HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
A 94-year-old man is the first Aurora resident to lose their battle with COVID-19 since June 9. The man was a resident of Chartwell Park Place, which is currently in an active outbreak situation. An active outbreak at the Yonge Street residence, formerly Park Place Manor, was first reported by York Region Public Health on November 11 with two cases among its caregiver complement of 40. By press time this week, there were 11 confirmed cases of the virus among the 65 residents and 4 among caregivers and staff. Aurora, as of December 1, has seen a total of 371 cases of the virus, 27 of which remain active. 328 cases are now marked as resolved with the late Chartwell Park Place resident bringing fatalities to 16. His death was the first of an Aurora resident in this second wave of the virus, the day after the Region logged a record of new cases in a single day: 251 on Sunday, November 29. The last victim, an 85-year-old woman who was a resident of Chartwell Aurora lost the battle after a long hospitalization. “Our cases in York Region had been plateauing until the weekend when we saw quite a jump in the numbers of cases and we don’t know exactly what is responsible for this jump and we’re investigating,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, in his weekly update on Monday. The latest death comes as York Region cracks down on gatherings as new cases of the virus continue to rise. In the lead-up to – and aftermath of – Black Friday, York Region conducted a COVID-19 enforcement blitz, which resulted more than 1,000 visits to businesses across York Region to monitor compliance with public safety measures resulting from York being moved into Ontario’s Red (“Control”) Zone. Throughout the weekend, officers from York’s COVID-19 task force focused on malls, big box stores, restaurants, fitness centres and other public spaces to ensure public health measures were being followed. One Aurora business, Xclusive Fades on Yonge Street near Wellington, faces charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. “Most businesses across York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols, however there is an increasing number of complaints from the public about overcrowding in malls, big box and retail stores,” said the Region. “Businesses failing to keep their customers and employees safe by not adhering to the mandated COVID-19 safety measures will be subject to fines. Repeat offenders could face temporary closure.” Added Dr. Kurji: “York Regional Council had made the commitment of enforcement of the guidelines on York Region residents as well as businesses. As a result, we have the COVID-19 enforcement task force that has been very busy over the weekend having laid some 32 charges following 867 inspections as well as 1,151 compliance education activities. Fines can be laid even under the Reopening Ontario Safe Act or can be laid under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. The latter can be as many as $25,000 for a corporation. “When it comes to people coming to York Region from the lockdown zones, the Province generally advises them not to move from one zone to another. We in York Region have incidence rates that are similar to those of Toronto’s, although Peel’s incidence rates are higher. Therefore, we have taken the position that whilst people are supposed to stay home and only come out for essential shopping, if they do come here we want to make sure that everybody is kept safe. As a result, over the weekend previously, we had issued a Section 22 order requiring malls and retail outlets to ensure appropriate physical distancing and line management. By doing so, we have strived to keep people safe. However, with the holiday shopping season being here, we urge you first to stay home as much as possible, only to go out for essential trips, see if you can actually get your shopping done online from the local stores. If you can’t and you have to visit one of the stores, please visit them at off-peak hours and try and minimize the time you would spend at the malls or in stores and observe the directional arrows in the stores as well as the physical distancing requirement of two metres or more.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A Liberal MLA wants to know if the province would consider creating supervised injection sites on the Island.Heath MacDonald raised the issue in the legislature Thursday. He said he's watched overdose deaths increase across the Atlantic region over the years, and thinks it's time to take a closer look at the supports being offered here.According to the province's opioid web page, there were 12 confirmed accidental opioid-related overdoses between April and September of this year in P.E.I., nine of which involved fentanyl."These sites provide a basic level of safety and dignity for those suffering from addictions and would help mitigate the number of overdoses," MacDonald said. He asked Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward whether or not establishing the sites here is something his department is willing to explore."Is it possible for you to put on your agenda to talk to your bureaucrats and those in charge about introduction of safe injection sites here on P.E.I.?" he said.Aylward said supervised injection sites are something his department is willing to look into."It's certainly a lens that we'll put on and take a look and do a jurisdictional scan," Aylward said.Many benefits Speaking to reporters, MacDonald said supervised injection sites can do more than just prevent overdose deaths, and help people connect with other important social services and supports. "They can access even additional programming and things like that, that they might not even be attempting to access now," he said. Green MLA Trish Altass agrees. She said in other places across Canada the sites also act as a safe community space and can often be the first step a person takes toward accessing mental health and addictions support. She said she hopes it's something government acts on soon."At those safe injection sites there's staff that are available to help guide people and to be there to listen and provide supports as a next step to get the treatment that people need when they are facing addictions," Altass said."It's really important that we have this discussion now and that action is taken as soon as possible," Altass said. Alyward said while his department is willing to study supervised injection sites across the country and look into how to establish one here, now is not the time."Safe injection sites is definitely not off the table, it's something that we'll certainly consider. But at this present time, [the Chief Public Health Office] and Health PEI, their main focus is on protecting Islanders from COVID-19," Aylward said.During question period, MacDonald asked the health minister if there could be space for a pilot project at the new mental health campus. Aylward said he doesn't think that would be the best fit. He said if a site were to be created he thinks it should be in a more accessible location like downtown Charlottetown. Overdose hotline in the worksAylward said while there are currently no supervised injection sites on P.E.I., the province does offer other resources and supports, including needle exchange programs and opioid reduction therapy.He said the province is working with PEERS Alliance to set up an overdose prevention hotline. People would be able to call in and speak with a peer — someone who understands substance-related issues and would stay on the line with them while they use to ensure they are safe as they use. If there was an issue, the person on the other end of the line would be able to dispatch first responders to that location.Aylward said there isn't a launch date for the hotline yet, but it will be available soon.More from CBC P.E.I.
Have you already started your holiday baking? Have your favourite go-to holiday cookie recipe at the ready? Think your favourite snowballs can go toe to toe with another family’s gingerbread person? There’s only one way to find out. Submit your recipe online and see what Aurora’s baking. The Town has put out a call for cookie recipes “close to your heart” ahead of the holiday season and the compilation of a digital Holiday Cookie Book that brings together the best of what our community has to offer. “The holiday season is approaching and it is time to dust off your holiday cookbooks and baking apron!” says the Town. “From the safety and comfort of your own home, help us share your favourite holiday baking tradition with the Aurora community. Participate in this free initiative by submitting your favourite holiday cookie recipe to be featured in Aurora’s Holiday Cookie Book posted on the Town’s website. “[Through] December 13, residents can visit aurora.ca/cookiebook to submit their favourite family recipe, including an ingredients list, step-by-step instructions, a few sentences about why the recipe is meaningful to you and an optional photo of your creation. Once submissions are collected, all submitted recipes will be put together in one easy to follow cookbook you can keep with you…for years to come.” For more information, visit the link above, or call Franco De Marco, Aurora’s Recreation Supervisor, at 905-727-3123 x3526.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Urban design guidelines to help steer new builds in long-established local communities were formally endorsed by Council last week. The extensive list of guidelines provides parameters on everything from size to materials in order to ensure the new builds fit into what is already in the Regency Acres and Aurora Heights communities, as well as neighbourhoods on Temperance Street and around Town Park. Along with the guidelines, Council approved a semi-annual report that will outline to lawmakers the variance applications that have come forward and what has been approved. “The report will allow staff to identify trends and allow Council to better understand what development activity is taking place within the established Stable Neighbourhoods,” said the Town in a statement. “Under the Official Plan, stable neighbourhoods are protected from incompatible forms of development, and new development in these areas must respect and reinforce the area’s existing physical character and uses.” While a semi-annual update to Council was a request made by residents, particularly those in the Regency Acres neighbourhood, the report process as approved did not go far enough. They requested the semi-annual updates include a list of what applications were denied and why, a process which staff said would be too “onerous” to compile. Council agreed while sitting at the Committee level the previous week and when their decision came up for ratification on November 24, Councillor Wendy Gartner renewed the call. The main concerns of residents, she said, stemmed from privacy, particularly concerning rear yards, and the maintaining of the existing streetscape. Privacy concerns included minimizing the location of second floor balconies on rear side elevations. Additional issues ranged from the protection of trees to setting a maximum of three entrance steps to “encourage low profile entrance features close to the ground.” “The residents have requested reporting when consistency with the design guidelines is not adhered to by the developer,” said Councillor Gaertner, making a motion that the report “include instances where staff-approved variances regarding front and side yard setbacks, privacy and streetscapes are not consistent with the stable neighbourhood guidelines.” “Staff should be keeping a record of what they recommend to developers, that the developers aren’t interested in following,” she continued. “I think it is information Council should know and the residents want to have.” But this motion was ultimately unsuccessful with other lawmakers stating they were unsure what was hoped to be achieved by the report. “I am always happy to provide the residents with more information [but] I just fail to see the value it will get by doing this,” said Councillor John Gallo. Also casting doubt on including that in the report was Councillor Michael Thompson, who said as what was being recommended were guidelines for developers, the ultimate tools for compliance are the Town’s zoning bylaws. “The guidelines [are] meant to be able to shape the design, but there is a degree of flexibility in it,” he said. “If we want compliance in these areas, let’s reopen the zoning bylaw and put it back in the zoning bylaw and go down that road. Guidelines are just a tool and what Councillor Gaertner refers to in all those [areas] are subjective terms and they are open to interpretation. “The design guidelines are not meant for that kind of compliance. They are just meant to shape it and that is why producing this report would be so onerous because then it becomes a question of debating the subjective determination of what each term means and whether it was correct or incorrect. I don’t want to go down that road at all.” Councillor Harold Kim agreed, noting that the motion would take these guidelines in the direction of a bylaw. “I want to keep it high level and even if we went to that level of detail, what are we going to do with that information? I suspect we’re going to try and create bylaws out of that and we go back to Square 1 where we started two or three years ago. It is for those reasons as well intended as the amendment is, I cannot support that,” he said. Keeping an eye on how the guidelines go was something Councillor Rachel Gilliland said she supported, and that she understood what the residents were looking for, but what was being asked was too broad. “I feel if they came with their Top 2 or Top 3 concrete things that were the most important [and] relevant, maybe we can have a conversation, but it is almost the entire urban design guidelines that are being asked here,” she said. “It is so subjective and it is so many topics. I would think it would be very a very onerous thing for our staff to be reporting back on. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here with some subjective opinions, but it is not really going to do us any service.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Researchers in a study on maternal overdose have found that having a child apprehended made a mother 55 per cent more likely to have an unintended non-fatal drug overdose. For Indigenous women, the odds of reporting an unintended overdose are double — when compared to non-Indigenous women who had not lost custody of their children. “I would say that I was saddened by these findings but not surprised,” says Brittany Bingham, a co-author of the report and member of the shíshálh Nation. The findings, published this fall in the International Journal of Drug Policy, are the result of two studies conducted between 2010-2018, in which more than 1,000 women from across Canada participated. Bingham is the Director of Indigenous Research at the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She says that the impacts of ongoing colonization on Indigenous women mean they experience more barriers to keeping their kids than their non-Indigenous peers. “We seem to find in this research that unfortunately many of the Indigenous women are facing additional barriers and harder circumstances,” Bingham says. According to data published by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, 67 per cent of children in government care are Indigenous, even though Indigenous youth under 15 make up just 10 per cent of the province’s total population under 15. It’s been reported that there are more Indigenous children in care today than there were at the height of the residential school system, which operated between the 1830s and 1996. Meaghan Thumath, first author of the report and assistant professor at the UBC School of Nursing, says the impact of having a child removed can cause women with underlying substance use disorders to relapse. It’s also important for those who create policy for the child welfare system to consider the impact of child apprehension on mothers, she says. “Child reunification is an essential service,” she said in a press release on Nov. 19. “Denying a mother access to their children can result in profound grief and loss, exacerbating substance use and increasing risk of overdose.” Thumath was motivated to study the effects of child apprehension after working with pregnant women and new mothers as a street nurse and at the Sheway Pregnancy Outreach Program, in downtown Vancouver, she says. “Many of the women I worked with would work extremely hard, do everything they could to convince the system that they were ready to parent,” says Thumath. “We [as support staff] would all think that things were going very well,” she says, and that they would get to keep their kids. “[But] they would come back empty handed.” Bingham says that the child welfare system and other colonial institutions have disrupted the matriarchal structure of many Indigenous communities. Child separation, she says, is creating a “huge void” in communities’ knowledge sharing systems, which they are trying to reclaim. “Indigenous women continue to move through these situations where it’s been one thing after another put in their way from this colonial agenda,” says Bingham. “Somehow Indigenous women continue to be strong and survive.” These instances of separation and their resulting health issues create a “ripple effect” in families and communities, says Bingham. A policy brief from the Centre states that “Indigenous People’s child custody removal is deeply embedded in ongoing racist policies and colonial history of forced family separation and genocide.” This legacy includes the lasting impacts of residential schools and the 60’s Scoop. Given Canada’s historical record of systematically removing Indigenous children from their families the threat of child apprehension still affects Indigenous mothers to this day. “The threat of child apprehension is causing Indigenous women to feel a constant sense of surveillance,” says Bingham. “That creates trauma in and of itself.” The report recommends that social workers and health care staff receive training in overdose prevention, cultural safety and trauma-informed practice to support family reunification. “Urgent action is needed that decolonizes and overhauls child welfare systems to make space for Indigenous self-determination and community responses,” said Bingham in a press release from UBC. Thumath says that the research shows two things. The first is that the Canadian child welfare system needs to change dramatically. The second is that Indigenous mothers need to be provided with much more support in the event that their children are taken from them. “In the short term while we work on transforming the child welfare system, we also have to immediately support women who have had their children removed,” says Thumath. “It should be absolutely a last resort, but if they have to be removed we need to wrap supports around that woman right away.” The report itself calls for immediate large scale systemic change of the child welfare system. Among the urgent recommendations it makes, it states that “large scale systemic transformation, Indigenous self-determination and decolonizing approaches are essential to support Indigenous women’s rights as mothers.” It also states that the number one reason for child apprehension in British Columbia is poverty. Sophie Pierre, one of the co-authors of the report is the former chief of ʔAq̓ am, a member band of the Ktunaxa Nation. She says that in her experience, it isn’t enough to simply shift child welfare jurisdiction to Indigenous communities because the system itself doesn’t change in that process. “We need to turn our thinking away from funding solutions that have proven to not work,” says Pierre. “We need to invest in families…[ so we] don’t have one generation always creating fodder for the next generation.” Pierre says that today’s funding models focus on putting “band-aids” over problems rather than investing in supporting families so they can keep their kids. She says that she is both hopeful about the change that is to come, and frustrated with how these issues are being handled. “You’re talking about lives,” says Pierre. “I don’t want to be talking about programs and formulas when you’re talking about babies and mothers.”Bayleigh Marelj, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
RED DEER, Alta. — Closing arguments have wrapped up in the trial of a former Mountie accused of sexually assaulting an RCMP colleague.Jason Tress is charged with one count of sexual assault over a March 1, 2012, allegation in Faust, Alta., where he was stationed at the time. The complainant has testified that she was assaulted by Tress at her residence during a party for a fellow RCMP officer.Defence lawyer Maurice Collard focused on the credibility of the woman, who still works as an RCMP constable.Collard told the court in Red Deer, Alta., that she gave numerous versions of what happened and didn't remember very specific details.Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou dismissed Collard's suggestion that the complainant is not credible."This woman is a young woman, became intoxicated in her own house amongst friends and was put to bed by people who she believed were her friends," Papadatou told the court Thursday. "And a colleague took advantage of her."Earlier this week, the woman testified that she initially didn't want to make waves so she didn't press for an investigation at the time. She told court she decided to report what happened years later after hearing that Tress, 34, had been charged with sexual assault and other offences involving women in Red Deer.Court of Queen's Bench Justice Nathan Whitling is expected to hand down his ruling on Friday. (rdnewsNOW) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020 The Canadian Press
Calgary police are cracking down on anti-mask rally organizers and others who disregard public health rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christa Dao reports, CPS have issued dozens of tickets since enhanced measures were introduced.
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 470 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 146 532. Elles font également état de 30 nouveaux décès, pour un total qui s'élève à 7 155. De ces 30 décès, 12 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 12 sont survenus entre le 26 novembre et le 1er décembre et 6 sont survenus avant le 26 novembre. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a diminué de 3 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 737. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs est demeuré le même, soit 99. Les prélèvements réalisés le 1er décembre s'élèvent à 34 136, pour un total de 3 979 208. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données DateCas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés26 novembre1 26926669 (-6)9029 65227 novembre1 48023678 (+9)93 (+3)24 45028 novembre1 39523665 (-13)92 (-1)27 11529 novembre1 33329693 (+28)94 (+2)20 32630 novembre1 17725719 (+26)98 (+4)27 3731er décembre1 51417740 (+21)99 (+1)34 1362 décembre1 47012737 (-3)99ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires29 novembre30 novembre1er décembre2 décembreTotal des cas01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1427374592502 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean11678117635 46603 - Capitale-Nationale16211918616712 25004 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec846593927 21705 - Estrie9662891264 96106 - Montréal40030638637352 22107 - Outaouais111514293 62308 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue016027509 - Côte-Nord5-11321310 - Nord-du-Québec001-15411 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine63951 38912 - Chaudière-Appalaches2359130865 61513 - Laval9612010413611 82414 - Lanaudière1068910314911 61915 - Laurentides463543508 07716 - Montérégie16519619114520 63417 - Nunavik00002818 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James000016Hors Québec3342122Région à déterminer00003Total1 3331 1771 5141 470146 532 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent2102 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean13503 - Capitale-Nationale45904 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec27305 - Estrie6806 - Montréal3 64907 - Outaouais8308 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 - Chaudière-Appalaches13813 - Laval72814 - Lanaudière33315 - Laurentides33816 - Montérégie88317 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total7 155 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Aurora Farmers’ Market had a late start this spring due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but did they ever make up for lost time. As the Market wound down on Hallowe’en, they were looking back on a season of firsts – and some impressive numbers. Last year, the Aurora Farmers’ Market, which runs each Saturday morning from May through October, welcomed 13,493 visitors to Town Park. This year, they logged a staggering 18,306. “At the beginning of each Market day, I would get my team of volunteers together – we had 32 volunteers that helped us over the course of 24 Market days – and say, ‘This is probably going to be the last day that we’re allowed to be running, so make it a good one,’” recalls Market Manager Anna Kroeplin. “Every week we had tally sheets at the dedicated entrance (on Larmont Street) and at Wells Street as well, and we would count every single person in and out at 15-minute increments. “At the beginning, we were only allowed 32 people in and we had 13 vendors. Once the Market Board started talking more and more to Public Health and Farmers’ Markets Ontario, restrictions were lifted and they based it on our square footage of where customers would actually be.” It turned out to be a winning system this year, and one other municipalities looked to when trying to get their own markets up off the ground. “In March, there was a state of emergency and then in April they closed the schools and businesses, but it was incredibly important that the Government deemed Farmers’ Markets essential services,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “That was able to help the Board pre-plan and be ready. They got in touch with York Region Public Health, the Town of Aurora and Farmers’ Markets Ontario to get all of their approvals – and they did so we could set up on May 23. We were only a couple of weeks out of our normal season to start. I was so pleased that the Farmers’ Market was deemed safe. We actually had so many people come and we had about 99 per cent of people wear masks. It was mandatory for vendors to wear their masks or face shields, but everybody wore masks and felt so comfortable and safe there. “What really surprised me and blew me away is that other towns got in touch with us and either their staff or their market managers came to the Market after the first three weeks because we had built some great reputation that they wanted to model the Market after them. The biggest one was the City of Toronto.” Having that “incredible exposure” to new customers really helped the Aurora Farmers’ Market reach such impressive numbers, with each customer being respectful of one another and exercising patience while waiting in line to get in. Helping them to pass the time before they could get in to buy their fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods and artisan crafts were space markers drawn out on the pavement in chalk to not only promote social distance but put smiles on faces. Volunteers drew smiley faces instead of simple circles more than two metres apart. Once things were deemed safe enough to allow students in to volunteer and collect their community service hours, these markers started to get a bit crafty. “We started with 13 adult volunteers because of the health risk at the beginning of the season,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “We weren’t comfortable having students there until we started proving our safety measures were incredibly important. [In the end] we had 19 students come to get their hours an they came from Aurora, Pickering, Sutton, and it was just crazy because there weren’t a lot of opportunities for these kids to earn heir hours. What I found interesting this year is the majority of the time parents would come with their child the first day they were on shift and I would make sure they had my phone number and the parents felt safe leaving their kids there. In all, they earned a total of 939 hours.” Although the Aurora Farmers’ Market’s outdoor season has come to a close, there will still be a few more chances to meet market vendors in the lead-up to the holiday season. On December 5 and 12, many Market favourites will be on hand for the Town’s annual Christmas Market, which will be held at Town Park for the first time this year, a perfect opportunity to shop local as the holiday season approaches. “A lot of Towns didn’t support their markets, so they stayed closed or they did not open long,” says Cathy Williams, Board Chair for the Aurora Farmers Market. “Aurora supported us, made sure things went well for us, gave us volunteers from their staff, and they wanted us to open, which was just really good. When our numbers started going up and we had lineups and the vendors were coming to us to say they were sold out, I thought, ‘You know what? This is going to work.’ “I would like to thank the Town for being so supportive. I would like to thank the volunteers for being so wonderful and for helping out so much – and the Board of the Market for working so hard to get it open, for Public Health being behind us, and for the people of Aurora for coming out and supporting us.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It's hard to imagine more consequential picks.Already two Democratic governors seen as candidates for health and human services secretary have faded from the frame. Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo told reporters Thursday that she would not be the nominee and is staying to help her state confront a dangerous surge of COVID-19 cases.New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was offered another Cabinet post — interior secretary — and turned it down, a person close to the Biden transition said Wednesday. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made a fresh push during a virtual conference call Thursday for Biden to nominate Lujan Grisham as HHS secretary. One lawmaker, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico — a distant cousin of hers by marriage — told Biden’s team that news leaks about her turning down the interior job were inappropriate, according to a person on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, agreed and said it should not have happened, the person said.Biden is expected to announce his choice for HHS secretary next week. That person has to have “the confidence of the president, the ability to operate collaboratively across the government, credibility within the health care world, and the capacity to work with the states,” said former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, who served under Republican President George W. Bush.In the running for a top health job is former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden's coronavirus task force. Murthy has a soft-spoken demeanour and a reputation for consensus building. He's the author of a recent book addressing the human toll of loneliness, a problem that has become more widely recognized in the time of COVID-19.Job prospects for the pandemic's most recognizable public figure — Dr. Anthony Fauci — are not in question. Biden told CNN he's making Fauci a chief medical adviser and a member of his COVID-19 advisory team. As the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, Fauci isn’t a political appointee, so he will also continue at his post heading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci's candour has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.Alongside his health secretary, Biden is expected to name a top-level White House adviser to co-ordinate the government’s extensive coronavirus response. Vaccines developed under the Trump administration will be delivered on Biden's watch, a massive undertaking that's bound to have its share of logistical problems. The leading candidate is widely seen as businessman Jeff Zients, an economic policy adviser in the Obama White House who was widely credited with rescuing HealthCare.gov after its disastrous launch in 2013.Zients parachuted into HHS after the “Obamacare” website locked up on the first day of business, leaving millions of consumers frustrated and angry and creating deep embarrassment for then-President Barack Obama. After extensive reengineering, Zients and his team got HealthCare.gov running acceptably well, and the program managed to meet its sign-up target for 2014, the first year of coverage.Keeping the focus on the virus, Biden is also said to be close to nominating a commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration and a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Under consideration for FDA are former deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, who has also served as Maryland's health secretary, and Dr. Luciana Borio, a member of Biden's coronavirus advisory board who formerly held senior posts with the FDA and the National Security Council and has expertise in responding to disease outbreaks and bioterrorism.Being considered for CDC director is Dr. Julie Morita, a top executive of the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which works across a broad range of health care issues. Morita spent nearly 20 years in leadership jobs with the Chicago public health department, rising from medical director to commissioner.It's unclear if Biden will move right away to name an administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HHS agency responsible for the government's health insurance programs. CMS will play a central role in the new president's efforts to expand health insurance coverage. A number of former Obama administration officials are under consideration.Health care will be a defining issue of Biden's presidency even after expected vaccines defuse the threat of COVID-19, former HHS Secretary Leavitt predicted. Addressing Medicare’s shaky finances will become an urgent priority before the end of the first term. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare's giant trust fund for inpatient care will unable to cover expected costs in 2024.“If that is the case, they are going to have to deal with it legislatively in 2021 or 2022,” Leavitt said.Meanwhile, millions still don't have access to affordable insurance coverage. And racial and ethnic health disparities remain a festering source of preventable suffering. “The human services programs go through HHS," said Leavitt.____Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe and Lisa Mascaro in Washington and Michelle R. Smith in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Three former presidents say they'd be willing to take a coronavirus vaccine publicly, once one becomes available, to encourage all Americans to get inoculated against a disease that has already killed more than 275,000 people nationwide. Former President Barack Obama said during an episode of SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show" airing Thursday, “I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it.” “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed," Obama added, “just so that people know that I trust this science.” That may not be possible for a while. The Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna later this month, but current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of this year. Each product also requires two doses, meaning shots will be rationed in the early stages. Health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line, according to the influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. That encompasses about 24 million people out of a U.S. population of around 330 million. Still, former President Bill Clinton would “definitely” be willing to get a vaccine, as soon as one is "available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” spokesman Angel Ureña said. "And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same,” Ureña said in a statement Thursday. Ureña declined to say whether Clinton's team has been in touch with other former presidents about perhaps setting up a joint public immunization session, whenever that might be possible. Former President George W. Bush's chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told CNN that Bush recently asked him to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, to let them "know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated.” “First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations," Ford told the network. "Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera." The only other living former president, Jimmy Carter, who at 96 is the oldest ex-president in U.S. history, also encouraged people to get vaccinated, but stopped short of pledging to do so himself in public. “Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, said today that they are in full support of COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities,” the Carter Center said in a statement. The voice of support comes as the U.S. recorded more than 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, far outpacing the record set last spring. The number of Americans hospitalized with the virus also has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time. President Donald Trump was asked this summer if he would consider being the first to take the vaccine to send a message that it was safe. The president said that going first could also lead to accusations that he was being selfish, but that he would take it if recommended to do so. “I would absolutely, if they wanted me to, if they thought it was right. I would take it first or I would take it last,” Trump said during a July interview with Fox News. “You know that if I take it first, I will be, either way, I lose on that one, right?” Making Trump among the first to get the vaccine could indeed be controversial, given that he tested positive for the virus so recently. Vaccine trials excluded volunteers who had diagnosed infections — including those who had gotten treatment for the virus, which Trump had in October. Still, Trump is promoting the vaccine. At the ceremony for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, which was taped Monday and streamed Thursday evening, Trump said, "It is truly a Christmas miracle, one of the great achievements medically, they say, ever in history.” During a Thursday roundtable in Memphis, Tennessee, with Vice-President Mike Pence, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. must restore national trust in immunizations. “There’s been a great deal of challenge over the years of this growing concern of what I call ‘vaccine hesitancy,'" Redfield said. "It’s really sad as an infectious disease physician to see many people choose to leave vaccination on the shelf for themselves, their family and the community.” Asked if he’d personally be taking a vaccine, Pence gave a thumbs up and replied, “Absolutely.” President-elect Joe Biden said months ago that he'd take “a vaccine tomorrow” as soon as doing so was possible. Biden told CNN during an interview Thursday that he too would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work," Biden said. "Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the president and vice-president do.” That follows Biden's warning on Wednesday that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic over the next two months could kill as many as 250,000 more people, though he didn't offer details to back up such a bleak assessment. “You cannot be travelling during these holidays,” Biden told the public "as much as you want to.” ___ Associated Press Writers Kevin Freking and Darlene Superville in Washington and Adrian Sainz in Memphis contributed to this report. __ This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Birx. Will Weissert, The Associated Press
Not content to let the global pandemic get in the way of safe and festive fun, more than 500 carloads of Aurora residents descended upon the Aurora Family Leisure Complex on Saturday night for a Santa Under the Stars parade that was an Aurora first. Rather than travelling down Yonge Street to greet the young and the young at heart, in what has become his storied local tradition, Santa Claus parked his sleigh at the Complex (AFLC) and invited revellers to come to him in the Town’s first “stationary” Christmas parade. More than 20 community groups and local leaders decorated floats and found their place alongside Santa as vehicles came in from Industrial Parkway North and St. John’s Sideroad to do a one-way circuit around the AFLC’s tiered parking lot to pass dazzling displays of holiday cheer. For Sheryl Thomas of Marquee Theatrical Productions, whose group is represented in the parade year in and year out, the present challenge presented a new opportunity. Rather than having a few seconds in front of the thousands that normally line Yonge Street, budding theatre artists had something of a captive audience and used it to their best advantage. “This has been 100 per cent positive,” said Ms. Thomas at the start of the parade. “The only disadvantage is we had too many volunteers and we had to cut back. How often does that happen? We had such a great response from people who are just dying to be part of something for the community.” Volunteers came not just from theatre schools, but local companies as well who stepped up to help them execute their vision, including Priestly Demolition who donated the flatbed for their float – transformed into a capsule stage production of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. “Anything is possible,” said Ms. Thomas. “We’re going to come through this COVID thing and nothing can really get you down. There’s always a way to get through it.” This was a sentiment shared by Amal Mukhlis of Aurora Early Learning Centre, whose youngsters put on their creative caps to put together their own spin on the Grinch. “Our children did everything – they the boxes, they painted them, they did a theme of something they are very fond at the Centre, and that is the Grinch and Whoville,” said Ms. Muklis. “They put everything together. Unfortunately, they can’t be a part of it today, but they will be joining us in waving hello to us. This is something we are very proud of because the children took charge. It is something very authentic and it came from their heads.” Creative muscles were also being flexed by members of the Dynamic Dance Company, who have participated in the last three parades. In the previous two years, they secured honours for the Best Decorated Float, but the stationary aspect of the parade promoted some crafty thinking. “Doing it this year was definitely different because we had to think about the fact it is not a moving object because the cars are coming and we only had to decorate the front,” said Natalie Silia. “Normally we have our entire studio here dancing with us, but unfortunately we can’t so we’re Instagramming to show everybody. “We love being a part of the community, we love our dancers having that community feel and feeling like they are giving back with the holiday spirit. Especially this year in all years, I feel we definitely need the holiday spirit.” Also participating in the parade were Mayor Tom Mrakas and members of Council and, representing the Province, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa, who donned a “Shop Local” mask to drive home an issue close to the hearts of so many local businesses struggling due to the pandemic. “People need this, we all need it,” said Mr. Parsa of having the parade continue in the community. “It is nice to get out and see people again – it is nice to see people again! This has been a tough year for all our small businesses. Please, as much as you can, get out there and support them. We hope everyone does that [after the parade] and throughout the holidays as well.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver's transit authority is confirming that it was the target of a ransomware attack on part of its information technology systems.Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables part of a computer system or access to data until a ransom is paid. TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says in a statement that the transit authority is conducting a comprehensive forensic investigation to determine how the incident occurred and what information may have been affected.Desmond offers assurance to customers that TransLink does not store fare payment data and uses a secure third-party payment processor for all fare transactions, so TransLink doesn't have access to that information. He says the transit authority took immediate steps to isolate and shut down key software and systems to contain the threat upon detection and is now working to resume normal operations. Customers can once again use credit and debit cards at Compass vending machines and tap-to-pay fare gates, features that were put on hold for several days. Customers who recently purchased monthly passes or stored value will soon see the credit loaded on their Compass Card, the statement says.It says all transit services continue to operate regularly and no transit safety systems are affected."We are sharing as much as we can at this point considering this is an active investigation," Desmond says in the statement. "We will provide further updates as more information becomes available."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
Les conservateurs utilisent leur journée d’opposition à la Chambre des communes pour exhorter le gouvernement Trudeau à dévoiler son plan sur la distribution concernant chaque vaccin d’ici le 16 décembre. Les conservateurs veulent savoir la date à laquelle chacun des sept vaccins réservés sera distribué, et quels seront les taux mensuels de vaccination envisagés. « Alors que des pays entiers vont sortir du confinement, les Canadiens vont les regarder avec incompréhension. Pourquoi sommes-nous si en retard ? », a lancé le chef du Parti conservateur, Erin O’Toole, en conférence de presse. Il a reconnu la difficulté qu’Ottawa pourrait avoir à publier un calendrier précis, mais il pose des questions d’ordre logistique sur la suite du processus après les livraisons des doses de vaccin. « Quel est le plan immédiatement après ça ? Est-ce qu’on a des congélateurs pour les vaccins de Pfizer ? Quel est le plan pour les communautés rurales, pour les communautés autochtones, pour nos forces armées », s’est-il interrogé en conférence de presse. Le Bloc québécois s’est dit en accord avec le sens de la motion conservatrice. Une expérimentation humaine Le chef du Parti conservateur ne s’est pas prononcé sur la pétition parrainée par son camarade Derek Sloan pour critiquer les vaccins contre la Covid-19. Le député opposé au port obligatoire du masque soutient cette pétition selon laquelle « les vaccins contre la COVID-19 ne sont pas conçus pour empêcher l’infection ou la transmission » et qu’il s’agirait d’une simple expérimentation lancée dans la précipitation au mépris des protocoles standards. Erin O’Toole s’est contenté d’exiger la publication d’un plan détaillé qui permettra « d’éduquer » et que « l’information aidera à apporter une certitude à beaucoup de Canadiens ». La pétition ouverte de façon virtuelle jusqu’en février a déjà enregistré 24 000 signatures, dont environ 2000, au Québec. Les réfrigérateurs des vaccins En conférence de presse, le major général Dany Fortin qui coordonne les opérations de distribution des vaccins a annoncé que les provinces et les territoires recevront les réfrigérateurs consacrés dans les prochains jours. Le vaccin de Pfizer/Biotech sera livré directement par les firmes pharmaceutiques aux points identifiés par les autorités provinciales. Les réfrigérateurs devront être en place au plus tard le 14 décembre prochain selon le major général. Les vaccins doivent cependant être approuvés par Santé Canada. Plusieurs sources annoncent le délai d’une dizaine de jours. Le Canada devrait recevoir au moins six millions de doses du premier vaccin au début de la nouvelle année selon les autorités de la santé publique. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
York Region residents will not get to vote for who leads Regional Council in the next municipal election. Regional Council, on a vote of 14 – 6, rejected a motion tabled this past February which would have seen the Regional Chair, a position currently occupied by former Whitchurch-Stouffville mayor Wayne Emmerson, directly elected by residents. Instead, the position will continue to be filled through a vote around the Regional Council table, around which Mayor Tom Mrakas is Aurora’s sole representative. Mayor Mrakas was joined by Newmarket Mayor John Taylor in voting in favour of change, alongside Regional Councillors Don Hamilton (Markham), Jim Jones (Markham), Joe Li (Markham), and Joe DiPaola (Richmond Hill). The question, as posed at Aurora Council last week, is now what? York Region has a long history of considering how the Chair should be elected. The most recent series of proposed changes stemmed from a Private Member’s Bill brought forward at Queen’s Park in 2016 from Newmarket-Aurora’s then-MPP Chris Ballard which, following its passage, would have mandated a direct election for York Region. This directive, however, was struck down by the incumbent Provincial government in 2018, leaving Regional Council to decide its own path forward. “Regional Council can, after holding at least one public meeting, pass a bylaw to change the manner of electing the Regional Chair to a Region-wide election,” said Bruce Macgregor, CAO of the Region of York, in a memo to members when they last looked at this matter in February. “Before the bylaw comes into effect it must receive a ‘triple majority’ which occurs when: the bylaw receives the support of the majority of votes on Regional Council; a majority of the councils of all local municipalities pass resolutions consenting to the bylaw; and the total number of electors in the local municipalities that have passed resolutions consenting to the bylaw form a majority of all the electors in York Region.” Aurora Council previously voiced its support of electing the Regional Chair in both 2016 and 2018. Had any change been in the air at the Region, a decision would have needed to be confirmed by December 21, 2021 in order for it to be part of the 2022 Municipal Election. Since its establishment in 1970, the Regional Chair was been appointed in different ways. In the beginning, the Province of Ontario appointed the Chair for two two-year terms. This method changed at the inaugural meeting of Regional Council where the Chair was elected by members around the table. “Four of the six Chairs of York Region were members of a lower-tier council at the time of their appointment,” noted Mr. Macgregor. “The other two Chairs had recently completed terms on the council of a lower-tier municipality.” “Council had the authority to determine whether or not the appointed Chair must also hold office on a local municipal Council. Through inherited provisions from the long ago repealed Regional Municipality of York Act, it has been the practice in York Region for the appointed Chair to resign their seat at the local level. However, Council can enact a requirement for the Chair to retain their local office. This change can be implemented without a ‘triple majority.’” As Aurora Council previously signalled its support for electing the Regional chair, the matter was raised at last week’s meeting. “Which way do you think I voted?” asked Mayor Tom Mrakas when pressed by Councillor Michael Thompson whether he voted the same way as he did when the matter was last up for debate at Town Hall. “I believe the Regional Chair should be an elected position. I voted in favour of having it become an elected position. It is unfortunate it didn’t happen that way. “We’ll see if the Province decides to put it in place for the next election on their own.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
A resounding no from council will force Georgian Bay Snowriders to find an alternative for the strip near Port McNicoll. A couple months ago the club’s agreement was up for renewal. At that time, when the request came to council, the club asked for access to a part of the municipal trail along Highway 12 towards Triple Bay Road. The agreement was renewed before its Nov. 1 deadline, however, a new request from the club came forward at a later council meeting asking for access to approximately 400m of the TransCanada Trail, just east of Triple Bay Road. “Due to recent water level increases from Hog Bay, the ditch parallel to the highway is incredibly flood sensitive and has become very difficult to maintain,” reads the letter to council. “It also has a new utility line running through the centre that may become difficult to navigate around.” But their request wasn’t enough to melt the hearts of council members. “With me, it's a hard no,” said Coun. Mary Warnock. “I would not even entertain this. There's no recourse to get repairs done to the trail after it's been used and we all know what happened last time they were allowed a little stretch, it got torn up.” She had support from other council members, too. “It's not worth the risk for our bikers, our walkers and our roller-bladers,” said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle. “I'm not in favour of this. We spend a lot of time and money on that trail and I'm not about to let it go at this point.” Coun. Paul Raymond said he could understand the club’s frustration at having to reimagine a trail on a temporary basis, but he was still against it. “We all know the damage (that) will happen,” he said. “What are we saying when we allow a motorized vehicle on the trail when we spend so much time trying to prevent motorized vehicles on trails? “Sorry to the Snowriders, but they have the ability to find alternate routes, I think,” added Raymond. Council voted to take no further action on the request. The Georgian Bay Snowriders did not respond to a request for comment.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com