The Region of Peel has implemented additional measures aimed at the drivers of COVID-19 transmission. Shallima Maharaj has reaction.
The Region of Peel has implemented additional measures aimed at the drivers of COVID-19 transmission. Shallima Maharaj has reaction.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has a new baby.Amanda McDougall confirmed to CBC News that she gave birth to a son on Saturday evening. McDougall said she, along with her fiancé and stepson, are brimming with love for the new addition. She first spoke of her expanding family last summer while announcing her mayoralty bid. In October, the former first-term councillor and non-profit leader defeated incumbent Cecil Clarke by nearly 4,000 votes. During her run to the mayor's seat, McDougall spoke of chauvinistic attitudes she encountered. Time away with babyEarlene MacMullin, the deputy mayor, will be stepping into McDougall's shoes as she takes time off to be with her family. "Whether it's a week, or two weeks, or a month, between myself and staff [carrying out her duties] … and she's always just a phone call away," said MacMullin."The important thing right now, really, is to give her and her family the time that they need to adjust to the new bundle."MacMullin said mom and baby were expected to leave the hospital on Monday.Advice for McDougallEmily Lutz was caring for a toddler when she decided to run in the Municipality of Kings County in 2016. Now she has a five-year-old, two-year-old and five-month-old baby.Lutz has raised a newborn as a councillor, and in her current role as deputy mayor. She admits to encountering misogynistic attitudes in balancing work and family responsibilities. "Being a young mother does not negate your ability to do your job, and in fact it enhances your ability to do your job," Lutz said. "It can certainly add a new level of complexity, but it's very much something that goes hand-in-hand."She has some advice for McDougall: Don't be afraid to delegate tasks and don't be too hard on yourself."It's OK to take time away," she said. "Folks take time away from council for a number of different reasons."'It's a wonderful thing'Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood was asked whether McDougall might be the first Nova Scotian to give birth while holding the mayor's office."I have no idea, and I actually don't think it matters," Mood said. "I think it's a wonderful thing. That's what women do. They give birth."But there's no glossing over the impact McDougall's motherhood will have on municipal politics, Mood said. "It's an amazing example that she's set. It almost gives women permission to step into politics and know that, you know, the path has been forged before them." When she announced her mayoral bid, McDougall said having a baby would be a constant reminder that council decisions must take into account future generations.MORE TOP STORIES
A sunny Saturday in May 2009 took a dark turn when a boater in the Salish Sea north of Washington state's Orcas Island found a body floating in the water.The discovery sparked a mystery that has stumped authorities until earlier this month, when DNA profiling and cross-border collaboration brought closure to what had become an 11-year-old cold case in the U.S., and an 11-year-old missing person's case in B.C.B.C. RCMP say the body has been identified as Penticton man James Neufeld, last seen leaving home in his green Plymouth Voyager van on Jan. 21, 2009.The vehicle was found two weeks later at Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park in the Fraser Canyon, and the fate of the 55-year-old left to speculation. But this past September, the first step toward ultimately solving both mysteries came when the cold case of the unidentified body was reactivated with the understanding that updated DNA records might provide a new lead.According to Washington's San Juan County Coroner Randy Gaylord, a tooth sent to a lab in Baltimore was used to create a DNA profile which was then added to the FBI's the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS.Because of the proximity to the border, the information was also shared with Canadian authorities. "We know that the Salish Sea crosses the boundary and people who die in Canada may float to the United States and vice versa," said Gaylord. Once in receipt of the new information, the B.C. Coroners Service was able to cross reference it against its own database."Mr. Neufeld's relative's [DNA] profile was present in our database and once the San Juan County Coroner sent us the profile, we entered it just to do a general search and it matched," said Laura Yazedjian, identification specialist with the B.C. Coroners Service.Gaylord says solving the cases is both sad and somewhat remarkable."It is believed he went into the [Fraser River] at the park," he said. "If you do a Google search from the Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park to where he was found, it's about 220 kilometres. It's just a remarkable distance for human remains to travel."He never thought it would take so long to identify the remains because there were two strong leads in 2009: forensic dental records and a four-inch medical plate from a previously broken left arm that had a model number on it.Information about both were circulated in Canada and the U.S. 11 years ago, but to no avail. "We put the dental records out ... but there was no hit. And the reason why is because Mr. Neufeld had not visited the dentist in 20 years," said Gaylord."So the second approach we thought would be successful is to follow up with the medical plate... We called 19 different hospitals in Canada from the East Coast to the West Coast. And every hospital gave us the same same answer: without the name of the person, the date of the installation or surgical procedure, they weren't able to identify who it was."Yazidjian hopes the positive identification helps bring Neufeld's family some closure."To be able to give them some answers after this long is one of the main reasons I do my job," she said.
HALIFAX — For eight long hours, Nick Beaton was in agony as he waited to learn what had happened to his missing wife.By the early afternoon on April 19, he knew a lone gunman disguised as a Mountie had killed several people in rural Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer shot him dead at a gas station north of Halifax.And he knew a woman had been killed on a road in nearby Debert, N.S., but no one would tell him who it was."I just wanted to know," Beaton said in an interview. "Maybe it wasn't her out there. Maybe she's just wounded and down a side road bleeding out. Maybe I can go and help her. Maybe I can save her. Eight hours of that."At 5:50 p.m., two plainclothes officers arrived to deliver the awful news: his wife Kristen was dead, one of the gunman's 22 victims — though Beaton insists the number should be 23 because the official count does not include the couple's unborn child."I was in my backyard bawling my eyes out, and I was on my knees praying," Beaton said, his voice cracking with emotion. Seven months later, Beaton says he wants to know why it took so long for the RCMP to tell him what had happened that grim day.That question will be among the many complex and heartbreaking issues that will be examined by a federal-provincial inquiry that is now preparing for public hearings. The three commissioners leading the inquiry were handed broad terms of reference on Oct. 20. Here are four other questions they will face:1\. Were red flags ignored before the shooting started?The RCMP have confirmed the gunman killed 13 people near his summer residence in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18, and another nine people the following day in northern and central Nova Scotia.In all, Gabriel Wortman spent 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't.Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says there's evidence to suggest that key warning signs were ignored long before the shooting started."A lot of people knew that Mr. Wortman was a pretty troubled individual who was doing some odd things," MacKay said in an interview. "But nothing was done."As early as May 2011, police in Nova Scotia were told Wortman had said he wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable. An officer safety bulletin, distributed by the Truro Police Service, said a police source had indicated Wortman was upset about a police investigation, had access to weapons and was having some "mental issues."An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin, but Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded, because the records were purged long ago. The one-page bulletin, however, wasn't the first detailed warning that police received about the shooter.Former neighbour Brenda Forbes says that in the summer of 2013, she told the RCMP that Wortman owned a cache of weapons and was prone to domestic violence. She said neighbours described how he had beaten his common-law spouse behind one of the properties he owned in Portapique.But none of those neighbours would corroborate the story to police at the time. MacKay said the behaviour of those people deserves closer scrutiny. "The failure of others to substantiate and support her statements on either the firearms or domestic violence led (the police) to do nothing," MacKay said.2\. What role did misogyny and sexism play in the mass killing?After the killings, several of the gunman's neighbours came forward to describe the man as jealous, controlling and abusive. And police confirmed that on the night the killing started, he had bound and attacked his longtime partner.The inquiry has been tasked with examining the role of intimate-partner violence, which is something activists Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald say is key to explaining what happened."His neighbours were afraid of him, and he had a history of violence," said Sarson, who together with MacDonald founded the advocacy group Persons Against Non-State Torture. "The women he was connected to, he didn't respect their equality."MacDonald said exploring the role of gender-based violence will be important because there is evidence of a link between misogyny and mass killings. "If we understand the impact of misogyny and sexism, we'll start to prevent atrocities like this," she said.Researchers say the motives of men who commit mass shootings are often complex and difficult to discern, but one factor connects many of them: a history of hating women.In more than half of all mass shootings in the United States from 2009 to 2017, an intimate partner or family member of the perpetrator was among the victims, according to a study by the U.S. gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.3\. What could the RCMP have done to end the carnage sooner?For Nova Scotia lawyer Robert Pineo, this is the key question facing the inquiry. "It just seems to me like a complete failure in tactics and command," he said in an interview. Pineo says there is evidence the RCMP's efforts to track and contain the killer were inadequate."We know that not very many police were dispatched to Portapique in the beginning hours," said Pineo, whose law firm is behind two proposed class-lawsuits, one that names the gunman's estate and another that names the RCMP and the Nova Scotia government.He also raised questions about the number of roadblocks that were set up and the warnings issued to the public as the killer eluded police while driving a car that he had modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.The RCMP have faced criticism for failing to use a national alert system, which would have allowed them to warn residents about an active shooter through messages on TV, radio and wireless devices. Instead, they used Twitter to provide updates on the killer's last known whereabouts.Beaton said the use of Twitter never made sense to him. "We got (Alert Ready) texts about COVID, but we didn't get alerts about a crazed gunman shooting, killing and burning things," he said.4\. Did the perpetrator have ties to the Mounties or organized crime?Published reports citing anonymous sources have suggested the shooter was an informant for the RCMP and may have had links to organized crime. The RCMP have denied having any relationship with the killer.MacKay, however, says the Mounties are constrained from saying anything publicly about their sources to ensure their safety."If there is some kind of link, and they are not telling the truth about that, my understanding is that there is nothing illegal in that if it is to protect the identity of an informant," MacKay said. "They can legally misinform people right up to the courts. But they are not allowed to lie to judges about that."Since the upcoming inquiry has quasi-judicial status and will require testimony under oath, this could put the RCMP in a difficult position."If there was a link, then it raises questions about how much they knew about his questionable character," MacKay said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
Victoria, BC - An independent review into the discrimination of Indigenous people in B.C.’s health-care system has found “widespread” and “insidious” problems touching all points of care. The report, In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care, was prompted by allegations about an organized “Price is Right” game involving guessing the blood alcohol contents of Aboriginal patients in B.C. emergency rooms. On June 19, Health Minister Adrian Dix appointed former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to investigate the allegations and recommend actions. While Turpel-Lafond found no evidence of an organized game, she did find anecdotal signs of multiple activities that resembled the allegations, she said. "Indigenous people and health-care workers have spoken clearly - racism is an ugly and undeniable problem in B.C. health care that must be urgently addressed," Turpel-Lafond said in a release. "This report provides a blueprint for fundamental changes to beliefs, behaviours and systems that are necessary in order for us to root out racism and discrimination and ensure that the basic human rights of Indigenous people to respect, dignity and equitable health care are upheld." Collecting the voices of nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health care workers, the review found that “pervasive, interpersonal systemic racism” adversely affects not only patient and family experiences, but also long-term health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in B.C. “I am afraid to go to any hospital,” said one Indigenous respondent in the review. “When I do have to, I dress up like I’m going to church.” More than two-thirds of Indigenous respondents reported having experienced discrimination based on their ancestry and more than one-third of non-Indigenous respondents reported witnessing interpersonal racism or discrimination against Indigenous patients, their family or friends. Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in B.C.’s health care system is the idea that Indigenous patients are less worthy, that they’re alcoholics, that they’re drug seeking and that they are incapable of adhering to treatment and medical advice, Turpel-Lafond said during a telephone press conference. The review has made 24 recommendations, including the need for having a greater degree of accountability within the system. “At this point, I’m not confident that we have a systemic approach to tackling racism against Indigenous people in B.C.,” said Turpel-Lafond. “I can say though, that it’s important that the government of British Columbia – minister Dix – sets a tone for how we respond to this at the point of care.” Around one year ago, the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act was passed.Turpel-Lafond said that shifts are starting to be made within the health care system, which she can see through this report. “There is a greater degree of openness and willingness to shift at the point of care in all the various partners in the health care system, but it is right to make those changes,” she said. The independent reviewer said she is calling on minister Dix to consider creating the role of a new B.C. Indigenous health officer – “a B.C. Indigenous health representative and advocate that can ensure the complaints and concerns of Indigenous people are processed through the quality review process and are heard.” As an immediate step, Dix said that five new Indigenous health liaison positions are being added in each health authority within the province. He extended an “unequivocal” apology to those who have experienced racism while accessing health care services in B.C. “now, and in the past.” The health minster said that the report gives the provincial health care system the opportunity to accelerate a “comprehensive approach to address long-standing challenges of racism and the legacy of colonialism rooted in principles of human rights.” “We all need to recognize and re-commit to eradicating racism from our health system,” said Dix, “to ensure that our beliefs and behaviours are anti-racist and based in cultural humility.”Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are proposing $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter and vowing tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.The government's fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year as well as to put cash into skills training and to create new jobs.For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of business payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March.There is also money for long-term care facilities and the stock of the nation's personal protective equipment, while dropping federal sales tax on face masks and shields.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's update makes clear the measures will be removed once the economy improves, although the timing is tied to the path of the pandemic.The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Freeland's update largely adds cash to existing programs, but tees up work already underway to craft a spring budget. She said it will focus on an economic recovery that will include a three-year stimulus plan worth up to $100 billion, depending on the twin paths of the economy and the pandemic."If it's pre-committed and locked in, the risk is you overstimulate the economy, whereas this seems more that if things go the other way, there's more to come, which will support growth," said RBC chief economist Craig Wright.While the details have yet to be worked out, Freeland said the stimulus plan will include time-limited spending on things like a green economy bio-manufacturing — the industry that makes vaccines and medication.Freeland argued some of the down-payments on that plan are in Monday's update, including proposed grants for homeowners to make energy-efficiency upgrades. Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the economic statement provides some short-term help, but it still "presents a plan to create a plan" for recovery.There is no specific "fiscal anchor," a measurement to moor government spending to keep it from drifting off target, guiding the plan. In its place are economic indicators like the unemployment rate and hours worked that the Liberals will use to decide when spending can ease off or when the taps need to be opened wider."As we build our growth plan, and as we deploy it, the measure we're going to be looking at to see if we've got the job done is really around jobs," Freeland told reporters.Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics with Scotiabank, said the scant details about long-term plans will likely create unease in financial markets."The creation of vaguely defined guardrails with no real line of sight on the end of stimulus spending, let alone its composition, has arguably added more uncertainties to the fiscal outlook rather than less," she said.The country has recovered about three-quarters of the three million jobs lost during spring lockdowns. The Finance Department estimates the unprecedented spending to date prevented a further loss of about 1.2 million jobs.The document Monday updates the accounting on many programs, showing under-spending on some that the Liberals now want to top up, such as the wage-subsidy program that is now supposed to cost over $83.5 billion. A revamped commercial rent-relief program will cost $2.18 billion this fiscal year. The two programs are, combined, estimated to cost about $16.2 billion next year.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, noted the changes to business aid will help small businesses plan for an uncertain foreseeable future."Still, it is disappointing that government has not announced further fixes for new businesses and self-employed Canadians, who remain ineligible for nearly all of the key support programs," he said.Spending next year on extra child benefits will send $1,200 tax-free to families with net incomes up to $120,000, and $600 for families that make more than that.The cost will be about $2.4 billion, a little more than the $2 billion for extra Canada Child Benefit payments this year, bringing the total cost for the program next year to $27.9 billion.And while the document includes money for long-term care facilities, there is no specific bump planned in health transfers for the provinces. What the Liberals are proposing is to provide more money to provinces that see sudden drops in revenues through an existing fiscal-stabilization program, an increase provinces asked for last year.To pay for some of it, the Liberals are proposing to make digital companies like Netflix and Airbnb collect and remit sales tax on their products.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
There is no doubt in Georgina Lightning’s mind that had an organization like Creatives Empowered been there when she first started acting, “intimidation and fear” wouldn’t have been what controlled her life then. Creatives Empowered launched late November. It’s a collective of Alberta-based artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who empower each other as an allied community. “Creatives Empowered would have been so valuable. It would have blown my mind,” said Lightning who has built a career as an actor, director, writer and producer in both the television and film industry. And all of that in spite of Hollywood. In 1990, Lightning, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, left Edmonton to attend a three-year prestigious acting academy in Los Angeles. She graduated top of her class, won awards and was ready to take on any acting role. “But once I got to Hollywood, I was completely heartbroken… I can play anything on the planet, but Hollywood didn’t see me as that. The second I walk in they see an Indian. They see a race before they see talent. They don’t even look at talent. They see a race. They see ‘She doesn’t fit.’ That’s how racist it is,” said Lightning. She soon learned that there were two seasons for Native Americans to audition. In spring, they auditioned for the western movies that were shot over the summer. Late in the year, they were called on for American thanksgiving productions. In response to these lack of opportunities, Lightning eventually co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions and Native Media Network. “I trained at a classical school so I could play any role, be considered an actor. I didn’t want to be an Indian actor. I wanted to be an actor. I really truly believed if I worked hard enough, excelled, was a cut above the rest, I could make it. That would be my ticket in…. I was qualified, but they still didn’t let me in. It did not matter what kind of credentials I had. So it was colour before talent,” said Lightning. That is a story far too often told by non-Whites in the entertainment and media industries, says Creatives Empowered creator Shivani Saini. “I think it’s safe to say for anyone who is Black, for anyone who is Indigenous, for anyone who is a Person of Colour, that we would all collectively agree that this equity is long overdue. Now is the perfect time for us to start,” said Saini, who is South Asian. Saini has worked in both professional media and the arts for 25 years. Among her work is marketing and communications director for the world premier of Making Treaty 7, and associate producer for the first seasons of the TV drama Blackstone. Inequity, she says, manifests in a variety of ways: negative stereotyping; lack of acknowledgement of the talent of BIPOC; always being considered “emerging talent” even after years of experience; and the belief that hitting a “diversity target” means a mediocre project or result. “Anyone who is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour who, for example, has found themselves to be fulfilling a diversity target somewhere can probably relate to the experience of being tokenized. And tokenism is in and of itself really discriminatory and racist.” “I think it’s safe to say it’s just time for this to start to change. It’s so exhausting for us to be walking into rooms, walking into spaces and for us to be tokenized, for us to be stereotyped, for us to be viewed differently because of these mindsets that exist about BIPOC or IBPOC talent,” said Saini. It's an exhaustion that Lightning can relate to. She remembers always having to work harder, always being worried about being seen as a failure, always pushing herself to be a better actor. And she remembers keeping her silence when she was the target of abuse. “When you do speak up about assaults and abuses against you, they turn against you. It’s like I’m the one who’s punished. You learn (to stay silent),” she said. Saini had been thinking about Creatives Empowered since 2019 as she had a “mixture of professional experiences within that year that were both really empowering and some of which were really disempowering.” But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit that she had the time to develop the concept further. And then there was the building awareness of inequalities, awareness sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, other Black people and Indigenous people. “We really are living in an unprecedented time right now. I think there’s just a tremendous opportunity we have to leverage what’s going on to really create true equity within Alberta’s arts and culture sector,” said Saini. “We all know it’s a necessity. The work has to be done,” said Lightning, who is back in Alberta working on a number of projects. Creatives Empowered is an opportunity for BIPOC to support and encourage each other emotionally and financially, she adds. “Now is the time for change. What are we going to do with a platform for moving forward? This initiative with Creatives Empowered it’s about bringing Indigenous or People of colour into the fold, and not just exploiting them. It’s empowering them, letting them be intellectual property owners and that’s where the value is,” said Lightning. Longer term goals, Saini said, is having Creatives Empowered serve as an organization that can find ways to work with key stakeholders in the Alberta cultural sector. It would become a resource or a point of access for the larger communities to tap talent. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of the advocacy work by building those relationships,” said Saini. Already Creatives Empowered has attracted a large number of members and that base keeps growing. “I really do believe that if we can develop a really strong membership base then it’s going to help to dismantle a lot of those negative stereotypes, because we’re going to be able to show the cultural sector that we do, in fact, exist and that our talent is beautifully potent. It’s really important, I think, for this space, this community to exist,” she said. Membership for BIPOC individuals and BIPOC organizations is free and open to Alberta-based artists and media professionals. There will be a fee for ally organizations based on their annual operating budgets. At this point, says Saini, Creatives Empowered remains a collective. That may have to change in order to access government funding or donations. Saini and Lightning understand there is much ground to be broken down before equity for BIPOC is achieved in Alberta’s cultural and media sectors and that it’s going to take time. “With the dialogue with racism and the global discussion on inclusivity and with all that’s happening … it’s time now. It’s being shaken up by force and now everyone is forced to look at reality,” said Lightning. “What I think is very exciting about the time we're living in is that I think we're actually going to be able to make some real significant progress even within my lifetime… I never thought I would see the kind of time we're living in right now where there's this level of awareness, this type of conversation happening around equity,” said Saini. CFWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CFWE, CFWE
SAN DIEGO — The Navy said Monday that it will decommission a warship docked off San Diego after suspected arson this summer caused extensive damage, making it too expensive to restore.Fully repairing the USS Bonhomme Richard to warfighting capabilities would cost $2.5 billion to $3 billion and take five to seven years, said Rear Adm. Eric H. Ver Hage of the Navy Regional Maintenance Center.The amphibious assault ship burned for more than four days in July and was the Navy’s worst U.S. warship fire outside of combat in recent memory. The ship was left with extensive structural, electrical and mechanical damage.Restoring the 22-year-old ship for another use, perhaps as a hospital, would take almost as long as full restoration and cost $1 billion. Decommissioning the ship will take nine months to a year and cost $30 million, Ver Hage said.“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Navy Secretary Kenneth J. Braithwaite said. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her."Navy officials and industry experts studied the cost and schedule with an eye toward “the art of the possible,” Ver Hage told reporters. They considered the impact that restoration would have on other spending priorities.“The dollars definitely would disrupt our strategy for investment,” Ver Hage said.Arson is suspected in the July 12 fire, and a U.S. Navy sailor was questioned as a potential suspect, a senior defence official said in late August.The sailor was questioned as part of the investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an official with knowledge of the investigation said in August. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to provide details not yet made public. The sailor was not detained.Ver Hage declined to comment Monday on the status of several investigations and he didn't give a timeline for their completion, saying they "will conclude when the time is right.”Ver Hage said about 60% of the ship would likely need to be replaced to have it fully restored, including the flight deck, mast and many levels directly below the flight deck.The ship will likely be decommissioned in San Diego. Crew members will be notified of reassignment.The Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a two-year upgrade estimated to cost $250 million when the fire started.About 160 sailors and officers were on board when the flames sent up a huge plume of dark smoke from the 840-foot (256-meter) amphibious assault vessel, which had been docked at Naval Base San Diego while undergoing the upgrade.Firefighters attacked the flames inside the ship while firefighting vessels with water cannons directed streams of seawater into the ship and helicopters made water drops.More than 60 sailors and civilians were treated for minor injuries, heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.Lawrence B. Brennan, a retired Navy captain and adjunct professor of law at Fordham Law School, said the decision to decommission was “inevitable and correct.”Aside from the ship's extensive damage and advanced age, evidence would have to be preserved for any prosecution, delaying repair work, he said. Defence attorneys would be entitled to examine the wreck for expert witnesses to testify at trial.Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
TORONTO, S.D. — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment says it is cutting the salaries of up to one quarter of its full-time staff, and extending salary reductions for senior management and executives to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19.The company that owns Toronto professional sports teams including the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Argonauts as well as sports venues, says up to 25 per cent of full-time staff will be moved to temporary inactive status.Extended management and executive salary reductions will be effective Jan. 1.Affected employees will remain on MLSE payroll at a reduced salary, retain their benefits and pension and maintain their access to all corporate communication tools to remain current on MLSE’s operations. MLSE says the length of time employees will remain inactive will be based on its ability to return to normal business operations.Professional sports has been disrupted by the pandemic with hockey games played in empty arenas, football matches cancelled altogether and NBA games having been played in Florida.“These past nine months have been the most challenging we have ever experienced, and while we had hoped to see signs of a return to a more normal business operations by now, the effects of the second wave of the pandemic have forced us to brace for further uncertainty,” stated president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
REGINA — Premier Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party government says it will work to preserve people's "lives and livelihoods" as the province battles its worst spread of COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived. Lt.-Gov. Russell Mirasty delivered the throne speech Monday to start a new legislative session. Physically distanced politicians wore masks and sat behind desks with $12,000 worth of new Plexiglas shields. The speech said the top priority for the government is to contain spread of the novel coronavirus. "Saskatchewan is facing the most difficult moment of the pandemic to date," Mirasty read from the speech. "At the same time as we are working to protect lives, my government is also taking steps to protect livelihoods. We can, and will, do both." The government said more measures to fight COVID-19 "will be added if needed" on top of recently imposed public health orders that limit capacity in public venues to 30 people and ban most team sports for the next three weeks. The speech also detailed how the government plans to fulfil campaign promises Moe made before the Sask. Party was re-elected in October. The first piece of legislation to be introduced in the two-week sitting will be for a home renovation tax credit. Moe's government also intends to introduce legislation allowing victims of sexual assault in a rental home to break a long-term lease. And there is to be legislation that provides greater protection against human trafficking. Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili called the speech status quo and criticized it for failing to address the toll the pandemic is taking on health care and small businesses by not promising extra supports. “Businesses are being told to stay open while their customers are being urged to stay home: it’s a recipe for economic disaster,” Meili said in a news release. “We need clear, consistent messaging and a real plan that helps people – instead of mixed messages and half-measures that won’t get the job done." The speech opened with some familiar thank-you messages. "Thank you to the people of Saskatchewan for working together to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few months have been difficult for everyone in our province and there are still challenging days ahead." It went on to give a nod to those "in our health-care system — doctors, nurses, technologists, pharmacists, cooks, cleaners, maintenance workers, and the students, volunteers and retirees supporting the effort." Some of the phrases were exactly the same as ones used by Moe during a televised address in the spring, when he announced non-essential businesses could start reopening because the COVID-19 curve had been flattened. At that time, Saskatchewan had recorded 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On Monday, the province announced 325 new cases in one day, for a total of 8,239 infections. "The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone," Moe said in the April speech. "Thank you to everyone working in our health-care system. Doctors, nurses, technologists and pharmacists. Cooks, cleaners and maintenance workers. Students, volunteers and retirees who have returned to the workforce." Both the address and the speech also thanked "workers delivering food and parcels to our homes. The truckers keeping our supplies moving … the utility workers ensuring we have power, heat and clean water." Moe's press secretary said workers are being praised as they were in the spring because it is deserved. "As Saskatchewan is faced with increased case numbers placing greater strain on these same workers, saying thank you is even more relevant and important today, particularly in an event as significant as the throne speech," Julie Leggott told The Canadian Press. "The use of similar language is an acknowledgment that the same workers have consistently risen to the challenges brought by COVID-19, and continue to deserve our thanks for doing so." After the throne speech, Moe said discussions are still underway as to what supports could be provided to businesses and individuals hit hard by the pandemic. He said he couldn't provide a timeline on when a decision would be made but noted that in the spring his government helped people through programs like an emergency grant for small businesses and financial aid for people self-isolating. "We have been there throughout this pandemic to support not only the jobs in our communities but to support the individuals. And we're continuing to look at ways that we may be required to do that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The Merrickville Estates Residents Association (MERA) is asking council to include the paving of HF McLean Road in the 2021 Public Works budget. Resident, Graeme Bonham-Carter, submitted a letter to council on November 16, asking for the opportunity to make their case to council about why paving HF McLean would be beneficial to the municipality from both a community and financial perspective. The letter notes that the developer has now sold 100% of the lots in the subdivision, which means they will soon have 69 families living in Merrickville Estates. Greame writes that almost all of them are members of MERA and have said that they agree with the request to have the road paved. “It has become very clear that the increased traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) on the steep, narrow section of Collar Hill Road is an accident waiting to happen,” the letter states. “A paved HF McLean would divert much of the [Merrickville Estates] traffic away from this section.” Deputy Mayor Michael Cameron voiced his support for MERA’s request, stating that, as this item has come to council a few times over the past few years, it is something that council should be seriously considering. He said that, given phase 3 of Merrickville Estates has been sold, and council recently passed a bylaw to redirect heavy traffic in the village, it would make sense to make HF McLean a priority in the 2021 budget. “St. Lawrence and Read Street are now the major thoroughfares for all truck traffic going through, and HF McLean is the contact point at which all of these vehicles are contacting Merrickville Estates,” he said at the meeting. Although the Village’s Operations Manager, Brad Cole, stated that he did not have a concrete estimate for council on how much paving that stretch of road would cost, Deputy Mayor Cameron said that a cost estimate was completed in early 2019, which had the cost sitting at roughly $121,000. The Deputy Mayor has been an advocate for upgrading roads throughout the municipality ever since he was elected to council in 2018. He believes that looking after roads as a municipal asset should be a priority, and noted at the meeting that the amount of money needed to care for the roads in the municipality will sit at approximately $12 million, as of 2023. “I think it’s important that we start tackling these roads, one at a time, and accomplishing an upgrade as we move forward,” he said. “These items should be identified and become a priority in our upcoming budgets.” Councillor Bob Foster said that, while there is no doubt that the residents of Merrickville Estates would love to have access to their neighbourhood via two paved roads, there are people in Wolford who would also appreciate having the roads that lead to their homes paved. “Really, this is a priority matter for council to determine who needs roads, and we’ll base that on information from Public Works,” he said. Although council is not taking delegations at this time due to COVID-19, they directed staff to encourage Graeme and MERA to send in their presentation for consideration in the 2021 budget process. Mayor Struthers did note, however, that council has to be prudent with their capital expenditures next year, in order to build up the municipality’s capital reserve. “[We] will take it into consideration with the many, many other things that are on the list of responsibilities we have, not just in roads, but the other parts of our municipal infrastructure.”Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
Realtors in rural Nova Scotia are adjusting quickly to a new way of selling houses as buyers from places like Ontario and B.C. snap up properties without seeing them in person.Christopher Snarby, the co-owner of Exit Realty Inter Lake, sells properties from Chester to Queens County and estimates he's sold 12-15 of them sight unseen since May."People have been desperate and they can't get here to see it, and they know things are moving quickly so they just kind of have to make a choice," Snarby told CBC's Information Morning on Monday."And not everybody's comfortable with it, but certainly I've had a number that have been."He admits selling a property virtually can be a challenge. "It's hard to describe a smell or feel of a house, but it really does become our responsibility to try to convey as much information as we can," Snarby said. October was a record-breaking month for property sales across the province with inventory low and prices continuing to soar, according to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors.Bobbi Maxwell said half of her buyers right now are from outside the province and won't see their houses in person until they arrive. Most are middle-aged people who can work from home and are looking for a place to retire at some point."We're starting to see more people … migrate this way because they want the solitude, the peace, the quiet, the safety and the beauty of the beaches," said Maxwell, a realtor with Viewpoint Realty Services who sells properties around Barrington and Clyde River in Shelburne County."We're not as hot as the metro [market], but it's definitely been one crazy market for us as well." Record October across N.S.The Nova Scotia Association of Realtors compiled data for the month of October that shows 1,427 units were sold across the province, up more than 30 per cent from October 2019.The average sale price was a record $304,590, rising just over 21 per cent from the previous October. In Yarmouth, there were 24 residential sales in October, up 41 per cent from last year and in the Annapolis Valley, 203 properties were sold, up 30 per cent since last October. The average sale price also went up in both areas last month. On the South Shore where Snarby works, sales in October were up about 30 per cent from last year and the average residential price was just over $291,000, an increase of 36 per cent over last October. The booming market is a major win for sellers but can be frustrating for buyers. "We're not usually accustomed to that many bidding wars in our area, but now … most properties have gone into at least two or three offers and the time frames are a lot quicker as well," Snarby said.In the past, houses would sit on the market for six months to a year and now they're gone in weeks or days, he added.Rural internet still a challengeEven though people are eager to move to Nova Scotia for its friendliness and relative affordability, Snarby and Maxwell said they are routinely asked about internet service."It's really funny because people are more concerned about the internet than they are health-care services," Maxwell said.She said newcomers are good news for rural areas like Shelburne County that have struggled with out-migration. But she said there could be challenges, too. Many new buyers say they eventually want to build their own homes but finding skilled labour in the area isn't always easy, she said. "I think we're going to have a lot of growing pains because with the demand, we're very short on tradesmen like plumbers and electricians and carpenters," Maxwell said."I really am hoping that a lot of the people who are moving here from away are bringing in new skills or new motivation to want to ... become career oriented or focused and become tradesmen in our area."Snarby said some of his clients are selling homes in the $800,000 range in Ontario and buying a property in rural Nova Scotia for around $200,000, leaving a healthy amount for their retirement fund. "And at the end of the day, if they're not comfortable with their house or if it's not quite the right one, they can put it back on the market and there's a good chance it'll sell," Snarby said. MORE TOP STORIES
Ottawa is rolling out a wave of new funding for pandemic-battered industries including tourism, the arts and regional aviation, with smaller companies top of mind — and large airlines notably absent.The Liberal government's fiscal update sketches out a program that will provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million for badly hurt entrepreneurs.The aid, dubbed the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), comes on top of a newly expanded emergency loan program already in place for small businesses, and technically is not limited to certain industries.Meanwhile the devastated tourism sector will have access to one-quarter of the more than $2 billion that Ottawa is doling out to regional development agencies through June 2021, including a $500-million top-up announced Monday.The move aims to bolster an industry made up largely of small and medium-sized businesses and that accounts for roughly 750,000 jobs and two per cent of GDP, according to the government.Another $181.5 million will flow to show business and performers via the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, the fall economic statement says.Rent relief and nearly $700 million in capital investments are en route to airports over six years. About $206 million in further support is bound for regional aviation, including smaller airlines, via a new "regional air transportation initiative" overseen by development agencies.But an aid package targeting big players such as Air Canada and WestJet Airlines remains in the works as talks with Ottawa drag on, with the lack of specifics in the fiscal update frustrating industry leaders.“We had hoped to get a better sense of where the government was going. Instead they repeated the line that they've repeated several times over the past several months — that they’re ‘establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance,’ ” said Mike McNaney, head of the National Airlines Council of Canada.Countries around the world have given carriers US$173 billion in support, he said. Many have also required airlines to offer refunds for cancelled flights, something Ottawa says will be a condition of any bailout."We are very much a global outlier and are ostensibly stuck at Stage Zero on the government planning process," McNaney — whose industry group represents Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Jazz Aviation — said in a phone interview.The regional aviation support comes with question marks, as well."A regional initiative, what’s that?" asked John McKenna, CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, which represents some 30 regional airlines. "We have no idea. We have not been consulted," he said in a phone interview. "Never mind new initiatives, try to support the existing services so they survive."In a speech to the House of Commons, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the benefits of the broader government-backed loan program for smaller companies."We know that businesses in tourism, hospitality, travel, arts and culture have been particularly hard-hit," Freeland said."So we’re creating a new stream of support for those businesses that need it most — a credit availability program with 100 per cent government-backed loan support and favourable terms for businesses that have lost revenue as people stay home to fight the spread of the virus."The HASCAP credit program will offer interest rates below the market average, according to the fiscal update, with more details coming "soon."It also said the government is "exploring options to enhance" a federal loan program for big companies, little-loved by industry since its inception in the spring.The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) offers loans of $60 million or more to large businesses facing cash problems, but comes with an interest rate that jumps to eight per cent from five per cent after the first year — far above typical private-sector lending rates.Only two firms have been approved for LEEFF loans since the Liberals announced the program on May 11, according to the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation: a casino company and a producer of metallurgical coal.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the government for failing to offer industry aid that includes explicit job protections."They have not rolled out any sector-specific supports, meaningfully, that are tied to jobs," he said.Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet slammed the lack of "precision" in the fiscal snapshot."They basically say that there is no limit to what they will spend, without saying or without admitting how badly you spend it," he said.The $686 million in airport aid includes $500 million over six years, starting this year, to back infrastructure spending at large airports that would include massive transit projects, such as the new light-rail station at the Montreal airport.The government is also proposing to extend $229 million in additional rent relief to the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to Ottawa, with "comparable treatment" for Ports Toronto, which operates Billy Bishop airport in downtown Toronto.The supports unveiled Monday come on top of Ottawa's pan-sectoral announcement to raise the wage subsidy to 75 per cent of company payroll costs — it was reduced to a maximum of 65 per cent in October — as well as an extension of the rent subsidy to mid-March from the end of 2020.David Chartrand, Quebec coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, applauded the wage subsidy, but lamented the radio silence on large airlines."After almost 10 months of crisis, still nothing," he said in a release in French.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business. COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office. The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others. McConnell is focusing on confirming Trump's remaining judicial nominations, including a vote Monday on a district judge in Mississippi and at least one additional appeals court vacancy. Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet. Top items for December's lame-duck session: ___ KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPEN At a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year. That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding. Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much. At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program. ___ COVID-19 RELIEF Democrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice. The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits. Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments. Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic. At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year. ___ Defence POLICY A spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure. Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — A retired top doctor says public health orders have to balance science with society if they are to be effective."(Measures) will only work if you have a majority of the population that supports it," said Andre Corriveau, who was Alberta's chief medical officer of health from 2009 to 2012. "You can't pass measures that a majority of the public is not supportive of, because it's not enforceable."Corriveau, speaking from Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he was advising that territory on how to deal with its COVID-19 cases, spoke after recordings were released that appeared to show Alberta's current chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, expressing concern about politicians watering down her recommendations.That just goes with the job, said Corriveau, who also served until last year as the top public health official in the Northwest Territories. Experts such as himself or Hinshaw are responsible for winnowing through scientific evidence — often thin on the ground or hot off the research presses — to come up with the best advice they can. But, said Corriveau, judging what's acceptable or how something should be implemented is a political decision."There's a point beyond which you can't enforce any more," he said. "That's the role of the politician — to gauge that."Nor is it appropriate for the chief health officer to advocate for measures not approved by the government, said Corriveau. The two sides have to trust each other and undercutting political decisions would damage that. "There's always other people who can advocate," Corriveau said. "Our effectiveness is built upon trust. If you turn around and you're doing public advocacy, then you've lost the trust and you're not effective any more."Alberta has plenty of other voices for that, he said. Doctors in the Edmonton zone recently formed a group to provide what they see as unbiased, arm's-length COVID-19 advice. Members of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association felt people were losing trust in officials. "There's many considerations when you make these decisions — health ones, economic ones, capacity of hospitals," said association president Dr. Ernst Schuster. "There was a feeling that the political considerations were stronger than some other considerations."The committee is to hold its first meeting Tuesday. The legal powers of a chief medical officer of health are delegated by the minister and may not be absolute, Corriveau said. Hindsight is easy, he noted, and added that everyone involved in the fight against the pandemic is doing it for the first time. Corriveau said he ran into situations where the final decision diverged from his advice, but he saw it as his job to make it work. "It's a fine line to travel but I think it can be done. "It's not necessarily ideal, but I understand the context and why at the political level they might have decided otherwise."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — Follow @row1960 on TwitterBob Weber, The Canadian Press
There is a new women’s clothing store in Merrickville. Hazel’s Boutique is owned by Julia Provost, who is also the owner of Abel Mountain, next door. She took over the store at the beginning of October from Marilyn and Tim Boyce, who ran Portside Boutique for the last seven years. “I’ve been shop neighbours with Marilyn and Tim who owned Portside, and she had kind of hinted at wanting to retire,” Julia remembers. “And, one day, I jokingly said I should just take over for you, because I’ll miss your store.” Soon after, Marilyn and Tim came to her with a rough outline of some numbers. Julia talked it over with her husband, Carlos, and decided to go for it. “It just made sense.” Marilyn and Tim retired at the end of September and Julia opened up Hazel’s Boutique the second week of October. It was a seamless transition, as Marilyn was able to set her up with many of the brands she has worked with for years, and she even took over some of the stock Marilyn had already ordered. Julia says the first few weeks in business were good, especially since they didn’t have a sign in the door for most of October. Hazel’s Boutique is named after Julia’s ten-year old daughter, Hazel. “Abel is my son, and Hazel is my daughter, so it just made sense that they each have their own store,” she says. Hazel loves having a store named after her, “She’s always like: are we going to Hazel’s? With a little giggle in her voice.” Opening a new store during a pandemic has definitely been a challenge for Julia. The most difficult part has been getting enough stock, because supply is down due to COVID-19, even with local and Canadian brands. “You’ll spend hours sourcing something, and then people will get back to you and half the stuff you’ve spent time sourcing isn’t available.” Julia and her three employees also spend a lot of time cleaning the store to make sure it is safe for customers to shop. They sanitize everything every 20-30 minutes and limit the number of people in the store to four. They also steam all the clothes every time someone tries something on, to make sure the items are safe for the next shopper. Despite the challenges, Julia says the local support has been amazing. “People either liking or sharing your posts on Facebook, shopping in your store, trying to shop more local. COVID has really brought the community together,which is nice.” Portside Boutique always shut down over the winter, and Julia is planning on taking advantage of this to make the store her own. They will be closed in January, February, and the beginning of March to do renovations. “It will be a lot of work for my poor husband,” Julia laughs. “He’s a contractor, so at Abel Mountain he’s built 90% of the displays. Anything I dream up, he will build it for me.” Julia admits that running two stores, especially during a pandemic, is a lot of work. But she keeps going because she feels it is in her blood. “I always really liked Marilyn and Tim, and I’ve always sort of had a vision for how I would like this place to look. So I thought: why not try it?” Hazel’s Boutique will remain very similar to Portside, in that it will focus on women’s clothing and accessories; but it is clear that Julia is looking forward to putting her own personal touch on the shop. “I’m excited to see it come to life,” she says. Hazel’s Boutique is open at 312 St. Lawrence Street, from 10am-4pm, Sunday-Thursday, and 10am-5pm on Friday and Saturday. Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
A medical response team has been dispatched to a remote Vancouver Island First Nation community to help guide it through a serious COVID-19 outbreak. On Monday morning the team that arrived in Ehatis reserve to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak within the Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation community near Zeballos provided a live update from the reserve. As of Nov. 30, 17 cases had been identified through testing of which eight have recovered said Dr. Charmaine Enns, North Island’s medical health officer who addressed community members and answered their questions and concerns through Facebook live. Enns was joined by Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s (NTC) nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, and First Nation Health Authority’s (FNHA) regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Ehattesaht chief Simon John. The team is expected to be in the community for the next three days. No case required hospitalization, said Enns, who added that the First Nation community did a remarkable job at containing the situation by isolating and following protocols. “We’re not at the other end as yet, but we’ll get there,” said Enns, who added that if no new cases are identified within the next two weeks, it will be safe to say that the community is out of the woods. On Nov. 20, community members of Ehattesaht and Nuchtlaht community of Oclujce were notified about a visitor who spent time at Zeballos Elementary Secondary School testing positive for the virus. Contact tracing by BC Centre for Disease Control began on Nov. 21 after members were told to self-isolate. Enns said that cases and close contacts are being monitored on a daily basis and community members are being asked to get tested if they display any symptoms. At the same time, residents are being told to avoid face-to-face interactions with other community members and “stay close to home.” Island Health and NTC nurses will be conducting testing in the Ehattesaht reserve and Zeballos Health Centre until Dec.4. NTC nurses have been going door-to-door over the weekend, testing and interacting with community residents to address health concerns. READ ALSO: Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror