Aaron McArthur has the story of one of B.C.'s remarkable World War II veterans, and his unique view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aaron McArthur has the story of one of B.C.'s remarkable World War II veterans, and his unique view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Alberta government's new measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 cases fall short of what's needed to avoid a crisis in hospitals and in the health-care system, Edmonton doctors say. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, paints a grim picture of the province's current COVID-19 situation. "We're awfully close to the precipice of a complete disaster in Alberta," Schwartz said. Intensive care units are being pushed beyond their capacity, with COVID-19 patients taking up a large portion of that space, Schwartz said in an interview with CBC News Tuesday. Schwartz noted that 66 COVID-19 patients are in ICU right now while the province had previously designated a capacity for 70 ICU beds for patients with COVID-19. "So clearly we're already brushing right up to that maximum capacity." Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro declared another public health emergency and announced new mandatory restrictions on social gatherings and businesses for three weeks. Starting Friday, most retail businesses, such as liquor, grocery, pharmacy and clothing stores must limit their capacity to 25 per cent of allowed occupancy under the Alberta Fire Code. Starting immediately, all indoor social gatherings are banned, Kenney said. The province will allow bingo halls, water parks, racing centres and casinos to remain open. Restaurants, pubs and bars may remain open at 25 per cent capacity, with a maximum of six people at one table from the same immediate household, Kenney said. Schwartz said there are contradictions in the measures. "The definition of social gathering seems to be fairly arbitrary because it doesn't seem to include going to bars or going to a casino," he said. Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, also took issue with the premier's messaging about the measures being designed to target where spread was occurring. "With our contact tracers being overwhelmed, we still don't know where 80 per cent of people are getting COVID from," Mithani said Tuesday. "So to say things like restaurants are not a significant source of spread and bars and casinos are not a significant source of spread, we actually don't know that because we're missing so much of that data." Measures too late Alberta's spiking cases made front-page headlines for several days before Kenney announced new measures on Tuesday. The measures also come three weeks after hundreds of doctors signed letters urging the province to implement a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown. "It comes clearly too late to be meaningful," Schwartz said. Schwartz said he expects things to look worse mid-December. "We know that even if we completely abated transmissions today, we're still going to be in trouble in three weeks from now," Schwartz said. "And so to implement these measures for three weeks seems short sighted." Mithani said the province needs to be on board with the federal contact tracing app, to help collect data on where Albertans are contracting the virus. @natashariebe
Big Brothers and Sisters Kincardine and District have launched two innovative ways to fundraise this year, and replace some of the revenue lost due to events cancelled because of the pandemic. The Festival of Wreaths campaign invited local businesses to create a holiday wreath, register it with Big Brothers and Sisters and display it prominently in their own office window. The sky was the limit when creating the wreath, and businesses were encouraged to decorate with chocolate, gift certificates, decorations and anything else that struck their fancy. The entire collection can be viewed at https://kincardine.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/festival-of-wreaths-submissions/and a link is available that will direct the public to the businesses who have created a wreath. Approximately 26 wreaths have been submitted, from businesses including Sleepers Bed Gallery, Mackenzie and McCreath Funeral Home, Victoria Park Gallery and Snobelen Farms. Wreaths created by businesses in Ripley are currently on display at Grey Matter Beer Company and The Cooperators. Each wreath has been donated to BBBS, and they will be auctioned off, with funds directed to the organization. The online auction runs from Nov. 26-30. These keepsakes will be available for pick up just in time to deck your own halls. The more wreaths that sell, the more money BBBS will have to support their programs. “This is a very important fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine & District in a critical time of need,” said executive director Yolanda Ritsema. “All proceeds help sustain our core programs in the community. Each participating business will receive a tax deductible receipt for the cost of their wreath.” The agency has also kicked off its holiday giving and recruitment campaign, giving the public the opportunity to give the gift of mentorship. The initiative hopes to raise $5,000 and recruit 10 new big brothers or sisters for its mentorship program. BBBS is very excited to announce that it has partnered with EPCOR this year, who will match donations, dollar for dollar, to a maximum of $5,000. All funds raised remain in this community. The money will be used to ignite the potential of little brothers and sisters and have a positive impact on their emotional competence. It will be used to increase their educational engagement and employment readiness and empower their good mental health and well-being. “This challenging time has changed the landscape of how vital community organizations fundraise and operate,” said Susannah Robinson, EPCOR vice president, Ontario operations. “We are excited to match the generous donations for the Holiday Giving program that will enable Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine & District to continue to invest in our youth and help set them up for success.” Big Brothers Big Sisters is Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring organization and the Kincardine agency is proud to be a part of this movement. It offers life-changing relationships to inspire and empower youth, with the goal of helping youth reach their potential. Besides matches between mentors and mentees, it offers a range of programs serving you who want a mentor. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
In an effort to redouble efforts to fight against COVID-19, Bruce Power has launched Be a Light: Beating COVID-19 Together, on Nov. 19. The company has committed $1 million to battle the pandemic and work with public health, county and municipal governments, chambers of commerce, hospitals, local MPs and MPPs, and community organizations within Grey, Bruce and Huron counties. “We are committed to contributing in any way we can to the challenge ahead of us here in the coming weeks,” said James Scongack, executive vice-president corporate affairs and operational services at Bruce Power. Bruce Power has been in constant contact with public health, county wardens, the province, federal MPs, and it is “very clear that COVID fatigue is settling in, in everyone’s lives,” said Scongack. As case numbers continue to rise in Grey Bruce and Huron, Bruce Power is “committed to doing whatever they can to make a positive contribution working in unity with the medical officers of health, our elected officials across the board.” The program is focused on how to beat COVID-19, from what Scongack describes as a “glass half full” perspective. He said there is light at the end of the tunnel and each action carried out, directed at defeating COVID, makes the light a little brighter. The initiative is focused on five main areas. The first area, public awareness, involves engaging community newspapers, radio stations, television and social media to reinforce the message from the health unit on how to stop COVID. This information will become even more critical as winter and the holidays approach. Bruce Power has committed $200,000 to this area, which will begin immediately. The second area, providing protection, will provide thermal monitoring equipment in higher risk or high traffic areas. Scongack describes these monitors as an additional tool in the toolbox and notes that use of this new equipment, in areas of high traffic, prompts members of the public to pause and remember to follow other preventative measures. To date, Bruce Power has provided more than $2 million in PPE, $300,000 of which has been distributed in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties. $150,000 will be directed to this area. The third area of focus is a buy local campaign. Businesses have already faced many challenges because of the restrictions because of the pandemic, and these challenges will only continue to grow as case numbers climb. Bruce Power is making a $50,000 investment to further leverage the Grey-Bruce-Huron Strong platform (www.gbhstrong.com). The fourth area focuses on mental and physical health. Scongack says approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the $1 million will be directed to this part of the program. The company will support local organizations which promote mental and physical health activities and programs through the duration of the campaign. By Nov. 27, an announcement will be made detailing how approximately $50,000 will be spent to create COVID-safe, outdoor community events to take place this winter. Money will also be invested in improving trails and recreation in the area. The final area of focus is lending a helping hand. Bruce Power has reached out to food banks, long-term care facilities and community organizations to support these organizations and individuals during this period of time. Approximately $250,000 will be directed to helping those who need assistance, and money spent in this area should be used to support the local economy. Scongack says time and action is of the essence to respond to the urgent situation Ontario and our communities face. The program is being implemented immediately and said they have “two weeks to hit this hard with a hammer.” Bruce Power hosted a COVID-19 information live event with Dr. Ian Arra of Grey Bruce Health Unit on Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. The public was invited to attend, and those not able to view can watch the recorded version at https://www.brucepower.com/events/. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The Town of Lakeshore council has voted five to three in favour of approving its 2021 budget.The council voted after two full days of deliberation Monday and Tuesday.The budget includes a property tax increase of 2.71 per cent. When combined with rate changes at the county and education levy, the average home in Lakeshore, priced at $300,000, will pay a projected $37.00 more per year in tax compared to 2020 — a 1.17 per cent increase.Mayor Tom Bain says the tax increase is necessary to fund essential infrastructure projects, among them rebuilding and expanding the local sewage treatment plant and fixing the town's old waterlines."We were almost in a situation where infrastructure needs such as sewage and water take a priority, and are actually a health and safety matter where we needed to go ahead with these projects," he said.Bain added that he was happy with the proposed budget — especially considering the negative effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on municipal finances. "Certainly we've had problems with COVID, and there was a problem with cost overrun with regards to the COVID problem," he said. "But we were able to work that in our budget and still do some infrastructure projects."Bain added that he's also feeling optimistic about Lakeshore's long-term financial situation."Well, I think we're doing actually real well," he said. "Construction as far as residential development continues, Lakeshore is actually a leader in Essex County and it continues. And we're also doing fairly well in attracting new businesses to the area." The town has recently been the site of controversy, as several residents have complained of unusually high water bills.Bain said it's an issue the town is working daily to address."Well certainly we've had those complaints and we're trying to deal with each of those complaints individually," he said. "So daily, we're trying to deal with individual complaints and get to the bottom of the problems."
A task force comprised of faith groups, think-tanks and community organizations in Calgary says Quebec's Bill 21 has impacted religious minorities across Canada since it came into law in 2019.The secularism law bans religious symbols, like hijabs and turbans, prohibiting public teachers, lawyers, police officers and civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work, effectively preventing them from working in their chosen fields.Lawyers for the government say it was needed to address unease about religious pluralism and the place of religion in society, but the Canadians it impacts say it violates the constitution and effectively makes them second-class citizens.The I-Care task force study was funded by Think For Actions, Canadian Muslim Research Think Tank and Calgarians Against Racism, Violence and Hate at a cost of $21,000, gathering interviews and opinion from a wide range of residents from minority groups through focus groups.Participants took part in several events held at churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues. The study says they described the bill as hateful and one which targets minority religions. All participants agreed that Bill 21 does not reflect what Canada stands for."It gives the feeling that we are becoming second-class citizens," said Dr. Mukarram Zaidi, chairman of the group Think For Actions, one of more than 50 groups involved in the study."This type of bill increases racism and discrimination by providing futile grounds to white nationalism, neo-nazis, and white supremacists," Zaidi said.He says the findings of the study into the impact of the bill in Alberta were unanimous."It makes you valueless it makes your feel unwanted and it definitely affects us on a personal, psychological and emotional level," Zaidi added, quoting the words of one participant.Zaidi says they discovered the law is also having a psychological impact with minorities feeling under attack and many reporting an impact on their mental health.Findings from the focus groups included questions around defining religious symbols, concerns over Quebec residents having to leave their jobs and move away from their homes as a result of the bill and worries about the possibility of copycat bills in other provinces. The report says many interviewees described discontent and fear for the future including one stating that they believe Bill 21 produces hatred.Calgary city council voted unanimously in September 2019 to formally oppose Bill 21 but some who took part in focus groups said they were still concerned about the possibility of Alberta's provincial government adopting a similar law in the future."This could be a reality tomorrow in our province," said Zaidi, citing concerns about a changing political landscape and more far-right groups and activity in Alberta. "We definitely fear that and that's why we did this study in Calgary."Zaidi says people come to Canada, in many cases, to escape oppression and enjoy freedom of religion and equal rights. He says Bill 21 takes that hope away from many immigrants along with the pride they have in their respective religions.Right now Bill 21 is facing several legal challenges in Quebec, where hearings are still taking place.A test of the constitutionality of the secularism law began earlier this month with tearful testimony from Muslim and Sikh teachers who said the law derailed their careers and made them targets of bigotry.It's facing four different lawsuits that claim it violates the Constitution in a number of different ways.Civil society groups have targeted the law as part of a broader struggle against systemic racism.The court challenge was temporarily suspended last week after a person who had attended the proceedings tested positive for COVID-19.
A new national survey by Women's Shelters Canada offers a glimpse into the experiences of front-line workers and women fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of clients facing more violence that is also increasing in severity.The Shelter Voices survey says 52 per cent of 266 participating shelters reported seeing clients who were experiencing either somewhat or much more severe violence, as public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 increase social isolation, while job losses fuel tension over financial insecurity in many households.Violence "was also happening more frequently, or abusers who hadn't used violence in the past were suddenly using violence," said Krys Maki, the research and policy manager for Women's Shelters Canada.The survey also found 37 per cent of shelters reported changes in the type of violence clients faced, including increased physical attacks resulting in broken bones, strangulation and stabbings.Shelters and transition houses that did not report changes in the rates or type of violence were often located in communities that had seen fewer cases of COVID-19, the report notes.The data show public health restrictions have a "huge impact on women and children who are living with their abusers," said Maki.The survey says 59 per cent of shelters reported a decrease in calls for help between March and May, when people were asked to stay home, and businesses, workplaces and schools shut their doors.From June to October, "as soon as things started up again, we see a huge increase in crisis calls and requests for admittance," said Maki.The survey includes responses from shelters and transition houses in rural and urban areas in every province and territory. Just over half of the shelters in population centres with 1,000 to 29,999 residents reported increases in crisis calls between June and October, said Maki, compared with 70 per cent of shelters in urban centres with populations between 100,000 and just under a million.Women in smaller communities may be more hesitant to reach out for help, said Maki, "because everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows where the shelter is, too."While the survey shows women are facing more severe violence at home, at the same time, 71 per cent of shelters reported reducing their capacity in order to maintain physical distancing and other public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.It was more common that shelters in large population centres had to cut their capacity. To continue serving women remotely, 82 per cent of shelters and transition houses reported purchasing new technology, such as tablets, phones and laptops, although limited cell service and internet connectivity pose challenges in rural and remote areas.For many shelters, financial difficulties increased throughout the pandemic, as 38 per cent reported raising significantly less money compared with last year. The shelters were mostly appreciative of the federal government's emergency funding in response to COVID-19, with some reporting it kept them open, while others said they had to lay off staff because the money didn't go far enough.The federal government announced last month it would double the initial amount it was providing to gender-based violence services in response to the pandemic for a total of $100 million, some of which has been distributed through Women's Shelters Canada.The survey found more than three quarters of the shelters faced staffing challenges during the pandemic. That's not surprising, the report notes, since women make up the majority of shelter workers and have been trying to balance paid work with childcare and other family responsibilities during lockdown periods.The release of the survey results on Wednesday coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.The Canadian Centre for Women's Empowerment is also working to have Nov. 26 recognized each year to raise awareness about economic abuse. So far, the cities of Ottawa, Brampton, Parry Sound and Kingston have signed on in Ontario, while Victoria and Comox, B.C., will also mark the day.There is little data about economic abuse in Canada, said Meseret Haileyesus, who founded the centre, although the shelter survey showed clients were subject to increasing coercion and control tactics, including limited access to money.A survivor's debt load, credit rating, and their ability to access housing and educational opportunities may be affected for years, long after they've left an abusive relationship, Haileyesus said.The centre is working with MP Anita Vandenbeld on a petition urging lawmakers to expand the strategy to end gender-based violence to include economic abuse. It also wants Statistics Canada to begin collecting data and studying economic abuse.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Dreams of a “green” Christmas were dashed on Nov. 20, as the provincial government, during its daily press conference, confirmed that several regions within Ontario would be moving into a more restrictive tier, or zone, of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. Grey Bruce was announced as one of the areas moving from green – prevent, to yellow – protect, as of Monday, Nov. 23 at 12:01 a.m. The Grey Bruce Public Health confirmed the implementation of strengthened health measures in an email on Sat. Nov. 21. There are five levels within the framework, prevent (green), protect (yellow), restrict (orange), control (red) and lockdown (grey). Assignments to each level last a minimum of 28 days, or two incubation periods, before being reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends. If Grey Bruce numbers decrease within the 28-day period, the region could return to green just before the Christmas holidays. Restrictions include, but are not limited to: Limits for functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, barbeques or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, or parks are 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Limits for religious services, weddings and funerals are 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors. Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments will be required that patrons be seated with a two-metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables. Up to six people may be seated together. Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions. Karaoke is permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms). Contact information must be provided by all seated patrons. No buffet style service is permitted. Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue must separate by a two-metre distance and face covering is required. Face coverings are required except when eating or drinking only. Personal protective equipment, including eye protection, is required when a worker must come within two-metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering. Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar. Establishments must be closed from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Liquor may be sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. No consumption of liquor is permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m. The volume of music must be limited to allow for normal conversation. A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request. In retail settings, fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls. Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue must have a two-metre distance between patrons and face covering is required. Retailers should limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible. For malls, a safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request. A full list of protect event restrictions is available at www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-openyellow. News of the change from green to yellow really came as no surprise. The health unit, in its daily situation reports listing cases in the community, had been asking the public to continue to practice the three Ws – washing hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally two metres apart) and wear your face mask correctly, in order to control the spread of COVID. Other tips included avoiding crowds, arrange for outdoor activities instead of indoor activities, staying home if sick and avoiding close contact (unprotected and within six feet) with people from outside a household. People have also been asked to avoid travel to areas with higher transmission and minimize all non-essential travel. As of Nov. 18, there were 42 active cases of COVID in Grey Bruce, and close to 200 active high risk contacts in the counties. Less than a week later, the number of active cases had risen to 53 cases (Nov. 23) and 284 high risk contacts were associated with active cases. Ian Reich, public health manager for the Grey Bruce Health Unit, says the jump in numbers is a direct result of people not following basic practices. Groups have been coming together at many different locations and not adhering to basic public health recommendations, including personal distancing, face covering and staying home when sick. He said many cases are a result of the entire family testing positive, with multiple cases within one household. “Some people say we are done with the virus” said Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce medical officer of health. “The truth of the matter, the virus is not done with us. The virus is not going to stop, until we stop it. It is critical that we stay focused on preventing the spread of the virus, and work together to protect the most vulnerable of us.”Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Yukon health officials rolled out new measures to contain COVID-19 this week, including a drive-through testing site in Whitehorse and a mandatory mask rule that starts Dec. 1. The government also announced an extension of an existing wage top-up program for low-income essential workers.With the territory now at 38 confirmed cases and the holiday travel season looming, the opposition had some pointed questions for the Yukon Liberal government Tuesday. 1\. Drive-through testing siteThe new drive-through testing site on the Alaska Highway opened Sunday, but wasn't announced by the government until Monday."This meant that for an entire day, people were not aware that this option was available to them," said opposition leader Stacey Hassard, who also took aim at the decision to run the drive-through site for six days as a pilot project."We started the drive-through up very, very quickly to ensure we enhanced our testing capacity and that every Yukoner who needs to be tested has the opportunity," Health Minister Pauline Frost said.She said 32 people got tested during the site's first (known) day of operation and that it's possible the drive-through site could continue past six days.2\. Mask rule kerfuffleThe territory's rule requiring face masks in public places starting Dec. 1 isn't controversial in the legislature. But Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent accused the government of sitting on the announcement for a day to give the Yukon Liberal Party — a separate entity from the government — time to work up some graphics for social media.There's no sign the Liberal Party had the graphics ahead of time. The Liberal caucus did tweet about the mask rule Tuesday morning.Scott accused the Liberals of blurring the line between government communications and partisan politicking. "Absolutely ridiculous," said Premier Sandy Silver in response. "If the members opposite cared to listen to the public updates that we've been giving ... for weeks now, it's been coming. Masks have been coming."3\. Delay announcing exposures?Yukon Party MLA Geraldine Van Bibber said the government was slow to announce two potential COVID-19 exposures on Air North flights that occurred Nov. 12 and 15. Van Bibber said the Nov. 15 advisory didn't appear on the Yukon government's website until Tuesday morning. As of Tuesday evening, there was still nothing about the Nov. 12 exposure on the government site (Air North has announced both exposures on its website).Frost drew howls from the opposition benches when she suggested it's not the government's or the health minister's responsibility to update the government website."We have staff in place. We take the advice of the chief medical officer of health. We are responsive and responding appropriately to the pressures," she said, before adding, "Absolutely. I am responsible."4\. Testing Yukoners who come home for ChristmasKent also wanted to know the government's plan for the looming influx of students, military personnel, athletes and other Yukoners who live outside the territory and are planning to come home for the holidays. He's also calling on the government to offer rapid testing to those people.Health minister Pauline Frost appeared cool to the idea. So far the government is limiting testing to people with symptoms. And while the health department has some rapid testing equipment, Frost said that's no substitute for the testing policies the government already has in place.Meanwhile, John Streicker, the community services minister, said the government will step up communications about the rules for self-isolation, including specific instruction for people hosting out-of-territory visitors. A list of those rules can be found here.
Health-care workers are saying new restrictions introduced by Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday don't do enough to slow the spread of the virus.Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, which represents 27,000 health-care workers in the province, says the measures fall short of what's needed. "Jason Kenney has once again put Albertans at grave risk due to his failure of leadership … the measures announced today are inadequate," Parker said in a release following Tuesday's announcement. Parker was among more than 400 doctors and health-care policy experts who had signed a letter to the premier on Sunday calling for a circuit-breaker lockdown, mask mandate, and mandatory paid sick leave. Indoor gatherings banned, restaurants stay openTuesday's measures and a renewed state of public health emergency saw a ban on indoor social gatherings, Grade 7 to 12 students moving to online learning and further mask mandates in the Calgary and Edmonton health zones — both cities already have mask mandates in place. It also allowed businesses like restaurants, bars and casinos to remain open, and religious gatherings to continue, subject to some restrictions.Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician and founder of Masks4Canada, questioned why restaurants are being allowed to stay open and why, despite major contact tracing issues, the province still hasn't adopted the national COVID Alert app."If there is one overriding message is that these measures will improve transmission rates but likely not to the extent needed. This essentially will cause a deeper lockdown in the near future that will last longer than is necessary, and overall, gets a D+ from me," he wrote as part of a series of social media posts. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Alberta, delivered his concerns more succinctly in a single post. "Alberta priorities: schools closed, but bars stay open," he wrote. > How can the government possibly claim that they are making data-based policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks? \- Sandra Azocar, Friends of MedicareSandra Azocar, executive director of the public health-care non-profit Friends of Medicare, questioned the premier's assertion that the restrictions are based on an understanding of where transmission is taking place."How can the government possibly claim that they are making data-based policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks?" Azocar asked in a release. According to the province, 85 per cent of Alberta's more than 13,000 active COVID-19 cases have an unknown source."The truth is, we can't have targeted measures because we don't have any knowledge of where over 80 per cent of our cases are coming from," Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician at the University of Alberta, said. On Monday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing. She said the team could no longer keep up and that thousands of Albertans would not receive calls as tracers focused on more recent or high-priority cases. "If this government had listened to those who are working in our health-care sector, and who bear daily witness to the toll that this pandemic is taking on Albertans and their families, we could have avoided the disastrous place we find ourselves in today," the Friends of Medicare release read. "Instead, the premier of this province has been effectively missing in action since his last announcement of feeble COVID-19 restrictions, and a lack of leadership has been in full display for the past month." * WATCH | Premier Jason Kenney announces new COVID-19 restrictions for AlbertaAlberta reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with new cases above 1,100. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, for a total of 492 deaths. The province has more active cases than Ontario, despite having one-third of Ontario's population.Kenney said that Alberta isn't "involved in a chase after zero" cases, but is trying to slow the spread to keep the health-care system functioning. He said the province's response has been largely effective, touting that it was the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce a contact-tracing app. That app has only been used in 20 cases since it was launched.While health-care workers expressed concerns, business owners are now left assessing how the new restrictions will work in practice. "We're just trying to process now how we can enforce those rules and and keep our staff safe and make sure they're able to keep the customers safe," said Dandy Brewing Company co-founder Ben Leon.He'll need to implement restrictions like ensuring everyone who sits together lives together, unless someone lives alone, in which case they can dine with two people in their cohort. Leon said he had hoped for an early lockdown, rather than risk business shutting down at Christmas, but said he and his staff will adapt. "Any sort of restriction on the holiday business is worse than sort of stopping and starting again," he said.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it was pleased to see the restrictions continue to operate at reduced capacity, unlike wider shutdowns seen in Manitoba and Ontario — which both have lower active case counts than Alberta."A blanket lockdown would have pushed Alberta small businesses to the brink of closure. The new limited measures will give small business a fighting chance to surviving the holiday season. Its now up to Albertans to follow these new orders and do our part to slow the spread," CFIB Alberta provincial affairs director Annie Dormuth said in a release. Both Calgary and Edmonton's mayors said their cities will be evaluating the impact of the restrictions on their programs and services. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'll be encouraging local employers to allow employees to work from home if possible."Ultimately, we as a city government will support the province in this work, we'll do so in every way we can, including enforcement, to ensure that we're keeping everybody safe," he said. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he empathizes with those who will have to make adjustments due to the restrictions, at a time when everyone's lives have already been significantly disrupted."This will be difficult, but it is critical that we do our part to keep our families and communities safe," he said in a release.
The cross-country ski community in New Brunswick says it's seeing a huge surge in interest in the sport this fall. "I think for a lot of people they're looking at it as a sport they can do in the winter to get through the winter and enjoy the winter, otherwise it's going to be an awfully long one," said John Ball, past president of the Wostawea Ski Club in Fredericton. Wostawea had 250 people sign up for membership in the first four hours of registration."Nothing like that has ever happened before," said Ball. Ball says all ski lessons for youth and adults are already full. "We raised (the limit) a little bit to allow people who had kids in the program to come back. But otherwise, we've now hit our limit with that."He said the club is adjusting its programs in light of COVID- there will be no indoor hot chocolate gatherings after youth skiing and lessons will be physically distanced. At the ski shop Radical Edge, co-owner Brian McKeown said he ordered twice as much cross-country ski gear than he normally would for a season."We're still burning through and are very, very low on stock," he said.McKeown said customers from across the country have been buying gear from the shop's online store. "B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, like, you name it, we've been doing orders almost on a daily basis, going all over the place."But, he said, most people coming into the store are first time skiers looking for an outdoor activity that's fun — and safe. "We've seen a lot of snowbirds that are not going down to Florida this winter and as a result are buying cross-country skis because, again, it's a great thing for them to get out and enjoy the winter."Ball says the club has seen steady growth in recent years, but he attributes the surge this year to the pandemic."I think it will really help with COVID. I think people are realising it is something that they can do that's fun. It's an all ages sport so they can do it. … Because we have to put up with this pandemic while we all wait for a vaccine and just struggle through it. It's a way to enjoy winter."
NEW YORK — Former President Barack Obama, already a million-selling author, is also a prize-winning author.PEN America announced Wednesday that Obama will receive its second annual Voice of Influence Award in recognition of how his writings “have traversed political, social, and ideological bounds and framed a self-reflective humanism that has marked his influence on public life.”Obama, whose memoir “A Promised Land” came out last week, will be honoured Dec. 8 at the literary and human rights organization's annual gala, to be held virtually because of the coronavirus.During the ceremony, Obama and historian Ron Chernow, a former PEN board president, will discuss freedom of expression and the importance of truth in a world of misinformation.Obama’s previous books include “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”“As an organization of writers, we have always seen President Obama not just as a leader, but as one of us: an author. His probing and evocative narratives helped introduce the world to his unique background, and the power of his life experience as a prompt toward a more pluralistic and encompassing society,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.PEN presented its first Voice of Influence Award in 2019 to filmmaker Ava DuVernay.Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Tammy Roberts is used to carrying more weight than most people might be willing to lift.The executive director of the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT has been a foster parent herself for close to 30 years. In that time she's cared for around 250 children and young people, including some with severe learning and behavioural issues. Now, Roberts is assuming another leadership position as the executive director of SideDoor, a Yellowknife non-profit that helps young people in tough situations with emergency shelter, housing and other supports.When asked how she's managing the oversight of two organizations, Roberts sounds unfazed."It's going to be interesting, but they're very similar, so I think I have a lot of knowledge to bring forward," she says.Roberts began at SideDoor on Nov. 9, but says she'll be in a "transition period" until Dec. 10, when the non-profit's board is set to meet.She says that since official discussions have yet to take place, there's not much she can pass on about the organization's plans, like, for example, whether SideDoor might merge with the Foster Family Coalition. "I'm thinking that there won't be any huge, immediate changes, just because there's a transition time where we need to see what's working well, right? And then just build from that."Troubled period at SideDoorRoberts takes over SideDoor after a relatively tumultuous period in the organization's 25-year history. In early March, shortly before COVID-19 prompted a widespread shutdown in the Northwest Territories, SideDoor unexpectedly closed its youth drop-in centre downtown. Days later, allegations emerged of mismanagement and mistreatment at the organization. In the months that followed, the drop-in centre, called the Resource Centre, was moved into Hope's Haven, SideDoor's youth shelter, and Iris Notley, the former executive director, resigned. As the new head of SideDoor, Roberts says she wants to focus on building relationships with government, funders, other non-governmental organizations, and with "youth, especially."Exploring options for Resource CentreIn the waning months of Notley's tenure at SideDoor, she suggested to CBC that most of the young people who used the Resource Centre had housing, and that SideDoor would refocus on serving young people who are homeless. Roberts says funding agreements in place until the end of March outline who SideDoor is meant for, but didn't elaborate on those agreements, saying she wasn't sure of the details as she's still in the transition phase. As for the previous Resource Centre building downtown, that's now occupied by the city's new day shelter. Roberts says she can't comment on whether SideDoor wanted to reopen the Resource Centre in its former location."Everything's out of one building right now," she says, referring to Hope's Haven. "It is very crowded, of course, but we're looking at other options."Casting her sights into the future, Roberts says she hopes that SideDoor will be a place where "youth, and our staff, and everybody is feeling supported."
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission said it arrested the country's fisheries minister on Wednesday amid an investigation into exports of lobster larvae.Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo was arrested upon arrival at the Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport from a working visit to the United States, the deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission, Nurul Ghufron, told Kompas TV.“The arrest is related to lobster seed exports,” Ghufron said without elaborating in comments aired on the station.He said investigators were still questioning Prabowo and another announcement would be made later Wednesday.Prabowo earlier this year rolled back a ban on lobster larvae exports put in place by his predecessor. That decision sparked criticism from his predecessor and activists over sustainability concerns.President Joko Widodo said he respected the decision of the anti-corruption commission, known in Indonesia as the KPK, to arrest Prabowo.“I believe the KPK works in a transparent, open and professional manner,” Widodo told reporters. “The government consistently supports corruption eradication efforts."If Prabowo is charged with a crime it could further tarnish Widodo's credibility when it comes to fighting corruption. Two previous members of Widodo's Cabinet have already been sentenced to prison terms in corruption cases.Former Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham was sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in a bribery case related to a coal-fired power plant project on Sumatra island, while former Youth and Sport Minister Imam Nahrawi was sentenced to seven years after he was found guilty of personally using a National Sports Committee grant.Prabowo is the deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, formerly a rival to Widodo's party. He joined the Cabinet in October 2019 as part of of an alliance forged after Widodo's election to a second term.Widodo campaigned in part on a pledge to run a clean government in a country that ranked 85th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International.The Associated Press
For the second time in two months, a retired Alberta teacher is on trial accused of indecently assaulting a female student. In October, David O'Reilly was found guilty of the indecent assault of a 14-year-old student in 1980 at Ellerslie Campus school. O'Reilly, 73, was given a suspended sentence and 18 months probation. He was also placed on the national sex offender registry. O'Reilly allegedly assaulted another female student at the same school four years earlier. She was a 14-year-old Grade 9 student at the time. Her identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. The woman is now 59 and lives in New Zealand. She testified by video conference. She said she remembers being singled out by O'Reilly, who taught physical education at the school. "He was seen as a cool teacher and I was a naive country girl," she said. "I was quite flattered by that." She said she liked it when he complimented her on her looks and suggested she'd look even better if she wore contacts instead of eyeglasses. In hindsight, she thinks she was being groomed. "I was just a young girl and didn't know any better really," she said. She testified she remembers him putting his hand on her knee and holding her for "too long at the hips" when she was practising gymnastics. The woman also recalled spending time alone with O'Reilly in his office, sitting on his knee and him quickly fondling her breasts with his hand moving up her thigh. There were other encounters when she was standing. "Initially, I would stand against the wall and he would stand with his hands on either side of me," she said. "I had no idea about sexual behaviour at that age, so I was confused by what was going on. A little bit scared and uncertain about what was appropriate." She also told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Thomas Rothwell that on one occasion O'Reilly kissed her. She said she got frightened when he pressed the lower half of his body up against hers while she leaned against the wall. "It wasn't a long kiss, but it was a suggestive kiss," she said. "I just knew it was wrong and I really didn't know what to do." The woman said she ducked out under his arms and ran away. "To me, that was almost an ending in a way," she said. "Because it did quite frighten me. I don't recall much after that." Pages from the woman's 1980 Ellerslie Campus school yearbook were made an exhibit at the trial. O'Reilly signed her yearbook and wrote, "Thanks for the memories...of a lot of good times that I'll remember for a long time, if not now." The woman testified she had a vivid memory of going to a lake cabin with O'Reilly and his then-wife in the summer of 1976 to watch Olympic gymnastics. On Tuesday, O'Reilly's ex-wife testified for the defence. Ellen Singleton testified she has no memory of that encounter, nor did anyone in their family own a lake cabin at the time. O'Reilly did not testify in his own defence. The judge will hand down his decision on Friday morning. 'It's very exhausting' The woman who was indecently assaulted by O'Reilly in 1980 attended this week's trial, even though she admitted she found it increasingly difficult to be in the same room with her attacker. "It's very exhausting, is how I feel when I leave the courtroom for the day," she told CBC News. "I'm doing it because I'm a strong woman and I'm here to support the gal that came forward for this trial." The woman said she kept a close eye on O'Reilly while his accuser testified. He was allowed to sit at the back of the courtroom next to his wife, rather than in the prisoner's box. At one point he was leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed. "He's sitting nonchalant, but I can see the facial features change and the colour of his face change during the trial," she said. "It gets red or white in colour when different things are being said on the stand." O'Reilly's lawyer has filed a notice of appeal on the October conviction. He calls the verdict unreasonable and argues he was denied the right to a fair trial because the judge was biased toward him. O'Reilly is asking the court to hear his appeal and overturn his conviction. Failing that, he wants Alberta's highest court to order a new trial by judge and jury.
Coronavirus deaths in elderly care homes make up around half of Sweden's 6,400 fatalities from the disease. View on euronews
A Christmas tree grower on P.E.I. is advising Islanders to get their trees early due to a shortage in the province.Mike Kelly, who owns Kelly's Christmas Tree Farm in Fort Augustus, said the number of Christmas trees are down this year because of the drought this summer and a harmful frost in June 2018. Kelly said he's had calls from sellers looking for more trees, but said he doesn't grow enough to supply them. He said there's been at least a 50 per cent increase in the number of people coming out to tag a tree to cut later. He expects all his trees will be sold out by the second week in December. "I think a lot of people do feel somewhat cooped up here over the last eight months or so, with COVID, of course," he said in an interview with Island Morning host Laura Chapin.'Family outings'"But I do notice that over the last few weeks and people coming out, a lot of families, and there's no question that's my biggest driving force, the different families coming out to get some family outings, I guess."The shortage also means for the first time in decades, the Summerside Y's Men are having to cut, wrap and haul dozens of Christmas trees to have enough for their annual fundraiser. The Y's Men raise money each year selling Christmas trees at Kool Breeze Farms. Y's Men 80 trees shortJanet-Rose Hurst, a member with the group, said normally they get between 200 and 250 trees but they've only been able to obtain a maximum of 150 from their commercial tree growers."The growers had a bad year growing their trees so we've seen a reduction in the amount of trees we can get from the commercial growers," she said."So this year we are going to have to go out and actually cut the trees ourselves."The group found a tree lot in Stratford that has allowed them to cut about 80 trees to meet their demand.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Yukon government is suing a construction company for $1.5 million over what it claims was a botched upgrade to the Mayo water treatment plant. The Department of Community Services, in a statement of claim filed in the Yukon Supreme Court on Nov. 16, alleges that the work done by Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd. had a number of "deficiencies," including tanks with "visible leaks and are not watertight."The government is also seeking more than $1 million from Intact Insurance, an insurance company that served as a surety for the construction contract. The claims have not been tested in court, and neither Wildstone nor Intact Insurance have filed a statement of defence. CBC called Wildstone's Whitehorse office for comment but no one was available.Lawsuit claimsAccording to the lawsuit, the Yukon government contracted Wildstone, which is headquartered in Penticton, B.C., to upgrade the Mayo water treatment plant in February 2017.The contract was valued at $2,152,053. 53.However, Wildstone "did not perform the work to the contractual specifications and standard," the lawsuit alleges, and lists nine deficiencies including two leaking tanks that are "both sloped to one side of the tank foundation." The government also claims that cathodic protection, which guards against rust, was not installed in either tank, nor was a gravel pad or polyethylene roll that was supposed to be placed between the steel floor and the tanks' foundation.The statement of claim says Wildstone was made aware of the issues via a notice in September, and that the Yukon government has declared the company to be in default under the construction contract. That declaration should have triggered action on the part of Intact Insurance, according to the lawsuit. Intact Insurance, as the surety of a performance bond, was obligated to either remedy the default, complete the work, find another company to complete the work, or pay out the bond amount to the Yukon government. However, the company hasn't done any of that, the lawsuit alleges.Both Wildstone and Intact Insurance's failure to meet their obligations "has caused Yukon to suffer loss," the statement of claim says. The government is seeking $1.5 million in damages against Wildstone, $1,035,697.50 from Intact Insurance, interest and legal costs. The case has not been scheduled yet to go to trial.