As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the province, the Alberta government is expected to introduce further measures to slow the spread of the disease.A meeting of the priorities implementation cabinet committee was scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss options, according to the premier's office. The committee normally includes Premier Jason Kenney and the ministers of environment, finance, energy, innovation, health, justice, and children's services.Monday's meeting also included the ministers of municipal affairs, labour, and education.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, cut her COVID-19 update short on Monday to attend the meeting but said little about what could be in store for Albertans."My role, again, is simply to provide recommendations," she told reporters.Speaking outside the legislative assembly, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the cabinet would look to Hinshaw's advice for direction."I can say this, that we are taking these rising numbers very seriously," he said.COVID-19 cases have continued to rise rapidly, with new daily cases passing the 1,500 threshold for the past two days. As of Monday, Alberta had 13,166 active cases. more than any other province in Canada.The Official Opposition has hounded the government in recent weeks to introduce further measures.On Nov. 12, the government introduced measures in major population centres that require bars and licensed restaurants to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. and to close an hour later. It also prohibited group fitness programs.Businesses would struggle through shutdownBusinesses are bracing for new restrictions. When Pigs Fly has sold gifts and trinkets from its storefront on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue for more than 25 years.Decorations are already up at the store in preparation for the Christmas season. Manager Tara Chekowski said the next few weeks are crucial for revenue to carry through the slower months of January through March."This is our time of the year that we need to be open and we need to be selling items," she said.With the possibility of new restrictions, Chekowski said the business is at least better prepared than it was at the beginning of the pandemic last spring. She intends to enter more items into the online store and hopes curbside pickup and delivery will be allowed."Unfortunately, if there is a shutdown we're going to have to take that in stride," she said.Kyle Murray, vice dean of the University of Alberta's Alberta School of Business, said many retailers are already struggling to find a way forward through the pandemic."If we can shut down for a short period of time, and as a result of that save lives … that's a good outcome," he said. "And I think most businesses are OK with that."But long-term shutdowns spurred by an increasingly dire pandemic could make things much worse, Murray warned."Any kind of shutdown is difficult. There's no easy decision here."Alberta announced on Monday it would open applications for a second round of its Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. The payment will be available to businesses in areas on the provincial watch list that have health restrictions.Community spread in schoolsA report from the Edmonton Public School Board on the impact of COVID-19 on the first quarter showed 10,500 students and 1,075 staff were recommended or required to self-isolate. Cases were found in 111 of the division's 215 schools."It's clear the same COVID numbers that are happening in the community are happening in our schools," said trustee Michael Janz, who requested the report in October. He said staff are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the virus within schools.Janz was critical of the government's communication about its future plans."We need as much notice as possible for whatever they are deciding," he said. "And it's not fair to 100,000 students, staff and families in Edmonton public schools to make them wait. "Tell us now. Get us the information as soon as possible."Colin Aitchison, press secretary for Education Minister Adrianna LaGrange, said in an emailed statement that the ministry was following Hinshaw's advice and was ready to make changes based on that advice."We are in regular contact with education partners, including school boards across Alberta, to deal with the challenges that arise during learning in a COVID-19 environment," he said.Hinshaw said Monday there were active alerts or outbreaks in 304 Alberta schools — about 13 per cent of the total."I am confident that because of the diligence of our schools, parents, guardians and students, the number of cases in schools will remain stable," she said.
The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia is calling for all restaurants and bars in Halifax to close to dine-in customers for at least the next two weeks because of rising COVID-19 case numbers in the area.Gordon Stewart, executive director of RANS, said the association's board of directors held an emergency meeting Monday night and decided unanimously to make the closure recommendation to its members and to Public Health.Restaurants and bars have been a significant site of COVID-19 transmission in Nova Scotia over the past two weeks, and Stewart said consumer confidence has been "wiped out.""It really has hurt. Business has taken a sharp decline. But it's more than that — it's that we're scared that the spread gets so bad that we end up like some of the western provinces right now," Stewart told CBC's Information Morning, referring to Manitoba and Alberta, which are experiencing overwhelming coronavirus surges. Stewart said he'll leave it to the provincial government to decide what geographical area to shut down, based on the current epidemiology. But he expects it to encompass downtown Halifax, which has been the epicentre of the province's current outbreak of the coronavirus.Public Health has not yet endorsed the RANS recommendation. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and Premier Stephen McNeil are scheduled to hold a COVID-19 briefing at 3 p.m. today. Stewart said the closure recommendation is focused on "full-service" restaurants. He said he supports restaurants in hotels staying open for hotel guests only, and coffee shops staying open for take-out. The recommendations are not meant for the rest of the province, outside HRM.Stewart said closing will bring "a lot of repercussions for operators" but he expects it to be effective in slowing the spread of the second wave of COVID-19."It's really not about the economy now. It's really about the health and the long-term outlook of our communities," Stewart said.Over the past few days, many Halifax-area restaurants and bars have already decided to close — some as a precaution and others because of possible COVID-19 exposures on the premises.Among them is The Old Triangle, where owners closed voluntarily on Monday, only to learn a few hours later that they were in fact the site of a possible exposure."Honestly I think it's the right move," said Old Triangle co-owner Brendan Doherty of the RANS recommendation."We are at a bit of a tipping point so it does make sense to take at least two weeks ... to just kind of get reset and get back to where we've been.""We've been very fortunate [inside the Atlantic bubble] ... and it'd be nice to go back to that as soon as possible."Doherty said a government-mandated shut-down would help his business, and others, because it would allow them to access additional rent relief through federal programs."It's all about cost-saving during a shut down, and rent is the biggest cost we do incur."MORE TOP STORIES
Good morning! This is our daily news roundup with everything you need to know in one concise read. Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox every morning.As COVID-19 cases soar and regions lock down, Dr. Tam has a blunt message about holiday planningOn a day that saw Ontario and Manitoba announce record-high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, two provinces pull out of the much-lauded Atlantic bubble and close their borders, and millions of people in different regions of the country plunge back into lockdowns reminiscent of last spring, Canada's chief public health officer said the tighter rules are a necessary evil right now. "The longer you wait to increase the measures, the longer it would take to come out of the restrictions," Dr. Theresa Tam told The National co-host Andrew Chang. She said that over the past several months, provincial and territorial medical officers of health tried hard to achieve a balance where they could keep up with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing while keeping society open. "It's just something that people have never tried in the history of the last hundred years," Tam said. "They were trying really hard to minimize impact on the economic side, on schools, on work.... It's just not an easy thing to do."WATCH | Tam says the message around holidays is the same no matter where in Canada you live:In the past month alone, Canada's number of confirmed or presumptive cases rose by more than 125,000, increasing from 211,732 on Oct. 23 to 337,555 on Monday. Provinces are seeing daily case counts higher than they ever saw during the first wave. And so now, with the holiday season just weeks away, Canadians are wondering if one of the bright spots in Canada's long, dark winter will be another casualty of 2020 — and whether the country will ever get off the roller-coaster of flattening the curve only to see cases soar again. Tam is blunt when it comes to the upcoming holiday season: No large gatherings. Keep it small. Keep it within your own household. "Christmas is not going to be having any kind of large group interactions," she said. "Even with family, you've got to really think twice. Avoid non-essential travel. Keep to your current household contacts as much as possible." Read more on this story here.Simian serenade(Prapan Chankaew/Reuters)British musician Paul Barton plays the piano for the macaques that occupy the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple site in Lopburi, Thailand, in this photo taken Nov. 21. The audience was a bit unruly as they climbed all over him, pulled his hair and tried to eat his sheet music. Barton said he hoped the music might calm the animals at a time when the pandemic-caused drop in Thailand's tourism industry means fewer visitors to feed them, and less money for their welfare.In briefAlberta has reached a "precarious point" in the coronavirus pandemic, the province's top doctor said Monday upon reporting 1,549 new cases and five more deaths. The province's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also said there were 13,166 active cases in Alberta — surpassing Ontario's 13,004 for the most in the country. Hinshaw said she was meeting with a cabinet committee "to discuss a series of new measures to reduce the rising spread of COVID-19," and said a detailed update would be coming today. "We must take action. Waiting any longer will impact our ability to care for Albertans in the weeks and months ahead," she said. Read more on this story here.WATCH | Alberta faces pressure for increased restrictions as COVID-19 cases 'snowball':The Canada Revenue Agency says it's warning about 213,000 Canadians who may have been paid twice through the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) program that they could be called upon to repay the money. But repayment isn't required right away, says the agency. The CRA has suspended collection of debts for the duration of the pandemic emergency. "The Canada Revenue Agency … has issued letters to individuals who may have applied for the Canadian emergency response benefit … from both Service Canada and the CRA, and who may be required to repay an amount to the CRA," an agency spokesperson said in an email. "We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments." The agency is still recommending people pay back any CERB funds to which they're not entitled by the end of the year, warning that if they don't, the sum will appear on T4A tax slips and will need to be reported as income on next year's tax return. Read more about the possible CERB repayments. Canada has turned away at least 4,400 asylum seekers at the U.S. border since 2016 — including some who were hoping to find refuge here at the height of the global pandemic — according to newly released government figures. Nearly half of those trying to enter Canada over that nearly five-year period made the attempt in the year after U.S. President Donald Trump took office. The figures were released in response to a parliamentary request from NDP MP Jenny Kwan. Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, which has been in effect since 2004, Canada and the U.S. consider each other to be "safe countries" for refugees and require them to make their claims in the country they arrive in first. The agreement has long faced criticism and legal challenges from refugee advocacy groups, who say the agreement is an inhumane way to limit the number of people Canada accepts as refugees. They say the U.S. is not a safe country for all refugees and that the dangers they face have increased under the Trump administration. Read more about the figures on asylum seekers. NAV Canada, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, is considering cutting air traffic controller jobs at seven towers across Canada in an effort to save money as the global health crisis continues to drag down air traffic. CBC News obtained an internal memo from Nav Canada president and CEO Neil Wilson informing staff that the not-for-profit company that operates Canada's civil air navigation system is conducting studies of air traffic control towers in Whitehorse, Regina, Fort McMurray, Alta., Prince George, B.C., and Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor in Ontario, which "will result in workforce adjustments." The company also is looking into closing a control tower in St. Jean, Que. These locations were identified as having low air-traffic levels, even prior to the pandemic, the memo said. Some aviation experts and airlines warn that the cuts would amount to removing a layer of protection. "It would degrade the level of safety at Whitehorse," said Joe Sparling, president of Whitehorse-based airline Air North. "We would encourage Nav Canada to look for other cost reduction measures." Read more about possible NAV Canada cuts here. U.S. president-elect Joe Biden can start the formal transition of power process after the federal agency that must sign off on it said Monday that he could. "I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you," General Services Administration (GSA) chief Emily Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden. Yesterday, Michigan certified Biden's victory in that state, while a judge in Pennsylvania over the weekend threw out a lawsuit from U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign that sought to block certification in that state. The move by the GSA means Biden's team will now get federal funds and an official office to conduct his transition. Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will also get access to the regular national security briefings that Trump gets. Read more about the transition here.WATCH | Trump allows co-operation in presidential transition as Biden chooses cabinet:Now for some good news to start your Tuesday: Why do bees have sticky hair? Because they use honey combs. Tristan Kennedy, 5, shared that joke and more than 100 other knee-slappers outside his home in Pitt Meadows, B.C., this spring in an effort to brighten up the days of his neighbours during the pandemic. For 155 days straight starting in April, Kennedy and his mother, Naya Kohout, searched for jokes and then shared them on a sign at the end of their driveway, with the setup line written up and posted on one side and the punchline on the other. Despite hearing a few groans from those bemoaning the jokes, the response was so positive they asked passersby if they would be interested in a book of jokes. Kohout says the demand was there, so they put together an offering. To date, they have sold more than 120 books, and raised more than $1,200, which they are donating in equal parts to the Ridge Meadows Senior Society and the Friends in Need Food Bank. Read more here about the joke book.Front Burner: Virus rages in 'precarious' AlbertaIn the first wave of the pandemic, Alberta was one of the provinces that seemed to have things relatively under control. Now, the province has daily case rates three times as high as Quebec or Ontario, and ICUs in Calgary and Edmonton have been hitting 90 per cent capacity. But Premier Jason Kenney hasn't addressed the province at a COVID-19 briefing for almost two weeks, and has resisted repeated calls for lockdowns from doctors and other experts. It's leading some Albertans to tweet the hashtag WhereIsKenney. Today, Jason Markusoff of Maclean's joins us to talk about how Alberta got here, and what happens now.Today in history: November 241892: Sir John Abbott, third prime minister of Canada and the first PM born in Canada, steps down due to ill health. He is succeeded by Sir John S. D. Thompson. 1937: The Canadian Authors Association sets up the Governor General's Literary Awards. Bertram Brooker wins the first award for his 1936 novel Think of the Earth. 1980: Moretta (Molly) Reilly, the first woman in Canada to get an airline transport pilot's licence and a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, dies in Edmonton at the age of 58. 1981: The Metric Commission of Canada announces the full conversion to the metric system in food stores across Canada. The changeover from imperial units to metric was implemented simultaneously in 21 areas across Canada in January 1982 and covered the rest of the country within two years. 1987: Jehane Benoît, called Canada's first lady of cuisine who published 25 cookbooks and was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1973, dies at age 83.
There were more adjournments in the case against an Onion Lake woman accused of killing an Onion Lake man. Shari Heathen, 27, was scheduled to elect how she wants to be tried on Nov. 23 but the matter was adjourned to Dec. 21 in Lloydminster Provincial Court. Heathen is charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Braden Alfred James Sparvier, 26, whose body was found Jan. 1, 2020, along a road in the R.M. of Frenchman Butte, which borders Onion Lake Cree Nation. According to Sparvier’s obituary, he was born and raised in Regina and moved to Onion Lake Cree Nation with family in his late teens. His obituary described him as “selfless and (he) put everyone first.” It went on to say that he was “so loving, kind, gentle and happy. He had a smile that would light up any room and he had the most contagious laugh.” The RCMP Major Crimes North unit arrested Heathen in July after a seven-month investigation. RCMP say the investigation into Sparvier’s death is ongoing and they encourage anyone with information to call Turtleford RCMP at 306-845-4520. Information may also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
HOUSTON — The U.S. government has agreed temporarily not to deport detained immigrant women who have alleged being abused by a rural Georgia gynecologist, according to court papers filed Tuesday.In a motion that must still be approved by a federal judge, the Justice Department and lawyers for several of the women agreed that immigration authorities would not carry out any deportations until mid-January.Dozens of women have alleged that they were mistreated by Dr. Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist who was seeing patients from the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general is investigating as well. Amin has denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer.Several women say they have faced retaliation by immigration authorities for coming forward. One woman has said that hours after she spoke to investigators, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified her that it had lifted a hold on her deportation. Another woman was taken to an airport to be placed on a deportation flight before her lawyers could intervene.The agreement filed in court Tuesday proposes that no deportations would take place until at least mid-January for women who have “substantially similar factual allegations.”Elora Mukherjee, a Columbia University law professor working with several of the women, said the agreement gives the women "a measure of protection for trying to expose the abuses there.”“ICE and others at Irwin thought they could silence these women,” she said. “They thought they could act with impunity and nothing would ever happen. But the women have organized and had the audacity to speak out.”ICE said Tuesday that it “complies with all binding court orders.” The agency has previously denied allegations that it tried to deport women to silence them, saying in a written statement: “Any implication that ICE is attempting to impede the investigation by conducting removals of those being interviewed is completely false.”Scott Grubman, a lawyer for Amin, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.The allegations were originally revealed by a whistleblower complaint. Further investigations have found several examples of Amin performing surgeries on women who later said they didn't consent to the procedures or didn't fully understand them.Grubman has denied any wrongdoing by the doctor and previously described Amin as a “highly respected physician who has dedicated his adult life to treating a high-risk, underserved population in rural Georgia.”Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
Penetanguishene council could approve an interim 2021 property tax levy this week. Staff is bringing forward the request at Wednesday's meeting and recommending that council approve a temporary tax levy, which can be paid in two installments, one at the end of February and the other at the end of April. The report does not specify the levy amount but it does state that the sum cannot exceed 50% of the total amount of taxes for municipal and school purposes levied on the property in the previous year. The move, says the report, will help with cash management and provide tax revenues in February and April, whereas the final tax levy will provide revenues in July and September. Also on the committee of the whole agenda is a staff report on the extension of the sidewalk on the west side of Peel Street, between Main Street and Simcoe Street, to enable a sidewalk snowplow to remove the snow from that area. The costs associated with the extension of the sidewalk would be approximately $15,000. The extension would also mean existing parking signs within this area will be removed and relocated with pavement markings will be added to define the new sidewalk and parking area. There is sufficient width within this one-way section of Peel Street to accommodate the expansion. Council will also be looking at amendments to the bylaw that governs its contract with the Penetanguishene Curling Club, which has requested some changes to the agreement. The current terms require that the club to provide the town with audited financial statements on an annual basis. As a cost savings measure, the club has requested that the town reconsider that requirement and change it to a review engagement. Staff are supporting the amendment and want to include wording that reflects expanded town use of the facility during the summer. Currently the clause details town use of the facility with reference to day-camp operations. The language will be changed to reflect use of the facility for town programming in general, as opposed to being specific to day-camp use. The committee of the whole meeting begins immediately after the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. and can be viewed online via the town's YouTube channel.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
They may be one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples, but Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have never felt the pressure to use that unmatched chemistry for the big screen time and time again. Since 1987's “Overboard," they’ve received hundreds of opportunities to reunite in a film. Although none seemed quite right until another longtime, A-list pair landed at their feet: Santa and Mrs. Claus.The film is “The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two,” a sequel to the 2018 Netflix picture that introduced Russell as a Santa who's more superhero-meets-Elvis speedracing his sled than jolly old Saint Nick sitting by a fire. At the urging of Chris Columbus, who produced the first, Hawn appeared as Mrs. Claus in a cameo at the end.“When Goldie appeared on screen, she brought the house down,” said Columbus, who stepped up to direct this one. “We knew we had to do the next one with Goldie, if she would do it, if she would have us.”It debuts on Netflix on Wednesday right in time for Thanksgiving. And, unsurprisingly, the Clauses have never looked better.This wasn’t some slapdash, stunt Christmas cash grab, either. It was born of a genuine love of the holiday and became a deeply personal endeavour for all three.Christmas was big in the Russell and Columbus houses growing up. Columbus even said he was downright obsessed, although he hated the aluminum tree that his mother used.He had previously set “Gremlins,” which he wrote, and “Home Alone” at Christmastime, but both of those were kind of horror films in different ways — one a horror comedy and the other a horrific situation. In his mind, he’d never made a real Christmas movie, most of which he considers pretty bad. This was chance to unapologetically lean into the yuletide spirit.He and Russell worked on the script for months going deep into character questions about where Santa comes from, how he met Mrs. Claus, how long have they been together and what is their relationship like. Russell even composed a 200-page “bible” as backstory.“Kurt approached this like any actor approaching a great role, which is rare for Santa Claus, if we’re being honest. It's only been played well a couple of times," Columbus said. “And this is the great one right here.”That seriousness extended to Mrs. Claus, who they crafted into a pillar of strength and love. Hawn wanted to ensure that she did more than bake cookies too.“There was no Mrs. Claus we could really identify with. She was a character that was iconic for no other reason than she was the wife of Santa,” Hawn said. “I thought, I don’t want to be the one that continues to bring him his slippers. I mean, it’s just not the way women are today.”She was tempted to bring her classic playfulness to the role, but Columbus encouraged her to make this Mrs. Claus a little more grounded.Hawn, who just turned 75 this weekend, is deeply sincere when she says she loves this film and this character. In fact, she took a souvenir from set and plans to hang it in her Aspen house, which she said she’s redoing to make it look like Santa’s Village.Russell can't help but think of his late father Bing Russell, who loved Christmas deeply and helped make the holiday a major event in their household.“I dedicate these to my dad,” Russell said.He’s also excited that their six grandchildren will be able to watch the film and maybe even earn some bragging rights among their peers.“I like the idea that there’s a period of time when those kids can go to school and say, well, my grandmother and grandfather are Mrs. Claus and Santa,” Russell said, beaming. “OK, so top that!”Each film in the Hawn and Russell oeuvre has come at distinctly different phases for the couple. On 1968’s “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band” they were strangers, on 1984’s “Swing Shift,” they were falling in love and on 1987’s “Overboard” they were becoming a family. Over three decades later, Hawn reflected on where they are now.“This is an interesting phase because there is so much love and history and all the ups and downs of a relationship, and now we’re looking at our grandchildren and these are sort of the special years. And we are looking at fun things to do together, whereas before we were more pulled away by different things,” Hawn said. “It’s a time of friendship, really. I mean, there’s love, but also friendship is very important as you get older: The trust in each other, supporting each other, being there for each other and feeling the safety and the security of that relationship that you’ve worked with and within and all that for close to 40 years.”—-Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
The city of Moncton is asking residents not to treat parks like decoration stores.Dan Hicks, the director of parks and leisure operations for the city, said he's aware of incidents in two local parks where residents have been cutting pine branches and taking them home.One incident happened at Centennial Park. And Hicks said someone witnessed branches being cut in Irishtown Nature Park, and alerted the city.Irishtown Nature Park is one of Canada's largest urban parks and is designated as a nature park, meaning the land is permanently set-aside for the enjoyment of residents but also for the conservation of biological diversity.While some may think it's harmless, Hicks says it's stealing."It's theft, it's destruction of property, it's not your property you shouldn't take it home so that's the first thing." Hicks said."The second thing is these are nature areas, these parks are for everyone, they're the lungs of the city and overall we'd like to see these small trees eventually become big trees and be contributors to our ecosystems so that's why these spaces are here and protected."Hicks said cutting branches can damage the ecosystem."Each one of these trees has a function. They're here to provide ecological benefits and services to the park and ultimately to the citizens and the four legged citizens that also use them for food and shelter and everything else." he said.Hicks said the pandemic is making it hard for many people as the holiday season approaches, but he says there are alternatives to cutting branches off trees in a park."We all want to celebrate the festive season and it's a difficult year for that for sure but there are a lot of really good local sustainably produced festive decor products that people can find in their local area. You don't have to go far, we're in New Brunswick." he said.Hicks said people can also apply for a permit to harvest wreath tips and branch materials on Crown land through the provincial Natural Resources Department. The fee is $20 and the landowner's permission is required.If someone is caught cutting branches in a park, Hicks said the RCMP can be called and charges could be laid.He said if anyone sees this happening, they should report it to the city.Hicks said the parks are there for everyone's enjoyment, not "just for your living room."
Thousands of Albertans caught in a COVID-19 contact tracing backlog will no longer have their cases investigated.The province's contact tracing system has grown increasingly overwhelmed as Alberta's case counts spike.Starting Tuesday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is temporarily giving up on investigating contacts for people who received their positive test result more than 10 days ago.There are currently 11,500 people on the waitlist and about 3,000 of them will not be investigated."This is not good, this is not optimal, but this is, I think, choosing the lesser of two evils," said University of Calgary infectious disease expert Dr. Craig Jenne.He says focusing on the most recent cases is the best thing to do given the circumstances."We will have a significant absence of data from those cases, but instead of having that problem continue to move forward into the future I think this is a matter of accepting some loss of data, some loss of understanding of transmission," he said.The temporary measure comes less than three weeks after AHS was forced to limit contact tracing to Albertans connected to high priority settings such as hospitals or schools.Currently, roughly 85 per cent of active cases in the province have no identified source.With such a large gap in data, Jenne says broader restrictions will likely be necessary to rein in surging numbers since health officials don't really know where transmission is occurring.Commenting Tuesday on the situation in Alberta, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said the inability to complete contact tracing is like fighting blind."When you don't have the data, you have no clue what direction you are headed and how to pivot or point, and where to point your public health measures," he said."It's very, very challenging. You need good surveillance data, good contact tracing, good diagnostic tests to really help inform and steer the public health response."
Stratégie Carrière mise sur la régionalisation de l’immigration et tente de convaincre des familles montréalaises de s’établir dans la région. L’objectif: combler les besoins en main-d’œuvre des entreprises locales, mais aussi de lutter contre la dévitalisation de cette région où la moyenne d’âge est l’une des plus élevées au Québec. Stratégie Carrière vient, en ce sens, de recevoir une aide de près de 120 000 $ sur trois ans du ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI). L’initiative n’est ni nouvelle ni unique ; nombre de régions québécoises tentent le coup. À Trois-Rivières comme ailleurs, les efforts semblent peu à peu produire des résultats. Stratégie Carrière convainc, chaque année, une quinzaine de familles immigrantes de s’établir en Mauricie avec, à la clé, un emploi gardé au chaud. Beaucoup viennent de France, du continent africain et de l’Amérique latine, précise Luce Ricard, chargée de projet — régionalisation chez Stratégie Carrière. « Ils finissent toujours par trouver un emploi. Malgré la pandémie, il y a des secteurs qui ont le vent dans les voiles, comme le domaine du textile, de la désinfection des locaux par pulvérisateur et dans le domaine de la santé et de l’éducation. On réussit à placer nos candidats et à leur trouver un salaire parfois plus attrayant que celui de la PCU, récemment rebaptisé», indique Luce Ricard. Convaincre les familles Pour convaincre des familles immigrantes établies à Montréal d’accorder leur faveur aux régions, Stratégie Carrière entretient des liens serrés avec quatre organismes de la métropole. Parmi eux, Carrefour Blé, Promis, Collectif, et Alpa. L’organisation trifluvienne collabore aussi en Mauricie avec le Service d’accueil des nouveaux arrivants et la Ville de Trois-Rivières. La pandémie est toutefois venue brouiller les projets de Stratégie Carrière. La directrice de l’organisme constate que les nouveaux arrivants sont souvent ceux qui perdent leur emploi en premier. «Par contre, il y a certains secteurs qui sont encore pénurie de main-d’œuvre et ça nous permet de les replacer rapidement », assure Annie Jean. Il est clair que la pandémie aura joué les trouble-fêtes, à plus d’un titre. Les salons de l’emploi sont à proscrire, les déplacements déconseillés, les rencontres en personne aussi. L’organisme devra nul doute revoir ses objectifs à la baisse. « Dans le contexte actuel, c’est un peu une boule de cristal. On essaie d’extrapoler en fonction de nos références antérieures, mais il est difficile de savoir comment va réagir le marché du travail et comment va s’articuler la reprise économique. On est un peu dans l’œil du cyclone. Quand on va en émerger, on sera en mesure de mieux diriger nos efforts, explique Annie Jean. Le ministère comprend bien la situation .» Pour l’heure, Stratégie Carrière demeure donc en mode veille, mais continue de vanter les mérites de la région et de ses entreprises. « On fait valoir le fait que c’est une ville à échelle humaine, qu’il y a de grands espaces, un atout non négligeable en ces temps de COVID-19. Il y a une vitalité économique, tout le réseau scolaire et une qualité de vie. On est en train de semer. C’est un travail de long terme. Quand les gens viennent ici, ils se rendent compte qu’ils y gagnent », conclut Mme Jean.Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, directly addressed young people during Tuesday's news conference, urging them to do what they can do to reverse the trend of COVID-19."Today, I want to speak directly to the youth of New Brunswick," Russell said in her opening remarks.New Brunswickers under the age of 30 are contracting COVID-19 in growing numbers, and currently make up 56.3 per cent of the province's active caseload, she said. Until recently, they accounted for 29.4 per cent of all cases. "Children, teens and young adults are not immune to this disease. They can become gravely ill ... and they can pass it on to others who are more vulnerable."Russell urged them to wear a mask in public, maintain physical distancing and observe other preventive measures."You can help return all zones to the yellow phase," she said. Russell also announced five new cases on Tuesday, although Public Health originally reported six.Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region (Zone 2), and include: * two people 19 or under, and * one individual 30 to 39.Two cases are in the Moncton region (Zone 1), both cases are individuals age 20 to 29.WATCH | Dr. Jennifer Russell appeals directly to New Brunswick's youth, young adultsThere are now 93 active cases in the province, with no one in hospital with the disease."There will be more cases," Russell warned. "A record number of people across the province are self-isolating ... and the risk that our hospitals will be overwhelmed is high."Russell was repeatedly asked why she is not rolling Zones 1 and 2 back to the red phase in light of rising case numbers in schools and in the community.She stressed that the situation is being closely monitored and that the goal is to balance the mental health and livelihoods of residents with protecting them from COVID-19 and protecting the health-care system from being overwhelmed."I understand the worry and concern, but we are evaluating the situation every single day," Russell said. "It's a very fluid situation."WATCH| Education Minister Dominic Cardy says he's prepared to switch system to online learning at a moment's noticeCommunity transmission hasn't been detected in N.B.Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday that community transmission of COVID-19 has not been detected in New Brunswick.While 20 cases are still classified as "under investigation," she said it can take time to trace all the contacts and establish links."In the Zone 5 (Campbellton) outbreak, there were about five unlinked chains of transmission," Russell said. "At the time, because we didn't have those links, we assumed we had community transmission. But by the end of the outbreak we were able to link them all."That hasn't been the case in the Saint John region, she said."Every single case in Saint John is linked. There is no community transmission."In the Moncton region, there are several unlinked chains, but contact tracing and interviewing are still underway "and that's why we haven't declared community transmission," Russell said. Cardy on cases in schools, and why they're staying openEducation Minister Dominic Cardy said Tuesday that classes at some schools will move online temporarily, but took a firm stance on keeping schools open for now.He said the province learned from the earlier outbreak in the Campbellton region, took the summer to develop a plan and was able to push COVID-19 back."In the summer I was clear," he said. "I said there would be more cases, and more deaths. This is not a surprise."For now, he noted, a handful of classes in Zones 2 and 3 will be learning from home "in the coming week or two." Cardy said parents will be able to access remote IT services if there are technical issues, and provided this number: 1-833-453-1140. The classes that are moving online are at Centreville school and Montgomery school in Zone 3 and Hampton Middle School and Lakefield Elementary School in Zone 2.An email was sent to Lakefield school parents on Monday, saying that the kindergarten to Grade 5 school in Quispamsis is working with Public Health to identify students and personnel who might have come into contact with the coronavirus."Public Health officials will contact you if your child has been in close contact with the confirmed case and will tell you if your child needs to self-isolate," the email said. On Tuesday, Cardy took pains to acknowledge that this is an "incredibly stressful" time for parents, and said he knows some are asking that schools be shut down completely."But school is so incredibly important" for students' mental health and well-being, he said."So unless you've heard from Public Health, students need to continue going to school." However, he added, he would "not hesitate for a moment to move schools online" if the situation worsens.Asked if he was concerned that any Department of Education staff might not be following the orange phase rules during their off-hours, Cardy spoke bluntly."I'm not the minister for Public Safety and I have no responsibility over what staff do when they're not working," he said. "However, I can tell them that they better shape up. That if I find out anyone in my department is not following the requirements imposed by the orange phase, they'd better be ready to face the consequences."Testing capacity boosted in Saint John region A second assessment centre is being set up on Rothesay Road to deal with a backlog of testing in the Saint John region, Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday.The new site will be set up at James the Less Church, located at 1760 Rothesay Rd. in Rothesay, and will begin taking appointments soon. Additional resources are also being sent to the assessment centre on Ropewalk Road in the north end, which is already operational.Pre-op testing changes for N.B. patients in Nova ScotiaNova Scotia Health is now requiring that all patients from Zones 1 or 2 in New Brunswick who will be undergoing a procedure involving anesthesia must be tested for COVID-19 beforehand. The announcement came Tuesday as Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19, and New Brunswick reported five new cases and two public exposure warnings.Patients can expect to be booked for testing up to 72 hours before the procedure is scheduled. They will be asked to limit movement within their community in the days leading up to the surgery, especially public places and gatherings. In the case of an emergency surgery, patients may be asked to undergo testing the same day as the procedure. How much is too much information in a pandemic?There's a fine balance between saying too much and not enough during a public health crisis, an associate professor of public policy at the University of British Columbia says."Feeling the information is consistent and trustworthy will really help with compliance, so it's completely crucial," said Heidi Tworek, who is also the co-author of Democratic Health Communications during COVID-19: A Rapid Response, which has been featured in the New York Times, Financial Times, CNN and elsewhere.Tworek spoke to Information Morning Fredericton on Tuesday. When a crisis emerges, she said people tend to have a lot of anxiety and want as much information as possible."At the same time, we have to recognize there is a limit to information authorities may be able reveal," she said.New Brunswick Public Health has been cautious about how much information it makes available to the public, withholding all details except the health zones where cases have turned up, the ages of the people who tested positive, and whether their cases are travel-related or under investigation.Although some of her counterparts have used data to show how the disease has spread through a particular area, Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, has said she will share only what she's decided the public needs to hear.There are seven zones in New Brunswick. However, Zone 3, the Fredericton and River Valley area and the largest zone in the province, contains more than 20 communities.Tworek said that if New Brunswick Public Health got too specific about where cases are, people in other areas might let their guards down, causing the virus to spread."We need to figure out the balance how specific to get ... while at the same time trying not to reveal so much, for example, we're stigmatizing certain people," she said, citing what happened during the early years of AIDS and HIV which caused some stigmatization around gay people. Russell has also avoided answering questions on other issues related to COVID-19 during the COVID news conferences that have happened on and off since the outbreak started in March.But there isn't a magic formula, Tworek said.She said countries around the world have taken different approaches to releasing public health information, partly because they have different laws about privacy, she said. Some countries are also more transparent. When the respiratory virus first broke out, authorities in Taiwan made a point of being transparent with the public, telling the public it didn't have enough masks to go around and those that were available were needed for health-care workers. However, countries like Canada have different degrees of disclosure depending on where a person lives. And some members of the public might have more trust in public health authorities than others. She said the most important objective is for public health officials to build trust with the people they're communicating with. And they can do this by explaining how and why they're making certain decisions."It's a very tricky balance." Saint John mayor asks public to stay calmSaint John Mayor Don Darling says he's never been happier to have the flu.Darling received a negative COVID test result Monday. But it's been a roller-coaster experience."I am following the rules.," he told Information Morning Saint John on Tuesday. "I'm masked and I've never washed my hands more in my life. "There's a fear, there's a shame. I didn't know if folks were going to show up with tiki torches outside my home."He has been self-isolating since Friday after experiencing several COVID symptoms, including aches, trouble breathing, a cough and fever. The Saint John region was recently sent back to the orange phase because of the recent spike in cases.There are currently 43 active COVID cases in the Saint John regionDarling is reminding residents to stay patient and calm. "We've seen it in our community, folks speculating and hunting down those that have COVID," he said. "Those that have COVID are human beings."The hospitality industry has been "barely hanging on," throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the vice- president of Restaurants Canada in Atlantic Canada says. Bars, restaurants should be shut down, Saint John bartender says A Saint John bartender says the government should temporarily shut down bars and restaurants in order to control the local COVID-19 outbreak.Liv Wagg, 26, has been off work and self-isolating since last Thursday, after a possible COVID exposure notice at her workplace.It's been a stressful week, said Wagg, and every bartender she knows is on edge.Wagg said she normally enjoys going to work and she thinks it's nice for people to be able to socialize in bars, but she doesn't agree bars should be open right now."I don't think they should be," she said. "I think we should be seeing a little bit more leadership from the government."Wagg said bar owners are taking precautions and following the rules, but a closure order would be a more clearcut way to reduce the spread. Bar and restaurant staff have felt "weird" about working since the mandatory mask order came into effect, she said.That's partly because it's hard to get patrons to follow the rules, said Wagg.Customers often absent-mindedly pull down their masks to talk to her. And she has to remind them to put them back on."People forget and they're like, 'Oh, I can't talk with this thing in my mouth.'"It happens so often, she said, it's "almost comical," except for the threat it currently presents to public health.It puts bartenders in a difficult position, said Wagg, to expect them to catch and confront people who put fake names down for contract tracing or come in with people who are not members of their bubble, as the premier said during Monday's news conference."I feel like it's going to be really, really difficult to execute," said Wagg.When the bar is busy, she said, there isn't time to double check names.And often young bar patrons will have IDs that show their parents' address, not their student accommodations. Wagg would also like to see the government make COVID testing more available to bar and restaurant staff. Nova Scotia has just done that. And it's been recommended by epidemiologist Colin Furness based on what's been learned from the way the disease has spread in Ontario. Chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said Monday that she'd consider it."I think that's a really good idea," Wagg said. "Anyone working in customer service really should be able to have more access to testing right now."Wagg said she hasn't even tried to get a COVID test because she's heard from other bar staff that she won't get one because she doesn't have symptoms.y. Potential public exposure warnings for Saint John, MonctonNew Brunswick Public Health has released the following possible exposure to COVID-19 warnings for locations in Moncton and Saint John, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Anyone who visited the following businesses during the identified times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.Anyone who develops any COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.Saint John area * Rothesay Route 1 Big Stop Restaurant on Nov. 14 between 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. (2870 Route 1, Rothesay). * Pub Down Under on Nov. 14, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (400 Main St., Saint John) * Fish & Brew on Nov. 14 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (800 Fairville Blvd., Saint John) * Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (39 King St., Saint John). * Goodlife Fitness McAllister Place on Nov. 16 between noon and 1 p.m. and on Nov. 18 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John). * NBCC Grandview campus on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (950 Grandview Ave., Saint John). * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (47 Clark Rd., Rothesay) * Let's Hummus at 44 Water St. between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. * Eighty-Three Bar Arcade at 43 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * Callie's Pub at 2 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * O'Leary's Pub at 46 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * Five and Dime Bar at 34 Grannan St. on Nov. 14, between 12:30 to 2:30 a.m * Freddie's Pizza at 27 Charlotte St. on Nov. 14, between 2:30 to 3 a.m. * Big Tide Brewing Company at 47 Princess St. on Nov. 16, between 12:30 to 2 p.m. * Java Moose at 84 Prince William St. Nov. 16, between 2 to 2:30 p.m. * Rocky's Sports Bar at 7 Market Square on Nov. 13, between 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 14 between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.Moncton * RD Maclean Co. Ltd. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 200 St. George St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. * Fit 4 Less at 165 Main St. on Nov. 6-12, at various times between 5 p.m. and midnight. Full list on Public Health website. * GoodLife Fitness at Moncton Junction Village Gym on Nov. 6, between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 9, between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. * Aldo Shoes at Moncton Champlain Mall on Nov. 6-10 at various times between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. * CEPS Louis-J. Robichaud fitness room at 40 Antonine-Maillet Ave. on Nov. 6, 9, 10 and 12 at various times in the evening from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. * Tandoori Zaika Cuisine and Bar at 196 Robinson St. on Nov. 8, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. * Keg Steakhouse and Bar at 576 Main St. on Nov. 17, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. * Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 8954 on Nov. 15 from Winnipeg to Toronto, arrived at 8:16 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 15 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 0992 on Nov. 7 from Mexico City to Toronto, arrived at 7:20 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 7 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Netflix plans to establish one of the largest production hubs in North America with an expansion of its existing studio complex in New Mexico and a commitment to an additional $1 billion in production spending, government and corporate leaders announced Monday. Ten new stages, post-production services, offices, mills, backlots and other infrastructure would be added to Netflix's growing campus on the southern edge of Albuquerque. Aside from construction jobs, the project is expected to result in 1,000 production jobs over the next decade. Netflix first marked its presence in New Mexico in 2018, when it announced it was buying Albuquerque Studios and pledged $1 billion in spending over a decade. At the time, government officials saw the move as a transformative victory for a state that has struggled to lessen its reliance on federal funding and oil and gas development. "I am glad Netflix has chosen to double-down on its commitment to our state, and our partnership will continue to grow for the benefit of New Mexicans across the board,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos pointed to the proximity to Los Angeles, the crew base and local talent as reasons for the continued investment. “It allows us to be more nimble in executing our production plans while cementing the status of the region as one of the leading production centres in North America,” he said. A total of $24 million in state and local economic development funding will be funneled toward the expansion, and industrial revenue bonds will be issued by the city of Albuquerque to help reduce some taxes for Netflix. The footprint of the production hub will grow with a private land purchase and a lease involving state trust land. The Albuquerque Development Commission signed off on the proposal Monday. The City Council still must give its approval. Over the last 20 years, the film and television industry has become an economic force in New Mexico, with direct spending topping $525 million in the last fiscal year. “This is all outside money coming into the state, which would not be here otherwise,” state Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes told the commission during a meeting. She said the partnership with Netflix should send a signal that New Mexico is the place to be for film and television production. Businesses have cropped up around the state to support the industry, she said, and data from the state film office suggests 40% of production budgets go to small, local vendors. “So it really is trickling through our economy,” she said. As part of the proposed investment, Netflix has committed to providing training programs in partnership with the New Mexico Film Office, local universities and industry organizations. Netflix also has committed to supporting Native American, Latino, Black and other underrepresented content creators and filmmakers. Since coming to New Mexico in 2018, Netflix said it has spent more than $200 million, used more than 2,000 production vendors and hired more than 1,600 cast and crew members. Netflix is in production in New Mexico on the original films “The Harder They Fall" and “Intrusion" and is expected to soon begin filming “Stranger Things 4" in Albuquerque. Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam talks to The National’s Andrew Chang about the holiday season and getting to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saskatchewan health policy consultant Steven Lewis has watched from the relative safety of Melbourne, Australia, as COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths have spiked back in his home province.The southern Australian city of five million people, where Lewis is currently living, is now COVID-free and in the process of lifting restrictions.Lewis, who has advised governments in several provinces and countries, agreed to share his thoughts on Saskatchewan's rapidly deteriorating COVID-19 situation — which saw nearly 3,000 active cases and more than 100 people in hospital as of Monday.On Monday, the province announced four more people with the virus had died and that Premier Scott Moe is in isolation after a recent potential exposure in the Prince Albert area.Lewis said the three-month lockdown in Australia was difficult, but that residents generally agreed it was necessary. Those tempted to flout the rules were slapped with large fines. Lewis said he isn't recommending an Australia-style lockdown, but that one thing is clear: the Saskatchewan government's "half-assed" approach will simply prolong the pandemic's devastating effects on people's health and the economy.The following comments by Lewis have been condensed and edited.On 'high-risk venues'Lewis: It's crazy to allow bars and restaurants and gyms to stay open. They are known worldwide to be three sites where infections take off. Alcohol is a disinhibitor. Loud music makes people lean in and talk louder to be heard over it, expelling more droplets. People exercising strenuously breathe more heavily, sweat, expel. On gatheringsAll mass gatherings, including church services, weddings, funerals, should be locked down, and [there should be] very strong prohibition of socializing at home with non-family members.On mandatory masksAt least [Saskatchewan] has mandatory mask wearing indoors in public spaces. But responding too late can't be undone. It may be useful prospectively but the numbers got bigger than they had to.On enforcing the rulesI don't have strong enough evidence to suggest cause and effect, but enforcement appears to matter.Here in Victoria [Australia], population 6.5 million, since March the police have issued about 25,000 tickets for COVID non-adherence violations, at an average of about $1,200, which is pretty steep. I do think this, combined with the 8 p.m. curfew that was in place for weeks, was a deterrent for young people.What we've learned is that even if messaging is well-done and broadly effective, a small number of non-adherers can spark a new cluster that quickly expands. When 95 per cent adherence isn't good enough, you cannot rely on moral suasion or appeals to civility.On contact tracingOnce numbers get beyond double-digits per day, contact tracing becomes virtually useless. It's just too labour-intensive, people may not have good recall, and there is still stigma and suspicion of authority, so people may not disclose their contacts.On testingCanada is still terrible at testing.Slovakia tested just about the entire adult population in a weekend and then repeated a weekend later. They found about a 1 per cent positive rate the first weekend and directed the infected to isolate. The positive rate the second weekend was a lot lower, no doubt because the first one removed the positives and kept them out of the population.My understanding is that it is still hard for asymptomatic people (in Canada) to get a publicly provided test and the results take days rather than hours.On the Saskatchewan government's 'slowdown' plan[Health professionals] have I think justifiably hammered the government for it's half-assed and complicated approach.It is increasingly clear that you can't slow-walk the pandemic with a fine-tuned balancing act that keeps the economy humming while keeping daily case rates at a predictable and low level. It's too volatile, there are too many asymptomatic transmissions, and there's too big a time-lag between when you are infected and when you know you are.So you have to come down hard and fast and universally to flatten the curve quickly. If you have to stop and start and stop and start, it's just as disruptive for businesses and the pain is prolonged. Bottom line: Saskatchewan has been tested by the second wave and largely failed. It was stupid to differentiate between urban and rural Saskatchewan [on mandatory masks] and it's really stupid to keep known high-risk venues open. The virus doesn't care if you're going to a bar or to church. It's going to bite people in both places if you keep them open.
When Canadian trade negotiators begin talks with the United Kingdom next year on a permanent bilateral trade deal, their hands could be tied when it comes to offering any future dairy, egg or poultry concessions — if Parliament passes a new private member's bill that saw its first hour of debate on Tuesday.Bloc Québécois MP Louis Plamondon's legislation, Bill C-216, would amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to state that the minister "must not make any commitment ... by future trade treaty or agreement" that would increase the tariff rate quota (TRQ) applicable to dairy products, poultry or eggs, or reduce the tariff applicable to those goods when they are imported in excess of that quota.Canada protects its agriculture supply management system for these commodities by carefully controlling access to its domestic market. Only small quantities of imports are allowed under strict international quotas — TRQs — with high tariffs keeping any extra imports above and beyond these quotas from being cost-competitive.But the three major trade deals implemented by the Liberal government over the last four years — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with 10 other Pacific Rim markets and, most recently, the revised North American Free Trade Agreement (the new NAFTA) — all offered new access to Canada's domestic market, among other concessions required to land these deals."Something very important for milk and egg and poultry production is given away as a token and nothing comes back for those producers, so we say in the law that this should not happen anymore," Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet told CBC News last week."[The Liberal government says,] 'Oh, we will will compensate you. And you know what? They don't."No word on NAFTA compensationA few weeks before the 2019 general election, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced compensation for dairy farmers to cover their anticipated losses from CETA and CPTPP, which were already both in effect at the time. That financial assistance rolled out last winter.Help has also been pledged to compensate for the even larger concessions in the new NAFTA but nothing further has been announced. American farmers got access to a greater share of Canada's starting July 1 — and the new NAFTA also dictates how dairy ingredients can be priced and slapped strict export limits on sensitive global commodities like skim milk powder and baby formula.Blanchet slammed Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland for taking so long to present her fall economic update and said her spending plan must include the NAFTA compensation farmers anxiously anticipate."This money is owed, is expected [and] is terribly late," he said.Freeland announced Monday that she'll present her update on Nov. 30.Bill could block British demandsIf Plamondon's legislation garners enough support to pass in this Parliament before the next election, the first trade negotiation it could affect is talks between Canada and the United Kingdom to reach a permanent, comprehensive deal to liberalize their bilateral trade post-Brexit.On Saturday, prime ministers and trade ministers from both sides announced they'd reached agreement on a transitional deal to offer continuity for businesses by continuing most of the terms of the CETA past Jan.1, when it was otherwise set to expire because the U.K. is no longer an EU member.The government won't release details of exactly what's in that transitional agreement until the legal text is ready, which usually takes another two to four weeks. But Doug Forsyth, Canada's lead negotiator in the talks, confirmed previously that the British were seeking additional tariff-free access to Canada's cheese market."I want to be very clear that there is no new market access for cheese here in this transition agreement," International Trade Minister Mary Ng told CBC News at Saturday's announcement.But yesterday at the Commons trade committee, Ng's parliamentary secretary, Rachel Bendayan, said that language in the transitional deal commits both sides to returning to the table to reach what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a "bespoke" bilateral deal by 2024.That means the British could make another play to get more U.K. cheeses into Canada."By 2024, Canada will have transferred 18 per cent of its domestic dairy production to dairy farmers in other countries ... that will displace our domestic products on the grocery shelves," said Pierre Lampron, the president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, in a statement sent to CBC News last weekend. "Another concession as part of a trade agreement with the U.K. would have been dramatic for the industry."Officials had told us there would be no further concessions, and they followed through, but we must remain vigilant as this is a provisional agreement."Vote unclearBased on remarks made during Tuesday's first hour of debate, it appears Conservative MPs may not support this bill, but a party spokesperson has yet to comment on it or confirm how the Official Opposition will vote.In an email to CBC News, party spokesperson Melanie Richer said New Democrats agree with the Bloc that compensation has been slow to roll out, adding that "the Liberals added insult to injury by bringing CUSMA into effect several weeks earlier than promised, robbing Canadian dairy farmers of a full year to prepare for the change in their local markets.""New Democrats have consistently decried the damage done to Canada's dairy sector in successive trade deals and we have said we would not do the same," Richer said. "This bill would add legal force to that position."Youmy Han, a spokesperson for Trade Minister Ng, said the government is still studying the bill and would not say how Liberal MPs might vote."We have been clear: our government will not grant any further market access in our supply-managed sectors in any future trade negotiation," Han said.MPs will vote on the bill at second reading after its second hour of debate, expected later this winter.
Juliet Orazietti of Linc Farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake never intended to be a farmer, but standing on 75 acres of land, home to a flock of 150 sheep, around 120 pigs and 16 cows, she’s definitely finding her way. Having spent time during her childhood in British Columbia on her grandparent’s ranch around cattle and horses, Orazietti thought she wanted to be a vet. While earning a degree in applied animal biology, she worked a summer job at Southbrook Vineyards, trying to get 12 sheep to co-operate with a plan to graze cover crops and thin leaves in the vineyard. Though the effort didn’t work (the sheep had other interests), she came to realize that what she really wanted was to work with animals every day. “I fell in love with them,” she said of the sheep. But without a farm to inherit and looking at astronomical land costs, coupled with unwilling banks, Orazietti didn’t think she’d ever be able to run her own farm. Fast forward through an animal breeding and genetics master’s program in Vienna – where she met Martin Weber, now her husband – to the pair accepting an offer to return back to Niagara in 2015 and raise livestock on land owned by, and lying behind, Southbrook. “It’s a great time to be a woman in farming,” Orazietti said, taking a break from moving sheep fencing. While she admits there’s sexism ingrained into farming, she doesn’t believe it’s intentional. Tractors aren’t built to accommodate shorter statures, for example. “Every tractor we own is a bit awkward,” she said of the size. “So my husband does most of the tractor driving.” Good women’s work clothing is hard to come by, and she finds that on a rare occasion, a business transaction might go easier if her husband gets involved. “Which is a bit frustrating,” she said. Overall, though, Orazietti doesn’t believe women are facing any insurmountable hurdles in farming. “I get a lot of ‘sweethearts’ and ‘honeys’ from men who are not my sweethearts,” she said. “I think it also takes a tougher person to be a farmer, and maybe it’s just more water off our backs?” Orazietti finds women tend to be more open-minded, bringing different ideas to the table and coming into farming on their own terms. And at a time when buying local is on everyone’s mind, Orazietti says it’s important for farmers to communicate with the people they feed. “There’s a lot of mistrust out there and a lot of divisiveness,” she said, adding that women seem to be particularly good at communicating and bringing people together. “It takes time to break stereotypes where farming is for men – I think we’re breaking those walls,” she said. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
LOS ANGELES — The Elton John AIDS Foundation and TikTok are teaming up to raise awareness about the disease through a campaign and live event for World AIDS Day. John’s foundation and the social networking service announced their collaboration Tuesday for a live show on Dec. 1. The event will air on John’s TikTok channel featuring the singer and husband-filmmaker David Furnish along with performances by Sam Smith, Sam Fender and Rina Sawayama. The campaign kicks off Wednesday with an HIV/AIDS Education & Awareness quiz to test TikTokers’ knowledge of the disease. The campaign is also expected to help educate TikTokers about the prevention and own sexual health. The hope is to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. “We all need to care about HIV and end the discrimination around this disease,” John said in a statement. “There’s a great lineup for our TikTok Live to break down the myths around HIV, talk about safe sex and ensure that young people know how to protect themselves and others.” The Associated Press
There’s cheer and laughter as community members trim the trio of Christmas trees on the stage in Brighton’s Memorial Park one recent chilly November evening. With the frosty branches, sparkling lights and shiny ornaments, the setting will provide a picturesque backdrop when Santa Claus comes to town next month. It’s also giving downtown Brighton a festive feel. From hosting Old St. Nick, to launching a new shop local incentive to introducing a holiday decorating contest, the Municipality of Brighton, the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) and others are kicking off the holiday season. Uniting each of these initiatives is the theme of supporting the Brighton business community as much as possible – whether it’s warming up with a hot chocolate, stopping by to wave to Santa or finding the perfect gifts. Ben Hagerman, Brighton’s economic development and communications manager, is hopeful a new initiative, made possible through a Bay of Quinte Tourism sponsorship, will kick-start local holiday shopping. “It’s a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking,” Hagerman said. Shoppers spend $200 on holiday gifts at Brighton businesses and submit a photo of their receipts that total $200 or more to the municipality and the first 11 people to do so will each receive five free garbage bag tags, which are valued at $4 each. “Basically, you get back 10 per cent (of the $200 spent), which is kind of nice.” The incentive kicks off this week. “We’d really like it to be gift-oriented,” Hagerman noted. Instead of leaving Brighton or shopping from big retailers online, he’s optimistic that this will entice people to spend their holiday dollars here. “It’s about using the businesses and services we have locally to complete your Christmas shopping list as best as you can. I’d like to see people go into local restaurants and buy gift cards for people. I’d like to see people utilizing our wonderful boutiques in our downtown core whether it’s ladies’ wear, shoes or books. We’ve also got a great selection of retail up in the industrial park. There’s so much to offer…by shopping right where you live,” Hagerman said. As the owner of a Brighton-based business, Sheryl Delorme said the experience of shopping local can’t be matched. “The personalized approach, better customer service, the one-on-one connection that is created is worth its weight in gold,” said Delorme, Special Effects Lifestyle Boutique’s artist, designer and redesign specialist. “When you get to know the person behind the business, you appreciate their passion, their motivation and desire to create something truly exclusive. The investment far outreaches the product or service that you may have purchased. These solitary businesses also invest back into their community by sponsoring many local initiatives and events -- in the neighbourhood of about 48 per cent is returned back to the very place you call home,” she said. “This movement of supporting small business creates a certain flavour, a kinship that can only be created by offering your heart and soul to the cause. This is not a get-rich quick scheme or a one-shot deal, it's a commitment to create something real, something lasting for the neighbourhood that you reside in.” To get residents into the festive spirit, Brighton also launched a holiday decorating contest Nov. 20, which runs through to Dec. 14. Business owners and homeowners are encouraged to decorate their storefronts and homes and share photos of their displays for a chance to win pre-paid VISA gift cards to use at local businesses. There will be a total of 30 winners – 15 from the urban area and 15 from rural parts of the municipality. The DBIA and the municipality have each donated 15 $100 gift cards intended for use in the downtown core. Upload a photo to the municipality’s website Winners will be chosen through a random draw. Finally, to engage Brighton’s children in holiday fun, Santa Claus is slated to stop by Memorial Park on Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. “I think this year, more than ever, Santa in Brighton will bring a sense of normalcy to our younger citizens,” said Sarah Hilwerda, chair of the DBIA. “Even a wave and wink from the fella in the red suit will do just fine for the time-being. Physical distancing protocols will of course be in place but it’s the best we can do. A lot of folks aren’t in a position to take their kids shopping to the big box stores or the mall this year, so our downtown will provide a safe place to see Santa,” Hilwerda said. She reminded youngsters to be sure to bring their letters for St. Nick. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The Daily Show host and comedian Trevor Noah has been tapped to host the 2021 Grammy Awards.The Recording Academy made the announcement hours before the nominees for the upcoming show are revealed. It would mark Noah's first time hosting the Grammys, which are currently scheduled to be held Jan. 31.Earlier this year, Noah competed for his first Grammy Award: The 36-year-old Emmy winner was nominated for best comedy album with Son of Patricia, but lost to Dave Chappelle."Despite the fact that I am extremely disappointed that the GRAMMYs have refused to have me sing or be nominated for best pop album, I am thrilled to be hosting this auspicious event," Noah said in a statement."I think as a one-time GRAMMY nominee, I am the best person to provide a shoulder to all the amazing artists who do not win on the night because I too know the pain of not winning the award! (This is a metaphorical shoulder, I'm not trying to catch Corona). See you at the 63rd GRAMMYs!"Harvey Mason Jr., interim president and CEO of the Recording Academy, said: "With a knack for keeping viewers engaged and entertained, Trevor is the perfect choice to lead us through what's sure to be an incredible evening full of music, unforgettable moments, unity and inspiration. He is a dynamic host, comedian and personality, and we're thrilled to welcome him to the Grammy stage as host of Music's Biggest Night for the first time."Alicia Keys was the most recent Grammys host. Past hosts include James Corden and LL Cool J.
Anyone who was recently in a Halifax bar or restaurant past 10 p.m., or who works in one, is being asked to get a COVID-19 test.The province announced Tuesday they are broadening out their asymptomatic testing strategy for people who go to, or work in, late-night bars and restaurants.These people are being asked to get tested even if they don't have any symptoms of the virus."Most of our recent cases of COVID-19 have been among young people who have been to late-night bars and restaurants," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a news release."This broad testing initiative will help us detect new cases early, get people who test positive to self-isolate and stop the spread of the virus. This is one tool in our toolbox, but it does not diminish how important it is for people to tighten their social circles and activities and follow Public Health measures."No need to self-isolate without symptomsPeople who work in, or have been to, a bar or restaurant in urban and suburban areas of Halifax Regional Municipality in the last two weeks should click here to schedule a test.This applies to all bars and restaurants open late and serving alcohol in HRM (except the areas east of Porters Lake), and the Enfield and Mount Uniacke areas in both HRM and Hants County.People who are tested through this process don't have to self-isolate while they wait for test results, so long as they don't have symptoms.Asymptomatic testing will be available to staff and patrons of licensed establishments until Nov. 30. Walk-in testing is not available; people must book in advance."This isn't about blaming or shaming," said Strang in the release."The important thing right now is that people come forward so we can identify as many cases of COVID-19 as we can and take action to reduce the spread."Halifax bars, restaurants ordered to stop dine-in serviceDaniel Sinclair, a server at the Lower Deck in Clayton Park, said he agreed with asking anyone who's recently been to a bar to be tested."The whole asymptomatic aspect of it all is pretty scary, because you don't know if anyone's a carrier or not," he said. "Specifically in an environment where a lot of people are interacting and coming in and out, it's a good call."Sinclair said working in a restaurant environment, the spiking numbers of COVID-19 and the number of public exposures at restaurants is a concern."It's definitely something that's on my mind every day I'm coming in, but as long as I'm washing my hands, sanitizing, making sure everyone that's coming in is doing the same thing ... we're kind of all in this together, so ... I trust, I suppose, that everyone else is sort of following the same things," said Sinclair.Tuesday afternoon, Premier Stephen McNeil announced at a news conference that as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, all bars and restaurants in the Halifax area will be restricted to takeout and delivery only for the next two weeks.This came after the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia had called on the province to shut down establishments for the next two weeks.Sinclair said it was a "good call" to shut things down for a bit to stop the spread of the coronavirus."It's definitely getting a little scary for a lot of people," he said. "It might hurt a lot of businesses financially, and that's really unfortunate, but for the health of our province moving forward, it might be the next course of action."He noted some restaurants may still offer takeout and delivery, so they can recoup some of the lost revenue that way.Rapid testing pilots underwayA rapid-testing pilot that began in The Dome nightclub on Saturday in downtown Halifax will continue this week. These pop-up sites will move to new locations each day, the province said.On Tuesday, dozens lined up in the cold for the second rapid-testing event outside a building on Dalhousie University's campus.Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University, said with the increasing number of cases, it's important to test people who don't have symptoms."What we're trying to do with this testing is to get out to people, who are just out on the community doing what they do every day, and trying to get a broad number of people tested very quickly," she said."The people who are probably spreading this virus don't have symptoms and don't know they have it."Barrett said the public health initiative has so far been "exceptionally successful," with lots of people showing up to be tested.The physically-distant line for rapid testing stretched around the corner of the Richard Murray Building Tuesday afternoon."Recently I just had a stomach flu, so I was just a little worried about it, so I thought I might just come down and get tested just in case," said Talia Vydykhan, who had been waiting for an hour at the time CBC News spoke with her.Kianna Meaney, who also went for a rapid test on Tuesday, said she agreed with the new restrictions put in place."I personally haven't went out in probably like, three or four weeks, but the younger generation, everyone's going out, going downtown, so it's definitely smart that they shut everything down so people can start taking it more seriously," said Meaney.Anyone who gets a positive result from the rapid test will get a standard test, and be sent home immediately to self-isolate while they wait for those results.The pop-up event at Dalhousie happened the day Nova Scotia announced 37 new cases of COVID-19, the fifth highest number of new cases in the province since April 23.As of Tuesday, there are 87 active cases in Nova Scotia and Public Health has confirmed community spread.MORE TOP STORIES