Borchy the ferret tries to take the puller from his Yorkie friend Donny in this heartwarming clip. Cuteness overload! @donnyyorkie
Borchy the ferret tries to take the puller from his Yorkie friend Donny in this heartwarming clip. Cuteness overload! @donnyyorkie
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
You should expect to see a lot fewer people gathered around the tree this Christmas. According to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, celebrating the holidays with people outside your household is a recipe for disaster. “I know many people are looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We’re asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.” Those who live alone are encouraged to celebrate the holidays with only one additional household. As well, any post-secondary students living away from home are asked to consider a self-quarantine for 10 to 14 days before returning home. Dr. David Colby echoed Ford’s message, adding he doesn’t want people looking for loopholes in COVID-19 rules. The 10-person limit isn’t an excuse to invite over friends or relatives if you have a small household. Colby said a household and family members are two separate things. He defined a household as the people you live with. They are the ones who reside at the same address. They are your household and within your own living space. “I think it’s time to get away from rules. I mean, rules are helpful, but whenever there are rules, people are sort of saying, ‘Well, if I do this, can I circumvent the rules?’” said Colby. He added you not only have to look at the letter of the law but the spirit of the rule. “The spirit of the rule is to keep everybody safe,” said Colby. “Rather than worrying about whether the rules are being followed, we all have to ask ourselves, ‘What is the safest course of action for all concerned in this particular scenario?’ We’ve talked about that endlessly.” Additionally, Colby said people travelling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction is a big problem. He said when he does contact tracing, the trails always lead outside of Chatham-Kent. According to Chatham-Kent’s top doctor, smaller household parties mean less risk of catching and spreading the virus. Colby said this is something he has been “hammering away at for the last few weeks”. “There is clear evidence that the more people that you assemble, the higher the risk,” said Colby. “Indoor gatherings are riskier than outdoor gatherings, so having a large number of people, especially people who have travelled from a higher-prevalence jurisdiction, this is potentially a recipe for disaster.”Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
The Saskatchewan Health Authority has issued eight fines totalling $44,800, including victim surcharges, to people or corporations that have broken COVID-19 public health guidelines since the pandemic started in March. The number of people alone fined is unclear but two corporations are among those hit with charges, according to data shared Monday with CBC News by Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health.Of the total, $32,000 consisted of actual fines while the rest was made up victim impact surcharges.Those fined vary from a Saskatoon homeowner who hosted a private gathering with 47 people when the limit for private meetings was 30 (it's now five), to the pastor of a gospel outreach centre in Prince Albert where singers went unmasked. The gospel centre was cited as a multi-jurisdictional superspreader.Two corporations were also financially disciplined. The data is reflective of the province's approach so far to policing breaches of self-isolation or gathering limit orders, which was to first educate people about the need to follow guidelines instead of going directly to a fine.That era may be coming to an end, however.On Friday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said "the time for education is now mostly over," adding that "it is important to report noncompliance."The numbers reported by the ministry are different from those of the RCMP, which issues its own charges under the province's Public Health Act.Between March 1 and Oct. 31, RCMP members in Saskatchewan received a total of 2,912 COVID-related calls for service — an average of 364 calls a month.The vast majority of the calls were resolved "by educating members of the public of the potential health and enforcement consequences that can result from non-compliance with the public health order," an RCMP spokesperson said Friday.However, 42 charges for summary violations were issued under the province's Public Health Act, including for people who held large gatherings or did not self-isolate.
Saskatchewan now has the third-highest rate of cases in Canada, behind the two other prairie provinces Manitoba and Alberta. Saskatchewan reported 325 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases of COVID-19 in the province was 307 per 100,000 population as of Sunday. The province reported two more deaths due to COVID-19.The two residents who died after testing positive for COVID-19 lived in the south central and south east zones. Both individuals were in the 80 and up age category. A total of 47 deaths have been reported in the province since the beginning of the pandemic.Of the 8,564 total reported cases in Saskatchewan, 3,879 are considered active. A total of 4,638 people have recovered to date, with 49 recovered on Monday. Saskatoon is the hot spot with 125 new cases announced Monday. Of the other new cases, nine are located in the far north west, 14 in the far north east, 23 in the north west, 27 in the north central, nine in the north east, one in the central west, 10 in the central east, 62 in Regina 22 in the south west eight in the south central and 13 in the south east zones.Two of the new cases have pending locations.There are currently 123 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 100 of whom are receiving general impatient care. One patient is in the far north west, eight are in the north west, eight are in the north central, three are in the north east, 33 are in Saskatoon, one is in the central east, 26 are in Regina, one is in the south west, one is in the south central and 18 are in the south east zones.Twenty-three people are in intensive care, with three in the north central, 14 in Saskatoon and six in Regina.Cut down on contactsThe province is asking Saskatchewan residents to keep their contacts low. Based on the current confirmed cases, public health estimates that there are more than 6,600 reported contacts requiring follow-up in the province. According to the province, a close contact is anyone that you have spent 15 minutes or more with, within the two metres of physical distancing. The province also notes: * You should be able to count your close contacts on one hand. * Your close contacts should be the members of your immediate household who you eat with, hug and see without requiring a mask. * Although not close contacts, the province asks residents to consider all their weekly contacts whether in the classroom or at the workplace.
MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec recommended on Monday the appointment of a youth-protection director to oversee the entire provincial system.The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, initially due today, until April 2021.The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a "guardian angel" and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.The commission found that the proportion of youth protection cases that are before the courts can vary from 30 per cent to 70 per cent from one region to another, suggesting the interpretation of the law needs to be clarified.Having a director in place would mean they'd be better able to act on the numerous recommendations expected in her report due next year, said Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission.The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection. Laurent says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.However, Laurent's mandate was open-ended, casting a wide net on the system and how users navigate it.Among the recommendations outlined Monday was that youth protection do better in dealing with Black and Indigenous youth, with services better adapted to the realities of those communities. Laurent deplored the over-representation of these families in the youth protection system.She also had positive words for those in the network who are overworked and under tremendous pressure.“The workers are also in distress. They believe that the conditions of practice do not allow them to provide quality services, at the right time and in line with needs," Laurent said.Hearings began in October 2019, and the commission said it has heard from more than 300 witnesses.The commission also held 42 “regional forums” where it heard from more than 2,000 citizens and other stakeholders from across Quebec.In a statement, junior health minister Lionel Carmant said the Coalition Avenir Quebec government intends to act swiftly on the recommendation of a director."The safety and well-being of every child is a top priority for the government," Carmant said. "The creation of a position of national director of youth protection is very interesting and goes in the direction of my reflection."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press
The government unveiled a record deficit of $381 billion in its fiscal update, along with spending plans for more pandemic relief and a huge stimulus plan to jolt the economy post-pandemic.
The provincial government confirmed to the East Central Alberta (ECA) Review this week that the Minister of Municipal Affairs will make a decision on how the Village fo Morrin will be governed after two of the three elected councillors recently quit. A few weeks ago both Mayor Howard Helton and Melissa Wilton tendered their resignations; Wilton in fact resigned a few times before coming to a final decision. At the organizational meeting in October, remaining Coun. M’Liss Edwards was elected mayor. Since there’s no quorum for the village council, it was unclear to the community and media how or if regular council meetings would proceed. The ECA Review newspaper contacted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Nov. 23 to find out how and if regular council meetings would proceed and how taxpayers could get information about their village government. Justin Marshall, press secretary for the Minister of Municipal Affairs, responded via email by Nov. 30. “Right now, two of the three Village of Morrin councillors have resigned leaving council with no quorum and therefore, the village is unable to conduct business or hold regular council meetings,” stated Marshall in the email. “A decision will be made in the coming weeks and Minister (Tracy) Allard is quickly reviewing the situation as local government is important to our democracy. “When the number of councillors is less than a quorum due to resignations, the Minister of Municipal Affairs may appoint an official administrator who has the powers of the council or ordering that the remaining councillors constitute a quorum. “The MGA clearly states that the meetings have to be public, press has to be allowed in the council chambers and they must to be able to record. The only time this is different is when council goes into camera.” Morrin council had a regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 18, but no information was posted on how or if the meeting would be held. The ECA Review sent a text message to Village of Morrin Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner Nov. 18 which went unanswered, this was followed by an email to Mayor Edwards the same day. Edwards responded at about 7:30 p.m. that night, half an hour after the meeting was supposed to have started. "There was no council meeting as we don’t have a designated councillor from Municipal Affairs,” stated Edwards in an email. "Maybe follow the Morrin Discussion Facebook page. Information gets posted there usually.” Several ECA Review staff members follow the social media page in question, and no information could be found about Morrin council meetings. However, it should be noted that Nov. 19 Edwards posted an explanation why the 2019 Financial Statements apparently still remain under review. During the discussion dated Nov. 19 Edwards stated, “To clarify some issues. The auditor is not only preparing the regular audit but has also been tasked with making sure all the tracking of expenses is up to date. “The old computer crashed and could no longer be upgraded. A new computer was purchased at an excellent price from a local source. "Now the auditor has made sure that the proper programs are in place and that the CAO is up to date on the software. “When we have a councillor in place appointed by Municipal Affairs we can then publish the finances of the Village and minutes, etc.” The next regular council is scheduled for Dec. 18.Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation Chief Bart Tsannie welcomed 20 Canadian Rangers to his remote northeast community on the weekend. Tsannie said the First Nation asked for the rangers’ assistance to help its COVID-19 response efforts as case numbers climbed in the far north. “The cases are right on our doorstep” as they emerge in other remote communities like Fond du Lac, Tsannie said. As of Sunday, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority reported 284 active cases of COVID-19 in its communities. In a prepared statement, a Department of National Defence spokeswoman said the rangers deployed on Saturday. Their role is to help make and distribute supports like food, firewood and care packages. They will also help spread information on health measures and precautions, the spokeswoman said. The request for help covers 30 days, after which the deployment will be assessed depending on the community’s needs. “(The rangers) will support the community of Hatchet Lake until the emergency has abated and the province along with other federal and private sector resources are able to effectively support the community without (Canadian Armed Forces) intervention,” she said. The rangers previously deployed in April to assist communities like Wollaston Lake, Île à la Crosse, Fond du Lac and Lac La Ronge with their response efforts, she said. That work included wellness checks, transportation, and assisting local officials. Other efforts included hunting, gathering, and fishing for local residents and helping elders with harvesting, cutting and delivering firewood. They also delivered medication and groceries and refilled and hauled water for residents. Similarly, they helped set up local clinics, transport humanitarian goods and work as information runners for command centres, she said. She added the four ranger patrols in northern Saskatchewan tasked with operation LASER, which aims to assist with COVID-19 responses, stood down on July 17. As of Monday morning, Tsannie said there were no COVID-19 cases in his community. He said the First Nation nevertheless responded to increasing regional case counts with tightened restrictions on Nov. 27. He said some residents have avoided taking those precautions, and some have continued to travel out of the community, “which is really, really tough. So the rangers will be extra help.” He said the First Nation has a positive relationship with the rangers. “If there’s ever COVID in Hatchet, we’re going to utilize them a lot.”Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases, compounded by repeat power outages and abysmal weather, has forced an isolated Vancouver Island Indigenous community into lockdown.The Ehattesaht First Nation, home to about 100 people, is located on the northwest coast of the island near Zeballos, B.C. On Nov. 14, one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the community following a four day power outage. Within a week, there were 16 cases and now half the residents are in isolation."We are learning some hard lessons and the best advice we can give to communities like ours is just to stay home — it's the only way we can keep people safe," said Chief Simon John in an interview on CBC's On The Island.John says while no one has been hospitalized yet, some people have been moved into hotels to be closer to medical services if they should need them.The North Island Hospital in Campbell River is almost three hours away by car. And the road in and out of Ehattesaht territory, which, John says, is well-maintained by the Ministry of Forests, can still easily be blocked by a downed tree or two.And it's a distinct possibility right now, as the region has been repeatedly battered by high winds and stormy weather in recent days, causing the community to already lose power twice while people are dealing with the impact of the virus.Environment Canada issued another wind warning for B.C.'s north coastal region Monday, warning that winds of up to 100 km/h are a possibility until Tuesday.COVID-19 exposing other issuesJohn said people in the community have rallied to provide food and what care they can for people isolated at home. He said the current situation may have a silver lining in that the pandemic is exposing issues the nation has been up against for years."It's a really good time to move a lot of our situations forward. Like, our health or even our connectivity to the world could change because of this," said John, adding he hopes the B.C. and Canadian government take notice and help.That help, he said, could include improving hydro and internet connections, as well as access to health services.John said the nation would also like to look at options to expand its land base so it can add more housing for its members. At present, he said many people are isolating in close quarters together.Four people in the community have recovered from COVID-19 so far, according to John.To hear the complete interview with Chief Simon John on CBC's On The Island, tap the audio link below:
Beginning Dec. 14, if you are not wearing a face covering in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM), you could receive a fine. Council has approved its proposed face-covering bylaw at a meeting held Monday. The bylaw will require mandatory face coverings in all indoor and enclosed spaces accessible to the public in TBM. The face-covering bylaw will mimic the provincial face-covering mandate and is expected to be enacted and come into effect on Dec. 14. “Particularly in things like the exemptions, we have mirrored the provincial language,” said Will Thomson, director of legal services for the town. The provincial legislation states businesses and organizations must ensure anyone located in an indoor area on their premises or in a work vehicle must wear a mask that covers their mouth, nose, and chin. The intent of TBM’s municipal bylaw is to shift the obligation from the business owner to enforce wearing a face covering, to every individual person to the greatest extent possible. Under the bylaw, municipal officers will be able to issue a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum fine not exceeding $10,000. TBM council held a special committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 25, which allowed for public and council discussion. Ultimately, the bylaw was carried unanimously at today's council meeting. Council members also unanimously approved the hiring of two, six-month contract bylaw officers with an upper limit of $75,000, which was not included in the current budget. “2020 has been a year unlike any other, in addition to the above responsibilities, our officers have taken on regulating and enforcing business closures during the first wave of the COVID-19; they have enforced crowds, social gatherings and large groups in our public spaces; they have been a constant presence on our beaches during the busy summer months; and have had an active role in ensuring responsible parking and use of our rural recreational resources,” state Thomson in a staff report. TBM currently has four full-time municipal bylaw officers. Through the summer months, the bylaw department had been supplemented with five additional contract staff. “Our officers have been an invaluable resource to our local and business community and have been a calming and reassuring presence as the face of the town since the start of the pandemic,” added Thomson. The two new bylaw officers will be tasked with educating and enforcing all of the town’s bylaws, including but not limited to the new face-covering bylaw. “It only takes one person to not follow the laws to create chaos,” said Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. “Sometimes we can't get an emergency vehicle or a snow plow through and so on. So, we need to be ahead of that game. We can't wait for the problems to happen.” The TBM face-covering bylaw, including exemption and penalties, can be found in staff report FAF.20.201.Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Yukon confirmed another new COVID-19 case on Monday afternoon, bringing the territory's active case count to 17.The government has not issued any additional public exposure notifications, and did not identify the location of the latest case on its website update.The new case comes after Yukon confirmed one new case Sunday, and three new cases Friday evening.There are currently several active public exposure notifications in the territory. You can find them all here.Yukon has confirmed a total of 47 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 29 people considered recovered. One person has died in the territory.
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has launched a new land registry that it says will help combat money laundering and make the real estate market more transparent. Beginning Monday, any corporation, trustee or partnership that buys land in B.C. must disclose the interest holders of that land through the Land Owner Transparency Registry.Existing registered land owners have one year to register and disclose their interest holders. The government says in a news release the information provided may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crack down on illegal activity. It says the registry was formed after an expert panel on real estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the "single most important measure" that can be taken to address money laundering.The panel's 2019 report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through B.C. in 2018, including $5 billion through real estate. "British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn't happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash," Finance Minister Selina Robinson said in a news release. "This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
There were two more deaths from COVID-19 reported by the province on Monday. Both deaths were in the 80 and over age group and were located in the South Central and South East zones. The number of deaths in the province is now 47. The province also reported another 325 cases on Monday. The current seven-day average is 263, or 21. 7 cases per 100,000 population. The North Central, which includes Prince Albert, reported 27 new cases. In other zones there were 125 in Saskatoon, 62 in Regina, 23 in the North West, 22 in the South West, 14 in the Far North East, 13 in the South East, 10 in the Central East, nine in the North East and Far North East, eight in the South Central and a single case in the South West. There are two cases with pending residence information. Four cases with pending residence information were assigned with single cases being assigned to the North Central, Far North East, North West and Regina zones. The Saskatoon zone leads the Active Case breakdown with 1,318 cases; the North Central zone is third with 399 active cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 173 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 194 active cases and North Central 3 has 32 active cases. In second place is Regina with 693 active cases. Of the 8,564 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 3,879 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 4,638 after 49 more recoveries were reported. The number of people in hospital is 111 in total in the province. One hundred people are currently receiving inpatient care; eight in the North Central, 33 in Saskatoon, 26 in Regina, 18 in the South East, eight in the North West, three in the North East and one each in the South Central, South West and Far North West. Twenty-three people, three in the North Central, 14 in Saskatoon and six in Regina, are in intensive care. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 8,564. Of those, 2,603 cases are from the Saskatoon area, 1,742 cases are from the north area (623 north west, 813 north central and 306 north east), 1,529 cases are from the Regina area, 1,122 cases are from the south area (429 south west, 407 south central and 286 south east), 913 cases are from the far north area (600 far north west, 80 far north central and 233 far north east) and 913 cases are from the far north area (600 far north west, 80 far north central, 233 far north east). There are now 28 cases that have pending residence location. There are currently 256 cases that are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances. Of the 8,564 cases in the province: 471 cases are related to travel, 3,616 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 1,825 have no known exposures and 2,652 are under investigation by local public health. The age breakdown shows 1,774 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 3,050 cases are in the 20-39-age range, 2,291 are in the 40-59-age range, 1,127 are in the 60-79-age range and 317are in the 80-plus-age range. Five cases have a pending age confirmation. The gender breakdown shows 50 per cent of the cases being females and 50 per cent being males. Yesterday,4,251 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan. As of today there have been 345,487 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Keep your number of contacts low The province also reminded residents to keep contacts low. Based on the confirmed cases at present, public health estimates that there are more than 6,600 reported contacts requiring follow-up in the province right now. “A ‘close contact’ is anyone that you have spent 15 minutes or more with, within the two metres of physical distancing. You should be able to count your close contacts on one hand. At this time, your close contacts should be the members of your immediate household who you dine with, hug, see without requiring a mask,” the release stated. Although not close contacts, consider all your weekly contacts whether in the classroom or at your workplace. While you must abide by the public health guidelines in these spaces to reduce the risk of transmission, could you list your contacts for the past 14 days? Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Tensions are rising in Lambton Shores as a contentious plan to tackle gypsy moths goes before council Tuesday, a report one community group is blasting as a “do-nothing” approach. After Port Franks and the surrounding area were ravaged by an outbreak of the invasive insects this summer, some residents mobilized into the Gypsy Moth Citizens Action Group, pushing for a municipally-led insecticide spray to combat the infestation. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a spokesperson for the group which represents about 4,000 residents in more than 12 subdivisions, says that option was never properly considered by staff and is urging them to reconsider. “(The report) did not investigate, compare or evaluate the merits of a municipally-led spray programme against a privately-organized effort,” she said. “(It) provided council with inadequate information because it assumed one path forward.” The gypsy moth report – originally sent to council Nov. 10 – includes recommendations like creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to combat gypsy moths, and not objecting to any spraying on private properties adjacent to municipal property. Council voted 5-4 to defer the report until Dec. 1, citing the need for more public feedback. But Smith-Fullerton is calling into question the municipality’s openness on the issue. She said her request to present to council on behalf of the citizen’s group was denied without sound reasoning. Both Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber and Clerk Stephanie Troyer-Boyd cited COVID-19 safety restrictions as the reason why public presentations are disallowed. At the beginning of the pandemic, many municipalities, including Lambton Shores, amended their procedure bylaws to switch to electronic meetings; including a caveat that public presentations could be denied. But Lambton Shores’ council has been meeting in person since the fall, with the procedure bylaw stating, “the Mayor or Clerk may deny delegations to council during an electronic meeting.” Troyer-Boyd did not respond to a request to clarify if the policy had been extended to in-person meetings. Meanwhile, a transit presentation is on the Dec. 1 agenda. Weber said the presenter is a staff member, adding some presentations have been allowed at past meetings for statutory or Planning Act matters. “COVID is a bit of a convenient excuse to stifle democracy,” Smith-Fullerton said, adding she’s filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman. “I deserve an explanation,” she said. “They’re not playing by the rules as far as I can see. There are inconsistencies in their policy.” Council previously waved the restriction in July, allowing Smith-Fullerton to present virtually on the gypsy moth issue. A written delegation from the citizens' group has been accepted for Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s very weird to feel like this is a matter that is clearly of high public interest … And yet, the person who is the spokesperson for thousands of people right across this municipality, they’re not interested in me speaking to them,” Smith-Fullerton said. “(The group) certainly have put in letters and their position and presentation has been distributed through the agenda,” Weber said. The hot-button issue and report have drawn a swarm of response from the community, with dozens of letters sent to council as correspondence — there are more than 300 pages' worth — with the vast majority advocating for an aerial spray or greater assistance from the municipality. “We need council to develop an all-encompassing bylaw that permits the municipality to treat all the infested trees. Anything less will be unsatisfactory and a waste of money,” writes Port Franks resident David Hilliard. “We call on the municipality … to take immediate and effective action to address the gypsy moth threat before damage is done to our environment and tourism economy,” says a letter from the Grand Bend and Area Chamber of Commerce. Five letters attached as correspondence to the agenda oppose a municipally-led aerial spray, a view shared by the mayor. “I believe this should be a private property matter,” Weber said. Lambton Shores chief administrator, Kevin Williams, who drafted the report, did not answer questions emailed to him by The Free Press about the subject. “Let’s see what happens at Council" Tuesday night, he said. He previously said no environmental assessment on the extent of defoliation caused by the insects was ordered, nor was an egg mass assessment. Widespread spraying of a bacteria — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk, — to control caterpillar pests has been the route taken in other municipalities in the past, including Sarnia and Pelham, as well as in parts of big cities such as Toronto and Hamilton. Many residents say it’s vital the municipality takes a lead in combatting the caterpillars as they pose serious threats to personal health and Port Frank’s diverse tree canopy. MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
The NDP of P.E.I. has passed a resolution that would allow newcomers with permanent resident status to take out a party membership.Permanent resident is a status granted to someone who has the right to live and work in Canada while holding citizenship in another country. Permanent residents are not eligible to vote in Canadian elections, as all voters must hold Canadian citizenship, but many parties allow permanent residents to join regardless."We want to be inclusionary to Islanders and newcomers, and so part of that was definitely putting it in our provincial constitution," said provincial party president Jason Alward."We would welcome anybody to come on and join as an NDP member and again, push for a policy that reflects their situation, their concerns."> We want to work with different groups on the Island because we feel that those voices need to be heard. — Jason AlwardP.E.I.'s Green Party also allows those with permanent resident status to join the party, as do all of the major federal parties.A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.Virtual AGM The resolution was passed at the party's annual general meeting over the weekend, which had about 40 people attend virtually. Alward said the newcomers will have full voting privileges for elections within the party, like the executive, or in a contested race to choose who would represent the party in an upcoming election."We want to work with different groups on the Island because we feel that those voices need to be heard," he said. "Come on and push our policy forward and create policy that includes those voices that might not be heard in the legislature."The president said the P.E.I. New Democrats are also looking at other ways to be inclusive of all Islanders, including establishing new committees.He said the party launched a Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) committee and a sexual orientation, gender identity committee recently.The hope is "to bring in people into the party and have their voices heard in those groups," he said."There's definitely a matter of privilege in the legislature and I don't think a lot of those voices are being heard by the three parties in there right now."P.E.I.'s NDP has not had a member elected to the legislature since then party leader Herb Dickieson in 1996. NDP candidate Lynne Thiele received 37 votes in the District 10 byelection earlier this month. The party is currently without a leader after Joe Byrne stepped down in September after two years. Alward said the party will have more news to share about the leadership in the coming days.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has confirmed another case of COVID-19 at the University of Windsor.In a news release, the university said that this case was unrelated to previous confirmed cases at the institution. According to the University of Windsor's COVID-19 information page, the university has had 10 confirmed on-campus cases, all of which have come this month. Eight of those cases are marked as "resolved.""The member of the campus community is self-isolating and all appropriate protocols and cleaning measures have been taken," the university said in a press release. "As with all COVID-19 cases, the WECHU will take the lead on contact tracing. The University continues to work with and support the Health Unit as needed.""There is no additional risk to the campus community at this time," it added.Most of the university's classes are being taught online this semester.
TORONTO — Despite losing some ground to start the week, North American stock markets concluded an exceptionally strong month of November on the back of positive news about COVID-19 vaccines. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 191.13 points to 17,205.43, but was up more than 10 per cent for the month. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 271.73 points at 29,638.64. The S&P 500 index was down 16.72 points at 3,621.63, while the Nasdaq composite was down 7.11 points at 12,198.74 after setting a record high earlier in the trading session.The three U.S. markets gained between 10.75 and 11.8 per cent in November.The primary reasons for the recovery from weakness in September and October was investor optimism about vaccines and the fact that uncertainty about the U.S. election appears to have ended, said Pierre Cleroux, vice-president of research and chief economist for the Business Development Bank of Canada. "I think they believe the vaccine will help the economy to return to normal. So I think that's probably the main reason why November has been so good," he said in an interview.The Dow surpassed 30,000 points last week for the first time, Nasdaq reached 12,244 on Monday and the TSX moved last Thursday to within three percentage points of the all-time high set in February.Cleroux said the pace of the market recovery since the spring COVID-19 selloff was surprising."I don't think anybody in March thought that the market would come back so quickly," he said.Cleroux expects more records will be broken in December if Americans start to be vaccinated during the month."December, I think, will be probably more volatile, but I'm confident that the market will stay high as news on the vaccine will, I believe, continue to be positive."The Canadian dollar hit its highest level of the year and ended the month up two cents or 2.7 per cent. The loonie traded for 77.13 cents US compared with 77.01 cents US on Friday. The gain came as the U.S. dollar continued to fall on investor concerns about rising infection rates, said Cleroux.The energy sector fell the most on the TSX, dropping 6.3 per cent as crude oil prices slid on indecision by OPEC over future supply.Some OPEC partners would like to reduce crude supplies to support prices, but others contend there's no need to limit output, believing the economy is going to improve early next year, said Cleroux.Shares of Crescent Point Energy Corp. and Vermilion Energy Inc. lost 9.7 and 8.3 per cent, respectively. Suncor Energy Inc. was down 7.3 per cent in heavy trading.The January crude contract was down 19 cents at US$45.34 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up 3.9 cents at US$2.88 per mmBTU. Nonetheless, crude oil prices surged 26.7 per cent in November on hopes that vaccines would facilitate a recovery in demand.Financials, real estate, utilities and industrials were also lower.The materials sector was the bigger climber on the day, gaining about a half of a percentage point despite a further drop in gold price as copper prices rose.The February gold contract was down US$7.20 at US$1,780.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was up 2.05 cents at nearly US$3.44 a pound. Health care and technology were both higher, with shares of Shopify Inc. up 4.1 per cent.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP, TSX:CPG, TSX:VET, TSX:SU, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
Strathmore has moved to make its fire department more diverse and inclusive by hiring a deputy fire chief to a new recruitment position. Laurie VandeSchoot, the town’s new assistant chief of diversity, inclusion and recruiting, was introduced during the regular Strathmore town council meeting on Nov. 18. VandeSchoot is a municipal government, change management and strategic planning specialist with a 28-year career with the City of Calgary who also consults internationally and locally and instructs at Bow Valley College in Calgary. “Laurie is known for building inclusive and high-performance cultures that strengthens communities,” said Judy Unsworth, Strathmore Fire Department deputy chief, during the meeting. VandeSchoot has experience in diversity services, equity solutions, mental health, public participation, strategic planning and sustainable development, said Unsworth. Furthermore, VandeSchoot leads the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) diversity leadership program, chairs the International Fire Chiefs human relations committee, and is the national co-chair of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) national subcommittee on diversity inclusion, among other leadership roles. “Under the direction of chief (Trent) West, I am super excited about what we can do here in Strathmore,” said VandeSchoot. “I’m passionate, as you can tell, about diversity and inclusion – it’s kind of my lifeblood. When we talk about diversity, inclusion and recruitment, diversity and inclusion is our purpose, recruitment is where we start from.” Diversity is about more than numbers, she added. “It’s not just about how many people you have that are different, it’s about that sense of belonging, it’s about that sense of inclusion and how we can create a culture of openness, belonging and wellness.” The hiring of VandeSchoot highlights the importance of welcoming all people to Strathmore’s community and environment, said Strathmore town Councillor Denise Peterson. “It shows that we’re not just saying these things, that we’re actually taking action to embrace inclusion and to break down those barriers that we’ve seen.” Peterson added the position will help develop partnerships with Siksika Nation.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times