Quebec Premier Francois Legault encourages Quebecers to call province's health hotline and visit people who are single. He says mental health is an important concern for the government during the second wave.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault encourages Quebecers to call province's health hotline and visit people who are single. He says mental health is an important concern for the government during the second wave.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
MILLBROOK — Cavan Monaghan Township residents from Cavan Ward were able to voice their opinions about off-road vehicles during a virtual public meeting on Monday. A total of 16 individuals signed up to speak for a maximum of three minutes, some who were for and some who were against the concept of ORVs on township roads in the Cavan Ward. Robert Winslow, the founder of 4th Line Theatre, was among the speakers. “I live at 779 Zion Line in Cavan Ward; fifth generation of my family on this property. I was born and raised on our farm which I retrofitted into a live outdoor theatre in 1992, almost 30 years ago,” he said. Winslow said that added noise from ORVs during performances will reduce the appeal of their theatre. “In a movie theatre you can ask the person who is talking in the row ahead of you or behind you to shush so you can enjoy the film properly. Our theatre patrons won’t have that option as ATVs, side-by-sides, or dirt bikes pass by the farm during our plays,” he said. In addition to the hazards of the winding, narrow, steep and shoulder components of the road, along with high speeds of cars, trucks, motorcycles and commercial industrial vehicles along the road, Winslow said, ORV traffic on his road could also be an added danger for both patrons arriving and leaving the theatre and as well as ORV operators. However, Garry Otten, a realtor at Century 21, said many people he deals with move to the region because of the recreational opportunity. “More so today with the pandemic, our ORV interest has gained popularity beyond belief,” he said. The value of many properties in the area will increase if council chooses to allow ORVs on municipal roads, Otten said. “Our location allows us the good fortune of being able to access a trail that could take us all the way to Bancroft. We could certainly use that extra business in this township and our businesses could use that extra business. I would hope our councillors recognize the benefits instead of all the fear mongering that’s taking place,” he said. Comments will be received by the township until Dec. 4. Staff will then summarize the comments and bring forward a report in early 2021 for council to make a final decision. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
The Town of Drumheller reported the hundredth case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic on Thursday, November 26. The number of total cases, both active and those with an outcome, nearly doubled from 51 cases on Monday, November 16 to 101 cases on November 26. On Monday, November 23 the Town of Drumheller had the eighth highest regional rate of active cases with 700 active cases per 100,000 population, beating out all but one region in both Calgary and Edmonton. As of Monday, November 30 the rate of active cases in Drumheller has dropped to 533 active cases per 100,000. There are currently 48 active cases, with 57 recovered and two deaths. Wheatland County has 21 active cases and there are 13 active cases in Kneehill County; both counties remain on enhanced status, along with the Town of Drumheller. Starland County has four active cases.Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
November was the worst month of the pandemic for the Grey-Bruce health region, an area that until then had largely avoided the spikes in COVID-19 cases that had plagued much of the province. Grey-Bruce Public Health logged 159 new infections last month – nearly doubling its case count – bringing the total to 337 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Nov. 30. The region continues to defy the odds and has had zero deaths nine months into the pandemic. “It has been the worst month, but nothing that is not manageable so far,” said Ian Arra, medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce. “The underlining principle to all these cases is COVID fatigue.” In early November, about half the cases in Grey-Bruce were linked to travel within health regions, he said. Most of these cases were either from locals visiting family and friends in other regions or “hot spots” and contracting COVID-19. A smaller portion was from out-of-towners visiting those who live in Grey and Bruce counties. The other half of cases were then attributed to spread within households to friends and family. “People lower their guards and the pandemic is there,” Arra said. “As soon as people relax, the virus will transmit.” As the month continued, Arra said the second category – locally transmitted cases between friends and families – rose in the region. Along with that, so did the number of close contacts of cases. Grey-Bruce Public Health publicly posts the number of high-risk close contacts it is currently working with. As of Nov. 30, that number sat at 216, with 50 active cases. “In March and April, we used to see with each case two or three close contacts,” Arra said. “In November, we saw an average of about 10, maybe more.” Another factor in November’s spike is cases among Mennonite and Amish communities. Arra said the large size of Amish and Mennonite families often leads to more transmission within one household but stressed it would be wrong to “point the finger” at these communities, adding they have been working well with the health unit. Meanwhile, schools and workplaces in his region have remained mostly free of COVID-19 transmission. Although there have been cases in schools, there have been zero outbreaks. “Schools are safe, so kids, who are less reliable than adults, by following the recommendations, are being safe,” he said. “So, there is no excuse for any of us.” In long-term care settings, Grey-Bruce has seen few outbreaks; although some cases have been detected, Arra said there has been only one instance of secondary transmission occurring, which was back in March. One long-term care home is currently considered in outbreak, with one positive staff case. As of Dec. 1, the area doesn't have any people being treated in hospital for COVID-19. Arra said he is beginning to see the region buck the second-wave trend of skyrocketing case counts. “We see the numbers right now in Grey Bruce levelling, they have not kept going up,” he said. Mid-month, Bruce Power launched Be A Light: Beating COVID-19 Together, a $1 million campaign to boost public health communication and provide more resources to the community. Arra said that campaign – with increased messaging on billboards, radio ads, TV stations and local papers – helped shift public attitudes about following public health guidelines to fight against COVID-19. “Within one week, not surprisingly, there was a change in the level of concern from the public and that really is what we need." Grey-Bruce is in the yellow-protect zone of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework, but Arra said if residents continue to follow public health protocols like hand washing, proper mask-wearing, and avoiding unnecessary gatherings, that could change before the holidays. “Everyone asks for a white Christmas, but we will be asking for a green one,” Arra said, referencing the lowest coloured tier on the restriction framework. Even with a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, Arra said residents must stay vigilant in safeguarding against the novel coronavirus. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel … it is around the corner,” he said. “We need to double down.” MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Le bilan lavallois est désormais de 756 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela signifie que le territoire connait une hausse de 54 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. Le total de décès augmente à 726 depuis le début de la pandémie. 120 tests positifs ont été effectués dans les 24 dernières heures. Ainsi, depuis le mois de mars, 11 584 citoyens lavallois ont été affectés par le virus. Parmi les personnes touchées par la COVID-19, 23 sont présentement hospitalisées, dont 5 aux soins intensifs. 29 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Chomedey a été durement touché par la nouvelle mise à jour des données. On y compte 45 cas de plus que la veille. Il demeure le quartier le plus touché de Laval avec 337 cas confirmés et un taux d'infection de 358 cas par 100 000 habitants sur les 14 derniers jours. Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul a aussi été particulièrement affecté lors des dernières 24 heures. Ce secteur ajoute 22 cas à son total. Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose suit avec 15 nouvelles personnes touchées. De leur côté, Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides et Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac comptent 13 nouveaux cas confirmés sur leur territoire respectif. Vimont/Auteuil constate la plus petite augmentation de l'île Jésus avec huit nouvelles personnes infectées. Il est d'ailleurs le secteur lavallois qui s'en tire le mieux au cours des deux dernières semaines. 109 personnes touchées et un taux d'infection de 173 cas par 100 000 habitants y ont été dénombrés sur cette même période. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 71 cas jusqu’ici.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting.The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native.Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last.“I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website.A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro.Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection.Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District.That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP.The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year.Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race.A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run.Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture.Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us."His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.”Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting.On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary.Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before.Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee.Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
Two Edmonton long-term care centres battling deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 are struggling to stay on top of patient care as the disease spreads among staff and residents. Capital Care Lynnwood and the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre are among 26 long-term care sites in the Edmonton zone listed on Tuesday as having COVID-19 outbreaks. As of Monday, the Lynnwood facility was reporting 84 active cases — 29 staff and 55 residents — plus six deaths. At the Chinatown centre, there are active cases among 45 residents and 42 staff, while 12 residents have died. Both facilities have acknowledged that the outbreaks are taking a toll on patient care, and are raising red flags for a health-care advocacy group and the union that represents long-term care workers. "Families are upset, they're afraid for their loved ones," Sandra Azocar, executive director for Friends of Medicare, told CBC News on Monday. "We get daily emails from families that are concerned, or that get calls from their loved ones saying, 'I didn't get a shower again, I didn't get my breakfast.' There's so many health concerns that are being reported by families that are not being addressed by some of the operators." At Lynnwood, where the outbreak affects two units, the staff shortage means patients may be getting bed baths instead of normal baths or showers, said Bonnie Roberts, site director at Capital Care Lynnwood. "Staff from other units are helping support the two units on outbreak," Roberts said in an emailed statement. "This means that some services have been impacted, or reduced, on the affected units." Meanwhile, the situation at the Chinatown facility is extremely challenging, said Sabrina Atwal, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services. "Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre is a standalone site with no other sites to draw staff from, and staffing agencies are also strapped trying to support many organizations, some contracted by AHS and others that are not," Atwal said in an emailed statement. Basic care needs, including meals, are being met, Atwal said. Problematic staffing protocols The outbreaks highlight what Azocar and Michael Dempsey, an Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) vice-president, call a systemic problem with how long-term care facilities are staffed. "The outbreaks are spreading rapidly, lots of staff members are affected and infected," Dempsey told CBC News. "There aren't enough workers to do this. … The models they're built on go way back with low, minimal staffing. And when you have something like this, they're just not prepared." Many of the staff members providing care are part-time workers, who in the past have worked at multiple locations to earn full-time paycheques with benefits, including sick leave. In April, Alberta's chief medical officer of health imposed a rule limiting employees to one worksite, but Azocar said the current shortage means staff are working in multiple sites. Even worse, fears about lost income may influence workers who aren't feeling well to go in to work regardless, she said. "When they need to be off because of illnesses, they're not being compensated," she said. "So a lot of people are being put into a position where they might not be able to afford to be truthful when they're not feeling well, and still going to work." Friends of Medicare wants to see regular, unannounced inspections to help ensure operators have met staffing levels, are following health orders and providing a high standard of care, Azocar said. "We need the provincial government to make sure that the working conditions for staff are supported, either through COVID pay or to get pay when they have to stay home and self-isolate," she said. "We need to make sure that these workers are kept healthy and able to work in a healthy facility." As of Monday, there have been 541 deaths in Alberta from COVID-19, of which 358 have been seniors aged 80 and older.
Those who work with Anwar Alhjooj say he's always making sure everyone around him feels secure, comfortable and ready to contribute.The social worker and intercultural program co-ordinator at the Montreal City Mission is our latest Montrealer of the Month.He's a Palestinian who trained to be a lawyer in Italy and went on to work as a defence attorney in Israel. In 2012, he came to Canada so his wife could pursue her PhD at McGill University.A few years later, he started volunteering at the Montreal City Mission. At the time, the mission was working to help settle Syrian refugees who had come to Montreal to rebuild their lives.Alhjooj says he saw his role as finding ways to help the Syrian children feel valued in their new home."We try to focus on positive energy, especially when we are working with newcomers and refugees," he told CBC Montreal's Let's Go when he was reached by phone to inform him that he'd been selected as the Montrealer of the Month.Montreal City Mission director Paula Kline says Alhjooj's selfless spirit makes him a perfect candidate."He really represents the best of Montreal, I think. Diversity, energy, passion," said Kline."If somebody's in trouble, has a problem, he really leaves no stone unturned to help them."He helped create a summer camp in the West Island for about 30 children who settled there, and says it's made him happy to see them grow and come out of their shells, some even becoming camp counsellors.Speaking Arabic and Hebrew, he was able to help bring together people of different faiths and backgrounds. And he's helped organize an interfaith Iftar, or breaking of the fast.He now works full time at the mission."What I like about Anwar is when he's in a room full of people, he's always looking for somebody who's maybe not quite as involved as they could be," said Royal Orr, a board member at the mission."Anwar makes sure that he goes to that person or those people, he makes sure that they feel welcome."Valerie Shannon, the elder-in-residence at the mission, says Alhjooj is "an extraordinary man.""He brings people together from different backgrounds and he's able to help people find common ground. And that to me is very special," she said.Louise Olivier, one of Alhjooj's co-workers at the mission's legal clinic, pointed to his generosity and positive attitude."And he has great, great ideas to help the people who need it," she said.Aljhooj was humble about being selected as Montrealer of the Month — pointing instead to the Montrealers he helps."All people who come here, they really love Montreal," he said, adding that it's our obligation to "open the door" for them to show us what they're capable of."When someone asks me where I'm working, I say I'm not working — I'm having fun," he said.Listen to the full segment below:Do you know a Montrealer who is a positive force in the world? Maybe it's the recycling collector, the teacher who takes the extra time, the barista who goes the extra mile, or the teen who cut your lawn when you were not feeling your best.Let us know: send an email explaining what kind of an impact this person has had on their community to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GENEVA — The U.N. humanitarian office says needs for assistance have ballooned to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, projecting that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021.This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global challenges including conflicts, forced migration and the impact of global warming.The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, expects a 40% increase in the number of people in need of such assistance in 2021 compared to this year — a sign that pain, suffering and torment brought by the coronavirus outbreak and other problems could get worse even if hopes of a vaccine are rising.OCHA made the projections in its latest annual Global Humanitarian Overview on Tuesday, saying its hopes to reach 160 million of those people in need will cost $35 billion. That’s more than twice the record $17 billion that donors have provided for the international humanitarian response so far this year — and a target figure that is almost certain to go unmet.“The picture we’re painting this year is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs we’ve ever set out, and that’s because the pandemic has reaped carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet,” said U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who heads OCHA.“For the first time since the 1990s, extreme poverty is going to increase, life expectancy will fall, the annual death toll from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is set to double,” he said. “We fear a near doubling in the number of people facing starvation.”Lowcock told a U.N. briefing in New York on the overview that he thinks the U.N. appeal will probably raise a record $20 billion by the end of the year -- $2 billion more than last year. But he said the gap between needs and funding is growing and the U.N. is looking to “new players” coming on the scene in 2021, including U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration.The U.N. aims to reach about two-thirds of those in need, with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations trying to meet the rest, Lowcock explained.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humanitarian aid budgets are now facing dire shortfalls as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, and said extreme poverty has risen for the first time in more than a generation.“The lives of people in every nation and corner of the world have been upended by the impact of the pandemic,” he said in a video statement. “Those already living on a knife’s edge are being hit disproportionately hard by rising food prices, falling incomes, interrupted vaccination programs and school closures.”The overview, which is billed as one of the most comprehensive looks of the world’s humanitarian needs, has put together nearly three dozen individual response plans for a total of 56 “vulnerable” countries.Lowcock said the biggest problem is in Yemen where there is danger of “a large-scale famine” now, saying a prime reason is lack of funding from Gulf countries that were major donors in the past which has led to cuts in aid and the closing of clinics.He said the biggest financial request is for the Syrian crisis and its spillover to neighbouring countries where millions of Syrians have fled to escape the more than nine-year conflict.OCHA said other countries in need include Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. Newcomers to this year’s list are Mozambique, where extremist activity has increased in the north, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.Lowcock said it’s not the pandemic, but its economic impact that’s having the greatest effect on humanitarian needs.“These all hit the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest of all,” he said. “For the poorest, the hangover from the pandemic will be long and hard.”Lowcock told the launch of the overview, speaking virtually from New York, that the world faces a clear choice.“We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal – the unravelling of 40 years of progress – or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic,” he said.___Lederer reported from the United NationsJamey Keaten And Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Levi Simpson and his horse Stetson are about to trample the turf where the Los Angeles Dodgers hoisted the World Series trophy.Simpson, a team roper from Ponoka, Alta., admits it's unusual for the National Finals Rodeo to be staged in a ballpark.Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, served as Major League Baseball's "bubble" for the National League playoffs and October's World Series.The ball park is once again a COVID-19 sporting event stand-in just over a month after the Dodgers stormed the field in celebration.After 36 years at the Thomas and Mack Center on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, the NFR opens Thursday at Globe Life."It's going to be a whole new ball game for the team ropers," Simpson said. "Nobody's roped in a baseball diamond."Spectators were not allowed to attend an NFR in Las Vegas this year because of Nevada's public health rules around the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFR was shifted to Texas, which allows 50 per cent spectator capacity at professional and collegiate events. Simpson is among five Canadians competing in the 2020 world championship of rodeo Dec. 3-12.Two-time saddle bronc champion Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alta., steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy of Donald, Alta., team roper Kolton Schmidt of Barrhead, Alta., and bareback rider Orin Larsen of Inglis, Man., also qualified in a season severely contracted by the pandemic.The NFR offered US$10 million in prize money each of the last six years, but is expected to pay less in 2020. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association chief executive officer George Taylor has said the minimum payout will be $6 million, according to the organization's digital media channel.The top 15 in the world standings in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc, tie-down roping barrel racing and bull riding earn NFR invitations. Results at most Canadian professional rodeos count toward world rankings, but all were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.Canadian competitors were dependent on rodeos in the United States to earn a living. There have been just over 300 sanctioned rodeos in North America in 2020, compared to 732 in 2019.Fewer American rodeos meant more competitors vying for prize money at each one."Especially through July at some of the rodeos there were twice as many guys than they usually get," Cassidy said. "They were getting 160, 170 steer wrestlers in some places. "You can imagine how tough that makes the competition with that many guys competing. It was a lot harder to make money this year, a challenging year to say the least. "It's a good thing they're having the NFR so we actually have an NFR to go to. Qualifying at the end of the year was a sweet deal for those that made it."Thurston, 26, is the defending world champion in saddle bronc and also took the title in 2016. He claimed $170,064 at the NFR in 2019 en route to career-high season earnings of $347,000. Thurston ranks 10th with $50,523 so far this season heading into Thursday's opening go-around in Arlington."I would say it was probably the hardest year that I've been a part of," Thurston said. "It was hard to win."A lot less money to be won, a lot less rodeos and the ones they did cancel were the big rodeos, the big payouts that draw big crowds and for that reason, you're riding for less money."The three-time Calgary Stampede winner hopes Canadian rodeos resume in 2021."I don't have a crystal ball, but I imagine things have to get going again, open back up and get rolling again," Thurston said.Manitoba's Larsen, who lives in Gearing, Neb., ranks third in bareback in his sixth career NFR appearance.Cassidy, 42, qualified in steer wrestling a seventh time and sits fifth.Simpson and Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, Alta., became the first all-Canadian team to claim an NFR team-roping title in 2016.Simpson returns ranked 13th with Shay Carroll of La Junta, Colo., as his heeler. Schmidt is No. 11 with Hunter Koch of Vernon, Texas, as his heeler.Globe Life holds 40,300 people, compared to just under 19,000 at UNLV's Runnin' Rebels basketball venue."Thomas and Mack is a tiny little basketball arena. The first 25 rows in that arena, you could damn near reach out and touch anybody in the arena," Cassidy said."Comparing that to a baseball field that seats 42,00 people and you're only putting 15 (thousand) or 16 in it, it's going to have a different feel."Having it on the baseball diamond, it will still be good, but it might not have quite the electric feel that Las Vegas does."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
Pandemic times—and specifically the months-long shutdown we experienced earlier this year—led many to take up or double down on hobbies. There was a run on yeast, skateboarding blew up, and people spent all sorts of time making inane Tik Tok videos. For amateur photographer Tim Fitzgerald, COVID-19 has caused him to focus more on photographing his own surroundings. Earlier this month, he shared some of his recent shots of SilverStar Mountain Resort with the community’s Facebook page. “The mountain and of course the village was completely deserted,” he said, in the caption of his photos. “Glad to see things starting to come around again.” Fitzgerald told Sun Peaks News this year he will likely be spending a lot of time up at the hill taking photos. He’s currently awaiting a knee surgery, so he can’t ski. Overall, he said that the pandemic has forced him to focus his photography close to home. “Normally, we would travel somewhere,” said Fitzgerald, who works as an electrician. “This year, we made a point of going out and camping, and seeing things that we haven’t seen before. It’s been really eye opening.” He’s done trips to Wells Gray Provincial Park, Rosebery Provincial Park, and he recently returned from a trip to the town of Princeton, where he shot a section of the Kettle Valley Railway. “We went down there a couple weeks ago and got some great shots,” he said. “There’s some really really, rugged and beautiful terrain there.” You can see more of his photos here.Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The Kawartha Land Trust has raised enough funds to purchase and protect a property just south of Burleigh Falls. In just seven weeks, the KLT raised more $750,000 to acquire an “environmentally important parcel of land” on Stoney Lake, the organization announced Monday. John Kintare, executive director of the KLT, said for years, the local community has been working to protect the property. When the opportunity ensued to purchase it, the community asked for the KLT’s help in organizing a campaign. The KLT works to protect natural spaces that might otherwise be sold for development, usually through donation. This was the first time the organization has bought land. “This was truly a community initiative that was supported by KLT,” Kintare said in a statement. “KLT has led very successful campaigns to support the stewardship needs of specific properties such as Big Island in Pigeon Lake in 2015, but never a campaign to support a purchase.” Referred to as the Clear Lake North Wetland, the 137-acre property will officially be named after the late Christie Bentham in recognition of a financial gift she left to the KLT. Bentham, who died in 2015, was very well known on Stoney Lake, the organization stated. Her daughter, Margaret, a volunteer with the KLT who is also on the KLT’s development committee, said she’s sure her mother is watching from above and is tickled pink, humbled and so happy to be a part of preserving the piece of the lake. Margaret said Bentham spent all of her summers on the Stoney Lake. Bentham’s grandfather, Richard Russell, had purchased a T-shaped island toward the north side of the lake in 1910. Bentham’s father, Keith, later inherited the property, called Spree Island. While Bentham spent the remainder of the year in Toronto, Stoney Lake was her home, Margaret said. Bentham spent her summers at the lake swimming, canoeing and sailing, with cousins and friends. When she grew up and married, a condition of the marriage was that her future husband Will must love Stoney Lake and Spree Island as much as she did, she said. Fortunately, he did and the couple went on to marry, adopt six children and raised their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren teaching them to swim, canoe, sail and bail on the lake, Margaret said. For more information visit https://kawarthalandtrust.org/. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
TORONTO — The 2021 Juno Awards are moving to May for their 50th anniversary.Organizers behind Canada's biggest night in music say the golden celebration, set to take place in Toronto, is being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The televised show will happen on May 16, 2021, about a month and a half after its originally planned date in March.Allan Reid, head of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, says the move is intended to give artists and the local community more options to celebrate in a time when physical distancing measures are expected to still be in place."We also hope that the warmer weather will bring more opportunities for some unique outdoor programming," he said in a press conference."The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a huge effect on the city and our music community, but we will be resilient and live music will return, and we will be there to help in any way we can."The return of the Juno Awards to Toronto, for the first time in a decade, was billed as a splashy affair when it was announced last year. Thousands of fans were expected to gather inside the Scotiabank Arena, with many past honorees in attendance.How the momentous occasion might take shape in the pandemic is a work in progress, Reid said, and it's still undetermined whether any of the Juno performances will be permitted to take place indoors.The organization also stopped short of announcing details for Juno Week, a series of concerts and events leading up to the broadcast that in other years have proven to be a business boon for local bars and concert halls.Other changes will be introduced as part of the Junos anniversary, including three new looks for the award statuette.The updated designs take inspiration from designer Shirley Elford's human-shaped molten-glass award, first handed out in 2000.A gold Juno will be given to Juno Award winners, while a silver version is for recipients of a special Juno prize, and a gold and silver variation goes to Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees.There's also a notable change within the R&B categories, first announced in October. The R&B recording of the year award will now be two distinct prizes, one for contemporary R&B recording of the year and another for traditional R&B/soul recording of the year.Reid noted that artist submissions for the Junos reached a record high, though he did not offer specific figures. He said the historic interest shows the resiliency of Canadian musicians in a difficult year that saw many of their concert tours cancelled.Nominees for the Juno Awards will be announced early in 2021.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Rugby League Cares, the official charity of the Rugby Football League, has set up a fund for Toronto Wolfpack players suffering because of the transatlantic team's collapse.The fund will award grants to help players deal with financial difficulties.Wolfpack players and staff have not been paid since June 10. The club stood down July 20, saying it could not afford to play the remainder of the Super League pandemic-interrupted season.Toronto's subsequent bid to win reinstatement for 2021 under new ownership was rejected.“Due to circumstances entirely out of their control, many of the Toronto players are now finding it difficult to pay their bills," Chris Rostron, head of Rugby League Cares, said in a statement.“Some of them were on very modest salaries: six months without pay and no access to the U.K. government furlough scheme has been incredibly tough. We have been providing practical support to the players over recent months, including debt management advice and access to counselling services.“Our welfare team has spent the last 10 days working with the players to identify those who are suffering most hardship: thanks to the support of the RFL and Super League we are now in a position to begin making payments to those in most need."Because the team is Canadian-owned, players and staff in England have been unable to take advantage of many U.K. government support programs.A dozen or so players have found other clubs, either on loan or permanently. Some signed for lesser deals. Others have had to take jobs outside their sport to pay the bills.The players have already received two "hardship payments" to date from English rugby league authorities.Wolfpack chairman and CEO Bob Hunter confirmed the earlier 1,000-pound ($1,735) payments. He said the Wolfpack pushed for the financial help with the first coming from a bond of some 30,000 pounds ($52,095) the transatlantic team had put up in the past.The club owes in excess of 500,000 pounds ($868,425) in missed payroll. Majority owner David Argyle, who could no longer fund the club, has stepped away from the franchise.Argyle, a Toronto-based Australian entrepreneur who specializes in mining and natural resources in emerging markets, has offered a personal guarantee for the player pay but has not been in a position to make good on it. He has said the original ownership group poured $30 million into the franchise.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on TwitterThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
MADISON, Wis. — President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in a battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state's 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Evers until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit, an unusually tight deadline that speaks to how quickly the court is likely to decide the case.The state's highest court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, also is considering whether to hear two other lawsuits filed by conservatives seeking to invalidate ballots cast during the presidential election. Separately, two Wisconsin Republicans filed a new federal lawsuit Tuesday that mirrors some of Trump's claims and asks a judge to declare him the winner in Wisconsin.Trump's lawsuit repeats many claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties that large swaths of absentee votes were illegally cast. Local officials rejected his claims during the recount, and Trump is challenging procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won.Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans called the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground." Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was “without merit.”Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, noted that the lawsuit doesn't allege that anyone was ineligible to vote, but instead seeks to create a two-tiered election system where voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties are disenfranchised “under much stricter rules than citizens in the rest of the state.”Trump's Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, said in a statement that voters "deserve election processes with uniform enforcement of the law, plain and simple.”Similar Trump campaign lawsuits have failed in other battleground states.In Phoenix, a judge has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state. A judge is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office, which certified Arizona’s election results on Monday, said there was no factual basis for conducting such a review.Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.Trump's Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to discard 170,140 absentee ballots where there was not a written application on file and all absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day.People who vote in person early fill out a certification envelope for their ballot that serves as the written record. But the vast majority of absentee requests these days are made online, with a voter’s name entered into an electronic log with no paper record.Trump wants to toss 5,517 ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted. The practice has been in place for at least the past 11 elections, and the state elections commission told clerks it was OK.Trump also challenges 28,395 absentee ballots where a voter declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined” under the law. Such a declaration exempts voters from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it is up to individual voters to determine whether they are indefinitely confined, a designation used by nearly four times as many voters this year than in 2016 due to the coronavirus pandemic.Trump also alleges that Madison opened illegal voting sites when the city held events at parks where election workers accepted 17,271 completed absentee ballots from voters looking to avoid crowds and mail delays. City officials said the poll workers at the 220 parks served the same purpose as ballot drop boxes.The federal lawsuit came from Bill Feehan, the La Crosse County Republican Party chairman, and Derrick Van Orden, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress this year in western Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a firebrand conservative attorney who was removed from Trump's legal team, is among the lawyers.Van Orden said after the lawsuit was filed that he had spoken with someone in Powell's office about the case but had not given permission to be named as a litigant. Van Orden said he tried calling Powell to ask that his name be removed but could not get through. Powell did not immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment.“Why they would want me on there, I'm not quite sure,” Van Orden said.The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit, not in Wisconsin.Also Tuesday, Republicans on the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the Democratic chairwoman to resign after she finalized election results on Monday. They argued the commission should have been involved with that process, while the chair, who refused to resign, said she was following state law and precedent.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
As the coronavirus continues its daily surge in Saskatchewan, First Nations in the province are learning of its far-reaching, indiscriminate effects. Three communities in the Treaty 4 area near Regina have recently recorded viral infections: The Piapot First Nation, north of Regina, declared an outbreak on Friday, while the adjacent Muscowpetung Salteaux Nation recorded its first case the same day; Pasqua First Nation is dealing with three active cases on-reserve and one case off-reserve. Piapot Chief Mark Fox posted a video to social media Friday telling his community of the outbreak. Fox, who was unavailable for an interview, didn’t say how many people at Piapot have been infected with COVID-19, but he referenced “public mass gatherings” from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, advising anyone who attended them to monitor themselves for viral symptoms. The community’s school, daycare and band office all remain closed “until further notice,” he said. Fox advised members to “eliminate non-essential travel. Go buy groceries by yourself if you can and do not take your whole family. If you must leave, make sure you wear a mask. Use hand sanitizer.” Home-to-home visits in the community are no longer allowed, he added. In Saskatchewan overall, there are 1,106 recorded coronavirus infections in First Nations, as of Monday. From late June until early October weekly new infections were in the single-digits or at zero, based on Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) data. From Nov. 1 to Nov. 21, weekly new infections jumped to at least 139; last week there were 39 new infections. Among those was the first recorded case at Muscowpetung, which sits east of Piapot and north of Edenwold, along the Qu’Appelle River. Muscowpetung’s emergency services co-ordinator, Jim Pratt, told the Leader-Post the band’s leadership didn’t institute a full-scale lockdown, choosing “preventative check-points” in and out of the community. They started those on Oct. 17, following Saskatchewan Health Authority guidelines. “We put in our tracers ... if you (come) into our reserve you (have) to give your name and three places that you visit and then you (can) carry on. When we leave the reserve, (you) also have to leave your name and find out what three places you’re going to,” he said. There’s also a community-wide curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., he said. “We didn't want to panic people by saying ‘lockdown.’” Chief Melissa Tavita said they’re ready for that, if need be: Muscowpetung’s food store is still well-stocked; another option is butchering recently acquired buffalo for food. It’s a good thing the community hasn’t been forced to do that, she said, referencing the public health aspect and the spiritual importance the bison serve. “I've head people saying they've spoke to elders and that these buffalo are protectors and this is the reason why our community isn't hit,” she said. Pratt advised Muscowpetung members to watch for announcements from band leadership about on-reserve testing. Pasqua Chief Matthew (Todd) Peigan said the First Nation’s pandemic response team is giving supplies to the three on-reserve COVID-positive members and their families. “Thermometer, antibiotics, vitamins and also essentials they need, like bread, milk and juice,” because they’re isolating for two weeks and can’t leave home. Similar to Muscowpetung, Pasqua is still using its 24-hour security check-points for entering and exiting the First Nation. He encouraged everyone to wear masks, physically distance, “avoid gatherings, sanitize and wash their hands often. “Always consider whoever you meet has COVID-19, and stay way,” he said. As of Tuesday afternoon, the virus has killed 51 people in Saskatchewan; 3,819 infections are active. Indigenous Services Canada did not respond by press time to the Leader-Post's request for comment. firstname.lastname@example.orgEvan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more robust cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures as government employees are forced to work remotely.However, he says the provincial government isn't working fast enough to manage those risks.Acting auditor general Terry Spicer notes in a report released Tuesday that the federal government's Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity has warned of an increase in attempts to access and attack networks used by remote workers.The audit finds that 10 provincial government departments, nine public service units and 19 government organizations have not completed fraud risk assessments.It adds that Service Nova Scotia, which helps citizens access government programs and services, is lagging behind on finalizing its regulations around cybersecurity.The auditor general cautions that fraud in the public sector can result in the loss of taxpayer funds and erode the public’s confidence in government if the risk isn’t properly handled.Tim Houston, leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, said in a statement that the auditor general's findings reveal the province is failing to protect the information of residents."As governments around the world find themselves increasingly at risk of cyberattacks, Nova Scotia has shown that it doesn’t place a high importance on keeping our health and other records safe from improper access," Houston said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. \- - - This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipThe Canadian Press
TORONTO — The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals."Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef said."And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices."A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better."How many times? How many transactions? It adds up," Micallef said.Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. "I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we're talking about corporate finances," said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.He said that the term "Netflix tax" has become highly politicized and is often used as "code" for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters."And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense," Winseck said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Paddon, The Canadian Press