ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said Thursday in a written news release one additional COVID-19 case has been confirmed in P.E.I. The man is in his 20s and is a rotational worker who recently travelled to the Island from outside the Atlantic region. He has been self-isolating since arriving in P.E.I. and tested positive on routine testing. Contact tracing has been completed, the release said. The case is not related to any other recent positive cases.In a weekly interview with CBC News: Compass, Morrison said she is pleased P.E.I. hasn't seen widespread community transmission. A youth centre in Cornwall that suspended activities when the pandemic hit said it will not reopen, even when public health restrictions allow.Storytime from the P.E.I. Library Service has returned, but has gone online.Islanders who want to donate reusable face masks can now drop off donations at Access PEI locations across the province, and free masks will now be available at 14 food banks and pantries around P.E.I. P.E.I. is adding 55 new front-line positions to schools across the province to support students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.Several P.E.I. appliance stores are dealing with a shortage of products to sell because COVID-19 is affecting the manufacturers of fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday; the province now has 119 active cases. New Brunswick reported six new cases Thursday, and is dealing with 111 active cases.P.E.I. currently has five active cases, and there have been 73 positive cases since the onset of the pandemic, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
Le distributeur internet Xplornet devra avoir l’approbation des MRC des Sources et du Granit avant de pouvoir aller de l’avant avec son projet hybride de fibre optique et ainsi recevoir une importante subvention gouvernementale. C’est ce que Gilles Bélanger, député d’Orford et personne responsable du dossier internet haut débit, a confirmé à La Tribune mercredi. Rappelons que les élus de la MRC des Sources et du Granit ont durement critiqué lundi la façon dont le ministère attribue les territoires aux compagnies de distribution internet. Ils estimaient ne pas avoir été consultés quant à l’octroi d’une subvention au fournisseur internet Xplornet pour brancher plusieurs secteurs. « Il n’y a pas de contrat ou de subvention accordée à Xplornet pour l’instant, précise M. Bélanger. L’imbroglio vient d’information sur des cartes. Le ministère est en discussion avec Xplornet et plusieurs autres compagnies. On va demander à Xplornet d’aller présenter son projet aux MRC et si elles signent une résolution d’acceptation, à ce moment-là on passera à l’étape suivante et on verra si on signe un contrat. On ne passera pas une solution que les MRC ne veulent pas. Si elles sont contre, c’est sûr qu’on n’ira pas de l’avant. » Le député avoue même avoir certaines réticences face au projet mis de l’avant par Xplornet. « Xplornet n’est pas mon premier candidat en terme d’acceptabilité sociale, admet-il. Ce fournisseur a utilisé une technologie satellitaire avec beaucoup de latence et où la vitesse n’était pas adéquate. Ils arrivent avec une nouvelle technologie, mais on a quand même des joueurs établis dans la région comme Sogetel ou Axion qui sont prêts à fibrer. » Le député n’était pas en mesure de confirmer le montant de la subvention qui serait accordé à Xplornet puisque l’entente n’est pas signée. Toutefois, le programme Régions branchées couvre 70 % des coûts admissibles pour les projets retenus. 40 000 $ du kilomètre La couverture que veut déployer Xplornet est de type hybride. La fibre est installée dans les routes et les rangs. Les foyers les plus proches sont branchés directement puis des tours LTE compatibles avec la 5G déploient un signal sans fil pour le dernier kilomètre vers les foyers plus éloignés. La compagnie assure pouvoir fournir une vitesse de 100mb par seconde avec cette technologie, même avec le signal sans-fil, ce qui est deux fois plus élevé que la norme demandée par le gouvernement. Gilles Bélanger, à l’instar des préfets des Sources et du Granit, a une nette préférence pour la connexion filaire. « Je priorise la fibre à la maison, indique-t-il. Quand tu as plus que 10 branchements par kilomètre, c’est rentable. On peut monter les rangs. Si un citoyen est tout seul dans le bout d’un rang. Ça coûte de 30 000 $ à 40 000 $ le kilomètre pour monter la fibre donc on ne le fera pas. On va alors regarder une solution sans fil. » Starlink à la rescousse ? Cette solution sans fil évoqué par M. Bélanger pourrait bien être le réseau Starlink qui vise à fournir l’internet à la planète entière à l’aide d’un réseau de 12 000 satellites en orbite basse autour de la Terre. Déjà des tests sont effectués à quelques endroits au Canada dont à la Première Nation Pikangikum, dans le nord de l’Ontario, et au Nouveau-Brunswick. « Ça pourrait être une solution pour venir brancher les 30 000 derniers québécois, admet le député. On va trouver une solution satellitaire pour les gens qui n’ont pas accès à la fibre, mais pas le satellitaire du passé qui était inefficace. Je crois beaucoup en Elon Musk. » « Starlink est le projet plus avancé et leur solution serait disponible autour de 2022, résume-t-il. C’est une solution intéressante pour ceux que ce serait trop coûteux de les brancher. Mais comme je vous dis, je priorise la fibre. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Mario Roy a réalisé un rêve lorsqu’il s’est porté acquéreur il y a deux ans d’une propriété à Milan dans la MRC du Granit. Il y rêvait depuis l’âge de 12 ans. Mais ce rêve s’est déjà transformé en cauchemar à cause d’un seul élément : l’absence totale d’internet. « Quand j’ai acheté, je pensais que ça viendrait vite l’internet, ils en parlaient tout le temps, mais là mon rêve se transforme en cauchemar, souligne M. Roy. Je suis familial au coton et je ne vois plus personne. » La pandémie et le confinement ont frappé fort pour Mario Roy qui a beaucoup de difficulté à garder le contact avec ses quatre petits-enfants qui habitent à Sherbrooke. « On ne peut pas voir personne. Un moment donné ça attaque le moral. Je ne peux même pas voir mes petits enfants », mentionne-t-il visiblement submergé par les émotions. M. Roy commence même à penser à vendre sa propriété. Rien du tout M. Roy a fait venir des représentants de diverses compagnies, mais rien n’y fait. Il ne peut pas avoir accès à internet. Il a lu avec scepticisme dans La Tribune que la compagnie Xplornet voulait obtenir une subvention gouvernementale pour brancher quelque 2000 foyers en Estrie. « Xplornet ne rentre pas du tout, j’ai fait venir trois représentants et ils ont tous essayé, déplore-t-il. Je suis trop creux pour la tour LTE et par satellite je devrais couper plusieurs arbres pour recevoir le signal. Je vais briser mon terrain si je fais ça. » La fibre optique se rend jusqu’à un poteau sur son terrain, mais la connexion jusqu’à la maison est hors de prix. « J’ai achalé Câble Axion pour qu’ils me branchent et ils m’ont dit que ça allait me coûter 20 000 $, j’ai dit non. » « Juste le minimum » Mario Roy n’est pas le seul citoyen de Milan dans cette situation. Ils sont près d’une centaine dans la petite municipalité à n’avoir pas accès à internet haute vitesse selon le maire Jacques Bergeron. « C’est Câble Axion qui passe dans le village et les gens ont un excellent service, mais dans les rangs débrouille-toi, mentionne-t-il. La vitesse n’est pas acceptable par satellite. Il y a des journées où la liaison avec le satellite ne se fait pas. Tu attends ton tour. En 2020, ça n’a pas de bon sens. » Certaines zones sont même dangereuses selon lui parce que même le cellulaire ne capte pas de signal. « Tu as un problème de sécurité, tu es blessé ou tu as eu un accident et tu n’es même pas capable d’entrer en communication d’urgence, déplore le maire. C’est vraiment pauvre comme service.» Mario Roy pense aussi que le manque de réseau peut être très dangereux, surtout lors des pannes de courant. « J’ai manqué d’électricité quatre jours l’an passé durant la grosse tempête, résume-t-il. Je n’avais pas d’internet, pas de cellulaire et pas de téléphone. Si je passe au feu, je regarde ma maison brûler. » Mario Roy a interpellé le député François Jacques à ce sujet et espère que sa situation ouvre les yeux de la classe politique. « Ils diffusent du 5G dans les villes tandis que dans les campagnes, ce n’est même pas branché, résume M. Bergeron. C’est frustrant et choquant. On veut juste le minimum.»Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Sauvetage A.G. Maurice-Centre-du-Québec lance une vaste campagne de recrutement pour répondre aux urgences dans la région. Sauvetage A.G. est une entreprise sans but lucratif qui se spécialise dans le sauvetage hors route et la recherche de personnes. L’équipe de la Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec est normalement constituée d’une quinzaine de bénévoles. Parmi eux, Alain Richard, directeur de division. Il est membre de cette section depuis 2010, et d’autres antennes de l’organisation depuis 2001. M. Richard est aussi pompier pour le service incendie de la Ville de Bécancour.«On est tous des bénévoles purs et durs indépendamment du poste qu’on occupe. On le fait par passion et dévouement», précise Alain Richard. Des interventions hors route L’antenne Maurice-Centre-du-Québec de sauvetage A.G. est déployée chaque année sur une douzaine d’incidents. Elle a aussi une entente contractuelle avec la MRC de Bécancour. Pompiers, ambulanciers et policiers font appel à ses services. «On est une des nombreuses ressources qui peuvent répondre aux appels» sur les sentiers de VTT, de motoneige, équestres, pédestres, partout où les ambulances ne peuvent se rendre. «On a un protocole avec la centrale 911 en Beauce» et dès que la situation l’impose, «on se met en branle pour se rendre au point de rencontre» afin de mener des évacuations médicales et des sauvetages. Les équipes ont récemment été déployées sur les lieux d’un accident équestre et la SQ a fait appel à ses services pour extraire un corps retrouvé en bordure du fleuve. «Ce ne sont pas toujours des cas agréables», de dire M. Richard. «Le parc de la rivière Gentilly est un endroit propice aux accidents» étant donné qu’il est plus fréquenté qu’avant. «Et le circuit de motocross de Sainte-Sophie-de-Lévrard est un bon fournisseur d’appels qui impliquent des incidents parfois graves». Sauvetage A.G. Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec se spécialise aussi depuis peu dans la recherche de victimes de noyades. «On a suffisamment d’équipements pour répondre à tous les besoins», nous dit M. Richard: «un pick-up avec un côte-à-côte Polaris Ranger monté sur chenilles à l’année et modifié un peu comme une ambulance, deux motoneiges et deux VTT». Le bateau personnel de M. Richard est aussi mis à contribution de temps à autre. «Je suis un ancien de la garde côtière auxiliaire. Je continue à faire de la recherche avec mon chien». L’ensemble des divisions disposent aussi de drones et d’ambulances. Formation Les nouveaux bénévoles de Sauvetage A.G. sont formés gratuitement par les équipes en place. Ces formations sont ventilées sur une période de douze mois, à raison de trois heures par mois environ. «On a des gens qui rentrent et qui quittent. On a eu plusieurs étudiants en soins préhospitaliers d’urgence du Cégep de Shawinigan. On essaie de maintenir une équipe d’une quinzaine de membres actifs et disponibles. En ce moment, on est huit». Les personnes intéressées peuvent entrer en contact avec Sauvetage A.G. via son site internet ou sa page Facebook. L’organisation compte sept divisions au Québec. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
Iran will fully comply with a 2015 deal aimed at preventing it from developing nuclear weapons if both the United States and Europe honour their original commitments, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday. U.S. President Donald Trump quit the pact in 2018, saying it did not do enough to curb Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs or its militant influence in the Middle East. Addressing a Rome conference via video-link, Zarif said the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) could not be renegotiated but it could be resurrected.
A police union on Thursday urged prosecutors to charge a Black music producer with resisting arrest, six days after President Emmanuel Macron said the arrest and beating of the man, which was caught on film, was unacceptable and shameful for France. The beating of Michel Zecler by police officers inside his music studio was captured on closed circuit television and mobile phone footage. It was circulated widely online and sparked new criticism over police violence in France.
CORNWALL – Helping businesses stay safe and open is the goal of a provincial COVID-19 education and enforcement campaign for businesses that will happen in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region later this week. The “multi-ministerial” team from the provincial government will be working with the EOHU to visit local businesses, conduct assessments, and promote health and safety requirements needed according to the COVID-19 Response Framework. The visits are prescribed under the Reopening Ontario Act passed earlier this year. “The aim of the campaign is to ensure that workplaces have the resources and information they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said a release from the EOHU. “EOHU public health staff, in collaboration with local enforcement partners, have been working diligently with businesses in our region to help ensure they can operate safely and protect their workers and customers,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the EOHU. “We know many businesses have made enormous efforts but still need some assistance. We’re pleased that the provincial campaign coming in early-December will provide added support.” The visits will see officers assess business owners and provide guidance on how to fix any compliance issues. While the goal of the campaign is to educate, officers do have the power to deal with infractions with fines and other measures. The inspection blitz began in early November in Peel Region with 350 businesses visited. Most of the infractions dealt with improper mask wearing, or a lack of screening measures in place. If charges are warranted, a person or a business can be fined $750 for an offence, up to a maximum fine of $100,000 for a prosecuted offence. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
OTTAWA – Changes are on the way to the board that manages the water management plan for Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission announced November 24th that the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River board will be reformed, reducing the number of members of the board from 18 to six – three from Canada and three from the United States. “The restructuring represents a streamlined approach for this Board,” said Jane Corwin, chair of the IJC’s US section. “Commissioners enlarged the board last year, but after careful consideration determined that a smaller decision-making body with input from a more-inclusive advisory body would be more effective and appropriate.” Appointees to the board include one representative from the Canadian government, and one each from Ontario and Quebec. There will be two appointees from the US government and one from the State of New York. The ILOSLR board oversees Plan 2014, the controversial river management plan adopted to manage water levels and flow on Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River between Lake Ontario and Quebec. That plan has been criticized by many for the wildly fluctuating water levels on Lake St. Lawrence. Changes to the ILOSLR were announced after a review was made by the IJC. “On behalf of IJC Commissioners, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all members of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board who have served above and beyond the call in recent years and have provided excellent leadership in the face of extremely challenging conditions,” said Pierre Béland, chair of the IJC’s Canadian Section. The restructuring of the ILOSLR board was welcomed by local river advocate Cliff Steinberg from Ault Island. Steinberg has been advocating for Lake St. Lawrence users for the past three years and said the change was needed and a positive step forward. “At one point, the previous board had one commissioner from Ontario and five from Quebec,” he said. “This restructured board is more fair and equitable.” The IJC jurisdiction on the St. Lawrence River ends just east of Cornwall Island where the river ceases to be an international waterway. Steinberg is a member of the public advisory group for the ILOSLR of users of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. That group, along with the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management committee or GLAM, will be providing more guidance to this new incarnation of the ILOSLR board. “I think they want to put more emphasis on the public advisory group and the GLAM for decision making,” he said. “That’s where the real information is coming out.” While cutting representation on a board may have been seen as a negative in the past, Steinberg said that the situation between waterway users and the board has improved over the past three years. He attributed much of that to the inclusion of local information to the GLAM, and the creation of the public advisory group. “The communication is much better,” he said. “We are being heard. Our concerns are being heard.” He pointed to examples like this year, when the board removed a deviation from Plan 2014 so that water levels would remain at a higher level longer for boaters, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deviation was put in place at the end of the shipping season in 2019 to drain more water off Lake Ontario to help prevent shoreline flooding. It attributed to extremely low water levels along the river in January. “[The IJC] were going to deviate longer and keep the water levels low which would have meant we wouldn’t have any water to get our boats into our docks and marinas,” Steinberg said adding that the advisory group made a presentation and the board agreed. “What that meant was they could maintain the water level similar to the level of the Thanksgiving boat haul out,” he explained. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what was originally planned.” Steinberg feels that the IJC is now paying attention to the concerns of those along the St. Lawrence River. That said, he explained that the board still has to follow the adopted Plan 2014. “They are limited to what [the IJC] are going to be able to do, but they are now well aware of the conditions of this area and how it’s affecting people,” he said. “Things are improving though.” The IJC did not announce a timeline on when appointments would be made to the new restructured board. In a statement, the commission said it expected to have the restructuring complete in early 2021. Established in 1909, the IJC provides oversight and management of joint waterways along the Canada-US board. The ILOSLR was created after the completion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in 1959. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
EASTERN SHORE – Former Moser River resident Marie Turner entered Northwood Continuing Care facility last November. While it was her first placement, it was not her first choice. When she applied, she selected Harbourview Lodge (HVL) in Sheet Harbour as her first choice, to allow her to live in the same community as her family. Turner’s sister, former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey, is unhappy her sister has not, after a year, been transferred back to her home. McCluskey looked into the policy posted on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) website. “The policy reads ‘as soon as a vacancy becomes available – you are transferred to your first choice’ – but that’s not true. She’s housed now – they have no compassion. There have been vacancies in HVL over the past year but no transfer for Marie,” she says. Turner contracted COVID-19 last spring as a Northwood resident and spent months unable to have any visits from family members, especially while she was ill. “Marie was in a room with another woman and they didn’t even move her,” complains McCluskey. “She suffered from pains in her legs and headaches. She was lucky and did not become extremely ill – and she survived.” The former politician with a 23-year history in municipal government stresses long-term care facility workers are underpaid for the work they do. “They work hard. Administration undervalues the work they do so they can have a lower pay scale. They’ve dropped the ball. COVID should never have been in there [Northwood].” Turner will turn 93 on Dec. 6 and her sister says she should have been given the opportunity months ago – before the pandemic – to transfer to HVL to spend these years near her children and grandchildren. “They don’t care,” McCluskey tells The Journal by phone. “They have such little empathy for seniors. The dear soul has already had COVID, she could have been transferred before this second wave.” McCluskey does not feel there is any hope her sister will get moved now. “They’ve closed the facilities again. They had given false hope and now there is no solution – they are not going to move anybody now,” she said. McCluskey and Turner are two of the four sisters left from a family of nine. “How little do our seniors mean? They seem to think seniors only die anyway. They built our country and deserve dignity,” McCluskey says. Arthur Turner, Marie’s son, tells The Journal how difficult it was for his family when his mom was diagnosed with coronavirus. “I feel frustration about her being there – and not here – as her choice was. The system should be in place that puts her where she chooses to live.” The last time Arthur saw his mother, in person, was this fall at Northwood. “I had all the COVID gear on and was able to hug her – but only for a second.” When Turner heard of his mother’s COVID diagnosis he felt there had been no consideration for either his mother or her family. “We might never see her again. She was quite low and we couldn’t visit and maybe had seen her for the last time….” Communication with his mother, while she lives in a facility 90 kilometres away from him, has proven to be a challenge. “We try to reach her by phone – but we usually can’t get a hold of her. It’s always an ordeal,” Arthur says. “We have to wait until the nurses are available to help us set it up and get Mom to the phone. She is in her room a lot.” Arthur remains hopeful his mother will ultimately get the transfer she desires and become a resident at Harbourview Lodge. “It would be so good for her to return to her home community. I feel she deserves it, really. You know, she taught school down here and worked for the Guild faithfully,” he shares. “She was a real good person – she was a member of the Eastern Star and helped raise a lot of money for her community. She set a good example.” Arthur’s sister, Ann Martin, is a registered nurse at HVL. “It would be wonderful for Mom to be here and have my sister so close – helping to care for her. We could all see her. I know during COVID they were not moving anybody but there have been quite a few openings here – but there always seems to be red tape,” she says. The Journal contacted NSHA to inquire about the transfer and placement policy, but did not receive a reply by press time.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell as the nation celebrated Thanksgiving last week to a still-high 712,000, the latest sign that the U.S. economy and job market remain under stress from the intensified viral outbreak.Thursday's report from the Labor Department said that initial claims for jobless aid dropped from 787,000 the week before. Before the virus paralyzed the economy in March, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week had typically amounted to roughly 225,000. The chronically high pace of applications shows that nearly nine months after the pandemic struck, many employers are still slashing jobs."Thanksgiving seasonals likely explain the drop'' in jobless claims last week, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note. “Expect a rebound next week.''The total number of people who are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits declined to 5.5 million from 6.1 million. That figure is down sharply from its peak of nearly 23 million in May. It means that some jobless Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving aid. But it also indicates that many of the unemployed have used up their state benefits, which typically expire after six months.With layoffs still elevated and new confirmed viral cases in the United States now exceeding 160,000 a day on average, the economy’s modest recovery is increasingly in danger. States and cities are issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, restricting restaurant dining, closing gyms or reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.Most experts say the economy won't be able to sustain a recovery until the virus is brought under control with an effective and widely used vaccine.Many jobless Americans are now collecting checks under two federal programs that were set up this year to ease the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic. But those programs are set to expire the day after Christmas. When they do, benefits will end completely for an estimated 9.1 million unemployed people.The number of people collecting aid under one of those programs — the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which offers coverage to gig workers and others who don’t qualify for traditional benefits — fell by 339,000 to 8.9 million for the week ending Nov. 14.But the number of people receiving aid under the second program — the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides 13 weeks of federal benefits to people who have exhausted their state aid — rose by 60,000 to 4.6 million.All told, roughly 20.2 million people are now receiving some type of unemployment aid. (Figures for the two pandemic-related programs aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations.)Still, the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, has concluded that the jobless claims numbers are being distorted by flaws in the way the government collects the data. The GAO said the problem arose because the Labor Department uses state numbers as a proxy for the number of people claiming benefits nationwide. But backlogs in state processing of claims and other data-collection problems have resulted in inaccurate counts, the GAO reported.For months, Congress has failed to agree on any new stimulus aid for jobless individuals and struggling businesses after the expiration of a multi-trillion dollar rescue package enacted in March. This week, though, efforts to forge some limited short-term rescue package have intensified. Democrats have scaled back their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half in hopes of breaking the logjam.Democratic leaders have given their support to a nearly $1 trillion package as a “basis” for discussions. This plan would establish a $300-a-week jobless benefit, send $160 billion to help state and local governments, boost schools and universities, revive “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses and bail out transit systems and airlines. So far, though, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been unwilling to abandon a $550 million Senate Republican plan that failed twice this fall.President-elect Joe Biden lent his support to the bipartisan effort Wednesday, saying the developing aid package “wouldn’t be the answer, but it would be the immediate help for a lot of things.” Biden said he wants a relief bill to pass Congress now, with more aid to follow next year.Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, the promise of a vaccine could help ease the health and economic crises in coming months. In the meantime, with the virus still raging, the economic damage has become increasingly visible. The data firm Homebase reports that its measures of job market health — employees working, hours worked and businesses open — have deteriorated from where they stood in the summer.“We expect conditions to worsen, placing increased pressure on Main Street as small businesses continue to struggle to survive,? Homebase researchers wrote.Likewise, the data firm Womply estimates that 21% of small businesses were shuttered at the start of November, up from June’s 16% rate. Womply also said that consumer spending at local businesses declined 30% last month from a year earlier, marking a deterioration from a 20% year-over-year decline in October.Americans are bracing for the picture to worsen: Thirty per cent of adults surveyed by the Commerce Department from Nov. 11 to 23 reported that they or someone in their household expected to lose income in the next four weeks, up from 23% of those surveyed from Sept. 30 to Oct. 12.Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
SHEET HARBOUR – The Royal Canadian Legion Courcelette Branch 58 is hurting like other non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. During good times the legion was self-sufficient, sponsoring ongoing fundraisers – such as bingos, 50/50 draws, hall rentals, dances and darts – to cover operating costs and ongoing maintenance. After 10 months of an unprecedented pandemic affecting many aspects of the economy, legion members are looking at their budget and reaching out to the community for continued support. A member of the fundraising committee, Barby Cochrane has a message for residents who rely on the legion and the services it offers. “We need the community's help and support. When we open back up in two weeks, we need those who feel safe to come out on Friday night, even if it is just to have one drink or buy a strip of tickets [Chase the Ace]. We need those who cannot come out to reach out to us and we'll arrange to get tickets for you or you can support the 50/50 online,” says Cochrane. “Our numbers for Chase the Ace usually increase week by week, but this year they did not. We had our steady 30 or so participants weekly. “The legion is the only place in the community to gather and it would be a loss to the community, if we had to shut the doors permanently,” Cochrane tells The Journal in an email. “We'll continue to promote the 50/50. We'll hopefully get some of the Covid-19 relief funds from the government. Hopefully, we'll be able to open again after these two weeks, and we'll be able to start Chase the Ace again and community events. But, none of this will matter unless we get the support from our community,” Cochrane says. Past President Vance Thompson adds, “We have helped 25 different organizations within our community over the past few years with Chase the Ace – paying out more than $150,000. We also have a benevolent fund to help people in need – not only vets, but also community members…. The income is used to keep our aging hall going – roof repairs, plumbing repairs, new accessible washroom, new kitchen, new bar fridge, wheelchair ramps, general upkeep of exterior. All these help customers access the building and feel welcome.” Yearly dues are $40 per member, with the local legion receiving a small percentage of that income. Fundraising efforts are the main source of income, although the legion does rely heavily on grants. “We also support community groups, such as the Lions Club, Lily's Hill, GSAR, ATV club, HYGGE [Travel Club], the Sheet Harbour and Area Heritage Society and St. James Church by partnering with them for our Chase the Ace fundraiser,” Cochrane says. “In the past we have helped individual community members when we were able. We also provide rent free space to any and all fundraisers in the community. It is our way of contributing to the fundraiser.” The building is in need of a new roof. The expected expenditure will be in excess of $40,000. Cochrane says they have applied for grants to cover approximately $30,000, but the fundraising committee and legion members will need to work to raise the balance. “The pandemic has hit us hard,” Thompson says. “We had to close our hall in mid-March and we re-opened in mid-September – only now to be closed again for the next few weeks. All events and rentals we had going on are now cancelled until further notice.” There will be about $2,000 in lost income due to the cancellations. “Our membership is primarily made up of elderly residents who are now not able to visit our branch,” Cochrane says. “They cannot come out for Muffin Morning or Chase the Ace or bingo. The reduction in the number of people attending events has impacted our income substantially … yet the building must still be maintained and the expenses must still be paid.” The legion’s service officer supports veterans by providing a confidential service. The officer liaises with other organizations on behalf of the veteran to ensure that they receive everything to which they are entitled. “The branch provides a place for the veterans to gather, services to honour them, and a place where they can remember,” says Cochrane. “We support our veterans through our service officers and poppy campaign, helping them with any requirements they require. As for the community, the legion has always been there for them – even more now that we are the only hall open in the area,” Thompson says. The legion faces membership challenges as most branch members are elderly. “The legion won't continue to operate, if younger people in the community don't get involved. We have to hire maintenance, such as cleaning and sanitizing after events, and shoveling and snow clearing,” Cochrane says. Sometime after Dec. 7, a new Chase the Ace license will start and the Rafflebox 50/50 online draw will continue weekly. Bingo has been closed for the winter and the hall will be open to rentals or community fundraisers. Muffin Morning, dart league and pool will continue to be offered. “The government protocols allow half the normal allowance; 84 people can be accommodated downstairs, with 150 upstairs. Tables are arranged to allow for six-feet spacing. Masks are required and hand sanitizer is provided. We do have a sign-in procedure in case contact tracing is necessary,” says Cochrane.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
L’administration Demers annonce qu’elle prolonge jusqu’en 2025 ses programmes de crédit de taxes aux entreprises et bonifie l’un d’eux pour les cinq années à venir. Ce renouvellement est «un moyen très concret de soutenir la croissance de nos entreprises et de créer de nouveaux emplois pour les Lavallois», a déclaré le vice-président du comité exécutif et responsable des dossiers relatifs au développement économique, Stéphane Boyer. Initiés il y a deux ans, ces programmes favorisent la construction, la revitalisation, la modernisation et l’agrandissement des bâtiments sur le territoire. En 2021, la Ville étendra la portée du programme Revitalisation pour y inclure la Cité de la biotechnologie et des sciences de la vie. Jusque-là, seules les entreprises implantées dans le parc industriel Centre et le parc industriel Est du secteur Saint-Vincent-de-Paul pouvaient en bénéficier. «La bonification fait partie des actions qui visent à soutenir l’accélération du développement de la Cité de la biotech, poursuit M. Boyer, et contribuent à attirer chez nous des entreprises en sciences de la vie et en haute technologie». Le crédit de taxes, applicable sur quatre ans, couvre les travaux de construction, démolition, reconstruction, rénovation et d’agrandissement entraînant une augmentation d’au moins 30 % de la valeur foncière du bâtiment. Quant au programme Expansion, il favorise la rétention d'entreprises manufacturières lavalloise devenues trop à l’étroit dans leurs installations actuelles. Il s’agit d’un incitatif fiscal ciblant la réalisation de nouveaux projets immobiliers en soutien à la compétitivité et au développement des entreprises d’ici. Ce programme, qui s’applique d’une rive à l’autre, offre aux investisseurs un congé fiscal jusqu’à concurrence de 1,6 M$ par année, et ce, sur une période consécutive de 5 ans. Le crédit de taxes équivaut à un pourcentage de la hausse de la valeur foncière générale établie après la réalisation des travaux admissibles. Prendre note qu’« aucun crédit de taxes ne sera accordé si les travaux sont entrepris ou effectués avant la réception d’un avis écrit de conformité et d’une acceptation de la demande», précise chacun des programmes. La reconduction de ces mesures fiscales s’inscrit dans le cadre du Plan de relance économique de la Ville de Laval lancé en juillet pour minimiser les impacts de la crise sanitaire.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts the country is about to go through “the most difficult time in the public health history of the nation.” (Dec. 3)
The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) says it is looking into several instances of uninvited strangers joining online classes and disrupting lessons.Nathalie Seskus, a Grade 7 St. Alphonsus School student — and the daughter of a CBC employee — said that since moving online this week, her class has been crashed by uninvited strangers more than once."It happened in two calls — one on [a] Google meeting, one on Zoom, where people who aren't part of our school or class have just been joining in calls," Seskus said.Seskus, 12, said the students and teacher can tell when someone uninvited had joined their chat rooms because of their usernames."We noticed because we're always supposed to use our real names when we're on calls. When we don't, we're asked to change them," she said. "In one case, when we were on a Zoom meeting, a man who was posing as a student had a random username."Seskus said the teacher told him to leave because he wasn't part of her class."She had kicked him out of the meeting and he joined again," Seskus said.She said in the other case, the intruder claimed to be a new student. "But he sounded like a man, not a child," Seskus said. "Everyone in the class was telling our teacher to kick them out. So she did, and we didn't see him pop up again."Disruptions were more common in the springBryan Szumlas, chief superintendent of the CCSD, said these disruptions are definitely happening — but were more common in the spring."For example, zoom back from March to June, there were some security issues with them, but they have since improved their technology significantly," Szumlas said. "It has been assessed by our Calgary Catholic technology team and it is a platform that we are comfortable with."Szumlas said the process of moving all Grade 7 to 12 students online this week was bound to include hiccups along the way. "What I did hear wasn't a huge problem," Szumlas said. "But I did hear about it in one or two classrooms where a teacher never clicked on a security feature and consequently [people outside the class joined]."We suspect it was just another student playing a prank and jumping into a class and making an inappropriate comment and then taking off."Szumlas said these types of incidents are taken very seriously and investigated fully."When something like this happens, obviously the teacher would communicate that to the principal and the principal would then start an investigation," Szumlas said. Szumlas said that should an incident be criminal, then the principal would also contact Calgary police, adding that police have not yet been required.Moving students onlineThe superintendent said the direction from the province to move older students online came relatively quickly."There was only four or five days for teachers to prepare," he said. "So the direction that we've given our teachers is that, use whatever platform you're comfortable with, so that we can continue the continuity of education."We've tried to give our teachers choice here. And I think we live in a world today that is so full of different technologies that are improving continuously, that having that rich variety is only good for our staff and good for our students."Szumlas said the district is constantly working with staff to help them understand some of the new security features on Zoom and other online platforms."One of the measures is that all students need to wait in the waiting room and then be admitted by the teacher and the teacher by clicking a few buttons within Zoom can lock in the student names and also prevent other people from accessing the room," he said.Calgary Board of Education experienceThe Calgary Board of Education said this is not an issue it has been seeing."We have not heard of incidences of strangers being a part of online lessons with our students," said the CBE in an emailed statement.The majority of the CBE's online learning takes place through Google Classrooms or D2L, according to the district."Classroom spaces, physical or digital, are learning environments specific for guiding interactions between teachers and students," the statement read.The CBE said there have been instances where a parent or guardian pops in on a lesson. "Caregivers entering a classroom space without invite and without following all of our guidelines are asked to leave and reminded of the importance of privacy for all students," the statement read."In most cases, our school-based administrators share the expectations of the classroom and parallel these expectations with face-to-face learning environments, and parents or caregivers are very understanding and receptive."
Anyone looking to get a glimpse of Santa Claus in Windsor on Saturday will have to make an appointment. The drive-thru Windsor Santa Claus Parade is moving to a reservation system after some other events in the region saw congestion issues and long waits.Tickets are free, and reservations can be made here.This year's event was changed to a drive-thru, or reverse parade, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees remain in their vehicles and drive by the floats. The parade will feature entertainers, inflatables and horse units."Although far from a normal parade concept, this method allows for social distancing and has been reviewed by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit," the City of Windsor said in a statement.The parade, which is produced by the non-profit Windsor Parade Corporation, is being held on Saturday at 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the St. Clair College Windsor Campus.In a statement, the city said ticketed admission will allow vehicles to smoothly move onto the parade route, as well as minimize traffic congestion on Cabana Rd.Parade officials have established half-hour time blocks for families to book their visit. As of publication, the earliest slots (ending at 7:30 p.m.) are full.
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
COVID-19 patients from northern British Columbia are being sent to Victoria for care, as both case counts and hospitalizations in the Northern Health region surge to unprecedented levels.Since mid-November, northern B.C. has seen a sharp spike in positive test results, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising from 96 between Nov. 1 and 15 to 343 between Nov. 16 and 30.The number of patients requiring hospitalization, meanwhile, is happening at rates higher than anywhere else in the province. With just six per cent of the province's population, Northern Health patients now account for as many as 20 per cent of the critical care patients on any given day — and health-care providers are feeling the strain."I think the last time I had any days off was August," said Dr. Lovedeep Khara, an intensive care doctor at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, where the majority of the region's COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care wind up.The current situation in northern B.C. is a sharp contrast to the spring and summer, when the region went weeks without any new infections, or even spring, when there were only one or two new cases at a time.Now, Khara said, hospital staff are going "at full speed," foregoing holidays and regular downtime to handle the influx of new patients. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact COVID patients remain in intensive care for days or weeks at a time, requiring specialized teams, rooms and equipment to keep everyone safe from infection."Everybody is pretty strained and stressed," said Dr. Simon Rose, another ICU specialist in Prince George. "Not just doctors and nurses, but support and cleaning staff."Near-surge capacityNorthern B.C. has 41 critical care beds, 24 of which were occupied on Dec. 1. But what's more important, health-care workers say, is the number of people available to staff them.Fort St. John, for example, is able to look after patients with relatively mild symptoms, but once they need a ventilator or ICU care, they will likely be sent to Prince George where there are more doctors and respiratory therapists to support them. And this past week, at least two patients were sent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to try to take some of the strain off hospitals in the north.Courtenay Kelliher, who is in charge of Northern Health's pandemic response, said health-care workers in the region are reaching their limits and expressed hope cases will start to decline soon."A surge should be like a tidal wave," she said. "It comes in and it goes out, and you hope not to see a big one like that again." But the fear, Kelliher said, is that even though they've been operating at near-capacity for weeks, it's still unclear whether the wave has peaked or if it will continue to grow.Adding to the stress is what some health-care workers view as a growing backlash to not just public safety measures, but the very notion of whether COVID-19 is even a concern. "When you get to the end of your day ... and post after post and article after article is people complaining that the guidelines are too much and the orders are too much and this is a conspiracy … it leaves you feeling, just, defeated," Kelliher said."We went from in the springtime where the public held these pot-clanking parades and honking parades [for] frontline workers … And now it's almost been a 180 where there's sort of a hostility towards us.""It just adds to that emotional exhaustion that already exists."To hear more on how hospitals in the north are handling the surge in COVID-19 patients, and how it is impacting healthcare professionals in the region, tap the audio below.Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Le déversement d’hydrocarbures dans un fossé qui se décharge dans la rivière aux Brochets, à Frelighsburg, se poursuit. Signalé une première fois le jeudi 26 novembre, puis le lendemain et encore cette semaine, le problème n’est toujours pas réglé à sa source. La Voix de l’Est est allée constater l’état de la situation sur place, mercredi après-midi. La forte odeur d’essence a confirmé à l’équipe qu’elle avait bel et bien trouvé le fossé en question. Avec le nez fin, on peut percevoir l’odeur dès l’accotement de la route 237. Elle est encore plus forte en descendant près du fossé. Anthoni Barbe, responsable des communications de l’Organisme de bassin versant de la baie Missisquoi, dont la rivière aux Brochets et ses affluents font partie, a signalé que le déversement se poursuivait, mardi, et qu’il se poursuivrait encore. L’inspecteur du ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) ne considèrerait pas ce déversement comme une urgence puisqu’il n’est pas assez significatif, même s’il s’étire dans le temps, selon ce qu’a rapporté le maire de Frelighsburg à M. Barbe. Interpellé par téléphone, le maire Jean Lévesque ne nous a pas rappelés. Contamination « minime » Le MELCC avance qu’il s’agit d’une contamination minime, à l’état de traces. « Des eaux de ruissellement ont pu atteindre le fossé durant les travaux d’excavation, mais pas d’hydrocarbures, écrit Daniel Messier, conseiller en communication et porte-parole régional du MELCC, dans un échange de courriels. Aucun déversement des eaux usées industrielles ni de bris d’équipements n’aurait eu lieu. Le ministère n’a décelé aucun indice de déversement au sol, dans le fossé ou au cours d’eau. Aucune odeur perceptible caractéristique au diesel ou à l’essence n’a été constatée. » Pourtant, sur place mercredi, une odeur d’essence était perceptible. Anthoni Barbe et ses contacts à Frelighsburg avaient aussi décelé cette odeur assez forte. Informé de ces détails à jour, M. Messier a confirmé qu’il poserait d’autres questions au personnel du ministère. « Il est possible que des traces d’hydrocarbures d’une vieille contamination aient émergé des travaux d’excavation, puisque ceux-ci sont situés dans l’ancien stationnement de l’entreprise, poursuit-il. Avec le phénomène de l’irisation [NDLR: reflet rappelant les couleurs de l’arc-en-ciel], il faut comprendre qu’une très petite quantité d’hydrocarbures s’étend sur une grande surface au contact de l’eau. » La nature du produit et la quantité rejetée dans la nature sont des variables toujours inconnues. Le MELCC ajoute également qu’il n’y aurait plus de traces d’hydrocarbures depuis lundi dernier, contrairement à ce qui a été observé depuis. Collaboration de la Maison de la pomme Daniel Messier assure que l’entreprise d’où proviennent les contaminants, la Maison de la pomme, collabore avec le ministère. Elle a effectué les travaux demandés par « mesures de précaution » en installant un bassin de rétention, une barrière à sédiments ressemblant à une clôture de bâches, des boudins et des couches absorbantes. Le sol a également été creusé autour pour remblayer les côtés du fossé et forcer l’eau à passer à travers un tuyau placé au fond du fossé. Entrevue refusée Rencontré par hasard sur place, le copropriétaire Benoit Caron n’a pas voulu commenter la situation, même pour faire la lumière sur ce qui s’est passé ou sur la nature du produit chimique qui s’est retrouvé dans la nature. Il assure ne pas savoir de quoi il s’agit, ni d’où ça provient, et qu’Urgence Environnement a fait affaire avec ses employés, si bien qu’il n’en saurait pas plus. L’entreprise a obtenu un permis de la Municipalité pour agrandir l’entrepôt réfrigéré. L’usine a également fait des travaux, dernièrement, pour alimenter en eau cette nouvelle section. Délais d’action Mis au fait des derniers développements, le président et cofondateur de la Fondation rivières, Alain Saladzius se questionne sur le temps de réaction du ministère de l’Environnement. « C’est un mystère pour moi, pourquoi le ministère de l’Environnement ne réussit pas à éclaircir tout ça ? C’est invraisemblable qu’ils ne réussissent pas à déterminer la cause de ça et que ça se poursuive. » L’ingénieur en génie civil, avec une orientation en protection de l’environnement, était surpris d’apprendre que l’eau contaminée dans le fossé n’était pas pompée. Selon lui, le fait que la quantité soit « minime », selon les inspecteurs du ministère, n’est pas une explication acceptable. Elle doit être confinée puis pompée. « Il faut qu’il y ait des amendes! Si le pollueur avait des amendes, il agirait sûrement plus rapidement. Ça traîne, c’est vraiment regrettable. » M. Saladzius salue par ailleurs la vigilance de M. Barbe dans ce dossier. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
MORRISBURG – Alight at Night may be open for the holidays, but don’t expect to see bus tours arriving this year. The St. Lawrence Parks Commission kicked off the 20th annual light event at Upper Canada Village on November 27th with limited numbers of people able to attend. Tickets are sold online only and limited to blocks in 30 minute intervals between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on nights it is open. Already, the SLPC reports that the first two weeks of tickets have been sold out. However there was concern from area residents that bus tour companies were bringing visitors from areas where higher levels of COVID-19 infection are located. Several tour companies have listings on their websites for bus trips to Alight At Night from previous years, or for 2021. No bus tour packages have been advertised for 2020. “For the 2020 season, group sales have been paused,” said SLPC spokesperson Rosalyn Gambhir. “Upper Canada Village does not have tour operators/companies or buses groups booked for our winter event Alight at Night.” She said that the SLPC has been working to ensure the event continues during the holiday season, even with the current pandemic situation. “This year, like our fall event Pumpkinferno, there are a limited number of tickets available each night and attendance has been drastically limited every half hour,” Gambhir said. “If needed, numbers will be adjusted based on COVID-19 protocols.” This July, the provincial government provided a $7 million funding infusion to the cash-strapped agency, to assist with operating during the pandemic. Two million of that funding was specifically for Upper Canada Village, which ran a shorter season for 2020 with fewer parts of the attraction open. The SLPC was able to run the popular Pumpkinferno event throughout October. Alight at Night runs on select nights until December 17th, then operates nightly except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day until January 2nd.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader