Winter is coming and people are sharing their beautiful photos as the cold makes its way to the North.
Winter is coming and people are sharing their beautiful photos as the cold makes its way to the North.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
In an effort to redouble efforts to fight against COVID-19, Bruce Power has launched Be a Light: Beating COVID-19 Together, on Nov. 19. The company has committed $1 million to battle the pandemic and work with public health, county and municipal governments, chambers of commerce, hospitals, local MPs and MPPs, and community organizations within Grey, Bruce and Huron counties. “We are committed to contributing in any way we can to the challenge ahead of us here in the coming weeks,” said James Scongack, executive vice-president corporate affairs and operational services at Bruce Power. Bruce Power has been in constant contact with public health, county wardens, the province, federal MPs, and it is “very clear that COVID fatigue is settling in, in everyone’s lives,” said Scongack. As case numbers continue to rise in Grey Bruce and Huron, Bruce Power is “committed to doing whatever they can to make a positive contribution working in unity with the medical officers of health, our elected officials across the board.” The program is focused on how to beat COVID-19, from what Scongack describes as a “glass half full” perspective. He said there is light at the end of the tunnel and each action carried out, directed at defeating COVID, makes the light a little brighter. The initiative is focused on five main areas. The first area, public awareness, involves engaging community newspapers, radio stations, television and social media to reinforce the message from the health unit on how to stop COVID. This information will become even more critical as winter and the holidays approach. Bruce Power has committed $200,000 to this area, which will begin immediately. The second area, providing protection, will provide thermal monitoring equipment in higher risk or high traffic areas. Scongack describes these monitors as an additional tool in the toolbox and notes that use of this new equipment, in areas of high traffic, prompts members of the public to pause and remember to follow other preventative measures. To date, Bruce Power has provided more than $2 million in PPE, $300,000 of which has been distributed in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties. $150,000 will be directed to this area. The third area of focus is a buy local campaign. Businesses have already faced many challenges because of the restrictions because of the pandemic, and these challenges will only continue to grow as case numbers climb. Bruce Power is making a $50,000 investment to further leverage the Grey-Bruce-Huron Strong platform (www.gbhstrong.com). The fourth area focuses on mental and physical health. Scongack says approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the $1 million will be directed to this part of the program. The company will support local organizations which promote mental and physical health activities and programs through the duration of the campaign. By Nov. 27, an announcement will be made detailing how approximately $50,000 will be spent to create COVID-safe, outdoor community events to take place this winter. Money will also be invested in improving trails and recreation in the area. The final area of focus is lending a helping hand. Bruce Power has reached out to food banks, long-term care facilities and community organizations to support these organizations and individuals during this period of time. Approximately $250,000 will be directed to helping those who need assistance, and money spent in this area should be used to support the local economy. Scongack says time and action is of the essence to respond to the urgent situation Ontario and our communities face. The program is being implemented immediately and said they have “two weeks to hit this hard with a hammer.” Bruce Power hosted a COVID-19 information live event with Dr. Ian Arra of Grey Bruce Health Unit on Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. The public was invited to attend, and those not able to view can watch the recorded version at https://www.brucepower.com/events/. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The Alberta government's new measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 cases fall short of what's needed to avoid a crisis in hospitals and in the health-care system, Edmonton doctors say. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, paints a grim picture of the province's current COVID-19 situation. "We're awfully close to the precipice of a complete disaster in Alberta," Schwartz said. Intensive care units are being pushed beyond their capacity, with COVID-19 patients taking up a large portion of that space, Schwartz said in an interview with CBC News Tuesday. Schwartz noted that 66 COVID-19 patients are in ICU right now while the province had previously designated a capacity for 70 ICU beds for patients with COVID-19. "So clearly we're already brushing right up to that maximum capacity." Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro declared another public health emergency and announced new mandatory restrictions on social gatherings and businesses for three weeks. Starting Friday, most retail businesses, such as liquor, grocery, pharmacy and clothing stores must limit their capacity to 25 per cent of allowed occupancy under the Alberta Fire Code. Starting immediately, all indoor social gatherings are banned, Kenney said. The province will allow bingo halls, water parks, racing centres and casinos to remain open. Restaurants, pubs and bars may remain open at 25 per cent capacity, with a maximum of six people at one table from the same immediate household, Kenney said. Schwartz said there are contradictions in the measures. "The definition of social gathering seems to be fairly arbitrary because it doesn't seem to include going to bars or going to a casino," he said. Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, also took issue with the premier's messaging about the measures being designed to target where spread was occurring. "With our contact tracers being overwhelmed, we still don't know where 80 per cent of people are getting COVID from," Mithani said Tuesday. "So to say things like restaurants are not a significant source of spread and bars and casinos are not a significant source of spread, we actually don't know that because we're missing so much of that data." Measures too late Alberta's spiking cases made front-page headlines for several days before Kenney announced new measures on Tuesday. The measures also come three weeks after hundreds of doctors signed letters urging the province to implement a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown. "It comes clearly too late to be meaningful," Schwartz said. Schwartz said he expects things to look worse mid-December. "We know that even if we completely abated transmissions today, we're still going to be in trouble in three weeks from now," Schwartz said. "And so to implement these measures for three weeks seems short sighted." Mithani said the province needs to be on board with the federal contact tracing app, to help collect data on where Albertans are contracting the virus. @natashariebe
The P.E.I. government's spending priorities were put under the microscope Tuesday with both opposition parties focusing on the millions of dollars that were not spent in last year's capital budget.Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said the province underspent on mental health and public housing while spending millions of dollars more on paving."Only about a quarter of the funds that were designated for housing actually got spent, but let's look at all the shiny new asphalt. It's not just this year, premier, it's last year as well," Bevan-Baker said from the floor of the provincial legislature. "To the premier, what do you have to say to the people who have nowhere to sleep tonight, the 750 people who are currently on the government housing wait list. What about the people who are in crisis tonight struggling to access the mental health services that they so desperately need? How will paving help them?"'Record investments'According to capital budget, the province planned to spend $17.5-million on housing. It spent $9.5 millionThe province had planned to spend $12-million on the mental health campus. It spent $2.7-million.Premier Dennis King defended his government's record on both the mental health and public housing files. "I believe that we've been making record investments in these areas, when you look at housing, the incredible rate in which construction is taking place, and if there is an underspend in that area, it's simply because the province doesn't have the ability to do any more," said King."That's not the government of Prince Edward Island, that's the industry in general. The construction industry is humming at a level, it's overheated… Our money is there. If fixing these important issues were just about money, I'd have them fixed this morning." Opposition MLA Hannah Bell said the province needs to build 10 times more public housing units than what is planned. That would be 1,000 units over the next five years. The province plans to open 100 public housing units over the next year.The province has already awarded the design work for 10 units in Morell and 10 units in Georgetown. It is planning another 48 public housing units in the Charlottetown area and 32 in the Summerside area.'Do appreciate the concern' Bell said at the rate the province is going, the province will build less than half of what they are promising. "Given that there are 750 Islanders on the wait list for public housing, why are you planning for around 50 additional units?" Bell asked during question period.Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson said he had hoped the province would have more public housing built by now. He said the global pandemic and the Island's red hot housing markets delayed the province's plans to build more housing."I certainly do appreciate the concern that the Opposition has stated with regards to the 100 builds that were announced in last year's capital budget," said Hudson."I'll be honest, a year ago I would have anticipated that we would have been further along with these."More from CBC P.E.I.
The Yukon government is suing a construction company for $1.5 million over what it claims was a botched upgrade to the Mayo water treatment plant. The Department of Community Services, in a statement of claim filed in the Yukon Supreme Court on Nov. 16, alleges that the work done by Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd. had a number of "deficiencies," including tanks with "visible leaks and are not watertight."The government is also seeking more than $1 million from Intact Insurance, an insurance company that served as a surety for the construction contract. The claims have not been tested in court, and neither Wildstone nor Intact Insurance have filed a statement of defence. CBC called Wildstone's Whitehorse office for comment but no one was available.Lawsuit claimsAccording to the lawsuit, the Yukon government contracted Wildstone, which is headquartered in Penticton, B.C., to upgrade the Mayo water treatment plant in February 2017.The contract was valued at $2,152,053. 53.However, Wildstone "did not perform the work to the contractual specifications and standard," the lawsuit alleges, and lists nine deficiencies including two leaking tanks that are "both sloped to one side of the tank foundation." The government also claims that cathodic protection, which guards against rust, was not installed in either tank, nor was a gravel pad or polyethylene roll that was supposed to be placed between the steel floor and the tanks' foundation.The statement of claim says Wildstone was made aware of the issues via a notice in September, and that the Yukon government has declared the company to be in default under the construction contract. That declaration should have triggered action on the part of Intact Insurance, according to the lawsuit. Intact Insurance, as the surety of a performance bond, was obligated to either remedy the default, complete the work, find another company to complete the work, or pay out the bond amount to the Yukon government. However, the company hasn't done any of that, the lawsuit alleges.Both Wildstone and Intact Insurance's failure to meet their obligations "has caused Yukon to suffer loss," the statement of claim says. The government is seeking $1.5 million in damages against Wildstone, $1,035,697.50 from Intact Insurance, interest and legal costs. The case has not been scheduled yet to go to trial.
THE LATEST: * 738 new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Wednesday, along with 13 more deaths. * There are now 29,086 confirmed cases in the province to date. * 294 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 61 in intensive care. * 371 people have now died of the disease. * Masks are mandatory for everyone in indoor public spaces and retail environments. * Anyone who does not comply could face a $230 fine. * Health officials ordered dance studios, yoga studios, gymnastics centres and other spaces offering group indoor fitness to suspend activities. * An outbreak at the Burnaby Hospital is tied to 55 cases and five deaths. * Social gatherings with anyone outside your household remain prohibited everywhere in B.C. * Indoor and outdoor community and social events are suspended. * British Columbians are advised to avoid unnecessary travel.British Columbia added another 738 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as the province continued to urge everyone to pause social interactions and said there could be fines for those who don't wear masks.The Fraser Health region continued to drive the spike in new infections with 443 or 60 per cent of Wednesday's new cases.There are currently 294 people in hospital, up from 209 a week ago. Of that number, 61 are in intensive care, the same as Tuesday.The death toll now stands at 371. Across the province, there are now 7,616 active cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.Public health is monitoring 10,270 people in B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure, which is 13 fewer than Tuesday.There are currently 52 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and five in hospitals.Data glitch changes week of resultsOn Wednesday, Provincial Health Minister Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a data correction for results from Fraser Health over the past week due to an data glitch.Daily numbers from Fraser Health changed from Nov. 16 to Nov. 24. On Tuesday, 678 cases were originally announced for the region. The accurate number is 432.Overall the corrected data presented by the government on Wednesday still showed the province's COVID-19 curve trending up, but at a slower rate that originally reported.Health officials are imploring British Columbians to abide by the latest provincial health orders and keep their social interactions as minimal as possible as the province battles this second wave of COVID-19.'A sign of respect'Dix and Henry both spoke to new $230 fines for people who fail to abide by new mandatory mask rules. Henry said Wednesday that she "has no time" for people who are aggressive or rude about refusing to wear a mask, or those who spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19."I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom," Henry said."To me, it's about a sign of respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us."Social gatherings remain restricted to household members only. Restrictions around group fitness classes were tightened on Tuesday with dance studios, yoga studios, gymnastics centres and other group indoor fitness activity being temporarily suspended.The latest public health orders will remain in effect until at least Dec. 7.After an outbreak at the Burnaby Hospital, 55 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and five people have died, Fraser Health confirmed.The health authority is also investigating 40 cases involving staff to determine whether they are connected to the outbreak.The hospital is not accepting new admissions with the exception of the intensive care, maternity and community palliative care units. READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere have now been more than 347,000 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.A vaccine is expected to become available in the coming year, but Canada has not yet specified how it will be distributed, aside from a promise to work with provinces and territories to buy cold storage. The federal government has procured 358 million doses of vaccine from seven companies, an insurance policy of sorts in case some of the vaccines in development prove to be ineffective in clinical trials.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
Dreams of a “green” Christmas were dashed on Nov. 20, as the provincial government, during its daily press conference, confirmed that several regions within Ontario would be moving into a more restrictive tier, or zone, of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. Grey Bruce was announced as one of the areas moving from green – prevent, to yellow – protect, as of Monday, Nov. 23 at 12:01 a.m. The Grey Bruce Public Health confirmed the implementation of strengthened health measures in an email on Sat. Nov. 21. There are five levels within the framework, prevent (green), protect (yellow), restrict (orange), control (red) and lockdown (grey). Assignments to each level last a minimum of 28 days, or two incubation periods, before being reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends. If Grey Bruce numbers decrease within the 28-day period, the region could return to green just before the Christmas holidays. Restrictions include, but are not limited to: Limits for functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, barbeques or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, or parks are 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Limits for religious services, weddings and funerals are 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors. Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments will be required that patrons be seated with a two-metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables. Up to six people may be seated together. Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions. Karaoke is permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms). Contact information must be provided by all seated patrons. No buffet style service is permitted. Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue must separate by a two-metre distance and face covering is required. Face coverings are required except when eating or drinking only. Personal protective equipment, including eye protection, is required when a worker must come within two-metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering. Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar. Establishments must be closed from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Liquor may be sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. No consumption of liquor is permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m. The volume of music must be limited to allow for normal conversation. A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request. In retail settings, fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls. Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue must have a two-metre distance between patrons and face covering is required. Retailers should limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible. For malls, a safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request. A full list of protect event restrictions is available at www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-openyellow. News of the change from green to yellow really came as no surprise. The health unit, in its daily situation reports listing cases in the community, had been asking the public to continue to practice the three Ws – washing hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally two metres apart) and wear your face mask correctly, in order to control the spread of COVID. Other tips included avoiding crowds, arrange for outdoor activities instead of indoor activities, staying home if sick and avoiding close contact (unprotected and within six feet) with people from outside a household. People have also been asked to avoid travel to areas with higher transmission and minimize all non-essential travel. As of Nov. 18, there were 42 active cases of COVID in Grey Bruce, and close to 200 active high risk contacts in the counties. Less than a week later, the number of active cases had risen to 53 cases (Nov. 23) and 284 high risk contacts were associated with active cases. Ian Reich, public health manager for the Grey Bruce Health Unit, says the jump in numbers is a direct result of people not following basic practices. Groups have been coming together at many different locations and not adhering to basic public health recommendations, including personal distancing, face covering and staying home when sick. He said many cases are a result of the entire family testing positive, with multiple cases within one household. “Some people say we are done with the virus” said Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce medical officer of health. “The truth of the matter, the virus is not done with us. The virus is not going to stop, until we stop it. It is critical that we stay focused on preventing the spread of the virus, and work together to protect the most vulnerable of us.”Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
A new national survey by Women's Shelters Canada offers a glimpse into the experiences of front-line workers and women fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of clients facing more violence that is also increasing in severity. The Shelter Voices survey says 52 per cent of 266 participating shelters reported seeing clients who were experiencing either somewhat or much more severe violence, as public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 increase social isolation, while job losses fuel tension over financial insecurity in many households. Violence "was also happening more frequently, or abusers who hadn't used violence in the past were suddenly using violence," said Krys Maki, the research and policy manager for Women's Shelters Canada. The survey also found 37 per cent of shelters reported changes in the type of violence clients faced, including increased physical attacks resulting in broken bones, strangulation and stabbings. Shelters and transition houses that did not report changes in the rates or type of violence were often located in communities that had seen fewer cases of COVID-19, the report notes. The data show public health restrictions have a "huge impact on women and children who are living with their abusers," said Maki. The survey says 59 per cent of shelters reported a decrease in calls for help between March and May, when people were asked to stay home, and businesses, workplaces and schools shut their doors. From June to October, "as soon as things started up again, we see a huge increase in crisis calls and requests for admittance," said Maki. The survey includes responses from shelters and transition houses in rural and urban areas in every province and territory. Just over half of the shelters in population centres with 1,000 to 29,999 residents reported increases in crisis calls between June and October, said Maki, compared with 70 per cent of shelters in urban centres with populations between 100,000 and just under a million. Women in smaller communities may be more hesitant to reach out for help, said Maki, "because everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows where the shelter is, too." While the survey shows women are facing more severe violence at home, at the same time, 71 per cent of shelters reported reducing their capacity in order to maintain physical distancing and other public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. It was more common that shelters in large population centres had to cut their capacity. To continue serving women remotely, 82 per cent of shelters and transition houses reported purchasing new technology, such as tablets, phones and laptops, although limited cell service and internet connectivity pose challenges in rural and remote areas. For many shelters, financial difficulties increased throughout the pandemic, as 38 per cent reported raising significantly less money compared with last year. The shelters were mostly appreciative of the federal government's emergency funding in response to COVID-19, with some reporting it kept them open, while others said they had to lay off staff because the money didn't go far enough. The federal government announced last month it would double the initial amount it was providing to gender-based violence services in response to the pandemic for a total of $100 million, some of which has been distributed through Women's Shelters Canada. The survey found more than three quarters of the shelters faced staffing challenges during the pandemic. That's not surprising, the report notes, since women make up the majority of shelter workers and have been trying to balance paid work with childcare and other family responsibilities during lockdown periods. The release of the survey results on Wednesday coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Canadian Centre for Women's Empowerment is also working to have Nov. 26 recognized each year to raise awareness about economic abuse. So far, the cities of Ottawa, Brampton, Parry Sound and Kingston have signed on in Ontario, while Victoria and Comox, B.C., will also mark the day. There is little data about economic abuse in Canada, said Meseret Haileyesus, who founded the centre, although the shelter survey showed clients were subject to increasing coercion and control tactics, including limited access to money. A survivor's debt load, credit rating, and their ability to access housing and educational opportunities may be affected for years, long after they've left an abusive relationship, Haileyesus said. The centre is working with MP Anita Vandenbeld on a petition urging lawmakers to expand the strategy to end gender-based violence to include economic abuse. It also wants Statistics Canada to begin collecting data and studying economic abuse. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
GUYSBOROUGH – “One complaint is too many complaints,” when it comes to ambulance delays putting patients at risk, MODG warden Vernon Pitts told media on Wednesday, Nov. 18 after the regular monthly meeting of council. Pitts was referring to a matter deputy warden Janet Peitzsche brought to council that afternoon; a constituent in her district waited seven hours for an EHS transfer from Canso to Antigonish, during which time the patient's appendix ruptured. And this was only the most recent complaint council had heard about EHS service in the municipality. Council has been in discussion with EHS about the lack of service in the municipality in the past and a motion was passed at Wednesday’s meeting to invite EHS to another meeting to discuss the issue. “We want some answers,” said Pitts. “There’s a disconnect here. They’re telling us one thing but in actuality other things are happening. We want to get this straightened out sooner rather than later.” And if things didn’t improve, Pitts said, “Our next step will be approaching the minister because ultimately the province is the one responsible for it. They pay for the service—we pay for the service through our tax rates—but the province in essence, they deal the money out. They’re supposed to get a service that they pay for and we want the service.” Another blow was dealt to health care in the municipality last week. Council was notified during Wednesday’s meeting that a doctor who had been slated to begin practice in the village had decided against a move to Guysborough. The physician shortage situation continues. In other business, council discussed the garbage pick-up service the MODG provides to the Town of Mulgrave. A letter was recently sent from the MODG to Mulgrave informing the town that garbage and recycling collection would move to a biweekly service. Prior to this notification, Mulgrave has had weekly pick-up of both waste streams. Pitts said of the change, “It’s not a cut in service, it is a service that all our residents (MODG) receive today…MODG is not making any money at this; it’s at a cost to us. That’s what Mulgrave is paying. They certainty have the option and the right to go out and look for garbage collection elsewhere.” Pitts explained that the weekly service Mulgrave has enjoyed was part of an accommodation given to the town when MODG took up garbage collection during the dissolution talks. “What happened is, this was first instituted when we were looking at the dissolution of Mulgrave…and it was a service to our neighbour.” Going forward, Pitts said, the MODG would have a contract with Mulgrave for waste collection; there currently isn’t one. Mulgrave has the option to put waste collection out to tender. If they chose that route, the MODG would put in a bid, Pitts said. The MODG will provide waste collection until Mulgrave tells them otherwise. Pitts said, “I don’t foresee MODG leaving them standing high and dry. They’re our neighbours, our friends.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
GUYSBOROUGH – This past week brought unwelcome news on the COVID-19 front: Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Strang says there is community spread of the virus and some HRM schools have been closed due to positive COVID-19 cases. As the second wave of the pandemic hits the shores of Nova Scotia, PC Leader Tim Houston is on the road speaking to municipal governments and stakeholder groups about his and the PC Party’s vision for the future and how they would handle the current crisis. He spoke to The Journalduring his visit to Guysborough last Friday. For starters, Houston is critical of the government’s response to school cases. The initial reaction of the government to last week’s school cases was to announce that close contacts would be tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. By Friday, the schools involved were facing a complete closure for two weeks. Houston points to this as a failure of leadership and communication on the part of the government. “I think the key is information and setting expectations,” Houston said. “As recently as Tuesday when media was asking government and leadership, what can they expect around schools, can they expect school closures, the answer was ‘We’re a long ways away from that.’ Turned out we were only a couple of days away from it and it is not clear to people what the criteria the government is looking at.” With cases on the rise and additional restrictions put in place in the Halifax area, Houston is in favour of colour-coded zones such as that used in New Brunswick. “That gives people some information…some sense of the risk that is happening around them. In the absence of that we’re solely relying on understanding a decision after it has been made without information as to why it was made.” Houston believes that more testing is the key to containing the virus without locking down the economy. “I am a big advocate for testing, testing, testing and more testing – making sure we have the capacity that when public health identifies that someone has been in close contact with someone or is at a higher risk because of some situation, [we can] test those people. The timing of the test is critical but maybe we can test them twice. It is all designed to take some pressure off the mental health of Nova Scotians and reduce anxiety.” When asked about the price tag of such a rigorous testing regime, Houston said, “This is a time in our province when we are going to have to have deficits for the next few years. We have to invest in people, we have to invest in infrastructure. There are a lot of investments that have not been made over the last few years just for the sake of balancing the budget and our communities are less because of that. This is not the time to do that. The cost to the economy of just locking down or having everyone isolate is significant as well.” The health and well-being of Nova Scotians who live in long-term care facilities has been a major issue during the pandemic. “We know that isolation is a big drain on people’s mental and physical health,” said Houston. “We know that family members and loved ones are a big part of the care giving team…We need to be conscious of the virus – there is a lot of technology that can help; help share information with family members…More than anything it will give family members peace of mind. “Let’s look to technology. Now more than ever we have more technology that helps people stay connected. It’s not the same as a hug but it is a lot better than not having any information at all,” he said. While the second wave of the pandemic is top of mind, there are other longstanding issues that require attention from government, such as physician recruitment and EHS service in rural areas. Of physician shortages, Houston said the health care system needs to modernize to match the needs of today, which are increasingly the issues faced by an older population dealing with chronic, not acute conditions. Part of that modernization plan would be the provision of more virtual doctor’s appointments when and where possible. But that hinges on the availability of reliable high-speed Internet; something rural areas often do without. Houston said, “Access to proper high-speed Internet would be the biggest economic development initiative since the railways…I am completely focused on making sure that everyone has access to cell service and high-speed Internet.” In regard to poor EHS service, Houston said he’d like to see a separation of patient transfer service between hospitals and emergency calls. And he calls for the government to release the Fitch report, an ambulance system review delivered to the government in Oct. 2019, stating, “I’d like to see what recommendations the experts made about how to improve service.” Next month MLAs will return to the legislature for one day, Dec. 18, when the government will prorogue the fall session. Houston said of that decision, “The number of days we’ve sat this year, which will be 14…that will be the lowest number of days that any legislature in Canada has sat probably since confederation and it will be the lowest by half. And when you put that into context of what has happened this year, and the changes we’ve had to our lives, to our economy, to our provincial budget; it’s very remarkable. “This is the latest example of the lack of respect for the democratic process that we’ve seen from the government for seven years. They’ve systematically reduced the ability to be held accountable. They’ve reduced the effectiveness of committees, they’ve reduced the access of media, access of opposition. All of these things make for less democracy and in the long term it is bad for the people because the best decisions are made when people making the decisions know they will be scrutinized,” he said. In light of his disappointment in the course followed by the Liberal government, Houston told The Journal that it will be the PC Party’s practice to let people know where they stand on the issues of the day. He said they’ve been putting out thoughtful, detailed, researched plans, adding, “we won’t criticize without putting a solution forward.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
CANSO -- The Canso Area Development Association (CADA) would like to bring a Fisheries Heritage Centre to the Canso waterfront. CADA president Harold Roberts spoke to The Journal about the group’s past year and ideas for the future, including the proposed centre, following CADA’s 11th annual AGM on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Canso and Area Library and Resource Centre. The Fisheries Heritage Centre, currently in the preliminary stages of planning, would be an interactive space for sharing the area’s long fishing history. “There is a lot of interest in that,” said Roberts. “This area is the oldest fishing port in the Maritimes dating back to 1604. We really don’t have a way of displaying, in a holistic way, our fisheries heritage.” The centre would highlight the indigenous fisheries, early European fishing and commercial fisheries. “We’ve had ongoing discussions with Parks Canada. We would like to have their support with this heritage centre,” said Roberts, noting that to, “advance this project to another level, we would have to seek out an RFP (Request for Proposals).” The Fisheries Heritage Centre was part of the discussion during the community visioning workshop held on Oct. 21 with Rob LeBlanc from the consulting firm Fathom Studios, regarding community enhancements that could happen through funds earmarked for the former Town of Canso from the sale of the Canso Electric Utility residuals. "Two hundred and eighty surveys were completed and forwarded to Fathom Studios; that shows that there is a lot of interest in how that money would focus on particular projects and initiatives within the former town boundaries,” said Roberts. In other business, CADA has helped several local organizations this past year, including a $250 donation to the Chedabucto Multi-use Trails Association, a donation to the Canso Flying Figures Skating Club to cover registration costs, and support for the Eastern Counties Rate Payers Association. Members of CADA sit on community liaison committees with the Black Point Quarry project and the proposed Maritime Launch Services project. They also work in partnership with MODG Recreation and Public Works to operate the swimming pool in Canso, which due to COVID-19 was not open this past season. They also participate in the Canso and Area Stakeholders Group and the Guysborough and Area Board of Trade. Cape Breton – Canso MP Mike Kelloway joined the AGM by video link.Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The province's child and youth advocate says absenteeism was already an issue for children across Newfoundland and Labrador — even before anxiety started to swirl this week about a cluster of COVID-19 cases on Newfoundland's west coast.Jackie Lake Kavanagh says it's vital to keep gathering information about why kids are missing school. Elwood Elementary School in Deer Lake is reopening Wednesday, according to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD), after it had shut its doors Monday and Tuesday, following a student testing positive for COVID-19. However, it appears assurances from public health are not convincing all parents and caregivers to send their kids to school. CBC News has learned that only 10 out of 280 students showed up for school on Tuesday at Xavier Junior High, while roughly 10 out of 230 showed up for school at Elwood Regional High School. That information comes one day after the district's CEO Tony Stack admitted that attendance at Elwood Elementary, before the closure was announced, was "very low.""I would imagine it was apprehension within the community — understandably so — so the attendance rates were very low, less than 25 per cent," he said at a media conference Monday. Absenteeism 'significant problem': reportBut Lake Kavanagh's concern about kids missing class began long before schools closed province-wide in March.In January 2019, the office of the Child and Youth Advocate released a report that said about 10 per cent — or 6,600 — of the province's children missed a month or more of school on average, a "significant problem," said Lake Kavanagh, with some children missing more than that.Her department released a series of recommendations which she knows the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District had been working on, but Lake Kavanagh said she's worried chronic absenteeism might fall off the map."We're in the middle of COVID, [and] a lot of resources are focused on some of the very practical issues around student safety, keeping schools open, and a lot of the other issues that have arisen around that, and so my concern is that this does not drop off the radar — this is critically important," she told CBC's Anthony Germain in an interview Tuesday. "Children have an absolute fundamental right to a good-quality education, and they have to be in school."The absenteeism rate in September 2019 was around 6.2 per cent, Lake Kavanagh said. This year, that number was around nine per cent."In some ways I'm a little bit surprised, perhaps, that it wasn't higher than that compared to last year's numbers, especially in light of the issue with school bussing," she said, referring to the school board's plan to cut the number of seats available on school buses by 6,000.That decision was a particular worry for her, especially after three months at home in the spring."I was really, really concerned about that, because if we're starting the school year with children not able to get to school, can't even get to the front doorsteps of the school, that's a big problem," she said."When they become disconnected, it becomes harder to reconnect again."'This is so much more complex'Lake Kavanagh cites global research that shows that 75 per cent of students chronically absent in Grade 6 will not go on to finish high school, for example.It's a problem without a straightforward solution, she said."Oftentimes, absenteeism is looked at as not a big issue ... it's competing with some really big loud issues in the school system," she said.> To point at schools or the school system and say, 'Tag, you're it,' it's lost from the beginning. \- Jackie Lake Kavanagh"A lot of people tend to look at it as, that's a school problem, teachers need to do a better job and administrators need to do a better job of getting students in their desks every morning. But we know that this is so much more complex."If a child has significant mental or physical health issues that haven't been addressed, for example, "that's a barrier," she said. So, too, is a parent struggling with a diagnosis, disability or addiction."Home can be chaotic for children. There can be family violence, there can be all kinds of issues around school itself [so] that maybe it doesn't feel like it's a safe place … there's all kinds of really complex issues," she said."We can't point a finger at the schools, although the schools are critically important in being a part of the solution. These children's lives are often much more complex than that, and we have to look at holistic solutions to see, 'how do we take down some of those barriers in this province for children?' she said."It's not as simple as just getting them to show up."In the COVID-19 era, Lake Kavanagh said a heightened sense of worry, as well as the speed of misinformation spread, can also be an issue prompting parents to keep kids out of classes more than necessary."Once rumours start circulating, once social media lights up — whether it's accurate information or not — people will often act on that," she said."So if people are acting without good information and it may not be accurate, they're keeping their children home from school. Those are concerns as well, especially if there's no basis for those kinds of decisions."Lake Kavanagh said chronic absenteeism will need involvement from multiple government departments and the NLESD."There really needs to be a team effort, and to point at schools or the school system and say, 'Tag, you're it,' it's lost from the beginning," she said. "A much more holistic response is needed."Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Council members in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., have passed a resolution asking stores to make masks mandatory.The resolution, passed Monday night, encourages retailers to make face masks a requirement in local stores and to support those that can't wear a mask due to a disability or "undue hardship."The resolution says that personal preference "is not a valid reason to not wear a mask." Mayor Sean Whelly stressed that the resolution is a recommendation, not a bylaw, meaning that it is not mandatory for businesses to put this policy in place.Whelly said it's been difficult for customers to maintain physical distancing in stores because it's the place where so many people interact. If there's one thing his council needs to tackle right now, it's the mask issue, Whelly said."We want people to recognize that it's for their own good, and get them to voluntarily adopt mask usage," he said.The only place in the community where masks are mandatory right now is the liquor store, Whelly said. That's because the N.W.T. Liquor and Cannabis Commission made masks mandatory at all liquor stores in the territory last month.At that spot, Whelly said people can be seen leaving the store with their masks on and then passing that used mask to the next person waiting in line. Whelly said mask usage elsewhere in the community is low, and he believes it's because residents think the strong border measures and isolation centres elsewhere in the territory will keep them from being exposed to the virus. "There's a false sense of security," he said. "If one person happened to get it here, it would quickly spread just like in Nunavut." This is doubly important to residents as Fort Simpson's ice road gets ready to open during the winter, he continued. The community is cut off from all-seasons roads at the moment, lessening the risk of COVID-19. But as soon as the road opens, Whelly said residents will have to be prepared. "We know there's going to be a lot of people travelling here, and from here to Yellowknife and all over," he said. "If there's any outbreaks over there, [there are] more chances that we can see something develop here over the Christmas holidays." The next step, Whelly said, is to use some of the village's COVID-19 money to supply local stores with masks that they can provide to customers if they do not have them. Whelly said Fort Simpson has already given out hundreds of cloth masks to people in the community, but he thinks providing them to stores directly might help increase mask usage. Whelly said both stores in the community, the Northern Store and Unity, are willing to work with the village on this new mask policy.
After 13 years as the host of CBC Montreal's Daybreak, Mike Finnerty has decided it is time to move on. His last show will be Friday, Nov. 27.Here, he explains the reasons behind his departure — and answers some rapid-fire questions that are normally reserved for special in-studio guests.Why are you leaving Daybreak?It is time. I've hosted Daybreak for a total of 13 years, including over the last, eventful decade 2010-2020. That's a lot of time! This is not my chair — it's been my great privilege to keep it warm, but I want to make way for a new voice, another style, a fresh perspective on the city for 2021.Looking back on the job, what did being Daybreak's host mean to you? How did you approach the job every day?I've had a front row-seat as so much has changed in Montreal. The revolt over corruption in the city. The big changes at city hall from Tremblay to Applebaum to Coderre to Plante. The massive student protests. The struggle to come to terms with our modern identity, to make the city a fairer place for all its citizens. The rise in the high-tech sector, the explosion of terrasse culture and now our pulling together in the pandemic.I've met and spoken to SO many Montrealers about all that and more. I'm incredibly fortunate, and incredibly grateful for the opportunity.Most of all, I will never forget the thrill of turning the microphone on every weekday, rain, snow or shine, and saying good morning to Montrealers.What's next for you?This Christmas, you'll find me at Borough Market selling cheese in my second home, London. I need some time to turn the page, and I get a lot of joy from a product that has a history that reaches back through the centuries. I am in awe of the mysteries of fermentation, all the incredible tastes, smells and varieties of cheese.I want to learn more, meet more farmers and cheesemakers. It is a hands-on, physical job, but also one that's really close to people. So I'll don the cheesemonger's apron and see where the next chapter takes me.What's the definitive Montreal food?All the foods! But a sunny day on the terrasse at a Montreal bistro with a platter of nibbly things (cheese included!) is heaven.Favourite interviews or guests?Ellen Gabriel.What are your strategies for waking up early and napping?How can you not love the quiet, intense beauty of the pre-dawn morning? And regarding napping, I cannot be brief on that topic.Something you noticed change in 10 years?Montreal's dynamism ... it faded. It's back.Something that didn't change at all?Sometimes I'll walk down a Montreal back alleyway and see the same young people you might have seen 30 years ago, laughing, playing, hanging out.Favourite Montreal neighbourhood to hang out in?I love Little Italy and the Jean-Talon Market.Cheese recommendations?Go to a cheese shop — ask the cheesemonger: "What's really popping today?" Cheeses are living things. You may have a favourite, but it may not be a great batch. A good cheesemonger will know what will knock your socks off on a given day.Prediction for the next 10 years?Montreal rising and rising.Tune in to 88.5 FM in Montreal Friday morning for Mike Finnerty's final broadcast as host of Daybreak.
Milan's La Scala will broadcast a music and dance gala from its empty auditorium next month after it was forced to abandon its traditional December opening with an opera for the first time since World War Two due to the pandemic. Its usual new season opening, a highlight of Italy's cultural calendar, will be replaced on Dec. 7 by a show of arias and duets, starring opera and ballet stars from across the world, including tenor Placido Domingo. "I hope ... to tell the world that we are in a difficult moment but still able to create the emotion of opera," Artistic Director Dominique Meyer said during a webcast press conference.
If you are a senior staying in your own home during pandemic times, a proposed new senior’s renovation tax credit may help with the cost of renovations to make your home more safe and accessible and keep you in your home longer. The Ontario government has proposed a Seniors' Home Safety Tax Credit for the 2021 taxation year, which would provide a 25 per cent credit on eligible renovations of up to $10,000. The tax credit would be a fully refundable tax credit for the 2021 tax year worth 25% of up to $10,000 ($2,500) in eligible expenses to make homes “safer and more accessible.” Seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes and whether they owe income tax for 2021. Family members who have a senior living with them would also be eligible. Eligible expenses include those that are paid for, or become payable in, 2021. The expenses must relate to renovations that improve safety and accessibility or help seniors be more functional or mobile at home. Eligible expenses could include renovations to allow for first-floor occupancy or a secondary suite for a senior; wheelchair ramps, stair lifts and elevators; grab bars in washrooms to assist with use of the toilet, tub or shower, non-slip flooring, additional lighting, and automatic garage door openers. “This is a very important new program that is available to all seniors, regardless of income,” said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “The intent of the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is to help make homes safer and more accessible for those with mobility issues. I encourage all interested residents to apply.” The government said it expects the credit would benefit 27,000 people and cost about $30 million in 2021. The province plans to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to allow the credit to be claimable through the 2021 personal income tax return. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The UK finance minister has told parliament that the economic emergency is only just beginning, as he outlines the government's spending plans.View on euronews
Mayor Charlie Clark says he's concerned about new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon and is looking to see what the city can do to slow the spread.Clark sent out a series of Twitter posts Tuesday night stating that he had been speaking with a wide range of groups, including medical personnel and the business sector. Clark promised to make a Saskatoon-specific plan to slow down the spread of the virus.In an interview, Clark said the plan will work alongside provincial restrictions and will focus on filling gaps in the current system."What we can do is work in a co-ordinated way between our local leadership, whether it's in the faith communities and agricultural communities and the business community, with our EMO, with our police to have the most co-ordinated approach we can," said Clark."We have make sure that we've got all of the right pieces working together when it comes to contact tracing and being able to track and understand where the virus is in our community."Clark said the city does not plan on creating its own restrictions or closures and will continue to follow the province's recommendations.At a city committee meeting on Monday, Clark and city manager Jeff Jorgenson both said the city was limited in its powers regarding COVID-19 restrictions and felt it was best to follow the province's lead on the matter.Clark said the new plan will focus on measures including an increased effort to make sure everyone is following the rules."People want to see that there's co-ordinated enforcement," he said. "We have situations where we have businesses or private gatherings that are undermining the sacrifices that so many people are making to follow the guidelines."Clark said the plan will also include means to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and make sure businesses and other groups like churches have the resources to follow the guidelines."We need to identify how we can best work together to address this very urgent issue in our community, and avoid a large scale lockdown," he said.Clark said discussions are still underway and the plan is not finished. He said he hoped the plan would be ready to roll out by the end of the week.At the committee meeting on Monday, councillors asked administration to draft a report that looks at what role the city could play in limiting the spread of COVID-19.The provincial government is expected to release further COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday afternoon.What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Health-care workers are saying new restrictions introduced by Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday don't do enough to slow the spread of the virus.Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, which represents 27,000 health-care workers in the province, says the measures fall short of what's needed. "Jason Kenney has once again put Albertans at grave risk due to his failure of leadership … the measures announced today are inadequate," Parker said in a release following Tuesday's announcement. Parker was among more than 400 doctors and health-care policy experts who had signed a letter to the premier on Sunday calling for a circuit-breaker lockdown, mask mandate, and mandatory paid sick leave. Indoor gatherings banned, restaurants stay openTuesday's measures and a renewed state of public health emergency saw a ban on indoor social gatherings, Grade 7 to 12 students moving to online learning and further mask mandates in the Calgary and Edmonton health zones — both cities already have mask mandates in place. It also allowed businesses like restaurants, bars and casinos to remain open, and religious gatherings to continue, subject to some restrictions.Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician and founder of Masks4Canada, questioned why restaurants are being allowed to stay open and why, despite major contact tracing issues, the province still hasn't adopted the national COVID Alert app."If there is one overriding message is that these measures will improve transmission rates but likely not to the extent needed. This essentially will cause a deeper lockdown in the near future that will last longer than is necessary, and overall, gets a D+ from me," he wrote as part of a series of social media posts. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Alberta, delivered his concerns more succinctly in a single post. "Alberta priorities: schools closed, but bars stay open," he wrote. > How can the government possibly claim that they are making data-based policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks? \- Sandra Azocar, Friends of MedicareSandra Azocar, executive director of the public health-care non-profit Friends of Medicare, questioned the premier's assertion that the restrictions are based on an understanding of where transmission is taking place."How can the government possibly claim that they are making data-based policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks?" Azocar asked in a release. According to the province, 85 per cent of Alberta's more than 13,000 active COVID-19 cases have an unknown source."The truth is, we can't have targeted measures because we don't have any knowledge of where over 80 per cent of our cases are coming from," Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician at the University of Alberta, said. On Monday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing. She said the team could no longer keep up and that thousands of Albertans would not receive calls as tracers focused on more recent or high-priority cases. "If this government had listened to those who are working in our health-care sector, and who bear daily witness to the toll that this pandemic is taking on Albertans and their families, we could have avoided the disastrous place we find ourselves in today," the Friends of Medicare release read. "Instead, the premier of this province has been effectively missing in action since his last announcement of feeble COVID-19 restrictions, and a lack of leadership has been in full display for the past month." * WATCH | Premier Jason Kenney announces new COVID-19 restrictions for AlbertaAlberta reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with new cases above 1,100. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, for a total of 492 deaths. The province has more active cases than Ontario, despite having one-third of Ontario's population.Kenney said that Alberta isn't "involved in a chase after zero" cases, but is trying to slow the spread to keep the health-care system functioning. He said the province's response has been largely effective, touting that it was the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce a contact-tracing app. That app has only been used in 20 cases since it was launched.While health-care workers expressed concerns, business owners are now left assessing how the new restrictions will work in practice. "We're just trying to process now how we can enforce those rules and and keep our staff safe and make sure they're able to keep the customers safe," said Dandy Brewing Company co-founder Ben Leon.He'll need to implement restrictions like ensuring everyone who sits together lives together, unless someone lives alone, in which case they can dine with two people in their cohort. Leon said he had hoped for an early lockdown, rather than risk business shutting down at Christmas, but said he and his staff will adapt. "Any sort of restriction on the holiday business is worse than sort of stopping and starting again," he said.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it was pleased to see the restrictions continue to operate at reduced capacity, unlike wider shutdowns seen in Manitoba and Ontario — which both have lower active case counts than Alberta."A blanket lockdown would have pushed Alberta small businesses to the brink of closure. The new limited measures will give small business a fighting chance to surviving the holiday season. Its now up to Albertans to follow these new orders and do our part to slow the spread," CFIB Alberta provincial affairs director Annie Dormuth said in a release. Both Calgary and Edmonton's mayors said their cities will be evaluating the impact of the restrictions on their programs and services. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'll be encouraging local employers to allow employees to work from home if possible."Ultimately, we as a city government will support the province in this work, we'll do so in every way we can, including enforcement, to ensure that we're keeping everybody safe," he said. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he empathizes with those who will have to make adjustments due to the restrictions, at a time when everyone's lives have already been significantly disrupted."This will be difficult, but it is critical that we do our part to keep our families and communities safe," he said in a release.