Due to the coronavirus, this year's hajj in Mecca has been limited to about 1,000 pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia.
Due to the coronavirus, this year's hajj in Mecca has been limited to about 1,000 pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia.
A historic meeting between Israel's prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince has sent a strong signal to allies and enemies alike that the two countries remain deeply committed to containing their common foe Iran. Last Sunday's covert meeting in the Saudi city of Neom, confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh, conveyed a coordinated message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that Washington's main allies in the region are closing ranks. It was the first publicly confirmed visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader and a meeting that was unthinkable until recently as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.
WATERLOO REGION — Three local Indigenous leaders are getting recognition for their advocacy and activism. Atlohsa Family Healing Services, a not-for-profit organization that provides Indigenous-focused programming and services, has chosen O:se Kenhionhata:tie — also known as Land Back Camp — as one of eight recipients of the 2020 Atlohsa Peace Awards. Launched in 2018, the Atlohsa Peace Awards recognize leaders who make significant contributions toward addressing Truth and Reconciliation in their communities. Land Back Camp organizers Shawn Johnston and Amy Smoke are being honoured for their success in engaging the City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, and the Region of Waterloo to address their calls to action. They are also being lauded for creating a space where urban Indigenous youth have been drawn in efforts to reclaim land, language, and traditions. This year’s ceremony on Dec. 10 will feature live performances and a keynote from Sen. Murray Sinclair, the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba. Proceeds from ticket sales for the awards ceremony go toward Zhaawanong in London, Ontario, a 24-hour emergency women’s shelter that provides Indigenous-led crisis support for women and their children at risk of violence, abuse and homelessness. Smoke, manager of Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) at the University of Waterloo, is also being recognized locally. Smoke has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Ken Murray Award from the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, which will be awarded at KWCF’s upcoming Chair’s reception on Wednesday, Dec. 2. Local Indigenous leaders are also receiving national awards. Lori Campbell, WISC director, was recently recognized as one of the 2020 Women of Inspiration by the Universal Women’s Network two weeks ago. Campbell wrote in an email that this national award for her work as an Indigenous leader was an honour, and that nominations in several other categories floored her. “It tells me that I’m having an impact not only in the Indigenous community but as a leader in the broader community.”Fitsum Areguy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
Places for People (P4P) will build Haliburton’s newest not-for-profit housing development on Wallings Road with the blessing of the municipality. Dysart et al council passed a resolution of support in principle to dispose of the property to begin the process of providing it for P4P. The not-for-profit is planning to develop 10-12 affordable housing units for $2-$2.5 million by fall 2022, raising money with community bonds. Since P4P first proposed this in August, deputy mayor Patrick Kennedy said the municipality has worked with them to find a municipal property that would work for the development. The road is off County Road 21 just past the high school, next to the First Student Canada site. “It’s a suitable piece of property, we believe. It’s close to the town for walking, very close on the sewage line,” Kennedy said. “I’m excited about moving this project forward.” Mayor Andrea Roberts said the municipality will work on a memorandum of understanding and a subcommittee with P4P to get all the needed elements in place to advance the project. P4P chair, Jody Curry, said the group has assembled a design team including an architect and a planning consultant ready to go to work. She said they know how to develop this land and plan to incorporate green space. “We’re excited to hear it may absolutely be possible you may grant us this property,” Curry said. “For us, this is just a perfect fit, so we can’t say enough about this piece of property. “Thanks, Dysart, for providing a great, big, exciting light in our future. And we’re hoping you’re going to make it a green light.” Coun. Larry Clarke said the project is vital to address the housing shortage in the area. “You talk to any business in town and there’s no place for them to house staff, even if they want to hire,” Clarke said. “This is a critical element for this community.” “We’ll keep the ball rolling on this one,” Roberts said. “You guys are shining lights of volunteerism in our community.”Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Vivian Zayas can’t keep herself from scrolling through photos of last Thanksgiving, when her mother stood at the stove to make a big pot of rice and beans and then took a seat at the edge of the table.That was before anyone had heard of COVID-19 and before it claimed the retired seamstress. Ana Martinez died at 78 on April 1 while recovering at a nursing home from a knee replacement.The family is having their traditional meal of turkey, yams, green beans and rice and beans — but Zayas is removing a seat from the table at her home in Deer Park, New York, and putting her mother’s walker in its place.“It’s a painful Thanksgiving. You don’t even know, should you celebrate?” asked Zayas. “It’s a lonely time.”The family is left with “an empty chair at the table forever," another daughter, Alexa Rivera, said Thursday.Americans are marking the Thanksgiving holiday amid an unrelenting pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people in the United States.Turkey and pies will still come out of ovens, football will still be on TV, families will still give thanks and have lively conversations about politics. But this holiday has been utterly altered after months filled with sorrows and hardships: Many feasts are weighed down by the loss of loved ones; others have been cancelled or scaled back with the virus surging.Zoom and FaceTime calls have become a fixture at dinner tables to connect with family members who don't want to travel. Far fewer volunteers are helping at soup kitchens or community centres. A Utah health department has been delivering boxes of food to residents who are infected with the virus and can't go to the store. A New York nursing home is offering drive-up visits for families of residents struggling with celebrating the holiday alone.“The holidays make it a little harder,” said Harriet Krakowsky, an 85-year-old resident of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in New York who misses the big Thanksgiving celebrations of years past and has lost neighbours and friends to the virus. “I cry, but I get over it. We have to go on.”On any normal Thanksgiving Day, Kara McKlemurry and her husband would drive from their Clearwater, Florida, home to one of two places: his family’s home in another part of the state or her family’s house in Alabama. This year, McKlemurry informed her family there would be no visits. When her in-laws offered to stop by, the couple said no.She and her husband didn’t want to risk infecting anyone or getting the virus themselves.Not everyone followed McKlemurry’s example. Millions of Americans bought tickets to fly somewhere for the holiday, crowding airports despite pleas from officials to avoid travel and gatherings.Still, McKlemurry, 27, wanted to do something unique to mark this unusual holiday — something to let everyone know that she and her husband still feel blessed this year.So, a week before Thanksgiving, armed with colored pens and stickers of owls with scarves, she hand wrote notes of gratitude to every member of the family.“We’re so grateful to have you in our lives,” she wrote on a card with a cartoon fox, “even if we can’t actually be together this year for the holidays.”In the nation’s capital, the convention centre is empty unlike in previous years, when volunteers have worked together to serve a meal to about 5,000 people. In the era of social distancing, the sponsored event had to be reimagined.Ahead of the holiday, organizers delivered to 20 nonprofits 5,000 gift bags, each with winter clothing accessories, hand sanitizer and a mask, and 5,000 boxes that included a turkey sandwich with condiments, a side potato salad, a cookie and utensils.From start to finish, Thanksgiving is different this year for Jessica Franz, a nurse who works the graveyard shift at Olathe Medical Center, in a Kansas City suburb.For one, Franz, 39, is celebrating without her mother-in-law, Elaine Franz, who died of the coronavirus on Nov. 10, just one day before her 78th birthday. In previous years, her mother-in-law, who was Mennonite, would lay out a spread for her children and grandchildren. At Franz's work, in a typical year, co-workers would bring food for a potluck.None of that is happening this year.The family is shifting the festivities to Zoom and FaceTime. It’s been hard for her daughters — ages, 2, 8 and 11. Her middle daughter was exposed to the coronavirus at school and is quarantined until Dec. 3, and her oldest daughter is struggling with the concept of a scaled-back holiday.“We had a good conversation that was, ‘This year may be different, and that’s OK. It is one year. If things are different this year and that means we get to see all the rest of our family next year, it is OK,’” said Franz, who has personally cared for patients dying of coronavirus.The Thanksgiving gathering at David Forsyth's home in Southern California, meanwhile, comes with a uniquely 2020 feel: rapid virus tests at the door to decide who gets inside.The kit costs about $1,000 for 20 tests, each of which involve pricking a finger and putting a drop of blood on a tray. Ten minutes later the results either show someone is negative, has antibodies or is positive.Normally, about 15 to 20 people attend the family’s Thanksgiving dinner in Channel Islands Harbor. But this year, it will only be eight of them: Forsyth, his wife, her four adult sons and the partners of two of them.His wife started cooking Tuesday. She’s planning a cold cucumber soup for a starter and bunch of appetizers for the early afternoon meal. The sons are bringing side dishes. Turkey and the fixings are the main course. Champagne may be cracked.Forsyth hasn’t seen his family much during the pandemic but wanted to save the holiday.“People are trying to live a normal life," he said. "And, you know, with the second wave coming now, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared.”Kerry Osaki longs to see his now-grown children, without masks, and hug them. But instead he and his wife are celebrating just the two of them after their traditions were upended.Osaki's 93-year-old mother, Rose, who lived with the couple in Orange County in California, died from the virus after all three got sick.With his mother gone, Osaki, 67, and his cousin decided to pass on the family's annual Thanksgiving get-together. His wife, Lena Adame, typically spent the holiday cooking a spread of turkey and stuffing with her relatives — but some had seen virus cases at their workplaces, so the couple decided to skip that, too.“It’s just been a long, rough and sometimes sad year,” he said.In Ogden, Utah, Evelyn Maysonet stepped out of her home Tuesday morning to find boxes overflowing with canned goods, desserts and a turkey. She has been isolating with her husband and son since all three tested positive for COVID-19.None of them has been able to leave to buy groceries, so they were thrilled to receive the health department’s delivery — and the chance to cherish the things that matter most.“As long as you have a life and you’re still alive, just make the best of it with you and your family,” Maysonet said.___Associated Press journalists Tamara Lush, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Sophia Eppolito, Amy Taxin and John Minchillo contributed to this report.Regina Garcia Cano, Matt Sedensky And Heather Hollingsworth, The Associated Press
Some Alberta faith communities are opting to suspend gatherings, despite rules allowing in-person worship to continue across the province. On Tuesday, the government announced new restrictions on places of worship, in areas like Calgary and Edmonton — anywhere with an enhanced status. The rules stipulate that faith leaders must calculate their pre-COVID attendance and cut it down to one-third of the regular total.The province encouraged online services, along with the distinction that in-person meetings and religious gatherings cannot be conducted in a private home while the measures are in effect. But some religious leaders say this doesn't go far enough and have ceased offering mass and in-person religious gatherings for the time being. Others have tightened their restrictions above and beyond the province's mandate.The Very Rev. Leighton Lee is the director of the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, which is the Anglican cathedral in downtown Calgary. He's also the dean of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. When cases began to climb, Lee was asked to reconvene a task force to come up with recommendations and measures to respond to the second wave of the pandemic. The decision was to suspend services beginning Nov. 15 until at least Dec. 6 — subject to change based on the pandemic situation. "We were making this decision to say, 'look, we can do our part and we can, in fact, be leaders in the community,'" Lee said. "We are faith leaders and we can demonstrate that by saying we believe the responsible thing to do as citizens of this province is to stay home as much as possible."The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee of St. Laurence Anglican Church said that while the diocese has decided to suspend mass for the time being, a message from the government would be more impactful and less confusing. "I commend churches that are sort of taking matters into their own hands," Greenwood-Lee said. "Frankly, it's confusing when we sort of put an extra layer of responsibility on churches to have to go above and beyond the guidance provided by the province."During the pandemic, Greenwood-Lee said there are other things more important than mass for her community, such as acts of service to the vulnerable populations who need a hand."We're called to donate to the food bank. Some of my parishioners are driving for the food bank right now to drop off food hampers at people's homes," Greenwood-Lee said."There's all sorts of good work that we can do as people of faith, even though we can't worship together on Sundays in person."Government 'sending the wrong message'Greenwood-Lee said the government's lack of limitations when it comes to in-person faith gatherings sends the wrong message, especially when faith-based gatherings have accounted for several of the province's outbreaks."[Premier] Jason Kenney seems hesitant to curtail people's rights or freedoms, but there's a basic ethical concept that none of us have any rights without responsibilities," Greenwood-Lee said."We have responsibilities to our neighbours. We have responsibilities to pay taxes. We have responsibilities not to drive while intoxicated. And right now we have a responsibility to limit public worship, to limit social gatherings, to wear a mask in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society."'If it's not safe we won't do it'First Alliance Church Calgary has two campuses in the city. In pre-pandemic times, one of the auditoriums was able to seat more than 2,000, lead pastor James Paton said.But after the pandemic's first wave, attendance was not encouraged, just available. To his knowledge, when people attended worship services after reopening, at most they were sitting 200 to 300 people, with distancing in place.With the rise in COVID-19 cases across Alberta, Paton said it was decided to stop weekend services until the weekend of Jan. 9."Whether that becomes the date with the open or not, I think would be very dependent on whether the multi-wave pandemic has got back under control," Paton said. "If that's not safe, we won't do it."Imam says mosque going above and beyond rulesShaikh Fayaz Tilly, a senior imam with the Muslim Council of Calgary and chaplain with the University of Calgary, said mosques in-person programming has moved online. The only in-person worship is permitted for Friday prayer."All of our programming, with the exception of Friday prayer, has switched to online programming," Tilly said. "The Qur'an speaks about, you know, Friday, the day of congregating, as long as it is safe for people to congregate. And we truly believe that, you know, families who pray together, stay together as a community to pray together, stay together as well."Tilly added the mosque is going above and beyond government recommendations in terms of attendance and health measures. For Friday prayer, he is encouraging only those who are healthy and without comorbidities to attend in person. Prayer lasts for approximately 12 minutes, Tilly said, and congregating isn't allowed. 'How can we preserve human life?'Rabbi Mark Glickman is the spiritual leader of Temple B'nai Tikvah. He said in-person gatherings have been suspended. He cannot speak for other temples but noted some of the more conservative groups have practices and rules that don't allow an easy shift to online worship."The Jewish perspective on the question of to shut down or not shut down comes down to how can we most effectively preserve human life? And that trumps everything in Judaism," Glickman said."That's really what we're looking for … however possible."Alberta Health did not have a percentage breakdown to reflect how many COVID-19 cases have been traced to faith communities. But the agency did note there have been "various large outbreaks" throughout the pandemic.
VICTORIA — B.C. Premier John Horgan's new cabinet relies on some familiar faces in key positions with Adrian Dix remaining in health and David Eby at attorney general, but he appointed new finance and education ministers Thursday in an expanded inner circle that will focus on keeping people safe through the pandemic.Selina Robinson, the former minister of municipal affairs and housing, was named finance minister, replacing Carole James, who did not seek re-election last month due to health reasons.Horgan said his government will rely on a variety of ministers in the fight against COVID-19 and to steer the province's economic recovery efforts. But Dix, Robinson and Ravi Kahlon, who was appointed jobs, economic recovery and innovation minister, will carry many of the pandemic duties.Khalon is taking on "an enormous responsibility" and will be responsible for the province's recovery plan announced in September, Horgan told a news conference."Ravi will be the point person and I'm confident that he is going to make sure everything we can do will be done," Horgan said.Khalon, a former Olympic field hockey player, served as Horgan's parliamentary secretary in the forests ministry in the last NDP government.Horgan had similar praise for Robinson, saying her work ethic is unprecedented and she's well known across B.C. from her work as the municipal affairs and housing minister. She is also a former city council member in Coquitlam."I have tremendous trust in her capacity," he said. "I gave her an awful lot to do on the housing file, on the municipal affairs file. Her understanding of the people of B.C. is unmatched."James will continue to work with Horgan as a special adviser, taking a post that pays $1 a year, Horgan said.Newcomer Jennifer Whiteside, a former official with the Hospital Employees' Union who ran for the New Democrats in New Westminster, was named education minister, replacing Rob Fleming, who was moved to the transportation portfolio.Horgan says his 57-member caucus will be engaged in the government's decision making either as parliamentary secretaries or through new government caucus committees that have been put in place. He described the cabinet as "a diverse and dynamic team."The NDP won a majority government in last month's election, capturing 57 of the 87 seats in the legislature.The new cabinet includes 20 ministers and four ministers of state. Horgan named 12 men and 12 women to cabinet posts, who are supported by 13 parliamentary secretaries.The premier kept some of his most senior ministers in their previous cabinet posts, including Mike Farnworth as solicitor general and Harry Bains as labour minister. Eby was given the added responsibility of housing.Three former MPs were handed cabinet posts, with Murray Rankin being named Indigenous relations and reconciliation minister; Nathan Cullen as minister of state for lands, natural resource operations; and Sheila Malcolmson, who served in the last legislature after leaving federal politics, becoming the minister of mental health and addictions.Fin Donnelly, also a former MP, was named parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture.Among the newcomers to cabinet are Mitzi Dean at children and family development; former Tofino mayor Josie Osbourne at municipal affairs; and Nicholas Simons at social development and poverty reduction.The swearing-in ceremony was different because of the pandemic. Horgan was with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin at the University of Victoria for the ceremony, while all the cabinet ministers, except Eby who was at the university, were sworn in through video links.People across B.C. are struggling with the burdens of the pandemic, now in its ninth month, Horgan said."But we are buoyed by the good news of vaccines on the way, but until then, we have to continue to do our level best to keep the second wave of COVID-19 under control and prepare for the new year." Horgan has recalled the legislature for a brief session with a throne speech on Dec. 7.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. Previous version spelled the last name as Khalon. It is Ravi Kahlon.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said the province's health care system is strained amid a worsening pandemic.On Thursday the SHA gave an update on how it's ramping up its response to the pandemic during a news conference in Regina. The announcement came after the province reported 299 new cases and three more deaths. Officials say the pressure on the health system is so severe, some non-essential services will have to be reduced in the weeks ahead.There are currently 108 Saskatchewan residents in hospital due to the virus. High contact rateThe SHA said the current two week average of cases of approximately 214 per day equals to 32,000 hours of contact tracing over a two-week period.The average case has 7.5 contacts, according to the SHA. That number is dropping, according to the province. But SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said that some people who have COVID-19 are in contact with an extremely high number of people."Unfortunately, over the last month, some of our investigations have revealed that some individuals have as many as 150 contacts for a single positive case with today's numbers. It's likely we're going to see more increased pressure," Livingstone said. He said infections and contact tracing are affecting health workplaces. "We've had a number of recent cases where 20 to 30 staff have been forced to isolate, which in some of the smaller facilities across the province, that would completely debilitate them with respect to providing any services at all."He said that the more cases there are in the community, the higher the chance a health care worker is a close contact and will have to isolate.As of Thursday, Saskatoon has 35 COVID-19 patients in hospital. The SHA said Saskatoon is at 97 per cent capacity in its ICU capacity. That leaves the facility with only two open beds. Livingstone said this indicates that it is critical for the public to follow orders and limit their contacts.""If we let this go unchecked....we are sending our health care workers into a Lion's Den," Livingstone said. What will be neededThe SHA said the next few weeks are critical for the virus to get under control. It said it plans to use a "dimmer switch" strategy to increase and decrease services. It called using field hospitals a last resort.If cases continue to surge, the SHA will need: * Additional staff for increased testing and contact tracing. * Additional hospital staff to support increases in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. * Additional long-term care staff to support staff cohorting and outbreak management. * Responsiveness to situations where large numbers of staff are required to isolate due to being a close contact with a positive case.If the case surge continues, the SHA said it will have to create approximately 200 more beds for COVID-19 patients than currently exist in all the hospitals outside of Saskatoon and Regina combined.SHA surge plans call for added staffing to perform contact tracing for at least 450 cases per day. The SHA said 450 cases per day would create 72,000 hours of work for contact tracers over a two week time span.
Among a series of new measures instituted by the province to attempt to quell the spread of COVID-19 was an expanded mask mandate for schools. The announcement, made Wednesday, non-medical masking will be extended to all students, employees and visitors in all schools and daycares in the province. Children aged three years old to 12 years old now should wear a mask if they are able to. As has been the practice before children ages up to two-years old are exempt from wearing masks. Both the Prince Albert Catholic School Division and Saskatchewan Rivers School Division have adapted to the new measures. The Catholic Division had already put out a notice to schools that mandatory masks would be required for Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3 students in the division, previously the only group excluded. “I realize that came out in the public health order this afternoon but we had initiated that out today to our schools. We had decided that we would do so regardless of what the province is doing,” Trumier said. They used prior experiences in the pandemic as part of the decision. “We know that there was good support for it earlier when children over two-years of age had to wear them in public places. At that point we deliberated and said we would do the same,” she explained. Trumier explained that they have tried to stay ahead of the curve on the evolving public health orders in the province. In Saskatchewan Rivers, similar changes were instituted, according to director of education Robert Bratvold. Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 students and staff will wear masks throughout the day. Bratvold explained that the division would be following the measures including exemptions for medical or other reasons. This makes a change from the previous Sask. Rivers measures where Pre-Kindergarten staff and Grade 4 to 12 students are already wearing masks. “The new measures will pose some challenges for some, but in SRPSD many early years students have been voluntarily wearing masks and this suggests we can overcome the challenges that young students may experience in adjusting to the wearing of masks,” Bratvold said. Some schools had already been encouraging increased mask use in younger grades. Bratvold credits staff in the division for doing excellent work thus far and explained that the staff will rely on support from families to adjust to the new measures. “Safety protocols in schools do support our communities by reducing the risk of transmission in schools but schools also depend on the people in our communities to be diligent in taking precautions to prevent COVID transmission,” he said. Both divisions emphasized that despite the challenges it is important that everyone continues to be diligent in performing the daily health screening and self-monitoring, stay home if not feeling well, call the HealthLine at 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practice proper hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, wear a mask when appropriate. Both divisions also emphasized that they each want people to do whatever they can to keep each other safe. So far, neither division has seen a case of COVID-19 transmitted through the school system.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
EDMONTON — The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in Alberta remembers her encounter with the premier as less dramatic than he suggested.Carolina De La Torre says Kenney got her central feelings correct, but she said she did not break down into tears the way Kenney recalled."No crying," the 57-year-old woman said with a laugh during a phone interview Thursday.She also said it was Kenney who approached her Calgary food court booth called Arepas Ranch for lunch in October, not the other way around as the premier told it.After weeks of mounting COVID-19 cases, as more than 1,000 new cases and 16 deaths were reported on Tuesday, Kenney announced new rules that included making indoor private social events illegal.During the news conference, Kenney gave an example of how much a lockdown would hurt businesses by telling the story of a Venezuelan refugee he met. "A couple of weeks ago, I was in my constituency, at a little food court thing and a new Albertan, a refugee from Venezuela socialism, came up to me," Kenney said."She had just opened a little food kiosk, she recognized me, she came up to me, and she broke down in tears in front of me saying, 'sir, I put my entire life savings as a refugee into this business, we're struggling to pay the bills, if you shut me down, I'm going to lose it all, everything, and I'll be in abject poverty.'""For some, perhaps, it is a little bit too easy to say just flick a switch. Shut them down," Kenney said."I would ask people who have the certainty of a paycheque to think for a moment about those individuals whose entire life savings are tied up in businesses."De La Torre and her husband run the booth, which is located a 10-minute drive from Kenney's constituency office. Born in Venezuela, De La Torre said she and her husband came to Canada with refugee status in 1989 when it became no longer safe to live there. They settled in Montreal for 25 years before they packed their bags and moved to Calgary to follow their daughter who was starting school at the University of Alberta.They have been living in Alberta for seven years and have been running Arepas Ranch for two years. They are known for making specialty arepas, which is a cornmeal patty, filled with a choice of shredded beef, chicken salad, black beans, ham, cheese, or other vegan and veggie options.At first, De La Torre said she didn't recognize Kenney when he stopped to order food and then someone from another booth told her it was the premier.De La Torre doesn't recall exactly what Kenney ordered, but she remembers the "very short" conversation they had when he came back to let them know the meal was "fantastico." She posted a picture of the premier on her Instagram. De La Torre said Kenney got her feelings right.She said it’s true that the couple put their money into the business and closing the economy would be bad for them. But she understands it’s about people’s health, which is what she told Kenney."What I said is, 'There has to be a balance between the economy and the health. There is not only me in this food court, we are more than 40 small businesses in the court that need to be open to make a way of life'."No one from Kenney's office immediately responded to a request for comment. De La Torre said when she heard Kenney mentioned her during a news conference, she was at first surprised.But now, "I didn't know what to think about it," she said."I don't know. What can I say? It's OK."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipFakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Eric Duncan, the first openly gay Conservative MP, laced into the federal health minister Thursday over the Liberals failure to end a ban on gay men donating blood. In a heated and emotional exchange during a late-night committee hearing in the House of Commons, Duncan pressed Patty Hajdu repeatedly, including a direct question on whether she'd accept a blood donation from him.Hajdu didn't directly answer, pointing to ongoing work to end a ban on donations from men who have sex with men. Canada banned blood donations from gay men since 1992 before allowing it in 2013 if the donor abstained from sex with another man for at least five years.That was changed to one year in 2016, and then three months in 2019.But the Liberals promised to end the ban completely in both 2015 and 2019.Duncan said there is a desperate need for blood donations during the second wave of COVID-19."I want to donate and make a difference, but I can't because I'm gay," he said. "In the year 2020, why is that?Hajdu said both Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec are independent from government and they have to do the right amount of research to end the ban entirely. She said the organizations have been funded by the government to do that, but Duncan accused Hajdu of hiding behind bureaucrats."She had no problem during an election campaign telling gay men this would end," he said.Three times, he asked Hajdu directly if she'd accept a blood donation from him, and three times she did not directly answer."Does she not feel comfortable, from me as a gay man, taking my blood," he asked.Hajdu said as soon as the blood agencies submit their recommendations on how to end the ban, they will be reviewed and changes will be made. "I think the gay blood ban needs to end," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
The K Family Kitchen has served Regina residents for nearly 40 years, but further COVID-19 restrictions may force it to shut down for the second time in 2020.The provincial government introduced a flurry of new public health restrictions Wednesday, including rules for restaurants and licensed establishments.As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, restaurants and bars can seat only four people at a table, tables must be two metres apart with a barrier or three metres apart without, and all guest and reservation information must be kept."They're going to affect every restaurant about the same. People are just scared to go out," said Ernie Kouros, owner of the K Family Kitchen."It doesn't matter what restrictions they're going to put on people. People just aren't travelling out to restaurants at all."Many potential customers are instead opting for delivery, said Kouros, which creates issues for the K Family Kitchen — a strictly eat-in establishment."We're just wondering how many hours we're actually going to be feasibly able to operate nowadays," he said.The restaurant typically runs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the operating hours could drop to six or eight hours per day, said Kouros, adding that another closure isn't out of the question.The K Family Kitchen shut down for 93 days when COVID-19 first hit Saskatchewan and is still recovering from the financial hit, he said.Restaurants and bars are not the only businesses feeling squeezed. Fitness activities and fitness group classes can only have eight participants at a time, with at least three metres of distance between each person. Masks must be worn at all times.Ryde YXE Cycle Studio in Saskatoon decided to close its facility from Nov. 27 until at least Jan. 2, 2021, due to the new restrictions and rising COVID-19 numbers.While Peak Climb + HIIT Studio, also in Saskatoon, is trying to stay open — though owner MacKenzie Firus is unsure for how long."I think I speak on behalf of all small fitness studios: we are frustrated because we aren't seeing that [COVID-19] transmission and we're not seeing the data that's being presented," said Firus. "We want to keep everyone safe. But it is frustrating when we feel like our facilities are being safe and then the restrictions keep piling on."Pre-pandemic, Firus' studio could fit from 12 to 18 people, depending on the class. The new restrictions cap class sizes to six to eight people, she said.Peak Climb + HIIT Studio opened on Feb. 27, so Firus is currently ineligible to receive federal assistance because she has no records proving loss of revenue. She may resort to applying for another loan, but for now Firus is relying on income from her day job as a teacher to support her. Although financial support is needed for the industry, Firus says being able to consult with the province on an operational plan revolving around new COVID-19 restrictions would be beneficial.The provincial government also announced further rules for gaming and performance venues, indoor public event gatherings, places of worship, malls and large retail stores, and sports, fitness and dance.Sask. government contradicting itself?Tom McIntosh, University of Regina politics and international studies professor, believes the province is sending mixed signals with the restrictions announced Wednesday."[The new measures] are driven by this idea that the health of the population and the health of the economy are two separate things, and they're not. In my view, they're very deeply linked," said McIntosh."We're getting these messages: we have to support local businesses, so you should go shopping at local businesses… but you should also stay home and not have too many contacts."Meanwhile, members of the business community felt the province tip-toed the line well by avoiding a lockdown."There are some [businesses] that'll have to close because the limitations are going to be too tight. But generally speaking, this keeps the bulk of the business community able to operate," said Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, adding that restaurants and recreational facilities will be hit harder.The organization is lobbying the Saskatchewan government to bring back provincial funding for businesses, McLellan added.In the meantime, eligible businesses will have to rely on federal assistance programs. Others, however, will have to decide whether to "voluntarily close and forego the supports... or stay open and keep bleeding financially," said Jason Aebig, CEO of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.With regards to the debate between the economy and public health, Aebig notes that employment and income stability, as well as financial security, play a key role in people's health and the province cannot lose sight of that.Both McLellan and Aebig urge Saskatchewan residents to follow the public health measures, and said that will keep them safe and allow the restrictions on the economy to loosen.
There has recently been an informal change in health directives in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division when a student tests positive for COVID-19. Last weekend Saskatoon Public Schools changed their guidelines where entire classes have to isolate after a single positive case in a class. A similar change has also occurred in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division. Director of education Lorel Trumier explained that the change to having entire classrooms or cohorts self-isolate has to do with the increase of cases in the community and province. “Essentially if there is a positive case within a cohort or a class that entire cohort or class will isolate until a period of time as based as on the opinion of the Public Health,” Trumier said. She explained that local public health perform their investigation and determine the timeframe for isolation for the group. “That of course is very precautionary but it is essential that we do try to reduce the spread and I think that schools are important in this process. And we have been working very diligently in our schools to make sure that we reduce the spread. We are pleased to say that the spread has not occurred within our schools to date,” Trumier said. For example, in the recent case identified at the before and after school program at Ecole Holy Cross, the cohort will be self-isolating until midnight on Dec. 3. A cohort is a group of people and a classroom can be part of a cohort as well as a cohort itself. “It is a cohort that, together, they have been identified as a close contact to an individual who has tested positive. Therefore that cohort will need to isolate for a period of time,” Trumier said. This case is more specifically a cohort because it is a before and after school program and not a classroom. The change in how a COVID-19 case is handled didn’t come specifically from the province but more from consultations. “It was in dialogue with our health authority. We meet regularly with our local health officials, we also have the opportunity to meet regularly with Dr. (Saqib) Shahab and work through some procedures and processes. We need our medical officials and we need our medical personnel, our essential workers, to be able to continue working so we have got to do what we can to reduce the spread and stop the spread. Because it grows exponentially,” Trumier said. There have been cases reported at St. Francis School, Ecole St. Mary High School and Ecole St. Anne since October. There was also an outbreak, which means more than two cases in the same location, declared at Ecole St. Mary High School on Oct.24. None of the cases were acquired at the school, but rather brought in from the community. All of these outbreaks are still listed as active by the province. Outbreaks have to declared over by an SHA Medical Health Officer before they can be removed from the list. According to a release by the SHA on Tuesday, eight per cent of all infections come from educational institutions. Cases are more likely students or staff and test positivity is higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range. Shahab said Wednesday that sports and recreational activities were causing much of the spread into schools and workplaces. Trumier explained that the division believes these measures plus proper practices such as hand washing, sanitization, distancing where possible and social distancing where possible can lessen the spread. “Those are all the heavy lifters to reducing the spread and so we are going to continue our process so we have our students and staff interests here as a priority and make them priority number one,” Trumier said. The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were not available to comment on whether isolating entire classrooms was a provincial direction as of deadline.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A Toronto police officer says she was subjected to years of intimidation and reprisals by fellow constables and supervisors after she intervened to stop what she alleges was the unjustified use of force during the arrest of a Black suspect.
Les foyers d’éclosion de COVID dans des sites d’exploitation pétrolière albertains se multiplient. Cette croissance a des répercussions dans d’autres provinces. Ainsi, depuis le début de septembre, la majorité des nouvelles personnes infectées à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador sont des résidents de cette province, récemment revenus de leur travail en Alberta, et faisant régulièrement la navette entre les deux provinces pour gagner leur vie. Selon les plus récentes informations diffusées sur le site Internet du gouvernement de l’Alberta, des foyers d’éclosion sont actifs dans deux sites de la pétrolière CNRL, deux sites d’Imperial Oil, deux de Suncor et un site de Syncrude. La majorité de la main-d’œuvre de ces installations situées au nord de Fort McMurray est composée de travailleurs qui font la navette vers leur résidence située dans d’autres régions albertaines et d’autres provinces. La découverte de leur contamination survient souvent lors de leur retour à la maison. Ce phénomène est particulièrement important et visible à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Entre le 1er septembre et le 25 novembre, le nombre de nouveaux cas à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador est passé de 269 à 324. Parmi ces nouveaux cas, selon des données colligées par CBC Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador dans un reportage du 24 novembre, 18 de ces nouveaux cas venaient directement de l’Alberta et 16 d’entre eux étaient des travailleurs de retour de cette province. Tous les autres venaient également d’ailleurs au pays ou dans le monde. Pour le moment, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador est la seule province qui n’a pas de contamination communautaire, soit aucun cas dont la source n’a pas été déterminée. Ainsi, le 25 novembre, la médecin en chef de cette province, la Dre Janice Fitzgerald, a annoncé un nouveau cas d’infection venant tout droit de l’Alberta, une femme d’une quarantaine d’années. Elle a également indiqué qu’un nouveau foyer d’éclosion avait été déclaré sur le site de l’Imperial Oil à Cold Lake, en Alberta, où travaillent plusieurs personnes de la province la plus à l’est du Canada. Deux jours plus tôt, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador enregistrait son premier cas dans une école. La petite fille contaminée est une proche d’une personne revenant, elle aussi, de l’Alberta. En raison du grand nombre de Terre-Neuviens qui travaillent ailleurs au Canada, le gouvernement de cette province diffuse une liste des lieux où des foyers d’éclosion ont été déclarés. Dans cette liste, on retrouve majoritairement des pétrolières, les mêmes qui ont été recensées par la Santé publique albertaine. Selon les années, de 15 000 à 25 000 personnes de cette province travaillent ailleurs au pays et dans le monde. Quitter son chez-soi, pour subsister Pourquoi autant de Terre-Neuviens doivent-ils partir si loin pour travailler ? Depuis le moratoire sur la pêche à la morue annoncé le 2 juillet 1992 par le ministre fédéral des Pêches, John Crosbie, des dizaines de milliers de pêcheurs et de travailleurs d’usine de poisson de Terre-Neuve se sont retrouvés sans emploi. Depuis, ils s’expatrient loin et temporairement, à l’extérieur des frontières de leur province, pour gagner leur vie, notamment en Alberta. Selon une étude du regroupement de chercheurs universitaires Partenariat On the Move, réalisée à partir de données de Statistique Canada, l’Alberta est devenue depuis 2014 la première province de destination pour ces travailleurs, soit pour 57 % d’entre eux. Statistique Canada rapporte aussi qu’entre 2014 et 2019, plus de 11 000 personnes sont déménagées dans la province albertaine. Mesures sanitaires Aujourd’hui, toutes les personnes qui arrivent à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, doivent s’isoler pendant 14 jours, à l’exception des travailleurs essentiels et de ces travailleurs en rotation. Dans leur cas, ils peuvent mettre fin à leur isolement si un test, effectué 7 jours après leur arrivée, est négatif. Ceux qui arrivent depuis un site où il y a un foyer d’éclosion doivent s’isoler durant 14 jours.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Alberta's chief medical officer of health Thursday said she feels personally betrayed after CBC News reported the contents of secret recordings that revealed disagreements and, at times, political interference in the province's pandemic response."I am profoundly disappointed that confidential internal conversations have been shared, actions that are a violation of the public service, oath and code of conduct," Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a news conference. "This is a personal betrayal and a betrayal of the trust that our hardworking team has placed in each other," she said. There will be an internal investigation to try to determine who leaked the recordings, Hinshaw said.CBC News also quoted several confidential sources, one of whom said Hinshaw had confided that her dealings with the politicians were an "uphill battle." "My dad used to say that if you and your partner always agree, then one of you is unnecessary," she said, acknowledging that "at times I have felt frustrated as I am a human being. The reality is that it is critical to have multiple perspectives and that those perspectives are heard." But Hinshaw insisted, as she had previously, that she has always been treated respectfully by politicians and her advice has been considered in final decisions by the government. She again stressed her job is simply to provide advice."I was not elected by Albertans," she said. "The final decisions are up to elected officials who were chosen by Alberta. This is how democracy works. "I know that there are many views about how we should proceed. However, we are becoming divided when we most need to engage in respectful dialogue."A previous statement emailed to CBC News from a spokesperson for Premier Jason Kenney said it is the job of elected officials to make decisions and there was no political interference.WATCH | Dr. Deena Hinshaw addresses the secret recordings:The Opposition NDP have called for Kenney's government to make Hinshaw's pandemic recommendations public, to engender trust in its response to the pandemic. Hinshaw said disclosing that information would be a breach of her oath as a public servant.Health Minister Tyler Shandro also told the news conference he couldn't disclose the advice provided by Hinshaw because it would breach cabinet confidence.Secret recordings reveal expert advice overruledHinshaw delivered her public rebuke after CBC News earlier on Thursday reported it had obtained 20 secret recordings from daily meetings of the province's COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre, as well as meeting minutes and interviews with staff directly involved in pandemic planning.They reveal how Kenney, Shandro and other cabinet ministers often overruled the expert advice of already overwhelmed civil servants. On two occasions health officials acceded to political requests to provide testing to the public that officials believed had little value in limiting the spread of the virus. The recordings also reveal the Kenney government pushed an early relaunch strategy that seemed more focused on the economy and avoiding the appearance of curtailing Albertans' freedoms than enforcing compliance to safeguard public health.The recordings did confirm what Hinshaw has repeatedly stated publicly: she believes her role is to advise, provide recommendations and implement decisions made by the politicians.WATCH | Tension between politics, science in Alberta's pandemic response revealed in recordings:For weeks, the government has faced intense criticism for its handling of the pandemic as Alberta registered among the highest infection rate per capita in Canada. Kenney and Shandro have repeatedly said the pandemic response has been directed by Hinshaw.At Hinshaw's news conference Thursday, Shandro said the reporting of the leaked recordings was an "irresponsible attack" on Hinshaw's credibility and the independence of her office, which in turn undermines her work as chief medical officer of health."Since the pandemic began, as minister of health, I have worked closely with Dr. Hinshaw. She has provided detailed, evidence-based recommendations to me and to Alberta's government as legislated in the Public Health Act," Shandro said. "She has also participated in on-going cabinet discussions about what is right for Alberta in the response to this pandemic."We listen closely. We debate the range of policy options that she offers and their different impacts. And then, as elected officials, we do what we were elected to do: we make decisions that are in the best interests of Albertans. I want to express my own and Alberta's government's support for Dr. Hinshaw."Hinshaw used as political shield: NDPEarlier in the day, Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the Kenney government has used Hinshaw as a shield."Every time there is a decision that gets to be a little unpopular, or there is any pressure, he hides behind her," she said. "But what we clearly see here is that he is not following her advice on a number of occasions and Albertans are suffering as a result."In the legislature, Notley pressed the Kenney government to establish an independent panel of experts to make recommendations on the pandemic response that would be made public. Kenney however, ignored the demand, saying Hinshaw is capable and stressing as he has previously that it is for elected officials to make the final decisions because there are considerations, other than public health, that must be weighed."Alberta is a democracy," Kenney said, "and under this government it is going to stay that way."If you have any information about this story, or information about another story, please contact us in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
A lawyer for Meng Wanzhou Thursday accused the RCMP officer who oversaw the Huawei executive's arrest of covering up for colleagues who allegedly sent private information from Meng's phones and laptop to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.Scott Fenton grilled Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf about an affidavit she signed last year saying she had no "independent recollection of the contents" of emails she reviewed after a subordinate told her a staff sergeant had "provided" serial numbers for Meng's devices to the FBI.In testimony this week, Vander Graaf claimed she now not only remembers the emails — but recalls that they said nothing about Staff Sgt. Ben Chang sending the information as the other officer, Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal, had claimed."I'm going to suggest that the real reason for the striking difference between your affidavit a year ago when you have no memory and your evidence in this court where you purport to have a memory is that you are trying to cover up for Const. Dhaliwal and Staff Sgt. Chang in relation to this issue," Fenton said."You tailored your evidence to suit what you think protects the RCMP."Vander Graaf denied both accusations: "That is absolutely not true."Questioned without a lawyerVander Graaf heads the B.C. RCMP's foreign and domestic liaison unit, which received the request to arrest Meng on Dec. 1, 2018 for extradition to the United States, where she faces fraud and conspiracy charges.Meng is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the company's billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei. She is accused of lying to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a subsidiary that was accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.Prosecutors claim that by relying on Meng's alleged lies to continue financing the telecommunications giant, HSBC placed itself at risk of loss and prosecution.Officers from the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency have spent three weeks testifying about the events surrounding Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport.The testimony will be used as evidence at a hearing next spring at which the defence is hoping to convince Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that the extradition proceedings should be stayed because of alleged violations of Meng's rights.Meng's lawyers claim the FBI coordinated with the RCMP and the CBSA to have customs officers use their extraordinary powers to question Meng without a lawyer for three hours before she was arrested and informed of her rights and the charges against her.The CBSA also took Meng's phones and obtained the passcodes, which an officer claimed he later passed to the RCMP by mistake when the police seized Meng's goods.'It wasn't my responsibility to follow up'Most of Vander Graaf's testimony Thursday centred on the issue of Chang allegedly sending serial numbers for Meng's devices to the FBI. In an affidavit, Chang denied providing the information to U.S. law enforcement. He has since retained a lawyer and is refusing to testify.On Wednesday, Vander Graaf recalled Dhaliwal telling her, more than a week after Meng's arrest, that Chang had sent the serial numbers. She said Dhaliwal then forwarded his emails, which she claimed "clarified" the issue because they indicated Chang was in charge of helping the FBI go through proper channels to get the information: "It didn't say that Ben Chang had provided serial numbers."But Fenton pointed out that the email also didn't say that he had not done what Dhaliwal claimed."Your looking at these emails does not resolve for one minute whether or not after the information was collected, Chang actually sent it," Fenton said."No," Vander Graaf answered. "But to me, it told me that it wasn't my responsibility to follow up with that any further."'I have a recollection now'It's unclear what the judge will make of the conflicting accounts or the huge amount of testimony she has heard so far on every detail of Meng's arrest. Earlier this week, Holmes asked the defence and Crown to assist her in analyzing what they believe are the main takeaways.Fenton pressed Vander Graaf on the recovery a year later of her memories about the emails and the information surrounding the issue of the serial numbers."My notes refreshed my memory and when I went through my notes in preparation, I recalled this," Vander Graaf said."So your affidavit filed a year ago was not true. You did have a memory of the matters in issue," Fenton said."My affidavit was true at the time," Vander Graaf said. "I have a recollection now."Vander Graaf was followed on the stand by Sgt. Ross Lundie, who oversees the RCMP's airport detachment.Lundie said it was his suggestion that the CBSA examine Meng for immigration purposes before the RCMP would arrest her.The original plan had been for police to board Meng's plane directly on arrival from Hong Kong, but Lundie said he knew the CBSA might have an interest in dealing with her first because she was a foreign national and they are the "gatekeepers" to Canada.Lundie insisted that the RCMP was not directing the CBSA as the defence has charged. He claimed that he also insisted that any requests for information to be shared between the two agencies should go through proper protocol.Defence lawyer Richard Peck is expected to begin cross-examining Lundie on Friday.
Caregivers at Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc will have to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing every two weeks, the centre announced Thursday as families called for government intervention to stop the virus's spread at the long-term care home. There are 39 active COVID-19 cases among residents.. Eight of whom are being treated in hospital, while the rest are being treated in a cohort on the home's seventh floor. Since the start of the second wave, fifteen residents have recovered while, eight have died.An email signed by Jennifer Clarke, the centre's coordinator, as well as its co-chiefs Dr. Jack Gaiptman and Dr. Kris MacMahon, relayed the information to the families of residents Thursday evening. Clarke said Tuesday the outbreak was traced to a resident who was infected their caregiver.Earlier in the day, a number of family members rallied in front of the centre calling for government action. The centre was one of the hardest hit long-term care facilities during the first wave of the pandemic. Families say they worry the centre's management didn't learn from what happened in the spring. Côte-Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who said his 62-year-old cousin died at the home during the first wave, has also called for more prevention measures at Maimonides. Families at the rally asked for mandatory weekly testing of staff and caregivers, and for staff to be given N95 masks to use at work. They thanked the staff for their hard work. Clarke, the centre's coordinator, and Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the president of its local health board, the West-Central Montreal CIUSSS, have defended the home's handling of the outbreak, saying it has implemented several more precautions since the first wave. They also refuted a nurse's assertion that a colleague had been forced to work in the home's red zone one day and in a green zone the next. Gabriel Sigler, whose mother is a Maimonides resident, was at the rally."I'm very worried. I mean yesterday someone next door to her contracted COVID and was sent to the cohort," Sigler said."Luckily she is negative, but when I talk to her she says she feels like a duck in a shooting gallery, just coming closer and closer."In the email to families Thursday, the centre's leaders said the mandatory testing for caregivers would beging Dec. 14. "We value the important role that caregivers play at Donald Berman Maimonides. At the same time, we must ensure that their visits are conducted as safely as possible. Therefore, we have decided to introduce an additional precautionary measure," the email said. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé was asked about the outbreak at the facility Thursday. He said what he had heard about how Maimonides was handling it was positive. "I asked for a clear exam on this one since this is a CHSLD that had some issues in the first wave," Dubé said.Rosenberg, of the local health board, said Maimonides has enough protective equipment and patient attendants, but admitted the nurses were short-staffed. He said the CIUSSS had also applied for a rapid testing pilot project with the Quebec Health Ministry.
On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) identified a positive COVID-19 case in an individuals at Ecole St. Mary High School in Prince Albert. In a news release by the Prince Albert Catholic School Division on Sunday evening the division explained that communication has been shared with the specific classroom/cohorts, as well as the school community. These cases were acquired outside of the school setting, the division said. The SHA is proceeding with their assessment of the situation, and all individuals deemed to be close contacts are being notified. “The class/cohorts, impacted by this case, barring any other cases, are required to Self-Isolate until midnight on Dec. 3. The class/cohorts will be moved to remote learning until the isolation period is complete,” the release said. These specific class/cohorts are advised to contact 811 Healthline for advice. “École St. Mary High School will resume classes Nov. 27 for all other students and staff that are not deemed to be close contacts. Public Health officials are advising all students and staff to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms daily and not to enter the school if ill.” No further information was made available citing privacy concerns. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this member of our school community, and we hope they are doing well.” They emphasized that everyone has a shared responsibility to decrease the risk of COVID-19 entering schools. “Thank you to everyone for continuing to be diligent in performing daily health screening, staying home if ill, calling HealthLine 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practicing proper hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, wearing a mask when appropriate and doing everything we can to keep each other safe,” the release stated.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Less than a week ago, Ricky Lam learned by text message that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He had been experiencing symptoms, and had visited the Misericordia Community Hospital because he had difficulty breathing, but he told friends and family he was sent home because he did not need oxygen at the time. He died just three days after receiving the diagnosis, members of his family told CBC News. Lam, 40, documented his last days on Instagram, reporting chills, fever, harsh coughing and extreme fatigue. In one post, he described feeling so weak that even simple tasks, like brushing his teeth or chewing food, were exhausting. In his last update, posted on Monday, the day before he died, he wrote that breathing had become very difficult and coughing fits were frequent. "I think he wanted to share because he wanted people to know how serious it was and how things were going — they were terrible," said Lisa Friesenhan, one of Lam's cousins. Friesenhand said sharing Lam's story is one way to help honour his memory, and will hopefully help others take the COVID-19 pandemic more seriously and do their part to prevent its spread. Another cousin, Lillian Lopez, said Lam also did not want there to be a stigma associated with having the virus. COVID-19 has been deadliest for elderly Albertans, with people in their 70s and 80s accounting for 443 of the 510 deaths announced in the province so far. But the virus has also claimed the lives of 67 Albertans under 70. Lam's friends and family members described him as a "shining light" who sang and danced his way through life and cared deeply about other people. Full of energy and otherwise healthy, he was the last person they expected to die of COVID-19. His death, they say, illustrates the pandemic's threat to all Albertans, as well as the importance of following public health orders. "He would want us to be mindful of why he passed away," said Bonnie Lo, a close friend who lives in Edmonton. "He wouldn't want us to be sad over it, but just to be careful and take precautions because this is so senseless and so sudden." 'Ricky the Fan Guy' Lam spent most of his life in Edmonton, graduating from Queen Elizabeth High School in 1998. He studied theatre at MacEwan University and, in recent years, held jobs at Service Canada, Shaw Communications and Rohit Communities. Jennifer Ritter, who met him while working at Shaw, said Lam was one of the first people to welcome her to Edmonton. She didn't know many people in the city at the time and was recently divorced. Lam helped her through a tough time and planned a party for her 35th birthday. "It's hard because I never did get to thank him for it," she said. In 2017, Lam moved to Toronto to pursue opportunities in the nightlife industry, but he moved back to Edmonton the next year. "He had built such a huge network of friends and colleagues in Edmonton that at the end of the day, it did make more sense for him to be there because he was just such a fixture in Edmonton nightlife," said Rosa Jason, another friend. Many knew Lam as "Ricky the Fan Guy," a nickname that confused Cheryl Sutherland until she witnessed Lam whip out a fan and proceed to "destroy" a dance floor in Toronto. Lam kept his fan hidden — "like a secret weapon," Jason said — and would brandish it at opportune times, much to the delight of nearby dancers. People offered to buy him drinks, but he would say no; unlike most of the people around him, he did not drink or smoke. "It was kind of extraordinary to me, but it was also a testament to how much he just enjoyed being in that space," Sutherland said. 'He was trying to help everyone' Jerry Jin, a friend who also worked with Lam, called him one of the most selfless people he has ever met. Jin said Lam was always quick to offer help and cheer people up. Melissa Gozales, one of his cousins, said the family wants people to remember Lam's energy and respect for others. "Even until the end, we believe that he was trying to help everyone understand this virus and understand what can possibly happen to someone going through this virus," she said.
Yukon reported three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a press release issued around 8 p.m. Thursday, including one linked to the recent Diwali festival in Whitehorse. Two of the cases are in Whitehorse, and one is in an unnamed "rural community." That case, the news release says, is likely linked to a known outbreak in Whitehorse, though the investigation is not complete. There are now 12 active cases of COVID-19 in Yukon. Anyone who was at the Diwali festival on Saturday, Nov. 14, and is experiencing symptoms is asked to get tested immediately. The other Whitehorse case is linked to a known case in Whitehorse. A public exposure notice has been issued for: * Save-On-Foods between 10:30 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, Nov. 18. "If you were in contact with someone at a location listed in the public exposure notices, you are a secondary contact and you do not need to self-isolate," the release reads. "If you are not notified and do not have symptoms, you may continue with your usual daily activities." The Yukon government asks anyone with any of the following symptoms to self-isolate and arrange for testing immediately. They include: * Fever * Chills * Cough * Difficulty breathing * Shortness of breath * Runny nose * Sore throat * Loss of sense of taste or smell * Headache * Fatigue * Loss of appetite * Nausea and vomiting * Diarrhea * Muscle achesYou can reach the COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre at 867-393-3083, or visit the Whitehorse drive-thru testing centre at Centennial Motors across from the airport. Leave a number if asked, and call back if you do not receive a call within 24 hours.Yukon has now had 42 cases of COVID-19 in total, and one death.