Seniors advocates are calling for military intervention at Ontario's Tendercare Living Centre, where 52 residents have died of COVID-19. Morganne Campbell reports.
Seniors advocates are calling for military intervention at Ontario's Tendercare Living Centre, where 52 residents have died of COVID-19. Morganne Campbell reports.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec's labour minister is threatening to impose more restrictions on the province's construction and manufacturing sectors for allegedly flouting health orders. Jean Boulet said today in a statement he's received many reports of non-compliance connected to the two sectors since the government imposed new restrictions Jan. 9. The new measures — in effect until at least Feb. 8 — require the two industries to limit operations to essential activities and to reduce the number of workers in factories and on construction sites. Quebec's new health orders also include a provincewide curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m., in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 transmission and reduce the strain on the health system from rising hospitalizations. Boulet does not enumerate the violations, but says it's zero tolerance for those who don't follow the rules and is warning the government could impose additional restrictions. The Canadian Press recently contacted three construction industry associations, who all said they hadn't reduced operations since the new health order was imposed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Les gens sont définitivement au rendez-vous depuis l’ouverture du Mont Lac-Vert le 28 décembre dernier. S’ils sont nombreux à dévaler les pistes, le centre n’a toutefois pas encore affiché complet. « On a passé plusieurs semaines avant l’ouverture à analyser nos chiffres des dernières années pour se préparer à la nouvelle saison. On a ainsi pu instaurer un quota de personnes dans la montagne par plage horaire. Jusqu’à maintenant, nous n’avons pas encore atteint le maximum de nos capacités, même si nous avons beaucoup de gens qui viennent dévaler les pentes », mentionne la responsable des communications, Claudia Carrière. Concernant les quotas, Claudia Carrière explique que sur semaine, de jour, c’est un maximum de 150 personnes qui est permis en au Mont Lac-Vert. La fin de semaine, le quota est divisé en trois plages horaires, soit un maximum de 150 personnes le matin, l’après-midi et le soir. « Ça fonctionne bien, on est heureux du résultat. Il n’y a pas de longue attente au télésiège et il n’y a pas d’encombrement dans le chalet non plus. Tout se passe super bien. » Les sentiers de fat bike et de raquettes sont aussi populaires en ce début de saison. Il n’y a cependant pas de quota pour ces deux activités. « C’est certain qu’on ne se retrouvera pas avec 150 à 200 fat bikes dans nos sentiers. Par jour, en moyenne, on en reçoit environ une vingtaine. » Billets de saison L’organisation du Mont Lac-Vert est très satisfaite également de la vente de billets de saison. Selon Claudia Carrière, les chiffres ressemblent beaucoup à ceux des dernières années. « Avec la situation actuelle, on pouvait croire que nous allions connaitre une baisse des ventes de billets de saison. Au final, on ne se retrouve pas perdant, mais pas gagnant non plus. Je dirais que c’est demeuré assez stable. » Ouverture progressive Dans les prochaines semaines, les cours de glisse débuteront. Les inscriptions sont déjà débutées et les résultats semblent encourageants, dit-on. Concernant les pentes de ski, au moment d’écrire ces lignes, cinq pistes sont ouvertes. « Les chaudes températures à Noël ont eu des impacts. Ça nous retarde aussi pour l’ouverture des glissades sur tube. Nos canons à neige fonctionnent pratiquement 24h sur 24 ! »Janick Emond, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
Ce n’est rien de moins qu’une onzième victoire consécutive qu’a mérité il y a quelques jours le groupe Robert, de Boucherville, en raflant encore une fois le « TCA Fleet Awards » C’est évidemment avec beaucoup de fierté que Groupe Robert, spécialisé dans l’industrie du camionnage et du transport, s’est vu décerné le premier prix de sa catégorie pour une 11e année consécutive. Le prix a été créé par la Truckload carriers association, qui regroupe plus de 200 000 camionneurs en Amérique du Nord. Ces prix identifient les entreprises de camionnage qui ont démontré un engagement sans précédent envers la sécurité. Groupe Robert est donc l’entreprise de sa catégorie avec le ratio de fréquence d’accidents le plus bas par million de miles parcourus depuis 11 ans. « La sécurité étant au centre de toutes nos initiatives, ce prix est à l’honneur de tous nos employés » a indiqué la direction du groupe lors de l’annonce de leur nomination Le groupe Robert, qui emploie environ 3500 personnes, est bien implanté à Boucherville, sur le boulevard Marie-Victorin avec un important centre de distribution et de transit de camion. Il possède également d’importantes installations à Rougemont, là même ou la famille Robert possède aussi un domaine viticole. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Tanya Bogatin's once pristine home is no longer quite so organized, and she's waiting a little longer between loads of laundry, but it's no skin off her back. Her priorities have shifted now that she'll be helping her two young kids attend classes from their home in Vaughan, Ont., for another month. "Things are gonna fall to the backburner," she said. "I tell my kids, don't stress about it ... relax, relax. We're happy, we're safe, we're healthy." With online learning extended until late January across southern Ontario, and for even longer in Toronto, York, Peel, Durham and Windsor-Essex, parents like Bogatin are finding a litany of strategies to manage all their responsibilities. She said she briefly panicked when she found out her kids would be learning remotely until at least Feb. 10, but then she came up with a game plan. Each morning, she and her kids get up at around 8:20 a.m., with half an hour to spare before classes begin. Once classes start, her son -- who is in Grade 4 -- stations himself in the dining room, and her daughter -- in Grade 2 -- sets up her laptop at the desk in the toy room. Bogatin sits on the stairs between them, listening in case they call for help. At recess, she said, she bundles them up in winter gear and sends them out to play in the backyard. Right after classes end, they get to work on homework. Bogatin works part-time, and as of this week she's able to do that from home. "I'm very, very lucky that I have a very flexible job," she said, noting that she's mostly able to set her own schedule, and will sometimes retreat into her bedroom for online meetings. Her days are busy, she said, but they're "good busy." Parents are making it work, said Rachel Huot with the Ontario Parent Action Network, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. "It's extremely challenging to try and support children learning remotely," she said. "Your kids are not meant to learn sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours a day." Parents who have to juggle supervising kids and working -- either in or out of the home -- are stretched even thinner, she said. "Then there's the fact that we're watching the government fail us day after day. And there's no clear end in sight," she said. Huot echoed calls from teachers' unions that are requesting broader testing of asymptomatic students, smaller class sizes and better ventilation systems in schools so that kids can safely return to the classroom. A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said student safety is the government's top priority. "We know that parents want their children back in class and we firmly agree, and our commitment to deliver on that is to further enhance our safety protocols and provincewide targeted surveillance testing to ensure our students can safely go back to class," she said. The government has cited rising COVID-19 positivity rates amongst children as well as soaring daily infections for its decision to have students learn virtually for longer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Calling Métis an "interest group," as Premier Brian Pallister did Wednesday after touring the Brandon vaccination site, does not sit well with Manitoba Metis Federation David Chartrand. "It’s insulting," said Chartrand. When The Brandon Sun asked Pallister to explain the lack of a COVID-19 data sharing agreement with the federation, including the lack of a partnership to ensure Métis are prioritized for vaccines as First Nations have been, he was quick to bristle. But instead of answering the question, the premier spoke about Indigenous people generally, First Nations and reconciliation. "Well, Métis representatives have been at the table and have been part of this. But, of course, Métis people live integrated, for the most part, with the rest of us in the province, as opposed to a lot of the Northern Indigenous communities that do not. And, so, the considerations are not identical, as you would recognize," he said, when pressed. When pressed again, he said, "There are significant efforts being made to work with our interest groups in our province, in particular with the Indigenous and Métis people to make sure that we’re doing what’s culturally appropriate, what works well for their population, what’s acceptable, agreeable, sensitive to their needs. That work is ongoing." But Chartrand objects to Pallister’s statements. He said the only committee the federation – a self-governing political representative for Manitoba Métis – has been asked to sit on is about how best to communicate about vaccines, which has nothing to do with the roll-out. To begin with, Chartrand explained, in some villages, the clear majority will be First Nation and Métis, with very few non-Indigenous people living in them. Chartrand offers Camperville, on the western shore of Lake Winnipegosis, St. Laurent, established as Fond du Lac in 1824 by Métis, and St. Eustache as examples of predominantly Métis villages. "Those are Métis villages. The vast majority (of people) are Métis. These are historical Métis villages which existed even before Canada existed, before the Province of Manitoba," Chartrand said. "Excuse me, but I can tell you where every Métis person lives. I can tell you their chronic illnesses. I can tell you their education level. I can tell you what universities they’re going to. I can tell you what colleges they’re going to." Further, Chartrand said Pallister has a responsibility to establish a distinct process with Métis, and that he’s making excuses not to engage with Métis as a rights-holding Indigenous population. NDP leader Wab Kinew weighed in, after Pallister’s appearance in Brandon. "Unfortunately, Mr. Pallister has politicized his relationship with the Métis people in Manitoba. And I think, in this instance, it’s getting in the way of public health," he said. He said due to the strong work of First Nations health leaders, the benefits of data sharing and strategizing can be seen, and that the Métis community being able to participate in the same kind of arrangement would probably benefit all Manitobans. "If there is one group in society that – whether it’s a cultural group, a geographic region, a socio-economic group – that gets left behind, and that becomes the opening by which the virus can spread, then that affects all of us," Kinew said. "Then we all have to live with the virus or the public health restrictions that are attempting to combat it." He thinks the Métis are raising an important issue and Pallister would do well to dramatically improve his working relationship with them. Jerry Daniels, the Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO), concurs. "SCO supports our Métis relatives in their efforts to have allotments of COVID-19 vaccines that they can distribute to their own people," stated Daniels by email. "COVID-19 has impacted the Métis population in Manitoba and there needs to be accountability for this. There also needs to be a facts-based approach to vaccine distribution, to ensure they receive a fair amount of vaccines and can keep their most vulnerable people safe. So far, the province has been unwilling to collaborate with the Metis Nation." Meanwhile, in a follow-up email from a Pallister spokesperson, Chartrand’s previous statements on this matter were denigrated. "Contrary to the inaccurate and inflammatory comments made by the president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, the Government of Manitoba appreciates the willingness of the MMF to assist in Manitoba’s COVID-19 response," stated the spokesperson later Wednesday afternoon. "We have invited them to work with us, in partnership, to discuss how Métis communities can be supported to enhance their ability to access Manitoba’s three COVID-19 vaccination super sites. We have yet to receive a response to this invitation, but remain optimistic about the prospect of working together on this pivotal aspect of the vaccination strategy." But that’s not what Chartrand wants. He wants an allocation of vaccine, and he would partner with pharmacies to deliver them to vulnerable Métis, likely much the same way the science has dictated priority groups so far. "We’d pay them (pharmacies) to give the vaccines. We’d put up the resources to make sure it’s there. We know where our people live, we know their ages, we know their locations, we know the communities. We can quickly put an action team together and a plan – overnight," Chartrand said. When asked about a possible "plan B" if the Province of Manitoba continues to exclude the federation from meaningful participation in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in the province, to ensure the most vulnerable Métis are adequately protected, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) stated the federal government places great importance on including Indigenous voices in the priority-setting for early vaccination. "ISC is working collaboratively with all provinces and territories to encourage inclusion of Indigenous perspectives to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to support the administration and planning process of the COVID-19 vaccine for Indigenous peoples," stated a spokesperson by email. "The logistics of a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out require coordination amongst partners and provinces and territories; an efficient and effective roll-out requires co-planning and is dependent on full collaboration."Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
During a COVID-19 modelling update on Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the rise in case numbers is largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays. She added that measures must be “further intensified,” in order to help stop the spread.
WASHINGTON — The line stretched nearly a block long. Nobody was grumbling about the wait. Those gathered at a senior wellness centre in Washington, D.C., viewed it as a matter of life or death. The nation's capital had just opened up coronavirus vaccines to people 65 and older because of their increased risk. I was among those who had a shot within reach. In the nation's capital, along with the rest of the country, coronavirus cases have surged since the holidays. More than 32,800 positive cases have been recorded overall in the city. Nearly 850 people have died. And now add fears that the mob insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month could turn into a superspreader event, adding to the totals. People were on edge. As I waited for my shot, I wondered if I should be there. The district had offered the vaccine first to health care workers, but were there others who should have come before me, people like teachers and workers in grocery stores and other businesses providing essential services during the pandemic? What about the older old — people over 75? Yes, journalists are considered essential, and I also am a teacher at the college level. But equally important to me, I haven't seen my grandson and his parents in California for more than a year — half his life — and l long to get on a plane to visit. And I do fit the new criteria for vaccines, people 65 and older. So I was all in. The city started offering appointments to the over-65 crowd Monday. I called up the website, filled in the questionnaire and looked for a location. The site closest to my home had no times available so I widened my search, finally choosing a senior centre about 3 miles away. Later, I checked my neighbourhood listserv. It was filled with complaints from residents who found the whole process unwieldy and were furious that all the available appointments had been booked. A D.C. council member acknowledged that “the rollout came with a significant number of frustrations and challenges" but said there would be other opportunities for seniors to get the vaccine. It's an issue of supply and demand. There are just under 85,000 D.C. residents 65 and older who qualify for shots, but only 6,700 appointments were available the first week. I was one of the lucky ones. It was cold, but the length of the line at the wellness centre didn't bother me. I was grateful that we were outside for much of the wait, and that people were voluntarily self-distancing. That was enforced once we moved inside. Everyone wore a mask. Some people who were visibly frail were moved to front of the line. No one complained. And while I waited, I worked. In a bit of irony, that meant consulting with a colleague on a story about the Trump administration's push to expand vaccination to more people, including those over 65. The District of Columbia, it turns out, was ahead of the curve. Ninety minutes after I arrived, I was given the Moderna vaccine, administered by a Safeway pharmacy manager brought in from Rehoboth, Delaware. After we talked about her hometown — a favourite beach vacation spot for my family — and other vaccinations I might need, she told me how to sign up for the second dose. Then I was sent to wait in another room to make sure I didn't have a serious allergic reaction to the shot. I didn't. I get my second dose Feb. 10. I've already started thinking about booking that flight to California. There's only one negative — now everyone knows my age. ___ Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Washington-based AP news editor Carole Feldman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaroleFeldman Carole Feldman, The Associated Press
Max Meighen admits to being one of the more fortunate small business owners around. The Avling Kitchen and Brewery he opened in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood back in July 2019 has spent more of its young life in COVID-19 lockdown than out of it, but is still making decent income from takeout beer sales and some limited food options. The “whole animal” kitchen already had a butcher on-site to prepare its typical weekly order of a side of beef and a pig, who was quickly put to work selling cuts of meat and sausages out of the same retail store its customers already frequented to buy bottles and cans of Avling's beer before the lockdowns came. A bookkeeper has made it easier to navigate various government relief packages, including the federal wage subsidy that meant they could hire for two specific roles in September, one for a retail manager and another in communications, to respond to the changed circumstances. Apart from a brief opening in the summer, the pub has effectively been closed since March, but with nine months of interruptions, it still made around 60 per cent of the sales he’d expected in 2020, Meighen said. That's not to say the pandemic and the response to it has not brought pain and frustration to the young business owner. The restaurant has had to lay off around 35 mostly full-time kitchen and service staff, while two kitchen workers from the original team provide takeout service and donations to two local community groups. But Meighen has the latitude to hunker down and plan for better days ahead. “We want to represent a post-pandemic possibility,” he told Canada's National Observer. “Not playing catch-up, but trying our best to be leading the way.” After using marigolds planted in the rooftop garden to control pests, make oil infusions for the kitchen and adding them to an upcoming all-Ontario grain beer, Meighen is hoping to find funding for a project to add wastewater treatment or aquaculture to build out an even more circular urban agricultural ecosystem. He has also worked out a deal with his pig farmer to use barley and wheat planted in his fallow fields for another experimental brew, and wonders about whether his own spent grain could go back to the farm. “For my own sanity, maintaining my own optimism, looking forward to these projects and continuing to develop them is important,” Meighen said. “I’m trying to focus more on the possibilities of the future rather than the grim reality of the present.” Meighen says that while nothing could have prepared a restaurant owner for the last year, he has learned that governments can, when they want to, provide much more support for individuals and businesses, and he's hoping the country's political leaders are also looking ahead. “The real question for me is to what degree they take advantage of the months and year following the pandemic to initiate a rebound or a rebuild in a way that I hope looks towards greater equity, a more complete integration of green policy,” he said of the federal Liberal government that has bankrolled most emergency pandemic relief efforts. That could mean heavy funding and policy efforts to help Alberta’s oil and gas workers thrive in a less carbon-intensive world, for example, as the pandemic accelerates problematic trends “people could ignore at their own peril up until February of 2020, but now are completely here to stay,” Meighen said. Unlike many small businesses along the strip of Queen Street East from the railway bridge and Jimmy Simpson Park to Greenwood Avenue, Avling pays a mortgage rather than rent. Meighen said the bank had expected business-as-usual terms after an initial six-month deferral of payment (but not interest). “They were not as understanding as I would have liked nor expected,” he said, noting major lenders talk about being there to support small business. Meighen says Avling's beer sales bumped higher in the early days of the pandemic as customers prepared for some extended time at home, “but as things dragged on and it became apparent that it wasn't just an enforced vacation, a short temporary hiatus, but something much more long term, all of our sales pulled back.” The brief respite of the summer's looser rules and the city's CafeTO program, which made more sidewalk space available for dining, did help get weekly sales to around 85 per cent of typical, with Avling's 40-seat pavement patio replacing an inside space that used to regularly serve 100 people. About a third of Leslieville storefronts are either restaurants, cafés or bars, and the head of the area's BIA (business improvement area) Dominic Cobran credits CafeTO with keeping many of those hospitality businesses afloat through the summer. “It really was a lifeline for the participating restaurants,” he said of the program, which made extra pavement space available for al fresco dining and “helped them out to the point where it could take them through when they closed indoor dining” in October. “It took them through a very difficult period into an even more difficult period,” Cobran said, referring to the tighter restrictions introduced this winter.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Councillors are fed up with inflammatory emails and they’re not going to take it anymore. A motion by Oro-Medonte Coun. Cathy Keane to create a code of conduct for members of the public that would allow staff to refuse to respond to “disrespectful, intimidating, vexatious and/or defamatory actions or comments” passed at a council meeting last month. Mayor Harry Hughes said there is a small group of “aggressive offenders” who target councillors’ email boxes with annoyance requests. “This local group will send out misinformation and bombard officials’ (mailboxes) and overload the system,” said Hughes. “We’ve been turning a blind eye to it, but, with COVID-19, we’re not in normal times now.” With staff working from home or redeployed to other departments, the additional workload is onerous, he said. Two members of the public spoke at a council meeting Jan. 13 indicating their concern about the new code. Liz Kirk said she wondered how the motion was passed without input from township residents. “As a resident of Oro-Medonte, I feel my opinions are important and the taxpayers need a voice,” she said. Resident Dave McNabb said he feels the new recommendations go too far. “The structure of the code, with its sanctions, appears to overreach, giving the perception of council compelling the behaviour of the public,” he said. Yet the mayor of Oro-Medonte isn’t the only municipal official complaining about rude residents. Pamela Fettes, clerk and director of legislative services for the Township of Clearview, said one local individual has requested 790 items through the freedom-of-information process since 2011. Fettes said one request demanded proof of each staff member’s Law Society of Ontario designation. “The staff directory is published online and they wanted everyone’s — from those in public works to the CAO’s — designation,” Fettes said. “Under the current legislation, the municipality is required to respond to all and any requests for information, including this one.” If a municipality doesn’t respond, it is deemed a refusal when appealed and the municipality must eventually honour the request, she said. The legislation has not been updated for more than 30 years and can be a frustrating experience for both requesters and administrators, she added: “When it was written, it talked about saving files to floppy disks.” Fettes is a member of the Time for Change working group, which includes staff from the County of Simcoe, Town of Wasaga Beach and Township of Georgina. It is currently reviewing the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in an effort to modernize the legislation. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Educators teaching students with special needs are raising concerns about returning to physical classrooms in southern Ontario while schools otherwise remain closed to in-person learning due to COVID-19. Students in southern Ontario are learning online until at least Jan. 25 and the government extended virtual classes for those in five hot spots until Feb. 11. Special education students who cannot participate in remote learning, however, were back in physical classrooms on Monday – a move the government said was recommended by experts. But as COVID-19 cases rise, some special education teachers say they are worried about their safety, as well as the safety of their students, some of whom are immunocompromised. "For my five- and six-year-old (children), it's not safe for them to go to school, but it's totally safe for my immunocompromised students to go to school?" asked Katie Swallowell, a teacher working for a Catholic school board in London, Ont. Swallowell, who teaches high school students with special needs, said some of her students may not wear masks or may have mask exemptions. "Some of them don't wear masks or they take them off because they hate them. Sneezing, coughing, hugging," she said. "Some of them you can't say no to. You try to say no, but they don't understand and you feel bad." Among 16 of her students, only five opted for remote learning, while the remaining 11 resumed in-person classes, said Swallowell. The teacher said she's worried about bringing the virus home to her three children, including a one-year-old. "It's either safe or it's not safe," she said, adding that there have been no added COVID-19 measures at her school since coming back from winter break. "It looks the same as it did in December." The education ministry said students with special needs can benefit from the routine and consistency of in-class learning and noted that their return to physical classrooms comes with "strong health and safety measures." "We have followed that advice, supported by the chief medical officer of health, to ensure a small number of the most exceptional children can receive the care they desperately need," said ministry spokeswoman Caitlin Clark. Laura Kirby-McIntosh, a parent of two children with autism and president of Ontario Autism Coalition, said the government's choice to resume in-person learning for special education students is the right one. Keeping schools open for those students helps them maintain normalcy and routine during the pandemic, she said. But more needs to be done to ensure consistency for students and a safe working environment for educators, she said. A good supply of personal protective equipment, regular asymptomatic testing, temperature checks and access to vaccinations are just some of the things that can help, she said. Jennifer Windsor, a physical education teacher at Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock, Ont., said her school board only informed educators about coming back to teach in-person two days before classes resumed. "We're being told, it's not safe for students. Yet our most vulnerable sector, you're telling us it's safe to return and no changes since we left in December have been made," she said. Windsor, also a mother of three, said she had to ask her ageing parents for help with her own kids as she returned to teach at school. "For me, the potential of exposing my parents – that has a certain burden and stress. I have barely slept since Thursday, I can barely eat," she said. The resumption of special needs in-person learning means unrecognized increased risks for many education workers, students and families, the union representing Windsor and other teachers in her school board said. "(We are) concerned that the Ford government’s announcement is a half measure that does not go far enough in protecting student and staff safety during the COVID-19 pandemic," District 11 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said in a statement. Union district president John Bernans said he can't understand how the government believes it's safe for the group of students and staff to return to in-person learning when it is not safe for any other group. “This government has had 10 months to put social supports in place for parents of children with special needs that keep students, families and workers safe. They have failed to do that," said Bernans. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
The week ahead will be a crucial one for the province as it teeters on the edge of the orange recovery phase. On Friday, after two weeks of climbing cases and two weeks since the holiday season ended, Premier Blaine Higgs was asked yet again about whether the province will be tipped back to the most restrictive "red" phase of recovery. Higgs said he really doesn't want to do that, because it "shuts everything down" and has a drastic impact on business. But he isn't ready to rule it out yet, either. Case numbers are "levelling off," Higgs told reporters in a scrum at the legislature, "but we need to see them going down." "If we see them starting to drop off to 20, to 15 to 10, then you get the kind of comfort level," he said. "But if they stay at 25 for the next seven days, you kind of say, 'OK, we should be at the other end of this by now.' And then you look across the province and say ... 'Are we in a situation where some areas have to go red and others don't?' " The week ahead will likely be a deciding factor, Higgs said, noting the "biggest problem we face" is whether the people who have been told to isolate are doing so. As of Thursday, there were 2,161 New Brunswickers self-isolating as they awaited test results. "And if they are isolating, we're good," Higgs said. "But if they're not, if they're basically saying 'I'm supposed to isolate, but I need to go to the store,' that's an issue ... That's why the next few days are so critical." 25 new cases, new record-high active case count Public Health is reporting 25 new cases of COVID-19, with new cases in six of seven zones and a new record-high number of active cases. The cases break down this way: Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases: three people 30 to 39 an individual 40 to 49 Saint John region, Zone 2, five cases: two people 19 or under two people 40 to 49 an individual 70 to 79 Fredericton region, Zone 3, five cases: two people 20 to 29 an individual 40 to 49 an individual 60 to 69 an individual 80 to 89 Edmundston region, Zone 4, six cases: an individual 20 to 29 an individual 50 to 59 three people 60 to 69 an individual 80 to 89. Campbellton region, Zone 5, four cases: an individual 19 or under an individual 20-29 an individual 40-49 an individual 60-69 Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 30 to 39 All cases are self-isolating and under investigation. There are 256 active cases across the province. Four people are hospitalized, including one who is in intensive care. The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began in March is 884 and 615 have recovered. There have been 12 COVID-related deaths. As of Friday, 169,256 tests have been conducted, including 1,480 since Thursday's report. Edmundston rolls out the vaccine Health-care workers in Edmundston rolled up their sleeves Thursday evening as the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic got underway. Staff members from the Edmundston Regional Hospital, the extramural program, Ambulance New Brunswick and health-care workers from First Nations communities and nursing homes received vaccines. The clinic received a total of 488 doses to be administered. How the 7 zones stack up for case rates New Brunswick recorded a new record-high number of active cases on Friday, with 256 cases. The following chart shows the active case rates and total case rates for each of the province's seven zones, based on population numbers provided by the Department of Health and on current case counts. Region Active cases Active case rate* Cases to date Rate of cases to date* Moncton 58 26.0 220 98.8 Saint John 48 27.2 183 103.8 Fredericton 65 35.4 202 110.1 Edmundston 46 95.3 82 169.9 Campbellton 35 138.9 173 686.5 Bathurst 4 5.1 18 22.8 Miramichi 0 0 6 14.2 *per 100,000 population Minister apologizes for travel rebate delays Following a host of complaints from New Brunswickers who still haven't received their promised travel rebates, Tourism Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace is apologizing for a month of delays. More than 25,000 people applied for a 20 per cent rebate on their local travel through the Explore NB Travel Incentive program between July and October. The applications include 47,000 receipts worth more than $17.4 million. "It was an incredibly popular program and we really are proud of it, but we know there's been some hiccups along the way … and we apologize for that," the minister of the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture said. While the incentive designed to pay New Brunswickers to vacation at home was widely accepted, the province now faces backlash as just over 6,000 of the applications have been processed so far. Scott-Wallace said the province decided to implement the program just as New Brunswick was moving out of lockdown and announced the program before it was built to get people travelling over the summer months. "That did mean building a brand-new program, and that definitely has taken more time than we expected," she said. Scott-Wallace said New Brunswickers were initially told they would receive rebates 10 to 12 weeks after applying, but about 16 weeks have passed. "We apologize for that, but it has been developing that program that's taken a bit longer than expected," she said. Scott-Wallace said the applications will likely be processed by the end of January or February. Upwards of 15 Service New Brunswick staff are working to process them, she said. "We are not denying there has been disappointment from people who haven't heard" back yet on their claims, she said. "Many" claims have been denied because they did not include the required overnight stay with a hotel accommodation, the minister said. But there have also been cases where receipts were illegible because of scanner issues, or where applications included a hotel confirmation email instead of a receipt. "There are these things that we know are just human-error and unintentional," she said. Specific reasons for a denied claim will now be outlined, and applicants will have a couple of weeks to resubmit. Scott-Wallace said the department will look at whether it will reimplement the program this summer. Two Woodstock schools extend closures by one week The Anglophone West School District announced Thursday night that learning at Woodstock High School and Townsview School will continue online until Jan. 21 in order to allow students and staff to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days. Students will be allowed back in the schools beginning Jan. 22. The decision was made following discussions between the Anglophone West School District and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. "I have had very positive feedback on the commitment of students and their engagement with learning," superintendent David McTimoney said in a message to parents Thursday. "I am grateful to the teachers and staff who are working hard to make sure the learning continues in a meaningful way." Students and staff of both schools were asked to self-isolate last weekend, after three cases were confirmed at Woodstock High School and one case was reported at Townsview School Saturday. Edith Cavell School in Moncton reported its second COVID-19 case this week. In a tweet Thursday night, Anglophone East School District said Edith Cavell and T.E.S.S. (Therapeutic Education Support Site) students would have an "at home learning day" on Friday. Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis closed Thursday morning, and the Anglophone South School District later reported the school's first case of COVID-19 in an email to parents. Garderie Tic Tac Toe, a Dalhousie daycare centre, also reported one case. Exposure notifications Public Health identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights: Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m. Jan. 6– Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:30 a.m. Public Health also identified potential public exposure at the following locations: Gusto Italian Grill & Bar, 130 Westmorland St., Moncton, on Jan, 3, 4 and 7, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bo Diddley's Lounge,295 Collishaw St., on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (285 Collishaw St., Moncton) Miss Cue pool hall,495 Mountain Rd., Moncton, Jan. 1 to 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Foggerz Five-O-Six, an e-cigarette store in Woodstock, has closed because of possible COVID-19 exposure. If you were at any of these locations, and you have no symptoms of COVID-19, self-monitor and follow all Public Health guidelines. If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and do not need to talk to a nurse, complete the self-assessment and get tested. No exposure alert was issued after Saint-Quentin industrial company Groupe Savoie reported four cases this week. Public Health only issues exposure notifications when it believes members of the public are at risk. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
The Windsor-Essex region's top public health official is expressing some tentative optimism about the latest COVID-19 statistics on Friday, as the region's case total grew by 171. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said in his weekly epidemiological update there has been a slight decline in case rates and per cent positivity. For the week ending on Jan. 9, the portion of tests that came back positive was 11.4 per cent, down from 12.3. "It's just a single-week decrease that we've seen in both these indicators, so it's a good sign but I think overall we have to recognize that we still have a long way to go," he said. A decline was also seen in the presence of the virus in wastewater, which has a correlation to the rate of infection in the community, he said. But Ahmed stressed that though the situation appears to be stabilizing, the numbers remain far worse than many parts of the province. Windsor-Essex still has the second-highest case rate in the province. Deaths continue to rise, with the health unit announcing Friday seven more people have died. Five of those who recently lost their lives to COVID-19 were residents of long-term care facilities. Of the 171 new cases announced Friday, the majority, 142, remain under investigation. Fourteen cases are outbreak related, 10 are close contacts of confirmed cases, four were community acquired and one is related to travel outside North America. The number of hospitalizations continues to surge, with 121 COVID-19 patients currently in hospital including 19 in ICU. There are a further 183 people in hospital who are suspected of having COVID-19. New COVID-19 deaths in Lambton County, Chatham-Kent Chatham-Kent and Lambton County are also reporting additional deaths Friday. Chatham-Kent announced the death of a fourth resident due to COVID-19, along with 18 new cases of the virus. Meanwhile. the health unit in Sarnia-Lambton reported two new deaths in the region, as well as a case increase of 26. 45 COVID-19 outbreaks in Windsor-Essex Since the pandemic began, there have been 10,665 COVID-19 cases recorded in Windsor-Essex and 248 deaths, according to WECHU. There are 45 ongoing outbreaks. Three are active at Windsor Regional Hospital, two on the Ouellette campus and one declared Thursday on a unit of the Met Campus. One community setting, Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario, has been in outbreak since Jan. 3. Outbreaks are active at 21 workplaces: Four in Leamington's agricultural sector. Four in Kingsville's agricultural sector. Four in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector. One in Leamington's health care and social assistance sector. One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. One in Windsor's food and beverage service sector. One in Windsor's manufacturing sector. One in a personal service setting in LaSalle. Three in public administration settings in Windsor. One in a retail setting in Essex. There are 20 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities: Regency Park in Windsor with two resident cases. Richmond Terrace in Amherstburg with two staff cases. Chartwell Royal Marquis, with one resident case and one staff case. Harrow Woods Retirement Home, with five resident cases and one staff case. Seasons Retirement Home in Amherstburg, with three staff cases. Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with 30 resident cases and three staff cases. Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with two staff cases. Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with 30 resident cases and three staff cases. Chateau Park in Windsor with four staff cases. Leamington Mennonite Home with seven staff cases. Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 51 resident and 12 staff cases. Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with 11 resident cases and eight staff cases. Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 43 resident cases and 26 staff cases. Sun Parlor Home in Leamington, one resident case and nine staff cases. Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 115 resident cases and 52 staff cases. The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with 26 resident cases and 10 staff cases. Extendicare Tecumseh, with 83 resident cases and 57 staff cases. Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 94 resident and 60 staff cases. The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 150 resident cases and 118 staff cases. Country Village in Woodslee, with three resident and three staff cases. Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 53 resident cases and 25 staff cases.
Ontario crept toward 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, the latest line in the shifting sand. Before the weekend, Premier Doug Ford teased modelling projections he said were so shocking, “You’ll fall off your chair”. Despite the dire warning, no further information was shared with the Province. Instead, over the weekend, reporters from the Queen’s Park Press Gallery suggested a curfew was being considered, similar to the rules in Quebec. By Monday, it appeared to be off the table again. The first two days of the week dragged by with a sense of doom hanging over Ontario as the lack of clarity from the ruling PCs turned into a running provincial joke. On Tuesday, Ford’s 1 p.m. presser was delayed by half-an-hour, only adding to the tension. Finally, he walked up to the microphone and began to speak. Unusually, there was no preamble. Ford launched straight into the news: a second state of emergency and the introduction of a stay-at-home order, planned to come into play on Thursday. More confusion ensued. And the jokes kept rolling. Almost immediately, social media was flooded. Journalists, members of the public and local politicians struggled to grasp exactly what was being announced. Weren’t people meant to be staying home under the grey lockdown anyway? Weren’t non-essential businesses already closed? What was the difference between a stay-at-home-order and being told to stay at home? “There is no confusion,” the Premier insisted at his Wednesday press conference. “The message is simple: stay home.” It’s the same directive Peel residents have been under since November 23. The restrictions have failed to reduce the case counts in the region, and few understand how the latest order will change things. Reducing business operating times for non-essential shops by one hour seems like lip service at this point. Ford says he “hates” closing anything down, despite claiming for months that he will do anything it takes to keep Ontarians safe. The one obvious thing Ford could do to address the “fall-off-your-chair” reality staring at besieged hospitals, is another thing he’s unwilling to do. “"I've never been in favour of a curfew," he said Tuesday. "The last thing I've ever believed in ever is having a curfew." The one area of clarity came from Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. She did not lay out new rules or detail how exactly the measures would be enforced, but made it apparent that authorities are placing an increased emphasis on policing. “The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations,” a list of answers to frequently asked questions issued by Ford’s office Wednesday admits. The document also says essential work, trips and items cannot be defined. Around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, five hours before it was due to come into force and after the interviews featured in this story were conducted, the Province released its official order, stating 29 acceptable reasons to be outside the home while the rules are in place. They include travelling to an airport, obtaining services from a financial institution or selling and buying a house. According to the Province, going for groceries or to the pharmacy, outdoor exercise and work that can’t be completed at home are all acceptable reasons to leave the home. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said at her Wednesday press conference that things like walking the dog or playing basketball with fewer than five members of your household are also allowed. “A police officer or other provincial offences officer who has reasonable and probable grounds that an individual has committed an offence … may require the individual’s correct name,” the new rules state. Questions remain around how these rules will be communicated and enforced after they were sent to police and bylaw officers so late. With 29 different reasons to avoid any violation, and so much interpretation, it seems unlikely the public will be able to easily remember the list or necessarily know how to demonstrate they’re adhering to it. Despite this, police and bylaw are being empowered to crack down. Asked at a Wednesday press conference for details on how the rules would be applied, Solicitor General Jones referenced gatherings and their enforcement, but did not provide a fulsome response. "If you are not at your place of residence and you need to be fined or ticketed, [police] have an obligation to ask for your name, date of birth and address,” she said. In Mississauga and Brampton, the vagaries of the new rules and delay in releasing the specifics are causing concern for some. The Peel Regional Police has a well-documented history of discrimination and, toward the end of 2020, vowed to end its systemic problems with racism. Under former chief Jennifer Evans, the force spent considerable time aggressively defending its use of street checks, while the rest of the province, including the previous Liberal government, quickly moved away from the destructive practice. It involved the random stopping and documenting of residents, and was shown to disproportionately target Peel’s Black community at more than three times the rate compared to white residents. In a slip of the tongue during her comments on Tuesday, Jones articulated this fear. “They will be subject to fines and persecution,” she said of rule-breakers, presumably intending to say “prosecution” instead. “In the case of discretion … we know that discretion will turn to compulsion when it comes to Black bodies,” Kola Iluyomade, a leader of local equity group Advocacy Peel, told The Pointer. Iluyomade played a key role in forcing change at the Peel District School Board in 2020 after years of anti-Black racism and has also been vocal in his criticism of the Peel Regional Police. “Obviously, not being able to have a definition is very problematic because should you need to fight [a fine] in court or something like that, the word discretion itself is what the police will use against you. The data shows that that’s what’s going to happen.” Stephen Warner, press secretary to Jones, said the Solicitor General’s office has “confidence in our law enforcement personnel to take the necessary enforcement actions”. Concerns about systemic issues of racism within policing and how it may impact COVID-19 orders were not addressed. It’s also unclear how bylaw officers are going to apply the rules, with concerns that white residents will receive informal privileges, while others will be heavily surveilled. The behaviour of many politicians, such as former Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips, and Ford himself, are held up as examples of the entitlement some have. Despite knowing Phillips had left the country in mid-December for a vacation in the Caribbean, neither did anything about the blatant violation of their own government’s directives until after the trip was exposed. But now, residents are being threatened with police action for violating essentially the same rules. “Serious questions: I choose to work from school. What am I supposed to say/show to a police officer who stops me? Are teachers essential workers or not?” Jason Bradshaw, a high school science teacher in Peel, wrote on Twitter. “As a side note, I’m not trying to play ‘the race card’ here, but as a Black man, I do consider what steps I need to take to ensure that any potential interactions I have with police officers have positive outcomes,” he added in a second tweet. Sam Rogers, in charge of Mississauga’s bylaw officers, said the Peel Regional Police would take the lead on enforcement. “Still a lot of questions to be answered on our end,” he said, speaking at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with the orders due to come into place less than eight hours later. “We’ve got very, very good at short notice changes throughout this pandemic and I am very confident, regardless of the regulations that do come out, our staff will be ready to implement a reasonable and balanced enforcement approach.” Asked how it would ensure an equitable application of the rules, Peel police highlighted the need to stay at home and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Peel Police, Mississauga bylaw nor Brampton bylaw did not suggest any equity or bias training to ensure their officers apply vague rules without over-policing Black and other racialized residents. “Enforcement will be an option when responding to calls relating to the order, and/or public gatherings; however every call for service will be evaluated individually and the appropriate action will be taken for each,” Constable Sarah Patten, a member of the Peel Police communications team, told The Pointer in an email. Crombie placed emphasis on staying home, telling residents to avoid any trips or errands that could reasonably be put off or done online. “We don’t want to see any scenario that people are stopped unnecessarily as we had with the street check program whether that be by bylaw – what will their role be? Or by Peel Police – what will their role be?” she articulated at her Wednesday press conference, saying she hoped clarity would be coming from the Province within hours of her address. “That hopefully will all be explained in the regulations which we will receive later.” As they have throughout the pandemic, bylaw enforcement officers will play a key role in plans to enforce the new stay-at-home-order. Staff have the power to write tickets for individuals breaking the rules and disperse crowds. “We have a very diverse, multicultural community within the City of Brampton,” Paul Morrison, the City’s bylaw head, said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “We police ensuring that all the citizens’ rights are maintained and, when it comes to race, we’ll understand as best we can culture and race when it impacts on enforcement.” He did not address measures in place to ensure bias-free enforcement. “The laws are changing so quickly and so often in terms of emergency protocols, I know Brampton bylaw always attempts, on first brush, always to educate and to make sure that the communities know what the new provisions are,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown added. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
NEW YORK — When Joe Biden addresses the country for the first time as president, his inaugural speech is likely to echo calls for unity that predecessors have invoked since the first time George Washington was sworn in. Unity has since been a theme, and an anxiety, for many incoming presidents, who have faced economic and social crises and moments when the very future of the U.S. was in doubt. Historians mention the first inaugural speeches of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln as possible parallels for Biden, who has said his goal is to “restore the soul” of the country. Biden, who assumes office just two weeks after an armed seige of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, will preside over a nation in which millions believe Trump's baseless claims that the election was stolen. Few presidents have faced such questions about their own legitimacy. “Unity has always been an aspiration," says presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “It seems like whenever we have foreign policy flare-ups, we use the word freedom. But when we have domestic turmoil we use the word unity.” The United States was forged through compromise among factions that disagreed profoundly on slavery, regional influence and the relative powers of state and federal government. When Washington assumed office in 1789 he cited the blessings of providence in noting that “the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established.” Jefferson was the third U.S. president, and the first whose rise was regarded by opponents as a kind of emergency. The 1800 election won by Jefferson marked the beginning of competing political parties — Jefferson was a leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, losing incumbent John Adams a Federalist — and critics regarded the new president as a dangerous atheist. "JEFFERSON — AND NO GOD!!!” was how one Federalist paper described Jefferson's candidacy. Adams did not attend the inauguration, a breach rarely repeated although Trump has vowed to do the same. “Let us then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind," Jefferson urged in his address. "We are all republicans: we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it." Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, a Federalist who administered the oath of office to Jefferson, wrote later that the speech was “in the general well judged and conciliatory.” Lincoln's pleas were more dire, and tragically unmet, despite what historian Ted Widmer calls his “genius to combine urgency with literary grace.” Seven out of 11 future Confederate states had seceded from the U.S. before he spoke, in March 1861, over fears he would end slavery. The Civil War would begin a month later. “We are not enemies, but friends,” Lincoln had insisted, reminding fellow Americans of their “mystic chords of memory” while also warning that resistance to the will of voters would destroy democracy. "A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism,” he said. Historian David Greenberg, whose books include “Nixon's Shadow" and “Republic of Spin,” cites Richard Nixon's inaugural in 1969 as another speech given at a time of social turmoil. The U.S. was violently divided over the Vietnam War and civil rights, and Nixon himself had long been seen as an unprincipled politician exploiting fears and resentments — appealing to what he would call “the silent majority.” His speech at times was openly and awkwardly modeled on the 1961 inaugural of John F. Kennedy, who had defeated Nixon in 1960. “We are caught in war, wanting peace. We are torn by division, wanting unity,” Nixon stated. “We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another — until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.” Some presidents asked for unity, others asserted it. Franklin Roosevelt, elected in a landslide in 1932 during the Great Depression, said in his first inaugural speech: “If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other.” Four years later, having won by an even greater landslide, he declared the country had “recognized” a need beyond financial help, a “deeper” need, “to find through government the instrument of our united purpose.” Unity can prove more imagined than real. When James Buchanan spoke in 1857, three years before the Civil War, he claimed that “all agree that under the Constitution slavery in the states is beyond the reach of any human power except that of the respective states themselves wherein it exists.” Rutherford B. Hayes, whose presidency was marked by the retrenchment of federal troops from the post-Civil War South and ongoing resistance from Southern whites to equal rights for Blacks, declared during his 1877 inaugural that true peace could be achieved through the “united and harmonious efforts of both races” and the honest work of local self-government. “A president often claims the country is ‘united’ behind a belief when it’s more wishful thinking than reality,” Widmer says. “I’m not sure how many Americans wanted to do something for their country after JFK asked them to — although there were impressive new kinds of volunteers, like the Peace Corps. And I think that many Americans still appreciated help from the government, even after Ronald Reagan declared that ‘government is the problem.’ That’s the problem with soundbites: They often oversimplify.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
The women's curling team skipped by Jill Brothers will represent Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Alberta next month. The team was invited to attend by the Nova Scotia Curling Association after the provincial championships for men and women were cancelled due to the pandemic. The event, set for Feb. 19-28, will be played in a bubble in Calgary. It wasn't an easy decision under the current circumstances, Brothers said. "It's part of my nature to just want to win. I just really like to compete. If I could curl for a living I would." The team found out on Monday it had being given the nod to represent Nova Scotia. It was asked to make a decision by Wednesday. The team asked for an extra day before confirming it would be able to go. Family and work support helped with decision Brothers, a 37-year-old Halifax hair stylist who has two young children, said she wouldn't be going if her family and work didn't support her. But the entire team isn't going. Sarah Murphy has opted to stay home. Another player was undecided until Friday, but has chosen to make the trip. Emma Logan, the team's alternate, will move into the regular lineup. "Sarah, in her gut, just doesn't feel right about it and we totally respect her answer," said Brothers, who will be making her fifth appearance at the Scotties. "We're going to miss her a lot and I know she'll have a hard time watching it on TV and not being there, we have no hard feelings whatsoever." The decision to attend the Scotties is a commitment of nearly a month. The team will have to travel to the bubble. There will be testing prior to the event, the competition itself and the return trip to Nova Scotia. A two-week isolation period will be required upon return. A team skipped by Mary-Anne Arsenault won the Nova Scotia championship in 2020, but Arsenault has since moved to B.C. Nova Scotia men's lineup undetermined Jamie Murphy's team, the 2020 provincial men's champion, has been invited to attend the Tim Hortons Brier in March. It will also be played in the Calgary bubble. But Murphy has declined, citing travel risks and the isolation period required on return. His team is still looking for someone to replace him. MORE TOP STORIES
Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci is accused of being the driver in a gang-related drive-by shooting that left one man dead and another wounded, authorities said. The 29-year-old rapper turned himself in Wednesday, a day after Atlanta police announced murder charges against Lucci, whose real name is Rayshawn Bennett. Police said Bennett and other “gang members” drove through rival gang territory on Dec. 10 and two people inside the car opened fire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported citing an arrest warrant. The rivals returned fire, hitting James Adams, 28, in the head, police said. Adams was “manually ejected” from the car and police later found his body lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Later that day, Kevin Wright, 32, arrived at a fire station with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He survived. Police said Ra’von Boyd, 23, was also in the vehicle during the shooting. Boyd and a 17-year-old juvenile were charged in the incident and were both arrested in Miami. A warrant was put out for Bennett's arrest Tuesday, charging him with murder, aggravated assault, participating in criminal street gang activity and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Before he surrendered to authorities Wednesday night, he released his latest music video on his Twitter and Instagram pages. Bennett's attorney Drew Findling said a “review of the initial evidence” provided “no basis for any criminal charges.” Lucci is best known for his 2016 song “Key to the Streets” featuring the Atlanta-area-based rap group Migos. The Associated Press