The first wave of COVID-19 devastated Ontario's residents in long-term care. Now, a commission is releasing an interim report on the fatal failure at those facilities just as a second wave again threatens the province's most vulnerable.
The first wave of COVID-19 devastated Ontario's residents in long-term care. Now, a commission is releasing an interim report on the fatal failure at those facilities just as a second wave again threatens the province's most vulnerable.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Three Oaks Foundation will be remembering victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal with a pre-recorded virtual vigil on December 6th, in honour of this year’s annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On December 6th of 1989, a lone gunman entered the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where many students take classes in affiliation with the Université de Montréal. After entering a classroom telling men to leave, he proceeded to express his hatred of feminism to the women he held inside, saying that women were to blame for his inadequacies. The gunman began shooting and roaming the halls, leaving 14 innocent women dead and many others wounded. “There has been an alarming rise in the incidents of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Three Oaks Foundation executive director Sandy Watson-Moyles. “This has not gone unnoticed and has raised serious questions about the safety of women both locally in the Quinte community and worldwide.” In 2019, the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability reported that 136 women were murdered in Canada, and these numbers continue to rise in 2020. “Last year, it was the Toronto van slayings that brought violence against women to the headlines again, and this year the Nova Scotia massacre,” stated Watson-Moyles. “It is not just the obvious victims who can fall prey to an abuser but any one of us. Maybe realizing that will help make people realize just how awful the acts are and how far the perpetrators will go.” Although community members cannot physically come together this year, the pre-recorded virtual event page can be found on Facebook by searching for the December 6th Virtual Vigil Quinte & PEC. The vigil will read off the list of the 14 women whose lives were taken during the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre. 14 red roses will be laid under the three oak trees on Keegan Parkway in memory of each woman. “We would think 31 years after the Montreal Massacre and hundreds of murders of women before and after that tragic date we would have made some movement towards ending this most insidious crime,” said Watson-Moyles. “Yet, each year more lists of murdered women in Ontario and Canada continue to be published with astounding numbers. Once we all take this matter seriously, we will see violence come to an end, or at least reduce significantly. When the most unsafe place for a woman to be is her in her own home, we need to pay better attention.” Residents looking for more information about the local National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women event are encouraged to contact Three Oaks’ training and education coordinator Kristin Farrell at 613-242-6524 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
The community for SilverStar Mountain Resort is moving forward with its plan to become a resort association. The designation—not to be confused with a resort municipality designation—will provide the community of about 1,000 homeowners more of a say in how money is spent in the community, according SilverStar realtor Don Kassa. Kassa co-chairs the SilverStar Task Force, which initiated the process. He said things are moving forward, and that the next step will be to elect a board of directors. There is already an 11-member board in place. Five of the positions will be elected in the near term, with the remaining positions to be elected in two years. “The biggest benefit I would suggest is we have a cohesive body which now is mandated to negotiate with all levels of government for the betterment of the community,” he said, explaining the importance of the association. Kassa added the association will have the ability to fund and apply for funding for projects that will support the development of the resort community. It will also be used to market the resort as a year-round destination. Resort associations, such as Tourism Sun Peaks, collect a fee from property owners who use their property for rental, business or commercial purposes. The association will have access to the hotel tax as well as a fee, known as a resort management fee, paid by some homeowners in the area. Gaining association status has been a long process for the task force, which is currently made up of individual property owners, businesses, hotels and the resort operator. The Regional District of North Okanagan, which oversees the resort, had to agree to set it up, and then at least 50 per cent of the landowners within the resort association boundaries (representing 50 per cent of the property value) had to sign a petition in favour of it. Kassa said that the group is happy with the level of services provided by the regional district. “Many of the needs for services are being met very well currently,” said Kassa. There has, however, been some opposition to the plan. In an interview with CBC in March 2020, a homeowner said he worried that bookings would be centralized and homeowners would be forced to pay fees. According to Kassa, there is no plan to centralize the reservation system, but under the new framework, all homeoneers will have to pay the resort management fee, which he said would be between $400 and $800 a year per home. “The feeling of the current board was that if you are renting a property and making a substantial return on your property….then you should, in fact, be part and parcel of the cost to make that resort go forward.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The annual Feed the Meter campaign in Belleville, Trenton and Picton is returning on December 1st. While staying safe and shopping local this holiday season, residents of the Quinte West community are encouraged to drop donations in the meters in support of student nutrition programs in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. All funds collected in meters during December 2020 will support Food for Learning’s school breakfast and snack programs in the community. As COVID-19 persists, Food for Learning programs are needed more than ever in local schools to support students experiencing food insecurity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that some children may arrive at school hungry; whether it’s due to long bus rides, rushed mornings, or parents simply not being able to afford breakfast, there are many reasons why children may go without a healthy meal in the mornings. Food for Learning programs support a vital part of every child’s day by providing healthy breakfasts to children in Hastings and Prince Edward counties. Providing children with access to fresh fruit, granola bars and other breakfast foods, Food for Learning recognizes the need for nutritional support in local schools. For some kids, the Food for Learning program may have been their only opportunity to get breakfast, or potentially their only meal of the day. Each day, 4000 students cross the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, including some students who are learning from home, are provided with healthy snacks and meals. Due to the continuing pandemic, Food for Learning student nutrition programs have been redesigned to ensure the safety of all students and staff. As a result, program costs are considerably higher as the Food for Learning program experiences an increase in student participation and individual portions and packages food to minimize contact. The Food for Learning program is continuing to support students learning from home that are experiencing food insecurity as well. “I feel that both health and wellness of our student nutrition program contribute to a more positive school environment that supports student self-regulation physically, emotionally, and mentally, which leads to increased student performance, self-esteem, and social skills. It is a vital program to help improve and maintain our overall school climate,” said a student nutrition program coordinator. Residents wishing to support the Feed the Meter campaign from the comfort of their own homes can also mail their donations to: Food for Learning c/o The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, 156 Ann St., Belleville, ON K8N 3L3. Please make cheques payable to The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation. The Feed the Meter campaign is supported through the generous contributions from campaign sponsors: Starboard Cares (Cool 100 & Hits 95.5 & InQuinte), Market High Advertising LTD., Greek Community of Belleville Quinte West and District, The Grand at The Greek Banquet Hall. GOLD sponsors of Feed the Meter 2020 include: Belleville: Kellogg’s, Fresh Co Belleville, Vision Transportation, Whitely Insurance, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Prince Edward County: Kellogg’s, Prinzen Ford and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Quinte West: Kellogg’s, Findlay Food, Whitely Insurance, Tomasso’s Italian Grille, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
MONTREAL — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has a plan A and a plan B to resume its season in mid-January, and its commissioner said Tuesday that cancelling its schedule isn't an option.On Monday, the league announced it was suspending activities from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, when players are expected to report to their respective clubs. The plan is to start playing games again between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.There are two possibilities for how the resumption of games could look. Plan A, the one seemingly favoured by QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, would be that the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided enough to allow public health officials in the four provinces the league has teams to permit the resumption of the schedule as planned with interprovincial travel.But the QMJHL also has a Plan B: a bubble format with a handful of teams in select cities.The league would create protected environments, like it did in Quebec City for about 10 days earlier in November, where several teams played games.The league wants six different cities — four in Quebec and two in Atlantic Canada — to host three teams each to play two games over three days between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.After that, three cities would welcome four Quebec teams each to play six games in nine days between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7.There would also be a gathering of the six Atlantic Canada-based teams to play five games in eight days between Jan. 30 and Feb 6."I think that what happened in Quebec City over the last two weeks has been a real boost for our teams," Courteau said Tuesday. "It’s been a very positive event and gave us faith when we will sit down in front of the four provinces’ public health departments, that we've got a good plan for them."If restrictions are still place, the league is ready to pivot to a bubble format."We’ll see as well what will be the evolution of the pandemic," Courteau said.The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open their season around the normal start date.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.For the time being, the QMJHL has no plans to cancel the rest of the season."We never talked about cancelling the season," Courteau said. "When we made the decision back in late July, start of August about resuming training and the start of training camp, we knew … we would go through roadblocks throughout the season."The 18-team league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions and positive tests. The league says the objective is for teams to play about 30 games each in the bubble format. But it wouldn't mean all teams will play an equal number of games by the end of the season. Thus far, the Sherbrooke Phoenix have played a league-low five games, while three clubs lead the way with 16 games played apiece.The league's hockey committee is meeting to assess which scenario will be adopted and how the playoffs will look.The league has distributed specifics to each club and it will be up to them to decide whether they will put themselves forward to host one of the bubbles.QMJHL will not be exempted from strict COVID-19 requirements in Atlantic Canada.The league has three teams in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. The league has asked players to report as of Jan. 3 so they can fulfil a 14-day quarantine before activities resume Jan. 17.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press
Multiple B.C. First Nations continue to demand the provincial government release the location of COVID-19 cases near their communities. The Heiltsuk Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Tsilhqot’in National Government said despite being engaged in government-to-government negotiations, there has been no result. Public health emergencies, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “do not impact all populations in the same way” noted a recent report by Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, which discovered widespread systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in B.C’s health-care system. “First Nations people are significantly more likely to experience an overdose event or death, and more likely to contract COVID-19, than non-Indigenous people in B.C.,” the report stated in one of its 11 key findings. Specific challenges reported to the review included lack of access to data, lack of resourcing for prevention and security, and lack of integration of First Nations in the supply chain for personal protective equipment and other necessary emergency supplies, the report added. The First Nations leaders said while they feel vindicated by Turpel Lafond’s report, the report’s recommendations must be immediately implemented and address COVID-19 information sharing. They have been requesting the location of coronavirus cases near their communities, if the case involves a person who has travelled to their territories within the last 14 days and the name of positive members to be used for culturally-safe contact tracing since May. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Judith Sayers said the health ministry’s ongoing refusal to share the information is based on stereotypes of First Nations governments that receive and work with confidential information every day. “It’s insulting to suggest that we can’t be trusted with this information,” she said in a Dec. 1 release. A complaint by the First Nations was filed in September 2020 with the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner, which has opened a file into the matter.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
HALIFAX — Modest upticks in COVID-19 case numbers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick prompted guarded optimism from one health official Tuesday, while another gave an example of how quickly the situation can change. Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases, which brought its total active case count to 142, while New Brunswick identified seven, bringing its total of ongoing cases to 116. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said the relatively low numbers seen over the last week in his province were a "positive sign" considering the announcement of 37 cases and sweeping new restrictions for the Halifax area that was made one week earlier. "That's certainly much better than I expected," Strang said of the numbers. "That is a good sign that we are relatively stable, but it's much too early to relax yet." He cautioned that more concerning is the number of close contacts for each new case, which has now grown on average to eight, as compared to three close contacts per case during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring. "So you can see why I keep saying we need to reduce our social contacts," Strang said. In New Brunswick meanwhile, the chief medical officer of health confirmed a super-spreader event in the Saint John area was responsible for more than 80 per cent of that region's current active cases. "We have determined that 34 people that attended this super-spreader event have since contracted COVID-19 and a further 26 cases were contracted indirectly when attendees infected others that they came into contact with," Dr. Jennifer Russell told a news conference in Fredericton. Russell provided no other details, except that the event occurred at two venues in the course of one evening. She said a super-spreader event occurs when a large number of cases are traced to a single gathering or event, with COVID-19 being transmitted from one individual, or a relatively small number of individuals who were in attendance while infectious. Like her counterpart in Nova Scotia, Russell stressed the importance of people maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks. New Brunswick's new cases include four in the Saint John area and three in the Fredericton area. Back in Nova Scotia, all of the new cases were identified in the Halifax area, which has accounted for the majority of the province's cases in the current outbreak. As a result, Atlantic Canada's largest city has been under increased restrictions since Thursday that have seen the closure of in-person dining at restaurants and of public libraries, museums, gyms, yoga studios and casinos. The outbreak led to the withdrawal from the Atlantic regional bubble of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick last week. Strang was asked why there hadn't been an explosion of cases like those seen elsewhere in the country, and he said it was partly due to messaging weeks before about the growing trends in other provinces. "I think a lot of people thankfully, listened to that and started to adjust behaviours," he said. "So I think there was some adjustment . . . even prior to us putting the restrictions in place." Elsewhere in the Atlantic region, Prince Edward Island announced no new cases and has just four active cases. However, the province's chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said her office still didn't know how a student from Charlottetown Rural High School who was diagnosed on the weekend was infected with the novel coronavirus. Morrison said extensive testing on about 70 close contacts has not turned up a source, although it's likely the student had contact with someone who had travelled off the Island. She said 102 people were in self-isolation as a result of being a positive case or a close contact of a case. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials said the travel-related case involved a man in his 50s in the eastern health region who had returned to the province from work in British Columbia. The province has 33 active cases with no one in hospital due to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — With files from Kevin Bissett in Fredericton Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
A man is dead and a woman is in life-threatening condition after a shooting in the west end on Tuesday afternoon, Toronto police say.The shooting happened near Dufferin Street and Glencairn Avenue. Emergency crews were called to the scene at about 3:30 p.m.Const. Laura Brabant, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said it appears that the two victims were in a vehicle at the time..When police and paramedics arrived, they found the man and woman in life-threatening condition.The man died on the scene, while the woman was rushed to a trauma centre on an emergency run, according to Steve Henderson, deputy commander of Toronto Paramedic Services.Police said the homicide unit will take over the investigation. Officers have taped off the area as they investigate.No age range of the victims was available.Officers are seeking a suspect described as a Black male, wearing a grey sweat suit with a hood. He reportedly left in a grey hatchback.Duty Insp. Michael Williams told reporters at the scene that police are appealing for witnesses to come forward.They urging anyone with dashboard camera footage that may shed light on what happened to call police.
MILLBROOK — Cavan Monaghan Township residents from Cavan Ward were able to voice their opinions about off-road vehicles during a virtual public meeting on Monday. A total of 16 individuals signed up to speak for a maximum of three minutes, some who were for and some who were against the concept of ORVs on township roads in the Cavan Ward. Robert Winslow, the founder of 4th Line Theatre, was among the speakers. “I live at 779 Zion Line in Cavan Ward; fifth generation of my family on this property. I was born and raised on our farm which I retrofitted into a live outdoor theatre in 1992, almost 30 years ago,” he said. Winslow said that added noise from ORVs during performances will reduce the appeal of their theatre. “In a movie theatre you can ask the person who is talking in the row ahead of you or behind you to shush so you can enjoy the film properly. Our theatre patrons won’t have that option as ATVs, side-by-sides, or dirt bikes pass by the farm during our plays,” he said. In addition to the hazards of the winding, narrow, steep and shoulder components of the road, along with high speeds of cars, trucks, motorcycles and commercial industrial vehicles along the road, Winslow said, ORV traffic on his road could also be an added danger for both patrons arriving and leaving the theatre and as well as ORV operators. However, Garry Otten, a realtor at Century 21, said many people he deals with move to the region because of the recreational opportunity. “More so today with the pandemic, our ORV interest has gained popularity beyond belief,” he said. The value of many properties in the area will increase if council chooses to allow ORVs on municipal roads, Otten said. “Our location allows us the good fortune of being able to access a trail that could take us all the way to Bancroft. We could certainly use that extra business in this township and our businesses could use that extra business. I would hope our councillors recognize the benefits instead of all the fear mongering that’s taking place,” he said. Comments will be received by the township until Dec. 4. Staff will then summarize the comments and bring forward a report in early 2021 for council to make a final decision. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
If you’re looking for some exercise in the great outdoors, rest assured that cross country skiing options will be available aplenty this winter. And really, how can one social distance any better than in serene nature? SPIN has prepared a list of what’s open and what’s about to open. If you’re looking to get hyped for the winter, we recommend checking out this video of Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club produced by Tourism Kamloops, it’s sure to get you stoked for the winter. Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club Located in Chase, the area is now open to the public for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. All ski trails are “packed and tracked,” with the exception of Sunflower Trail, which is closed due to a lack of snow There are some hazards to be aware of, but overall it’s good to go. Sun Peaks Nordic Centre Sun Peaks Resort LLP’s (SPR) nordic trail system is open for business. The resort asks the public to ski with caution and respect terrain closures that are in place. Sun Peaks Nordic Centre is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. STAKE LAKE (25 km south of Kamloops) The Stake Lake Trails are accepting registration for the 2020/2021 season, but the trails are not yet open. On its website the Overlander Ski Club, which operates the 60km trail system, said they’re waiting for more snow and sustained colder temperatures. Give them a follow on Facebook (search Overlander Ski Club) for more updates. HARPER MOUNTAIN Harper Mountain has a tentative opening date of Dec. 12 for its operations. The mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. TELEMARK NORDIC CLUB The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, has an anticipated opening date of Dec. 5. The club recently delayed its opening due to a lack of snow, saying in the following: “We have a good base of snow, things are currently looking pretty white, and some people are already skiing and snowshoeing,” states the club’s website. “However, the base is too thin for us to do regular grooming of the trails without damaging them and making them unsafe. We just need one more good snowfall and we’ll be ready to open. Skiing and snowshoeing are possible right now but grooming will be limited and we will not have rentals or day passes available until Dec 5th.” They provided the following update at the start of the week: “We received two good snowfalls this week and we will be starting to pack the trails and do our final preparations for the coming winter. There is not enough snow yet to open officially but if this cool and snowy weather holds we anticipate being open and ready for member and public skiing by Saturday.” KELOWNA NORDIC This nordic skiing area got off to an early start, having opened on Nov. 11. They provided the following update on its website. “There has been a fair amount of snow over the past week and we have groomed approx 55 per cent of our trails. The ski tracker system has not been activated yet by the host so there is no live reporting. All car parks are plowed. Some of the lowest trails will not be re-groomed in order to preserve snow and avoid bringing up dirt. The upper trails are good but may be soft for skating. Watch for sticks, rocks, dirt and open water. The groomer will be on the trails in daylight hours in order to see any hazards. Watch and listen for it. Snowshoeing is good.” Sovereign Lake Sovereign Lake, located near SilverStar Resort, is open. You can see a full list of the trail that are open here. Rates for skiing can be found here. Big White Nordic Big White’s nordic trails are open for business.Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Tuesday marked the first snow day that wasn't in Windsor-Essex, as school transportation was cancelled but secondary students in the public school board still had to do a full day of remote learning.The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) announced the policy last week, saying that students would be expected to do a full day of remote learning for the 2020-21 school year even if transportation is cancelled."For the current school year (2020-21), in the event that student transportation is cancelled in the city and/or the county, all secondary students will participate exclusively in remote on-line learning for that day," the news release says. Shelley Armstrong, the superintendent of business and treasurer at the GECDSB, said the board felt the decision made sense given the "quadmester" remote learning system students are using this year."It's really important that we do the best that we can to support their learning in the classrooms, and it's challenging to do that if there's a missed day," she said. "We really want to make sure that we're supporting them the best that we can with their education."Schools are still open for staff and elementary school students. But elementary students who stay home are not expected to do online work.Armstrong says that the board made the decision for this year only, and she's not certain snow days for secondary students are facing extinction."I don't know necessarily that that would be the case," she said.Armstrong added that if anyone has any questions about the new policy, they can reach out to school administrators."If anyone has specific questions for it, certainly they can reach out to the board office or the school principal, and we'll do our best to help them with any questions they may have," she said.
As the coronavirus continues its daily surge in Saskatchewan, First Nations in the province are learning of its far-reaching, indiscriminate effects. Three communities in the Treaty 4 area near Regina have recently recorded viral infections: The Piapot First Nation, north of Regina, declared an outbreak on Friday, while the adjacent Muscowpetung Salteaux Nation recorded its first case the same day; Pasqua First Nation is dealing with three active cases on-reserve and one case off-reserve. Piapot Chief Mark Fox posted a video to social media Friday telling his community of the outbreak. Fox, who was unavailable for an interview, didn’t say how many people at Piapot have been infected with COVID-19, but he referenced “public mass gatherings” from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, advising anyone who attended them to monitor themselves for viral symptoms. The community’s school, daycare and band office all remain closed “until further notice,” he said. Fox advised members to “eliminate non-essential travel. Go buy groceries by yourself if you can and do not take your whole family. If you must leave, make sure you wear a mask. Use hand sanitizer.” Home-to-home visits in the community are no longer allowed, he added. In Saskatchewan overall, there are 1,106 recorded coronavirus infections in First Nations, as of Monday. From late June until early October weekly new infections were in the single-digits or at zero, based on Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) data. From Nov. 1 to Nov. 21, weekly new infections jumped to at least 139; last week there were 39 new infections. Among those was the first recorded case at Muscowpetung, which sits east of Piapot and north of Edenwold, along the Qu’Appelle River. Muscowpetung’s emergency services co-ordinator, Jim Pratt, told the Leader-Post the band’s leadership didn’t institute a full-scale lockdown, choosing “preventative check-points” in and out of the community. They started those on Oct. 17, following Saskatchewan Health Authority guidelines. “We put in our tracers ... if you (come) into our reserve you (have) to give your name and three places that you visit and then you (can) carry on. When we leave the reserve, (you) also have to leave your name and find out what three places you’re going to,” he said. There’s also a community-wide curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., he said. “We didn't want to panic people by saying ‘lockdown.’” Chief Melissa Tavita said they’re ready for that, if need be: Muscowpetung’s food store is still well-stocked; another option is butchering recently acquired buffalo for food. It’s a good thing the community hasn’t been forced to do that, she said, referencing the public health aspect and the spiritual importance the bison serve. “I've head people saying they've spoke to elders and that these buffalo are protectors and this is the reason why our community isn't hit,” she said. Pratt advised Muscowpetung members to watch for announcements from band leadership about on-reserve testing. Pasqua Chief Matthew (Todd) Peigan said the First Nation’s pandemic response team is giving supplies to the three on-reserve COVID-positive members and their families. “Thermometer, antibiotics, vitamins and also essentials they need, like bread, milk and juice,” because they’re isolating for two weeks and can’t leave home. Similar to Muscowpetung, Pasqua is still using its 24-hour security check-points for entering and exiting the First Nation. He encouraged everyone to wear masks, physically distance, “avoid gatherings, sanitize and wash their hands often. “Always consider whoever you meet has COVID-19, and stay way,” he said. As of Tuesday afternoon, the virus has killed 51 people in Saskatchewan; 3,819 infections are active. Indigenous Services Canada did not respond by press time to the Leader-Post's request for comment. firstname.lastname@example.orgEvan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
An incident outside a store in Woodstock on Monday has sparked concern and confusion over enforcement of orange phase rules.On Facebook, a woman posted a photo that appeared to show a person being restrained on the ground by two Woodstock police officers.The woman wrote that she was the person on the ground. She said she was arrested for not providing proof she has a medical exemption from wearing a mask.Masks are required in public spaces indoors and outdoors under the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery, where Woodstock now sits as part of the Fredericton health zone.The woman said she tried to enter the Hart store in Woodstock's Carleton Mall and was refused entry because she was not wearing a mask and would not provide proof of medical exemption."I responded, 'I am not legally obligated to provide proof,'" the woman said in her Facebook post, adding she then asked to speak to the owner of the store.Police were called to the scene, and the woman said she was told she would be fined if she did not leave the store. As she was leaving, she said, the officers asked her for identification.When she refused, she said, she was "tackled," handcuffed, arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, and given a court date in May 2021.Reached through Facebook on Tuesday, the woman declined to comment further.Woodstock police issue statementCBC News has asked to speak with someone at the Woodstock Police Force and is awaiting a response.But the force issued a public statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday, addressing the police response Monday to "a local business in regards to a customer who refused to leave the store following repeated request to wear a mask." > Our priority continues to be the public safety of our community and we respectfully thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and partnership. \- Woodstock Police Force statement on FacebookThe message noted that while it is not customary for police to comment on a matter under investigation or before the courts, "it is necessary that the Woodstock police respond to community inquiry related specifically to why we responded."The statement did not dispute the Facebook poster's account of what happened. Instead, it reminded readers of the pandemic, the state of emergency New Brunswick has declared, and the mandatory order setting out what is allowed and what isn't under different phases of recovery.The Woodstock force "respects that not all citizens agree with the enforcement aspect," said the statement attributed to police Chief Gary Forward. People who question the validity of the enforcement were urged to resort to the "court process.""Our priority has and continues to be the public safety of our community the and we respectfully thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and partnership in responding effectively to this pandemic."The police statement, and the photo of the arrest, have generated widespread public response both in support of the enforcement and objecting to it.Russell, Cardy respond to mask confusion, social media backlashAsked at a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday whether residents must provide proof of medical exemption to mask-wearing when asked, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell referred CBC to the province's website.The website does not appear to directly address the proof of exemption issue but does note that medical exemptions are allowed."However, it is within a business's right to refuse service to a patron who is not wearing a mask, but my understanding is they are supposed to provide some sort of alternative, such as pickup outside the door," she said.At the same news conference, Education Minister Dominic Cardy referred to backlash over enforcement in the early days of the orange phase and noted "four tickets were given over the five-day period" after the Fredericton region returned to orange."Four. So all of the stuff you see on social media around people being arrested in parking lots, a large amount of this is simply not accurate."Cardy cautioned against what he called the "virus of misinformation" and relying on "random people on social media," saying that people should instead rely on reliable sources such as government officials, "people who are legally accountable for the things we say and do."Mixed messages causing backlash, business owner saysWoodstock business owner and former police officer Graham Gill posted a video message on Facebook on Monday night, urging residents to "calm down" and contact their MLAs to voice their concerns.Reached by phone Monday night, Gill said he has had "hundreds, maybe thousands" of people contact him to say they are upset by what they see as "heavy-handed" enforcement of "confusing" Public Health rules."I'm getting messages from very upset people," he said. "I'm afraid this is going to end in violence if they don't get a handle on this quickly."Gill said he did not witness the incident on Monday but he has spoken with the woman who was involved in it. CBC News has also requested comment from Carleton MLA Bill Hogan and Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson about the incident Monday and about messaging and enforcement of mask rules."I'm not at all against wearing masks," he said. "But if there are mixed messages, if there's no consistency in the enforcement, you're going to have problems. And we are seeing that."
From Halifax to Toronto to Calgary to Vancouver, there are plenty of ways to safety enjoy the simple pleasure of Christmas lights.
The pandemic hasn't seemed to have hurt bank profits, yet thanks to consumer spending on credit, experts warn a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies may still be coming once the post-pandemic recovery is underway.
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
NEW YORK — Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, the star of “Juno," “Inception” and “The Umbrella Academy,” came out as transgender Tuesday in an announcement greeted as a watershed moment for the trans community in Hollywood.“I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer," Page said in a statement on social media.Page, the 33-year-old actor from Nova Scotia, said his decision to come out as trans, which also involved changing his first name, came after a long journey and with much support from the LGBTQ community.“I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” Page wrote. “I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.”“The more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive,” added Page, who said his pronouns are “he" and "they.”Page signed his statement with the words, “All my love, Elliot.”The announcement was celebrated widely on social media by LGBTQ rights advocates and many in the film industry. Netflix, maker of the comic book series “The Umbrella Academy," said, “So proud of our superhero! We love you Elliot!”"Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media. “He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.”Page broke out in Jason Reitman's 2007 film “Juno” in a performance as a pregnant teenager that earned him an Academy Award nomination.Page has frequently worked to bring the lives of LGBTQ characters to screen, including the 2015 film “Freeheld,” which he produced and starred in as the partner of a dying New Jersey police detective who had been denied pension benefits.Last year, he made his directorial debut with the documentary “There's Something in the Water,” about environmental damage on Black and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia.Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Liberal government says it will take steps over the next year to tax foreign homeowners who live outside of Canada as part of a plan to lower housing prices.It's an idea that has been growing in popularity over the last few years in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, but some experts question how effective such a plan would be.In this week's fiscal update, the government says the plan will benefit first-time homebuyers and put more homes on the market by taxing homeowners who use Canada to passively store wealth in housing.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last year his government would introduce such a tax, praising a similar measure in British Columbia during his most recent election campaign.The B.C. government said last year its speculation and vacancy tax raised $115 million, paid mostly by owners based abroad, with Finance Minister Carole James crediting the tax as a factor behind the 5.6 per cent fall in home prices in the first part of 2019.Tsur Somerville, an associate professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, said that while prices did fall in the Vancouver area after the introduction of foreign buyers' taxes, the policy is not a silver bullet for affordability. "If you're looking to address affordability, that on its own is never going to get you to affordability. But it can certainly be part of the package of both demand- and supply-side policies," he said.In addition to the speculation and vacancy tax — on those who own local residences but do not pay provincial income taxes — B.C. has also tried a property transfer tax on home purchases made by foreign nationals in Vancouver, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants regulator of British Columbia. In 2017, Ontario passed a speculation and vacancy tax on homebuyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe who were neither citizens nor permanent residents. And in Prince Edward Island, non-residents must apply to a special commission to buy more than five acres of land.Renewed talk of taxing non-Canadian homebuyers comes as several housing markets across the country set sales records during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing up prices amid low interest rates and a rush on telecommuter-friendly houses with yards.While the housing market has been hot, the government is looking for ways to finance $25 billion in new spending to support those hit hard by the pandemic.In practice, some markets with lots of demand from foreign buyers could see house prices decline but remain "crazy unaffordable," even with the proposed tax, said Somerville. Other locales, such as tourist spots, could actually benefit from travellers owning vacation homes there, Somerville said, while still other cities may already have landlords who are struggling to find tenants as it is.For example, the supply of housing may be flexible enough in cities like Calgary or Edmonton where foreign-based buyers don't have that much impact on overall home prices, he said. Also, when it comes to building a giant apartment building, foreign investment from a European pension fund is unlikely to be an affordability problem, he noted."I can't understand why you would introduce it at a national level," Sommerville said. "That doesn't make any sense to me as a policy because it is not as if we are in a national crisis of foreigners buying up housing in every market and creating challenges on affordability. That's a stretch."Somerville also noted that the policy has raised objections for targeting Chinese people in Vancouver, although different populations would be affected in different areas of the country.Andrey Pavlov, professor of finance at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, said it was a "terrible" idea to nationalize British Columbia's policies, saying the tax would discourage foreign investments without improving affordability.Pavlov said that the share of first-time homebuyers has actually gone down since the tax was put in place in B.C. Other than Toronto and Vancouver, most Canadian cities can be built out to accommodate and even benefit from second homes for people like business travellers, said Pavlov. The problem with further taxing homeownership, Pavlov said, is that it could actually reduce the supply of housing by discouraging builders and investors. Pavlov also questioned whether the policy would help the government pay for its fiscal stimulus plans."Our chance to repay the debts we are incurring now is to grow our economy as fast as we can," Pavlov said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
Students across Alberta started learning from home again Monday and will continue to do so until Jan. 11. In an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the province forced all students in Grades 7-12 to go back to at-home learning. All students will go on winter break on Dec. 18. In January, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 11 after a week of online learning to begin the New Year. Grade 8 St. Mary’s student Bethany Taylor says online learning is naturally different than in-class learning, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. “I’m still able to communicate with my friends and have a good time,” she said. “Learning online is good for me and I’m able to learn new things and communicate with everyone I need to.” When schools shifted online in March, they did not have much time to plan for the online aspect of learning. Taylor says things seem more structured this time around. “We have to be at a specific meeting at a specific time,” she said. “We have a schedule every day and it’s pretty similar to a normal day at school.” Alexandra Middle School student Rowan Hughson says online learning has its ups and downs. “It’s alright learning online and I don’t mind being at home,” Hughson said. “It’s just confusing sometimes trying to figure out what is going on. “I really like being around other people, so that is really hard at times, too.” The Grade 9 student says things seem much smoother this time around. “This seems much better than the emergency learning we had in March,” Hughson said. “I think they’ve had a lot more time to plan this time around and to listen to feedback from parents and students.” Jackson Harnett is a Grade 8 student at Notre Dame says online learning is a good experience. “I actually do like it – it’s really good,” he said. “I like that you get to work at your own pace and there aren’t as many distractions this way.” Harnett agrees that things are going better this time. “Everyone is showing up to class,” he said. “Things seem a lot more organized.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Nunavut reported one new COVID-19 case on Tuesday just before the territory moves out of a two week territory-wide lockdown on Wednesday.Restrictions are set to ease up for all communities except for Arviat.Tuesday's numbers continue the pattern of reduced active cases each day.There are now 93 active COVID-19 cases and 89 recovered cases, according to a news release from the territorial government. Those active cases are down from 108 active cases as of Monday, 113 on Sunday and 131 on Saturday. The new COVID-19 case was identified in Arviat, bringing the community's number of active cases to 76."As we begin to ease restrictions in some communities and regions tomorrow, it is important that we maintain our efforts and follow the new measures," said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer."This is a marathon, not a sprint and our actions in the days, weeks and months to come will determine the status of COVID-19 in Nunavut."Contact tracing in all impacted communities is ongoing, the release says, and people in isolation are being monitored by public health staff.As of Monday, 213 tests have been done in Rankin Inlet with negative results, 576 with negative results in Arviat and 121 in Whale Cove.Monitoring in Sanikiluaq continues, the release says. People who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call the COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.People are asked not to go to the health centre in person.The government says it will provide another update at a press conference at 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday.