The words spoken by America's top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, carried a familiar ring, but in the midst of a chaotic week at the Pentagon, they were particularly poignant. (Nov. 12)
The words spoken by America's top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, carried a familiar ring, but in the midst of a chaotic week at the Pentagon, they were particularly poignant. (Nov. 12)
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor and the health minister are urging the public to slow the spread of COVID-19 this weekend by limiting any festive gatherings to immediate households.Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix say 711 new infections have been recorded in the province and 11 more people have died, for a total of 492 fatalities.They say in a joint statement that B.C. is continuing to see a significant surge in community transmission so all public health orders must be followed as more than 36,000 people have tested positive for the virus.Henry has said it's important to remain vigilant in containing the virus for the next few months and that everyone in the province who wants to be vaccinated could be immunized by September.Nearly 11,000 people who have been identified as being exposed to the virus are being monitored and 25,658 people who tested positive have recovered.The latest public health orders have meant the cancellation of adult indoor and outdoor team sports, though children can continue participating in local games without spectators.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
A request from a long-time Port McNicoll resident could present a winter activities opportunity to people living along 1st Avenue. Joyce Burns is asking that the sidewalk/trail along the entirety of the busy road be plowed for safe winter use. She presented her case through a letter that Coun. Sandy Talbot read to other council members at a recent council meeting. "The mental health benefits of having it plowed is that young families can still walk and run it safely as can all the people that use it,” Burns wrote. “They will be able to use it to teach them how to cross-country ski safely when the conditions are good. “The kids that catch the buses on 1st Avenue will have a safe place to walk to get back and forth and also when they're waiting for their buses,” continued the letter. “With COVID still around this winter, people will be able to get out and enjoy the sidewalk/trail, like they have in spring and summer. They will see wildlife and birds and even a decorated Christmas tree on the sidewalk trail to brighten their day.” Burns also said in her letter that she’d counted eight sidewalks in Port McNicoll that she believes are plowed. “They plow Talbot (Street) to Davidson (Street), a two block section,” she noted in her letter. “Why not all the way down 1st Avenue? I'm hoping there will be a positive outcome to this. I don't expect it to be as wide as it is now. If it is plowed like the rest of the sidewalks, that would be great." Talbot said she had no problem supporting the request considering the cost the township would incur. “I think sometimes we have to think outside the box and there will be an increase in cost if there's an increase in service level,” she said. “It's well-utilized. Other people have trails in other communities and they make skating rinks out of them so they're multi-purpose uses.” Coun. Paul Raymond supported the idea, but also brought forth concerns. “We have a growth of young families down by that area and they are increasingly using the road or the trail in summer time,” he said. "My only concern with cleaning the trail off is that in winter we have motorized vehicles ripping up and down there. What happens if we open it up and see some destruction because of these vehicles? I think we have to put some more thought into the whole thing.” Mayor Ted Walker, who also backed the request, said the snowmobile issue could be mitigated by a 'No Snowmobiles' sign as is done in other areas. “I'd be open for a one-year trial,” he added. Where Talbot had a few peers in her corner, Coun. Barry Norris was at the other of the spectrum on the issue. “Seriously?” he asked. “Why don't we clear the whole trail then? It makes no sense. I'm sorry we're not here to turn around and allow all of this? We're talking about a two-mile sidewalk to allow a couple of pedestrians to walk it. “I don't support it one iota,” continued Norris. “I think there is a policy in place as to what sidewalks we actually do and I doubt this is actually going to be covered under it.” And not to mention the costs of having to maintain it with sand, he said. “There's more to it than just clearing it off,” said Norris. “What's the rough cost on it?” Staff didn’t have an immediate answer as to how much it would cost to clear the two-kilometre pathway and were asked to bring back a report to a December meeting for a final decision. When asked for her reaction to council's decision, Burns wrote in, "I'm hopeful that council will go ahead with plowing 1st Ave., but if not, that will be alright ... I'll try again for next year."Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
A trilingual 16-year-old budding baker has launched her own business in St. Albert. Valeria Fonseca is turning her passion for baking into a home business by offering her cakes for sale online. “I feel really happy. I am very happy because I have a new business and because the kitchen is my passion,” Fonseca said. Fonseca’s passion for baking and cooking ignited just one year ago after her parents separated. Fonseca lives with her mom, Catherine Varvas, who after the separation started to take over the family cooking and asked her daughter for help. Fonseca quickly took to cooking and discovered her passion for creating food with her own hands. Varvas said she loves baking and cooking with her daughter because it makes her happy and calm. "She dances, she sings – she's so happy," the mom said. Fonseca started watching baking and cooking shows, like Master Chef, and wants to be a chef when she grows up. The business really took off this year during COVID-19, when the teen had more time at home. Fonseca is doing online learning this year and makes time to bake on Tuesdays and Sundays. Making the cakes has been good for the teen's self-esteem. “People say, ‘A beautiful girl with delicious cakes,’ and I am so proud,” Fonseca said. Fonseca began her cake-making venture by baking one for a friend, who remarked that the cakes were delicious. The friend suggested the family make a video of Fonseca making the cakes to promote her baking skills, and after the video was posted to Facebook, the family got very positive feedback. "People had a very good reaction and liked the cakes," Varvas said. Fonseca said her favourite cake to make is a red fruit cake, with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The teen is also passionate about cooking, loves to make Mexican food and hopes to specialize in cooking that cuisine when she is older. Fonseca, who speaks English as a third language, moved to St. Albert two years ago. The family is originally from Columbia but emigrated to Montreal five years ago. Varvas said the family left Montreal to find more inclusive education for her daughter, who has Down Syndrome. Back home in Colombia, Fonseca was learning alongside all of the other children in a classroom and getting an inclusive education, but in Montreal they didn’t have that same experience. So Varvas moved the family to Alberta so Fonseca could have the very best education possible. "We came to Alberta and we've found the door open, and we are so happy here," Varvas said. To order Fonseca's cakes, you can visit Valecakes on Facebook.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians. But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful. It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada. "We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now." As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19. Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here? It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C. Those pieces are starting to converge now. Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada. Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces. "We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart. The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them. “I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options." Anand said that is not the case. She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies. Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests. In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen. By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month. Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage. Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Employees at the LNG Canada work site in Kitimat, B.C., complained multiple times about unsafe working conditions just months before the facility experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, according to WorkSafe BC inspection reports obtained by The Narwhal. The outbreak at LNG Canada started on Nov. 19 and there are now 54 cases. In the months leading up to the outbreak, workers raised concerns about COVID-19 cleaning procedures in common areas, rooms and work spaces, prompting inspections by WorkSafe BC on Aug. 28 and Oct. 19. The documents also reveal that a WorkSafe BC inspection of the Site C work camp’s sewage treatment facility in northeast B.C. on March 19 found the facility did not have a plan to sufficiently protect workers from pathogens, body fluids, human waste, mould and COVID-19. WorkSafe BC didn’t say if or how the issues flagged during the inspection were resolved. The first case of COVID-19 at Site C was in July and there have been 17 cases to date. On Dec. 4, BC Hydro reported five active cases and 18 people in self-isolation. The revelations come as calls grow for B.C. to shut down work camps or risk further community spread with northern hospitals already stretched thin. More than 180 frontline health workers have signed an open letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that started circulating on Thursday, calling on her to immediately shut down industrial work camps on Indigenous territories. “To put the interests of economy and industry ahead of Indigenous lives is not public health,” the letter says. “To put Indigenous Elders and youth at further risk in the midst of a pandemic is to say quite clearly that Indigenous lives still do not matter in B.C.” On Thursday, the Unist’ot’en Camp said Coastal GasLink confirmed five new cases at its camp 9A on Unist’ot’en territory. Sley’do Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en Camp spokesperson, said at least one Wet’suwet’en worker in a Coastal GasLink work camp recently contracted the virus and is now hospitalized in an induced coma. David Bowering, former chief medical officer for Northern Health, said the time has come for the province to shift gears and take a harder look at what it deems essential. “Is it industry first, or the health and safety of the population in the north first? They need to rethink the essential designation and say it’s not that essential, certainly not at this price.” Coastal GasLink, BC Hydro and the Ministry of Health did not respond to interview requests prior to publication. LNG Canada declined an interview request. Bowering told The Narwhal he’s surprised it took this long for an outbreak in the work camps to occur. In the early days of the pandemic, he wrote an open letter to Henry urging her to shut down the work camps, calling them “land locked cruise ships” and warning that cases related to these industrial sites were inevitable. He knows what he’s talking about — his first job as a doctor was at a mining camp. He called the safety plans prepared by LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink “deluxe” documents but says the best plans in the world don’t mean anything if people aren’t following the rules. “They have luxury-class health and safety plans and luxury-class consultants compared to what the public sector can afford,” he said. “The virus doesn’t respect paper protocols. There’s just too much human nature involved.” Wickham said she has frequently seen workers flouting the rules. “We know that they’re not following even the basic protocols like wearing masks when they’re in vehicles together or when they’re close working closely with one another,” she said. “And they’re certainly not wearing masks when they’re interacting with our people on the territory.” Bowering is concerned that capacity at Northern Health hospitals is already stretched thin. In a statement released yesterday, the health authority said it is “experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity and hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients requiring critical care.” There 235 active cases in the region including 33 people in hospital. Patients have already been transferred to hospitals outside the region to deal with the increase. “I think we’re in for a rough ride,” Bowering said. “The worry about our local hospitals and our local staff being overwhelmed, burned out and having difficulty coping, that’s becoming a pretty clear reality. Our communities need help.” Bowering isn’t alone in his calls to shut down work camps. The open letter from frontline health workers calls for Henry to take “immediate action” and shut down work camps. “As health professionals, we have a responsibility to uphold the current and future health of these communities, which are now under threat from the continuing of Coastal GasLink (LNG) work and man camps,” the letter says. The frontline health workers’ letter is in support of concerns raised by more than 20 Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, or Ts’ako ze’, in an open letter to Henry dated Nov. 30. In that letter, the matriarchs asked the public health officer to reconsider the essential designation given to the oil and gas industry and close work camps, which have also been shown to increase violence against Indigenous women and children and bring a host of social ills. “Not only have we witnessed an increase in drugs, alcohol and gang-related violence in our communities, we are now faced with a disease that could kill any one of us,” the matriarchs wrote. “In addition to the risk man camps have on our Indigenous women and girls, we are now facing the loss of some of our most sacred elders and chiefs.” At the time of publication, the Ts’ako ze’ said they had not received a response from the public health officer. The calls to shut down work camps come in the wake of a damning independent review that found widespread racism and discrimination against Ingienous people in B.C. health care. The 224-page report released on Nov. 30 found that racism and discrimination negatively affect the treatment and health outcomes of Indigenous people, who are already at higher risk of health issues due to a number of factors realted to systemic racism, such a poverty and intergenerational trauma. “Many Indigenous people have underlying health conditions because of all of the impacts of colonization,” Wickham said. “We have higher rates of diabetes and higher rates of heart disease. Our people are at greater risk of dying.” Wickham said a particularly alarming aspect to the increase in cases in work camps is the potential impact on Indigenous communities. Most industrial operations have a mandate to hire local and Indigenous workers and those people mix with transient workers and, on their days off, with members of their own communities. Bowering said the continued presence of industrial activity is contradictory to the goals of the public health office. “I drive by First Nations [communities] and see the barriers and the closed signs — these people are trying remarkably hard to stay safe,” he said. “But at the same time, there are buses coming and going to many of them, up to the mines and back.” The BC Centre for Disease Control noted in its guidance document for industrial sites that Indigenous people are at higher risk of COVID-19 and recommended that employers limit its workers’ interactions in surrounding towns. But Bowering and Wickham said the presence of out of town workers in the region is both common and on the rise. “We have been concerned about not just the man camps, but the fact that a lot of the workers are living in our communities and hotels,” Wickham said. “They’re going back and forth every day.” Bowering said the B.C. public health office can easily put the brakes on what could quickly become a serious and escalating crisis in high-risk communities. “They have to decide whether having everybody else not travelling, but allowing these workers to travel is a reasonable public health decision? Is it even ethically reasonable?” Meanwhile, activity on Wet’suwet’en territory is increasing. “The whole territory is just crawling with workers,” Wickham said. She lives with her partner and three children in a cabin near the Coastal GasLink work zone. “They have helicopters flying overhead at least two or three times a day, both surveillance helicopters and industry helicopters slinging materials in and out of the territory. It’s a warzone out there.”Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
Fort Smith RCMP are asking the public's help in finding a 14-year-old boy.Dylan Lafferty was last seen Thursday at approximately 10 p.m. on Poppy Crescent in Fort Smith, N.W.T., police said in a news release late Friday afternoon. They believe Lafferty could still be in Fort Smith.RCMP say Lafferty has dark brown hair and brown eyes, is between 5' and 5'2" and weighs 130 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black sweater, grey polo pants and Nike shoes.Fort Smith RCMP are anyone with information on the whereabouts of Lafferty to call them at 872-1111, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or text nwtnutips and a message to 274637.
Gananoque kicks off its Christmas celebrations this weekend. The three-week event will start on Saturday with the Festival of Light and a stand-still parade on King Street, organized by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. "We lit up the whole visitor centre, Town Hall, the bandshell and 20 trees today, thanks to Hydro One; they showed up today with four bucket trucks and 20 guys and they did an amazing job," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the chamber. On Saturday the parade will be a little smaller than previous years but no less spectacular. So far there are 29 confirmed floats and Kirkland says she is expecting another eight to show up on the day, bringing the total to 37 floats. "Before the parade starts at 5:30, the Gananoque Curling Club will be handing out free hot chocolate and apple cider in Town Park between 2 and 4 p.m.," said Kari Lambe, the town's manager of recreation. The 1000 Islands History Museum will also be lighting up the museum and is offering a walk-by window exhibit, "Toys of Yesteryear," on Saturday. The town is billing this year's celebrations as "A Wonderful Life in Gananoque" with a variety of festivities planned for the holiday season. "Starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his grotto in Town Park, where proper social distance and safety measure have been put in place," said Lambe, adding that there will also be carolling on the front steps of Town Hall from 3 until 4 p.m. The Gananoque Fire Service will be setting up firepits in Town Park from 2 until 5 p.m. Every Wednesday just after 6 p.m., Santa will be reading children's stories on 99.9 MyFM, with the final reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas scheduled for Dec. 24, just before the man in red takes off on his big journey. The town is also hosting a Winter Lights competition, and residents are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Lambe said a group of judges will pick a winner from each ward, North, South and West, and one award will be given to the business with the best window and/or light display. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18 on the town's Facebook page. The Christmas celebrations are the work of several community groups, including those mentioned earlier as well as a committee of council, the Municipal Accommodation Tax Tourism Advisory Panel, 1000 Islands RV, the Thousand Islands Playhouse and several town volunteers. A full schedule of events is posted on the town’s website.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Ahead of a looming year-end deadline, only 1,785 out of about 20,000 short-term rentals in Toronto have registered with the municipality. With fines beginning at $1,000 for both property owners and host platforms, the race is on to come into compliance. Matthew Bingley reports.
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted. The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position. On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year. Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program. Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4. An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security. “Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration. DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew. The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court. In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so. About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program. The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it has reached a settlement with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent hotels to expropriate the derelict properties on the Downtown Eastside.The hotels, which had been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city's most vulnerable people before they were ordered shut over safety concerns in 2017 and 2019. The city says in a news release Friday that the settlement ensures it can move forward with BC Housing to turn the buildings into safe and secure low-income housing. It approved the expropriation of the buildings for $1 in late 2019 but faced a legal challenge from the owners.The news release says the city decided to settle to lessen the financial risk posed by the upcoming judicial review and potential claims for greater compensation and to enable planning to begin on the future of the properties. It says it cannot share the value of the settlement under its terms. "Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of," Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in the release. "Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community." The settlement marks the end of many years of enforcement and legal action against the owners, who oversaw decades of underinvestment and unaddressed safety issues, the city says.Parkash Kaur Sahota, 90, and Pal Singh Sahota, 81, are identified as the owners in the petition for judicial review. They could not be reached for comment. Staff plan to report back to council, which approved the settlement, on the next steps and timeline for the revitalization of the properties early next year. Given the significance of the two properties to the Downtown Eastside community, the city says community engagement regarding their future is a priority and will also begin next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
Alberta’s top doctor is reminding Albertans that the COVID-19 virus is spreading across the whole province, not just in large urban centres. On Thursday afternoon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said COVID-19 cases are rising and spreading in rural communities. The warning came on the same day the province broke another daily case record with 1,854 new cases found in the past 24 hours. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or an Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within a global problem,” Hinshaw said. Hinshaw said in the spring rural communities were less impacted than urban areas by the virus' spread, but right now, cases are growing in the north, central and south zones, with one third of all active cases outside of the province's two major cities. COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is, Hinshaw said, and she reminded residents it just takes one case in a community to cause an outbreak. On top of spread, Hinshaw said it may be more difficult to access services for serious outcomes in rural areas, including being further away from health care and intensive care beds. On Thursday, the province saw 1,854 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day case climb yet. “Anyone who contracts the virus needs our support,” Hinshaw said, reminding residents to not stigmatize those who have come down with COVID-19. In the last 24 hours, the province has conducted 19,600 tests, with 9.5 per cent coming back positive. There are currently 17,743 active cases of the virus in Alberta, with 511 people in the hospital and 97 in intensive care. “These numbers are very concerning and I know that AHS is watching them closely,” Hinshaw said. In the past 24 hours, 14 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported. “Sharing the number of lives lost is a little more difficult each day because I know the pain and sadness their deaths cause for their families and friends left behind,” Hinshaw said. On Nov. 24, the province announced new restrictions to help curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the province, with most of the restrictions kicking in on Friday and Monday. Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
LONE TREE, Colo. — A 15-year-old Colorado high school student and young scientist who has used artificial intelligence and created apps to tackle contaminated drinking water, cyberbullying, opioid addiction and other social problems has been named Time Magazine's first-ever “Kid of the Year."Gitanjali Rao, a sophomore at STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver who lives in the city of Lone Tree, was selected from more than 5,000 nominees in a process that culminated with a finalists' committee of children, Time for Kids reporters and comedian Trevor Noah.Rao told The Associated Press in a Zoom interview from her home Friday that the prize is "nothing that I could have ever imagined. And I’m so grateful and just so excited that we’re really taking a look at the upcoming generation and our generation, since the future is in our hands.”Time said in a statement that, along with Nickelodeon, it wanted to recognize “the rising leaders of America's youngest generation” in making the award. For 92 years, Time has presented a “Person of the Year,” and the youngest ever was Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was 16 when she graced the magazine's cover last year.Time said Rao stood out for creating a global community of young innovators and inspiring them to pursue their goals. Rao insists that starting out small doesn't matter, as long as you're passionate about it.Rao's innovating started early. At age 12, she developed a portable device to detect lead in water.She's created a device called Epione that diagnoses prescription opioid addiction at an early stage. She's also devised an app called Kindly that uses artificial intelligence to help prevent cyberbullying. It allows teens to type in a word or phrase to find out if the words they’re using are bullying and lets them decide to edit what they’re sending or to proceed.“And currently, I’m looking back at water, looking at moving things like parasitic compounds in water and how we can detect for that,” Rao said after a day's remote schooling.She told actress, activist and Time contributing editor Angelina Jolie in a Zoom interview that her science pursuits started early as a way to improve social conditions. The drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, inspired her work to develop a way to detect contaminants and send those results to a mobile phone, she said.“I was like 10 when I told my parents that I wanted to research carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver Water quality research lab, and my mom was like, “A what?” Rao told Jolie. She said that work “is going to be in our generation's hands pretty soon. So if no one else is gonna do it, I'm gonna do it.”The sensor technology involves molecules of carbon atoms that can detect chemical changes, including chemicals in water.Rao has partnered with rural schools; museums; science, technology, engineering and mathematics organizations; and other institutions to run innovation workshops for thousands of other students.In a world where science is increasingly questioned or challenged, Rao insisted that its pursuit is an essential act of kindness, the best way that a younger generation can better the world. Science and technology are being employed as never before to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, global warming and a host of other issues, she noted.“We have science in everything we’re involved in, and I think that’s the biggest thing to put out there, that science is cool, innovating is cool, and anybody can be an innovator,” Rao said. “Anybody can do science.”Time was planning a Kid of the Year broadcast special at 7:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. MST) on Nickelodeon.The Associated Press
Two people were found dead in a home in Milton, Ont. Friday afternoon, Halton Regional Police say. Police said in a statement they were called to a residence just after 3 p.m. near Bronte Street South and Louis St. Laurent Avenue in Milton, Ont.Officers found the bodies of a male and a female inside the home, they said. There are no suspects and no threat to public safety, said police.An investigation is ongoing and police say they will be providing no further details at this time.
A new chamber of commerce partnership program designed to help businesses connect with new talent, and gain access to financial incentives, has just launched. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Magnet and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOP) to connect chamber of commerce members to the Magnet platform, a digital social enterprise out of Ryerson University. Through Magnet, businesses can get connected with new talent, and get access to business growth opportunities and tools to navigate the impacts of the changing labour market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to the partnership between Magnet and local chamber is access to wage subsidies through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Funded by the Government of Canada, SWPP lets employers tap into wage subsidies of up to $7,500 when they hire a Canadian post-secondary student, in a co-op style environment . "The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. This chamber partnership initiative brings together local chambers and boards of trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, job-seekers, and post-secondary institutions to support opportunities for student job seekers from coast to coast, across Canada, in an effort to boost economic recovery. "The initiative represents an innovative and necessary approach to helping small businesses grow, connecting early talent to new opportunities to emerge from this challenge stronger and better," said Kirkland. Creating an account with the Magnet Business Growth Portal is free for businesses of all sizes and industries. The Magnet Business Growth Portal helps small and medium enterprises strategize, adapt, and grow with notifications about funding, wage subsidies, training and hiring programs, market research, and COVID-19 support, according to the portal. "Ensuring a strong economic recovery depends on the success of our students and youth. Programs like the Student Work Placement Program exist to provide post-secondary students with the chance to grow professionally and develop new skills while working in sectors that are in line with their interests and field of study," Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement. The SWPP can help business, working towards recovery, offset the cost of hiring, while giving youth an opportunity to gain work experience. "Our government's investment in Magnet will go a long way in helping young Canadians gain meaningful placement opportunities in a variety of disciplines including health care and other high demand sectors, all of which play an especially important role in responding to the current pandemic," said Qualtrough.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
For a man obsessed with winning, President Donald Trump is losing a lot. He’s managed to lose not just once to Democrat Joe Biden at the ballot box but over and over again in courts across the country in a futile attempt to stay in power. The Republican president and his allies continue to mount new cases, recycling the same baseless claims, even after Trump’s own attorney general declared the Justice Department had uncovered no widespread fraud. "This will continue to be a losing strategy, and in a way it's even bad for him: He gets to re-lose the election numerous times," said Kent Greenfield, a professor at Boston College Law School. “The depths of his petulance and narcissism continues to surprise me.” In an Associated Press tally of roughly 50 cases brought by Trump's campaign and his allies, more than 30 have been rejected or dropped. About a dozen are awaiting action. Trump has notched just one small victory, a case challenging a decision to move the deadline to provide missing proof of identification for certain absentee ballots and mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. Trump has refused to admit he lost, and this week posted a 46-minute speech to Facebook filled with conspiracies, misstatements and vows to keep up his fight to subvert the election. Five more losses came Friday. The Trump campaign lost its bid to overturn the results of the election in Nevada and the Michigan appeals court rejected a case from his campaign. The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a challenge brought by GOP lawmakers. And in Arizona, a judge threw out thrown out a bid to undo Biden’s victory there, concluding that the state’s Republican Party chairwoman failed to prove fraud or misconduct and that the evidence presented at trial wouldn’t reverse Trump’s loss. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a conservative group over Trump’s loss. Thursday dealt another blow in Wisconsin, where a split state Supreme Court refused to hear Trump’s lawsuit seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. The case echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes. Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court late Wednesday. Judges in battleground states have repeatedly swatted down legal challenges brought by the president and his allies. Trump's legal team has vowed to take one Pennsylvania case to the U.S. Supreme Court even though it was rejected in a scathing ruling by a federal judge as well as an appeals court. After recently being kicked off Trump's legal team, conservative attorney Sidney Powell filed new lawsuits in Arizona and Wisconsin this week riddled with errors and wild conspiracies about election rigging. One of the plaintiffs named in the Wisconsin case said he never agreed to participate in the case and found out through social media that he had been included. The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit. The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have raised are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postmarks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. Election officials from both parties have said the election went well, and Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Justice Department uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the election's outcome. Trump's lawyers responded by criticizing Barr, who has been one of the president's biggest allies. Greenfield says their criticism speaks volumes. “It goes to show how vehement their ability to overlook reality is," he said. Failing to gain any traction in court, Trump and his allies are now turning to events with Republican lawmakers and rallies in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan where they can use unfounded claims of fraud to incite the president’s loyal base. At a rally in Georgia on Wednesday, Powell and another pro-Trump attorney, Lin Wood, suggested that Republican voters sit out of the two January runoff elections that will decide control of the Senate because of the potential for fraud. And in Michigan, Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, urged Republican activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory. In his video posted Wednesday, Trump said there were facts and evidence of a mass conspiracy created by Democrats to steal the election, a similar argument made by Giuliani and others before judges that has been largely unsuccessful. Most of their claims are rooted in conspiracy theories about voting machines that are not true, and affidavits by partisan poll watchers who claimed they didn't get close enough to see ballots being tallied because of safety precautions in the coronavirus pandemic. Because they couldn't see, they argued, something untoward must have happened. “No, I didn’t hear any facts or evidence," tweeted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, after watching the video Wednesday night. “What I did hear was a sad Facebook rant from a man who lost an election." ___ Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
B.C. health officials announced 711 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday.In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 9,050 active cases of people infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in B.C.A total of 338 people are in hospital, compared to 301 a week ago, 76 of whom are in intensive care.The provincial death toll now stands at 492."We continue to face a significant surge in community transmission and new cases of COVID-19, which means following the provincial health officer's orders and using all our layers of protection is necessary for every person in our province right now," Henry and Dix said in the statement."The virus is not letting up and neither can we."Public health is actively monitoring 10,957 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure.Two new health-care facility outbreaks have been declared, Henry noted, one at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge and another at Richmond Hospital. She also confirmed an outbreak at Youville Residence has ended.In total, there are now 56 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities and nine in acute-care units of hospitals.Henry also reminded people to stay in small groups and stay local as we head into the holiday season."We can still be festive, we can still have fun, but let's ensure it is only with our immediate household.Vancouver Catholic school goes virtualAn independent Catholic school in Vancouver confirmed Friday that its classes will be virtual as of Dec. 8 due to "severe staffing shortages." Our Lady of Perpetual Help School sent a newsletter to parents on Dec. 3 informing them of three COVID-19 exposures, all contained to one class."The safety and well-being of our students, families and staff remains our highest priority," it read.On Friday, the school sent out another letter saying "we are unable to adequately staff the school at a level which is deemed safe, abides by our school safety plan, and provides our students with the high-quality educational experience they deserve."All students, it says, will be moving to an online platform that will continue until Dec. 18.New study shows impact on familiesA new study, released Friday, found that families with children and adults aged 18-29 reported being hardest-hit by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic.The provincewide COVID-19 Survey on Population, Experience, Action and Knowledge had a sample size of 395,000 people.It found that while seniors aged 70 and older experience the worst health effects, younger adults and parents of young children reported the most severe economic, mental and emotional toll.Henry says the first shipments of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should arrive within weeks. Priority patients, including health-care workers and residents in long-term care are expected to receive shots by early 2021.She says the province expects to be able to provide vaccinations to everyone who wants one by September 2021.On Thursday, a new provincial health order was posted suspending all adult indoor and outdoor team sports.Henry said between 10 and 15 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks have been linked to sports and recreation.Restrictions for group fitness activities were also updated.
Luz Lopez Dee has rarely missed paying her rent, but sometimes mishaps happen. Years ago, the 76-year-old Langley resident forgot to reply to a Service Canada letter which created a delay in her pension cheques and meant she didn't have enough money to cover the monthly rent on her apartment. That almost led to her becoming homeless."My [housing] manager said, 'If you aren't going to pay me this week or if you aren't going to pay rent, I will evict you," she said. "That was scary."Instead, Lopez Dee secured an interest-free loan through a rent bank designed to help people with lower incomes maintain housing. "My goodness, it was really a big help," she said.Rent banks have long been established in B.C., but work is now underway to expand them throughout the province.Last June, the B.C. Rent Bank was established with funding from the B.C. government. So far, it has provided money to charities in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Prince George to sustain their existing rent bank programs or open new ones. The program will expand to the Central Okanagan and Nanaimo in January.Through the initiative, people in crisis will be offered loans of up to $2,000 to help cover housing costs. They repay the loan, interest-free, over the course of six to 24 months. Crises are unexpected events that can come in many forms, says B.C. Rent Bank project lead Melissa Giles."A lot of these examples are things like a single parent … [who doesn't] have benefits at their workplace. They have to miss a few days of work because their child is sick and now their rent payment is at risk," Giles told Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South."Other examples would be people who have an expense related to their cars. They've had an accident or they've had a repair that has cost them money," she said.The non-profit Canadian Mental Health Association will operate rent bank programs for residents of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland, where housing affordability is increasingly an issue. "It's not the answer to our affordable housing issue," Giles said. "But it will be a support for people … [in] these times where they just can't make that month's rent."Giles says, on average, 65 to 70 per cent of loans are repaid to rent banks every year. Rent bank case managers tailor repayment plans to their clients and allow them to make partial payments or defer payments should another personal crisis come up.The Aboriginal Business and Community Development Centre in Prince George — which has run a rent bank program since 2002 — says it tries to make clients' lives as easy as possible."We do not chase our clients, but we do offer financial literacy courses and we do remind them of their payments," Catherine Anderson, the centre's financial literacy coordinator, told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West."I'm all for creating a sustainable future for everyone," Anderson said. Tap the link below to listen to Melissa Giles' interview on Daybreak South:
WHITEHORSE — Yukon recorded three new COVID-19 cases in Whitehorse as the territory prepared to introduce new rules for restaurants and bars. The territory says in a statement Friday that the new infections bring the total active case count to 12. There have been 54 people infected in Yukon over the course of the pandemic. Beginning Monday, the government says restaurants and bars will be required to collect information from their patrons to assist contact tracers.One patron from each party will be required to sign in, and the eating and drinking establishments must keep the daily lists for 30 days.The lists will only be shared with Yukon Communicable Disease Control if an exposure has been identified.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says tougher health restrictions likely to be aimed at Calgary and Edmonton are coming if current public-health orders don’t bend the curve down on COVID-19.Kenney, taking questions on a Facebook town-hall meeting, says it makes sense to target the novel coronavirus where it’s having the most impact.“If you’re in a remote community with a negligible number of COVID cases, where there are no cases in the local hospitals, that is not the issue right now,” Kenney said Thursday night.“The issue is the hot zones in Calgary and Edmonton — and that’s what we’ll be addressing with increasing focus in the days to come.”His comments came just hours after Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical health officer, reported a concerning rise in rates in rural areas. She stressed that even one case can move like wildfire and COVID-19 doesn’t respect geographical boundaries. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem,” Hinshaw said.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn't care where you live or what your postal code is."The province reported 1,828 new cases on Friday. Active cases stood at 18,243. There were 533 people in hospital, 99 of them in intensive care, and a total of 590 Albertans had died.Alberta Health says more than 15 per cent of active infections are in areas outside the Edmonton and Calgary medical zones. About 30 per cent are outside the four largest cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge. Areas with high active case counts per 100,000 population include Banff, the Municipal District of Acadia and Smoky Lake County.Kenney has been lauded and criticized for taking a regional, nuanced approach to try to stem the spread of the pandemic while trying to keep open as many businesses and community centres as possible.It's not going well.Alberta has registered well over 1,000 new cases a day for two weeks and, on some days, has had more new cases than larger provinces such as Ontario. Health officials are reassigning staff, space, and patients to free up more intensive care beds, while dealing with outbreaks at 22 hospitals and health facilities. The government is also exploring bringing in medical field tents from the Red Cross if needed.Last week, Kenney introduced tighter provincewide health restrictions that included a ban on indoor gatherings. But there are looser measures for areas with low infection rates. They don’t have to follow a 25 per cent capacity limit in businesses or a maximum of six people — all from the same household — at one table in restaurants. Nor do they have to abide by a one-third capacity rule for worship services.Most municipalities have made it mandatory to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Kenney has, unlike all other premiers, refused to implement that provincewide. He has said it’s unnecessary in remote areas and some rural folk would refuse to wear masks if it were an order. Cold Lake, a city of almost 15,000 in the province's northeast, has twice voted down a mandatory mask bylaw. Mayor Craig Copeland said Friday masks don't need to be required, because people are following guidelines from Hinshaw."Ninety per cent of the people in Cold Lake now are wearing masks," Copeland said. "Do they really need to be told by a mayor and council to wear a mask?"Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said Kenney’s public-health directives cater to his rural political base and the anti-mask fringe he wants to keep happily ensconced in his United Conservative Party.“(Kenney) is more interested in protecting his political fortunes with a small minority of folks who are going to resist."In Smoky Lake County, northeast of Edmonton, restaurant owner Hong Hu said her Maple Gardens Restaurant is one of the few in the area that is doing takeout only."If it gets worse, of course I (will) worry about it," said Hu, who added she's more worried about the mounting cases in Alberta than the cases in her region.She said the county has a mask bylaw and has put notes up at businesses reminding people to wear face coverings and to sanitize regularly.Back in Cold Lake, resident Cathy Olliffe-Webster, 60, said she is disappointed in the premier and her mayor for not making masks mandatory.Cold Lake is still holding indoor events such as Christmas craft sales, despite the area's first COVID-related death this week and active cases rising to more than 70, she said."I understand that Alberta's economy has been hit harder than most, but I'm really sick of people putting money before people's lives," Olliffe-Webster said.She said she was moved by an emotional speech Thursday by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who begged people to follow COVID-19 rules."I just wish Jason Kenney was a little like him."— With files from Fakiha Baig and Daniela Germano in EdmontonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press