Viewer video shot on Nov. 8 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan during the winter storm.
Viewer video shot on Nov. 8 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan during the winter storm.
WASHINGTON — The federal government recognized President-elect Joe Biden as the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election on Monday, formally starting the transition of power after President Donald Trump spent weeks testing the boundaries of American democracy. He relented after suffering yet more legal and procedural defeats in his seemingly futile effort to overturn the election with baseless claims of fraud.Trump still refused to concede and vowed to continue to fight in court after General Services Administrator Emily Murphy gave the green light for Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration. But Trump did tweet that he was directing his team to co-operate on the transition.Monday’s fast-moving series of events seemed to let much of the air out of Trump’s frantic efforts to undermine the will of the people in what has amounted to a weekslong stress test for American democracy. But Trump’s attempts to foment a crisis of confidence in the political system and the fairness of U.S. elections haven’t ended and are likely to persist well beyond his lame-duck presidency.Murphy, explaining her decision, cited "recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.”She acted after Michigan on Monday certified Biden’s victory in the battleground state, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.It also comes as an increasing number of Republicans were publicly acknowledging Biden’s victory, after weeks of tolerating Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. The president had grown increasingly frustrated with the flailing tactics of his legal team.In recent days, senior Trump aides including chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone had also encouraged him to allow the transition to begin, telling the president he didn’t need to concede but could no longer justify withholding support to the Biden transition.Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, said the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, has faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration. The delay denied Biden access to highly classified national security briefings and hindered his team's ability to begin drawing up its own plans to respond to the raging coronavirus pandemic.Murphy insisted she acted on her own.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” she wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted moments after Murphy's decision: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, criticized the delay but said Biden’s team would be able to overcome it.“Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges," he said. "The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the GSA action “is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue.? Noting that the nation “faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition,? Schumer urged Democrats and Republicans to “unite together for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America.?Murphy’s action came just 90 minutes after Michigan election officials certified Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state. The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one GOP abstention. Trump and his allies had hoped to block the vote to allow time for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump has claimed without evidence that he was the victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes there.Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That long-shot bid is no longer possible in Michigan.“The people of Michigan have spoken. President-elect Biden won the State of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, and he will be our next president on January 20th,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said, adding it’s “time to put this election behind us.”Trump was increasingly frustrated by his legal team, led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose erratic public performances drew bipartisan mockery in recent weeks. Still, the legal challenges were expected to continue, as Trump seeks to keep his supporters on his side and keep his options open for opportuntities post-presidency.In Pennsylvania on Saturday, a conservative Republican judge shot down the Trump campaign’s biggest legal effort in the state with a scathing ruling that questioned why he was supposed to disenfranchise 7 million voters with no evidence to back their claims and an inept legal argument at best.But the lawyers still hope to block the state’s certification, quickly appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which ordered lawyers to file a brief Monday but did not agree to hear oral arguments.The campaign, in its filings, asked for urgent consideration so it could challenge the state election results before they are certified next month. If not, they will seek to decertify them, the filings said.Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.Pennsylvania county election boards voted Monday, the state deadline, on whether to certify election results to the Department of State. The boards in two populous counties split along party lines, with majority Democrats in both places voting to certify. After all counties have sent certified results to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, she must then tabulate, compute and canvass votes for all races. The law requires her to perform that task quickly but does not set a specific deadline.In Wisconsin, a recount in the state’s two largest liberal counties moved into its fourth day, with election officials in Milwaukee County complaining that Trump observers were slowing down the process with frequent challenges. Trump’s hope of reversing Biden’s victory there depends on disqualifying thousands of absentee ballots —- including the in-person absentee ballot cast by one of Trump’s own campaign attorneys in Dane County.___Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Jonathan Lemire in New York, Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta and John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich., contributed to this report.Zeke Miller, David Eggert And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
COVID-19 vaccines are at risk of being undermined by vaccine hesitancy. Pharma must take steps to ensure transparency in data monitoring committees and trial data to build public trust in vaccines.
OTTAWA — One of Canada's top central bankers says the Bank of Canada is keeping a close eye on household debt that were already elevated before COVID-19.The Bank of Canada had warned that a recession could easily strain the financial system and the debt load being carried by households.Deputy governor Toni Gravelle said Monday that fear hasn't played out during the pandemic, despite it being the worst downturn since the Great Depression.He said the key has been the level of aid provided by governments, that helped replace lost earnings, and low interest rates that were driven down by the Bank of Canada putting its key policy rate at 0.25 per cent.Still, Gravelle warns the country needs to watch out for the possibility that the tough times many households and businesses face could ripple throughout the financial system."The longer the pandemic constrains jobs and incomes, the greater the risk of financial trouble for highly indebted households, and the greater the risk of defaults that could impair the whole financial system," Gravelle said in the text of a speech today to the Autorite des marches financiers.If loan losses make it harder for banks to make loans, Gravelle says the economic recovery will be hampered and amplify an already challenging situation.Banks have provided deferrals on loans, mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards during the pandemic, with about about 14 per cent of homeowners with mortgages and 10 per cent of renters asking for deferral on some kind of debt repayment, Gravelle said.By September, about three-fifths of payment deferrals expired and 70 per cent off deferrals on credit card debt and automobile loans.Data from the central bank's survey of consumers suggested one-third deferral requests were for precautionary reasons, not because of income losses from COVID-19. Gravelle suggested this as reason to be optimistic those borrowers will return to regular debt payments. Still, with with interest rates remaining low for the foreseeable future — the central bank doesn't expect to raise rates until at least 2023 — Gravelle said the Bank of Canada will have to keep an eye on household debt and the risks to the financial system.Industry professionals have told the bank that they are broadly confident in the system's ability to withstand a severe shock, even as they said that risks to the system have grown considerably, Gravelle noted.Much of the confidence comes from the central bank's near-zero policy rate and its related bond-buying measures to keep the flow of credit from getting jammed up, and federal aid measures to hold up the financial floor under households and businesses.Gravelle said some of those early liquidity measures have since and may continue to be rolled back, but slowly. "Just as it is important to gradually wean a patient off painkillers as their injuries heal so they don’t become addicted, we gradually phase out our various facilities once painful market stress has dissipated," he said in the text of his speech."But make no mistake: if market-wide stresses reappear and we need to do more to ensure that the financial system can continue to support Canadian households and businesses, we will."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, talks about the difficulty of finding the balance between keeping society open and maintaining the integrity of the health-care system.
HURON COUNTY – Gift giving just got easier in Huron County with the release of an online wish book on Nov. 12. Highlighting local businesses, the Wish Book provides plenty of gift ideas from retailers and companies across Huron County. Whether looking for a handcrafted one-of-a-kind item or popular brand name products, everyone can find great gift-giving ideas available right in their backyard. According to a press release from Huron County, Canadians spent an average of $1,593 on holiday gifts last year. Not only does shopping locally keep those dollars in Huron communities, but purchasing gifts from local merchants is also the most convenient choice to avoid crowded malls, unexpected delivery delays from online retailers, and making unnecessary trips out of town. There will be daily gift-giving inspiration posts between now and Dec. 24. A weekly draw for $100 in gift certificates from local merchants on Ontario’s West Coast Facebook and Instagram pages. You can view the Huron County Wish Book at https://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/wishbook and scroll through all of the gift ideas to show support for Huron County businesses and communities this holiday season. The County of Huron developed the Huron County Wish Book in partnership with the Blyth BIA, Central Huron BIA, Community Futures Huron, Goodrich BIA, Huron County Chamber of Commerce Seaforth BIA, Municipality of Bluewater, South Huron Chamber of Commerce, Town of Goderich, Wingham BIA and the Zurich District Chamber of Commerce.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta Health Services posted a heart-wrenching on Twitter after the province confirmed more than 460 people have died from the virus.
WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is putting $500,000 from the Ending Violence Association of BC towards sexual assault response service programs over the next three years. The acquisition of the funding, announced by the ONA Nov. 20, is set to build on the work already carried out by the ONA’s “You Empowered and Strong” (YES) program. The program supports Syilx Okanagan Nation individuals, families and communities dealing with the impacts of trauma caused by violence including sexual assault and human trafficking. The funding is in line with the 231 outlying calls to justice coming out of the The Final Report on the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released in 2019, which includes the development of “self-determined and Indigenous-led solutions and services.” The YES program was launched after the ONA Wellness Committee identified needs to address family violence in the Okanagan Nation in 2015. In July 2019, the ONA Chiefs Executive Council passed a Tribal Council Resolution to support the calls to justice out of the Final Report and the continuation of the YES program. Each community determines how to provide the services the YES program offers baed on individual community needs. “The roots of violence toward Syilx women and girls can be traced back to the trauma and systemic racism that communities have experienced over years of colonization. The ONA remains committed to ensuring that Syilx individuals and families across the Nation have proper support, safety and healing,” said Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Chairman. “Through such initiatives as this we are taking decisive action to provide access to community-drive, culturally appropriate and effective services. This work must continue.”Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
A local health official is concerned Ontario’s new system for imposing restrictions on jurisdictions with higher rates of COVID-19 infections will lead to more travel between parts of the province. According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, seeing the province’s number of active COVID-19 cases rise has been concerning. The province recently started using a colour-coded system to add more restrictions to public health unit jurisdictions with more concerning case levels. As of Nov. 23, Chatham-Kent has transitioned to “Yellow-Prevent”. The “yellow” or “protect” level means health units will see increased measures and guidelines for businesses or organizations that are open. The health units at this level are required to have a weekly rate of 10 to 39.9 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of one to 2.5 percent. Proposed restrictions for this level include events and social gatherings limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, organized public events and gatherings limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors and required face coverings at sports and recreation facilities (except when exercising), among others. Liquor will be sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and there will be no consumption of liquor permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m. When it comes to the new colour system, Colby said it’s bittersweet. “What does this do to stop people from moving from a high-prevalence jurisdiction to a low-prevalence jurisdiction?” questioned Chatham-Kent’s top doctor. “It’s exactly what we do not want to happen. We want people to stay put.” Just a short drive South, Chatham-Kent’s neighbours have also moved tiers. As of Nov. 23, Windsor-Essex has transitioned into “Orange-Restrict”. Some restrictions for Windsor-Essex include a fifty-person capacity limit for indoor seating, a limit of four people to sit together, and establishments must close at 10 p.m., amongst others. Colby said the situation in Chatham-Kent is “a lot different than it is in most jurisdictions in Ontario” because community transmission has not been a problem. He added nothing stops people from coming to Chatham-Kent to visit. “What really makes medical officers of health nervous are cases where you don’t know where they come from, so it’s out there in the community spreading in ways that no one knows, and we find these positives that cannot be linked,” said Colby. He is thankful that is not the case in Chatham-Kent. “That is not happening here. We do not have any unlinked cases. It is a marvellous accomplishment. All of our cases are associated with close contacts, or they are part of an established outbreak,” said Colby. According to Colby, when contact tracers follow the infection line, they find a link outside of Chatham-Kent. He said he is concerned about locals visiting high-prevalent jurisdictions as well as people from those areas visiting Chatham-Kent. “It’s very difficult to get this across,” he said. “People still need to take very strong precautions, and there is a lot of fatigue out there. People are unhappy that this is continuing so long.” Chatham-Kent entered “Yellow-Protect” as of 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 23.Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
RCMP are looking to speak to a woman who allegedly assaulted an employee of Skaha Lake Liquor Store in Penticton after he had asked her to wear a mask. Penticton RCMP say they responded to a report of an assault at the Skaha Lake Liquor Store on Nov. 21, 2020 at 1:48 p.m. In a post on social media, Skaha Lake Liquor store alleges (with video) that a woman entered the store without a mask and when asked to put one on, she damaged the employee’s cellular phone and spit at the employee. The woman who was wearing a black and pink coloured jacket is described by RCMP as: “It’s extremely troubling an employee who was only following the provincial health orders, was subject to an assault of this nature,” said Sgt. Jason Bayda, Media Relations Officer for the Penticton South Okanagan RCMP. “Spitting at someone is a concern anytime, let alone in the midst of a pandemic.” RCMP are aware of the security footage of the woman making the rounds on social media, and police say they “would like to first provide her an opportunity to come forward and speak to investigators about the matter.” The post on Skaha Lake Liquor Store’s Facebook page also alleges the woman made “racial comments” towards the employee. Penticton RCMP are asking the woman or anyone else who may have information into this matter to call them at 250-492-4300 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
ATLANTA — After the Trump campaign requested a recount of the presidential ballots in Georgia, county election workers have just over a week to complete the new tally, a top elections official said Monday.The election results certified last week by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger showed Democrat Joe Biden beating Republican President Donald Trump by 12,670 votes out of about 5 million cast, or about 0.25%. Under state law, a candidate can request a recount when the margin is less than 0.5%.The Trump campaign on Saturday sent a formal request for a recount to the secretary of state’s office.The counties can begin the recount at 9 a.m. Tuesday and must finish by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state's new voting system for the secretary of state's office, said during a video news conference Monday. The counties are to give public notice of when during that period they will be counting so monitors from political parties and any interested members of the public can be there to observe, Sterling said.This will be the third time the votes in the presidential race have been counted in Georgia. After the initial count following Election Day, Raffensperger selected the presidential race for an audit required by state law. Because of the tight margin, he said, the audit required every vote in that contest to be recounted by hand.County election workers completed that hand tally last week. Because some previously uncounted ballots were discovered during the audit, several counties had to recertify their totals. Then the secretary of state certified the results and Gov. Brian Kemp certified the state's slate of 16 presidential electors.A state election board rule mandates that the recount requested by the Trump campaign be done by machine. County election workers will create test decks of 100 ballots — 75 marked by touchscreen voting machines and 25 marked by hand — and count those ballots by hand, Sterling said. Then they run those ballots through a scanner to make sure the tallies match. Once they determine each scanner is counting accurately, every single ballot will be rescanned, he said.Sterling also addressed a request the state Republican Party made Sunday urging the secretary of state to order an audit of the absentee ballots cast in the 2020 election, including verification of the signature match process.When Georgia voters return an absentee ballot, they have to sign an oath on the outer envelope. County election office workers are required to ensure the signature matches the one on the absentee ballot application and the one in the voter registration system, Raffensperger has said. Once the signatures are verified, to protect ballot secrecy enshrined in Georgia law, the ballots are separated from the envelopes and can't be matched back to individual voters.Sterling said the secretary of state's office is still reviewing whether any sort of investigation is appropriate, but he said there hasn't been any specific claim that the signature match process was not done properly.“We can't really see a legal path that makes any sense because if you open up investigations on a generalized grievance without any evidence, that leaves it open for somebody else in the future to do the exact same thing,” Sterling said.Also Monday, the state election board held a special called meeting and approved an extension of two emergency rules meant to accommodate the large number of absentee ballots expected because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One rule authorizes absentee ballot drop boxes in each county. The other allows counties to begin opening and scanning absentee ballots about two weeks before the election, and the board added a requirement for them to begin that processing one week before Election Day.The election board had planned to discuss another possible emergency rule on verification of residency during the voter registration process. But secretary of state's office general counsel Ryan Germany told the board members that it turns out state law already addresses the issue, and the secretary of state's office decided instead to send county election officials instructions reminding them of their authority and responsibilities under that law.Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
The provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, announced Monday morning that anyone arriving to the provinces from other regions in the Maritimes will have to self-isolate for 14-days, breaking down the Atlantic bubble.
With COVID-19 health restrictions putting a hold on public gatherings, there is still some Christmas fun to be had at the Festival of Trees. While the event is usually a three-day festival including the Ladies Holiday Luncheon and the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Cindy Amerongen, executive director of the Northern Lights Health Foundation (NLHF), said planning the auction alone was a complex task. “At first, we didn’t see how we were going to do it,” said Amerongen. “We knew we couldn’t have the community come in how they’re used to doing.” With health restrictions in mind, the NLHF began exploring larger locations which would allow for social distancing. They settled on the north terminal of the Fort McMurray airport, which fits up to 40 people at a time. People entering the event after booking timeslots online. “Our goal this year was giving people a place to go to and a place to feel like there’s happening for Christmas,” said Amerongen. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for mental health services in the community, said Amerongen, as people struggle with delayed surgeries and isolation. “As time wears on, that loneliness is really setting in for a lot of people,” she said. “It’s something that plays with your mind.” This year, Amerongen hopes this event will help break the cycle of isolation people have felt. The trees can be viewed at the airport’s north terminal until Nov. 28. On Friday, the NLHF announced a drive-through light display called Bright Nights at Abram’s Landing. The event is also a fundraiser for the NLHF and will include a series of Christmas-themed light-up displays. Bright Nights runs from Dec. 6 to 9 and visitors can book a timeslot online. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged 40 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, while marking 57 more cases resolved, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 347.Both that number and the rolling average of new cases have returned to levels unseen since mid-September.OPH also reported the death of another resident at a long-term care home where an outbreak has been declared, bringing the city's death toll to 367.More than sixty per cent of the city's latest cases are people under the age of 40.A total of 8,212 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19. The vast majority of those cases — 7,498 — are considered resolved.In the Outaouais, which has about one-third of Ottawa's population, 48 more people have tested positive for COVID-19. The region is now averaging 39 new cases a day.More than 85 per cent of the cases in western Quebec are in Gatineau, currently a red zone on the province's pandemic scale. With 42 patients curently in hospital, the Outaouais is outpacing Ottawa in that category as well. Thirty patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, including two in intensive care.An outbreak is over at École élémentaire catholique des Pionniers, leaving active outbreaks at four schools, nine long-term care homes and one hospital in Ottawa.Elsewhere, an outbreak at École secondaire publique L'Héritage in Cornwall, Ont., has also ended, the last COVID-19 outbreak at an eastern Ontario school outside Ottawa.Colour by numbersAmong the key indicators that could allow Ottawa to move from orange to yellow on Ontario's pandemic scale: * The per-capita rate of COVID-19 sits at 24.6, just below the orange zone threshold of 25. * The test positivity rate is 1.8 per cent; the yellow zone threshold is 1.2 per cent.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has moved from orange to the less severe yellow, while the health unit covering the Kingston, Ont., area went from green to yellow.The rest of eastern Ontario is green, the lowest level on the province's pandemic scale.
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 164 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 133 206. Elles font également état de 13 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 6 842. De ces 13 décès, 3 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures et 10 sont survenus entre le 16 et le 21 novembre. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a diminué de 8 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 634. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 5, et s'élève maintenant à 98. Les prélèvements réalisés le 21 novembre s'élèvent à 20 017, pour un total de 3 706 400. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données DateCas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés16 novembre98220638 (+47)100 (+13)25 16517 novembre1 17925652 (+14)10031 93518 novembre1 20735651 (-1)101 (+1)34 70319 novembre1 25926624 (-27)96 (-5)31 09920 novembre1 18915646 (+22)99 (+3)34 21721 novembre 1 15413642 (-4)103 (+4)20 01722 novembre1 1643634 (-8)98 (-5)ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires22 novembre 2020Total des cas 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent2171802 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean1614 26203 - Capitale-Nationale10610 79904 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec536 37805 - Estrie624 15306 - Montréal29448 74507 - Outaouais483 33508 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue025809 - Côte-Nord319910 - Nord-du-Québec05211 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine31 31612 - Chaudière-Appalaches404 96513 - Laval6310 83714 - Lanaudière14210 49315 - Laurentides417 64616 - Montérégie12518 92217 - Nunavik02918 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James016Hors Québec280Région à déterminer03Total1 164133 206 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1502 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean9603 - Capitale-Nationale41304 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec24905 - Estrie5406 - Montréal3 59507 - Outaouais7108 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine3712 - Chaudière-Appalaches11913 - Laval72114 - Lanaudière30315 - Laurentides33116 - Montérégie83117 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total6 842 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
It’s no secret that many rural and remote Indigenous communities suffer with lower-quality internet or no connectivity at all. COVID-19 restrictions have shone a light on broadband inequity which limits the ability to work from home, attend school online, or access services such as healthcare virtually. The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), announced by the federal government recently with additional funds, is looking to rectify some of those concerns. But it remains unclear how, or if, Indigenous communities will really benefit. The fund, which contributes $1.75 billion to “advance large, high-impact projects, which will leverage partnerships including with the Canada Infrastructure Bank broadband initiative,” was originally announced in the 2019 budget as a $1 billion investment, with an addition of $750 million added this month in the wake of the pandemic. “Today's investments will help make progress on the Government of Canada's commitment to create over one million jobs, and its work to support Canadians living in rural, remote, and northern communities,” a media release on the project said. "High-speed Internet access is more than just a convenience,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of Health and Liberal MP in the riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North. The Government of Canada website states that the “goal is for all Canadians to have access to high-speed Internet of at least 50 Megabits per second download and 10 megabits per second upload speeds.” But not everyone in the House of Commons believes it’s time to celebrate. “One thing I’ve learned about broadband promises is that I wait until I see the money out the door,” said Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay. “I’ve seen multiple big ticket promises that they’re going to connect everybody within two or three or four years and yet we still see that we’re in the same situation.” The broadband fund announcement states it will allocate $50 million of the total budget for “mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples.” “This investment will help connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026 so that they can better participate in the digital economy,” the release states. “These mobile projects are expected to extend 4G LTE coverage or better mobile services to unserved areas. Projects must target Indigenous communities, roads within or leading to Indigenous communities, or highways and roads where the deployment of mobile network coverage would benefit Indigenous peoples. Unserved sections of roads that would be deemed strategic for the socio-economic development or public safety of Indigenous peoples could also be eligible,” the government website reads. But Angus says he’s unsure of exactly whether that’s enough funding to help out an impactful number of Indigenous communities. “The fact that they’re talking about $50 million set aside for First Nations… That seems to be a very small amount for regions that are among the most isolated in the country, and there’s no clear timeline which is concerning,” he said. “In the first wave of the pandemic when so many people had to work from home and students had to work from home — in isolated or even just rural communities — people were being shamelessly gouged by the telecom giants. This was a moment where the government did nothing.” Angus also raised a concern that the projects in Indigenous communities might be investing only in older satellite technology, rather than more modern fibre optic initiatives. “If you want communities to participate in the modern economy, you’re going to need to invest in fibre. To me, it’s a stopgap, not a solution,” he said. Angus drew parallels with the ongoing issues with boil water advisories in 61 Indigenous communities that the Trudeau Liberals promised would be resolved by 2021. “Broadband is another huge promise,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem to have the same levels of accountability mechanisms to make sure government actually delivers.” Windspeaker.comBy Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay police have arrested a man wanted in connection with a firearm incident last week. Officers were called to the zero-to-100 block of Picton Avenue just after 10 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19 following reports of a firearm incident. Police learned a suspect had pointed a firearm at another person, according to a previous police media release. An investigation led officers to identify a suspect and the residence they may have fled to. Police contained an area around a Picton Avenue home which was held until a warrant was obtained to allow officers to lawfully enter the dwelling, police said. The area contained by police was held until shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. Police stated the two identified suspects: Owen John Boyce, 23, and Brianna Lynn Netemegesic, 21 both remained at large despite police efforts. On Sunday, Nov. 22, police arrested Boyce at a bar on the city’s south side at approximately 10 p.m. He appeared in bail court on Monday, Nov. 23, and was officially read his charges which include one count of uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm, using a firearm while committing an indictable offence of uttering threats to kill, pointing a firearm, carrying a handgun for the purpose of committing an offence, possessing a firearm without being a holder of a licence, failure to comply with a release order, possessing a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, and use of a firearm in a careless manner. Boyce was ordered by Justice of the Peace Anna Gibbon to not communicate with his co-accused, Netemegesic, who remains at large and the victim in this case. Boyce will return to court on Thursday, Nov. 26. Netemegesic was arrested in March and charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection to a homicide on Picton Avenue. Netemegesic was granted release from custody on Aug. 20 following a bail hearing application in the Superior Court of Justice. Part of her conditions required her not to possess any weapons, according to court documents. Police say the two accused and victims of this incident were all known to each other. Anyone with information on Netemegesic’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 684-1200 or submit tips through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. If you see Netemegesic in public, police advise not to approach or confront her and call 911 immediately.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
LONDON — Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world.The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said at a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in one of the dosing regimens tested; it was less effective in another. Earlier this month, rival drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective.While the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), the Pfizer and Moderna products must be stored at temperatures approaching minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 Fahrenheit).The AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper.AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.AstraZeneca applied for approval of its vaccine candidate in Canada on Oct. 1, under a special process that is allowing Health Canada to review COVID-19 vaccines for use at the same time as the vaccines are finishing their final clinical trials. Pfizer and Moderna have also applied for the rolling-review process.Canada signed a deal with AstraZeneca at the end of September to secure 20 million doses of the highly touted vaccine. The federal government has not said when those doses would be available to Canadians, but they can't be distributed here until Health Canada gives the vaccine the green light for use.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed they weren’t competing with other projects and said multiple vaccines would be needed to reach enough of the world’s population to end the pandemic.“We need to be able to make a lot of vaccine for the world quickly, and it’s best if we can do it with different technologies so that if one technology runs into a roadblock, then we’ve got alternatives, we've got diversity,'' professor Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford team, told The Associated Press. “Diversity is going to be good here, but also in terms of manufacturing, we don’t want to run out of raw materials.”AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective.That means that, overall, when both ways of dosing are considered, the vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 70%.Gilbert said researchers aren't sure why giving a half-dose followed by a larger dose was more effective, and they plan to investigate further. But the answer is probably related to providing exactly the right amount of vaccine to get the best response, she said.“It's the Goldilocks amount that you want, I think, not too little and not too much. Too much could give you a poor quality response as well ...,'' she said. "I’m glad that we looked at more than one dose because it turns out to be really important.”The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated with a given supply of the vaccine.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Of those, 11,636 people received the vaccine — while the rest got a placebo.Overall, there were 131 cases of COVID-19. Details on how many people in the various groups became ill weren’t released Monday, but researchers said they will be published in the next 24 hours.Late-stage trials of the vaccine are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.Researchers said they expect to add the half dose-full dose regimen to the U.S. trial in a “matter of weeks.’’ Before doing so they must discuss the changes with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The AstraZeneca trials were paused earlier this year after a participant in the U.K. study reported a rare neurological illness. While the trials were quickly restarted in most countries after investigators determined the condition wasn’t related to the vaccine, the FDA delayed the U.S. study for more than a month before it was allowed to resume.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.From the beginning of their collaboration with AstraZeneca, Oxford scientists have demanded that the vaccine be made available equitably to everyone in the world so rich countries can't corner the market as has happened during previous pandemics.Leaders of the world's most powerful nations on Sunday agreed to work together to ensure “affordable and equitable access" to COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines.“If we don’t have the vaccine available in many, many countries, and we just protect a small number of them, then we can’t go back to normal because the virus is going to keep coming back and causing problems again," Gilbert said. “No one is safe until we’re all safe.”___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Pacific fisheries are following a national downward trend of fewer healthy stocks, emphasizing an urgent need to diversify fisheries and for the federal government to follow through on neglected commitments to protect and restore critical populations, an independent audit shows. Compiled by Oceana Canada using Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) data, the audit notes the federal government has invested heavily in fisheries science, monitoring and management, including a modernized Fisheries Act, but it has not translated into action on the water. “Out of 33 critical stocks, only six have rebuilding plans. A lot more are scheduled for the coming years, but at the rate we’re going it’s going to take 37 years to get through those plans, and that’s assuming no more stocks get into the critical zone,” Robert Rangeley, Oceana’s director of science said. The audit focused on marine finfish, shellfish and other invertebrates but not fish that spend all or part of their life in freshwater, including salmon. Among the key findings, Oceana found only one-quarter of Canadian stocks are healthy, down 10 per cent since its first audit in 2017. Stocks of caution have risen from 16 to 19 per cent, while stocks in critical states have increased from 13.4 per cent to 17 per cent in the same time period. The health of roughly one-third remains uncertain due to insufficient data, such as mortality estimates, which have been applied to only 20 per cent of stocks. “We know why we have such poor fishing mortality estimates, because we do such poor fisheries monitoring,” Rangeley said. “If you don’t’ know the sources of the mortality, and you don’t know the extent of the mortality, you really can’t tell whether you should be backing off a fishery or not.” Along B.C.’s coast the audit highlighted troubling decreases in crustaceans, the backbone of Canadian fisheries, and small forage fish that other commercially important fish prey upon. “Herring, oolichan and other forage fish are so critically important to the ecosystem, as our Pacific First Nations know intimately well. But when we manage those stocks for commercial fishing … there’s no accountability for the stock’s role in the ecosystem,” Rangeley said. “So when quotas are set, they’re not set at a level that allows sufficient biomass to be left in the water for the other species that depend on them. “Forage fish are worth twice as much in the water than they are in the net.” In its recommendations, Oceana is now calling on the government to complete regulations that bring new Fisheries Act provisions into force, address inconsistencies in catch monitoring by implementing the national Fishery Monitoring Policy introduced in November 2019 and develop the remaining rebuilding plans. Rangeley commended the government for several achievements in this year’s audit, including a rebuilding plan underway for critical Pacific herring stocks in the Haida Gwaii area, but cautioned completion of these plans is too often delayed or suspended. No new rebuilding plans for critical stocks were released in 2020. An emailed statement from the office of Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan stated DFO welcomes the Oceana audit and will be reviewing the recommendations, but argued rebuilding plans are already a priority for the government. “In 2018, our government modernized the Fisheries Act to restore protections to fish and fish habitat, and make fish stock rebuilding plans mandatory. Since then, DFO has completed rebuilding plans for six of nineteen selected stocks, and a further two have improved to the point where they are no longer in the critical zone. For the remaining priority stocks, DFO has specific fishery management measures in place, based on the best available science.” The audit shows yelloweye rockfish of Vancouver Island jumped from critical status to healthy status in 2020, following an evaluation of rebuilding strategies. The minister’s office added the government has taken consistent action, backed by targeted investments, to protect and restore species at risk and their habitats through many initiatives, including the Canada Nature Fund, the Ocean Protections Plan, the Coastal Baseline Fund, and the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. Rangeley praised DFO’s transparency and commitments but stressed the need for swifter follow through. Oceana communicated with the department and elected officials to compile the audit, and shared the results before making them public. “They’ve already validated it because they’ve gone over it with a fine-tooth comb,” Rangeley said. “There’s no argument about this audit, it’s the single-most important source for getting information on the status of our stocks and how we’re managing them. So give them credit for their transparency, and for making commitments. They know they’re falling short and they want to do better.” He added the audit highlights the need to better diversify the species that are harvested, not just for better economic security of fishing communities, but also the government’s Blue Economy strategy, which will suffer without the backbone of sustainable wild fisheries. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View