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
A task force comprised of faith groups, think-tanks and community organizations in Calgary says Quebec's Bill 21 has impacted religious minorities across Canada since it came into law in 2019.The secularism law bans religious symbols, like hijabs and turbans, prohibiting public teachers, lawyers, police officers and civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work, effectively preventing them from working in their chosen fields.Lawyers for the government say it was needed to address unease about religious pluralism and the place of religion in society, but the Canadians it impacts say it violates the constitution and effectively makes them second-class citizens.The I-Care task force study was funded by Think For Actions, Canadian Muslim Research Think Tank and Calgarians Against Racism, Violence and Hate at a cost of $21,000, gathering interviews and opinion from a wide range of residents from minority groups through focus groups.Participants took part in several events held at churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues. The study says they described the bill as hateful and one which targets minority religions. All participants agreed that Bill 21 does not reflect what Canada stands for."It gives the feeling that we are becoming second-class citizens," said Dr. Mukarram Zaidi, chairman of the group Think For Actions, one of more than 50 groups involved in the study."This type of bill increases racism and discrimination by providing futile grounds to white nationalism, neo-nazis, and white supremacists," Zaidi said.He says the findings of the study into the impact of the bill in Alberta were unanimous."It makes you valueless it makes your feel unwanted and it definitely affects us on a personal, psychological and emotional level," Zaidi added, quoting the words of one participant.Zaidi says they discovered the law is also having a psychological impact with minorities feeling under attack and many reporting an impact on their mental health.Findings from the focus groups included questions around defining religious symbols, concerns over Quebec residents having to leave their jobs and move away from their homes as a result of the bill and worries about the possibility of copycat bills in other provinces. The report says many interviewees described discontent and fear for the future including one stating that they believe Bill 21 produces hatred.Calgary city council voted unanimously in September 2019 to formally oppose Bill 21 but some who took part in focus groups said they were still concerned about the possibility of Alberta's provincial government adopting a similar law in the future."This could be a reality tomorrow in our province," said Zaidi, citing concerns about a changing political landscape and more far-right groups and activity in Alberta. "We definitely fear that and that's why we did this study in Calgary."Zaidi says people come to Canada, in many cases, to escape oppression and enjoy freedom of religion and equal rights. He says Bill 21 takes that hope away from many immigrants along with the pride they have in their respective religions.Right now Bill 21 is facing several legal challenges in Quebec, where hearings are still taking place.A test of the constitutionality of the secularism law began earlier this month with tearful testimony from Muslim and Sikh teachers who said the law derailed their careers and made them targets of bigotry.It's facing four different lawsuits that claim it violates the Constitution in a number of different ways.Civil society groups have targeted the law as part of a broader struggle against systemic racism.The court challenge was temporarily suspended last week after a person who had attended the proceedings tested positive for COVID-19.
Halifax council has unanimously approved three housing projects for funding under Ottawa's Rapid Housing Initiative.Proposals from Adsum House, the North End Community Health Association and the Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre will share the $8.6 million allotted for Halifax.The Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre's project will provide emergency shelter and permanent housing for its urban Indigenous clients at a property it owns at 5853 College St., but it will require a rezoning. The councillor for South End Halifax said during a debate on Tuesday that given what the property has been used for the rezoning is worthwhile."What that site was up until three years ago was a low security halfway house run by Corrections Canada," explained Coun. Waye Mason. "And frankly the building is quite old and they'll be replacing it."Regional council also agreed the three groups should apply for 100 per cent exemption to the municipal property taxes for their sites to ensure the units remain affordable over the next 20 years.Hopes to help other projectsCouncillors were also interested in finding other ways to help the nine other projects that were considered. One of them was proposed by the Elizabeth Fry Society and Cloverdale to convert a commercial building into housing for women involved in the criminal justice system. The proposal said people have to find accommodations to meet bail conditions."It is appalling that we are using the jail in Burnside as a homeless shelter," said Coun. Sam Austin. "There are people sitting in jail because there is nowhere for them to go; that is so utterly wrong."A number of councillors were also interested in the Homes for Heroes proposal to provide 20 to 24 tiny homes for veterans.HRM staff said they will work with all the proposals to find other funding programs.The three that were approved will be submitted to Ottawa on Thursday.MORE TOP STORIES
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
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
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. Premier Jason Kenney declared a public health emergency on Tuesday, with more COVID-related restrictions, but his underlying message remains the same to Albertans: please take personal responsibility or I'll be forced to take drastic action. And this time, I really mean it! Kenney continues to play the role of exasperated parent in the driver's seat telling the mischievous kids in the back seat to stop misbehaving or by golly he's pulling the car over. In, um, three weeks. That's how long he's giving Albertans to obey his latest restrictions or face "stricter measures." Those restrictions are not the temporary, targeted lockdown being advocated by doctors, 341 of whom wrote a third letter to Kenney this week saying, among other things, "The continued rise in COVID-19 infections in Alberta is alarming. We are not on the brink of a health-care system disaster — we are already in it." But Kenney is opposed to a lockdown, preferring instead to issue a list of new restrictions that apply to some but not others. For example, you must wear a mask in indoor workplaces in Calgary and Edmonton regions but not in rural Alberta. Worshippers can still gather together with some restrictions, but not high school students, whose in-class learning will end Nov. 30 and not resume until Jan. 11. In-home gatherings illegal Kenney has declared in-home social gatherings to be illegal, with scofflaws facing a $1,000 fine. He was unclear on how the government will enforce the law, other than trusting police officers to notice if there are more than the usual number of cars parked along a street, indicating someone on the block is having a party. Also, you can't play darts or billiards in a pub, but you can have a drink with friends as long as they are either part of your household bubble or there aren't more than two of them. Again, this is not a blanket restriction for the whole province but for those in the "enhanced" areas of the province. You have to consult a map on the province's website to figure out where those areas are. While other provinces have shut down casinos, Alberta is only shutting down table games while leaving electronic games open. I guess if you want to hold a social gathering, do it in a casino. The restrictions are so confusing, you literally need to print out a list of the new rules and a COVID map of "enhanced" areas of the province to figure out if any of the new rules apply to you, your workplace or your local retail outlets. WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces new COVID-19 restrictions for Alberta Kenney's reluctance to follow other provinces into lockdowns is not surprising. Just a few weeks ago, he took a swipe at other areas of Canada that had imposed strong restrictions to flatten the COVID curve. "We've seen other jurisdictions implement sweeping lockdowns, indiscriminately violating people's rights and destroying livelihoods," said Kenney in early November. "Nobody wants that to happen here in Alberta." And just a few days ago, he said he would not let Alberta become a "police state." Invoking a province-wide mandatory mask rule, as every other province has done, is not exactly turning the rest of Canada into a "police state." Mandatory mask rules have demonstrated how other provinces are applying temporary sweeping restrictions to reduce COVID cases and save lives. But not in Alberta, even though last weekend the province had the highest daily case count in the country. That's including Ontario, which has more than three times Alberta's population. Boxed into a corner Kenney's previous libertarian comments have boxed him into a corner. If he invokes the same restrictions we're seeing in other provinces he, too, will be, by his own words, "indiscriminately violating people's rights and destroying livelihoods." That's why he says he's bringing in the "minimum" requirements to fight COVID. He meant that in terms of the Charter of Rights, where it requires a "minimal impairment" of people's fundamental rights to achieve a policy goal. However, when doctors call for a lockdown, they are not talking about denying people freedoms indefinitely, just long enough to flatten the curve and give everyone a chance to exercise the right to stay healthy and alive. "We're not going to let political pressure or ideological approaches to cause indiscriminate damage to peoples' lives and livelihoods," said Kenney on Tuesday, even as his new restrictions seem to be based in his own ideological, hands-off, trust-people-to-take-personal-responsibility approach to public policy. But you've got to hand it to Kenney for managing to sneak in a few subtle swipes at the doctors who are calling for a temporary lockdown. "I would ask people who have the certainty of a paycheque, particularly a government paycheque, to think for a moment about those individuals whose entire life savings are tied up in businesses," he said. But the doctors who are calling for a lockdown are warning us if we don't help ramp down the number of COVID cases now, everyone will be much worse off in the days to come and the government will be forced to apply massive restrictions in the future. I suppose that's what Kenney is saying, too, in his own way. And, by golly, this time he means it. This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.
Leslie Chihuly, the wife and business driver behind glass artist Dale Chihuly, believes these are fighting times, especially for artists. "If we don't have our paintings and art and music and culture and civility, then what do we have?" said the president and chief executive of Chihuly, Inc, who chaired the board of the Seattle Symphony for nine years until 2018. Chihuly, 59, had a chat with Reuters about her personal, professional and philanthropic choices.
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
One is called the 'English snail' and the other the 'Marseille boar.' Together, Edmund Platt and Frédéric Munsch are walking from Marseille to Paris, collecting thousands of discarded facemasks along the way.View on euronews
A Christmas tree grower on P.E.I. is advising Islanders to get their trees early due to a shortage in the province.Mike Kelly, who owns Kelly's Christmas Tree Farm in Fort Augustus, said the number of Christmas trees are down this year because of the drought this summer and a harmful frost in June 2018. Kelly said he's had calls from sellers looking for more trees, but said he doesn't grow enough to supply them. He said there's been at least a 50 per cent increase in the number of people coming out to tag a tree to cut later. He expects all his trees will be sold out by the second week in December. "I think a lot of people do feel somewhat cooped up here over the last eight months or so, with COVID, of course," he said in an interview with Island Morning host Laura Chapin.'Family outings'"But I do notice that over the last few weeks and people coming out, a lot of families, and there's no question that's my biggest driving force, the different families coming out to get some family outings, I guess."The shortage also means for the first time in decades, the Summerside Y's Men are having to cut, wrap and haul dozens of Christmas trees to have enough for their annual fundraiser. The Y's Men raise money each year selling Christmas trees at Kool Breeze Farms. Y's Men 80 trees shortJanet-Rose Hurst, a member with the group, said normally they get between 200 and 250 trees but they've only been able to obtain a maximum of 150 from their commercial tree growers."The growers had a bad year growing their trees so we've seen a reduction in the amount of trees we can get from the commercial growers," she said."So this year we are going to have to go out and actually cut the trees ourselves."The group found a tree lot in Stratford that has allowed them to cut about 80 trees to meet their demand.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Manitoba government has spent less than nine per cent of the $67 million in climate change funding promised by the federal government, records obtained by the Opposition New Democrats show.Two years after both levels of government squabbled over the money, roughly $5.9 million has been spent on a single project — cutting emissions in the trucking sector — according to the document.The province said Tuesday that's because no other emission-cutting projects have been approved by Ottawa.But NDP environment and climate change critic Lisa Naylor says the province simply hasn't accomplished enough."They sat on this money for a long time before funding one project," the Wolseley MLA said in an interview. "Does this government care at all about doing work on the environment?"The provincial government said money only flows through the federal Low Carbon Economy Fund if the submitted projects adhere to Ottawa's "strict criteria," which require the federal government's review and approval.Ottawa's red tape 'takes time:' province"This work takes time, but is continuing, despite some delays as a result of the global pandemic," a provincial spokesperson said by email. The document, which was obtained by the NDP through a freedom of information request and tabled at the legislature last week, says a "number of other projects" put forward for the federal fund cannot be disclosed because some are under consideration by the provincial cabinet. "It sounds like these projects are stuck in cabinet," Naylor said.Minister of Conservation and Climate Sarah Guillemard said the province is discussing the fund's timelines to ensure the $67 million is spent."Stay tuned, as many projects are in the works," she said in a prepared statement.Meanwhile, the federal government said some Manitoba programs approved by Ottawa are still awaiting formal approval from the province, while federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is assessing two other projects put forward by Manitoba.So far, $5.9 million of federal cash has been dedicated to retrofits, fuel-saving devices and technologies within the trucking sector. The effort is pegged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 150,000 tonnes, the province says.The provincial government said it is offering $2.1 million in rebates to truckers committed to the fuel-efficient retrofits. Many cheques have already been distributed, it said.The provincial and federal governments have been engaged in a war of words over this money for years.It took roughly 14 months for Manitoba, in early 2018, to sign onto Ottawa's climate change plan. The province initially held out in the hopes of securing more health-care funding.By late 2018, the province accused the federal Liberals of threatening to withhold the $67 million over a dispute regarding the carbon tax. Manitoba surprisingly abandoned its $25 per tonne carbon tax plan that fall, after saying Ottawa was giving the province no credit for the green investments it has already made.The dispute over the money was resolved in May 2019 when the funding agreement was signed, Ottawa said.Manitoba's green plan aims to cut emissions by one megatonne between 2018 and 2022. The previous NDP government set emissions targets, but they were not met.
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."
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
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
The Town of Lakeshore council has voted five to three in favour of approving its 2021 budget.The council voted after two full days of deliberation Monday and Tuesday.The budget includes a property tax increase of 2.71 per cent. When combined with rate changes at the county and education levy, the average home in Lakeshore, priced at $300,000, will pay a projected $37.00 more per year in tax compared to 2020 — a 1.17 per cent increase.Mayor Tom Bain says the tax increase is necessary to fund essential infrastructure projects, among them rebuilding and expanding the local sewage treatment plant and fixing the town's old waterlines."We were almost in a situation where infrastructure needs such as sewage and water take a priority, and are actually a health and safety matter where we needed to go ahead with these projects," he said.Bain added that he was happy with the proposed budget — especially considering the negative effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on municipal finances. "Certainly we've had problems with COVID, and there was a problem with cost overrun with regards to the COVID problem," he said. "But we were able to work that in our budget and still do some infrastructure projects."Bain added that he's also feeling optimistic about Lakeshore's long-term financial situation."Well, I think we're doing actually real well," he said. "Construction as far as residential development continues, Lakeshore is actually a leader in Essex County and it continues. And we're also doing fairly well in attracting new businesses to the area." The town has recently been the site of controversy, as several residents have complained of unusually high water bills.Bain said it's an issue the town is working daily to address."Well certainly we've had those complaints and we're trying to deal with each of those complaints individually," he said. "So daily, we're trying to deal with individual complaints and get to the bottom of the problems."
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."
The Alberta government's new measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 cases fall short of what's needed to avoid a crisis in hospitals and in the health-care system, Edmonton doctors say. Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta, paints a grim picture of the province's current COVID-19 situation. "We're awfully close to the precipice of a complete disaster in Alberta," Schwartz said. Intensive care units are being pushed beyond their capacity, with COVID-19 patients taking up a large portion of that space, Schwartz said in an interview with CBC News Tuesday. Schwartz noted that 66 COVID-19 patients are in ICU right now while the province had previously designated a capacity for 70 ICU beds for patients with COVID-19. "So clearly we're already brushing right up to that maximum capacity." Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro declared another public health emergency and announced new mandatory restrictions on social gatherings and businesses for three weeks. Starting Friday, most retail businesses, such as liquor, grocery, pharmacy and clothing stores must limit their capacity to 25 per cent of allowed occupancy under the Alberta Fire Code. Starting immediately, all indoor social gatherings are banned, Kenney said. The province will allow bingo halls, water parks, racing centres and casinos to remain open. Restaurants, pubs and bars may remain open at 25 per cent capacity, with a maximum of six people at one table from the same immediate household, Kenney said. Schwartz said there are contradictions in the measures. "The definition of social gathering seems to be fairly arbitrary because it doesn't seem to include going to bars or going to a casino," he said. Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, also took issue with the premier's messaging about the measures being designed to target where spread was occurring. "With our contact tracers being overwhelmed, we still don't know where 80 per cent of people are getting COVID from," Mithani said Tuesday. "So to say things like restaurants are not a significant source of spread and bars and casinos are not a significant source of spread, we actually don't know that because we're missing so much of that data." Measures too late Alberta's spiking cases made front-page headlines for several days before Kenney announced new measures on Tuesday. The measures also come three weeks after hundreds of doctors signed letters urging the province to implement a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown. "It comes clearly too late to be meaningful," Schwartz said. Schwartz said he expects things to look worse mid-December. "We know that even if we completely abated transmissions today, we're still going to be in trouble in three weeks from now," Schwartz said. "And so to implement these measures for three weeks seems short sighted." Mithani said the province needs to be on board with the federal contact tracing app, to help collect data on where Albertans are contracting the virus. @natashariebe
Big Brothers and Sisters Kincardine and District have launched two innovative ways to fundraise this year, and replace some of the revenue lost due to events cancelled because of the pandemic. The Festival of Wreaths campaign invited local businesses to create a holiday wreath, register it with Big Brothers and Sisters and display it prominently in their own office window. The sky was the limit when creating the wreath, and businesses were encouraged to decorate with chocolate, gift certificates, decorations and anything else that struck their fancy. The entire collection can be viewed at https://kincardine.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/festival-of-wreaths-submissions/and a link is available that will direct the public to the businesses who have created a wreath. Approximately 26 wreaths have been submitted, from businesses including Sleepers Bed Gallery, Mackenzie and McCreath Funeral Home, Victoria Park Gallery and Snobelen Farms. Wreaths created by businesses in Ripley are currently on display at Grey Matter Beer Company and The Cooperators. Each wreath has been donated to BBBS, and they will be auctioned off, with funds directed to the organization. The online auction runs from Nov. 26-30. These keepsakes will be available for pick up just in time to deck your own halls. The more wreaths that sell, the more money BBBS will have to support their programs. “This is a very important fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine & District in a critical time of need,” said executive director Yolanda Ritsema. “All proceeds help sustain our core programs in the community. Each participating business will receive a tax deductible receipt for the cost of their wreath.” The agency has also kicked off its holiday giving and recruitment campaign, giving the public the opportunity to give the gift of mentorship. The initiative hopes to raise $5,000 and recruit 10 new big brothers or sisters for its mentorship program. BBBS is very excited to announce that it has partnered with EPCOR this year, who will match donations, dollar for dollar, to a maximum of $5,000. All funds raised remain in this community. The money will be used to ignite the potential of little brothers and sisters and have a positive impact on their emotional competence. It will be used to increase their educational engagement and employment readiness and empower their good mental health and well-being. “This challenging time has changed the landscape of how vital community organizations fundraise and operate,” said Susannah Robinson, EPCOR vice president, Ontario operations. “We are excited to match the generous donations for the Holiday Giving program that will enable Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine & District to continue to invest in our youth and help set them up for success.” Big Brothers Big Sisters is Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring organization and the Kincardine agency is proud to be a part of this movement. It offers life-changing relationships to inspire and empower youth, with the goal of helping youth reach their potential. Besides matches between mentors and mentees, it offers a range of programs serving you who want a mentor. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Council members in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., have passed a resolution asking stores to make masks mandatory.The resolution, passed Monday night, encourages retailers to make face masks a requirement in local stores and to support those that can't wear a mask due to a disability or "undue hardship."The resolution says that personal preference "is not a valid reason to not wear a mask." Mayor Sean Whelly stressed that the resolution is a recommendation, not a bylaw, meaning that it is not mandatory for businesses to put this policy in place.Whelly said it's been difficult for customers to maintain physical distancing in stores because it's the place where so many people interact. If there's one thing his council needs to tackle right now, it's the mask issue, Whelly said."We want people to recognize that it's for their own good, and get them to voluntarily adopt mask usage," he said.The only place in the community where masks are mandatory right now is the liquor store, Whelly said. That's because the N.W.T. Liquor and Cannabis Commission made masks mandatory at all liquor stores in the territory last month.At that spot, Whelly said people can be seen leaving the store with their masks on and then passing that used mask to the next person waiting in line. Whelly said mask usage elsewhere in the community is low, and he believes it's because residents think the strong border measures and isolation centres elsewhere in the territory will keep them from being exposed to the virus. "There's a false sense of security," he said. "If one person happened to get it here, it would quickly spread just like in Nunavut." This is doubly important to residents as Fort Simpson's ice road gets ready to open during the winter, he continued. The community is cut off from all-seasons roads at the moment, lessening the risk of COVID-19. But as soon as the road opens, Whelly said residents will have to be prepared. "We know there's going to be a lot of people travelling here, and from here to Yellowknife and all over," he said. "If there's any outbreaks over there, [there are] more chances that we can see something develop here over the Christmas holidays." The next step, Whelly said, is to use some of the village's COVID-19 money to supply local stores with masks that they can provide to customers if they do not have them. Whelly said Fort Simpson has already given out hundreds of cloth masks to people in the community, but he thinks providing them to stores directly might help increase mask usage. Whelly said both stores in the community, the Northern Store and Unity, are willing to work with the village on this new mask policy.