Sound of Metal follows the story of a heavy metal drummer, played by Riz Ahmed, as he loses his hearing. The film debuts in select theatres and on the TIFF digital platform this weekend.
Sound of Metal follows the story of a heavy metal drummer, played by Riz Ahmed, as he loses his hearing. The film debuts in select theatres and on the TIFF digital platform this weekend.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
A 39-year-old man was shot and killed Wednesday in Laval. The provincial police major crimes unit has taken over the investigation due to the shooting's possible link to organized crime. The shooting happened around 9 p.m. on De la Fabrique Street in the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul neighbourhood.As of this morning, investigators are still at the scene and a large security perimeter has been set up. There have been no arrests.It is Laval's third homicide of the year.
An outbreak of COVID-19 on the third floor of the rehab unit of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) has grown to 23 cases, according to the hospital.In a news release Wednesday, the hospital said that six patients and 17 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus. It added that it's still waiting on some test results from the weekend.The hospital first declared an outbreak at its rehab unit on Sunday."In consultation with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, HDGH has paused all admissions to our inpatient Restorative Care programs. Both Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores HealthCare are aware of this," the release reads. "This includes CMC, Palliative and Rehab. We will also be pausing all transfers out to Long Term Care etc. This will be assessed every 24 hours. Further, we will be cohorting all COVID-19 positive patients on the third floor of our Rehabilitation Unit."In an interview with CBC's Afternoon Drive, HDGH President and CEO Janice Kaffer said that two of the patients had been transferred to acute care at Windsor Regional Hospital, three are still at HDGH, and one has been discharged.In spite of the outbreak, Kaffer was optimistic it could be addressed."[The outbreak] has put some additional strain on all of us," she told Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. "But our people are stepping up, they're continuing to come into work, and we're doing the best we can."She said the the investigation by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit with respect to the origins of the outbreak continues."Our focus at the hospital has been addressing the outbreak, containing it, and making sure our staff and our patients have the supports and that the needs are met across the hospital," she said.Kaffer said HDGH has about 20 test results pending from the affected area, and that testing across the hospital will continue this week.She added that they're expecting to see some positive results among the 1200 staff at the hospital that will be from community spread, and not related to the outbreak.The hospital said the outbreak is not affecting outpatient and mental health programs. Those will will be continued so long patients and clients wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, and that patients who require a family member to be present for their care only have one visitor, who is expected to follow all instructions given by staff."It is important to note that Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is and remains a safe place for outpatient and mental health visits," the release said."During this difficult time, services at this time will not look the same. Individuals should expect delays and should anticipate that they are expected to wear an approved mask."
France will on Thursday start investigating dozens of mosques suspected of fomenting Islamist ideology to combat the rising threat of religious extremism, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. The government has launched what it calls an unprecedented action against "separatism" following several Islamist attacks in France this autumn, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. Darmanin said 76 mosques out of the more than 2,600 Muslim places of worship had been flagged as possible threats to France's Republican values and its security.
Don never thought he'd end up homeless, but that's what happened to the 58-year-old earlier this year. The St. John's man — CBC is withholding his surname — said that for most of his adult life he had steady employment and a place to live.But Don got divorced and had difficulty holding down a job due to mental illness. When Newfoundland and Labrador went into lockdown in March, he had just moved out of his apartment. "I was about to move from a rental property I had, and at the time, with the pandemic," he said. "I really had nowhere to go.… I was never homeless in my life until this year." Don has been living in a shelter for seniors on Prince of Wales Street in St. John's since then. It's called Connections for Seniors and it's a shelter for people over the age of 55. Co-founder and executive director Mohamed Abdallah said the eight-bed facility has been full since it opened in early 2018. Abdallah said he and his co-founder saw a need in the community and went into action."I remember we said, 'Let's not complain about it and let's start to do something about it.'"To date, the organization has helped more than 450 people, and running it has become Abdallah's full time job.The people who come to the shelter are also given meals and transportation to appointments. Abdallah called it a "wrap-around service" to help people navigate the health-care system and find permanent housing. For him, helping seniors is also about respect."We still need our seniors' experience. We still need their wisdom, we still need to respect our elders," he said. Demand rising Older adults, like Don, without proper housing are not alone.Thousands of seniors in the St. John's area are in need of more affordable, and accessible, housing, says Elizabeth Seigel, director of information and referral services at Seniors NL.Seigel said in 2019 she got about 500 calls from people who needed a place to live, some of them urgent. "Quite often it does mean that people are living in 'not great' situations. Sometimes they go into rooming houses. We've heard cases of elder abuse because people are sort of forced into situations that they wouldn't otherwise be in." When people get older their housing needs change, said Seigel. Income can change, especially if one loses a spouse. "They can't live in their house anymore because of accessibility, mobility.… It's hard keeping up with snow clearing, that sort of thing," Said Seigel.After January's massive blizzard, Seigel's office got even more calls."We heard from so many people who said, 'I just can't do it anymore,'" she said. Many new options There are a number of new facilities being built — and opening up this fall — specifically for seniors, on the Northeast Avalon. Seigel said that proves the need is rising, but added some of them come at a great cost — probably $3,000 to $4,000 if you include food, she said."People have to realize that that's for a certain segment of the population, and the other segment of the population probably doesn't have a place to go." Seigel said many of the lower-cost and subsidized options have significant wait times. For example, she said, the 54 independent living cottages at St. Luke's in the west end of St. John's can have wait times of up to 10 years.Subsidized units from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing can be a one- to two-year wait said Seigel, but seniors don't have that kind of time. "When people decide to move, it's because they need to immediately," she said.Shelter expansion Abdallah hopes to help more seniors who need immediate shelter. Connections for Seniors is working with the City of St. John's to provide more supportive housing units in the near future. That's the kind of solution that Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary is pushing for. She said the city operates more than 450 units in its non-profit housing division.O'Leary told The St. John's Morning Show that many of those are geared toward seniors, such as the two-bedroom apartments at Riverhead Towers on Hamilton Avenue, 11 units on Campbell Avenue and a newer building on Convent Square. She said there is an application process and that wait times vary, but it's longer for the most affordable units.O'Leary said demand for affordable housing is rising."We have a long way to go in terms of serving the needs of people with housing insecurity in the community — and with the pandemic, we are seeing more and more people moving in this direction." She said the city is working to make land available and hopes to partner with more organizations, and the private sector, to build more affordable homes. As for Don, he said things are looking brighter. He said he's close to securing a unit from NL Housing thanks to Abdallah and the staff at Connections for Seniors."It looks like I'm on the road to recovery and finding my own place through them helping me," he said. "They don't turn their back on you. I think it's amazing."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 41 confirmed COVID-19 patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam Thursday despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules. About 426,340 students were taking the one-day exam at about 1,380 sites across the nation, including hospitals and other medical facilities where the 41 virus patients and hundreds of other test-takers in self-quarantine sat separately from others, according to the Education Ministry. The annual exam, called “Suneung,” or College Scholastic Ability Test, is crucial in the education-obsessed country, where job prospects, social standing and even who you marry can often depend on which university you attend. Defence and land ministries said they temporarily banned military exercises and stopped air traffic to reduce noise during the English-language listening parts of Thursday’s exam, as they did in past years. Government offices and many private companies asked their employees to come in late, and the country’s stock market delayed its opening to clear roads for test-takers. This year’s exam had been originally scheduled for November but was delayed due to the virus outbreak. Experts say on-and-off online classes have widened the gap between high achievers and low performing students due to reduced interaction with teachers, digital distractions and technical difficulties. “If the exam had been delayed again, our kids would have felt much more psychological pressure ... I think it’s fortunate the exam is taking place now,” said Kim Sun-wha, the mother of a test-taker. “I hope everyone will avoid making mistakes, do their best and get good results.” Mothers hugged their children and patted their backs before they entered a temporary exam site set up at a high school in Seoul. One shouted, “Don’t be nervous! Do Well!” and another screamed “Cheer up!” Students were required to have their temperature taken before entering the test sites, wear masks throughout the exam and maintain their distance from each other. They had to bring their own water and lunch because they weren't allowed to use water purifiers or drinking fountains at the sites or go outside to get meals. Those with a fever were to go to separate testing areas. There were a total of 1,383 sites, an increase of 198 from last year, according to the Education Ministry. In recent days, the government has urged the public to stay home and avoid social gatherings as much as possible to provide a safe environment for those taking the exams. Park Yu-mi, an anti-virus official in Seoul, said authorities asked companies to have at least one-third of their employees work from home. There are worries that the nationwide exam could accelerate the spread of the virus. During a briefing Thursday, health official Lee Sang-won said he felt “really sorry” that he had to ask students to be vigilant and avoid gatherings even after the exam is over. “I’d like to offer words of consolation to test-takers who have studied and come to take the exam under a particularly difficult situation,” Lee said. “I want to tell you to put aside stress and enjoy yourselves fully (after the test), but it’s regrettable that I can’t say that under the current situation.” South Korea has relatively successfully contained previous viral outbreaks this year thanks to its internationally acclaimed rapid tracing, testing and treatment strategy, combined with the widespread public use of masks. But it’s now grappling with a spike in infections after it eased distancing rules in October. Authorities last week restored stringent distancing restrictions in the greater Seoul area and other places. On Thursday, South Korea reported 540 new cases, taking the total to 35,703 with 529 deaths. ___ Associated Press journalists Kim Tong-hyung and Kim Yong Ho contributed to this report. Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press
Whitefish River First Nation says the community voted not to ratify the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement (ANGA). The ANGA is a self-government agreement between the Anishinabek Nation on behalf of its member First Nations and the Government of Canada. Those who choose to ratify the agreement will have the power to enact laws on how they wish to elect their chief and council, how their First Nation government will operate and be managed, who their citizens will be and how they want to protect and promote the Anishinaabe language and culture. “First drafted in 1995, this governance agreement reflects the vision those past chiefs had for a better future,” said Whitefish River First Nation Chief Shining Turtle (Franklin Paibomsai) in a letter written on Dec. 1. “Today, the agreement includes provisions for self-government and funding for language, citizenship, elections and band support. It’s a good agreement – but it did not resonate with you.” Members of the Whitefish River First Nation community voted online from Nov. 1 to 30, by mail-in ballot, or in-person at the Administration Office on Nov. 28. The results were tallied on the evening of Nov. 30 – out of 314 total votes cast, 167 individuals voted “no” to ratifying the agreement and 145 individuals voted “yes.” This was the First Nation’s 2nd ratification vote on the ANGA. “Voting on agreements such as this one can be tough, and there may be strong feelings all around,” said Shining Turtle. “Know that those feelings are there because we as a community are passionate and committed to building a better future for the next seven generations. On that, we can agree.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
An Ottawa cancer patient who spoke out about being "terrified" he would contract COVID-19 in hospital after sharing a room with a positive patient, has now tested positive.Adrian Lloyd, 52, was notified Nov. 26 that one of his roommates at The Ottawa Hospital's General campus contracted the illness. It was the same day Ottawa Public Health declared an outbreak on his ward, 5E.On Wednesday, Lloyd's own fears were realized when he himself tested positive following an earlier negative result."I am afraid and also angry," said Lloyd by phone after learning he has COVID-19."Hospitals are supposed to be a safe place and this is why there's been several times, I've had fevers and things, and haven't come into the hospital."In a statement to CBC News, The Ottawa Hospital said patient safety is a top priority. "When a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in hospital, all appropriate infection prevention and control protocols are diligently followed. This includes strict contact tracing and monitoring of all patients for symptoms," said a spokesperson for the hospital."Any patients who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately placed on a COVID-19 cohort unit. The hospital also has auditing practices in place to ensure that these infection prevention and control protocols are maintained. Staff will continue following these protocols, in order to keep everyone safe."Roommate should have been 'whisked off'Lloyd has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was admitted to hospital nearly two weeks ago after he developed a fever while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.During his stay, Lloyd said he shared a room with a man whose bed was less than six feet away from his, coughed continuously at night and was not told to wear a mask. "As soon as he started coughing like that he should have been whisked off to a private room," said Lloyd, who believes he got COVID-19 from the roommate.As of Wednesday, six patients and two staff members have tested positive as part of the ongoing outbreak on ward 5E. One of the patients who tested positive has died, according to Ottawa Public Health.Lloyd, who was supposed to be released from hospital by now, said Thursday must stay in a COVID-19 ward for 20 days while he recovers.So far, his symptoms are mild but he worries they may worsen."At nighttime sometimes, I'll have a bit of a dry cough but I keep telling myself it's because the air here is very dry," he said.
It's been two days since a Sussex-area woman became trapped inside her home after rising water surrounded her property earlier this week.And she's still waiting for help."I have no way out of here," said Mary Ann Coleman from inside her house.The 63-year-old lives on Creek Road in Waterford, about 90 kilometres east of Saint John. Her driveway, which links her property with the main road, was "washed out" by the heavy rains overnight Tuesday. At around midnight Tuesday, the culvert a few metres from her house was dammed by fallen trees and debris, causing the area to flood and her bridge to float away, she said."The water levels were higher than I've seen. I moved here 40 years ago," Coleman said. "I'm in complete, complete, desperate situation here … I'm stranded."Part of her driveway was made from the metal frame of a pulp truck and anchored with concrete abutments. It created a 20-foot bridge over Trout Creek.Coleman said she only had two hours of sleep overnight Tuesday. She said the creek between her house and the road is about a metre deep, it's rushing quickly and is 20 feet wide."I had some rest last night but I'm still pretty anxious," she said Thursday afternoon.Premier notes 'severe' damage in Sussex areaAt a COVID-19 news briefing on Thursday, Premier Blaine Higgs used his opening remarks to address the situation in the Sussex region and offer his condolences to residents."My thoughts are with everyone who is affected by the heavy rainfall," Higgs said. "Thank you to the emergency services who have helped the people in need. I'm thankful for the unbelievable community spirit that the people of New Brunswick and emergency services have shown."Higgs noted that the damage is still being assessed, but is "severe" in the Sussex and Sussex Corner areas.He said 30 households have received accommodation and support from the Canadian Red Cross, which has also offered flood cleanup kits for residents.Province isn't stepping inColeman said she called the Department of Transportation, which told her to call the Emergency Measures Organization, but EMO told her to call 911. She called 911 and was directed her back to EMO. She said she doesn't know what to do next."That's just stunning to me," she said. "I think everybody should be worried about that."Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization, said he couldn't comment on individual cases like this one.Meanwhile, Department of Transportation spokesperson Mélanie Sivret said the department "recently became aware of this incident," and is looking into it.Coleman, who describes herself as an active person and cycles every morning, has been trying to stay busy. She's been working from home, talking to people on the phone and she's been trying to keep her wood fire going so she doesn't lose heat.Luckily, Coleman grows some crops in her garden so she's been relying on vegetables for the past two days. "There's not too much anybody can do."Coleman said she believes the flooding was caused by a new culvert built by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, which was previously too big to be blocked by debris. It was rebuilt in 2019, she said. Coleman said she wants the department to "take responsibility." 'It's my mom'Coleman's daughter, Jessica Coleman, has been calling and texting her mom several times a day. On Wednesday, she went down by the river with her two kids to see her mom. The sound of the water rushing was so loud, all they could do was wave. After this year, it's one of those things that tops the cake," she said. "I have no idea when she will be able to leave."She said what's making it more difficult is trying to get answers and figuring out what can be done for her mother. She said she'd like to see a temporary walking structure put in place and a permanent fix after."It's my mom, and she's in her 60s, and she's there on her own."Advice from EMOThe province's health and safety inspection teams are in the Sussex area and cleanup is underway. New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization spokesperson Geoffrey Downey urged residents to clean up "as soon as possible.""The longer it sits the worse the damage gets."Although water levels have gone down, some roads in the area are still closed, and residents should only return to their homes when it's safe to do so.Residents whose homes have been damaged should register with the province at 1-888-298-8555 to receive a free inspection. The damage report line program allows residents, tenants, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to receive information and register their flood-related damage.Damage assessments will be reviewed, and health and safety inspection teams may be dispatched if required.Residents are also reminded to: * Contact their insurance companies immediately to report damage. * Take photos of damage to their homes or properties. * Keep receipts of any repairs and replacement purchases. * Log the number of hours of work undertaken for residents who are cleaning their own properties, or family members or those who have assisted in the cleanup of their property.
Here's the latest for Thursday December 3rd: California considers strict new COVID rules; Trump repeats electoral fraud claims; NY bar owner arrested for breaking coronavirus rules; Landslide in Alaska.
Nova Scotia first responders have had a hand in creating a new website intended to help their colleagues recognize when they need mental health support.Debbie Fortune and her husband, Jason, have both been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while working as paramedics in Cape Breton.Fortune said her husband left his job in 2012, and it took years for him to get a diagnosis and proper treatment.There weren't many PTSD resources available to civilians, she said, so the couple went to a military support group and were surprised to find people with different jobs had the same experiences."That was one of the turning points for us, to just feel like we're not alone," said Fortune."People understand this, and we're not failures. We're injured and that's OK. We can deal with an injury. When you don't know you have an injury, where do you begin to try to get better?"PTSD not always easy to recognizeIt's easy enough to identify an injury when someone has broken a bone or is bleeding, she said, but PTSD is not immediately obvious to the person with the disorder.It is also complicated and can't always be tied to a particularly bad incident, Fortune said."It's often not those very traumatic experiences," she said. "It's more of those sad moments, the day-to-day things that you witness being in people's homes."The couple had ups and downs even after Jason's diagnosis. Fortune said she and her husband separated for a while, but eventually got back together after his care improved.It was a shock when her own diagnosis came just this summer.While getting help was easier, Fortune said she struggled to even acknowledge she had the disorder.'I should have known'"It was very unexpected," she said. "I should have known. I was well versed in the symptoms. How could I possibly have this?"Fortune is currently off work, but said she is getting help and plans to return to her job in January.She was among a group of police officers, firefighters, nurses and experts in workers compensation that helped create a new mental health website allowing first responders and their loved ones to identify when help is needed."I am hoping that my experience with my own diagnosis and my own journey to try to heal, is something that I can say to people, 'There is a way back,'" said Fortune.Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, was also on the committee and said there is still stigma around mental health and it may be more prevalent among first responders.She said the number of workplace claims for mental health from first responders has increased, demonstrating the need for the new website."It doesn't hurt just to check in through the website and you can talk to counsellors or you can do it virtually," Hazelton said. "First responders need to understand that it's OK. It's OK to acknowledge that a traumatic event has affected your mental health, and you need to be not ashamed to seek help."Fortune said Nova Scotians have had a particularly hard time this year with COVID-19 and the mass shooting. While the website is geared toward first responders, it has information and tools that anyone can use."There are going to be people that are affected by that, and not necessarily because they're a first responder," she said.MORE TOP STORIES
The number of families seeking holiday help has increased in Cape Breton, including people who are finding themselves in need for the first time.With fundraising impacted by the pandemic, resources are spread particularly thin this year, said Maj. Corey Vincent of the Salvation Army.The Christian organization will support 900 families in Cape Breton this Christmas — an increase of about 25 per cent. "These are families that have never sought help before or assistance," said Vincent. "They're unfamiliar with Christmas assistance because they've been able to provide for their families in the past, but because of COVID and unemployment, they've just been stressed to the max." Kettle campaign down $14KThe pandemic has brought a wide range of challenges for the Salvation Army on the island. Partnering organizations have been unable to sponsor as many families this year. Another blow has been dealt to the well-known kettle campaign, which Vincent said is down by $14,000 compared to last year. "That worries me," said Vincent. "But in previous years, we've always noticed that in December a lot of people who give, they're giving more. "I'm very, very confident that the people of Cape Breton will step up to the plate." Each year, volunteers with the Every Woman's Centre in Sydney help by purchasing gifts and other items for families sponsored by the organization's adopt-a-family program.Louise Smith-MacDonald, executive director of the centre, said the extra help contributes to about half of the Christmas items purchased. "Our unknown was whether people were going to feel comfortable in going out and shopping for the family that they adopted," she said. "It worked out absolutely wonderful. People took their families, they shopped, they shopped early."Providing meals a necessityMembers of the Sydney Sunrise Rotary Club decided early that fundraising from last year would be spent on COVID relief.The club recently donated $2,500 each to the Glace Bay food bank and Loaves and Fishes in Sydney. "We did a little bit of research and for us, we felt the money was best put to help with food insecurity," said Michele McKinnon, the club's public relations chair. "That's where we saw our money could perhaps benefit most people."McKinnon expects next year giving will be impacted by the pandemic's cancellation of two major fundraisers for the club. Cape Breton poverty visibleVincent, who has been ministering with the Salvation Army for almost 20 years across Canada, said poverty is more visible in Cape Breton compared to other areas where he's lived."Every day we're seeing clients coming through our facility that are basically living on the edge," he said."We see a lot of working-class poor where they're getting hours, they're working — but it's just not enough to meet the demands."MORE TOP STORIES
The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) says it is looking into several instances of uninvited strangers joining online classes and disrupting lessons.Nathalie Seskus, a Grade 7 St. Alphonsus School student — and the daughter of a CBC employee — said that since moving online this week, her class has been crashed by uninvited strangers more than once."It happened in two calls — one on [a] Google meeting, one on Zoom, where people who aren't part of our school or class have just been joining in calls," Seskus said.Seskus, 12, said the students and teacher can tell when someone uninvited had joined their chat rooms because of their usernames."We noticed because we're always supposed to use our real names when we're on calls. When we don't, we're asked to change them," she said. "In one case, when we were on a Zoom meeting, a man who was posing as a student had a random username."Seskus said the teacher told him to leave because he wasn't part of her class."She had kicked him out of the meeting and he joined again," Seskus said.She said in the other case, the intruder claimed to be a new student. "But he sounded like a man, not a child," Seskus said. "Everyone in the class was telling our teacher to kick them out. So she did, and we didn't see him pop up again."Disruptions were more common in the springBryan Szumlas, chief superintendent of the CCSD, said these disruptions are definitely happening — but were more common in the spring."For example, zoom back from March to June, there were some security issues with them, but they have since improved their technology significantly," Szumlas said. "It has been assessed by our Calgary Catholic technology team and it is a platform that we are comfortable with."Szumlas said the process of moving all Grade 7 to 12 students online this week was bound to include hiccups along the way. "What I did hear wasn't a huge problem," Szumlas said. "But I did hear about it in one or two classrooms where a teacher never clicked on a security feature and consequently [people outside the class joined]."We suspect it was just another student playing a prank and jumping into a class and making an inappropriate comment and then taking off."Szumlas said these types of incidents are taken very seriously and investigated fully."When something like this happens, obviously the teacher would communicate that to the principal and the principal would then start an investigation," Szumlas said. Szumlas said that should an incident be criminal, then the principal would also contact Calgary police, adding that police have not yet been required.Moving students onlineThe superintendent said the direction from the province to move older students online came relatively quickly."There was only four or five days for teachers to prepare," he said. "So the direction that we've given our teachers is that, use whatever platform you're comfortable with, so that we can continue the continuity of education."We've tried to give our teachers choice here. And I think we live in a world today that is so full of different technologies that are improving continuously, that having that rich variety is only good for our staff and good for our students."Szumlas said the district is constantly working with staff to help them understand some of the new security features on Zoom and other online platforms."One of the measures is that all students need to wait in the waiting room and then be admitted by the teacher and the teacher by clicking a few buttons within Zoom can lock in the student names and also prevent other people from accessing the room," he said.Calgary Board of Education experienceThe Calgary Board of Education said this is not an issue it has been seeing."We have not heard of incidences of strangers being a part of online lessons with our students," said the CBE in an emailed statement.The majority of the CBE's online learning takes place through Google Classrooms or D2L, according to the district."Classroom spaces, physical or digital, are learning environments specific for guiding interactions between teachers and students," the statement read.The CBE said there have been instances where a parent or guardian pops in on a lesson. "Caregivers entering a classroom space without invite and without following all of our guidelines are asked to leave and reminded of the importance of privacy for all students," the statement read."In most cases, our school-based administrators share the expectations of the classroom and parallel these expectations with face-to-face learning environments, and parents or caregivers are very understanding and receptive."
Donna Gerardi says her 28-year-old son fell through the cracks of the healthcare system when his cancer diagnosis went undetected for months and progressed to a late stage. At the end of last year, Gerardi said her son was referred to a specialist with a number of symptoms, including lower abdominal pain. Gerardi did not want to disclose his original diagnosis but said he was given antibiotics. The specialist said surgery was a likely next step. At that time, there was no talk of cancer, Gerardi said. While taking the antibiotics, he began to feel a little better, but it didn't last long. By then, the pandemic was in full swing and Gerardi's son welcomed a baby, so he attributed his fatigue and body pains to having a newborn. He was also having a difficult time trying to see his family doctor and his specialist with all the restrictions, Gerardi said.Throughout the summer he had two phone consultations with the specialist, whose office was not open to in-person visits. She says despite the pain he was feeling, he didn't go the emergency room because he believed he had received his diagnosis and was waiting for surgery. But by August, Gerardi said she instantly knew he needed immediate attention. "I looked at him, I said to him, 'you have to go back to your family doctor. You have to go see somebody. You're getting worse, something is seriously wrong," she said. "At the beginning when he couldn't see his doctor, I actually said ... 'okay, I don't understand this. Why can't you see doctors? What happens to these patients who are really sick right now and may have even cancer?" As it turned out, he was really sick — when he finally saw his primary care doctor in September and got an ultrasound, he was diagnosed with stage 3 germ cell cancer.Four tumours were located throughout his body. Though he experienced symptoms back in December 2019, he wasn't diagnosed until late September. Gerardi said her son is focusing on his recovery — he is being treated by Windsor Regional Hospital's cancer centre — and did not want to be interviewed.But she's decided to speak out because she thinks others may have also been negatively impacted by pandemic-related healthcare shutdowns. And according to board chair of Patients Canada Francesca Grosso, the inability to attend an in-person medical exam and the hesitation with accessing care, were not uncommon at the start of the pandemic. Health care system doesn't prioritize patientsWhen COVID-19 first hit, Grosso said the combination of healthcare shutdowns and restrictions, along COVID-19 fears caused many patients to not be seen. "A lot of patients postponed going in to get diagnostic testing done because they were afraid ... you're worried that you're going to run into people who may be infected with COVID ... there was a lot of unknown, people were terrified," she said. On top of that, primary care physicians and specialists chose to operate in different ways, with some only taking video or phone appointments.'I think that there should have been more outreach for those patients that are really dire ... but we don't have a system that really prioritizes patients in a way that flags for the doctor that a certain cohort of their patients require urgent follow up," Grosso said. "It's sort of left up to the patient, the squeaky wheel, or its left up to the doctor's office to call them, which often doesn't happen."As for Gerardi's son, Grosso said she said it sounds like he tried to be the "squeaky wheel, but couldn't get through."These situations, Grosso said, are not unique to COVID-19, rather the pandemic has only pulled back the curtain on the province's health care faults. And based on recent data, Gerardi's son isn't the only one facing a dire prognosis because of these faults. With the Ministry of Health suspending some types of cancer screening and select municipalities cancelling surgeries at the start of COVID-19, there is now reportedly an increase in late-stage cancer diagnoses across the province. Locally, Windsor Regional Hospital said its cancer centre was one of few locations in the province that kept up with cancer treatments and surgeries. A hospital spokesperson said their centre completed 549 cancer surgeries between April 1 and the end of October. They said the cancer centre never shut down and patients were seen virtually as well as in-person. But that only covers people who received a cancer diagnosis pre-COVID. "My concern [is] how did patients get diagnosed with cancer through COVID?" Gerardi said. "[My son] wasn't considered in all that math, and I'm sure there's other people out there that were getting sick and they couldn't see anybody. It was so frustrating to find this out. Okay, I get it, [he] has cancer. But why did it have to get this far? Why did it have to get this bad? I get that back in March the government shut the whole place down, but he was sick." Cancer centre referrals downAccording to data from Windsor Regional Hospital's cancer centre, there has been a decrease in cancer treatment referrals. Between April and September this year, the hospital is reporting an 11.6 per cent decrease in radiation treatment referrals and a six per cent decrease in systemic or chemotherapy treatment referrals compared to the same time period in 2019. "There's always concern," said WRH's regional vice president of cancer services Monica Staley Liang of the decrease in referrals. "What I can say is and what I'm confident in saying is that we have a plan for resumption of screening and resumption of services and innovative ways to optimize capacity."As for whether Windsor has seen a jump in late stage cancer diagnoses, the hospital said the region hasn't see it and is uncertain whether it will. "I can't foresee that ... we don't know what we don't know," she said. "We do look at what we've seen in other parts of the province, we look at that and we prepare for that ... there is that population of the unknown that have not been screened who have not arrived at primary care yet and we'll have to wait and see what that looks like in the near futureShe added that they continue to encourage people to access hospital resources during the pandemic. 'A long way ahead of him' While what's done is done, Gerardi firmly believes that her son shouldn't have gotten to this point. "Now that we've sat down and the fear and the sadness have settled, that's when the anger comes in. How did this kid get to stage three, where his life is turned upside down?" she said. These days, Gerardi stays in complete isolation so that she can continue to see her son and support him during his treatments. With tumours on both of his lungs, he can't risk getting COVID-19, she said. At this time, her son seems to be responding well to treatment though she said he still has "a long way ahead of him."
A fishing tournament organizer and TV personality has brought his business to New Brunswick after being fined $9,000 and losing his Ontario fishing licence for not reporting the nearly 200 dead bass he threw into a dumpster.Ben Woo was convicted of failing to abide by the terms and conditions of the licence allowing tournament organizers to transport fish to be weighed and measured before they were returned live to the water. After the incident, Woo relocated to southern New Brunswick, where he's continued to organize fishing tournaments under the name B1 Fishing, including two in partnership with the City of Fredericton. According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 195 dead bass were found after Woo's tournament on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque on July 15, 2019. Of that number, 188 were in plastic bags at the bottom of a dumpster. It's one of the largest fines handed out, and one of the most serious violations the department has recorded. "This was by far the most heinous one I've ever seen," said Greg Bourne, a staff sergeant who has been with the Ontario ministry for 21 years.Bourne said anglers called in the tip about the fish-dumping on the opening day of the two-day weekend tournament. "People who were at the tournament called our communication centre and complained that there seemed to be a lot fish dying at this bass tournament," said Bourne. Bourne said someone was dispatched on the second day of the tournament to check it out but was reassigned to another call. An officer didn't make it to the marina where the fish were being kept until the day after the tournament ended. But anglers also contacted Bruce Tufts, a professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., head of the Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Lab, and the biologist who helped craft Ontario's guidelines for handling fish during tournaments. They sent him photos of the fish — some already dead — in the tank where they were kept after being measured and weighed. Tufts said the pictures bothered him so much he barely slept that night. "I called my lab manager at 6 o'clock in the morning and said 'This is really bugging me, there's got to be a ton of dead fish down there,'"Tufts, along with some of his students and another angler, got permission from the marina owner to search the area for what they suspected would be a large number of dead bass. They were later joined by a conservation officer from the Ministry of Natural Resources. "We started finding dead fish in the bushes," said Tufts. "We found a few dead fish in the water." Tufts said a marina employee pointed them to a dumpster. "In the bottom, there were 17 bags of smallmouth bass that were the biggest, best, broodstock in our fishery," said Tufts.According to both Tufts and Bourne, the fish died as a result of lack of oxygen and inadequate water temperatures in the holding tank where they'd been placed after being weighed.The Ontario ministry requires that if more than five per cent of the fish caught during the tournament die while in the possession of the event, the government must be immediately contacted. "We believe the organizer was negligent in the way he handled the fish, and that's what resulted in the deaths of so many," said Bourne.Tufts said the fish were double-bagged, and other garbage had been piled on top. Woo originally faced 11 charges, including giving a false statement to a conservation officer, but in the end pleadedguilty to one: failing to abide by the terms and conditions of a licence. Move to New Brunswick Woo and his family moved to Tracyville, about 28 kilometres south of Fredericton, last year.The former Montreal resident is prohibited from holding a fishing licence in Ontario, but that does not bar him from fishing in other provinces. He said his move to New Brunswick was for personal reasons and not an effort to circumvent the Ontario penalty. Inthe wake of his conviction, he said, he's no longer hosting fishing tournaments."Absolutely 100 per cent done with that," Woo said this week. "And to be very transparent that not only due to this, but it's also due to COVID."But Woo and B1 Fishing did host tournaments this past summer and he was scheduled to host an event in Fredericton as recently as October. That event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.Until his recent conviction, Woo had also been partnering with the City of Fredericton on tournaments.The City of Fredericton hosted two B1 Fishing tournaments in 2019. Both took place after the Gananoque tournament, but the city said it worked with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure proper fish handling. "However, we will not be working with Mr. Woo on future tournaments," wrote Bobby Despres, Fredericton sport tourism co-ordinator. "Protecting our natural environment is the city's top concern and we want to work with organizers who are fully committed to this principle." Woo also has a working relationship with the New Brunswick Department of Tourism. The fishing show he hosts, Fish East, is set to premiere this month on the Wild Television Network and the website states: "Woo sets out to explore the East Coast through a nine-episode series filmed exclusively in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia."The government of New Brunswick is listed as a partner with the production. Woo denies hiding fishWoo claimsthe only thing he did wrong was to not immediately contact the Ontario government after more than five per cent of the fish caught died on the first day of the tournament. He said he filed a report with the ministry on the Tuesday following the tournament, then resubmitted a more detailed report the following Friday. He said his only option was to throw the fish in the garbage. "What would be the other option, take them off-site? I'm not sure where we would have put them," said Woo. "Or do we go and announce to everybody 'Hey, we have 200 dead fish here, what do we do?' I'm not sure that would have been the politically correct thing to do. There's no precedent here." "We panicked," Woo wrote on the B1 Fishing Facebook page when explaining why fish were thrown in the garbage. He denies trying to hide them. Woo thinks whatever killed the fish is still uncertain. Water quality blamed "This was an anomaly," said Woo. "It never happened before; it's never happened since."Woo points the finger at the venue, the river water quality, as one of the factors in what happened to the fish."But certainly, there was no negligence on our side of things as far as the procedure or the fish handling is concerned," said Woo. Woo said he takes full responsibility and regrets what happened.
The new movie "Mank," which starts streaming on Netflix on Friday, takes audiences back to Hollywood's golden era of the 1930s with a look at the making of one of the film industry's most-celebrated gems. Shot in black and white, "Mank" focuses on writer Herman J. Mankiewicz as he works on 1941 cinema classic "Citizen Kane," considered by many the greatest movie of all time. Mankiewicz and director Orson Welles battled over who would be credited for the screenplay.
Christmas Cheer, a 50-year-old annual effort created to help people in Sackville at Christmas time, is low on money.For decades, the charity has been making sure about 250 families have food and presents at Christmas time.But while the charity has operated in much the same way for decades, the pandemic is making fundraising difficult.Elizabeth Wells, president of the Sackville Community Association, the charity that organizes Christmas Cheer, said the group has typically relied on word of mouth and an annual mail out to past donors to stir up the approximately $35,000 raised each year."We don't have any kind of administrative support, we don't have a website, so we're just relying on the community to know that this is what we do every year," said Wells.But this year, the charity finds itself thousands of dollars behind. The group is asking for help from people in Sackville who can afford to do so."We are finding that our donations are a little bit slower coming in because, as people have moved away or have become deceased, we don't have the means to get in touch with new people in town," said Wells.Word doesn't spread as easily when people stay home"We don't really have the means to have a much larger communication strategy than we have, we have a Facebook page," said Wells."I'm concerned because the word isn't out yet."The local paper, the Sackville Tribune Post always did a story each year about their efforts leading up to the holidays. But it laid off its staff at the start of the pandemic, something Wells said was valuable publicity."It just reminded people who aren't necessarily getting a letter that the campaign was still going," said Wells.The charity was formed sometime around 1970, when the churches in the town got together to pool resources in one charity.Formed to help 'wayfarers' with a hot meal, a shower, a bus ticket"We dealt with wayfarers who were looking for a bus ticket or an overnight or a meal as well as Christmas cheer," said Wells."So we would help those people but that is all dried up as well, as people don't have the money to even be a wayfarer anymore."Aside from Christmas Cheer, the charity also helps kids in need by providing school supplies and summer camps, and is there for people who are just having a hard time, no matter what time of year.> "We're the only game in town for this particular purpose. We have a food bank and that's it. "> > \- Elizabeth Wells"If they run into trouble with fuel oil or a bill, they can't pay medical expenses or a cab to get to Moncton for a medical appointment," said Wells.To find individuals who may need help at Christmas, the group puts up signs at the local food bank and calls anyone who has previously received help.People can also refer a family they think might need it.But unlike in bigger centres where services are often duplicated, Wells said, "we're the only game in town for this particular purpose.""We have a food bank and that's it. "Andrew Swanson, senior pastor at Main Street Baptist Church, said it's nice to have a place to send people in need. "We know of a lot of people who come through asking for neighbours or grandchildren or people that they know who may not be able to celebrate Christmas the way that other people might," said Swanson.He said the group does a good job maintaining people's privacy, which can be especially important in people feeling able to receive and ask for help in a small town."This is flesh and blood, helping people that are right near us and so that's a beautiful thing," said Swanson. Anyone wishing to give money can drop off a cheque or cash to the Sackville Branch of the Royal Bank. Toys and gift cards can be dropped off at the Sackville United Church between noon and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister John Haggie is backtracking — somewhat — from a political fundraising event he held Wednesday night, hours after he urged the public to be cautious about holiday gatherings. However, Haggie stopped short of saying the event should never have happened in the first place. "Look, there is only one thing you can say in a situation like this, I'm sorry," Haggie said Thursday afternoon. Haggie was then asked if he regretted organizing the event, held Wednesday evening at Bally Haly, a golf and country club in the east end of St. John's. "I think hindsight is always 20/20 … for the fuss it caused, it probably wasn't worth it," he replied. The two-hour, $250 per person reception at Bally Haly came just hours after Haggie spoke at a live COVID-19 briefing, warning that people considering attending some New Year's Eve gatherings "are actually putting yourselves in harm's way."Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has also stressed repeatedly people should not be holding or attending their usual holiday events, such as workplace Christmas parties, amid the pandemic.The Gander Liberal District Association organized the event in an effort to increase its campaign war chest. Haggie represents Gander district in the House of Assembly, and is running again in the next election, expected to be held next year.Public health guidelines were followed: HaggieHaggie first took to Facebook Wednesday night to explain his actions, saying it was in line with current gathering guidelines, and that 23 people attended the event in a venue with a capacity for 220. About 40 people had initially been expected. He echoed the sentiment when speaking to reporters about it on Thursday. "The optics of this are really the crux of the whole issue. We followed public health guidelines in a venue built for 10 times the number [of attendees]," he said. He repeated that it was the perception, presumably of the public, that caused the flap. "This is around perception and optics. We held ourselves to the same standards we ask everyone else too," he insisted. He later added, "But because of the perception, there was an issue."Fierce backlash on social mediaHaggie's attendance Wednesday night provoked a swift outpouring of condemnation on social media.Numerous people called out Haggie on Twitter and Facebook, including prominent Ottawa-based physician Yoni Freedhoff, who speaks out on public health, obesity and other issues. "How it started vs how it's going," tweeted Freedhoff, a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. "How can anyone expect public to just do right thing (putting aside fact for large swath of same, that's often made impossible by social determinants of health) when even gov. officials regularly don't? This is Newfoundland's Minister of Health."Furey fine with it The event was advertised to also include an appearance from Premier Andrew Furey, but the premier's office told CBC News Furey did not attend the fundraiser — due to a scheduling conflict — and the event's poster had been made prior to "recent developments," referencing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the province in the last few weeks.However, when reporters pressed him on the issue Thursday, Furey said the event followed the rules. "My understanding is that it was 20 people in a space that could accommodate 200. It was well within the public health COVID parameters," he said.Both Furey and Haggie said that restaurants are still open, and that events are still being hosted at such places.However, Fitzgerald has repeatedly said in recent briefings that she continues to hear of employers planning staff Christmas parties and that she is advising them to cancel events this year. Minister's event showed 'huge disconnect': NDPPC Leader Ches Crosbie said that while public health guidelines may have been followed, the Liberal fundraiser should not have gone ahead. "Although he may have complied with the letter of the law … he did not comply with the spirit of it," Crosbie told reporters Thursday afternoon. Crosbie said charities and organizations have put off their own fundraising events, community groups are struggling financially, and Haggie was out of touch for going ahead with his own. "That shows there's one set of rules for the Liberal Party and another set of the rules for the rest of us," he said. NDP Leader Alison Coffin called it a "huge disconnect.""You lead by example, not bad," she said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
COVID-19 patients from northern British Columbia are being sent to Victoria for care, as both case counts and hospitalizations in the Northern Health region surge to unprecedented levels.Since mid-November, northern B.C. has seen a sharp spike in positive test results, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising from 96 between Nov. 1 and 15 to 343 between Nov. 16 and 30.The number of patients requiring hospitalization, meanwhile, is happening at rates higher than anywhere else in the province. With just six per cent of the province's population, Northern Health patients now account for as many as 20 per cent of the critical care patients on any given day — and health-care providers are feeling the strain."I think the last time I had any days off was August," said Dr. Lovedeep Khara, an intensive care doctor at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, where the majority of the region's COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care wind up.The current situation in northern B.C. is a sharp contrast to the spring and summer, when the region went weeks without any new infections, or even spring, when there were only one or two new cases at a time.Now, Khara said, hospital staff are going "at full speed," foregoing holidays and regular downtime to handle the influx of new patients. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact COVID patients remain in intensive care for days or weeks at a time, requiring specialized teams, rooms and equipment to keep everyone safe from infection."Everybody is pretty strained and stressed," said Dr. Simon Rose, another ICU specialist in Prince George. "Not just doctors and nurses, but support and cleaning staff."Near-surge capacityNorthern B.C. has 41 critical care beds, 24 of which were occupied on Dec. 1. But what's more important, health-care workers say, is the number of people available to staff them.Fort St. John, for example, is able to look after patients with relatively mild symptoms, but once they need a ventilator or ICU care, they will likely be sent to Prince George where there are more doctors and respiratory therapists to support them. And this past week, at least two patients were sent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to try to take some of the strain off hospitals in the north.Courtenay Kelliher, who is in charge of Northern Health's pandemic response, said health-care workers in the region are reaching their limits and expressed hope cases will start to decline soon."A surge should be like a tidal wave," she said. "It comes in and it goes out, and you hope not to see a big one like that again." But the fear, Kelliher said, is that even though they've been operating at near-capacity for weeks, it's still unclear whether the wave has peaked or if it will continue to grow.Adding to the stress is what some health-care workers view as a growing backlash to not just public safety measures, but the very notion of whether COVID-19 is even a concern. "When you get to the end of your day ... and post after post and article after article is people complaining that the guidelines are too much and the orders are too much and this is a conspiracy … it leaves you feeling, just, defeated," Kelliher said."We went from in the springtime where the public held these pot-clanking parades and honking parades [for] frontline workers … And now it's almost been a 180 where there's sort of a hostility towards us.""It just adds to that emotional exhaustion that already exists."To hear more on how hospitals in the north are handling the surge in COVID-19 patients, and how it is impacting healthcare professionals in the region, tap the audio below.Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.