No winning ticket was sold for the nearly $29.4 million jackpot in Friday night's Lotto Max draw.
The jackpot for the next draw on Nov. 17 will be approximately $35 million.
The Canadian Press
No winning ticket was sold for the nearly $29.4 million jackpot in Friday night's Lotto Max draw.
The jackpot for the next draw on Nov. 17 will be approximately $35 million.
The Canadian Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
KAMLOOPS, B.C. — When Renee Latheur decided to take an old guitar into a music store in Kamloops, B.C., she didn't expect the instrument that had sat in a closet for years to be worth thousands of dollars."It's in a ratty old guitar case. But I remember my aunt saying, 'I don't know what to do with this when I pass away.' "Sherrie Favell died in March, leaving Latheur wondering about the instrument and its connection to the woman she loved as an aunt even though they were not biologically related.It wasn't until Latheur recently walked into the music store and saw the owner's eyes sparkle at the sight of the case that she began to learn more about the guitar and its value to Favell's father, who bought it nearly 65 years ago.Mike Miltimore, who owns the store, said the worn tweed and leather case was a telltale sign that it may contain a unique instrument.When he opened the case, he saw a Gretsch from the 1950s, featuring a big brass buckle on the top and a leather studded "belt" around the outside."It's a played instrument, you know. It's been loved. If it could talk, it would tell probably about hundreds of concerts played throughout its life," Miltimore said.He said his research from the serial number revealed the electric Gretsch, or Roundup 6130, was made in 1955 and similar to the instrument later played by country legend Chet Atkins."It's a hollow-bodied guitar and a lot of companies were doing solid bodies at that time," Miltimore said, adding a hollow instrument was used for the country style of picking that Atkins popularized.The guitar that Latheur thought may be worth $200 is actually valued at between $12,000 and $26,000, Miltimore said, adding about 400 of the instruments were made in the 1950s."I was blown away," Latheur said.She recently learned her aunt treasured the mahogany guitar that kept her connected to her father, Roy Favell, who played his beloved instrument in a band called McKinna Gold."He caught his hand in a planer at a mill in Salmon Arm and he actually had to retrain to play the guitar," Latheur said.Favell lost his thumb at age 21 but still managed to perform with it.However, Favell inexplicably sold his guitar at a pawnshop. It was later rescued by Sherrie Favell and her mother, Latheur said. Sherrie bought it back again when it was hocked a second time, Latheur said, and she kept it after her father died about 20 years ago.Sherrie sometimes played the Credence Clearwater tune "Bad Moon Rising" on the guitar, but her prized possession spent much of its time hidden away, Latheur said. — By Camille Bains in Vancouver.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
There is a new women’s clothing store in Merrickville. Hazel’s Boutique is owned by Julia Provost, who is also the owner of Abel Mountain, next door. She took over the store at the beginning of October from Marilyn and Tim Boyce, who ran Portside Boutique for the last seven years. “I’ve been shop neighbours with Marilyn and Tim who owned Portside, and she had kind of hinted at wanting to retire,” Julia remembers. “And, one day, I jokingly said I should just take over for you, because I’ll miss your store.” Soon after, Marilyn and Tim came to her with a rough outline of some numbers. Julia talked it over with her husband, Carlos, and decided to go for it. “It just made sense.” Marilyn and Tim retired at the end of September and Julia opened up Hazel’s Boutique the second week of October. It was a seamless transition, as Marilyn was able to set her up with many of the brands she has worked with for years, and she even took over some of the stock Marilyn had already ordered. Julia says the first few weeks in business were good, especially since they didn’t have a sign in the door for most of October. Hazel’s Boutique is named after Julia’s ten-year old daughter, Hazel. “Abel is my son, and Hazel is my daughter, so it just made sense that they each have their own store,” she says. Hazel loves having a store named after her, “She’s always like: are we going to Hazel’s? With a little giggle in her voice.” Opening a new store during a pandemic has definitely been a challenge for Julia. The most difficult part has been getting enough stock, because supply is down due to COVID-19, even with local and Canadian brands. “You’ll spend hours sourcing something, and then people will get back to you and half the stuff you’ve spent time sourcing isn’t available.” Julia and her three employees also spend a lot of time cleaning the store to make sure it is safe for customers to shop. They sanitize everything every 20-30 minutes and limit the number of people in the store to four. They also steam all the clothes every time someone tries something on, to make sure the items are safe for the next shopper. Despite the challenges, Julia says the local support has been amazing. “People either liking or sharing your posts on Facebook, shopping in your store, trying to shop more local. COVID has really brought the community together,which is nice.” Portside Boutique always shut down over the winter, and Julia is planning on taking advantage of this to make the store her own. They will be closed in January, February, and the beginning of March to do renovations. “It will be a lot of work for my poor husband,” Julia laughs. “He’s a contractor, so at Abel Mountain he’s built 90% of the displays. Anything I dream up, he will build it for me.” Julia admits that running two stores, especially during a pandemic, is a lot of work. But she keeps going because she feels it is in her blood. “I always really liked Marilyn and Tim, and I’ve always sort of had a vision for how I would like this place to look. So I thought: why not try it?” Hazel’s Boutique will remain very similar to Portside, in that it will focus on women’s clothing and accessories; but it is clear that Julia is looking forward to putting her own personal touch on the shop. “I’m excited to see it come to life,” she says. Hazel’s Boutique is open at 312 St. Lawrence Street, from 10am-4pm, Sunday-Thursday, and 10am-5pm on Friday and Saturday. Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
OTTAWA — The federal government is proposing millions of dollars in new spending as a down payment on a planned national child-care system that the Liberals say will be outlined in next spring's budget.As a start, the Liberals are proposing in their fiscal update to spend $420 million in grants and bursaries to help provinces and territories train and retain qualified early-childhood educators.The Liberals are also proposing to spend $20 million over five years to build a child-care secretariat to guide federal policy work, plus $15 million in ongoing spending for a similar Indigenous-focused body.The money is meant to lay the foundation for what is likely going to be a big-money promise in the coming budget.Current federal spending on child care expires near the end of the decade but the Liberals are proposing now to keep the money flowing, starting with $870 million a year in 2028.The Canadian Press has previously reported that the government is considering a large annual spending increase as it contemplates how to work with provinces to add more child-care spaces while ensuring good learning environments and affordability for parents."I say this both as a working mother and as a minister of finance: Canada will not be truly competitive until all Canadian women have access to the affordable child care we need to support our participation in our country’s workforce," Freeland said in the text of her speech on the fiscal update.Calling it an element of a "feminist agenda," Freeland added that spending the money makes "sound business sense" and has the backing of many corporate leaders.Freeland has been among a group of female cabinet ministers who pushed child care as a federal priority even before the pandemic.A national system won't likely be a one-size-fits-all program, experts say, but it would be federally funded, modelled on the publicly subsidized system in Quebec.A Scotiabank estimate earlier this fall suggested that creating nationally what Quebec has provincially would cost $11.5 billion a year.A report on prospects for national daycare last week from the Centre for Future Work estimated governments could rake in between $18 billion and $30 billion per year in new revenues as more parents go into the workforce.Freeland has made a note in recent days about the need to do something on child care given how many women fell out of the workforce when COVID-19 forced the closures of schools and daycares in the spring.Many have not gone back to work.The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has promoted a long-term plan on child care as an economic necessity, said the Liberals still need to provide immediate help to parents and daycare providers. "The rate at which women are being forced to leave the workforce because of child-care gaps continues to undermine Canada’s economic recovery and requires emergency funding," said chamber president Perrin Beatty.Dec. 7 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which at the time called for governments to immediately get going on a national daycare system.As Freeland noted during a virtual fundraiser last week, many women who were toddlers then are mothers now and the country hasn't moved far enough on child care."Many smaller things are happening from province to province that when we look at those things, put them together, we'd have a lot of the elements for building a national system," said Monica Lysack, an early-childhood education expert from Sheridan College in Ontario."We just need to make sure that in the end every parent who needs it can get it and that it's affordable."The $420 million in to train and retain them was seen by many as a key investment toward that end to deal with what the executive director of Child Care now noted were "very low wages and difficult working conditions" in the sector. "But we must also see significant, long-term federal funding in the 2021 federal budget so that we can replace short-term repairs with robust infrastructure,” Morna Ballantyne said. Her group and others have called for an extra $2 billion in child-care funding in next year's budget, with $2 billion more added on top in each subsequent year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was somber today as she announced 46 more people lost their lives to COVID-19 last weekend. Eighty per cent of these people were living in longterm care, which Henry says speaks to the fact that the virus can cause such devastation when it gets into care homes. Health Minister Adrian Dix added that this is a “difficult and gutting time under these circumstances.” Henry listed five new healthcare outbreaks and declared two to be over. There are now 62 active outbreaks in the healthcare sector, including 57 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and five in acute care facilities. These outbreaks currently account for 1,338 active cases, including 847 residents and 487 staff members. Under current rules, staff at longterm care homes can only work at one location, but are permitted to have secondary employment such as being a private home aide. Dix said that the single-site order is “critically important,” but that all people are part of the order that aims to protect longterm care. “We can’t prevent people from having the means to live and the needs that they have in their family, but we do pay a lot of attention—all of us in healthcare—to making sure that we’re monitoring our health every day before we’re going to work and making sure that we’re not participating in risky activities,” said Henry. Between Friday and Sunday, there were 2,077 new cases of COVID-19 around the province—750 of those from Friday to Saturday, 731 Saturday to Sunday, and 596 in the last 24 hours. Three of the weekend’s new cases are epidemiologically linked. Henry also noted an additional 277 historical cases in the Fraser Health region based on the data correction from last week, bringing BC’s cumulative case total to 33,238. Of the new cases, 371 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 1,365 in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 212 in the Interior Health region, 73 in the Northern Health region and one new case in a person who normally lives outside Canada. The number of active cases has risen to 8,855. There are 316 people in hospital across BC—a number that has doubled in less than three weeks—of whom 75 are in critical care. There are 10,139 people being actively monitored by public health. One new community outbreak was announced at Newton elementary school in Surrey, which has been closed for the next two weeks with students and staff self-isolating. For a list of community exposure events, click here. For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
EDMONTON — A retired top doctor says public health orders have to balance science with society if they are to be effective."(Measures) will only work if you have a majority of the population that supports it," said Andre Corriveau, who was Alberta's chief medical officer of health from 2009 to 2012. "You can't pass measures that a majority of the public is not supportive of, because it's not enforceable."Corriveau, speaking from Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he was advising that territory on how to deal with its COVID-19 cases, spoke after recordings were released that appeared to show Alberta's current chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, expressing concern about politicians watering down her recommendations.That just goes with the job, said Corriveau, who also served until last year as the top public health official in the Northwest Territories. Experts such as himself or Hinshaw are responsible for winnowing through scientific evidence — often thin on the ground or hot off the research presses — to come up with the best advice they can. But, said Corriveau, judging what's acceptable or how something should be implemented is a political decision."There's a point beyond which you can't enforce any more," he said. "That's the role of the politician — to gauge that."Nor is it appropriate for the chief health officer to advocate for measures not approved by the government, said Corriveau. The two sides have to trust each other and undercutting political decisions would damage that. "There's always other people who can advocate," Corriveau said. "Our effectiveness is built upon trust. If you turn around and you're doing public advocacy, then you've lost the trust and you're not effective any more."Alberta has plenty of other voices for that, he said. Doctors in the Edmonton zone recently formed a group to provide what they see as unbiased, arm's-length COVID-19 advice. Members of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association felt people were losing trust in officials. "There's many considerations when you make these decisions — health ones, economic ones, capacity of hospitals," said association president Dr. Ernst Schuster. "There was a feeling that the political considerations were stronger than some other considerations."The committee is to hold its first meeting Tuesday. The legal powers of a chief medical officer of health are delegated by the minister and may not be absolute, Corriveau said. Hindsight is easy, he noted, and added that everyone involved in the fight against the pandemic is doing it for the first time. Corriveau said he ran into situations where the final decision diverged from his advice, but he saw it as his job to make it work. "It's a fine line to travel but I think it can be done. "It's not necessarily ideal, but I understand the context and why at the political level they might have decided otherwise."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — Follow @row1960 on TwitterBob Weber, The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
“Divorce is hell,” begins Justice Cary Boswell’s decision in finding that a Barrie man intentionally ran down his neighbour and “erstwhile best friend” whom he believed was having an affair with his wife. “This is a case where Mr. Pacheco was clearly angry at his wife and (the neighbour) for their relationship,” Boswell wrote in his Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision released Nov. 6. The fact-finding hearing followed Isidoro Pacheco’s guilty plea to dangerous driving causing bodily harm to resolve contested facts Boswell said were relevant to sentencing. Pacheco maintained he didn’t mean to run the man over with his pickup truck during the late summer of 2018, but the Crown prosecutor said he did it on purpose. Boswell found Pacheco was agitated and distressed as he drove along Baker Crescent — near Bayfield Street and Ferris Lane in north-end Barrie — when he saw the neighbour in his driveway helping his wife move out. The neighbour testified that that morning, while helping Pacheco’s wife move, he spotted Pacheco’s truck coming around a bend on his street and as it neared, accelerating, coming right at him with Pacheco yelling out the open window “You son of a bitch!" He, as well as Pacheco’s wife, told the court they weren’t having an affair in September 2018 and claimed Pacheco’s suspicions were not grounded in reality at the time, the judge observed, pointing out the former wife and neighbour now live together. The judge found Pacheco to undoubtedly be remorseful, having difficulty speaking about it to the court, breaking into tears and hyperventilating. But he ultimately concluded Pacheco did aim his truck at his neighbour on purpose. He said there had been a heated dispute the night before after Pacheco saw his wife and neighbour at a laundromat. He was then up all night and in an agitated state, finally breaking down at work and was sent home. Then, as he headed home, he came upon the moving scene, making it more likely for him to react impulsively and angrily, the judge found. “There is no reason for his truck to have left the travelled roadway and made a direct line at (the neighbour), save for active steering in that direction. Mr. Pacheco’s account of how the truck came to leave the road is simply unbelievable,” the judge concluded. “Despite having two flat tires he nevertheless maintained a straight trajectory… “I am satisfied that the only reasonable conclusion on the evidence I accept and rely upon is that the collision was intentional.” Pacheco is scheduled to return to court Dec. 4 for sentencing.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
REGINA — Premier Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party government says it will work to preserve people's "lives and livelihoods" as the province battles its worst spread of COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived. Lt.-Gov. Russell Mirasty delivered the throne speech Monday to start a new legislative session. Physically distanced politicians wore masks and sat behind desks with $12,000 worth of new Plexiglas shields. The speech said the top priority for the government is to contain spread of the novel coronavirus. "Saskatchewan is facing the most difficult moment of the pandemic to date," Mirasty read from the speech. "At the same time as we are working to protect lives, my government is also taking steps to protect livelihoods. We can, and will, do both." The government said more measures to fight COVID-19 "will be added if needed" on top of recently imposed public health orders that limit capacity in public venues to 30 people and ban most team sports for the next three weeks. The speech also detailed how the government plans to fulfil campaign promises Moe made before the Sask. Party was re-elected in October. The first piece of legislation to be introduced in the two-week sitting will be for a home renovation tax credit. Moe's government also intends to introduce legislation allowing victims of sexual assault in a rental home to break a long-term lease. And there is to be legislation that provides greater protection against human trafficking. Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili called the speech status quo and criticized it for failing to address the toll the pandemic is taking on health care and small businesses by not promising extra supports. “Businesses are being told to stay open while their customers are being urged to stay home: it’s a recipe for economic disaster,” Meili said in a news release. “We need clear, consistent messaging and a real plan that helps people – instead of mixed messages and half-measures that won’t get the job done." The speech opened with some familiar thank-you messages. "Thank you to the people of Saskatchewan for working together to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few months have been difficult for everyone in our province and there are still challenging days ahead." It went on to give a nod to those "in our health-care system — doctors, nurses, technologists, pharmacists, cooks, cleaners, maintenance workers, and the students, volunteers and retirees supporting the effort." Some of the phrases were exactly the same as ones used by Moe during a televised address in the spring, when he announced non-essential businesses could start reopening because the COVID-19 curve had been flattened. At that time, Saskatchewan had recorded 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On Monday, the province announced 325 new cases in one day, for a total of 8,239 infections. "The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone," Moe said in the April speech. "Thank you to everyone working in our health-care system. Doctors, nurses, technologists and pharmacists. Cooks, cleaners and maintenance workers. Students, volunteers and retirees who have returned to the workforce." Both the address and the speech also thanked "workers delivering food and parcels to our homes. The truckers keeping our supplies moving … the utility workers ensuring we have power, heat and clean water." Moe's press secretary said workers are being praised as they were in the spring because it is deserved. "As Saskatchewan is faced with increased case numbers placing greater strain on these same workers, saying thank you is even more relevant and important today, particularly in an event as significant as the throne speech," Julie Leggott told The Canadian Press. "The use of similar language is an acknowledgment that the same workers have consistently risen to the challenges brought by COVID-19, and continue to deserve our thanks for doing so." After the throne speech, Moe said discussions are still underway as to what supports could be provided to businesses and individuals hit hard by the pandemic. He said he couldn't provide a timeline on when a decision would be made but noted that in the spring his government helped people through programs like an emergency grant for small businesses and financial aid for people self-isolating. "We have been there throughout this pandemic to support not only the jobs in our communities but to support the individuals. And we're continuing to look at ways that we may be required to do that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Yukon's tourism minister announced $1.3 million in aid for tourism businesses and non-profits on Monday, saying they want to help struggling operators survive the winter.Tourism Minister Jeanie McLean announced "non-accommodation" businesses can get $20,000 per month, for a maximum of $60,000. Tourism operators, as well as food and beverage establishments, are eligible if they rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their profits.The territory also earmarked $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations. Non-profits that are projecting 10 per cent deficits can receive up to $20,000 each.The funding will help businesses "survive through winter" and break even, said a government press release."We are not through the pandemic yet," Maclean said.She estimated up to 60 businesses could be eligible for the funding, which totals $1 million.Yukon's tourism sector has been battered by low visitor numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the territory recently ended the Yukon-B.C. "bubble," which allowed visitors to travel freely between the two regions.Tourism association applauds announcementNeil Hartling, chair of the Tourism Industry Association, said he was pleased with the announcement."This should bring everybody up to a sustainable, survivable level," he told CBC News.Hartling said some businesses were "falling through the cracks" with previous funding packages that mainly covered fixed costs.There are 400 tourism businesses in Yukon, he said, employing 4,000 people.Hartling estimated that less than 10 percent of Yukon businesses have closed during the pandemic, while a number have chosen to "hibernate" until conditions improve. The Yukon Bureau of Statistics last looked at the impact of COVID-19 on business in May, but they're expected to publish an update Wednesday.Opposition party critiques 60% thresholdThe announcement drew criticism from the opposition Yukon Party.Leader Currie Dixon questioned the plans for the rest of the $15 million in funding, and accused the government of "trickling out" funding for political purposes.Dixon also said it seemed "arbitrary" and "difficult" for businesses to calculate whether 60 per cent of their revenue comes from tourism."Given the fact there are zero tourists coming to the territory, and so few Yukoners are going out themselves for dinner or going out for a drink and patronizing these businesses, they're facing a real challenge," Dixon said."We think that's an odd stipulation. And we'd like to know how the minister arrived at that inclusion and that amount."The government says the funds announced Monday are part of a total $15 million in promised tourism relief over three years. Most of that funding has yet to be announced.In October the government announced $2.88 million for hotels and other accommodation businesses.In order to qualify for the newly-announced relief, businesses must have maxed-out their eligibility in Yukon Business Relief Program and CanNor's Northern Business Relief Fund.A third party will administer the funding for non-profits, the government says.
As rising cases put Windsor-Essex public health resources under strain, officials are asking that people prepare isolation plans and that those who either test positive or think they have COVID-19 start a COVID diary. With 17 active outbreaks across several sectors and more than 400 active cases, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) said during its COVID-19 briefing Monday that staff are under strain and need peoples' support.Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said those steps — having an isolation plan and keeping a contacts diary — can significantly help public health's efforts. Ahmed said if you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, you shouldn't wait for public health to get in touch, but start by getting tested and immediately implement isolation plans. But, what should be included in an isolation plan? What sorts of questions should you prepare to be asked by public health if you test positive? How can you be proactive in slowing the spread? Having a planKate Kemplin, a University of Windsor nursing professor, compares it to the hurricane evacuation plans she got used to growing up in Florida."It's almost like that in reverse — you're not evacuating, you're self-isolating," she said.This means thinking about how you're going to get all of your essential needs met while minimizing contact with others. That includes how you can get groceries delivered, whether a neighbour or anyone else is available to help you, and how you're going to get physical activity."If you need to go outside for a walk, you're going to do loops around your backyard or your living room," she said.If you need to go to work, you should also come up with a plan to keep contact to the absolute minimum. This means driving, or taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft to work — making sure that you stay in the back seat and as far away from the driver as possible. You should also think about how to ensure that you can keep your mask on at all times or as much as possible."Just small things we don't typically think about. Make some notes in your phone, leave a little post-it note with your plan," Kemplin said. When CBC News asked WECHU about isolation plans, a spokesperson pointed to isolation advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).The agency recommends that you: * Stay at home unless you need to go out for "time-sensitive medical services." * Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your residence. * Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others if possible, * Disinfect and clean surfaces that you touch often at least once daily, among other measures.The PHAC also has a list of items it recommends you have if you need to isolate at home. It includes household cleaning products, medication to reduce fever and a thermometer, among others.Keeping a 'COVID' diaryKemplin also supports the idea of keeping a COVID diary — a document of all the places you've been and all your close contacts.The idea is that a COVID diary would be a useful tool if you have to provide information to contact tracers from the health unit."Even if it seems ridiculous at the time, we have to be willing to appear as if we overreacted, because that's how to keep the public safe," she said.Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, agrees."It's a great idea. And I think my first piece of advice is don't wait until you might be feeling sick or think that someone around you is," he said."I think a lot of people are wondering how they can be useful, how can they be helpful in this really dreadful time, and I think this is a perfect example of being able to be diligent and mindful," he added.Furness says the most important pieces of information to keep track of are where you've been indoors in an enclosed space, who you were with, how long you were there for, and whether people were wearing masks or not.If you're someone who has to work a job that involves a lot of contact with the public, things get more complicated. He says in that case it's especially important to keep track of times — what was happening when."Exposure time as we call it actually matters quite a lot," he said.Kemplin and Furness agree an even better strategy than keeping a diary is to have no need to do it by having so little contact with others."Contact tracing becomes incredibly easy if you don't go anywhere," Kemplin said.But keeping a COVID diary can be useful for another reason even if you don't expect to speak with a contact tracer soon, Furness says. It can give you a documented snapshot of how much contact you're having with other people in the pandemic. "I think it's great for mindfulness," he said.
MONTREAL — As experts mull recommendations regarding ventilation and COVID-19 transmission ahead of the winter, Quebec health officials said Monday that air quality tests carried out in long-term care homes and hospitals earlier this month revealed satisfactory readings. Health Minister Christian Dube said an analysis of carbon dioxide levels was done at his request between Nov. 19 and 23 in about 70 establishments, mostly in the Quebec City area and in central Quebec. The Health Department said CO2 levels are considered a good indicator of ventilation efficiency, and authorities carried out tests in different settings including bathrooms, waiting areas and patients rooms. The results come as a group of experts examining the link between air quality and COVID-19 spread is set to issue recommendations in early December, with particular attention to schools and health-care facilities. The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have both said aerosol transmission and spread of COVID-19 is a concern. "The expert group will therefore have to look in particular at the additional preventive and, if necessary, mitigation measures that could be put in place, if necessary," the Health Department said in a statement. Concern about indoor air quality has been heightened in the province, which on Monday reported 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 additional deaths linked to the virus, along with an increase in hospitalizations and patients in intensive care. The results announced Monday were from tests done mostly in so-called cold zones without COVID-19 patients, but some were in hot zones, and the testing covered different kinds of ventilation systems, including just open windows. The results for Quebec City came back at 651 parts per million and at 707 parts per million in central Quebec — both below the maximum target of 1,110. But one Montreal health official questioned whether the ventilation systems in place in long-term care centres are adequate to deal with a disease as contagious as COVID-19. Francine Dupuis is associate CEO of the Montreal regional health authority that on Sunday had to transfer 20 COVID-19 patients from a long-term care home, the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, to local hospitals. “We are waiting for the recommendations of public health, but probably too many people at the same place is not a good idea for the ventilation system,” Dupuis said in an interview Sunday. “These ventilation systems have been created for long-term care facilities, not acute care facilities like hospitals." In some cases, authorities are emptying wards to air them out before bringing patients back, but Dupuis says the cost of upgrading ventilation systems in long-term care would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. On Tuesday, Quebec's schools will also have their air quality tested. Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge, in announcing tests last week, said any necessary improvements would be made over the Christmas break. Last week, a group of doctors and experts concerned about air quality in schools and the transmission of COVID-19 unveiled the results of a clandestine project where teachers measured air quality in 25 classrooms, finding that 75 per cent had CO2 levels that exceeded acceptable levels. Authorities did not hold a briefing on Monday as Montreal led the way in new infections, reporting 400 new confirmed cases, followed by the Monteregie, the greater Quebec City region, Saguenay Lac-St-Jean and Lanaudiere. "The situation of the last days is worrying," Dube said via his Twitter account on Monday. "I would remind you that we must continue to respect all measures and limit our contacts for (a reduction in) the number of cases." Eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours while 14 others were from the last week. The province has now reported 142,371 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,056 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, adding another 1,108 recoveries for a total of 122,014. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. — With files from Jillian Kestler-D'Amours in Montreal. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Groups representing the airline industry say they're disappointed the federal government's economic update failed to offer the sector — hit hard by the pandemic — new aid to help it survive the crisis.The federal government said it's prepared to spend $980 million on supports and rent relief for Canadian airports. It did not, however, explain how it aims to help air carriers struggling with a drop in demand of up to 90 per cent that has caused them to cancel dozens of regional routes and lay off or furlough thousands of workers.Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, represents the country's largest carriers, including Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat. "While other countries around the world have moved forward months ago to provide sectorial support, we remain a global outlier and are ostensibly stuck at stage zero in the government planning process," said McNaney."We need to get moving. We need to get going on this."The fiscal update says that since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines have received over $1.4 billion in support through the wage subsidy. The update also says the government is now "establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance" that is contingent on Canadians being refunded for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.More than 100,000 Canadians have joined petitions calling on the government to take action to compel airlines to refund passengers for cancelled flights, and several class-action lawsuits have also been filed.Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said $1.2 billion is in today's economic budget for airports, airport infastucture, and regional airlines. She said detailed talks are underway with major airlines about more support."In order to know exactly how to support them, we need to really see what their financial position is," Freeland told CBC's Chief Political Correspondent, Rosemary Barton.$206 million to help regional air transportationThe fiscal update proposed $206 million over two years to "support regional air transportation, including regional air carriers" by giving the funds to "Regional Development Agencies" to create a new "Regional Air Transportation Initiative.""It doesn't begin to cover what needs to be done," John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, told CBC News. "We're very disappointed again."This government does not get our industry. They don't understand the trouble we're in."McKenna's organization represents about 35 large and small airlines, including Porter — which has grounded its entire operation— leisure carrier Sunwing and more than a dozen regional operators that serve rural and remote communities.McKenna said his organization wasn't consulted and it's not clear to him exactly what this regional initiative is."Our industry has been working for over eight months now at 15 per cent capacity and we still have 100 per cent of our debt load there," said McKenna. "The government's done nothing to help us, other than saying, 'I feel your pain.'"Boost to the wage subsidyThe government does plans to boost the wage subsidy back up to cover 75 per cent of employees' wages to deal with the "ferocity of the second wave," according to the fiscal update. Currently, the maximum rate is 65 per cent.But McKenna said that subsidy doesn't pay off airlines' capital debt. "The hard part of the industry is that it's heavily leveraged because they have to buy planes, hangars and equipment and are heavily indebted and don't have revenues to compensate," he said. McNaney said he was hoping to see details of a financial aid program, more support for regional airlines, funding for Nav Canada (so it doesn't have to increase fees for airlines) and rapid-COVID-19 testing at airports. Instead, he said, the government repeated the same message the industry has been hearing for months. The spokesperson for Air Transat, Christophe Hennebelle, said the economic statement was a missed opportunity to announce a "robust plan" to make sure Canada's airline industry remains competitive. "We are disappointed," Hennebelle said in a statement. "We are still awaiting the start of discussions on the assistance announced on November 8, while significant support for the sector has already been provided in many countries around the world for months."$980 million in payments, rent relief slated for airportsThe economic update did include $500 million over six years proposed to start a new transfer payment program for large airports. Projects like the Réseau express métropolitain station at the Montreal Airport would be eligible for funding, according to the statement.The government is also planning to extend $229 million in rent relief to airport authorities that pay rent to the federal government and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. An additional $65 million is expected for airport authorities in 2021. Another $186 million would be aimed over two years starting in 2021 to help small and regional airports through the "Airport Capital Assistance Program." Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, said it will take a few days to understand in greater detail what was announced, but suggested it wasn't enough."It's good to see the air sector get direct attention but this falls quite short of what the industry needs to endure this crisis," said Gooch in a statement to CBC News. Tim Perry, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said the support for airports should have a "positive spinoff" for airlines. He said his group continues to call on the federal government to remove "barriers" in place for airlines to return to flying when "Canadians are ready to travel again."Talks started this month with major airlines about bailoutAfter months of mounting pressure from the industry, the government started talks this month with Canada's major airlines about an industry-specific bailout package that could include loans and other support. The Globe and Mail reported the talks got off to a slow and frustrating start. The government had a list of demands, including airlines opening their books, refunding passengers for cancelled flights and avoiding the cancelation of planned purchases of new planes made in the country, the Globe said. Earlier in the day, Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux, who represents Edmonton Riverbend, took aim at the government for not providing industry-specific support quickly enough."Though other countries around the world immediately offered support for their airlines, this government didn't acknowledge the crisis until eight months into the pandemic," Jeneroux said during question period today. Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier this month that "a strong and competitive air transport industry is vital for Canada's economy," but said an aid package would be conditioned on airlines offering refunds. "Before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure Canadians get their refunds," said Garneau on Nov. 8 in a press release. Since then, Nav Canada has warned its air traffic controllers across the country that layoffs are on the way as part of a "full restructuring." The company monitors millions of square kilometres of airspace and its air traffic controllers keep planes separated in the sky and on the ground. The company has seen a $518 million drop in revenue compared to its budget. According to the internal memo, Nav Canada has been "pressing" the government for help. Since Sept. 22, the company has cut more than 700 managers and employees — 14 per cent of its workforce and almost all of its students. Nav Canada is also studying seven towers across Canada for possible reductions in service.
Two Halifax Transit bus drivers refused to work last week after multiple passengers entered their buses without wearing masks, renewing union calls to enforce Nova Scotia's mandatory mask rule."Both operators refused," Ken Wilson, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 which represents Halifax Transit workers, said in an interview with CBC's Mainstreet Monday. "One refused Thursday evening and another operator refused Friday evening."It was about passengers not wearing masks and so under the [Occupational Health Safety] Act, the operators have the right to refuse unsafe work." Masks became mandatory on all transit buses and ferries in July, but there are no penalties in place for not complying.Individuals don't have to wear a mask if they have a medical condition that keeps them from doing so."There are very few valid medical reasons to not wear a mask," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in July when masks were made mandatory.Wilson said about 90 per cent of passengers wear masks, but it's the others who concern drivers."We're not allowed to enforce or to advise — we're to take everybody at face value that if they say they have a medical condition, they do," he said.He says the municipality should start enforcing mask use on public transit to protect drivers and passengers."The confusing part is that we can deny entry to someone not wearing a pair of shoes or not wearing a shirt but when you don't have a mask, you have to take a seat and that doesn't make sense and that's the problem," he said.Wilson said the transit drivers refused to operate their buses because they felt unsafe amid a resurgence of COVID-19, which has brought on community spread."My operators, my members are stressed. They've been on the front lines for over 10 months. I don't think anybody thought this is going to go this long. Now it could be almost another year before we get a vaccine in this part of the region," Wilson said."People are COVID-fatigued. They're stressed. They're worried about bringing this home to their families ... and it's really opened my eyes to the way we're being treated as workers for the transit agency."A spokesperson with Halifax Transit said "the obligation to wear a mask rests with the individual" and there are no plans to change the current protocol."Halifax Transit will continue to adhere to public health guidelines regarding education and enforcement of the use of masks," Erin DiCarlo, a spokesperson for Halifax Transit, said in an emailed statement Monday."Operators may remind passengers of the requirement to wear a mask, but passengers who are not wearing a mask will not be denied entry, as some passengers may have medical reasons that prevent them from wearing one."MORE TOP STORIES
There is no doubt in Georgina Lightning’s mind that had an organization like Creatives Empowered been there when she first started acting, “intimidation and fear” wouldn’t have been what controlled her life then. Creatives Empowered launched late November. It’s a collective of Alberta-based artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who empower each other as an allied community. “Creatives Empowered would have been so valuable. It would have blown my mind,” said Lightning who has built a career as an actor, director, writer and producer in both the television and film industry. And all of that in spite of Hollywood. In 1990, Lightning, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, left Edmonton to attend a three-year prestigious acting academy in Los Angeles. She graduated top of her class, won awards and was ready to take on any acting role. “But once I got to Hollywood, I was completely heartbroken… I can play anything on the planet, but Hollywood didn’t see me as that. The second I walk in they see an Indian. They see a race before they see talent. They don’t even look at talent. They see a race. They see ‘She doesn’t fit.’ That’s how racist it is,” said Lightning. She soon learned that there were two seasons for Native Americans to audition. In spring, they auditioned for the western movies that were shot over the summer. Late in the year, they were called on for American thanksgiving productions. In response to these lack of opportunities, Lightning eventually co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions and Native Media Network. “I trained at a classical school so I could play any role, be considered an actor. I didn’t want to be an Indian actor. I wanted to be an actor. I really truly believed if I worked hard enough, excelled, was a cut above the rest, I could make it. That would be my ticket in…. I was qualified, but they still didn’t let me in. It did not matter what kind of credentials I had. So it was colour before talent,” said Lightning. That is a story far too often told by non-Whites in the entertainment and media industries, says Creatives Empowered creator Shivani Saini. “I think it’s safe to say for anyone who is Black, for anyone who is Indigenous, for anyone who is a Person of Colour, that we would all collectively agree that this equity is long overdue. Now is the perfect time for us to start,” said Saini, who is South Asian. Saini has worked in both professional media and the arts for 25 years. Among her work is marketing and communications director for the world premier of Making Treaty 7, and associate producer for the first seasons of the TV drama Blackstone. Inequity, she says, manifests in a variety of ways: negative stereotyping; lack of acknowledgement of the talent of BIPOC; always being considered “emerging talent” even after years of experience; and the belief that hitting a “diversity target” means a mediocre project or result. “Anyone who is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour who, for example, has found themselves to be fulfilling a diversity target somewhere can probably relate to the experience of being tokenized. And tokenism is in and of itself really discriminatory and racist.” “I think it’s safe to say it’s just time for this to start to change. It’s so exhausting for us to be walking into rooms, walking into spaces and for us to be tokenized, for us to be stereotyped, for us to be viewed differently because of these mindsets that exist about BIPOC or IBPOC talent,” said Saini. It's an exhaustion that Lightning can relate to. She remembers always having to work harder, always being worried about being seen as a failure, always pushing herself to be a better actor. And she remembers keeping her silence when she was the target of abuse. “When you do speak up about assaults and abuses against you, they turn against you. It’s like I’m the one who’s punished. You learn (to stay silent),” she said. Saini had been thinking about Creatives Empowered since 2019 as she had a “mixture of professional experiences within that year that were both really empowering and some of which were really disempowering.” But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit that she had the time to develop the concept further. And then there was the building awareness of inequalities, awareness sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, other Black people and Indigenous people. “We really are living in an unprecedented time right now. I think there’s just a tremendous opportunity we have to leverage what’s going on to really create true equity within Alberta’s arts and culture sector,” said Saini. “We all know it’s a necessity. The work has to be done,” said Lightning, who is back in Alberta working on a number of projects. Creatives Empowered is an opportunity for BIPOC to support and encourage each other emotionally and financially, she adds. “Now is the time for change. What are we going to do with a platform for moving forward? This initiative with Creatives Empowered it’s about bringing Indigenous or People of colour into the fold, and not just exploiting them. It’s empowering them, letting them be intellectual property owners and that’s where the value is,” said Lightning. Longer term goals, Saini said, is having Creatives Empowered serve as an organization that can find ways to work with key stakeholders in the Alberta cultural sector. It would become a resource or a point of access for the larger communities to tap talent. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of the advocacy work by building those relationships,” said Saini. Already Creatives Empowered has attracted a large number of members and that base keeps growing. “I really do believe that if we can develop a really strong membership base then it’s going to help to dismantle a lot of those negative stereotypes, because we’re going to be able to show the cultural sector that we do, in fact, exist and that our talent is beautifully potent. It’s really important, I think, for this space, this community to exist,” she said. Membership for BIPOC individuals and BIPOC organizations is free and open to Alberta-based artists and media professionals. There will be a fee for ally organizations based on their annual operating budgets. At this point, says Saini, Creatives Empowered remains a collective. That may have to change in order to access government funding or donations. Saini and Lightning understand there is much ground to be broken down before equity for BIPOC is achieved in Alberta’s cultural and media sectors and that it’s going to take time. “With the dialogue with racism and the global discussion on inclusivity and with all that’s happening … it’s time now. It’s being shaken up by force and now everyone is forced to look at reality,” said Lightning. “What I think is very exciting about the time we're living in is that I think we're actually going to be able to make some real significant progress even within my lifetime… I never thought I would see the kind of time we're living in right now where there's this level of awareness, this type of conversation happening around equity,” said Saini. CFWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CFWE, CFWE
One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
How did the two giant pandas from the Calgary Zoo make it to the Chongqing Zoo in China?With lots of snacks, crate training, naps and animal flatulence."They fart … a lot," said Calgary Zoo CEO and president Clement Lanthier on The Homestretch.The two pandas, female Er Shun and male Da Mao, were loaded via crates onto and airplane at the Calgary International Airport early Friday morning.Animal keepers had been training the pandas to get in and out of their crates and eat in their crates for weeks, said Lanthier."The caregivers have been training the pandas to feel safe and to feel comfortable in the crate," he said."The attendant told me that they slept all the way from Calgary to Frankfurt."The pandas had to be sent back to China three years earlier than was planned due to issues of securing a steady supply of bamboo, their diet staple, during the pandemic."Since the early COVID-19, we had a very severe disruption of the supply chain, so we could not secure bamboo on a regular basis," said Lanthier."Every week, every second week, that was a problem … mostly on the transportation of bamboo, because of the lower capacity in the airplane, on the cargo plane or in the trucking business."Moving the animals, Lanthier said, "was extremely complicated," because not only were several permits needed, but China had recently changed its quarantine requirements."They had to go through Frankfurt because the only carrier that was willing and able to accommodate the need was Lufthansa."Er Shun and Da Mao landed in China sometime on Saturday, Calgary time, but it was already Sunday in China, said Lanthier.The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding — where cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue resided after departing from the Calgary Zoo in January — was under renovation, so the two adults had to be transported to the nearby Chongqing Zoo for their quarantine.Lanthier said he wants to "acknowledge the sacrifice and the commitment of the staff" who travelled with the pandas.Right now, they, too, are quarantined, but in Chengdu, apart from the pandas. They will also have to quarantine when they return to Canada."We are extremely relieved to see the pandas back in China where the bamboo is abundant," said Lanthier.The pair arrived in Canada in 2013, and they lived for five years at the Toronto Zoo — and where twins Jia Yueyue and Jia Panpan were born — before being moved to Calgary.They were supposed to stay in Canada for 10 years as part of an agreement between Canada and China before the pandemic cut that short.With files from Nassima Way and The Homestretch.
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business. COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office. The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others. McConnell is focusing on confirming Trump's remaining judicial nominations, including a vote Monday on a district judge in Mississippi and at least one additional appeals court vacancy. Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet. Top items for December's lame-duck session: ___ KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPEN At a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year. That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding. Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much. At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program. ___ COVID-19 RELIEF Democrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice. The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits. Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments. Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic. At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year. ___ Defence POLICY A spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure. Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press