WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The province's plan to test asymptomatic students and staff for COVID-19 has uncovered an outbreak in the first school where it was deployed, raising concerns about the spread of the virus in classrooms around the province.Ontario's health minister downplayed concerns about the findings at the elementary Thorncliffe Park Public School in east Toronto over the weekend, where 270 students and 17 staff are self-isolating as public health investigates the outbreak.The Toronto District School Board said 21 people - 19 students and two staff - have tested positive for the virus since the provincial pilot started at the school on Thursday.Health Minister Christine Elliott said the virus is spreading from the community into the schools, and not within the classrooms themselves."It wasn't a huge surprise because there is significant community spread in that area," Elliott said of the test results. "But it does tell us that we need to be careful to keep the children safe, that teachers stay safe and the staff are safe."The school was the first tested under a new provincial plan to target classrooms in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa announced last week.The expanded voluntary testing will be provided for four weeks and those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said.The province first announced the program this summer but it had not yet taken effect.NDP deputy leader Sara Singh said the results from Thorncliffe Park are just the "tip of the iceberg" of what the province will find in hot spot region schools."This is why New Democrats have been calling on this government ... to cap our class sizes to get the outbreaks under control in our schools," she said.Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the results should motivate the government to take additional measures to keep schools safe, including cutting class size. The tests show Ontario may not actually know what virus rates look like in its schools, he added."I think it's a scary number that we saw," he said. "And I think as this continues to get rolled out ... we are going to see numbers that will give parents a lot of anxiety."Ontario began the testing at Thorncliffe Park on Thursday - with 433 tests completed last week - and work was expected to continue Monday.Elementary schools in Toronto require staff and students to be screened daily for the virus, wear masks, practice physical distancing and practice proper hand hygiene. Toronto Public Health said it is also now requiring siblings to stay home if there is one child in the household with symptoms of COVID-19.Staff said the positivity rate within the school was approximately four per cent. Associate medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that local data shows positivity rates in the community around the school are approximately 16 per cent."We're working very closely with Toronto Public Health on what measures need to be done to reduce the transmission and to reduce the infection rate in schools," she said. "It's concerning but it's not surprising."The province said Monday it has begun testing in some schools in Peel Region and Ottawa and is expecting results back in the coming days.Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the findings at Thorncliffe Park are a sign the program is doing what it's supposed to."I think it underscores that a plan is in place trying to work hard to mitigate any further spread," he said.Lecce said the province will bolster its COVID-19 safety programming when all children return to school after the Christmas break. It will ensure students receive a refresher on pandemic safety measures after the pause in class, he said."I accept that we still have work to do in the context of countering COVID-19 in our community," he said.The province reported 102 new COVID-19 cases related to schools on Monday, including at least 86 among students.Those brought the number of schools with a reported case to 670 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools.Ontario reported 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and eight new deaths due to the virus.Elliott said 390 cases in Peel Region and 217 in York Region. Toronto reported 622 new cases, its highest ever single-day total.In the province's long-term care homes, 710 residents currently have COVID-19 and two new deaths were reported Monday. The province said 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven new deaths on Monday.
Ce sont 20 nouveaux cas qui s’ajoutent au bilan du Bas-Saint-Laurent selon le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux régional, portant le total à 772 cas. Celui-ci déplore également un 17e décès sur le territoire. Le CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent a fourni la répartition des 34 cas pour les 48 dernières heures, dont les 14 cas de la journée de jeudi, et les 20 nouveaux cas actuels. Kamouraska78Rivière-du-Loup191 (+1)Témiscouata51 (+5)Les Basques11Rimouski-Neigette219 (+14)La Mitis32 (+3)La Matanie162 (+9)La Matapédia25 (+1)Inconnu3 (+1)Bas-Saint-Laurent772 (+34)En date du 27 novembre à 10 h, le CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent compte 600 cas rétablis au Bas-Saint-Laurent. Un nouveau décès a été enregistré, pour un total de 17 décès liés au virus. Il n’y a aucune hospitalisation en cours. Enfin, 799 dépistages ont été réalisés le jeudi. Le décès a été confirmé à la Résidence des Sages de Matane. Le résidence enregistre un total de 30 cas, dont 15 résidences et 15 travailleurs, et 3 décès. 10 usagers et 3 travailleurs sont rétablis. Quant au CHSLD de Matane, ce sont 4 résidents et 1 travailleur qui ont reçu un résultat positif à la COVID-19. Au total, il y a 20 cas, dont 14 (+4) résidents et 6 (+1) travailleurs. Finalement, il y aurait un nouveau cas à une unité de l’Hôpital de Rimouski, et la situation est stable à la Résidence Les Bâtisseurs de Matane.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Strathmore has moved to make its fire department more diverse and inclusive by hiring a deputy fire chief to a new recruitment position. Laurie VandeSchoot, the town’s new assistant chief of diversity, inclusion and recruiting, was introduced during the regular Strathmore town council meeting on Nov. 18. VandeSchoot is a municipal government, change management and strategic planning specialist with a 28-year career with the City of Calgary who also consults internationally and locally and instructs at Bow Valley College in Calgary. “Laurie is known for building inclusive and high-performance cultures that strengthens communities,” said Judy Unsworth, Strathmore Fire Department deputy chief, during the meeting. VandeSchoot has experience in diversity services, equity solutions, mental health, public participation, strategic planning and sustainable development, said Unsworth. Furthermore, VandeSchoot leads the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) diversity leadership program, chairs the International Fire Chiefs human relations committee, and is the national co-chair of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) national subcommittee on diversity inclusion, among other leadership roles. “Under the direction of chief (Trent) West, I am super excited about what we can do here in Strathmore,” said VandeSchoot. “I’m passionate, as you can tell, about diversity and inclusion – it’s kind of my lifeblood. When we talk about diversity, inclusion and recruitment, diversity and inclusion is our purpose, recruitment is where we start from.” Diversity is about more than numbers, she added. “It’s not just about how many people you have that are different, it’s about that sense of belonging, it’s about that sense of inclusion and how we can create a culture of openness, belonging and wellness.” The hiring of VandeSchoot highlights the importance of welcoming all people to Strathmore’s community and environment, said Strathmore town Councillor Denise Peterson. “It shows that we’re not just saying these things, that we’re actually taking action to embrace inclusion and to break down those barriers that we’ve seen.” Peterson added the position will help develop partnerships with Siksika Nation.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (17,205.43, down 191.13 points.)Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Down $1.64, or 7.32 per cent, to $20.77 on 26.1 million shares. Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up 3.5 cents, or 7.07 per cent, to 53 cents on 24.4 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Up $1.51, or 10.99 per cent, to $15.25 on 21.5 million shares.Hexo Corp. (TSX:HEXO). Health care. Up 29 cents, or 25.44 per cent, to $1.43 on 15.5 million shares.Score Media and Gaming Inc. (TSX:SCR). Telecommunications. Up 26 cents, or 18.31 per cent, to $1.68 on 14.6 million shares.Northland Power Inc. (TSX:NPI). Utilities. Down $1.80, or 3.89 per cent, to $44.51 on 13.6 million shares.Companies in the news: Nutrien Ltd. (TSX:NTR). Down 20 cents to $64.10. Nutrien Ltd. is calling on other members of the fertilizer industry to join its fight against climate change as it launches an agriculture carbon program to drive improved environmental sustainability and boost profits for farmers. The Saskatoon-based company said Monday it plans to use its role as the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services to help growers plan, plant and track practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, trap and store carbon and measure the resulting improvements. It will then help farmers make money from their environmental efforts by facilitating the purchase and sale of carbon credits used by industries to offset their emissions and reduce carbon taxes. Nutrien is to pilot its new carbon program in certain regions across North America in 2021 and plans to later take it to South America and Australia.Bombardier Inc. — Bombardier has named veteran executive Bart Demosky as chief financial officer effective immediately. The company says Demosky replaces John Di Bert, who will be leaving the company. Demosky joins Bombardier after serving in senior roles at some of the biggest names in corporate Canada. He has served as the chief executive of Universal Rail Systems Inc., chief financial officer for Canadian Pacific Railway and chief financial officer for Suncor Energy. Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. The company is expected to complete the sale of its railway division to French company Alstom early next year.Artis Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:AX.UN). Down 10 cents to $10.72. Artis Real Estate Investment Trust says four trustees have tendered their resignations and both its chief executive officer and chief financial officer will retire as part of a deal reached with private equity firm Sandpiper Group which sought changes at the trust. Under the terms of the agreement, Artis chief executive Armin Martens will retire effective Dec. 31 and chief financial officer Jim Green will retire after the trust's 2021 annual meeting of the unitholders. Sandpiper's slate of five nominees, including Sandpiper chief executive Samir Manji, will join two of the existing trustees — Ben Rodney and Lauren Zucker — to make up the new board. Artis proposed a plan in September that would see it spinoff its retail portfolio into a new real estate trust and focus on its North American industrial and office businesses. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation. "We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay." The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student. The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported. The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban. Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms. “There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election." PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden. But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays. His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away. "The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded. Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to: — Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; — Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; — End the importation and manufacture of handguns. The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns. PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows. According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018. Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns. "It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
The family income is not what it used to be, and many parents worry about not having enough money for Christmas. Over decades, society has gotten us all to believe that the more presents under the Christmas tree, the happier the holiday will be, and the bigger they are, makes it that much more significant. This philosophy is not the case, and the meaning behind the gifts and family traditions of the holiday season has slowly depleted. Christmas is not about how much money gets spent on gifts, but instead cherishing the holiday time with family and friends. It should not be about the number of gifts given or received but rather the meaning behind the gift itself. People remember the holidays gathered around the table eating a festive meal, playing games, tobogganing or driving around looking at the Christmas lights. When it comes to the gifts, some children forget who gave them what and as time passes, often forget it was even a Christmas gift as there were just too many. Typically, out of all those wrapped presents, there would be a few they would cherish, play with regularly, and the rest would be put in a toy box or closet, never to come out again. As adults, we remember when our Mothers and Grandmothers gifted afghans or quilts, they made, which have often been kept and used for many years. Our grandfathers or fathers would make dollhouses out of wood and toy cars. Or when your children gifted you that clay ashtray or coffee cup, they made in school. Their faces would light up as you opened it. And why, because it was a unique handmade gift just for you. When it comes to the monetary value, these gifts did not cost a lot. The gifts were cherished because they were all homemade ideas that came from the heart and created by those who love us. With that in mind, you can make the holidays less expensive and more meaningful by being creative. The internet is an excellent source for all sorts of do-it-yourself project ideas, which include step-by-step instructions. Another option is to check the local library for books on gift ideas. Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press
MONTREAL — Romell Quioto feels like he's finally found happiness with the Montreal Impact, so when the opportunity came to cement his future with the club, the star forward jumped on it. Quioto signed a two-year extension with the Major League Soccer club on Monday. The deal also includes an option for 2023."Montreal is very special to (me) because (I) came here after a difficult year, professionally speaking and personally speaking as well, and the club opened the doors for (me). And (I'm) eternally grateful for that," the 29-year-old Honduran forward said through a translator on Monday. "For (me), the priority is to be happy and for (me) that happiness is here in Montreal and with the Impact.”Quioto joined Montreal in a trade with the Houston Dynamo late last year.He was limited to just eight starts and 794 minutes in the 2019 season. A move to Montreal seems to have reinvigorated Quioto. He led the Impact in scoring, registering eight goals and six assists in 19 appearances. The Impact finished the regular season with a 8-13-2 record, good for ninth in the East. The club made the playoffs, thanks to a late Quioto goal that sealed a 3-2 win over D.C. United on Nov. 8. It was the first time since 2016 that Montreal had played in the post-season. Quioto also scored in the Impact's 2-1 loss the New England Revolution in the opening round of the playoffs.It was important for the dynamic forward to stay with the Impact, said the club's sporting director, Olivier Renard. "All year long he has proved his value on the pitch through his performances, but also with his winning and leader mentality," Renard said in a release. "That's the fruit of his labour, now it's up to him to continue that work in order to achieve the club's goals in the years to come."Quioto feels it was a successful year, both for himself individually and the club as a whole. "(I) feel good with what (I) gave to the club this season, but (I) feel (I) can give even more," he said. "(I'm) going to work to be able to give everything (I) can to the Montreal Impact, (I'm) here to work and (I'm) already looking forward to the next opportunity to do so.”Quioto's next chance to contribute on the field will come on Dec. 15 when Montreal faces his former team, Honduran club Olimpia, in CONCACAF Champions League play. One Impact player who won't be available for the game is forward Maximiliano Urruti. The club announced Monday that the 29-year-old Argentine international has undergone surgery to repair an injured meniscus in his right knee and will be out for six to eight weeks. Urruti appeared in 15 games for Montreal this year, tallying five goals and two assists in his second season with the team. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Monday he is relieved after an association of Quebec booksellers apologized for removing an online list of his reading recommendations.Legault shared some of his favourite books during a Facebook live video last week as part of a campaign by the Association des libraires du Quebec to promote Quebec literature during the COVID-19 pandemic.While Legault's video remained online, the association said it removed posts detailing the premier's book list on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on Friday after receiving "a flood of comments.""My intention was never to hurt anyone or censor anything because that goes against the fundamental values of the association and our commitment to freedom of expression,” the group’s director, Katherine Fafard, said in a statement Monday.Fafard, who apologized for what she said was an error, did not say which of Legault’s recommendations drew the comments.A spokesman for the premier, Ewan Sauves, said the association received complaints about one of the titles Legault selected but did not confirm which book it was.The premier's list of 11 books included "Kukum" by Michel Jean, Dany Laferriere's "L'enigme du retour," and "L'empire du politiquement correct" by Mathieu Bock-Cote, a conservative author and columnist. On Sunday, Bock-Cote, whose book title translates as "The Empire of Political Correctness," accused the association of censorship for removing the premier's selections.Legault addressed the controversy Monday afternoon, saying in a Facebook post that he was at first angered and saddened by the decision but was relieved to see his list was back online."We cannot accept a handful of radical activists trampling on our freedom of expression to defend their diktats. That goes way too far," Legault wrote."The beauty of books is that there is room for all voices. Reading transports us to points of view that are sometimes far from our own, but always enrich us. It makes me sad to know that people in Quebec would like to take that away from us," he added.Legault also encouraged people to support Quebec authors, saying that was "the best response we can offer those who want to silence them."Ruba Ghazal, a member of the Quebec legislature with the left-of-centre Quebec Solidaire party, welcomed the association's decision to republish Legault's book list."It's a positive thing that the (premier) shares his readings with us and that we can debate them honestly and openly," Ghazal tweeted. She also suggested that if Legault "enjoys reading intellectuals," he should next pick up Mark Fortier's Melancolies Identitaires, a book that critiques Bock-Cote's work.The Association des libraires du Quebec has 134 members, primarily independent book shops.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
A forensic psychiatrist testified in court Monday about whether Alek Minassian's autism could be a reason to find him not criminally responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Toronto van attack, a potential finding the autism community is concerned could stigmatize their members.
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Brock will extend its upcoming holiday break by delaying the start of the winter term by one week. Classes will start on Jan. 11. An announcement was made Monday in a letter from Lynn Wells, provost and vice-president academic, who said the decision comes after two weeks of consultations with students, staff and faculty members. The extension of the holiday break will require changes to the academic calendar. The winter term will now end on April 9. Exams will take place April 13 to 23. The exam period for the winter term will be shortened by two days. The spring/summer term will start as scheduled and the dates for reading week will also remain the same. The calls for change also came at the hands of four Brock students — Celeste Lynette, Emma Allan, Riley Monaghan and Jack Allan. Lynette created an online petition urging the university to consider the change. “Due to the pandemic, this school year has been undoubtedly challenging and tolling on university students and our mental health,” said Lynette. “We, the students of Brock University, are asking for an extension to our winter break like many other Canadian universities have granted their students.” The petition garnered nearly 6,000 supporters. Leaders of Brock’s graduate and undergraduate student organizations welcomed the decision. “The partnership between student associations and the University remains strong, collaborative and results-oriented,” said Christopher Yendt, president of Brock’s graduate students’ association. “We are excited that this student-centred approach has resulted in meaningful action to address some of the challenges students are facing.” Students’ union president Asad Jalib also applauded the move. “The leadership at Brock University continues to demonstrate that it is receptive to student needs and in touch with the student body,” said Jalib. Said Wells: “We have heard from many students, staff and faculty members that this extension will provide valuable time to rest and, in many cases, to catch up and better prepare for the winter term. “For those who are travelling or who are coming to Brock from abroad, this extra time will facilitate the completion of the mandatory self-isolation period,” she added. Niagara College had already planned to have a three-week holiday break. “Under the college’s existing schedule, fall term classes end Dec. 18, and winter term classes begin on Jan. 11,” said corporate communications manager Michael Wales “This provides students with a three-week break between terms, which we hope will give them the opportunity for a safe and restful holiday season before resuming their studies.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Saskatchewan now has the third-highest rate of cases in Canada, behind the two other prairie provinces Manitoba and Alberta. Saskatchewan reported 325 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases of COVID-19 in the province was 307 per 100,000 population as of Sunday. The province reported two more deaths due to COVID-19.The two residents who died after testing positive for COVID-19 lived in the south central and south east zones. Both individuals were in the 80 and up age category. A total of 47 deaths have been reported in the province since the beginning of the pandemic.Of the 8,564 total reported cases in Saskatchewan, 3,879 are considered active. A total of 4,638 people have recovered to date, with 49 recovered on Monday. Saskatoon is the hot spot with 125 new cases announced Monday. Of the other new cases, nine are located in the far north west, 14 in the far north east, 23 in the north west, 27 in the north central, nine in the north east, one in the central west, 10 in the central east, 62 in Regina 22 in the south west eight in the south central and 13 in the south east zones.Two of the new cases have pending locations.There are currently 123 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 100 of whom are receiving general impatient care. One patient is in the far north west, eight are in the north west, eight are in the north central, three are in the north east, 33 are in Saskatoon, one is in the central east, 26 are in Regina, one is in the south west, one is in the south central and 18 are in the south east zones.Twenty-three people are in intensive care, with three in the north central, 14 in Saskatoon and six in Regina.Cut down on contactsThe province is asking Saskatchewan residents to keep their contacts low. Based on the current confirmed cases, public health estimates that there are more than 6,600 reported contacts requiring follow-up in the province. According to the province, a close contact is anyone that you have spent 15 minutes or more with, within the two metres of physical distancing. The province also notes: * You should be able to count your close contacts on one hand. * Your close contacts should be the members of your immediate household who you eat with, hug and see without requiring a mask. * Although not close contacts, the province asks residents to consider all their weekly contacts whether in the classroom or at the workplace.
Despite a "significant outbreak" of COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre, there are reports of inmates being triple-bunked, according to defence lawyers sounding the alarm on conditions at the northwest facility. During her afternoon update, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw identified 41 cases at CRC, up from just three last Tuesday.According to a report prepared last week, the CRC has capacity for 34 infected inmates.The CRC is now on total lockdown. Inmates who are mid-trial — including one murder trial — are not allowed to leave the CRC for court and even CCTV appearances have been cancelled. CRC is a secure holding facility for those awaiting trial or a bail hearing. Many, if not all, of the inmates there have not been convicted of the charges they are facing. "It's grossly negligent," said Tom Engel, an Edmonton defence lawyer and president of the Canadian Prison Law Association."It's disturbing to hear about a client triple-bunking and someone tests positive, and they just leave them in that situation. I don't know how they could think this is appropriate."Engel called it a "significant outbreak" taking place in several units. Hinshaw said AHS is working to ensure strict protocols are maintained with aggressive testing underway.Masks are just now being provided to inmates. Previously, only those leaving the facility would have access to a mask.Defence lawyer Chad Haggerty says he has a client who is triple-bunked with new protocols only allowing inmates allowed to leave their cells for 1.5 to 2 hours a day.Alberta Health Services has previously stated provincial facilities are complying with COVID-19 safety protocols but some inmates say that's not the case. "I keep hearing from prisoners that what the government and AHS are saying about compliance with COVID protocols in Alberta jails is just completely false."New transfers to the Calgary Remand Centre spend 14 days on a quarantine unit. If they develop symptoms, they're moved to an isolation unit.The director of the Calgary Remand Centre was scheduled to meet with the Health Ministry Monday afternoon.
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business.COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office.The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others.McConnell is focusing on confirming Trump's remaining judicial nominations, including a vote Monday on a district judge in Mississippi and at least one additional appeals court vacancy.Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet.Top items for December's lame-duck session:___KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPENAt a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year.That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding.Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much.At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program.___COVID-19 RELIEFDemocrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice.The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits.Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments.Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic.At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year.___Defence POLICYA spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure.Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up.Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
RAINY RIVER — Ontario Provincial Police is asking for the public’s assistance with a break and enter investigation of two cabins over the weekend. Police in Rainy River District responded on Nov. 28 after receiving complaints of a break and enter on Big Sawbill Road, according to a police news release issued Monday, Nov. 30. Officers learned suspects had forced entry into two cabins and stolen multiple firearms, hunting equipment, knives and fishing rods. Police continue to investigate the incident with the assistance of the Rainy River District Crime Unit and Forensic Identification Unit. Police are also recommending anyone with seasonal properties in the Rainy River District to make efforts to have it checked on and report any suspicious activity. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Rainy River District OPP at 807-274-3322 or 1-888-310-1122.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source