Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, but the announcement doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent.
Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, but the announcement doesn't mean a vaccine is imminent.
In a year when kids have had birthday parties cancelled and activities changed dramatically, a Calgary ER nurse is doing her best to tell them Christmas won't be called off. Lisa Rutherford, a local nurse, wrote and illustrated the book Hector and the Virus Vector, which tells the story of Hector the Elf and his quest to save Christmas during a pandemic. In the book, Rutherford says Santa decides to cancel Christmas because he's trying to find a way to protect the children of the world, but the day is saved by a "science elf" and his experiments."I have a three-year-old daughter and when everything went on isolation lockdown, she was freaking out. She was so upset and everything got cancelled for her," she told The Homestretch."I just kind of was looking ahead and I'm like, 'Come Christmastime, she's not going to understand,' and so that's kind of where I got the idea from."The idea also prompted Rutherford — who has a bachelor of science in molecular biology — to use scientific terms because she thinks it's important to introduce kids to these concepts when they are young."I know (my daughter is) not going to understand what a vector is or what crystallisation is, but being introduced to those terms, I think is important and it makes it a little more interesting for me to read as well," she said.She also used the opportunity to write in people she knows in the book.In one case, Rutherford's postings on social media reached the parents of a four-year-old daughter with a heart defect."The mom was telling me that the daughter is just really concerned that Christmas is going to be cancelled," she said."She just was so excited for the book that I asked for some photos of the daughter and I drew her in the book."Rutherford is on maternity leave so hasn't had to work in the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic but feels for the staff involved."I've been kind of like watching my friends talk about it and, you know, the struggles that they've been having and not being able to step in because I have this small child that I have to care for. So it's been tricky."The nurse says she's decided that 50 per cent of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital."My son at three months was in hospital for 10 days and it was a pretty rough experience, but they were just so amazing. And so I'm going to be donating some of the proceeds," she said.Hector and the Virus Vector is available at Rainbow Ink Designs, which is offering free shipping in Calgary.With files from The Homestretch.
REGINA — The Saskatchewan Opposition wants Premier Scott Moe to convene a multi-sector working group to deal with the province's increasing spread of COVID-19. NDP Leader Ryan Meili wrote in a letter to the premier Tuesday that more people are falling ill and ending up in hospital because the Saskatchewan Party government's approach isn't working. Health officials on Tuesday reported 175 new daily cases of COVID-19. Some 105 people were in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care. The seven-day average of daily cases in the province stood at 209. Meili said he wants Moe to assemble a group with the NDP, health and education officials, and representatives from business, labour and Indigenous communities. The group would come up with a co-ordinated approach to get the virus's spread under control and to share important information and advice. "The COVID-19 situation is moving quickly in Saskatchewan," Meili wrote. "Every day presents an opportunity to take additional action to slow the spread and provide the support families, communities and businesses need to make it through this challenging time." In a statement, Moe said public-health officials are already listening to the groups Meili listed in his letter for input on virus-prevention guidelines. "We will continue to do so," Moe said. The premier was to provide an update on the province's fight against COVID-19 on Tuesday from his home in Shellbrook, Sask., where he was self-isolating after getting tested for COVID-19. But the briefing was postponed until Wednesday. "Further measures are under active consideration and development," communications director Jim Billington wrote in a statement. "The decision was made to postpone the press conference to allow for additional actions to be developed and communicated to the public tomorrow afternoon." Billington said Moe was asymptomatic and waiting for his test results. Public-health officials have spent the last two weeks issuing stark warnings about needing to limit people's number of contacts to slow the virus's spread and relieve pressure on contact tracers. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said the province's daily test positive rate from Nov. 12 to Nov. 18 sat at 6.7 per cent. In an update posted online Monday, the authority said the test positivity rate was highest in adults between 20 to 39 and lowest in children under 10. It also said COVID-19 was primarily spreading through households and close contacts, while 25 per cent of transmission was coming from recreational facilities such as ice rinks, bingo halls and casinos. Weddings, funerals and house parties were the next most likely source of infection. Cases have also been found in different schools across the province, as well as personal and long-care homes. The Ministry of Corrections and Policing said four inmates in jails in Saskatoon and Regina have COVID-19. Twelve correctional staff have also tested positive, eight of whom work at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, while the others are at facilities in Regina and Prince Albert. A spokesman said all offenders are to receive masks. Moe has rejected calls from hundreds of doctors, a nurses union and the Opposition to close non-essential businesses, including gyms, casinos and bars, for two to three weeks to keep the health-care system from being overwhelmed by hospitalizations. On the weekend, he told a radio talk show that a shutdown would mean disaster for small businesses and his government would look at all other options to avoid sweeping closures. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The RCMP sergeant who headed the foreign and domestic liaison unit responsible for Meng Wanzhou's arrest says she saw no problem with Canada Border Services Agency officers questioning the Huawei executive before she was taken into police custody.Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf testified in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday that the original plan she discussed with her supervisor would have seen RCMP officers board Meng's plane on arrival from Hong Kong in order to execute a provisional arrest warrant.But by the time she arrived at the airport on Dec. 1, 2018, Vander Graaf said her officers had agreed instead that the CBSA would intercept Meng once she got off the plane and then take her to a secondary examination area to begin an immigration admissibility examination."This seemed like a reasonable course of action and it seemed like a safe course of action," Vander Graaf said."[The CBSA] had to do what they had to do, and I didn't have any input on what they were planning on doing or what they needed to do for their job or their responsibility. So I had really no sense of the timeline of how long they would take."Fraud and conspiracy chargesVander Graaf was testifying at a hearing to gather evidence in advance of extradition proceedings next year. Defence lawyers plan to argue that the delay in the arrest amounts to a violation of Meng's rights because CBSA officers questioned her about her business without a lawyer, seized her electronic devices and asked her for the passcodes, which they later gave police in error.Meng faces fraud and conspiracy charges in New York in relation to allegations that she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.Prosecutors claim that by relying on Meng's alleged lies to continue financing Huawei, HSBC was placed at risk of loss and prosecution.Vander Graaf is the third RCMP officer to testify so far.She took the stand after two days of testimony from Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal, one of the two officers who was tasked with executing a provisional warrant for Meng's arrest.Conflicting evidenceDhaliwal was the exhibits officer responsible for making sure that Meng's phones and laptops were kept secure. He and Vander Graaf are at the centre of conflicting evidence relating to defence allegations that RCMP improperly shared technical information about the electronic devices with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.In testimony, Dhaliwal claimed he took pictures of the serial numbers, make and model of the devices and then sent them to the RCMP's file coordinator and a supervisor, Staff. Sgt. Ben Chang.Vander Graaf's contemporaneous notes later record Dhaliwal telling her that Chang provided the serial numbers to the FBI. But Dhaliwal told a defence lawyer Tuesday that he had no recollection of Chang telling him he had sent the information — or of telling Vander Graaf it had happened.Meng's lawyer, Scott Fenton, suggested that Dhaliwal did recall the conversation. But Dhaliwal said he was "positively sure" he didn't speak to Chang.Chang has retained a lawyer and is refusing to testify, according to the defence.'These things are fluid'By the close of proceedings on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley had not yet reached the topic of the discrepancy between Vander Graaf's notes and Dhaliwal's memory.He dwelt instead on the circumstances surrounding Meng's arrest. From the outset, Vander Graaf seemed to echo previous testimony in which RCMP officers have stated they were mainly concerned about safety considerations and ensuring CBSA officers were able to carry out their duties in an area that was under their jurisdiction.The day before the arrest, she says she spoke with her supervisor, acting Insp. Peter Lea, who favoured boarding the plane directly in order to arrest Meng the moment her flight landed.Vander Graaf said she didn't think it was the kind of emergency situation that would necessitate officers making the arrest on the plane.She characterized Lea's idea as a "strong" suggestion."These things are fluid and other information arises," she said. "So I would suggest a course of action, but if there was a reason to change that then that would be fine."In his testimony, Dhaliwal said he didn't see why Meng couldn't have been arrested as she walked off the plane, leaving the CBSA to conduct their examination after she had been cautioned of her rights. The defence has repeatedly suggested that Canadian authorities deliberately delayed the execution of the warrant —which called for Meng to be arrested "immediately" — so the CBSA could gather information illegally for the FBI.Meng's legal team will have a chance to make those arguments at a hearing on abuse of process sometime next spring.Those proceedings were originally scheduled for February, but on Tuesday, the Crown said they anticipated a delay which might involve the calling of even more witnesses to respond to the evidence currently being heard.Meng has denied the allegations against her.
The Canadian tradition to give thanks on the second Monday in October isn't the only Thanksgiving some in southwestern Ontario celebrate.This year, like almost every other for the last 73 years, members of the Cottam United Church in Essex County will put together a feast.It's normally a big event, even attended by Americans. This year, the COVID-19 restrictions won't allow for that, but the members of the church aren't ready to let go of the tradition."It's more than just a meal. It has been an event that has brought our community together beyond just even the community of the church. It's generally the community of both people who live in the area and our American cousins," said Rick Mayea, an organizer of the event.Deciding to still host the dinner was the easy part, he said. The challenge was how to do it and keep the community safe. In the past, hundreds dined in the 150-capacity hall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with another 400 to 500 takeout orders. Since that large of a group gathering isn't currently allowed, they came up with a simple plan with the help of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit."Just consider it an average Tim Horton's drive-thru," Mayea said. This year each dinner costs $18. They're filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, peas, squash, then a choice of pie, either apple, cherry or blueberry.So far about 800 meals have been pre-ordered, but they expect more. Normally the group serves about 1,200 meals. The event only comes together thanks to dedicated volunteers. Only 50 can be inside of the church at one time, but Mayea said they've been able to make it work. "It'll be a little bit different than trying to serve a person a meal," he said. "People will come through and be packing the meals."He says they can produce and pack 100 meals in about 15 minutes and are prepared for a different traffic situation in the parking lot. "We have people out there controlling things," Mayea said. "We do have people greeting cars as they arrive and kind of directing them where to go."This year all the meals must be pre-ordered for pick up by Tuesday night. Church volunteers will start peeling the potatoes to feed an estimated 1,150 starting Wednesday.
Older students will be sent home from school at the end of the month, indoor social gatherings are banned and businesses will face restrictions after COVID-19 cases have surged in Alberta. On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney introduced “bold and targeted new measures to protect lives and livelihoods,” which bans indoor social gatherings, ends in-person learning at the end of the month for kids in Grades 7 to 12 and places limits on some businesses. Kenney declared a state of public emergency. On Nov. 30 all students from Grades 7 to 12 will be learning online from home for the rest of 2021. They'll return to in-person classes Jan. 11, after the winter break. Diploma exams are optional for rest of the school year – students and families can choose to write an exam or receive an exemption for the April, June and August 2021 exams. Younger students and early childhood services will stay in schools until Dec. 18. Between Dec. 18 and Jan. 11, aside from the time they spend on their winter break, they will do at-home learning. “These steps are not being taken lightly,” Kenney said. “These are the minimum restrictions needed now to minimize the damage to the healthcare system.” Indoor social gatherings are now banned across Alberta, a rule that will stay in place until further notice. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Funerals and weddings will be restricted to 10 people with no receptions. “Social gatherings are the biggest problem,” Kenney said. “(Social gatherings are) the key reason why COVID-19 is winning.” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said breaking the rules can result in up to $1,000 for a ticket offence and $100,000 through the courts. Alberta peace officers will be able to deliver fines to anyone violating the limits. The Alberta emergency alert system will send out a notice to all Albertans through their cell phones to ensure all residents know of these changes. All places of worship across the province will need to cap their attendance to one-third of their fire code capacity with everyone inside wearing a mask, sitting with their cohort and social distancing. Kenney said while almost all places of worship are following the current rules around COVID-19, a select few have been not complying, resulting in outbreaks. The premier said most have worked hard to limit the spread and recognizes these institutions are vital part of peoples emotion, mental and spiritual health. These new rules will be in place for three weeks. Many businesses will now be either closed for in-person shopping, open with restricted capacity or open by appointment only. Banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, non-approved/licenced markets and community centres are closed. Children's play places, indoor playgrounds and all levels of sport (professional, semi-professional, junior, collegiate/universities and amateur) are also banned from in-person activities. Sports leagues may apply for exemptions. Kenney said while many are following the rules, there have been nine outbreaks traced back to amateur hockey games in the province. Most retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25 per cent of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code, including retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and technology stores, hardware, automotive, farmers markets and outdoor seasonal markets. Some entertainment services fall under the 25 per cent threshold as well, like movie theatres, museums, libraries, casinos, indoor entertainment centres, indoor fitness, recreation sports and physical activity centres, including dance and yoga studios, martial arts, gymnastics and private or public swimming pools. Other businesses open by appointment only are not permitted to offer walk-in services. Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services. These businesses include personal services such as hair salons and barbershops, esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing and make-up, piercing and tattoo services; wellness services including acupuncture, massage and reflexology; professional services such as lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers; private one-on-one lessons (no private group lessons permitted); hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges. Bars and restaurants can continue in-person dining but must comply with guidelines and those seated at tables together must be part of same household. Masks are now mandatory inside all workplaces Edmonton, Calgary and their surrounding areas. The premier said much of the COVID-19 spread is happening inside workplaces. A full list of public health measures can be found on Alberta's website. On Tuesday, Alberta reported an additional 1,115 cases of COVID-19. That's lower than the past few days, but Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that was because there were fewer tests, some 13,500, with a provincial positivity rate of 8.3 per cent. Sixteen deaths were announced on Tuesday from COVID-19, and over the past two weeks 103 people died from the virus. There are currently 348 hospitalizations with 66 people in ICU. The province has lost 492 residents in total to COVID-19. The average age of death is 82 years. There are currently 13,349 active cases in the province, the most in the country, with the bulk of them being in the Edmonton (6,128 cases) zone. The premier said continuing care cases have quadrupled since Oct. 1. “My heart goes out to their loved ones and all those grieving."Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
NEW YORK — Fox News has reached a settlement with slain Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich's parents, who alleged in a lawsuit that the cable news company exploited their son's death in stories and commentary.Both sides confirmed the settlement on Tuesday.Rich was shot and killed in 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what authorities described as a botched robbery attempt. His parents, Joel and Mary Rich, had objected to a Fox article and commentary falsely suggesting their son had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.Internet theories that Rich had been assassinated for leaking emails were contradicted by U.S. intelligence reports.A lower court had thrown out the lawsuit, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan last year reinstated it. The court said that the family had plausibly alleged what amounted to a campaign of emotional torture.Rich's parents, in a statement, said the settlement closed another chapter in their efforts to mourn their son, who was 27 when he was killed.“We are pleased with the settlement of this matter and sincerely hope that the media will take genuine caution in the future,” the Riches, of Omaha, Nebraska, said.Neither side disclosed financial terms of the deal.“We are pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward,” Fox said in a statement.The Associated Press
A lengthy appeal process came to its end Nov. 13, when the LPAT (successor to OMB) decided in favour of allowing the application for the Petyon pit. The pit, proposed in Southgate on Grey Road 9, about three km east of Grey Road 109. was opposed by some local residents. Two of those whose names were attached to the LPAT appeal were Douglas Karrow and Jo Chisholm, who had appeared at Southgate council over the years. As a pit application, there are planning concerns which involve the local municipality. The Official Plan Amendment was passed by Southgate and by Grey County in about three years ago. There is also a separate application, and an appeal, under the Aggregate Resources Act process. The proponent, Huttonville Sand & Gravel, was represented by Stovel & Associates. Ms Chisolm, a neighbour of the pit, and Mr. Karrow raised a number of issues, one of these being the cumulative effect of the number of pits in the Holstein area. The decision referred to the planning process where the commenting agencies did not indicate they found any cumulative negative effect aft considering noise, dust, water table quality and quantity, ecology, traffic, and land use compatibility. As well, the decision found that the evidence supported the position that the applications and accompanying studies had demonstrated that there would be “no negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions.” No further conditions were placed on the licence, as the decision noted that the licenced area had already been adjusted, additional water monitoring wells installed and the County had addressed traffic-related requirements.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Former patients of a maximum-security psychiatric facility who were subject to a series of “horrific” experimental treatments are appearing in a Toronto court via video feeds from across the country to testify at a three-week long damages hearing. Last June, Justice Edward Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found two former psychiatrists who worked at the Oak Ridge Division of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre, along with the provincial government, liable for what their lawyers call unethical and degrading human experimentation between 1966 and 1983. Dr. Elliott T. Barker and Dr. Gary J. Maier gave patients high doses of hallucinogens and mind-altering drugs, including LSD and alcohol as the cornerstone of one of the programs. They confined naked men together for days on end at the facility along Georgian Bay’s Asylum Point, now known as Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Eight of those 28 patients have died since the lawsuit was launched 20 years ago. The first hearing revealed "varying degrees of harm” perpetrated by the two doctors in which the judge found the Crown also liable and in breach of their fiduciary duties “by perpetrating assault and battery." The current hearing is meant to quantify the damages by establishing the income patients lost as a result of their treatment in Penetanguishene and other related impacts. While the lawyers for the former patients haven’t yet attached a dollar figure to their claim, it is expected to be in the millions. Rod Joanisse told a court Monday that his brother, Danny, could have had a career with the family’s successful printing business in St. Catharines, possibly as a partner, were he not plagued by the effects of his time at Oak Ridge. As a 16-year-old, Danny was repeatedly cuffed to a convicted pedophile murderer, deemed, like many others at Oak Ridge, to be not criminally responsible for his crimes. The judge earlier found the teen “was humiliated, degraded, and deprived of any sense of security.” Danny, who died last year after testifying at the original hearing, had cut off two of his own fingers, but that didn’t stop him from doing tasks around the printing plant, his brother testified. But recurring nightmares prevented him from sleeping, increasingly interrupting his work schedule, he added. “He was more than capable,” the surviving Joanisse told the court this week. Allen McMann, now 61, told the hearing he spent five years on welfare after his release. And a letter from the welfare office finally prompted him to find some direction for his life and he signed up for a janitorial training program with Goodwill Industries. “I basically froze; I had a lot of shame,” McMann said, adding that he didn’t know what to do up until that point. That course eventually led him to a career of window cleaning, which he said suited him because it meant not having to deal with people, something he said is difficult as a result of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). McMann was considered to have a behavioural problem, was a bully in school and had stolen a car when he was sent to Oak Ridge in 1975 at age 16. There, he was deemed difficult to manage and remained at the facility until 1978. As part of the experimental treatments, he was coerced or forced to participate in humiliating programs he didn’t know were experimental, according to court documents. He was placed in a “capsule” with groups of naked men and locked in an isolation cell for group encounters where he spent his 17th birthday. That included being coupled with “a prison-hardened, seasoned killer who was several decades older than him.” The damages hearing is expected to continue for three weeks over the next four-week period and is to culminate with closing statements by lawyers for the former patients, the doctors and the provincial government in mid-December.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) is once again among the sector’s highest environmental performers, significantly exceeding jurisdictional regulations in North America established by the Green Marine environmental certification program. The port’s performance report reached the highest mark available (5) in environmental criteria related to community impacts, spill prevention, aquatic invasive species, waste management and environmental leadership. It achieved above-average results for greenhouse gas emissions (4) and underwater noise (3). PRPA’s average score was 4.5/5, compared to the North American average of 2.8/5. All of the port’s main clients also performed above average: DP World Prince Rupert achieved 4.2; Ridley Terminals 4.6; and AltaGas 3.0. “The Prince Rupert Port Authority takes immense pride in demonstrating our commitment to environmental stewardship by going above and beyond our regulatory obligations to ensure our operations and practices are sustainable in the decades to come,” Shaun Stevenson, PRPA president and CEO said in a statement. “We are grateful for the guidance and inspiration Green Marine has provided to our Port over the past ten years as we work together to mitigate the impacts of shipping on our environment.” The Green Marine certification program encourages participants to reduce their environmental foot print with concrete actions. The program uses targeted performance indicators for what’s touted as a rigorous, transparent and inclusive way to address key environmental issues. The results are verified and published every two years by third-party auditors. Green Marine’s executive director, David Bolduc, said PRPA was a catalyst for expanding the program outside of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. “It led to many participants joining from all coasts – Pacific North West, Gulf Coast, Atlantic – and this more diversified membership strengthened and added value to the program,” Bolduc said. Full results can be found here on Green Marine’s website. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The Yukon government has announced that it will extend its wage top-up program for low-income essential workers until Feb. 15, 2021, in a Tuesday afternoon press release.The program, which was announced in May, was originally supposed to run between Mar. 15 and Oct. 3. Employees using the program must not have received the federal government's Canada Recovery Benefit during the same period of time."To date more than 100 businesses have received more than $1.2 million in funding, benefiting more than 1,300 employees," the release states.The program provides essential workers making less than $20 per hour with a wage top-up of up to $4 per hour for 16 weeks. The release states that essential workers who received the benefit during the initial period, will be eligible to apply again for the second round.Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai is quoted in the release as encouraging employers to apply for the program."Yukon workers providing essential services have continued to come to work despite the stresses and risk of interacting with the public, and we thank them for supporting all Yukoners through these challenging times," Pillai said.NDP Leader Kate White welcomed the announcement on Tuesday. She also said it's important that essential workers are able to make a living wage all the time, not just during a pandemic."These workers are doing essential work now, and they were doing it before, and they'll do it after," White said. "I think this program should run until we have a vaccine, and then we can talk about living wages."
BOUCHERVILLE, Que. — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has postponed seven games in its Maritimes Division this week following new COVID-19 restrictions in that region.The games scheduled Wednesday to Sunday involved the Charlottetown Islanders, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Halifax Mooseheads, Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs.The Sea Dogs and Mooseheads had already suspended team activities, however, because of positive tests within their organizations.All non-essential travel to P.E.I., was banned for two weeks Monday.That province, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had established an Atlantic "bubble" that allowed residents to travel within four provinces' borders without isolating.People arriving from outside the region are required to isolate for 14 days.P.E.I. and Newfoundland have temporarily withdrawn from the bubble as cases of infection increase in Atlantic Canada.The QMJHL was the lone major junior hockey league operating in Canada. The Western Hockey League has set a start date of Jan. 8.The Ontario Hockey League won't drop the puck before Feb. 4.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
More community drop-in spaces, places to make and see art or learn something new, could be coming to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside if council approves a proposal to loosen zoning restrictions on storefronts in the neighbourhoods. Current city rules require storefront spaces be used for retail, health care or law office use. But many storefronts on East Hastings and other streets are sitting empty, even as homelessness has grown and many non-profits have had to limit the number of people allowed inside because of COVID-19 precautions. In May, the Army and Navy department store announced it would be closing after decades of operating in the neighbourhood. Owner Jacqui Cohen said the decision to close came after “insurmountable” losses caused by COVID-19. Tom Wanklin, a city planner who focuses on the Downtown Eastside, said there’s an opportunity to make better use of the closed storefronts. “What we are going to be doing is asking council to see if they would be willing to put it out to a public hearing to allow community-serving uses, including social uses, educational uses, local employment creation,” he said. Arts and cultural space is another potential use. “We’re working... to be able to know how many affordable spaces might be available, what is lying vacant, and talking to interested landlords as to freeing up some of those spaces,” Wanklin said. The request from the city planners is on the agenda for today’s council meeting. If council approves the idea, it will go to public hearing sometime in January, a process that lets people sign up to speak to city council about whether they support or oppose the proposal. The zoning changes are proposed for East Hastings between Carrall Street and Heatley Street; for Main Street between East Hastings and Alexander Street; and Powell Street between Main Street and Jackson Avenue. Organizations like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre have been calling on the city to fast-track safe outdoor spaces, like patios, to help residents continue to access services in a physically distant way. Wanklin said city staff are now close to approving a patio space for the women’s centre, but many other organizations in the neighbourhood have the same need for more space. “With trying to create distancing, non-profits need more space in order to do that and bring people in,” said Mary Clare Zak, a social planner who has been working with Wanklin on the idea. They probably need twice as much space to do the same programming, she said. While some neighbourhood advocates have questioned whether the Army and Navy storefront could be put to some other use, Zak said city staff have not had any recent talks with Cohen. Zoning for most of Vancouver’s main shopping areas is designed to encourage streets full of retail shops open to the public. But COVID-19 has shown there needs to be more flexibility in how storefronts are used, city planners say. Zak said changes to storefront zoning in the Downtown Eastside could be a model for other areas of the city. “Non-profits, it doesn’t matter where you are, they’re all struggling with space capacity right now,” Zak said. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):7:15 p.m.Some of Joe Biden’s former colleagues in the Senate who are hoping for a spot in his administration may be out of luck.The president-elect indicated in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that he was less likely to choose a member of Congress for his Cabinet because of the slim margins in the Senate and House. Choosing a person in either chamber, “particularly a person of consequence,” he said, “is a really difficult decision that would have to be made.”Biden announced his first Cabinet nominations on Tuesday, all Obama administration veterans. But he insisted in the interview that his should not be considered a “third Obama term” because “we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” after President Donald Trump has pushed isolationist policies. In unveiling his national security team, Biden pledged that they would “restore America globally.”The president-elect also expressed optimism about his transition now that the roadblocks put in place by the Trump administration have been removed. He says “it’s a slow start” but “I’m feeling good about the ability to be able to get up to speed” and expects “full co-operation” from the Trump administration on the transition.Biden will deliver a Thanksgiving address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday before travelling to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he’ll spend the holiday with family.___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his national security team to the nation, building out a team of Obama administration alumni that signals his shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies and a return to U.S. engagement on the global stage.Read more:— Biden transition gets government OK after Trump out of options— Biden certified as winner of Pennsylvania presidential vote— Biden win over Trump in Nevada made official by court___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:5:45 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says that the transition of power has “already begun” and that he feels his team is “going to not be so far behind the curve as we thought we might be in the past.”He says: “There’s a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be. So yes it’s already begun.”Biden made the comments in an interview Tuesday night on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”President Donald Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the Nov. 3 election and has not formally conceded but increasingly his administration is preparing for the handover. The General Services Administration gave the green light for the transition to begin Monday evening.Biden says the teams are already working on getting him access to the Presidential Daily Brief as well as planning a meeting between his staff and the Trump administration team overseeing the response to the coronavirus.___5:25 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden will begin receiving classified briefings regularly now that the Trump administration has removed a major roadblock from his transition.Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday that while it’s been offered, he hasn’t yet received the Presidential Daily Brief, the briefing on the most sensitive intelligence offered to top U.S. officials.Biden has been blocked from receiving intelligence briefings, and his team had been barred from contacting their counterparts in the Trump administration, due to the General Services Administration’s refusal to ascertain that Biden won the election while the Trump campaign pursued legal challenges contesting the vote count. That ascertainment finally came Monday night, lifting the roadblocks to co-operation.Biden said he’ll now have the briefing “on a regular basis.” Since the ascertainment, he said, Trump administration officials “have been very forthcoming, offering all access.”Biden also said that he had not yet spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, but that his staff had and that he’s been “very, very helpful.”___4:05 p.m.President Donald Trump has signed off on giving his successor access to the nation’s most secure secrets.An administration official said Tuesday that Trump has allowed President-elect Joe Biden to receive the presidential daily brief, the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.The official said the logistics of when and where Biden will first receive the briefing were still being worked out.The determination comes a day after the General Services Administration cleared the way for beginning formal transition planning to the Biden administration ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the Nov. 3 election and has not formally conceded, but increasingly his administration is preparing for the handover.___2:50 p.m.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says his agency is working to immediately get briefing materials to President-elect Joe Biden’s team and pledged a “professional, co-operative and collaborative” transition to the new administration.Azar said in a news briefing Tuesday that the deputy surgeon general Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz began communicating Monday night with Biden’s team.That communication was triggered by the head of the General Services Administration earlier Monday writing the necessary letter of “ascertainment” acknowledging Biden as the apparent winner of the Nov. 3 election.Azar said his department will provide briefings with Biden’s team to ensure they’re getting information that they feel they need that is consistent with the law and past practice.___2 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his creation of a senior climate post on the National Security Council will put climate change “on the agenda in the situation room” for the first time.Biden talked to reporters Tuesday after naming former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate envoy in national security matters.Biden says the appointment means the U.S. will have a “full-time climate leader” for the first time in top-level meetings to make sure the issue does not get overlooked.Biden’s emphasis on curbing the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming, and on dealing with worsening natural disasters and other problems of climate change, come in intense contrast to the views of President Donald Trump. Trump has said scientists were mistaken in their warnings on global warming.Biden says he’ll announce a climate-policy co-ordinator and policy-making structure for his administration next month.___1:35 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says he is “pleased” that his administration has officially been allowed to begin the transition process in filling out a new government.Biden said Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, that receiving the transitional status known as “ascertainment” would allow his team to “prepare to meet the challenges at hand” in transferring power from the Trump administration to his own.Late Monday, the General Services Administration “ascertained” that Biden is the apparent winner of this month’s presidential election. That process gives the incoming president and his team access to officials at federal agencies and directs the Justice Department to work on security clearances for transition team members and Biden political appointees.Biden spoke as he rolled out his picks to fill top national security slots in his Cabinet including secretary of state, national security adviser and a new, Cabinet-level post dedicated to climate change. He said he hoped his nominees receive a prompt confirmation process.___1:20 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his national security team will lead the way in reflecting the fact that “America is back” on the world stage.During a speech Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said that his team would “embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies.”In rolling out his national security picks, including top posts for State Department and Department of Homeland Security, Biden said the nominees show “experience and leadership, fresh thinking and perspective and an unrelenting belief in the promise of America.”The State Department alone has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks during the Trump administration. Many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service, given limited prospects for advancements under an administration they believed did not value their expertise.___1:10 p.m.A leading Republican political committee has begun airing a campaign ad warning that if a Democratic Senate candidate wins a January runoff election in Georgia, liberals will “control everything” in Washington.The choice of words is noteworthy because it implies that President Donald Trump has been defeated by Joe Biden. That’s a fact that Trump has refused to acknowledge more than two weeks after the election was called for the Democrat, and that many top Republicans have also been loath to concede.The Senate Leadership Fund began airing the ad Tuesday. It attacks Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is challenging incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue. The ad says Ossoff supports “liberal megadonors’” agenda of “job-killing tax hikes, economy-killing regulations.”The ad says, “The radical left bought Ossoff. Because if he wins, they control everything, and we lose.”The spot began airing the morning after the General Services Administration formally agreed to let the transition to a Biden administration begin. The leadership fund is closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.There is also a second runoff in Georgia pitting incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Democrats must win both Georgia races to capture the Senate majority. That would create a 50-50 chamber, which Democrats would control because Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.The Associated Press
Government funding will enable private providers to expand broadband internet in the west end of the Township of Southgate. The project will serve about 1,000 premises in Holstein, Varney, Orchardville, Maple Lane, Yeovil, Dromore, Tartan and Thistle. The almost 60 km of roads served means a project value of $4.3 million, of which $2.7 million will come through SWIFT, which receives provincial and federal funding, as well as municipal support. “This is major news,” Mayor John Woodbury remarked at last week’s council. “We’re pretty excited.” Almost $17 million worth of projects were announced on Nov. 17 by SWIFT to bring high-speed internet to almost 4,000 households and businesses in Southgate, West Grey, and the municipality of Meaford and the townships of Chatsworth, and Georgian Bluffs. EH!tel in Holstein will put in the “Dromore” project, which will be a hybrid of both fibre and wireless. The completion date is July 31, 2021 “We are very excited and proud to have been awarded these projects in our own backyard – the County of Grey!” said Antonius Peeters, President and CEO, EH!tel Networks. Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a non-profit regional broadband project initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to subsidize the construction of high-speed broadband networks across Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region. Those municipalities see high-speed internet as crucial to economic growth in the region. Grey County Warden Paul McQueen said “access to reliable high-speed internet is vital to our future. It’s encouraging to know SWIFT projects will soon be underway, expanding this important infrastructure in Grey County.” Mr. Peeters said in a press release, “since COVID, rural networks have been strained and overloaded. These projects will provide relief immediately and for the years to come.” Xplornet Communications Inc. was awarded three fibre-to-the-home projects in Meaford, West Grey, Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs. Wightman Telecom will receive funding to deploy fibre-optic cabling along 15 km of underserviced roads between Hanover and Durham. GBTEL will receive funding to deploy fibre-optic cabling along about 4 km of underserviced roads in the municipality of Meaford. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit says Toronto police used excessive force when they arrested a man in Richmond Hill in February but that it cannot identify which officers were responsible for injuring the man and no charges will be laid.A Nov. 5 report by SIU director Joseph Martino says the man, 28, suffered several facial fractures and a fractured spine when he was arrested on a patio at the back of a two-storey detached home on Marengo Drive on Feb. 2. The SIU issued a news release about the case on Tuesday.According to the watchdog agency, police believed the home was being used to confine a kidnapping victim, a York University student, being held for ransom.The report says officers with the Toronto police's Emergency Task Force and Major Crime Unit entered the home to execute a search warrant at 4:38 p.m.Police located and freed the hostage and arrested three people. The man was one of the those arrested. In the report, Martino says he has determined that there is enough evidence to suggest that police used excessive force, but he is unable to say which officer or officers in particular were responsible. As a result, he says, he is unable to proceed with charges."The obstacle to the laying of charges resides in the evidence regarding identification," Martino says in the report.Martino says the investigation established that it was likely one of two officers who "delivered the impugned strikes" that injured the man. Evidence suggests the man may have been kicked in the head and punched, the report says.Both subject officers, as the SIU calls officers who are the subject of its investigations, declined to be interviewed and declined to submit notes to the SIU."The inability of key witnesses to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators of the force in question is understandable; the ETF officers were all wearing similar outfits with masks and helmets covering their faces," Martino says in the report."Regrettably, neither the officers' names nor badge numbers were plainly inscribed on their clothing. In the result, while I am satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe that excessive force was used, I am unable to attribute said force to any one or more identifiable ETF officers," Martino continues."In the final analysis, as there are no reasonable grounds to pinpoint one or another officer or officers for the force used against the Complainant in his arrest, which I believe on reasonable grounds to have been excessive and caused his facial fractures, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case."The SIU, a civilian agency, investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault.
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
EDMONTON — The ivy and tropical plants spread across a living wall in the lobby of a landmark Alberta government building are being cut down earlier than planned because of a bug infestation.The United Conservative government had intended to remove the 223-square-metre plant installation in the Edmonton Federal Building's lobby next year to save the annual $70,000 maintenance cost.But the acting press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Tricia Velthuizen says a bug infestation was discovered recently, so it was decided to order the wall's immediate removal.About half of the greenery was torn down Monday, exposing the metal space which used to collect the fresh air generated by the plants to send through the rest of the building.Velthuizen said the living wall — which Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio said he thought was cool when he visited Edmonton — was something nice that the province can no longer afford.She said the wall will eventually be replaced with art from the provincial collection as part of upgrades to the building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Velthuizen did not say when the new system will be in place or how much it will cost.The Edmonton Federal Building is just northeast of Alberta’s legislature. It was originally built by Canadian government to house its main federal offices in Western Canada. It underwent extensive renovations and, in 2015, more than 600 government staff and members of the legislature moved in.The building made headlines years ago when a tony penthouse apartment was added to the renovation design for then-premier Alison Redford and her daughter. The suite became known as the "Sky Palace" in the ensuing controversy. The company Nedlaw Living Walls Inc. installed the plants in 2014 and was hired to maintain the installation. Spokesman Adam Holder said the wall was built as part of building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and provided fresh air. He said he was disappointed to hear the decision to remove it and suggested maintenance costs could easily have been trimmed if the UCP government had asked."Before they rip the wall out, it would have been of paramount importance for them to know that they literally could have cut their $70,000 year maintenance bill by three-quarters," Holder said."It was extremely healthy, (and) if they were able to do quarterly maintenance on it (instead of monthly), that's where I get my 75 per cent from."Holder added the UCP government may face more costs than it expected ripping out the wall."This is going to cost almost seven figures for them to not only rip it out, (but also to) redesign the space and re-engineer the air-handling system. This was literally connected to a lot of ductwork throughout the entire building, not to mention the rooftop units, and the actual air extraction system was designed with this wall," he said."So now it has to be recalibrated. And you may be in a situation where you have to buy new equipment, or re-engineer old equipment. It's certainly not just a matter of, you know, kind of ripping out a floor lamp and that's the end of it."Jim Hole, son of former lieutenant-governor Lois Hole and the operator of a well-known greenhouse just north of Edmonton, said he understands why some people would be upset about the wall's removal."The downside is, of course, you lose the beautiful esthetics. You lose that nice humidity that comes from the plants. You do lose some filtration of air that may be a bit stale and some of the pollutants that occur indoors," Hole said.Everybody, including Alberta's political leaders, should be around plants on a regular basis to become healthier mentally and emotionally, he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
Students and schools in the Municipality of Grey Highlands are seeing an increased police presence after a new School and Community Engagement Officer position was established with the Grey-Bruce Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment earlier this fall. “It's been really good to get back into the schools with this enhancement and have one-on-one time in the classroom,” said OPP Constable Nick Wilson, during a Grey Highlands Police Services Board meeting held earlier today. In September, the Grey-Bruce OPP department welcomed Wilson to the new position of school and community engagement officer. And despite a slow start due to COVID-19, he has been actively introducing himself to the student body. “Once I was allowed to go back into the schools, almost every day of the week has been taken up with either a presentation or a safety plan review,” Wilson said. Since coming on board, Wilson has engaged with Grey Highlands Secondary School, Osprey Central School and Macphail Memorial School with lockdown drills, fire drills, and safety plans. “The majority of the presentations have been kids programs in the elementary schools and various presentations at the high school for things like consent, and bullying, etc,” Wilson said. He also held a meeting with Hanley Institute to discuss police involvement in an after-school mentoring program for students in Grade 7, 8, and 9. “There's a couple of after-school youth mentoring programs that are starting to get up and running, one specifically in Flesherton that we've been involved in, so that'll be going forward as well,” he added. Along with regularly scheduled visits to the schools, Wilson also responds to school and youth-related calls. “From September until today, for example, I, with the enhancement position, looked after 82 calls. I would say the majority of those coming from the schools,” Wilson said. This month alone, Wilson says he has responded to 32 calls for service just from Grey Highlands Secondary School. The OPP September/October detachment report outlines a number of issues Wilson responded to, which included an investigation into an occurrence with drugs regarding possible drug trafficking between high school students; assisting school staff with a mental health incident affecting a youth; and an effective response regarding a threats complaint against staff and students. “We can really see when a municipality has a community engagement officer, it does reap some significant benefits,” added OPP Constable Nigel Heels. Wilson says that moving forward, he hopes to establish a regular routine at the schools, even creating an office in some locations, so that the students know when and where they can find him. “I'm in the process right now of working with the high school to formulate a plan,” he said. “In the meantime, I am there every day, and if not every day, at least three, four times a week.”Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
As part of IndigiNews’ ongoing look into Indigenous reproductive healthcare access, we are speaking to people about their birth experiences. As the snow started to fall, marking the beginning of the winter solstice, Estella Carmona was on her way to the hospital to give birth to her first daughter, Katiyana. The all-encompassing birthing process would turn into a life-changing spiritual experience that showed Carmona her “true connection to spirit,” she says. Carmona sees her daughter Katiyana, who’s turning seven on Dec. 21, as her greatest teacher. “I knew that I was bringing in sacred life,” says Carmona who is of Sechelt, Stó:lō and Mexican descent, reflecting on the day her daughter was born. Carmona is a member of shíshálh First Nation, which is located along the Sunshine Coast in Sechelt, B.C., and comes from a strong line of matriarchs. She says it’s the strong cultural teachings from the smokehouse that pulled her through two complicated birth experiences. “It showed the strength of spirit,” she says. “I was raised by my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mom, and [strong moral teachings are] something that we live, we breathe.” She credits her great-grandmother who was a fluent speaker in her language for instilling these teachings in the family. Carmona was living in Stó:lō Territory in 2013 when she was pregnant with her first daughter. Before Katiyana was born owls and hawks started visiting her, she explains. For many Indigenous people, the connection between birds as a kind of messenger is a part of cultural teachings passed down. “An owl started visiting me throughout my pregnancy. They’ve never come into my life beforehand,” says Carmona. “I had four owls visit me and two owls came the night before she was born.” During the delivery, Carmona explains how her cultural teachings helped assist in the birth. “I did tap into sacred energy, our breath, and prayer,” she says. Carmona used a birthing tub at the hospital during her labour. “Having been surrounded by water, she came into this world in a very peaceful way,” she says. However, after her daughter was delivered Carmona says she lost a lot of blood but was not given a blood transfusion. She left the experience wishing she had known her rights. “If I knew my rights, I would have demanded a blood transfusion,” she says. “They took my blood count after she was delivered. They took my blood count the next morning. And they’re like, well, it’s already increasing. So we don’t think you need one.” After suffering from extreme fatigue for six months, navigating being a new mother, working, and being in school, she didn’t realize the severity of the situation until years later. After requesting to see her medical records she says, “I realized this is how women die in childbirth.” Carmona believes a higher power is what pulled her through this experience. “When I say spirit saved my life, I believe that Katiyana chose me as her mother. She chose her father. And those owls visited me throughout,” she says, “it was spirit all the way.” As they left the hospital, she remembers seeing a hawk on the side of the road. “Her spirit is the owl spirit,” Carmona says smiling. “There’s no question about it, she sees truth.” In 2015, Carmona was pregnant with her second child, a daughter named Ivy. Still living in Stó:lō Territory, she returned to give birth at a local hospital. This time, she says, the delivery was excruciating and there were complications with baby Ivy being delivered. According to her medical records, baby Ivy was born face up, blue and limp with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. While Carmona says her mother and mother-in-law knew what was happening, she was unaware of the severity of the situation. “I did not know the severity of the situation being like you just delivered a baby,” she says. The medical records show that baby Ivy was not breathing when she was born, and Carmona says they called a “code pink” signalling an emergency. “She’s a miracle that she survived,” says Carmona. “My belief in the Creator, my belief in the teaching saved us a hundred percent. We had people watching over us.” Reflecting on the experience, Carmona once again wishes she was given more information in the moment. “There was no, how long was she out of breath for, what’s her cognitive ability kind of thing. Like, your daughter could have died,” she says. “It was, she can sit up in her car seat. You’re fine, go home.” For other expecting parents Carmona says that due to the lack of cultural safety, systemic racism and stereotyping of Indigenous women, it’s important to “trust your intuition.” “Whether it’s the doctor, a white midwife, the stereotyping that you receive, whether it’s in the doctor’s appointments, leading up or in the delivering room, having multiple Indigenous family members there, there’s a lot of racism that happens in these experiences,” she says. Many Indigenous Peoples who access the healthcare system in Canada feel the impacts of systemic racism. On June 19, 2020, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix to lead an investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in the B.C. health care system. “If I could say anything to a woman who would be giving birth or in this process, trust your intuition, pray for protection and guidance,” says Carmona. With two healthy young girls, now one of the most important things for Carmona is that her kids are raised traditionally so that they too are equipped to navigate the world. “I can say that practicing our cultural teachings benefits new mothers and their babies, that little plant, that little seed,” says Carmona, “Every thought, every feeling that we think our baby experiences and my daughters are very cultural beings.” Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced. Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
In SABA’s Nov. 16 news bulletin, Angela Pollak informed everyone that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation will be pausing the application intake for the Northern Ontario Recovery Grant program worth $25,000 on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. to process the overwhelming volume of applications they have gotten in. She encouraged anyone with eligible products to apply as soon as possible, as there was no indication if or when the intake may reopen to applications. She stressed that people could apply on their own but that she was available to help out if necessary. So far, Pollak knows of several businesses that have applied for this grant. The NOHFC promotes economic growth across Northern Ontario by giving financial assistance to projects that stimulate recovery, growth, job creation and skilled workforce development. They have invested $193 million in 1,386 projects across the region since June 2018, leveraging over $748 million in investment and creating or sustaining nearly 4,000 jobs. According to John Guerard, the acting executive director of the NOHFC, the NORP has been really successful and consequently the applications have been halted, at least for the time being. The last applications will be accepted by 6 p.m. on Nov. 20. While the application deadline had initially been the end of the year, the huge volume of applications received prompted them to move the deadline forward. Natalie Dumont, with the communication services branch of the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, says the program has been overwhelmingly successful. “The NOHFC received over 1,000 applications in the first month of the program. While we have received applications from a wide range of communities, specific data by community is not currently available,” she says. NORP was launched on Oct. 1 by the provincial government to help support northern companies impacted by COVID-19. Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, announced the program on Sept. 28, and pledged his government’s support for business owners, entrepreneurs and workers. “There’s no denying that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on businesses throughout Northern Ontario and that this program will deliver targeted funding so they can continue to serve their communities,” he said at the time of the announcement. NOHFC has already approved and processed hundreds of NORP applications. Due to this influx, the NOHFC is going to focus on processing the outstanding applications after Nov. 20 to get the funding out to the northern business owners who need it. “The Ontario government, through the NOHFC, is committed to moving NORP funding along swiftly so we can continue to promote economic recovery in every region of the north and get our northern economy back on track,” said Guerard in his press release. Guerard also mentioned that new NOHFC programs were coming in January of 2021, making it easier for more businesses to apply and to give them increased support to find market opportunities, address the skilled labour shortage in the north, provide more opportunities for Indigenous people and continue to aid in COVID-19 recovery. Dustin Turner is the northern development advisor with the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines reminds people that the program offers 100 per cent grant funding up to $25,000 for private for profit businesses only, as not for profits and public sector business are not eligible, to reimburse them for costs incurred while adapting their business operations to adhere to public health guidelines to protect their employees and customers. Eligible costs for reimbursement will be retroactive to March 17, 2020 and businesses are permitted to apply for future costs they may incur. Pollak is gratified by the response to the NORP grant funding she’s seen from businesses in South Algonquin Township. “I know of three businesses in South Algonquin who plan to apply. Two of these businesses reached out after the SABA bulletin went out. I also know that Explorers’ Edge picked up the thread about the new deadline and forwarded it to businesses in the area to get the word out to the northern communities in our region on the west side of [Algonquin Park],” she says. ”This is an indication that the SABA bulletin is working from a communication perspective, which I find encouraging.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times