The lawyer representing Chantel Moore's estate says the disciplinary actions ordered by the Edmundston police chief against Insp. Steve Robinson are "a good start" but the lawyer will also ask to have the New Brunswick officer suspended for a period without pay.T.J. Burke said Police Chief Alain Lang essentially validated the formal complaint that accused Robinson of "laughing and smirking" while speaking to a CTV reporter on June 4, hours after Moore was shot dead by an officer who went to her apartment for the purpose of conducting a wellness check. Robinson has been ordered to take the 12-lesson Indigenous Canada course, offered online by the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta."That's something that every high-ranking officer in the country should have already," said Burke, who was informed of the sanctions against Robinson on Nov. 17. According to Burke, upon completing the course, Robinson is also ordered to meet with a "Madawaska Maliseet elder" to discuss "what he discovered on his journey for knowledge and to discuss the impact of his comments in the media."Furthermore, Robinson is required to take media relations training and must recommend cultural awareness training options for other employees of the Edmundston police force. All steps must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.In an email statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Edmundston police said Chief Lang could not comment, as "per Section 22.1 of the New Brunswick Police Act (NBPA), repository of disciplinary and corrective measures are confidential."'Policing is being scrutinized': lawyerBurke said Robinson's behaviour embarrassed police forces across the country. "Laughing and chuckling on TV after a young woman was shot by one of his constables?" Burke said."We're in an era where policing is being scrutinized as a result of many things. One is the disproportionate amount of Black, Indigenous and people of colour who are being arrested by officers, who are being incarcerated by the courts and measured in the context of systemic discrimination." When asked how long a suspension without pay he would ask for from the New Brunswick Police Commission, Burke said he'd be looking at other cases. The average person might think a week would be appropriate, Burke said, but precedent might suggest two or three days is more realistic. "That's going to hurt him financially a little bit."More importantly, Burke said, it would send a message of deterrence."Other police officers will understand that when you get in front of a television camera and you're going to be broadcast all throughout the province, the Atlantic region and the country after a serious police intervention situation … you shouldn't be smirking and laughing about your officer's conduct," Burke said. "It's offensive to the highest degree."Robinson apologized for his conduct back in June, and a statement was published on the City of Edmundston website."I understand that my reaction on camera caused frustration and concern. I sincerely apologize if it was interpreted or perceived as recklessness or lack of compassion. This is absolutely not the case. I have deep sympathy and express my condolences to the victim's family, friends and to the Aboriginal community," Robinson said.'I'm hoping they might call on me to guide this person' Imelda Perley, an instructor at the Mi'kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick and organizer of a healing walk in Moore's memory, said she welcomes the suggestion that Robinson meet with a Wolastoqi elder.She would even like to be chosen to help.> They need to be humble enough to admit they don't know anything about us. \- Imelda Perley, speaking about police"I wish [the police would] call on us, those who have been working in cultural awareness, to talk about how to heal systemic racism," said Perley. "I'm hoping they might call on me to guide this person through … awareness, humility, sensitivity, competency and, ultimately, safety."Perley said there are Indigenous courses available in New Brunswick and she would have liked to see Robinson take one in his own province.Perley said there's a lot more that police could do to promote a positive ongoing relationship with Indigenous communities. "They need to be humble enough to admit they don't know anything about us," she said. "You can't just do this through an online course. You can't just download information and think it's going to change you."Robinson "should come to our community and our council fire. Come for a drive in our communities. Come see our children, who play with limited playgrounds. Come see where there's no sidewalks. Then you'll see what health threats we face, and not assume you know what's best for our well-being."
When McMaster University student Elisa Do learned last week that her school would be delaying the start of classes in January following the winter break, she felt a wave of relief. The third-year kinesiology major and student journalist feels fortunate she's managed her workload this fall and thankful for professors who have kept students' pandemic challenges in mind. Still, Do is feeling burnt out continuing her studies virtually from home in Stouffville, Ont., rather than being on campus in Hamilton, more than 100 km away. Speaking to friends, she found others were also experiencing similar stress and exhaustion. Schoolwork "just feels a lot heavier," Do said."The workload ... I could handle it. But then because of the lack of social connection and not having emotional support from my friends, it really makes it harder to concentrate and feel as motivated to do the same workload." A longer break is going to really help students' mental health, said Do. She's looking forward to spending time with family as well as returning to hobbies — writing poetry, painting and sketching — that make her feel calmer and less overwhelmed.Most Canadian post-secondary students have traded lecture halls for laptop screens this fall and, as the pandemic continues, schools are largely staying the course through the next term. However, an increasing number of institutions are now pushing back their start dates in the New Year in recognition of strain felt by students and staff. In Ontario, Western University announced Tuesday it will delay the start of classes for the winter term, joining the likes of Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, Laurentian University, Carleton University and McMaster, as well as Quebec schools l'Université du Québec à Montréal, Concordia University and l'Université de Sherbrooke.Meanwhile, in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the mandatory 14-day isolation required for anyone returning from outside the Atlantic region has also led Mount Allison University, Acadia University and St. Francis Xavier University to push back classes at the start of their winter terms. In recent weeks, there have been widespread student appeals for more downtime following a stressful autumn of predominantly online learning and being isolated from peers and instructors due to COVID-19. Mental health among students has been a growing concern for years, flagged by groups such as the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Now, additional stressors brought on by the pandemic appear to be aggravating the situation, according to Carleton researchers.The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations also polled 2,200 faculty members and 500 students on the impact of COVID-19 on university life and education. Sixty-two per cent of the students and 76 per cent of faculty felt that "online learning has negatively impacted the quality of education in Ontario." More than half of the student respondents reported that their mental health was a major area of concern."We're well aware of the health issues, mental health issues right now," said Susan Tighe, vice president academic and provost at McMaster University, the school that Do attends.McMaster's winter break extension came out of a suggestion from its virtual learning task force and a survey of students and faculty that indicated everyone was interested in more time off to rest, recharge and prepare for the term ahead, according to Tighe."We're listening to what the students are saying," she said."We started to do that very early in September and ... tried to get as much early information as possible to make sure that we were providing the kinds of supports that are needed."Tighe added that McMaster has been working on investments into mental health supports, encouraging staff to boost connections with students, and making early, proactive decisions about things like scheduling and online learning."If you really are committed to your students' mental health and stability, you need to be clear in what you're doing and provide as much time to prepare."Students press for changeEarlier this month, a feeling of exhaustion coupled with the news another school had already extended its winter break spurred a trio of University of Toronto students into action. Nada Abdelaal, Rahat Charyyev and Javahir Saidov consider their school among the best in Canada, but began wondering why U of T was lagging behind others "when it's supposed to lead other universities by example," said Charyyev, a third-year student studying political science, French and geographic information systems.They quickly posted an online petition calling for a longer winter break and garnered thousands of student signatories over just a few days. "There were actually a lot of reasons that we did this. But, first of all, the main one was mental health. We were all burnt out," said Abdelaal, a second-year student studying political science and criminology remotely in Oakville, Ont., this term while balancing two part-time jobs.Though post-secondary education has always been challenging, the three said this term has been more difficult and stressful since the switch to remote learning during the pandemic. They're juggling an onslaught of online lectures and assignments deadlines and constantly play catch-up between courses, all while isolated from peer support.Though Saidov, a second-year political science and history major currently based in Barrie, Ont., took a course remotely during the summer term, he said it provided little preparation for his heavy course load this fall. "The school part has always been hard," he said. "But before we had the social part, where we get to talk to our friends, go to a library with them, go grab a cup of coffee to kind of help us relax and to kind of help us recharge. Now that part has been totally cut out, so we're only left with like 12, 14 hours of just school."Without the social part, it's very hard to do that productively." Charyyev, currently studying virtually from New York, added that school has also seeped into what previously would have been valuable downtime surrounding classes."Because you spend the whole day inside the house, whether it's dark [or] whether it's light outside, it doesn't matter … it's kind of like you really lose track of time zones, what day it is. And, it just feels like a never-ending cycle, like a hamster wheel," he said. The trio was thrilled when, just days after they launched their petition, their school announced a week delay for the start of a majority of winter term classes."We recognize that the past several months have been a challenging time for many students and we hope that this extended break provides an opportunity for rest and recuperation," Micah Stickel, University of Toronto's vice provost of students, said in a statement.The school also reiterated its ongoing effort to enhance student mental health supports, including directing to a new online portal of mental health services and resources.While the extended holiday break is greatly welcomed, "I hope this is just the start of something great that we can achieve," said Saidov, who is also involved with other groups campaigning to improve mental health and wellbeing services for students.He's heard from several peers, for instance, who tried to access campus resources and reportedly had to wait months to see a counselor."I don't think that's acceptable for a university," he said."Student action can result in change … but it's important to unite and to voice our concerns together."
Tammy Oliver-McCurdie lost her younger sister, Jolene Oliver, in last April's mass shooting in Portapique, N.S., and her worst fear remains that the 39-year-old woman, her husband, Aaron Tuck, 45, and their 17-year-old daughter, Emily, lay injured for hours.The family of three were among the 13 people killed on April 18 in their tiny subdivision in rural Nova Scotia, about 130 kilometres north of Halifax. A gunman went on to kill nine more people the following morning in what became one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.A police officer shot and killed the man responsible at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on Sunday, April 19 at 11:26 a.m., after the gunman travelled about 195 kilometres.During a teleconference on July 3 with the Oliver family, who live in Alberta, the RCMP said they didn't discover the couple and their daughter until 5 p.m. on April 19 — 19 hours after investigators believe they were killed.By that point, family members had been frantically calling and looking for information for hours, pleading with the RCMP to send an officer to check on their loved ones.Police assured the Oliver family they did not suffer, though the final reports from the Nova Scotia medical examiner about how exactly they died are still not complete."Always what goes through your mind is how long did they lay there for alive?" Oliver-McCurdie said in an interview with CBC News. "The best story is yes, they went fast. But what if they didn't?"CBC's The Fifth Estate investigated and found that while the RCMP did tell some residents to leave their homes late on April 18, they left others in the community to sleep through the night, unaware a neighbour had gone on a shooting spree.Families have questions about delaysThe Oliver family is among several that lost loved ones in the rampage who have raised questions about how the RCMP responded and why it took so long to confirm the deaths.Oliver-McCurdie said she still doesn't understand the delay, given that the subdivision is small and police arrived Saturday night. The Oliver-Tuck home was located about two kilometres from the entrance to the community."I would hope that police would check the house to see if everyone was OK, especially if they're missing the shooter. So a lot of questions and a lot of anger coming out of that piece for me and my family," she said."I'm upset over it. It makes no sense when it comes to a public safety standpoint, it makes no sense."At the July 3 meeting, RCMP investigators said officers in Portapique were still in the process of clearing homes on the Sunday afternoon, which is why it took so long to get to Oliver and Tuck's house. They also said at the meeting that on the day after the shooting, they were concerned about properly identifying victims and not releasing incorrect information.WATCH | Thirteen Deadly Hours: The Nova Scotia Shooting:The Oliver family, calling from Red Deer, Alta., on the Sunday, became frantic after Jolene didn't pick up her mother's daily phone call while they have their morning coffee. Aaron and Emily Tuck also didn't respond to calls, texts or Facebook messages.Before noon Nova Scotia time, the family had heard there was a situation in Portapique and had begun calling the RCMP and hospitals. Twelve hours later — five hours after police say they discovered the family — an RCMP officer finally contacted them to pass on the horrific news.Oliver-McCurdie said that by then, she, her other sister and parents assumed the worst but had still wondered if somehow the family of three had managed to escape."It's one thing to find out that your family is dead and have the confirmation, and it's another excruciating piece to wait in limbo for confirmation," she said."You have all these officers, you're supposed to have all these resources. There's no reason why someone couldn't have just driven down there [and checked the house].... After a dozen or more phone calls my family made during the day, it doesn't make sense."By Sunday night, the police were dealing with 16 crime scenes in several communities. Investigators told the Oliver family that the medical examiner couldn't move the bodies from the home until Tuesday afternoon — a further delay that Oliver-McCurdie said caused them grief and anxiety.Mass shooting subject of public inquiryThe RCMP declined to answer any questions from CBC News about the case, citing an ongoing public inquiry into the mass shooting called by the provincial and federal governments."The RCMP recognizes the need to provide the factual account of what transpired this past April. With the public inquiry now ongoing, the most appropriate and unbiased opportunity to do so is with our full participation in the inquiry," Cpl. Lisa Croteau said in an emailed statement.The inquiry's final report isn't expected for two more years.In the meantime, Oliver-McCurdie said, her family decided to speak out about the details of the deaths of her sister, brother-in-law and niece — and the questions that remain — to promote discussion about how policing in rural areas could be improved and how April's tragedy might have been prevented.She said she would also like police forces to tighten the rules and limit access to their own logos and equipment. The shooter — Gabriel Wortman, 51, a denturist with a clinic in Dartmouth — purchased decommissioned police cars and gear online and used them to masquerade as a Mountie. Information on the specifications for the graphics on RMCP cruisers remains publicly available."If a positive piece is better public policy, better safety, for those living in Canada ... that makes their deaths ... a little bit easier if we can do better as a society and do better with protecting people in Canada. That needs to be the aim," Oliver-McCurdie said.'They did everything, just the three of them'Jolene Oliver, who grew up in Alberta, moved east with her husband and daughter seven years ago to be closer to Tuck's parents. But she left behind a miniature Christmas village she loved, and Oliver-McCurdie said she has been trying to find a way to display her sister's collection.Oliver worked as a restaurant server because she loved interacting with people — being there to listen to them, support them and make sure they got home safely, her sister said."She made the best of everything she ever had. A really unique outlook on life, a very positive outlook on life."In Portapique, Oliver-McCurdie said, Jolene loved walking along the shore of Cobequid Bay and would insist on taking a proper picnic basket for the family's snacks."They did everything, just the three of them," she said.The family moved into a home that didn't have electricity, and they spent months working on it together. When they needed a washing machine, Aaron Tuck was industrious enough to find a solution, Oliver-McCurdie said."He just had that knack, that creative art with welding and wood and things and just understanding them. He had a very great mechanical mind that he could come up with an invention for almost anything," she said.Emily Tuck spent time in the garage with her father, learning about motors and welding. Like Aaron, Emily also had a creative side and loved playing her fiddle.WATCH | Emily Tuck plays the violin:"She made a lot of art and a wrote a lot of poems," Oliver-McCurdie said. "She's a really unique kid and a really unique outlook. She's was a lot of fun."For now, as the Oliver family wait for answers, they continue to grieve. In Alberta, they planted three oak trees from Nova Scotia's Colchester County in memory of the branch of their family they've lost.
Tony Passarelli was used to having a bit of breathing trouble.The 52-year-old's asthma often flares up in the spring, but this past March, something felt different. He started wheezing, and several rounds of antibiotics didn't solve whatever was ailing him.Later that month, his wife of more than 25 years, Linda, fell ill as well. Then she tested positive for the virus behind COVID-19. While she isolated in a room at the couple's Bolton, Ont., home, Tony took a turn for the worse, and his wheezing became a cough that just wouldn't quit. He headed to the nearest emergency department — Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville — on March 29."They just said I had pneumonia," Tony said, "and that they were going to keep me."That's the last thing he remembers.What happened next, according to the soft-spoken father of three, was a weeks-long ordeal with COVID-19.After passing out in the hospital, he wound up intubated in an intensive care unit, was transferred to Etobicoke General Hospital in Toronto, suffered round after round of fevers and infections, then became so ill that doctors thought there was nothing more they could do to keep him alive."There's nothing else left," Linda recalled being told by one of the ICU physicians in early April.Then came a sliver of hope.Tony qualified for an ECMO treatment — or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — which could be his last chance at survival.'High level' of demandRoughly 40 Canadian hospitals have access to at least one ECMO machine, representing just three per cent of all hospital sites across Canada — though it's unclear how many machines in total the country has access to.Offered at only a handful of Ontario hospital sites, with the bulk of the machines at Toronto General Hospital, it's a form of life support that uses a pump to circulate blood through a machine that replaces the work of someone's lungs and, in some cases, their heart.The machine removes carbon dioxide, then sends oxygen-filled blood back into the bloodstream, giving damaged lungs a chance to rest and recover.Patients who qualify for the treatment are usually under 65 and have few pre-existing health conditions, ensuring they have the best shot at surviving.Linda credits the device with saving her husband's life, and she's not alone. In the pandemic's first wave in Ontario, 34 COVID-19 patients were given this potentially life-saving treatment, and more than half survived.Now, as coronavirus infections are surging to record-breaking levels, there's concern that demand is quickly rising again for ECMO — this time as Toronto General juggles both COVID-19 cases and other patients requiring the last-resort approach that's in limited supply, including those hospitalized for lung transplants."It's a pretty high level," said Dr. Marcelo Cypel, surgical director for the University Health Network's extracorporeal life support program, which includes the ECMO treatment at the network's Toronto General site.In just the last two weeks, Cypel said, at least a dozen COVID-19 patients have been hooked up to ECMO machines. At the time of his interview with CBC News on Tuesday, nine of the hospital's 11 intensive care admissions were being given the treatment, using nearly a third of the hospital's 30 ECMO machines — a supply that was increased this year to brace for the earlier influx of COVID-19 patients."We are working at our full ICU capacity right now already," Cypel said. "And that's a concern, because we continue to receive referrals every day."ECMO team 'may have to slow down'While the first coronavirus wave saw the cancellation of thousands of elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for COVID-19 patients, Cypel said in the second wave, his team is handling another influx of the sickest of those patients, as well as anyone needing ECMO for other reasons.But he worries that may not be sustainable much longer.If recent provincial lockdowns for Toronto and Peel Region don't put a dent in case growth and ICU admissions, Cypel said, the ECMO team "may have to slow down," which could affect patients waiting for other crucial hospital services such as transplants.That's a situation Renee Alkass finds alarming, since she once had the treatment herself for a non-COVID medical issue.In 2017, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Guelph student developed an ear infection that spiralled into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). After struggling to breathe, Alkass was hospitalized, and doctors discovered that both of her lungs were filled with fluid.She wound up being sent to Toronto General and was on ECMO for 18 days during her stay."I can't even fathom to understand what everyone must be feeling," said the 21-year-old, who has since recovered from ARDS and was eventually diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder."And I do hope that there's a light at the end of all this and things start looking up from here, and there isn't such a stretch or this need."When asked if the province has any plans to address the recent demand for ECMO at Toronto General, provincial officials didn't outline any.Instead, a spokesperson told CBC News the decision to use it is a clinical one, with the Ministry of Health providing dedicated funding to the hospital for patients who require the treatment."The hospital can expense the ministry for costs related to treating patients with COVID-19 ... if it is above and beyond their funding allocation," the ministry said in a statement."So, it's not expected that the needs of patients with COVID-19 will impact the use of the therapy for other patients."1 in 10 ICU beds have COVID-19 patientsBut Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, said the pressure on the ECMO program is just one example of the impact from rising numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions.Roughly one in every 10 intensive care beds in Ontario is now occupied by someone infected with the virus, he recently noted."What people simply have to appreciate is that critical care is the most complex care that you can access in an Ontario hospital, and it's located in only certain hospitals," Dale said. "And it's totally dependent on having access to the right kinds of health professionals with the right kind of technology."Both Dale and Cypel say the key to lowering demand for limited treatments like ECMO is simply reducing the amount of community spread of COVID-19."I don't want people to only see how serious this is when the province's hospitals are facing an even more destabilizing crisis," Dale said."Right now I know it's hidden from you. But I assure you that right now hospitals, especially in major urban centres, are bracing for serious impact over the next two to four weeks."'We're so blessed that he was picked'When Tony Passarelli finally woke up at Toronto General, months before the second surge of COVID-19 cases, he had no idea a machine had helped him get to that point."I just remember one of the nurses there saying, 'Do you know where you are? Do you know what day it is?' Groggily I said, 'I'm in the hospital, but day-wise, no,'" he recalled. "She said the date — which I don't remember — and she says, 'You've been here three weeks.'"Tony soon learned more alarming details: His entire family in Bolton, northwest of Toronto, including his three children and mother, all wound up having confirmed or likely infections of the virus.And he found out there was a long recovery ahead. Tony's motor skills weren't working, and he couldn't eat or drink on his own. He was transferred back to Etobicoke General and discharged in early May, and he now uses an oxygen machine to help him breathe.But he's alive, Linda said, and that's enough."Our family's a family right now because of the ECMO," she added.What scares the couple now? The realization that there's high demand for only a limited number of machines across the entire province."The fact that there are so few, and there's such a demand ... that is incredibly scary," Linda said."We're regular people; we're so blessed that he was picked and he's here today."
ST. MARY’S – The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s’ newest councillors have asked staff to explore making pension plans available to elected officials. The move would be a first for St. Mary’s, where councillors have been responsible for looking after their own retirement savings. But, said district one Councillor Courtney Mailman, “It’s kind of nice to be breaking new ground.” Mailman, district two Councillor Charlene Zinck and district three/five councillor, Warden Greg Wier – all newcomers to council – spearheaded the notion at the committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 18. “Because myself, Warden Wier and Councillor Zinck are all under retirement age and we all have full-time jobs, we wanted to look at the possibility of investing back into a retirement plan,” Mailman said. “Warden Wier had mentioned it to me and I expressed an interest, and he had mentioned it to Councillor Zinck and she expressed an interest, and then the other councillors were on board with looking into it.” Still, she added, “the sole responsibility for this would fall on us. We are not expecting, you know, a 50/50 split or a matching from the municipality. This is just something that we thought we would look into. We may all go ahead, or one of us may, but it would set a precedent for the future, for full-time working councillors to have that option.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald confirmed that staff are now working on the initiative. “We just got direction to go ahead and pursue it,” he said. “It [a pension plan] would just be through a bank. It would basically be an RRSP kind of thing.” It’s not clear what, if any, management costs the municipality might incur as a result of such a scheme. Currently, the Municipal Government Act in Nova Scotia does not require elected representatives to “buy in” to the one or more types of pension plans that are mandatory for, and administered on behalf of, town and city staff. In St. Mary’s, councillors, the warden and deputy warden don’t receive salaries, per se, but active “remunerations” set in each year’s operating budget. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, each St. Mary’s councillor will earn $13,043; the warden, an additional $8,300; and the deputy warden, a further $5,929. Regarding any future pensions, Mailman said, “It would be taken off our income as councillors and then just go out into some form of investment for us to have down the road.” Before that, MacDonald said, “We’re going to get somebody in to talk to us about it. The councillors can ask questions directly then.”Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
SHERBROOKE – If a good deal of politics is learning how to soothe savage breasts, then a background in music wouldn’t be the worst thing a budding municipal councillor could offer. Courtney Mailman, the new district one councillor in the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, says staff and colleagues could not have been more accommodating. “I have a lot to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’ve been doing some municipal training, and the councillors who were already there have been very helpful and willing to share their knowledge.” That’s a good thing for the music therapy graduate from Acadian University and current Recreation Director at High-Crest Sherbrooke nursing home. Otherwise, she might have had to pull out her guitar or roll in her piano. “I also sing,” she laughs. Mailman is one of four rookie councillors who were either acclaimed (as she, Greg Wier and James Fuller were) or elected (as Charlene Zinck was) into office in the October municipal election. Her reasons for throwing her hat into the ring are clear. “Being a municipal councillor is a new role for me and I am excited and eager to take on this new challenge,” she says. “My main priority is to get to know the people and businesses in my district, to hear their ideas and concerns and to represent them to the best of my ability. Integrity and transparency are important to me and I plan to work hard for my community. I look forward to partnering with other committees and agencies for the betterment of the Municipality of St. Mary’s.” She comes by these commitments honestly enough. Born in Halifax and raised in towns and communities across the province, the 37-year-old’s parents emphasized the importance of giving back. “My dad always told me not to complain about something if I’m not going to do anything about it,” she says. “He always said that if I wanted change, I should jump in and be a part of that.” To this end, perhaps, she’s worked for The Salvation Army as a community services liaison in Kentville, where a big part of her job was advocating for clients and building community partnerships. She also administered its food bank and Christmas hamper programs. “Plus, my family has fostered children since I was 15 and I had always been very involved and invested in the children who came to stay in our home,” she says. Sure, but why local politics now? Between her job and volunteering, her husband Kyle and their dog Tillie, it’s not as if she hasn’t enough to do. “Believe it or not, I wanted to take a more active role,” she says. “I want to be a voice for the people in my district, in the development of our community.” And in these fractured times just about everywhere, that might be music to many ears. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A residential school survivor in Manitoba who received his high school diploma last week says he hopes to inspire others to believe in their education goals."Now I can prove that an elder like me could graduate. If anybody like me can do it, they can do it," 61-year-old Glenn Courchene said.Courchene is Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng First Nation, located 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.He received his high school diploma from the Empower Adult Education Centre, in the neighbouring community of Pine Falls, Man., on Nov. 18.Courchene made the commitment in February 2019 to obtain his high school diploma."I wanted to go back to school and I wanted to complete my education, so what I did was I encouraged myself to believe in myself," he said.As a child, he attended the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School in Manitoba for eight years starting in the 1960s. He also attended the day school in the community for three and half years.At the residential school, he had only gone up to Grade 6, and he blamed the schools for him not being able to speak Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibway language, and for hurting his confidence."My education in the residential school, it was kind of hard for me," Courchene said."We couldn't learn because of what happened to us. We were abused, physical and all that. We were there to learn, not to get hurt."Arriving early before staffCourchene said he wouldn't have been able to finish school without the support of his friends and the staff at the Empower Adult Education Centre.Among the staff members he gives credit to is Karen Legall, the school's work counsellor. She helps students upgrade their skills so they can take the courses that are required for graduation.Legall said Courchene tried to give school a chance back in 2012 but didn't follow through with it at the time.When he returned in 2019, she said, he was there at the school every day.Every morning, Courchene walked the roughly seven kilometres to the centre from Sagkeeng to Pine Falls — often getting picked up along the way and given a ride.Legall said he would often arrive at the school before the staff, waiting for the doors to open."Last year he just took off," she said, adding he really enjoyed his math studies."He just started coming in every day. And then we thought, you know what, let's get your Grade 12. And he was so excited and he did it."Legall described Courchene as funny and caring and said he has shared many stories with the staff since he started at the school. She said he made individual dreamcatchers, as well as a big heart-shaped dreamcatcher for the staff at Empower."He really likes to share all his knowledge over the years. And we appreciate him doing that. We've learned a lot from him," Legall said.Courchene said he plans to go to university to obtain a bachelor's degree."I've gone through a lot of hurt, and I respect myself for going to school. And I will never give up school because I want to keep learning."
Although the Italian government says it won't make a COVID-19 vaccine compulsory - there is growing hesitation among Italians over its safety.View on euronews
A police officer overseeing enforcement at the Vancouver airport testified in court on Thursday that he had concerns about a plan by Canadian federal police to arrest Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on the plane she arrived on two years ago. Meng's nearly three-hour interrogation by Canadian border agents prior to her December 2018 arrest by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on a U.S. warrant has become a flash point in her ongoing extradition hearing.
Tanya Hayles is not an anti-vaxxer. The Torontonian has made sure her eight-year-old son Jackson is up to date with the standard vaccines, and she, too, has been inoculated."There are diseases that we were able to eradicate as a result of vaccines," she said.The event planner, whose business has suffered as a result of the pandemic, would like nothing more than to see the end of COVID-19 as well. Given the choice, though, she said she wouldn't be "first in line" for a COVID-19 vaccination.She points out that side effects of the immunizations she and her son have received in the past are well-known to doctors. "They can say, 'Oh, look for a rash around the needle point,' et cetera."However, Hayles has concerns about whether such clarity will be available with a coronavirus vaccine that has been developed so quickly."Something this big, something this major, something this rushed — I would want to know more information before I put it in my body," she said.Health authorities say the benefits of approved vaccines far outweigh any risks. But international research shows that while most people anxiously await the availability of pandemic-crushing immunizations, a sizeable minority are unsure whether they'd get the vaccine, at least in the early days after one is approved.As Canada readies itself to evaluate and eventually distribute COVID-19 vaccines, this vaccine hesitancy is becoming a key focus of the country's top officials.According to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, 65 to 78 per cent of Canadians have indicated they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. Tam said in an interview with CBC that it's "critical" for public health to bring what she calls the "moveable middle," or undecided Canadians, onside."I think that's why it is a very key pillar of our approach in the days and weeks and months ahead, to be able to get that group of people the information that they need to get vaccinated," she said."It is really important that as many people get vaccinated as possible to protect themselves," Tam added, "but also others who are at higher risk."Alongside Health Canada's commitment to study the data about the vaccines themselves, Tam said the government is preparing a multipronged campaign to inform the public about it. That includes working with social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, and even gaming platforms.Canada's public health team has learned that people who get their information via social media are less likely to get vaccinated than those who follow traditional media, Tam said. "So, we'll be collaborating with similar platforms to get the message out to Canadians about the safety of the vaccine, and how the trials are going, and what happens in terms of the programmatic implementation as well."Battling misinformationResearch shows that such messaging will have to contend with a lot of misinformation that is already spreading about the COVID-19 vaccines on some of those same platforms."Vaccine hesitancy is a real and persistent problem in Canada, and it does appear to be growing somewhat," said Aengus Bridgman with the Media Ecosystem Observatory in Montreal. He is studying perceptions about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines on social media.Beyond the more staunch anti-vax posts, Bridgman has seen concerns about safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, as well as questions about the necessity of getting immunized against this virus. What differentiates it from anti-vax sentiment, he said, is that although "it can contain misinformation and often does," much of it isn't "anti-science or anti-intellectual."The danger, though, is that those who are simply hesitant can be swayed by information that plants "the seed of doubt," he said."We know from previous work that we have done, and that other academics have done, that repeat exposure to misinformation [or] to misleading content can change opinions," Bridgman said."This is certainly going to be a major, major public health challenge over the coming year."Global issueIt's not just a concern in Canada. Some in the scientific community have already begun to tackle this issue. Using the hashtag TeamHalo, scientists working on COVID-19 vaccine development around the world have been using platforms like Tiktok to debunk false claims and answer questions that average people may have about the process.In 2019, before the pandemic hit, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats. Now, the fear is that those who hold off getting the eventual COVID-19 vaccine pose a risk to herd immunity.With no other health measures in place, around 70 per cent of Canadians would likely need to be vaccinated to stop the virus from spreading, according to Dr. Scott Halperin with the Canadian Immunization Research Network in Halifax.Halperin is working with public health officials to identify and address Canadians' top vaccine concerns. He said the speed of vaccine development keeps coming up as a persistent worry among members of the public."When somebody says, 'Well, it takes 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine,' that's correct," he said. But he added that, "the rapidity of the development of these vaccines was built on the shoulders of a lot of work that went before."Research on similar coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, meant "we had three or four years head-start already in terms of the basic science," he said. What's more, he said the usual administrative red tape of waiting for research funding and queueing for approvals was eliminated with the global prioritization of COVID-19."And that in itself cuts off three to five years," Halperin said.Dr. Tam said that this is the message she most wants to send to Canadians about the vaccine. "Just because of the incredible speed with which vaccines are being developed does not mean that we cut any corners on safety of these vaccines," she said.Tam points out that Health Canada "is one of the most stringent regulatory authorities in the world." In order for vaccines to get approved in this country, she said, "they have to be safe, effective and high quality."For her part, Tanya Hayles said she will listen to the advice of Canada's public health teams and is open to hearing more about the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines in development.In the end, she said, "I will do what is necessary, of course, for my health and the health of my son and the people around me."
After a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alessandro Costantini is thrilled to be back on stage. The artistic director will star alongside Jake Deeth in YES Theatre’s production of Mark Crawford’s play “Bed & Breakfast,” which will be performed at The Sudbury Theatre Centre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13. “It’s this really beautiful story about this couple who inherit a home in this small town and decide to move out there and open a bed and breakfast,” said Costantini. “It’s about them figuring out how to be who they are in this community where people like them aren’t really front and center.” The narrative follows Brett and Drew, a gay couple who have just lost their seventh bidding war on a house in Toronto. When Brett learns that he has inherited the family home, they decide to try their hand elsewhere. But when they start to experience some friction in their new community, they discover that the simple life is more complicated than they thought. The hilarious and heartwarming comedy explores what it means to be “out” in the country, skeletons in the closet, and finding a place to call home. It also features more than 20 different characters – all played by two actors, Costantini and Deeth. “We play 11 characters each. It’s written for two actors because the protagonists are telling the story of how they got to be there,” said Costantini. “It’s a little bit like theatre Olympics. It’s a very athletic play. There are no costume changes, and we never leave the stage. Every time we switch into another character, it’s all physicality and our voice that delineates who we are.” That’s why Costantini said that having Janie Pinard on board as the director of the performance has been such a boon. “Janie, Jake and I have been very close collaborators for over a decade now, and we knew this would be the perfect opportunity to work with her again. She is a very skilled physical theatre artist who trained in Montreal and California,” he said. “She is the perfect artist to be leading us in this production because it is such a physical piece.” Although YES Theatre normally puts on larger productions, this time Costantini was on the hunt for something smaller. The reason is that he had the safety of both the audience and the artists involved in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he was also drawn to the narrative of “Bed & Breakfast” because it’s about community. “Even though this is just two people, it’s really about a community and about all the different perspectives that exist in that community,” he said. “It’s a beautiful story to help create empathy. It is a gay couple, and they have to navigate being out in this town. Like every place, there are people who are more open and accepting to it, and there are others who are a little behind the beat. This play really does both – it offers the audience a lot of laughs and packs a punch in terms of being a piece of thought-provoking piece of theatre.” Costantini added that all COVID-19 regulations will be followed during the live performance. Ticket sales are limited to 50 tickets per performance, and all patrons will be seated according to social distancing guidelines. The Sudbury Theatre Centre is also offering contactless ticket services. Ticketholders will be able to gain entry to the theatre by simply providing their name at the entrance. Hand sanitizer will be readily available, and there will be volunteers stationed at the washrooms to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed. Tickets for Bed & Breakfast are available online at www.yestheatre.com and through The Sudbury Theatre Centre box office. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
Some small businesses in rural P.E.I. are feeling the local love this year, thanks in part to a social media group called Support Local P.E.I.Cathy Donnelly started the group in April 2020 after someone asked her for a list of P.E.I.-owned and -operated businesses. She said that before she even finished creating the list, more than 200 people were wanting a copy, so she decided to create a Facebook group instead."I was always a supporter of local businesses, but with the [COVID] shut down it really struck me that, as businesses were being forced to shut their doors, many businesses were at risk of being shut down permanently," Donnelly wrote."People look to local businesses to support their sports teams, to donate to fundraisers, etc. Now, they needed our help."Donnelly said the page also helps show Islanders don't need to leave P.E.I. to get what they need."Farmers to supply meats, vegetables and of course potatoes, Island artisans for unique one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing stores, print shops, computer repair, accounting services, restaurants, bake shops and more," Donnelly wrote.'It's been dramatic'Margaret McEachern, who owns Knit Pickers in Mayfield, P.E.I., was one of the first businesses to join the Support Local P.E.I. group.She said the number of locals coming to her shop has grown since she started posting in the group."It's been dramatic, for me, most of my social media followers were from away and all over the world, but not too much locally," McEachern said. "When COVID hit, and the support local group opened up right about that time, as more and more people were joining, what I was finding is more and more people, local people, were connecting with me through social media, were interested in events." McEachern said those local connections mattered, as she faced a summer with limited tourist traffic on the Island, usually the mainstay of her business. "About 90 per cent would have been visitors, perhaps 10 per cent local and that certainly has shifted," McEachern said."Even in terms of the customers that I'm doing for Christmas now, it's almost all local. So that's really cool. People are really engaged and really supportive of the whole support local idea." Not just retailMcEachern said the group applies beyond just retailers. "It's also involving catering, for instance The Yellow House over in North Rustico caters events, and if you're having an event, hire a local musician," McEachern said."Support the local farmers or me. I'm also supporting local shepherds because the wool is local."McEachern said the group has also helped her build connections with other small businesses on P.E.I., and she has even started "knit nights" that bring locals into the shop. "The drop in income from visitors this summer, of course, is dramatic, but the support from locals has enabled me to stay open and to carry on," McEachern said."So without that, without the support of the local people, it would be a real challenge." 'Still surprised'Brenda Doiron is also feeling grateful for the support of the Support Local P.E.I. group.She opened The Makers Place in 2019, next to her home in Rusticoville, P.E.I., featuring the work of 25 artisans, including products she and her husband make."My first year I had no idea what to expect, but the majority of my customers were visitors, with some locals mixed in," Doiron said. "But this year, the local support was fantastic. A really conscious effort to support local."Doiron said her business is actually up this year, compared to last. "Crazily enough, better, being as 2019 was my first year, so the word wasn't out," Doiron said. "Then, with the real drive to support local this year made a huge difference. I am still surprised, every time I open the door, at the amount of people that are out looking for handmade, Island-made goods." 'Beautiful surprise'Last year, Doiron closed the shop at Thanksgiving, but is staying open weekends until Christmas this year, thanks to the increased local support."It's at peak now, it's the Christmas season," Doiron said. "But I do think it will continue, to some degree, because there's been a lot of great discoveries on the Island this year."Doiron said she wasn't sure what to expect of 2020."I was very unsure of even opening, because it was early COVID times, certainly not where I am now with people coming in and enjoying the shop as much as they are," Doiron said. "So it's just been a really beautiful surprise. I so appreciate it all."More from CBC P.E.I.
Women from First Nations communities in New Brunswick have a new online store to help find a bigger audience for their art and to make up for sales lost to COVID-19.The site is called Nujintuisga'tijig E'pijig, which means "Indigenous women salespeople or vendors" in the Mi'kmaq language, and currently features 16 artists — but there is room for up to 30.Leona Newkinga, a Mi'kmaw and Inuit woman who lives in Elsipogtog, has her bead work featured on the site. She hopes it can bring a bigger audience to her work."My goal is to reach more people," said Newkinga.She already has pieces with Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jeremy Dutcher, but she'd like her work to go all over the globe."I was thinking to myself, 'Wouldn't that be amazing if, like, one of my pieces were like further than I have ever been?" she said.No negotiations Newkinga started beading about five years ago and said she wasn't very good at first, "so the prices were really cheap."But she honed her skills after a disappointing exchange with a potential customer who was inspecting something Newkinga had for sale at a craft sale."This woman, she says 'Your work is only worth five bucks' and that devastated me because I put hours into it," said Newkinga."I knew I wanted to be at a point where nobody can negotiate prices," and she accomplished that.Newkinga said people seem to have a new respect for Indigenous art in the last few years. "From when I first started out to now, it's the big difference," she said.Newkinga said COVID-19 hurt her income because she runs a business selling Indian tacos at pow wows over the summer, and those haven't happened this year. COVID-19 also put a damper on her creative output."I try not to bead if I'm not feeling good or anything like that, because everything, your energy, is woven into your pieces," she said.But, Newkinga said she's back at it and recently received a sparkling new shipment of beads. She hopes the website will help sell her newest creations.Tahnee Simon started beading after her grandmother showed her how to make a flower when she was in grade school.Over the years, Simon would put her beading aside, but she always came back to it."I could drown in it for like three to four hours and not realize how much time went by," she said."It's relaxing for me."Simon has a full-time job with Mi'kmaq Child and Family Services but decided to bead professionally as a 'side-gig' after a co-worker suggested it. "I was super nervous because, I'm not the one to be the centre of attention or, like, have my name out there," said Simon."It was a big step for me but I'm happy I did it because I love seeing customers wearing my work and it still feels awesome."Simon is happy to be part of the pilot project and hopes people enjoy her work."I thought it was such a great idea to get all Indigenous women names out there and give the public an idea of what we can do," said Simon.If the site takes off, Katherine Lanteigne, director of Women in Business New Brunswick said the project could be opened up to other Indigenous women in Atlantic Canada.
Islanders in long-term care are exploring the world without leaving their bedrooms.Health PEI is the first government agency to bring Rendever's virtual reality platform to residents in long-term care homes.Rendever is a Boston-cased company that offers virtual reality (VR) technology designed for older adults and seniors."What we've built is a platform that allows residents to put on these VR headsets and they can go pretty much anywhere in the world," said Kyle Rand, CEO and co-founder of Rendever."They can go back to their childhood home, they can go check off a bucket list item. They can go skydiving. They can go on a hot-air balloon ride. We can even bring them to the International Space Station. But most importantly, they can do all these things together."Ten pairs of the headsets are now in use in West Prince, in O'Leary and Alberton."Wow! Now that was fun," said Eva Rogerson, chair of the hospital foundation in O'Leary, after she tried it out Wednesday.Rogerson sat in an upholstered chair, with the goggles held in place by wide, comfortable head straps. Inside the headset, she was looking at a field of wild mule deer, somewhere in the western United States. She could hear the sound of hooves as the shy animals approached. She reached out to try to touch one."Takes you right into the real-life experience, in the midst of it," said Rogerson.In these days of pandemic isolation and loneliness for some seniors, health-care providers in West Prince see more than just pretty pictures in the new technology.The goal was fighting social isolation, said Paul Young, Community Hospital West administrator. "The feedback from patients and residents has been overwhelmingly positive." Staff use a tablet to monitor sessions and encourage participants to speak with one another about what they are feeling and experiencing.The technology lets seniors "take a walk" down any street, anywhere in the world. So some West Prince seniors are using the technology to drop by the rural farmhouses where they once lived.> We could really improve the quality of life for our people. — Eva Rogerson, O'Leary Community Health Foundation"We ask them where they'd like to go today and off they go," said Pam Corrigan, recreation manager of the Margaret Stewart Ellis Home in O'Leary. "We use it pretty near daily, depending on what we're doing."Staff in West Prince are now talking to the Rendever team in Boston about creating more virtual tours based in Prince County, perhaps offering strolls along local fishing wharfs and trips to potato fields at harvest time."Where people have dementia, their world is so small," said Rogerson."If I was a fisherman or a farmer, to be able to take me back in time where I could see myself hopping on a fishing boat or working at a potato field, we could really improve the quality of life for our people."VR easy for seniors to useWhen Rand started Rendever about four and a half years ago, the belief was that older people might not take to technology like this. Not so, he said."All they have to do is put the headset on and everything is controlled by a tablet. So staff members in the community, or family member or a volunteer — they control the entire experience," he said."You put on the headset, physical space doesn't matter, you can be socially together."Health PEI has run more than 2,400 sessions with participants spending 59 hours in VR, according to Rand.O'Leary Community Health Foundation purchased the technology with assistance from the federal and provincial governments.More from CBC P.E.I.
Air Canada has offered concessions related to its proposed acquisition of Canadian tour operator Transat to address EU antitrust concerns, a European Commission filing showed on Thursday. The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27-nation European Union, said the commitments had been submitted on Nov. 25. The Commission opened an investigation in May on concerns that the deal could push up prices and reduce choice for flights between Europe and Canada.
A private care home in Merritt, B.C., is accusing the Interior Health Authority of aggressively recruiting its health care workers by offering them higher wages and better benefits.Florentine Seniors Residence has lost three licensed practical nurses (LPN) and at least four registered care aides (RCA) to the health authority during the pandemic, according to president Frank Rizzardo."They are phoning our staff directly," he said. "It is not a matter of a response to an ad. It's a call to our employee."Interior Health denies recruiting directly from private care homes and says it uses a centralized hiring process where vacant positions are posted and advertised publicly. Rizzardo is adamant the health authority reached out to Florentine employees to offer jobs at an Interior Health-run care home in Merritt and took to social media this week calling for a stop to the practice."I had a staff meeting on Monday and at that staff meeting I was told that two of our newest RCAs were called by Interior Health and offered employment," he said in an interview with CBC News."We paid LPNs to relocate and then once they are here, they only work a short period of time before they are snapped up by [Interior Health]."Better pay and benefitsSlightly higher wages and better benefits are some of the things enticing his staff to leave for positions at Interior Health, Rizzardo said.Some nurses and care aides left in order to take advantage of the Temporary Pandemic Pay program which provided eligible front-line workers a lump-sum payment equal to about $4 an hour for 16 weeks, according to Rizzardo.Health care workers at private care facilities like Florentine did not qualify for the temporary pay raise.Florentine Seniors Residence is a 77-suite private care facility that offers assisted living and complex care in the southern Interior city.The staffing shortage is leading to burnout among his remaining workers, Rizzardo said.Rizzardo wrote letters to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown calling for an end to the recruiting practices, but he has not heard back from either of them, he said.Interior Health denies recruiting from private care homesInterior Health did not agree to an interview with CBC News but provided a written statement denying Rizzardo's claims."Employees are hired through a centralized hiring process. Vacant positions open to external applicants are posted and advertised publicly."Rizzardo said he's not surprised the health authority denied recruiting his staff and said he believes what his employees have told him about the recruitment calls.The Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
News reports that many snowbirds are heading south this winter — despite the COVID-19 pandemic — have angered some fellow Canadians who feel they shouldn't be allowed to go. "I think this should be absolutely, 100 per cent stopped," said Barry Tate of Sidney, B.C. "This is a pandemic. This is life and death."Tate and his wife, Patti Locke-Lewkowich, usually travel to Mexico for two months each winter. But this year, they're staying home because of fears of falling ill with COVID-19 while abroad. "We feel safer at home in the confines of our little home here," said Locke-Lewkowich.However, some snowbirds argue they'll be just as safe down south, because they plan to take all necessary COVID-19-related precautions.The federal government sides with Locke-Lewkowich, advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel abroad during the pandemic.But it's only an advisory, which means Canadians can still freely leave and return to Canada — a decision that's rooted in Canadians' constitutional rights."It's always a balance between allowing people to kind of live their lives and the government attempting to keep health crises under control," said Kerri Froc, a constitutional law expert.Please don't goIn March, the federal government issued its advisory not to travel abroad in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.After the cold weather hit in the fall and some snowbirds started packing their bags, the government doubled down on its messaging.Last month, it posted an alert on its website, warning seniors to stay home, because their age makes them more vulnerable to falling seriously ill with COVID-19. This month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland each made a public plea. "This is not the time for non-essential travel. It's not a good idea," said Freeland in French at a news conference on Monday. Watch: Canada's chief public officer talks about COVID-19's futureHowever, Freeland added that the government won't bar people from leaving. "We will not stop them," she said in French.As a result, Canadians are free to travel to countries that have open borders, including the United States, which, despite a closed land border, still allows Canadians to fly to the country. Meanwhile, some other Western nations — such as Australia, France and parts of the United Kingdom — prevent their citizens from travelling abroad for non-essential travel as part of current lockdown measures to help curb infection rates. "Going on holiday, including abroad, is not a reasonable excuse to leave," the Scottish government — which bars those who live in designated COVID-19 hotspots from travelling abroad — states on its website.Why doesn't Canada have a travel ban?During a government committee meeting on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that the government doesn't have the authority to prevent Canadians from travelling abroad."And they have, under the Constitution, a right of return," he said. Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that Canadians have the right to enter and leave the country. Froc, an associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, said the government could only limit that right for justifiable reasons and that justifying a travel ban would likely be an uphill battle. "The court takes a really dim view of absolute bans," she said. "I'm totally in favour of government taking the COVID crisis seriously, making policy to restrict travel, but they have to do so in a way that pays sufficient respect to people's constitutional rights."What are the risks?Locke-Lewkowich, who's staying home this winter, said she accepts that Canadians have the right to travel abroad but hopes those who do so won't get government aid if they run into trouble."Is Canada going to bail them out with our money?" she said. When COVID-19 began its global spread in the spring and flights were cancelled, Global Affairs Canada worked with airlines to fly stranded Canadians home.But now, the government department warns it may not assist Canadian travellers a second time round. "The government of Canada is not planning any further facilitated flights to repatriate Canadians and may have limited capacity to offer consular services," said Global Affairs spokesperson Christelle Chartrand in an email. Chartrand advised that, before leaving the country, Canadians verify if their medical insurance covers COVID-19-related illnesses and a possible extended stay abroad. Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said if travellers fail to purchase adequate insurance and fall ill, they will be on the hook for the bill — and that includes any medevac charges. "You aren't getting medevaced home unless you give them a credit card first and they put it through and then it reads approved," said Firestone with Travel Secure in Toronto. "To the best of my knowledge, I don't see it falling back on the taxpayer."Despite the risks, many snowbirds still plan on heading south; Firestone said that around 40 per cent of his 1,000 snowbird clients have already booked their trips."That's with me telling them not to go," said Firestone, who advises his clients not to travel during the pandemic. "Even as good as you protect yourself, you still can't protect yourself against [the] total unknown."Canadian travellers returning home must quarantine for 14 days. Freeland said that the rule will continue to be "very strictly enforced."
A discovery earlier this year by two sisters in Florida has revealed new photographs of a historic but little-known New Brunswick car.The Maritime Singer Six was assembled at a purpose-built factory in east Saint John in 1913 and 1914. None of the cars survive today, and only two photographs of the luxury vehicle were known to exist. Brian Chisholm of Saint John has been researching the history of the Maritime Singer for more than 30 years. "It was a monster," said Chisholm. "It was a 50 horsepower car. It had 36-inch wheels, it weighed way more than any regular car."It was also expensive, selling for $3,000. By comparison, Henry Ford's then plentiful Model T had a 20 horsepower motor and cost about $600.Chisholm had exhausted most avenues for his research. He'd combed newspapers from that time for ads and articles and even has the names of the five registered New Brunswick owners. The provincial archives in Fredericton had little to add.Then came some dogged detective work from 2,700 kilometres away in Florida.Gail Middleton Zellars and one of her three sisters were going through a box of items last January. They had been saved by their late mother.Included was an album of photographs and quality, extra-large negatives that belonged originally to their grandfather, Ottie White. The century-old pictures showed men in fur coats on a winter trip in an open car. In some of the photographs they are seen shovelling the car out of deep snow. A banner along the side of the vehicle says "Maritime Singer Six, St. John to Halifax.""I love history," said Middleton Zellars. "I love to look through things. I love family history. And I thought, well, that's pretty neat. And I was going to research it and see if I could find anything about it."The lack of online information about the car proved a major roadblock. It was only when she turned to Facebook that she discovered one of the images in her collection was the same one in the cover photo on Chisholm's personal page."So I thought he must be very interested in this. I decided to Facebook message him.""I clicked on it, and I thought, Oh, I don't know this person," said Chisholm. "And then I saw the photographs."When I looked at them I almost fell out of my chair."The collection of photos show the car and the Rothesay Avenue Maritime Singer factory.They also document a publicity stunt designed to promote the Maritime Singer as a durable and reliable car, more than powerful enough to push through packed snow and winter storms when other cars were put away between December and April. Ottie White was the driver-mechanic on the venture. He was accompanied by James Pullen, and by Dutch Ervin, the St. John Standard reporter who was documenting the trip for readers.The trio left New Year's Eve 1913, and arrived in Moncton 12 hours later after ditching three times in –24 C temperatures.But it was the next section that nearly bested both the car and its occupants. That trip, from Moncton to Amherst, took 28 hours."As the automobile struck the drifts the clouds of snow were thrown up over the front of the car and she plowed through for a few yards, only to sink deeper in the snow and sink, stuck solid," wrote Ervin.On occasion, they would seek help from a farmer to drag the car back onto the road using a team of horses.Fifty-eight hours after leaving Saint John, the men finally arrived in Halifax, suffering from exhaustion and frostbite. They were treated in hospital before resting up and hitting the road again, travelling through the Annapolis Valley to Digby and on by ferry back to Saint John.Chisholm and Middleton Zellars each had missing elements of the story.After the gruelling winter car trip, Ottie White went to Europe to serve as a lieutenant in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War.Chisholm retrieved his war records from Veterans Affairs Canada and sent them to Florida, along with the newspaper accounts of the Halifax trip. He learned that on White's return from the war he moved to the U.S., getting married in 1920 to Ethel Ault of Tennessee. The couple then moved to Florida, where Ottie eventually operated an auto parts business.Middleton Zellars wondered if there was something that could be done with the photographs. Chisholm put her in touch with Joshua Green, photo archivist at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, who showed immediate interest and was thrilled to learn the collection included the original negatives.Middleton Zellars conferred with her three sisters in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Vermont. Like her, they were excited to have the opportunity to make the donation. "It's just fantastic they were able to make their way back here," Green said of the photos, which have already been integrated into the collection. "This is as good as you're ever going to get for that."
Some gym and yoga studio owners in Newfoundland and Labrador have taken extra steps to keep people safe this week, knowing they could be among the first to close if the province moves back a level.Heather Murphy, owner of Islander Athletics, watched with approval Monday as Premier Andrew Furey withdrew the province from the Atlantic bubble.With cases on the rise in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, she decided to post a new rule for her gym in St. John's — anyone in contact with a person who has travelled within the Atlantic provinces is asked to stay away for two weeks."We've taken it an extra couple steps further and I know that's on us," Murphy said. "I've seen a lot of other studios doing the same kinds of things to really try and prevent a second closure from happening."Gyms and fitness studios were ordered closed in March, and remained shuttered for in-person sessions until late June.It was a devastating blow for many of the small gyms in the province, and Islander Athletics was no exception. They used the break to change locations, with hopes of reopening in a better place. What saved them was the family they'd built within their membership, she said.Murphy checked out all of Islander Athletics' equipment to the members and shifted to online classes. People went home with everything the gym owned. In exchange, she managed to keep much of the customer base throughout the downtime.Now, with small spikes in cases around the province, people like Heather Murphy are again watching the daily updates with anxious eyes.A pair of small towns are dealing with outbreaks, and as of Wednesday afternoon Newfoundland and Labrador had 25 active cases. The school district reopened an elementary school in Deer Lake on Wednesday, after a student tested positive earlier in the week.More than 30 kids in the child's class cohort tested negative.Moda Yoga owner Jill Holden said the actions business owners are taking to prevent the spread are not just about business — they're about doing the right thing."I think we all have a social responsibility to act from a place of kindness and compassion, but not just for ourselves," she said. "That's really what we're about in the yoga practice. We don't just act for ourselves, but for the greater good."Holden's studio has policies simliar to ones in place at Murphy's gym. They've tightened restrictions in recent days, after outbreaks in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick collapsed the Atlantic bubble.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Tuesday that all fitness and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and casinos would close for two weeks. Restaurants are open only for takeout.In Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Andrew Furey says he wants to avoid that tangle."We don't want to have to close our businesses here. We want to protect the freedoms we've come to enjoy, while in line with public health measures of course. We want to avoid a full lockdown that we are seeing across the country," he said at Wednesday's briefing."We want to ensure that the local economies can continue to operate as much as possible."Measures put in place by the provincial and federal governments helped small businesses like gyms and fitness centres survive the last lockdown.Holden said she'll oblige any restrictions put in place but she doesn't want to have to rely on those subsidies again."It was difficult and thankfully we got through it," she said. "Having to go through it for a longer period of time again, I'm not sure that's really viable in the long run because these subsidies we've been taking advantage of have been really helping, but I know that won't last forever."Newfoundland and Labrador recorded only one new case on Wednesday, and both Holden and Murphy hope the spread is slowing and a second lockdown isn't in the cards."It's hopeful," Murphy said. "I'm optimistic we'll be able to avoid it."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Alberta is about to adopt a new law that would make sweeping changes to the way automobile insurance works, but privacy advocates say a critical aspect of the legislation has so far slipped by with little public attention or scrutiny — the expansion of "usage-based insurance." Among many other changes, Bill 41 would make it easier for insurance companies to monitor drivers' behaviour by collecting detailed data through devices embedded in their vehicles or software installed on their smartphones. The implications of this are little known and poorly understood by many Canadians, says Privacy and Access Council of Canada president Sharon Polsky. She believes the Alberta legislation, which could pave the way for similar laws in other provinces, ought to be more fully considered before changes are made that will be hard to undo. "This bill should be halted in its tracks," she said. "The Government of Alberta and other governments across the country need to update the access and privacy legislation to meet current needs, to genuinely give us a right of privacy and to put us in control of our information." Insurance companies, however, say the legislation is long overdue and would put Alberta more in line with practices that have been in place for years in the United States, allowing drivers to prove their safe behaviour through technological means and thereby save money on their insurance premiums. Government says law will 'increase fairness' United Conservative Party MLAs say the new law would create more options for consumers, especially those who want insurance products tailored to their driving needs. "This is expected to increase fairness in the marketplace and further ensure that consumer costs adequately reflect individual risks and driving habits," Finance Minister Travis Toews said during second reading of Bill 41 in the legislature. To that end, he said the new law "will allow greater ability for industry to provide innovative insurance options … and greater flexibility in applying usage-based insurance." Ron Orr, the UCP MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, said the legislation means "Alberta drivers will have more choice and control over their own insurance costs." Polsky, however, says many people don't fully understand what they're signing up for when they agree to hand over so much data from their vehicles and smartphones to insurance companies, or where that data could ultimately end up. She also worries the monitoring devices, while voluntary in theory, could be made effectively mandatory through pricing, if drivers who refuse to be tracked face exorbitant premiums. Alberta 'the first' to go this route Some insurance companies already offer discounts to drivers who are willing to allow themselves to be monitored. But so far they are not allowed to sell usage-based insurance in other ways. The new law will allow usage-based insurance "however insurers wish to use it, so long as they can meet the regulatory requirements," said Celyeste Power with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. "Alberta was the first to announce full use of usage-based insurance," she said. "And just afterward, Ontario announced that they were sort of getting rid of restrictions around it, as well. In other jurisdictions, it's not available for use in that kind of broad way." She believes the new law presents an "opportunity for some really cool ideas and cool technology to come to Alberta." For example, she says drivers could opt for a pay-per-kilometre insurance option, where they would have a "way lower" base premium and then pay incrementally for the amount they actually drive. That option, she says, would be especially appealing to younger people who don't drive a lot but drive responsibly. Currently, young drivers face higher premiums as a group, due to the fact that their age demographic is considered to be higher risk by the actuaries who set insurance rates. Power says usage-based insurance is a fairer way to set individual rates. How the tracking works If you agree to the tracking, your driving habits would be monitored either through a device installed in your vehicle or software that uses the GPS, accelerometer and other bits of hardware built in to your smartphone. Power says different companies would track you in different ways, but basically they would keep an eye on things like how fast you drive, how quickly you accelerate, how hard you brake, how often you drive, what time of day you drive, where you drive, and so on. Less driving and better driving behaviour would be rewarded with lower premiums. More driving and unsafe behaviour would be punished with increased costs. She says most companies offer an online dashboard so you can track your own driving data, and even push notifications if you're racking up too many charges, similar to data-overage warnings on your cellphone. In the United States, she says, usage-based insurance has been correlated with safer roads, as it makes drivers more aware of their habits and provides a financial incentive to drive safely — or drive less. But, she says, it's not a product for everyone. "If you don't feel you're a good driver or you're speeding too much down the (Highway) 2 between Calgary and Edmonton, usage-based insurance is not for you," Power said. It also takes some getting used to. "If you think you're an amazing driver and the technology is telling you you're not, yeah, you might be a little bit resistant to it," Power said. "I think it just depends on the person." Data use, privacy and regulation Power says the use of personal data would be directly regulated by Alberta's Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) and be subject to oversight from the privacy commissioner. But Polsky, with the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, says most people don't understand just how much information is being harvested by these types of monitoring devices. She says some smartphone apps that insurance companies use to track drivers in other jurisdictions require users to keep them running 24 hours a day, even when they sleep. "They want all of it monitored so that we can enjoy more affordable rates based on relinquishing our privacy?" she said. "That is a very, very high price to pay." She also believes privacy laws, both in Alberta and nationwide, are outdated or lack the regulatory teeth to deal with international companies that collect data in Canada but store it in other countries. Alberta's Opposition NDP has also criticized the legislation, saying it gives too much power to the AIRB, which they say is too close with the government and the insurance industry. Numerous people on the AIRB board of directors either work in or previously worked in insurance, and the NDP have also pointed out that Jason Kenney's former chief of staff is now a registered lobbyist on behalf of the insurance industry, among other clients. "Bill 41 is giving the industry more control, giving the lobbyists more control," Edmonton-South West NDP MLA Thomas Dang said during second reading of the legislation. What's next The bill has passed second reading and is at the committee of the whole stage in the legislature, where MLAs can propose and vote on amendments. Additional debate was scheduled for Tuesday evening. It still needs to pass third and final reading to ultimately become law. If that happens, Polsky says, other provinces will likely look at similar laws. "We are now living in a monkey-see, monkey-do political era and the danger is if it's good enough for one jurisdiction, well it must be good enough for another jurisdiction," she said. "So if this is allowed to become 'mandatorily voluntary' in Alberta, it's just a matter of time before it proliferates across the country, at our peril. So it's up to us to understand what's at stake and voice our views to our elected representatives." Power, meanwhile, believes Alberta is leading the way in modernizing Canada's insurance-regulatory system, which she says has lagged behind the United States, where some form of usage-based insurance has been around for the past decade. She also says concerns over privacy and price hikes for people who don't agree to be monitored are overblown. "We haven't seen any examples in the U.S. or any other jurisdictions around the world where the usage-based insurance product essentially became almost mandatory just by the way it's priced," Power said. "It is sort of funny when you think about it," she added. "People are like, 'I don't want something tracking my movement or tracking this or that.' And yet, we carry around our phones all the time and they're tracking absolutely everything we do. "So it's kind of getting to a world now where everything is being tracked, anyway."