China's embassy in the Philippines has denounced the United States for "creating chaos" in Asia, after a visiting White House envoy backed countries in disputes with China and accused Beijing of using military pressure to further its interests. During a trip to Manila on Monday, national security adviser Robert O'Brien underscored the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and told the Philippines and Vietnam, countries both locked in maritime rows with China, that "we've got your back". "It shows that his visit to this region is not to promote regional peace and stability, but to create chaos in the region in order to seek selfish interests of the U.S.," the embassy said in a statement issued late Monday.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday vowed to defend the democratic island's sovereignty with the construction of a new fleet of domestically-developed submarines, a key project supported by the United States to counter neighbouring China. Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has been for years working to revamp its submarine force, some of which date back to World War Two, and is no match for China's fleet, which includes vessels capable of launching nuclear weapons. At a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a new submarine fleet in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, Tsai called the move a "historic milestone" for Taiwan's defensive capabilities after overcoming "various challenges and doubts".
Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said."We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible."Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the "exciting" technology would have multiple benefits.Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn't much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work."It's going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask," she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta's mechanical engineering department, said Rubino's innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
A B.C. surgeon who called his preteen patient a "loose woman" during an appointment has been fined and reprimanded by his professional regulator.Dr. Bruce Taro Yoneda, an orthopedic surgeon based in Victoria, has admitted that he "engaged in unprofessional conduct by using sexualized language during a surgical consult," according to a public notice posted Friday by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.Yoneda also acknowledged telling the same young patient he would give her a "lube job," and admitted he did not give her a full explanation before he began questioning her about her menstrual cycle.The college's inquiry committee, which investigates complaints against doctors, "was critical of the registrant's admitted conduct and concluded that his use of inappropriate language displayed a lack of insight," the notice says.As part of a consent agreement with the college, Yoneda has been fined $7,500, received a formal reprimand and has had his registration as a doctor transferred to "conditional" status. He's also agreed to take courses in clinical communication and professionalism.
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Miss Vickie's Canada says some of its potato chips that were part of a recall in Eastern Canada earlier this month due to possible glass contamination were inadvertently shipped west. The company says the chips were only shipped to retail customers in Alberta, Brandon, Man., and Moose Jaw, Sask, and that it's working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to co-ordinate a voluntary recall. It says 630 bags are involved, and they have very specific "guaranteed fresh" dates and "manufacturing codes." Consumers who have purchased the chips should not eat them and are urged to throw them out or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. At the beginning of November, Miss Vickie's recalled some chips sold online and in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada due to what it said was "isolated reports of the presence of a small piece of glass found at the bottom of the bag." The CFIA says on its website there have been reported injuries associated with the products. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020. The Canadian Press
The ball drop will happen in New York's Times Square this year, but like other iconic New York holiday events, the public can only watch it on TV or online. The NYPD will route people who try to gather on Times Square away from the area. (Nov. 24)
Residents were given proper notice of a vote to remove Fort Simpson's liquor purchasing restrictions, according to N.W.T. finance minister Caroline Wawzonek. MLA for Nahendeh Shane Thompson – also a minister – posted to Facebook on Monday regarding concerns constituents had raised about the plebiscite held on November 12. Specifically, the post related to concerns about how much public notice was provided leading up to the vote and how to contact the official in charge of it. Residents ultimately voted overwhelmingly in favour of lifting alcohol restrictions in the community. Of 730 eligible voters, 240 cast a ballot and 175 of those were in favour of removing restrictions. The Department of Finance, which oversees liquor regulations in the N.W.T., is now in the process of implementing the result, which may take several weeks. Thompson's post relayed a message he had received from Wawzonek addressing concerns. “Based on all of the information I have received to date, I am confident in the integrity of the plebiscite held in the village of Fort Simpson,” Wawzonek's message to Thompson reads. Wawzonek states some residents who attend school away from Fort Simpson believe they did not receive adequate notice of the plebiscite. She concludes, however, that there was sufficient notice within the village, on Facebook, and through the media in the weeks and months before the vote. She adds returning officer Tammie Cazon fulfilled her duties in the Local Authorities Elections Act by providing public notice of the plebiscite, including details on how and where to vote. Wawzonek says Cazon met legislative requirements by posting public notices in five locations – the bank, the Northern store, the Unity store, the Nahanni Inn and Pandaville restaurant. “It is not the responsibility of the returning officer to locate and notify every resident of the community who may not be currently living in the community. That would be an impossible task," Wawzonek writes. "Voters bear some of the responsibility for informing themselves about how to exercise their democratic right to vote.” The final concern regards the returning officer’s email address and confusion about how to reach Cazon. Wawzonek again asserts faith in the process, saying her department confirmed with Cazon only one email address was distributed for voters to use. Proxy voting was an option in the plebiscite but, according to Wawzonek, Cazon did not receive any emails related to proxy voting. The community of Fort Simpson requested the plebiscite after a petition with more than 150 signatures from residents was turned in to the village council late last year, asking for action to try to remove the restrictions. Restrictions are set to be lifted in the coming weeks, though an exact date has not been set. Once the regulations are changed and restrictions lifted, the village is still bound to pandemic-related alcohol restrictions, which limit customers to a maximum of $200 per day at any liquor store in the territory and six mickeys (375-ml bottles) of spirits in a 24-hour period.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
An opposition lawmaker called on Tuesday for Malaysia to outlaw online hate speech, accusing authorities of downplaying the gravity of an issue highlighted by a Reuters investigation into abuse on Facebook of Rohingya refugees and undocumented migrants. Citing the Reuters report on rising xenophobia online in Malaysia in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, lawmaker Chan Foong Hin asked the Communications and Multimedia Ministry last week to state its plans to combat such hate speech.
The staff tested positive last week and Maxwell was checked for the virus on Nov. 18 using a rapid test which was negative, the prosecutors said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan. Maxwell was placed in quarantine at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for 14 days, said the letter. Maxwell has not shown any symptoms of COVID-19 and will be tested again at the end of her two-week quarantine.
B.C.'s health-care workers are pleading with the public to heed health orders while bracing for difficult working conditions as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise.On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced there were another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days and 17 more deaths.This comes just over two weeks after restrictions were initially put in place in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities, and a few days after those restrictions were extended to cover the entire province. Christine Sorensen, president of the B.C. Nurses' Union, says nurses are frustrated when they see people continue to gather in groups and not follow the guidelines because that increases transmission and puts additional pressure on the health-care system."It puts greater demands on the staff that also fairly tired, looking for a bit of a rest and a break and really not seeing anything coming in the next few months, particularly with the holiday season coming and people wanting to mix and mingle with their friends and family," Sorensen said. Dr. Kathleen Ross, the president of Doctors of B.C., says the prospect of burnout is looming closer for many front line health-care workers. "Many of us are afraid to go home for fear of infecting our loved ones and many more of us drop our clothes at the door and run to the shower before we even greet our family," said Ross. "We're adjusting to the new normal ... but of course we cannot expect that surge capacity to last forever."And both Ross and Sorensen point out it is not just front line health-care workers shouldering the burden, but additional staff like cleaning crews and maintenance workers who keep the whole health-care system operational."There are lots of unsung heroes in the system, not just in the emergency rooms where there are doctors and nurses taking care of our most acutely ill," Sorensen said. Sorensen says she worries the spike in cases could escalate to point where essential health-care workers are kept on the job even if they've been exposed."[I'm] very concerned [about that]. Nurses are dedicated and they do want to continue working, but if we get enough nurses exposed or sick, we won't have enough nurses to deliver healthcare," she said. Ross says this is a crucial moment."If everyone does their part, if we all step forward and follow the public health guidelines as they have been laid out, then we'll get there. But we have to do it all together."
L’organisme spécialisé dans l’évaluation et la diminution des émissions de gaz à effet de serre affirme que cette mesure va encourager les bénéficiaires à contribuer à la lutte contre les changements climatiques. L’alimentation, le transport, le chauffage ou les technologies de communication sont des facteurs d’émission des gaz à effet de serre. Carboneutre Québec propose aux entreprises et aux individus de calculer et de réduire leur empreinte carbone à travers des activités carboneutres ou écoresponsables visant à la restauration des forêts et des plans d’eau. L’engouement des gens à se lancer dans la gestion de leur empreinte carbone est souvent dilué dans plusieurs paramètres qui les éloignent des préoccupations écologiques. Interrogé sur les moyens de mobilisation de la population, le président de Carboneutre Québec, Mathieu Comtois, réalise que l’initiative personnelle ne suffit pas. « C’est vrai que si nous avions l’aide gouvernementale, ça pourrait aider parce qu’en plus il n’y a absolument aucune subvention aux entreprises pour faciliter l’adhésion à devenir carboneutre », reconnaît-il, en suivant une logique de conséquence dans l’élaboration des politiques publiques. « Si on reconnaît qu’il y a des changements climatiques, si on reconnait qu’il est urgent d’agir, on devrait encourager les gens à compenser leur empreinte carbone », ajoute-t-il. Cette idée aurait-elle une chance de prospérer, surtout pendant la crise ? « Le gouvernement lui-même n’est pas carboneutre dans sa façon de fonctionner », reconnaît M. Comtois qui se contente pour l’instant de quelques députés provinciaux ou fédéraux qui se montrent préoccupés. Il en conclut qu’avant de solliciter l’appui institutionnel, « il faudrait peut-être commencer à la base et donc, oui il y a beaucoup de sensibilisation à faire. » Des solutions à la source Une fois évaluée, l’empreinte carbone est généralement compensée par le reboisement qui permet de diminuer les émissions dans la même proportion. Il existe des méthodes scientifiquement reconnues pour calculer les émissions de gaz à effet de serre dont le dioxyde de carbone est une source majeure. Selon Mathieu Comtois, le CO2 est émis par la combustion des carburants fossiles (pétrole, charbon, gaz naturel dans une moindre mesure) pour la production de l’électricité, l’industrie et les transports. Carboneutre Québec propose de réduire à la source. Une trentaine d’organisations ont répondu à son appel depuis sa création en 2019. « Il y a des gens qui vont opter pour les transports en commun, il y en a qui vont manger moins de viande rouge, on peut revoir les modes de chauffage, l’hydroélectricité, ou les édifices chauffés au mazout », recommande le Granbyen qui accompagne par exemple, la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche, pour la plantation de 130 arbres en guise de compensation de 18,14 tonnes de dioxyde de carbone. Les changements climatiques ne sont pas une fiction… Plus que jamais, chaque geste compte pour aider notre planète », conclut Mme Larouche. D’autres organisations se sont mises à la tâche. La fondation Socodévi propose des solutions depuis 2006, tout comme Compensation CO2 Québec qui plante des arbres au sud du Québec. Depuis 1992, Arbres Canada en est à plus de 80 millions d’arbres plantés dans les villes et les régions. Pour l’exercice 2018-2019, le gouvernement fédéral a déclaré 1 212 kilotonnes d’équivalent de dioxyde de carbone dont 11 % au Québec, soit une réduction de 32,6 % depuis l’exercice 2005-2006. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
WASHINGTON — Janet Yellen is in line for another top economic policy job — just in time to confront yet another crisis.Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's apparent choice for treasury secretary, served on the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee during the 2008-2009 financial crisis that nearly toppled the banking system.She became Fed chair in 2014 when the economy was still recovering from the devastating Great Recession. In the late 1990s, she was President Bill Clinton's top economic adviser during the Asian financial crisis.And now, according to a person familiar with Biden's transition plans, she has been chosen to lead Treasury with the economy in the grip of a surging viral epidemic. The spike in virus cases is intensifying pressure on companies and individuals, with fear growing that the economy could suffer a “double-dip” recession as states and cities reimpose restrictions on businesses.Yet many longtime observers of the U.S. economy see Yellen as ideally suited for the role.“She is extraordinarily talented,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at auditing firm Grant Thornton. “She is the right person at this challenging time. She has worked every crisis."If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its nearly 232 years. She would inherit an economy with still-high unemployment, escalating threats to small businesses and signs that consumers are retrenching as the worsening pandemic restricts or discourages spending.Most economists say that the distribution of an effective vaccine will likely reinvigorate growth next year. Yet they warn that any sustained recovery will also hinge on whether Congress can agree soon on a sizable aid package to carry the economy through what Biden has said will be a “dark winter” with the pandemic still out of control.Negotiations on additional government spending, though, have been stuck in Congress for months.Yellen has favoured further stimulus, including more money for state and local governments, which she has said need “substantial support” to avoid further job cuts. Rescue aid for states has been a major sticking point in congressional negotiations.Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income and a former senior Fed and Treasury official, said that Yellen could effectively use the “bully pulpit” during what are likely to be difficult negotiations with Senate Republicans."Yellen," Sheets said, “has a unique ability ... to communicate about economics and economic policies in terms that resonate with individuals.”She will also have the opportunity to work with Fed Chair Jerome Powell, with whom Yellen enjoys a close relationship after having worked together at the Fed, to restart several emergency lending programs. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that the programs will expire, as scheduled, at the end of this year — a decision that critics warn will unnecessarily hamstring the Fed.Powell objected to the Treasury's move, though he agreed to return money that Congress had authorized to backstop the lending.The most likely credit programs to be renewed, economists say, would be one that supported states and cities and a second, the Main Street Lending program, that targeted small and mid-sized businesses.Neither program has made very many loans. But just the understanding that those backstops existed lent confidence to the financial markets. Economists say Yellen could allow Powell to offer more generous terms to increase the programs' use.The 74-year-old Yellen, long a path-breaking figure in the male-dominated economics field, was the first woman to serve as Fed chair, from 2014 to 2018.“She is an icon,” said Stephanie Aaronson, a vice-president at the Brookings Institution and a former top economist at the Fed. “Having a female chair meant a lot to a lot of people.”Yellen was known as a highly prepared, sometimes demanding but down-to-earth manager who was popular with the Fed's staff.“I have never met anyone who has worked for or with Janet who has an unkind word to say about her," said Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist. "She is the kind of person who uplifts her staff.”Under Yellen's tenure, the central bank began a seminal shift of its policy focus away from fighting inflation, which has been quiescent for decades, to trying to maximize employment, the second of its two mandates. That process culminated this summer when Powell announced that the Fed planned to keep rates ultra-low for a time even after inflation has topped the central bank's 2% annual target level, rather than raising rates pre-emptively.As Fed chair, Yellen won praise for her attention to disadvantaged groups, including the long-term unemployed, at a time when financial inequalities were widening across the economy. She made numerous visits to employment training centres to spotlight the need for training programs to equip people for good jobs.During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, transcripts of the Fed's meetings show that Yellen was more prescient than most other Fed officials about the potential for a deep recession and weak recovery afterward.Yellen is well-known on Capitol Hill after years of testifying as Fed chair to Senate committees about the economy and interest rate policy. During those years, she frequently clashed with Republican lawmakers who accused her of keeping rates too low for too long after the 2008 financial crisis. Some of them charged that Yellen and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, had elevated the risk of runaway inflation and asset bubbles that could destabilize financial markets.None of those fears came to pass. On the contrary, under Bernanke and Yellen — and later, under Powell — the Fed's more difficult challenge became raising inflation merely to the Fed's annual 2% target level. It has yet to do so consistently.Yellen, a Democrat, had served only one four-year term as Fed chair when President Donald Trump decided to replace her with Powell, a Republican, despite Yellen’s desire to serve another term. That move broke a four-decade tradition of presidents allowing Fed chairs to serve at least two terms even if they had first been nominated by a president of the opposing party.After leaving the Fed, Yellen became a distinguished fellow in residence at the liberal Brookings Institution in Washington, signalling her continuing interest in financial policymaking.When she stepped down from the Fed in early 2018, Shawn Sebastian, co-director of the Fed-Up coalition, a collection of progressive groups, called Yellen's departure “a loss for working people across the country." He hailed her efforts to take on “economic inequality, racial disparities in the economy, the role of women in the workplace and the need for more diversity at the Fed.”Yet some progressives have also criticized Yellen for the Fed's December 2015 decision to raise its benchmark rate from near zero, where it had been pegged since late 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis. That rate hike, which caused a sharp increase in the value of the dollar, contributed to a slowdown in U.S. economic growth in 2016 and is now seen by many economists as having been premature.Yellen is married to George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist whom she met in a Fed cafeteria in 1977. They have one son, Robert, who is an economics professor.___AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.Christopher Rugaber And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Continuing on a commitment to build a diverse and inclusive community, the village of Westport is hosting three workshops to help inform both the public and council members in the village and beyond about racial issues. "I sent an invitation to area councils and was gratified to find that both Smiths Falls and Perth are on a similar track, and are forming task force committees," said Westport Mayor Robin Jones. "I will be tuning in this Wednesday," said Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow. Smiths Falls is currently in the process of selecting members to fill its task force. "We recently approved the terms of reference, and we're looking for partners in the community who have a role to play, such as police services, youth, and health care. We also want people who have lived experiences and ideally a representative from First Nations and the LGBTQIA community," said Pankow. A similar model is expected to be developed in Westport. In July this year, after passing an anti-discrimination, anti-racism bylaw, the council committed to forming a task force to examine the village bylaws for implicit bias. "I will be looking for a wide collection of experiences to form the committee," said Jones. Meanwhile, Jones is launching a series of three workshops to help inform the public and people interested in participating in the public consultation on discrimination and racism. "We haven't formed the task force yet; that will come at the end of the these three workshops," said Jones. All the workshops will be online and are free to watch on the village's YouTube feed. They will remain on the village YouTube feed for a few days so people can tune in later if they can't catch the live feed on Wednesday. The first workshop is going to air on Wednesday at 7 p.m., and will feature Senator Gwen Boniface as the speaker talking about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Codes, their role, how they overlap and how they differ. "These are foundational workshops, that will examine the legal framework around discrimination and racism, the science behind implicit bias and health equity," said Jones. The second workshop, on Jan. 27, will be with Anna Laszlo, director of the organization Fair and Impartial Policing, and will tackle unconscious bias and the techniques to manage our own biases and the impact of unconscious bias in organizations. All the workshops will be moderated and audience members will be able to ask questions. "I will be putting out my email and I will moderate the workshops," said Jones, adding that participants will be able to ask questions by emailing her directly during the workshop. The third workshop, on Feb. 24, will tackle health equity, and access to the social determinants of health within a society, and will be led by Tanis Brown, a registered nurse and health equity co-ordinator at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. This workshop will tackle poverty and education and is an area of particular interest in Smiths Falls, where Pankow says there is bias against poverty. "As we dig deeper we want to make sure we're as inclusive and accommodating a community as possible. We know that people living in poverty face huge barriers and different forms of prejudice," said Pankow. While Westport passed a bylaw enshrining the values of inclusivity within their municipal laws, Smiths Falls made a proclamation, but regardless of how each community has approached the subject they say they are moving forward with their commitments to address bias - overt or implicit-within their communities.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative, Brockville Recorder and Times
EDMONTON — The winning ticket for a record-breaking 50/50 raffle held by the CFL's EE Football Team has been claimed.The team said in a release Monday that John Groff of Edmonton is taking home the winner's prize of $495,900 for the draw, which was held in honour of former EE Football Team and Edmonton Oilers locker-room attendant Joey Moss. The draw, which closed at $991,800 on Sunday, broke a record set by the team during a July 2017 game against the Ottawa Redblacks where $871,839 was raised.The remainder of the pot, minus administration fees, will go toward the Joey Moss Memorial Fund created by the Winnifred Stewart Association, a group that empowers people with disabilities. Moss, who was born with Down syndrome, passed away at the age of 57 this past October. No cause of death was given. He first became an attendant with the Oilers in 1984 before joining the Edmonton Football Team two years later, holding both positions for over 30 years. Moss was a favourite in Edmonton among fans and players. He was later given a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his contributions and achievements in 2012 and was later inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020The Canadian Press
On Sunday evening the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) identified a positive COVID-19 case in three individuals at Ecole St. Mary High School in Prince Albert. In a news release by the Prince Albert Catholic School Division on Sunday evening the division explained that communication has been shared with the specific classroom/cohort, as well as the school community. These cases have not been school acquired according to the division. There had been several cases reported in October at St. Mary. The SHA is proceeding with their assessment of the situation, and all individuals deemed to be close contacts are being notified. “The classrooms/cohorts impacted by this case, barring any other cases, are required to Self-Isolate until midnight on Dec. 1 and these classrooms/cohorts will be move to remote learning until the isolation period is complete,” the division said in a release. These specific classrooms/cohorts are advised to contact 811Healthline for advice. “École St. Mary High School will resume classes Nov. 23 for all other students and staff that are not deemed to be close contacts. Public Health officials are advising all students and staff to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms daily and not to enter the school if ill.” No further information was made available citing privacy concerns. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this member of our school community, and we hope they are doing well.” They emphasized that everyone has a shared responsibility to decrease the risk of COVID-19 entering schools. “Thank you to everyone for continuing to be diligent in performing daily health screening, staying home if ill, calling HealthLine 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practicing proper hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, wearing a mask when appropriate and doing everything we can to keep each other safe,” the release stated.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The Wood Buffalo Food Bank (WBFB) will be moving to a new downtown location, with renovations expected to be finished by late February or early March. Purchasing a new building has been considered for the past few years even before April’s flooding, which damaged the food bank’s King Street location. The new site, which is at 10100 Centennial Drive, will include offices, community meeting spaces, a kitchen and a warehouse. For the past four years, the food bank had started outgrowing its King Street location and was renting storage space to supplement the site. With everything run from one building, Dan Edwards, executive director of the WBFB, said it will be easier to support the community. “If I don’t have to spend money on a building, those dollars can go further towards doing our work, expanding our programs and bringing in new programs,” he said. “It’s going to be great.” Edwards said remaining downtown was always the best option for the food bank. The facility would still be located in a flood area, but downtown is the only area with spaces large enough for their needs. A downtown building is also easier for people to reach than its temporary location in Gregoire—which is where the food bank has been operating since the flood. Edwards said remaining downtown keeps the organization close to residential areas and major bus routes. The new site will still need some renovations, but Edwards says the finished product will be better for staff, volunteers and clients. “Just having that freedom in knowing it’s our own space will make everything much easier,” said Edwards. “We’re going to work hard to make it feel like an inviting space so our clients have somewhere to feel safe when they’re coming in for assistance.” The annual Syncrude Food Drive is also beginning this weekend, which comes as the food bank sees demand continue to rise. Since March, roughly 50 new households per month are added to its client list. The food bank is expecting this trend to continue into 2021, especially as COVID-19 cases rise. In spring, people who turned to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will also be required to pay taxes on the benefit, which Edwards fears will make budgets tighter for some families. This year’s food drive will be done through collection bins at grocery stores. People can drop off food, cash and gift card donations between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29. A list of in-demand items will be available on the Wood Buffalo Food Bank’s website, social media and in stores. Some in-demand items include canned fish, canned meat, baking goods, canned fruit, canned vegetables, and diapers size four, five and six. The food drive provides WBFB with 30 to 40 per cent of their food for a year. The food bank’s goal is to raise a total of $300,000 and 80,000 pounds of food. -with files from Laura Beamish firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
John Kerry, one of the leading architects of the Paris climate agreement, is getting one more chance to lead the fight against climate change after President-elect Joe Biden named the longtime senator and former secretary of state as climate envoy for national security.Biden's team gave little immediate detail on Monday about how he envisioned Kerry shaping the new job, which many on social media and on all sides of the climate-action spectrum were quick to dub “climate czar.” But the transition team made clear that it will be a prominent role, with Kerry becoming the first member of the National Security Council to focus exclusively on climate change.It was one of Biden’s first steps in making good on campaign pledges to confront climate damage from fossil fuel emissions more broadly and forcefully than any previous U.S. administration. And it's a sign of how the incoming administration is heeding warnings that natural disasters from global warming will weaken U.S. defence and spur conflicts around the globe.“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry tweeted. “I’m proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President’s Climate Envoy.”At 76, Kerry has the stature to help him make deals with foreign governments on global climate efforts. But he's up to a half-century or more older than the activists who pushed climate change to the forefront of national politics over the past four years.Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement climate group, whose members skew younger, called the appointment a “very good move,” saying Kerry combined a long track record on climate issues with a commitment “to engaging and listening to young voices.” But Prakash called for Biden to go further and create a new domestic federal office to push agencies on climate efforts.The incoming administration’s move comes after four years in which President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, promoted more drilling of climate-damaging oil and gas and mining of coal, and steadily dismantled Obama administration efforts to rein in fossil-fuel emissions.Biden has pledged to get the U.S. back into the Paris climate accord. After 2018 midterm elections in which young progressives like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez succeeded in pushing climate change toward the front of the U.S. political agenda, Biden in his presidential race promised a $2 trillion plan to overhaul the nation’s transportation and power sectors and buildings to curb fossil fuel emissions.Kerry was a senator from Massachusetts, failed Democratic presidential candidate against George W. Bush in 2004, and Obama’s second secretary of state from 2013 to 2017.In the Senate, Kerry in 2010 was one of the main authors of one of the biggest legislative pushes to date by the Congress to limit fossil fuel emissions. It failed.Kerry's former Democratic colleagues in Congress praised his appointment.Kerry brings “diplomatic and political expertise” and “knows better than anyone how to ensure this crisis receives the international attention it so desperately needs,” said Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental advocacy group, welcomed the incoming Biden administration’s move on Kerry.But “it is important somewhere in Biden’s administration,” particularly in climate, to see “not just the same people and actors we have seen before on these issues,” Hartl said.Other environmental advocates — some of whom want the U.S. to pivot away from all fossil fuels within a few years — were more acerbic. Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Action said Kerry’s record was far too tepid on limiting fossil fuels. “Kerry’s proposals are tired ideas from years past that will do little or nothing to address our climate crisis,” Hauter said in a statement.The U.S. military has warned in a series of reports that climate change is a security threat on many fronts. That includes “through direct impacts on U.S. military infrastructure and by affecting factors, including food and water availability, that can exacerbate conflict outside U.S. borders,” the federal government’s most recent, grim climate report said.Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
Parks Canada has announced it will push back the opening of its popular online parks reservation system from January to April in 2021.The plan is designed to allow for fewer cancellations due to changed plans, as well as to allow people to plan their vacation closer to the time they will travel, Parks Canada said.The change was announced on social media on Monday. The reservation system will be open to campers and travellers in April for dates starting in May 2021, through March 2022.The online reservation system services 38 national parks and historic sites, including popular Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, Alta., and is often overwhelmed with reservations on opening days. In past years, campsites or so-called oTENTiks, which are cabin-like structures maintained by Parks Canada, have been snatched up very quickly, and would-be campers have waited hours for the chance to snap up a spot in the system.This year, the opening dates are staggered from coast to coast, with B.C. opening the reservation system first on April 6, followed by Alberta on April 9, working eastward to the final opening dates of April 26 for Newfoundland and Labrador.Each province has staggered dates for different parks. For example, in Alberta, Jasper opens April 9 while Banff opens April 12. There is a complete list on the Parks Canada website.For early spring or winter camping,reservations are already open for dates up to the end of March 2021, and the next reservation opportunities, starting in April 2021, will open December 16, 2020.COVID-19 safety is also a factor. The Parks Canada website says the agency is working closely with Indigenous partners and communities to ensure safe numbers in the parks, as well as safe tourism and camping practices.For more information on national parks and to book a reservation, go to the Parks Canada Reservation Service or call the reservation line at 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783).
The latest updates from around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Christmas lights in North Vancouver, B.C., will continue to be exempt from municipal bylaws and complaining neighbours.A motion in front of the District of North Vancouver that would have banned outdoor lights from being illuminated between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. was quickly shot down by council on Monday night. "It got so much media attention today," said Mayor Mike Little, who expressed some confusion the proposal had been placed on council's agenda to be immediately voted on."This is the very first chance this council has had to discuss it," he said.After it was removed from the agenda, Little showed council a picture of his home on his Zoom background, showing it lit up for the season. Where did the proposal come from? Left unsaid was why staff brought the proposal to ban overnight Christmas lights in the first place.It was part of a series of proposals to change regulations on single-family homes. Coun. Mathew Bond said consultation over the changes happened over the past two years, specifically to deal with complaints around construction. "The issue of noise and light as a nuisance came up specifically due to a neighbourhood dispute," he said.But Bond said there had only been three complaints about seasonal lighting in the past five years, and didn't believe that met the bar required for a bylaw change. "We're all trying to stay physically distant and keep to our household in a dark and kind of dreary Vancouver winter," he said. "People are looking for any chance to bring some lights and some life and some joy to their neighbourhood "In their proposal report, staff warned that even if council passed the bylaw as recommended, it "will require careful consideration of what is considered decorative/holiday/seasonal lighting."Based on the city's bylaws, the fine for disobeying the Christmas light bylaw would have been $100.