Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been arrested for driving under the influence. The Irish actor, 43, was in a minor single-car crash in Malibu, Calif., on Sunday at about 5 p.m. PT, Yahoo Entertainment can confirm.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been arrested for driving under the influence. The Irish actor, 43, was in a minor single-car crash in Malibu, Calif., on Sunday at about 5 p.m. PT, Yahoo Entertainment can confirm.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
BERLIN — The European Union drug agency said Tuesday it may need four more weeks to approve its first coronavirus vaccine, even as authorities in the United States and Britain continue to aim for a green light before Christmas.The European Medicines Agency plans to convene a meeting by Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough safety and efficacy data about the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved. The regulator also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival shot by American pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc, which submitted its request to U.S. and European regulators this week.If its vaccine is approved, Germany-based BioNTech said the shot's use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020 — but that seems quite ambitious, given that the EU Commission usually needs to rubber-stamp the regulator's decision. Still, the agency has also left open the possibility that the date of that meeting will be brought forward if data comes in faster.Any approval granted by the European regulator will be conditional on companies submitting further information to confirm the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.The date now being eyed would be later than some European countries had hoped. Germany, which has given BioNTech 375 million euros ($450 million) in funding to develop the vaccine, has been preparing to start immunizing people from mid-December onward.On Tuesday, officials in Germany, France and the Netherlands cautioned that vaccine programs likely won't start until the end of the year.“With the information we got in recent days we have to assume that approval will only happen around the turn of the year,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.“It has moved because some studies obviously need a little longer to be submitted," he said. "What’s important is to be prepared.”His comments were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who said authorities in those countries are working to begin vaccinating people in the first week of January.“It won’t be a vaccination policy for the broader public” during the first few months, Macron said at a news conference.BioNTech and U.S. partner Pfizer have said that clinical trials showed their vaccine is 95% effective. The two companies have already submitted data to regulators in the United States and Britain, and approval might come from them first.Hospitals in England have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot as early as the week of Dec. 7 if it receives the OK, the Guardian and Financial Times reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer’s request to allow emergency use of its vaccine, and a decision could come shortly thereafter.Stephen Evans, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that although the main drug regulators will all analyze the same data, the European regulator's decision-making process is slowed by the bureaucracy of the 27-nation bloc.He explained that approval at the EMA “requires co-operation from member states, who each have a say in the authorization of a vaccine.”British regulators also are assessing another vaccine developed by researchers from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.Whichever of the three regulators — American, British or European — acts earliest would be giving the first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been that’s been rigorously tested in tens of thousands of people in trials that meet common scientific standards.Numerous other vaccines are also being worked on. Russia and China have even begun administering shots of locally developed vaccines and selling them to other countries but have not published evidence from advanced studies proving the vaccines are safe and effective.Globally, every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, although countries with weak systems usually rely on the World Health Organization to vet the shots. In the EU, countries typically accept EMA approval for vaccines and drugs unless there is a specific issue the country wants examined further.Multiple successful vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in Europe and the U.S. and so far left more than 1.4 million people worldwide dead.Authorities and drugmakers have pledged to work together to immediately begin rolling out the first shots once approval comes in, whether that’s in the United States or Europe.“Depending on how the authorities decide we can start delivering within a few hours,” said BioNTech's chief operating officer, Sierk Poetting.But officials caution that while some people may receive a vaccine in the coming weeks, it will likely take years to give billions of people around the world the shot, or two if a booster is necessary, meaning that people will be living with some virus control measures at least well into next year.While the three major vaccines so far submitted for approval seem to prevent people from getting sick, it is still unclear whether they prevent people from picking up the virus entirely — and crucially — passing it to others.The EU's top official said Tuesday around 2 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the bloc's 27 nations and called hope for their quick approval "a huge step forward toward our normal life."EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, however, urged EU citizens to remain “disciplined till we have reached finally a vaccination that is appropriate to eradicate this virus.”Even after vaccines are approved, manufacturers and regulators will be monitoring how well they are received by patients to determine the frequency of rarer side effects that may only appear when millions are immunized.___Cheng reported from London and Petrequin from Brussels. Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___This story has been updated to correct that Pfizer and BioNTech asked for expedited approval of their vaccine, not an emergency use authorization.Frank Jordans, Maria Cheng And Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
Charlottetown's Santa Claus tour through Sherwood-Parkdale and the city centre scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed to Saturday due to rain and high winds.The new Santa tour schedule is: * Wednesday, Dec. 2: City centre (north of Brighton Road-Euston Street, west of University Avenue, south of Capital Drive). * Thursday, Dec. 3: East Royalty, Hillsborough Park, and Sherwood-Parkdale (between Brackley Point and St. Peters roads). * Friday, Dec. 4: Winsloe and West Royalty. * Saturday, Dec. 5: Sherwood-Parkdale (between Mount Edward and Brackley Point roads) and city centre (north of Euston Street, east of Spring Park Road, and south of Kirkwood Drive-Allen Street).All tours will begin at 5:30 p.m. and take approximately two hours to complete. Detailed route maps are available at charlottetown.ca/santatours.The ferry crossings from P.E.I. to Nova Scotia were also cancelled Tuesday due to weather.More from CBC P.E.I.
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 177 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 143 548. Elles font également état de 28 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 7 084. De ces 28 décès, 3 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 22 sont survenus entre le 24 et le 29 novembre, 1 est survenu avant le 24 novembre et 2 sont survenus à une date inconnue. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a augmenté de 26 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 719. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 4, et s'élève maintenant à 98. Les prélèvements réalisés le 29 novembre s'élèvent à 20 326, pour un total de 3 917 699. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données Date Cas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés24 novembre1 1003565593 (-3)33 02325 novembre1 46428675 (+20)90 (-3)32 26626 novembre1 26925669 (-6)9029 65227 novembre1 48022678 (+9)93 (+3)24 45028 novembre1 39519665 (-13)92 (-1)27 11529 novembre1 33325693 (+28)94 (+2)20 32630 novembre1 1773719 (+26)98 (+4)ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires29 novembre 202030 novembre 2020Total des cas01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent142784302 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean116785 28603 - Capitale-Nationale16211911 89704 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec84657 03205 - Estrie96624 74606 - Montréal40030651 46207 - Outaouais11153 58008 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue0126909 - Côte-Nord5-120910 - Nord-du-Québec005411 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine631 37512 - Chaudière-Appalaches23595 39913 - Laval9612011 58414 - Lanaudière1068911 36715 - Laurentides46357 98416 - Montérégie16519620 29817 - Nunavik002818 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James0016Hors Québec33116Région à déterminer003Total1 3331 177143 548 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1902 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean13003 - Capitale-Nationale44604 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec27305 - Estrie6406 - Montréal3 62807 - Outaouais8108 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 - Chaudière-Appalaches13413 - Laval72614 - Lanaudière33015 - Laurentides33616 - Montérégie87017 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total7 084 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Premier Doug Ford was noticeably absent from the province's daily news conference on Tuesday after his office announced shortly after noon that he had an "unexpected, but non-COVID-related, non-urgent medical appointment that will prevent him from participating."The news conference went ahead at pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson's warehouse with Minister of Health Christine Elliott leading along with retired general Rick Hillier, chair of Ontario's vaccine distribution task force, and others.Questions about Ontario's vaccine rollout were front and centre at Tuesday's news conference.Few specifics were on offer, but Elliott did say that vaccines will not be mandatory for healthcare workers. Asked if they would be required to take the vaccine, Elliott replied that the premier has made it clear that he wants vaccinations to be voluntary.Asked who might be first in line for vaccinations, Elliott said that's something the province is currently discussing with its taskforce, but that vulnerable populations and frontline workers are among the priorities. As for who comprises that taskforce, Elliott said it does include a bioethicist, and that the names of the members should be able to be released in a "short while."Ontario reported another 1,707 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the number of patients with the illness being treated in intensive care units climbed to 193.The new cases include a record 727 in Toronto — the most ever on a single day for the city — as well as 373 in Peel Region and 169 in York Region.The new infections push the seven-day average of daily cases to 1,670, also a new record high.Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: * Durham Region: 72 * Waterloo Region: 61 * Hamilton: 58 * Halton Region: 47 * Windsor-Essex: 47 * Simcoe Muskoka: 36 * Ottawa: 34 * Niagara Region: 15 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 13 * Grey Bruce: 12(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)Also included in today's new cases are 299 that are school-related: 253 students and 46 staff members. Some 737 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 15.3 per cent, currently have at least one case of COVID-19, while seven schools are currently closed because of the illness.There are now 14,524 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, the most at any point since the outbreak began in late January. The new high comes as Ontario's network of labs processed 34,640 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. Another 34,000 tests were added to the queue to be completed.Meanwhile, an internal Critical Care Services Ontario report shared with CBC Toronto shows 26 more people with confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were moved into intensive care in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 193. Just four days ago, 151 patients were in ICUs. Public health officials have identified 150 as the threshold for when scheduled surgeries and procedures need to be postponed or cancelled. The province's report today states that only 185 patients are in intensive care. The discrepancy between the figures is due to the timeframe used in the provincial data, which typically reflects numbers from the previous day. The Critical Care Services Ontario figure for ICU admissions is more current.Further, a total of 645 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in Ontario hospitals, while 112 are on ventilators.Seven additional COVID-19-linked deaths were reported today, bringing the official toll to 3,663.Of those seven people, three were in their 90s, three were in their 80s and one was in their 60s. Six of the deaths are tied to institutional outbreaks, such as long-term care settings.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Tuesday, World AIDS Day, that Health Canada has just approved its first self-test kit for HIV recently that gives results in one minute using one drop of blood.
Weather is getting cooler and beards are getting bushier as some Canadian men look to add an extra layer of warmth to their faces this winter.Others, motivated by lockdown measures and extended work-from-home terms, may view this as a perfect time to see how unruly those whiskers can get before a trim is needed.But as long as mask-wearing is encouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, should they worry about facial hair interfering with the effectiveness of face coverings?Some experts say men should shave their beards in order to obtain the best mask fit, but others say it depends how long the stubble gets, and if their job requires a tighter-fitting respirator.The CDC has an infographic on facial hair and N-95s on its website, outlining styles that are safe, including handlebar mustaches and soul patches. Other looks — like extended goatees, muttonchops and Van Dykes — cross the seal of the mask and need to go. Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based physician, says that advice is fine for health-care workers, but when it comes to regular cloth masks, breaking a seal isn't as much of a concern."If it's covering your mouth and nose, it's doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "Whether there's a gap on the side isn't really here or there because there's always a gap." Dr. Jane Wang, a clinical instructor at UBC who has studied face masks extensively, disagrees.Wang's recent research suggests men with beards experience more leakage — droplets expelling through gaps in the mask — than those without. Leaky areas of masks are most prominent around the nose, chin and the cheeks, and pleated masks tend to leak more than other styles.Having facial hair jutting out of a mask increases that leakage zone, she said. So the most effective way to ensure a cloth mask fits around the face is to remove the beard."Having more leaks decreases the filtration," Wang said, adding that research on mask fit and leaks date back to the 1990s. "So the air we breathe will go through the leak and not the filter of the mask."Dr. Lisa Bryski, an emergency-room physician in Winnipeg, has seen many colleagues shave off their beards in order to properly wear masks in the health-care field. While a cloth covering doesn't provide the same level of protection as an N-95, Bryski suggests men outside front-line work settings might want to pick up the razor too."It's a personal choice, but anything you do to increase your own protection and protection of others is appropriate in these times," she said. "Where shaving is not an option, keeping the beard groomed and trimmed may reduce the amount of hair and help with mask seal."Bryski acknowledged that for some men, like those in the Sikh community, beards may be an integral part of religious identity.Sukhmeet Sachal, a second-year medical student at UBC, recognized that and is offering a solution. Sachal is part of a group that has been handing out modified face masks to Sikh men at gurdwaras, or places of assembly and worship. The masks, made by volunteers, wrap around beards and tie over turbans, offering Sikh men a better alternative than a regular face mask they could buy at a store.Sachal said he got the idea when he walked into a gurdwara with his father and saw hardly anyone wearing a mask. While he says there may have been a combination of reasons for that, the beards played a part."We heard from people directly that there were no masks available for them," Sachal said. "When they went to the store, they didn't find any."Sachal says hair, whether it's on your face or head, is seen in Sikhism as a gift from God. Turbans are wrapped around hair to protect it, and most Sikh men refrain from cutting their hair or shaving their beards."That's why these masks are important," Sachal said. "They allow people to practise their religion while being safe."Colin Furness, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, looks at beards as a "variable" in how well a mask fits, but "not a determiner."A mask can be ill-fitting whether you have a beard or not, he explained. And while the length of facial hair will impact fit further, he says mask-wearing is only one safety precaution we should be practising."I don't think beards should be demonized, because it's not just about wearing a mask," he said. "You're also maintaining physical distance, you're also not doing large crowds... "It's when you start thinking that masks protect you completely that beards become more risky."Wang says those keeping their beards should still wear face masks."It'll be less effective, but it's better than nothing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Canada's third quarter annualized growth soared by a record 40.5%, rebounding from a historic plunge in the second quarter, as businesses and stores reopened from COVID-19 lockdowns, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday. "There was a big import drag that knocked almost six percentage points off GDP growth ... it reflects positive developments but in GDP accounting it acts as a drag on top line GDP growth." "The quarterly increase in GDP in Q3 as a whole was a little bit smaller than expected earlier on but it's still pretty large."
Cet automne, les archéologues de la coopérative Artefactuel ont effectué des fouilles dans le secteur du chemin de la Côte-Bissonnette à Varennes. Une initiative qui a porté ses fruits et permis de déterrer quelques vestiges du passé. Entreprises dans la foulée du développement de la zone industrialo-portuaire, ces recherches ont été commandées par la Ville à la suite d’une suggestion de la Société d’histoire de Varennes (SHV). De nombreux artefacts ont été découverts durant les fouilles. Les archéologues ont notamment confirmé avoir investigué les vestiges du Moulin Brodeur et les fondations d’une forge se trouvant à proximité. « C’est vraiment un secteur où il s’est passé beaucoup de choses, explique Jacques Dalpé, président de la SHV et initiateur du projet. Je suis allé sur le site pour leur montrer où les bâtisses étaient situées. Ils n’en revenaient pas que, en 300 ans d'histoire, le site n’ait pas été perturbé davantage. Depuis l’arrivée des premiers colons, tout est vraiment demeuré intact. Il n’y a rien eu d’autre que de l’agriculture et c’est longtemps resté dans la famille Brodeur. » La SVH possédait une photo du moulin peu avant sa démolition qui eut sans doute lieu dans les années 1930. Une découverte de M.Dalpé dans les archives du Musée McCord a cependant permis de mettre la main sur une image de la construction datant de 1887, alors que le moulin était toujours en bon état. « Il y a déjà eu deux inventaires par le passé, ajoute ce dernier, dont un qui date de 1989. À l’époque, on a découvert qu’il y avait deux zones d’habitation possédant un potentiel archéologique. Le deuxième inventaire a été fait en 2018, lorsque le terrain a été vendu à l’entreprise Greenfield Global. » En plus des vestiges du Moulin Brodeur, les archéologues ont découvert des morceaux de poterie et de faïence, des ferrures, limes, clous à tête carrés, des fragments de pipes de plâtres ainsi que divers outils et ustensiles utilisés au quotidien. « J’ai suivi ça attentivement, raconte M. Dalpé. Ç’a été un beau travail. Même les archéologues nous ont dit à la fin que ç’a été un super projet. À chaque coup de truelles, ils déterraient un nouvel arteact qui les emballait. Ils ont vraiment fait des découvertes inattendues. » Les recherches ont également permis d’explorer le secteur de La Saline où se trouvait une station balnéaire. Cette dernière pouvait accueillir les visiteurs qui logeaient au chic Hôtel des Sources. L’endroit fut finalement démoli à la fin du XIXe siècle. « L’hôtel a été construit en 1832. Il a été racheté en 1859 par un curé qui voulait chasser les impies (rires). Les Sœurs Grises s’y sont installées jusqu’en 1871 avant de venir au village pour construire ce qui est devenu le Foyer De Lajemmerais. » Enfin, la Ville compte présenter les plus beaux artéfacts lors d’une exposition qui aura lieu à la Maison ancestrale Hébert-Jodoin. Celle-ci sera par ailleurs reconstruite dans le futur parc du Patrimoine pour le 350e anniversaire de Varennes en 2022. Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Social determinants of health – such as discrimination, proper housing and occupation – are critical factors for public health officials when considering how to target resources at those whose risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is highest. As health interventions aim to address these social liabilities in the short-term, the pandemic is also exposing how environmental determinants of health are often overlooked. Air pollution, for example, produces worse health outcomes and occurs more intensely in areas with poorer social and economic conditions, according to research cited in a study published earlier this month by health data non-profit ICES and the University of Toronto. The paper notes that previous studies “have also implicated environmental pollution as having a biological relationship to the risk and severity of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.” Environmental factors affecting local public health may emerge as a larger discussion in the coming weeks, as Mississauga’s climate plans resurface during budget committee presentations which resumed Monday. Estimated to cost more than $460 million in the next decade, or about $46 million per year, the City is slow to commit funding in its first year of budgeting for a greener future in Mississauga. In June 2019, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, Mississauga’s Council passed a motion to declare a climate change emergency and approved an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan six months later. In the summer, as the 2021 budget document was being considered by City staff, The Pointer asked Mayor Bonnie Crombie about the ambitious goals she championed in the Climate Action Plan just prior to the pandemic, including some $160 million that would be needed in the short term for hybrid and electric buses. "Certainly, the greening of our economy is the right direction to move and I think we all agree with that," she said at the time. "We are very hopeful that the impact of COVID will be contained to the next three-year horizon and that we will still move forward with our Climate Action Plan. It is very dependent on the ICIP money (Ottawa's Invest In Canada Plan for infrastructure) – money coming from the provincial and federal government – to assist us to green our fleet and implement many of the recommendations that you found in that report." Now, implementing the climate plan is a highlight of the City’s 2021 budget. The two-pronged climate change solution universally advocated by scientists – mitigation and adaptation – is reflected in the City’s strategy to promote green energy, and retrofit or build resilient infrastructure. The plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next ten years and by 80 percent ahead of 2050, with the long-term goal of reaching zero emissions. The second pillar is to “build resilience” against the effects of climate change, including severe weather damage to City infrastructure. Next year’s ‘pandemic’ budget, has leaned out capital project funding to help weather the City’s major revenue losses in transit and recreation due to the ongoing public health emergency. Parks, Forestry and Environment staff are proposing a net $37.5 million operating budget, or a $1 million increase from last year, to maintain service levels, support higher fleet costs and kick-off climate protection goals. “Now, having a bold plan is very different than action. This is where the City now has to try and follow through on that, and I don't see that in this year's budget yet,” said Marc Johnson, Director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He cited urbanization data that shows 82 percent of Canadians live in cities, with significant greenhouse-gas emissions and resource extraction linked to oil, lumber and other materials that support urban development. Though projects including infrastructure lifecycle maintenance, tree planting, stormwater drainage, trail upkeep, parks construction and pedestrian bridge replacement may relate to climate change, the budget does not directly connect these developments to the City’s climate strategy. “I want to see earmarked in [the budget] which of these investments in staff, in green technology, and infrastructure refurbishment are aligned with their Climate Action Plan,” he said. Perhaps the clearest funding link to execute the Climate Change Action Plan is the addition of another full-time staffer, a climate change specialist, in next year’s operating budget, with a salary of $92,000, and $121,000 forecast in 2022. No funding has been allocated until 2023 for the Climate Change Plan Implementation in corporate buildings, with budget documents recommending about $216,000 be set aside. In budget presentation documents, staff acknowledged the City requires resources to fulfill its climate plan and parkland growth expansion. However, parkland growth is not funded until 2022, with a recommended $291,000 budget. Capital projects in the Parks, Forestry and Environment departmental budget will also face deferrals, with an overall budget of about $32.3 million for 2021, forecast to more than double in 2022 to $66 million, and drop slightly to $51 million the following year. There is also a modest budget for parkland acquisition in 2021, at $120,000, compared to $26 million forecast for 2022. Corporate building retrofits as part of the climate plan are also being set aside, not being requested in the budget until 2023, with staff forecasting $216,000. More than 40 percent of parks and related infrastructure will need capital funding for replacements and maintenance over the next decade. Funding in other service sectors will affect Mississauga’s climate change goals, most prominently in transit, which accounts for about 70 percent of the City’s emissions. MiWay Director Geoff Marinoff said, during Tuesday’s transit presentation to the committee, that 40 percent of the fleet would be turned over to hybrid energy buses in the next four years. MiWay is proposing $440.6 million to replace 409 buses over the next 10 years. However, staff are proposing only a small fraction of the annual investment needed if 40 percent of a new hybrid fleet is to be acquired in the next four years. The bus replacement budget for 2021 is just $2 million, even though MiWay reaffirmed its commitment to “no longer purchase any conventional diesel buses, and will be required to purchase hybrid-electric and zero emission vehicles.” The budget does not specify if the bus replacement budget will be solely for hybrid-electric vehicles. (The City currently has 36, and the remaining 475 buses run on ultra-refined diesel.) The federal government, as Crombie highlighted in the summer, could provide a significant contribution, as clean energy infrastructure is one of the priorities in its infrastructure investment policy and Ottawa has already approved large sums to municipalities and provinces for clean transportation since the plan was adopted under the Liberals in 2015. The budget also notes the City’s training program for fleet operation will be amended to train drivers in reducing idling and fuel consumption to align with climate goals. Initiatives linked to fighting climate change can also be found in the increased stormwater tax. Mississauga has seen its share of extreme weather in the past decade, with heavy rain and flash floods last spring and fall. Human activity connected to climate change is leading to more extreme rainfalls in North America, according to a study published this June. A stormwater tax raise, which will range from $2.20 to $3.68 per year, is slated to help generate $43.5 million toward the City’s stormwater reserve funds for unpredictable weather caused by changing environmental conditions. Natural disasters and severe weather events demand crucial consideration when making urgent local policy shifts, said Lauren Latour, a coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada. “A lot of the time when we talk about climate policy, we're talking about federal level policy, but the effects are going to have to be dealt with by municipal governments,” Latour said. “They become those frontline protectors for their communities.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Alberta hospitals are preparing to double-bunk critically ill patients, revamp operating and recovery rooms and reassign staff to treat an expected surge of COVID-19 patients destined for intensive care units. The measures are so far beyond the normal standards, it shows that Alberta is preparing for a crisis, says a long-time critical care doctor. "This is something that would only be carried out if there's a concern that we're going to get something close to what would be a disaster situation, or something that you would prepare for in a war," said Dr. Noel Gibney, referring to double-bunking ICU patients in a room designed for one. As Alberta hit a new record of 96 COVID-19 patients in ICUs on Monday, it also reached another ominous landmark — a record number of new daily cases, at 1,733. COVID's presence in Alberta ICUs has more than tripled during the last month. On Oct. 30, 24 people were critically ill with an infection. Provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the data show Alberta is not yet at its peak of hospitalizations or patients critically sick with COVID. "We do need to make sure we're bending the curve early enough that we never get to that point where we don't have capacity to care for everyone," she said at her daily media briefing. Hospitals across the province are working to dedicate 2,200 beds for COVID patients, as they did last spring, Premier Jason Kenney said in the legislature. "Let us hope it is not necessary," Kenney said. "And ultimately, that's up to Albertans to respond positively to both the restrictions and guidelines articulated by the government last week." He also said the government will release data within days showing the projected impact of the pandemic on Alberta's health-care system. The effort to ramp up ICUs Dr. David Zygun, medical director for the Edmonton zone with Alberta Health Services, said hospitals can and will handle the growing caseloads of people sick with the potentially fatal strain of coronavirus. The goal is to add more than 250 general ICU beds within weeks, bringing the provincial total to 425, up from the previous 173. To do it will require some "unconventional" moves, he said. The University of Alberta's hospital's ICU is already accommodating two COVID patients in a room designed for one, a practice AHS calls "cohorting." Spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in an email the practice is not happening in other hospitals yet, but the measure is part of pandemic adaptation plans to meet increasing demand. The Misericordia Hospital in west Edmonton has moved their ICU to their cardiac care unit to allow for better isolation of patients, he said. The Grey Nuns Hospital in Mill Woods has moved its cardiac care unit to a different part of the hospital building to allow more space for the ICU, he said. Although Calgary ICUs were over capacity on Monday, Edmonton ICUs had about 18 spare beds at last count. AHS director Zygun said hospital staff are trying to proactively discharge hospital patients, move stable patients to less taxed facilities, open decommissioned space in buildings and reduce non-urgent surgeries to prepare for an influx. To make space in intensive care, they're also postponing surgeries that aren't urgent or emergencies and staffing previously unused beds, he said. If ICU and cardiac care beds are full, staff will then turn convert operating theatres and recovery rooms to temporary ICUs, Zygun said. "Obviously, the space is not ideal, but certainly we feel that we can manage it safely," he said. Gathering adequately trained staff to care for so many critically ill patients is one of the key challenges AHS faces, he said. They turn first to people who recently retired or transferred away from jobs in the ICU. AHS has also proactively trained some employees who work in related areas, such as emergency and in operating rooms or recovery units. Those professionals would be matched with teams of experienced ICU employees, he said. Staffing scramble, cramped spaces But Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital, says it's not as simple as teaching professionals new skills. Critically ill patients are complex and demanding, and staff are continually making judgment calls. ICUs have never operated in the way the contingency plans are suggesting, he said. "It's going to be a challenge, and the first couple weeks that we transition will have unfortunate consequences as we're learning how to do this model," he said. He repeated a previous call for a lockdown to take pressure off hospitals. "Waiting to see if these things work is a liability," he said. Gibney likened managing a critically ill patient to flying a jumbo jet 24 hours a day. ICU nurses typically train for six months and spend a couple of years on a unit before they feel confident, he said. He said it will also be difficult to give patients the best possible care if they are cramped for space. "They're not doing everything they can," Gibney said. "They still have restaurants open. You can still go to the casino tonight and play the slots and have a few drinks. Go to the bar. To have those things open while the hospital is preparing for a disaster situation is madness."
While outdoor rinks will continue to open across Saskatoon this year, hockey games will not be allowed on them.At Saskatoon city council's monthly meeting on Monday night, councillors asked administration about reports that hockey nets were being removed from outdoor rinks. Lynne Lacroix, the city's general manager of community development said that hockey games are not allowed under provincial COVID-19 rules."If you leave the nets out randomly, the chance of scrimmages happening or games picking up will probably be high," said Lacroix. "So they're trying to minimize that as public skating is permitted, games are not permitted under the new regulations."Last week, the province suspended all team and group sports in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under-18 hockey players are still allowed to practise, but only in groups of eight players.Outdoor rinks operated by community associations will still allow up to 30 skaters on the ice at any given time.Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development with City of Saskatoon, said the new rules on hockey nets are in effect because the province is only allowing practices for under-18 players."So based on that, we're requiring that nets not be outside on our outdoor rink during public skating time," Andrews said."We are recommending to our community associations — we're not mandating, we're just recommending — that the nets be removed when there's unsupervised time just to mitigate the risk of hockey being played with groups bigger than eight."The policy is in effect until Dec. 17, when the province will be providing updates to the recommendations.Andrews said community associations can still rent out rinks for hockey practices under the new restrictions, and would be able to use hockey nets in those circumstances.The city has received plenty of feedback from citizens and community associations, mostly looking for clarification, he said. "We're providing the requirements and the documentation to our community association so that they can share them among the community as well."Indoor rinks aren't really affected, Andrews said, because nets aren't on the ice during public skating and all rental times are supervised."The difference is everyone must wear a mask indoors — it is just recommended to wear masks at outdoor rinks," he said.Kelly Boes, executive director of the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, said the new city guidelines don't really affect organized minor hockey.Boes said their practices, for the most part, are indoors and they are allowed to have nets."I really think this is designed around the kids that are, you know, hanging around and just want to go and have some fun and start playing, and a shinny game breaks out," he said."I think that's why they're doing it, to try to stop that from happening."Coun. Randy Donauer (Ward 5) worried there might be confusion between indoor and outdoor venues."I don't know if it's sending the right message to say we're going to have hockey facilities inside for practices, but you can't even have a net out for kids to shoot on in the neighborhood," he said. Brad Holler, who was out Tuesday shooting pucks at the Sutherland rinks, thinks removing the nets is going too far."It sucks for kids," he said. "This is Saskatchewan. Hockey's a huge part of our culture, it's how kids stay active."I realize there's a pandemic at hand. But when you look at some of the other regulations that are in place right now, like you can go eat at a restaurant, five people per table and take off [your] masks … to take away hockey nets, I think it's a little ridiculous."Roman Todos, president of the Caswell Hill Community Association, said they are still getting the rink prepared, so it isn't open yet.How big a deal the no-net policy will be depends on how long the restriction stays in place, he said."We should be close to getting our rink up and running and then we'll have to follow the guidelines as much as possible," said Todos, adding they'll need some more people to help to put up signage up and co-ordinate the new policy. Meanwhile, Lacroix said other winter activities, like Optimist Hill, are expected to open soon, as is the Meewasin outdoor rink near the Bessborough Hotel.During the city council meeting, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's director of emergency planning, continued to ask people in Saskatoon to stay at home and limit the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the city.On Monday, there were 1,318 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon, almost double the number from Regina."Our ICUs are currently operating over capacity and our resources are stretched," she said. "We need all residents to return to following the guidelines of [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab as closely as possible."