Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5:Nov. 29: Blues musician John Mayall is 87. Actor Diane Ladd is 85. Musician Chuck Mangione is 80. Country singer Jody Miller is 79. Singer-keyboardist Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals is 78. Actor Jeff Fahey (“Lost,” “The Marshal”) is 68. Director Joel Coen is 66. Actor-comedian Howie Mandel is 65. Actor Cathy Moriarty is 60. Actor Kim Delaney (“NYPD Blue”) is 59. Actor Tom Sizemore is 59. Actor Andrew McCarthy is 58. Actor Don Cheadle is 56. Actor-producer Neill Barry (“Friends and Lovers”) is 55. Singer Jonathan Knight of New Kids on the Block is 52. Actor Larry Joe Campbell (“According to Jim”) is 50. Keyboardist Frank Delgado of Deftones is 50. Actor Paola Turbay (“True Blood”) is 50. Contemporary Christian singer Crowder is 49. Actor Gena Lee Nolin (“Sheena,” ?Baywatch”) is 49. Actor Brian Baumgartner (“The Office”) is 48. Actor Julian Ovenden (“Downton Abbey”) is 45. Actor Anna Faris (“Mom,” ?Scary Movie”) is 44. Gospel singer James Fortune is 43. Actor Lauren German (“Lucifer,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 42. Rapper The Game is 41. Drummer Ringo Garza of Los Lonely Boys is 39. Actor-comedian John Milhiser (“Saturday Night Live”) is 39. Actor Lucas Black (“NCIS: New Orleans,” ?Sling Blade”) is 38. Actor Diego Boneta (“Scream Queens”) is 30. Actor Lovie Simone (“Greenleaf”) is 22.Nov. 30: Country singer-record company executive Jimmy Bowen is 83. Director Ridley Scott is 83. Writer-director Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line”) is 77. Bassist Roger Glover of Deep Purple is 75. Singer-actor Mandy Patinkin is 68. Guitarist Shuggie Otis is 67. Country singer Jeannie Kendall of The Kendalls is 66. Singer Billy Idol is 65. Guitarist John Ashton of Psychedelic Furs is 63. Comedian Colin Mochrie (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) is 63. Rapper Jalil of Whodini is 57. Actor-director Ben Stiller is 55. DJ Steve Aoki is 43. Singer Clay Aiken (“American Idol”) is 42. Actor Elisha Cuthbert (“24”) is 38. Actor Kaley Cuoco (“The Big Bang Theory”) is 35. Model Chrissy Teigen is 35. Actor Christel Khalil (“The Young and the Restless”) is 33. Actor Rebecca Rittenhouse (“The Mindy Project”) is 32. Actor Adelaide Clemens (“Rectify”) is 31. Actor Tyla Harris (“For Life”) is 20.Dec. 1: Actor-director Woody Allen is 85. Singer Dianne Lennon of the Lennon Sisters is 81. Bassist Casey Van Beek of The Tractors is 78. Singer-guitarist Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult is 76. Drummer John Densmore of The Doors is 76. Actor-singer Bette Midler is 75. Singer Gilbert O’Sullivan is 74. Actor Treat Williams is 69. Country singer Kim Richey is 64. Actor Charlene Tilton is 62. Model-actor Carol Alt is 60. Actor Jeremy Northam (“The Tudors,” ?Happy, Texas”) is 59. Actor Katherine LaNasa (“Longmire,” “Deception”) is 54. Actor Nestor Carbonell (“Lost,” ?Suddenly Susan”) is 53. Actor Golden Brooks (“Girlfriends”) is 50. Comedian Sarah Silverman is 50. Singer Bart Millard of MercyMe is 48. Actor David Hornsby (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) is 45. Guitarist Brad Delson of Linkin Park is 43. Actor Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) is 43. Singer Mat Kearney is 42. Drummer Mika Fineo of Filter is 39. Actor Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) is 38. Actor Ilfenesh Hadera (“Godfather of Harlem,” “She’s Gotta Have It”) is 35. Singer-actor Janelle Monae is 35. Actor Ashley Monique Clark (“The Hughleys”) is 32. Singer Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots is 32. Actor Zoe Kravitz (“Insurgent,” ?Divergent”) is 32. Singer Nico Sereba of Nico and Vinz is 30.Dec. 2: Actor Cathy Lee Crosby (“That’s Incredible”) is 76. Director Penelope Spheeris (“Wayne’s World,” “The Decline of Western Civilization”) is 75. Actor Ron Raines (“Guiding Light”) is 71. Country singer John Wesley Ryles is 70. Actor Keith Szarabajka (”Angel,” “The Equalizer”) is 68. Actor Dan Butler (“Frasier”) is 66. News anchor Stone Phillips is 66. Actor Dennis Christopher (“Breaking Away,” ?Chariots of Fire”) is 65. Actor Steven Bauer (“Scarface”) is 64. Bassist Rick Savage of Def Leppard is 60. Actor Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”) is 57. Bassist Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters is 52. Actor Lucy Liu is 52. Actor Suzy Nakamura (“Dr. Ken”) is 52. Actor Rena Sofer (“24,” ?Just Shoot Me”) is 52. Rapper Treach of Naughty by Nature is 50. Actor Joe Lo Truglio (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) is 50. Singer Nelly Furtado is 42. Singer Britney Spears is 39. Singer-actror Jana Kramer is 37. Actor Daniela Ruah (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) is 37. Actor Alfred Enoch (“How to Get Away with Murder”) is 32. Singer Charlie Puth is 29.Dec. 3: Director Jean-Luc Godard is 90. Singer Jaye P. Morgan (“The Gong Show”) is 89. Actor Nicolas Coster (“The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo”) is 87. Actor Mary Alice is 79. Singer Ozzy Osbourne is 72. Singer Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship is 71. Bassist Paul Gregg of Restless Heart is 66. Actor Steven Culp (“Desperate Housewives”) is 65. Actor Daryl Hannah is 60. Actor Julianne Moore is 60. Actor Brendan Fraser is 52. Singer Montell Jordan is 52. Actor-comedian Royale Watkins is 51. Actor Bruno Campos (“Nip/Tuck,” ?Jesse”) is 47. Actor Holly Marie Combs (“Charmed”) is 47. Actor Lauren Roman (“Bold and the Beautiful”) is 45. Musician Daniel Bedingfield is 41. Actor Tiffany Haddish (“Girls Trip”) is 41. Actor Anna Chlumsky is 40. Actor Jenna Dewan (“The Resident,” ?Supergirl”) is 40. Actor Brian Bonsall (“Family Ties”) is 39. Actor Dascha Polanco (“Orange is the New Black”) is 38. Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer is 37. Drummer Michael Calabrese of Lake Street Dive is 36. Actor Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia”) is 35. Actor Jake T. Austin (“The Fosters,” ?Wizards of Waverly Place”) is 26.Dec. 4: Game show host Wink Martindale is 87. Singer Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon is 84. Actor-producer-director Max Baer Junior (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) is 83. Bassist Bob Mosley of Moby Grape is 78. Singer-bassist Chris Hillman (The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers) is 76. Singer Southside Johnny Lyon of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes is 72. Actor Jeff Bridges is 71. Guitarist Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rossington Collins Band) is 69. Actor Patricia Wettig is 69. Actor Tony Todd (“Final Destination” films) is 66. Drummer Brian Prout of Diamond Rio is 65. Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson is 65. Bassist Bob Griffin (The BoDeans) is 61. Singer Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge is 58. Actor Chelsea Noble (“Growing Pains,” "Kirk”) is 56. Actor Marisa Tomei is 56. Comedian Fred Armisen (“Portlandia,” ?Saturday Night Live”) is 54. Rapper Jay-Z is 51. Actor Kevin Sussman (“Ugly Betty”) is 50. Model Tyra Banks is 47. Country singer Lila McCann is 39. Actor Lindsay Felton (“Caitlin’s Way”) is 36. Actor Orlando Brown (“That’s So Raven”) is 33. Actor Scarlett Estevez (“Lucifer”) is 13.Dec. 5: Actor Jeroen Krabbe (“The Fugitive”) is 76. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 74. Singer Jim Messina (Loggins and Messina, Poco) is 73. Actor Morgan Brittany (“Dallas”) is 69. Actor Brian Backer (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is 64. Country singer Ty England is 57. Singer-guitarist John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls is 55. Country singer Gary Allan is 53. Comedian Margaret Cho is 52. Actor Alex Kapp Horner (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) is 51. Actor Kali Rocha (TV’s “Man with a Plan”) is 49. Bassist Regina Zernay of Cowboy Mouth is 48. Actor Paula Patton (“Precious”) is 45. Actor Amy Acker (“Person of Interest,” ?Angel”) is 44. Actor Nick Stahl (TV’s “Carnivale,” film’s “Terminator 3”) is 41. Actor Adan Canto (“Designated Survivor”) is 39. Singer Keri Hilson is 38. Actor Gabriel Luna (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 38. Actor Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 35. Actor Ross Bagley (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) is 32.The Associated Press
This column is an opinion from Adam Legge, the president of the Business Council of Alberta.The recent news of the Cenovus/Husky merger, the Tourmaline purchases of Modern and Jupiter Resources, and the relocation of Suncor's downstream office function to Calgary have generated mixed feelings.Mergers of Canadian oil and gas companies are a sign of the times, as they need scale to compete in an ever more challenging market.Consolidation brings with it the good news that the merged firms will have a new ability to compete in a low-cost, low-carbon world; over the long term, the consolidation leads to scale and financial resilience. Relocations generate the potential for new jobs to be created here in Calgary. More announcements are coming. But the net result of these trends overall will be to the downside for both near-term jobs and office vacancy rates in Calgary.These impacts are real. My heart goes out to those who will not find a place in the newly constituted firms. And it goes out to those whose businesses — like restaurants, dry cleaners, coffee shops, etc. — need a flow of customers in the downtown to survive.Reality is hitting homeCalgary is now fully realizing the impacts and consequences of decisions that created hiring and office space numbers that were unsustainable.We built up for an oil price environment in the $100/barrel range. With $40-50/barrel oil, a global pandemic and long-term trends toward decarbonization and an increased use of automation and technology, the reality is it's highly unlikely the jobs being shed now will come back. It's equally unlikely the empty office space will be filled any time soon.But neither of those facts need define us. In fact, we must make sure that they don't.We must do two things: We must build on all our strengths; and we must take care of each other. Our strengths are our people, our location and our vast landscape and resource base. We have natural strengths in energy, agriculture, tourism, transportation and logistics. We have a dynamic and growing technology sector, our financial services expertise is world class, and we have niche strengths in areas of manufacturing and medical sciences.In my role, I live at the intersection of all these strengths. I say that we don't have the luxury of chasing rainbows, but we also don't have the luxury of dividing our community by pitting one sector or strength against another.I am a firm believer in the "and," not the "either/or." As a city, we can do oil and gas, and agriculture, and technology, and renewables, and more. We build on our strengths and assets.What's hard for us all to manage is that these changes don't happen quickly. We have to put the right building blocks in place now, that will pay dividends as the economic environment continues to evolve.Calgary Economic Development's Calgary In the New Economy provides an excellent roadmap and plan for Calgary to build on its strengths.It will take time. The strength of the oil and gas sector took decades to develop in Alberta and Calgary. Like reputations, economic sectors take time to build, but can shift very quickly. As a result of these shifts, tens of thousands of Calgarians and Albertans over the past five years have lost their jobs. Thousands of our neighbours have found themselves without a future in the sector they have spent years being educated about, building skills for and working hard to succeed in.Thousands more have built businesses to serve our growing population and workforce, only to see their dreams fall apart. Our people are our strength, and we must take care of them.A callousness has set inI am sad to say I find that there has been a callousness in our public discussion toward the jobs and livelihoods lost. Many suggest that Calgary and Alberta stop crying over spilled milk and move on.For those whose jobs have been lost, and can't easily transition to something else, this is just plain inconsiderate. I worry some of the rhetoric has lost sight of the impacts to real people and families.The attitude of "serves you right, you had it good for a long time, and this is just the way the world is going" is divisive, unhelpful and wrong. I ask us all to stop, and to work at helping, rather than critiquing.We cannot afford to discount the impacts on people. We must continue to invest in and support our community institutions that help those in need, like food banks, mental health services and counselling centres, as well as the programs, like post-secondary education and career transitioning, that will enable people to adapt their skills for the future.Whether it is someone who moves from oil and gas to a geothermal or hydrogen opportunity, or turns their passion for something into an innovative business venture, these investments in people are the most important ones we can make. Too often we are talking about this issue but not doing enough.What we need are purposeful investments in our people for the future, particularly those whose jobs are unlikely to come back, or whose businesses have been destroyed due to shifting economic sands. This is not a response driven just by COVID-19. This is a fundamental change in our economy and the nature of work. What particularly frustrates me is the lack of federal government support to help those whose jobs will be lost as our nation pursues its Paris climate commitments.In Ottawa's efforts to reduce emissions in Canada — a goal that should not be debated and is highly necessary — policy is being shaped and investments made in things like electric vehicles and hydrogen. Those are essential, but they are not reflective of the people-side of the equation.With each policy decision and each investment come job and employment related consequences that I fear have not been truly calculated. Nor has there been sufficient study done to determine how we help those displaced either transition into this new opportunity or find something else.More transition programs neededDespite recently adding $1.5 billion for workforce development agreements, I believe that employment transition policy and programs need to take up a greater amount of time in Ottawa.Some great work is being done in the community, such as the EDGE UP program at Calgary Economic Development, which works to retrain people displaced from the oil and gas sector into high growth digital technology opportunities. Demand is strong for this program — 1,300 applications for 100 spots — which means many people are thinking of their next chapter and trying to make a transition.The new AltaML program Applied AI Lab saw 500-plus applications for its first cohort of eight participants, many of them retraining from other careers. And the SAIT Polytechnic Digital Hub downtown will create opportunities for more people to look at alternative skills and career paths. For those who are critiquing government support or investment in oil and gas, or encouraging government to accelerate activity in new or emerging sectors, I ask you to turn your focus to calls for government to work with industry and invest in people who find themselves without a job and limited prospects for the future — to help them build opportunity and security.We can do both. Let's build up, not tear down. We must take care of each other.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority has sent out a warning to anyone who visited Original Joe's Restaurant and Bar in Prince Albert, Sask., earlier this month.The authority says people who visited the restaurant from Nov. 12-16 are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and arrange for testing.The alert, which was issued Sunday, made it clear that parents and children were both asked to isolate.The restaurant posted on its Facebook page that it had closed its doors on Saturday after one of its workers tested positive. The post said the restaurant would be re-opening after given the green light from the health authority.While alerts like this were once commonplace, the health authority announced last week it would no longer be publishing the long list of possible COVID-19 transmission locations, as the virus was now everywhere in the province.The authority said it would now only notify the public if all contacts could not be notified within a 48-hour period and if there was an increased risk to the public.The notice reminded everyone that people could develop symptoms from two to 14 days after being exposed to COVID-19.Anyone who was at the restaurant is asked to call HealthLine 811 or a doctor and nurse practitioner and apply for testing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a lot of additional stress — whether it's financial strain, loneliness and isolation, or concern about the future — and a mental-health expert on P.E.I. says taking care of yourself is especially important to getting through it.Tayte Willows with the Canadian Mental Health Association, P.E.I. division says she likes to describe self-care as "the things that you do to find balance in your life, to maintain a good sense of well-being.""Some of these practices that we can do that are proactive and give us the ability to take control of our our mental well-being have been really crucial for folks," she says.1\. Follow your passionsWillows says a good place to start is with what you're passionate about."If you're really into sport or into art or into reading, taking time to do those things," she says.2\. Find ways to connectPhysical connection can be difficult in the pandemic, but Willows says connecting with those around you is still important."So finding ways to connect with the people who we care about and who make us feel like we're part of a community."3\. Step back from the chaosThe pandemic means a lot of unknowns and a lot that is out of our control.Willows says it's important to make "space for mindfulness and for gratitude, to be able to take a step back from the chaos that sometimes surrounds us and really ground ourselves in the present moment."4\. Keep a routineWillows says this one is the hardest for her to stick to, but it is really important.She says it can sometimes seem daunting to complete tasks such as doing the laundry or brushing your teeth, but once you get into the habit of them, they do help you feel like you're more in control of your life."When we hit a big point of stress or when something goes sideways in our lives, knowing that those things are done helps to reduce the stress that we might be feeling," she says."So if you've had a really hard day at work, going home and knowing that whatever choice you made for supper in the morning is actually already almost ready in the crockpot can be really helpful."5\. Start smallWillows acknowledges it can be daunting to make time for self-care so she recommends starting small.> "Sometimes those little things can also be indulgences that are necessary when we're going through stressful situations." — Tayte Willows"Sometimes it can be as much as saying, 'You know what? Three times a week I want to make sure that at lunch I go for a little walk around the block just to get some fresh air, give myself a break, some new scenery,'" she says. "Coming home at the end of the day and having a really nice warm bubble bath or having a really difficult conversation and then soothing that anxiety with a full tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream…. Sometimes those little things can also be indulgences that are necessary when we're going through stressful situations."6\. Stick with itWillows says it takes almost of month of daily practice to form a new habit."Within, you know, the first two or three days of trying something new and practising that new habit, it can be uncomfortable fitting into those new shoes. But we start to feel the effects pretty quickly," she says.She says people often know it's benefiting them when they're better able to deal with stressful situations."They're feeling more at ease and there's less stress that they're physically carrying in their body. So they might feel more relaxed in their shoulders, their jaw and their temple area," she says."Also when something does come up — they get a stressful phone call or they have a difficult encounter with someone who they work with — they feel like they're better able to navigate that because they're already taking care of themselves."7\. Get help when you need itA long walk or a bubble bath can go only so far and Willows says there are situations where additional mental-health care is needed."When we feel like we're having more bad days than good ones, when we're feeling like things are going wrong more frequently than they are going right, that's usually a time to reach out and talk to someone," she says.Another thing to look for, Willows says, is when self-soothing behaviours start to take over. She gave the example of drugs or alcohol. She said if that's numbing out the good things as well as the bad things, it may be time to reach out for help.Willows says another sign it's time to reach out is if you're doing self-care activities and still feeling overwhelmed and stressed.Anyone needing emotional support, crisis intervention or help with problem solving in P.E.I. can contact The Island Helpline at 1-800-218-2885, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information about mental-health services on P.E.I., find resources from Health PEI here, or from the Canadian Mental Health Association P.E.I. Division here.Island Morning will be drawing three names to win a $50 Canada's Food Island gift card. To enter, send an email to email@example.com or call our talkback line at 1-800-680-1898 and tell us what you're doing for self-care.
The Petit Noel art exhibit and sale features a variety of work by local and area painters, photographers, potters and artisans at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Alex Dufresne Gallery. “We have over 30 people participating and the show is a great snapshot of the various artistic talents we have here in Northeastern Ontario,” states a museum notice. There will not be an opening reception and numbers are restricted as per COVID-19 safety restrictions but visitors welcome Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Please wear your mask, respect social distancing, and do not visit if you are not feeling well.”Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
LOS ANGELES — Bruce Swedien, a five-time Grammy-winning audio engineer who collaborated with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, has died. He was 86. His daughter, musician Roberta Swedien, said her father died Nov. 16 in Gainesville, Florida, after battling an illness and complications from surgery. The New York Times reported that he tested positive for the coronavirus but was asymptomatic. “He had a long life full of love, great music, big boats and a beautiful marriage,” Roberta Swedien posted on Facebook. “We will celebrate that life. He was loved by everyone.” Bruce Swedien had more than 65 years of music industry experience and was best known for his collaborations on Jackson’s hit albums “Thriller” and “Off the Wall.” He also had recording sessions with some of music's biggest names including Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Duke Ellington and Diana Ross. Swedien, the son of two musicians, landed a position at Universal Studios where he was mentored by legendary engineer, Bill Putnam. His career rose to new heights when he teamed up with Jones to mix the soundtrack “The Wiz” before both collaborated on Jackson’s 1979 debut album “Off the Wall.” Swedien worked as an engineer on three more albums for Jackson including “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Dangerous.” He won Grammys for those albums in the best engineered album, non-classical category then two more for Jones’ albums “Q’s Jook Joint” and “Back on the Block.” Jones posted on social media that he was “devastated” about the news of Swedien’s death, calling him a sonic genius. Swedien is survived by his wife, Bea, of 67 years and two daughters. He was preceded in death by his son. The Associated Press
Angelique Kidjo and Skip Marley are among several global artists performing social justice anthems for an online fundraising concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The Dec. 1 event on Facebook Live is called Peace Through Music: A Global Event for Social Justice. (Nov. 23)
MONTREAL — Boralex Inc. has signed a deal to buy controlling interests in seven solar power plants in the United States from Centaurus Renewable Energy LLC and other investors for $283 million.The deal includes five solar plants in California, one in Alabama and one in Indiana.CRE and other investors will retain certain non-controlling interests in the assets.The operations were commissioned between 2014 and 2017 and benefit from long-term power purchase agreements.Boralex chief executive Patrick Lemaire says the acquisition will mark the company's entry into the California, Alabama and Indiana markets and will be a springboard to further development.The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BLX)The Canadian Press
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES
A retired curator has come forward to explain how five headstones went missing from a Maugerville cemetery and wound up at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. Darrel Butler, the former chief curator of Kings Landing, said if he hadn't taken them, the stones would have met a very different fate. "If we hadn't, we wouldn't be talking today because there wouldn't have been any tombstones saved," said Butler. The controversy surrounding the stones comes after a family member, looking for his ancestors headstones, found them in an unlikely place: More than 40 kilometres away at Kings Landing. Darrel Butler said he got a call in the 1990s from someone in Maugerville. The owner of the Miles family farm had recently passed away and his surviving son, who had flown in from BC, invited him to scout out the farm for notable items from New Brunswick's farming past. "In that period of time, it was important for us, for Kings Landing to get artifacts, so that we could build a collection that historians in the future would be able to use for study and research," said Butler. Farm equipment made in the early 1800's in Saint John was the obvious choice for the collection. But Mr. Miles directed Butlers attention to the five gravestones. "He explained that his brother, who he said was a priest, about 20 years before this had gone to the old family cemetery," said Butler. "He found the family cemetery all grown over and was really worried about preserving any sense of identity." So, the priest moved the stones to a barn where they sat for decades until the surviving son convinced Butler to take them. "He said nobody's interested in them in my family, I've got to go back to British Columbia," recalled Butler. "He said the best I can do is use them as lawn ornaments on my front yard... ...which my wife won't let me do." Butler said the plan was to break them up and throw them away. So Butler said the Kings Landing collections committee mulled over the idea of saving the tombstones. He says relocating them wasn't controversial at the time, but it was still a sensitive topic.After several discussions, Kings Landing accepted the tombstones in part to save them from being destroyed, but also because it was clear they had been crafted in New Brunswick and had marked the tomb of Loyalists. The fact that no one could relocate the original cemetery also factored into the decision. The stones were then placed on consecrated ground next to the Anglican church at Kings Landing."In our perspective, we saved Loyalist artifacts," said Butler. "And they were important." "If we didn't preserve them, they'd be gone," said Butler. "So that's why we did it."Butler said now that there's another branch of family descendants willing to take care and maintain the stones, they should be returned to mark their original grave sites.According to Kings Landing chief executive officer Mary Baruth, staff are still looking into the acquisition of the tombstones. They plan on contacting the family who want to have them back.
It's been said the COVID-19 pandemic has lifted the veil to reveal some of the horrors that have existed at many of Canada's long-term care facilities.Advocates for improved care and standards — and a shift away from institutional care for seniors — believe now is the time to demand change."This generation deserves way more than they're getting," said Leslie Peers, who says her mother, Marilyn Hindmarch, received substandard care during a five-week stay at a long-term care facility in Edmonton. The stay was brief but fraught with fear, anger and regret for the family.Peers has joined a new group calling itself FACE, which stands for Families Advocating for Compassionate Eldercare. The group is urging the provincial government to make a series of changes at privately run seniors homes that receive public funding, including improved staffing models with a set ratio of one health-care aide for every five residents.Peers believes the ratio at her mother's former care home was one health-care aide for every 15 residents.FACE is also calling for more accountability and enforcement for care-home operators who violate provincial standards and regulations that govern long-term care and supportive living facilities.Two days after her arrival at the publicly funded, privately run facility in March 2019, Hindmarch fell and broke three ribs. Less than two weeks later, another fall left her with a fractured pelvis. Hindmarch, who was 84, was dealing with several medical conditions including dementia when she moved into the facility and was separated from her husband of 67 years.Peers brought her mother's situation to the attention of Health Minister Tyler Shandro, who met with the family in September 2019.The matter was also raised in the legislature by the Official Opposition.The family filed a complaint with the Protection of Persons in Care, which found in a preliminary report that staff failed to properly document the injuries and notify senior staff about Hindmarch's injuries and symptoms.An X-ray was ordered for Hindmarch 26 hours after her first fall, when she suffered broken ribs, even though she said she had pain on the left side of her torso, that it hurt when she breathed. The report stated health-care aides did not report those symptoms to Hindmarch's physician and no one offered to call 911. The incident was not reported to Alberta Health as required.The preliminary investigation recommended the facility update its fall prevention strategies and post-fall policies.Twelve days later, Hindmarch fell again and fractured her pelvis. A preliminary investigation revealed staff didn't document the incident properly or relay Hindmarch's report of pain and evidence of bruising to a physician. A third investigation revealed several pressure sores on Hindmarch that were not documented, assessed or monitored.Peers says the family made the decision to move her mother out of the facility and she stayed with her mom for five days before the move to another centre was finalized because she felt her mother was not safe. They transferred her to a private facility where she was reunited with her husband. Their final stay together was brief as Hindmarch died three months later. 'I want it out there for everybody to see'Crystal McAteer says 2019 was also a year filled with anxiety, fear, anger and personal loss.As mayor of the Town of High Level, Alta., she led her community through a state of emergency when it was threatened by the Chuckegg Creek wildfire.The fire forced the evacuation of a number of areas, including a long-term care home in Manning, where her father, Henry Lawrence, was a resident. He was airlifted to an acute care facility in Fairview. McAteer says her father's condition rapidly deteriorated after he developed a bed sore that became infected. He was eventually returned to his care home in Manning, where a doctor told McAteer the infection may have been the result of lengthy exposure to soiled adult diapers, she says.Lawrence stayed in Fairview for about four weeks before he was transferred back to the long-term care home in Manning. He died five days later at the age of 88.She believes her father's death is the result of the poor care that he received. McAteer says the staff at the acute care hospital may have been overwhelmed following the arrival of seven high need patients who were transferred to the facility. An investigation by Protection of Persons in Care found in a preliminary report that Lawrence did not receive adequate nutrition or medical attention during his stay at the acute care facility, which resulted in "serious bodily injury."McAteer, as one of the founders of FACE, is imploring the government to improve seniors' care in Alberta."We want compassionate care and we want accountability," McAteer said from her home in High Level. McAteer says she has several questions, including how often her father was changed, how his bedsore was treated, how often he was bathed and how long did he have to sit in dirty adult diapers. "My dad must have laid in his Depends for over 12 hours at a time. That's just not humane," she said.Improved seniors' careIn addition to improved staffing at continuing care facilities, FACE wants to see "strengthened legislated penalties" for service providers who fail to meet care and accommodation standards. It would also like to see unannounced inspections of facilities and steep fines for operators who are found to be non-compliant, and it wants those inspection reports made public.It's also pushing for a shift away from institutional care and wants the government to fund personal care homes at the same per-resident level as long-term care facilities. It wants the government to "immediately implement innovative pilot projects through the province to move beyond the one-model system of institutional care for seniors."Personal care homesEdmonton-based ExquisiCare is an example of a privately run facility where residents receive no government funding. The company offers assisted living, long-term and palliative care in "purpose built" homes for up to 10 people in a residential setting.The company's president and CEO says the government should put the needs of seniors first by allowing continuing care subsidies to follow the person, not the facility. "Right now, unfortunately, we don't fit into the government-funded system," said Dawn Harsch."For people who want to live in a smaller, more home-like environment, they should still be supported by their government to live where they want to live," said Harsch.But at $8,000 per month, it's an expensive option.Lorie Grundy knows firsthand what it's like for her family to lose government funding for her mother, but it was a decision they took on their own after her 100-year-old mother suffered physical abuse at a publicly funded long-term care home in Edmonton. Dorothy Forbes's arms were bruised and cut from her wrists to her shoulders during an incident with a health-care aide in February. Grundy believes it happened at bed time when Forbes was being asked to get changed into her pyjamas."I wheeled mum up to the desk on the unit and asked the nurse, 'what happened?' "And she looked at them [her mother's arms] and she was quite taken aback and she said, 'I don't know,'" said Grundy.The family moved Forbes to a private facility operated by ExquisiCare nine days later. The $5,700 monthly government subsidy was discontinued and the family is now paying $7,900 per month. Grundy would like the government to make the subsidy available for everyone regardless of whether they choose publicly funded, privately run facilities or fully private personal care homes."The government subsidy should be provided to every Alberta citizen who needs long-term care," she said.FACE launched its website this month and is hoping people sign the petition that demands the government make changes to improve patient care. In an email to the CBC, a spokesperson for Alberta Health says the government is reviewing continuing care legislation "to ensure we have the framework in place to protect those in care."The spokesperson said other work includes a separate review "of the facility-based continuing care system" in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has "disproportionally impacted continuing care facilities."Leslie Peers knows her group faces a monumental challenge trying to convince the government to make changes. "I think we just said, 'we have to do this,'" she said."A lot of us are doing it in honour of our parents who have passed away.""They cared about their communities. They cared about others. And so, in my particular case, my father advocated all the time for people who needed support, needed a voice, for they didn't have it. So, in some ways, it's his legacy that I am following through on," said Peers.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
A Halifax dance studio hopes that temporarily closing its doors might slow the city's recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and keep it alive in the long run.Some businesses outside the food industry are changing how they operate. This follows the lead of some restaurants and bars who have closed their doors temporarily, without being asked to do so by public health.Haliente Creative Studio on Barrington Street offers salsa, bachata and other styles of classes, as well as social nights for people to practise their moves.But owner Moses Diallo said that even while wearing a mask, physical closeness and the nature of touching hands while dancing increases their risk.On Saturday evening, the day 22 exposure notices were issued by authorities, Diallo announced Haliente would close for the next two weeks.He said even though staff and clients were following public health rules, it felt like a matter of time before someone contracted the coronavirus."It's not an easy decision, but it's one that makes sense and it's better we do this than have an exposure," Diallo said Sunday."Myself, along with many people, have vulnerable individuals in their families and … the risks are just too high at this point."As of Sunday, there were 44 known active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil has singled out young people as driving the recent exposures. He said there are 18- to 35-year-olds going out when they feel sick, and in large groups without distancing.New restrictions also start Monday, where residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality are limited to only five people gathering in a social group without physical distancing, down from 10.Closing down 'is a sacrifice,' says business ownerWhen asked whether the government should mandate that businesses close for a short time to get a handle on COVID-19, Diallo said he's "all for it," since short-term pain is bearable if it brings a long-term gain of keeping the economy open over the next few months.Diallo said they nearly didn't survive the last shutdown, when their studio was closed for nearly five months."The two weeks is a sacrifice that we made in order not to close down forever," Diallo said. "I can't afford to close down for more than a month."The Freedom Kitchen & Closet in Lower Sackville has decided to stop clothing donations for now due to the community spread, while the Fall River Animal Hospital has returned to curbside appointments.Many restaurants and cafés in the Halifax area have either closed entirely or announced over the weekend they are now only offering takeout and delivery. People are advised to check with restaurants before visiting.Paul MacKinnon, CEO of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said Sunday he's heard a broad mix of feedback from members about how to navigate the current spike in cases.He said his organization won't weigh in on whether certain sectors should shut down again. But, MacKinnon predicted many owners will close on their own to protect staff and patrons over the next few days, just like in the spring."It's a business decision that the owner has to make. And if they think they're not going to get a lot of business anyway, in some cases, it may actually save some money," MacKinnon said.Although it's a tough situation coming into the holiday season, MacKinnon said the timing actually puts businesses at an advantage because people will be stocking up on presents and gift cards no matter how high the case numbers climb.Also, MacKinnon said most shops and eateries have active online stores or delivery models that they put in place during the first shutdown earlier this year."Hopefully it won't be as big of an impact as it was before. But of course, it's unchartered territory," MacKinnon said.He said there's some "light at the end of the tunnel" with the recent news that vaccines are close to being ready.MORE TOP STORIES
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said. O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election. Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said. O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam. In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines. “President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.” He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien. He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China. “They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said. He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty. In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
The vice president of an Island trucking company says it's doing everything it can to keep everyone safe while continuing to follow the changing rules for rotational workers. "As an industry, we're going to do what we kind of have to do to keep the community around us safe," Andy Keith with Seafood Express Transport told Island Morning's Laura Chapin. "It does pose some additional challenges for us, but if we have to do it, we have to do it."Currently, there are around 900 Islanders who are considered rotational workers — including truckers. For them, special guidelines and testing routines are expected to be followed. 'Unprecedented times for everybody'Recently, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Heath office put out a reminder of those rules after a rotational worker visited a number of stores before testing positive for COVID-19.It remains unclear if that rotational worker was a truck driver. But currently, commercial truck drivers who are residents of P.E.I. must be tested three times to be exempt from isolation. There is, however, an exception for those who are only in the province for a few days. The rules "come out quickly and they change quite often unfortunately so that's been a challenge," said Keith. For his drivers, Keith said questions about the guidelines have ranged from do they need to self-isolate from their families to can they go to a doctor's appointment when they're home."With the new rules changes now, its been a little more clear and there's a little more clarity in what they can and can't do," he said. "I think it's unprecedented times for everybody so we're all kind of rolling with the punches at this point."'They should be proud'According to Keith, some drivers have also taken this as an opportunity to increase their workload since the options to socialize during their days off are limited. "A lot of cases our drivers are here and their families are back in their home countries," he said. "They have that optimistic viewpoint to say, 'Well maybe I'll just keep working and work a little harder make a little extra money.'"And for others, Keith said he can understand how it might be tough being a rotational worker during a time where travel isn't recommended. "We're telling our drivers that they're providing an essential service," he said. "They're really the heroes of ... bringing food products to Islanders and to Atlantic Canadian and Canadians as a whole.""They should be proud of what they're doing."More from CBC P.E.I.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation.The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m.Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home. He recommend churches convert to online worship services only.Earlier on Monday, the country reported 271 new cases of the coronavirus.South Korea has saw the virus spread faster after authorities eased social distancing restrictions to the lowest level in October amid concerns about a weak economy.Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said tightening guidelines was inevitable as a failure to slow transmissions now could “break the dam” in anti-virus efforts and result in a surge in infections nationwide that may overwhelm hospital systems.“We need to reduce people-to-people contact,” she said during a briefing Monday, pleading with people to cancel year-end meetings and other gatherings.In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:— Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week. As temperatures drop, large-scale measures are being enacted in the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli. Many experts and government officials have warned that the chance of the virus spreading will be greater during the cold weather. On Monday, the National Health Commission reported two new locally transmitted cases in Shanghai over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to seven since Friday.— Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed half a million as the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation scrambles to procure vaccines to help it win the fight against the pandemic. The Health Ministry reported 4,442 new cases on Monday to bring the country’s total to 502,110, the highest toll in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s more than 9.1 million confirmed cases. The ministry said that the death toll from the virus is 16,002, and that it has been adding 3,000-5,000 daily cases since mid-September. President Joko Widodo said his administration is working on a mass vaccination program for the vast archipelago nation, home to more than 270 million people.— Sri Lanka has reopened some of the thousands of schools that have been closed for more than a month due to a surge of the coronavirus. Schools will remain closed in Colombo and it’s suburbs as the number of cases is still climbing in those parts. According to the government’s decision, schools were re-opened only for students in grades 6 to 13. The Education Ministry said there are 10,165 state-run schools in the country and arrangements were made to open 5,100 schools on Monday. Sri Lanka closed schools last month when two new clusters emerged in Colombo and it’s suburbs. The confirmed cases from the two clusters had grown to 16,639 by Monday.— India has registered 44,059 another new cases of the coronavirus and 511 deaths in the past 24 hours. New Delhi on Monday added 5,879 new cases 111 deaths and its rate of positive testing is more than three times the national average, authorities said. India has reported more than 9 million cases since the pandemic began, second behind the United States.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
High stress, exhaustion, heartbreak: that is how some high school teachers describe working through the second wave of COVID-19. High school teacher Courtney Scratch worries that the current system isn't working for students or parents, and might be doing them a great disservice."To try to keep up with the expectations that were put both on students and on teachers has just been, honestly impossible," Scratch said. The new quadmester system used by the Greater Essex County District School Board splits the school year into four periods, to allow students to be split into two groups — or cohorts. It makes for longer classes and condensed curriculum. Courses that used to be taught over the course of five months are now being taught in eight weeks."It's virtually impossible in certain cases for the students to keep up," Scratch said. "And the feedback that we're getting from them is that they're just getting through it. They're just scraping by. They're not really retaining anything. It just feels like one hurdle after another."Scratch was assigned to teach mathematics completely online for her first quadmester. She was responsible for two classes and a total of 60 students.'Equity issues'A key challenge for teachers, Scratch explained, is lack of preparation time. She explained that the way the school year is split up, teachers get prep time for only two of the four quadmesters. She said, for her first quadmester, she got none. To make up for that, Scratch said she would wake up every morning at about 4 a.m. to prepare her lessons in time for the start of the school day. She would teach throughout the day, taking her lunch hour to meet with students and speak with parents. Once she got home, she would continue marking assignments and preparing lessons into the evening. "Eventually I would just work until I had to fall asleep and then I'd set an early alarm to get up and do it all again," she said. She said students were asking for more review, more assessments, one-on-one time, and so on, which she often wasn't able to accommodate because there simply wasn't enough time. "One of the things I think is not being discussed enough is the equity issues that arise because of this," Scratch said. "Imagine if these students had a teacher who was only working with 30 students and had prep time during the day. The experience of those students would be getting would be absolutely night and day. So it's really not fair to them that this is what they're getting because of the expectations that were piled up on their teachers."'Breaks my heart'Feeling like she's been unable to give her students everything they need has been "heartbreaking," Scratch said. "I just think about what could I have done differently had I had more time during the day to work with them in small groups, to work with them individually, how much more dynamic my lessons could have been had I been able to plan them," she said. "To think that in any way I have failed to equip them for the next steps of their mathematical journey — it breaks my heart in more ways than I can say."New challengesThat heartbreak and sadness is not unique. Erin Roy, the district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says she's heard hearing similar stories from many teachers. "We put our a survey to our members and some of the comments were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes," said Roy. In addition to the difficulties around the curriculum, Roy added that teachers are missing the connections and interactions that come during a typical school year, even though they understand the restrictions are to keep everyone safe. "Even our most seasoned teachers, they're somewhat broken because they're not able to do those things."Further to that, Roy explained that teachers are dealing with challenges like never before, "stress on top of stress," from struggles with technology, to dealing with parents who are angered by the challenges the school year has presented for their kids."It's typically the front line worker that's getting that frustration taken out on them. And I feel like that's happening with our teachers a lot," Roy said. Union asking for changesRoy said the union is working to make improvements moving forward. She's calling for better technology for teachers, more technical support for students and parents, more training for virtual delivery of curriculum, and additional attendance counsellors to assist with disengaged virtual learners. She said she's also advocating for the board to reconsider the quadmester teaching model, and to look at other models being used in other parts of the province that might be more successful.For Scratch's next quadmester, she's shifted to in-person teaching, and her schedule now includes preparation time. Having more time to plan "feels almost surreal to feel such euphoria over something that should be an expectation," she said. She's grateful for the time, but also worried for her colleagues who are now in her shoes, experiencing the burden of not having any prep time for the first time.Scratch said she feels the Ministry of Education put the school boards and staff in an impossible situation but said she's hopeful for a solution that can still keep schools safe, while creating a better learning environment. Neither the Greater Essex County District School Board or the Ministry of Education responded CBC's request for comment by deadline.
During Nova Scotia's fall municipal elections, two mayoral candidates said Cape Breton Regional Municipality was either bankrupt or nearly so.That's not the case, say others."We're a bankrupt municipality. People know. This whole island knows that," mayoral candidate Archie MacKinnon said during one of the election debates.Chris Abbass said during a debate that CBRM is "on the verge of financial collapse." In another, he said the municipality is not sustainable."We're slowly going bankrupt and if we don't do something about our cost-effectiveness and our efficiency in government, we're going to become ... a ward of the province or something, but we won't be anymore."But Mark Gilbert, a retired finance expert who was with the Department of Municipal Affairs and is a retired local government professor at Dalhousie University, said CBRM's financial statements show otherwise.The municipality does have net debt of roughly $145 million, but Gilbert said if you add in non-financial assets, it is more than $300 million in the black."This doesn't look like a municipality that doesn't have the wherewithal to continue operating," he said.With that much debt, a big question is future infrastructure needs and the municipality's ability to pay for the cost of borrowing through taxes or user fees, Gilbert said.However, CBRM's debt-service ratio is just over 10 per cent and the province doesn't red flag that until it hits 15 per cent or more.Gilbert said that means the municipality could borrow if it needed to finance large projects."If they were interested in borrowing, the capacity would certainly be there," he said."The thing that most municipalities are concerned about, and I did some research in this area for Infrastructure Canada, is not so much being able to borrow, but it's being able to service the debt."Jennifer Campbell, CBRM's chief financial officer, said the municipality would only be in trouble under extraordinary circumstances."For example, all of our long-term debt would have to be called at once, resulting in an immediate financial obligation of over $80 million and … that is not going to happen," she said.CBRM has long-term debt financing through the province's Municipal Finance Corporation that spread payments out over 10 years, Campbell said."If you're going to look at our net debt through the lens of immediate pressure, that's going to overinflate that and make it look like we aren't solvent, when, in reality, that obligation is due over a long period of time and we're well positioned to meet those obligations over that term."We have not defaulted on those terms, nor are we even close to defaulting on those terms."Municipality a going concernIt would be a struggle if all the debt came due in one year, because non-financial assets can't be easily liquidated, she said.Vehicles and buildings could be sold, but some non-financial assets would be more difficult to convert into cash."How do you sell a used municipal road or used municipal sewer pipes? There's simply no market for that," Campbell said.Last year's audited financial statement shows the municipality is a going concern. CBRM ended the year with a slight surplus of $12,000.It's not yet clear what the pandemic's impact will be on this year's finances, but a current statement is due to be unveiled at Tuesday's council meeting.MORE TOP STORIES
Montrealers who plan to leave the house Monday morning might want to gear up with a tall pair of rain boots. It's a wet and slushy morning in Montreal, after the metropolitan region saw more than 10 centimetres of snow for the first time this year on Sunday. Rainfall that began overnight is expected to continue into the afternoon, Environment Canada says, with a high of 5 C. Several Quebec regions are under a snowfall warning Monday, including Quebec City, Lac-Saint-Jean, Mont-Tremblant and Saguenay."Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions," the weather agency says. The provincial capital region is also under a freezing rain warning this morning. Environment Canada says highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.
We're good at giving presents, eh?