World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned countries that letting COVID-19 run unchecked is like 'playing with fire.'
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned countries that letting COVID-19 run unchecked is like 'playing with fire.'
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The Canadian government has a marketplace worth an estimated $25 billion each year. And though it can be a difficult market to break into, countless businesses can benefit from many lucrative opportunities. This includes the businesses of five Indigenous women entrepreneurs who were on a panel this past Wednesday to discuss their stories, including the successes and challenges of landing contracts with the federal government. The event was organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and its entrepreneurial outreach and navigation program called BeTheDrum. The speakers’ panel, which was held online, was titled How We’re Doing Business with the Government of Canada. Sylvie Ouellette, president and co-founder of Versatil: Business Intelligence and Performance Management, started her company in 2010 in the Quebec city of Gatineau. Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is directly across a river from Gatineau. “So definitely we wanted to see how we could do business with the federal government,” said Ouellette. Her company specializes in data management, business analytics, security and AI intelligence. “This is a big employer here.” Ouellette said simply having the desire to land federal contracts is not sufficient. In order to secure some government deals, previous experience working for the Canadian government is required. This experience can only be obtained through partnerships. “It took us many years to be able to bid on a contract because we had to work with other companies first to get the experience so we could have our own references so that we could bid,” Ouellette said. “It’s complex, even if it’s small amounts.” Julie Lepage, the co-founder of Montreal-based Acosys Consulting Services, said she knew as early as when a business plan was being worked on that federal contracts were worth pursuing. “We saw there was so much potential in doing business with the government that we couldn’t ignore it,” she said. Acosys Consulting Services will be celebrating its 15th year in business this coming February. Winning some federal work though was not an easy path to navigate. Lepage attended numerous workshops and conferences in order to gather information on how the procurement system works for Indigenous entrepreneurs. “That was hard because we were meeting people who were in (in other industries) and they were getting contracts faster,” Lepage said. “For us it was hard because $10,000 in consulting services is nothing. It keeps us employed maybe for a month. It was a puzzle or problem we had to resolve.” Lepage said it took at least four years before Acosys Consulting Services even submitted its first bid to the federal government. And it took until 2018 for the business to secure its first long-term contract from the Canadian government. Her company quickly learned that it’s best to hire an expert in a particular field to assist with a bid proposal, Lepage said. While hiring another individual will result in additional expenses, it can be fruitful if a noteworthy contract is secured. After years of gaining experience in what federal officials are looking for in bid submissions, Lepage and her partner now handle the work on their own. “We learned and now we don’t hire anybody else,” she said. “We know how to answer all of these things.” Wendy Roberts is the president of Ottawa-based Makwa Resources, which specializes in human resources and program development with both public and private sectors. Makwa Resources started 15 years ago and Roberts said in the early years her company also had to rely on big partnerships to secure contracts with the federal government. But now it lands its own deals. “There’s a lot of positive energy that’s floating around,” she said, adding she’s hoping to win a number of contracts prior to the Christmas season. “We’re finding more and more with our government clients that they are listening more. It’s been a very positive reinforcement for us.” As for Janice Larocque, who is Métis and living in Calgary, she is the president and owner of a pair of staffing companies, Fast Labour Solutions and Spirit Omega. Playing by the government’s rules has kept her busy. “Partnerships can work but it does take a while,” she said. “So, if that’s what we need to do to advance, I think we should.” Larocque said she’s had plenty of discussions with those in her industry and a common thought is why there is a need to partner if a business has the capacity to provide a service on its own. “I really think if we start pushing, we don’t have to partner to deliver our services,” she said. Genevieve Cumpson is president of Drapeau Automatic Sprinkler Corp., a leading independent designer and installer of fixed fire protection and detection systems based in Kingston, Ont. “In our industry we’re so regulated with our codes that the government also has to be regulated so we kind of fit together,” Cumpson said. “We’re just very fortunate that we were finally able to be certified as an Aboriginal business.” Cumpson said landing federal contracts has proven beneficial for her company when seeking other work. “For us, working with the government has really actually helped us learn how to put proposals together because they required so much information,” she said. “Sometimes with our private companies we were able to bombard them because we had our structures already set up.” Windspeaker.comBy Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Rappelons qu’en 2010 la Ville de Sept-Îles a vendu une vingtaine de terrains sur les rues Roméo-Vachon, Joséphat-Méthot et Comeau qui ont été endommagés par un affaissement du sol. Par la suite, une cinquantaine de maisons ont été suivies de près, afin de voir si leurs structures ne seraient pas endommagées également par un tel affaissement. Maître Luc Dion, du cabinet Besnier, Dion et Rondeau est mandaté afin de coordonner les expertises finales. Le directeur général de la Ville Patrick Gwilliam mentionne qu’un expert en sol est prêt à se prononcer et s’engager professionnellement afin de dire que ces maisons ne bougeront plus dans le futur. Il y aura tout de même certaines vérifications, mais le tout semblerait très positif. Certains terrains ont été surveillés lors de ces expertises, et à la lumière de ces années de suivi, quelques-uns pourraient être vendus prochainement.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
The Deh Gáh Got’îê Koe seniors' complex has reopened in Fort Providence following renovations. Seven additional units for seniors have been created. In a news release on Tuesday, the N.W.T. government said a local contractor and local workers had completed the project, which is designed to help more Elders remain in their home community. “Seniors are a key part of our community. Ensuring that seniors have housing in the community is important to us,” Fort Resolution’s mayor, Danny Beaulieu, was quoted as saying. “This renovation means that more of our seniors can reside in our community and spend time with family and friends.” Ensuring seniors can age in place is a stated priority of Caroline Cochrane's government. Paulie Chinna, the housing minister, said that was "a crucial part of ensuring the health and wellbeing of our Elders."Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
NEW YORK — Authorities on Tuesday announced the indictment of 18 people, including New York City rapper Casanova, in connection to a litany of gang-related crimes including racketeering, murder, drugs, firearms, and fraud offences. Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss and other law enforcement officials issued a statement accusing those named in the indictment of being part of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation gang, operating in New York City and part of New York state. Authorities said 17 of the 18 named in the indictment were in custody. The FBI’s New York office issued a tweet saying Casanova, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, was still being sought. “Members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Strauss said in the statement. One of those indicted was accused in connection with the Sept. 21 killing of a minor in Poughkeepsie, New York. The others were indicted in connection to charges including assault, drug distribution and weapons possession. Two people were charged with falsely using other people's identity information to file for COVID-19 unemployment benefits. Casanova, currently signed to Roc Nation, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering; conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and firearms possession. Emails were sent to Roc Nation and the rapper's representative seeking comment. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks are quickly running into the political reality of a narrowly controlled Senate that will leave the new Democratic administration dependent on rival Republicans to get anything done. Under leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican senators will hold great sway in confirming Biden’s nominees regardless of which party holds the majority after runoff elections in January. Biden will have little room to manoeuvr and few votes to spare. As Biden rolled out his economic team Tuesday — after introducing his national security team last week — he asked the Senate to give his nominees prompt review, saying they “deserve and expect nothing less.” But that seems unlikely. Republicans are swiftly signalling that they’re eager to set the terms of debate and exact a price for their votes. Biden's choice for budget chief, Neera Tanden, was instantly rejected as “radioactive.” His secretary of state nominee, Antony Blinken, quickly ran into resistance from GOP senators blasting his record amid their own potential 2024 White House campaigns. Even as most Republican senators still refuse to publicly acknowledge President Donald Trump’s defeat, they are launching new battles for the Biden era. The GOP is suspended between an outgoing president it needs to keep close — Trump can still make or break careers with a single tweet — and the new one they are unsure how to approach. Almost one month since the Nov. 3 election, McConnell and Biden have not yet spoken. “The disagreement, disorientation and confusion among Republicans will make them inclined to unite in opposition,” said Ramesh Ponnuru, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, during a Tuesday briefing. “They don’t necessarily know what they’re for, but they can all agree they don’t like Neera Tanden.” A new president often runs into trouble with at least a few Cabinet or administrative nominees, individuals who rub the Senate the wrong way and fail to win enough votes for confirmation or are forced to withdraw after grueling public hearings. Trump’s nominees faced enormous resistance from Senate Democrats, who used their minority-party status to slow-walk confirmation for even lower-level positions. It’s been an escalation of the Senate's procedural battles for at least a decade. But the battles ahead are particularly sharp as Biden tries to stand up an administration during the COVID-19 crisis and economic freefall, rebuilding a government after Trump chased away many career professionals and appointed often-untested newcomers. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised the expertise Biden's choices will bring to government. He scoffed at Republicans for complaining about Tanden’s penchant for sharp tweets after four years of Trump’s endless Twitter barbs that GOP senators often tried to ignore. “After what all we went through over the past four years, I would expect that almost all of President-elect Biden’s nominees would be widely acceptable,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. Instead, he warned, the "switch is starting to flip” into Republican opposition. To be sure, some key Biden choices will have an easier path to confirmation. Janet Yellen, who would become the nation’s first female treasury secretary, drew few public complaints from Republicans. Many had voted to confirm her in 2014 as Federal Reserve chair. Democrats have their own battles ahead. Biden faces the daunting task of keeping the party's centrist and progressive factions from splintering as he tries to put his team in place. Republicans now hold a 50-48 advantage in the Senate, but if Democrats win both Georgia seats in the Jan. 5 runoff elections, they would wrest control, since the vice-president, which will be Kamala Harris, becomes a tie-breaker. The nomination fights will serve as an early indicator of the approach Republicans take toward Biden as they find their political footing in a post-Trump environment. Trump continues to wield great influence over the party as he is being eased out, and senators, in particular, need to keep him close for the Georgia runoff elections. The president is planning to visit Georgia on Saturday, where two GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, failed to clear the 50% threshold to win reelection in November. Perdue faces Democrat Jon Ossoff and Loeffler faces Democrat Raphael Warnock in a state that flipped to support Biden. McConnell has said almost nothing about Biden’s nominees or next year's agenda as he continues to give Trump the time and space to challenge election results in court cases that have delivered few victories. Instead, he's letting other Senate Republicans, particularly those seen as having White House ambitions, make names for themselves. GOP Sens. Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley, among others, have all hurled pointed complaints about Biden's picks. Despite Trump’s defeat, Republicans in Congress may have little incentive to work with Biden. They performed better than Trump, retaining many House and Senate seats they were expected to lose. One lesson Republicans learned from the November election may be to keep doing what they've been doing. McConnell gave a nod toward what's ahead after GOP senators met Tuesday by conference call, forced to abandon their traditional sit-down lunches as the COVID-19 crisis surges and threatens to further disrupt the Capitol. McConnell talked about finishing the remaining few weeks of “this government” and “the new administration” to come. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change (SRSC) allows students to have a seat at the board table. At the school board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 30 they welcomed a new trustee to the group and updated the board on how the block system is working. Remotely, the board affirmed SRSC trustees Kelly Lam of Carlton, who is entering another term and Emily Zbaraschuk from Meath Park Public School, who is in her first term. “They had a great update both on the change to the constitution that they had proposed and also on the feedback around the high schools that are doing the block system,” director or education Robert Bratvold said. “It’s practical and I appreciate it and I noted that they each of the student trustees brought a slightly different experience,” The block system can be difficult because of workload, Lam said. “The students at the SRSC wanted to ask the board’s advice as to how to approach teachers in our schools to let them know that we appreciate your efforts in teaching all of this course material in the shorter time. We understand it’s very hard to teach us as well. We want to figure out a way because sometimes the course load can be too much,” Lam said. Lam shared some common experiences from both Carlton and the SRSC students that the block system was cumbersome for work. She explained that the pace is faster because of condensing five months into 17 weeks is a significant decrease in time. Lam likes to work in the block system because she works faster while others find it difficult. “Something that we very consistently mentioned throughout our SRSC was the science and math classes have been extremely intense. From my personal experience, I took pre-calculus 30 in the first block and we were pretty much having a test every single day to get through all of the matters we need to get through,” Lam said. As well she has heard that science classes such as biology and physics are intense to get through source material. “Something that could be related to that and possibly causing that issue is that some of the teachers, at least in Carlton, in my opinion, it feels like they are giving the same amount of homework even though we have a significant decrease in time to get all of that work done,” Lam said. Zbaraschuk had a similar experience with other subjects. “I was just going to add that personally, for myself, since my school is on the block system the English and History classes were the ones where the workload was like semester condensed into it, math was as much as you would normally get,” Zbaraschuk said. Bratvold noted that there was a slightly different experience for Zbaraschuk and Lam He also explained that both students emphasized a tough workload and that teachers were also doing the best that they could with the new conditions. During the meeting Bratvold appreciated hearing from the students’ perspective and observed that administration has heard similar things from principals. A number of trustees offered feedback on the matter.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Sixteen more families lost loved ones to COVID-19, Manitoba’s chief public health officer announced Tuesday. Dr. Brent Roussin extended his condolences to the related families, loved ones and caregivers. “Announcing a list such as this impacts all of us,” he said. “It’s a difficult list to read out. It’s a tragedy for all Manitobans. We know these are much more than numbers. These are people who are missed, right now. And we know we can’t continue to read lists such as this daily.” However, the case count and positivity rate for the day did show some indication that critical red public health orders are beginning to have an effect — with slight decreases across the board. “We can see that our case numbers haven’t been escalating. We’ve seen some variability. Today is another day. So we would hope that this is starting to show a more clear trend downwards,” Roussin said. “We know the lag period on this. We would see the early indicators, such as decreasing the amount of contacts per case. We’d see that followed by a reduction in the amount of total cases. And then … reduction in hospital admissions and ICU admissions and, finally, lagging to severe outcomes.” Nevertheless, Roussin continued with his daily messaging. “So we see our numbers, while not climbing rapidly, are still not where we need them to be. These numbers are still too high for us to sustain. Our hospitalizations and ICU numbers are too high,” he said. “We keep sending that message to stay home. To reduce the amount of contacts you have, to really bring the number of cases down rapidly.” Roussin enumerated his daily requests again: only go out for essentials, a minimum of people per household going out for those essentials, limit gatherings outside the home, limit crowding in workplaces, and limit socialization to the household, “This is all our responsibility. All Manitobans have that responsibility. Please step up right now to decrease the amount of contacts,” Roussin said. “It’ll always be true that these restrictions are tough. Pandemics are tough. We’re asking for a lot — for people to avoid things that they feel are very important to them. Things that are very difficult to give up even in the short term.” Roussin emphasized once again the situation is critical, and hospitals are reaching capacity and health-care workers are overwhelmed. One reporter asked where people are catching COVID-19. “We see it in workplaces. We see it in households. We see it in smaller gatherings within households. That’s pretty much where we’re where we’re seeing it right now,” Roussin said. He also said it’s too early to discuss what decisions will be made when the Dec. 11 approaches, the date of expiry for the current public health orders. What will happen with the Christmas school break is also currently unknown. Similarly, the province has not yet decided on a prioritized list for groups who will first receive the vaccine, when it comes. “We’re working on that list right now. We’re working here in the province. We’re working at a national level. We’ll have that list and a solid explanation to Manitobans on that process. But right now, we’ll wait till we have something to announce.” Tuesday’s provincial COVID-19 numbers Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, reported 16 deaths Tuesday, including two elderly people from the Prairie Mountain Health region — a man in his 80s linked to the Fairview Personal Care Home and a woman in her 100s linked the Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home. That brings total deaths to 328 — 1.9 per cent of the 17,107 lab-confirmed cases Manitoba has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. The five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 13.1 per cent provincially, with 13.8 per cent in Winnipeg. There were 283 new cases of the virus. One case was removed due to a data correction, making the total 282. • 17 cases in the Interlake-Eastern region • 22 cases in the Northern region • 12 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region • 54 cases in the Southern Health-Santé Sud region • 178 cases in the Winnipeg health region. There are 9,066 active cases and 7,713 recovered. There are 305 active cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region, with 724 recovered and 18 deaths. One Prairie Mountain Health patient is in ICU, and 10 are hospitalized. Three hundred thirty-eight people are in hospital in Manitoba, with 48 people in intensive care. Laboratory testing numbers show 2,253 tests were completed Monday, bringing the total number since early February to 357,707. » Source: Province of ManitobaMichèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
St. Albert added 93 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the city’s active total case count to 290. Fifty-eight more people have recovered from the disease. Some 501 people have recovered from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and the city has seen a total of 794 new cases. In Sturgeon County, there are 99 active cases and Morinville has 42 active cases. Local numbers are rising along with numbers across the province as Alberta now has the highest per capita amount of infections of all provinces in the country. Over the weekend, Alberta broke the 1,700 mark for new daily cases, with a total of more than 5,000 cases being reported in the past three days. On Saturday, the province hit 1,731 new cases and on Sunday another 1,608 cases were announced. On Monday, the province announced another 1,733 new cases, the highest single-day case climb yet. The province conducted 20,500 tests, with 8.4 per cent coming back positive. There are currently 16,454 active cases with 453 people in the hospital and 96 in intensive care. There have been eight deaths reported in the past 24 hours. “My thoughts are with anyone who knew and loved these individuals,” Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. Online learning began for Grade 7 to 12 students across the province Monday and will last until mid-January. Most of the new measures announced last week went into effect Friday. Hinshaw said the province won’t see the impact of these measures for at least two weeks. “There is a lag time between actions and results,” Hinshaw said. The top doctors said she is alarmed by the case rise over the weekend and said all Albertans must do their best to bend the curve. “Each of us must remain more vigilant than ever. We need to bend the curve and lower the number of active cases now to protect each other and the health system,” Hinshaw said.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
Sen. Joseph McCarthy is censured; Scientists demonstrate the world's first artificially-created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction; Enron files for Chapter 11 protection; Colombian drug lord is shot and killed. (Dec. 2)
BEIJING — A Chinese spacecraft sent to return lunar rocks to Earth collected its first samples Wednesday after landing on the moon, the government announced, adding to a string of successes for Beijing's increasingly ambitious space program.The Chang’e 5 probe touched down shortly after 11 p.m. (1500 GMT) on Tuesday after descending from an orbiter, the China National Space Administration said. It released images of the barren scene at the landing site showing the lander's shadow.“Chang'e has collected moon samples,” the agency said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency. It said the probe also had successfully unfolded solar panels that will power it.The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical southern island of Hainan, is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.Plans call for the lander to spend about two days drilling into the lunar surface and collecting 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and debris. The top stage of the probe will be launched back into lunar orbit to transfer the samples to a capsule for return to Earth, where it is to land in China's northern grasslands in mid-December.If it succeeds, it will be the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since a Soviet probe in the 1970s. Those samples are expected to be made available to scientists from other nations, although its unclear how much access NASA will have, given tight U.S. government restrictions on space co-operation with China.From the rocks and debris, scientists hope to learn more about the moon, including its precise age, as well as increased knowledge about other bodies in our solar system. Collecting samples, including from asteroids, is an increasing focus of many space programs and China's mastery of the technology once again places it among the leading nations operating in space.American and Russian space officials congratulated the Chinese program.“Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5. This is no easy task," wrote NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, on Twitter."When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community.”The most recent return of lunar rocks to Earth was carried out in 1976 by Luna 24, a Soviet robot probe.U.S. astronauts brought back 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of lunar samples from 1969 to 1972, some of which is still being analyzed and experimented on.The Chang'e 5 flight is China's third successful lunar landing. Its predecessor, Chang'e 4, was the first probe to land on the moon's little-explored far side.Chinese space program officials have said they envision future crewed missions along with robotic ones, including possibly a permanent research base. No timeline or other details have been announced.The latest flight includes collaboration with the European Space Agency, which is helping to monitor the mission.China's space program has proceeded more cautiously than the U.S.-Soviet space race of the 1960s, which was marked by fatalities and launch failures.In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into orbit on its own after the Soviet Union and the United States. It also launched a crewed space station.China, along with neighbours Japan and India, also has joined the growing race to explore Mars. The Tianwen 1 probe launched in July is on its way to the red planet carrying a lander and a rover to search for water.Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
Meggie Fontaine de Uashat a reçu cet honneur, de la part d’une personne de son entourage. Elle est l’heureuse maman de la petite Uapukuniss, âgée de 5 mois. Elle n’a toutefois pas eu la chance de bénéficier de cette magnifique avancée, car sa communauté ne fait pas partie du Regroupement Mamit Innuat. Elle a dû faire des démarches supplémentaires, mais le plus important était de pouvoir avoir la garde de sa petite fleur. Une personne proche de Meggie a appris, l’an dernier, qu’elle était enceinte. Ayant déjà ses enfants et ne souhaitant pas pour autant se faire avorter, elle a demandé à son amie si elle désirait adopter son enfant, selon des coutumes autochtones, existant depuis des millénaires, et reconnues depuis 2018 par le Code civil du Québec. Elle a même pu assister à l’accouchement, et a coupé le cordon ombilical. Le Regroupement Mamit Innuat (RMI) servira d’autorité compétente pour les communautés d’Ekuanitshit, d’Unamen Shipu et de Pakua Shipu. Les demandes doivent respecter la coutume de la communauté, l’intérêt de l’enfant et le consentement de toutes les personnes impliquées. Il pourra s’agir également d’une alternative intéressante pour la Direction de la protection de la jeunesse. « À titre d’autorité compétente, nous serons en mesure de récupérer une douzaine de dossiers en attente à la DPJ et de migrer vers une démarche qui permet de mieux répondre aux réalités actuelles des familles et surtout des enfants innus. Il s’agit d’un grand pas vers l’autodétermination des communautés et nous en sommes très fiers ! » partage Marie-Michèle Savard, Gestionnaire de projet au secteur Services sociaux du RMI.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
What happens to the state of business in a city when it loses its largest storefront in the downtown core even earlier than expected? It’s a question being mulled by commerce stakeholders and retail experts, along with the provincial and municipal government, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the Hudson’s Bay Company to close its downtown Winnipeg location two months earlier than previously announced. “In light of recent restrictions on non-essential retail by the Government of Manitoba, we have made the decision to close this location,” said HBC in a statement to the Free Press Tuesday. “We remain committed to working with partners to find opportunities for this historic location that will have a positive impact on the community.” The iconic Canadian departmental shopping chain had announced in October it would be shuttering the Winnipeg store permanently in February due to a “change in consumer behaviour.” But by late Monday, a “closed” sign could be seen outside the mammoth, 650,000-square-foot store on Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard — one of the original six stores for the 350-year-old retailer before it expanded across North America. Now, industry decision-makers and onlookers are scratching their heads about what comes next for the vacant building which has more square footage than almost all other buildings in the city. For some, it’s prime real estate smack dab at the heart of a city that’s presenting an “opportunity” for future growth. While for others, it’s a growing concern about the “sad state of affairs” for brick-and-mortar stores. For almost all of them, however, a mixed-use occupancy that combines residential and commercial aspects appears to be the most sensible direction for the building. “It’s definitely an important moment in time where we can truly shape what comes next for all our businesses in the provincial hub,” said Kate Fenske, chief executive officer of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “Of course, this closure does have an impact on several businesses nearby because of their proximity to that space and that’s something we need to prevent from escalating.” Citing statistics from a study conducted by the advocacy and marketing group last week, Fenske said while business is deteriorating downtown, investment in the area continues to rise and so does the possibility of new residents moving in. Upcoming capital projects underway have a combined construction value of nearly $1 billion, according to Downtown Winnipeg BIZ numbers, including the $400-million redevelopment of the Portage Place mall right across from the Bay planned for March, 2021. And at least 18,000 people are expected to call the downtown core their home in the next two years. “While it’s in no way surprising that the Bay chose to close, and it’s sad they’re closing even earlier than planned,” said Fenske in an interview. “How we go from here needs to use all that momentum that we still have going on here and use it for the future.” Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group in Toronto, said that’s easier said than done. “Retail shopping definitely works in clusters, I mean that’s the whole concept behind having a mall to begin with — to have several stores conveniently in one place,” she said Tuesday. “But now the real question is, where do we go from here when that concept has itself become outdated and is causing closures like this? That’s difficult to answer.” Hutcheson believes the novel coronavirus “only magnified and worsened the inevitable,” given the overall lack of foot traffic in suburban-style malls and an evolving shift to online commerce seen well before the pandemic. “I do still think that if we found a good blend of mixed-use purpose for the building, it would be of great value,” she said. “It’s just that that’s the type of project which is pretty difficult to convince someone to take on right now.” Last year a company-wide valuation of HBC’s real estate holdings valued the downtown Winnipeg building at precisely $0. Over the years, the company has closed some of the store’s six floors along with its basement, consolidating stock on just two levels. Dayna Spiring, president of Economic Development Winnipeg, said her conversations with the province and the city have given her ample reason to be optimistic. “There’s so much potential here, it’s hard not to be hopeful about what can be done with that space especially with consultation from the community at large,” she said. “The opportunity is massive.” In statements to the Free Press, provincial and municipal spokespersons said both government levels are open to hearing development proposals in the future that “include an adaptive re-use of the building and conservation of the character-defining elements.” A city spokesperson said the mayor is “currently engaged in outreach with community stakeholders in this regard.” But Spiring said she doesn’t believe the building will ever remain the way it is right now. “You’re likely looking at getting rid of the guts and almost a complete reimagination of the space for it to be successful,” she added. “We just have to get through this pandemic first to make those kind of decisions.” Hudson’s Bay Co. continues to serve Winnipeggers at its Polo Park and St. Vital locations, as well as online at thebay.com.Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Brandon Sun readers requested specific questions be asked about COVID-19: QUESTION: Dr. Roussin keeps saying there hasn’t been much spread in schools. It’s always a very vague response. Are there actual statistics related to school transmission? MANITOBA HEALTH: Case and contact investigations amongst school-aged children are followed up extensively by medical officers of health and public health nurses. To date, these investigations have revealed very little transmission within schools. It should be noted that there are over 200,000 students enrolled in schools across Manitoba and to date, there have been under 1,500 infections in children 18 and under. This amounts to cases in less than 0.75 per cent in school-aged children in Manitoba. If there was extensive transmission within schools, we would expect to see a higher proportion infected amongst children; overall, the proportion infected in Manitoba since March is approximately 1.2 per cent, or almost twice that of the proportion in school-aged children. QUESTION: Do you keep numbers on how many people have tested positive for COVID but have not needed medical treatment? Or what percentage of positive people have to be admitted to hospital? DR. BRENT ROUSSIN: We know how many total hospital admissions we have and we know duration of stay on average. We keep all those severe outcome issues. We’ve had 1,092 total hospitalizations, and 204 total ICU admissions. And it depends on what you mean by no medical treatment. The total minus that is the ones that haven’t needed admission. Having no medical treatment … whether they’ve attended a physician for outpatient care — no. We wouldn’t have a way of tracking that. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Wed. Dec. 2, 2020.There are 383,468 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 383,468 confirmed cases (66,369 active, 304,888 resolved, 12,211 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 5,329 new cases Tuesday from 97,680 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 41,024 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,861.There were 81 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 593 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 85. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.49 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,573,322 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 339 confirmed cases (33 active, 302 resolved, four deaths).There was one new case Tuesday from 324 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 62,844 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 760 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 60,683 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,315 confirmed cases (142 active, 1,108 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 3,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.32 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 88 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 146,919 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 508 confirmed cases (116 active, 385 resolved, seven deaths).There were seven new cases Tuesday from 1,065 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.66 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 58 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 101,550 tests completed._ Quebec: 143,548 confirmed cases (12,264 active, 124,200 resolved, 7,084 deaths).There were 1,177 new cases Tuesday from 8,376 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,218 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,317.There were 28 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 197 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.49 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,194,452 tests completed._ Ontario: 118,199 confirmed cases (14,524 active, 100,012 resolved, 3,663 deaths).There were 1,707 new cases Tuesday from 33,508 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,689 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,670.There were seven new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,103,234 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,107 confirmed cases (9,066 active, 7,713 resolved, 328 deaths).There were 282 new cases Tuesday from 2,201 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,549 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 364.There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 80 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.83 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.95 per 100,000 people. There have been 349,309 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 8,745 confirmed cases (3,819 active, 4,875 resolved, 51 deaths).There were 181 new cases Tuesday from 1,444 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,862 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 266.There were four new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 262,262 tests completed._ Alberta: 59,484 confirmed cases (16,628 active, 42,305 resolved, 551 deaths).There were 1,307 new cases Tuesday from 27,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,948 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,421.There were 10 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 59 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,473,584 tests completed._ British Columbia: 33,894 confirmed cases (9,663 active, 23,774 resolved, 457 deaths).There were 656 new cases Tuesday from 18,967 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,546 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 792.There were 16 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 99 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 802,376 tests completed._ Yukon: 47 confirmed cases (17 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,336 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 42 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,397 tests completed._ Nunavut: 182 confirmed cases (93 active, 89 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Tuesday from 58 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.7 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 38 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,300 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Calgary Police Service is still committed to reallocate money to support other crisis response services despite city council's decision to pull from its rainy-day funds instead of the police budget. Police Chief Mark Neufeld had supported giving up $8 million from the 2021 police budget, as long as the funds reallocated lead directly to a drop in call volumes for police officers.Instead, on Thursday council pulled that money from its fiscal stability fund to go toward the community safety framework, which is intended to address gaps in crisis services, outreach services and emergency response, as well as gaps in racially and culturally appropriate services. "Regardless of the source of the funding, the approval of the framework and the commitment of dollars to do that important work is a real win," Neufeld told the Calgary Police Commission during its Tuesday meeting. "But let me be equally clear — CPS proposed initially to reallocate funds to do this work, and we remain completely committed to doing the work."Neufeld didn't specifically say how much money would be committed to the framework, but said more details would be available at the January 2021 police commission meeting. Anti-racism work underwayDeputy chief Katie McLellan also gave an update on CPS' anti-racism work, which is being built out of the city's public hearings on the topic earlier this year. Police had identified six priorities the service is focusing on: * Building a framework with dedicated internal resources to create an anti-racism strategy. CPS dedicated two staff to full-time work leading its anti-racism action committee. * Allocating money to a new call response delivery model, with short term actions including increase support networks, court diversion options and improving crisis triage and working with other agencies. * Conducting an independent review of its school resource officer program, with the report expected by the third quarter of next year. * Evaluating the body-worn camera program, including a look at complaints and use of force incidents. * Developing practices to collect, categorize and report disaggregated race-based data — both relating to citizens and CPS employees. * Researching and implementing an equity, inclusion and diversity tool for CPS policies, practices and reporting — training on that tool is expected to start early next year. "We have lots of things going on … I am optimistic but recognize there's many balls in the air and we need to have that balance, and take time to be thorough and engage and listen to lessons learned," McLellan said. McLellan also presented an update on the service's Indigenous road map, which is focused on addressing calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls for justice. Some of the work that's been completed since last year includes the hiring of an Indigenous strategic engagement coordinator, developing and delivering training to create awareness of different ways to respond to administration of justice offences that see Indigenous people over-represented in the carceral system, and participation in the development of the Calgary Indigenous Court.Commissioner Heather Campbell said police have been able to put together a bit of a "dream team" for their anti-racism work, from Indigenous liaison experts to the committee's two leads, and asked what work still needs to be done. "We recognize the need to include members from the community so they bring that objective, different lens to us. In the interim, we really haven't built what we're looking for," McLellan said, adding that they'll be seeking additional subject matter experts and community engagement in the long-term. "We're building the bones and the framework of the plan but the strategy will be longer term."Commissioner Marilyn North Peigan pointed out that the Indigenous court is a "guilty" court, meaning that someone has to plead guilty to enter the system. She said she'd like to see more work happening with diversion and education — something McLellan said is one of the main goals the team is striving toward.
Public health officials insist COVID-19 transmission in schools is limited, but one epidemiologist questions the data — and lack thereof — being used to back that claim. Dr. Brent Roussin has yet to waver from his steadfast belief schools are safe places for K-12 students in Manitoba, despite a provincial test positivity rate that has reached upwards of 14 per cent in recent days. The chief provincial public health officer has repeatedly said, as he reiterated during a news conference Tuesday: “We’re not seeing a lot of transmission in schools.” Amy Greer, an epidemiologist at the University of Guelph, has heard similar rhetoric in Ontario since students returned to school this fall. She isn’t quite as confident as Roussin or the leadership in her home province. “We haven’t really looked,” said Greer, who researches the introduction, spread, dynamics and control of infectious diseases in populations. “If many, many children are asymptomatic, you’re not going to know. You can’t see them. You can’t see that you have an issue if many of those children are asymptomatic, unless you do more targeted surveillance and testing to see what’s actually happening in those classes that have had an exposure.” The general scientific consensus is children under 10 who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 are less likely to become severely ill and spread it to others in comparison to older patients. Early evidence suggested youth are also far less likely to become infected with the novel coronavirus, but growing research shows children are often asymptomatic and thus, infections may go under the radar. Among recent “red flags” for Greer are the results of a new study of common symptoms in children in Alberta, which was published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The authors analyzed the results of hundreds of children who underwent testing between April and September. Of the 1,987 who had a positive result, more than one-third reported being asymptomatic. That means 36 per cent of students who are infected pass a self-screening test and the preventative “half-measures” — Greer’s definition of the back-to-school approach, citing politicians’ decisions not to cap class sizes or upgrade ventilation systems, despite expert recommendations — are the last line of defence, she said. Meantime, Greer said there are many instances where adults contract the virus and it is difficult to attribute where they became infected. One explanation could be that an asymptomatic student brought the virus home and by the time a parent shows symptoms and the household gets tested, the student receives a negative result because they have recovered, she said. “I’m uncomfortable saying transmission (in schools) is low, because I don’t think we have the right data.” Last week, Ontario unveiled a voluntary testing program for asymptomatic students and staff in regions with high infection rates. A public school pilot in Thorncliffe Park, a Toronto neighbourhood that has a 16 per cent positivity rate, has since found four per cent of the school had COVID-19, including 18 students and one staff member. When pressed about whether Manitoba would follow suit, Roussin said Tuesday such an initiative would require more testing capacity, so the province has no immediate plans to implement a similar pilot. While Greer acknowledged the pilot will result in more data collection, she said contract tracers should ideally be following up with and ensuring all students and staff who have been exposed to the virus get tested, even if they feel healthy. The widespread testing of children for antibodies would also be helpful data to collect to understand how transmission is occurring in schools, she said. Caroline Colijn, an infectious disease modeller at Simon Fraser University, echoed Greer’s comments during a phone call from Burnaby, B.C. “I don’t think any scientist believes there’s a magic COVID eraser in schools.” She suggests investigators document the environments in which school clusters and outbreaks occur to determine what factors contribute to them. Colijn added it is key officials be transparent with families about what’s going on in schools, in order to maintain trust in the pandemic response. Upwards of 330 Manitoba schools have recorded a COVID-19 exposure to date, according to a spreadsheet compiled by an anonymous parent who draws from provincial data, news reports, and crowdsourcing. The spreadsheet has started to beat the province at making exposures public.Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Mask-wearing is becoming mandatory in more and more parts of the territory as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. Though the N.W.T. has been little affected by the pandemic in comparison to most southern regions of Canada – there is one active COVID-19 case in the territory at present – towns are proactively implementing more protective measures. In Fort Smith, masks became mandatory in municipal buildings on November 26. “As the rate of infection continues to rise across Canada, we encourage all businesses and retail stores in Fort Smith to incorporate a mandatory mask-wearing policy in their place of business,” read the town’s notice. “This added protection will help reassure the community that businesses are safe to access and continue to support local businesses.” Meanwhile, in Inuvik, local businesses like grocery stores have made masks mandatory in recent weeks. As first reported by the CBC, Fort Simpson last week unanimously passed a council resolution on November 23 to make masks more present in the village. Sean Whelly, the mayor of Fort Simpson, said the village was recommending masks specifically in retail environments, which he called the village’s “main points of contact.” “At five o’clock everyone goes out and starts shopping, and it was impossible to maintain that six-foot distance," Whelly said. "We really wanted to highlight the importance of people putting those masks on." Masks in Fort Simpson are not yet mandatory but are strongly encouraged. The council resolution states: “Personal preference is not a valid reason to not wear a mask.” Signs in place at Fort Simpson's Northern Store and Unity Store state the village highly recommends the use of masks. Masks have been mandatory at the village's liquor store since October 16. Whelly said he believed the number of people wearing masks had increased by 40 to 50 per cent since the resolution was enacted. Free masks will now be given out, which he expected to lead to a further increase in mask-wearing.Sarah Pruys and Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Newly minted Regina University MLA Aleana Young asked her first question in question period on Dec. 1, focusing on supporting small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Democratic Party MLA is critic for economy, jobs, SaskBuilds and SaskPower. “Things are grim for many of our province’s small business owners, the heartbeat of the economy, and unfortunately, they're currently living in a worst of both worlds scenario. Businesses are being told to stay open, yet their customers are being urged to stay home,” Young said. “While this month should be the busiest for most retailers, the government has concocted a recipe for economic disaster that shuts many out from federal support. Not only are businesses shuttering and people losing their jobs, this government seems to believe its own spin that they haven't effectively shut down the economy. How many businesses, and how long does this government believe they can operate that 50 per cent, at 30 per cent, or at 25 per cent capacity, and for how long? What is this government's plan to help Saskatchewan small businesses?” In reply, Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison said, “The reality is that this government has stepped up with the most comprehensive supports for small business of any jurisdiction in the entire country. “We worked incredibly closely with our business community, through all facets of the pandemic. We came forward with the Small Business Emergency Payment early on in the pandemic, to support small businesses. Sixty-five hundred small businesses took advantage of that program, over $30 million distributed through that process. We then came forward with the Tourism Sector Support Program, which was the benchmark for supporting the tourism and hospitality industries in the entire country. Over $35 million allocated to that program, over 450 businesses supported directly and designed very closely in consultation with the leadership from that industry. The results have been positive. We've seen the lowest unemployment rate in the entire country, by a significant margin. We've seen merchandise exports leading the country in growth. We're going to be continuing and have been continuing to work very, very closely with our business community, and I would encourage the member opposite to stay tuned.” Young campaigned in the election during her last month of pregnancy, and gave birth to a daughter just days before election day. She won her seat in one of the closest races in the election, defeating incumbent cabinet minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor. Young has had her newborn daughter with her in the house at times. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
FAITS DIVERS. La Division des enquêtes sur la criminalité financière organisée a procédé le 27 novembre à l’arrestation de trois hommes de Montréal en lien avec le vol d’identité de personnes œuvrant dans le domaine de l’enseignement, de la fraude, de la possession de documents contrefaits, de l’utilisation non autorisée de données relatives à une carte de crédit et de l’utilisation non autorisée d’un ordinateur. Les crimes auraient été commis par Frédéric Lapointe, 41 ans, Rath Pak, 41 ans et Jimmy Saintelien, 39 ans, au printemps 2018 dans plusieurs régions du Québec. Notons qu’au moment des faits, des centaines de vols d’identité de personnes reliées au domaine de l’éducation avaient été signalés aux autorités. L’enquête menée en collaboration avec le Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur avait permis de découvrir que des individus utilisaient les informations volées afin de commettre des fraudes un peu partout au Québec. Rappelons que La Division des enquêtes sur la criminalité financière organisée a notamment pour mandat d’enquêter, en collaboration avec ses partenaires, sur les organisations criminelles qui commettent des crimes envers les marchés financiers et s’adonnent à des stratagèmes frauduleux dans le but de priver le gouvernement d’importants revenus. Elle intervient selon les objectifs du programme gouvernemental d’actions concertées contre les crimes économiques et financiers. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal