Details with meteorologist Mark Robinson
Details with meteorologist Mark Robinson
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees.A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty.The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year.This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage.Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years.“We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost.Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them.Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before.The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.”“This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said.The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents.Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle.“The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager.The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way.That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July.The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said.“It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said.Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to.“You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices.Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache.“Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees.New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan.“I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.”___Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
Rick Massini has dedicated a good chunk of his time to public education, and helping students learn. This week he was honoured by the Alberta School Boards Association with the President’s Award. “I found out about this second hand, actually,” said Massini. “I was shocked and extremely honoured to get this award. “I’ve met so many great trustees around the province, and to be chosen for this award is amazing. “I’m speechless.” The award is given out every year to someone in the province who has made “an exemplary contribution to education.” Alberta School Boards Association president Lorrie Jess picked the winner of the award. Massini started teaching in the Hat in 1980 and began his career in Calgary eight years before that. He started in the Hat at Medicine Hat High School as a science, math and physical education teacher. He then went into a counselling role at Hat High. He then moved into the role as vice-principal at the same school. After that he moved to Ross Glen School to be principal. He is now the vice chair of the public school board. “It’s always been about helping people learn for me,” he said. “I really identified with students who may not have learned in traditional ways and may not have learned as fast, because I am a non-traditional learner. “Education is so important to me and I’ve always wanted to help students learn.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
CLEVELAND — A customer left a $3,000 tip for a single beer as a restaurant voluntarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.The man walked into Nighttown on Sunday in Cleveland, ordered the beer and asked for the check, which came to $7.02, owner Brendan Ring wrote on Facebook.Ring said the man wished him well and told him to share the tip with the four employees who were working brunch service.As the man walked out, Ring wrote, he looked down at the tip and “realized he left a whopping $3,000.”“I ran after him and he said no mistake we will see you when you reopen!”Ring said he would not post the customer's name because he thinks the man wouldn't want that.The owner said he and his serving staff were “humbly grateful for this incredibly kind and grand gesture.”The Associated Press
It’s been just over a year since Nalcor Energy impounded the reservoir at Muskrat Falls. How much methylmercury that would release into the water downstream and subsequently the impact it would have on the food chain in central Labrador has been the topic of much debate over the years, and that debate is still going on. Ryan Calder, an assistant professor of environmental health and policy in the department of population health science at Virginia Tech, and the lead author of the 2016 Harvard paper "Future Impacts of Hydroelectric Power Development on Methylmercury Exposures of Canadian Indigenous Communities," took to social media recently to express his concern over the methylmercury readings for the first year following impoundment. Calder said the increased levels showing at a station downstream from Muskrat Falls, N5, are more in line with what his group at Harvard estimated, and exceed the projections made on behalf of Nalcor Energy. He said he wishes they were wrong in their predictions, but based on what he’s seen so far it doesn’t appear to be so. “Nalcor and the government of Newfoundland claimed that there was no possibility for risk to people or the environment, spent years claiming up and down there was nothing to worry about, and now monitoring is coming out showing that the peak levels are still increasing and are within the range that was forecasted,” he said. Data from the last four years available online shows that the recorded levels in the water exceeded the Nalcor predicted peak of 0.1 namograms per litre a couple times in the last year and does show an increased overall level of methylmercury. Calder said it’s common for levels to increase in the first year after impoundment and stay higher for a few years before levelling off, but any increase corresponds to an increase in risk. “It’s known that when you flood a reservoir there are increased methylmercury levels. Nalcor doesn't deny that creation of the reservoir accelerates the production of methylmercury. They accept that there are impacts on water, they accept that people eat the fish, but they don’t accept there’s any risk to the people and that’s logically inconsistent.” It’s too early at this point to assess any risk to people, he said, and that would require more data on methylmercury in fish, which has not been released yet for 2019, but increased methylmercury levels in the water are the first signal. When asked by SaltWire Network about the levels, Nalcor Energy said the measured values in water are very similar to those predicted and are within safe limits. James McCarthy, senior associate biologist with Wood, the firm that handles the monitoring for Nalcor, said he doesn’t see anything in the levels that would cause concern from a human health perspective. “Ultimately, it’s the fish concentration that matters, that’s the interaction with people. Even though water is an early indication it’s really the fish that matter most to people. We just finished the sampling for 2019, so that’s a full year of flooding, but had three years of head pond formation, and we’ve seen nothing really in the fish.” McCarthy said the increased levels are in line with projections made for Nalcor in 2018, which did differ from lower predictions in previous years, and so far everything appears to be on track. The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities told SaltWire Network methylmercury levels are below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines for aquatic life and at no time have levels presented a risk to public health.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Lawyers for a doctor who was alleged to be the source of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton region last May entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Monday to charges of failing to self-isolate. Dr. Jean Robert Ngola is charged with violating the Emergency Measures Act by allegedly failing to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling to Quebec.Christian Michaud and Joël Étienne, lawyers representing Ngola, appeared by phone to enter the not guilty plea. Ngola, who is now based in Louiseville, Que., was not present. Most of the discussion Monday centred on disclosure of evidence in the case from the Crown to the defence. Ngola's lawyers say they are still missing important documents from various parties like the RCMP and Vitalité Health Network. Provincial court Judge Suzanne Bernard scheduled another hearing by phone on Jan. 4 to discuss disclosure of evidence and to determine if a trial date can be set. Bernard indicated another judge will handle the trial that's expected to last a day, though didn't say why. Premier Blaine Higgs blamed an "irresponsible" medical professional who travelled to Quebec for personal reasons for the Campbellton outbreak who he said "was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick" and didn't self-isolate.Higgs didn't name the person, but Ngola was almost immediately identified as the individual and became the subject of threats and racism, his lawyers allege.Ngola disputes he is 'patient zero' and contact tracing casts doubt on whether he was the source.
The grief and lessons, five years after I lost my brother.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined for the House of Commons Monday the current slate of Canada's COVID-19 vaccine procurement purchases, after saying earlier that Canada is “well-positioned” when it comes to potential coronavirus vaccines
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Nearly one year after Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter were handcuffed after trying to open a bank account in Vancouver, the Heiltsuk First Nation artist has filed a human rights complaint against Bank of Montreal and the Vancouver police. The complaint was filed Monday (Nov. 23). Johnson’s lawyers also released the transcript of the 911 call and redacted Vancouver police report. Johnson and Torianne were arrested by officers on Dec. 20, 2019, in response to a 911 call made by BMO staff reporting fraud in progress after an employee had grown suspicious of recent transactions on Johnson’s existing BMO account and alleged issues with their Status Cards. According to complaint documents, one of those recent transactions included a large deposit resulting from a legal settlement between Heiltsuk First Nation and Canada, and a recent small transfer to a family member. “From the BMO manager deciding our members didn’t belong, to the 911 call to police, to the cuffing, detention and questioning of Max and his granddaughter about how they came to be at the bank, this was a clear case of racial profiling and systemic racism,” said Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation in a news release. “Max and his granddaughter deserve justice for the pain this incident caused, and BMO and the VPD must take steps to ensure this never happens again.” An apology issued by BMO earlier this year was rejected by Johnson.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have hired Dave Lowry as an assistant coach.The 55-year-old from Sudbury, Ont., joins the Jets after spending the 2019-20 season as head coach of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings. He led the club to a 35-22-6 record and the Wheat Kings had clinched a playoff berth before the season ended March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Lowry most recently worked in the NHL as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings from 2017-19. Previously, we was an assistant coach in Calgary from 2009-12.Lowry has also been a head coach of Calgary and Victoria in the WHL.Lowry's son Adam is a forward with the Jets, whose 2019-20 season came to an end after a 3-1 loss to Calgary in a playoff qualifying series in Edmonton.Dave Lowry won a gold medal as an assistant coach for Canada at the 2015 world junior championship before serving as head coach for in 2016, when the Canadians lost to Finland in the quarterfinals. He also served as an assistant coach for the WHL all-stars in the CHL Canada/Russia Series in 2012-13 and the head coach for their entries in 2014-15 and 2015-16.As a player, Lowry was drafted by the Canucks in the sixth round (110th overall) in the 1983 NHL draft and went on to play 19 seasons for Vancouver, St. Louis, Florida, San Jose, and Calgary. He recorded 351 points (164 goals, 187 assists) and 1,191 penalty minutes over 1,084 career regular-season games."Dave brings a tremendous amount of experience to our coaching staff in a variety of different areas," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said in a release. "His success working with young players in their development can't be denied as he had an excellent season last year in Brandon and has coached the country's top junior players. He has worked in all aspects of special teams during his time as an NHL assistant coach. "We're very excited to bring Dave on board and join our staff." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
The number of COVID-19 cases among Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and older is surging far more rapidly than in any other age group as health officials grapple with a growing list of outbreaks in care homes. According to the latest provincial update on Sunday, the cumulative number of cases among people aged 80 and over is 213. That's a 69 per cent increase from only one week before, when cases among that age group numbered 126.By comparison, the average week-over-week increase in the four younger age groups measured by health officials was 30 per cent. On Monday, the number of seniors 80 and older in the province with known COVID-19 infections increased to 231.This surge among the population most vulnerable to COVID-19 comes as health care workers deal with active outbreaks in seven long-term care homes.The latest long-term care home added to the province's daily list of active outbreaks, Parkside Extendicare, is in Regina. When other care homes (including privately owned ones), seniors residences, assisted living facilities and group homes are factored in, 20 homes are now dealing with active outbreaks.34 residents, 4 staff at Luther Special Care Homes infectedThe largest known outbreak at a long-term care home is at the Luther Special Care Home, nestled in Saskatoon's Varsity View neighbourhood.According to an email update sent to families on Sunday night, 34 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 28 on Saturday. Four staff members are also infected and a total of 23 staff members are self-isolating, a care home spokesperson said Monday."Staffing at the care home has become strained, however, we are working with our partners within the health system and our staff as we strive to maintain our high standard of quality care," Ivan Olfert, the home's operations lead, said in an emailed statement. Staffing ratios was already raised as a concern by a family member during a 2019 inspection of the facility. Seniors complex connected to homeLuther Special Care Home is connected to the residential Luther Tower seniors complex.Allan Grundahl, head of the tenants board at Luther Tower, said no tower residents have tested positive for the virus and movement between the tower and Luther Special Care Home is restricted.According to the 2019 inspection, Luther Special Care Home is a spacious facility that includes a secure unit for 49 residents in an older building dating back to 1955 and more than 100 other residents in a newer, three-floor addition. What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Windsor-Essex has the largest COVID-19 school outbreak in the province, with Frank W. Begley Public School reporting 39 cases Monday, according to the local health unit. Twenty-nine students and eight staff have tested positive for the disease, while another two students are probable cases, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) reported Monday. Based on its investigation, the first case showed symptoms on Nov. 8 and the first test was done on Nov. 15. The school was closed on Nov. 17. The index case is thought to be a staff member. The school remains closed until further notice. "Dismissing the entire school really helped us from a control perspective so that there's no ongoing transmission," Windsor-Essex's medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Monday. What's been challenging about handling the outbreak at this school, Ahmed said, are some of the social barriers the school community faces. He noted that some of the families are low income and that might impact their ability to keep their children home, and many have English as a second language, further impacting parents' ability to educate their children. "There are a lot of issues there that have always been there, but I think because of the spread, it is just now showing more and more evident in terms of how some of these families are impacted more than the others," he said. Of the cases reported, a majority are in those between the ages of 10 and 13 years old. The oldest case from the school is a 61-year-old. In total, Ahmed said that 471 staff, students and family members of the school community have been tested. Sharon Pyke, superintendent of education for the public school board, said that Monday is the first day students at the school are going through a full schedule of virtual classes."We're trying to keep a nice schedule for the kids and a nice routine, so that when they come back to the brick and mortar school, they're feeling comforted that that's the same," she said.She said a deep clean of the school started on Friday.Tim Lauzon, health and safety officer for the public board, said he's sending out a team of cleaners 6 a.m. Tuesday and they will likely be in the building until Thursday. He said they'll be dressed in full personal protective equipment and clean everything from the desks and handrails to the floors. He said they did some deep cleaning last week to help out the COVID-19 assessment clinic that the school held over the weekend, but now they'll be re-cleaning those areas used for the clinic and sanitize the rest of the building. "We've had to do deep cleans before, never under these conditions and obviously never for COVID and so that's why we're using two different products to ensure a deep clean and a double hit of high touch surfaces," he said. 'We are in a bad shape right now'On Monday, the region reported 36 new cases — a number that is in stark contrast to where the region was about a month ago when WECHU reported zero new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 21. Of the new cases, 18 are close contacts of a confirmed case, four are community acquired, two are travel related to the U.S., one is a healthcare worker and 12 are under investigation. There are 310 active cases. "Now we are seeing a steep increase in the number of cases, as many of the other jurisdictions and many of the other places are seeing," Ahmed said."The steepness of this curve is significantly higher than what we have seen in the first wave and that is one of the most concerning things." Five long-term care and retirement homes are in outbreak, including: * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with one staff case. * Riverside Place in Windsor with one resident case. * Berkshire Care Center in Windsor with one staff case. * Lifetimes on Riverside in Windsor with five resident cases and four staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 17 resident cases and one staff case. There is one community outbreak at a University of Windsor student campus and a workplace outbreak in Leamington's agriculture industry. In addition to the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public School, W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School is also in outbreak, with all staff and students dismissed. As of Monday, the Catholic school board's website says there are two student cases and two staff cases.He said the health unit is currently investigating another possible school outbreak. "It's pretty much everywhere and we need to be mindful of that," Ahmed said, noting that the virus is not just affecting one particular sector or demographic this time around."Everyone you are meeting by default assume they could be positive and take your precautions." Over the weekend, the health unit reported 80 new cases for the region. "We are in a bad shape right now and it can get worse," Ahmed said. The region officially entered the province's orange or "restrict" category Monday at 12:01 a.m. as the COVID-19 case count continues to rise. INTERACTIVE | Use this map to find local COVID-19 outbreaks in schools
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay police have arrested a man wanted in connection with a firearm incident last week. Officers were called to the zero-to-100 block of Picton Avenue just after 10 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19 following reports of a firearm incident. Police learned a suspect had pointed a firearm at another person, according to a previous police media release. An investigation led officers to identify a suspect and the residence they may have fled to. Police contained an area around a Picton Avenue home which was held until a warrant was obtained to allow officers to lawfully enter the dwelling, police said. The area contained by police was held until shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. Police stated the two identified suspects: Owen John Boyce, 23, and Brianna Lynn Netemegesic, 21 both remained at large despite police efforts. On Sunday, Nov. 22, police arrested Boyce at a bar on the city’s south side at approximately 10 p.m. He appeared in bail court on Monday, Nov. 23, and was officially read his charges which include one count of uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm, using a firearm while committing an indictable offence of uttering threats to kill, pointing a firearm, carrying a handgun for the purpose of committing an offence, possessing a firearm without being a holder of a licence, failure to comply with a release order, possessing a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, and use of a firearm in a careless manner. Boyce was ordered by Justice of the Peace Anna Gibbon to not communicate with his co-accused, Netemegesic, who remains at large and the victim in this case. Boyce will return to court on Thursday, Nov. 26. Netemegesic was arrested in March and charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection to a homicide on Picton Avenue. Netemegesic was granted release from custody on Aug. 20 following a bail hearing application in the Superior Court of Justice. Part of her conditions required her not to possess any weapons, according to court documents. Police say the two accused and victims of this incident were all known to each other. Anyone with information on Netemegesic’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 684-1200 or submit tips through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. If you see Netemegesic in public, police advise not to approach or confront her and call 911 immediately.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
WALKERTON – Despite an icy wind and requests for people to stay home because of COVID-19, a small group of people went to the Walkerton cenotaph to view an abbreviated Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Most people remained safe at home and viewed the ceremony on Facebook. Brief though they were, the ceremonies in Walkerton and Mildmay were fitting and dignified. Although there were no parades, there were many wreaths set in place prior to the ceremony. There was a solemn two-minute silence. And there were heart-felt words from all levels of government. In Walkerton, representatives of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 102 were joined by members of the Ontario Provincial Police, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. The Legion and government representatives gave short speeches thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and who continue to do so – members of the Armed Forces, police, emergency services and volunteers. Thompson spoke about a 97-year-old veteran who told her he hopes no one ever has to go through what he did. Peabody summed it up by stating, “Thank you for your service.” The poppies carefully placed beside many of the names on bricks in the walkway said the same thing. We will not forget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his representative said Monday.The announcement came a day after the musician won favourite male Latin artist and favourite Latin album for "YHLQMDLG” at the American Music Awards.Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio, was scheduled to sing his hit, “Dákiti,” with Jhay Cortez at the event but cancelled without explanation, leaving many fans disappointed. The singer, however, presented the award for favourite Latin female artist remotely.Publicist Sujeylee Solá told The Associated Press that Bad Bunny wasn't showing any major symptoms as of Monday. She did not provide further details, saying only that the musician was not granting any interviews.The Associated Press
TORONTO – The Government of Canada has launched a new initiative to modernize its radioactive waste policy. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan launched the inclusive engagement process on Nov. 16. and asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to lead the process. A press release from NWMO said all of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is “safely managed today in interim storage.” An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practices over the longer-term. Building on previous work, the NWMO says this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning while looking further into the future. “This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.” The Government of Canada will engage interested Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, waste producers, owners, and other government levels. Their objective is to elaborate on the existing policy to provide greater leadership on radioactive waste management and ensure that they continue to meet international best practices. A letter sent to Swami by O’Regan said, “I am requesting the NWMO to lead this dialogue and to develop Canada’s Integrated Strategy for radioactive waste for my review and consideration. I believe that the NWMO is uniquely positioned to lead this work as a leader in used nuclear fuel management and public engagement.” O’Regan said the integrated strategy should build on the plan developed by NWMO for the long-term management of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. The strategy, he said, should include: • A description of the current waste management situation in Canada in terms of current and future volumes, taking into account potential small modular reactor waste, characteristics, locations, and ownership of the waste. • An update on current plans and progress in advancing long-term management and disposal solutions for Canada’s wastes as well as the gaps that must be addressed. • Conceptual approaches for dealing with our current and future radioactive waste inventory, including technical options for long-term management or disposal of the various waste types and options for the number of long-term waste management facilities in Canada. • Considerations regarding the staging, integration, establishment, and operation of long-term waste management facilities. O’Regan stressed the importance that the NWMO carry out this important task in a manner that is open, transparent, and inclusive. He added that it must be built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity, and respect for all Canadians. “The dialogue should not detract from the NWMO’s current mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, known as Adaptive Phased Management. That mandate is clear, and your progress to date is commendable,” O’Regan said. “This work needs to continue to progress in an effective and efficient manner. I would also emphasize that this dialogue and the resulting Integrated Strategy are not intended to replace other projects currently in progress.” Karine Glenn, strategic project director for the NWMO, said that the organization looks forward to the process. “For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life-saving medical treatments, and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Glenn. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.” More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have various ways to participate while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties are invited to sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
LONDON — Cineworld, which last month closed its cinemas in the U.S. and the U.K., has secured more than $750 million of new financing that it hopes will see it through the coronavirus pandemic.In a statement released Monday, the company said its finances will be bolstered over over the coming months largely from a new debt facility as well as an extension of an existing credit facility.Cineworld closed around 660 cinemas in the U.S. and Britain last month due to a lack of blockbusters as producers postpone releases because of the pandemic, including the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”“We look forward to resuming our operations and welcoming movie fans around the world back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films in 2021,” said Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld’s chief executive.The group's base case scenario assumes a reopening of cinemas no later than May. In the event of a further delay, it said it expects to retain sufficient liquidity for a number of months longer, but said that may require support from lenders.Despite that caveat, news of the new financing arrangements sent shares shares in the company soaring 17% in London.The hope is that the new money will help the company ride out the pandemic until vaccines are available. Over recent weeks, a number of vaccine candidates have shown promising results.“With vaccine development progressing, this should give investors significantly greater confidence in Cineworld emerging from the crisis, allowing the company to capture demand as it returns with a robust slate of postponed films," analysts at Investec.The Associated Press
The Municipality of McDougall currently has two projects for which it would like to apply for funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan COVID-19 Resilience Stream. McDougall chief administrative officer Tim Hunt said that if the municipality is approved, it could see $100,000 to support projects. “The two I’d like to move forward with an application for funding is to complete the renovations at the municipal office (and) for accessibility renovations at the Nobel church,” he said during the Nov. 18 council meeting. The municipality is considering taking ownership of the facility as a recreation centre. Hunt said there would be accessibility issues for the entrance, washrooms and general cleanup of the building. “This funding is not going to cover any major renovations we want to do, but it will certainly put us in the position where we can operate the building in a positive (and) respectful manner to the citizens,” he said. Mayor Dale Robinson stated there was flexibility for the money to be moved around depending on the needs of the two projects. Coun. Joel Constable raised the question if there was any thought to replacing the municipal office down the road. “For the amount of money (contractors) were looking for to replace the windows and do some front repairs, it made me think, ‘is it worth doing?’” he asked. The reply from Hunt was, “I don’t see it happening in the very near future … I think this building will last us another few years, for sure.” However, Robinson noted that during the recent wind storm and power outage, it became evident there were some improvements that could be made to the offices. “We have older, outdated electric furnaces heating this building, which is not ideal and we don’t have a generator system that’s capable of powering it,” he said, adding the importance of striking a balance on renovation needs. Council advised staff to move forward with the grant application for the two projects for the Dec. 21 deadline.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com