White House trade adviser Peter Navarro discusses Trump’s plan for a second term on ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro discusses Trump’s plan for a second term on ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’
Rather than opposing measures designed to protect people, us Christians should lead the way.
With 2020 in the books, members of the Melfort city council were happy to report an overall increase in building permits during this past year. Considering the average for the province was a 19.5 per cent decrease in construction permits over the year, Brent Lutz, Melfort’s director of development and planning,said the numbers say a lot about Melfort residents investing in their homes during the pandemic. “People were spending more time at home and decided that they would really like to have a new home and it would be comfortable. Everybody spent money on home improvements as part of the pandemic, as well. Home has certainly become more important to us as we've been locked in it.” Especially in an agricultural community like Melfort, a strong farming economy can drive construction in the following year, Lutz said, and what was clearly evident in 2020 can mean a strong 2021, as well. That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges ahead. “The only challenge we see in front of us right now is that the cost of inputs for construction have gone up considerably over the course of 2020. And we don't know what's going to happen between now and spring.” For 2020, Saskatchewan had $1.2 billion in building permits over 2020, which was a drop from 2019’s $1.5 billion. Nationally, Saskatchewan is ranked eighth among the rest of the provinces with a 2.8 per cent drop in the national average. Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador were the only provinces that saw a rise in permit dollars. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The long wait to learn who will represent Alberta at the national curling championships is over. The decision provided some clarity on the wild-card front too. Reigning Alberta champions Laura Walker and Brendan Bottcher will wear provincial colours once again, Curling Alberta announced Monday, 10 days after cancelling its playdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Walker, ranked seventh in Canada, was expected to get the nod for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. However, the selection of the fourth-ranked Bottcher for the Tim Hortons Brier was tougher to predict. Sixth-ranked Kevin Koe and 15th-ranked Jeremy Harty also had a case. Koe didn't play in the last Alberta playdowns since he had a Brier entry as Team Canada, while Harty is the provincial standings leader. "This was an extremely difficult decision for Curling Alberta’s board of directors,” Curling Alberta president Steven Young said in a release. "As a province, we were faced with a unique set of circumstances in unprecedented times. "No one could predict that we would be forced to make a decision like this, which we tried to avoid by pushing hard to host our championships." Koe will instead get one of the two wild-card spots based on the final 2019-20 domestic rankings. Fifth-ranked Mike McEwen of Manitoba gets the other. "My disappointment level really isn't that high," said Team Koe lead Ben Hebert. "If we knew that this was the make-or-break (decision) of whether or not we were going to be in (the Brier), obviously my tune would change. "I'm pretty grateful that we still get to compete regardless and that Curling Canada is putting on this bubble for us." Harty could still be considered for the third wild-card spot in the 18-team Brier field. The national federation will make that decision once all member associations either complete playdowns or name representatives. The Feb. 19-28 Scotties will kick off a run of six straight competitions in a so-called bubble at Calgary's Markin MacPhail Centre. "We're excited to wear the Alberta colours and the Alberta jackets," Walker said. "It's obviously not the same as when we won the honour to go but we definitely feel honoured to have been asked." Also Monday, the New Brunswick Curling Association cancelled its women's playdowns. Reigning champion Andrea Crawford has been invited to represent the province again. The New Brunswick men's tankard, meanwhile, is still on the schedule for Feb. 10-14. Bottcher, the Canadian No. 4, reached the Brier final last year but lost to Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador. The 2021 Brier is set for March 5-14. Ninth-ranked Glenn Howard of Ontario appears to be a good bet for the final wild-card spot, although other teams may be considered. On the women's side, two Alberta skips — No. 5 Chelsea Carey and No. 6 Kelsey Rocque — are ahead of Walker in the women's rankings. But Carey is a free agent and Rocque only has two returning players from last season's team, one short of the required minimum. Manitoba's Tracy Fleury is a wild-card lock at No. 2. The other two women's berths will be filled over the coming weeks. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the two-team Prince Edward Island championship at the end of the month, but a loss would move her into a wild-card spot at No. 9. World junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias is in the mix at No. 11 along with fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson at No. 12. It's possible that Rocque and 10th-ranked Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan - who also has two returning members - could be in play for the third wild-card spot. A Curling Canada spokesman said the 3-of-4 rule applies to the first two wild-card teams in each gender, but added that qualifying criteria for the third wild-card team won't be finalized until after all member associations have declared teams. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says he plans to expel eastern Ontario MP Derek Sloan from the Conservative caucus after news emerged that the backbencher received a leadership campaign donation from a self-described white nationalist. Frederick P. Fromm donated $131 to Sloan in August 2020 while the MP was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, according to Elections Canada records. That's the full name of Paul Fromm, who is widely regarded as a white supremacist although he has rejected the label of "neo-Nazi." The donation was first reported by PressProgress, a website funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute. "Derek Sloan's acceptance of a donation from a well-known white supremacist is far worse than a gross error of judgment or failure of due diligence," O'Toole said in a statement issued Monday evening. "In accordance with the Reform Act, I have initiated the process to remove Mr. Sloan from the Conservative Party of Canada caucus. I expect this to be done as quickly as possible. Moreover, as leader of Canada's Conservatives, I will not allow Mr. Sloan to run as a candidate for our party." Fromm, who founded the Canadian Association for Free Expression and Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, has appeared at far-right protests, has spoken regularly on the white nationalist radio show Stormfront and is the subject of a Hamilton police investigation into claims that he shared the New Zealand mosque shooter's manifesto on his organization's website. In December, anti-hate groups protested after those two groups received COVID-19 relief money from the Canada emergency wage subsidy. Fromm confirmed in an email to CBC News that he made the donation. "Erin O'Toole['s] bluster and outrage give the lie to his promise to build an 'inclusive' party," Fromm wrote. Sloan, a social conservative who placed last out of four candidates in the leadership race, said he had been unaware of the donation's source. In a statement posted to Twitter, he pointed out that his campaign received $1.3 million in over 13,000 separate donations. "Paul Fromm is a notorious name to some, but not to everyone, and clearly this name, mixed as it was in the midst of thousands of other donations, did not ring any bells to my team," Sloan said. "Upon learning about what happened, I immediately contacted the Executive Director of the Conservative Party, Janet Dorey, and requested this donation be returned." In a subsequent statement and Facebook Live video, Sloan said the Conservative Party accepted a 10 per cent cut of Fromm's donation. He also said that Fromm was accepted as a member of the party last summer, was mailed a ballot and voted in the party's leadership race — all without raising any red flags. "They are trying to kick me out of the party for not having some excessive standard of scrutiny that they don't even have themselves," Sloan said in the video. "I am not going to go down without a fight." Fromm said in an email that he was a member of the party and that he voted for Sloan in the leadership race. O'Toole's office declined to comment on those allegations, while a spokesperson for the party said its previous statement stands. News of Fromm's donation came a day after O'Toole released a lengthy statement saying there is "no place for the far right" in the party and pushing back at Liberal attempts to link his party to Trump-style politics. In his statement, O'Toole asserted his own views on such issues as abortion, gay rights and reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada, while insisting that his party is not beholden to right-wing extremists and hatemongers. Conservative caucus meeting this week A vote to expel Sloan could come as early as this week; the Tories are holding a virtual caucus retreat on Thursday and Friday ahead of the return of Parliament on Jan. 25. Under the Reform Act, passed in 2014, an MP can only be removed from caucus through a majority vote of all caucus members. Sloan sits in the Conservative caucus as MP for the Eastern Ontario riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington. Some Conservative MPs reportedly pushed for Sloan's ouster in May after he publicly questioned whether Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam — who was born in Hong Kong — was working for China. Ultimately, a backbencher put forward a motion calling on him to retract his comments. Sloan insisted that his question had been "rhetorical." Sloan also has attracted controversy for his claim that the cause of sexual orientation is "scientifically unclear" and for saying that the Liberal government's legislation to ban conversion therapy — the discredited practice of trying to change someone's sexual orientation with counselling — was tantamount to legalized "child abuse." A number of Conservative MPs swiftly indicated their approval of O'Toole's decision on social media. Eric Duncan, a fellow Eastern Ontario MP who is the first openly gay Conservative MP, was one of them. "I have had enough too. There is no room for this garbage in our Party. Good riddance," Duncan tweeted.
Joe Biden’s apparent plan to swifty stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline may not have been a surprise in political circles, but it will certainly be a headache for Justin Trudeau’s government and be an economic blow for Alberta.
What does it take to introduce, and then maintain, a herd of bison in a national park? Years of planning, meticulous tracking — and a really cool fence. With one year left in the Banff Bison Reintroduction Project, facilitators say it has been going well. "Bison are really iconic animals," Karsten Heuer, the project manager, told CBC. "I mean, they symbolize the wild, free, North American idea of what this continent used to be, and I think bringing them back after an absence of over 140 years is an incredibly powerful notion of restoration, and reconciliation, and rejuvenation for people." The bison were brought from Elk Island National Park, just east of Edmonton. There were 16 animals to start, including 10 pregnant females. They were originally held in a fenced habitat. "They've been free for over two years now. And their health is … a really good measure of it is how well they're reproducing," Heuer told the Calgary Eyeopener. "We've had about a 38 per cent growth rate in the herd every year. And that's led us to have 50 animals, as compared to the 16 we brought in just over three years ago." Up to 20 calves are expected this year, and Heuer says he wouldn't be surprised if the herd grows from 50 to 75 in 2021. Heuer says they have lost two calves, one to unknown causes and the other to wolves. "In a way, it is a little bit of a measure of our success, because, as you know, we're trying to not just restore bison to the landscape, but their ecological role and the actual integrity of the ecosystem." Heuer says bringing plains bison into a mountain landscape was a bit of an unknown. "As soon as we released them, they went up onto the ridge tops, started using avalanche slopes ... where the vegetation is quite productive and really kind of succulent and palatable in those summer months," Heuer said. "We thought that was maybe a bit of an anomaly as they were searching around their new home range. But that's a pattern that's played out over the last three summers pretty consistently, that they did go up high and use the full extent of the mountain habitat that's available to them during the course of the year." Heuer says there's early evidence that the herd is having a positive impact on the landscape and ecosystem in the area. The clumps of fur that they cast off are proving popular in many bird nests, and the grass seems to grow back just a little more lush in the meadows where they have grazed. "I wasn't sure, to be perfectly honest, how well they would fit into the landscape. But the first time I kind of came around the corner and saw them feeding in a shrub meadow and their backs in, you know, beautiful sort of reddish brown colour in the light, it was — it just totally seemed like it fit, like it was, it was made to happen here," he said. The area that has been earmarked as the initial reintroduction zone is 1,200 square kilometres, which provides plenty of room to roam for what Heuer says is a relatively small number of bison. It is one of only five bison populations in North America that will be subject to all the natural selection pressures, including exposure to wolves and grizzly bears. "You know, they're exposed to all the climatic extremes that the world is going to throw at them. We haven't fed them anything since we released them from the pasture in the backcountry over two years ago," Heuer said. "And they've been thriving." For those who will be born in the mountains, the habitat seems like a natural fit. Listen to the full interview on the bison herd here: "The calves are pretty incredible. They're born very, very ready to go, they're up and standing and running within hours," he said. "They have these beautiful, big, liquid black eyes. They're robust, they're tough, they're playful … it's hard not to chuckle as you see them, you know, butting heads and going up to the biggest bulls and trying to provoke playful responses." One of the biggest challenges was how to contain the herd within the safety of the national park. That's where the "bison fence" came into the picture. When the 16 wild bison were reintroduced to the park, it was the first time bison had been there in nearly 150 years. And the current fences would not contain them. That meant the team had to design a fence that would allow the free passage of other wildlife, while containing the bison. "The riddle we were faced with was that these fences are an important tool in keeping the reintroduced bison inside the park," Dillon Watt, team member and a co-author of the research paper, told The Homestretch. "But as you zoom out and think about the overall objective of preserving and maintaining biodiversity and the natural processes of the ecosystem, it becomes clear that you need these fences to not have a negative impact on the other wildlife that share the park." The team spent more than three years using remote cameras and GPS collars on wildlife to narrow it down. "It required a lot of adaptability on our part," Watt said. The result was a series of short fences that were placed in strategic areas. "These short fences, we placed them in natural topographic pinch points, and they're a lot like fences that you … would probably expect to see, wire and rail fences," Watt said. "But the interesting part for us was how to configure these rails and wires in number and spacing to accommodate different ways for other species to get through." The bison reintroduction team recently published their research in the online academic journal Wildlife Biology. "They're working well, the fences have largely been successful in containing the bison, and our research showed that all the species can navigate the fences — and on top of that, the fences do not have an effect on larger scale movements and migration," Watt said. Watt says the research will likely prove useful to other projects. "That's where our contribution can be important, I think, beyond just what our team has done here. We know now globally that species reintroductions are such an important tool in restoring ecosystems.… The world being the way it is now, these large, intact, big wild places are harder and harder to come by," Watt said. "And so as our species are reintroduced, it's increasingly common that they have to be kept in these discrete areas. So using tools like the fence is super important." There is one year left in the project. Facilitators hope to answer the question of whether it is feasible to continue to restore bison to the landscape when the pilot phase of the Banff Bison Reintroduction Project wraps up in 2022. With files fromThe Homestretch and the Calgary Eyeopener.
New Brunswickers who share custody with a parent on the other side of a provincial border say they are confused and frustrated since the borders closed and regulations tightened, and that their kids now need weekly COVID tests to see both parents. “Any person travelling as required to facilitate ... joint custody is permitted to do so as it is considered necessary travel under the Mandatory Order,” said Coreen Enos, communications officer for New Brunswick’s Department of Public Safety, adding that parents must register to cross the border through an online form. Parents are being told they won’t need to isolate upon return if travelling for this purpose, but say they are also being told they and any children over two years of age who cross the border must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, a fact the Times & Transcript confirmed with Public Safety. Crystal Baird, an essential worker in Sackville but who lives in Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia, shares custody of her son, Alexander, with his father, who lives in Sackville. “To expect a 10 year old to be tested weekly is unfair,” said Baird. Baird said getting a clear answer about the details from the province has also been a problem. On one attempt, she was told she would have to go to Moncton, a 40- minute drive from her home, each week to get a COVID-19 test. On another occasion she was told they could have the test done in Amherst, minutes from where she lives. It is also unclear if her son can continue his usual activities upon return to Sackville, she said. “It’s ridiculous,” said Baird, adding that she has been trying to get clarity all week and it has yet to come. Jessica Blakeney, who lives in Sackville and shares custody of four of her children with their dad who lives in Amherst is also frustrated. She said even talking about the policy with her children has been difficult. Her son said he wanted to see his dad, who he had not seen since Dec. 23, but was alarmed at the thought of having to get a COVID test every week. “I agree with my son," Blakeney said. "He shouldn’t have something shoved up his nose every week to see his dad.” Her children are scheduled to see their father on Friday, but the process still feels unclear and unfair, she said. “I feel confused and frustrated. I can’t answer my kids’ questions,” she said, and she can’t give her ex answers either. Blakeney said she feels parents should be accountable for following guidelines to protect their children from COVID-19, but this new process feels too hard on everybody. Parents with joint custody who lived in different provinces haven’t had it easy, Blakeney said. “I had my children for 75 days straight before the border opened to Nova Scotia.” Information for parents in situations like hers is not being provided in a clear manner, she said. The Times & Transcript asked the province to clarify if the COVID-19 tests for all parties involved need to be conducted in the province of New Brunswick and if children could continue all usual activities with others upon return, but did not receive a response by press time. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
A Regina company was fined $35,000 after taking responsibility for a workplace death that occurred in 2018. Alsport Sales Inc. — which sells snowmobiles, ATVs, dirt bikes and other motorsports vehicles — was charged in 2018 under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. According to the Saskatchewan government, a worker was fatally injured after being thrown from a snowmobile near Pilot Butte, Sask. Earlier this month, the company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a worker was trained, resulting in their death, the Government of Saskatchewan said in a press release. Three additional charges were withdrawn. The company was fined $25,000 plus a surcharge of $10,000.
TAMPA — Raptors coach Nick Nurse says he will watch with interest the fallout of last week's blockbuster four-team trade that sent James Harden from Houston to Brooklyn. He called it a "hell of a story." "I got to think that a lot of the teams, if not all of them, are pretty happy with what it ended up," Nurse told reporters prior to Toronto's game against Dallas in Tampa on Monday. "Even some of the minor parts of the deal — I think that (guard Caris) LeVert's a hell of a player for Indiana. I think he'll help them. (Centre Jarrett) Allen's a good player who will help Cleveland. I think Houston's happy with all of the assets they accumulated. And then obviously all the talk and focus is on Brooklyn and how high-powered they can be with all those guys. "So I guess we can all place our bets on what we think is going happen. But we've just got to watch it play out. From my standpoint, I hope it flops for all three teams in the East," he added with a laugh. "I don't really care what Houston does. But I hope it doesn't turn out for any of them." In exchange for Harden, Houston got three unprotected first-round picks from Brooklyn (2022, 2024 and 2026) and the right to swap first-round selections with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. Houston also got Milwaukee's 2022 first-round pick from Cleveland. The Rockets also acquired three players: Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, Dante Exum from the Cavaliers and Rodions Kurucs from the Nets. The Nets, meanwhile, sent Allen and forward Taurean Prince to Cleveland while LeVert ended up in Indiana. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021 The Canadian Press
Big White Ski Resort recently unveiled an updated master plan that could result in major expansion for the Okanagan resort, located about an hour outside of Kelowna, B.C. Submitted to the province as part of its agreement to use the area, the master plan sets a vision of potential development opportunities over the next 60 years, explained Michael Ballingall, senior vice-president of the resort. Ballingall said one of the most intriguing elements of the plan is the wealth of terrain that it identifies for skiing. If fully carried out, the resort would almost triple its skiable terrain, from 607 acres to 1,628 acres and add more than a dozen new chair lifts. Much of this new terrain is located in an area east of the Black Forest Chair known as East Peak. Ballingall described it as nice fall line, intermediate to high-end terrain. “What we got really excited about is the potential of this new East Peak area for skiable terrain,” said Ballingall. He said the terrain will be accessible from the main village by ski. Big White’s first master plan was signed in 1989 by Mr. Des Schumann and expires in 2039. This new plan is designed to further the resort’s draw as an all-season resort. It includes an expanded mountain biking trail system, a mountain coaster, and two golf courses. The plan was developed by resort planning company Brent Hartley and Associates. Ballingall said the resort has worked in coordination with Westbank First Nation on the plan. He said the resort and the First Nation have a strong relationship and that the resort is committed to providing employment opportunities for members. “We have a great partnership with Westbank First Nation,” said Ballingall. “They have been consulted every step of the way. They have great ideas and want to see Big White succeed… [and] they want to succeed with us.” While the plan may be ambitious, Ballingall said Big White stands to see significant growth in future given its high elevations and relatively cold temperatures. A recent report from Protect Our Winters, an advocacy group dedicated to supporting climate change policy, predicted Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR) could lose 12 per cent of its average season by the 2050s and that many Ontario ski hills could have seasons of less than 20 days in the 2080s unless significant action is taken to reduce the impact of climate change. “I think we are blessed because we’re in the Interior,” said Ballingall. “I don’t think any of us in our lifetime are ever going to have to worry about snow.” Public comments on the master plan will be accepted up until February 26. You can learn more about the plan, as well as ways to give feedback on it, at the following link. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
A staff member at a high school on Hamilton’s west Mountain has tested positive for COVID-19. Hamilton public health notified the board of the positive case at Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School on Friday, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said in a Jan. 15 statement. The school will “contact any students or staff identified as close contacts,” the statement reads. In an email to The Spectator, the board’s spokesperson said that there is “no closures for Sir Allan MacNab as a result of the COVID-19 case associated with the school.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
'Long-haulers' is the name coined to describe those who had COVID-19, have largely recovered and are no longer testing positive, but who are still experiencing a myriad of symptoms. For some, it's months later and they are still feeling the effects, said Susie Goulding, creator of the Facebook group, COVID Long-Haulers Support Group Canada. The list of common long-hauler symptoms includes chronic fatigue, joint pain, persistent chest pain, shortness of breath and more, according to a variety of studies, including ones from the U.S. Centre for Disease Control released this summer, and several from universities and institutions around the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. immunologist who has advised six presidents on a variety of global health issues, said in a July COVID-19 webinar, “There’s no question that there are a considerable number of individuals who have a post-viral syndrome that ... can incapacitate them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery and clearing of the virus.” Goulding said she and others have been experiencing a sort of brain fog and are finding it hard to go about their normal lives. In parts of the country with lower COVID case counts, Goulding said some are finding it hard to get proper care because doctors are not as used to treating long-hauler patients. When the Times & Transcript asked the province about the topic, the health department indicated it was in only the early stages of looking at the issue. “At this juncture, Public Health cannot determine the number of positive cases that went unaccounted for at the onset of the pandemic, if testing was not pursued at the time,” said Bruce Macfarlane, spokesperson for the Department of Health. “However, there is a client registry currently in place conducting follow-up research on COVID-19 patients.” Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in a news conference on Tuesday, that further understanding the prolonged longer-term impacts of COVID is being examined by the Canadian Institute for Health Research. "I think it is important to continue to get more knowledge about this and for clinicians and others to recognize that there's a lot that we don't know about this virus, and that we need to continue to look after and support those who've had COVID-19," she said. Goulding would like to see a more active approach to helping patients like herself. She noted that the U.K. and the U.S. have already set up clinics specifically for long-haulers, as has British Columbia. The vast majority of long-haulers test negative for COVID-19 and there is no specific test to give them for lasting symptoms, said Nam Tran, a director of clinical pathology in charge of COVID-19 testing at the University of California-Davis, in a news release. According to an article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association in October, some long-haulers have never had a COVID-19 test although they experienced the initial onset of symptoms, a factor which contributed to skepticism when trying to access treatment. “I know I had it.... I’m not making this up,” said Goulding. “We’re not recovering.” P.J. Duncan of Saint John believes he had COVID-19 in March when he was in British Columbia. There he was told by Public Health to stay home and self-isolate if his symptoms weren’t severe. When he first became ill, he hadn’t travelled, Duncan said, mostly leaving the house only to get groceries for others higher risk community members. His case wasn’t bad enough for him to take more than a couple of days off work. In September, Duncan moved to New Brunswick. After self-isolating for 14 days, he began his new life here. Since then, he's had symptoms consistent with other long-haulers. Duncan said doctors initially thought he had carpal tunnel syndrome, but treatment didn’t work. “I have pins and needles all the time. It extends up my arm and is like nothing I have experienced before,” he said. Usual treatments from chiropractors and physiotherapists haven’t worked, he said. Duncan said he's always been healthy. “I used to be an avid runner and on my spin bike all the time. Since March, I don’t have the energy.” It was only when hearing and reading about other long-haulers that he began to see similar experiences in the forums and research. Too often people say the virus isn’t that bad if you are relatively young or healthy, Duncan said. “I want people to consider another experience, like mine,” he said, where the symptoms "plague on and on.” When asked what suspected long-haulers should do, Tam pointed to recent studies that look for antibodies in serum or plasma that would indicate someone had COVID-19, but acknowledged these studies are not in widespread clinical use. For now, she recommends patients talk to their physician about exposure history so they can take that into consideration along with symptoms to create a treatment plan. Dr. Allan Abbass, director of the Centre for Emotions & Health Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University, said people who identify as long-haulers fit into several categories: Some experience a variety of left-over problems from the virus and symptoms that include anything from respiratory to organ issues, he said. Others will experience physical symptoms that are a response to the body being in fear for a long period of time, something also seen in post-cancer patients, he said. “Some people stay with symptoms for months and months,” he said, adding symptoms are physically occurring, but can be treated differently. Other cases will be a combination of the two situations. Some who have never had the virus may nonetheless have physical symptoms from other causes, including fear, he said. “There is no specific treatment for COVID,” he said. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach.” Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
A majority of Canadians, New Brunswickers among them, want improved access to psychologists, according to a poll conducted by Nanos. Canadians most frequently report having the most confidence in psychologists when it comes to helping people with mental health problems, but many say access to these professionals is still a problem and they’d like both the private and public sector to help them do that more easily. “COVID-19 has impacted the psychological health of New Brunswickers who were already faced with a shortage of psychologists,” said Mandy McLean, executive director of the College of Psychologists of New Brunswick. "Access to necessary psychological support was difficult before – and the need for the services of licensed psychologists continues to grow." Fifty-eight per cent of New Brunswickers responded that COVID-19 has had a negative or somewhat negative impact on their ability to access mental health care by psychologists. In the public sector, which includes psychologists who work in schools, hospitals and community mental health systems, the shortage is significant, McLean told the Times & Transcript. Of New Brunswick respondents, 46.1 per cent said the amount of time needed for Canadians to get access to psychological services in the publicly-funded health-care system is either unreasonable to somewhat unreasonable. More than 88 per cent of New Brunswickers supported or somewhat supported improving access to psychologists through the publicly-funded health-care system. Many New Brunswickers say the cost of receiving care from a psychologist is influencing their decision to pursue treatment privately. More than 83 per cent said cost was very or somewhat significant in deciding whether to access a psychologist. McLean said some extended workplace health plans are offering benefits for sessions with a psychologist for about $300 a year, which would not provide more than a couple of sessions with a private psychologist. More than 76 per cent of New Brunswickers said providing greater access to psychologists through employer health benefit plans would be a good or very good idea. Access is also about wait times. Long wait times significantly or somewhat significantly were a factor for 76.2 per cent of New Brunswickers in deciding to access a psychologist. Psychologists have nearly a decade of training or more, said McLean, making them unique in their extensive training in how people think, learn and behave. Nearly half of New Brunswickers believe psychologists are effective in diagnosing people living with depression, anxiety, addiction of learning disabilities. Nanos conducted a representative online survey of 3,070 Canadians, drawn from a non-probability panel between Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, 2020. The research was commissioned by the Canadian Psychological Association and the Council of Professional Associations of Psychologists and was conducted by Nanos Research before being compiled into a report. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
After a successful competitive career, Montreal figure skater Elladj Baldé vowed to push back against the sport's traditions and explore his own style. The result? Newfound internet fame. The 30-year-old skater's videos, which show him performing unconventional routines punctuated by backflips, have garnered over 16 million views on TikTok and 13 million on Instagram. "I was shocked by how things were being received," Baldé said of his quick rise to internet celebrity. But to him, the attention just means he's moving in the right direction, trying to modernize and diversify the culture of a sport that remains traditional and "limiting" at the pro level, he said. "I feel the reason why they're going viral is because ... I'm completely diving into what I want to do and how I want to do it." WATCH | Baldé speaks about authenticity in his skating: The Russian-born, Montreal-raised athlete started figure skating at age six, and spent years in the Canadian and international competitive circuits. After two unsuccessful Olympic trials and even more concussions, Baldé made the decision to retire from competitive skating in May 2018, at 27. Since then, he's been a choreographer and judge on the live-competition skating series Battle of the Blades, gotten engaged and co-founded the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance (FSDIA), a non-profit that aims to combat racial inequality in the sport. The alliance and videos are Baldé's way of reclaiming his artistry and authenticity after years of rigid competitive routines, he said. "Being a Black man in figure skating was a different experience," he said. "It's very much rooted in, you know, a white, European, elitist kind of mentality." "You have to fit within a certain box and a certain style in order to be successful," he added. The FSDIA is already working with Skate Canada to foster more diversity and inclusion in the sport environment. Baldé said he wants to address the financial barriers that keep Black, Indigenous and other people of colour from participating in sports like figure skating, and he wants to help create policy changes to help athletes and coaches of colour report racism and discrimination. "The culture of figure skating needs to change," Baldé said. "We're just really committed to bringing a new perspective to skating." That perspective shines through in his online routines, where he's been skating to the likes of Rihanna and James Brown on local outdoor rinks and scenic lakes during the pandemic. And he's not just attracting the attention of his fellow Canadians; American actress Jada Pinkett Smith reposted one of his videos on Instagram, where it racked up another nearly 8.5 million plays. Baldé said the viral fame shows him there's room to make figure skating cool again, as well as an appetite for more creative, diverse performances. "I would love to encourage people to pursue their passion, whatever that is," he said. "And hopefully, the next generation that comes into the sport will no longer have to deal with some of the things that us older generations ... had to experience." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Uganda's Bobi Wine is a pied piper of a figure who dared raise the hopes of the country's youth, only to be beaten in an election with the odds tipped against him by a man who has had his hands on the levers of power for 35 years. So what now for the self-styled "ghetto president"? Two days after Uganda's electoral commission announced that President Yoweri Museveni had decisively won last week's ballot, Wine and his wife, Barbara, remained under house arrest at their home in Magere, just north of the capital, Kampala. "Nobody is allowed in, nobody is allowed out. We are stuck," Wine said in a telephone interview with CBC News on Monday morning, adding that government security forces had not only surrounded his house but "jumped over the fence and taken control of my compound." "We demand that they release me and they release all the political prisoners so we can be able to assemble freely, like is provided for by the law, and discuss the way forward." Wine said it was clear Museveni was trying to prevent him from speaking to his supporters. "[The government is] worried I will make a statement that will make the people go active. We've been telling the people of Uganda and we continue to tell them that they must be non-violent, but that they must be assertive." Wine said his National Unity Platform (NUP) plans to launch a legal challenge to the results, which accorded him 35 per cent of the vote, and to present proof of electoral tampering once internet access is restored to the country. Museveni 'looking beyond this election' The government shut internet providers down just a day before the vote on Jan. 14 and one day after military tanks and security forces paraded through opposition neighbourhoods in Kampala, in a show critics say was intended to intimidate opposition supporters already hurting from weeks of violence and arrests by government security forces. Few analysts thought Wine stood a chance of winning the elections, given Museveni's determination to hold on to power and the tools available to him. But they say Wine nonetheless remains a threat to Museveni's hold on power, and that it's clear Museveni sees him as such. Although not necessarily from the ballot box. "People are right to say Mr. Museveni is looking beyond this election," said Fred Muhumuza, a lecturer in economics at the University of Makerere in Kampala. "His biggest worry is the ideology that has started, this thinking that is beginning to come. We've seen it in the Arab Spring: Once citizens feel they are not being well provided for by services that have been given by government, it becomes very hard to govern them. So I think there are concerns about the governability of the country going forward." In a speech on Saturday, Museveni claimed the election to be the fairest in Uganda's history. His support and that of his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), comes in large part from rural voters and those old enough to remember the stability he brought to the country after the bloody legacies of Idi Amin and Milton Obote in the 1970s and '80s. "For the older generation, the Museveni [appeal] has to do with security," said Muhumuza. "There are people who think [support for Wine] might have to do with other governments or foreign interests trying to take advantage of the youth and cause some kind of insecurity in the country." Wine appeals to younger Ugandans But two-thirds of Uganda's population is under the age of 30, offering up a powerful constituency for Wine in a country where jobs are scarce and many voters will have known no other president than Museveni. "They need to get opportunities to work and for the first time they have a younger person representing them who is in their age bracket," said Muhumuza. Now 38, Wine grew up in a Kampala slum, which earned him the moniker of the "ghetto president." He grew first to be a successful musician, changing his name from Robert Kyyagulanyi to Bobi Wine and writing songs about social injustice. In 2017, he stood for the national parliament and won. "He's been a public commentator. Every time in Uganda we had a very sensitive issue, Bobi Wine had a song, [and was] making an intervention. The music that made him a star was music about HIV/AIDS," said Yusuf Serunkuma, a social researcher at Makerere University. Serunkuma also thinks Museveni is worried about Wine's ability to mobilize the street. The 2018 protests in nearby Sudan, which led to the ousting of president Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in power, offer a fresh reminder of what public demonstrations can do. Serunkuma also said opposition activists understand that it's almost impossible to win an election in a dictatorship that disguises itself as a democracy. "So what happens is that you mobilize the constituents that make it difficult for [the government] to continue. And I think that this is what Bobi Wine is doing." Serunkuma said it's that possibility that Museveni has been preparing for, rather than the election. Election observers kept away The president's supporters say he has every right to order security forces onto the streets to prevent what they say could be a potential insurrection. Andrew Mwenda, a journalist with close ties to Museveni and his inner circle, said he knows Bobi Wine "very well." "I don't have a problem with him, even though I think he is intellectually handicapped to understand the complexities of government," said Mwenda, the founder and managing editor of a newsmagazine called the Independent. He dismisses Wine's supporters as thugs and hooligans. "They are incapable of tolerating dissent. It's not in their DNA. They make Trump's supporters look like the most liberal democrats the world has ever seen." On the other hand, Mwenda describes Museveni as a "very tolerant man" — even though the editor almost boasts that he himself was once jailed by Museveni, presumably for criticizing the government. He said recent attacks by security forces against reporters covering the Bobi Wine campaign — or trying to — were "regrettable," but not a "reflection of the freedom that exists" in Uganda. WATCH | CBC news crew deported from Uganda ahead of election: Canada joined several European Union countries, the United Kingdom and the United States in expressing concern over the harassment of journalists and media freedom ahead of the election. Election observers from the U.S. were refused permission to monitor the vote while the European Union pulled out its own team late last year, citing Uganda's failure to implement previous recommendations on electoral reform. A coalition of civil society groups making up Africa Elections Watch issued a statement saying their observers found that the vote did not "meet the threshold of a democratic, free, fair and transparent credible electoral process." Wine happy to 'inspire young people' Wine's challenge to Museveni is the story of this election and is potentially a defining moment for the country. But it makes it no easier to predict his future. On the phone on Monday, Wine was endlessly gracious, but the fatigue in his voice came through. Serunkuma has described Wine's popularity as contagious. He acknowledged that Wine has "really been successful, but I'm not sure whether what he's done is sustainable. Ugandans do not take to the streets." When they did in November, it came with a heavy price — at least 54 people were killed by security forces when protests erupted after one of Wine's arrests, allegedly for breaking COVID-19 restrictions. "I don't think anything is going to happen because the president has done so much to prepare for the moment after the election," said Serunkuma. "It started way, way back." Muhuzuma said "there are people who think the election will simply be an event in a long process of what will eventually remove Mr. Museveni." The question is, will his regime crack down even harder on civil liberties or will some of those in power be rattled enough to try and change something from within? "A lot of [Museveni's] supporters have, I think, picked up that signal, to say we can't just keep growth that is not inclusive, that is not creating opportunities for youth," said Muhuzuma. For his part, Wine said he is determined to see Uganda through to a new chapter. If that means merely serving as an inspiration for real change, it will be enough. "I came in not saying that I am the alpha and the omega, but I wanted to spark the mind that would change the world, to influence and inspire young people, and I am very glad to see that happening," he said. Wine also said he continues to fear for his safety and that of his wife. "We hope the world continues to put the focus on Uganda and to hold General Museveni accountable for our lives."
CALGARY — AltaLink wants to refund an additional $350 million to Alberta's electricity customers over the next three years because of low energy prices. The move, combined with its previous rate initiatives, would reduce each Albertan's electricity bill by an average of 11 per cent per year between 2021 and 2023. Alberta's largest electricity transmission provider committed in 2018 to freeze rates for five years and delivered more than $1 billion in savings to its customers. President Gary Hart says that with this extra $350 million refund, it is moving beyond just freezing rates to help provide financial relief to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says it has submitted its proposal to the Alberta Utilities Commission. The Alberta Chambers of Commerce says electricity costs have been among the top concerns for the business community. "AltaLink’s proposed refund initiative would provide much-needed relief to the struggling local businesses that play a significant role in our communities,” said chamber president and CEO Ken Kobly. The Calgary-based company is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, part of Warren Buffett's business empire. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — At least three provinces are now temporarily delaying or pausing COVID-19 vaccination programs amid fallout from Pfizer's decision to reduce Canada's vaccine deliveries over the next month.More than half a million Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 thus far, and more than 822,000 doses of the two approved vaccines have been delivered from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.But all provinces are being forced to revisit their vaccination programs after Pfizer suddenly told Canada on Friday morning it would be cutting the doses delivered in half over the next four weeks, while it upgrades its factory in Belgium. Pfizer was to ship 735,150 doses to Canada between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14.Canada's deliveries after the partial pause will be bigger than previously expected so Pfizer can fulfil its contract to deliver four million doses by the end of March.About 600,000 doses have been delivered from Pfizer so far.The new delivery schedule has not yet been posted publicly, but provinces are preparing for the temporary downturn anyway.Manitoba stopped taking appointments for first doses Friday but will honour appointments already made. Ontario's chief medical officer Dr. David Williams said Saturday his province would delay giving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to 42 days, instead of the recommended 21 days. The 28-day schedule for Moderna's vaccine will remain intact, said Williams.Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Monday his province has "quite simply run out of supply" of COVID-19 vaccines and is no longer taking appointments for people to get their first doses."I am deeply disappointed at the situation we are now facing," said Kenney."Due to the unexpected supply disruption the federal government announced last week, Alberta will have no more vaccine doses available to administer as first doses by the end of today or early tomorrow."B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said his province is considering whether to adjust the dosing schedule. B.C. had already changed the 21-day second-dose schedule to 35 days, but Dix said that may change again because of the delivery shortages.Alberta hit a milestone on Sunday by delivering of the first doses of vaccine to all residents of long-term care facilities. Ontario still anticipates hitting its first target of inoculating 61,500 long-term care residents, staff and primary caregivers by Thursday.Pfizer is trying to double its production of vaccine doses to two billion this year and is planning to temporarily curb production at its Belgian facility to make upgrades that will allow for that increase.Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said the delivery delays will affect other countries besides Canada and the European Union but the company has not identified them."Multiple countries around the world, beyond Canada and the EU, will be impacted in the short term," Antoniou said."Pfizer is working closely with all governments on allocation of doses. While the precise percentage allocation may fluctuate, we anticipate that it will balance out by the end of (the first quarter of) 2021."Europe has already seen its delivery delay period shortened from four weeks to just one. Pfizer told Europe Friday that delays to its dose deliveries would end Jan. 25, while Canada expects to be affected until mid-February.European leaders were furious at the initial announcement that their deliveries would be smaller for several weeks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Pfizer's CEO directly to discuss the issue late last week.Pfizer later announced Europe's deliveries would only be affected for this week.Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must explain why Canada's delivery schedule is being affected for longer."It’s up to the prime minister to explain to Canadians why they won’t be able to get vaccinated for months, while European countries have minimal delays in receiving vaccines," Rempel said."It’s up to him to explain why, based on Friday’s news about vaccine delivery delays, we might be looking at many more months of lockdown — with the lost jobs, time with families, and mental health challenges that accompany them. It’s up to him to find a better path forward."Trudeau said Friday the decision was "out of our hands" but that it would not affect Canada's long-term goal to have every Canadian vaccinated by the end of September.By the fall, Canada is to get a total 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Both use a similar technology to train the human immune system to recognize the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, and mount a defence against it.Both vaccines showed they were more than 94 per cent effective at preventing serious illness after two doses. Health Canada approved Pfizer's vaccine Dec. 9 and Moderna's on Dec. 23. It continue to review two more COVID-19 vaccines, from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, but neither is expected to complete the review process in Canada for at least several more weeks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Ontario physicians are calling on the province to provide paid sick days for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and other long-term care home (LTCH) workers in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. There is also a recommendation that government needs to invest more money to improve internet infrastructure in Northern Ontario with the ideaof being able to improve virtual care. These are just a couple of several calls to action by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) to fight against the forecasts that say more deaths will be occurring in long-term care homes. The recommendations were provided in a recent teleconference hosted by OMA president Dr. Samantha Hill, who said physicians have been seeing the terrible toll the pandemic is taking on elderly residents in nursing homes. "Our members, Ontario doctors, have been on the first line of the pandemic since the very beginning," said Hill. "We've seen first hand the effects on our patients, our colleagues, our hospitals and people in all settings including long-term care," she added. Hill said the medical community in Ontario has been watching the long-term care situation for several months and she said it was dire and heart-breaking. "Over Christmas some of our members came forth to help in overwhelmed LTCHs and described conditions and situations that are truly inhumane," said Hill. "Right now, we all know more needs to be done quickly," said Hill. "What can we do now for the residents, for the families, and for those who are caring for them?" And while she asked the question, Hill had an answer chambered. She said there are actually five important steps that can be taken immediately by the provincial government to improve the situation in long-term care homes. Hill said this included the following: 1. Increase efforts to vaccinate all long-term care residents and caregivers, including health workers, personal support workers, other staff and relatives who provide physical and mental health support. Hill said in concert with that, the province should continue COVID-19 testing so that public health officials have better real-time information to prevent or manage outbreaks. 2. Cut the red tape preventing physicians from moving rapidly into long-term care homes with outbreaks or other significant needs. The OMA said this would include better valuation of all LTC employees and caregivers to the point that paid sick days would be provided. This means that personal support workers (PSWs) who might be feeling under the weather would not have to make the choice of going to work to earn money for food and rent or stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. The OMA said this also included the need to speed up training of new PSWs including retraining people who lost jobs in other industries because of COVID. 3. Continue the use of virtual care in long-term homes to prevent the spread of the virus and improve access to specialists, in conjunction with in-person care where appropriate, especially in homes with outbreaks and where patients are in declining health. Virtual care also helps LTC residents receive more timely care and limit unnecessary trips to the hospital or community medical clinics, said the OMA document. For Northern Ontario and rural areas, this would mean that an additional financial investment would be required by the government to ensure that there is reliable internet infrastructure so that certain residents can get care by cellphone, by tablet or video device. 4. Appoint a chief medical officer for long-term care for each Ontario Health region to ensure the best quality care is being provided; for example, by coordinating efforts between the acute and long-term care sectors, liaising with Public Health and co-ordinating physician coverage over multiple sites. 5. Shift social attitudes so that caring for frail older adults is considered to be one of the most important jobs in the world. “The situation in our long-term care homes is dire and heartbreaking,” said Dr. Hill. “We appreciate the steps the government has taken and continues to take. But we all know more needs to be done and done quickly.” The OMA said the five recommendations have been forwarded to the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission with the message that instead of waiting for a final report in April as expected, the premier should consider taking action now. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
An undercover police officer called in to investigate a Toronto-area constable accused of corruption described Monday arranging for his target to meet another undercover officer who would pose as a drug dealer and informant. The undercover officer, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, told a virtual Ontario court he was asked in June 2018 to look into the actions of Richard Senior, a constable with the York Regional Police, and help collect evidence for the investigation. He was only told it was an investigation into "police corruption" and breach of trust, but was given no other details about the nature of the conduct he was meant to be investigating, the undercover officer testified. Over the first few weeks of his assignment, the undercover officer said he exchanged phone numbers with Senior, had recording equipment installed in one of the cruisers the two of them used, and managed to borrow Senior's personal truck to have similar equipment set up inside. In early July 2018, the undercover officer said he helped arrange for the two of them to be out driving together and stop another undercover officer, who would pretend to be a drug dealer and offer to become an informant in exchange for leniency. Senior, a veteran of the force, was arrested in October 2018 after investigators alleged he was involved in a number of illegal enterprises. He was initially charged with 30 offences. He pleaded not guilty Monday to 14 charges, including breach of trust, possession of a firearm for the purpose of committing an offence, and trafficking in both cocaine and steroids. Prosecutors allege Senior planned to rob a fictitious drug warehouse he learned about from the fake informant, and offered to sell the drugs to two men he knew. They also say he trafficked steroids and testosterone to the undercover officer posing as his partner and to another officer. In an opening statement, Crown attorney Mabel Lai said Senior stole money he was given to pay informants, namely the second undercover officer and a friend using an alias. They also allege he submitted an intelligence report about his former romantic partner, saying she was involved in the drug trade and attributing the information to that same friend. The Crown alleged Monday that he did so because he was "upset" after his ex threatened to expose an extramarital affair. Senior is also accused of inappropriately accessing information from a police database and disclosing confidential information. The second undercover officer is expected to testify later in the trial. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
A Hamilton educational assistant made the decision to switch from providing in-person to virtual support for his students as the province announced on Tuesday it would further extend school closures for most — but not all — Ontario students. “I feel like the main priority of school boards right now should be keeping their staff and students safe,” said Robert Mines, who has worked at the Glenwood School, designated for students with exceptionalities. “We do not feel safe right now.” The union representing more than 900 educational support workers in Hamilton says members are concerned for their safety — and that of their students — as schools in southern Ontario remain open for students with special needs. “The members are terrified. They’re afraid they’re going to get COVID, they’re afraid they’re going to give it to their family,” said Susan Lucek, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 527, which mainly represents educational assistants. “We feel like we are being used as respite care.” The Ontario government announced Tuesday it would extend remote learning for all students, except those with pervasive needs, defined as severe physical, medical and cognitive, among other, challenges. Currently, there are approximately 340 students learning in-person — with more than 330 staff supporting them — at 44 Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) elementary and secondary schools across the city. In the Catholic board, there are about 230 learners and about 360 educators, including teachers, support staff and principals, in 38 elementary and “all seven” high schools, chair Pat Daly told The Spectator. Lucek said the narrative that schools are closed is misleading. “All of the schools have been open since September,” she said. “It’s misinformation that they’re closed. They’re not.” She said her members appreciate the challenges that parents face supporting kids’ learning from home. “We want to help these students, we want them to succeed,” she said. “But when is our health going to trump education?” Mines said he felt safe going into school in September when the COVID-19 numbers were relatively low. But now, with record-high case counts in the city, he is concerned about safety. “And I think that means currently, until the numbers are decreasing again, that students with exceptionalities and special needs should be staying at home because a lot of them are medically fragile,” he said. Glenwood closed on Thursday after a student tested positive for the virus. “It was just inevitable, I would say, this was going to happen,” Mines said. “Especially because it’s so hard to detect.” He said despite small class sizes — about seven students in his Glenwood class — physical distancing is almost impossible, he said. Not all students can wear masks, and many require one-on-one support and personal care. “The struggle with special needs students is that oftentimes it’s hard to know if they’re holding symptoms of being sick or if it’s just part of their exceptionality, and they have no way to communicate that with us, for the most part,” he said. “It’s very hard to tell if they have an upset stomach because they’re sick or if they’re just not having a good day.” In an Jan. 7 letter addressed to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce, COPE Ontario asked the provincial government for “pandemic pay” for its members, along with “immediate access to COVID testing upon exposure,” technology supports and restructuring to support increased virtual education. “We, as education workers, are forgotten,” the letter reads. Amanda Zavarella said she is “very fortunate” to be working remotely and safely from home. Zavarella, a child and youth care practitioner with the HWDSB, said the union has told her members could be “redeployed” to schools that are short-staffed. She said she feels both the province and the board are sending educational support workers “into really unsafe situations” where they are unable to physical distance. “It’s almost like education workers are those forgotten voices, those voices that are not being heard,” she said. Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator