MILTON, Ga. — In a black face mask and cap, activist Garrett Bess walked up driveway after driveway of million-dollar homes in suburban Atlanta on a recent afternoon, placing a flyer in each door, ringing the bell and stepping away to make a socially distanced pitch to vote for the conservative candidates in Georgia's pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections.Bess' group, Heritage Action for America, plans to knock on half a million doors before the state's two Jan. 5 contests that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate.“Everyone in Georgia knows the candidates,” said Janae Stracke, a colleague of Bess’ who also canvassed the subdivision. "There’s not a lot of convincing to do. They’ve made up their mind. It’s mostly knowing when to vote, how to vote, encouraging them to vote.”This election season, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots. With people staying at home and limiting contact with outsiders, an extended conversation with a campaign worker who shows up uninvited may actually encourage people to vote for someone else.But it's a sign of how important the two Senate elections are that both parties and independent advocacy groups are going all in on their in-person get-out-the-vote efforts.After the GOP lost the presidential election in Georgia for the first time in 28 years, conservatives are urging Republicans to get more aggressive with their turnout efforts in the state to match the outreach of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.After Abrams lost the 2018 governor's race, she devoted herself to voter outreach, convinced that the state was a genuine battleground if Democrats galvanized young voters, minorities and people moving in from other states. She raised millions of dollars to organize and register hundreds of thousands of voters in the state — efforts credited with helping Democrat Joe Biden win Georgia.Republicans have to catch up, Republican operative Karl Rove told Fox News.“Let’s not kid ourselves: This is a real race,” said Rove, who is leading fundraising efforts for the runoffs.The National Republican Senatorial Committee expects to have 1,000 staffers on the ground in Georgia. For comparison, the Republican National Committee had a total of 3,000 paid field staff across the whole country during the presidential race.Democrats carry their own baggage into the runoff. In many parts of the country, they limited face-to-face campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic, arguing that was the responsible thing to do. But that decision was second-guessed in places such as Florida.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend millions on voter registration and turnout efforts.Outside groups are also hitting the ground, and the in-person appeals will be supplemented with a fusillade of phone calls, text messages, mailers and ads aimed at boosting turnout for the races pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Turnout tends to drop precipitously in runoff contests in Georgia. And activists fear there might be even more of a falloff this time, when the excitement of the Trump-Biden race is over. So getting voters to come back to the polls becomes more of a focus than “trying to find new voters or win over voters who voted for your opponent,” said Charles Bullock, an expert on Southern politics at the University of Georgia.Historically, that drop-off has disproportionately affected Democrats, so the party faces strong headwinds heading into January. The Republican candidate has beaten the Democrat in seven out of eight runoff elections since 1992, including two U.S. Senate races.Democrats have reason for optimism after Biden's win, but his margin of victory was tiny — less than 13,000 votes of nearly 5 million cast — and it’s been 20 years since the state elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.But groups whose efforts tend to favour Democrats are charged. On Friday, representatives of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America went door to door in a neighbourhood just outside Atlanta encouraging people to vote for Ossoff and Warnock.“If we don't get those two seats in Congress, everything we did to flip Georgia blue is not going to help us,” Phyllis Morrow told a couple that pulled over in their car.The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, which has more than 150,000 parishioners in the state, is asking members to call eligible voters in their congregations, encourage them to vote early and assist with rides if they need help getting to the polls on Jan. 5.Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said Black voters are excited and “realize the eyes of the nation are on Georgia.”"They know people are going to be looking to see whether or not Blacks turn out,” he said.The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, will try to register some of the estimated 35,000 people who have finished their felony sentences and can requalify to vote as well as some of the estimated 23,000 people who are turning 18 before the runoff, Executive Director Nse Ufot said.Ufot said the group also aims to knock on 1 million doors before the runoff, up from 500,000 before the general election, and is training volunteers to take coronavirus precautions.In Milton, Bess and Stracke were in friendly territory. The affluent, mostly white city about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Atlanta showed strong support for President Donald Trump in the November election. The neighbourhood they canvassed last week featured manicured lawns and spacious homes set back from the street.“Oh, you have no problem here,” Holly McCormick, 73, told Bess after he rang her doorbell. The flyers he carried warned that Georgia was the country’s “last line of defence from a socialist takeover.”McCormick called the outcome of the presidential race “rigged” though there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and she said Trump’s claims of illegal votes made her more energized to vote for Perdue and Loeffler in January.“We have to hold the Senate,” she said.___Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
Regina– The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been as hard on Saskatchewan’s finances as the spring budget had initially forecast, when this province was one of the first to release a budget in the wake of the pandemic. That budget, like all others across the country, essentially forecast the sky was falling. But halfway through the fiscal year, the sky has not fallen as far as expected. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said, “I long for the days where I'm just worried about crop insurance claims and potential floods. There is no model that we can compare this to. It’s just a very unknown time. But the officials, I think, have done a great job in gathering the data that we have available to us.” The 2020-21 Mid-Year Report was released in the Legislature in Regina on Nov. 27. It forecasts a deficit more than $380 million lower than budgeted, and an improving economy. It also adds a new $100 million “revenue forecast risk allowance,” essentially additional contingency fund to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. There had been a $200 million COVID-19 contingency fund in the budget, but $40 million was used for the back to school plan in the fall, so there is now $160 million remaining. As a result, there are now $260 million in contingency, when the two funds are combined. “As reflected in these latest forecasts, our government is managing the province’s finances carefully through the pandemic,” Harpauer said. “The mid-year update also includes $260 million of contingencies to cushion against potential pandemic-related revenue and spending shocks over the remainder of the fiscal year.” If these continencies are not spent, the result will be a further reduction in the deficit. A deficit of $2.0 billion is now forecast–an improvement of $381.5 million from budget. That’s also an improvement of $85 million from the first-quarter forecast. Revenue is projected at $14.2 billion, a $503.5 million (3.7 per cent) increase from budget. The increase from budget is due to higher federal transfers ($442.7 million), higher Government Business Enterprise net income ($145.6 million) and higher non-renewable resource revenue ($56.4 million). Tax and other own-source revenue forecasts are unchanged from budget, but the mid-year update includes a $41.2 million decrease in tax revenue as a result of the reduction in the small business tax rate. Expense is forecast to be $16.2 billion, an increase of $122.0 million (0.8 per cent) from budget. This includes increases for the health, education, municipal and tourism sectors, partly offset by lower-than-budgeted pension expense and crop insurance claims expense. The mid-year forecast includes the impact of government’s election commitments totalling $91.7 million, including $87.2 million for SaskPower utility bill rebates. A $160 million expense contingency remains in place at mid-year. Public debt and net debt are both down compared to the budget forecast. The budgeted debt was $24.369 billion, while the mid-year projection is now $23.828 billion, a decrease of $541million. Saskatchewan’s net debt-to-GDP ratio at March 31, 2021, is now estimated at 19.6 per cent and is expected to be one of the lowest among Canadian provinces this year, according to the Ministry of Finance, which added Saskatchewan also has the second-highest credit rating in Canada, when ratings from the three major rating agencies are combined. The pandemic-related recession is also now not expected to be as bad as initially expected in the spring budget. “Saskatchewan’s economy has performed better than originally anticipated in the June 2020 budget,” Harpauer said. “Real GDP is forecast to decline 5.0 per cent, compared to a decline of 6.3 per cent forecast at budget. Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was the lowest in Canada in October and total employment, on an unadjusted basis, is nearing pre-pandemic levels. As a result, our planned path to balance in 2024-25 is unchanged.” Harpauer said, “I'm very pleased to see that the economic indicators are stronger in Saskatchewan than what we anticipated.” “Our recovery has been relatively strong. I'm very concerned, still, going forward, because we're reliant on two things; largely consumer confidence, and as COVID numbers rise, the consumer confidence is going to fall. The other thing that we're very reliant on, because we're a trade-dependent province, is what is happening in other jurisdictions across the country, but as well as globally. So, you know, I will always have a nervousness for those two factors because they will affect this budget, in a big way.” Many of the Economic indicators in the report, such as average weekly earnings, retail sales, wholesale trade and sales in foods services and drinking places are from August, when Saskatchewan had as few as 29 active COVID-19 cases in the province at one time. But on Nov. 26, Saskatchewan had 299 new cases to report, and 3,146 total active cases. And on that day, the Ministry of Health released its updated plans to “escalate response to COVID case surge.” To that end, Harpauer said, “We has pre-bought the ventilators. There's a number of costs that we have now spent that was built in the budget, prior, to deal with higher numbers than what we were actually experiencing. So, although there may be a further deterioration of the economy, and an increase in health, we have contingencies on both sides, of lesser revenue, of increased costs. But it won't be in the same manner that it was in the very beginning, when we were buying a lot of health supplies that we didn't have. We have them and we're now prepared for the larger numbers. Asked if the $260 million is enough to cover additional wages for things like nurses’ overtime, which can exceed $1,000 per nurse, per overtime shift paid at double time, Harpauer said, “We're going be there for a health system, for whatever it takes, and there is no way to say what the magic numbers will be. You are correct in identifying that compensation salaries is going to be a big factor in that. And that is something that we couldn't pre-build or pre-pay. But at $160 million, that will deal with quite a bit of that pressure for the next few months.” Over the past week the province has reached tentative agreements with both SEIU-West and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, two health services unions whose contracts had long expired. Asked how important it was to have labour peace with regards to dealing with the finances and this pandemic, Harpauer said, “It is quite important. Now the majority of the public service had settled,” she said, noting these were among the last remaining agreements. “With each and every agreement that we have, it becomes hard numbers rather than soft numbers that we build into your budget.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney Co. announced plans to lay off 4,000 more workers in its theme parks division in California and Florida due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on the industry.The announcement by the company was made in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this week, saying 32,000 employees will be terminated in the first half of fiscal year 2021, which began last month. In late September, the company had already announced plans to terminate 28,000 theme park workers.In the SEC document filed on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, the company said it also put 37,000 employees not scheduled for termination on furlough as a result of the pandemic.“Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force,” the document said.The company also said they may make more cuts in spending such as reducing film and television content investments and additional furloughs and layoffs.In Florida, the company has been limiting attendance at its parks and changing protocols to allow for social distancing by limiting characters' meet and greets.The company has not specified the number of workers that would be affected in its Orlando theme parks.Disney’s parks closed in March as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened in the summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen pending state and local government approvals.The Associated Press
Paralympian and world champion Maude Jacques has announced her retirement from the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team.Jacques first cracked the national team lineup and helped Canada capture a gold medal on home soil at the 2014 IWBF Women’s World Championship in Toronto.She also represented Canada at the London Paralympic Games, and helped her team earn a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, which have been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The Sherbrooke, Que. native competed at the inaugural IWBF under-25 Women’s World Championship, which was held in St. Catharines, Ont. She was an all-star at the 2015 edition of the tournament in Beijing.“Sometimes tough decisions have to be made, and I knew retiring would never be easy because basketball has been a part of my identity for so long," Jacques said in a release. "But I leave the team with my head held high and I am proud of everything that I have accomplished. I wish Team Canada the best for Tokyo 2021.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The number of reported new cases of COVID-19 and related deaths surged in Ontario on Friday, a day after officials expressed cautious optimism the spread of the dangerous virus was moderating.Figures released show a record 1,855 new infections, a whopping increase of 25 per cent from the previous day. Public health authorities also reported 20 new deaths.There were slight decreases in the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital and on ventilators.The surge in new cases comes as the province grapples with how best to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in an effort to keep the health-care system functioning.Health Minister Christine Elliott said the sharp spike was not unexpected, given that stringent measures in the hard-hit Toronto area only kicked in on Monday. It would likely take two full weeks before the numbers start dropping, she said."We're still seeing the results from some of the events that have happened and some of the celebrations that have happened in the last few weeks," Elliott said.Premier Doug Ford spent much of Friday's briefing looking forward to the day when an anti-COVID vaccine might be available. Former chief of national defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier will oversee a distribution task force, Ford said, as he called on the federal government to provide details as soon as possible about the doses the province can expect."We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said.Several hospitals have now experienced outbreaks, including a major facility in London, Ont. Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., became the latest hit after three patients and two staff tested positive. The facility said it had closed its clinical teaching unit to new patient admissions and was pondering whether to close one of its eight operating rooms. It also said it was suspending in-person visits in favour of virtual connections.Staff at high risk of exposure had been tested and asked to self-isolate, Cheryl Evans, a Grand River spokeswoman, said.In recent weeks, the provincial government and local health authorities have reimposed increasingly stringent anti-pandemic measures, forcing businesses to close and strongly advising people in hot spots to all but isolate.On Thursday, police ticketed a provincial politician, Randy Hillier, for his role in an anti-lockdown protest at the legislature. Supporters carrying placards that suggested the pandemic was fake did not wear masks.Ford called the politician totally "irresponsible.""Folks that believe this is just a big hoax, which I've never figured that out, this is a very serious virus, we're seeing it around the world, around our country," Ford said.Four of the hardest hit regions all saw significant case increases, with Elliott reporting 517 new infections in Peel, 494 in Toronto, 189 in York Region, and 130 in Halton.The most recent provincial projections indicate the province was on track to see more than 9,000 new daily COVID-19 cases by mid-December without the more stringent measures.Ford has warned against planning Christmas or other celebrations, while Elliott has said it would be "very optimistic" to expect much of an improvement in time for the holidays.While schools have remained open, the education minister has warned that an extended winter break or move to remote-only learning may be needed."We are thinking ahead to be able to mitigate any increase of transmission in our schools because we've fundamentally, in this province, been able to keep that rate down,'' Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Thursday.Latest figures show 122 new cases in schools, bringing the total infections to 4,470, with at least 2,769 involving students, and at least 614 involving teachers and staff. Public health authorities on Friday closed the private Northside Christian School in Listowel, Ont., until at least Dec. 1 after an outbreak. Huron Perth Public Health said the school reported one case but others might be connected.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal government is sending $542 million to Indigenous groups to help them set up welfare services for children and families, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. The Canadian government has been promising to transfer control over child and family services to Indigenous governing bodies so they don't need to rely on outsiders to protect children in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. In 2019, Parliament passed a law to reform the system, requiring that children on reserves have access to services equal to those who live off reserves. The legislation also recognize that Indigenous Peoples' constitutional right to self-government includes the right to run their own welfare agencies. "We are keeping our promise to give them the support they need to keep children within their families and their communities, so they can grow up surrounded by the strength of their culture to achieve their full potential," Trudeau said. Child-protection agencies have often removed Indigenous children not just from their parents but out of their communities entirely when workers decide the kids aren't safe — often because a lack of funding left them with few other options. That's broken up families and hurt children's connections to their heritage. Federal census figures say Indigenous children make up more than half the kids in foster care across the country, despite being fewer than eight per cent of the children in Canada. "Behind these devastating numbers, there are real children, real and terrible stories," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Friday in a separate news conference. The new money is for everything from research and expert advice to consultations on how those Indigenous governments will establish and run their own child and family services, as well as to support their negotiations with provincial and federal authorities. Miller said this is an "essential step to correct the errors of the past" and will help unleash the potential of Indigenous young people who have been held back for generations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. The Canadian Press
The numbers of positive COVID-19 cases across the country are grim as the second wave of the pandemic has the country firmly in its grip. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer released new modelling on Friday that suggests Canada could see 60,000 daily new COVID-19 cases by the end of the year if people increase their contacts with others, but that number could be limited to 20,000 a day if Canadians keep the same number of personal contacts they have now. The modelling shows that instead of flattening the curve, national daily case counts are “increasing significantly,” and rapid growth is occurring in several provinces because each new case in Canada is spreading the infection to more than one other person. On average 5000 new cases are being identified daily and still people across the country are refusing to acknowledge that this is a serious threat. In early October, Prime Minister Trudeau warned Canadians that Thanksgiving gatherings were out the window, but we still had a chance for Christmas. Two weeks after Thanksgiving case numbers started to rise, and then Hallowe’en happened, and a week later the number of cases here in Saskatchewan really started to escalate. But we are not alone. On Sunday November 22, Alberta led the entire country with 1,584 new cases, despite having a fraction of the population of Ontario and Quebec. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer likened the spread to “a snowball rolling down a hill, growing bigger and faster, and it will continue unless we implement strong measures to stop [it].” A Canadian health policy and health services research consultant, recently relocated to Melbourne, Steven Lewis shared his thoughts on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 situation with CBC and he pulled no punches. “When 95 per cent adherence isn't good enough, you cannot rely on moral suasion or appeals to civility” and “the Saskatchewan government's "half-assed" approach will simply prolong the pandemic's devastating effects on people's health and the economy.” He continued, “It is increasingly clear that you can't slow-walk the pandemic with a fine-tuned balancing act that keeps the economy humming while keeping daily case rates at a predictable and low level. So, you have to come down hard and fast and universally to flatten the curve quickly. Bottom line: Saskatchewan has been tested by the second wave and largely failed.” On Wednesday November 25 before the Premier announced the latest measures the province recorded 164 new cases of COVID-19 pushing the total number of active cases over 3000. One-hundred and eleven are in hospital and nineteen are being cared for in intensive care units. Coming into effect at 12:01 am Friday November 27, seating at restaurants will be limited to four people per table with two to three metres separating tables dependent upon whether or not barriers are in place between tables. Capacity at performance and gaming venues will be restricted to 30. Any type of social indoor gathering in public areas are limited to 30. All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. are suspended, including amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups. Athletes and dancers 18 years of age and under may continue practicing, conditioning and skills training in groups of eight or fewer, abiding by the required mask use and at least three metres of physical distancing between participants at all times. Fitness activities and group fitness classes in groups of eight or fewer continues to be permitted, for all ages. Mask use and at least three metres of physical distancing between participants must be maintained. All places of worship must reduce capacity to 30 people, including wedding, funeral and baptismal services. All students, employees and visitors in schools and daycares except while consuming food or beverage must now wear masks. Children 0-2 years remain exempt. Children ages 3-12 should wear a mask if possible. As well all employees and visitors in all common areas in businesses and workplaces and all residents, employees and visitors in all common areas in provincial and municipal facilities. Masking is required in indoor public areas even if barriers are in place. Retail businesses must enhance the expectation of mask use and mitigation measures through signage and staff training. Large retail locations are required to limit customers to 50% as determined by half the specified fire-code capacity or four square metres of space per person whichever is less. Premier Moe adamantly denied the necessity to enact a complete shutdown. During the press conference he said because we have a better understanding of the virus than in the spring and “we” know what to do. He went on to state that it would be unfair to shut down businesses and put people out of work. The aim of the government is to find the right balance and minimize the impact on people’s livelihoods. Interestingly enough this is the same theory that has been expressed by Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney even as new cases in that province have exceeded those of Ontario and Quebec. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Marketing students at Burnett secondary are giving back to their community. Inspired by the sacrifices and generosity of frontline workers, they were tasked with contributing through three goals: reinforcing the government’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, starting a non-profit fundraiser to give back to frontline organizations and workers, and developing a project to create or revitalize community spirit. “Normally the marketing classes would run a school store as part of their experiential learning experience, but with COVID it just wasn’t possible,” says marketing teacher Chris Lee. “As an alternative, I changed this component to be more of a social non-profit pop-up venture format.” The students developed a mechanical hand sanitizer that uses a gravity-enabled foot pump. A virtual social gathering focused on a pre-recorded talent show as well as an online gaming tournament aimed at bringing people together. “In terms of the actual concepts regarding sales and marketing, the students really go through the entire gambit,” says Lee. “They learn to develop, source, cost, market, sell and provide customer feedback wherever applicable.” They also raised funds for the Richmond Hospital and Vancouver Covenant House through several initiatives. Student-designed Burnett clothing and tote bags were sold online, as well as a “pandemic kit” including masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. The last fundraising item was glass poster art, which was inspired by an online trend fusing art with music. Customized pieces of glass art capture favourite songs or artists designed to look like a Spotify music player. “All of these projects really focus on experiential, hands-on learning,” says Lee. “Given our limited time with the students in this new 10-week quarter system, the projects were designed to be like a pressure cooker, where basic entrepreneurial and marketing skills would be developed in a very short period of time. It is my personal belief that such an environment challenges students to learn in a very active way, while reinforcing what they’ve learned in class lessons.”Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
A bail hearing Friday morning for Adam Skelly, a BBQ shop owner facing lots of legal trouble for defying the Toronto health measures COVID-19 lockdown orders currently in effect in Toronto. Mark Carcasole has more
THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay man accused of an armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver in late August appeared in court this week to plead guilty to several, unrelated charges connected to fraud from earlier this year. Colton Herneshuhta, 21, pleaded guilty to a total of 13 charges relating to fraud, forgery, a break and enter and breaching probation orders on Thursday, Nov. 26 in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom. Court heard several instances where Herneshuhta used fake cheques to defraud several agencies in the city from January to April. On Jan. 6, Herneshuhta attended a loan agency business on Red River Road and presented a forged cheque for $1,139. A few days later, the business learned the cheque was fraudulent and alerted police who identified Herneshuhta as the person who cashed the cheque. He was also on probation at the time. On Jan. 9, Herneshuhta again used more fake cheques at two different businesses on Red River Road totalling $900. In a different case, another complainant gave Herneshuhta her debit card and pin number after he lied about why he needed it, according to Herneshuhta lawyer's George Joseph. “Mr. Herneshuhta made attempts to withdraw money that were outside the perimeters of the representation he made to (the complainant),” Joseph said. He initially attempted to withdraw $1,499, but was only able to take out $500, court heard. In April, Herneshuhta used a fake cheque of $850 to defraud the Children’s Aid Society. A few months later in August, Herneshuhta was identified as a suspect of a break and enter at a business on Victoria Street on Aug. 2. The Crown stated there was no estimate provided by the business of the damage caused or items stolen. Joseph told the court his client has struggled with a cocaine addiction for 10 years which has fuelled his criminal behaviour. Since being in custody, Herneshuhta has remained sober and has been working on his education as well as taking advantage of programs while in custody, Joseph said. Herneshuhta was sentenced to a joint submission of six months in custody, less pre-sentence custody. Crown counsel Piera Pasloski said Herneshuhta’s criminal record is limited and acknowledged his addiction which has been driving his criminal behaviour. “Mr. Joseph shared with me at the counsel pre-trial that Mr. Herneshuhta has had an extremely hard-wired addiction problem since age 11,” she said. “The hope is he will get himself the treatment he needs once he is released and that this behaviour will cease.” Herneshuhta was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he has spent in pre-sentence custody of 136 days. He has 44 days left to serve going forward. After his custodial sentence, he will be placed on probation. Part of his probation conditions include participating in any assessments for counselling and substance addictions as well as completing any treatment programs if he is directed by probation. He is also not to contact any of the complainants or enter the businesses he defrauded. He will have 12 months to pay a victim surcharge fine for each of the 13 counts. Herneshuhta was not ordered to pay a restitution order. Herneshuhta also has outstanding charged connected to an alleged armed robbery from Aug. 24 of a pizza delivery driver. He is scheduled to return to court for these matters in early December.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
A Pembroke, Ont., woman who was found guilty of impaired driving causing death in 2015 has lost her dentist's licence for six months.According to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, Christy Natsis will also be monitored for the next two and half years through office visits, pay $7,500 in costs to the college and receive an official reprimand.The college cited Natsis breaking the law and acting with "disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional or unethical conduct."Those allegations were uncontested, a spokesperson for the college said, and the hearing proceeded with an agreed statement of facts and a joint submission for the penalty.The college held a teleconference on Thursday and announced its decision.Natsis was found guilty in May 2015 — after a 55-day trial that stretched over three years — of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death in the March 2011 crash that killed Bryan Casey.She was eventually sentenced to five years in prison, which she unsuccessfully appealed.
Three N.W.T. projects are getting a financial boost from the federal government, in a move aimed at fostering employment and economic growth in northern and Indigenous communities.Michael McLeod, Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories, announced the $1.3-million investment on Friday, on behalf of Mélanie Joly, the minister of economic development and official languages, who is responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor).The money, which is being invested by CanNor, is meant to support "training, entrepreneurship, capacity building and infrastructure development" in the N.W.T., according to a news release from the agency. CanNor's mandate is to support economic development in the North.Of the $1.3 million in funding, $731,727 will go toward a three-year project at Makerspace YK, a non-profit organization and community hub in Yellowknife that fosters hands-on learning and skills-building."The funding will assist with the renovation of a commercial space into a collaborative space, which will support skills development, job creation and innovative new businesses in Yellowknife," the news release states. "The Makerspace will also provide access to industrial equipment and a tool lending library."The funding is expected to help create two full-time jobs, and support the local manufacturing sector.Cat McGurk, Makerspace YK president, said the organization is excited to work with territorial and federal partners to help drive economic diversification."Thanks to CanNor we'll be able to create a space where we can host workshops and work on projects, and foster a collaborative environment for the next generation of Yellowknife entrepreneurs," McGurk said in a statement.Funding for equipment in Fort LiardAnother $175,000 has been set aside to support economic development in the traditional territory of Acho Dene Koe First Nation. The money will go to Beaver Enterprises LP, a company in Fort Liard, N.W.T., that offers construction, excavation and maintenance services.The funding supports a one-year project, and will help the company purchase a grader for construction and maintenance work, according to the news release."This project is expected to result in 10 full-time jobs being maintained and additional employees being hired on a seasonal basis," the news release adds.CanNor is also putting $464,000 toward "business and financial planning for the future construction and operation of an integrated waste management facility" in Norman Wells, N.W.T.The new facility is expected to boost Indigenous employment and training, and support entrepreneurship.CanNor says jobs will be created in Norman Wells and other communities as a result of the project."Once the project is complete, the waste management facility is expected to have a significant economic impact for the Sahtu and beneficiaries of the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement," the press release states.The federal government said Friday's investment is also aimed at helping northern businesses overcome the financial challenges posed by COVID-19."We have provided support so businesses can develop the skills they need, build the infrastructure to expand, and acquire the equipment they need to get to work," McLeod said in a statement. "This investment ... will help create good local jobs in Northern and Indigenous communities."
After a summer of informing people about COVID-19 rules, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says it's time for a stricter approach."The time for education is now mostly over. Any egregious non-compliance will and should be met through fines and other measures," Dr. Saqib Shahab said at a news conference Thursday. Shahab also asked people to flag infractions by others."There's [a] public health safety number. So, you know, it is important to report noncompliance," he said. Shahab's comments came as the province reported 299 new cases of the virus, Saskatchewan's third highest daily bump. It also came as officials at the Saskatchewan Health Authority warned of emergency rooms that are nearing their full capacity and the need for people to follow public health guidelines. Since the pandemic began, the province has favoured educating people on the rules, instead of immediately issuing fines. Individuals can face fines of up to $2,000 (not counting a victim surcharge) for failing to self-isolate or breaking gathering limit rules. For corporations, the fine can reach $10,000 (also not including a victim surcharge). "Where we've seen some of this stuff happen over the summer, typically, we start with an educational approach," said Scott Livingstone, the health authority's CEO, at the same news conference. What health officials do when told of an eventShahab and Livingstone made the remarks in response to questions about whether the increased challenge of contract tracing might be causing the virus to spread and a report of a planned large event in Saskatchewan this weekend. "If we're made aware of a large event, typically public health inspectors would come out and have a conversations with the organizers about what they're doing and how what they're doing or planning would fit or not fit current public health orders," Livingstone said. "If it was obvious that the event was not meeting current public health orders, the event organizers would be advised as such and there would be recommendations from public health inspectors to not go ahead with that event."If the event went ahead and was found to have broken the rules, "there are remedies with respect to fines," Livingstone said. 42 charges under public health act The province has occasionally publicly announced some instances of fining, particularly in September and October.The recipients varied from a Saskatoon home owner who hosted a private gathering with 47 people when the limit for private meetings was 30 (it's now five), to the pastor of a gospel outreach centre in Prince Albert where singers went unmasked. The gospel centre was cited as a multi-jurisdictional superspreader.Between March 1 and Oct. 31, RCMP members in Saskatchewan received a total of 2,912 COVID-related calls for service — an average of 364 calls a month.The vast majority of the calls were resolved "by educating members of the public of the potential health and enforcement consequences that can result from non-compliance with the public health order," an RCMP spokesperson said Friday.However, 42 charges for summary violations were issued under the province's public health act, including for people who held large gatherings or did not self-isolate.What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Grocery chain Sobeys has reinstated a program that will see its workers in areas locked down because of COVID-19 get a pay bump.Empire Co., which owns Sobey's, has brought back so-called "hero pay" for its hourly workers in Winnipeg, Toronto and Peel region, which is just west of Toronto. All three regions are currently on some sort of lockdown because of rising COVID-19 cases, and all but essential retail has been brought to a halt.Sobeys workers who get paid by the hour in those regions will get between $10 and $100 extra per week, depending on how many hours they work per week. Although the figure may change as the situation improves or worsens, the company estimates that the initiative will cost it about $5 million.The chain, like others, had a similar program for its workers in the early days of the pandemic as grocery stores were inundated by shoppers panic buying, the initial bonus program was halted in June as supply chains and stores got back to some semblance of normal."Our teammates continue to work tirelessly to keep our stores safe and our communities fed," CEO Michael Medline said in a statement to CBC News."Launching the Lockdown Bonus, in the face of new government mandated lockdowns, was simply the right thing to do. I said that if we ever faced the same level of lockdowns in a region or province like we saw in the early spring, we would bring a recognition program back for our teammates."Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our teammates' efforts to keep stores open, shelves stocked and Canadian families fed have been nothing short of heroic."In its most recent earnings release, rival grocery chain Loblaws stated it has no plans to bring back a similar pay bump despite raising its dividend to shareholders by two cents per share because of strong sales growth."The company remains steadfast in its commitment to put customers and colleagues first, as we sustained investments and safety measures at store level, while resisting pressure to raise prices at a time when Canadians need value more than ever," CEO Galen Weston said at the time.
SAINT-LÉONARD-D’ASTON. Éducatrice au service de garde de l’école Tournesol à Saint-Léonard-d’Aston et sensible à la situation actuelle, Nathalie Comeau a proposé aux élèves de faire des cartes de Noël destinées à tous les résidents et au personnel du Centre l’Assomption. Un beau geste de solidarité envers ceux qui sont actuellement à lutter contre la COVID-19. «J’ai eu cette idée pour leur mettre un petit baume sur le cœur. J’ai présenté le projet à la quarantaine d’élèves qui fréquentent le service de garde et tous ont accepté de faire une carte ou un dessin. Ils étaient emballés de poser ce geste de joie et d’appui», explique Nathalie Comeau. Une de ces enfants est Florence Lapointe-René. «J’ai fait une carte avec un ressort où on retrouve une conversation entre deux lutins et une autre où c’est un cadeau. J’y souhaite un Joyeux Noël et j’ai écrit qu’il ne faut pas se décourager. C’est une très bonne idée de faire des cartes, car cela va réconforter les aînés, je crois», souligne-t-elle. De son côté, Camélya Turmel a conçu des cartes dans lesquelles elle tenait à remercier les dévoués employés du Centre l’Assomption. «J’ai écrit «Merci de prendre soin des personnes âgées et de Joyeuses Fêtes». En ce moment, j’ai une belle pensée pour eux», explique la jeune fille qui aime aider les gens.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Following a shockingly successful campaign to register P.E.I. children for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance is trying to raise more money so it can support more kids.The alliance had its initial launch of the Imagination Library last month."We thought it would take a year to encourage people to sign up, but apparently it only took 12 hours," said executive director Jinny Greaves.The program was quickly oversubscribed and the alliance had to shut down registrations. It had funding to support 2,000 children, but the number registered quickly jumped to 3,000.The provincial government stepped in with extra funding to support the 1,000 children on the waiting list.The Imagination Library partners with publishers and postal services to allow one book a month to be delivered to a child's doorstep for just $50 a year. It is aimed at children from birth to age five, with the goal of providing children with a library of their own by the time they start school.The new campaign, Inspire a Love of Reading this Holiday Season, has set a target to raise $150,000 by the end of December, which will be enough to sign up another 1,000 children for three years.Reaching the vulnerableGreaves said the alliance is looking to be more selective with this round of registrations."We really want to reach the vulnerable families," she said."That was our goal all along, was to kind of start there. We were quite overwhelmed and surprised by how quickly — when we opened up that registration — it just filled up."The alliance is hoping to reach a lot of those families through a partnership with food banks.As part of a separate program, the alliance is putting children's books in Christmas hampers. Those books will have a bookmark with instructions for registering for the Imagination Library.There are about 7,000 children under the age of five on P.E.I., and Greaves said the ultimate goal of the alliance is to register every one.More from CBC P.E.I.
Another Northern B.C. First Nation has confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 within their community. Stellat’en First Nation identified a case of the novel coronavirus in Stellaquo near Fraser Lake. “This serves as an important reminder to follow safety protocols,” chief Robert Michell said in a Nov. 26 letter to community members. He said due to confidentiality purposes no further information can be released. The letter was shared to Facebook late Wednesday afternoon following a media release issued earlier by Takla Nation north of Fort St. James, confirming one positive case in Takla Landing. “Slow and steady is what we need with COVID-19 and it is how we will get through this second wave,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. “The efforts we make each day make a difference.” As of Nov 26. Indigenous Services Canada said it is aware of 3,524 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves throughout the country and 30 deaths. Of the 1,392 active cases, 155 are in hospital.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
TORONTO — Rogers Sportsnet is parting ways with veteran Toronto Blue Jays radio announcer Mike Wilner.The broadcaster announced the split on its Twitter feed Friday. A reason wasn't given for the decision.Sportsnet said Wilner had a "voice that became synonymous with Blue Jays baseball."Wilner, the Blue Jays' first Toronto-born play-by-play broadcaster, became the full-time radio announcer alongside Ben Wagner prior to the 2019 Major League Baseball season. He also called most of the games in 2018 following the retirement of longtime announcer Jerry Howarth.Prior to joining the broadcast booth full-time, he served as a backup announcer and hosted the "Blue Jays Talk" pre- and post-game shows starting in 2002.Wilmer said on a social media post that "his heart is broken," but added he is grateful for getting a chance to "live an absolute dream."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Canada must shift its attention to investing for economic growth as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic downturn over the next few years, says former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge.In an online presentation at the virtual Bennett Jones Lake Louise World Cup Business Forum on Friday, the former central bank chief said Canadian governments and businesses will have the advantage of low interest rates as they continue to need to borrow money in 2021 and 2022."Federal and provincial governments will have borrowed enormous amounts, $400 billion to date this year for the feds, $100 billion for the provinces, 20 per cent of Canadian GDP. And they will have to keep on borrowing through 2021 and 2022 in lesser amounts in order to ensure that a recovery is sustained," he said."It is essential the government ... supports investment in this period and not just private and public consumption as has been the case to date."The business forum is normally held in Lake Louise, Alta., in conjunction with World Cup alpine ski races, but both the races and the in-person conference were called off this year because of the pandemic.Dodge said he's expecting about 3.9 per cent economic growth in Canada in 2021, assuming vaccines are widely available after the second quarter, and 1.9 per cent in 2022. The pace of growth should return to 2019 levels by the spring of 2022, he said, but national output will still be three per cent lower than it would have been without COVID-19.Dodge said a key challenge for Canada going forward is to continue to develop its technology expertise to compete with the growing influence of China."COVID has accelerated the transformation to a truly digital world and to Asia as it's epicentre," he said."Canada can thrive in this world as long as Canadian businesses, workers and governments work together and focus on investing in the future, not in preserving the past."In a separate presentation, Anthony Viel, CEO of Deloitte Canada, said the country can bounce back better from the pandemic if it renews its focus on building a well-trained workforce reinforced by immigration, improving industry productivity and making better societal systems."In our latest report ... we make the case that Canada can't return to the pre-COVID path: divided, haves and have-nots, an aging population, poor productivity growth, low levels of investment leading to stagnating standards of living, stalled progress on national priorities and slowing growth in an increasingly competitive global economy," he said.He said the pandemic has put a "spotlight" on Canada's chance to change how it functions to build a brighter future for Canadians.Deloitte recommends that governments, businesses, and communities cooperate in new ways to pay for the rebuild using collaboration as they've done during the pandemic, adding Canada should study other country's models to find out how best to finance needed large projects.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase among Edmonton's homeless population, the city's only isolation facility for homeless people is planning to expand. The isolation shelter opened three months ago to provide a safe place for people without a home to recover from the disease. Its location is not publicly disclosed. It has 65 beds but will soon increase its capacity by 40 per cent to contend with capacity issues that could arise in the weeks ahead, said Elliott Tanti, a spokesperson for the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, which operates the isolation shelter. The existing site will expand within the next two weeks, as soon as enough staff can be redirected to manage the new beds, Tanti said Thursday. "It feels a little bit like we're in the eye of the storm right now." Frontline workers are preparing for a possible large outbreak of COVID-19 among people who are homeless. "We did go a very long time without a confirmed case in the inner city, and that is no longer the case," Tanti said. "And so the ramp-up of cases and the pressures on the sector right now, we know will exist for the next two or three weeks. "We have to make arrangements to make sure that we're keeping our staff and the people we serve as safe as possible. That's the bottom line." Site opened in August Homeless people in Edmonton who test positive for COVID-19 — but who don't require hospitalization — are immediately transferred to the isolation shelter. The site began operating in early August after an emergency shelter at the Edmonton Expo Centre closed, leaving hundreds of people looking elsewhere for food, shelter and medical services. The lease on the isolation site was secured by the province through a partnership with a private operator. Out of privacy concerns for the people staying there, the location has never been disclosed publicly. Each resident has an individual room and bathroom and gets three meals each day. Medical staff and security officers ensure patients are safely admitted, monitored and discharged. The shelter was initially designed to house all individuals in the homeless population who were possibly infected but that is no longer the case, Tanti said. In September, shortly after the first outbreak was identified in the city's homeless population, overflow isolation sites were set up across the city for people who developed symptoms, or were considered close contacts, but had not yet tested positive. Those sites are still operating. Tanti said they were opened to ease any potential capacity issues at the isolation shelter. "It's the triaging that I know the medical sector has been doing for months now, but we're doing it now," he said. Exact numbers of patients at the isolation facility are hard to pin down, Tanti said. The number of available spaces fluctuates every day. "It's hectic," he said. "People are coming and going. For example, today we went from zero beds available to 15 beds." Although the numbers are hard to track, Tanti said confirmed and suspected cases have been steadily increasing in recent weeks, in tandem with escalating COVID-19 cases across the province. Convention centre outbreak Plans to expand the isolation facility coincide with an outbreak at the homeless shelter in the Edmonton Convention Centre downtown. On Thursday, there were 12 cases linked to the outbreak. On Friday, acting city manager Adam Laughlin told council the outbreak had grown to 22 cases. "Individuals who tested positive were immediately taken to an isolation space in the facility, before being moved to the Edmonton isolation facility," shelter officials said in a joint news release Thursday. "Additional precautions have been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. These include enhanced cleaning, signage with distancing reminders and the use of personal protective equipment when responding to overdoses and other medical emergencies." The shelter will remain operational throughout the outbreak. Contact tracing is underway. The convention centre shelter opened on Oct. 30 as a temporary facility. Hundreds of people — including many who spent the summer living in now-dismantled homeless encampments — now rely on the facility each day. The outbreak at the convention centre shelter is the third cluster of cases to develop at homeless shelters in the city. The first outbreak was declared at Hope Mission on Sept. 22 and involved at least 15 cases. A second outbreak, also at Hope Mission, was declared on Nov. 18. As of Thursday, 17 cases had been linked to the second Hope Mission outbreak. Ten cases were active and 7 cases had recovered. Tanti said the sector is hopeful that new health restrictions will cut down on community transmission but many of the health directives are difficult, even impossible, to follow when living on the street. "Being able to socially distance is a privilege. How do you isolate when you don't have a home?"