Luna the pit bull mix loves to play Tongues Out Tuesday! She always gives the most gentle kisses!
Luna the pit bull mix loves to play Tongues Out Tuesday! She always gives the most gentle kisses!
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the possibility of involving other countries in efforts to maintain a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered ceasefire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the ceasefire deal, which locked in Azeri advances.
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – This past week brought unwelcome news on the COVID-19 front: Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Strang says there is community spread of the virus and some HRM schools have been closed due to positive COVID-19 cases. As the second wave of the pandemic hits the shores of Nova Scotia, PC Leader Tim Houston is on the road speaking to municipal governments and stakeholder groups about his and the PC Party’s vision for the future and how they would handle the current crisis. He spoke to The Journalduring his visit to Guysborough last Friday. For starters, Houston is critical of the government’s response to school cases. The initial reaction of the government to last week’s school cases was to announce that close contacts would be tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. By Friday, the schools involved were facing a complete closure for two weeks. Houston points to this as a failure of leadership and communication on the part of the government. “I think the key is information and setting expectations,” Houston said. “As recently as Tuesday when media was asking government and leadership, what can they expect around schools, can they expect school closures, the answer was ‘We’re a long ways away from that.’ Turned out we were only a couple of days away from it and it is not clear to people what the criteria the government is looking at.” With cases on the rise and additional restrictions put in place in the Halifax area, Houston is in favour of colour-coded zones such as that used in New Brunswick. “That gives people some information…some sense of the risk that is happening around them. In the absence of that we’re solely relying on understanding a decision after it has been made without information as to why it was made.” Houston believes that more testing is the key to containing the virus without locking down the economy. “I am a big advocate for testing, testing, testing and more testing – making sure we have the capacity that when public health identifies that someone has been in close contact with someone or is at a higher risk because of some situation, [we can] test those people. The timing of the test is critical but maybe we can test them twice. It is all designed to take some pressure off the mental health of Nova Scotians and reduce anxiety.” When asked about the price tag of such a rigorous testing regime, Houston said, “This is a time in our province when we are going to have to have deficits for the next few years. We have to invest in people, we have to invest in infrastructure. There are a lot of investments that have not been made over the last few years just for the sake of balancing the budget and our communities are less because of that. This is not the time to do that. The cost to the economy of just locking down or having everyone isolate is significant as well.” The health and well-being of Nova Scotians who live in long-term care facilities has been a major issue during the pandemic. “We know that isolation is a big drain on people’s mental and physical health,” said Houston. “We know that family members and loved ones are a big part of the care giving team…We need to be conscious of the virus – there is a lot of technology that can help; help share information with family members…More than anything it will give family members peace of mind. “Let’s look to technology. Now more than ever we have more technology that helps people stay connected. It’s not the same as a hug but it is a lot better than not having any information at all,” he said. While the second wave of the pandemic is top of mind, there are other longstanding issues that require attention from government, such as physician recruitment and EHS service in rural areas. Of physician shortages, Houston said the health care system needs to modernize to match the needs of today, which are increasingly the issues faced by an older population dealing with chronic, not acute conditions. Part of that modernization plan would be the provision of more virtual doctor’s appointments when and where possible. But that hinges on the availability of reliable high-speed Internet; something rural areas often do without. Houston said, “Access to proper high-speed Internet would be the biggest economic development initiative since the railways…I am completely focused on making sure that everyone has access to cell service and high-speed Internet.” In regard to poor EHS service, Houston said he’d like to see a separation of patient transfer service between hospitals and emergency calls. And he calls for the government to release the Fitch report, an ambulance system review delivered to the government in Oct. 2019, stating, “I’d like to see what recommendations the experts made about how to improve service.” Next month MLAs will return to the legislature for one day, Dec. 18, when the government will prorogue the fall session. Houston said of that decision, “The number of days we’ve sat this year, which will be 14…that will be the lowest number of days that any legislature in Canada has sat probably since confederation and it will be the lowest by half. And when you put that into context of what has happened this year, and the changes we’ve had to our lives, to our economy, to our provincial budget; it’s very remarkable. “This is the latest example of the lack of respect for the democratic process that we’ve seen from the government for seven years. They’ve systematically reduced the ability to be held accountable. They’ve reduced the effectiveness of committees, they’ve reduced the access of media, access of opposition. All of these things make for less democracy and in the long term it is bad for the people because the best decisions are made when people making the decisions know they will be scrutinized,” he said. In light of his disappointment in the course followed by the Liberal government, Houston told The Journal that it will be the PC Party’s practice to let people know where they stand on the issues of the day. He said they’ve been putting out thoughtful, detailed, researched plans, adding, “we won’t criticize without putting a solution forward.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Health-care workers are saying new restrictions introduced by Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday don't do enough to slow the spread of the virus.Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, which represents 27,000 health-care workers in the province, says the measures fall short of what's needed. "Jason Kenney has once again put Albertans at grave risk due to his failure of leadership … the measures announced today are inadequate," Parker said in a release following Tuesday's announcement. Parker was among more than 400 doctors and health-care policy experts who had signed a letter to the premier on Sunday calling for a circuit-breaker lockdown, mask mandate, and mandatory paid sick leave. Indoor gatherings banned, restaurants stay openTuesday's measures and a renewed state of public health emergency saw a ban on indoor social gatherings, Grade 7 to 12 students moving to online learning and further mask mandates in the Calgary and Edmonton health zones — both cities already have mask mandates in place. It also allowed businesses like restaurants, bars and casinos to remain open, and religious gatherings to continue, subject to some restrictions.Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician and founder of Masks4Canada, questioned why restaurants are being allowed to stay open and why, despite major contact tracing issues, the province still hasn't adopted the national COVID Alert app."If there is one overriding message is that these measures will improve transmission rates but likely not to the extent needed. This essentially will cause a deeper lockdown in the near future that will last longer than is necessary, and overall, gets a D+ from me," he wrote as part of a series of social media posts. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Alberta, delivered his concerns more succinctly in a single post. "Alberta priorities: schools closed, but bars stay open," he wrote. > How can the government possibly claim that they are making data-based policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks? \- Sandra Azocar, Friends of MedicareSandra Azocar, executive director of the public health-care non-profit Friends of Medicare, questioned the premier's assertion that the restrictions are based on an understanding of where transmission is taking place."How can the government possibly claim that they are making data-based policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks?" Azocar asked in a release. According to the province, 85 per cent of Alberta's more than 13,000 active COVID-19 cases have an unknown source."The truth is, we can't have targeted measures because we don't have any knowledge of where over 80 per cent of our cases are coming from," Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician at the University of Alberta, said. On Monday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing. She said the team could no longer keep up and that thousands of Albertans would not receive calls as tracers focused on more recent or high-priority cases. "If this government had listened to those who are working in our health-care sector, and who bear daily witness to the toll that this pandemic is taking on Albertans and their families, we could have avoided the disastrous place we find ourselves in today," the Friends of Medicare release read. "Instead, the premier of this province has been effectively missing in action since his last announcement of feeble COVID-19 restrictions, and a lack of leadership has been in full display for the past month." * WATCH | Premier Jason Kenney announces new COVID-19 restrictions for AlbertaAlberta reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with new cases above 1,100. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, for a total of 492 deaths. The province has more active cases than Ontario, despite having one-third of Ontario's population.Kenney said that Alberta isn't "involved in a chase after zero" cases, but is trying to slow the spread to keep the health-care system functioning. He said the province's response has been largely effective, touting that it was the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce a contact-tracing app. That app has only been used in 20 cases since it was launched.While health-care workers expressed concerns, business owners are now left assessing how the new restrictions will work in practice. "We're just trying to process now how we can enforce those rules and and keep our staff safe and make sure they're able to keep the customers safe," said Dandy Brewing Company co-founder Ben Leon.He'll need to implement restrictions like ensuring everyone who sits together lives together, unless someone lives alone, in which case they can dine with two people in their cohort. Leon said he had hoped for an early lockdown, rather than risk business shutting down at Christmas, but said he and his staff will adapt. "Any sort of restriction on the holiday business is worse than sort of stopping and starting again," he said.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it was pleased to see the restrictions continue to operate at reduced capacity, unlike wider shutdowns seen in Manitoba and Ontario — which both have lower active case counts than Alberta."A blanket lockdown would have pushed Alberta small businesses to the brink of closure. The new limited measures will give small business a fighting chance to surviving the holiday season. Its now up to Albertans to follow these new orders and do our part to slow the spread," CFIB Alberta provincial affairs director Annie Dormuth said in a release. Both Calgary and Edmonton's mayors said their cities will be evaluating the impact of the restrictions on their programs and services. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'll be encouraging local employers to allow employees to work from home if possible."Ultimately, we as a city government will support the province in this work, we'll do so in every way we can, including enforcement, to ensure that we're keeping everybody safe," he said. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he empathizes with those who will have to make adjustments due to the restrictions, at a time when everyone's lives have already been significantly disrupted."This will be difficult, but it is critical that we do our part to keep our families and communities safe," he said in a release.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues CBC North will keep track of the latest confirmed cases in each territory here, and the latest stories, updated every morning.Nunavut * The total confirmed cases as of Nov. 25 are 155, with 153 active, according to the government's Wednesday news release. Northwest Territories * The Northwest Territories has 15 confirmed cases in total, all of which have since recovered as of Nov. 24, according to the government's latest statistics.Yukon * Total confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 24 is 38 with 23 recovered and one death.
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Illinois officials have launched investigations into a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans nursing home that has infected nearly 200 residents and staff members, and killed 27 veterans. (Nov. 25)
The cross-country ski community in New Brunswick says it's seeing a huge surge in interest in the sport this fall. "I think for a lot of people they're looking at it as a sport they can do in the winter to get through the winter and enjoy the winter, otherwise it's going to be an awfully long one," said John Ball, past president of the Wostawea Ski Club in Fredericton. Wostawea had 250 people sign up for membership in the first four hours of registration."Nothing like that has ever happened before," said Ball. Ball says all ski lessons for youth and adults are already full. "We raised (the limit) a little bit to allow people who had kids in the program to come back. But otherwise, we've now hit our limit with that."He said the club is adjusting its programs in light of COVID- there will be no indoor hot chocolate gatherings after youth skiing and lessons will be physically distanced. At the ski shop Radical Edge, co-owner Brian McKeown said he ordered twice as much cross-country ski gear than he normally would for a season."We're still burning through and are very, very low on stock," he said.McKeown said customers from across the country have been buying gear from the shop's online store. "B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, like, you name it, we've been doing orders almost on a daily basis, going all over the place."But, he said, most people coming into the store are first time skiers looking for an outdoor activity that's fun — and safe. "We've seen a lot of snowbirds that are not going down to Florida this winter and as a result are buying cross-country skis because, again, it's a great thing for them to get out and enjoy the winter."Ball says the club has seen steady growth in recent years, but he attributes the surge this year to the pandemic."I think it will really help with COVID. I think people are realising it is something that they can do that's fun. It's an all ages sport so they can do it. … Because we have to put up with this pandemic while we all wait for a vaccine and just struggle through it. It's a way to enjoy winter."
A new national survey by Women's Shelters Canada offers a glimpse into the experiences of front-line workers and women fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of clients facing more violence that is also increasing in severity. The Shelter Voices survey says 52 per cent of 266 participating shelters reported seeing clients who were experiencing either somewhat or much more severe violence, as public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 increase social isolation, while job losses fuel tension over financial insecurity in many households. Violence "was also happening more frequently, or abusers who hadn't used violence in the past were suddenly using violence," said Krys Maki, the research and policy manager for Women's Shelters Canada. The survey also found 37 per cent of shelters reported changes in the type of violence clients faced, including increased physical attacks resulting in broken bones, strangulation and stabbings. Shelters and transition houses that did not report changes in the rates or type of violence were often located in communities that had seen fewer cases of COVID-19, the report notes. The data show public health restrictions have a "huge impact on women and children who are living with their abusers," said Maki. The survey says 59 per cent of shelters reported a decrease in calls for help between March and May, when people were asked to stay home, and businesses, workplaces and schools shut their doors. From June to October, "as soon as things started up again, we see a huge increase in crisis calls and requests for admittance," said Maki. The survey includes responses from shelters and transition houses in rural and urban areas in every province and territory. Just over half of the shelters in population centres with 1,000 to 29,999 residents reported increases in crisis calls between June and October, said Maki, compared with 70 per cent of shelters in urban centres with populations between 100,000 and just under a million. Women in smaller communities may be more hesitant to reach out for help, said Maki, "because everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows where the shelter is, too." While the survey shows women are facing more severe violence at home, at the same time, 71 per cent of shelters reported reducing their capacity in order to maintain physical distancing and other public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. It was more common that shelters in large population centres had to cut their capacity. To continue serving women remotely, 82 per cent of shelters and transition houses reported purchasing new technology, such as tablets, phones and laptops, although limited cell service and internet connectivity pose challenges in rural and remote areas. For many shelters, financial difficulties increased throughout the pandemic, as 38 per cent reported raising significantly less money compared with last year. The shelters were mostly appreciative of the federal government's emergency funding in response to COVID-19, with some reporting it kept them open, while others said they had to lay off staff because the money didn't go far enough. The federal government announced last month it would double the initial amount it was providing to gender-based violence services in response to the pandemic for a total of $100 million, some of which has been distributed through Women's Shelters Canada. The survey found more than three quarters of the shelters faced staffing challenges during the pandemic. That's not surprising, the report notes, since women make up the majority of shelter workers and have been trying to balance paid work with childcare and other family responsibilities during lockdown periods. The release of the survey results on Wednesday coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Canadian Centre for Women's Empowerment is also working to have Nov. 26 recognized each year to raise awareness about economic abuse. So far, the cities of Ottawa, Brampton, Parry Sound and Kingston have signed on in Ontario, while Victoria and Comox, B.C., will also mark the day. There is little data about economic abuse in Canada, said Meseret Haileyesus, who founded the centre, although the shelter survey showed clients were subject to increasing coercion and control tactics, including limited access to money. A survivor's debt load, credit rating, and their ability to access housing and educational opportunities may be affected for years, long after they've left an abusive relationship, Haileyesus said. The centre is working with MP Anita Vandenbeld on a petition urging lawmakers to expand the strategy to end gender-based violence to include economic abuse. It also wants Statistics Canada to begin collecting data and studying economic abuse. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
CANSO -- The Canso Area Development Association (CADA) would like to bring a Fisheries Heritage Centre to the Canso waterfront. CADA president Harold Roberts spoke to The Journal about the group’s past year and ideas for the future, including the proposed centre, following CADA’s 11th annual AGM on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Canso and Area Library and Resource Centre. The Fisheries Heritage Centre, currently in the preliminary stages of planning, would be an interactive space for sharing the area’s long fishing history. “There is a lot of interest in that,” said Roberts. “This area is the oldest fishing port in the Maritimes dating back to 1604. We really don’t have a way of displaying, in a holistic way, our fisheries heritage.” The centre would highlight the indigenous fisheries, early European fishing and commercial fisheries. “We’ve had ongoing discussions with Parks Canada. We would like to have their support with this heritage centre,” said Roberts, noting that to, “advance this project to another level, we would have to seek out an RFP (Request for Proposals).” The Fisheries Heritage Centre was part of the discussion during the community visioning workshop held on Oct. 21 with Rob LeBlanc from the consulting firm Fathom Studios, regarding community enhancements that could happen through funds earmarked for the former Town of Canso from the sale of the Canso Electric Utility residuals. "Two hundred and eighty surveys were completed and forwarded to Fathom Studios; that shows that there is a lot of interest in how that money would focus on particular projects and initiatives within the former town boundaries,” said Roberts. In other business, CADA has helped several local organizations this past year, including a $250 donation to the Chedabucto Multi-use Trails Association, a donation to the Canso Flying Figures Skating Club to cover registration costs, and support for the Eastern Counties Rate Payers Association. Members of CADA sit on community liaison committees with the Black Point Quarry project and the proposed Maritime Launch Services project. They also work in partnership with MODG Recreation and Public Works to operate the swimming pool in Canso, which due to COVID-19 was not open this past season. They also participate in the Canso and Area Stakeholders Group and the Guysborough and Area Board of Trade. Cape Breton – Canso MP Mike Kelloway joined the AGM by video link.Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The province's child and youth advocate says absenteeism was already an issue for children across Newfoundland and Labrador — even before anxiety started to swirl this week about a cluster of COVID-19 cases on Newfoundland's west coast.Jackie Lake Kavanagh says it's vital to keep gathering information about why kids are missing school. Elwood Elementary School in Deer Lake is reopening Wednesday, according to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD), after it had shut its doors Monday and Tuesday, following a student testing positive for COVID-19. However, it appears assurances from public health are not convincing all parents and caregivers to send their kids to school. CBC News has learned that only 10 out of 280 students showed up for school on Tuesday at Xavier Junior High, while roughly 10 out of 230 showed up for school at Elwood Regional High School. That information comes one day after the district's CEO Tony Stack admitted that attendance at Elwood Elementary, before the closure was announced, was "very low.""I would imagine it was apprehension within the community — understandably so — so the attendance rates were very low, less than 25 per cent," he said at a media conference Monday. Absenteeism 'significant problem': reportBut Lake Kavanagh's concern about kids missing class began long before schools closed province-wide in March.In January 2019, the office of the Child and Youth Advocate released a report that said about 10 per cent — or 6,600 — of the province's children missed a month or more of school on average, a "significant problem," said Lake Kavanagh, with some children missing more than that.Her department released a series of recommendations which she knows the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District had been working on, but Lake Kavanagh said she's worried chronic absenteeism might fall off the map."We're in the middle of COVID, [and] a lot of resources are focused on some of the very practical issues around student safety, keeping schools open, and a lot of the other issues that have arisen around that, and so my concern is that this does not drop off the radar — this is critically important," she told CBC's Anthony Germain in an interview Tuesday. "Children have an absolute fundamental right to a good-quality education, and they have to be in school."The absenteeism rate in September 2019 was around 6.2 per cent, Lake Kavanagh said. This year, that number was around nine per cent."In some ways I'm a little bit surprised, perhaps, that it wasn't higher than that compared to last year's numbers, especially in light of the issue with school bussing," she said, referring to the school board's plan to cut the number of seats available on school buses by 6,000.That decision was a particular worry for her, especially after three months at home in the spring."I was really, really concerned about that, because if we're starting the school year with children not able to get to school, can't even get to the front doorsteps of the school, that's a big problem," she said."When they become disconnected, it becomes harder to reconnect again."'This is so much more complex'Lake Kavanagh cites global research that shows that 75 per cent of students chronically absent in Grade 6 will not go on to finish high school, for example.It's a problem without a straightforward solution, she said."Oftentimes, absenteeism is looked at as not a big issue ... it's competing with some really big loud issues in the school system," she said.> To point at schools or the school system and say, 'Tag, you're it,' it's lost from the beginning. \- Jackie Lake Kavanagh"A lot of people tend to look at it as, that's a school problem, teachers need to do a better job and administrators need to do a better job of getting students in their desks every morning. But we know that this is so much more complex."If a child has significant mental or physical health issues that haven't been addressed, for example, "that's a barrier," she said. So, too, is a parent struggling with a diagnosis, disability or addiction."Home can be chaotic for children. There can be family violence, there can be all kinds of issues around school itself [so] that maybe it doesn't feel like it's a safe place … there's all kinds of really complex issues," she said."We can't point a finger at the schools, although the schools are critically important in being a part of the solution. These children's lives are often much more complex than that, and we have to look at holistic solutions to see, 'how do we take down some of those barriers in this province for children?' she said."It's not as simple as just getting them to show up."In the COVID-19 era, Lake Kavanagh said a heightened sense of worry, as well as the speed of misinformation spread, can also be an issue prompting parents to keep kids out of classes more than necessary."Once rumours start circulating, once social media lights up — whether it's accurate information or not — people will often act on that," she said."So if people are acting without good information and it may not be accurate, they're keeping their children home from school. Those are concerns as well, especially if there's no basis for those kinds of decisions."Lake Kavanagh said chronic absenteeism will need involvement from multiple government departments and the NLESD."There really needs to be a team effort, and to point at schools or the school system and say, 'Tag, you're it,' it's lost from the beginning," she said. "A much more holistic response is needed."Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Cortland Cronk, 26, never dreamed he would bring COVID-19 into New Brunswick. When he returned home from Calgary on an Oct. 24 flight, he followed all of the rules required of an essential worker.Cronk was healthy when he arrived at the Saint John Airport and had worn a mask for the entire flight. As everyone else did, he stopped at the "new border" that's been set up and told officials all the details of his four-day business trip."And so the girl just asked me, 'OK, are you there for work? No worries.' And then she said, 'Do you have any symptoms,' which at the time I did not. So she's like, 'OK, you don't need a quarantine.'"Cronk was considered an essential worker because he offered software support to auto dealers. Without the software, he explained, repairs couldn't be performed on the vehicles of first responders.A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed Cronk wasn't required to self-isolate upon his return to New Brunswick in October, but those rules have now been tightened and most workers who travel outside of the Atlantic provinces have to self-isolate for 14 days when they return.As far as he knows, no one he was in contact with, from his October meetings in Calgary, to friends he spent time with, to his spouse whom he lives with, has tested positive for the virus.It was nine days after his arrival, on Nov. 2, when Cronk went for a COVID-19 test in Saint John. For the previous few days he had a "sniffle" and a mild headache. He blamed both on the time change between Alberta and New Brunswick, but with another business trip planned he wanted to be sure.He said that after going for the test, no one from Public Health advised him to isolate until the results came back, and since he still felt generally well, he continued on with his regular activities."They didn't recommend it," he said. "They didn't say anything about it."In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, but are still eligible for testing, there are no requirements for you to self-isolate, unless you were directed to do so by Public Health." Told to keep positive test result quietThe day after his test, Cronk and a friend travelled to Fredericton, where he visited Jeff Alpaugh Custom, then stopped at a local restaurant for lunch.When he got home to Saint John later that afternoon, his test result came in."As I was getting back from Fredericton, walking into my buddy's house, I just checked my phone and I said, 'Hey, I'm positive.' And he didn't believe me at first — he's like, 'You're not even sick.' And I said, 'I know.'"Cronk immediately turned around, got in his car and headed home to self-isolate as he was directed to.On that first night, he estimates he spent four to six hours on the phone with health officials going through everywhere he had been.Cronk said he was told not to tell anyone he had tested positive for COVID-19 to prevent widespread panic."They recommended me not to say anything to anybody — just until they assess the situation."That's why, when a panicked Jeff Alpaugh texted Cronk asking if he was COVID-positive, Cronk told him no."I didn't want … panic when there wasn't panic needed," he said.The next day, after health officials told him he could, he told Alpaugh and others he had tested positive.A spokesperson for the Department of Health was unclear when asked whether COVID-19-positive people are being advised not to share their diagnosis. In a statement, CBC News was told Public Health "does not advise cases NOT to tell anyone" they are COVID-positive, but rather "assures the individual around confidentiality of their personal health information."On Nov. 4, the day after Cronk's positive test result, the Department of Health announced his case in a news release stating that it was travel-related and that he was self-isolating.The day after that, on Nov. 5, the Department of Health issued an exposure notification for his flights from Calgary to Saint John. 'People just went haywire'Looking back, Cronk said he should have followed the advice he was given and not revealed that he had COVID-19."I think Public Health is right because of how people reacted when I told them that I had COVID. They acted like I was disease-ridden — they did."> It wasn't worth all the headaches that I got from just dealing with that. \- Cortland Cronk"I told one of my best friends and he told 16 other people that all went into panic," he said.Cronk said the entire experience has taught him who his "true friends" are."After I got it, people just went haywire. They said it was my fault. I shouldn't have been travelling. I shouldn't have been working. I shouldn't have been making money. I should have been isolating. I should have self-isolated when I got back home, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."It wasn't worth all the headaches that I got from just dealing with that. Right. I couldn't imagine being sick, like actually sick, and then having to deal with all of that as well."Cronk's symptoms never amounted to much. He later felt tired for a couple of days and lost his sense of taste and smell briefly but was able to continue working from home.Communication improvements neededNow recovered, Cronk said it's clear improvements are needed when it comes to communication at the Department of Public Health, and that contact tracers in the province are under pressure.He described most of the officials he spoke with as "very unorganized.""I had to explain myself, like, probably five times and go over my timeline again and again and again and again."Cronk said that by the third phone call from someone asking him for the information he had already gone through twice, he told the person on the other end of the phone he was finished going over the same territory."There should be a file on me under my medicare number or whatever they put it in under and say, 'Here's all the information we've collected. We've put it all into the computer.' And then whenever someone opens up their file, they have it all here and they can just confirm something."They didn't do any of that. It was just asking the same questions over and over again."The topper for Cronk was that when he asked Public Health officials to provide him with a note for his employer, stating he was COVID-19-positive, they said, "No, we don't do that."
Mamadou Konaté has only lived in Quebec for four years, but he's worked in parts of this province many Quebecers have never set foot in."Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Trois-Rivières, Gaspésie, William, Beaupré, Sherbrooke."Konaté has felled trees for Hydro-Québec, sorted trash in waste management centres, and, most recently, tended to and cleaned the rooms of COVID-positive patients at three long-term care homes. He caught the disease in late April while doing so.But even though the province brokered a deal with the federal government to guarantee residency for many of the asylum seekers who laboured in Quebec's beleaguered long-term care homes, Konaté faces deportation as soon as flights to Ivory Coast are once again allowed."It's really unfair. The UN is trying to get people out of there and [Canada] wants to send me back," said Konaté, who was recently released from an immigration detention centre on a $7,000 caution and a set of conditions that forbids him from working.He was detained after he and his lawyer tried to apply for a stay of deportation and residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.Before that, Konaté had gone underground. His first refugee application was found "inadmissible" because of an obscure section of the Canadian Immigration Act, stating that anyone who participated in the overthrowing of a government cannot seek residency in Canada. "It's basically the clause under which we would make Nelson Mandela inadmissible," said Stewart Istvanffy, the human rights lawyer who's taken on Konaté's case."Anybody who joins the resistance against the Nazis would be inadmissible to Canada under this clause of our law. It's a crazy clause. In a democratic country, we shouldn't have it but it's there in the law."Istvanffy has filed a request for the federal government to waive Konaté's inadmissibility, as well as a writ to try to force the government to make a decision quickly in his case. He has also applied for a temporary resident permit for Konaté. "He was the first face that some of the people in the CHSLD would see in the morning, with smile on his face. He was helping people," Istvanffy said. "I think the work he's done should be recognized and he should be accepted here in Canada."Istvanffy says Konaté, who is 39, was once a member of Les Forces nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (FNCI) rebel group — formed in 2002, in the wake of the country's civil war. Istvanffy says his client fled Ivory Coast a couple of years later and at times required protection from the Red Cross and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He was a refugee in Nigeria and Liberia for years before coming to Canada in early 2016. Another advocate for Konaté, Philippe Desmarais, says Konaté had little choice as a young man but to join the group. Another member of the forces, Guillaume Soro, went on to become the country's prime minister from 2007 to 2012. Desmarais says Konaté's case is unfair to him and is emblematic of the hardships asylum seekers in Canada face, as well as their often unrecognized contributions to society. Desmarais says Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault could use the province's selection power in immigration to ask the federal government to allow Konaté to stay in Quebec. But a spokesperson for Girault, Flore Bouchon, says a selection certificate can't be submitted by Quebec while Konaté's case is still under reviews by the federal government."We are are sensitive to Mr. Konaté's situation," Bouchon said, in an emailed statement. "We continue to follow his case. The minister's cabinet is in touch with her colleagues at the federal government."Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the co-spokesperson of the Québec Solidaire opposition party, joined a rally after Konaté was detained in September. He told the crowd he had urged Girault to put pressure on the federal government to give Konaté residency."Despite all the steps taken in his case, a solid application for residency on humanitarian grounds, his resilience, his patience, his hard work in long-term care homes throughout the pandemic, and evidence he was a prisoner during a war in his country, Mamadou Konaté is detained," Nadeau-Dubois said, in an impassioned speech.A spokesperson for Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino did not respond to a request for comment from CBC.Konaté says he saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking on television one time, saying Canada must help build a better world. "How can we build a better world when there are immigrants here who have no status? Those people aren't bad people," he said. "I worked, like everyone else. I integrated into the society. I believe I deserve a place here."
With the holiday season just weeks away and health officials urging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel, there's a push from a number of Windsor groups to encourage people to shop and celebrate locally for the holidays — an initiative that helps local businesses that may be struggling because of COVID-19.Sisters, Rachel and Lauren Vollmer, noticed the "devastating effects" the pandemic has had on small businesses and took it upon themselves to curate gift boxes made of items from small local retailers.They started their venture, Local Provisions, in October and noticed a growth in interested buyers. They've partnered with Downtown Windsor BIA to distribute gifts to corporations looking to buy for their staff, but they've also sold their gift boxes to those looking to buy for their family and friends."I feel like there's no wrong way to shop small. It's just making sure that you support your community. You can do that, you know, in your neighborhood or the town," Lauren said. "Sometimes supporting local business isn't always, you know, to making a purchase ... it could be sharing things on social media."The Vollmers have different themed gift boxes and offer free delivery within the Windsor-Essex area.One of the local entrepreneurs they're partnered with is Craig Marentette, the owner of Red Lantern Coffee Co. in Kingsville, who already has nine bags of coffee going in his first order with Local Provisions."It's pretty great," he said. "Kingsville, you know, is a small town. There's a lot going on here ... but not as big of a market as Windsor. So it's nice to be part of that."Windsorites want to support local businessesSome Windsorites seem to be on board with the idea of supporting the local community."I'll support small businesses more than big business," Dragan Susic said.Hannah Westfall agrees, "I like to support smaller businesses in this time just because they don't get the money.""I try to support the smaller businesses. They're the ones that are hurting the most," Ron Durocher said. "Wal-Mart and Costco, they've been open and people have been going in, but the small stores have really been struggling."Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island is also encouraging people to stay-cation and shop within the region through their events and gift guides, which highlight local virtual events, holiday light maps showcasing houses with light displays and places to shop.Jason Toner, the director of marketing communications, said the gift guide is a big feature this year and it's been getting a lot of engagement online."Last year, it was an eight page guide. This year, it's a 24-page guide that features 175+ either artisans or small businesses to support. And it goes more beyond just gift giving, it goes about where to buy your local produce, where to buy a pre-made meals, experiences that you can give, a winery guide, a brewery guide, distilleries and ways to support small either in person or virtually," he said."We were able to offer it as a free marketing program to all these small businesses. And we know they need the support this year. So, we're really helping amplify that message for them and hope that it helps all of them in turn."These initiatives keep in line with what health officials are urging Canadians to do: keep within your own household and stay close to home."Christmas is not going to be having any kind of large group interactions," Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said. "Even with family, you've got to really think twice. Avoid non-essential travel. Keep to your current household contacts as much as possible."Skip Amazon, buy local, says VollmersThe Vollmer sisters think it's important to support local businesses which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19."There's just so many great small vendors in your area, [you] just might not know about them," said Rachel. "So, I think just even doing a bit of research and finding them, you'll realize that they have a lot of amazing products. A lot of them are handmade. A lot of them use materials that are even from Windsor. So it's all very local. And I think just keeping the money in your own economies is beneficial to everyone, ultimately.""I think if you can afford to do it, try and skip Amazon and buy from your local stores so that they can stick around," she said.Toner echoes the same sentiment."Keeping those dollars local are important ... and showing that support for your neighbours and friends. Half the time you can start up a relationship with that person that you're buying from to grow and repeat business. And I really think it helps people learn what Essex County is all about."
Prince Edward Island has one new case of COVID-19 and three potential exposure sites in Charlottetown.P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety says it is dealing with a spike in people seeking approval to come to the Island.This year's Victorian Christmas Market in downtown Charlottetown is being cancelled due to COVID-19. Performances at the Confederation Centre of the Arts will look different this holiday season.A new group on P.E.I. is helping to make sure Islanders have reusable masks, by linking up mask donors with agencies and groups in a position to receive and distribute them. Health-care facilities are taking some extra precautions during the next two weeks while the Atlantic bubble is suspended.As Island businesses gear up for the holidays, news of the Atlantic bubble closing has left some hoping it will be a chance to attract and retain more local customers. There are two active COVID-19 cases in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 70 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
GUYSBOROUGH – “One complaint is too many complaints,” when it comes to ambulance delays putting patients at risk, MODG warden Vernon Pitts told media on Wednesday, Nov. 18 after the regular monthly meeting of council. Pitts was referring to a matter deputy warden Janet Peitzsche brought to council that afternoon; a constituent in her district waited seven hours for an EHS transfer from Canso to Antigonish, during which time the patient's appendix ruptured. And this was only the most recent complaint council had heard about EHS service in the municipality. Council has been in discussion with EHS about the lack of service in the municipality in the past and a motion was passed at Wednesday’s meeting to invite EHS to another meeting to discuss the issue. “We want some answers,” said Pitts. “There’s a disconnect here. They’re telling us one thing but in actuality other things are happening. We want to get this straightened out sooner rather than later.” And if things didn’t improve, Pitts said, “Our next step will be approaching the minister because ultimately the province is the one responsible for it. They pay for the service—we pay for the service through our tax rates—but the province in essence, they deal the money out. They’re supposed to get a service that they pay for and we want the service.” Another blow was dealt to health care in the municipality last week. Council was notified during Wednesday’s meeting that a doctor who had been slated to begin practice in the village had decided against a move to Guysborough. The physician shortage situation continues. In other business, council discussed the garbage pick-up service the MODG provides to the Town of Mulgrave. A letter was recently sent from the MODG to Mulgrave informing the town that garbage and recycling collection would move to a biweekly service. Prior to this notification, Mulgrave has had weekly pick-up of both waste streams. Pitts said of the change, “It’s not a cut in service, it is a service that all our residents (MODG) receive today…MODG is not making any money at this; it’s at a cost to us. That’s what Mulgrave is paying. They certainty have the option and the right to go out and look for garbage collection elsewhere.” Pitts explained that the weekly service Mulgrave has enjoyed was part of an accommodation given to the town when MODG took up garbage collection during the dissolution talks. “What happened is, this was first instituted when we were looking at the dissolution of Mulgrave…and it was a service to our neighbour.” Going forward, Pitts said, the MODG would have a contract with Mulgrave for waste collection; there currently isn’t one. Mulgrave has the option to put waste collection out to tender. If they chose that route, the MODG would put in a bid, Pitts said. The MODG will provide waste collection until Mulgrave tells them otherwise. Pitts said, “I don’t foresee MODG leaving them standing high and dry. They’re our neighbours, our friends.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Ontarians across the province should only celebrate the upcoming holiday season with people inside their own household, Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday."Doing so is critical if you live in a lockdown region," Ford said. "If you live alone you can join one other household. Please don't have big holiday parties."A provincial news release also states that anyone "living away from home, including those studying at colleges and universities, should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before returning home for the holidays."Health Minister Christine Elliott said she knows how difficult the last several months have been for people."The holiday season will need to be a little different in order to protect our loved ones and our communities," she said.Ford and Elliott also suggested virtual gatherings as an alternative."To keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted," Ford said.WATCH | Premier gives direction on holiday season:The announcement comes as Ontario reported another 1,373 cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths linked to the illness on Wednesday.The new cases include 445 in Toronto (which the city later updated to 481), 415 in Peel Region and 136 in York Region and drop the seven-day average to 1,389.Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in today's report were: * Waterloo Region: 61 * Hamilton: 49 * Windsor-Essex: 48 * Simcoe Muskoka: 30 * Halton Region: 30 * Durham Region: 26 * Ottawa: 23 * Niagara Region: 17 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 13 * Thunder Bay: 13[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]There were also 162 school-related cases, including 138 students and 24 staff members. There are 688 publicly-funded schools in Ontario, or about 14.6 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Four schools are closed due to outbreaks.The new cases come as Ford's government is under fire for its pandemic response. A new report from the province's Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that the response was hampered by "delays and confusion in decision-making."Meanwhile, Ontario's labs processed 36,076 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a provincewide test positivity rate of 4.7 per cent.There are currently 12,779 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, 138 fewer than yesterday. The number of people with the illness in Ontario hospitals fell 11 to 523. Those being treated in intensive care stayed unchanged at 159, while 15 more patients were put on ventilators.The 35 additional deaths reported today include 29 people aged 70 and over who contracted the virus in an outbreak, most likely long-term care settings. Ontario's official death toll now sits at 3,554.Scathing AG report on pandemic responseThe province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was slower and more reactive than that of other provinces, Lysyk concluded in her report. She said outdated provincial emergency plans played a role in slowing down the provincial response in the winter and spring, as did systemic issues such as a lack of laboratory surge capacity and old IT systems.Lysyk also pointed to an increasingly cumbersome command structure, and one that was not led by public health expertise despite the creation and expansion of a provincial health command table that she says now involves more than 500 people.As well, she found the province's chief medical officer of health did not fully exercise his powers in responding to the pandemic, or issue directives to local health officials to ensure a consistent approach across regions.The auditor general also raised concerns that lab testing, case management and contact tracing were not being conducted in a timely enough manner to limit the spread of the virus, noting that between January and August, all but one public health unit failed to meet the target of reporting test results within a day 60 per cent of the time.The findings are part of a special report released today that examines Ontario's emergency management in the context of the pandemic, and its outbreak planning and decision-making, among other things.In the report, Lysyk said many of the issues her office identified would have been avoidable if the province had acted on key lessons from the 2003 SARS outbreak before or during the health crisis.Ford responded to the report Wednesday, saying that he had "serious problems" with it."This does nothing but undermine this entire health team," Ford said, adding that he "won't stand for this."Ford also directly criticized Lysyk herself, accusing her of sitting in her office and throwing "hand grenades" at the government's health officials."Stick with looking for value for money. Stick with the job we hired you for … stick with the number crunching," Ford said.COVID-19 and the holidaysToronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province's tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions set to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.The province's chief medical officer of health said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower. Previously, Dr. David Williams was derided for his suggestion that the entire province could be in the green zone by Christmas. Five other regions — Hamilton, Durham, Halton, York and Waterloo — are currently classified as red zones, which caps social gatherings at five people indoors and 25 outdoors.Ontario's most recent modelling showed the province is on track to see up to 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December, though those projections are expected to be updated Thursday.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission said it arrested the country's fisheries minister on Wednesday amid an investigation into exports of lobster larvae.Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo was arrested upon arrival at the Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport from a working visit to the United States, the deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission, Nurul Ghufron, told Kompas TV.“The arrest is related to lobster seed exports,” Ghufron said without elaborating in comments aired on the station.He said investigators were still questioning Prabowo and another announcement would be made later Wednesday.Prabowo earlier this year rolled back a ban on lobster larvae exports put in place by his predecessor. That decision sparked criticism from his predecessor and activists over sustainability concerns.President Joko Widodo said he respected the decision of the anti-corruption commission, known in Indonesia as the KPK, to arrest Prabowo.“I believe the KPK works in a transparent, open and professional manner,” Widodo told reporters. “The government consistently supports corruption eradication efforts."If Prabowo is charged with a crime it could further tarnish Widodo's credibility when it comes to fighting corruption. Two previous members of Widodo's Cabinet have already been sentenced to prison terms in corruption cases.Former Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham was sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in a bribery case related to a coal-fired power plant project on Sumatra island, while former Youth and Sport Minister Imam Nahrawi was sentenced to seven years after he was found guilty of personally using a National Sports Committee grant.Prabowo is the deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, formerly a rival to Widodo's party. He joined the Cabinet in October 2019 as part of of an alliance forged after Widodo's election to a second term.Widodo campaigned in part on a pledge to run a clean government in a country that ranked 85th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International.The Associated Press
If you are a senior staying in your own home during pandemic times, a proposed new senior’s renovation tax credit may help with the cost of renovations to make your home more safe and accessible and keep you in your home longer. The Ontario government has proposed a Seniors' Home Safety Tax Credit for the 2021 taxation year, which would provide a 25 per cent credit on eligible renovations of up to $10,000. The tax credit would be a fully refundable tax credit for the 2021 tax year worth 25% of up to $10,000 ($2,500) in eligible expenses to make homes “safer and more accessible.” Seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes and whether they owe income tax for 2021. Family members who have a senior living with them would also be eligible. Eligible expenses include those that are paid for, or become payable in, 2021. The expenses must relate to renovations that improve safety and accessibility or help seniors be more functional or mobile at home. Eligible expenses could include renovations to allow for first-floor occupancy or a secondary suite for a senior; wheelchair ramps, stair lifts and elevators; grab bars in washrooms to assist with use of the toilet, tub or shower, non-slip flooring, additional lighting, and automatic garage door openers. “This is a very important new program that is available to all seniors, regardless of income,” said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “The intent of the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is to help make homes safer and more accessible for those with mobility issues. I encourage all interested residents to apply.” The government said it expects the credit would benefit 27,000 people and cost about $30 million in 2021. The province plans to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to allow the credit to be claimable through the 2021 personal income tax return. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent