Despite growing pressure from health officials for a more co-ordinated national response to the COVID-19 second wave, the prime minister seems set to leave provinces in charge of their own responses, even warning that federal resources have limits.
Despite growing pressure from health officials for a more co-ordinated national response to the COVID-19 second wave, the prime minister seems set to leave provinces in charge of their own responses, even warning that federal resources have limits.
WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees. A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty. The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year. This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage. Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years. “We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost. Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them. Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before. The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.” “This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said. The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents. Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle. “The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager. The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way. That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July. The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said. “It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said. Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to. “You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices. Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache. “Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees. New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan. “I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.” ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
A Chatham-Kent councillor wants to make the most of the local waterways. On Monday, West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan will be presenting a motion to develop a working group focused on water in Chatham-Kent. “It’s actually something that I campaigned on – getting a more holistic water strategy discussed in Chatham-Kent because many of our communities touch water in some way shape or form,” she said. Harrigan said the group would not so much be focused on conservation, although that would play a part, but rather “what we should do in terms of access to water and bridge repair.” “I’m looking out my window now, there’s a river in my backyard, and I’d love to see more people kayaking on that river,” she said. Compared to other waterfront communities, Chatham-Kent's natural amenities are under-promised and not well recognized, according to Harrigan. “I want to see very much what I would describe as a celebration of water.” Some of the initiatives Harrigan has in mind include increasing rental locations for kayakers and paddlers. There is already a movement in Wheatley to develop the harbour and waterfront, as well as Wallaceburg where there’s a movement to have supportive infrastructure that enables WAMBO further, according to Harrigan. Harrigan said more public access to the water will draw in more tourism, both locally and from neighbouring regions, which in turn will also help raise awareness of conservation efforts. Recently local kayaker Sally Joyce gained attention by local media for cleaning up the rivers, hauling laundry bags full of garbage. Harrigan referenced that as another example of projects she hopes the working group can help expand on. “We’ve had a lot of challenges and I think there’s a lot of opportunities for us to embrace water,” she said. “We need to get feedback and pull people together to talk about what the best approach is. ” “I’d like to see Chatham-Kent step up its game.” Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
WALKERTON – PJ Mack, known outside music circles as Pat McNinch, has been entertaining his neighbours all fall (in good weather), putting on impromptu concerts in his Walkerton driveway. The popular local singer and songwriter had about 100 bookings at the beginning of the year, and played regularly until COVID-19 hit. Then everything stopped – except the music. Mack’s style is deeply personal, with a country-folk sound and words that mean something – songs like “The Message” that he wrote with Tom Traversy and performed to considerable acclaim at the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 102 hall last year. Apart from a few concerts such as Music by the Gazebo at Victoria Jubilee Hall, this year Mack’s stage has mostly been his driveway. It all started when he got together with his old bandmates from Yesterday’s Wine and did a driveway concert for about 50 people. But now Mack is moving to the recording studio. “It will be all original songs,” said Mack. He’s already made at least one sale – a neighbour asked if the CD would feature the songs the musician has been playing in the driveway – and if so, he wanted one. “The CD is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years,” said Mack. He hopes it will be ready for Christmas. After that, a lot of what happens depends on COVID-19. Mack said, “Who knows how long it will last?” In all likelihood, he’ll be resuming his driveway concerts in the spring, for one simple reason. “People love it,” the musician said.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The number of COVID-19 cases among Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and older is surging far more rapidly than in any other age group as health officials grapple with a growing list of outbreaks in care homes. According to the latest provincial update on Sunday, the cumulative number of cases among people aged 80 and over is 213. That's a 69 per cent increase from only one week before, when cases among that age group numbered 126.By comparison, the average week-over-week increase in the four younger age groups measured by health officials was 30 per cent. On Monday, the number of seniors 80 and older in the province with known COVID-19 infections increased to 231.This surge among the population most vulnerable to COVID-19 comes as health care workers deal with active outbreaks in seven long-term care homes.The latest long-term care home added to the province's daily list of active outbreaks, Parkside Extendicare, is in Regina. When other care homes (including privately owned ones), seniors residences, assisted living facilities and group homes are factored in, 20 homes are now dealing with active outbreaks.34 residents, 4 staff at Luther Special Care Homes infectedThe largest known outbreak at a long-term care home is at the Luther Special Care Home, nestled in Saskatoon's Varsity View neighbourhood.According to an email update sent to families on Sunday night, 34 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 28 on Saturday. Four staff members are also infected and a total of 23 staff members are self-isolating, a care home spokesperson said Monday."Staffing at the care home has become strained, however, we are working with our partners within the health system and our staff as we strive to maintain our high standard of quality care," Ivan Olfert, the home's operations lead, said in an emailed statement. Staffing ratios was already raised as a concern by a family member during a 2019 inspection of the facility. Seniors complex connected to homeLuther Special Care Home is connected to the residential Luther Tower seniors complex.Allan Grundahl, head of the tenants board at Luther Tower, said no tower residents have tested positive for the virus and movement between the tower and Luther Special Care Home is restricted.According to the 2019 inspection, Luther Special Care Home is a spacious facility that includes a secure unit for 49 residents in an older building dating back to 1955 and more than 100 other residents in a newer, three-floor addition. What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Some Penetanguishene community partners could have a reason to smile this week. Penetang elected officials are coming together Tuesday to discuss community grant requests made by several local non-profits. According to the report, staff is recommending council approve a number of those requests. If council agrees with staff, the Georgian Bay General Hospital will receive $15,000, the Southern Georgian Bay Physician Recruitment will receive $8,500 and $1,000 will go toward Sistema Huronia Music Academy. A further $2,000 will be given to the Midland Penetang District CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Staff is asking Cultural Alliance's request of $10,000 be deferred until after the non-profit's presentation on Dec. 9. The agenda also includes a number of requests around an increase in budget to extend contract positions. The first one up is the position of junior planner for which staff is asking an additional $25,000 be included in the budget to expand the current part-time position to a one-year full-time contract at a total cost of $57,000. A similar extension request is being made for the current part-time contract for a bylaw enforcement officer. The increase in budget would be almost $32,000, bringing the total cost of the one-year full-time contract to $47,500. A third budget request related to staffing comes after the decision to reopen the arena was approved by council. Staff is recommending that funding for 40 weekly hours for a facility attendant be included in the 2021 operating budget in anticipation of a 2021-2022 ice season. The move would require that $12,270 be included in the 2021 arena operating budget. The staff report says this step will also ensure the town is financially equipped to reopen the arena for a 2021-2022 ice season. A number of departmental draft budget documents included in the agenda are being presented to council for information. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and will be streamed live on the town's YouTube channel. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Victory is always sweet in municipal politics, said Mayor Duane Favel, and this year, victory has meant starting his fifth term as leader of the Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse. Duane defeated fellow mayoral candidate Peter Durocher with 323 votes to 257, with 580 total votes cast. This will be a long four years of council, Favel said, with many challenges facing northern Saskatchewan communities and with COVID-19 those challenges are going to get bigger, he said. In a previous interview before the election, Duane said physician retention and high water levels have been a challenge for the community for years. Joining Duane at the council table will be incumbents Vincent Ahenakew, Bodean Desjarlais, Myra Malboeuf, and Gerald Roy, and new councillors Noel McLean and Kevin Favel. Having a mix of old and new councillors is good to have for both continuity and bringing new voices to the table, Duane said. “It's nice to have a council who clearly has a good background on some of the things we've been working on and to bring those two councillors up to speed. Certainly, their voices will be heard as well.” Mentoring the new councillors will be an important step in the coming term, Duane said. Duane said he would like to thank the outgoing councillors who have stepped away from the table, including Durocher, who decided to run for mayor. The open spots allowed for two new voices to join the conversation and Duane said he is excited to work with this new council. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his representative said Monday. The announcement came a day after the musician won favourite male Latin artist and favourite Latin album for "YHLQMDLG” at the American Music Awards. Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio, was scheduled to sing his hit, “Dákiti,” with Jhay Cortez at the event but cancelled without explanation, leaving many fans disappointed. The singer, however, presented the award for favourite Latin female artist remotely. Publicist Sujeylee Solá told The Associated Press that Bad Bunny wasn't showing any major symptoms as of Monday. She did not provide further details, saying only that the musician was not granting any interviews. The Associated Press
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged 40 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, while marking 57 more cases resolved, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 347.Both that number and the rolling average of new cases have returned to levels unseen since mid-September.OPH also reported the death of another resident at a long-term care home where an outbreak has been declared, bringing the city's death toll to 367.More than sixty per cent of the city's latest cases are people under the age of 40.A total of 8,212 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19. The vast majority of those cases — 7,498 — are considered resolved.In the Outaouais, which has about one-third of Ottawa's population, 48 more people have tested positive for COVID-19. The region is now averaging 39 new cases a day.More than 85 per cent of the cases in western Quebec are in Gatineau, currently a red zone on the province's pandemic scale. With 42 patients curently in hospital, the Outaouais is outpacing Ottawa in that category as well. Thirty patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, including two in intensive care.An outbreak is over at École élémentaire catholique des Pionniers, leaving active outbreaks at four schools, nine long-term care homes and one hospital in Ottawa.Elsewhere, an outbreak at École secondaire publique L'Héritage in Cornwall, Ont., has also ended, the last COVID-19 outbreak at an eastern Ontario school outside Ottawa.Colour by numbersAmong the key indicators that could allow Ottawa to move from orange to yellow on Ontario's pandemic scale: * The per-capita rate of COVID-19 sits at 24.6, just below the orange zone threshold of 25. * The test positivity rate is 1.8 per cent; the yellow zone threshold is 1.2 per cent.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has moved from orange to the less severe yellow, while the health unit covering the Kingston, Ont., area went from green to yellow.The rest of eastern Ontario is green, the lowest level on the province's pandemic scale.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta Health Services posted a heart-wrenching on Twitter after the province confirmed more than 460 people have died from the virus.
DETROIT — General Motors says it will no longer support the Trump administration in legal efforts to end California's right to set its own clean-air standards.CEO Mary Barra said in an letter Monday to environmental groups that GM will pull out of the lawsuit, and it urges other automakers to do so.She said the company agrees with President-elect Joe Biden's plan to expand electric vehicle use. Last week, GM said it is testing a new battery chemistry that will bring electric-vehicle costs down to those of gas-powered vehicles within five years.Barra sent the letter after a call with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the company said.“We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” Barra said in the letter.Last year General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and 10 smaller automakers sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the right to set its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.Tom Krisher, The Associated Press
The Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo and museums have closed once again amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the Washington D.C. area. (November 23)
LONDON — Cineworld, which last month closed its cinemas in the U.S. and the U.K., has secured more than $750 million of new financing that it hopes will see it through the coronavirus pandemic.In a statement released Monday, the company said its finances will be bolstered over over the coming months largely from a new debt facility as well as an extension of an existing credit facility.Cineworld closed around 660 cinemas in the U.S. and Britain last month due to a lack of blockbusters as producers postpone releases because of the pandemic, including the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”“We look forward to resuming our operations and welcoming movie fans around the world back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films in 2021,” said Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld’s chief executive.The group's base case scenario assumes a reopening of cinemas no later than May. In the event of a further delay, it said it expects to retain sufficient liquidity for a number of months longer, but said that may require support from lenders.Despite that caveat, news of the new financing arrangements sent shares shares in the company soaring 17% in London.The hope is that the new money will help the company ride out the pandemic until vaccines are available. Over recent weeks, a number of vaccine candidates have shown promising results.“With vaccine development progressing, this should give investors significantly greater confidence in Cineworld emerging from the crisis, allowing the company to capture demand as it returns with a robust slate of postponed films," analysts at Investec.The Associated Press
TORONTO – The Government of Canada has launched a new initiative to modernize its radioactive waste policy. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan launched the inclusive engagement process on Nov. 16. and asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to lead the process. A press release from NWMO said all of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is “safely managed today in interim storage.” An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practices over the longer-term. Building on previous work, the NWMO says this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning while looking further into the future. “This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.” The Government of Canada will engage interested Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, waste producers, owners, and other government levels. Their objective is to elaborate on the existing policy to provide greater leadership on radioactive waste management and ensure that they continue to meet international best practices. A letter sent to Swami by O’Regan said, “I am requesting the NWMO to lead this dialogue and to develop Canada’s Integrated Strategy for radioactive waste for my review and consideration. I believe that the NWMO is uniquely positioned to lead this work as a leader in used nuclear fuel management and public engagement.” O’Regan said the integrated strategy should build on the plan developed by NWMO for the long-term management of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. The strategy, he said, should include: • A description of the current waste management situation in Canada in terms of current and future volumes, taking into account potential small modular reactor waste, characteristics, locations, and ownership of the waste. • An update on current plans and progress in advancing long-term management and disposal solutions for Canada’s wastes as well as the gaps that must be addressed. • Conceptual approaches for dealing with our current and future radioactive waste inventory, including technical options for long-term management or disposal of the various waste types and options for the number of long-term waste management facilities in Canada. • Considerations regarding the staging, integration, establishment, and operation of long-term waste management facilities. O’Regan stressed the importance that the NWMO carry out this important task in a manner that is open, transparent, and inclusive. He added that it must be built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity, and respect for all Canadians. “The dialogue should not detract from the NWMO’s current mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, known as Adaptive Phased Management. That mandate is clear, and your progress to date is commendable,” O’Regan said. “This work needs to continue to progress in an effective and efficient manner. I would also emphasize that this dialogue and the resulting Integrated Strategy are not intended to replace other projects currently in progress.” Karine Glenn, strategic project director for the NWMO, said that the organization looks forward to the process. “For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life-saving medical treatments, and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Glenn. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.” More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have various ways to participate while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties are invited to sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
B.C. health officials have confirmed another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, a weekend which also saw 17 more people die of the disease.The number of patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is at 277, another new high, with 59 people in intensive care. There are now 7,360 active cases of the virus across B.C.Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional during Monday's briefing, as she addressed the growing spread of the virus in long-term care and assisted living, saying the majority of those who died this weekend were seniors and elders living in long-term care.She said it is urgent for everyone to do their part to reduce their social interactions and get the spread of this virus under control, but also offered reassurance that health officials and members of the public. have the tools and the knowledge to do that."I say this to fuel that fire of determination and resilience that I have seen in people across this province," Henry said.Monday's update included six new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and six in acute care units of hospitals. The majority of the new cases announced Monday — about 89 per cent — continue to be in the regions covered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.To date, 27,407 people in B.C. have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 348 people have died. There are now 10,200 people in isolation and under active monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the disease.'The next leg is not in sight'The weekend was the first in B.C. under a long list of public health orders and recommendations that came into effect on Thursday.The orders, which include mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and social gatherings that are restricted to members of the same household, will be in effect until at least Dec. 7. All indoor and outdoor events of any size have been suspended — that means popular events like the Stanley Park Christmas Train and VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights in Vancouver have been put on hold.Henry clarified Monday that despite some confusion over the weekend, movie theatres must also close for now.Initially, stricter orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 only included the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which were seeing a disproportionate spike in case numbers.Monday marks 16 days since Henry enacted those first regional orders. It takes at least 14 days, the incubation period for COVID-19, to be able to determine whether those measures are working.During Monday's briefing, Henry compared the pandemic to an Iron Man triathlon competition, with "three different, strenuous legs."We got through the swim — just barely. And now we're on the bike ride and we've got some big hills to climb ahead of us," she said."Right now, we have a distance to go. The next leg is not in sight."The final leg of this pandemic will only come when a vaccine is available, Henry explained.New measures and restrictionsSocial gatherings in B.C. are now restricted to household members only. That means no one should be meeting for social reasons with anyone outside of their immediate household, although a physically distanced walk with a friend or arranging for grandparents to pick up the kids from school is still acceptable.People who live alone can create a small exclusive "bubble" with one or two others, Henry has said.Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that there can be no bartering or compromise when it comes to the orders that are currently in place."We cannot negotiate with the virus. We can't deal with it that way — there's no litigation to be had," he said.In response to questions about how much notice event organizers might receive about when they're able to reschedule because the current orders are being lifted, Henry said she didn't have an answer."Things we were able to do in the summer — we had a buffer, we had the weather on our side. We can't get away with that anymore. We will see if that is going to make a difference over the next coming weeks," she said.The new mandatory mask mandate is a requirement for workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.The order for mandatory masks does not include schools.Henry said Monday that schools aren't public places where strangers can come and go at will. Instead, the same people are spending time together every day.However she said that masks are encouraged within school environments, particularly for adults.
HURON COUNTY – Gift giving just got easier in Huron County with the release of an online wish book on Nov. 12. Highlighting local businesses, the Wish Book provides plenty of gift ideas from retailers and companies across Huron County. Whether looking for a handcrafted one-of-a-kind item or popular brand name products, everyone can find great gift-giving ideas available right in their backyard. According to a press release from Huron County, Canadians spent an average of $1,593 on holiday gifts last year. Not only does shopping locally keep those dollars in Huron communities, but purchasing gifts from local merchants is also the most convenient choice to avoid crowded malls, unexpected delivery delays from online retailers, and making unnecessary trips out of town. There will be daily gift-giving inspiration posts between now and Dec. 24. A weekly draw for $100 in gift certificates from local merchants on Ontario’s West Coast Facebook and Instagram pages. You can view the Huron County Wish Book at https://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/wishbook and scroll through all of the gift ideas to show support for Huron County businesses and communities this holiday season. The County of Huron developed the Huron County Wish Book in partnership with the Blyth BIA, Central Huron BIA, Community Futures Huron, Goodrich BIA, Huron County Chamber of Commerce Seaforth BIA, Municipality of Bluewater, South Huron Chamber of Commerce, Town of Goderich, Wingham BIA and the Zurich District Chamber of Commerce.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
ÉCONOMIE. Les exportations internationales de marchandises du Québec ont augmenté de 6,2 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent (+ 2,3 % en août). Avec ces hausses, le niveau des exportations du mois de septembre est de 6,5 % inférieur à celui de février 2020, soit avant que les effets de la pandémie de COVID-19 ne se fassent ressentir. L'augmentation des exportations québécoises en septembre est notamment due à la croissance des exportations de carburants diesel et biodiesel (+ 311,4 %), d'aéronefs (+ 30,1 %), de porc frais et congelé (+ 39,3 %) et d'électricité (+ 121,5 %). À l'opposé, les exportations d'aluminium et d'alliages d'aluminium sous forme brute (- 11,3 %), d'essence à moteur (- 57,1 %) et d'or, d'argent et de métaux du groupe du platine sous forme brute et de leurs alliages (- 56,3 %) ont diminué en septembre. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, les exportations internationales de marchandises du Québec en dollars constants se sont repliées de 9,3 % par rapport à la même période de 2019. Par ailleurs, les importations internationales de marchandises du Québec, désaisonnalisées, en dollars constants, connaissent une hausse de 7,3 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent, à la suite d'une baisse de 3,7 % en août. Ce faisant, les importations atteignent leur plus haut niveau depuis le mois de janvier 2020 et surpassent de 2,3 % le niveau de février. La hausse des importations totales en septembre est principalement due à la croissance des importations de pétrole brut classique (+ 40,0 %) et, dans une moindre mesure, de camions de poids léger, de fourgonnettes et de véhicules utilitaires sport (+ 4,5 %) ainsi que de vin et de brandy (+ 71,7 %). À l'inverse, les importations de fournitures médicales, dentaires et de protection personnelle (- 45,2 %) et de formes primaires et de produits semi-ouvrés de métaux et d'alliages de métaux non ferreux (- 53,9 %) ont connu de fortes baisses en septembre. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, les importations internationales de marchandises du Québec en dollars constants ont diminué de 18,1 % comparativement à la même période de l'année précédente. Au niveau canadien, selon les informations publiées par Statistique Canada le 4 novembre dernier, les exportations de marchandises, désaisonnalisées, en dollars constants, ont augmenté de 1,2 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent, à la suite d'une stagnation (0,0 %) au mois d'août. De leur côté, les importations de marchandises ont connu une hausse de 0,6 % en septembre (- 0,3 % en août). Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, comparativement à la même période de 2019, les exportations de marchandises du Canada ont reculé de 8,2 % et les importations canadiennes de marchandises ont diminué de 12,0 %. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state, another setback for President Donald Trump. (Nov. 23)