Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips spoke to Global News on Thursday after unveiling the province’s 2020 pandemic-era budget.
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips spoke to Global News on Thursday after unveiling the province’s 2020 pandemic-era budget.
Big data is playing a prominent role in life insurance this year.Interest in coverage has surged during the pandemic, but for many people, social distancing mandates took the life insurance medical exam off the table. As consumers look for quick, noninvasive ways to buy policies, insurers have turned to accelerated underwriting, a process that uses algorithms instead of exams to evaluate applicants.While accelerated underwriting isn’t new, more than a third of life insurers have expanded it due to the pandemic, according to a study by the Society of Actuaries. And no-exam life insurance appeals to many people. “They want it to be fast and easy,” says Gina Birchall, chief operating officer for the life insurance trade group LIMRA.Accelerated underwriting can help you get life insurance quickly online, but there are caveats. What you gain in speed, you may lose in flexibility and price.HOW BIG DATA HAS CHANGED LIFE INSURANCETraditionally, buying life insurance was a lengthy process involving bloodwork, urine samples and long waits for approval. “It was probably the hardest or most difficult product to buy left in the modern economy,” says Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance.This changed as the world became steeped in big data. Insurers now typically check your prescription drug history and data from the MIB Group, an information-sharing service for insurers. Companies may also consider non-medical data, such as your credit history, driving record and shopping habits. Algorithms then combine these data points to quickly determine eligibility and cost of coverage.This data can be tricky to dissect, but industry experts expect the trend to grow.“The more information we have, the deeper the data that we have, the more capable we are of making sound decisions,” says Jackie Morales, chief insurance officer for Bestow, an insurer that uses accelerated underwriting.HOW ACCELERATED UNDERWRITING WORKSCompanies typically use accelerated underwriting techniques in two ways:1\. TO FAST-TRACK HEALTHY PEOPLE’S APPLICATIONS. Many major carriers approve low-risk applicants based on big data and then require medical exams for everyone else, says Jeremy Hallett, CEO of Quotacy, a life insurance broker. On average, it takes nine days for an insurer to reach a final decision using accelerated underwriting instead of the traditional 27, according to LIMRA. These policies are considered fully underwritten, even if you don’t take an exam.2\. TO PROVIDE INSTANT ANSWERS. Insurers like Bestow use information from your application and big data algorithms to assess risk, and never require a medical exam. Coverage is not guaranteed, but the application process is fast and you often get an answer within minutes.Accelerated underwriting is not to be confused with “simplified issue” life insurance, which considers the answers on your application but doesn’t tap into big data. These policies typically cost more and offer less coverage than standard policies because they rely on limited information.WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A POLICYWhen you shop for life insurance, be sure to ask how the policy is priced. Both instant-answer and fully underwritten policies have pros and cons, and your specific needs will dictate what is right for you.Before you apply, ask yourself these questions:HOW FAST DO YOU WANT COVERAGE?If speed is paramount, consider instant-answer policies that solely use big data and never require an exam. You will get an answer quickly, although the answer may be no.“What big data is providing people is speed,” says Bestow’s Morales. Nearly 85% of people who apply for a Bestow policy do so on a mobile device, she says.HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO PAY?A policy with full medical underwriting is likely to be the cheapest option. If the insurer chooses to use accelerated underwriting to fast-track your application, you are not penalized; your price and product will likely be the same as if you had taken the exam, Hallett says.Instant-answer policies may not offer rates in the cheapest brackets since the insurer doesn’t have the option of a medical exam to get more information. But Morales says, “Some people will trade off that ability to get a fast decision at a reasonable price.”DO YOU WANT FLEXIBILITY?Fully underwritten life insurance may offer more options, such as the ability to convert from term to permanent coverage. This is not always true of policies that rely solely on your application information and big data.“When you at least have that medical exam as a possibility,” Hallett says, “you get a more robust product.”___________________________________This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Georgia Rose is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.comRelated Links:NerdWallet: Options for No Medical Exam Life Insurance https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-medical-life-insuranceMIB Group: Request a copy of your report https://www.mib.com/request_your_record.htmlGeorgia Rose Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
UNALASKA, Alaska — An Alaska city that is home to one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports has included wastewater testing among the mitigation efforts that could help maintain a low number of coronavirus infections. Unalaska began testing its wastewater in July for traces of COVID-19, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Monday. The island community of about 4,500 year-round residents located on Dutch Harbor, 800 miles (1,287 kilometres) from Anchorage, has recorded 107 coronavirus cases, including 85 from a single factory trawler. Despite the island’s first case of community spread two weeks ago, any virus in Unalaska’s waste remains below the detection level. “If somebody has COVID-19, they’re shedding this virus in fragments,” said Karie Holtermann, lab manager at Unalaska’s wastewater treatment plant. “It’s in their GI tract, they’re shedding it into their feces, into their urine. And so we’re trying to pick that up in our testing here.” The plant processes about 350,000 gallons (1,325 kilolitres) of waste and greywater daily, equating to about 70 gallons (265 litres) per Unalaska resident per day. Sewage testing has been successfully used as an early detection method for other diseases such as polio, Holtermann said. A Netherlands-based study concluded wastewater serves as an early warning system for coronavirus spread by detecting the virus in people who have not been tested or who have mild or no symptoms, Holtermann said. “What they’ve all seen is that wastewater monitoring can predict an outbreak a week before showing up at the clinic,” Holtermann said. “And once it is shown that COVID-19 is in a community, it’s able to show the beginning, the tapering and the resurgence of an outbreak.” If the virus levels increase with an influx of winter fishing season workers, the wastewater tests could pinpoint the part of town where the cases are focused, she said. Holtermann takes two to three wastewater samples during peak flow times, dipping a bucket hanging from a rope at some of the 10 lift stations on the island. “We go all around the clock,” she said. “So, at midnight, three o’clock in the morning — it’s a very interesting view of Unalaska.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
A former Barrie surgeon has given up his licence to practise medicine and has promised his regulatory body to never apply to register as a physician ever again, anywhere. The agreement arose following a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) disciplinary hearing last week. “The agreement to never reapply for registration… is the maximum level of punishment available in this situation,” said CPSO communications advisor Josh McLarnon. The college had earlier launched investigations into Dr. Emad M. Guirguis and his now-defunct Lakeview Surgery Centre on Dunlop Street following complaints. He was found to perform cosmetic surgery that was outside his scope of practice as a physician, not having the proper training and certification. He also engaged in unprofessional conduct through online advertising and communications with a specific patient. In addition to the practice ban, he was ordered to pay $6,000. “Dr. Guirguis has been brought forward to the discipline committee on a number of occasions,” McLarnon added. An investigation was first launched in 2015 resulting in a caution three years later. Another caution was later issued relating to his compliance of the first issue. In one complaint, Guirguis tried to perform bariatric revision gastric band surgery, but decided not to complete the surgery because he encountered extensive scar tissue from previous surgeries. According to documents from the college’s compliance and monitoring department, he perforated the patient’s bowel during the surgery, resulting in ongoing complications. The complainant said he did not communicate or follow up with her after the surgery or provide a refund of her fee. “The committee... was of the view that the respondent’s pre-operative assessment was insufficient,” the decision of the inquiries, complaints and reports committee found. In another report, an independent assessor concluded: “Dr. Guirguis did not meet the standard of practice of the profession in some of the cases reviewed; his knowledge was adequate but basic; his surgical skills were adequate for his limited scope of practice; his judgment was not always adequate, mostly because the brief documentation does not allow a full understanding of his train of thought and exposes omissions or incomplete assessments; and in the reviewed cases his clinical practice, behaviour, or conduct had the potential to expose one patient to harm.” Other assessors, it added, found broad deficiencies in Dr. Guirguis’s practice. In a report from Dec. 14, 2018, Guirguis was cautioned about not providing a full explanation of a procedure to a patient and ensuring the patient had full clarity about what was going to be done following a complaint to the college about the outcome of a cosmetic surgical procedure. According to CPSO documents, Guirguis agreed he has engaged in an act or omission relevant to the practice of medicine that would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional. He was ultimately found to have committed an act of professional misconduct. Dr. Guirguis’s certificate of registration expired Sept. 4, 2020. In addition to the clinic, Guirguis was also once a staff general surgeon at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Guirguis did not respond to requests for comment, but according to his Facebook page he is studying for his master's degree in theological studies at Tyndale University College and Seminary.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):9:25 a.m.President-elect Joe Biden says he won’t immediately lift tariffs placed by President Donald Trump on many imports from China or break Trump’s initial trade deal.Biden says he wants to maximize his leverage in future talks with the United States' geopolitical rival.Speaking to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Biden said, “I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs.” Biden adds in Friedman's column published Wednesday: “I’m not going to prejudice my options.”Under Trump, the U.S. and China engaged in a yearlong trade war that has been largely frozen since a Phase One deal was reached in January. While some industries have benefited from Trump’s protectionist policies, the policies have been largely panned by the business community and most experts — and most of the cost of tariffs has been borne by American businesses and consumers.Biden tells Friedman an early priority after his January swearing-in will be to restore relationships with allies to strengthen his negotiating position with China. Biden says key to talks with China is “leverage” and in his view "we don’t have it yet.”___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks are quickly running into the political reality of a narrowly controlled Senate that will leave the new Democratic administration dependent on rival Republicans to get anything done.Read more:— Ron Klain brings decades of DC experience to Biden White House— Trump threatens defence veto over social media protections— Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud— Senate GOP leader sticking with partisan COVID-19 relief planThe Associated Press
THUNDER BAY — A 26-year-old man facing a murder charge has been sentenced for his role in an unrelated, unprovoked attack of another inmate at the Thunder Bay District jail more than a year ago. Darren Steven Oombash, 26, appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Monday, Nov. 30, and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault for his part in an assault of another inmate. Ontario Judge Chantal M. Brochu accepted a joint submission for Oombash of two years less a day minus pre-sentence custody. Crown counsel Katrina van Kessel read out facts relating to the Sept. 21, 2019 assault at the district jail involving Oombash and five others where they attacked another inmate who suffers from schizophrenia and mild intellectual impairments, court heard on Monday. “This was brutal, unprovoked six-on-one attack on a vulnerable person,” van Kessel, said, adding the victim still suffers from long term damage to his vision as a result of the attack. Court heard the complainant suffered several injuries after he was dragged out of his cell by Oombash’s co-accused, Jonathan Yellowhead into a corridor area of the jail where he was beaten by six other individuals to the point where he lost consciousness. The entire incident was captured on surveillance video at the jail. Some of his injuries included a concussion, a fractured and displaced orbital bone with hemorrhaging in his sinus which required surgery, a dislocated jaw, swelling, bruising and abrasions to his face. His left eye was also swollen shut. “At the time of his discharge from hospital on Sept. 27, 2019, swelling to his face was still so significant that the injury to his eye could not be assessed,” van Kessel said, adding the complainant has no memory of the attack. Court heard a few mitigating factors laid out by lawyers including Oombash’s limited criminal record which includes two convictions, one for mischief and one for resisting police. His guilty plea was also considered mitigating as it showed a sign of remorse. Defence counsel Mary Bird gave the court a brief background of Oombash's upbringing. He moved to Thunder Bay from Cat Lake First Nation to attend high school. “Unfortunately like many young people who end up in the city, they often end up without employment, without a place to stay and unfortunately he got himself into a little bit of trouble,” Bird said. The lawyer also highlighted Oombash’s parents and both sets of grandparents attended residential schools. Bird also said her client started drinking at the age of 13. “It has become part of his lifestyle unfortunately and certainly led him to be in custody and obviously he wasn’t intoxicated this day, but it has been an issue for him,” she said. Some of the others involved in the attack have already been sentenced according to court documents. Lennox Oren Atlookan was given a three-year jail sentence on July 23 and Brolin Ian Donald Ooshag was sentenced in June to a total of 540 days in custody. Both men received weapon prohibitions orders. Travis Jacob Loon, John Thomas O’Keese and Johnathon Joseph Yellowhead will appear in court next on these charges on Dec. 18. Oombash was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition order and is not to communicate with the victim. He was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he spent in pre-sentence custody of 653 days which leaves 76 days left to serve. Oombash remains in custody for other outstanding matters including a charge of murder where he is co-accused with Marlene Lou Kwandibens and Terry Nicole Irene Michon. All three are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2018 death of Ashley McKay. All three co-accused have had their murder charge committed to stand trial in Superior Court and will appear in court next on Dec. 14 for a pre-trial, according to court documents. There is a publication ban on these matters.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Season 4 of The Crown on Netflix is turning out to be much more controversial than previous seasons, as historians and royal watchers decry the unflattering portrayal of Prince Charles and his marriage to the late Princess Diana.It wouldn't be an understatement to say that he comes out looking like "the villain" in his marriage to Diana. And the reaction from viewers has been so intensely negative that it's compelled Prince Charles and wife, Camilla, to turn off comments on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.But how much of it is true, and how much is a work of fiction, is creating a grey area that didn't exist before Season 4. The show launched its fourth season on Netflix on Nov. 15 and takes place more than 40 years hence it began in its first season.Hugo Vickers, a Royal historian, writer and broadcaster, says the series is painting an unfair portrait of Charles."It is [and] it's also painting an unfair picture of most of the royal family," Vickers told the Calgary Eyeopener."The only one who comes out of it well is Diana. And I understand, of course, that when people are doing a thing like this, they will go to various different sources, but they've entirely taken Diana's side and they've painted Prince Charles as a sort of wimp, but this time they've made him even worse. They've turned him into a kind of evil and murderous wimp, which is pretty unpleasant, frankly."Vickers, the author of the book The Crown Dissected and the e-book The Crown: Truth & Fiction: An Expert Analysis of Netflix Series, The Crown, says Prince Charles is far different from his on-screen persona."First of all, of course, in The Crown, he never does anything at all constructive. He never does any work," Vickers said."He doesn't set up the Prince's Trust. He doesn't do any engagements. He doesn't do anything except whinge and whine about his marriage and how much he would prefer to be with another woman. And so that's the way they've played him."Vickers says the real Prince Charles is dedicated to his role as Prince of Wales, and long ago made his peace with not being king. Complicated marriages"He's already 72 years old, still hasn't become king, so I think he sees the role of king when it eventually comes as the semi-retired position. But as Prince of Wales, he's free to go around stirring things up and getting people interested in his various causes. And he's done an awful lot of good," Vickers said."The marriages, I would accept, have been complicated and to some extent have been the problem in his life."Vickers said the basic facts have been exaggerated to paint Diana as a saint, and that Charles did not carry on an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles throughout his entire marriage."He didn't carry on an affair the whole time. Taking him at his word and returning to the official biography by Jonathan Dimbleby — who had access to all the papers — the affair was resumed in 1986 once he realized that his marriage was irretrievably broken down," Vickers said. "I don't say that that's a perfect situation for him to be in either. I think you may find that it is very complicated this, because there are contradictions that probably it was the Princess of Wales who started having affairs before he did. But listen, I wasn't there, I wasn't in the room. I cannot confirm that to be absolutely true."Vickers said the early years of Charles and Diana's marriage were happier, even though Charles had clearly carried a torch for Camilla for many years.The series portrays Charles as resenting his wife's growing popularity as she took to her role in the spotlight."I think he gradually felt that he was upstaged by her, because the media took a great deal more interest in what she was wearing than in what he was talking about," Vickers said. "So if they were on the platform together, that definitely did become an issue later on."Vickers said the Netflix series also took many liberties in the telling of events."Where they're very unfair in The Crown is that, for example, you know, they get engaged and then that night he goes down to Highgrove to see Camilla. No, he didn't. They had dinner with the Queen Mother, obviously, the happy couple. He did not leave for Australia the following day. Lots of things like that which they twist," he said. Vickers also said the episode portraying the relationship of Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth is not only untrue in its telling of historical events, but harmful."I think even all over the world, you know, I think it's having a very damaging effect," Vickers said. "What Peter Morgan does, which is particularly dangerous, I think, is that he starts off sometimes with a story which is more or less true. Let's take the example of Mrs. Thatcher, for example."The plot line in question suggests that the Queen leaks a story about her disagreement with Thatcher, to the media. This was based on a real article, published in the Sunday Times in 1986, but Vickers said it did not accurately portray the sequence of events or the rift between the women."Suddenly [Thatcher] announces she's going to see the Queen, and ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament and call a general election in order to save her role as prime minister," Vickers said. "Well, that absolutely didn't happen, but because some of the early part did, you can get swept along with it. And it is also, you know, very well filmed. It's lavishly produced. It's very convincing. You can't … dismiss it entirely as tabloid rubbish."At the end of the day, Vickers said he finds Season 4 to be the least accurate season of the series."I think it's unfair to put real living people into semi-real situations and then play around with their motives and twist the facts to fit a story which is absolutely not true," he said. "And I think that's vicious. Really, really awful." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
Le Centre de ressources pour hommes Optimum annonce un partenariat avec le duo humoristique Nouveaux pères, afin de mieux faire connaître ses services et inciter davantage d’hommes dans la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean à demander l’aide dont ils ont besoin. Optimum espère avec ce nouveau partenariat fera rayonner davantage ses différents services offerts dans la région. Rappelons que l’on compte parmi ceux-ci le service Trajectoires, qui offre de l’entraide psychosociale, Maison Oxygène, qui propose de l’hébergement avec ou sans enfants pour les hommes, ainsi que Cran d’arrêt, qui aide les hommes à mettre un terme à leurs comportements violents ou impulsifs. Le duo d’humoristes de Dolbeau-Mistassini a été choisi puisqu’il rejoint un nombre important de parents dans la région. Samuel Tremblay et Maxime Pearson partagent sur les réseaux sociaux les anecdotes de leur quotidien depuis quelques années déjà pour valoriser le rôle des pères de la nouvelle génération. « Malheureusement, encore en 2020, trop peu d’hommes souffrant de détresse psychologique se tournent vers les services professionnels dont ils ont besoin. Nous croyons que les gars de Nouveaux pères — par leur approche humoristique et positive — contribuent à faire tomber les barrières. Nous sommes très fiers de pouvoir désormais les compter dans notre équipe », souligne Sébastien Ouellet, directeur général du Centre de ressources pour hommes Optimum, par voie de communiqué de presse. Samuel Tremblay et Maxime Pearson considèrent les services offerts par le Centre de ressources pour hommes Optimum comme essentiels, mais également méconnus et souhaitent les faire rayonner davantage. « Encore aujourd’hui, la demande d’aide chez les hommes représente un défi important. Avec ce partenariat, nous espérons convaincre davantage d’hommes à entrer en contact avec l’organisme. Les gars, ne traversez pas seuls les moments difficiles. Appelez ! », soutiennent les cofondateurs, dans un courriel envoyé au Quotidien. Les pères admettent que dès leur première discussion avec le directeur général de l’organisme, ils ont été témoins de l’importance que le Centre de ressources a dans la région. Ils sont fiers d’offrir un coup de main à cet organisme, et du même coup, avoir un impact positif sur leur communauté. Plusieurs actions de communication seront déployées, au cours des prochains mois, afin de faire la promotion des différents services reliés par Optimum. Une campagne de financement pour les différents services de l’organisme sera aussi organisée dès janvier.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Newer SUVs and trucks with key fobs top the list of the most often stolen vehicles in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Wednesday.The group that represents insurance companies across the country said theft from your own driveway using widely available electronic tools is on the rise across the country, as thieves respond to demand from high-end buyers overseas and street racers here at home.The four-door 2018 Honda CRV with all-wheel drive holds the ignominious title of being the most stolen vehicle in Canada this year, with 350 thefts reported by insurers across the country — nearly one per day. When the 2017 and 2019 models are included in the tally, there were 758 stolen — that's more than two per day.Here's the rest of the list:There is wide variety across the country, too. In Alberta, all of the most-stolen vehicles are versions of pickup trucks: F150s and F350s from Ford, and Dodge Rams."These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high amount of them to the province," the IBC said.In Ontario, however, the list is mostly high-end SUVs from Toyota, Honda and Lexus. Some of those get sold abroad, but many are chopped up for parts, the IBC said. Atlantic Canada had a mix of both, with popular sedans such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Cruz mixed in. The most stolen vehicle in Atlantic Canada was the Chevrolet Silverado, which is typically targeted for export by criminal groups.Drivers often worry about something like their window being smashed and their car being stolen that way. But cheap and plentiful tech tools make it far easier to steal a car today. Bryan Gast, national director of investigative services at IBC, said in an interview with CBC News that the biggest trend he's seeing this year is what's known as a "relay attack.""That means they're acquiring your signal from your key fob, cloning your key fob and [then] have the ability to start your vehicle without ever having the original key fob," he said."It's as simple as walking to your front door, seeing if they're able to capture a signal of a key fob that might be inside. They don't go anywhere in your house. They're capturing it from the outside. And they have the ability to technologically clone the device and have the ability to start your car and drive off."New tech 'makes it easy for the criminal'The best tool to fight electronic theft, Gast says, is to not do what most people do — come into their house and leave their keys in a bowl or some other exposed place, just behind the front door. He recommends instead getting a metallic box for the car keys, one that blocks radio frequencies."If you put it in a box, it doesn't emit the radio frequency. Basically, it is in a protective box or a pouch and [criminals] don't have the ability to capture that key fob signal."Cars manufactured since 2008 have mandated some sort of car-immobilizing technology built into them that makes the car not start unless you have the right technologically equipped key, and that has changed the trends in car theft ever since, Gast says. "A lot of the time, as people leave the key fobs in their vehicle, that's where they keep it. They make it easy to hop in, push the button to start and off they go. But it also makes it easy for the criminal, too."There's another built-in vulnerability in something many drivers do as a precaution: when in a parking lot, they double-check their car is locked by hitting the key fob.But a thief in the area with the right technology can clone the fob from that."You're emitting that frequency, which can also be captured," Gast said.A lot of the most-stolen vehicles are higher-end, expensive and large cars that can be hard to acquire outside North America, which is why Gast says a big motivator for theft isn't a criminal looking for a joy ride or to sell it locally. The thief often has a specific request for a specific vehicle and then sets about finding it.Convenient technology is just making it easier, such that currently, a car is stolen somewhere in Canada every six minutes.Theft on the rise in COVIDWhile COVID-19 has led to more cars being parked due to people working from home, it has also led to an increase in one type of car theft, Gast says. Namely, people looking for specific parts and vehicles to be used in street racing events and other reckless driving behaviour."The problem is stealing parts for some of these modified vehicles in the vehicles themselves," he said. "Law enforcement definitely has their hands full."
NEW YORK — Chuck Rosenberg makes no secret of his admiration for Robert Mueller. Keep that in mind, along with the format of Rosenberg's podcast “The Oath,” now that NBC announced Wednesday that the former special counsel who looked into Russian interference in the 2016 election has given an extensive interview that debuts next week. Mueller, the ex-FBI director, rarely speaks publicly and has been virtually silent about his special counsel experience since testifying before Congress in July 2019. In two separate podcast episodes, each nearly an hour, Mueller doesn't talk about his work as special counsel. He isn't even asked. “There are some questions that you simply don't have to ask,” said Rosenberg, who worked for Mueller as an FBI counsel. “I knew he wouldn't talk about it and I had really no intention of asking about it.” He took Mueller at his word that he wouldn't talk about his work as counsel after his testimony. Mueller made an exception in September, pushing back after one of his former prosecutors suggested in a book that the counsel's team wasn't aggressive enough. Rosenberg's stance is consistent with the format of “The Oath,” in which present and former government officials who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution are interviewed about their lives and careers, while steering clear of current events and political controversies. Rosenberg, also a former federal prosecutor, has taken the oath nine times. He's been an analyst and podcast host for NBC News since quitting as acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2017, after President Donald Trump suggested to law enforcement officers that they “don't be too nice” to suspects in custody. Even in an era of suspicion about the “deep state,” or perhaps because of it, there has clearly been a public taste for “The Oath.” The Mueller interview leads its fourth season. The show has been in the Top 200 of the Apple Podcasts charts for more than a year, said Andy Bowers, co-founder of the podcast hosting company Megaphone. Rosenberg's extensive experience helps with access, so his guest list is consistently interesting, said Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog. He's also unapologetically earnest, as are many of his guests, at a time of cynicism. “That's the winning formula on ‘The Oath,’ a serious person talking to serious people about public service at a time when people really want to remember what public service is supposed to be," Wittes said. The Mueller interview is a bookend to Rosenberg's two-parter with Mueller's successor as FBI director, James Comey, in the podcast's first season. The voluble Comey is a contrast to Mueller, who's quite comfortable with short answers. “I did OK,” Mueller said when Rosenberg was trying to draw him out about commendations he received during training with the Marines. Did you like law school? “Not particularly,” Mueller said. “Jim is a natural storyteller, so in some ways it is easier (to interview him),” Rosenberg said. “Bob also has a lot of stories to tell, you just have to let him tell them in his own way. I found that compelling — two very different styles, as our listeners will notice, but I think two men of substance.” Although there was talk after his congressional testimony that Mueller, now 76, had lost some sharpness with age, Rosenberg said “he seemed fine to me.” When coaxed, Mueller is most interesting in the first podcast talking about his experience in Vietnam. He volunteered for the Marines after a teammate on his Princeton lacrosse team was killed there, and commanded a unit that was — he found out later — essentially used as bait to draw out the North Vietnamese army. The experience inspired a lifetime of public service, primarily because Mueller was grateful to have survived. It's the type of service that's hard for the cynical to fathom. In another episode this season, Rosenberg speaks to Heather “Lucky” Penney, a former fighter pilot given the assignment on Sept. 11, 2001 of stopping United Airlines Flight 93 as it was bound for the U.S. Capitol. Since there was no time to arm the jet, her only choice was to ram the airliner; she was effectively sent on a suicide mission. Instead, the plane crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers. In the Mueller interview, Rosenberg said he relished the opportunity to get to know someone he knew only as a boss. “There's a bit of a Marine Corps officer outer shell,” he said. “He can be a little bit intimidating. But underneath all of that, he is a remarkably kind and humble and civil man. Coming up in the ranks of the Department of Justice, Bob Mueller is an icon. Everybody that I worked with knew of him and admired him, but often from a distance.” David Bauder, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will be ready to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to Canadians soon after they are approved by Health Canada. He says four promising vaccine candidates are currently under review.
Huit ans, un mois et 13 jours. C’est le temps qui a passé depuis que Jason-Billy Coonishish-Rock a été arraché brutalement aux siens. Sa mère, Katia Rock de Pessamit sait qu’elle ne se sortira jamais de cette peine immense. Endeuillée, comme pratiquement au premier jour, Katia Rock a décidé qu’il était venu le temps de tout raconter dans les moindres détails pour ne jamais oublier son fils, pour partager l’événement le plus difficile de sa vie et aussi pour qu’elle puisse faire son deuil, si possible. Sa porte d’entrée pour exprimer cette indescriptible souffrance: les réseaux sociaux. « J’aimerais vous prévenir que le contenu de mon partage sera difficile à lire, mais les gens doivent connaître les circonstances du décès de mon garçon. Mon seul et unique », lance-t-elle d’emblée en entrevue téléphonique avec macotenord.com. C’est donc avec une voix tremblotante et chargée d’émotion qu’elle se lance. « Chaque année, un peu avant Noël, je revis ce pénible scénario. » Son fils de 22 ans a été sauvagement assassiné par Darryl Neeposh, un individu « dérangé » qui a agi comme un sanguinaire. Un meurtre crapuleux et d’une extrême violence. Lors de l’autopsie, la famille de la victime a eu de la difficulté à l’identifier tellement il était méconnaissable. « Une scène digne d’un film d’horreur. Il était défiguré. Son œil gauche crevé et enfoncé par le doigt de son assassin. Il a été battu à mort », livre Mme Rock, les trémolos dans la voix. Un témoignage à glacer le sang raconté une première fois lors du procès, alors que Mme Rock avait pu s’adresser au meurtrier de son fils, Darryl Neeposh. L’homme, qui avait 31 ans au moment de commettre son acte irréparable, était demeuré insensible dans le box des accusés. 4 ans de pénitencier Malgré une preuve accablante de ce sordide meurtre, Darryl Neeposh avait été accusé et reconnu coupable de meurtre au deuxième degré. Une peine d’emprisonnement de 4 ans. Aujourd’hui, il est libre. Les émotions se transforment en colère pour la mère lorsque nous abordons le nom de cet homme: Darryl Neeposh. « Injustice » est le premier mot qui a été prononcé par Katia Rock qui déplore le manque d’humanité de notre système de justice. « Il vit aujourd’hui en liberté, sans aucune conséquence. Il s’est même remarié. Mon fils, lui, ne reviendra jamais. Il est parti si jeune, alors qu’il avait toute la vie devant lui. Injustice », a martelé la femme de 48 ans. « Sa peine ne sera jamais assez suffisante pour tout le traumatisme que j’ai vécu et dont j’en garde encore aujourd’hui des séquelles psychologiques, et ce, à cause de lui », ajoute-t-elle avec la rage au cœur. Katia Rock était persuadée que la solide preuve dévoilée lors du procès aurait mené à une accusation de meurtre prémédité où aucune libération conditionnelle n’est possible avant 25 ans. Or, il a été démontré que Jason-Billy avait tenté de fuir son assassin à plusieurs reprises durant cette macabre soirée. En effet, des traces de sang retrouvées sur la neige près de la galerie de la résidence du meurtrier ont confirmé que la victime avait essayé de s’enfuir. Le jeune homme a rencontré son futur meurtrier vers 2h du matin alors qu’il était en chemin pour retourner chez ses grands-parents après avoir passé la soirée avec une copine dans la communauté autochtone de Mistissini, située à quelque 90 km au nord de Chibougamau, dans le Nord-du-Québec. Invité par le résident de la rue Minschiweek à le suivre à son domicile, Jason-Billy a accepté, ce qui lui aura coûté la vie. Vers 6h, un témoin a mentionné avoir vu les deux hommes prendre un taxi. À 7h30, la voisine du duplex dit avoir entendu Jason-Billy crier « Ekuen ma shash! (Arrête! ) » plus d’une fois. Ensuite, il y a eu un long silence. Vers 10h, la conjointe du tueur, qui avait dans le passé signalé aux policiers sa peur face à son copain violent, s’est rendue au domicile afin de récupérer des effets personnels pour elle et ses enfants. De retour chez sa mère, elle est persuadée qu’il s’est passé quelque chose de grave, précisant avoir vu un jeune homme inanimé et allongé par terre dans une mare de sang. Elle contactera les policiers. Rapidement, les policiers autochtones demanderont assistance à leurs collègues de la Sûreté du Québec. L’enquête a aussitôt été confiée aux policiers de l’unité des crimes contre la personne. Darryl Neeposh est retrouvé sur les lieux, allongé face contre le sol. Réveillé et amené au poste pour interrogatoire, il sera ensuite accusé du meurtre de Jason-Billy Coonishish-Rock. Au procès, il sera mentionné que Jason-Billy était étendu par terre, ne voyant que le bout de ses pieds avec une botte manquante, un matelas simple sur son corps meurtri. Quand les policiers ont soulevé le matelas, ils ont vu un jeune homme portant un masque Spiderman sur son visage. En retirant le masque, c’est la terrible découverte d’un visage »massacré ». Le thanatologue ira même a fortement recommander à la famille de ne pas ouvrir le cercueil lors des funérailles. « Je tenais à ce qu’il soit exposé pour que les gens puissent lui faire un dernier au revoir et pour que je puisse le voir et prendre conscience de sa mort. Même avec des heures de travail et malgré les efforts mis sur la reconstruction du visage, il était encore méconnaissable. » Mourant, il continue de le frapper Toujours devant le Tribunal, il a été démontré que le meurtrier s’était acharné sur sa victime jusqu’à son dernier souffle. « Il a reçu tellement de coups de la part de celui qui s’est permis de lui enlever la vie. Je ne peux croire qu’une personne puisse faire autant de mal à une personne de façon gratuite. Il est mort seul dans des conditions épouvantables. Je suis bouleversée en pensant à ça, moi qui par mon métier d’infirmière accompagne les gens en fin de vie. Je sais comment c’est difficile de mourir seul, loin de ses proches. » Katia Rock souligne qu’elle savait depuis longtemps qu’elle devait extérioriser sa peine, mais elle n’avait pas la force ni le courage d’exprimer ce qui la hante, jour après jour, depuis huit ans. Aujourd’hui, elle espère qu’avec cette sortie publique, elle pourra tourner la page et accepter l’absence de son fils, celui qui était sa raison de vivre.Stéphane Tremblay, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
A Windsor elementary school outbreak with 49 cases set the "precedent" for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in the province, according to one expert.Biostatistician Ryan Imgrund, who is based in Newmarket, Ont., and works with a number of public health units across the province, told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning that the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public Elementary School set the example of what should be done. "At the time that they found those cases, Windsor was not one of those super danger zones like Toronto, Peel and some other areas like that," Imgrund said. "So I don't think it was expected by anyone that a school that is in a lower-risk area would find up to 50 cases ... I think Begley set the precedent for the whole entire province what we should be doing." After three staff members tested positive for the disease, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit dismissed the entire school on Nov. 17 and advised everyone to get tested. COVID-19 testing was prioritized for the entire school population, with a temporary testing site set up in the school's gymnasium. Overall, 40 students and nine staff members have tested positive. In the same week that Begley was declared an outbreak, W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School also went into outbreak and dismissed all students after two positive cases. Testing was prioritized for all members of this group, with a temporary testing site set up in the school, and seven people were confirmed positive. Despite this, and the fact that Begley is the largest school outbreak in the province, Windsor was not included in the launch of an asymptomatic testing pilot project announced last week. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday that the pilot is available for students and staff in the province's COVID-19 hotspots of Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa. "Right now, the next four weeks are targeting the highest-risk regions," he said at the time. "We're following the advice of public health. If they determine, they provide a recommendation it should be expanded or we should augment the list, of course we will continue to follow that direction and implement it swiftly."Lecce told reporters that 99.85 per cent of students in the Windsor-Essex region remain COVID-free, and he and his staff are in contact with school board and public health officials to keep transmission down.Though Begley remains closed, superintendent of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board Sharon Pyke told CBC News Wednesday that the board is working with the health unit and hopes to announce a reopening date this week. A letter sent out to parents in regards to the outbreak had asked them to have their child tested, even if they were asymptomatic. When asked whether she'd like to see asymptomatic testing in schools available in the region, Pyke said it might be best to spare our resources. "I think that if we can keep on top of doing our self-assessments, I think that we perhaps may be better served in terms of our resources in our area, we want to make sure that we're able to test the people that need to be tested," she said."So do I agree? Any kind of preventative measure is good for anyone so of course I want the best for students, I want the best for our staff. I just want to make sure that they're allocated in the right space and the right spot." An investigation by the local health unit is still ongoing to determine how COVID-19 transmission was so widespread in Begley.
En date du 1er décembre, le député bloquiste de Bécancour–Nicolet–Saurel a bouclé 36 ans, deux mois et 27 jours aux Communes, battant de trois jours le record de Charles Marcil, l’élu de Bonaventure qui siégea jusqu’au 29 janvier 1937. L’indépendantiste qui se fait appeler amicalement «Doyen» par ses collègues est arrivé à la Chambre des communes en 1984 sous les couleurs du Parti progressiste-conservateur de Brian Mulroney. Avec l’échec de l’Accord du lac Meech en 1990, il change de fusil d’épaule pour cofonder le Bloc québécois, le parti politique créé à Sorel-Tracy en 1991. À 77 ans, Louis Plamondon s’apprête à briguer un douzième mandat. S’il est élu, il pourrait battre le record de longévité de cinq députés anglophones dont deux de 37 ans et trois autres de plus de 39 ans parmi lesquels le libéral Herb Gray. Ce dernier est le député qui a siégé le plus longtemps à la Chambre des communes avec au compteur une longévité de 39 ans, six mois et 30 jours. En tant que Doyen de la Chambre des communes, Louis Plamondon a régulièrement présidé la première session du parlement au lendemain des élections depuis 2008. Le secret de son ancienneté réside dans la proximité qu’il a longtemps développée avec les gens dans sa circonscription et aux assemblées parlementaires. Dans l’une de ses entrevues accordées au Courrier Sud pendant la pandémie, il s’est montré profondément affecté par les restrictions qui l’empêchent d’assister aux multiples évènements sportifs et culturels qui ont longtemps meublé son emploi du temps. M. Plamondon a plusieurs fois confié qu’il s’ennuyait des contacts humains et des activités auxquels il s’était habitué. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Paralympic champion Josh Dueck was named Canada's chef de mission for the 2022 Beijing Games on Wednesday.The Canadian Paralympic Hall of Famer from Kimberley, B.C., competed at two Games, winning gold in super combined alpine skiing and silver in downhill in 2014 after also taking silver in sitting slalom in 2010. The 39-year-old served as the closing ceremony flag-bearer in Sochi."When I got the call with the news that I was named to lead the Canadian Paralympic Team my mind started to dance with possibility," Dueck said. "To be a champion for sport, friend and mentor to the athletes and part of the support team for Canada at the Paralympic Games is an incredible privilege. There is a great sense of honour and duty that comes with this storied role, and I look forward to learning from our history and building on this legacy with our teams."Dueck, who lives in Vernon, B.C., was injured in a ski accident just six years before his Paralympic debut. The first person to successfully perform a back flip on a sit ski, Dueck now works as a peer mentor and motivational speaker as well as leading Freestyle BC.Dueck worked with CBC Sports as a broadcaster for the 2018 Paralympics. The 2022 Games are scheduled to run Mar. 4-13 from Beijing, with Canada planning to participate in all five sports.Speed skater and two-time gold medallist Catriona Le May Doan was recently named Olympic chef de mission for Beijing.WATCH | Josh Dueck excited to be chef de mission:Canadian Paralympic Committee president Marc-Andre Fabien said Dueck is poised to impact the 2022 team in a positive manner."He is the epitome of strong athlete leadership and will bring so much positive energy, thoughtful introspection, fresh ideas, and valuable support to the team. He is incredibly well respected within the sport community, has been a longtime passionate advocate for Paralympic sport and brings in many different experiences and perspectives from his many roles in sport," Fabien said.As chef de mission, Dueck is tasked with promoting Team Canada, guiding its athletes in Beijing and fostering a positive environment."The story of every athlete is filled with hope, opportunity, challenge and often uncertainty. Athletes are trained to embrace challenge, let go of the things they cannot control, and to persevere through even the most difficult situations, in an effort to be a little better today than we were yesterday," Dueck said. "In the world today, we need more beacons of hope that remind us we can rise above the challenges we face. My goal is to help share these stories of hope."
SHERBROOKE – Thanks to timely funding from the provincial government – including an $8,000 grant from Accessibility Nova Scotia earlier this month – a new wheelchair-accessible public garden is set to open by summer, years ahead of schedule, at Historic Sherbrooke Village. “We applied last year for the grant and were very pleased to be recognized,” said Dana O’Connell of the Historic Sherbrooke Village Development Society. “Our original expectations were to open in five or 10 years but, with the provincial stimulus package this summer and now with this grant, we’ve been able to move the goal post a lot closer. I can see the potential opening of the park in the spring.” In June, Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister and Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines announced $994,000 in funding for Historic Sherbrooke Village to renovate its world-renowned heritage properties. Some of that money was earmarked to cover the final phases of the development society’s community park. With grants, donations and proceeds from its operations totaling $25,500, the Society completed Phase 1 of the project – including excavation, fencing, and site planning – last year. Phase 2, which was estimated at $39,000 – includes electrical, water hook-ups, landscaping, plaza, and pathways – was finished in mid-September. Phase 3, with a projected price tag of just under $91,000, involves: building raised flower beds; planting new trees; installing entrance gates, benches, picnic tables, and creating both a reading area and a rain garden. “We are in Phase 3,” O’Connell said, “so now we are accessorizing the park. We just contracted out the gazebo, and we just set the ground work for our two main entrance points.” O’Connell, a former serviceman in the Canadian Navy who semi-retired to Sherbrooke with his wife five years ago, spearheaded the rejuvenation because he thought the area needed a space for people – especially those who find getting around difficult – to congregate. “A nursing home is only, maybe, 300 yards away, so wheelchair accessibility is a must,” he says. “It gives people the opportunity to take their loved ones out to some place like this was one of the things that drove my interest and involvement from the start.” As for the spring, he said, “We are hoping that COVID restrictions will be somewhat relaxed and we’re able to have a barbecue for the community, a kind of celebration. All indications so far are that the community is just in awe and just waiting for the opening. It’s been a wonderful journey, seeing it from beginning to end.”Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A 33-year-old St. Margarets Bay, N.S., man will have a preliminary inquiry next June on a charge of second-degree murder.Nicholas Roland Rhyno was charged in the death of Zachery Jordell Charles Grosse, 25, in October.Police were called to 24 Primrose St. early on the evening of Oct. 22 to a report of an injured person in front of the building. Grosse was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries the next day. The medical examiner determined that Grosse's death was a homicide.Rhyno was arrested five days later and he remains in custody, although he has a bail hearing scheduled for January.Rhyno was a member of the Marriott crime family that in one point engaged in a violent gang war for control of the city's drug trade.According to documents from the Parole Board of Canada, Rhyno's criminal history dates back to 2006 and includes multiple convictions for drug trafficking, various weapons offences and failures to comply with conditions.The board noted in 2009 that Rhyno was accused of attempting to kill three men, but charges were withdrawn when the alleged victims refused to co-operate with the investigation."File information indicates that you have a low tolerance for frustration, poor anger management skills and are quick to act aggressively; you use weapons for intimidation and manipulation," the board wrote.The board noted Rhyno's violent behaviour continued while he was behind bars and included assaults on other inmates, aggressive behaviour toward staff and possession of drugs, weapons and contraband.In June 2012, police issued a warning after Rhyno failed to return to a halfway house where he'd been on parole for drug and weapons offences.At the time, police described Rhyno as armed and dangerous. He eventually turned himself in to police.The preliminary hearing on the murder charge is set for five days in June.MORE TOP STORIES
ST. MARY’S – Stricter provincewide measures to protect people during the second wave of COVID-19 won’t derail at least some public displays of holiday cheer in St. Mary’s this year, say municipal officials. Plans are still afoot for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s Department of Community Development and Recreation’s annual carolling and fireworks event, though director Mallory Fraser says that could change at the last minute. “We will be monitoring the situation as it develops, and make a final decision closer to the date,” she says. For now, the event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 19, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy’s parking lot, followed by fireworks and hot chocolate at the Sherbrooke Ball Field. To ensure safety, carollers must register and maintain socially safe distances from each other – and each other’s respective bubbles – before heading through Historic Sherbrooke Village. Something new this year is the Holiday Light Extravaganza. Between Dec 1 and 15, St. Mary’s residents, after filling out an entry form, may submit photos of their home seasonal displays to the community and recreation department’s Facebook Page. Voting will begin on Dec. 10, and the winner will be announced before Christmas. “The Holiday Light Extravaganza will go ahead no matter what,” Fraser says. “This is something that people can do without having to worry about social distancing.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald is not expecting trouble despite the worsening infection rate elsewhere in the province. “We haven’t relaxed our protocols here at the office,” he says. “We were going to look into opening the fitness centre at the school, but we’ve just put that back on hold until the new year.” As for the Recplex, he says it is operating for hockey and curling. “When we made the decision to open the rink, it was always based on the idea that if COVID heated up again, we would see how it played out. We’re going to keep the protocols we have in place. If the situation gets worse, we are either going to tighten the protocols, or close some facilities down. But, right now, we are just watching and monitoring.” MacDonald confirmed that the municipality has not reported any cases since the pandemic hit the province earlier this year. Last week, the provincial government introduced newer, tighter controls on public gatherings to staunch an increase in the rate of infection mostly in the Halifax area. “We must immediately change course on COVID-19. The virus is circulating rapidly in Halifax, and we must stop its spread across the province,” Premier Stephen McNeil says in a Nov. 24 news release. The new regulations in the capital include: limiting public gatherings to five people (or up to the number of immediate family members of a household); requiring masks in common areas of multi-unit residential buildings; restricting restaurants to take-out service; limiting the number of customers and employees of retail outlets to 25 per cent of their normal capacity; and suspending organized sporting, recreational, cultural and religious gatherings. On Nov. 29, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 125, up from 119 at the end of last week.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The proposal to have the former Capital Pointe site be a temporary parking lot for one year has been approved.Regina's new city council voted 6-5 in favour of the proposal. A developer has said it is interested in purchasing the land if it had approval to use it as a parking lot for a one-year term.The city is owed $2.8 million from the property. Councillors Landon Mohl, Jason Mancinelli, Terina Shaw, John Findura and Lori Bresciani voted in favour, along with Mayor Sandra Masters. "I feel that I need to put a little bit of a trust going forward," Findura said. "I would like to see it move forward, get out of that hole." Councillors Andrew Stevens, Bob Hawkins, Cheryl Stadnichuk, Shanon Zachidniak and Daniel LeBlanc voted against the proposal."I think it's a mistake, frankly," Stevens said. "There was such promise with that corner. It really fell short and went from a hole to a buried hole now to a parking lot. And I'm not sure what's worse from a planning perspective. There was absolutely no reason to approve this." Masters said that the city is not in the business of commercial real estate development."I have a bigger fear that if we don't provide what assistance we can in terms of facilitating a sale, that we end up ... we can end up with possession of it for years," Masters said. It was the first time the new council was together. It approved a new meeting schedule and will now meet twice a month instead of once a month. Councillor Lori Bresciani is in her second term. She said from her view, the first meeting went smoothly."Of course, there's the procedural things that take a little bit of time. But I thought overall it was very, very well done," Bresciani said. "Mayor Masters did a great job and actually all of councillors spoke. So I think, again, very inclusive. And at the end of the day, that's what we want."New wellness committee, no more mandatory written statements for delegatesCity council also created a new community wellness committee. The committee will discuss housing, poverty reduction, mental and physical wellness, addiction, discrimination and other social determinants of health and crime. Masters said this is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the city needs to support those combating the increasing number of overdoses. "The city needs to continue to support the services that are providing the [naloxone] kits and arriving on scene for the overdoses," Masters said. She said the city also needs to build relationships with different levels of government for funding initiatives. Masters said a safe consumption site is one of the options the committee could look into. She said she's interested in hearing from Prairie Harm Reduction about the one in Saskatoon."As well as looking at other best practices in other communities for the success stories that they've had or perhaps mistakes that have been made or learned lessons," she said. Stevens said the creation of the committee is symbolic right now and hopes it shows commitment to these issues. "I think what's really exciting about this new council and mayor is that everybody's talking about addictions, social determinants of health and community well-being," Stevens said.Also during the meeting, city council debated the mandatory written statements that previously had to be provided by people hoping to address the councillors.Councillor Stevens brought forward an amendment and said he has worked with people with intellectual disability who have trouble with the written requirement. People did not have to read their written statement verbatim. The idea passed with only Councillor Shaw opposed. Now people wanting to speak to the council will need to tell city administration in advance and will be encouraged to provide a written submission so the city administration can prepare answers, but the written submission is not a requirement. Both the priorities and planning committee and the finance and administration committee were cut, with their responsibilities transferred to the executive committee. The community and protective services committee and the public works and infrastructure committee also merged into a new operations and community services committee.
Two men who spent time at the Edmonton Convention Centre say it's a dangerous place to be. The facility has been operating as a shelter since late October. At times, more than 300 people have been staying at the facility that's being run by four organizations that work with homeless people. "No one feels safe there," Peter Noivo told CBC News. "There was constant fighting and screaming. It's a very bad place to be. " After spending four nights at ECC a couple of weeks ago, Noivo, 52, moved to a hotel with his partner. They're hoping to get into an apartment soon. He vows to never return to the convention centre shelter. Noivo said he concerned about widespread drug use inside the 24/7 facility, even though there is a safe consumption site. "When it gets to injection hour, you can't use the washroom," Noivo said. "There's needles all over. It's normal to get into a washroom and see blood and syringes on the floor." Ben Young agreed. He was staying at the convention centre for the past week and a half, but just tested positive for COVID-19 and he was transferred to a hotel to isolate. Young, 29, was alarmed by conditions at the shelter. He's been documenting his observations for the past two weeks on Reddit. "Something needs to change because people are dying, people are overdosing, people are getting sick," Young said. "If a light isn't shown on this, it's just going to get worse and worse and worse." Young said overdoses were a regular occurrence at the facility and said he personally administered Narcan three times. He also said he saw three people die inside the shelter. "Well, the first one that I saw was an older lady who I talked with a few nights," Young said. "When I walked into the food hall, she was on her back, dead, black in the face dead." He said nurses managed to revive the woman, but he found out she died later in hospital. "I freaked out the first few times," he said. "Now I see someone overdose, it's become regular. At one point there were five overdoses in seven minutes." When asked for comment the City of Edmonton referred CBC to contact one of the organizations operating the shelter. A spokesperson for the Boyle Street Community Services confirmed the overdose situation inside the convention centre mirrors what's happening in the inner city. Elliott Tanti said an overdose prevention site (OPS) wasn't in the original plan for the facility, but was opened after the first couple of weeks. "Certainly there were concerns in the first two weeks when we didn't have the OPS around the number of overdoses taking place in the building because there simply wasn't a safe place for people to go," Tanti said. "Since the OPS has opened, we've seen a dramatic reduction in the number of overdoses on site outside of the OPS and it's had a major impact." Tanti said security staff regularly check washrooms and there is a specialized team devoted to emergency overdose response on hand during the day and through the evening until 11 p.m. Outbreak at ECC Alberta Health Services confirmed there are 60 active COVID-19 cases at the convention centre linked to the current outbreak. Young is convinced he would not have contracted the virus if he had been staying somewhere other than ECC. His case has not been officially traced to the facility. "I would be shocked if everyone in that building didn't have it at one point or right now," Young said. "It's completely unsafe there. It's horrible." Young shared a picture of overflowing garbage cans inside the facility. He claimed he never saw any surfaces being sanitized. "There's no cleaning," Young said. "We take care of the cleaning ourselves. Like I mop, I clean the bathroom. I sanitize everything." Tanti disagreed with Young's assessment. "We had very stringent cleaning and hygiene standards when it first started, but we've increased the number of cleaning in public spaces to ensure the safety of the people that we serve," Tanti said. "Since the start, we've been conducting electrostatic decontamination every 24 hours of all the public shelter spaces." Tanti added that anytime that someone tests positive, the area they were in is also immediately decontaminated. "We're taking hygiene of the facility very seriously and working quite closely with our partners at the convention centre janitorial staff to make sure that the space is safe," Tanti said. Young believes there's a strong need for a 24/7 homeless shelter in the city and he applauded the work of the staff who are trying to help. But he thinks ECC needs to make dramatic changes in order to be safe for everyone who stays there. "We're struggling in the shadows out here," Young said. "We need help. We need a lot of help and we're not getting it.".
NAIROBI, Kenya — In a breakthrough a month after deadly conflict cut off Ethiopia’s Tigray region from the world, the United Nations on Wednesday said it and the Ethiopian government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access, at least for areas under federal government control after the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the weekend.This will allow the first food, medicines and other aid into the region of 6 million people that has seen rising hunger during the fighting between the federal and Tigray regional governments. Each regards the other as illegal in a power struggle that has been months in the making.For weeks, the U.N. and others have pleaded for access amid reports of supplies running desperately low for millions of people. A U.N. humanitarian spokesman, Saviano Abreu, said the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin Wednesday.“We are of course working to make sure assistance will be provided in the whole region and for every single person who needs it,” he said. The U.N. and partners are committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict" to ensure that aid to Tigray and the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions is “strictly based on needs."Ethiopia’s government did not immediately comment.For weeks, aid-laden trucks have been blocked at Tigray’s borders, and the U.N. and other humanitarian groups were increasingly anxious to reach Tigray as hunger grows and hospitals run out of basic supplies like gloves and body bags.“We literally have staff reaching out to us to say they have no food for their children,” one humanitarian worker told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.“We have been urging, waiting, begging for access,” another aid official, Jan Egeland with the Norwegian Refugee Council, told the AP. “We're ready to go tomorrow. ... It has been heartbreaking to be forced to wait."More than 1 million people in Tigray are now thought to be displaced, including over 45,000 who have fled into a remote area of neighbouring Sudan. Humanitarians have struggled to feed them as they set up a crisis response from scratch.Communications and transport links remain almost completely severed to Tigray, and the fugitive leader of the defiant regional government this week told the AP that fighting continues despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's declaration of victory.It remains almost impossible to verify either side’s claims as the conflict threatens to destabilize both the country and the entire Horn of Africa.“It is critically important to get objective information as to what is going on,” the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, told the BBC. “The active military phase is basically over. I’m not saying the fighting is over. So at this point, the humanitarian phase is the most important one.”Nagy added that “now the danger is this evolving into a long-term insurgency." He also disagreed with Ethiopia's description of the conflict as a “law enforcement operation” to arrest the Tigray leaders, saying that “it was obviously a military operation.” The fighting between two heavily armed forces has seen airstrikes, rocket attacks and tanks.For weeks, the U.N. and others have been increasingly insistent on the need to reach some 600,000 people in Tigray who already were dependent on food aid even before the conflict.Now those needs have exploded, but Abiy has resisted international pressure for dialogue and de-escalation, saying his government will not “negotiate our sovereignty.” His government regards the Tigray regional government, which dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for more than a quarter-century, as illegitimate after months of growing friction as he sought to centralize power.Amid the warring sides’ claims and counter-claims, one thing is clear: Civilians have suffered.The U.N. says food has run out for the nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea whose camps close to the Tigray border with Eritrea have been in the line of fire as the fighting swept through. Reports that some refugees have been killed or abducted, if true, “would be major violations of international norms,” the U.N. refugee chief said over the weekend in an urgent appeal to Abiy.These are “extremely vulnerable people” who fled persecution in Eritrea, Egeland said. “It’s been extremely frustrating to lose access and communication.”With infrastructure there and elsewhere in Tigray damaged, the U.N. has said some people are now drinking untreated water, increasing the risk of diseases.In the largest hospital in the Tigray capital, Mekele, staff had to suspend other activities to focus on treating the large number of wounded from the conflict, the International Committee for the Red Cross said.The ICRC, the rare organization to travel inside the Tigray region and its borderlands, has reported coming across abandoned communities and camps of displaced people.No one knows the true toll of the fighting. Human rights and humanitarian groups have reported several hundred people killed, including civilians, but many more are feared.Inside Tigray, and among the majority ethnic Tigrayan refugees in Sudan, people are exhausted.“The world hasn’t seen anything like this year. I have never seen anything like this,” said one refugee who gave his name as Danyo, standing on the edge of a river that people on Tuesday were crossing to seek safety.“When Dr. Abiy came, we saw him as a good thing,” he said. “Our hopes were fulfilled, because his talk in the beginning was as sweet as honey, but now the honey has gone sour.”___Fay Abuelgasim in Hamdayet, Sudan, contributed.Cara Anna, The Associated Press