U.S. President Donald Trump's niece Mary Trump thinks Americans should ignore the president and view him as a "lame duck" amidst his continuing unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
U.S. President Donald Trump's niece Mary Trump thinks Americans should ignore the president and view him as a "lame duck" amidst his continuing unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Parry Sound-Almaguin hunters say they feel targeted by a federal firearm ban that came into effect in May, but they don’t believe it influenced the recent hunting season. Bruce Hatt, a member of the Parry Sound Hunters and Anglers Association, said that the association supports safe hunting, gun handling and shooting sports. “The regulations that are out (now), do not do anything for safe hunting, they do not do anything for crime — they do not do anything for anybody, honestly,” said Hatt. “The guns they’re banning are as dangerous as the people that are using them.” On May 1, 2020, the federal government prohibited nine types of “assault-style” firearms as well as placed new restrictions on muzzle energy, which determines the damage a bullet can do, and the bore diameter, which is the calibre of gun. “If you’re a safe gun handler, there’s no reason those guns should be banned — there’s no justification for it,” he said. Asked if the new firearms ban had any effect on the recent hunting season, Hatt replied, “No, I don’t think so.” “Most of the guns that were banned are target rifles used for recreational shooting — the guys I hunt with use the same rifles they’ve used for the last 20 years,” he said. However, the pandemic did impact the hunting season, according to Hatt. “We have people from all over the province come to our camp. A lot of people decided not to come; a lot of us stayed in different locations, met in the morning and social distanced in the field, which was easy to do,” he explained. “But it did impact it — there was a lot people that opted out.” In Sundridge, the Eagle Lake Gun Club has been operating for over 60 years and has over 550 members. Peter Turnbull manages membership for the club and has been hunting in Almaguin for years. He said that in the Parry Sound-Muskoka region, the federal gun ban doesn’t have a big impact; however, the issue, according to Turnbull, is it doesn’t target the right group of people. “There’s about 2.3 million people that are lawfully licensed to have firearms — we’re not the problem,” said Turnbull. “We go through extensive training just to be able to have that privilege.” The firearms ban didn’t affect the hunting season in his opinion, as he said not many hunters would consider hunting with the calibre of rifles listed in the prohibition. “For the most part, the AR-15 are .223 calibre, which isn’t suitable for bear hunting or any big game,” he said. “But there are cases in places, especially up in the far north, where people are using stuff like that.” Echoing Hatt’s sentiments regarding the pandemic’s effect on the 2020 hunting season, Turnbull said there were less hunters at his camp. For both Hatt and Turbull, the emphasis is on the safe handling of guns. “We have to go through courses to get firearms, it’s very regulated, it’s very safe,” said Hatt. STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After seeing a release about a recent federal firearms ban, our reporter wanted to find out if hunters in the Parry Sound, Almaguin region found the firearms ban to alter the hunting season. With the pandemic entering the second wave during the hunting season, she thought it was important to find out if hunting had seen a decline. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
COVID-19 patients from northern British Columbia are being sent to Victoria for care, as both case counts and hospitalizations in the Northern Health region surge to unprecedented levels.Since mid-November, northern B.C. has seen a sharp spike in positive test results, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising from 96 between Nov. 1 and 15 to 343 between Nov. 16 and 30.The number of patients requiring hospitalization, meanwhile, is happening at rates higher than anywhere else in the province. With just six per cent of the province's population, Northern Health patients now account for as many as 20 per cent of the critical care patients on any given day — and health-care providers are feeling the strain."I think the last time I had any days off was August," said Dr. Lovedeep Khara, an intensive care doctor at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, where the majority of the region's COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care wind up.The current situation in northern B.C. is a sharp contrast to the spring and summer, when the region went weeks without any new infections, or even spring, when there were only one or two new cases at a time.Now, Khara said, hospital staff are going "at full speed," foregoing holidays and regular downtime to handle the influx of new patients. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact COVID patients remain in intensive care for days or weeks at a time, requiring specialized teams, rooms and equipment to keep everyone safe from infection."Everybody is pretty strained and stressed," said Dr. Simon Rose, another ICU specialist in Prince George. "Not just doctors and nurses, but support and cleaning staff."Near-surge capacityNorthern B.C. has 41 critical care beds, 24 of which were occupied on Dec. 1. But what's more important, health-care workers say, is the number of people available to staff them.Fort St. John, for example, is able to look after patients with relatively mild symptoms, but once they need a ventilator or ICU care, they will likely be sent to Prince George where there are more doctors and respiratory therapists to support them. And this past week, at least two patients were sent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to try to take some of the strain off hospitals in the north.Courtenay Kelliher, who is in charge of Northern Health's pandemic response, said health-care workers in the region are reaching their limits and expressed hope cases will start to decline soon."A surge should be like a tidal wave," she said. "It comes in and it goes out, and you hope not to see a big one like that again." But the fear, Kelliher said, is that even though they've been operating at near-capacity for weeks, it's still unclear whether the wave has peaked or if it will continue to grow.Adding to the stress is what some health-care workers view as a growing backlash to not just public safety measures, but the very notion of whether COVID-19 is even a concern. "When you get to the end of your day ... and post after post and article after article is people complaining that the guidelines are too much and the orders are too much and this is a conspiracy … it leaves you feeling, just, defeated," Kelliher said."We went from in the springtime where the public held these pot-clanking parades and honking parades [for] frontline workers … And now it's almost been a 180 where there's sort of a hostility towards us.""It just adds to that emotional exhaustion that already exists."To hear more on how hospitals in the north are handling the surge in COVID-19 patients, and how it is impacting healthcare professionals in the region, tap the audio below.Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Here's the latest for Thursday December 3rd: California considers strict new COVID rules; Trump repeats electoral fraud claims; NY bar owner arrested for breaking coronavirus rules; Landslide in Alaska.
Anyone looking to get a glimpse of Santa Claus in Windsor on Saturday will have to make an appointment. The drive-thru Windsor Santa Claus Parade is moving to a reservation system after some other events in the region saw congestion issues and long waits.Tickets are free, and reservations can be made here.This year's event was changed to a drive-thru, or reverse parade, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees remain in their vehicles and drive by the floats. The parade will feature entertainers, inflatables and horse units."Although far from a normal parade concept, this method allows for social distancing and has been reviewed by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit," the City of Windsor said in a statement.The parade, which is produced by the non-profit Windsor Parade Corporation, is being held on Saturday at 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the St. Clair College Windsor Campus.In a statement, the city said ticketed admission will allow vehicles to smoothly move onto the parade route, as well as minimize traffic congestion on Cabana Rd.Parade officials have established half-hour time blocks for families to book their visit. As of publication, the earliest slots (ending at 7:30 p.m.) are full.
Husky Energy is getting $41.5 million from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to keep the idled West White Rose offshore oil project going, particularly to "protect the option of re-starting" in the next year — although there is no guarantee that will happen.The announcement came Thursday morning in a news conference that involved Premier Andrew Furey, provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan and Husky senior vice-president Jonathan Brown. The money is coming from the government's Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund, and is the first project to get financial help from that source.The $41.5 million is half the total project cost. Husky Energy will be kicking in the other half. Furey said the work related to the project will happen in 2021, and it will mean 331 jobs. Specifically, there will be 169 positions in project management and engineering, and 162 tradespersons at the Port of Argentia and a fabrication facility in Marystown.The money keeps the project — one of Newfoundland and Labrador's biggest offshore operations — alive for now.> The signal you've received from Husky today is that they're planning to move forward. \- Andrew FureyIt's known as "warm suspension," and it's only an option, not a certainty, that the project will fully re-start."Everyone wants a crystal ball, but of course we don't have one and we don't have that certainty," Furey told reporters following the conference."But I think the signal you've received from Husky today is that they're planning to move forward. They recognize the value of this project."'One heck of a Christmas surprise': O'ReganO'Regan called the announcement "one heck of a Christmas surprise for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families."He said the announcement was not merely a "government handout" but instead called it a "strategic investment" in the offshore oil industry, which was thrown into turmoil this spring when the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to plummet. "We believe in our workers, we believe in this industry and we believe in its future," O'Regan added. O'Regan acknowledged there will not be an entirely smooth road in the coming months. "Spring is coming and the vaccines are coming, but we have a hard winter ahead," he said.A 'first step back in the right direction,' says Husky VPBrown, Husky's senior vice-president for the Atlantic region, said the announcement will put the project in a better position for a 2022 restart, allowing project capability and skilled workers in the province to be retained."This is the first step back in the right direction for the White Rose project," Brown said. "But one of many steps still ahead."Brown said the announcement is positive news in what has been a "year of tough decisions" on the project, which has suspended construction until 2021.He said work in Marystown will continue on projects like life boats, helipads and a flare tower, while the maintenance and preservation program will continue in Argentia.Opposition, NDP looking for guaranteesFollowing the press conference, NDP Leader Alison Coffin voiced concern over the project's continued precariousness, citing the agreement's reliance on unnamed "conditions.""We've been given no idea of what those conditions are," she told reporters Thursday."Do we have to put even more money into this? Are the conditions that the price of oil has to go up?...We have no guarantees."PC Leader Ches Crosbie echoed a similar sentiment, saying Furey "should be moving heaven and earth" to restart the project. He also questioned the number of new jobs to come from the announcement."What we're hearing is that the 331 jobs that they're claiming, more than half of those ... are already in existence," he said. "So the actual number of jobs created by all that money is not what they're claiming it's going to be."Coffin said the money could have been better spent diversifying the economy, opening more work opportunities for those who may not be able to re-enter the oil and gas sector."I think there are better ways to spend this money, to ensure that the workers who need to go back to work have employment," she said.Latest development in a roller coaster ride for workers, projectThat Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund was announced Sept. 25, with the federal government allocating $320 million for the N.L. government to support direct and indirect employment. Furey appointed a task force with the same name, chaired by Bill Fanning and Karen Winsor, who were also on hand for Thursday's announcement. The announcement is the latest development in a saga that started in April, when Husky announced it was stopping construction on the project, as the global pandemic battered oil markets. Hundreds of workers were laid off.At the time, the project was nearly 60 per cent complete.In October, Husky said construction was cancelled for 2021 as well.That news came just days after Cenovus Energy announced it would buy Husky Energy in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. In a statement, Cenovus said regarding Husky's operations in the province "the WWR [West White Rose] project is key to extending the life of the White Rose field. As we have said before, all options are on the table and accelerating abandonment remains a possibility."When asked about Cenovus walking away from the project once the merger is complete, Brown said it's too early to know. He said his team is committed to continuing the West White Rose project."I think that really understates the level of commitment that we've already shown to the project," he said. "The responsibility everyone feels to completing the project and the effort … don't underestimate the importance of that."He said a review of Husky's East Coast operations that the corporation had announced in September are also still ongoing."We have to create a path forward," Brown said."Yes, I'd love to have a decision tomorrow, but I'd also like … the economy to stabilize, the oil prices to improve, because they'll provide a better basis for that decision."Take that decision too early, it might not be the one you want."Husky has been asking both the federal and provincial governments for money to save West White Rose, but both governments have rejected the company's pitch to buy a stake in the project.Newfoundland and Labrador, through its Crown corporation Nalcor Energy, already owns a five per cent stake in the project.Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CORNWALL – Helping businesses stay safe and open is the goal of a provincial COVID-19 education and enforcement campaign for businesses that will happen in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region later this week. The “multi-ministerial” team from the provincial government will be working with the EOHU to visit local businesses, conduct assessments, and promote health and safety requirements needed according to the COVID-19 Response Framework. The visits are prescribed under the Reopening Ontario Act passed earlier this year. “The aim of the campaign is to ensure that workplaces have the resources and information they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said a release from the EOHU. “EOHU public health staff, in collaboration with local enforcement partners, have been working diligently with businesses in our region to help ensure they can operate safely and protect their workers and customers,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the EOHU. “We know many businesses have made enormous efforts but still need some assistance. We’re pleased that the provincial campaign coming in early-December will provide added support.” The visits will see officers assess business owners and provide guidance on how to fix any compliance issues. While the goal of the campaign is to educate, officers do have the power to deal with infractions with fines and other measures. The inspection blitz began in early November in Peel Region with 350 businesses visited. Most of the infractions dealt with improper mask wearing, or a lack of screening measures in place. If charges are warranted, a person or a business can be fined $750 for an offence, up to a maximum fine of $100,000 for a prosecuted offence. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
MORRISBURG – While many activities have been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, area curlers have been able to return to the ice sheet at the Morrisburg Curling Club this fall thanks to the efforts of a small group of volunteers. The MCC formed a COVID-19 committee to look at how it could begin the 2020-21 season and keep the sport going. “There were a lot of guidelines to go over from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Ministry of Health,” said Wendy Casselman, one of the members of the COVID-19 committee. The five-person group broke down what they needed to do and set up a comprehensive system of logs, cleaning routines, and modifications needed to restart the sport. “Our main goal with all this is the safety and the protection (health wise) of our curlers,” Casselman said. The volunteers looked at every part of how curlers interact in the rink and tried to mitigate any safety risks there could be. The basement change room area is closed off this season, but a physically-spaced out area on the main floor has been set up for curlers to change their shoes, and of course sanitize. Tables in the balance of the lobby are also spaced to allow for distancing and limited to just one team per table, with enough tables for the next matches. Games have staggered start times so teams for all three sheets won’t arrive or interact together. Because of the staggered start times, the ends alternate for the most part and allow for physical spacing between the games in the rink. It is still curling, but curling in a pandemic is different than before. The sport has adopted changes to how the game is played to allow for physical distancing. For example, there is only one sweeper now mid-ice instead of two. The game has been limited to six ends, no more eight-enders for now. Masks are worn during the game, except when a curler is throwing a rock. “But many are comfortable with the mask on for that too,” Casselman added. At every step of the way, is cleaning. A lot of cleaning. COVID-19 committee member Sandra Bonyun explained that all the touch-points, from the stones to the scoreboard, handles, chairs, and other equipment are cleaned after each game, and logged. Entrance to the facility is also logged in case of a worst-case scenario that contact tracing is required. Curling is a social sport and after a game, teams at their own tables can still enjoy a beverage before departing, but the kitchen is closed until further notice and extended socializing is discouraged. More options like coffee and snacks after a game may be allowed, depending on what restrictions are in place in the region at the time. Currently the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region is at the Yellow-Protect level so that is not possible. Some of the programs offered by the MCC are not running so far this season including the Little Rocks youth curling. “It’s a little more difficult for them to be socially distant,” Casselman said. “We will have to see in January whether or not it’s going to work, and if not then it would be off for the year. It’s unfortunate because we know the kids really enjoy that activity.” The club did move forward with its ‘Learn to Curl’ program this fall and has nine people signed up for it. Bringing the sport back and having a winter activity this year was important to all the members of the committee. “We surveyed the membership to see how many wanted to come back and the response rate was awesome,” Bonyun said. “People wanted to have some normalcy back in their lives.” “People are getting tired,” added Casselman. “It’s been a long time that we’ve been home a lot, A lot of our senior people look forward to the curling season. We just felt for the overall wellbeing, both physical and mental that we try our best to get this up and running.”Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
Changes to the diabetes strategy on P.E.I. announced last week are not enough, say a local advocate and Diabetes Canada.The province increased the number of test strips it will provide every month and raised the age for insulin pump coverage from 18 to 25."This is too small a step," said Brooks Roche, who has been lobbying the government for changes."More needs to be done."Roche said he has been using a glucose monitor connected to an insulin pump for about a year and a half, and it is difficult to describe the difference it has made in his life."The sense of security and the sense of being able to participate and contribute and not to live such an intense sense of anxiety about, can I do what my peers are doing, can I live a day that's a little bit spontaneous," he said.Fiscal and social senseIt is not just about the difference in one person's life, both Roche and Diabetes Canada argue.Providing coverage for people of all ages makes both fiscal and social sense. The complications that can result from diabetes that is not effectively managed can be expensive for the health care system."We need to support them in maintaining their health. It's good for short-term health care cost avoidance and long-term health-care cost avoidance," said Kim Hanson, director of federal affairs for Diabetes Canada.Cutting people off at age 25 is particularly harsh, said Hanson, particularly for people with Type 1 diabetes who will have to manage the disease for their entire lives."Think about the position many folks are in when they turn 25 in our country," she said."They're not in a position to be able to fork four-, five-, six-thousand dollars for diabetes devices every single year."Many private insurance plans cover the insulin pumps, but Roche said it is not right that people should have to rely on that."It hurts me to know that there are folks out there that would benefit so, so much from this technology, who are unable to access it," he said."We absolutely cannot continue tying access to proper treatment to the privilege of having employment."CBC News asked Health PEI for more details about the strategy, and how much adding more resources would cost. The agency has not yet provided that information.More from CBC P.E.I.
EASTERN SHORE – Former Moser River resident Marie Turner entered Northwood Continuing Care facility last November. While it was her first placement, it was not her first choice. When she applied, she selected Harbourview Lodge (HVL) in Sheet Harbour as her first choice, to allow her to live in the same community as her family. Turner’s sister, former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey, is unhappy her sister has not, after a year, been transferred back to her home. McCluskey looked into the policy posted on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) website. “The policy reads ‘as soon as a vacancy becomes available – you are transferred to your first choice’ – but that’s not true. She’s housed now – they have no compassion. There have been vacancies in HVL over the past year but no transfer for Marie,” she says. Turner contracted COVID-19 last spring as a Northwood resident and spent months unable to have any visits from family members, especially while she was ill. “Marie was in a room with another woman and they didn’t even move her,” complains McCluskey. “She suffered from pains in her legs and headaches. She was lucky and did not become extremely ill – and she survived.” The former politician with a 23-year history in municipal government stresses long-term care facility workers are underpaid for the work they do. “They work hard. Administration undervalues the work they do so they can have a lower pay scale. They’ve dropped the ball. COVID should never have been in there [Northwood].” Turner will turn 93 on Dec. 6 and her sister says she should have been given the opportunity months ago – before the pandemic – to transfer to HVL to spend these years near her children and grandchildren. “They don’t care,” McCluskey tells The Journal by phone. “They have such little empathy for seniors. The dear soul has already had COVID, she could have been transferred before this second wave.” McCluskey does not feel there is any hope her sister will get moved now. “They’ve closed the facilities again. They had given false hope and now there is no solution – they are not going to move anybody now,” she said. McCluskey and Turner are two of the four sisters left from a family of nine. “How little do our seniors mean? They seem to think seniors only die anyway. They built our country and deserve dignity,” McCluskey says. Arthur Turner, Marie’s son, tells The Journal how difficult it was for his family when his mom was diagnosed with coronavirus. “I feel frustration about her being there – and not here – as her choice was. The system should be in place that puts her where she chooses to live.” The last time Arthur saw his mother, in person, was this fall at Northwood. “I had all the COVID gear on and was able to hug her – but only for a second.” When Turner heard of his mother’s COVID diagnosis he felt there had been no consideration for either his mother or her family. “We might never see her again. She was quite low and we couldn’t visit and maybe had seen her for the last time….” Communication with his mother, while she lives in a facility 90 kilometres away from him, has proven to be a challenge. “We try to reach her by phone – but we usually can’t get a hold of her. It’s always an ordeal,” Arthur says. “We have to wait until the nurses are available to help us set it up and get Mom to the phone. She is in her room a lot.” Arthur remains hopeful his mother will ultimately get the transfer she desires and become a resident at Harbourview Lodge. “It would be so good for her to return to her home community. I feel she deserves it, really. You know, she taught school down here and worked for the Guild faithfully,” he shares. “She was a real good person – she was a member of the Eastern Star and helped raise a lot of money for her community. She set a good example.” Arthur’s sister, Ann Martin, is a registered nurse at HVL. “It would be wonderful for Mom to be here and have my sister so close – helping to care for her. We could all see her. I know during COVID they were not moving anybody but there have been quite a few openings here – but there always seems to be red tape,” she says. The Journal contacted NSHA to inquire about the transfer and placement policy, but did not receive a reply by press time.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Parents and grandparents can't pile into the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre this December to snap a picture of their little ones on stage this Christmas, but as COVID-19 rules cancel the annual tradition, some artists — both big and small — are finding a workaround."We will miss it, because the little ones are just so special," said manager Krista Hansen-Robitschek."Even up to Grade 6 ... You see the same children year after year, and you see them grow."During a regular year, the stage would be blocked with school concerts during weekdays in November and December, with other Christmas concerts taking up every weekend. But she says some local entertainers have found ways to pull off a holiday show on the local stage, following the health guidelines.Spaced apart"We will put three seats between you and the next group of people. And every second row is blocked off," she said."You will be required to wear a mask when you enter the theatre. All staff and patrons, when moving through the theatre, have a mask on. And when you are seated you can take your mask off and watch the show."> 'We just want to make a safe and enjoyable atmosphere' \- Krista Hansen-RobitschekHansen-Robitschek says groups must book their seats within their bubble. There is no intermission, and shows are around an hour long, with the theatre aiming to keep capacity at 100, including performers.WATCH | Colleen Connors reports on a workaround in Corner Brook to replace some school Christmas concerts: "We just want to make a safe and enjoyable atmosphere," she said.Most entertainers are booking multiple nights to accommodate the new, limited seating situation.COVID workaroundOne group that offers private music lessons in Corner Brook discovered a COVID-19 workaround, so all their young students can take part in their upcoming Christmas show on Dec. 18.Graham Academy's youngest performers, who are four and five years old, will record their song and air it during the concert."It gives the children an opportunity to perform and be out there," said instructor Ian Locke. "Christmas is such a performing highlight for many young students."Students practice their Christmas songs and plays wearing masks, standing six feet apart. After months of online performances, Locke is just delighted to return to the stage, even though it's on a smaller, safer scale."We are so happy to be back, because we haven't been there since last Christmas," he said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Patricia Young describes her home of Walker’s Point as a place where people believe in the importance of community. “I think if you look up ‘community’ in the dictionary, you’ll see Walker’s Point listed,” she said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, that community often gathered at the Walker’s Point Community Centre for activities and socializing: people went to check out books at the library inside, attend exercise classes, crafting sessions or the monthly potluck dinners. Paola Randall, like Young, has lived in Walker’s Point for over 20 years. She spent a lot of time at the community centre before the pandemic: she’s part of the library’s executive board and used to play pickleball there. “We see it as a hub,” she said. “It really connects us to all the services of the township, as well as bringing us together.” Young, who’s part of the community centre’s hall board, said while people are understanding of the situation they’re in, the loss of some of their traditional events is felt. “I’ve run into a few people and they have specifically said, ‘We really miss the potluck suppers,’” she said. She added, however, no one wants to “jeopardize people’s health and safety.” Community centres in Bala, Port Carling, Minett and Milford Bay reopened Nov. 2, allowing 10 people maximum in their facilities at a time for an hour a day, booked in advance. However, many feel they aren’t out of the woods yet. Residents, particularly seniors, don’t want to take the risk of infection by going out and are still leaning on the adjustments and virtual support systems they’ve developed during the pandemic in lieu of these in-person gathering places. Part of the Walker’s Point Community Centre is open to the public for limited use. The library, which has 500 members, reopened on Nov. 4. It’s open Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and allows one person at a time into the library to check out or return books. The reopening, limited in its capacity, has been a mood-booster for many. "I think people are just happy to have it there," Young said. Heather Elliott works with the District of Muskoka, where she’s in charge of running free service programs for seniors in the region, including community centres in Torrance Bay, Milford Bay, Port Carling and Ullswater. They host a handbell choir, a course on learning to use the computer and various social events — all held virtually now. Once the pandemic began and people were confined to their homes for several weeks, Elliott said her team began reaching out to residents to see how they were faring physically and mentally. “Many of them are living alone and life is very different for them during a pandemic,” she said, “but we see them logging in and participating in ways that I don’t think they ever would a year ago.” While Young said she and the people she knows in the community have been doing well throughout the pandemic, she understands many must be feeling isolated. Connections through Facebook, email and over the phone have become essential in Walker’s Point. “We are definitely there for each other. It’s a very strong community,” Randall said. Elliott said, for the health and safety of their elderly population, who are more vulnerable to the consequences of the virus, they haven’t transitioned into hosting indoor events. “We’re hearing from seniors at this point that they’re not comfortable resuming in-person programming,” she said. She said they’re prioritizing plans for outdoor events like walking groups in Muskoka Lakes trails this winter. Walker’s Point residents, like Young, know one thing for certain: things are likely not going to change before the year is over. A clear sign of this is the cancellation of their annual holiday potluck, a hit event with local families and children, which ran out of the community centre. Young is planning for a more quiet, subdued Christmas in town: “We just won’t have any of the normal socializing,” she said. STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Our reporter wanted to see how residents are faring in places where the community centre is a cornerstone of local socialization and togetherness given limited openings during the pandemic. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
The push to buy local this holiday season is overwhelming some Manitoba business owners, who are struggling to keep up with the avalanche of online and curbside orders. While the business is welcome, it's pushing many to the limit and for some, including McNally Robinson Booksellers, it still won't pull them out of the red this year."The amount of labour that this style of selling requires is two, maybe three, times higher than normal," co-owner Chris Hall said. "On the other side of that, this a fraction of the sales we would be normally getting — so we're earning much less [and] working much harder."Inside the normally bustling Grant. Avenue bookstore, phones are ringing off the hook, online orders are surging and staff are working tirelessly to process and package hundreds of parcels for pickup and delivery. One of the biggest challenges, Hall says, is that the business isn't set up to operate as online retailer."We're reaching our physical limit," he said. "We don't have enough space to literally stage the items that need to be picked up; we don't have enough computers to put more people on; we don't have more phones to answer more phone lines."He is warning customers new orders may face delays of seven to 14 days.Meanwhile, with revenue almost halved due to the shutdown of in-person shopping, the company is staying afloat thanks to pandemic wage and rent subsidies."By the time the week before Christmas comes we would be about twice as much [volume] as this week," he said. "But we can't get to twice as much of what we're doing right now, so we're going to be way down."Winnipeg candle-company Coal and Canary, is feeling the heat too.Online sales have skyrocketed much to the surprise of owner and creative director Amanda Buhse — who is first to admit you can't smell her candles online.Candle company fielding over 500 orders a day"We basically are working around the clock to try and keep up with the demand in the orders," she said.Buhse has tripled her team, added night and weekend shifts and is working 16-hour days herself just to keep up. The business is averaging 500 to 1,000 orders per day, she said, adding they sell across Canada and the United States.Trade shows and in-person shopping, the company's biggest drivers of revenue, have evaporated with pandemic restrictions so the record online sales success has been a happy surprise.The company has already exceeded last year's sales by 50 per cent, Buhse said, adding she attributes much it of it to Canadians' commitment to buy local."It's crazy," she said. "We have just been so blown away by the incredible support, of people that had never even shopped local before the pandemic happened and now they're looking at local options."At Toad Hall Toys, in Winnipeg's Exchange District, staff have turned off the phones as they work to process the volume of online orders as fast as they can."Between that and answering the door for pickup orders, it is all the seven of us can handle," said a note from the shop's staff posted to Instagram. Small business owners face burnout: CFIBThe Canadian Federation of Independent Business found small business owners are feeling the pressures of the pandemic and facing burnout as they enter the holiday shopping season.A recent national survey found close to half of small business owners said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic and 45 per cent said they have worked significantly more hours."It's been a very rocky start for a lot of retailers and other businesses too, that rely on the holiday season," said Jonathan Alward, director of the Prairie region."Even though the buy local in Manitoba surge has been very helpful, a lot of businesses still aren't anywhere near normal."In Manitoba, 48 per cent of the province's businesses are fully open, 35 per cent are fully staffed and just 24 per cent are making normal sales, Alward said.The challenges vary widely depending on the sector, he said, adding some are faring better than others."Think of any boutique — if you miss this season, your next season is going to be spring or summer," he said. "You're flush with inventory you've paid for and you can't move. It's a big concern."For many businesses, the pivot to online and curbside also comes with a price. "There's so many added costs, whether you're looking at more labour costs to do curbside pickup or delivery or, you know, you have a lot of costs associated with trying to keep your staff and any customers that can come in as safe as possible," he said. "I think we're going to see a lot of sales missed out on because of that lack of in-person interaction."In an effort to drive consumers to buy local, Winnipeg business owner Obby Kahn launched GoodLocal.ca, a one-stop online shop with dozens of Manitoba vendors."Think of Amazon and Etsy, but local," he said. "Everything good, everything local we want on our platform, you order it, we package it for you on one nice box."Since launching in September, the site was averaging 20 orders a week. Sales gradually started to pick up as Manitoba moved to orange and then red on the pandemic response scale.Last week, the site pulled in more than 700 orders forcing Khan to shut it down to catch up and increase capacity."It was panic," he said. "We weren't set up for that. We've had to move warehouses twice already. So we said, you know, we have to hit a little bit of a pause, kind of figure out our systems."He said the site will be up and running again shortly and he is grateful for the support.He hopes Manitobans continue to be mindful of where they spend their money this season and the year ahead."Think about that," he said. "Think of how that can help a family and have an immediate impact on our Winnipeg and our economy and everything going on in this great city."
Judy Havers says she used to like going outside, getting coffee at Boston Pizza, watching animals in the park and, most of all, feeding the feral cats she's nourished and taken comfort from for the last six years. That's all out of reach now. Havers, 60, is a resident of Providence Place, a Moose Jaw care home dealing with one of the many COVID-19 outbreaks hitting Saskatchewan's extended care homes.Havers is not infected, unlike four other residents and seven staff confirmed to have tested positive at the home, according to a statement management gave CBC News six days ago. "But we're all under lockdown," Havers said over the phone Wednesday from her single room, where she's been largely cooped up in her wheelchair for days.The isolation imposed by COVID-19 has taken a toll on her mental health, Havers says — quickened her already short temper, fed her depression, even given her the shakes because of how powerless she feels. "Sometimes I get really lonely because there isn't anybody to talk to," she said. "I find it very, very constricting being in the room all the time. "I miss going outside." 'Zero chance' of lower numbers by Christmas: profOn Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe offered a ray of hope for care home residents and their families. Moe said people might be able to visit loved ones in care homes for two or three days during the holiday season, provided the rate of COVID-19 transmission decreases over the next two weeks and depending on the advice he receives from Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer."This is the goal," Moe said of Christmas visits, before adding another caveat. "People need to adhere to the measures that are in place [now]."Moe said care-home staff face the risk of transmission every day they go to work, but that they lessen that risk by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and being cautious."The same may be true, potentially, for families that would want to visit in a long-term care," Moe said.He pointed to Quebec, where "there's going to be a little bit of a different standard so that families would be able to come together for those few days."Kyle Anderson, an assistant professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, said it took Quebec about six weeks from the implementation of its new restrictions to start seeing active case numbers go down."There is zero chance Saskatchewan will have lower active case numbers on Christmas than we are right now, and right now we have seniors dying daily," he said."We need to commit to these measures, not look for ways to circumvent them."Anderson has been closely tracking the daily number of new COVID-19 cases. He created a video that shows the surge in cases among Saskatchewan seniors beginning in mid-November — right around the time outbreaks in care homes began, he said. "We need to keep our vulnerable safe for the next three or four months," Anderson said. "This might seem like too much to ask of us, and ask of them, after such a hard year, but we do the hard things now so we can enjoy the bountiful harvest at the end of the season. This is the Saskatchewan way."'I'm afraid it will spread'At Providence Place in Moose Jaw, Havers said that while it would be nice to see someone in person, she's wary of allowing visits again. She said some residents at her care home are worried about further COVID-19 spread."If it was too much of a risk for us, I'd just as soon not see anybody and stay safe," she said of Christmas visits. "I have some pre-existing conditions and I'm just really afraid of getting COVID in here. I'm afraid it will spread like it did in those homes back east."The day before Moe's comments, Health Minister Paul Merriman said people should plan to see their loved ones at Christmas. It's just a matter of whether they'll do that in person or virtually, he said. Merriman was asked if family members who test negative might be allowed to visit homes."The problem with a negative test is somebody can be negative, tested in the morning and could have picked it up on the way," he said. "We want to make sure that the individuals in that home are safe."> If it was too much of a risk for us, I'd just as soon not see anybody and stay safe. \- Judy HaversOn Thursday, Dr. Shahab said that every time the province relaxes restrictions, "you see a bit of a rebound" in cases.He said the province has seen outbreaks in many different settings, but that those in long-term care homes are the most "high risk out of all the outbreaks that we're seeing in terms of impact on residents and staff and families." Outings restricted for last 2 weeksHealth officials declared an outbreak at Providence Place on Nov. 18, according to an update sent to families that day.The day before, the Ministry of Health announced it was halting visits to all long-term care homes except for people visiting patients in end-of-life care. Providence Place said at the same time it was suspending all outings for its residents, a decision it would revisit in four weeks.Havers said she gets some fresh air because she still goes to a hospital three days a week for dialysis. She keeps in touch with a sister living in Nanaimo, B.C., via texts and FaceTime.But it's hard watching other people face the full brunt of restrictions, she said. "You see the residents [whose] family was here every day … giving them extra attention, washing them, talking to them, bringing them treats, whatever," she said. "Now, all of a sudden, even if they have dementia or Alzheimer's or something, I think they still realize that they're alone. It's not their fault, but I don't think they understand that."As of Thursday, the outbreak numbers at Providence Place were stable among staff and residents, said Georgia Hutchinson, the facility's executive director. "Our spiritual care, recreation and other redeployed staff are focusing on supporting and assisting our residents to cope with the effects of isolation in the outbreak," she said. "The SHA does provide mental health supports to our residents as they are required."On Tuesday, Moe was asked why he would get people's hopes up about visits given recent modelling from the Saskatchewan Health Authority that projects a continued rise in COVID-19 cases."It may not be possible," Moe said. "But is it my place to provide hope and to provide opportunity, to provide some targets for the people of the province to work towards between now and December the 25th? "I think it is."
Alberta schools are no longer waiting for public health confirmations to try and stop COVID-19 from spreading. Several school divisions say principals and support staff are spending hours making phone calls to students and employees, instructing them to isolate, after families report a positive test result for COVID-19. "Once you hear it, you are compelled to act upon it," Edmonton public school board chair Trisha Estabrooks said on Wednesday. "Early on, principals and staff within our division were essentially forced into becoming contact tracers." As cases have skyrocketed in Alberta throughout the fall, Alberta's contact tracers became overwhelmed. Although Alberta Health Services (AHS) says it is prioritizing the investigations of K-12 student cases, a growing backlog means tracers are unable to track and record every case linked to a school. AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said the organization's goal is to double its number of contact tracers to 1,600 full- and part-time workers by the end of 2020. As of Wednesday, 765 staff and students in Edmonton Public Schools had tested positive for COVID-19, Estabrooks said. About a third of those cases, or 273, have yet to be confirmed by AHS. That means principals and other school employees have asked nearly 5,400 students and 600 staff to isolate at home for two weeks based on family or staff reports that someone has tested positive. Edmonton Catholic Schools records confirmation differently, and didn't have comparable data to share. Last month, the Calgary Board of Education also decided to tell potentially exposed staff and students to isolate as soon as families or workers told the school someone had COVID. Spokesperson Megan Geyer says there are 110 division students in quarantine right now where the board has yet to hear from AHS. In other cases, students have tested positive, quarantined, and returned to school without a peep from AHS. The Calgary Catholic School Division didn't have a breakdown of how many of its 129 current cases were confirmed by AHS. Chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas said school staff feel an obligation to tell any possible contacts as soon as they have information from any source. Divisions have no information on schools with spread Many of these phone calls are happening on weekends and evenings in addition to employees' usual duties. Bruce Buruma, spokesperson for Red Deer Public Schools, said he offered to set up electronic notifications, but school principals wanted to call families individually. When a case crops up, parents and students have questions that can't be answered by bulk text messages or voicemails, he said. "We had one case where they were working on a Saturday night until 10 o'clock trying to get in contact with those families," he said. "It's a huge responsibility." The footprint of a single case can be huge. Buruma said the average number of contacts for a positive case in his division is 51 people. One case identified Wednesday at Edmonton's Allendale junior high prompted 83 people to isolate. The absence of current data also means school divisions don't know which of their schools coronavirus has spread from person to person. Estabrooks said that lack of information leaves administrators "floundering in the dark," and makes it hard to take additional measures. She hopes now that junior high and high school students are learning online, and with the winter holiday break approaching, the number of new diagnoses in schools will soon slow down. The education minister is aware of the substantial demand the work is placing on school staff, Estabrooks said. At the legislature, Minister Adriana LaGrange was not made available for an interview Wednesday, and her office did not respond to written questions. Williamson says AHS is working closely with school administrators who have lists at the ready for who to contact when a case is detected. The best way to prevent the spread in schools is to lower community transmission, he said. "We are sorry that [delays are] preventing parents, guardians and staff from having a conversation with AHS to understand where the infection was acquired, and how to prevent onward spread," he said in an email. As of Wednesday, 17 per cent of Alberta schools had COVID outbreaks with more than two associated cases. Alberta Health said in-school transmission had likely occurred in 253 schools.
Seven classrooms have been shut down at Diamond Trail Public School in Welland after an individual there tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” District School Board of Niagara said in a news release. Whether the individual who contracted the coronavirus is a student or staff member was not publicly known Wednesday. “The preventative COVID-19 practices that Diamond Trail has been following since the beginning of school, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue,” DSBN said. The same day DSBN reported the case at Diamond Trail, Niagara Catholic District School Board confirmed that the case count at St. Martin Catholic Elementary school in Stevensville had climbed to double digits. The province’s database is indicating that three of the school’s10 cases have been resolved. Of the remaining cases, four have been identified as students and three as staff. The Niagara Catholic website indicated these seven cases are the only active cases for the board. An outbreak was declared at St. Martin on Nov. 19. For DSBN, there are seven active cases from six schools; two at Prince Philip and one case at Martha Cullimore in Niagara Falls, two cases at Eden High School in St. Catharines, one at Port Colborne High School and one at Diamond Trail. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
ESKASONI, N.S. — The provincial government announced Wednesday it was committing more than $700,000 to help with the transportation needs of multiple communities and as a result, Eskasoni First Nation will receive $117,685 for transit funding. “We’re excited, this is something the community members have been asking for and we got it,” said Chief Leroy Denny. In Eskasoni, the money will go toward purchasing a nine-passenger van for door-to-door service within the Mi’kmaq community and a 20-person bus offering routes to Sydney and Membertou First Nation. The province will contribute $67,685 for the van and $50,000 for the bus. Funding for the initiative was provided through the accessible transportation program and covers 75 per cent of the vehicle cost. Other funding announcements for Cape Breton communities includes: $17,353 for a five-passenger van for La Cooperative de Transport de Cheticamp; $55,385 for an eight-passenger van for Strait Area Transit, and $50,000 for a 16-passenger bus for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Denny says the transit service is something the community has advocated for in the past and the system will address some of the barriers the residents face. Eskasoni is about 44 km from Sydney and Denny says some community members on a fixed income must pay money for rides into town so the bus will be a cost-saving tool. Bus service will come at a small fee, but the price will not be fixed until bus drivers are hired and more is known about the operating fees. “Public transportation allows people to more fully participate in their communities and better access work, schools, shopping and important services,” said Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, minister of communities, culture and heritage in a news release. Denny expects the transit system to be operational in early 2021 but will adhere to strict safety guidelines as the province deals with the second wave of COVID-19. He believes reliable transportation may lead to more employment for some community members. “Transportation is very important if you want to get to school or work,” said Denny. In October, the Eskasoni health department launched a bus system to help ease transportation concerns when accessing health care. The recent announcement is separate from that initiative. But both are expected to help residents without vehicles travel around the large reserve. Eskasoni has more than 4,500 residents and spans more than 100 hectares of land. Denny says the population continues to grow and the transit system is another way to help the community. “It’s a really good thing and we’re excited for it,” said Denny.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
Federal officials today explained how they plan to roll out millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming weeks as Ottawa launches its mass inoculation campaign.The initial supply of the doses will be limited — just three million Canadians are expected to get shots in the first three months of 2021. Millions more doses are expected to arrive as the supply chain stabilizes.One of the principal challenges facing the immunization effort is the distribution of vaccines that must be kept at very low temperatures – well below those that a standard commercial refrigerator can offer.The Pfizer vaccine, which is expected to get the green light from Health Canada as early as this month, needs to be kept at approximately -80 degrees Celsius to remain stable. The Moderna product, another vaccine that uses groundbreaking messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, must be kept at -20 degrees Celsius.Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, a former NATO commander in Iraq, is leading vaccination logistics and operations at a new national operations centre in the Public Health Agency of Canada.While the country is facing unprecedented "logistical complexities," he said, the military and its partners will be ready to deploy vaccines as soon as they are approved in Canada.Fortin said the national operations centre isn't waiting for Health Canada's sign-off to begin preparations. The Pfizer product will be delivered by that company directly to provincial and territorial distribution points as early as the end of the month.The federal government already has secured the cold storage required for this product. All of the provinces have indicated where the Pfizer-specific fridges should be placed and 14 distribution points nationwide will be ready to receive the vaccine starting on Dec. 14, Fortin said.WATCH: Six million doses to arrive in Canada in the first three months of 2021A senior official, speaking to CBC News on a not-for-attribution basis, said Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec will get two such delivery sites each, with one in each of the other provinces. A plan for the territories is still being finalized, the official said.The shots likely will be distributed on a per capita basis, the official said, much like how federally procured personal protective equipment has been issued to those jurisdictions throughout this pandemic. Some observers have said provinces dealing with higher caseloads should get priority access to vaccine shots at first.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday a per-capita distribution plan will disadvantage his hard-hit province. He also raised concerns about Ottawa's plan to take the lead on inoculating Indigenous people. "This hurts Manitobans, to put it mildly," he told reporters.Eventually, there will be 205 "points of issue" locations across the country where health care professionals can administer the vaccine, Fortin said. It will be up to the provinces and territories to specify where and when individual Canadians will be inoculated.WATCH: Maj.-Gen. Fortin says simulation tests will be held at vaccine distribution sitesFortin said at least one "dry run" has been executed so far, with more planned in the days ahead, to ensure things run smoothly once this vaccine hits our shores from manufacturing hubs in the U.S. and abroad. These practice runs will ensure officials are comfortable with what Fortin called the "very unique requirements" of this Pfizer vaccine.Preparing for the worstFortin said he's actively planning for multiple worst-case scenarios, such as bad weather, cyber attacks and fires at distribution hubs. IBM, the information technology company, said in a blog post published on Thursday that it had uncovered "a global phishing campaign" targeting the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine distribution mission, Operation Warp Speed."We're very much executing a whole-of-nation approach. The size and scope and scale of this problem is unprecedented and there's a number of factors at play," Fortin said."I like the idea of being ready before the Christmas timeframe, so we are certain to be ready when it comes in January."The general said his team is in daily contact with Pfizer and the company is "comfortable" with the plan that Canada has crafted. Pfizer has said it won't ship product to a country that isn't ready to receive a vaccine that is so temperature-sensitive.Pfizer review 'progressing really well': Health CanadaDr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said Thursday that the regulatory review of Pfizer's vaccine is "progressing really well" and her department has the "majority of information" it needs from the company to certify that it's safe and effective.In an interview with CBC's Power & Politics, Sharma said the final approval could come in the next 7 to 10 days. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on Dec. 10 to decide on an emergency use authorization (EUA) for that shot and Sharma said Canada is following a similar timeline.Canada has placed orders with Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for 20 million doses of the two-dose vaccine, with options for millions more in the months to follow. The company has reported its vaccine was 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 among clinical trial participants who had no evidence of prior infection.Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, said Canadians shouldn't be fixated on the exact date when Pfizer gets the nod from Canadians regulators."I think we shouldn't be so obsessive with the actual delivery of the vaccines themselves, the dates and so on. I think what's really important is the fact we're planning, preparing, doing exercises," he said."We're doing the dry runs, the soft launch so that once the vaccine technically arrives, everyone will be comfortable, we'll be trained to actually utilize the vaccine." The Moderna vaccine, which is expected to secure regulatory approvals after the Pfizer product, will be imported into Canada by the federal government, largely through private shipping companies. Ottawa will in turn divide up the product for the provinces and territories.The government is now finalizing "end mile" contracts with logistics firms — the companies that will transport the Moderna vaccines to centres where Canadians can go for a shot.On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company applied to the FDA for its EUA for the American marketplace. Data from the company's final clinical trial are encouraging, demonstrating the vaccine is 94.1 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.Two other companies, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen, have also submitted their vaccines for regulatory approval. Sharma said those companies still need to submit "large chunks of information" before a final decision can be made.Njoo said the federal government is now refining who is best suited to get an early dose of a vaccine — early guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) suggests seniors in long-term care homes and frontline health care workers will be among the first to get a shot.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and his party's health critic Michelle Rempel Garner held a news conference this morning to discuss an opposition day motion that will call on the government to release its plan by Dec. 16.O'Toole accused the government of failing to provide Canadians with a plan and a timeframe for vaccine distribution."Without a concrete timeline for vaccines, businesses won't have the confidence to reinvest in their operations and rehire Canadians who have been laid off during the pandemic," he said."Without a reliable timeline, or details, provinces have the impossible task of establishing complex supply chains with no lead time."The motion calls for a status update on: * How each type of vaccine will be safely delivered, stored and distributed to Canadians. * The date on which each vaccine type will be first deployed in Canada and the rate of vaccinations anticipated by month. * Any planned federal guidance with respect to the deployment of the vaccine by priority group, such as front-line health workers and seniors. * The plan to distribute the vaccine to Indigenous communities, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans.
The Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) said he was "disappointed" to hear the federal government acknowledge it would not meet the deadline it set for itself to end all long-term boil water advisories in First Nations.The announcement was made on Wednesday by federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, who instead announced more than $1.5 billion in long-term funding to help build "a sustainable system that ensures that First Nation communities have access to safe drinking water now and for generations to come."Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler welcomed the announcement of more money for long-term solutions, but said the announcement still doesn't address the needs of people today."It's disheartening for our communities, including Neskantaga [First Nation]. You know, their members are still here in Thunder Bay at a hotel. We don't know when the repatriation process will begin. And it's not just Neskantaga in NAN territory. We have a total of  boil water advisories impacting communities, including my own community of Muskrat Dam since 2004," said Fiddler."So it's something that we've been living with for a long time now."It was during the 2015 federal election that Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau promised to end all boil water advisories on First Nations within five years — which later translated to March 2021. The government even created a website page to track their progress.But during a briefing on Wednesday, senior officials with Indigenous Services Canada said they expect 22 First Nations will still be under a boil water advisory beyond the spring of 2021.The federal minister added the goal of March 2021 "was made to drive forward actions to address drinking water issues and … this approach has worked.""Over 600 water and wastewater projects have been initiated in First Nations communities; 97 long-term drinking water advisories were lifted and importantly, 171 long-term advisories were prevented [by resolving the issues before a short-term advisory turned into a long-term one]," Miller said.He added that the long-term funding will help end all boil water advisories, cover ongoing maintenance costs and improve the training and retention of water plant operators in communities.Fiddler said moving forward, the federal government must commit to doing this work in close collaboration with First Nations."We will feel a bit more comfortable about all this when we see all these commitments in writing and a commitment to work with us in a way that reflects true partnership."