Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Victoria, BC - An independent review into the discrimination of Indigenous people in B.C.’s health-care system has found “widespread” and “insidious” problems touching all points of care. The report, In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care, was prompted by allegations about an organized “Price is Right” game involving guessing the blood alcohol contents of Aboriginal patients in B.C. emergency rooms. On June 19, Health Minister Adrian Dix appointed former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to investigate the allegations and recommend actions. While Turpel-Lafond found no evidence of an organized game, she did find anecdotal signs of multiple activities that resembled the allegations, she said. "Indigenous people and health-care workers have spoken clearly - racism is an ugly and undeniable problem in B.C. health care that must be urgently addressed," Turpel-Lafond said in a release. "This report provides a blueprint for fundamental changes to beliefs, behaviours and systems that are necessary in order for us to root out racism and discrimination and ensure that the basic human rights of Indigenous people to respect, dignity and equitable health care are upheld." Collecting the voices of nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health care workers, the review found that “pervasive, interpersonal systemic racism” adversely affects not only patient and family experiences, but also long-term health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in B.C. “I am afraid to go to any hospital,” said one Indigenous respondent in the review. “When I do have to, I dress up like I’m going to church.” More than two-thirds of Indigenous respondents reported having experienced discrimination based on their ancestry and more than one-third of non-Indigenous respondents reported witnessing interpersonal racism or discrimination against Indigenous patients, their family or friends. Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in B.C.’s health care system is the idea that Indigenous patients are less worthy, that they’re alcoholics, that they’re drug seeking and that they are incapable of adhering to treatment and medical advice, Turpel-Lafond said during a telephone press conference. The review has made 24 recommendations, including the need for having a greater degree of accountability within the system. “At this point, I’m not confident that we have a systemic approach to tackling racism against Indigenous people in B.C.,” said Turpel-Lafond. “I can say though, that it’s important that the government of British Columbia – minister Dix – sets a tone for how we respond to this at the point of care.” Around one year ago, the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act was passed.Turpel-Lafond said that shifts are starting to be made within the health care system, which she can see through this report. “There is a greater degree of openness and willingness to shift at the point of care in all the various partners in the health care system, but it is right to make those changes,” she said. The independent reviewer said she is calling on minister Dix to consider creating the role of a new B.C. Indigenous health officer – “a B.C. Indigenous health representative and advocate that can ensure the complaints and concerns of Indigenous people are processed through the quality review process and are heard.” As an immediate step, Dix said that five new Indigenous health liaison positions are being added in each health authority within the province. He extended an “unequivocal” apology to those who have experienced racism while accessing health care services in B.C. “now, and in the past.” The health minster said that the report gives the provincial health care system the opportunity to accelerate a “comprehensive approach to address long-standing challenges of racism and the legacy of colonialism rooted in principles of human rights.” “We all need to recognize and re-commit to eradicating racism from our health system,” said Dix, “to ensure that our beliefs and behaviours are anti-racist and based in cultural humility.”Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
Ottawa is rolling out a wave of new funding for pandemic-battered industries including tourism, the arts and regional aviation, with smaller companies top of mind — and large airlines notably absent.The Liberal government's fiscal update sketches out a program that will provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million for badly hurt entrepreneurs.The aid, dubbed the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), comes on top of a newly expanded emergency loan program already in place for small businesses, and technically is not limited to certain industries.Meanwhile the devastated tourism sector will have access to one-quarter of the more than $2 billion that Ottawa is doling out to regional development agencies through June 2021, including a $500-million top-up announced Monday.The move aims to bolster an industry made up largely of small and medium-sized businesses and that accounts for roughly 750,000 jobs and two per cent of GDP, according to the government.Another $181.5 million will flow to show business and performers via the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, the fall economic statement says.Rent relief and nearly $700 million in capital investments are en route to airports over six years. About $206 million in further support is bound for regional aviation, including smaller airlines, via a new "regional air transportation initiative" overseen by development agencies.But an aid package targeting big players such as Air Canada and WestJet Airlines remains in the works as talks with Ottawa drag on, with the lack of specifics in the fiscal update frustrating industry leaders.“We had hoped to get a better sense of where the government was going. Instead they repeated the line that they've repeated several times over the past several months — that they’re ‘establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance,’ ” said Mike McNaney, head of the National Airlines Council of Canada.Countries around the world have given carriers US$173 billion in support, he said. Many have also required airlines to offer refunds for cancelled flights, something Ottawa says will be a condition of any bailout."We are very much a global outlier and are ostensibly stuck at Stage Zero on the government planning process," McNaney — whose industry group represents Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Jazz Aviation — said in a phone interview.The regional aviation support comes with question marks, as well."A regional initiative, what’s that?" asked John McKenna, CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, which represents some 30 regional airlines. "We have no idea. We have not been consulted," he said in a phone interview. "Never mind new initiatives, try to support the existing services so they survive."In a speech to the House of Commons, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the benefits of the broader government-backed loan program for smaller companies."We know that businesses in tourism, hospitality, travel, arts and culture have been particularly hard-hit," Freeland said."So we’re creating a new stream of support for those businesses that need it most — a credit availability program with 100 per cent government-backed loan support and favourable terms for businesses that have lost revenue as people stay home to fight the spread of the virus."The HASCAP credit program will offer interest rates below the market average, according to the fiscal update, with more details coming "soon."It also said the government is "exploring options to enhance" a federal loan program for big companies, little-loved by industry since its inception in the spring.The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) offers loans of $60 million or more to large businesses facing cash problems, but comes with an interest rate that jumps to eight per cent from five per cent after the first year — far above typical private-sector lending rates.Only two firms have been approved for LEEFF loans since the Liberals announced the program on May 11, according to the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation: a casino company and a producer of metallurgical coal.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the government for failing to offer industry aid that includes explicit job protections."They have not rolled out any sector-specific supports, meaningfully, that are tied to jobs," he said.Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet slammed the lack of "precision" in the fiscal snapshot."They basically say that there is no limit to what they will spend, without saying or without admitting how badly you spend it," he said.The $686 million in airport aid includes $500 million over six years, starting this year, to back infrastructure spending at large airports that would include massive transit projects, such as the new light-rail station at the Montreal airport.The government is also proposing to extend $229 million in additional rent relief to the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to Ottawa, with "comparable treatment" for Ports Toronto, which operates Billy Bishop airport in downtown Toronto.The supports unveiled Monday come on top of Ottawa's pan-sectoral announcement to raise the wage subsidy to 75 per cent of company payroll costs — it was reduced to a maximum of 65 per cent in October — as well as an extension of the rent subsidy to mid-March from the end of 2020.David Chartrand, Quebec coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, applauded the wage subsidy, but lamented the radio silence on large airlines."After almost 10 months of crisis, still nothing," he said in a release in French.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
The big takeaways for agriculture in Ontario’s behemoth $187 billion 2020 budget are funding for rural broadband infrastructure and the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The provincial government has made available an additional $680 million across four years to bring reliable internet connectivity to rural and underserved areas of the province. “We look forward to seeing that infrastructure actually put in the ground,” said Peggy Brekveld, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s newly elected president. Over three years, the budget allots $25.5 million to the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The cost-sharing funds are available for projects to mitigate disruptions to farm business from COVID-19 through technology. Brekveld said she believes the funds “will help us continue to find ways to innovate and invest in new technologies” to push back against COVID-19's effects on the sector. The budget reads that innovation funding will lead to “increased efficiencies and productivity” while supporting “resilience and long-term sustainability and growth in the agri-food sector.” Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, also highlighted the innovation funding as the budget’s main appeal for the agri-food sector. “There’s not a lot really other than that,” he said. Only a small element of the budget, there’s also $5 million set out for Ontario’s struggling agricultural and horticultural societies. For the societies, who put on many of the province’s fall fairs (there are three in Niagara put on by agricultural societies) the funding is significant. Speaking to Niagara This Week for a November story on the funding, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies manager, Vince Brennan, said he’s never seen anything like it before and called it the “single largest influx of dollars for our organizations.” For the 2020-21 fiscal year, a record provincial deficit of $38.5 billion is projected in the budget. Reflected as a percentage, the net debt of the deficit makes up 47 per cent of all of Ontario’s economic production or gross domestic production (GDP). Ontario’s GDP is also projected to fall 6.5 per cent during 2020. Two deficit outlook scenarios are presented, one for slow growth and another for faster. Under a fast growth projection, the provincial deficit by the 2022-23 fiscal year would decline to $21.3 billion. Under slow growth, the projection for the same period would be a decline to $33.4 billion. Currently, the 2020 budget projects the deficit to decline to $28.2 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Of the total $187 billion in spending in the 2020 budget, $12.5 billion is forecasted to be spent on paying interest on government debt. There is also $2.5 billion being kept in reserve to weather any unforeseen circumstances. There was no plan presented to balance the multi-year budget, as is required by law, and the province will be seeking a pause on the requirement given the "volatile and uncertain economic situation” of the pandemic. The province plans to table a path to balance in the 2021 budget.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta’s largest hospitals are at 91 per cent capacity due to COVID-19 cases and widespread cancellation of more non-urgent surgeries may be necessary. “Our top 15 hospitals are increasingly under stress,” Kenney told NewsTalk 770 radio in an interview Monday. “Ultimately, if we get more and more COVID patients in hospital, the response to open up (COVID) capacity will be widespread surgical cancellation.” He said Alberta has 8,500 hospital beds. Some 2,400 are being set aside for pandemic patients and one-quarter of those beds will be in intensive care. “We have a plan to get back to that level of availably given the current surge that we see,” said Kenney. He said the crucial question is staffing. “You can’t just snap your fingers and suddenly train and certify hundreds of additional nurses for intensive care, for example. We only have a finite number of anesthesiologists who can assist with intubation for COVID patients." In October, the Edmonton area began cancelling 30 per cent of non-urgent surgeries to deal with mounting COVID-19 caseloads. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, reported 1,733 new cases Monday — a one-day record — to go with 453 patients in hospital, 96 of them in intensive care. There were eight more deaths, bringing that total to 541. Last week, Kenney announced a new round of health restrictions designed to address COVID-19 hot spots while keeping the majority of businesses and the economy going. Among the changes, the six diners allowed per table in restaurants now have to be from the same household. Retailers have to limit capacity to 25 per cent. The key change is that people are not supposed to hold gatherings in their homes under penalty of fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Also Monday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro responded to the release of an Alberta Health Services internal memo sent out last Friday. It urged staff in Calgary hospitals to reduce use of bulk oxygen where possible due to expected constraints caused by the pandemic. “Even as our hospitals are packed full of the critically sick, AHS is running short on oxygen,” NDP Opposition health critic David Shepherd told the house. Not true, said Shandro. “This is a contingency plan of AHS, as they do throughout the year,” he said. Dr. David Zygun, Edmonton zone medical director for Alberta Health Services, said the memo was part of an “anticipatory” plan to make sure there are ample resources. “We do have an adequate oxygen supply,” he said. The NDP also criticized Kenney for urging members of the South Asian community in Calgary to avoid extended gatherings. He said some of the highest case rates are in that community, but stayed silent on large weekend rallies protesting mandatory mask rules. “These marches are super-spreader events,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley told Kenney. “Will you condemn these marches and the Albertans who so irresponsibly organized them?” Kenney said it’s up to local law enforcement to hand out tickets to anyone breaking public health orders and said: “We ask Albertans to be responsible in their actions.” Calgary police Supt. Ryan Ayliffe said there were a number of officers, wearing body cameras and taking notes to lay charges later, present during the anti-mask rallies. “It’s my understanding some of those charges were going to be laid this morning,” said Ayliffe, who added that the focus is on organizers and flagrant rule-breakers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. — With files from Colette Derworiz in Edmonton Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa officials on Monday certified a Republican candidate as the winner by six votes of an open seat in the U.S. House, in what is shaping up to be the closest congressional election in decades.Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks finished ahead of Democrat Rita Hart in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District after a recount saw her 47-vote lead steadily dwindle to single digits.The state Board of Canvass voted 5-0 Monday afternoon to certify Miller-Meeks as the winner over Hart by a count of 196,964 to 196,958.The board, which includes Gov. Kim Reynolds and four other state elected officials, also certified President Donald Trump as the winner of the state’s six electoral votes. The board is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats.If it withstands expected legal challenges, Miller-Meeks' margin of victory would amount to the closest U.S. House race since 1984 and the tightest in Iowa since 1916.“That race alone reinforces that every vote counts and can make a difference,” said Secretary of State Paul Pate, Iowa's commissioner of elections and a canvass board member.Hart’s campaign has signalled that it will likely take legal action to challenge the outcome, and must do so within two days of the certification under Iowa law. Such a filing would trigger the formation of a contest court consisting of Iowa Chief Justice Susan Christensen and four district judges who will be appointed.The tribunal would have the discretion to set rules that are “necessary for the protection of the rights of each party and speedy trial of the case.” Hart could be required to post a bond that would cover the costs if the contest isn't successful.The panel would be expected to move quickly and rule on which candidate is entitled to hold the office by Dec. 8.If the court ruled in favour of Miller-Meeks, Hart could file a final appeal with the Democratic-controlled U.S. House, which has the power to judge its members’ elections and has intervened in the past on rare occasions.Miller-Meeks declared victory after Saturday's recount in Clinton County, the last in the district, cut her lead from eight votes to six.“While the race is extraordinarily close, I am proud to have won this contest and look forward to being certified as the winner,” she said. “It is the honour of a lifetime to be elected to serve the people of eastern and southern Iowa. Iowans are tenacious, optimistic and hardworking, and I will take those same attributes to Washington, D.C., on their behalf.”Miller-Meeks, a state senator from Ottumwa, is making her fourth run for Congress. She lost her three previous runs for the seat in 2008, 2010 and 2014 to Democrat Dave Loebsack, whose retirement after seven terms created the vacancy.Hart's campaign manager Zach Meunier said after Monday's certification that the recount was designed to count ballots that had already been tallied and that “additional legal ballots may have yet to be counted.”“Over the next few days, we will outline our next steps in this process to ensure that all Iowans' voices are heard,” he said.If Miller-Meeks prevails, her victory would limit the size of the Democratic majority in the House, which stands at 222-206 with seven races still undecided, according to race calls by The Associated Press.If Hart appeals the results to the five-judge panel, the AP will not call the race until after the panel issues a ruling.The state’s certification came after the 24 counties in the district approved the results of their recounts, which collectively added 143 votes for Hart and 102 votes for Miller-Meeks.The most dramatic swing came in the district's most populous, Scott County, where Hart netted 26 votes. Scott County Supervisors on Monday certified that change, while saying they were troubled that the recount board tallied 131 more absentee ballots than an earlier post-election canvass.County officials said they were baffled by the source of the discrepancy, which could be from the discovery of uncounted ballots, a machine counting error or a mistaken double count. County Attorney Mike Walton said the board had no choice but to certify the recount board’s work.“It’s not perfect,” he said. “There are questions that one side or another may want answered through a contest.”Ryan J. Foley, The Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):6:40 p.m.British Columbia health officials say 46 people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, the highest number they have yet reported.The figure brings the total number of deaths in B.C. to 441 and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says about 80 per cent died in long-term care facilities.She says the deaths reflect the challenges COVID-19 is creating and, as we face a “significant storm surge” in cases, she says we need to push back against the virus by continuing to reduce our contacts and stick with our households.Henry also announced a total of 2,364 new cases, including all those diagnosed between Friday and Monday and another 277 historical cases added in a data correction.\---5:45 p.m.Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Health Canada's approval.It's the fourth potential vaccine sent for assessment in Canada and the first that would require one dose to confer immunity instead of two.Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what's called a "rolling review."If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada's standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option on up to 28 million more.\---5:45 p.m.Alberta is reporting a new record of daily COVID-19 cases.The province says there are 1,733 new infections — 13 fewer than Ontario announced today.Alberta’s previous high was 1,731 new cases on Saturday.The province says there have also been eight new deaths and 453 people are in hospital, with 96 of those in intensive care.\---3:20 p.m.Health Canada has confirmed that it should be ready to approve another vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of December.Last week, Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said the emergency review of Pfizer's vaccine was the most advanced and that Canada should be ready to greenlight it when the U.S. does. That is expected to happen around Dec. 10.Today, a spokesman said other vaccines should also be approved at the same time they are given emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Moderna today applied for that U.S. approval and the FDA will meet Dec. 17 to consider it, a time frame Health Canada said Canada will also be on track to meet.\---2:10 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138.Fifteen of the cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and the other is a school-based case connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, N.S., that was reported on Sunday.Premier Stephen McNeil says there continues to be strong public interest in the asymptomatic pop-up rapid-testing locations around the province.Health officials say 628 tests were administered at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Dartmouth yesterday with six positive results.\---2:05 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting 342 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. The government enacted strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, yet the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent. The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says people have to reduce the number of contacts they have if the numbers are to come down.\---1:25 p.m.The Northwest Territories has confirmed one new case of COVID-19.But the new case will not be included in the territory's tally of infections because the individual contracted the virus before arriving.Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says one close contact of the non-resident worker, who entered the territory on an exemption, has been identified and is in isolation.Kandola says all high-risk essential workers are now being tested for COVID-19 upon entry to the territory.\---1:20 p.m.Nunavut will start lifting lockdown measures on Wednesday as more people recover from COVID-19.The territory reported four new cases today, bringing the total to 181, and the chief public health officer says 73 people have recovered.Dr. Michael Patterson says only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks and travel to the community will still be restricted.The territory-wide lockdown was put in place on Nov. 18 and Patterson says restrictions will be reintroduced if another outbreak occurs.\---1:10 p.m.Yukon is offering extra help to tourism-dependent businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean says $1 million will go to tourism operators and food and beverage businesses that rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their revenues.McLean also announced a total of $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations.She says the two newly created programs are part of a broader funding package for the Yukon tourism industry that will roll out over three years. \---12:52 p.m. Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 today.The woman is a close contact of a previously identified travel-related case.Another infection announced Sunday has been found to be travel-related.Newfoundland and Labrador now has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:44 p.m.Public Heath officials in New Brunswick are reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today.There are two cases in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Bathurst region and one in the Fredericton region.The total number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 501, including 374 recoveries and seven deaths. The number of active cases is 120 with no one currently hospitalized due to the virus. \---12:12 p.m.The COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting drop in commuter traffic is prompting another refund for Manitoba drivers. The province says it plans to offer rebates of an average of $100 per policy-holder by early in the new year, subject to approval from the Public Utilities Board.Another refund worth an average of $150 was offered earlier this year. The province says a sharp drop in traffic has resulted in fewer collision claims to Crown-owned Manitoba Public Insurance.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.The province's Health Department says there are 693 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 28 more than the previous day.Ninety-four people are in intensive care, an increase of two.Officials say eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours, 14 others were from the last week and one occurred on an unknown date.\---10:40 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more people have died due to the virus in the province.Tougher public health restrictions under the provincial framework take effect in five regions today, with Windsor-Essex moving to the strictest level short of a lockdown.Haldimand-Norfolk is moving to the orange level, while Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern are going into the yellow level.\---10:30 a.m.A spokeswoman for the American biotech company Moderna says the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month.Global deliveries, including to Canada, to begin in the first quarter of 2021.It applied to Health Canada for approval in October.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven death on Monday.
HALIFAX — For eight long hours, Nick Beaton was in agony as he waited to learn what had happened to his missing wife. By the early afternoon on April 19, he knew a lone gunman disguised as a Mountie had killed several people in rural Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer shot him dead at a gas station north of Halifax. And he knew a woman had been killed on a road in nearby Debert, N.S., but no one would tell him who it was. "I just wanted to know," Beaton said in an interview. "Maybe it wasn't her out there. Maybe she's just wounded and down a side road bleeding out. Maybe I can go and help her. Maybe I can save her. Eight hours of that." At 5:50 p.m., two plainclothes officers arrived to deliver the awful news: his wife Kristen was dead, one of the gunman's 22 victims — though Beaton insists the number should be 23 because the official count does not include the couple's unborn child. "I was in my backyard bawling my eyes out, and I was on my knees praying," Beaton said, his voice cracking with emotion. Seven months later, Beaton says he wants to know why it took so long for the RCMP to tell him what had happened that grim day. That question will be among the many complex and heartbreaking issues that will be examined by a federal-provincial inquiry that is now preparing for public hearings. The three commissioners leading the inquiry were handed broad terms of reference on Oct. 20. Here are four other questions they will face: 1. Were red flags ignored before the shooting started? The RCMP have confirmed the gunman killed 13 people near his summer residence in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18, and another nine people the following day in northern and central Nova Scotia. In all, Gabriel Wortman spent 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't. Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says there's evidence to suggest that key warning signs were ignored long before the shooting started. "A lot of people knew that Mr. Wortman was a pretty troubled individual who was doing some odd things," MacKay said in an interview. "But nothing was done." As early as May 2011, police in Nova Scotia were told Wortman had said he wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable. An officer safety bulletin, distributed by the Truro Police Service, said a police source had indicated Wortman was upset about a police investigation, had access to weapons and was having some "mental issues." An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin, but Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded, because the records were purged long ago. The one-page bulletin, however, wasn't the first detailed warning that police received about the shooter. Former neighbour Brenda Forbes says that in the summer of 2013, she told the RCMP that Wortman owned a cache of weapons and was prone to domestic violence. She said neighbours described how he had beaten his common-law spouse behind one of the properties he owned in Portapique. But none of those neighbours would corroborate the story to police at the time. MacKay said the behaviour of those people deserves closer scrutiny. "The failure of others to substantiate and support her statements on either the firearms or domestic violence led (the police) to do nothing," MacKay said. 2. What role did misogyny and sexism play in the mass killing? After the killings, several of the gunman's neighbours came forward to describe the man as jealous, controlling and abusive. And police confirmed that on the night the killing started, he had bound and attacked his longtime partner. The inquiry has been tasked with examining the role of intimate-partner violence, which is something activists Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald say is key to explaining what happened. "His neighbours were afraid of him, and he had a history of violence," said Sarson, who together with MacDonald founded the advocacy group Persons Against Non-State Torture. "The women he was connected to, he didn't respect their equality." MacDonald said exploring the role of gender-based violence will be important because there is evidence of a link between misogyny and mass killings. "If we understand the impact of misogyny and sexism, we'll start to prevent atrocities like this," she said. Researchers say the motives of men who commit mass shootings are often complex and difficult to discern, but one factor connects many of them: a history of hating women. In more than half of all mass shootings in the United States from 2009 to 2017, an intimate partner or family member of the perpetrator was among the victims, according to a study by the U.S. gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. 3. What could the RCMP have done to end the carnage sooner? For Nova Scotia lawyer Robert Pineo, this is the key question facing the inquiry. "It just seems to me like a complete failure in tactics and command," he said in an interview. Pineo says there is evidence the RCMP's efforts to track and contain the killer were inadequate. "We know that not very many police were dispatched to Portapique in the beginning hours," said Pineo, whose law firm is behind two proposed class-lawsuits, one that names the gunman's estate and another that names the RCMP and the Nova Scotia government. He also raised questions about the number of roadblocks that were set up and the warnings issued to the public as the killer eluded police while driving a car that he had modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser. The RCMP have faced criticism for failing to use a national alert system, which would have allowed them to warn residents about an active shooter through messages on TV, radio and wireless devices. Instead, they used Twitter to provide updates on the killer's last known whereabouts. Beaton said the use of Twitter never made sense to him. "We got (Alert Ready) texts about COVID, but we didn't get alerts about a crazed gunman shooting, killing and burning things," he said. 4. Did the perpetrator have ties to the Mounties or organized crime? Published reports citing anonymous sources have suggested the shooter was an informant for the RCMP and may have had links to organized crime. The RCMP have denied having any relationship with the killer. MacKay, however, says the Mounties are constrained from saying anything publicly about their sources to ensure their safety. "If there is some kind of link, and they are not telling the truth about that, my understanding is that there is nothing illegal in that if it is to protect the identity of an informant," MacKay said. "They can legally misinform people right up to the courts. But they are not allowed to lie to judges about that." Since the upcoming inquiry has quasi-judicial status and will require testimony under oath, this could put the RCMP in a difficult position. "If there was a link, then it raises questions about how much they knew about his questionable character," MacKay said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020 Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
Yukon confirmed another new COVID-19 case on Monday afternoon, bringing the territory's active case count to 17.The government has not issued any additional public exposure notifications, and did not identify the location of the latest case on its website update.The new case comes after Yukon confirmed one new case Sunday, and three new cases Friday evening.There are currently several active public exposure notifications in the territory. You can find them all here.Yukon has confirmed a total of 47 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 29 people considered recovered. One person has died in the territory.
The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has a new baby.Amanda McDougall confirmed to CBC News that she gave birth to a son on Saturday evening. McDougall said she, along with her fiancé and stepson, are brimming with love for the new addition. She first spoke of her expanding family last summer while announcing her mayoralty bid. In October, the former first-term councillor and non-profit leader defeated incumbent Cecil Clarke by nearly 4,000 votes. During her run to the mayor's seat, McDougall spoke of chauvinistic attitudes she encountered. Time away with babyEarlene MacMullin, the deputy mayor, will be stepping into McDougall's shoes as she takes time off to be with her family. "Whether it's a week, or two weeks, or a month, between myself and staff [carrying out her duties] … and she's always just a phone call away," said MacMullin."The important thing right now, really, is to give her and her family the time that they need to adjust to the new bundle."MacMullin said mom and baby were expected to leave the hospital on Monday.Advice for McDougallEmily Lutz was caring for a toddler when she decided to run in the Municipality of Kings County in 2016. Now she has a five-year-old, two-year-old and five-month-old baby.Lutz has raised a newborn as a councillor, and in her current role as deputy mayor. She admits to encountering misogynistic attitudes in balancing work and family responsibilities. "Being a young mother does not negate your ability to do your job, and in fact it enhances your ability to do your job," Lutz said. "It can certainly add a new level of complexity, but it's very much something that goes hand-in-hand."She has some advice for McDougall: Don't be afraid to delegate tasks and don't be too hard on yourself."It's OK to take time away," she said. "Folks take time away from council for a number of different reasons."'It's a wonderful thing'Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood was asked whether McDougall might be the first Nova Scotian to give birth while holding the mayor's office."I have no idea, and I actually don't think it matters," Mood said. "I think it's a wonderful thing. That's what women do. They give birth."But there's no glossing over the impact McDougall's motherhood will have on municipal politics, Mood said. "It's an amazing example that she's set. It almost gives women permission to step into politics and know that, you know, the path has been forged before them." When she announced her mayoral bid, McDougall said having a baby would be a constant reminder that council decisions must take into account future generations.MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation. "We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay." The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student. The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported. The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban. Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms. “There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election." PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden. But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays. His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away. "The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded. Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to: — Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; — Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; — End the importation and manufacture of handguns. The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns. PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows. According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018. Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns. "It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
There is no doubt in Georgina Lightning’s mind that had an organization like Creatives Empowered been there when she first started acting, “intimidation and fear” wouldn’t have been what controlled her life then. Creatives Empowered launched late November. It’s a collective of Alberta-based artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who empower each other as an allied community. “Creatives Empowered would have been so valuable. It would have blown my mind,” said Lightning who has built a career as an actor, director, writer and producer in both the television and film industry. And all of that in spite of Hollywood. In 1990, Lightning, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, left Edmonton to attend a three-year prestigious acting academy in Los Angeles. She graduated top of her class, won awards and was ready to take on any acting role. “But once I got to Hollywood, I was completely heartbroken… I can play anything on the planet, but Hollywood didn’t see me as that. The second I walk in they see an Indian. They see a race before they see talent. They don’t even look at talent. They see a race. They see ‘She doesn’t fit.’ That’s how racist it is,” said Lightning. She soon learned that there were two seasons for Native Americans to audition. In spring, they auditioned for the western movies that were shot over the summer. Late in the year, they were called on for American thanksgiving productions. In response to these lack of opportunities, Lightning eventually co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions and Native Media Network. “I trained at a classical school so I could play any role, be considered an actor. I didn’t want to be an Indian actor. I wanted to be an actor. I really truly believed if I worked hard enough, excelled, was a cut above the rest, I could make it. That would be my ticket in…. I was qualified, but they still didn’t let me in. It did not matter what kind of credentials I had. So it was colour before talent,” said Lightning. That is a story far too often told by non-Whites in the entertainment and media industries, says Creatives Empowered creator Shivani Saini. “I think it’s safe to say for anyone who is Black, for anyone who is Indigenous, for anyone who is a Person of Colour, that we would all collectively agree that this equity is long overdue. Now is the perfect time for us to start,” said Saini, who is South Asian. Saini has worked in both professional media and the arts for 25 years. Among her work is marketing and communications director for the world premier of Making Treaty 7, and associate producer for the first seasons of the TV drama Blackstone. Inequity, she says, manifests in a variety of ways: negative stereotyping; lack of acknowledgement of the talent of BIPOC; always being considered “emerging talent” even after years of experience; and the belief that hitting a “diversity target” means a mediocre project or result. “Anyone who is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour who, for example, has found themselves to be fulfilling a diversity target somewhere can probably relate to the experience of being tokenized. And tokenism is in and of itself really discriminatory and racist.” “I think it’s safe to say it’s just time for this to start to change. It’s so exhausting for us to be walking into rooms, walking into spaces and for us to be tokenized, for us to be stereotyped, for us to be viewed differently because of these mindsets that exist about BIPOC or IBPOC talent,” said Saini. It's an exhaustion that Lightning can relate to. She remembers always having to work harder, always being worried about being seen as a failure, always pushing herself to be a better actor. And she remembers keeping her silence when she was the target of abuse. “When you do speak up about assaults and abuses against you, they turn against you. It’s like I’m the one who’s punished. You learn (to stay silent),” she said. Saini had been thinking about Creatives Empowered since 2019 as she had a “mixture of professional experiences within that year that were both really empowering and some of which were really disempowering.” But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit that she had the time to develop the concept further. And then there was the building awareness of inequalities, awareness sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, other Black people and Indigenous people. “We really are living in an unprecedented time right now. I think there’s just a tremendous opportunity we have to leverage what’s going on to really create true equity within Alberta’s arts and culture sector,” said Saini. “We all know it’s a necessity. The work has to be done,” said Lightning, who is back in Alberta working on a number of projects. Creatives Empowered is an opportunity for BIPOC to support and encourage each other emotionally and financially, she adds. “Now is the time for change. What are we going to do with a platform for moving forward? This initiative with Creatives Empowered it’s about bringing Indigenous or People of colour into the fold, and not just exploiting them. It’s empowering them, letting them be intellectual property owners and that’s where the value is,” said Lightning. Longer term goals, Saini said, is having Creatives Empowered serve as an organization that can find ways to work with key stakeholders in the Alberta cultural sector. It would become a resource or a point of access for the larger communities to tap talent. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of the advocacy work by building those relationships,” said Saini. Already Creatives Empowered has attracted a large number of members and that base keeps growing. “I really do believe that if we can develop a really strong membership base then it’s going to help to dismantle a lot of those negative stereotypes, because we’re going to be able to show the cultural sector that we do, in fact, exist and that our talent is beautifully potent. It’s really important, I think, for this space, this community to exist,” she said. Membership for BIPOC individuals and BIPOC organizations is free and open to Alberta-based artists and media professionals. There will be a fee for ally organizations based on their annual operating budgets. At this point, says Saini, Creatives Empowered remains a collective. That may have to change in order to access government funding or donations. Saini and Lightning understand there is much ground to be broken down before equity for BIPOC is achieved in Alberta’s cultural and media sectors and that it’s going to take time. “With the dialogue with racism and the global discussion on inclusivity and with all that’s happening … it’s time now. It’s being shaken up by force and now everyone is forced to look at reality,” said Lightning. “What I think is very exciting about the time we're living in is that I think we're actually going to be able to make some real significant progress even within my lifetime… I never thought I would see the kind of time we're living in right now where there's this level of awareness, this type of conversation happening around equity,” said Saini. CFWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CFWE, CFWE
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. 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
Don't forget your face mask while in line for the chair-lift.
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama; Former communist official Sergei Kirov is assassinated in Leningrad; Beatlemania arrives in America; Actor and director Woody Allen is born. (Dec. 1)
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining “extraordinarily uncertain.”In remarks released by the Fed on Monday, Powell said that the increase in new COVID-19 cases both in the United States and abroad was “concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months. A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.”Powell said while progress on developing vaccines had been “very positive,” significant challenges remained regarding the timing, production and distribution of the vaccines, and it remained difficult to assess the economic implications of this process with any degree of confidence.Powell's remarks were prepared for a joint appearance he will make on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the Senate Banking Committee. The hearing is part of the panel's oversight responsibilities required under the multi-trillion economic support legislation Congress passed in the spring..Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
Realtors in rural Nova Scotia are adjusting quickly to a new way of selling houses as buyers from places like Ontario and B.C. snap up properties without seeing them in person.Christopher Snarby, the co-owner of Exit Realty Inter Lake, sells properties from Chester to Queens County and estimates he's sold 12-15 of them sight unseen since May."People have been desperate and they can't get here to see it, and they know things are moving quickly so they just kind of have to make a choice," Snarby told CBC's Information Morning on Monday."And not everybody's comfortable with it, but certainly I've had a number that have been."He admits selling a property virtually can be a challenge. "It's hard to describe a smell or feel of a house, but it really does become our responsibility to try to convey as much information as we can," Snarby said. October was a record-breaking month for property sales across the province with inventory low and prices continuing to soar, according to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors.Bobbi Maxwell said half of her buyers right now are from outside the province and won't see their houses in person until they arrive. Most are middle-aged people who can work from home and are looking for a place to retire at some point."We're starting to see more people … migrate this way because they want the solitude, the peace, the quiet, the safety and the beauty of the beaches," said Maxwell, a realtor with Viewpoint Realty Services who sells properties around Barrington and Clyde River in Shelburne County."We're not as hot as the metro [market], but it's definitely been one crazy market for us as well." Record October across N.S.The Nova Scotia Association of Realtors compiled data for the month of October that shows 1,427 units were sold across the province, up more than 30 per cent from October 2019.The average sale price was a record $304,590, rising just over 21 per cent from the previous October. In Yarmouth, there were 24 residential sales in October, up 41 per cent from last year and in the Annapolis Valley, 203 properties were sold, up 30 per cent since last October. The average sale price also went up in both areas last month. On the South Shore where Snarby works, sales in October were up about 30 per cent from last year and the average residential price was just over $291,000, an increase of 36 per cent over last October. The booming market is a major win for sellers but can be frustrating for buyers. "We're not usually accustomed to that many bidding wars in our area, but now … most properties have gone into at least two or three offers and the time frames are a lot quicker as well," Snarby said.In the past, houses would sit on the market for six months to a year and now they're gone in weeks or days, he added.Rural internet still a challengeEven though people are eager to move to Nova Scotia for its friendliness and relative affordability, Snarby and Maxwell said they are routinely asked about internet service."It's really funny because people are more concerned about the internet than they are health-care services," Maxwell said.She said newcomers are good news for rural areas like Shelburne County that have struggled with out-migration. But she said there could be challenges, too. Many new buyers say they eventually want to build their own homes but finding skilled labour in the area isn't always easy, she said. "I think we're going to have a lot of growing pains because with the demand, we're very short on tradesmen like plumbers and electricians and carpenters," Maxwell said."I really am hoping that a lot of the people who are moving here from away are bringing in new skills or new motivation to want to ... become career oriented or focused and become tradesmen in our area."Snarby said some of his clients are selling homes in the $800,000 range in Ontario and buying a property in rural Nova Scotia for around $200,000, leaving a healthy amount for their retirement fund. "And at the end of the day, if they're not comfortable with their house or if it's not quite the right one, they can put it back on the market and there's a good chance it'll sell," Snarby said. MORE TOP STORIES
Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville held a silent auction to raise money for Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It was Jac’s Boutique employee, McCall Laframboise, who came up with the idea for the auction. Big Sky Ranch is in desperate in need of support, because they had to close their doors to the public due to the pandemic. This meant that many of their programs, which usually help with fundraising throughout the year, had to be cancelled. “They do great things at Big Sky Ranch,” McCall says. “This way I could support them and support Jac’s Boutique.” Big Sky Ranch’s Office Manager, Pauline Lafleur, says they were thrilled when McCall reached out to them to offer their support. “We were very happy and grateful that the animals were remembered, even though we have been closed since March because of COVID-19,” she says. “The animals are still in people’s hearts!” Jac’s Boutique ran the auction through their Facebook page and raised $655, with everything going for above the starting bid. Owner, Jackie Taylor, decided to match the dollars raised, bringing the grand total to $1,310. “It feels amazing, especially around the holidays,” McCall says about the success of the auction. “I know they need food for the animals, and it’s great that we were able to help out in this way.” This time of year is difficult for the sanctuary, because of higher costs. They also have to keep in mind that hay will have to be ordered for the spring, so this auction couldn’t have come at a better time. “We are humbled and amazed by the dedication, generous hearts, kindness, and community spirit of everyone in Kemptville, and all the surrounding communities,” Pauline says. Big Sky Ranch is still open for adoptions and surrenders, and they currently have about 119 animals at the sanctuary, most of whom are now in the barns for the winter. The ranch has been in operation for 15 years and has found forever homes for over 3,500 animals, and housed many others who needed a safe, comfortable place to spend the rest of their lives. They are currently in need of Lysol wipes, Clorox bleach spray, and bleach, as well as feed for the animals, which can be purchased at Willows Agriservices in the South Gower Business Park. Monetary donations can also be made through their website www.bigskyranch.ca.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
As rising cases put Windsor-Essex public health resources under strain, officials are asking that people prepare isolation plans and that those who either test positive or think they have COVID-19 start a COVID diary. With 17 active outbreaks across several sectors and more than 400 active cases, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) said during its COVID-19 briefing Monday that staff are under strain and need peoples' support.Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said those steps — having an isolation plan and keeping a contacts diary — can significantly help public health's efforts. Ahmed said if you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, you shouldn't wait for public health to get in touch, but start by getting tested and immediately implement isolation plans. But, what should be included in an isolation plan? What sorts of questions should you prepare to be asked by public health if you test positive? How can you be proactive in slowing the spread? Having a planKate Kemplin, a University of Windsor nursing professor, compares it to the hurricane evacuation plans she got used to growing up in Florida."It's almost like that in reverse — you're not evacuating, you're self-isolating," she said.This means thinking about how you're going to get all of your essential needs met while minimizing contact with others. That includes how you can get groceries delivered, whether a neighbour or anyone else is available to help you, and how you're going to get physical activity."If you need to go outside for a walk, you're going to do loops around your backyard or your living room," she said.If you need to go to work, you should also come up with a plan to keep contact to the absolute minimum. This means driving, or taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft to work — making sure that you stay in the back seat and as far away from the driver as possible. You should also think about how to ensure that you can keep your mask on at all times or as much as possible."Just small things we don't typically think about. Make some notes in your phone, leave a little post-it note with your plan," Kemplin said. When CBC News asked WECHU about isolation plans, a spokesperson pointed to isolation advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).The agency recommends that you: * Stay at home unless you need to go out for "time-sensitive medical services." * Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your residence. * Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others if possible, * Disinfect and clean surfaces that you touch often at least once daily, among other measures.The PHAC also has a list of items it recommends you have if you need to isolate at home. It includes household cleaning products, medication to reduce fever and a thermometer, among others.Keeping a 'COVID' diaryKemplin also supports the idea of keeping a COVID diary — a document of all the places you've been and all your close contacts.The idea is that a COVID diary would be a useful tool if you have to provide information to contact tracers from the health unit."Even if it seems ridiculous at the time, we have to be willing to appear as if we overreacted, because that's how to keep the public safe," she said.Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, agrees."It's a great idea. And I think my first piece of advice is don't wait until you might be feeling sick or think that someone around you is," he said."I think a lot of people are wondering how they can be useful, how can they be helpful in this really dreadful time, and I think this is a perfect example of being able to be diligent and mindful," he added.Furness says the most important pieces of information to keep track of are where you've been indoors in an enclosed space, who you were with, how long you were there for, and whether people were wearing masks or not.If you're someone who has to work a job that involves a lot of contact with the public, things get more complicated. He says in that case it's especially important to keep track of times — what was happening when."Exposure time as we call it actually matters quite a lot," he said.Kemplin and Furness agree an even better strategy than keeping a diary is to have no need to do it by having so little contact with others."Contact tracing becomes incredibly easy if you don't go anywhere," Kemplin said.But keeping a COVID diary can be useful for another reason even if you don't expect to speak with a contact tracer soon, Furness says. It can give you a documented snapshot of how much contact you're having with other people in the pandemic. "I think it's great for mindfulness," he said.