BUENA VISTA, Ga. — Across the grounds of a south Georgia courthouse, scores of masked and socially distanced voters bowed their heads in prayer for the 260,000-plus Americans who have died from the coronavirus.Then Democratic Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock took the microphone, promising to push for more economic aid for businesses and people affected by the pandemic and touting Democratic plans to combat long-standing racial and wealth disparities highlighted by the crisis.A day earlier, Vice-President Mike Pence campaigned with Warnock’s opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and her fellow Republican senator, David Perdue. But in heavily Republican north Georgia, there were only scant mentions of the public health calamity that helped lead to President Donald Trump’s defeat: aid programs that passed Congress months ago and a vaccine that is still weeks — or months — from mass distribution.“Before the end of this year, we’re going to see 40 million vaccines all across America,” Pence predicted, attributing the possibility to “the leadership of President Donald Trump.” His crowd -- distanced only in certain seating sections and many not wearing masks -- roared as the vice-president added a kicker: “We’re in the miracle business."It's two starkly different worlds on display in Georgia, where the national political spotlight is shining on twin Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls the chamber at the outset of President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic administration. Republicans need one more seat for a majority; Democrats need a sweep on Jan. 5.For Republicans, the pandemic is secondary in a runoff blitz defined by dire warnings about what it would mean if Warnock defeats Loeffler and Perdue falls to Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Democrats, meanwhile, are more than eager to discuss COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The messaging differences bleed over to the two sides’ public health protocols, as well. The approaches largely track the fall presidential campaign, when Trump wanted to talk about anything but the virus, while Biden centred his pitch around Trump’s handling of it.The November results in Georgia explain why neither side is deviating. Biden clipped Trump in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast. But Perdue led Ossoff by about 100,000 votes, finishing just short of the outright majority Georgia requires to avoid a runoff. Warnock led Loeffler in a separate special election. Both sides share a common conclusion: Each party has a pool of potential voters approaching 2.5 million. It’s just a matter of which side can coax more to cast ballots in a second round.Republicans’ reprisal will depend again — in part — on generating enthusiasm via in-person campaigning, even as coronavirus cases spike nationally. Trump has announced plans for a Dec. 5 rally in Georgia, after weeks of speculation about whether he’d come amid his continued refusal to concede to Biden. As with the president’s October blitz of rallies, there’s no suggestion that his Georgia event will include social distancing or require masks, as recommended by public health officials.Neither Perdue nor Loeffler echoes the president’s mockery of public health standards. But so far in the runoff campaign, they’ve held multiple indoor events with no social distancing and without compulsory masks. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, appearing with Loeffler, drew hundreds of suburban Republicans to the Cobb County GOP headquarters, surprising organizers and crowding the facility to the point that some voters left without attempting to enter.Florida Sen. Rick Scott drew a similar throng to a restaurant in suburban Cumming for an event with both Georgia incumbents. Days later, Scott said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been exposed the same day he travelled to Georgia. Loeffler later announced her own positive test, as well, though consecutive negative tests followed in subsequent days, leading her to end a brief quarantine.Loeffler acknowledges the pandemic in her standard speech by highlighting her and Perdue’s votes for the spring economic relief package.Warnock and Ossoff counter with almost exclusively outdoor or virtual campaigning. Warnock has, however, held outdoor photo lines that do not involve social distancing.“We’ve seen no real national public grieving because it is the kind of death that doesn’t show up in one fell swoop,” Warnock said in Reynolds, where he campaigned under an outdoor picnic canopy. “We see no real recognition of what is happening. ... Meanwhile, we’re having a debate about science. Wearing a mask is somehow a political statement? No, it’s not a political statement. It’s common sense.”Ossoff launched the second round of campaigning with a statewide tour of drive-in rallies similar to those Biden used after Labor Day. Ossoff went into isolation in July after his wife, an OB-GYN, contracted COVID-19. His ads frequently show him greeting voters in masks.The two Democrats have also criticized Loeffler and Perdue for well-timed stock trades after a series of private congressional briefings on the then-burgeoning pandemic.“While you were sheltering in, she was sheltering her investments,” Warnock said in Buena Vista.A recent Ossoff ad says Perdue “profited from the pandemic” instead of “preparing our country.”Senate ethics officials and the Justice Department have found no legal wrongdoing in either Georgia senator's financial activity.Ossoff also has sought to tie Perdue’s loyalty to Trump back to the pandemic. The president has spent weeks asserting baseless claims of voter fraud in Georgia and other battleground states Biden won, without Perdue disputing the claims.Trump's foot-dragging on an orderly transition, Ossoff said in an interview, has hampered Biden’s ability to organize a governmentwide coronavirus response.“What Sen. Perdue should be doing, if he had the people’s best interest at heart and not just his own,” Ossoff told The Associated Press, “is encouraging the president to recognize reality.”___Associated Press writer Ben Nadler contributed to this report from Atlanta.Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
We may not have Christmas parties or visits to Santa at the mall, but there is still one holiday tradition going strong this year: the Hallmark Christmas movie, and this year's run will feature the first Indigenous woman in the main cast.Five Star Christmas features Barbara Patrick, originally of Burns Lake, B.C., in one of the supporting leads as the member of a family who has to pose as staff at her father-in-law's fledgling bed and breakfast.The character is also a fashion blogger, and though her Indigenous identity never comes up in the script itself, Patrick says she was asked to dress in a way that reflects her heritage as a member of the Stellat'en First Nation.The result is subtle touches, including on screen appearances from Patrick's personal wardrobe, such as beaded mukluks and earrings made in her home community of Burns Lake."It's really cool," she said. "I really think that Indigenous people need to be represented on-screen and allowed to play these characters instead of being depicted in a negative or stereotypical light."The Hallmark Channel has come under fire in past years for a lack of diversity in its annual holiday films, which are big business for the B.C. film industry. But Patrick believes the approach taken by the director at incorporating her identity into the character's look is a sign of change."Hopefully, I will be the first of many Indigenous people to be playing on Hallmark," she said.Big break in 'big city' of Prince GeorgePatrick's journey to the small screen started back in 1998 when as a teenager she was shopping in the "big city" at Pine Centre Mall in Prince George.She was approached by a modelling agent about being in a local runway show and within months she had won a contest in Vancouver and was on a flight to a shoot in Japan."It was a whirlwind," Patrick said. "I hadn't even been into a Starbucks before."After going out for a few roles in commercials, Patrick decided she wanted to transition into acting and eventually made her way back to British Columbia and Vancouver where she now lives.In 2021, she will be seen in Kiri and the Dead Girl directed by Prince George, B.C.'s Grace Dove who starred in The Revenant and Monkey Beach.But for now, Patrick is excited to become part of people's holiday tradition of sitting down and watching an uplifting Christmas tale — so long as she can find a TV."My parents [in Burns Lake] have actually subscribed to the channel to watch me," she said. "I might have to Facetime in with them."Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
ATLANTA — A panel of U.S. advisers will meet Tuesday to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved.Experts have proposed giving the vaccine to health workers first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.Tuesday's meeting is for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel of experts recommends who to vaccinate and when -- advice that the government almost always follows. The agenda for next week's emergency meeting was posted Friday.Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc. is expected to also seek emergency use of its vaccine soon.FDA's scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer's request, and send a recommendation to the FDA.Manufacturers already have begun stockpiling coronavirus vaccine doses in anticipation of eventual approval, but the first shots will be in short supply and rationed.The Associated Press
The latest updates from Ontario and around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Selwyn Township council members unanimously decided they want to create more parking spaces as part of the planned project to reconstruct Water Street in Lakefield. Angela Chittick, the township’s manager of community and corporate services, told councillors Tuesday that they have two options to consider for the street which runs along the Otonabee River. “One is to extend the trail from the dam to the bridge, that would create about 16 parking spaces. The other option would be there would be no bridge extension, and with that you would be creating about 21 parking spaces there,” she said. Some residents that provided feedback were interested in the trail connection, while other individuals, particularly from of the business community, were more concerned about parking spaces, Chittick said. Coun. Gerry Herron said he’s all for having additional parking spaces. “We need as much traffic down in the economic engine of Selwyn as we can get. I’ll give you a quick example; when Sears was in operation in Peterborough, each parking spot was about $200 an hour. So, if we factor that down to these five spots, if we’re gaining say $20 an hour and it’s an eight-hour day, it’s $800 per parking spot put into the local economy there,” he said. “We’ve set out on a mission to support our local businesses and I think we need to continue that trend.” Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said lack of parking in Lakefield has been a perennial issue, so now that there’s the opportunity to add space, they should jump on it. “The parking spaces on Water are invaluable,” she said. “I also presented the options to the economic development business committee last night and their consensus was more is better. So, they also favour option two.” Adding more parking spaces isn’t leaving out the trail connection, Senis added. “There’s still the connection to the trail at the bridge, and it will still accommodate the concrete pad to do any bike repairs that we had heard about,” she said. Chittick said council’s decision will get incorporated into the final design for Water Street. “Then, moving forward from there, we’ll get the concept tidied up, sent back out to the residents and those that provided feedback on the design concepts, and we would post it online,” she said. “That would allow us to get the final engineered drawings prepared and ready for tendering and the hope would be that we could get this tendered in the new year and bring that price proposal back to council with some funding options as well as some staging options, depending on what the quoted amount is.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s legal team suffered yet another defeat in court Friday as a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the campaign's latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges' assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents.The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, another Republican, had said the campaign's error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called any revisions “futile.” Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Chagares were on the panel with Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” Bibas said in the opinion, which also denied the campaign's request to stop the state from certifying its results, a demand he called “breathtaking.”In fact, Pennsylvania officials had announced Tuesday that they had certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state. Nationally, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered nearly 80 million votes, a record in U.S. presidential elections.Trump has said he hopes the Supreme Court will intervene in the race as it did in 2000, when its decision to stop the recount in Florida gave the election to Republican George W. Bush. On Nov. 5, as the vote count continued, Trump posted a tweet saying the “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”Ever since, Trump and his surrogates have attacked the election as flawed and filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the results in six battleground states. But they’ve found little sympathy from judges, nearly all of whom dismissed their complaints about the security of mail-in ballots, which millions of people used to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.Trump perhaps hopes a Supreme Court he helped steer toward a conservative 6-3 majority would be more open to his pleas, especially since the high court upheld Pennsylvania’s decision to accept mail-in ballots through Nov. 6 by only a 4-4 vote last month. Since then, Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett has joined the court.“The activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud,” Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted after Friday's ruling. “On to SCOTUS!”In the case at hand, the Trump campaign asked to disenfranchise the state’s 6.8 million voters or at least “cherry-pick” the 1.5 million who voted by mail in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other Democratic-leaning areas, the appeals court said.“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote in his scathing ruling on Nov. 21. “That has not happened.”A separate Republican challenge that reached the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week seeks to stop the state from further certifying any races on the ballot. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is fighting that effort, saying it would prevent the state’s legislature and congressional delegation from being seated in the coming weeks.On Thursday, Trump said the Nov. 3 election was still far from over. Yet he said for the first time he would leave the White House on Jan. 20 if the Electoral College formalizes Biden’s win.“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said at the White House, taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day.On Twitter Friday, however, he continued to baselessly attack Detroit, Atlanta and other Democratic cities with large Black populations as the source of “massive voter fraud.” And he claimed, without evidence, that a Pennsylvania poll watcher had uncovered computer memory drives that “gave Biden 50,000 votes” apiece.All 50 states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. Biden won both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaryclairedaleMaryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
All of Fort Chipewyan’s stop signs are now in Cree, Dénesųłiné and English. Mayor Don Scott says similar traffic signs will be put up across the region next year, including in Fort McMurray. The signs are part of an effort to promote the Indigenous languages of the Wood Buffalo region. In a video announcing the news, Scott said boosting Indigenous languages is part of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. “This has always been a diverse region, and our rich culture and heritage make it truly a special place to call home,” he said. This is the first municipal initiative promoting Indigenous languages, although they are not the first Cree and Dénesųłiné signs in Fort Chipewyan. The community has welcome and grocery signs in the three major languages at the K’ai Tailé Market and outside the Athabasca Delta Community School. “Our languages are slowly disappearing because of the effects of residential schools,” said Teri Villebrun, councillor for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), in an interview. Fort Chipewyan was the site of the Holy Angels Residential School, which closed 1974. Between 1880 and 1953, 89 students died at the school. “These signs recognize the needs of promoting our Indigenous languages.” Villebrun said people are excited about the new signs in a community that has centuries of history to share. Founded in 1788, Fort Chipewyan is Alberta’s first European settlement. It was established as a trading post and named after the Chipewyan people already living in the area. “We do really have a sense of pride in our community,” she said. “It’s our traditional land of the Dene, Cree and Métis and we are so proud of our culture.” According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), three-quarters of Indigenous languages in Canada are “definitely,” “severely” or “critically” endangered. The most recent data on languages spoken in Canada comes from the 2016 census, which found only 20 per cent of First Nations people could converse in an Indigenous language. This is a six per cent drop from 2006. “If we continue down the current path, First Nations languages, like many Indigenous languages around the world, may be lost,” states a 2019 report from the Assembly of First Nations. “It is essential that drastic actions are taken to offset the erosion and loss of First Nations languages.” The municipality has posted to its website its own efforts and resources on meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. An October 2019 report commissioned by the municipality also surveyed the attitudes First Nation and Métis leaders had towards their place in the region. At the time, the report found the administration of the day was “proactive” in incorporating the calls to action into its organizational structure, but was lagging on delivering, or lobbying for, basic services in rural communities. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at Princess Margaret Public School in Prince Albert. The case was acquired outside of the school. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools who are impacted by the isolation,” the release stated. The division was informed on Thursday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. Princess Margaret will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The division emphasized that despite the challenges it is important that everyone continues to be diligent in performing the daily health screening and self-monitoring, stay home if not feeling well, call the HealthLine at 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practice proper hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, wear a mask when appropriate. The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor has a message for people who don't follow a provincial order to wear a mask in indoor public spaces: order takeout, shop online or stay home.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday she was saddened after hearing about store and restaurant employees facing aggressive customers who refuse to wear masks as COVID-19 numbers rise."I remind all of us about the severity of this illness and the fact that we have people who are suffering in our hospitals right now, and their families are suffering too," she said. The RCMP say they arrested a shopper at a Walmart in Dawson Creek this week after he allegedly assaulted an employee who asked him to wear a mask.B.C. set another single-day record with 911 cases of COVID-19, Henry said, adding that a total of 30,884 cases have been diagnosed in the province.Eleven more people have died, bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.Some faith leaders have questioned Henry's order to ban even limited gatherings at churches, temples and other faith locations while restaurants and bars remain open.Henry said outbreaks have occurred in multiple faith locations despite safety measures in keeping with what is happening around the world."I'd like to be clear that these locations are not doing anything wrong," she said, adding COVID-19 precautions were being followed at the majority of worship places."These are not decisions that we make lightly," she said."We are facing a storm surge, and that is something we are facing globally."Henry said events that were safe even a few weeks ago now threaten the most vulnerable people who attend them as well as entire communities.However, she said most faith leaders understand the measures as they support their congregants from a distance."It is a cruel irony in many ways that when we most need to be with people, that is the most dangerous thing that we can do with this level of transmission we are seeing in communities across the province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Two weeks after being hit by a cyber attack, the City of Saint John says a team of experts is "working around the clock" to restore its network and virtual services.In a news release Friday evening, two weeks to the day after the city was targeted by ransomware, city manager John Collin said most of its information technology systems and overall network are still offline. Taking the systems offline was an "immediate and proactive" response to contain the virus, Collin said."Our network will be back online only once we are sure that it is safe to do so," he said. "I have been impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the team, and have full confidence that the city will recover in the coming weeks." There is still no confirmation that personal information was accessed in the attack, but the city is working on getting a conclusive answer, the release noted."As soon as we know more, we will notify the community immediately," the release stated, once again advising people to check their bank accounts and credit card statements for any unusual activity. Most city services are fully operational, including police and fire response, road and sidewalk maintenance, garbage and compost collection, bill and parking payment ticket payment, the customer service main line and more. The following services are temporarily unavailable: * Some departmental phone lines * Email to most city hall employees * Online payments (bank and in-person cash or cheque payments are accepted) Other bill and ticket payment options are available and include:Saint John Water can be paid at customer's bank, through pre-authorized payments, or in-person by cheque or cash at the Customer Service Centre on the 1st floor of City Hall. Parking tickets can be paid in-person by cheque or cash at the customer service centre on the first floor of City Hall. Customers must present their ticket when paying in person. On-street and monthly parking payments can be made at parking meter machines or through the HotSpot parking application. The application is hosted by a third-party vendor. Cheque or cash payments for monthly parking can be made in-person at the customer service centre.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is recruiting retirees and volunteers to help with contact tracing investigations, according to a health authority spokesperson.The SHA has more than 350 staff trained for contact tracing, the spokesperson said. But as COVID-19 cases and the number of close contacts rise, the investigations take longer to conduct.So the health authority is recruiting more contact tracers, including retirees and volunteers, in anticipation of a potential surge in cases."Our contact tracing system is certainly under strain," health authority CEO Scott Livingstone said during a news conference Thursday."A single positive case each and every day provides hours of work for contact tracers over the two-week time period" after a positive result, he said. "But that work can grow exponentially when you factor in the number of contacts."As of Thursday, Saskatchewan averaged 214 new COVID-19 cases per day over a two-week period. Each case had about seven or eight close contacts on average, which creates 32,000 total hours of work over the two-week period, said Livingstone.He noted that the average number of contacts is down slightly from recent weeks, but the health authority is planning an effective contact tracing strategy in case the province approaches 450 cases per day.Early in the pandemic, the provincial government authorized retired nurses to obtain emergency licences through the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, the regulatory body for the province's nurses. The most recent licence was issued Thursday.The association is working with the health authority on the workforce plan, and shares its emergency practice licence list every week with the SHA "and other employers," an association spokesperson said.Once nurses retire, they are no longer part of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses. But if issued an emergency licence, they are unionized temporarily, said SUN president Tracy Zambory."It is just extremely important that the resources are given to [contact tracing] that it requires," she said."It's about resumption of health-care services, and pulling back on some of the slower areas so that the human resources can be freed up to be able to assist in contact tracing."'Real consequences'Contact tracing aims to identify COVID-19 cases before they can unknowingly spread the illness throughout the community, explains Dr. Cory Neudorf, a public health physician and University of Saskatchewan professor of community health and epidemiology.Finding close contacts means they can self-isolate and be tested sooner."You interrupt that chain of transmission, and you can start to get a handle on the pandemic," he said. The health authority's announcement that contact tracing investigations are taking longer signifies that Saskatchewan residents are not following public health rules as closely as they should be, or that COVID-positive people are visiting public spaces, says Neudorf.Time-consuming investigations can also make it tougher to find contacts and curb the spread of COVID-19, because people may forget who they met and where they went over time, he said.But the strain on contact tracing also has consequences for the overall health-care system as well, Livingstone said Thursday.A finite number of workers are trained to do contact tracing, so some health-care workers have been moved around the health-care system to conduct investigations. But that is only a Band-Aid solution, says Neudorf."As the outbreak progresses, and you start getting a lot of COVID-19 cases in the hospital, those workers need to be brought back to care for the COVID-positive patients," he said. "You can't be using the same stuff for both purposes, so that's only a short-term fix."Redeploying staff also causes disruptions in other health-care services, he added.Saskatchewan residents can help reduce the length of contact tracing investigations by only going out in public for essential reasons, regardless of what the province's public health rules allow, to reduce the number of close contacts, Neudorf said.When people do go out, they should mind physical distancing and wear a mask, he added.Neudorf also suggests keeping a weekly list of where you go, who you see and when, especially if you have to be in public often. Such lists help tracers easily track contacts down, should a person test positive.As of Friday, 2,237 COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan are under investigation by public health officials.
This week over 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and representatives from across the country convened to work on setting the stage for systemic change in Indigenous land-based education. The Actua network, a self-professed leader in land-based STEM education, hosted the gatherings. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied way. As parents and educators nationwide struggle with how to make education work in a pandemic environment, Indigenous students, particularly in northern remote parts of the country, have headed back to the land. “We really found that there is a national consensus on the importance of bringing this into the school system. Certainly there are challenges, but the benefits far outweigh those challenges and that there is huge opportunity here for Indigenous learning to actually really contribute to the future classroom,” Doug Dokis, Actua’s Director of Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program, said. According to Dokis, grounding lessons in Indigenous knowledge provides Indigenous students with a sense of pride in their identity and shows them that their cultural perspectives are valued. A press release said that as Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers take the lead, there is an opportunity to work with Indigenous communities, education authorities, industry and post-secondary institutions in reshaping the classroom of the future for Indigenous youth and for all Canadian youth. Dokis explained that with COVID-19 shutting down schools and creating other problems the education system is scrambling to find ways to create safe classrooms. “A lot of those conversations are revolving around more outdoor experiences for kids and what we are saying is that Indigenous land-based … models are ideal for aligning with school systems and existing programming and building that out,” Dokis explained. “It would be beneficial not only to Indigenous kids but all kids.” Actua is a national non-profit whose membership consists of 42 universities and colleges across Canada. “We deliver our STEM outreach through those networks of undergrad students at those universities an colleges. So we are present in all of these regions and territories across Canada,” Dokis said. The member organizations in the province include the University of Regina who hosted through their EYES (Educating Youth in Engineering and Science) program; the other member organizations are the University of Saskatchewan and First Nations University of Canada. Actua works with over 200 Indigenous communities, also building partnerships with the local education sector. “I reached out to a lot of the contacts that I have at a national level in these high level Indigenous or education portfolios and began to build a list of people that were and are actively involved in Indigenous education at the provincial level. From there we also got suggestions from existing relationships,” Dokis explained. The national forum set the groundwork for what is hoped will result in vastly improved educational outcomes for Indigenous students and a real path forward towards reconciliation. “We looked to address some of the systemic problems and challenges within the education system,” Dokis said. “Part of that is that Indigenous knowledge is not recognized or included in or inclusive of mainstream education systems. So we wanted to create an opportunity to better integrate and align Indigenous knowledge and education within the whole system across the country,” Dokis explained. Typically teams from Actua go to communities and work on coding or robotics or other STEM activities. With land-based STEM they work with what is happening at the cultural level around things such as land management. “We would build STEM activities to support the local cultural knowledge and cultural aspects (such as) harvesting fish or harvesting game. Then we would build activities to support that within the land programming.” Students that participate get high school credits. “That helps address high school graduation rates and encourages more Indigenous youth to participate or to follow into STEM careers.” The program has been working in Indigenous communities for over 25 years and the credit component has been around for four years. A national forum held this week presented the outcomes of a series of seven regional roundtable events on Indigenous land-based STEM education. “Part of our outreach consists of Indigenous communities doing workshops in school programs. So the roundtables were primarily focused on Indigenous leadership, Indigenous educators, education authorities, school boards and regional or provincial or territorial ministries that are responsible for that segment of education,” Dokis said. “We are producing a discussion paper from all of these roundtables and the national forum and this discussion paper will be circulated widely across the country. And then we are moving towards the next steps of facilitating some of the conversations that would need to happen around curriculum development, curriculum assessment, all of those kinds of things,” Dokis said. He explained that he didn’t know how long the process would take. “We really are wanting to see systemic change and systemic recognition that this is valuable to the education system in this country,” Dokis said there needs to be recognition at all levels of government in order to make these ideas spread through the education system. “We will continue to advocate and continue to build out this at a local level with the idea that we have recognized through these conversations that these can move quite quickly in the sense of how systems typically move. Certainly the COVID situation with the classroom has kind of opened the door and the conversation more targeting outdoor education or land based learning opportunities,” Dokis said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
RICHMOND, B.C. — A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet's domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. The Calgary and Toronto airports have hosted studies to rapidly test passengers who are arriving, rather than departing. The study in B.C. involves researchers from the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care, who are responsible for collecting the samples. The airport authority says in a statement a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 and those who test positive would have to undergo testing approved by Health Canada, with their flights cancelled or changed at no charge. Dr. Don Sin, co-principal investigator and a professor at UBC's faculty of medicine, says the study will help public health leaders understand how people who don't have symptoms of COVID-19 are contributing to the spread of the illness. "We know that asymptomatic carriers exist, but what we don’t know is exactly how common it is," he says in a statement. The airport authority says that prior to launching the study, researchers evaluated several rapid tests that use nose swabs and oral rinses, and passengers' test results should be available within 20 minutes. It says researchers plan to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal once the study wraps up, in an effort to contribute to a future testing framework for the aviation industry. The study is open to WestJet passengers who are B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 80, and who haven't tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Alberta is giving 700 more peace officers the power to enforce COVID-19 restrictions as hospitalizations for the virus continue to climb in the province. "We are not asking these officers to stop cold their day-to-day priorities or to harass responsible Albertans going about their everyday lives," Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Friday, as Alberta reported 1,227 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. Police officers and health inspectors also have the ability to enforce the rules. Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. Alberta has 405 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 86 in intensive care. A week ago, there were 55 patients in intensive care with COVID-19. Postponing surgeries is one of the ways the province is freeing up space to accommodate more people severely ill with the virus. New measures came into effect Friday to help blunt the spike in cases. Private indoor social gatherings are banned, capacity limits have been imposed on stores and students between grades 7 and 12 switch to remote learning on Monday. Fines for breaking the rules range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that make it to court. When asked whether there would be crackdowns on anti-mask rallies, Madu said police will make independent decisions. "But as minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable."Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she is disappointed to hear about Alberta Health Services inspectors being verbally abused. "Nobody deserves that, least of all the people who are working to keep all of us safe," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Peterborough County politicians are shocked by the tragic death of a one-year-old baby boy who was fatally shot on Thursday after being abducted by his father from a home in Trent Lakes. “There’s now a mother out there without a little boy and I would expect grandparents without a grandson … it’s just a tragic series of events,” said Joe Taylor, former warden of Peterborough County and mayor of Otonabee-South Monaghan Township. The incident began at about 8:48 a.m. Thursday when Peterborough County OPP officers were called to a location northeast of Bobcaygeon in Trent Lakes after a 33-year-old father abducted his son in what police called a domestic dispute involving a firearm. The baby was found dead of a gunshot wound in his father’s pickup truck after it collided with an OPP cruiser on Pigeon Lake Road, east of Lindsay, which was followed by altercation in which three officers shot at the man. Emily Poulin, executive director at Victim Services of Peterborough Northumberland (VSPN), said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a huge increase in the need to help high-risk victims of domestic violence. While there are many tools the agency offers, as well as several service providers that do work in tandem to try and support these high-risk individuals in both Peterborough city and county, Poulin said there also needs to be prevention of domestic violence. “With COVID, we’re seeing a lot of differences in the way people are arrested and released, because they don’t want to overcrowd the jails, but when you’re talking high-risk offenders, more has to be done on that end,” she said. “It can’t all be on the victim to try and stay safe. There should be more measures put in place to try and keep offenders from doing this in the first place.” Lisa Clarke, executive director at the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, said in just six months of the pandemic, their crisis services at the centre have doubled those of the MeToo movement in 2017 and 2018. “There are alarming rates of sexual and gender-based and internet-partner violence happening in this community, and the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre encourages all families and friends to check in and support and listen without judgment, to those who may be experiencing family violence in the home,” she said. There are many barriers for people living in rural areas to seek services, Clarke said. “Everybody knows everybody and so it can feel like reaching out means that family and friends will know what’s happening in the home. Our services are confidential and can be anonymous. We recognize that those are the types of services needed for people in rural areas to reach out and we have many survivors each year reaching out from more rural areas of our region,” she said. What happened is incomprehensible, Poulin said. “I mean it’s an absolute tragedy what happened and my heart goes out to the family and friends,” she said. The loss of a life, but particularly the loss of a young life, is heartbreaking, said Andy Mitchell, deputy warden of Peterborough County. “It’s a really, really tragic event and my heart is heavy and sorrowful for all of the folks that are being impacted by this,” he said. Trent Lakes Mayor Janet Clarkson said the outcome of Thursday’s incident is extremely unfortunate. “It’s hard to say when it all comes out, just exactly what happened,” she said. Taylor said he believes the community is going to do what they can to support the family in this time of need. “There’s no point in trying to understand it, or rationalize it, or explain it, or make any sense out of it,” he said. “It’s just really, really sad.” The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre’s 24/7 crisis phone line is 1-866-298-7778. Their new 24/7 crisis text line is 705-710-5234. VSPN’s toll-free number is 1-888-822-7729 and its website is at victimservicespn.ca/. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (17,396.56, up 45.22 points.) Bombardier Inc. (TSX: BBD.B). Industrials. Up 6.5 cents, or 15.12 per cent, to 49.5 cents on 21.98 million shares.Score Media and Gaming Inc. (TSX: SCR). Communications. Up 44 cents, or 44.9 per cent, to $1.42 on 18.53 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB). Health care. Up $2.09, or 17.94 per cent, to $13.74 on 16.88 million shares.Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX: SU). Energy. Down 23 cents, or 1.02 per cent, to $22.41 on 12.36 million shares.Air Canada (TSX: AC). Industrials. Up $1.04, or 4.37 per cent, to $24.86 on 9.62 million shares.Aphria Inc. (TSX: APHA). Health care. Up 73 cents, or 7.76 per cent, to $10.14 on 8.67 million shares. Companies in the news: Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI). Up 12 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $60.90. Rogers Communications Inc. says it was exploring the future of its Toronto stadium before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but the virus has caused it to put those plans on hold. The Globe and Mail reported Friday that Rogers and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. were looking to tear down the stadium as part of a larger development project. Empire Company Ltd. (TSX:EMP). Up nine cents, or 0.25 per cent, to $35.66. Sobeys says it is bringing back pay premiums for staff in locations where COVID-19 lockdowns are in effect. Parent company Empire Company Ltd. says it has reinstated so-called hero pay in Manitoba and Toronto and Peel Region in Ontario as rising cases of the virus in those areas have prompted the shutdown of non-essential businesses.Air Canada. Air Canada pilots have ratified changes to their contract that will help the carrier grow its cargo business, as airlines scramble to minimize the pandemic’s toll on their bottom lines. The Montreal-based airline said in a statement Friday that it would convert several of its retired Boeing 767 aircraft to carry freight and that it had appointed a new executive, Jason Berry, to oversee its cargo division.Calfrac Well Services Ltd. (TSX:CFW). Up one cent, or 4.08 per cent, to 26 cents. Calfrac Well Services says the Alberta Court of Appeal has rejected an attempt by Wilks Brothers LLC to block the approval of the company's recapitalization plan. The company says it has been advised by the court that the Wilks Brothers' appeal of the final order approving the plan has been dismissed.TMAC Resources Inc. (TSX:TMR). Down two cents, or 1.64 per cent, to $1.20. Canadian miner TMAC Resources Inc. says a national security review under the Investment Canada Act of its sale to China's Shandong Gold Mining Co., Ltd., has been extended by 45 days. Shandong announced a deal in May to buy TMAC, owner of the Hope Bay gold mining project in Nunavut, for $230 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell are hosting the Soul Train Awards for the third consecutive year. The duo, who are also producers for the show, which airs Sunday, Nov. 29, say “as Black women, we wanted to make sure that we are celebrated.” (Nov. 27)
The N.W.T. office of the chief public health officer has confirmed a positive COVID-19 test in Yellowknife related to a non-resident worker in the territory on an exemption.An investigation found just one contact, who is now isolating. According to a press release Friday, the worker had travelled into the N.W.T. and self-isolated when required.There is no identified risk to any flights as the individual was outside of their infectious period when they flew in.According to Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, all high-risk essential workers are now tested when they arrive in the N.W.T. These include health-care workers, dentists, RCMP, correctional officers and anyone else who is working "in closed and highly vulnerable settings."Because the individual is believed to have contracted the virus outside of the territory, the case will not be included in the N.W.T.'s totals.
The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, inking contracts with seven potential manufacturers and saying six million doses could arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021. The most recent development from Ottawa came Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national distribution effort. But various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here's a look at what they've said so far: —Nova ScotiaThe province's chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information. Dr. Robert Strang said Friday there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year.Strang said a detailed provincial plan, to be released once the federal government has shared more specifics on its end, will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization. He said he's waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics. —QuebecThe province will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1, say senior politicians. Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but did not release details. Legault said the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed by one of the most promising potential vaccine options, currently in development through pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon, and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province's vaccination effort. —OntarioPremier Doug Ford is among those leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials scramble to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy.Early speculation on the number of doses the province could receive was put to rest earlier this week when federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works. But Ford has forged ahead, naming former chief of national defence Gen. Rick Hillier to oversee the province's vaccine rollout. Hillier said on Friday he hopes to have a plan developed by year's end, while Ford urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said.—AlbertaThe province's top medical official has said she expects to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also said a number of hurdles and unknowns remain as the province works to devise its vaccination scheme. "These (vaccine) numbers, of course, depend on many factors,'' Hinshaw said on Nov. 18. "They depend on the final pieces of the trials that are underway going well. They depend on ensuring that the safety and the effectiveness of the early vaccines can be assured. All of those checks and balances must be cleared."On Friday, Hinshaw said the province is working with Ottawa to get vaccine, but it is "a bit of a moving target" on when vaccines might be available."But our goal is that whenever vaccine is available, we will be ready to start immunizing individuals on that highest priority list."—British ColumbiaProvincial health officials announced on Wednesday that a vaccine strategy for the province is already in the works. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's top doctor, said Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.Henry said front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing."It's very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best," Henry said. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to happen."Henry said the province hopes to have vaccines in hand by January.—YukonPremier Sandy Silver told the legislature on Wednesday that the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan. He said the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers.Silver said rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he said he's emphasized with federal authorities. The premier said he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine. “How confusing would it be for 13 different strategies right across the nation?” he said. Silver said the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed was one of the biggest factors.The research, published earlier this week in Nature's Scientific Reports, studied animals killed by trains between 1995 and 2018: 59 bears; 27 wolves, coyotes, cougars and lynx; and 560 deer, elk, moose and sheep."The top predictor was train speed," said lead author Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta. "More animals died where trains were travelling faster."Next was distance to water, then the (amount of) water near the site and then curvature in the tracks."Train speed and track curvature, she said, make it difficult for wildlife to detect trains, while being close to water — particularly a lot of water — hinders their ability to get off the tracks before being hit.The study builds on a five-year research project funded by Parks Canada and Canadian Pacific Railway from 2010 to 2015 that focused on grizzly bears being struck by trains in the same two parks. It concluded that giving grizzlies better travel paths and sightlines along the railway was the best way to keep them safe.Cassady St. Clair said she hopes the latest study "will make it possible to identify types and locations for mitigations that will reduce the problems for all wildlife, not just grizzly bears."The research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and the ability of wildlife to see trains, especially at curves in tracks near water.Canadian Pacific noted in a statement Friday that the company has worked with Parks Canada for the last decade to learn more about how wildlife interacts with the railway."CP has engaged with Parks Canada and the University of Alberta throughout this program to ensure the mitigation measures CP implemented were based on science," it said.The statement didn't address whether the company would consider reducing train speeds.Co-author Jesse Whittington, a wildlife ecologist for Banff National Park, said trains are one of the leading causes of death for animals in the two parks."The trains (that) travel through Banff and Yoho national parks kill almost 30 animals a year," said Whittington, who added that animals use rail lines for travel and access to food.The latest study, he said, helps Parks Canada understand where wildlife are getting killed, why they are getting hit in that location and the time of year when they are most likely to get hit."Mortality risk was highest in areas where animals had difficulty detecting trains and where they had difficulty escaping trains," he said. "Animals had challenges detecting trains where trains were travelling fast and in areas with high curvature."Trains can be surprisingly quiet when they are travelling downhill or coming around a corner."Whittington gave as an example an adult female grizzly bear killed by a train in September. She was in an area with a steep slope next to the Bow River."There were few places for her to get off the tracks."The latest study also found that grizzly bears were more likely to be killed in late spring when, Whittington noted, water in the Bow River is often higher. Other carnivores and ungulates were more likely to get hit by trains in the winter."When we have deep snows, we'll often find elk and deer along the tracks."Whittington said some of his Parks Canada colleagues have been working to enhance travel routes for animals away from the rail line by creating more trails through the forest. The agency's fire crews have also been working to create better wildlife habitat throughout the park with prescribed fires."We have a lot of thick shrubs and deadfall that has accumulated over the years that makes it difficult for animals to travel across the landscape," he said. "To date, we've cleared over 50 kilometres of wildlife trails throughout Banff — both in areas around these hot spots and in other areas that are pinch points. "We're hopeful that will help."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press