he should do that," said Masse in a news conference in front of the airport terminal and control tower.Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmiercyzk recently told CBC News that Garneau did not have the power to tell NAV Canada what to do, and that he and anyone else opposed to losing air traffic controllers here will have their say when NAV Canada consults with stakeholders.But Masse said there should have been clear signals from the government to NAV Canada before this study, adding that he doesn't believe any of the other airports, including in Whitehorse and Regina, should lose air traffic control either."So even if he says [Garneau] technically can't take them off the list at this point in time, he can still go out and publicly say that he's actually against closing the towers and he's not going to approve them," said Masse. "In fact, if NAV Canada actually does eventually recommend closure or reduction of services, the minister then has to do another study and the study then actually comes back again. So we're into the cycle of study after study after study when it is completely unnecessary," he said.Dilkens also said Garneau can certainly have a conversation with NAV Canada officials.The airport has seen a 300 per cent increase in traffic since 2009 and was serving 383,000 passengers in 2019. Dilkens said losing the air traffic controllers jeopardizes future growth and threatens the continuation of commercial air traffic the airport has now."Moving bodies out of a control tower causes issues for the future prosperity of Windsor airport. It will cut this success story off at the knees," said Dilkens, adding he has not heard back from Garneau, to whom he sent a letter asking that the air traffic controllers remain.Commercial pilots also added their voices of concern for safety, considering the high volume of air traffic in and around Detroit.Corporate pilot Dante Albano likened air traffic control to traffic lights, and when they go out the intersection turns into a four-way stop."In a busy air space like this with Detroit so close it gets kinda of crazy up there sometimes," said Albano.Richard Bradwell, manager of the Windsor Flying Club, said loss of air traffic control is the "first step toward" to closing the airport entirely."Our business has been growing. We've been surviving through COVID. This is absolutely the last thing that we need is to see NAV Canada considering closing the tower and doing this sort of damage to our airport," said Bradwell.Essex MP Chris Lewis has also issued a statement calling on Garneau to remove Windsor airport from the study.Masse's petition is expected to go up on his Facebook page and website Wednesday afternoon.
The pandemic hasn't seemed to have hurt bank profits, yet thanks to consumer spending on credit, experts warn a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies may still be coming once the post-pandemic recovery is underway.
Some Nova Scotians are waiting longer for their COVID-19 results after the health authority's email system was overwhelmed by a jump in tests.Nova Scotia Health said this week its digital system that sends out COVID-19 results via email has been experiencing some issues, causing a delay for some people.Spokesperson Carla Adams said Tuesday the problem was initially attributed to an IT system issue. "However, upon further investigation, it's been determined it was instead related to a significant increase in the volume of tests," she said in an email.Nova Scotia Health has performed 20,103 COVID-19 tests in the past week. Of those, 4,138 were performed Monday — "the busiest day yet," said Adams.Adams said the health authority continues to work on providing results as quickly as possible."We recognize that long waits for test results can have a negative impact, including on a person's ability to work or go to school," Adams said."For those who have had to wait longer than expected for test results, Nova Scotia Health is sorry and thanks you for your patience and understanding."In certain cases, people who've had a COVID-19 test are asked to self-isolate until they get their results. Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the province's total active cases to 142.Anyone who has waited more than 72 hours for their test results, not including rapid tests, are asked to call Public Health at 1-844-996-0694 and leave a voicemail.People are asked to leave their full name, health card number and phone number. Public Health staff will try calling twice.Public Health has urged anyone who's been at any of the dozens of recent exposure sites to book a COVID-19 test. Those who've been in a bar or restaurant past 10 p.m. AT in recent weeks, or worked in one, are also asked to get a rapid test.MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed concerned Tuesday about the impact of siding with food giants Nestle and Cargill and ending a lawsuit that claims they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labour.The court was hearing arguments in the case by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic. If the court were to accept Nestle and Cargill's arguments, that could further limit the ability of victims of human rights abuses abroad to use U.S. courts to sue. But both liberal and conservative justices asked questions that were skeptical of arguments made by the companies' attorney.“Many of your arguments lead to results that are pretty hard to take,” conservative Justice Samuel Alito told attorney Neal Katyal, who was arguing on behalf of Nestle and Cargill. The court's three liberal justices were particularly critical of Katyal's position, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor at one point saying it “boggles my mind.”The case before the justices has been going on for more than 15 years. It involves six adult citizens of Mali, referred to only as John Does, who say that as children they were taken from their country and forced to work on cocoa farms in neighbouring Ivory Coast. They say they worked 12 to 14 hours a day, were given little food and were beaten if their work was seen as slow.The group says that Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle “aided and abetted” their slavery by, among other things, buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labour. The group is seeking to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and what they say are thousands of other former child slaves.Both Nestle and Cargill say they have taken steps to combat child slavery and have denied any wrongdoing.The case involves a law enacted by the very first Congress in 1789, the Alien Tort Statute, which permits foreign citizens to sue in U.S. courts for human rights abuses. The justices are being asked to rule on whether it permits lawsuits against American companies.Justice Brett Kavanaugh was among the justices with tough questions for Nestle and Cargill's attorney. “The Alien Tort Statute was once an engine of international human rights protection,” Kavanaugh said before quoting a brief that argued that the companies' position would “gut the statute.” “So why should we do that?” he asked.Alito, for his part, was also skeptical about this particular case against Nestle and Cargill. “You don't even allege that they actually knew about forced child labour,” Alito told attorney Paul Hoffman.“We do contend that these defendants knew exactly what they were doing in that supply chain,” Hoffman responded.The case had previously been dismissed twice at an early stage, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived it. The Trump administration is backing Nestle and Cargill.The high court in recent years has limited the use of the Alien Tort Statute. Most recently, in 2018, the court ruled that foreign businesses cannot be sued under the law. In that case, the court rejected an attempt by Israeli victims of attacks in the West Bank and Gaza to use U.S. courts to sue Jordan-based Arab Bank, which they said helped finance the attacks. Cargill and Nestle are asking the court to take another step and rule out suits against U.S. companies.A decision is expected by the end of June.Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
An incident outside a store in Woodstock on Monday has sparked concern and confusion over enforcement of orange phase rules.On Facebook, a woman posted a photo that appeared to show a person being restrained on the ground by two Woodstock police officers.The woman wrote that she was the person on the ground. She said she was arrested for not providing proof she has a medical exemption from wearing a mask.Masks are required in public spaces indoors and outdoors under the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery, where Woodstock now sits as part of the Fredericton health zone.The woman said she tried to enter the Hart store in Woodstock's Carleton Mall and was refused entry because she was not wearing a mask and would not provide proof of medical exemption."I responded, 'I am not legally obligated to provide proof,'" the woman said in her Facebook post, adding she then asked to speak to the owner of the store.Police were called to the scene, and the woman said she was told she would be fined if she did not leave the store. As she was leaving, she said, the officers asked her for identification.When she refused, she said, she was "tackled," handcuffed, arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, and given a court date in May 2021.Reached through Facebook on Tuesday, the woman declined to comment further.Woodstock police issue statementCBC News has asked to speak with someone at the Woodstock Police Force and is awaiting a response.But the force issued a public statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday, addressing the police response Monday to "a local business in regards to a customer who refused to leave the store following repeated request to wear a mask." > Our priority continues to be the public safety of our community and we respectfully thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and partnership. \- Woodstock Police Force statement on FacebookThe message noted that while it is not customary for police to comment on a matter under investigation or before the courts, "it is necessary that the Woodstock police respond to community inquiry related specifically to why we responded."The statement did not dispute the Facebook poster's account of what happened. Instead, it reminded readers of the pandemic, the state of emergency New Brunswick has declared, and the mandatory order setting out what is allowed and what isn't under different phases of recovery.The Woodstock force "respects that not all citizens agree with the enforcement aspect," said the statement attributed to police Chief Gary Forward. People who question the validity of the enforcement were urged to resort to the "court process.""Our priority has and continues to be the public safety of our community the and we respectfully thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and partnership in responding effectively to this pandemic."The police statement, and the photo of the arrest, have generated widespread public response both in support of the enforcement and objecting to it.Russell, Cardy respond to mask confusion, social media backlashAsked at a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday whether residents must provide proof of medical exemption to mask-wearing when asked, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell referred CBC to the province's website.The website does not appear to directly address the proof of exemption issue but does note that medical exemptions are allowed."However, it is within a business's right to refuse service to a patron who is not wearing a mask, but my understanding is they are supposed to provide some sort of alternative, such as pickup outside the door," she said.At the same news conference, Education Minister Dominic Cardy referred to backlash over enforcement in the early days of the orange phase and noted "four tickets were given over the five-day period" after the Fredericton region returned to orange."Four. So all of the stuff you see on social media around people being arrested in parking lots, a large amount of this is simply not accurate."Cardy cautioned against what he called the "virus of misinformation" and relying on "random people on social media," saying that people should instead rely on reliable sources such as government officials, "people who are legally accountable for the things we say and do."Mixed messages causing backlash, business owner saysWoodstock business owner and former police officer Graham Gill posted a video message on Facebook on Monday night, urging residents to "calm down" and contact their MLAs to voice their concerns.Reached by phone Monday night, Gill said he has had "hundreds, maybe thousands" of people contact him to say they are upset by what they see as "heavy-handed" enforcement of "confusing" Public Health rules."I'm getting messages from very upset people," he said. "I'm afraid this is going to end in violence if they don't get a handle on this quickly."Gill said he did not witness the incident on Monday but he has spoken with the woman who was involved in it. CBC News has also requested comment from Carleton MLA Bill Hogan and Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson about the incident Monday and about messaging and enforcement of mask rules."I'm not at all against wearing masks," he said. "But if there are mixed messages, if there's no consistency in the enforcement, you're going to have problems. And we are seeing that."
Volunteers with the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave a virtual presentation of projects they completed while working alongside the Flood Mitigation Office on Thursday, November 26. Longtime Drumheller resident Stan Solberg played a key role in bringing the program, and the volunteers, to the Drumheller Valley. Chief Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Officer Darwin Durnie told the Mail, “Stan pulled together this entire program with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, allowing them to get here.” Mr. Solberg also garnered the participation of the Flood Mitigation Office, and also Mayor Heather Colberg and Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Drohomerski. The presentation showcased three projects the volunteers worked on throughout their time with the Flood Mitigation Office, with the main focus of each project being on conservation. While conservation was the main focus of the projects, the findings will provide the Flood Mitigation Office with invaluable information. “The Flood Mitigation Office was pleased with the work that the CCC volunteers performed,” Durnie said. “The activities, research, and energy they created will surely continue in the coming years.” Patrick Crowchild Jr. presented Conservation Through Art, a series of paintings inspired by the landscape and his time in the Drumheller Valley. Crowchild’s artwork is part of an art installation at the Flood Mitigation Office and challenges the definition of conservation while showcasing its many facets. Crowchild also completed sketches and drawings of local, native plants, though these were not included in the presentation. CCC volunteers, Megan Davies, Victoria Choi, and Kelsey White journeyed down the Red Deer River with Andy Neuman, former executive director of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. They discovered several river islands along the Red Deer River, which are Crown Land, are already being used as camping areas. The group surveyed the river and adjacent riparian areas, using GPS and geographic information systems (GIS) to map areas on these river islands which could be sustainably used for both day-use and overnight camping. They also proposed semi-permanent structures to help educate campers to “Leave no trace” after discovering litter, including discarded diapers, beer cans, and fish hooks in the areas. These proposed sites could target tourism from canoers and kayakers in otherwise undevelopable areas, while also promoting conservation of these areas, without compromising structural developments in the floodplains. The final project by Heather Blanchette and Ryan Wilkes, Birding in the Badlands, showcased the wildlife, particularly avians, found naturally within the Drumheller Valley. Volunteers undertook six road trips to survey wildlife from Orkney Viewpoint to Dorothy and Oyen. They discovered Orkney Viewpoint offers a unique vantage where bird watchers can look down upon raptors, such as hawks and eagles, as they soar above the valley. Mr. Solberg said, “There are more and more people coming to Drumheller, very wildlife conscious.” While some of the expeditions were not suited for casual bird and wildlife watchers, Mr. Solberg added, “Always be camera-ready when you come to Drumheller.”Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
The annual Feed the Meter campaign in Belleville, Trenton and Picton is returning on December 1st. While staying safe and shopping local this holiday season, residents of the Quinte West community are encouraged to drop donations in the meters in support of student nutrition programs in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. All funds collected in meters during December 2020 will support Food for Learning’s school breakfast and snack programs in the community. As COVID-19 persists, Food for Learning programs are needed more than ever in local schools to support students experiencing food insecurity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that some children may arrive at school hungry; whether it’s due to long bus rides, rushed mornings, or parents simply not being able to afford breakfast, there are many reasons why children may go without a healthy meal in the mornings. Food for Learning programs support a vital part of every child’s day by providing healthy breakfasts to children in Hastings and Prince Edward counties. Providing children with access to fresh fruit, granola bars and other breakfast foods, Food for Learning recognizes the need for nutritional support in local schools. For some kids, the Food for Learning program may have been their only opportunity to get breakfast, or potentially their only meal of the day. Each day, 4000 students cross the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, including some students who are learning from home, are provided with healthy snacks and meals. Due to the continuing pandemic, Food for Learning student nutrition programs have been redesigned to ensure the safety of all students and staff. As a result, program costs are considerably higher as the Food for Learning program experiences an increase in student participation and individual portions and packages food to minimize contact. The Food for Learning program is continuing to support students learning from home that are experiencing food insecurity as well. “I feel that both health and wellness of our student nutrition program contribute to a more positive school environment that supports student self-regulation physically, emotionally, and mentally, which leads to increased student performance, self-esteem, and social skills. It is a vital program to help improve and maintain our overall school climate,” said a student nutrition program coordinator. Residents wishing to support the Feed the Meter campaign from the comfort of their own homes can also mail their donations to: Food for Learning c/o The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, 156 Ann St., Belleville, ON K8N 3L3. Please make cheques payable to The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation. The Feed the Meter campaign is supported through the generous contributions from campaign sponsors: Starboard Cares (Cool 100 & Hits 95.5 & InQuinte), Market High Advertising LTD., Greek Community of Belleville Quinte West and District, The Grand at The Greek Banquet Hall. GOLD sponsors of Feed the Meter 2020 include: Belleville: Kellogg’s, Fresh Co Belleville, Vision Transportation, Whitely Insurance, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Prince Edward County: Kellogg’s, Prinzen Ford and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Quinte West: Kellogg’s, Findlay Food, Whitely Insurance, Tomasso’s Italian Grille, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
People returning from non-essential travel outside the N.W.T. will soon be required to pay for their own stay at one of the territory's isolation centres, Premier Caroline Cochrane announced in a press conference Tuesday.All travellers and returning residents are currently required to immediately self-isolate for 14 days. Following an outbreak of COVID-19 in Nunavut, this month a new public health order also required residents of the same household to self-isolate for the same period.Residents and travellers who have a private home where they can isolate in either Hay River, Fort Smith, Inuvik, or Yellowknife are allowed to isolate at home.Those who don't, end up at one of the territory's isolation centres — hotels in each of those four communities — where the bill for a 14-day stay can reach up to $4,000 per person, according to the territory.Until now, that bill has usually been footed by the territorial government, which says isolation centre costs account for more than half of the territory's COVID-19 spending to date.But starting Jan. 5, 2021, only certain essential travellers will have that cost covered. That includes people travelling for medical or compassionate reasons, like visiting a terminally ill relative or travelling for a funeral.Cochrane also said "anyone who is required to stay at an isolation centre because of the government of the Northwest Territories' policies" will have their stay paid, though it was not immediately clear who that would cover.Other exemptions will be determined by the chief public health officer, Cochrane said Tuesday."Many of us miss the opportunities to go south in the winter," she said — but "we need residents to consider whether their trips out of the territory are really necessary." Calls to replace surveys for isolation plan check-insFollowing Cochrane's announcement, Health Minister Julie Green emphasized the importance of sticking to self-isolation plans, which require that households in isolation maintain strict distance from others for 14 full days.Currently, individuals self-isolating report possible symptoms of COVID-19 mostly via an online form. Green said that process would be changing, with government staff calling isolating people directly to check-in.Green said the change would help "encourage compliance" and "follow up on wellness checks during the isolation period."Green said the change is expected to happen in the next two weeks.At Tuesday's press conference, Green, Cochrane and the chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, all spoke to the dangers of "pandemic fatigue," which has left fewer people taking public health measures seriously."As we head toward the season of celebration, pandemic fatigue is real," said Kandola. "But … right now, we have a choice to make — we can give into the fatigue and risk the sacrifices we've made so far to keep our territory strong, or we can commit ourselves to the healthy habits we know work, and together we can stop COVID-19 in its tracks."Changes prompted by surveyCochrane said the changes were tied directly to engagement sessions held on the government's COVID-19 response to date.Last week, the government published results from those sessions which showed that most Indigenous, business and community leaders wanted to see reduced spending on isolation centres.Those responses included calls for the territory to stop covering isolation centre stays for elective travel and allow residents to self-isolate at home outside of the four "hubs" designated by the government.While those communities will still be the only place where travellers can isolate, Cochrane did say the government would be spreading the wealth by putting more pandemic services out to tender.Cochrane said local bed-and-breakfasts could bid on contracts to provide accommodation, and other requests for proposals had been posted seeking providers for catering, security and transportation.Missed the live update? Watch it here:Tuesday's announcement came just hours after federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the Canadian government has given the territory $30 million for its isolation hubs, calling it "money well spent."In Tuesday's news conference, Cochrane said that money would not necessarily be spent by the COVID-19 secretariat, which manages the isolation hubs, though she said "health is the first priority" for that spending.Speaking on CBC's The Trailbreaker Tuesday morning, Freeland said, "I think those isolation hubs, while obviously causing a lot of difficulty in people's lives, are keeping people alive and healthy and safe."The N.W.T.'s review of its approach to isolation centres also comes as Nunavut recovers from an outbreak of COVID-19 that appeared to originate in an isolation centre in Winnipeg. Unlike Nunavut, the N.W.T. requires travellers to isolate after travel, not before.
Students in Niagara are not writing exams to close out courses this fall. District School Board of Niagara’s secondary school students and Niagara Catholic board students will all be taking part in “culminating activities” instead of the usual sit-down testing regime. Helen McGregor, superintendent of secondary school curriculum and student achievement, said, “Students are learning differently this year, with many learning in-person for part of the week, and others learning exclusively online. “To ensure all our students are supported to find success this year, whether they are learning in-person or online, in October we made the decision to cancel exams,” said McGregor. “Schools have already let students know that they will not have exams and, instead, they will have culminating activities.” Niagara Catholic District School Board is following a similar path. “Schools are not administering exams,” said superintendent Ted Farrell, whose responsibilities include overseeing secondary schools. “Upon completion of the course, a broad range of culminating activities will be used as part of the final evaluation in determining a student’s mark. These activities may include essays, student performances, independent study projects or other suitable activities for students to best demonstrate their learning.” In October, the Ministry of Education told school boards they have the option to remove designated exam days from their school year calendar and use them for in-class instructional time. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the use of essays or report-based assessments in the place of final exams should be allowed “given the circumstance.” “I don’t want to increase the anxiety of our students. An essay, an extended report, these are all ways in which an educator can credibly assess the performance of a student.” The holiday break for students is to begin Dec. 21 and will last until students return to the classroom on Jan. 4. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Yellowknife city council met on Monday to discuss how to allocate $1.469 million worth of federal funding they received last month to address homelessness during the pandemic.In April, the city received $500,000 from the Reaching Home initiative, which is a part of Canada's national strategy to reduce chronic homelessness. Most of that money went toward programs offered by non-governmental organizations, like the Women's Society, the Salvation Army and Side Door.Of that funding, they have just under $200,000 remaining. Now, the nearly $1.5 million of federal funds from October — secured on the condition it's spent before March 31, 2021 — needs to be allocated.During a special meeting, city council debated whether to approve the spending recommendations made by the community advisory board on homelessness.Rental arrears, shelter spaceThe first recommendation made by board is to allocate $300,000 to address rental arrears and to provide temporary rental support for those that are experiencing homelessness or may be at imminent risk.That amount was determined by landlords in Yellowknife who told the city the number of outstanding rental arrears they have. Around $800,000 is suggested to support 20 shelter beds for individuals and 10 shelter rooms for families which would be done using hotel rooms, says Grant White, the director of community services with the city.However, councillors called for longer term solutions and asked whether the funding could be used toward securing a permanent location for transitional or affordable housing.Coun. Shauna Morgan said that renting hotels seemed like an "inefficient way to use the funding."Although she says she is happy that there is a significant amount of funding available, she wanted to see that turned into more "sustainable solutions." Other councillors agreed.Coun. Steve Payne noted that homelessness was a "chronic problem" and was sceptical that a "temporary fix" would be the best route for addressing the housing issues that the city faces.Permanent housing optionsMayor Rebecca Alty made an alternative recommendation and suggested that the community advisory board look for more permanent housing options.In the meantime, Alty says she will request an extension on the March 31 expenditure deadline, or request that the funding be committed before that date, but spent after. She also plans to ask the federal government to review their residential assets in Yellowknife to see if any locations could be used for affordable housing.Alty said she made this alternative recommendation because she doesn't want to leave "any stone unturned.""If no permanent affordable housing can be found then I would be happy to consider this recommendation in the future," said Alty.She says she hopes the federal and territorial governments, along with local NGOs and businesses, will partner with the city to find a location to secure the transitional housing that the city needs.Council will hold a special meeting to move a motion in early December before they conclude for the year.
Rugby League Cares, the official charity of the Rugby Football League, has set up a fund for Toronto Wolfpack players suffering because of the transatlantic team's collapse.The fund will award grants to help players deal with financial difficulties.Wolfpack players and staff have not been paid since June 10. The club stood down July 20, saying it could not afford to play the remainder of the Super League pandemic-interrupted season.Toronto's subsequent bid to win reinstatement for 2021 under new ownership was rejected.“Due to circumstances entirely out of their control, many of the Toronto players are now finding it difficult to pay their bills," Chris Rostron, head of Rugby League Cares, said in a statement.“Some of them were on very modest salaries: six months without pay and no access to the U.K. government furlough scheme has been incredibly tough. We have been providing practical support to the players over recent months, including debt management advice and access to counselling services.“Our welfare team has spent the last 10 days working with the players to identify those who are suffering most hardship: thanks to the support of the RFL and Super League we are now in a position to begin making payments to those in most need."Because the team is Canadian-owned, players and staff in England have been unable to take advantage of many U.K. government support programs.A dozen or so players have found other clubs, either on loan or permanently. Some signed for lesser deals. Others have had to take jobs outside their sport to pay the bills.The players have already received two "hardship payments" to date from English rugby league authorities.Wolfpack chairman and CEO Bob Hunter confirmed the earlier 1,000-pound ($1,735) payments. He said the Wolfpack pushed for the financial help with the first coming from a bond of some 30,000 pounds ($52,095) the transatlantic team had put up in the past.The club owes in excess of 500,000 pounds ($868,425) in missed payroll. Majority owner David Argyle, who could no longer fund the club, has stepped away from the franchise.Argyle, a Toronto-based Australian entrepreneur who specializes in mining and natural resources in emerging markets, has offered a personal guarantee for the player pay but has not been in a position to make good on it. He has said the original ownership group poured $30 million into the franchise.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on TwitterThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals."Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef said."And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices."A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better."How many times? How many transactions? It adds up," Micallef said.Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. "I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we're talking about corporate finances," said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.He said that the term "Netflix tax" has become highly politicized and is often used as "code" for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters."And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense," Winseck said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Paddon, The Canadian Press
Les résultats de l’Examen final commun (EFC) 2020 des comptables professionnels agréés ont été dévoilés le 27 novembre dernier. Cet examen de l’Ordre des CPA du Québec constitue une étape déterminante vers l’obtention du titre de CPA. Une candidate de Trois-Rivières a raflé la mise en arrivant première parmi les 1183 étudiants québécois qui ont réussi cet examen qui se tient en simultané à travers tout le Canada. Ariane Villemure, une diplômée de l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) a obtenu le meilleur score provincial aux examens. Cette prouesse lui vaudra d’être récompensée de la Médaille d’Or pour le Québec, ainsi que d’un prix de 2 500 $ de CPA Canada. Elle ne sait pas avec quelle note précise elle a réussi. Elle sait juste qu’elle est la meilleure! « On sait seulement si on a réussi l’examen ou non et si on se classe sur le tableau d’honneur. Dans mon cas, j’ai eu la chance d’arriver première. C’est tellement d’émotions en même temps. On travaille tellement fort durant tout notre baccalauréat et tout notre 2e cycle. De voir que j’ai réussi à avoir un succès comme ça, c’est une grande fierté, un sentiment d’accomplissement. Je me sentais prête. On ne sait jamais trop à quoi s’attendre. Il y a toujours un petit stress. Mais je ne croyais pas atteindre ces résultats! » Oui, car être première parmi 1183 personnes, ça fait tout un effet sur un curriculum vitae. On comprend aisément qu’elle s’est déjà trouvé une place au chaud dans les bureaux de KPMG de Québec où, à 23 ans seulement, elle travaille en audit et certification. « J’ai plusieurs mandats. J’aime le côté chiffres, mais également le côté humain », dit Ariane qui travaille en ce moment à distance à partir de Yamachiche, où elle habite. L’Ordre des CPA du Québec n’a pas lésiné sur les moyens pour que tout se déroule dans l’ordre durant ces examens qui ont été tenus pendant trois jours en septembre dernier. L’Ordre a mobilisé 475 bénévoles à l’échelle du Québec pour voir au bon déroulement des examens et superviser les candidats installés individuellement dans des chambres d’hôtel pour l’occasion. Des conditions idéales pour satisfaire les normes sanitaires en ces temps de COVID-19. D’autres diplômés ont pu s’inscrire au tableau d’honneur canadien regroupant les 74 candidats ayant eu les meilleurs résultats au pays. Douze d’entre eux sont du Québec. Ils recevront chacun, une bourse de 1 500 $ de la Fondation des CPA du Québec. Xavier Therrien, un étudiant de l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières est de cette promotion. Les autres sont de Montréal, Sherbrooke et Québec. Ariane Villemure s’est lancée dans cette aventure les yeux fermés. La piqûre pour les chiffres lui a été inoculée dès son cégep en comptabilité. Il ne lui reste maintenant qu’à produire son essai pour obtenir sa maîtrise en Administration des affaires (MBA). Où se voit-elle dans dix ans? « Pour l’instant, j’aime ce que je fais. J’aimerais peut-être enseigner et donner au suivant, plus tard. » Les examens de l’EFC évaluent les compétences des candidats en matière d’information financière, de stratégie et gouvernance, de comptabilité de gestion, d’audit et certification, de finance et de fiscalité. Mais pas seulement. Les candidats comme Ariane Villemure doivent aussi démontrer de solides compétences en leadership, en communication et travail d’équipe, ainsi qu’en éthique.Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
WINNIPEG — Manitobans will likely have to deal with strict COVID-19 measures into the winter, Premier Brian Pallister warned Tuesday.With daily case counts remaining high and intensive care capacity close to the limit, Pallister said some restrictions on public gatherings and business openings will have to continue beyond Friday of next week, when the current orders are to expire."My gut feeling is that as we get into winter, it's going to be critical that we continue with a high level of restrictions for some time," Pallister said."COVID doesn't give up, and we're seeing that all across the country."Manitoba was leading all other provinces in the per-capita rate of new infections until recently, when Alberta surged ahead.To try to bend the curve, the province enacted some of the strictest rules in the country: non-essential businesses have closed, public gatherings have been limited to five people and, with some exceptions for things like medical services, people are not allowed to have visitors in their home.In-person religious services have also been banned — an order that has been met with a small measure of defiance and protests.A church in Winnipeg held four drive-in services last weekend, where people remained in their vehicles while a pastor spoke on a stage. Outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, a church has held in-person services, prompting police to block the parking lot last Sunday.The rules have worked, Manitoba's chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.The number of new infections has plateaued and even dropped slightly in recent days — there were 282 new cases Tuesday — and people now testing positive are reporting fewer contacts with others.That effect has yet to trickle through to the health-care system, however. A record 16 deaths were reported Tuesday and intensive care units remained close to full."Our health-care system can't sustain daily counts like this," Roussin said.The government is already working on what restrictions might continue beyond next week, Roussin added, although he did not divulge details.Manitoba has backed up its public health orders with added personnel, including a private security firm, to hand out fines.The two churches that held services last weekend are being fined $5,000, Pallister said, and several individuals involved can expect fines of $1,296 each."It's critical right now that we do not gather with people outside of our households," Pallister said."And we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures to work."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
Teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are already laying plans to get back on the ice in the new year.The 18-team league suspended all games until at least Jan. 3 after COVID-19 spiked in Quebec and the travel bubble in Atlantic provinces collapsed.Cape Breton Eagles president Gerard Shaw said the shutdown is unfortunate, but there is still hope for a return to the modified schedule that was already underway."This is the way it is, but this is the COVID world that we live in and we knew there would be some glitches along the way," he said."We had hoped it wasn't going to be our division, but it happened and now we've got to shut down for a few weeks to regroup and hopefully this gets better and we're able to play again after Christmas."The league is hoping to get back to its modified schedule as planned, but Shaw said if public health officials in Quebec and the Maritimes won't allow interprovincial travel in January, the league is considering creating bubbles within the provinces.League considering 'mini-bubbles'Several teams in Quebec had relocated to Quebec City for a series of games because of restrictions earlier in November."We're looking to resume, bring the players back on [Jan. 3] and quarantining as per the provincial health authority's guidelines, and we'll do that and hopefully we're back the way we started with our divisional rivals and being able to play our divisional games and make up the games that we lost," Shaw said."There's some consideration now to doing some mini-bubbles in the Maritimes ... and playing in a protected environment, but still potentially allowing our fans to come, depending on what Public Health requires."The details are still to be worked out, but the league is discussing initially having four groupings of teams in Quebec and two groupings in the Maritimes for a weekend schedule of two games in three days.That would be followed by the creation of three groups of four teams in Quebec playing six games per team over nine days at the end of January and grouping six Maritimes teams that would play five games over eight days.The plan would be reconsidered after that.During the December break, players are expected to skate and maintain condition, and when they come back, there will have to be "almost like a mini training camp" to get in some practices, Shaw said.Eagles aiming for 30 home gamesThe pandemic has been difficult and stressful on players and challenging financially for teams and the league, he said.In Nova Scotia, that includes Cape Breton and the Halifax Mooseheads.Eagles shareholders are committed to the season, aiming for 30 home games, said Shaw.The team has already played 15 games, eight of which were at home in the Centre 200 arena with reduced capacity in the stands.'A lot of unknowns'Shaw said he is not sure what will happen if the number of games drops below the target.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.Shaw said he's also not sure what will happen if the other leagues do not play at all and what that would mean for the Q-league post-season."There's a lot of unknowns at this point," he said. "For us, we're able to play, we want to play ... have some normality for our fans and for people to get a little bit of entertainment."We're the only game in town, for the most part, that you're able to go to get an entertaining event, so we're hoping that continues. How long can it continue? That'll be dictated by COVID."MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press