Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa has 23 of Ontario's 1.373 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with four more people dying of COVID-19. Its known active case count is below 300 for the first time since late August.Western Quebec has 27 new cases despite its smaller population.Ontario's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was hampered by poor emergency preparedness, inadequate lab capacity and a disorganized public health system, according to a report issued Wednesday by the province's auditor general. Premier Doug Ford says Ontario's holiday guidelines mirror current public health advice: avoid close contact with people outside your household, don't hold large gatherings and listen to your local health unit for more detailed guidance.How many cases are there?As of Wednesday, 8,254 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 287 known active cases, 7,595 cases now considered resolved and 372 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,400 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,100 resolved cases.Eighty-nine people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 76 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Travel from one region to another discouraged throughout the Outaouais. Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of the provincial pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has said Ottawa's situation is stable and people should focus on managing risks and taking precautions, such as seeing a few friends outside at a distance, to bring the spread down further.WATCH | Black Ottawans hit hardest by COVID-19:Communities in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) and Eastern Ontario health units are yellow.That means restaurant hours, capacity and table limits and other rules that are between orange Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is green, the lowest level.The Belleville, Ont.,-area Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit, which warned residents last week it was at risk of moving to yellow, has now has more new COVID-19 cases this month than any other.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.Quebec has shared what it will take to have at most two small holiday gatherings next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.WATCH | COVID-19 Q&A on testing:Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.WATCH | Ottawa Mission turns to food truck:Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month, with 22 and counting in its Ontario portion and more on the American side of the border. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
When epidemiologist Susan Kirkland opened a Halifax newspaper on Saturday, she was stunned. "Three protest rallies planned," the Chronicle Herald headline read, in part."Oh, no," the head of public health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University thought to herself. "Please don't be anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers."As Kirkland read further, she realized they weren't related to the pandemic at all. One was a rally for alleged victims of a pediatric dentist, a second to demand reparations for former residents of Africville and the third was an anti-war protest about an upcoming security conference. "Oh," she said with relief. "Phew." Critical juncture for Atlantic bubbleThe situation in the Atlantic bubble has been like night and day from the rest of Canada. The four Atlantic provinces have managed to control the spread of COVID-19 through tight border restrictions, strict isolation of travellers and comprehensive tracing of outbreaks. But Kirkland says much of the credit also belongs at an individual level. "I do feel like the response from the public in the Atlantic region is different than other parts of the country," she told CBC News. "I think there's also a certain amount of pride that we have been able to maintain the bubble, and I don't think that people want to see it change."But it has changed, put on hiatus with the news Monday that Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador were pulling out of the bubble due to rising COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, its most in a single day since April 23. "I am worried. I think that we're on the brink and at a very, very critical juncture," Kirkland said. "This is the point where we either make it or break it. We'll keep numbers low or they will, like everywhere else, just begin to escalate and skyrocket."The window is narrowing — but we still have the potential to get it under control."'Squandered' sacrifices in AlbertaElsewhere in the country, people are facing a much different situation. Alberta is seeing COVID-19 cases skyrocket at an unprecedented rate, rising to more than 1,500 per day and even outpacing provinces such as Ontario despite only having a third of the population. "I've been worried for many weeks now," said Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious diseases physician in Edmonton. "I don't know what the next two weeks will bring." Asadi says the situation in Alberta isn't a result of individuals not following public health guidelines necessarily, but instead reflects that the province has been a victim of its own success. When COVID-19 cases dropped to relatively low numbers in the summer, there was a reluctance to act on the part of the provincial government. "We had great success and maybe that resulted in our leadership questioning the models and, because crisis was averted, perhaps they thought that the models just weren't accurate," she said. "We've squandered our sacrifices from the summer, and now we're in a really tough place."Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of emergency in Alberta Tuesday and implemented new public health measures to address the rising COVID-19 case numbers across the province, but stopped short of a lockdown. Most indoor social gatherings are prohibited, while outdoor gatherings, weddings and funerals can have a maximum of 10 people. Masks are also mandatory in all indoor work places in Calgary and Edmonton, but not provincewide. Unlike Nova Scotia, which instituted mandatory mask mandates on July 24 — a day when it reported no new cases — Alberta has hesitated.Asadi, who was part of a group of experts who penned a letter to provincial leaders last month calling on them to put in place stricter restrictions, said before Kenney's announcement that masks are "low-hanging fruit.""Having masks mandated provincially, that's not going to negatively impact the economy in any way," she said. "If we act earlier then the measures can be more targeted and can be shorter in time. But now, I can't see anything other than a strict lockdown getting us out of trouble — and it won't even get us out of trouble." Reluctance to act 'early and hard' reason for surgeCOVID-19 is spiralling out of control in many parts of the country, with a record high 5,713 cases in a single day this week.Ontario and Manitoba also announced all-time high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, and millions of Canadians were plunged back into strict lockdowns in different parts of the country.In response, Canada's chief public health officer said provinces and territories need to be more proactive — and act sooner rather than later.It's not only the number of cases that are worsening; it's who is being infected."The other huge problem that we have now are the inequities associated with this pandemic," said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease physician with Sinai Health System in Toronto."Part of the reason I think that we're not paying as much attention as we should be to the harm is that the harm is not predominantly occurring to the people in power in our society."McGeer is watching the worsening outbreaks across Canada through the eyes of a microbiologist who has decades of experience in infection prevention and control."I'm a little bit worried about what's going to happen in Alberta," McGeer said. "I think we'll be cancelling surgery again, probably in order to cope with the ICU load three or four weeks from now."Surgeries such as hip and knee replacements could be cancelled down the road, as it can take up to two weeks for symptoms of COVID-19 to appear."The reason we're having this surge is because we kept things open longer than we should have," she said. "The more cases you have when you act, the longer it takes to slow down and regain control and the more trouble you're in going forward. So if we had put in measures two weeks before we did, then we might not be cancelling surgery."McGeer also acknowledges that politicians in Canada can only re-introduce safety measures when their citizens are behind them."If politicians move and they don't have the population with them, then it's not going to work either."McGeer advocates for preventative measures such as testing, tracing and isolating individuals who test positive to keep COVID-19 case counts low."It's very clear that if we had been able to start this outbreak early and hard with preventive measures, if we'd been able to do the contact tracing, if we'd been willing to put people up in hotels for quarantine, we might be where Newfoundland is now," she said. "And that has huge rewards."Those tantalizing rewards could help reinvigorate Canadians outside the Atlantic provinces who face a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and the hospitalizations and deaths that could follow the holiday season. "I get how tired people are; I'm tired of it myself. But this is not about being tired," McGeer said. "We just need to hold on until we can get vaccines, right? And they are coming."
Unlike other nations, including Canada, which have aimed to maintain new infections at a level that won't overwhelm the medical system, Australia set out to virtually eliminate the virus from its shores.When Australia was hit with a surge of COVID-19 cases in late July just weeks after declaring victory against the first wave, it prompted one of the world's longest lockdowns in Melbourne, for example, closing virtually everything that wasn't a grocery store or hospital for nearly four months.In many cities, roadblocks were established to ensure people stayed home. Even when restrictions were eased there was a nightly curfew, and in the initial lockdown people weren't allowed to be more than five kilometres away from home in certain regions. Break a rule, and you could face a fine of $1,300.School at first had an extended holiday break — and then education was moved, in many places, entirely online. Restrictions were sometimes so draconian that in some areas, it was illegal to walk your dog even on your own street."They are not rules that are against you, they are rules for you," Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, explained in a public statement on Nov. 8, reminding people about the goal of the restrictions. "It's about your safety, your job, your community, your family, your state."Australians arriving from outside the country had to apply to return — there were daily limits — and every one of them was required to quarantine in a government-designated hotel, sometimes guarded by soldiers.South Australia's Premier Steven Marshall put it bluntly in a public briefing on Nov. 17: "There is no second chance to stop a second wave."The approach has largely worked. The nation's recorded cases peaked at 739 on Aug. 5, but since then the count has dwindled steadily and most Australian cities have gone weeks without a single new case.It has come at the cost of a million jobs nationwide and thousands of now-failed businesses. But it was worth it, says Dr. Nancy Baxter, who runs the University of Melbourne's School of Population and Global Health."You can't have a well-functioning economy with a raging pandemic. It's not an economy versus lives," she told CBC News.Baxter is a Canadian who moved to Melbourne just before that city entered its first lockdown. She now worries about her friends in Canada, where the approach to the pandemic has been very different."Hearing what's happening in Ontario, it's pretty shocking … It just seems like what's happening is the public health officials are telling the government one thing, it's not what they want to hear, so they just kind of have changed the policy to just basically admit defeat and say they're going to let the epidemic just run wild in Ontario."She was speaking before Ontario instituted a lockdown in much of the Greater Toronto area on Nov. 23. And yet even now as case counts are spiking, nowhere in Canada has government gone to the levels that Australia did.Australians have also, broadly, accepted the measures. Their image as Crocodile Dundee-like rule-breakers has been shattered by widespread compliance with some of the world's toughest pandemic restrictions.Because it is surrounded by water, Australia has the ability to severely limit entry into the country. Canada, meanwhile, is highly reliant on commercial truck drivers to bring food and other goods from the United States, and they are among the essential workers exempt from quarantine requirements."Australia is unique in that we can really control who comes in and out of the country," says Jason Dutton, a chemistry professor in Melbourne, and another Canadian transplant."We've gone about it the right way, going for the aggressive suppression to zero," he adds.Dutton also suggests so-called "pandemic fatigue" hasn't taken the same form in Australia that it has in other nations."When the government came out and they mandated masks in the first week of August, there was about 20 seconds of complaining and then everybody emerged with a mask that matched their shirt."Now comes the big test.The restrictions have now eased, and restaurants and bars, long shuttered, have re-opened. The country is waiting to see if it will all lead to a new spike.There is hyper-sensitivity, and a widespread desire to quickly stamp out any reappearance of the virus.In the city of Adelaide, which was declared COVID-free in September, for example, a single cough at a hospital this month ended up triggering an immediate six-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown.An elderly woman in the hospital had been infected, and was among 30 or so identified after an extensive contact tracing effort.Thousands in the city were told to get a COVID-19 test, and there was a complete public shutdown in an attempt to crush the presence of the virus.As one Adelaide resident put it to a local news crew: "It makes sense, doesn't it? We don't want to end up like other parts of the world."
With winter in the air and the concept of social bubbles long burst, one epidemiologist is advising us to avoid socializing altogether for the next four months — because there's light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel."So just slowly keep walking towards the end while maintaining yourself in a protected environment within that tunnel," said Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the division of infectious diseases at Queen's University."When spring comes, it's going to be a lot more hope-filled because we're going to have lots of potential for vaccinations and getting people back to doing the normal things they like to do," Evans said.Ontario scrapped the idea of social bubbles — groups of 10 close contacts that may include people outside one's household — in October.Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, has repeatedly said that people must stay within their immediate households, and those living alone should be limited to essential contacts — one or two people, like a close friend or a counsellor.Socialize, but differently: relationship scientistRelationship scientist Cheryl Harasymchuk said people should make socializing a priority this winter to mitigate the potential mental health risks of isolation — just not in the ways they typically think."What I think people need to do is adjust their expectation and preconceptions of what a social life means," said Harasymchuk, an associate professor at Carleton University.> There are mistakes we make when we predict our future happiness. \- John Zelenski, Carleton UniversityShe said research suggests that "small, everyday gestures" matter for well-being, so daily interaction with a couple of close friends is still key — but it can take different forms, such as sending a meaningful text with a photo, or calling to ask how an interview went.In May, Harasymchuk recruited single people living alone and tracked them for six weeks. She looked at the creative, playful moments they had with close friends during that time. Those included fancy dress-up Zoom calls, making lip-synching videos together, participating in online escape rooms, and holding virtual bake-offs and "pub" trivia nights.Harasymchuk, who also researches romantic relationships, said limiting affectionate touch this winter won't "forever damage" people, as in case studies involving orphans or monkeys who had no contact with others for extended periods."There is an end in sight," said Harasymchuk. "My gut reaction is people can make do with this relatively short time [of limited touch]."Managing your expectationsJohn Zelenski, professor of psychology and director of the Happiness Laboratory at Carleton University, said as people contemplate whether to gather this Christmas, they should be aware of the "focusing illusion."He said people tend to zero in on how one particular event could impact their well-being — like watching their favourite sports team win, or attending a big family gathering."There are mistakes we make when we predict our future happiness," said Zelenski. "We overestimate the impact."He said virtual contact "gets us pretty far," although it's not the same as physical touch and contact. Zelenski, who studies how people connect with nature, suggested spending time outside, or indoors with plants or pets if it's too cold. He also said making a connection with a stranger or someone with whom you have "weak ties" can be rewarding during this time.
Pour arriver à la Côte-Nord, il faut rouler des heures et des heures vers l’est. Ensuite, un contrôle routier nous attend. Avant d’embarquer sur le traversier direction Tadoussac, deux policiers s’arrêtent à chaque véhicule. « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire sur la Côte-Nord ? » demandent-ils à chaque automobiliste, décourageant ceux qui s’y rendraient par plaisir. La mesure n’est que préventive, mais elle fait partie du plan que chapeaute le médecin-conseil de la Direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord, le Dr Richard Fachehoun. Visage des conférences de presse pandémiques nord-côtières, Richard Fachehoun peut aujourd’hui se réjouir du bilan provisoire de sa région. À ce jour, pour 90 000 Nord-Côtiers, les autorités ne recensent que 200 cas de COVID-19 et 2 décès. La région est une des seules régions du Québec, avec l’Abitibi, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Nunavik et une partie de la Baie-James, à demeurer une « zone jaune ». Le chapelet de villages étendu sur plus de 1300 kilomètres de côte offre un avantage certain, admet le Dr Fachehoun. « La densité de la population est faible. Mais, le principal, c’est vraiment le rôle que joue la population. Si on veut contrôler la situation, c’est la population qui va la contrôler. » Originaire du Bénin, l’homme à l’œil vif a dû longtemps cheminer avant d’en arriver à ce poste stratégique. D’abord médecin généraliste en Afrique de l’Ouest, à « [prendre] en charge des patients atteints de VIH », il arrive dans la belle province en 2008. Entre Montréal et Québec en passant par Gatineau, il obtient ses équivalences québécoises avant de s’établir sur la Côte-Nord, il y a trois ans. La neige « qui fait disparaître les maisons » n’a pas manqué de le surprendre, ni les innombrables sentiers pour combler son besoin de course à pied. « Courir, c’est passionnant. Quoique ces derniers mois, non, parce que les gens parlent beaucoup des ours qui se retrouvent sur la piste cyclable… mais c’est passionnant ! » « Passionnant » aussi que de travailler avec les Autochtones, dit-il. Une passion qui s’est transformée en défi lorsque la COVID-19 a forcé la mise en place d’une « cellule innue ». En début de crise, la haute direction du CISSS s’est réunie avec les élus locaux pour protéger ces milieux tissés serrés. « [Les élus innus] avaient des réponses à tout. Ils étaient proactifs », salue le Dr Fachehoun. Rapidement, des points de contrôle bloquent l’entrée de villages à tous les non-résidents. Puis, des enquêtes épidémiologiques « faites en collaboration avec les services de santé des communautés autochtones » tiennent la pandémie en échec chez les quelque 15 000 Innus de la région. Autre défi pour l’équipe du Dr Richard Fachehoun : le fly in fly out ou, autrement dit, le navettage des travailleurs dans les mines dispersées sur le territoire. Pour assurer le contrôle sanitaire de ces industries jugées essentielles par Québec, les minières ont établi des plans : des cycles de travail plus longs, un nettoyage des navettes aériennes et des mesures d’isolement. « Toutes les minières ont été visitées », assure le Dr Fachehoun. Pour les autres recoins d’autant plus isolés, comme Schefferville, Anticosti ou la Basse-Côte-Nord, l’absence de lien terrestre avec le Québec complique l’offre de soins. Pour prévenir toute éclosion, un isolement est imposé aux voyageurs, doublé d’un test de dépistage au premier et au septième jour après leur arrivée sur place. La logistique du dépistage sur ce territoire de 236 000 kilomètres carrés n’a pas non plus été de tout repos. « Au départ, toutes les analyses étaient faites à Rimouski », explique Richard Fachehoun. Avant que l’échantillon ne traverse le fleuve et que le patient connaisse le résultat, cinq jours pouvaient alors s’écouler. Après avoir mis au point un protocole d’analyse sur place, les résultats sont maintenant connus dans un délai de 24 heures, se félicite le médecin. N’empêche, il encense surtout son équipe pour avoir convaincu les Nord-Côtiers de l’importance des gestes barrières, comme la distanciation physique. « C’est la population qui a le rôle déterminant. Si la population respecte les mesures, on n’aura pas de cas », rappelle-t-il, bien au fait que « les gens sont habitués à faire des “collures” ». Cette « chaleur humaine », qu’il tente à regret de dissoudre chez ses concitoyens, l’avait pourtant bien charmé lors de sa première visite sur la Côte-Nord. À l’époque, il se souvient s’être fait interroger en pleine rue par une citoyenne, curieuse de voir un nouveau visage. « Automatiquement, j’ai fait le parallèle », raconte-t-il. « À Montréal, tout le monde se dépasse. À Québec, sur la piste cyclable ou bien quand on fait de la course, on se salue. Mais ce qui frappe sur la Côte-Nord, les gens t’arrêtent pour te parler. C’est plus inclusif. C’est un petit milieu. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Groups in Quebec working with domestic violence victims are worried prolonged COVID-19 restrictions could lead to devastating consequences, and they're ramping up efforts to make sure people don't fall through the cracks.Advocates say being cooped up in an apartment with an abusive partner, perhaps also dealing with job loss and strained finances, can create a perfect storm for domestic violence, especially if the pandemic is discouraging victims from speaking out.Take Info-Femmes, for example.The women's day centre in Montreal's east end neighbourhood of Mercier has been closed for the last eight months, forcing organizers to switch things up.Instead of meeting at the centre, counselors at Info-Femmes touch base with their clients during Zoom meetings. The centre also checks in with them through what it refers to as "solidarity calls" — regular check-ups by phone, to see if there's anything the women might need. It's not ideal, since there's no substitute for face-to-face contact, especially when the stakes are this high."If you ask the women, they'll say that they really, really miss being at the centre and being able to physically be with other women," said Linda Basque, a counselor at Info-Femmes. "There's a lot of body language you can pick up on when they are in front of you. And this is on a Zoom where you can see the person. If you can't see the person, you are missing a lot of cues, a lot of signals that you get when you are in person."'Nobody sees, nobody hears'The Info-Femmes centre is just minutes away from a home that was the site of a horrifying scene in October 2019.A mother walked in and discovered three bodies — those of her two children, aged five and seven, along with their father.What happened was clear to Montreal police investigators: The man, who was going through a separation with his partner, killed both of his children, before taking his own life. It was also clear to staff at Info-Femmes that his actions were deliberate acts of violence against the grieving, surviving mother.According to Basque, the tragedy led more women in the area to stop by the centre and open up about their own struggles with abusive partners. That made the timing of the COVID-19 lockdown last spring particularly frustrating."These [restrictions] create situations where the violence can escalate very quickly," said Basque. "The fact that people are isolated can also give abusers the impression that there won't be any reckoning. He can do what he wants because nobody sees, and nobody hears."Calls are up, requests for shelters are downBetween April 2019 and April 2020, SOS Violence Conjugale received 33,000 calls — a record. That pace hasn't slowed much during the pandemic, according to Claudine Thibaudeau, who's a social worker with the provincial toll-free crisis line.But phone operators at SOS are noticing a drop in the number of callers asking to go to a shelter.It's a worrisome trend, according to Thibaudeau, who agrees that victims are indeed faced with a growing threat of violence due to COVID-19 restrictions.But it doesn't surprise her. "It's sort of like advancing with something over your eyes and knowing there are holes around you and trying not to fall," Thibaudeau said of the difficult decision to leave during a pandemic. "Who knows what's going to happen in the next few months? Are we going to go back to a complete shutdown like we were in the spring? If that happens, and she's in a shelter, what happens then? How is she going to find a new place to live?"Long-term concerns over housing also came up when a group representing more than 40 of the province's shelters surveyed nearly 90 women who said they had been victims of domestic violence in recent months."[Some] were worried that if they left their homes, then after staying in a shelter they could have a hard time finding an apartment," said Louise Riendeau, who often reaches out to Quebec politicians on behalf of the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale.Riendeau's group has tried to use social media to remind people that shelters are indeed open and victims should not hesitate to reach out — with some shelters being available via text messaging — even if spaces are limited.According to Riendeau, there are also women who don't feel now is the right time to inquire about going to a shelter."The message to stay home went through louder than the message of, 'if you're a victim of domestic violence, you can reach out for help'" she said.'Domestic violence is often more dangerous than COVID-19'Sensing that many victims are feeling trapped and smothered at home, SOS partnered with Uniprix and Proxim during the summer, which set up private areas inside of hundreds of pharmacies around Quebec for victims who need to contact the hotline during the brief moments they can get away from their partner."We have more situations of people that are in the house whispering in the basement," said Thibaudeau. "Or calling us and they have five minutes because they're going to the store to get some milk and they're being timed."In September, SOS also launched a text line, a service that is not yet well-known, Thibaudeau acknowledged, something she hopes will start to change when it launches its new, fully bilingual website Wednesday.There's another noticeable trend in calls during the pandemic, she said. More people are calling in to express concern about a loved one.It's an encouraging sign for advocates. who say people, more than ever, need to trust their guts and do something if they hear or see something — whether that's calling 911, SOS, or even violating public health rules."If, in your entourage, there's a woman that's a victim of domestic violence, even if they tell us not to welcome families in our homes, take her in," Riendeau said."Domestic violence is often more dangerous than COVID-19."If you're in immediate danger, call 911. If you need help, SOS violence conjugale is a province-wide toll-free crisis line, available 24/7, TTY compatibleYou can reach them at 1-800-363-9010 by phone, or via text at 438-601-1211 You can also look for information on SOS's new website.
The science is clear: breathing the same air as others while indoors presents the greatest risk of catching COVID-19, yet experts say the public still may not be equipped with all the information they need to avoid that threat.At the beginning of the pandemic, public health communication was largely focused on the dangers of large droplets, said Jason Tetro, frequent CBC science contributor and host of the podcast Super Awesome Science Show. These droplets generally fall to the ground or onto surfaces, so messages about hand hygiene and disinfecting grocery cart handles abounded.But as more indoor superspreading events happened, including an early example where a woman infected thousands at her church in South Korea, Tetro said the conversation began to shift, at least within the scientific community."All of a sudden it was like, hmm, well, that's not normal," he said.Consensus forms around risks of indoor airIn a letter published in October in the journal Science, six researchers warned "there is overwhelming evidence that inhalation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) represents a major transmission route."The letter goes on to call for "clear and consistent" guidance to the public on how to protect themselves and others from airborne transmission of COVID-19. Part of that, the letter said, is about informing the public about the risks of smaller droplets, including microscopic ones called aerosols, that can linger in the air from seconds to hours, and can travel farther than two metres.This means that, along with physical distancing and mask wearing, there needs to be more information shared with the public about the importance of gathering outside, opening windows, improving airflow and capitalizing on air filtration systems, the letter said.Masks, physical distancing keyDecades ago, Syed Sattar, a professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa who studied how human pathogens spread, was one of the first researchers to look at how a coronavirus spreads indoors. He said in general, there's a lack of appreciation for how well pathogens survive in air, but that's changing. "The thinking has certainly shifted in favour of the role of air in the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and this unfortunately took a little longer for the influential public health agencies such as the World Health Organization to adopt," he said.The Public Health Agency of Canada only updated its guidance to warn of aerosol transmission earlier this month. "If you are breathing in those droplets by being close to the person who is either infected or subclinically infected [asymptomatic], that presents the highest level of risk, no question about it," said Sattar. The problem is, it's often hard to prove aerosol transmission occurred, he said, let alone predict how factors such as humidity, airflow, temperature and dilution affects the risk of contracting the virus in the real world. For example, according to Tetro, homes with radiator heat may end up being less risky than those with forced air systems. Sattar agreed, but hypothesizes that in a larger building where multiple units share the same heating or cooling system, such as a condo tower, the same effect may help dilute the virus, rendering the air safer.Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says it has found no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted to people in other rooms using the same HVAC system.Part of what makes indoor air more dangerous is the very fact that it exists within a closed space, so there's less dilution. But there's also the "open air factor" or OAF for short, which Sattar said is "ill-defined, but experiments show that it does exist": something about outdoor air makes it particularly good at killing off germs.Limiting the risks at homeCurrently, OPH is advising people to gather with members of their own household only. Under the province's orange zone protocol, indoor gatherings are capped at 10.In cases where people are sharing the same air, both Tetro and Sattar emphasized the importance of masks and physical distancing. Crowding into small, stuffy spaces is especially dangerous. "If you happen to be in an environment where there isn't a lot of ventilation going on, then it's going to be imperative on you to be absolutely sure that you are protecting your airway and you're not spreading it out there," said Tetro. "It's going to help you to ward off any droplets, no matter how large they are, from getting inside of you."Along with three-ply masks, hand hygiene and staying two metres apart, letting fresh air in through an open window or using a HEPA air filter can also help make the environment safer, Sattar said.OPH recommends using fans minimally, if at all, and only on the lowest setting, as they can stir up airborne particles and spread them around the room.
A return of bitcoin to its stratospheric highs has top financial experts scratching their heads and cryptocurrency boosters saying I told you so.On Wednesday, bitcoin crashed through its previous record high of $19,458 US set in December 2017. Bitcoin does not trade on a single centralized market, so quotes can vary based on who assembles the data.But while supporters insist that things are different this time and a sharp rise won't lead to a sharp decline, many fear that inexperienced speculators are again going to get their fingers badly burned. This time around, not only are the peculiar electronic tokens once more on a hard-to-explain upward tear, but as bitcoin has been rising, gold has been falling during the past month.When I first wrote about bitcoin seven years ago suggesting that it was just like gold, investors in the yellow metal were outraged.Crypto typo?In retrospect, that article, "Gold and Bits, Two Sides of the Same Coin," stands up surprisingly well. But in rereading the piece, the price sounds like a crypto typo: "On Thursday, the electronic currency plummeted to about $50 after hitting a Wednesday high of about $260" — an 80 per cent drop.According to Hilliard MacBeth, an Edmonton-based financial author and guru who has been in the securities business for more than 40 years, the rush into bitcoin is just part of a wider phenomenon that might be related to the COVID-19 lockdown."I don't know whether people are home and they don't know what to do, so they've been speculating in markets," said MacBeth, who describes himself as a cryptocurrency skeptic.MacBeth says there are signs that, just like in the midst of the Great Depression, those who actually have money are bidding up assets, including stocks and real estate."One of the things that attracts people to bitcoin is they don't trust the government," MacBeth said.But the strange thing is that despite a trend toward low trust in government, people are willing to trust the mysterious bitcoin founder, he said. Without government supervision, Canadians who may have had only a sketchy idea of how cryptocurrency works have lost small fortunes to people who have proven themselves not to be very trustworthy.Cryptocurrencies are merely numbers in a computer, but of course that is no different from the Canadian dollars in your bank account or the tally of the debt you owe.But while loonies have a value held roughly stable by the Bank of Canada — and while your savings and mortgage accounts are backed by the authority of your bank and its regulators — cryptocurrencies have neither of those two things.Backed by mathInstead, virtual currencies are protected by encryption mathematics, similar to giant passwords, that hide the name of the person that owns them but confirms that each token is valid. The value is set in the market. Unlike gold, cryptocurrencies are easy to transport and especially useful in places where domestic currencies are unstable or hard to trade.While people may also be bidding up stocks or real estate, most financial goods have a notional way of setting their value — relating them to their present or future earnings, such as dividends or rent, and comparing them to market interest rates.But for bitcoin, which is relatively detached from concrete methods of valuation, speculation has the potential to run wild. That can be great on the upswing. Bitcoin, which produce nothing now and are unlikely to produce anything in the future, are up more than 150 per cent this year.Some see it fulfilling the role of a universal currency despite wild swings in value that have in the past made it almost impossible to use as a unit of trade on its own."Persistent low interest rates are the supposed rational explanation for continued interest in bitcoin," huffed the staid Financial Times in its Lex column on Monday. "But there is little rational about cryptocurrencies."Paypal recently announced it would allow some traders to buy, hold and sell bitcoin from their Paypal accounts, and there are reports of a number of big buyers, including Paypal itself.But while credible financial publications like the FT continue to voice caution about a "frenzy" or "mania" of speculation that can fall as sharply as it rises, young and inexperienced buyers of the tokens probably don't hear them.Instead, like so much information on the web, sober and traditional wisdom is drowned out by a cacophony of more raucous voices arousing FOMO — fear of missing out. A search of "how to buy bitcoin" will offer many thousands of options, most of which show you how easy it is and few of which emphasize the potential risks."There is no intrinsic value for something like bitcoin, so it's not really an asset one can analyze," then-Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said back in 2017, just before the token hit its previous peak and subsequent crash. "It's just essentially speculation or gambling."And just as in all speculation or gambling, the rules are simple: Only play when the house is reputable. Never gamble with money you can't afford to lose. And difficult as it may be to know when that moment is, quit while you're ahead.Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
OTTAWA — Most people across Canada can expect an interruption today by an emergency public alert that will be broadcast on television, radio and sent to mobile devices as part of a countrywide test of the system.The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says all provinces and territories, except Nunavut, will get the alerts, but people will not be required to take action.The exact time of the test will vary depending on the province or territory.The agency says testing the national public alerting system is aimed at checking performance and reliability "to ensure it operates as intended in the event of a life-threatening situation."For a wireless device to receive a test alert, the CRTC says it must be connected to an LTE wireless or a newer wireless network, it must be wireless public alerting compatible and equipped with a recent Canadian version of its operating software.If a mobile device meets these conditions and does not receive the test, the CRTC encourages Canadians to contact their service provider.Testing the system, which hasn't always gone according the plan, started in 2018.It was supposed to be fully operational under regulator orders by April 6, 2018. But that year in Quebec, it didn't sound at all. Many wireless subscribers in Ontario also didn't receive it. "Since January 2019, hundreds of emergency alert messages were successfully transmitted by emergency management officials to warn Canadians of a potentially life-threatening situation," the CRTC said in its statement Tuesday. "These alerts have been credited with saving lives."This summer, Ontario Provincial Police used the system to alert Lanark County residents that an armed man was at large after a body was found in a motel room.That alert came about three months after a denturist went on a shooting rampage in Portapique, N.S., killing 22 people. The RCMP was criticized for not using the system.Quebec City police also faced backlash last month for not using the system to warn the public about a sword-wielding individual roaming the streets, killing two people and injuring five others.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
Small businesses in Toronto and Peel Region say it's not fair that they should be closed for in-person shopping while big-box stores can sell all manner of goods — from clothing to books to tech gadgets — if they happen to also sell essential products such as groceries.Retailers considered non-essential in Ontario's COVID-19 hotspots were forced to shut their doors Monday to comply with public health directives, just as the already beleaguered sector enters the holiday season, its most critical period for sales.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it's not right that these small shops should be limited to curbside pickup and online sales, while retail giants are free to soak up their lost revenue."Doug Ford has unfortunately signed the death warrant of thousands and thousands of businesses," said Dan Kelly, CFIB's president and CEO.The organization is calling on the Ontario government to adjust the rules so that small businesses can serve up to three in-person customers at once and salvage some earnings at the tail end of a difficult year.Kelly says his organization wants the government to adopt "a small-business-first retail strategy" that allows no more than six people in a business at any given time — three customers and three staff members."We think that would provide lots of room for physical distancing, take some of the pressure off the big-box guys that are seeing huge, huge crowds and long lineups … while allowing that small firms can eke out a bit of a living as they embark upon the Christmas holiday season."Asked to explain why big-box retailers aren't restricted to selling just the goods deemed essential, as they are in Manitoba, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday that doing so "would be a logistical nightmare.""They have essential items spread out throughout their whole store, and then on top of that how do they monitor it, restrict people from going in there?"And as for Manitoba, after speaking with the CEO of Walmart Canada, it's creating massive problems out there."Tracy Pepe wonders why Ford doesn't seem to be having those same conversations with small businesses owners."I'm angry at the government for taking this approach, because they're not listening to people."The owner of The Scented L'air, an essential oil shop in Brampton, Ont., said making sure sales are done safely is everything to her. "We have done many things beyond expectations to keep our customers safe and we follow the protocol," she said.The in-store experience is central to her business. "It has essential oils I import from different parts of the world. I'm a perfumer by trade and … so the studio is designed for people to come and learn about scent." WATCH | Small business owner Tracy Pepe explains her frustration with how the lockdown has been handled:Pepe said she'd also like to see better messaging to the public about what's expected of them when they venture out for essentials."Walmart may be selling groceries. I understand that. But that doesn't mean that you get to try on a whole bunch of clothes in between. This is a pandemic and unless that messaging is sent out to the community, nobody is going to take this seriously." Kelly Ackerman, co-owner of Face to Face Games, which has a store in Toronto and one in Montreal that sell mostly board games, said he's tried not to dwell on the negative throughout the crisis but does wish the playing field were more even."It does rub me the wrong way that you look at pictures of Costco where it's like a sardine can and you say, how is it when we've got almost 4,000 square feet … we can't have four customers in the shop?"Online, the business is Canada's largest online retailer of collectible trading card games like Pokémon. "But our two stores are really board-game focused; we do puzzles, games, things for your family, things for the kids," said Ackerman.Critical time of yearThey're the sort of gifts people give for Christmas and Hanukkah and use to stay occupied while staying at home now that "we've all finished everything good on Netflix," he said. "If back in March you told me, hey, pick one month you're allowed to be open this year and be closed the other 11, it would be from now until January 1. Typically we see two to three times our daily sales this time of year because people are shopping for their family, for their friends." While customers can still buy online or arrange a curbside pickup, the store's strength lies with its in-store service, he said. "What really sets us apart from Amazon or even Toys 'R' Us is our ability to make a recommendation." Asked about business closures during a news conference Monday, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland pointed to supports for small businesses: a new rent subsidy paid directly to tenants — with extra funds for those impacted by new lockdown measures — as well as the extension of the wage subsidy program."This is a victory for small business owners who are struggling right now to pay the rent and cover bills, and especially for those who are required to close their doors or significantly restrict their operations because of a public health order," she said."All of us know now that there is light at the end of the tunnel with safe and effective vaccines on the way. It would be so tragic for any viable business … to have made its way through most of the pandemic and then to falter just now as the end is in sight."> If retailers miss out on four weeks in late November and early December, they're done. We're already estimating one in seven small businesses will permanently close as a result of COVID-19. \- Dan Kelly, Canadian Federation of Independent BusinessBut Kelly of CFIB said that's exactly what's likely to happen."Unlike March and April lockdowns, this is happening for retailers in their busiest season, at the time where they make all of their money. If retailers miss out on four weeks in late November [and] early December, they're done. We can see the number of business closures skyrocket. We're already estimating one in seven small businesses will permanently close as a result of COVID-19.""That number could even go higher in places like Manitoba, Toronto and Peel, where there are broad retail lockdowns now once again." Ackerman remains optimistic his business won't become a COVID-closure statistic, but stresses that "the power is in our hands as consumers" to make the extra effort required to call a local shop for a curbside purchase or seek out a local business's e-commerce site. "You can go to Costco and buy presents there, or you can choose a more expensive way, a less convenient way, but a better way to support your neighbourhood."
An Akwesasne mom's love for lacrosse inspired a ribbon skirt that pays homage to Ireland's national team for withdrawing from the next World Games to make room for the Iroquois Nationals."I just want to thank Team Ireland for doing that. It meant so much to Indian country. It meant a lot and inspired me to do this," said Cheyenne Lazore, a Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) crafter from Akwesasne, which straddles the Ontario, Quebec, and New York state borders.The 11th edition of the World Games is set to be held in Birmingham, Ala., in July 2022, and it will be the first time men's lacrosse will be included in the games. The Iroquois Nationals, which represent the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in international field lacrosse, were originally told they were ineligible to compete under International Olympic Committee rules.After an international movement of support was sparked for the team, Ireland voluntarily vacated its men's national team's position in the 2022 World Games to ensure there were no barriers to the Iroquois Nationals' entry to the tournament.The bright green skirt is called I Dteannta a chéile - Together As One, after the slogan adopted by both lacrosse teams following the announcement. The skirt includes six panels with Irish influences and beaded celestial trees — a common symbol in Haudenosaunee cultures.Lazore's 11-year-old daughter is a lacrosse goalie and one day hopes to play for the Haudenosaunee women's team. They're both huge lacrosse fans."We never miss any local games. When we go to her tournaments, we watch all the other games. We've watched the Iroquois Nationals on TV since she was little, when they played in Syracuse," said Lazore."When most kids run around the arena, she would sit there and watch."Lazore said in making the skirt, she was able to teach her daughter about humbleness and the importance of lacrosse. The sport was invented by the Haudenosaunee. It's referred to as a medicine game, as a gift from the Creator, to be played for his enjoyment and for healing."It meant a lot for me to teach her that humbleness and how lacrosse is our game. We gave it to the world, and for Team Ireland to give that back to us, it just meant so much. I just wanted to teach her all about that humbleness, and just how much it means to us," she said.Sky Timmons, who modelled the skirt, echoed similar sentiments."It was incredible because how Ireland Lacrosse presented themselves and stepped down and gave the position to the Iroquois. That's what is making this so big," said Timmons, whose mom is from Akwesasne and father is non-Indigenous with Irish heritage."Everyone had so much respect for them. That's her way of giving thanks to them, to showcase her work with their symbol on it."
Seun Richards Agunbiade's new delivery business for immigrants who arrive in New Brunswick with no driver's licence and no vehicle, is attracting lots of interest from Saint John shoppers who don't want to leave their homes during COVID-19. Door2Door deliveries started operating in February and has already grown to a fleet of five delivery vans and more than a dozen drivers, who hail from places such as Nigeria, India, Nepal, Sudan, Morocco and the Middle East. "Four weeks after we started operations, the pandemic struck," said Agunbiade from his home office in a north end townhouse complex known as the Rifle Range. "All of a sudden, everybody switched over to the delivery business for the essential services they needed."The business plan was designed for international students and the elderly as well as immunocompromised customers who didn't want to venture into busy places such as Walmart, Sobeys, Canadian Tire and other retail outlets. However, the original idea came out of Agunbiade's own experience. When he and his wife Ese arrived in Saint John in 2018, they found it difficult to get the things that they needed with three young children in tow. "Trying to get stuff, with the kids, moving around was tough," said Ese. "You had to go on the bus or call a taxi. It was expensive and the weather. It's a big change for us, coming from Dubai, it's a very big difference. So it was tough moving around." In less than a year, business has grown so quickly — the company recently landed a contract with Amazon — Agunbiade has had to hire an operations manager. "Generally, we deliver about 500 packages a day," said Jason Cosman, who expects even faster growth once the company launches its new app within the next few weeks. Agubiandes' journey to New Brunswick began around 2016, when Seun said he met with New Brunswick immigration recruiters in Dubai. He liked their description of the province's work-life balance and it sounded like a good place to raise a family. He has found Saint John to be welcoming and the children love their school. He is also grateful for the support he received from Economic Development Greater Saint John, through its Business Immigrant Essentials program and the 13-week Venture Validation Program. Agunbiade is also a PhD student at UNBSJ under the supervision of Rob Moir, associate dean in the faculty of business. "If a newcomer starts up a business and that business achieves a certain level of success, that newcomer will stay in the city because he needs to … nurture that baby," said Agunbiade."Which is a key focus of what I'm studying about, my research at UNB, how entrepreneurship can support economic development and population growth."Fahad Ali, an international student from Pakistan, says he likes the convenience of having his groceries brought to his door."I don't own a car at the moment and being a student, my time is limited," said Ali. "The alternatives for me would be paying triple in a cab or taking a bus, 40-50 minutes on the road. So given that, this is perfect." "I have a couple of friends on campus using this service. If you want to stay home and stay safe, you can get your things without leaving the comfort of your home."For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Canada's main share index is set to extend its rally over the coming year as the likely rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine bolsters prospects for the economically sensitive financial and resource stocks that dominate the index, a Reuters poll found. "The run-up in stocks will likely not end in 2021 as (U.S.) stimulus likely comes early in the new year, vaccines start to get distributed in the second half of the year and most companies go back to normal in the latter part of 2021," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. A vaccine rollout would "benefit Canada more than most countries because of the large proportion of value and cyclical stocks on the TSX," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
There are currently 1,338 active cases of COVID-19 cases on First Nations reserves across Canada, according to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada.The federal department reported 657 new cases in the last week, with outbreaks occurring primarily in the Prairies.The active COVID-19 caseload in northern Saskatchewan reserves more than doubled with overcrowding, poor housing conditions cited as contributing factors. An outbreak in Fond du Lac Denesuline Nation had the Athabasca Health Authority warning that rule-breakers in the community will cause more COVID-19 infections, after some people who have been exposed to COVID-19 have refused to get tested or self isolate.In light of the rise in cases in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the federal government announced in a Nov. 20 update that it will be providing $120.37 million in pandemic response funding for Indigenous communities and organizations in both provinces.In Manitoba, there were 527 new COVID-19 cases among First Nations people in the past week. The military was sent to Opaskwayak Cree Nation after all 28 residents at the northern community's Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home have tested positive for COVID-19.8 new deathsAs of Nov. 23, there have been a total of 3,224 cases on-reserve since the pandemic started. Twenty-three additional hospitalizations were reported since last week bringing the total to 143 and eight additional deaths were reported bringing the death toll to 28. The number of First Nations people who have recovered from the disease reached 1,858.In Nunavut, the territory started its first full week of its "circuit-breaker lockdown" following a spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend. There are 132 active cases across the territory as of Monday.As of Nov. 20, there are a total of 29 cases of COVID-19 in the Nunavik region of Quebec, and all but one have recovered.Total cases on First Nations reserves per region reported as of Nov. 23: * British Columbia: 228 * Alberta: 995 * Saskatchewan: 867 * Manitoba: 823 * Ontario: 183 * Quebec: 128Pandemic storiesWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19? * new or worsening cough * shortness of breath or difficulty breathing * temperature equal to or over 38°C * feeling feverish * chills * fatigue or weakness * muscle or body aches * new loss of smell or taste * headache * gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting) * feeling very unwellIf you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted COVID-19. If you would like to share your experience, please email us at email@example.com.
Despite a global pandemic, Victoria, B.C., is still one of the best "small cities" in the world, according to UK-based magazine Monocle.The magazine, which explores urban culture around the world, looked at cities with fewer than 250,000 people for their second annual Small Cities Index. The cities chosen were described as "well-connected cities that offer great business opportunities, a welcoming culture and access to nature."According to the index, Victoria placed No. 5, making a significant jump from 16 just a year ago. Porto, Portugal, took top honours followed by Leuven, Belgium; Itoshima, Japan; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Tomos Lewis, the Toronto bureau chief for Monocle, says the charm of a small city is not feeling lost in an anonymous metropolis."From having spoken to people from a variety of sectors who have lived in Victoria either for a long time or just moved there, that kind of intimacy comes part and parcel with moving to a city like Victoria," said Lewis to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.Cities were graded according to accessibility to international travellers, having "a good, progressive mayor," access to nature and for being warm and welcoming. Ratings also incorporated sustainability, environmentally conscious planning and opportunities for business. The magazine had compliments for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who it said "introduced initiatives to encourage young Canadians and foreigners to relocate here" such as free bus passes for children and bike lanes across the city. It also praised the city's diversifying economy, specifically noting its financial-services and ocean-research sectors, and its literary and food scene.Victoria has seen its fair share of challenges during the global pandemic including increased homelessness, a devastating shut-down of its tourism sector and rising housing costs."We do feel that all cities have their challenges that are particular to that place in question. But we don't think that those should always totally overshadow the other things a city has going for it," said Lewis.He said Victoria's civic attempts to address these issues is what earned it a top spot."This idea of the community first stepping in to try and solve, address and shine a spotlight on what those issues are and try to solve them I think is what gives a place its magic and that's certainly what we found having reported on Victoria for so many years from our vantage point."
Le 29 octobre dernier, un étudiant de Techniques d’animation 3D et de synthèse d’images du Cégep de Matane, Anthony Técher, a eu l’honneur de recevoir une mention spéciale pour sa bande dessinée « Monsieur H » à l’occasion de l’édition 2020 du concours CégepBD, réunissant près d’une centaine d’inscriptions cette année. En 3e année au Cégep de Matane et originaire de l’île de la Réunion, Anthony Técher a été félicité pour son oeuvre intitulée « Monsieur H », une bande dessinée de quatre planches traitant de la mélancolie moderne et de la sensation de perdre pied, une œuvre ayant vu le jour à l’occasion du confinement du printemps dernier. Malgré le contexte de l’édition 2020, 94 inscriptions ont été enregistrées au concours, qui est organisé par le Collège de Valleyfield depuis 1996. Les planches soumises ont été évaluées selon différents critères comme la qualité technique, les illustrations, la composition des éléments narratifs et l’originalité du scénario. Si Anthony Técher n’a pas figuré sur le podium, il est parvenu à recevoir l’une des six mentions spéciales accordées par le jury. En effet, le jury a souligné le « récit simple » du bédéiste ainsi qu’un « ton mélancolique soutenu par un dessin efficace et un design des personnages réussi ». L’illustrateur Mathieu Benoit, responsable de l’activité, a félicité M. Técher pour son « utilisation imaginative de la typographie et les couleurs choisies qui appuient l’ambiance claustrophobe » dans le récit. M. Técher a eu l’occasion de développer ses compétences artistiques lors de ses études au Cégep de Matane. « Cela fait longtemps que je dessine, mais jusqu’ici c’était surtout sur du papier. Pour ce projet-là, j’ai pu me mettre à fond dans le dessin numérique et développer de nouvelles compétences acquises au cégep. Sans ma formation au cégep, je n’aurais jamais pu me sentir assez à l’aise en digital painting pour participer au concours », a expliqué l’étudiant. Sa copine, Zoé Marchal, qui étudie en Techniques d’intégration multimédia, l’a notamment beaucoup aidé au niveau de l’histoire de la bande dessinée. « Le confinement du printemps m’a permis d’avoir plus de temps pour me pencher sur ce projet. Avant le confinement du printemps, la réalisation de la première planche, entre les heures de cours et les travaux à rendre, m’avait pris environ deux semaines. Après ça, j’étais capable d’en terminer une en trois jours », a commenté le bédéiste, qui avait accès à des tablettes graphiques pour l’aider.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the US economy, the country’s housing market is booming. People are telecommuting. Kids are studying at home. These are some of the many reasons pushing Americans across the country to seek bigger homes. (Nov. 25)
Alberta is now one of Canada's worst COVID-19 hotspots and Premier Jason Kenney's handling of the pandemic in his province is getting low marks, according to polls. It might also be sapping support for the federal Conservative Party in its most loyal stronghold. On Sunday and Monday, Alberta reported over 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 — a number similar to or greater than the daily counts in Ontario and Quebec, two provinces with much larger populations. The province's hospitals are filling up and there are serious concerns that continued spread will push the health care system beyond its limits. Kenney introduced a series of new measures and restrictions on Tuesday, but throughout the crisis Kenney's United Conservatives have adopted an ideological approach to the pandemic — banking on appeals to personal responsibility and individual freedom rather than restrictions and lockdowns, with an eye toward keeping businesses open. It hasn't worked. If Canada as a whole experienced Alberta's per capita growth in cases, its total would be well over 10,000 new cases per day — ranking it as one of the worst-afflicted countries in the world. Albertans are not pleased. Last week's survey by Léger for the Canadian Press and the Association for Canadian Studies found just 37 per cent of Albertans reporting satisfaction with the measures put in place by the provincial government. That put Kenney's government at the bottom of the ranking of provincial governments in the poll — and lower than Albertans' expressed satisfaction (46 per cent) with the measures put in by Justin Trudeau's Liberal government in Ottawa. Alberta's nine-point spread in that poll — between voters' satisfaction with provincial pandemic measures and their assessment of Ottawa's performance — was the widest in the country. The poll was conducted between Nov. 13 and 15, when Alberta was averaging 975 new cases per day. With the province's daily count of new cases now hovering around 1,500, it is unlikely Kenney's numbers have improved. That's also indicated by a more recent survey by ThinkHQ conducted between Nov. 18 and 21, when the number of new cases in the province was averaging around 1,082 per day. It found that 51 per cent of Albertans felt measures announced earlier in the month did not "go far enough," while just 13 per cent said they went too far. Approval for implementing a mandatory mask order in Alberta was 81 per cent in that poll, while 78 per cent approved of more rigorous enforcement of the rules for the individuals and businesses now breaking them. Federal Conservative support down in Alberta Albertans' growing dissatisfaction with Kenney coincides with a decline in support for the federal Conservatives in Alberta. Since March 2, when the pandemic was just beginning in Canada, the Conservatives have slipped only 1.2 percentage points in national support in the CBC's Poll Tracker. But the party is down 8.3 points in Alberta — significantly more than anywhere else in the country. With just over 51 per cent support in Alberta, the Conservatives are down nearly 18 points since the 2019 federal election. The Liberals are up 10 points in the province, to around 24 per cent, while the NDP is up six points to 18 per cent. The Conservatives might not need to worry too much about this slide — the party still has majority support in the province and the polls under-estimated the Conservative vote share by between eight and nine points in last year's election. The polls also under-estimated support for Kenney's UCP in the 2019 provincial election, as they did for the conservative Saskatchewan Party in October's election there. But a total swing of roughly 28 points between the Conservatives and Liberals would be enough to flip three Conservative seats — Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Mill Woods and Calgary Skyview. A swing of 24 points between the Conservatives and NDP would put Edmonton Griesbach on the bubble. Granted, that's only four seats. It's also only one province. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole — who greatly benefited from Kenney's endorsement during the party leadership campaign — has a lot of fellow-travellers in premiers' offices in provinces now suffering a spike in cases. Premiers across the country struggling to contain COVID-19 Nearly every province in Canada is in the midst of a second wave that is worse than the first one last spring. Nearly every province also happens to be governed by a conservative of one stripe or another — only British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia are governed by New Democrats or Liberals. It's a bit of bad luck for O'Toole that conservative parties swept NDP and Liberal provincial governments from power in the years immediately before the pandemic — because there might be some collateral damage for O'Toole if the fortunes of other blue-branded premiers sink. WATCH: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister defends the province's pandemic response Along with Kenney, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was the only other premier to score less than 50 per cent satisfaction on COVID-19 measures in last week's Léger survey. The sample size is small in the Léger poll but Pallister has been consistently below 50 per cent since mid-October. As of last week, Manitoba had the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate in the country. A recent Probe Research poll with a larger sample found public approval of the Pallister government's health measures during the pandemic plummeting from 77 per cent in June to 46 per cent in early November. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has so far avoided a similar downturn in support. His party was re-elected with its fourth consecutive majority government last month. But the federal Conservatives are still down 4.6 points in Manitoba and Saskatchewan since March, a slide second only to the one the party experienced in Alberta. Support for the approach taken by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, another conservative, also has been slipping in recent weeks, according to Léger. That could be a problem for O'Toole's Conservatives, who have yet to poll higher in Ontario than they did in last year's federal election. As the Official Opposition in Ottawa, O'Toole and his MPs have been attacking the Trudeau government's handling of the pandemic, attributing the spike in cases to Liberal inaction on rapid testing and data collection, while demanding the Liberals explain their plans for the distribution of a vaccine when one is ready. It doesn't seem to be putting a dent in Liberal support just yet. Some Canadians living in COVID-19 hotspots appear to be pointing the finger at governments closer to home — and their federal cousins are feeling the heat.
Audrey Hopkinson would have turned 34 today, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.It's also the day the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses publishes its annual femicide list. This year, Hopkinson's name will be on that list. Hopkinson was a nurse and a mom in Brockville, Ont. She was expecting her third child when she was killed in her home on April 1 by her partner, who then killed himself, according to Brockville police.> Women report they had trouble leaving their communities and could not get away from partners. This only increased the violence as women were trapped. \- Women's Shelters Canada national surveyIt happened less than a month into the pandemic lockdown in Ontario. The week before, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the pandemic could "exacerbate risks of violence for women.""As distancing measures are put in place and people are encouraged to stay at home, the risk of intimate partner violence is likely to increase," the WHO stated in a report released March 26.'We were like sisters'Melissa Adams, a close friend and colleague of Hopkinson at Brockville General Hospital, met her in training and the two were later on maternity leave at the same time."She was a beautiful soul," said Adams. "She was the type of person that would always remember your birthday, any special occasions, and she would always do something special.... We were like sisters." But Adams said Hopkinson's new partner soon alienated her and other close friends.Hopkinson lived close to the Leeds and Grenville Interval House in Brockville, but according to its executive director, Chalene Catchpole, she never sought out the shelter's services. Catchpole said it was "so sad and such an awful time with all the messaging around: stay at home, stay at home." She said the killing in this small, eastern Ontario city had an immediate impact on women — even those who never knew Hopkinson."Our phone lines at that point exploded. I had to re-deploy some of our staff to come in and assist on the phone, because our staff who were working in the shelter weren't able to keep up," said Catchpole.'Disturbing trends' in violenceWomen's Shelters Canada released its national survey of shelters and transition houses on Wednesday. The study notes that violence against women (VAW) shelters are working in ever-changing environments due to COVID-19.Comments received from VAW agencies reveal "disturbing trends in the violence front-line workers were seeing, including an increase in physical attacks (specifically stabbing, strangulation and broken bones), forced confinement, sexual violence, emotional and financial abuse, increased human trafficking and an overall higher frequency of abuse in all forms," according to the study.The report also expresses specific concerns about rural, remote and Indigenous women, who are not always able to leave their isolated communities."Women report they had trouble leaving their communities and could not get away from partners. This only increased the violence as women were trapped," notes the report.Rallying cry Adams said she'll never get over the loss of her friend but hopes Hopkinson's death can serve as a rallying cry for others. She had this message for other women who are isolated and are being controlled or abused by partners."Reach for that hope, because there is a hand on the other side waiting to help. That's why they have these crisis hotlines," said Adams. Meanwhile, she said the community of colleagues at Brockville General Hospital is also suffering a loss. Hopkinson "is our guardian angel. We have lanyards now that we wear [commemorating her]," Adams said. "She lives on within our hospital and within each of us.... She was an amazing nurse, an amazing mom and I was blessed to have her as a friend." If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, there are resources available at ShelterSafe.
Three of the City of Ottawa's office buildings are assigned so many employees that they are in contravention of the safety codes and could pose a danger during a fire.That's one of the eyebrow-raising revelations in the report tabled Tuesday by Ottawa Auditor General Ken Hughes on the city's oversight of its 1,073 facilities, that found the city's "management practices require considerable improvement."The audit looked at how the city manages its own buildings — including recreation and community centres, administrative offices, garages and water filtration plants, daycares and arenas — publicly owned assets that are, as Coun. Jean Cloutier put it, "vital to our city."As we've heard before, the city isn't putting enough money into keeping up those vital public assets, although council's current plan is supposed to close that funding gap in seven years.Meantime, the city appears to be pouring money into old buildings that should be replaced.The audit identified 37 buildings where the cost of the planned work is actually $14 million more than replacing the buildings. There is $31.5 million planned for buildings with zero life remaining.At the same time, almost half of all projects — 467 in the last six years — were unscheduled, because they were urgent reactive measures, while 2,100 maintenance projects worth $147 million that were supposed to be done this year have been deferred, which will make the work more expensive in the future.Hughes also called into question management's ability to oversee facility projects, pointing the the four-year-old parking garage in the Glebe that must have its faulty waterproofing removed and replaced, and its electrical system repaired."It's like 95 pages of horror stories," said Coun. Carol Anne Meehan, who sits on the audit committee and said she was "disappointed and dismayed" by the findings.Too many people pose fire hazardOne revelation in the report was that three of the city's administrative buildings — City Hall on Laurier Avenue, as well as the city facilities at 101 Centrepointe Drive and 100 Constellation Drive — have too many people working in them in non-COVID-19 times and are in contravention of the Ontario Building Code. The Constellation building, in particular, has 985 more people than it should, which could endanger workers there if there's an emergency."Over-accommodating a building puts occupants' health and safety at risk in the event of a fire as it can restrict the ability to exit the building," states the audit.Staff 'didn't like the narrative' of auditHughes told the audit committee that he had trouble getting management to respond to the audit.He had debriefed the relevant city managers in mid-August about his findings and sent along the draft audit report in mid-September. He said he heard about no serious issues at the time. In mid-October, senior staff asked to meet with Hughes' team over "significant concerns" with the audit."It was a pretty high-powered meeting," Hughes said. "Management could not identify any factual errors. But they indicated they didn't like the narrative in the audit."In early November, management sent Hughes stacks of reports which his staff reviewed and found that 90 per cent of the information was irrelevant and another 10 per cent the auditor's office already had. Hughes didn't receive management's comments until Saturday afternoon, which is why they are not included in the audit.The auditor general made 34 recommendations to improve oversight, accountability, records and potential cost savings. Management only disagreed with one to move to a more centralized system of asset management. Staff said the other 33 recommendations could be undertaken by the asset-management plan that council approved back in 2012.The audit found that the strategy for that 2012 plan was still in draft mode.