Dr. Samir Sinha is among a group of medical professionals who have taken to social media to urge the Canadian government to implement a #COVIDzero strategy because, they say, measures taken to control COVID-19 have not been effective enough.
Dr. Samir Sinha is among a group of medical professionals who have taken to social media to urge the Canadian government to implement a #COVIDzero strategy because, they say, measures taken to control COVID-19 have not been effective enough.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Le conseil municipal a autorisé hier soir une dépense de 7,2 M$, taxes incluses, pour l’acquisition de 66 % du site du musée Armand-Frappier, situé au 520, boulevard des Prairies. Le terrain appartenant désormais à la municipalité correspond à «toute la bande riveraine», a indiqué le maire Marc Demers lors de l’assemblée. Le parc municipal que la Ville y aménagera donnera sur 320 mètres de berges en bordure de la rivière des Prairies. D’une superficie de 27 715 mètres carrés, cet espace public équivaut à 17 patinoires de la Ligue nationale de hockey, illustrait M. Demers dans un communiqué publié en fin de soirée. Avec la marina Le Commodore, dans Pont-Viau, le terrain boisé adjacent à la berge des Baigneurs, dans Sainte-Rose, et les deux grandes îles de l’archipel Saint-François, ce terrain en rive de Laval-des-Rapides porte à quatre le nombre d’acquisitions aux fins d’aménagement de parcs et d’espaces verts ou de conservation depuis le printemps. Maison des aînés Le parc riverain voisinera avec la première maison des aînés que le gouvernement Legault implantera sur le territoire lavallois. L’annonce avait été faite la veille par la ministre responsable des Aînés et des Proches aidants, Marguerite Blais. Il s’agira d’un complexe de huit bâtiments climatisés de 12 places chacun, totalisant 96 chambres individuelles. Un projet évalué à 52 M$, dont la mise en chantier n’a toutefois pas été précisée. L’Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) a ainsi vendu le dernier tiers du terrain au ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux afin de répondre aux besoins du CISSS de Laval en matière d’hébergement. La transaction globale, qui s’est conclue le 18 novembre, s’élève à 15,34 M$. Le Ministère aurait donc payé 8,5 M$, avant taxes, pour 34 % du terrain, soit 1,66 M$ de plus que la Ville qui met la main sur un terrain deux fois plus grand, incluant le bâtiment patrimonial qui abrite le Musée. «Par la vente de ce terrain situé sur le campus de notre établissement de recherche universitaire, nous sommes heureux de contribuer à la réalisation des projets structurants de la Ville de Laval, du CISSS de Laval et du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux», a déclaré par communiqué le directeur général de l’INRS, Luc-Alain Giraldeau. L’administration Demers convoitait ce terrain depuis 2014, avait laissé savoir le maire à la séance du conseil de juillet 2018 lorsqu’un citoyen du secteur, Raymond Lamothe, était venu proposer à la Ville d’en faire l’acquisition. Même que les pourparlers entre la Municipalité et l’INRS étaient déjà engagés, précisait Marc Demers. M. Lamothe rêvait de ce parc riverain que le corridor vert piétonnier du boulevard Armand-Frappier relie au centre-ville. En octobre de la même année, le conseil municipal avait adopté à l’unanimité la proposition formulée par le conseiller de l’opposition officielle, Claude Larochelle, à l’effet d’entreprendre «des démarches urgentes auprès du propriétaire»… avant qu’un promoteur immobilier ne flaire la bonne affaire. L’espace vert sera baptisé du nom de Parc Armand-Frappier en l’honneur de ce pionnier de la recherche en microbiologie et de la médecine préventive au pays. Rappelons qu’en 1938, s’inspirant du modèle de l’Institut Pasteur, Dr Armand Frappier (1904-1991) fondait à Laval l'Institut de microbiologie et d'hygiène de l'Université de Montréal. Trente-quatre ans plus tard, en 1972, cette institution devenait une des constituantes de l'Université du Québec, puis un des quatre centres de recherche de l'Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) en 1999. C’est autour de l’Institut Armand-Frappier que se déployait en 1989 le Parc scientifique et de la haute technologie et, en 2001, la Cité de la biotechnologie et des sciences de la vie au Québec.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
NEW YORK — Rockin' around the Christmas tree is going to look different for visitors at Rockefeller Center this year, starting with Wednesday's tree lighting ceremony. What's normally a chaotic, crowded tourist hotspot during the holiday season will instead be a mask-mandated, time-limited, socially distanced locale due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tree, a 75-foot (23-meter) Norway spruce, is getting its holiday lights turned on in an event that will be broadcast on television but closed to the public. Among those scheduled for performances are Kelly Clarkson, Dolly Parton, and Earth, Wind & Fire. In the days following the lighting until the early part of January, those wishing to take a look at the tree will have to follow a host of rules. The plaza where the tree is physically located will be closed to the public; instead, there will be specific tree-viewing zones on the midtown Manhattan blocks on either side. Visitors will join a virtual line, and can get text messages to let them know when it's their turn. At that point, they will be directed to specific pods, each of which can hold four people, to look at the tree. There will be a five-minute limit to tree-viewing. Of course, everyone will have to be wearing masks and maintain social distance. Entrance to the skating rink and retail will be separate. The restricted approach is a necessary one, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this week. “It will be limited, the number of people that can get close. This is what we got to do to protect everyone." Workers at Rockefeller Center first put up a tree in 1931. It became an annual tradition starting in 1933. This year's tree came from Oneonta, in central New York. The Associated Press
Rappelons qu’en 2010 la Ville de Sept-Îles a vendu une vingtaine de terrains sur les rues Roméo-Vachon, Joséphat-Méthot et Comeau qui ont été endommagés par un affaissement du sol. Par la suite, une cinquantaine de maisons ont été suivies de près, afin de voir si leurs structures ne seraient pas endommagées également par un tel affaissement. Maître Luc Dion, du cabinet Besnier, Dion et Rondeau est mandaté afin de coordonner les expertises finales. Le directeur général de la Ville Patrick Gwilliam mentionne qu’un expert en sol est prêt à se prononcer et s’engager professionnellement afin de dire que ces maisons ne bougeront plus dans le futur. Il y aura tout de même certaines vérifications, mais le tout semblerait très positif. Certains terrains ont été surveillés lors de ces expertises, et à la lumière de ces années de suivi, quelques-uns pourraient être vendus prochainement.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
There are three additional COVID-19 cases associated with the outbreak on the third floor of the rehab tower at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH), according to a Tuesday news release from the hospital. The new cases bring the total number of infections associated with the outbreak to 20.The cases have resulted in the temporary suspension of all non-direct patient service providers.The temporary suspension includes: * all Designated Care Partner Visitation Programs (DCPs) * contractors, students and hairdressing services * patients who require palliative care and are actively dying are allowed two visitors present at any given time * patients who require palliative care, but are not actively dying are allowed one visitor. This visitor must remain the same person.The hospital first declared an outbreak at its rehab unit on Sunday."It is important to note that the precautions we are implementing are not just as a result of our internal outbreak," the statement reads."It is equally important because daily numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex continue to show that we have a significant amount of community spread with a growing list of institutional/schools/workplaces, hospital and LTC/retirement home outbreaks."HDGH said it will continue to work closely with the local health unit and provide updates. It also said it "deeply regrets the worry, concern and pain that this has caused for our staff, our patients and their families and our community and commit to providing timely updates as soon as we can."No visitor policyWindsor Regional Hospital (WRH), HDGH and Erie Shores Healthcare are reinstituting a "no visitor policy" effective Wednesday, according to another Tuesday media release, as a result of the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in the region."This difficult decision is intended as a precaution to keep patients, families and our health care teams safe as transmission rates rise and risk a crisis point for hospitals," the statement reads, adding that the high volume of patients and the reduced bed capacity is challenging the entire local health care system.Limited exceptions to the policy are in place at each hospital.For WRH, essential visitors are allowed, which include: * One visit by one visitor to a patient who is actively dying * One support person for a woman in labour * One parent/guardian of an ill newborn, child or youth
ATLANTA — Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall won a special runoff election Tuesday for a brief term in Congress and will succeed the late civil rights legend John Lewis. The 49-year-old Hall defeated fellow Democrat Robert Franklin, 66, in the Atlanta area district and will only hold the seat for a few weeks through Jan. 3. Hall and Franklin were the top vote getters in a September special election after Lewis, a civil rights titan, died in July following 34 years in Congress. Neither candidate won a majority, though, forcing a runoff that leaves the winner with only about a month to serve in Congress. Lewis’ long-term replacement will be state senator and state Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams, who easily defeated Republican Angela Stanton King in November for a full two-year-term starting in January. Williams and King didn’t run in the special election. The 5th Congressional District includes most of the city of Atlanta, as well as some suburban areas of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. About 22,000 people voted, less than 5% of the district's registered voters. Also Tuesday, Sonya Halpern beat Linda Pritchett to replace Williams in the state Senate in District 39, covering parts of Fulton County. Voters in Clarke and Oconee counties chose Democrat Deborah Gonzalez as district attorney over nonpartisan candidate James Chafin. Lewis died at age 80 from pancreatic cancer. He was the youngest and last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, when Lewis led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was best known for leading protesters in the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he was beaten by state troopers. Hall and Franklin both contended that they could get something accomplished during a short stay in Congress. Voting on a temporary federal budget could be the most significant act that the winner takes, although there are still fading hopes of additional COVID-19 relief legislation. Hall touted his experience on the Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta school board, saying he would make the most of his limited time working on COVID-19 relief and other issues. He linked his effort to Lewis in a statement after his win, noting that his father and Lewis had both worked with Martin Luther King Jr. “This win tonight allows me to continue that fight and to work every day of this term," Hall said in a statement. Franklin and Hall shared similar positions on issues, but Franklin, formerly president of Morehouse College and now a theology professor at Emory University, also touted his moral leadership. He pledged to support Hall in a concession call. “Although not the outcome we had wanted, I am pleased that our district will have voice and vote in the critical days ahead,” Franklin said in a statement texted to The Associated Press. Franklin raised $282,000, including $65,000 he loaned his campaign, while Hall raised $194,000. Jeff Amy, The Associated Press
Voici le message qu’il a décidé de partager ce matin sur les réseaux sociaux : Kuei kassinu etshiek Bonjour a vous tous, Toute une semaine d’émotions, pour ma part, j’ai été testé positif à la covid 19. Je fais partie de ses 6 cas au centre administratif. Ce fut tout un choc pour moi, car selon l’enquête épidémiologique des premiers cas du centre administratif, cela touché le secteur où nos bureaux sont, j’étais un contact significatif à degré Faible. Mais je me suis malgré tout mis en isolement pour protéger les gens et ma famille. Je suis allé passer le test malgré que j’avais aucun Symptôme. Ça m’a pris 72h avoir d’avoir mon résultat, 3 jours a penser au oui ou non j’étais porteur du virus et pendant ses trois jours-là. Aucun symptôme, alors je pensais que j’étais négatif mais hélas non. Ce que l’on récent lorsque tu es positif, c’est la honte, la peur et la culpabilité. Vous savez, personne veut attraper ce virus, même moi car ma belle-mère a eu de gros traitement de chimio et radio pour combattre un cancer alors même si nous restons à LTQ jamais nous voyageons, les seul places que nous faisons en ville c’est l’épicerie, pharmacie et CT. Le reste du temps nous étions à la maison.pour justement protéger nos êtres chers. Ma famille viendra tjrs en tête de liste. Mais comble de malheur, j’ai attrapé le Virus à Wemotaci et non en ville alors nous ne somme pas à l’abri du virus. Moi, je n’en veut a personne d’avoir eu la covid c’est comme ça et c’est tout. Ce n’est pas le temps de faire la chasse aux sorcières mais plutôt d’être Solidaire entre nous. Merci aux anges gardiens de Wemotaci, vos tisane et médecine traditionnelle m’ont aidé a passé vers cette douloureuse épreuve de confinement. Le plus dur pour moi été d’être isolé de ma famille mais c’était pour le bien. Pour ce qui est de ma santé, je suis asymptomatique. Je n’ai eu aucun symptôme depuis le début. C’est pour ça que je suis heureux d’avoir passer le test, sinon jamais j’aurais su que j’avais la Covid car j’aurais peut-être pu infecté plus de gens mais je prends tous les précautions possible, Masque, lavages de mains régulier et être à 2 mètres. Hier, nous avons eu le dernier résultat de mes contacts significatifs. Ma belle-mère est négatif, vous ne pouvez pas savoir comment ça me soulage. Aujourd’hui, comme depuis le jour 1, je suis asymptomatique et je ne suis pas un faux positif. J’ai attrapé la Covid-19 et je veux que mon message sert a quelque chose. C’est de dire aux gens de faire attention à eux et d’appliquer le plus possible les mesures sanitaires. Je pries pour les malades car des gens ont des complications et sont hospitalisé. À partir de samedi, ma levée d’isolement sera effectif. Je suis a la fin de mon isolement et contamination!! Selon les infirmiers de santé publique, je serais immunisé pour 3 mois!! Mais dans la vie, nous ne contrôlons pas grand chose, dieu a décidé que je devais passer par cette épreuve. Je l’accepte et surtout je veux que mon cas serve à quelques choses. Faites attention Tsheneskemetnau kassinu etshiekKarine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Sen. Joseph McCarthy is censured; Scientists demonstrate the world's first artificially-created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction; Enron files for Chapter 11 protection; Colombian drug lord is shot and killed. (Dec. 2)
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to jail on charges related to an unauthorized anti-government protest last year at the city’s police headquarters. Wong, who pleaded guilty to organizing and participating in the protest, received 13 1/2 months behind bars. Chow, who also pleaded guilty to participating in the protest and inciting others to take part, received 10 months, while Lam received 7 months after pleading guilty to incitement. The protest took place on June 21 last year, and saw thousands surround the police headquarters as they demonstrated against excessive force by police against protesters, as well as a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China.Zen Soo, The Associated Press
In mid-August, the laboratory doing COVID-19 testing at St. Paul's hospital in Vancouver was facing a problem: the reagent required to carry out the tests was in short supply. "There was a lack of availability," said Dr. Daniel Holmes, director of pathology and laboratory medicine at the hospital. "Without the reagent — the chemicals that go into it — it's like having a car without gasoline."So Holmes and his team at the lab turned to a trick used in virology; they began working on a way to pool test samples together.The idea was to combine the samples from four patients — a number determined by the positivity rate they were finding at the St. Paul's lab, between three and seven per cent."If you have a whole bunch of samples and most of them test negative for a disease, you can mix all of the samples together, and if the mix tests negative, then you can infer that all of the samples that went into the mix must be negative," explained Holmes.The idea was simple enough, but the task of automating the process with a robotic machine and computer code took a while.Holmes said it wasn't until Sept. 20 that the system was ready for its first live run — just as the second wave of the pandemic began to ramp up."The robot ... scans all the barcodes, it tells the server which specimens are in which well, and in the end, it reports out all the negatives," he said.The four samples in the pools that test positive have to then be tested individually, so if the positivity rate increases, the method becomes inefficient.Holmes said he was getting anxious as positivity rates climbed in recent weeks, but so far they've been able to continue mixing samples at St. Paul's.The technique has eased the workload on staff at the lab, as well as getting four times as many tests out of the reagent used for the pooled samples, said Holmes, noting that the lab typically does about 40 per cent of its daily tests — which range from 1,000 to 1,700 per day — using the pooling technique.As well as effectively reducing the required resources, mixing samples hastens the time it takes to process most patients' tests, though Holmes said there's a three-hour wait if a pool needs to be tested again as individual samples."If they are one of the people who's fortunate enough to have a negative test, their result is going to come back to them, somewhere between three and 10 hours earlier," he said.Do you have more to add to this story? Email email@example.comFollow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission Wednesday for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world’s first coronavirus shot that’s backed by rigorous science -- and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.The move makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population as it tries to curb Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.Other countries aren’t far behind: The U.S. and the European Union also are vetting the Pfizer shot along with a similar vaccine made by competitor Moderna Inc.Pfizer said it would immediately begin shipping limited supplies to the U.K. -- and has been gearing up for even wider distribution if given a similar nod by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a decision expected as early as next week.But doses everywhere are scarce, and initial supplies will be rationed until more is manufactured in the first several months of next year.Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called the U.K. decision “a historic moment.”“We are focusing on moving with the same level of urgency to safely supply a high-quality vaccine around the world,” Bourla said in a statement.While the U.K. has ordered enough Pfizer vaccine for 20 million people, it’s not clear how many will arrive by year’s end and adding to the distribution challenges is that it must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures.Two doses three weeks apart are required for protection. First in line, the U.K. government says, are frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, followed by older adults.British regulators also are considering another shot made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned “we must first navigate a hard winter” of restrictions to try to curb the virus until there’s enough vaccine to go around.Every country has different rules for determining when an experimental vaccine is safe and effective enough to use. Intense political pressure to be the first to roll out a rigorously scientifically tested shot colored the race in the U.S. and Britain, even as researchers pledged to cut no corners. In contrast, China and Russia have offered different vaccinations to their citizens ahead of late-stage testing.The shots made by U.S.-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech were tested in tens of thousands of people. And while that study isn’t complete, early results suggest the vaccine is 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease. The companies told regulators that of the first 170 infections detected in study volunteers, only eight were among people who’d received the actual vaccine and the rest had gotten a dummy shot.“This is an extraordinarily strong protection,” Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, recently told The Associated Press.The companies also reported no serious side effects, although vaccine recipients may experience temporary pain and flu-like reactions immediately after injections.But experts caution that a vaccine cleared for emergency use is still experimental and the final testing must be completed. Still to be determined is whether the Pfizer-BioNTech shots protect against people spreading the coronavirus without showing symptoms. Another question is how long protection lasts.The vaccine also has been tested in only a small number of children, none younger than 12, and there’s no information on its effects in pregnant women.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks are quickly running into the political reality of a narrowly controlled Senate that will leave the new Democratic administration dependent on rival Republicans to get anything done.Under leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican senators will hold great sway in confirming Biden’s nominees regardless of which party holds the majority after runoff elections in January. Biden will have little room to manoeuvr and few votes to spare.As Biden rolled out his economic team Tuesday — after introducing his national security team last week — he asked the Senate to give his nominees prompt review, saying they “deserve and expect nothing less.”But that seems unlikely. Republicans are swiftly signalling that they’re eager to set the terms of debate and exact a price for their votes. Biden's choice for budget chief, Neera Tanden, was instantly rejected as “radioactive.” His secretary of state nominee, Antony Blinken, quickly ran into resistance from GOP senators blasting his record amid their own potential 2024 White House campaigns.Even as most Republican senators still refuse to publicly acknowledge President Donald Trump’s defeat, they are launching new battles for the Biden era. The GOP is suspended between an outgoing president it needs to keep close — Trump can still make or break careers with a single tweet — and the new one they are unsure how to approach. Almost one month since the Nov. 3 election, McConnell and Biden have not yet spoken.“The disagreement, disorientation and confusion among Republicans will make them inclined to unite in opposition,” said Ramesh Ponnuru, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, during a Tuesday briefing.“They don’t necessarily know what they’re for, but they can all agree they don’t like Neera Tanden.”A new president often runs into trouble with at least a few Cabinet or administrative nominees, individuals who rub the Senate the wrong way and fail to win enough votes for confirmation or are forced to withdraw after grueling public hearings.Trump’s nominees faced enormous resistance from Senate Democrats, who used their minority-party status to slow-walk confirmation for even lower-level positions. It’s been an escalation of the Senate's procedural battles for at least a decade.But the battles ahead are particularly sharp as Biden tries to stand up an administration during the COVID-19 crisis and economic freefall, rebuilding a government after Trump chased away many career professionals and appointed often-untested newcomers.Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised the expertise Biden's choices will bring to government. He scoffed at Republicans for complaining about Tanden’s penchant for sharp tweets after four years of Trump’s endless Twitter barbs that GOP senators often tried to ignore.“After what all we went through over the past four years, I would expect that almost all of President-elect Biden’s nominees would be widely acceptable,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.Instead, he warned, the "switch is starting to flip” into Republican opposition.To be sure, some key Biden choices will have an easier path to confirmation. Janet Yellen, who would become the nation’s first female treasury secretary, drew few public complaints from Republicans. Many had voted to confirm her in 2014 as Federal Reserve chair.Democrats have their own battles ahead. Biden faces the daunting task of keeping the party's centrist and progressive factions from splintering as he tries to put his team in place.Republicans now hold a 50-48 advantage in the Senate, but if Democrats win both Georgia seats in the Jan. 5 runoff elections, they would wrest control, since the vice-president, which will be Kamala Harris, becomes a tie-breaker.The nomination fights will serve as an early indicator of the approach Republicans take toward Biden as they find their political footing in a post-Trump environment.Trump continues to wield great influence over the party as he is being eased out, and senators, in particular, need to keep him close for the Georgia runoff elections.The president is planning to visit Georgia on Saturday, where two GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, failed to clear the 50% threshold to win reelection in November. Perdue faces Democrat Jon Ossoff and Loeffler faces Democrat Raphael Warnock in a state that flipped to support Biden.McConnell has said almost nothing about Biden’s nominees or next year's agenda as he continues to give Trump the time and space to challenge election results in court cases that have delivered few victories.Instead, he's letting other Senate Republicans, particularly those seen as having White House ambitions, make names for themselves. GOP Sens. Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley, among others, have all hurled pointed complaints about Biden's picks.Despite Trump’s defeat, Republicans in Congress may have little incentive to work with Biden. They performed better than Trump, retaining many House and Senate seats they were expected to lose. One lesson Republicans learned from the November election may be to keep doing what they've been doing.McConnell gave a nod toward what's ahead after GOP senators met Tuesday by conference call, forced to abandon their traditional sit-down lunches as the COVID-19 crisis surges and threatens to further disrupt the Capitol.McConnell talked about finishing the remaining few weeks of “this government” and “the new administration” to come.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Wed. Dec. 2, 2020.There are 383,468 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 383,468 confirmed cases (66,369 active, 304,888 resolved, 12,211 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 5,329 new cases Tuesday from 97,680 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 41,024 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,861.There were 81 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 593 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 85. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.49 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,573,322 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 339 confirmed cases (33 active, 302 resolved, four deaths).There was one new case Tuesday from 324 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 62,844 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 760 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 60,683 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,315 confirmed cases (142 active, 1,108 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 3,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.32 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 88 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 146,919 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 508 confirmed cases (116 active, 385 resolved, seven deaths).There were seven new cases Tuesday from 1,065 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.66 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 58 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 101,550 tests completed._ Quebec: 143,548 confirmed cases (12,264 active, 124,200 resolved, 7,084 deaths).There were 1,177 new cases Tuesday from 8,376 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,218 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,317.There were 28 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 197 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.49 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,194,452 tests completed._ Ontario: 118,199 confirmed cases (14,524 active, 100,012 resolved, 3,663 deaths).There were 1,707 new cases Tuesday from 33,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,689 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,670.There were seven new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,103,234 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,107 confirmed cases (9,066 active, 7,713 resolved, 328 deaths).There were 282 new cases Tuesday from 2,201 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,549 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 364.There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 80 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.83 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 349,309 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 8,745 confirmed cases (3,819 active, 4,875 resolved, 51 deaths).There were 181 new cases Tuesday from 1,444 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,862 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 266.There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 262,262 tests completed._ Alberta: 59,484 confirmed cases (16,628 active, 42,305 resolved, 551 deaths).There were 1,307 new cases Tuesday from 27,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,421.There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 59 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,473,584 tests completed._ British Columbia: 33,894 confirmed cases (9,663 active, 23,774 resolved, 457 deaths).There were 656 new cases Tuesday from 18,967 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,546 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 792.There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 99 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 802,376 tests completed._ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,336 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 42 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,397 tests completed._ Nunavut: 182 confirmed cases (93 active, 89 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Tuesday from 58 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 38 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,300 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
Joshua Wong, 24, one of Hong Kong's most prominent democracy activists, was jailed on Wednesday for more than 13 months over an unlawful anti-government rally in 2019, the toughest and most high-profile sentence for an opposition figure this year. Wong's sentence comes as critics say the Beijing-backed government is intensifying a crackdown on Hong Kong's opposition and chipping away at wide-ranging freedoms guaranteed after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, a charge authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong reject. Reacting to the court ruling, Britain's foreign minister Dominic Raab urged Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to stop their campaigns to stifle the opposition.
L’édition 2020 de la populaire émission Occupation double s’est déroulée majoritairement au Québec, étant donné la pandémie reliée à la COVID-19. La Côte-Nord a été visitée par certains candidats, dont Cintia et Marjorie qui ont confirmé leur relation lors d’une visite dans la Manicouagan. Elles ont eu la chance de visiter le barrage Daniel-Johnson, en plus de passer de magnifiques moments en nature, grâce Fred et Coralie de chez Attitude Nordique et des Innus de Pessamit. C’est au tour de la Minganie d’accueillir des participants, qui ont eu la chance de s’y rendre lors du voyage final. Il a été annoncé que celui-ci se déroulait dans Charlevoix, mais on sait maintenant que la Côte-Nord a également été visitée. Le couple a eu la chance de voir des monolithes, ainsi que de déguster des oursins de mer.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
DELTA, B.C. — A man has critical injuries after the vehicle he was driving plunged about nine metres from a BC Ferries exit ramp to the pavement below. BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says the incident occurred Tuesday at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal as vehicles were leaving the vessel Coastal Renaissance, which had arrived from the Duke Point terminal near Nanaimo. She says the vehicle accelerated sharply after it left the vessel and crashed through a concrete barrier on the upper exit ramp, landing on its roof on the road below. A statement from BC Emergency Health Services says several paramedic crews were dispatched to the scene and the patient was transported to hospital in critical condition. Marshall says the man, who was driving a crew-cab pickup truck, was the lone occupant of the vehicle and no one else was hurt. Marshall says the man was conscious and talking after the incident. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kick-start your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 2 ... What we are watching in Canada ... The Manitoba government has signed a pay agreement that will allow nurses to be shifted to priority areas in the fight against COVID-19. It says the agreement with the Manitoba Nurses Union will allow nurses to be redeployed in personal care homes, intensive care units and designated COVID-19 units. Health Minister Cameron Friesen says it will allow for changes to work assignments, locations, schedules and shifts to support the changing needs of hospital patients and care home residents. He says nurses affected by these changes, including those already working in facilities dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, will get extra pay. The agreement also establishes a COVID-19 northern allowance for staff redeployed to the north, as well as an allowance for current northern nurses who work in one community but pick up additional shifts elsewhere in the region. Union president Darlene Jackson says the deal will help keep nurses on the job and give them some security and recognition. --- Also this ... Nunavut's two-week lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to end today as the territory continues to see a drop in new cases. Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, said earlier this week that schools, businesses and workplaces could reopen. Restrictions are to lift in all communities except Arviat, which has 76 active cases and will remain shut down for at least two more weeks. Patterson says that's because his team hasn't determined if community transmission there is ongoing. Nunavut had 93 active infections and 89 recovered cases on Tuesday for a total of 182. The territory had not had any cases at all until early November. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... Disputing U.S. President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election. Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block president-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House. Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail. More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission Wednesday for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world’s first coronavirus shot that’s backed by rigorous science -- and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. The move makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population as it tries to curb Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak. Other countries aren’t far behind: The U.S. and the European Union also are vetting the Pfizer shot along with a similar vaccine made by competitor Moderna Inc. Pfizer said it would immediately begin shipping limited supplies to the U.K. -- and has been gearing up for even wider distribution if given a similar nod by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a decision expected as early as next week. But doses everywhere are scarce, and initial supplies will be rationed until more is manufactured in the first several months of next year. --- On this day in 2006 ... Liberal delegates chose Quebec MP Stephane Dion as their new federal leader at a Montreal convention. --- Holiday news ... The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association says people planning to buy a live Christmas tree this season should start shopping now and expect to pay more. Farmers anticipate 2020 will be a record sales year. Association head Larry Downey says it's simple supply and demand: a shortage of trees coupled with a greater appetite from people hoping to liven up their living spaces amid widespread stay-at-home orders. “Personally, we don’t see COVID affecting us,” says Downey, whose family farm in Hatley, Que. sells up to 30,000 Christmas trees each year. Most wholesale farmers Downey has spoken this year with have already reached sales records, he adds, with much of the demand coming from vendors in the United States. Retailers typically place their orders for trees as early as June, Downey says. The Christmas tree market is still feeling the effects of the Great Recession, which put many U.S. growers out of business and led others to reduce planting. Since saplings take eight to 10 years to reach the size of a typical Christmas tree, the effects of the lower supply have only recently emerged. In entertainment ... Experts believe the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies such as Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, Ottawa says in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years. Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef says it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals. "Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef says. "And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices." Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. --- ICYMI ... The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender. The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, has made the announcement in a powerful post on social media. The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they. Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights. He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self." And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community." "Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page says.. "I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020 The Canadian Press
On Tuesday Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty announced that the annual New Year’s Day Celebration at Government House would be postponed. “To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to support public health guidelines, we’ve decided to postpone our New Year’s Day celebration” the Lieutenant Governor said in a release. “We will monitor the evolving situation and consider hosting a safe event at a later date.” The Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan hosted the first New Year’s Day celebration in 1884. The tradition continued until the early 1970s. The event was rejuvenated in 1985 and has been held continuously for the past 35 years. Although the Jan. 1 event will not proceed, you can still visit virtually historic Government House while it is beautifully decorated for the season. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
CALGARY — Curling Canada wants Calgary's Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season's top events.Canada's governing body of curling proposes holding the 2021 national men's, women's and mixed doubles championships, as well as the men's world championship without fans in a condensed schedule at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre.Potential dates have yet to be announced as Curling Canada works with health authorities to set up a "bubble" environment similar to the NHL's model to complete the 2020 playoffs in Edmonton.The COVID-19 pandemic has forced domestic and international sport organizations to establish competition "bubbles" to avoid the spread of the virus to the public.The Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park features four sheets of ice, over a dozen dressing rooms, convention space and a commercial kitchen.Thunder Bay, Ont., was originally scheduled to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts from Feb. 20 to 28, followed March 6-14 by the Tim Hortons Brier in Kelowna, B.C. Curling Canada announced Tuesday that Thunder Bay will host the 2022 Scotties instead.The men's world championship April 3-11 had been awarded to Ottawa. The women's world championship is scheduled for March 20-28 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary's hub-city concept from Alberta Health."While none of us knows what trajectory the virus will take between now and this event, I’m confident that the organizers, in consultation with medical experts, will take every necessary precaution and adjust, if required, to ensure all events are conducted safely,” Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday in a statement.The tournaments would be televised on TSN and RDS.“No one can deny that these are challenging times, and not just for curling, obviously, but we also know how important these events are to the athletes, to our partners and, of course, to our fans," chief executive officer Katherine Henderson said in a statement.“It is thanks largely to the commitment of our business partners that we are able to have ambitions of holding some of our events, giving the best curling fans in the world something to look forward to in the new year."WinSport, which operates Canada Olympic Park, is also pursuing international freestyle ski and snowboard hubs for the park in January and March.All provinces and territories including a Northern Ontario entry and the defending champions are in the national men's and women's championship fields.Provincial and territorial playdowns generally start in early January, although the path to the Tournament of Hearts and the Brier may not be straightforward in 2021 because of the pandemic.Formats for all three Canadian championship events will be announced at a later date. There wouldn't be a Team Wild Card in the Tournament of Hearts or the Brier, however, as the play-in game on the eve of the main draw won't be part of the format.Brad Gushue's team from St. John's, N.L., won the 2020 Brier on March 8 in Kingston, Ont., mere days before the advancing COVID-19 shut down the sports world globally.Neither he nor Kerri Einarson's Manitoba team were able to represent Canada in world championships cancelled because of the pandemic.Both will return to the national championships as Team Canada."It’s been a difficult few months, obviously, so I’m very happy to see these events taking place in a safe environment, and very happy for the fans as they will have something to look forward to,” Einarson said in a statement.“We understand these are strange times with some accompanying challenges that go beyond sport, but as athletes, we embrace challenges and will do our best to thrive under whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.”Several competitions have already been cancelled or postponed this season including November's Canada Cup in Fredericton and January's Continental Cup in Oakville, Ont.The first four World Curling Tour Grand Slams of 2020-21 were scrubbed. Two remain on the schedule: the Princess Auto Players’ Championship in Toronto from April 13-18 and the Humpty’s Champions Cup in Olds, Alta., from April 27 to May 2, 2021.Another COVID-19 complication for Curling Canada is filling the Olympic trials fields later this year when so many qualifying events and bonspiels providing ranking points have been cancelled.Of 18 berths available in the trials Nov. 27-Dec. 5 in Saskatoon, only four have been filled.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Regina– The Saskatchewan Party government’s response to COVID-19 was the entire focus of the Opposition New Democratic Party’s first chance at question period as the Saskatchewan Legislature got down to business on Dec. 1, following the Oct. 26 election. NDP Leader Ryan Meili started off saying the “people of Saskatchewan are dealing with the results of missed opportunities on the part of this premier.” He noted there are three times as many cases of COVID-19 compared to Nov. 1, and active cases are up five times. The leader of the opposition accused Premier Scott Moe of giving mixed messages, musing about opening up for Christmas, and providing “breathing room” to those against wearing masks. “At this rate, the only thing you’ll be opening for Christmas is a field hospital,” Meili said. Moe responded, “The COVID-19 response and Saskatchewan has been a balanced and measured approach, has been an approach that ensures that yes, we are doing everything that we can to ensure that we are preserving lives in this province, saving lives in this province, and also preserving the opportunity for livelihoods today livelihoods in the future.” Moe said this response will focus on ensuring that we can preserve the capacity of our health care system, preserve the opportunities and jobs in our communities, “and to ensure that we have the opportunity for our next generation, for the youth to have some semblance of normalcy, so that they maybe do things like attend school, and as well as the athletics and the opportunities that we have in our communities.” Moe said, “We’re experiencing a second wave surge in the province, like much of the rest of the nation.” He added Saskatchewan will follow the advice of chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. Meili said, “Once again, this premier is demonstrating that he fails to comprehend the seriousness of what we're dealing with today. This is not a minor surge. The number of cases is rising exponentially. Hospitals are overwhelmed, small businesses are barely surviving, and people are worried about the health of their loved ones, people are losing, loved ones.” He asked what the province is doing with hundreds of millions of dollars of federal support for COVID-19 response. Moe responded money had been spent on personal protective equipment, and that $90 million has been spent on testing and contact tracing, with a rolling 7-day average of 3,500 tests per day. Forty million dollars have been spent on schools, in addition to $40 million in school division savings, augmented by $75 million for restarting schools. He pointed out a second tranche of funding applications opened on that very day. Meili pressed on about the $260 million allocated in the provincial COVID-19 contingency, as detailed in the mid-year update released on Nov. 27. He asked, “Now is not the time to be cheap with Saskatchewan people, now is the time to invest. Why won't the premier invest those contingency funds right away?” adding, “What is he waiting for?” Moe said a portion of that contingency fund has been allocated to education. He pointed out that $100 million had been added in contingency funding with that mid-year update. “We didn’t wait, with respect to supporting the people of this province, supporting jobs in this province taking that balanced and measured approach to ensure, yes, we are curbing the spread of COVID-19, but also to ensure that we are supporting people in communities across this province.” Moe cited over $50 million invested in the small business emergency program, $2 million, in the self isolation support program, partnering with the federal government on the temporary wage supplement and emergency rent assistance program. “We’ve been there in supports for Saskatchewan businesses, and we have been there with the people in this province to ensure that we can curb the spread of COVID-19.” He said that needs to continue until we have widespread access to a vaccine. Meili asked, “Why aren't they releasing those contingency funds for COVID-19 to support small businesses to staff up in long term care and health care how much worse do things need to get before this premier will actually do something?” Moe responded that the province had invested a little over $2.5 billion, including $2 billion in infrastructure, to ensure a safe, strong economic recovery. He said, “This government has been there, time and time again throughout this pandemic, taking that balanced, yes, measured response. We're going to continue to be there for the people in the province. We're going to continue to work with all those interested to not only procure, alongside the federal government, vaccines for this province, but now we're going to work on how we are going to get those vaccines out to the people of this province, end this pandemic that we have been dealing with, in the months ahead. That is the next target, that is the finish line for the people of this nation.” Regarding those field hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina, Health Critic Vicki Mowat asked, “What is the exact threshold to trigger the health authority to open field hospitals?” Health Minister Paul Merriman said, “We have been planning for this, we've been working on this with the Sask. Health Authority, to be able to make sure that we had the right complement of COVID beds, that we had the right complement in ICU. And we're continuing to do that. “That plan for the field hospital was done months ago. We do have that ready, but, we have to find the resources from somewhere. So what we are continually doing is adjusting some of the needs within the (Saskatchewan Health Authority), and within our rural and urban hospitals to be able to get the staff to fully be able to take care of those peoples that are in the ICU. And I hope that at some point we don't have to use those field hospitals, but if we do, we're ready to go.” Asked if there were enough health employees to staff them, Merriman replied, “The field hospitals are certainly a last resort, but we're going to work within our health care capacity that we have right now.”Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury