Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
The Crown was to close its murder case against a Fort Liard, N.W.T., woman on Monday, but a mysterious issue that arose last week may prevent that.Selena Lomen is on trial for second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her partner, Danny Klondike, two years ago in Fort Liard.At the end of Friday's proceedings in Northwest Territories Supreme Court in Yellowknife, the judge asked the prosecutors if they intended to finish their case on Monday. Lead prosecutor Duane Praught said that had been the plan, but that the Crown had "received some information" about one of the witnesses in Fort Liard on Thursday."We're still trying to figure out what to do with this information," said Praught. He did not elaborate on what information had been received, but said he had passed it on to Lomen's lawyer, Peter Harte.RCMP forensic expert testifiesMost of Friday was spent questioning one witness, Cpl. Amy Doan, an RCMP forensic expert who photographed and examined Klondike's and Lomen's duplex, where Klondike was found dead on Oct. 28, 2018.Doan said bloody shoe prints on the floor of the duplex matched the shoes Lomen was wearing when she walked into the RCMP station later that morning and confessed to stabbing her partner to death.Lomen tried to plead guilty to manslaughter at the beginning of the trial, but the prosecutor did not accept the plea.Though Lomen has confessed, much of the Crown's case has focused on proving she is the one who killed Klondike.Doan testified for hours about photos she took of the crime scene, the technique she uses to compare footprints to the treads on shoes, and how those techniques applied in this case.Doan testified she found some injuries on Lomen. She had a bruised knee, a cut on the palm of her right hand and bruising on both forearms.She said Lomen had no recollection of how she got the injuries.The trial enters its third week on Monday in Yellowknife. One of the last pieces of evidence the prosecutors plan to present is a video Doan took of the bloody crime scene.The Crown had planned to play the video in court on Friday, but did not because it failed to get an order banning its publication.
Mono Council met on November 17 of this year, in what was one of the most conten-tious and lengthy Council meetings to date.Councillors discuss a number of planning issues as well as a lengthy in-camera session on related issues and By-law Enforcement.The meeting opened with a presentation from the Fung Lou Kok Institute of Taoism, regarding their Niagara Escarpment Comis-sion (NEC) Development Permit Review. This issue has been ongoing since 2015 and concerns the applicant’s request to change their Cemetery Site Plan to allow for the site to be converted from plots to columbarium. As well, they want to beautify the site of the Cemetery, which will better conceal it from 5th Sideroad and the homes to the east of the site.The beautification is to include a new vehicular archway and the planting of numerous trees on the site as well as adding a pedestrian walkway and benches. Evans Planning Inc, the designated plan-ners, have been working closely with NEC and Town Staff to bring about the develop-ment changes. The currently approved site plan, calls for 1,575 flush mounted cemetery plots in the 2-hectare property. The eventual, total number of niches, in the columbarium plan will be 15,134. In a March 2016 Council Recommendation, the total number of niches was to be 1,507.In the plan seen November 17, the North-east corner of the cemetery would accom-modate 37 columbarium, housing 1,277 niches in place of 363 plots. The entrance archway would be reduced in size, with no lighting on either the arch-way or the columbarium and the landscap-ing to shield the view from the 5th Sideroad would be done.The plan also showed that there would be no impact on groundwater conditions and monitoring is a part of the Development Per-mit, regardless.A traffic study sowed no negative impact on road operations, however, a hidden drive-way sign would be installed on 5th Sideroad. In regards to the need for increased capac-ity, the current design has had limited suc-cess and the application will provide land-scape improvements and add phased long term capacity.Despite this, opposition was seen from several residents and some members of Council. The primary resident concerns centred around this being a Trojan horse, designed to allow for a massive commercialization of the site, seemingly in opposition to the NC guidelines.With niches in the GTA selling for upwards of $7,000, this was seen as a money-making incentive to open the cemetery to a larger Taoist community than the local one.Locally, the community is estimated to be 1,800 people living within an hour’s drive of the site. The residents’ arguments are that this does not take into consideration the larger general population of Mono, also within an hours drive.They argued that with the GTA there are approximately 15,000 in the Tao community and that this is who the project is aimed at. The fact that the occupants of a cemetery are all deceased did not seem to enter into any-one’s agenda.Councillor Manktelow was the most ada-mant of the councillors in his opposition. In his mind, a large cemetery was not appropri-ate in the, “rolling hills of Mono, the smaller the better.” Councillor Nix, who supported the presen-tation, pointed out that the Town was not the governing body, but we’re merely being asked to say yes or no to the NEC concern-ing the design proposal. He did however, say that although he has no issues with the proposal, the NEC guide-lines stipulate that it is allowable as long as it serves the size of the community. He asked who the community were and where do they come from? He asked if the NEC agreed with the estimated 1,800 person community num-ber. His primary concern was as to whether or not the proposal was in accordance with the NEC. This is of particular interest, as the NEC is the deciding body and their decision overrides any municipal one.Wayne Haddock, local resident, was of the opinion that Mono had more than enough cemeteries at present and that as only 11 burials had occurred in the past 35 years that the need for expansion was simply not there. He felt the traffic study did not look far enough in the future and cited existing water supply issues on the site already, with water already being trucked in, to support events. He supported maintaining the status quo.Dr. David Emery, a neighbour across the road from the site, had other opinions. He stressed that this was an exception to an approved NEC use and he felt that it was not in the best interests of the community at large. Dr. Emery stated that he has a problem with nimbyism, defined as, “the practice of objecting to something that will affect one or take place in one’s locality.”He stated that he has had no previous problems with the Taoists, yet does not agree they should receive special privileges. He was clear to point out that he is accept-ing of all cultures and religious beliefs and as a Canadian would not want to see any form of prejudice perceived in his objections. Nevertheless, he purchased his property to enjoy a quiet rural lifestyle and this applica-tion will affect his property. His argument is that of the Trojan horse, mentioned earlier and the fact that it does not meet the needs of either the Tao community or the greater Mono one. He feels that the application should be rejected and that the applicant should be allowed to come back when they can demonstrate an actual need.Councillor Nix reiterated his opinion that the numbers were not relevant, since it was not the Town that was building this, but the Tao Institute. If they overestimated the size it was their problem. He went on to question the opinion that this was unusual stating that Mono already had numerous similar undertakings, such as the Hockley Valley Resort, the Goodyear Scout Camp, the Buddhist Monastery just north of the Tao Institute and the Nordic Ski Club at Monora Park. He said that all the current discussions had still not changed his mind.In the end Council drafted a resolution saying they supported the first Phase of the project with a number of changes, including a limit of 365 niches and the landscaping being continued on the east side as well as the South. They also made the total number of plots remain the same as the 1987 permit at 1,575, including the niches and the pro-posed arch was acceptable. As well, it spec-ified that the NEC confirm that the develop-ment was acceptable within their guidelinesPeter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
NEW YORK — The co-author of the million-selling “Game Change” has a book of his own coming about the 2020 election. Simon & Schuster announced Monday that John Heilemann is working on a “dramatic, first-hand account” of Joe Biden's victorious campaigns over his Democratic Party rivals in the primaries and over President Donald Trump in the general election. Heilemann had collaborated with Mark Halperin on “Game Change,” about the 2008 race, and on “Double Down,” about 2012. Halperin has since faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment. He was dropped by Showtime, where he and Heilemann hosted the political series “The Circus,” and a planned book by the two authors on the 2016 campaign was cancelled by Penguin Press. Heilemann's new book, currently untitled, draws on three decades of covering the former vice-president, who was Barack Obama's running mate in 2008 and 2012. The publication date is not yet scheduled. “I first met Joe Biden in 1986 when I was in college and he was getting ready to run for president the first time, and I’ve been following his ups and downs, his triumphs and tragedies, ever since,” Heilemann said in a statement. “The story of how, against all odds and against the apocalyptic backdrop of America in 2020, Biden rallied in the winter of his life to defeat Trump — and, in the eyes of many, to save the country — is one of the great political tales of this or any age, and I’m thrilled to have a chance to tell it.” Screen rights have been acquired by Showtime, where Heilemann still hosts "The Circus." The HBO adaptation of "Game Change" won five Emmys and three Golden Globe awards. Heilemann is national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC and co-founder of the political video platform The Recount. He is also the author of “Pride Before the Fall: The Trials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era,” which came out in 2001. His current project adds to the list of books expected on the 2020 race, which includes works by Maggie Haberman of The New York Times and by Ryan Lizza of Politico and co-writer Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Edward Blake Rudkowski was a member of Nunatsiavut, and before that the Labrador Inuit Association, for 34 years. He ran successfully to represent Labrador Inuit living outside the land claim as an ordinary member in 2017, was re-elected in 2018 and was named the Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly, the legislative branch of the Inuit government. That was, until Nov. 20, when Blake Rudkowski was told he was no longer a member of Nunatsiavut, his status as a beneficiary was revoked and he could no longer hold the political office he had been elected to. Blake Rudkowski told SaltWire Network he was told he didn’t meet the eligibility requirements and was just over 17 per cent Inuit. According to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, there are a number of requirements that can lead to a person being a beneficiary, including that a person is one-quarter Inuit, is a descendant of someone who settled permanently in the land claim area prior to 1940 with no Inuit ancestry or is adopted by a beneficiary. “To be clear, they didn’t tell me I wasn’t Inuit,” he said. “They said I wasn’t Inuit enough.” He says he would like to know what formula they use to come up with that determination, and what factors were taken into account to determine it. He’d also like to know why that number matters more than what was determined when he was first accepted as a member of the Labrador Inuit Association 34 years ago. His status as a beneficiary of Nunatsiavut had been challenged two years ago and he’d been going through the process ever since. “Immediately after the election, literally the day after, there were two challenges to my membership eligibility,” he said. “I’d been dealing with this behind the scenes since then.” He said the two people who challenged his membership were political rivals — one a person he had beaten in an election and another a former politician — and the timing of it seemed curious to him. “It felt like membership was being used as a tool of political retribution,” he said. Having Nunatsiavut beneficiary status challenged is like coming in as a new applicant and is a daunting task that, successful or not, can take up a lot of time. In 2013 an amendment was made to the Nunatsiavut Beneficiaries Enrolment Act that allows any member to challenge the membership of another. Blake Rudkowski said this allows people to try to use membership as a tool to try to harm their enemies. “What this does is it allows someone who is a malcontent or has a beef with someone else a vehicle to exact some sort of retribution. At minimum, even if it's not successful, it can cause someone a significant amount of mental anguish.” What this has created, Blake Rudkowski said, is a climate where some people are afraid to speak up about issues they have with the government for fear they may have their rights as a beneficiary stripped away, or at the very least have it challenged. When he was in government, it appeared there were an increasing number of memberships being challenged, he said, to the point where people were asking whether a full review was underway. He said he also heard complaints that the process was inconsistent, which he believes to be the case. “You have a lot of cases where it’s one brother in, one sister out, one cousin in, one cousin out, so there’s an inconsistency across the board which speaks to the fact that maybe there’s a problem with the process. That’s been a long-standing critique of many beneficiaries, there’s an inconsistent application of the rules.” Blake Rudkowski said he doesn’t know what steps he’ll take next, and while it appears his career as a politician in Nunatsiavut has come to an end it won’t be the last time people see him the political arena. The Nunatsiavut Government put out a statement Monday about Blake Rudkowski’s removal, saying he was removed from the government once his eligibility as a beneficiary had been revoked. “First Minister Tyler Edmunds reminds beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement that the Nunatsiavut Government plays no role whatsoever in determining the membership of any individual,” the statement read. “The beneficiary enrolment process is independent from the Nunatsiavut Government.” SaltWire asked to speak to someone with the Nunatsiavut Government about the requirements and the process, but an interview was not available before deadline.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
An animal sanctuary west of Calgary provides a permanent home for wolfdogs, a cross between a wolf and dog. The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is home to 37 of the animals many of which would be euthanized if it didn't exist.
An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum."I think right now they could be doing a little better, but I'm satisfied with that," said Willie Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont. "They're not going to get my best wishes, you know what I mean?"Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, who by their own admission are not tech-savvy, told the CBC earlier this month that they don't really even use the internet on their phone.They said it was their understanding that their service would be cut off if their account balance reached $200 in any given month, so they were surprised when they received two bills, for approximately $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.Virgin Mobile said it had removed spending caps such as those after the pandemic began up until the beginning of July but it continued to charge for any costs for overages people incurred.Guerard and his wife said they contacted Virgin Mobile after receiving the large bill and were told they had to pay it. It was only after CBC made inquiries published in a web story earlier this month that the company took a second look at the massive bill."At least they're paying attention now. Before that I couldn't get nobody [to look into it], I just got the runaround," Guerard said.Significant reductionInitially, Virgin Mobile said that Guerard, who was an active data user, had twice requested to increase the amount of data on his account and consented to it. The company was unaware of Guerard's visual impairment and that it would be significantly reducing the outstanding balance in his account.Last week, they said they'd reduced the amount he owed to what his usual monthly bill would have been."We took another look at Willie's account and couldn't verify that he received the notice about removing spending caps during COVID," a written response from the company read.Guerard said after he called them, he found out the amount he now owes is $281, which he plans to pay. But he said he'll only be doing so once he gets it in writing.
Shelburne Council’s recent 1.6 per cent residential tax increase projection may be un-appealing to residents in the short term, but Councillor Steve Anderson says its much need-ed for responsible future planning. Anderson noted that Shelburne has several major infrastructure projects that must be dealt with and these projects are very costly.Steve said not having a tax increase just to appease voters is, in his mind, not responsible.Somewhere down the line, someone is going to have to pay for that lack of an increase. What’s important is that you’re able to show the public that they are getting value out of that tax increase, according to Steve. Having the best underground water and sewage pipes in the world does not appease the public, they cannot see underground in-frastructure. It is something they expect to be there, it is a given. A dog park or a tennis court is something tangible that they can appreciate and use. This budget is doing that with money being put to-ward the cricket pitch, community garden, res-toration of Jack Downey Park and even a tennis court. These are tangible projects that residents have asked for and make the tax increases more palatable, while allowing Council to deal with the big infrastructure issues. In addition, the new bus service in town will be expanding and there are plans for a major marketing push to make everyone aware of the service. Apparently, the Shelburne stop, is the most popular in the entire system. With this push, comes plans for more fre-quent service and even weekend runs. In addi-tion, Go Transit discussions are still on the ta-ble with the support of Solicitor General, MPP Sylvia Jones. The reception from Go was very positive.At the moment, the two proposed routes, by the advocates, are both not viable.None of the proposed roads are built to handle the traffic and they are not owned by the Town. Amaranth is dead set against any route running through their roads and ultimately, it is a Pro-vincial decision, not a Town one.Recent talks with MPP Sylvia Jones left things somewhat murkier still, as she said that first Shelburne needed to get the County on board before involving her office. The Coun-ty most recently were less than enthusiastic to proceed saying they would prefer to wait until a County Municipal Comprehensive Review, (MCR), was completed, before moving forward. That study and any subsequent decision would easily put construction 10 years away or more.A10 ORANGEVILLE CITIZEN | NOVEMBER 26, 2020 Shelburne Councillor comments on need for tax increasePeter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Peel Regional Police are forecasting a $16.7 million increase in spending for 2021, the bulk of which will service a spike in salaries and benefits, and the addition of 27 officers. The budget, presented at a police board meeting Friday, calls for $462.5 million in total spending in 2021, a 3.8 per cent increase or a $316 per capita bump in the annual tax levy. The spending increase comes at a time when police services across Canada and south of the border have seen outcry over police violence and systemic anti-Black racism lead to calls to defund police in favour of non-police alternatives and community programs. Peel police will spend $5.2 million on hiring the 27 new officers, while other salary and benefits costs will eat up another $11.4 million of the increase. After it was endorsed by the board Friday, the budget will now go to Peel Regional Council for final review and approval in early 2021. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who is on the seven-member Peel Police Services Board, lauded police Chief Nishan Duraiappah for seeking to reallocate millions of dollars toward areas of public concern. “Thank you for putting emphasis on areas that are a concern to the community, whether it’s street racing, mental health, whether it’s human trafficking,” Brown said. The service says it saw more than $2 million in unforeseen costs this year as a result of the pandemic. It will draw on reserve funds to cover any COVID-related shortfalls. Looking ahead, Peel police is also calling for $597 million in capital upgrades –– to be funded from capital reserve funds –– it says will be needed over the next decade. It includes an anticipated $307 million for land and new facilities, $153 million for information and technology advancements, and $76 million for vehicles. At the board meeting Friday, Duraiappah also discussed a summary of the year’s crime trends: Gun crime and homicides trending down Peel is seeing a decline in gang and gun activity so far this year, and is also tracking a decrease in homicides, Duraiappah told the police board Friday. Nevertheless, he dubbed the service’s Project Siphon, which ended with more than 800 charges against 88 people earlier this month, the “largest in the service’s history.” The arrests led to what police say is the dismantling of a prominent Peel-area gang, the seizure of dozens of guns and arrests over three homicides and one attempted murder. So far this year, Peel police have seized 363 firearms, Duraiappah said, noting that “91 per cent of the handguns seized that are traceable came from the United States,” up from the 74 per cent in 2019. “We do have a plan to bolster our gang response,” Duraiappah said. “We know a dedicated gang team is one we need for the new year.” But intimate partner violence is still common So far this year, police have responded to 90 shootings and 14 homicides, five of which were linked to intimate partner violence. That continues a trend that also saw more than a third of the region’s 34 homicides last year linked to intimate partner-related disputes. “It’s still the top three calls that we have each day,” the chief said. “We need to turn the dial on this,” he said, adding that it’s a priority to lower the number of repeat offenders. This year, the service is averaging about 50 calls a day for intimate partner disputes and in response, Duraiappah said the service has created a dedicated intimate partner and family unit with 48 officers who will soon start working out of a hub dedicated to those calls. Rethinking mental health crisis calls Peel’s three dedicated Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams responded to 1,700 calls between their introduction in January and October, with only 22 per cent of those calls ending in someone being apprehended, a report to the board said. But police field about 16 daily calls for mental health distress, and the bulk of those calls still land in police hands, Duraiappah said. “We know it’s understaffed,” he said, adding that the rapid response teams can’t respond to that volume of demand — “they do about a third of them, so two-thirds are still being done by uniformed officers.” “Our goal is to have eight on the rapid response team,” he added. Under existing provincial law, only police have the power to apprehend a person experiencing a mental health crisis and take them for treatment. A near-record year for traffic deaths So far this year, Peel has seen a significant increase in vehicle-related deaths, at 38, up from 23 all of last year. Since 2010, only two full years have recorded more motor vehicle-related fatalities: 41 in 2018 and 40 in 2016. “We’re sadly at one of the highest levels of fatal motor vehicle collisions this region has ever seen,” the chief said. The chief also mentioned a troubling bump in stunt driving charges. Police laid 719 charges for stunt driving, to date, up from 332 over the same time frame in 2019.Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
TC Energy Corp's sale of a C$1 billion ($769 million) stake in Keystone XL (KXL) to a Canadian indigenous group is the result of over three years of pressure from a tiny Saskatchewan First Nation that demanded part ownership of the long-delayed oil pipeline, rather than short-term payments for allowing it to be built through its lands. Natural Law Energy's (NLE) planned investment was billed by TC as the biggest-ever indigenous investment in an oil project, highlighting how some communities are seeking to share in the industry's profits while others oppose it. Adding indigenous support may help efforts by Canada and TC to convince U.S. President-elect Joe Biden not to revoke the permit of the $8-billion Keystone XL when he takes office as he has promised.
NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.“That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.“Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said.The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort.“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency.“That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.”Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required.Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans.Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views.Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
In the Kennebecasis Bay, just north of Saint John, three small islands make up what are known as The Brothers, the only reserve land in the southern part of New Brunswick.Some believe that the three islands may be an important key to the Wolastoqiyik reasserting their rights over the land and could play a role to strengthen a recently filed title claim to the Wolastoq, its lands and watersheds."I feel very strongly that it is an important component of the title case," said Patrick Polchies, a council member of Kingsclear First Nation."If we really think about the title claim, for instance, we need to express our territory, I think sometimes by occupation. And even if it's seasonal, it's important. We need to get out to these places and make sure that people understand that it is within living memory of coming to this region."Little is known today about the islands and their history, though a handful of people have memories of visiting them when they were young.Wayne Brooks remembers visiting The Brothers as a youth in the 1970s on camping trips organized by his father and Harold Sappier, the late chief of St. Mary's First Nation."Well, back in the day, like, my dad would always talk about it, and Harold," Brooks recalled. "We've got to start using it, because if not, somebody is going to try to take it over. So, as a community, Harold decided that we'll use it, we'll take kids there for camping trips."Brooks said as he grew older, he brought his sons to the islands when they were young to keep that connection.Though the islands are uninhabited today, they were once used as seasonal campgrounds for hunting and fishing by Simon, Andrew, Jim, Ed and Joseph Paul. The brothers would travel down the river from Quebec and stay on the islands.The islands would later be granted to the "Malicite Tribe of Indians of the River Saint John" in 1838 by Sir John Harvey, the lieutenant-governor, for use of the Paul brothers.Today, Indian and Goat islands are registered to Kingsclear, Madawaska, Tobique and Woodstock, though a spokesperson for the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick said there are plans to have St. Mary's and Oromocto added to the shared ownership.But uncertainty surrounds the title of Burnt Island. In the 1920s, a copper mine was staked on the island. Because of this mineral claim, when the province transferred the administration of reserve lands to the federal government in 1959, Burnt Island was not included in the transfer.There's still evidence of the mine today. Bobby Ring owns a local boat business in Brothers Cove and recalls ferrying Sappier and the youth of St. Mary's First Nation to the islands in the 1970s. He also routinely took a man who staked a claim to copper on Burnt Island. "Burnt Island, it's real close," Ring said. "On the outer face of the island there's a beach that's real rocky. You get out and you walk about 25 or 30 feet up the beach and to your left you'll see a hole full of bushes and trees. That's a copper mine."Ring's son, Geodie, runs the boat maintenance business today. It's on the shore directly across from the islands, just beside the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club.Geodie Ring said the islands are mostly frequented by boaters or kayakers now."A lot of people that just are new to the area, they'll all buy that Walmart or Canadian Tire canoe or kayak and they'll paddle out," Ring said.He said a lot of people, including locals, have no idea any of the three Islands are reserve land. That doesn't surprise Rachel Bryant, a University of New Brunswick professor and colonial historian. She wrote a blog in the summer about the islands, in hopes of raising public awareness about them in the local area."Saint John is not often thought of as Indigenous land. When it is discussed, it is discussed in the past tense," Bryant said. "I'm interested in reminding people of whose land it is."Bryant said there is a term that may explain why locals speak of the area as if it isn't unceded Wolastoqey territory."There's a phenomenon in colonial studies and it's called unwitnessing," Bryant said. "If material or something that you encounter, it doesn't fit within your understanding, or within a collective understanding of history or of place, then that material can't lodge permanently in a collective consciousness." When Bryant published her blog, she heard from people who had visited and had no idea the islands were reserve land. Polchies said it's time to change that. He conducted an informal archeological survey of The Brothers islands in 1990s that didn't turn up anything of interest. But he thinks it's time for more thorough and formal archeological work. "There are a lot of places in the province that we probably need to be looking at to understand where we were on the land," he said. "And particularly now."There's a title claim before the courts, for the entire expanse of our territory, so The Brothers are an interesting component of it."
While the province watches as COVID cases rise across the province, the Town of Nipawin is working on ways to share information among their residents and businesses. The Interagency Pandemic Oversight Committee, an informal emergency operations centre consisting of 20 organizations from across the town, have been meeting for the last few weeks to, “share resources and communication about COVID in our area and makes sure each organization is aware of how each agency is handling...education, chamber, social services, housing, health,” said Rennie Harper, Nipawin’s mayor. While they do not make any decisions regarding the pandemic, Harper said they have been mobilizing to assist those residents and communities that are in need of supplies. “It's a way for all of these organizations, the hospital and the health authority and others to communicate together about what's going on about the numbers and how can we help somebody.” The group also has been releasing messaging about public health orders like mandatory masking across the province and staying home as much as possible. Harper understands that people are tired of COVID and pandemic measures but she urges people to be vigilant. “We have to keep focusing on it, we have to keep going. Otherwise, the numbers will get higher here. And that's what I'm concerned about. Our numbers have been reasonable, let's keep them like that.” As of Nov. 28, there are 57 active cases in the 12 communities in the North East 1 zone, which includes Nipawin, Arborfield, Carrot River, Cumberland House and Zenon Park.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Canada's budget deficit is forecast to hit a historic C$381.6 billion ($293.9 billion) on COVID-19 emergency aid, with the federal government eyeing C$100 billion in stimulus to be rolled out once the virus is under control, the finance department said on Monday. The forecast deficit is 11.2% higher than projected in July, mostly due to C$25.1 billion in new COVID-19 and recovery spending, along with higher emergency support costs. "We are living through a very virulent second wave of the coronavirus and I think we all know winter will be difficult," Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is putting a call out for Islanders to find their old phones and consider donating them. The phones would go to clients of the My Place Housing First program, run by the CMHA. Some of the clients of the program had told staff that securing a reliable cellphone was a challenge for them, said Tessa Rogers, a housing support worker with the CMHA.The program works with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, trying to get them into more secure and stable housing situations. "A big part of this is weekly meetings with our clients, getting them into stable housing, but then also connecting them with different resources in the community and, you know, potential employers, things like that," she said."In order to do this effectively, it's very beneficial typically if they have a cellphone, just so you can reach them easily." The organization sometimes has trouble contacting clients, having to call neighbours or friends to get in touch with them, said Rogers. "Some of our clients have reported to us, you know, it's very challenging to book my appointments with you folks, book my appointments with my doctor, various community resources, just because they don't have that reliable communication tool," she said. Keeping connectedAny phone can be donated, said Rogers. Anything from an old brick, all the way up to the latest and greatest — it just needs to hold a charge and not have a shattered screen, she said. "Some of them are looking for something that they can just, you know, quickly answer and have a phone conversation," Rogers said. > Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. — Tessa Rogers, CMHA"And then some of our other clients are looking for something that's more up to date that they can use their social media on and maybe play games to reduce some isolation." The ability to use the internet is important, not only for reducing isolation in the time of COVID-19, but also to be able to access resources if public health measures tighten in the province. "If something does come up with the second wave, and having to shut down, this would allow those clients to still, you know, utilize those resources, whether it be Zoom meetings, Skype, anything like that," she said. Always a needRogers said they've had a number of people already reach out and offer to donate phones. All of the phones will be cleaned, sanitized, and staff will ensure that no data is left on them before passing them on. When the client gets that phone, if the phone gets a plan and how it's paid for is decided on a case-by-case basis, said Rogers. "Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. So a few of our clients are already connected with those resources. Some have it within their budget already. If not, it might look like us advocating for them," she said. "Some of our clients might not even necessarily want a phone plan and just want a phone that they can use with Wi-Fi. So it's really just meeting that client where they are and kind of assessing their needs and working with them to meet that goal." Rogers said there's no set number of phones they're looking for, because they constantly have new clients and there's always a need. More from CBC P.E.I.
Prince Wong was still in her mother's womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia came under renewed pressure Monday to explain the nerve agent attack on opposition figure Alexei Navalny as the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog got underway amid measures aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus.Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later. His allies accused the Kremlin of poisoning its fiercest opponent. Tests carried out by labs in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.The organization's director-general, Fernando Arias, told Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, “the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon.”A group of 56 nations issued a statement as the start of the annual meeting of the OPCW's member states urging Moscow to disclose “in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.”Russia, which denies involvement in Navalny's poisoning, reacted bullishly in its written statement to the conference.“Instead of trying to look into what had happened, Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some ‘independent international investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW,” Moscow's statement said.In October, Moscow asked for OPCW experts to visit Russia to provide “technical assistance” in its investigations. Arias said talks are underway to define “all the legal, technical, operational and logistical parameters in order for this visit to take place.”The European Union has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning. Moscow responded earlier this month by announcing that it had adopted sanctions against a number of German and French officials.The OPCW's annual meeting has been broken into two parts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two days of talks this week will focus on approving the proposed 71.74 million euro ($86 million) annual budget for 2021. The second half of the meeting will take place next year.Mike Corder, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway. They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene. Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted. No names or suspect information was immediately released. The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
Premier Stephen McNeil has repeatedly said it's not his job to detail what his government has spent this year on COVID-19 stimulus projects, but the three men who want his job are promising to do just that if they are chosen to succeed him.The $228 million in funding is being used for a variety of infrastructure projects across the province, in part to drive employment during the pandemic."Yes, I think public dollars should be transparent because they are public," Iain Rankin said when asked if a list of those projects and their associated cost should be released by the provincial government."I would certainly work to make the list of projects and cost estimates available," said Randy Delorey.Labi Kousoulis said if he were premier, he'd have already posted it, likely on a Nova Scotia government web page."Could even put it on our [access to information] portal or our open-data portal, and it's available to all," he said.Candidates say other changes in orderIt's not the only issue where the leadership contenders differ with McNeil on government transparency.Although he promised to change the law that governs Nova Scotia's access to information ahead of the 2013 election that made him premier, McNeil has since repeatedly said the law is fine as is.Just four days before election day, McNeil promised, in writing, that if he became premier he would "expand the powers and mandate of the [Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia], particularly through granting her order-making power."Though the leadership candidates aren't prepared to commit to those specific promises, Delorey and Rankin both think changes are in order."I do think it's time to look at revamping and modernizing those pieces of legislation," said Delorey."I think we can do more to be proactive with bringing documents forward and not having to go through that whole process," said Rankin, adding he would look at a review of the freedom of information rules."I believe in transparency and I think there's room we can improve."Kousoulis was noncommittal, especially about whether the commissioner should have the power to order that documents are produced, rather than simply recommended, and whether the office should be answerable to that the Nova Scotia Legislature rather than the Justice Department. "I have to think about it," he said. "I never actually gave it thought in terms of what powers the individual should have or not."Mixed response on lobbyist registryKousoulis also offered a similar response about the province's registry of lobbyists, which critics claim is ineffectual and outdated.The federal government system allows the public to know who is lobbying ministers and top officials, and when and how.But Nova Scotia's registry is just a list of lobbyists, the departments they plan to lobby and their general areas of interest."I'd be open to looking at it like I'd look at everything else," said Kousoulis. "But I've never really … given thought to the registry."His rivals were willing to go further."I do think our registry in Nova Scotia is dated," said Delorey. "I think it certainly needs more teeth.""I have been looking at other models like the federal one, actually, to see how we can modernize and bring some more teeth to that registry," he said.Virtual convention in February"Transparency has to be a guiding principle for our democracy," said Rankin. "And so I want Nova Scotia to have the most transparent process that we can practically implement."If Ottawa has a better system then we need to catch up and do that."Party members will elect their new leader, who becomes premier, on Feb. 6. There will be a virtual convention based at the convention centre in Halifax.MORE TOP STORIES
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens. Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide. Moderna is one of several companies to have already submitted partial data to a "rolling review" process offered by Health Canada. Rather than presenting regulators with a complete package of trial results, the would-be vaccine-makers file data and findings as they become available. Canada has been looking at Moderna's first results since mid-October. Canada has a different approval process than the United States and European countries, meaning that Moderna and Pfizer do not have to apply or reapply at each step. Instead, they have to submit their newest data and findings. Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective. Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer. When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.” Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance. WHAT COMES NEXT The FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate. First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17. RATIONING INITIAL DOSES If the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people. Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S. This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring. Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year. “Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said. Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along. ASTRAZENECA CONFUSION AstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and Brazil That vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective. Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk. A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective. Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there. STILL IN THE PIPELINE Johnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose. Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system. The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.” Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world. ____ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press