Lobster boat returning home after a days work on the water.
Lobster boat returning home after a days work on the water.
WASHINGTON — Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” has been arrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Gionet was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity. Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the mayhem. Gionet faces charges of violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Court documents don't list an attorney for Gionet or say where he is being held. The jail in Harris County, which includes Houston, didn't immediately reply to phone messages seeking further information. FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller said in an affidavit filed in the case that Gionet streamed live for about 27 minutes from inside the Capitol and could be heard encouraging other protesters not to leave, cursing and saying “I’m staying,” “1776 baby," and “I won’t leave guys, don’t worry.” She wrote that Gionet entered various offices and when told by law enforcement officers to move, identified himself as a member of the media. Miller wrote that Gionet then asked officers where to go before cursing a law officer while alleging the officer shoved him, then leaving the building. Gionet also posted video that showed Trump supporters in “Make America Great Again” and “God Bless Trump” hats milling around inside the Capitol and taking selfies with officers who calmly asked them to leave the premises. The Trump supporters talked among themselves, laughed, and told the officers and each other, “This is only the beginning.” Law enforcement officials across the country have been working to locate and arrest suspects who committed federal crimes. So far, they have brought nearly 100 cases in federal court and the District of Columbia Superior Court. In a 2017 interview with “Business Insider,” Gionet said he was given the nickname “Baked Alaska” because he is from Alaska and that he smoked marijuana at the time. ___ Associated Press writer Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Northwest Territories health officials are urging anyone who has been in self-isolation in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1 to arrange for a COVID-19 test. On Thursday, public health officials said wastewater testing suggested there are one or more cases of COVID-19 in the area. The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory also reports a "persistent positive COVID-19 signal in Hay River wastewater" collected on Jan. 11, said Dr. Andy Delli-Pizzi, N.W.T.'s deputy chief public health officer, in a news release issued Saturday. But so far, no one who has tested for COVID-19 since then has been a positive case, said Delli-Pizzi. "Currently, there is not enough information to confidently assess public risk," he said. "But with evidence pointing towards at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Hay River, we are asking the public to assist in containing the situation quickly to prevent transmission." Public health officials are also asking anyone who is self-isolating because they entered N.W.T. from another jurisdiction, and has been in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to be tested. Residents who fit that criteria should be tested, regardless of symptoms. Previously, public health officials had focused on people who were self-isolating between Jan. 1-6. Public health officials are also urging essential workers, who were not self-isolating because they had an exemption to work in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to arrange for testing. "High-risk essential service workers" who are not symptomatic and were already tested as part of their permission to work, such as health-care workers, are exempt, said Delli-Pizzi. People who were self-isolating in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, but who have since left those communities, should contact the local health centre to arrange for a test. Hay River testing clinic open this weekend To accommodate the testing, public health officials are extending the hours of a dedicated testing clinic. The testing clinic in Hay River, located at 52 Woodland Drive, will run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents looking to get tested should call public health at 867-874-8400 to book an appointment and a public health nurse will call back. The nurse can also help with arrangements for transportation to the clinic for those who need it. Public health officials are urging those arriving for drive-thru testing to follow the signs, stay in their vehicles and wait their turn. They're also reminding people to wear a mask when they go for their test. Delli-Pizzi is reminding people that if they do get a positive result, public health officials will follow up for contact tracing and to try to find where a person may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Saskatchewan is reporting an increase of 270 COVID-19 cases and two more deaths from the illness. The Saturday update from the province brings the provincial total to date to 19,985 cases, with 4,043 considered active. Both of the Saskatchewan residents who died were from the Regina zone. One was in the 60-69 age group, and one was in the 80-plus age group. The new cases are located in the following zones: Far northwest (10). Far north central (one). Far northeast (15). Northwest (49). North central (23). Northeast (13). Saskatoon (68). Central east (five). Regina (47). South central (six). Southeast (26). The location information for seven other cases is pending. There are now 199 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 35 in intensive care. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 311, or 25.7 new cases per 100,000 people. Saturday's update said there were 235 recoveries. There were 3,071 COVID-19 tests processed in the province on Friday. To date, 468,461 COVID-19 tests have been processed in Saskatchewan. Record number of vaccines administered The province administered 2,857 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, the highest single-day total in the province to date. The total number of vaccines administered in the province has now reached 16,927. The daily number of vaccinations may drop over the next few weeks as Pfizer works to expand its European manufacturing facility. During this work, the American pharmaceutical giant will reduce deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech, potentially by half. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of the two approved for use in Canada so far. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health says vaccines will continue to be administered according to priority sequence. The province received a shipment of 4,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine, the other approved for use, on Friday. Distribution is already underway in the central and southeast zones. After a transportation delay caused by poor weather conditions, the far northeast region received its new doses Saturday morning. Vaccination clinics will continue throughout the weekend.
An ice climber who fell approximately 12 metres was rescued by RCMP on Friday in central Alberta. On Friday, Rocky Mountain House RCMP responded to a report of a fallen ice climber at around 2:30 p.m. A SOS beacon was received by police, locating the climber at the south end of Abraham Lake, roughly 211 kilometres southwest of Red Deer. The 28-year-old climber was rescued by Ahlstrom Helicopters, with the help of Rocky Mountain House Search and Rescue. STARS Air Ambulance was also on site to transport the climber to a Calgary hospital. The rescued ice climber suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries from the fall.
Un homme a été blessé gravement vers 10h30 ce matin, dans le secteur du lac Vert à Hébertville. Selon les informations rapportées par la Sûreté du Québec, l’arbre que l’homme buchait se serait abattu sur lui. L’individu, qui était seul, a eu besoin des secours des policiers et ambulancier pour le sortir de sa position. Il a ensuite été transporté en centre hospitalier, où l’on craint pour sa vie. Un enquêteur est actuellement sur place afin de déterminer les causes de l’accident. Janick Emond, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
TORONTO — Ontario Provincial Police say they've charged three of their own veteran officers and suspended four others over allegations of corruption related to the province's tow truck industry. The force alleges the accused officers provided preferential treatment to towing companies within the Greater Toronto Area.The charges and suspensions stemmed from an investigation first launched in October 2019. The officers facing charges all have at least 20 years of service with the OPP and served with either its Highway Safety Division or the Toronto detachment. Const. Simon Bridle and Const. Mohammed Ali Hussain were both arrested this past week, while a warrant is out for the arrest of Const. Bindo Showan who is believed to be out of the province. All three are charged with secret commissions and breach of trust, while Bridle faces an additional charge of obtaining sexual services for consideration. OPP says the four other officers remain under investigation, but are not currently facing any criminal charges. The Canadian Press
The world slowed down last spring when the pandemic struck and, to at least one B.C. recycling organization, it feels like many people used the time to take stock of the fast fashion purchases piling up in their closet — and then drop them off in vast quantities. Now, the Gabriola Island Recycling Organization, inundated with bags upon bags of donated clothing, is reaching out to the Regional District of Nanaimo in hopes of securing funding to turn pounds of discarded textiles into new products. Michelle MacEwen, the organization's general manager, said the group gets about 100 bags weighing about 10 kilograms every week of used clothes and fabrics. While some is able to be sold in a local island thrift store, about half of it is not. Until the pandemic, MacEwan said it would be picked up by a diabetes organization that would take about 400 bags every eight weeks from the island to be sold at thrift stores elsewhere. That is no longer the case because everyone is at capacity for clothes right now. "I think everybody was clearing out their closets while isolating at home," said MacEwan, speaking on CBC's On The Island Thursday. By securing $100,000 from the RDN, MacEwan hopes to work with other islanders, many of whom she says have some great ideas for the heaps of cloth, to turn the fabrics into new products. Doing so, she says, will stop bags of clothes from ending up in the Nanaimo landfill. Preliminary product ideas include re-designed garments and shredding the clothes into stuffing for yoga cushions, stools and punching bags. "We really want to keep our waste in our backyard," she said. MacEwan said funding would be used to help pay for equipment such as a commercial shredder or digital sewing machines. The RDN will make a funding decision by the end of January. MacEwan said if it does not pan out, the organization will look elsewhere. She said funding could also possibly come from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
In order for a personal support worker employed in a long-term-care home to make ends meet in Toronto, they’d have to clock at least 50 hours every week. Here’s how the numbers break down: PSWs in unionized long-term-care homes start at about $20.80 per hour, and can earn up to about $22 hourly. If they are paid for 37.5 hours of work per week, they will gross $40,560 in a year at the starting rate, but the take home after tax is closer to $32,000. But this is over $10,000 short of the 2020 cost of living in Toronto, estimated by lowestrates.ca. The insurance company found that for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, the cost of living is close to $42,500. Meanwhile, in 2015, $55,117 was the median income for single-adult households in Toronto, according to Statistics Canada, which is just below the amount needed to meet the cost of living today, after tax. Someone earning that amount would only have to put in about 20 extra hours over the course of a year to make ends meet — less than half an hour a week. Cost of living can be greater too if the person is supporting a family, and it would be even more challenging if the person is the sole breadwinner for their household. Long-term-care homes have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, shedding light on a system that has been dysfunctional for years. With cases and deaths climbing in the sector, the need to address ongoing issues has been made all the more urgent. In Ottawa, a COVID-19 outbreak in a women’s shelter was linked to two long-term-care workers who were staying in the facility because they could no longer afford rent with their income. Where PSWs are concerned, there is no oversight body, like there is for nurses, which advocates say has caused issues with low pay, precarious work and high turnover. Matthew Cathmoir, the head of strategic research at the Service Employees International Union which represents health-care workers in Ontario, said PSWs wind up working as much overtime as possible to supplement their income. “They accept as much overtime as possible; they’ll work doubles. So, they’ll work a 16-hour shift, which is unsustainable ... it’s incredibly difficult work — hard on the body, hard on the mind (but) they have to do it,” he said. Many PSWs also had more than one job, which was restricted during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Pandemic pay has offered a $3 per hour wage bump for eligible long-term-care workers, but Cathmoir notes that there have been challenges with the rollout. All the while, in a recent survey the SEIU posed to its members working in long-term care, 92 per cent of the 700 or so respondents reported feeling overworked and understaffed during the pandemic. “It’s difficult work. It’s dangerous,” Cathmoir said. “It takes a special type of person to work, specifically, and that goes for all (health-care positions).” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Moose Jaw Pride has opened a temporary warming space for anyone trying to get out of the cold in the southern Saskatchewan city's downtown, the non-profit organization says. "We know there are a lot of folks who spend their days outside with few options to warm up. With COVID, there are even less places and more rules to follow, so we decided to help out where we can," said Elliece Ramsey, a Moose Jaw Pride peer navigator, in a news release. The warming space, located at 345 Main St. N., will be open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. The warming space shares a building with the Moose Jaw Pride offices and Rainbow Retro Thrift Shop, the release says. The warming centre is open to everyone and offers free hot coffee, snacks, free winter clothing, personal hygiene kits, books, and phone and internet access, the release says. People stopping by can also connect with a Pride peer navigator, who can provide companionship and help people access various community resources that offer services such as health care, shelter and food. Masks will be mandatory, and all visitors must adhere to physical distancing, per Saskatchewan's public health restrictions, the release said. Moose Jaw Pride already has a couple of partners who have offered food or financial support for the warming space. But the organization is looking for more groups to help, in order to extend the operational hours of the warming centre, the release says.
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with lowly Mainz while Leipzig again missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig, which was denied top spot in losing to Dortmund 3-1 last weekend, could manage only 2-2 at Wolfsburg and it remains a point behind league leader Bayern Munich. Bayern hosts Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund was looking for its fourth win in five league games under new coach Edin Terzic but was frustrated by a committed performance from Mainz in Bo Svensson’s second game in charge. The draw was enough for Mainz to move off the bottom on goal difference from Schalke, which visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Dortmund got off to a fine start with Erling Haaland firing inside the left post in the second minute. But the goal was ruled out through VAR as Thomas Meunier was offside in the buildup. Jude Bellingham struck the post toward the end of the half and it was as close as Dortmund came to scoring before the break. Mainz defended doggedly and took its chance in the 57th when Levin Öztunali eluded Mats Hummels with a back-heel trick and let fly from 20 metres inside the top right corner. The visitors almost grabbed another shortly afterward when Alexander Hack struck the crossbar with a header. The 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had just gone on for Dortmund and he played a decisive role for his side’s equalizer in the 73rd, keeping the ball in play before sending in a cross that was cleared by Mainz defender Phillipp Mwene – only as far as Meunier, who fired back in to equalize. Meunier was then fouled in the penalty area by Hack, giving Reus a chance to score from the spot. The Dortmund captain sent his kick outside of the left post. It could have been worse for Reus’ team as Mainz captain Danny Latza hit the post late on. Dortmund remained fourth, four points behind Bayern, which has a game in hand. Werder Bremen scored late to beat Augsburg 2-0 at home, Cologne drew with Hertha Berlin 0-0, and Hoffenheim vs. Arminia Bielefeld also ended scoreless. Stuttgart hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
Ontario Provincial Police say they've been kept busy by a steady stream of minor traffic accidents as heavy snow falls over the region. "We're just encouraging people as we always do, whenever we have a snow event, you know — see snow, go slow," said Bill Dickson, spokesperson for the OPP. "I mean our traffic is hopefully very light anyway because people are being encouraged to stay at home." Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for the Ottawa area, as well for Maniwaki, Que. According to Ian Black, climatologist for CBC News Ottawa, the city could see between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow. Eight centimetres of snow was already on the ground by 6 a.m. Saturday morning, Black said. The temperature will remain steady around 0 C for much of the day. Overnight parking ban planned for Ottawa Ottawa will also enforce an overnight parking ban between 7 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday, allowing crews to clean city streets unimpeded. Those hours could be extended if additional time is needed. Other parts of eastern Ontario, like Pembroke, Ont., can expect light precipitation with heavy snow mixed in, according to Environment Canada. Kingston, Ont., will see grey clouds overhead, with a 60 per cent chance of flurries or drizzle in the forecast. Tractor-trailer crashes Dickson said OPP officers responded to a number of tractor-trailer collisions Saturday but none that led to injuries. He said if people do need to travel, they should drive carefully and ensure their vehicle is cleared off, including the head and brake lights. "In terms of speed limits, remember, those speed limits that are posted out there are for ideal conditions," he said. "Today is by no means even close to ideal conditions."
Ottawa is reporting 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. Western Quebec has confirmed 43 new infections today. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. OPH also declared 111 more cases resolved and reported no new deaths. The infection rate in Ottawa has risen to record levels since around Christmas, prompting OPH to declare the city is once again in a COVID-19 crisis. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is now scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 88.9: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, down from Friday. 1.01: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), has been in gradual decline this month but remains unchanged since Friday. OPH aims to keep the number below one. 4.1%: Ottawa's average test positivity percentage, down from 4.5 per cent. Across the region Health authorities in western Quebec are reporting 43 new cases of COVID-19 but no more deaths. Quebec's lockdown lasts until Feb. 8. It includes an 8 p.m. curfew that went into effect last weekend.
Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard and European retailer Carrefour SA have decided to work on partnership opportunities after takeover talks failed, the two companies said in a joint statement on Saturday. Couche-Tard dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.57 billion) bid for Carrefour after the French government opposed the deal, citing food security concerns. The decision to end merger talks came after a meeting on Friday between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Couche-Tard's founder and chairman, Alain Bouchard.
TORONTO — A tentative deal that could see General Motors Canada pour a billion dollars into Ontario's beleaguered automotive sector could bring the province one step closer to modernizing its economy and keeping local production afloat, according to a prominent Canadian manufacturing association. GM and national union Unifor announced the deal on Friday night, saying the two sides had reached a preliminary agreement to transform the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont. into a hub for commercial electric vehicle manufacturing. The deal, valued at $1 billion, is still subject to ratification by union members later this weekend. Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters hailed the announcement as a breath of fresh air for a sector that has struggled to retain jobs and fend off other North American competitors for years. "It is good news for Ontario, for those employees in the auto sector, and for the businesses and employees in the supply chain that supports auto assembly in Ontario," association President Dennis Darby said in an email to The Canadian Press. GM dealt Ontario a blow when the last pickup trucks rolled down the line at its Oshawa assembly plant just before Christmas in 2019. The shutdown led to layoffs for the roughly 2,600 people employed at the plant, which had been in operation since 1953 and had nearly ten times as many workers on its assembly lines during its 1980's hay day. Unifor, politicians and even U.K. singer Sting fought the decision to close the plant. GM eventually relented and saved 300 jobs with a $170 million investment to turn a portion of the operation into a auto parts plant. Experts have since predicted a pivot towards electric and self-driving cars and trucks would help Canada contend with competition from the southern U.S. and Mexico. While both regions' auto sectors flourished, Unifor estimated Canada dropped to the No. 10 auto manufacturing country in the world in 2017, down from No. 4 in 1999. "Over the past few years the province has lost production to other jurisdictions, and this (new GM) announcement like some previous ones in the past year by other manufacturers helps provide some much needed stability and hope for the future continued viability of this sub-sector of manufacturing," said Darby. GM said it intends to use the Ingersoll plant for the production of delivery vans dubbed BrightDrop EV 600s, a new venture the company touted at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. The GM deal, if approved, would mark the latest in a string of negotiation triumphs for Unifor as it seeks to bolster Canada's automotive industry. The union struck deals with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler last year that included support from the federal and Ontario governments. A Ford deal reached in September included $1.95 billion to bring battery electric vehicle production to Oakville, Ont., and a new engine derivative to the southwestern Ontario city of Windsor. The Fiat Chrysler agreement included more than $1.5 billion to build plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric vehicles. General Motors agreed in November to a $1.3 billion dollar investment to bring 1,700 jobs to Oshawa plus more than $109 million to in-source new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V8 engine production in St. Catharines, Ont. If the latest GM deal is ratified, Unifor said recent negotiations would have helped pump $6 billion into the provincial auto sector. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli issued the statement celebrating the most recent announcement. "This announcement is an important signal that Ontario’s economy remains competitive even in these difficult times," they said. — `with files from Anita Balakrishnan in Toronto This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Pancho the rescue cat absolutely loves playing with Jinxy!
NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Residents of the village of Pemberton, B.C., know their odds aren't good, but they are vowing to fight to keep the community's only bank. More than a dozen people spent Wednesday camped outside the Scotiabank holding signs saying, "Please Stay" and "Save our Bank." The local branch of the Scotiabank, which has been there for over 60 years, is set to close July 15, 2021, according to announcements posted on the doors last week. Customers are being told to take their business to the Whistler branch. But customers, the town council and local First Nations want the bank to stay. They believe it is an essential service in the fast growing community, and the drive to Whistler is not an option for many, especially during a pandemic. They also say online banking is a challenge because many in the area struggle with cell service and internet connections. There is a credit union in the village of 2,500, but many worry it won't be able to serve their needs. Marina Cruz, holding a sign saying "Please don't close our bank," said many local seniors and elders are worried about losing a familiar branch. "I feel so bad, because it is so important for me and all the seniors in town. It is ridiculous not to have a bank," Cruz said. "I want to cry right now," said Katherine Tekekwithia Peters after learning the news, listing off all the people who work there and have helped her over the years. "I've been dealing with them for 42 years. It is going to affect me and a lot of other people." An online petition has garnered more than 2,000 signatures as of Jan. 15. Village council voted Tuesday night to write a letter to the bank's headquarters to try to convince them to change their minds. Mayor Mike Richman says the local government wasn't given any warning the move was coming. "It feels like the kind of decision that was made, using a set of metrics, looking at numbers on a paper at a distance, not recognizing, the demographics of our town, the complexities of it and the level of growth," Richman said. A long drive Sheldon Dowswell, the chief administrative officer with the Lower Stl'atl'imx Tribal Council representing five of the 11 Stl'atl'imx Nation communities in the area consisting of about 2,700 people, said he was disappointed in the decision. "I'd say it is borderline between disappointment and anger," Dowswell said. "Connectivity can be very limited, definitely for at least three of our five First Nations. So having the ability to actually see somebody in person is super important." He says for some communities, the drive to Pemberton in bad weather can take three hours on forestry roads and up to five hours to Whistler. While some communities do arrange group transportation into Pemberton, lengthening the trip will add strain to already limited resources, he said. There is also fear that COVID will still be a major concern in July when the bank is slated to close. "I think people don't want to leave their homes anymore than they have to, and I think that you're adding a really unnecessary risk when going to a place like Whistler that is very heavy with tourists." Business community concerns The local Chamber of Commerce has also written a letter. President Steve McCloskey says there are federal regulations around the closures of bank branches and wants to make sure the decision was made with due process. "We understand that there are difficult business decisions that have to be made," he said. Some local businesses fear if people head to Whistler to do their banking, the money they take out may stay there. "There are a significant number of people that come to the bank on a regular basis on payday. They get their cheque, they get cash and they walk out of the bank with a fistful of dollars," said David MacKenzie, the general manager of the Pemberton Valley Lodge. "They just start basically spending that cash directly right here in our town, whether it be the grocery stores, drug store, liquor store, the deli." Not a decision made lightly: Scotiabank In a statement to CBC, Scotiabank said it did not make the decision lightly, and understands that this will have an impact on the Pemberton community. "We feel that this relocation will help us provide better service and greater resources to our customers in both Pemberton and Whistler," the statement went on to say. As for any potential job losses, the company says it is still finalizing its staffing plans and that it is working with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to ensure it follows all guidelines. The credit union in town, BlueShore Financial, says it is working to fill the gap. "We remain committed to Pemberton, " said CEO Chris Catliff. "We've been in operation for just coming up to 18 years, and don't see any changes."
Police in Regina issued another hefty COVID-19 fine on Saturday morning. The police service got reports of a large gathering in the 2000 block of Angus Street just before 5 a.m. CST, a news release says. When officers arrived, they found a group of people in the residence, contrary to the current provincial health order that limits the number of people who can attend a private gathering. A woman who was a resident at the address was issued a $2,800 ticket. Police in Regina have now issued at least 10 tickets for people violating public health orders related to COVID-19.
Some restaurants in Nova Scotia are adopting a new system of contact tracing after 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collecting contact information at restaurants became mandatory in Nova Scotia in late November, meaning restaurants have had to write down the names and phone numbers of everyone who has visited as a way to trace possible exposures. Now, there's a better alternative to pen and paper, according to the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia. "It's definitely the high-tech version, for sure," Gordon Stewart, the executive director of RANS, told CBC's Mainstreet on Friday. "It's very simple, it's fast, it's in a secure database — the restaurants don't have to worry about managing the data or holding on to it or releasing the data. The Department of Public Health people have direct access to the database." SimplyCast, a communication platform company based in Dartmouth, N.S., developed software that allows restaurants to collect information from customers through a single text message. Restaurants that sign up for the system will be provided a keyword that patrons will use to submit their name and phone number into a database. When they enter a participating restaurant, patrons will be asked to send the keyword via text message. They will then receive a confirmation code to show to the host before they can enter. "This actually logs their visit in a report that can be exported as needed for the specific time stamp," said Alyssa MacDougall, the content manager for SimplyCast. Restaurants and bars in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County recently reopened to dine-in service after more than a month of restrictions brought on by multiple COVID-19 exposures. Now, all restaurants in the province may open for dine-in service but must close by 11 p.m. MacDougall said anyone who doesn't have a mobile device will still be able to submit their information online using a computer or tablet provided by the restaurant. Stewart said this new system allows restaurants to provide more accurate information to the Department of Health, which can start contact tracing immediately. "The challenge with tracing right now is it takes a long time," Stewart said. "So if you went to a restaurant a month ago and they gave you a bunch of paper with names and numbers on it, it's pretty hard to go through that, whereas you could take an automatic database, line it up and and you're away to the races right away." The system launched earlier this week. Stewart said he's still waiting for information about what restaurants have signed up for the service. MORE TOP STORIES
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's COVID-19 case count continues to rise with 27 new cases identified Saturday.The province now has 267 active cases, a figure much higher than in the rest of Atlantic Canada.Public health says there are seven new cases in both the Moncton and Edmundston regions, four in both the Saint John and Fredericton areas, three in the Campbellton region and two in the Bathurst area.All of the most recently identified patients are self-isolating while public health officials investigate the source of their infections, while three patients are currently in hospital.New Brunswick has had a total of 911 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 631 recoveries and 12 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, says the province is at a critical point in the outbreak of the virus.“We need the co-operation of all New Brunswickers to help us reduce the spread of the virus," Russell said in a news release. "We need to come together now, to get through this together.”Meanwhile, health officials advised that a positive case had been identified involving a traveller who may have been infectious on an Air Canada flight on Dec. 31. They said Flight 8910 departed Toronto for Moncton, N.B., at 11:23 a.m.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press