The University of Oxford has released a study based on earlier research that found its coronavirus vaccine candidate was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response in people over age 70.
The University of Oxford has released a study based on earlier research that found its coronavirus vaccine candidate was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response in people over age 70.
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
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
After nine long months of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns people around the world are truly feeling the emotional and physical crunch. Humans are social creatures and this pandemic has succeeded in separating us from one another more than anything else in recent memory. In our desperate attempts to slow the spread of the virus throughout our communities, much of what we commonly experience together as communal acts of collective joy have become greatly restricted or shut down completely. One of the areas hardest hit is the live music industry. Venues have closed up, and over time we have seen repeated announcements in the news that many will not be able to ride out the storm and reopen in the future. Festivals both large and small were forced to go on hiatus this year sending out waves of financial crisis through the entire industry, from the producers at the top to the thousands upon thousands of musicians who rely more than ever on live performance engagements for their livelihood. In an attempt to utilize digital media to bridge the wide physical expanse, many organizations working in the music industry have turned to live streaming over the Internet to remain connected with their audiences. One organization operating as a music industry hub is the non-profit Canada's Music Incubator - Canada's Music Incubator (CMI). “We’re national. So we're based out of Toronto, but we also do a lot of our programming in the west as well in Alberta, out of the National Music Centre,” said CMI Live Events director Jesse Mitchell. The centre is a music performance venue located in Calgary. Much of the work that CMI does involves live music curation, as well as connecting musicians and managers with promoters and performance opportunities. But the organization also goes beyond that by producing music industry workshops and mentorships which serve to educate music creators and to invigorate the Canadian music landscape. Because of CMI’s success over their 10-year history, Mitchell and his associates were approached by representatives at the TD Bank, an organization with a long and prominent history of sponsoring and supporting many high profile music and cultural events across Canada. During these times of quarantine TD was seeking alternatives to sponsoring live events and approached CMI to spearhead a nationally-produced streaming performance program. Together the two partners came up with the Connected Music Series. Produced over the last few months and premiering on CMI’s YouTube channel, the Connected Music Series features 20 performances by Black, Indigenous and South Asian musicians. The artists selected were asked to stage their performances at venues in their community that held significance to that place. CMI also had a mandate to include local creators and media production crews to capture the performances. “The series has a focus on showcasing artists, but at the same time we’re interested in also showcasing significant spaces,” Mitchell explained. “But because this is online and it’s being videoed, we’re also highlighting media creators who work in these different communities.” The Connected Music Series features 20 prerecorded 30-minute musical performances airing between Nov. 19 and Dec. 20. The series hosts an incredible selection of Canadian talent, including many acclaimed Indigenous artists such as 2020 JUNO Indigenous Artist of the Year Celeigh Cardinal; Mi'kmaq Rapper Wolf Castle; two-spirit Mohawk singer Shawnee; Cree R&B; musician Sebastian Gaskin; Mohawk musician Logan Staats, and Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. The venues chosen by the performers range from the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Alberta, both in Edmonton, and the Pabineau First Nation Band Hall in Bathurst, N.B., to intimate locations like The Garden Strathcona in Vancouver and community-minded retail spaces like hip hop fashion store Friday Knights in Winnipeg. “There's lots of beautiful and incredible places where I could have taped my performance, but it was already winter here,” said Gilday, who makes her home in Yellowknife. “So shooting a half-hour performance outside in winter here is not possible because I play guitar.” “I chose the Bullock’s Bistro, which is our local fish and chips place, and it's like an iconic Yellowknife location.” Gilday appreciates the Yellowknife restaurant’s attraction as a community and tourist hub, established over the past three decades, and how “it’s connected to the water in a very special way.” Owners “Renata and Sam Bullock get their fish fresh out of Great Slave Lake literally a hundred feet away.” For Gilday, that speaks to her deeply about “food security and that connection to the water.” Whether locked down within the vast urban landscape of a city like Toronto or tucked in for the winter in the remote communities of Northern Canada there’s no denying the significance of how much digital media is helping to keep everyone connected in these trying times. Many of the artists featured in the series would normally be touring and performing in various corners of the world. During the pandemic, however, sponsored streaming events have been adopted by many producers and promoters to serve as an antidote to the moratorium placed on public gatherings and live music events. The Connected Music Series returns Dec. 3, streaming dynamic performances from unique Canadian locations by acclaimed Canadian BIPOC musicians and creators right through until Dec. 20. Visit the Connected Music Series YouTube channel to view the recorded performances so far. Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at a posh Napa Valley restaurant the day after California's governor was there. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo went to his parents' house for Thanksgiving. And a Los Angeles County supervisor dined outdoors just hours after voting to ban outdoor dining there.All three local officials were on the hot seat Tuesday after various reports that they violated rules aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus — or at a minimum, violating the spirit of the rules as they repeatedly urged others to stay home.Breed joined seven others at the three Michelin-starred French Laundry on Nov. 7 to celebrate the 60th birthday of socialite Gorretti Lo Lui, the mayor's spokesman confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle. She dined in the same kind of partially enclosed indoor/outdoor room Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated in a day earlier.Newsom, who has appealed to Californians to “do your part" and stay home, apologized when the 12-person dinner was reported, then again when photos emerged showing him, his wife and others sitting close together at the same table without masks.Breed's spokesman, Jeff Cretan, called the mayor's French Laundry dinner a “small family birthday dinner." He did not immediately respond to a telephone message Tuesday inquiring whether the dinner involved more than three different households, which are prohibited under the state's rules.Before the Chronicle's story was posted Tuesday, Breed thanked residents for doing their part by limiting contact with others, saying on a live stream that “as someone who basically lives alone, it’s been a tough year for me personally."Earlier in the day, Liccardo apologized for attending a Thanksgiving get-together at his parents' home that included people from five different households.“I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family," Liccardo said in a statement. “I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better.”Liccardo said there were eight members from five different households and that they all dined outside at separate tables on the back patio, wearing masks when they were not eating.The outing was first reported by KNTV in San Jose.A day earlier, Liccardo tweeted that cases were spiking because people were letting their guard down with family members and friends. “Let’s cancel the big gatherings this year and focus on keeping each other safe," he wrote.Meanwhile, KTTV in Los Angeles reported that LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl enjoyed an outdoor meal at a restaurant just hours after voting last week to ban outdoor dining at the county’s 31,000 restaurants over coronavirus safety concerns.Kuehl was seen eating outside on Nov. 24 at Il Forno Trattoria near her home in Santa Monica, the station reported. Earlier in the day, Kuehl was among the supervisors who voted 3 to 2 to prohibit outdoor dining in Los Angeles County. Indoor dining has been banned for months during the pandemic.“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible," Kuehl’s office said in a statement Monday. "She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit."Los Angeles County imposed a new stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents effective this week as coronavirus cases surge across the state and country.During last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl referred to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” because of the possibility of virus transmission among unmasked patrons.“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said.Juliet Williams, The Associated Press
It's a trend line that Jason Kenney can't seem to reverse. Yet another public opinion survey that shows a growing number of Albertans disapprove of the job he's doing. Kenney's approval rating has dropped from a high of 61 per cent in June 2019, a few months after he won the election, to 40 per cent this past week.Pollsters and political observers say it's a reflection of how Kenney's UCP government has managed the COVID-19 pandemic, that he's been unable to placate those who would like to see more restrictions to rein in record cases of the coronavirus. "You've got, politically, a premier that is really, you know, pleasing neither side and is being punished by both ends," said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, which conducted the survey during the last week of November.The survey shows Kenney's disapproval rating at 58 per cent — second only to Manitoba's Brian Pallister, whose disapproval rating is 64 per cent.B.C.'s John Horgan, who won a majority government in October, enjoys the country's highest approval rating at 64 per cent, tied with Quebec's François Legault. In Alberta, 40 per cent those who were asked say they approve of Kenney's job performance, while two per cent were undecided. Kurl says Kenney is walking a tightrope trying to appease his base of supporters in rural Alberta by avoiding a provincewide mandatory mask mandate, while at the same time facing criticism that new restrictions meant to bend the curve of new infections did not go far enough.In a Facebook chat with UCP supporters last week, Kenney said his government is resisting calls for mandatory mask use in public places because people in rural Alberta would defy the order."Why would we do something that becomes counterproductive?" he said.Alberta continues to set new daily COVID-19 infection records and leads the country in the number of active cases per capita.Political analysts say it's not a coincidence that case numbers are rising and Kenney's popularity is falling."I would say the majority of Albertans believe he hasn't gone far enough," said political science professor Duane Bratt, referring to COVID restrictions."And if you combine the limited action with rising case counts, rising hospital counts, rising death counts, people start to make those connections."Bratt says the premier may be paying the price for a pandemic response that contains mixed messages and contradictions. "How much of this came out of last week's sort of, semi-response?""Where, yes, he sent the kids home from school, but you can still go to a casino.""Yes, you have to wear a mask if you're in Calgary, but you don't have to wear a mask if you're in Two Hills," said Bratt, who teaches at Mount Royal University.Kurl says if those new restrictions announced last week manage to slow the virus's spread, Kenney could just as well see a reversal in his sagging job satisfaction numbers."Let's not overstate the fact that while he is the second least popular premier in the country at the moment, 40 per cent approval is not exactly something that is catastrophic for him politically," said Kurl.'No easy answers'The premier's office sent a statement in response to the Angus Reid survey. "We are focused squarely on protecting both lives and livelihoods from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, not public opinion polling," said spokesperson Christine Myatt. "These are difficult decisions and there are no easy answers to navigating this pandemic, but we will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect Albertans from this unprecedented dual crisis," she said.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy is censured; Scientists demonstrate the world's first artificially-created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction; Enron files for Chapter 11 protection; Colombian drug lord is shot and killed. (Dec. 2)
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:50 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 656 new cases of COVID-19 today, with 8,796 active cases across the province.There have been 16 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 457 since the pandemic began.In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say 336 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, and 76 of them are in intensive care.Another 10,123 people are being monitored after they were exposed to a known case of the novel coronavirus.\---2 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19.Public health officials say all the new cases were found in the central zone, bringing the province's total active case count to 142.Rapid testing was administered at pop-up sites Monday in both Wolfville and Halifax and no cases were found at either site.A total of 4,138 COVID-19 tests were administered in the province Monday.\---1:50 p.m.Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 in the province Tuesday.Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are four new cases in the Saint John zone and three new cases in the Fredericton zone.There are currently 116 active cases in the province, and there have been 508 cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.There have been seven deaths and no one is in hospital.\---1:35 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 282 new COVID-19 cases and a record 16 deaths. The test positivity rate remains high at 13 per cent, and Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on business openings and public gatherings may have to remain in place for some time.\---1:10 p.m.Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government will decide in 10 days whether the province's COVID-19 situation will allow for multi-household gatherings at Christmas.He says an increase in hospitalizations is straining the health-care network, and some hospitals are nearing the limit of how many COVID-19 patients they can treat.The premier says the situation in hospitals and the toll on health-care workers will be the most important factors in determining the plan for Christmas, adding that things are not headed in the right direction.Legault had announced last month that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed between Dec. 24 and 27.\---1 p.m.Another measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect in Yukon today, as masks are now mandatory in all indoor, public spaces.Yukon's chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley says everyone over the age of five who does not have a medical exemption will be required to wear a mask.The order imposed under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act carries a fine of up to $500 but Hanley says Yukon residents will first be given a chance to adapt before any enforcement begins.Premier Sandy Silver reports eight new cases of COVID-19 in the territory since the briefing last Tuesday, bringing the total number to 47 since the start of the pandemic.Seventeen cases are still considered active, but none related to community transmission.\---12:55 p.m.Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says when looking at people experiencing the most severe illness, older Canadians are more at risk than younger Canadians with pre-existing conditions.She says that suggests after the initial round of vaccines goes to people in high-risk living or work situations, like long-term care centres and hospital staff, the next round of immunizations should be done by age, with the oldest Canadians at the front of the line.\---12:52 p.m.Manitoba handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week.The provincial government brought in restrictions three weeks ago to deal with surging COVID-19 case numbers that set strict limits on public gatherings and require non-essential businesses to close.Two churches that held services recently are among the establishments that have been ticketed.\---12:50 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.The case affects a man in his 50s who returned to the province from work in British Columbia.Health officials say the man is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.Newfoundland and Labrador has 33 active COVID-19 cases, with 339 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on public gatherings and business openings could continue into the winter.Pallister says with cold weather ahead, there's a risk of greater COVID-19 transmission as more people stay, and perhaps gather, indoors.Manitoba's daily rise in cases has levelled off somewhat after spiking last month, but health officials say it is still straining the health-care system.\---12:25 p.m.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal to get doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.She says it was also the fourth to sign a deal with Pfizer, and the first country without the ability to mass produce the vaccine domestically to sign with AstraZeneca.Anand says there has been "significant misinformation" about the doses procured and when they will arrive.\---11:50 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is taking on billions of dollars in more debt to protect Canadians from having to do the same thing.Trudeau says the average credit card interest rate is more than 19 per cent, and that it makes more sense for Ottawa to shoulder more of the burden through the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn because it can borrow at rates now close to zero.The prime minister also says his government has no intention to start cutting spending at this time, saying now is not the time for austerity.The fall economic update released Monday proposed $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter promised tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.\---11:40 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is launching efforts to support two more northern communities that are struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases.The Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, where Trudeau says they will provide health services and support elders.\---11:35 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 80 per cent of the money spent to support and protect Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic has come from the federal government.The prime minister says that includes tens of millions of rapid tests that are starting to be distributed across the country, as well as billions of doses of yet-to-be-delivered COVID-19 vaccines.Trudeau says Canada is guaranteed to receive some of the first doses of the vaccine produced by U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna once it has been approved by Health Canada.The Moderna vaccine candidate is one of four currently being reviewed by the department.\---11:30 a.m.Prince Edward Island's chief health officer says she expects the COVID-19 vaccine to begin arriving in her province in January 2021.Dr. Heather Morrison says discussions are continuing between the federal and provincial governments around vaccine allocation, distribution, procurement and logistics.She says P.E.I. will be following the national recommendations for priority groups to be immunized, but all Islanders who want the vaccine will receive it over time.Morrison says it will take many months for all Islanders to be immunized.She said the arrival date and the actual number of doses will be made public once the details are known.\---11:05 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,177 new cases of COVID-19 today and 28 additional deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.According to public health authorities, three of those deaths took place during the past 24 hours and the rest occurred earlier.The Health Department says 719 people are currently in hospital, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people are in intensive care, an increase of four from the previous day.Quebec has reported 143,548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 7,084 deaths associated with the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Health projections released by the Opposition predict COVID-19 hospitalizations could soar to 775 by mid-December and the number of intensive care patients could reach 161. NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the numbers suggest the United Conservative government waited too long to act, then introduced ineffective half measures to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. “Our province is reporting the highest rate of COVID in the country,” Notley told Premier Jason Kenney during question period Tuesday. “The models showed you a second wave was coming. Why did you not prepare?” Kenney’s government has in recent weeks declined to provide internal projections on potential COVID-19 effects on hospital and intensive care wards, although Kenney said this week those numbers might be provided in the coming days. The latest numbers were leaked to the NDP. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said the projections are the "worst-case scenario" and don't take into account the recently announced new restrictions. "That is exactly the point of those restrictions ... to prevent us from hitting those high projections because what we need to do is bend that curve down," said Hinshaw. Alberta's daily case count has sat above 1,000 for almost two weeks, putting a significant strain on the health-care system. There are a total of 173 intensive care beds in Alberta. On Tuesday, there were 97 COVID-19 ICU patients of a total 479 in hospitals. Alberta Health Services, the front-line operational arm of Alberta Health, is rearranging and reassigning space, staff and patients to create another 250 ICU beds. AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said in an email that Calgary exceeded maximum ICU capacity Monday, but had space because 10 new beds had been added. Edmonton was at 95 per cent ICU capacity, but had 18 spaces available because of 20 new beds. Twenty acute-care hospitals, including the major ones in Calgary and Edmonton, are dealing with COVID outbreaks of their own. To stem the surge in cases, Kenney announced tighter health restrictions last week aimed at reducing community spread while keeping businesses and the economy as open as possible. No social gatherings are allowed in people’s homes. Restaurants and bars can stay open, but only six people can be at one table and they all must live under the same roof. The province is to review the measures mid-December and may intensify or add to them if the skyrocketing spread continues. The NDP and some doctors say the public-health orders, while aimed at balancing health and the economy, will ultimately fail both and a short, sharp lockdown is the way to go. Alberta is also facing the challenge of tracking spread. Health officials do not know where about 80 per cent of recent cases came from. Kenney reiterated that the province has 800 contact tracers and is working to hire 400 more while moving more part-time tracers to full-time status. “Alberta Health Services is pulling out the stops and has been for weeks to add capacity,” Kenney told the house. “We made it clear to them from Day 1 that budget is not an issue, that we are giving them maximum resources ... in hiring and training, and bringing people on board." Notley criticized Kenney for not moving faster during the summer to hire more contact tracers. She noted Alberta lags behind other comparable provinces. “B.C. has 26 contact tracers per 100,000 (people). Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30. Ontario, 27. Alberta, 18,” said Notley. “Contact tracing is strained across the country, that is true, but only in this province is it broken.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Port Alberni, BC - As part of the nation’s safety protocols, patrons are required to wear a facemask and sanitize their hands before entering the market. Increasingly, staff has been met with “grumbling” customers who reject the safety measures, said Hugh Braker, Tseshaht Emergency Operations Centre information officer. The issue escalated mid-November when a customer entered the market and started yelling vulgar phrases, objecting to sanitizing his hands. After walking towards a female employee in what she described as an “aggressive” approach, male staff intervened and escorted the customer out of the store. Before driving away, staff took photos of his vehicle. At approximately 5:30 a.m. the following morning, a male threw a glass bottle at the market and shattered the glass door. Security cameras confirmed that the vehicle involved in the incident correlated with the car from the day before. “There is no place for this type of behaviour in a civilized society,” Braker said in a release. “Our staff and customers were exposed to unruly behaviour and assault. People must accept the measures we are taking in our community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or they can stay away.” In the morning of Nov. 11, the incident was reported to the Port Alberni RCMP detachment. After accessing CCTV footage, investigators identified the perpetrator as Joel Desjardins-Lavoie, said Cpl. Jason Racz. Desjardins-Lavoie was arrested for mischief and remains in custody. He was also wanted on warrants from the province of Quebec for uttering threats, said Racz. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 16. Braker said the nation is doing “everything” they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. With four confirmed cases within Tseshaht’s membership, Braker said the pandemic is “top of mind.” “Living on reserve we have about 70 elders and we’re sensitive to the fact that they are extremely vulnerable,” said Braker. “Other members in our tribe have compromised immune systems and they are very vulnerable. We’re doing everything we can to protect these people.” Yesterday, Tseshaht began distributing cleaning packages that will go to every member’s household within the Port Alberni area. They include: hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, Clorox disinfecting spray, gloves and masks. “I would like to remind people of the responsibility we have to keep everyone safe,” said Ken Watts, Tseshaht councillor and member of the Tseshaht Market board of directors. “The Tseshaht council condemns the actions of this individual. We encourage everyone to embrace Dr. Henry’s thoughts on this being our time to ‘be kind, be calm and be safe.’” -30- Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
A group of community leaders in Cape Breton wants non-essential travel stopped to the island as new cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported daily on the mainland.The request was sent to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, by a group of municipal leaders and First Nation chiefs. The group, which met recently to discuss a possible Cape Breton bubble, is also seeking checkpoints and rapid testing for COVID-19."We can't be afraid to do the right thing just out of fear of stepping on the wrong toes," said We'koqma'q Chief Annie Bernard-Daisley, who signed the letter as an organizer of the meeting. There were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island as of Tuesday when the province reported 10 new cases, all in the central health zone.Risk factors to be consideredBernard-Daisley said various health factors, such as higher rates of cancer and diabetes, put Cape Bretoners at risk of developing complications from COVID-19.She said housing shortages in First Nation communities makes the situation more dangerous. "There are some homes with multiple families residing in one," Bernard-Daisley said. "Some have over 20 family members in a home. In these situations, how can we effectively fight COVID?"With students and families expected to head to Cape Breton over the holidays, Bernard-Daisley said the time to act is now.She would like to see anyone visiting the island from areas in the province experiencing COVID-19 activity to self-isolate for at least 14 days. 'It hits close to home' Concerns over the spread of COVID-19 were heightened after a Sydney restaurant was identified as a possible exposure site. Ardon Mofford, the owner of Governor's Pub and Eatery, said his staff have since tested negative.Mofford said the province should screen visitors to the island, as businesses are already carrying a heavy load. "We're trying to deal with a crazy business environment," he said."It hits close to home when you get a potential situation like we did down here at Governor's. And then obviously what endured was incredible, what happens on social media and how your phone lights up. And you can see how the community gets scared and it's understandably so."Provincial strategyThe Department of Health has said it's focusing testing efforts on asymptomatic people in locations with the most concerning spread. A provincial spokesperson said the public will be informed as the province's strategy evolves. Health officials continue to ask Nova Scotians to limit travel in and out of places with COVID-19 activity, such as the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County. MORE TOP STORIES
NEW YORK — “Papa!” screams a hospital worker, covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit and PPE, in the opening moments of the documentary “76 Days."This is in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, back in January and February when the city of 11 million went into a 2 1/2-month lockdown and hospitals were overrun. The health worker's father has just died, and her agony at not being able to sit by his side is overwhelming. Her colleagues restrain her as she sobs, moaning, “Papa, you'll stay forever in my heart.”“76 Days," shot in four Wuhan hospitals, captures a local horror before it became a global nightmare. Given the constraints at the time on footage and information from Wuhan, it's a rare window into the infancy of the pandemic. The film is directed by the New York-based filmmaker Hao Wu, who worked with two Chinese journalists — one named Weixi Chen, the other is remaining anonymous — to create of a portrait of the virus epicenter.Some of the images document the fear and confusion of those early days: A group of patients mill outside the hospital doors, pleading to be let in. Others are by now more familiar: Solitary deaths followed by phone calls to family members.“There has been so much news coverage and commentary about the pandemic but most of that has primarily been about statistics and our political divide," Wu said in an interview. “What I think is missing is the human stories, the human faces of the pandemic.”That may be especially true for stories of the pandemic from China, which President Donald Trump and his supporters have been highly critical of, blaming it for the “Wuhan virus.” Wu's film, though, consciously avoids politics to concentrate on the humanity inside the hospitals — even if the workers are so obscured by their Hazmat suits that they're only identifiable by the names penned in sharpie on their backs.“I feel like right now there is such a toxic background to a lot of the discussions around the virus,” Wu says. “The virus is an enemy that doesn’t care about your nationality.”“76 Days," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is being released Friday by MTV Documentary Films is more than 50 virtual cinemas. Last month, it was nominated for best documentary by the IFP Gotham Awards.It's among the first in a coming surge of coronavirus documentaries. A handful have already arrived, some — snapshots in an ongoing drama — hurriedly edited even as the scope of the pandemic has continued to expand. In October, Alex Gibney released “Totally Under Control," a two-part indictment of the federal U.S. response to the virus. In August, the artist-activist Ai Weiwei debuted “Coronation,” a documentary he directed remotely with dozens of volunteers to capture the lockdown experience for ordinary Chinese people.For some, the films are too harsh a reminder of an all-consuming reality. But “76 Days" feels like a vital early draft of history. Wu's first instinct had been to create a more straightforwardly journalistic film examining what happened in Wuhan. But Wu — a Chinese native who lives in New York with his partner and two children (he depicted his journey as a gay man in a traditional Chinese family in the 2019 Netflix documentary “All in My Family” ) — soon recognized the difficulty of access and the rapidly changing situation would make such a film either very difficult or potentially stale by the time it was finished.“The images coming out of Wuhan were so harrowing. Everyone was scouring social media, trying to find out what happened in Wuhan, how it got so bad. A lot of us were so angry,” he says. “I started getting away from wanting to assign blame."The journalists, working with press passes, would have typically been closely watched by Communist party minders but in the chaos were given more free rein. Wu leaned into a more observational approach without talking heads, and urged his collaborators to focus on the people and the details. One poignant shot shows the ziplocked cellphone of a deceased person quietly ringing.Wu's last trip to China was in January and February. Right after he came back, his grandfather was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. He would die a month later. Wu, unable to visit because of travel restrictions and busy on the film, wasn't able to say goodbye in person.“For me, I was compelled to tell the story. It’s almost like a tribute to my grandfather,” says Wu. “The shots that attracted me were those that showed the details of people willing to be nice to each other. I guess it was guilty about not being able to say goodbye to my grandfather, to hold his hand.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press
Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) opened its doors last week to a new primary care clinic located on reserve at the OKIB Health Centre. The new clinic is a partnership between Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Interior Health. The primary care clinic, which is open to OKIB members living both on and off-reserve, is an expansion to the existing facility but now providing patients with access to doctors. “There has been a need for a long time for these types of services,” says Chief Byron Louis of Okanagan Indian Band. “The idea has always been there, it’s based upon community growth.” OKIB, which is located at Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake), near Vernon, B.C., currently has 2030 members, with half of its members living on reserve. It’s the growing population that has fueled discussions of the need for a new primary care clinic. “We also have a growing need when we start looking at that,” says Louis. “Even with half of our population being non-reserve, but band members, you’re starting to get into the size of a small community.” The clinic is now open and accepting new patients via appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. The services available range from medical assessments, to diagnosis and treatment plans, diabetes and physical exams for newborns, seniors and elderly care. (See the full list here.) “It represents a new approach to providing health care services and access to doctors on OKIB reserve land. Now, OKIB members can receive care at all stages of life, right here in community,” Louis says. A healthcare system right at home in the community builds on pre-existing programs and services, but meets the needs of “the ageing population,” he explains. “It’s good that you’re able to provide a home base for your health care.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Regina– The Saskatchewan Party government’s response to COVID-19 was the entire focus of the Opposition New Democratic Party’s first chance at question period as the Saskatchewan Legislature got down to business on Dec. 1, following the Oct. 26 election. NDP Leader Ryan Meili started off saying the “people of Saskatchewan are dealing with the results of missed opportunities on the part of this premier.” He noted there are three times as many cases of COVID-19 compared to Nov. 1, and active cases are up five times. The leader of the opposition accused Premier Scott Moe of giving mixed messages, musing about opening up for Christmas, and providing “breathing room” to those against wearing masks. “At this rate, the only thing you’ll be opening for Christmas is a field hospital,” Meili said. Moe responded, “The COVID-19 response and Saskatchewan has been a balanced and measured approach, has been an approach that ensures that yes, we are doing everything that we can to ensure that we are preserving lives in this province, saving lives in this province, and also preserving the opportunity for livelihoods today livelihoods in the future.” Moe said this response will focus on ensuring that we can preserve the capacity of our health care system, preserve the opportunities and jobs in our communities, “and to ensure that we have the opportunity for our next generation, for the youth to have some semblance of normalcy, so that they maybe do things like attend school, and as well as the athletics and the opportunities that we have in our communities.” Moe said, “We’re experiencing a second wave surge in the province, like much of the rest of the nation.” He added Saskatchewan will follow the advice of chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. Meili said, “Once again, this premier is demonstrating that he fails to comprehend the seriousness of what we're dealing with today. This is not a minor surge. The number of cases is rising exponentially. Hospitals are overwhelmed, small businesses are barely surviving, and people are worried about the health of their loved ones, people are losing, loved ones.” He asked what the province is doing with hundreds of millions of dollars of federal support for COVID-19 response. Moe responded money had been spent on personal protective equipment, and that $90 million has been spent on testing and contact tracing, with a rolling 7-day average of 3,500 tests per day. Forty million dollars have been spent on schools, in addition to $40 million in school division savings, augmented by $75 million for restarting schools. He pointed out a second tranche of funding applications opened on that very day. Meili pressed on about the $260 million allocated in the provincial COVID-19 contingency, as detailed in the mid-year update released on Nov. 27. He asked, “Now is not the time to be cheap with Saskatchewan people, now is the time to invest. Why won't the premier invest those contingency funds right away?” adding, “What is he waiting for?” Moe said a portion of that contingency fund has been allocated to education. He pointed out that $100 million had been added in contingency funding with that mid-year update. “We didn’t wait, with respect to supporting the people of this province, supporting jobs in this province taking that balanced and measured approach to ensure, yes, we are curbing the spread of COVID-19, but also to ensure that we are supporting people in communities across this province.” Moe cited over $50 million invested in the small business emergency program, $2 million, in the self isolation support program, partnering with the federal government on the temporary wage supplement and emergency rent assistance program. “We’ve been there in supports for Saskatchewan businesses, and we have been there with the people in this province to ensure that we can curb the spread of COVID-19.” He said that needs to continue until we have widespread access to a vaccine. Meili asked, “Why aren't they releasing those contingency funds for COVID-19 to support small businesses to staff up in long term care and health care how much worse do things need to get before this premier will actually do something?” Moe responded that the province had invested a little over $2.5 billion, including $2 billion in infrastructure, to ensure a safe, strong economic recovery. He said, “This government has been there, time and time again throughout this pandemic, taking that balanced, yes, measured response. We're going to continue to be there for the people in the province. We're going to continue to work with all those interested to not only procure, alongside the federal government, vaccines for this province, but now we're going to work on how we are going to get those vaccines out to the people of this province, end this pandemic that we have been dealing with, in the months ahead. That is the next target, that is the finish line for the people of this nation.” Regarding those field hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina, Health Critic Vicki Mowat asked, “What is the exact threshold to trigger the health authority to open field hospitals?” Health Minister Paul Merriman said, “We have been planning for this, we've been working on this with the Sask. Health Authority, to be able to make sure that we had the right complement of COVID beds, that we had the right complement in ICU. And we're continuing to do that. “That plan for the field hospital was done months ago. We do have that ready, but, we have to find the resources from somewhere. So what we are continually doing is adjusting some of the needs within the (Saskatchewan Health Authority), and within our rural and urban hospitals to be able to get the staff to fully be able to take care of those peoples that are in the ICU. And I hope that at some point we don't have to use those field hospitals, but if we do, we're ready to go.” Asked if there were enough health employees to staff them, Merriman replied, “The field hospitals are certainly a last resort, but we're going to work within our health care capacity that we have right now.”Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Le Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish reçoit un don de 25 000 $ de la part de Rio Tinto. Le centre fait partie des 12 refuges pour femmes et organismes locaux choisis par la multinationale, qui leur fait don d’un total de 360 000 $. La Maison des femmes de Sept-Îles et le centre d’hébergement Tipinuaikan d’Uashat mak Mani-utenam récoltent aussi 25 000 $ chacun. La contribution de Rio Tinto permettra à ces organismes de continuer à fournir différents services de soutien aux femmes et à leurs familles, dont des refuges sûrs, des conseils, des ateliers et des activités pour les enfants, entre autres. La coordonnatrice du Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish, Francine Blais, se réjouit de ce don. « On est très heureux d’avoir été reconnus. Ça va nous donner un coup de pouce pour la poursuite de nos activités dans le milieu. » L’organisme n’a pas encore décidé de la répartition du montant entre les points de service d’Aguanish et d’Havre-Saint-Pierre ni de ce à quoi l’argent servira. L’annonce du don de Rio Tinto a été faite le 25 novembre, soit la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
TRAVAIL. S’inquiétant que la rémunération des salariés de l'administration publique accuse un retard grandissant par rapport à celle de l'ensemble des salariés québécois, le député de Rosemont et responsable pour Québec solidaire en matière de services publics, Vincent Marissal, appelle le gouvernement à commencer dès maintenant à combler cet écart dans le cadre des négociations avec les employés du secteur public. «La pandémie qui a frappé le Québec de plein fouet cette année nous a fait réaliser à quel point on a besoin d'une fonction publique forte pour offrir des services publics de qualité aux citoyens. L'écart important entre la rémunération des salariés de l'administration publique et celle des autres salariés a clairement un impact négatif sur la capacité du secteur public à attirer et retenir les travailleurs dont il a besoin pour remplir sa mission», déplore Vincent Marissal. Pour le député de Rosemont, cet écart de rémunération est un signal alarmant que l'État québécois doit offrir une meilleure rémunération aux salariés de l'administration publique. «Il est plus que temps que le gouvernement mette les bouchées doubles pour s'assurer que les salariés du secteur public bénéficient de rémunérations à la hauteur de l'importance de leur travail. La Présidente du Conseil du trésor ne peut plus faire fi de cette réalité et cela doit se refléter dans le cadre des négociations des employés du secteur public, qui doivent être l'occasion d'un début de rattrapage qui est plus que nécessaire», ajoute-t-il. Rappelons que selon les chiffres dévoilés par l'Institut de la statistique, l'écart de la rémunération globale entre les salariés de l'administration québécoise et les autres salariés du Québec est passé de 6,1 % en 2011 à plus de 9,2 % en 2020. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Yukon's health minister says the territorial government has a plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.But neither Health Minister Pauline Frost nor Premier Sandy Silver would offer many details about what's actually in the plan.In Question Period Tuesday, Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard said the public needs more information."All we are asking for is for the minister to provide a copy of that plan to Yukoners so that they can understand what is going on here," he said.Frost both accused the Yukon Party of spreading false information and fear mongering without offering specifics. "For us to come out now and say 'Here's a whole bunch of plans for a whole bunch options,' we're not going to do that right now and we're definitely not going to make news announcements on the floor of the Legislative Assembly," Silver said.Silver did suggest that the government's exact plan will change based on which of the vaccines nearing regulatory approval the Yukon gets first.Pfizer's vaccine, for instance, has to be stored at -80 C to remain stable. That means special freezers are required to transport and store it. Yesterday, federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said vaccines also require qualified shippers and promised details about distribution are coming soon."What the [health] department is doing is game theory, which is every single option, making sure we have considered all of the variables that would be used depending on who gets that authorization first from Health Canada, and when," Silver said. NDP Leader Kate White said the public deserves to know what the plan is."Plans can change and plans can be adapted, and no one argues or or disagrees with that," she said. "But even having an idea of what the starting [point] is, instead of speaking in generalities, I think what really folks are looking for right now is specifics."
The Canadian government has a marketplace worth an estimated $25 billion each year. And though it can be a difficult market to break into, countless businesses can benefit from many lucrative opportunities. This includes the businesses of five Indigenous women entrepreneurs who were on a panel this past Wednesday to discuss their stories, including the successes and challenges of landing contracts with the federal government. The event was organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and its entrepreneurial outreach and navigation program called BeTheDrum. The speakers’ panel, which was held online, was titled How We’re Doing Business with the Government of Canada. Sylvie Ouellette, president and co-founder of Versatil: Business Intelligence and Performance Management, started her company in 2010 in the Quebec city of Gatineau. Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is directly across a river from Gatineau. “So definitely we wanted to see how we could do business with the federal government,” said Ouellette. Her company specializes in data management, business analytics, security and AI intelligence. “This is a big employer here.” Ouellette said simply having the desire to land federal contracts is not sufficient. In order to secure some government deals, previous experience working for the Canadian government is required. This experience can only be obtained through partnerships. “It took us many years to be able to bid on a contract because we had to work with other companies first to get the experience so we could have our own references so that we could bid,” Ouellette said. “It’s complex, even if it’s small amounts.” Julie Lepage, the co-founder of Montreal-based Acosys Consulting Services, said she knew as early as when a business plan was being worked on that federal contracts were worth pursuing. “We saw there was so much potential in doing business with the government that we couldn’t ignore it,” she said. Acosys Consulting Services will be celebrating its 15th year in business this coming February. Winning some federal work though was not an easy path to navigate. Lepage attended numerous workshops and conferences in order to gather information on how the procurement system works for Indigenous entrepreneurs. “That was hard because we were meeting people who were in (in other industries) and they were getting contracts faster,” Lepage said. “For us it was hard because $10,000 in consulting services is nothing. It keeps us employed maybe for a month. It was a puzzle or problem we had to resolve.” Lepage said it took at least four years before Acosys Consulting Services even submitted its first bid to the federal government. And it took until 2018 for the business to secure its first long-term contract from the Canadian government. Her company quickly learned that it’s best to hire an expert in a particular field to assist with a bid proposal, Lepage said. While hiring another individual will result in additional expenses, it can be fruitful if a noteworthy contract is secured. After years of gaining experience in what federal officials are looking for in bid submissions, Lepage and her partner now handle the work on their own. “We learned and now we don’t hire anybody else,” she said. “We know how to answer all of these things.” Wendy Roberts is the president of Ottawa-based Makwa Resources, which specializes in human resources and program development with both public and private sectors. Makwa Resources started 15 years ago and Roberts said in the early years her company also had to rely on big partnerships to secure contracts with the federal government. But now it lands its own deals. “There’s a lot of positive energy that’s floating around,” she said, adding she’s hoping to win a number of contracts prior to the Christmas season. “We’re finding more and more with our government clients that they are listening more. It’s been a very positive reinforcement for us.” As for Janice Larocque, who is Métis and living in Calgary, she is the president and owner of a pair of staffing companies, Fast Labour Solutions and Spirit Omega. Playing by the government’s rules has kept her busy. “Partnerships can work but it does take a while,” she said. “So, if that’s what we need to do to advance, I think we should.” Larocque said she’s had plenty of discussions with those in her industry and a common thought is why there is a need to partner if a business has the capacity to provide a service on its own. “I really think if we start pushing, we don’t have to partner to deliver our services,” she said. Genevieve Cumpson is president of Drapeau Automatic Sprinkler Corp., a leading independent designer and installer of fixed fire protection and detection systems based in Kingston, Ont. “In our industry we’re so regulated with our codes that the government also has to be regulated so we kind of fit together,” Cumpson said. “We’re just very fortunate that we were finally able to be certified as an Aboriginal business.” Cumpson said landing federal contracts has proven beneficial for her company when seeking other work. “For us, working with the government has really actually helped us learn how to put proposals together because they required so much information,” she said. “Sometimes with our private companies we were able to bombard them because we had our structures already set up.” Windspeaker.comBy Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Premier Scott Moe recently raised the possibility of lifting some of the restrictions on gatherings during the holiday season, if it is safe to do so. But some Saskatchewan doctors are ringing alarm bells — not Christmas bells — about the rising case numbers. At a physician town hall last week, Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the current trajectory puts Saskatchewan on track to have 14,000 cases of COVID-19 by mid-December.As of Tuesday, there have been 8,745 cases to date, with 3,819 considered active.Kryzanowski also worries about the possibility of under-counting active cases at this stage in the pandemic. "When we're in exponential growth, we know active cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and we know there's a huge iceberg under the water that represents the undiagnosed cases," she said."That's also growing exponentially, and we have momentum behind the growth in cases that's increasingly difficult to turn around." According to models presented by senior medical information officer Dr. Jenny Basran, COVID-19 patients may soon account for half of all available hospital beds — and that situation is projected to last well into the spring. By January, there may not be enough ventilators in Saskatchewan's ICUs for all the patients who will need them, the models suggest. Skip this Christmas so family is here next year: doctorKyle Anderson, an assistant professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, says Moe's comments about lifting restrictions do not reflect the reality of where the pandemic is headed. He worries that type of thinking will lead to a false sense of security. "People will think things are going to be turning around, because the premier must have the most up-to-date information, and he would be guiding us with the best medically sound advice," said Anderson. "In this case, there's no way you could claim that the best sound medical advice would allow us to start loosening things up. We are not there."Anderson hopes residents will remember that a great deal of community transmission is driven by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people. In many cases, these people have not even gone to get a COVID test, because they don't feel ill. "These are the people who are spreading it to other people," Anderson said. "They're going to play hockey. They're going to a restaurant. They're going for that one-on-one dinner with a friend. They're getting in close contact, unmasked, because they think they're safe."If more people are allowed to gather for the holidays, more people will unknowingly spread the virus to their families and loved ones at a time when the hospital system is already overloaded. "The only way we can try to make sure we don't worsen the situation at Christmas is to say, just like we told the kids at Halloween, we're skipping it this year," said Anderson. "We can skip these holidays. Having someone here next Christmas is more important than going to see them this Christmas." Looking for loopholesAs case numbers in the province continue to rise despite the new public health measures, doctors are advocating for more public education and greater clarity about why certain things are allowed and others forbidden. At the town hall meeting, Moose Jaw family doctor Brandon Thorpe said the uncertainty is leading some people to look for loopholes."I'm hearing all sorts of devious ways of how people are getting by the new rules," he said."The joke is that 'I'm going to go and have a funeral for my turkey on Christmas day with 30 people in a restaurant.' So … I just feel that the presentations Mr. Moe and [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab are doing are not sufficient. They're too vague, and they don't give enough education." For the government to promote an effective public health message at this point in time, everyone must present a clear and united front, Anderson says."Education is one of the biggest things we can do to get us out of this mess, and I think the government is sort of dropping the ball on that," he said."They're not consistently getting the messaging out about what we need to do to actually succeed at this pandemic. They're saying, 'Well, maybe if you could, it would be nice if some people did this.' That's really not the messaging people need right now."
Les mesures économiques présentées lundi par la ministre des Finances Chrystia Freeland, engagent la confiance des élus selon le premier ministre qui note que son gouvernement n’a pas à choisir entre la santé des Canadiens et la santé financière du pays. En conférence de presse, Justin Trudeau a expliqué que son gouvernement et lui ne souhaiteraient pas que les Canadiens continuent de s’endetter pour survivre aux conséquences de la pandémie de Covid-19. Il a défendu le choix qu’Ottawa avait fait d’emprunter de l’argent pour les Canadiens. « Nous, on emprunte à quasiment 0 % ces jours-ci », a-t-il expliqué pour défendre les mesures d’aide en faveur des ménages et des entreprises, qu’importe l’effet sur le déficit fédéral. Prenant l’exemple du gouvernement Harper, le premier ministre a expliqué que les conservateurs n’auraient pas dû retirer les mesures de soutien aussi tôt après la crise financière de 2008-2009. « On ne va pas faire ça », a précisé M. Trudeau « J’ai raisonnablement confiance qu’aucun des partis d’opposition ne veut d’une élection en ce moment. Nous n’en voulons certainement pas une. Nous voulons offrir aux Canadiens l’aide dont ils ont besoin », a-t-il plaidé, mentionnant que l’énoncé économique comportait certainement des aspects « que chaque parti devrait être en mesure de soutenir. » Les transferts en santé Les leaders des provinces et des territoires demandent à Ottawa d’augmenter les transferts canadiens en santé de 22 % à 35 % mais l’énoncé économique ne s’est pas étalé sur le sujet. Un manquement qui ne signifie pas que rien ne sera fait selon le premier ministre qui a annoncé des discussions avec ses homologues le 10 décembre prochain. « On n’allait pas annoncer dans cet énoncé économique des investissements récurrents à long terme quand la priorité doit être sur le contexte actuel », a-t-il expliqué. Le Bloc québécois a récemment voté contre le discours du Trône parce qu’il ne faisait aucune mention de cette hausse des transferts en santé. Cette fois, le chef du parti, Yves-François Blanchet, a expliqué au cours d’une conférence de presse qu’il souhaitait étudier le projet de loi avant de se prononcer sur sa confiance pour les libéraux. Chez les conservateurs, le chef Erin O’Toole estime que le gouvernement Trudeau dépense « pour cacher son incompétence. » Il a également critiqué Ottawa de n’avoir amorcé le processus au sujet des vaccins contre la Covid-19 qu’après l’échec du partenariat avec le fabricant chinois CanSino. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français