Officials warn that Canada's COVID-19 testing rates are falling behind, threatening the national containment strategy. In Quebec that's fuelling demand for a growing, private testing industry, that not everyone supports.
Officials warn that Canada's COVID-19 testing rates are falling behind, threatening the national containment strategy. In Quebec that's fuelling demand for a growing, private testing industry, that not everyone supports.
WASHINGTON — Monday seemed like the end of President Donald Trump's relentless challenges to the election, after the federal government acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” and Trump cleared the way for co-operation on a transition of power.But his baseless claims have a way of coming back. And back. And back.On Thursday, after a Thanksgiving evening conversation from the White House with troops stationed overseas, Trump abruptly pivoted to angrily alleging — still without any evidence — that “massive fraud” was behind his defeat.Speaking to news crews gathered to watch the traditional holiday conversation with the military, Trump denounced officials in battleground states he'd lost as “communists” and “enemies of the state.” Trump also announced he'd be travelling to Georgia to meet with what he said would be tens of thousands of supporters on Dec. 5, ahead of two runoffs there that will likely determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.The 2020 presidential race is turning into the zombie election that Trump just won’t let die. Despite dozens of legal and procedural setbacks, his campaign keeps filing new challenges that have little hope of succeeding and making fresh, unfounded claims of fraud.But that’s the point. Trump’s strategy, his allies concede in private, wasn’t to change the outcome, but to create a host of phantom claims about the 2020 presidential race that would infect the nation with doubt and keep his base loyal, even though the winner — Biden — was clear and there has been no evidence of mass voter fraud.“Zombies are dead people walking among the living — this litigation is the same thing,” said Franita Tolson, a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. “In terms of litigation that could change the election, all these cases are basically dead men walking.”It's a strategy tolerated by many Republicans, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who are clinging to Trump as they face a test of retaining their own power in the form of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.“This really is our version of a polite coup d’etat,” said Thomas Mann, senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. “It could end quickly if the Republican Party acknowledged what was going on. But they cower in the face of Trump’s connection with the base.”A day after Trump said his administration should begin working with Biden's team, three more lawsuits were filed by allies attempting to stop the certification in two more battleground states. In Minnesota, a judge did not rule on the suit and the state certified the results for Biden. Another was filed in Wisconsin, which doesn't certify until Tuesday. Arizona Republicans filed a complaint over ballot inspection; the state certification is due Monday.And the campaign legal team said state lawmakers in Arizona and Michigan would hold meetings on the election “to provide confidence that all of the legal votes have been counted and the illegal votes have not been counted in the November 3rd election.”In Pennsylvania, where state Republican lawmakers met at Gettysburg on Wednesday to air grievances about the election, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani attended in person and Trump dialed in from the Oval Office.“We have all the evidence," Trump asserted. “All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly without having a political opinion.”But the strongest legal rebuke yet came from a conservative Republican judge in federal court in Pennsylvania, who on Saturday dismissed the Trump team's lawsuit seeking to throw out the results of the election. The judge admonished the Trump campaign in a scathing ruling about its lack of evidence. The campaign has appealed.Trump's allies have privately acknowledged their plan would never actually overturn the results, but rather might provide Trump an off-ramp for a loss he wasn't owning up to and an avenue to keep his base loyal for whatever he does next.“And then our governing and politics will be hellish, because he will continue doing what he’s doing from his private own perch,” Mann predicted.Emily Murphy, the top official at the General Services Administration, declared Biden the “apparent winner” Monday, a procedural yet critical step that allowed for the transition to begin in earnest. She made the determination after Trump's efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states. She cited “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.”Michigan certified Biden’s 154,000-count victory Monday, despite calls by Trump to the GOP members to block the vote to allow for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump claimed he was the victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes there.“The board’s duty today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice chair. “We have a duty to certify this election based on these returns.”Still, the Trump legal team dismissed the certification as “simply a procedural step” and insisted it would fight on.Trump and his allies have brought at least four cases in Michigan that sought — unsuccessfully — to block certification of election results in part or all of the state.In Pennsylvania, after Gov. Tom Wolf certified Biden as the winner, an appeals court judge ordered state officials to halt any further steps toward certifying election results. The state has appealed to Pennsylvania's Supreme Court.In Arizona, just as lawyers for a woman in the Phoenix area dropped a case alleging that equipment was unable to record her ballot because she completed it with a county-issued Sharpie pen, Trump’s campaign filed its own lawsuit echoing some of the same complaints. As that suit was about to be dismissed, lawyers for the woman filed a new case reviving the claims and demanding that she be allowed to recast her ballot. All three of the cases have now been dismissed.“The legal process seems to be unfolding the way it’s supposed to, but the Trump campaign has made clear its desire to throw wrenches in the system wherever it can,” said Lisa Marshall Manheim, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law.___Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix and Steve Karnowski in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.Colleen Long, Alanna Durkin Richer And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
On Thursday afternoon (Nov. 26), the Province of Ontario announced that drivers from lockdown regions will be unable to seek road tests in other regions. This comes as part of the move to cancel all in-vehicle road tests in regions that enter the grey zones, a decision which came into effect on Nov. 23. The announcement specifically identifies Toronto and Peel Region residents, explaining that any cancelled tests will be without penalty. DriveTest service advisors in other areas have been given direction to restrict residents from those regions at lower COVID-19 levels from booking tests, effective Nov. 30. "We know that these measures will result in some people experiencing longer wait times for road tests," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "However, these are unprecedented times, and our number one priority is the health and safety of individuals, families and workers." Although drivers from Peel and other GTA regions have been using the Orangeville services for years, their position as COVID-19 hotspots raises concerns beyond crowding and delay issues. Fears of grey-zone drivers utilizing services have been a recent hot topic locally, after a driving examiner raised health and safety concerns about the number of drivers from red and grey lockdown zones accessing services at the Orangeville location. “In these COVID-19 lockdown areas, DriveTest centres are actually closed because conducting the drive tests is considered not to be safe under these public health guidelines,” Coun. Lisa Post said during a meeting of council on Nov. 23. “It seems a little strange that we're allowing drive tests in our safe area when it is being deemed it is not safe to happen in other areas and they are closing down those facilities.” Council unanimously supported Post’s request to send a letter to provincial decision makers demanding “cross region access” to the Orangeville DriveTest location be restricted. Following Thursday’s announcement, Post said she was happy to hear that action was being taken by the government. “I’m grateful that the province took quick action to ensure that drive tests are being conducted in a safe manner with the safety and protection of our examiners in mind,” she said. DriveTest centres affected by total road test closures from the lockdown include those in the City of Toronto and Peel Region, including Brampton, Downsview, Etobicoke, Metro East, Mississauga and Port Union. Those drivers from grey lockdown zones who currently have road tests booked in different regions will need to cancel the appointment.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
Cardston County has been working on a new Land Use Bylaw for over a year now in conjunction with Old Man River Regional Services Commission and planner Mike Burla. The current bylaw dates back to 1998 and is in need of updates to accommodate changes to the Municipal Governance Act and other unexpected modernizations that have occurred in the last 20-plus years. Top concerns that have come up include the need to address windmills, solar power, add more zoning options, definitions, uses, and reduce red tape. Red tape reduction will hopefully make it easier for the development officer to pass developments and get relevant information required to make proper rezoning and development decisions. County CAO Murray Millward says “we may need environmental study plans or slope studies and we don’t want developers to get frustrated when we add requirements on at the end. Instead everything is up front”. Council began by taking their initial draft to six different open houses across their jurisdiction where they heard citizens’ concerns. They have since implemented much of the feedback into the bylaw, such as increasing height restrictions that could have preceded solar development in some locations. Council needs to review the latest revision of the bylaw one more time and then will hold public hearings in early 2021 after which the bylaw requires three readings before it comes into effect.Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
VANCOUVER — Councillors in Vancouver have voted unanimously to ask the federal government to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs.Mayor Kennedy Stewart put forward the motion earlier this month saying it is time to develop a "health-focused" approach to substance use and end the stigma against drug users.In a statement issued late Wednesday after the vote, Stewart thanked groups such as the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, which he says have pursued decriminalization for years.In the same process used to create its first supervised injection clinic almost two decades ago, city staff will now write to federal officials, including the ministers of health and justice, seeking an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.If approved, Stewart said the city will work with the police department, Vancouver Coastal Health, community groups and people who have lived experience with drug use to determine how decriminalization should be approved.The city's support for decriminalization came on the same day the BC Coroners Service issued a report documenting 162 illicit drug deaths across the province in October, amounting to five every day, including one daily in Vancouver.Stewart said Vancouver is ready to again lead the way on drug policy in order to save lives.“With more than 1,500 deaths in Vancouver since a provincial overdose emergency was declared in April 2016, and an estimated 329 overdose deaths in the city of Vancouver so far this year, 2020 is on track to be the worst year yet for overdoses and this new approach is urgently needed," he said in the statement.Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, has said decriminalization alone won't solve the drug crisis, but will complement expanded harm reduction and treatment services, including the province's safe supply program.The elimination of criminal consequences for possessing drugs for personal use also has the support of Premier John Horgan, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Vancouver Police Department.There's no indication how long the federal government might take to review Vancouver's plan once it is submitted, but Stewart has said federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu is a champion of harm reduction and has the authority to move quickly.Hajdu said in a statement the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the opioid crisis and Ottawa must redouble its efforts to save lives.She said federal officials have been working with Stewart and the B.C. government on options that respond to local and regional needs, guided in part by the recommendations of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which also endorsed decriminalization of personal possession earlier this year. "We will review this request to address criminal penalties for simple possession of small amounts of controlled substances and will continue our work to get Canadians who use substances the support they need," Hajdu said in the statement.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.The Canadian Press
École publique Renaissance students have come together to give back to the community. Students from Grade 7 to 12 donated 1,301 cups of soup, 180 cakes and a $100 gift card to The Yo Mobile. The non-profit’s founder Mario Dussault said he was very happy and the donation will help a lot. Through various classroom challenges and incentives in classrooms, the students collected the donations in less than a month, according to the school’s guidance counsellor Cindy Bergeron. “These students went over and above to make sure this was a success,” she said. “This is 100 per cent the kids that did it.” The school usually has a big fundraiser in May when the students play volleyball with the Timmins Police Service and paramedics. Although the event was cancelled because of the pandemic, the students still wanted to give back to the community, Bergeron said. "They had an impossible question on the radio every morning that they had to answer and they would get soups for that. And each classroom had different challenges, too," she said. "And one of the activities the kids used to do all the time is wear a hat on Fridays. And they would give $1 (or) bring a soup on Friday to be able to wear their hats." Grade 8 student Esmeralda Ofori-Agyepong said she used her first allowance, about $40, to donate to the cause. “I was saving up for something but I didn’t really know what else to do, so I decided that I wanted to be the biggest contributor in a class to help,” she said. “Whatever money I got, I started to give it … I feel better because I know people who might not have meals would have, at least, a full belly. And it’s better because we don’t have to have starving people and then it helps everybody.”Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
November 17 - Editor’s Note: Since our last report, Town Council has held two meetings during which the subject of the proposed Recreation Facility has been a significant point of discussion. This article will serve to inform the reader relative to previous discussions and, more particularly, report on Council’s current deliberations. For several weeks Town Council has been discussing the feasibility of constructing a multi-purpose recreation facility which is proposed to be located at the E. J. Wood property adjacent to the High School. It has previously been reported that the latest cost estimate for the building is $1.3 million, an amount which would be financed by both public and private funds in a unique arrangement called a “Public Private Partnership” (P3) with Public funds being sourced from a $1.0 million line-item commitment which Council has made to its 2021 CY Capital Budget. The balance is projected to come from private donors as the result of a direct fundraising initiative under the leadership of the Pickleball Association It must be noted that the $1.0 million committed by Council does not increase the 2021 CY Budget in total; rather, those funds must be found in creative and strategic manners such as by redirecting funds from other line items. It has also been previously reported that the proposed footprint for the building is 15,200 square feet; although, as other potential stakeholders have expressed interest in taking advantage of the opportunities which the facility presents, the footprint could grow to 16,800 square feet. Seeking the direction of Council to identify how funds should most efficiently be redirected within the 2021 Budget, Administration has presented Council with a number of budget-revising suggestions such as deferring, revising or even cancelling previously planned projects. Confronted by these various scenarios, and in the continuing absence of specific line-item construction and operating cost estimates, Council has decided to exercise some caution and pause to consider and review their previous discussions and intentions. In so doing, several decisions were taken: -$10K will be allocated to engage the services of a professional engineer who will be tasked with providing conceptual drawings and preliminary cost estimates -a fact finding initiative will determine all salient details relative to the project -once completed, a survey will be conducted, hopefully in December, to determine public opinion regarding the project -finally, before proceeding any further, a Town Hall meeting will be held to discuss the issue with all interested parties. A special meeting was called on Tuesday, November 17 to consider a draft 2021 CY budget. A major part of the discussion at that meeting centred on how the Recreation Facility could be financed. Administration presented various scenarios by which the required $1 million could be re-allocated from the 2021 CY Budget and considerable discussion ensued. It is apparent that Council is of two minds; one group of Councillors is anxious to proceed with the project, the other is more cautious and wishes to conduct additional due diligence. It is also apparent that the sentiment to do further due diligence is carrying the day at the moment. As the meeting concluded it was understood that engineering drawings with their attendant accurately estimated costs would be obtained. In addition, “indications of intent” would be requested of potential donors and public opinion would be gauged in a poll conducted in December. The special meeting concluded with Administration being directed by Council to bring a detailed financing proposal to their next meeting on November 24 for further discussion.William Hill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
A 24-year-old woman from Eskasoni, N.S., is dead and three others suffered serious injuries after an early morning single-vehicle crash on Thursday. In a news release, RCMP say they were called about an impaired driver in the community just after 1 a.m.While en route, they got another call about a pickup truck going into a ditch along Highway 216, where it struck a utility pole and knocked down power lines.Police say the truck matched the vehicle description in the initial report.The man who was driving and another man and a woman, who were passengers, were all sent to hospital with serious injuries.RCMP say the second woman was found dead at the scene near the rear of the truck. Police are investigating the crash.MORE TOP STORIES
Regina– In reporting 299 new active cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, Saskatchewan has continued its trend of exponential growth while its neighbours Manitoba and North Dakota have flattened or lowered their respective curves for 7-day average new cases. Those 299 new cases bring Saskatchewan’s 7-day average new cases count to 243, its highest level to date. It also indicates that Saskatchewan’s average has now effectively doubled, again. On October 10, Saskatchewan hit a 7-day average of 15 new cases per day. Five days later, that doubled to 30, with 31.4 on Oct. 15. Fourteen days later, it doubled again to 60, with 61.7 on Oct. 29. Twelve days after that, it doubled once more to 120, with 120.7 on Nov. 10. Now, on Nov. 26, it has doubled once again to 240, with 243 average new cases per day. As of Nov. 15, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota were all showing exponential growth in their 7-day averages. But in over the past two weeks, both Manitoba and North Dakota have shown either a flattening, or a downward trend, in their curves. Since Nov. 12, Manitoba’s 7-day average has stayed within a range between 371.6 and 422.7, with Nov. 26 coming in at 402.3. North Dakota has started to show a downward trend for 7-day average new cases. On Nov. 26, its 7-day average was 1,123 cases per day, the best it had been since Nov. 3, when it was 1,156. North Dakota crested at 1,415.7 average cases per day on Nov. 18, and has been slowly declining over the eight days since then. Saskatchewan’s growth rate was slightly higher than Manitoba’s for the period of Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. During that period, Saskatchewan had been staying consistently 16 to 18 days behind Manitoba when it came to 7-day average new cases. For example, Saskatchewan hit 120 average new cases per day on Nov. 10, whereas Manitoba hit that level on Oct. 25, 16 days earlier. But by Nov. 26, that gap has widened to 25 days. Manitoba exceeded 240 cases per day on Nov. 1, with 255.4, whereas Saskatchewan hit the 240 level on Nov. 26. When it comes to deaths, with three new deaths reported Nov. 26, Saskatchewan for the first time exceeded a 7-day average of one death per day, coming in at 1.1 average deaths per day. Manitoba, with 10 deaths reported on Nov. 26, averaged 9.7 deaths per day. That level has been relatively consistent since Nov. 16, varying between 9.0 and 9.9 deaths per day. However, that plateau essentially stopped the exponential growth of deaths in Manitoba, which had doubled several times, from one to two, two to four, four to eight per day in just 38 days. Similarly, North Dakota has also seen a plateau. Since Nov. 6, North Dakota has ranged between 13.4 and 16.3 average deaths per day. It, too, had been seeing exponential growth since Aug. 4, but at a much lower rate of growth. Its deaths had grown from a 7-day average of 1 on Aug. 4 to 16 by Nov. 10.Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
More than two-thirds of the world’s fields, ranches and orchards are owned by one per cent of its farmers, according to a report released Tuesday. Land inequality — the concentrated ownership of land — is skyrocketing globally, including in Canada and the U.S. It’s a trend driven by large-scale industrial farming and export-oriented agricultural policies with wide-ranging impacts on everything from food security to climate change. Those investments aren’t always obvious. Historically, land ownership analyses have excluded key pieces of information, such as the value of land and the degree of control a person or organization has over it, according to the report’s authors. For instance, many farms operate under contract to agri-food corporations, giving them control over production methods and market access without explicitly owning the farm. Investors are also purchasing farmland at increasingly high rates, pushing land prices beyond the value of the crops they can produce and exacerbating farmland consolidation. An analysis of these control mechanisms was included by the coalition of organizations behind the report — a novel technique, said Ward Anseeuw, co-author of the report and co-ordinator of the initiative. The additional data revealed that worldwide, land inequality is 41 per cent higher than previously reported through national agricultural censuses. “These findings radically alter our understanding of the extent and far-reaching consequences land inequality has, proving that not only is it a bigger problem than we thought, but it’s undermining the stability and development of sustainable societies,” he said in a statement. Concentrated land ownership is associated with a suite of problems, including deforestation, political and economic inequality and the degradation of rural food security, the report notes. And while land inequality is an old problem — it was a key part of many colonial governments’ policies — the authors note that since the 1980s, the problem has gotten worse. That’s when national and international trade policies were implemented that made it easier for financial institutions and global agri-businesses to purchase vast tracts of farmland for conversion into industrialized crop production. This land was generally purchased from small- to mid-sized family farms growing a diversity of crops for local or regional consumption. Replacing them were larger industrialized farms owned by vertically integrated companies invested from seed to sale in international commodity markets. It’s a trend that accelerated after the 2008 financial crash, said Devlin Kuyek, senior researcher at GRAIN, an international non-profit supporting small farmers and social movements. Those investors, including several Canadian pension funds, started purchasing farmland worldwide. And with deeper pockets than most farmers, they didn’t struggle to find the land, despite policies in certain jurisdictions — including some Canadian provinces — that limit foreign farmland ownership. It’s a practice that drives land consolidation, he explained. Meanwhile, smaller-scale farmers producing food for regional and local consumption often struggle to make ends meet because of high farmland prices and competition from global commodity markets. It’s a pattern that is seen worldwide — including in B.C., explained Mullinix. The province has a proliferation of small, diversified farms serving local markets, many of which struggle to afford farmland (farmland prices in the province are also driven by real estate speculation, not only agri-businesses and investments from financial institutions). There are also several large ranches and orchards producing food for Canada-wide and international markets — and not much in between. Still, Kuyek said that Canadians have more leverage than they might think. Canadian pension funds are some of the world’s largest farmland investors and sustained pressure from the people whose money they are managing can help change their practices. “We have an interest in understanding what’s going on with our money. If the money is being used to expand industrial agriculture, kick communities off their lands, destroying the future of the planet, it’s not really a good investment that way,” he said. “But this is a new area for the pension funds, so putting pressure on them now, making them aware of the risks … it can sort of push them to hold back from stepping into that area of investment.” Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
NEW YORK — The pandemic is turning this into a holiday shopping season like no other.Toy companies are targeting stuck-at-home grown-ups with latte-smelling Play-Doh and Legos that turn into Warhols. Those who added a puppy to their family during the pandemic will see tons of gift options for their new furry friend. And with more people shopping online, stores are doing double duty as shipping centres to try to get gifts to doorsteps as fast as possible.Here’s what to expect:___TOYS FOR ADULTSKids aren’t the only ones who need some fun. Toy companies are targeting bored adults stuck at home during the pandemic. Need something to fidget during your next Zoom meeting? Hasbro has new mouldable Play-Doh varieties that smell like stuff grown-ups would recognize: lattes, fresh cut grass and smoked meats.Lego, meanwhile, wants adults to put on their headphones and “forget about the rest of the world” while turning the plastic pieces in their new kits into hangable art, like Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe portraits.Marissa DiBartolo, editor in chief of toy review site The Toy Insider, says she's seen more coloring books and challenging puzzles being designed with adults in mind.___FROM YOUTUBE TO THE TOY STOREThe canines on “Paw Patrol” better watch their tails. YouTube stars with millions of viewers are heading to the toy aisle, a place where TV cartoon characters used to rule.It’s all because kids are spending so much time watching YouTube instead of cable TV, says DiBartolo. That's made stars of the video-streaming site just as recognizable as those on Nickelodeon.Figurines of Blippi, a man who wears orange suspenders and hosts educational kid videos on YouTube, are being sold at Target and Amazon. At Walmart, toys featuring Ryan Kaji, a kid who reviews toys on his Ryan’s World YouTube channel, have been hot sellers. Toy company VTech is playing into the trend in another way, selling a KidiZoom Creator camera that comes with a green screen so kids can add special effects and pretend to be YouTube influencers themselves.And if you need another sign of just how big YouTube stars have become, a 42-foot-tall (13-meter-tall) balloon based on Kaji from Ryan’s World appeared Thursday in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, floating next to TV icons like SpongeBob and, yes, Chase from “Paw Patrol.”___STORES AS SHIPPING HUBSRetailers including Walmart and Best Buy that were already using their locations as hubs to ship e-commerce orders are now coming up with new strategies to get even faster. The moves come as they face a holiday crunch expected to tax shipping networks and likely result in delivery delays.Walmart this week launched a special program for the holidays. It has some of its online orders being fulfilled directly from stores using delivery services like Postmates and DoorDash instead of carriers like FedEx or UPS. The aim is to ensure customers will be able to get their orders quickly, even on the same day.Meanwhile, Best Buy says that 340 of its stores are being specially designated to handle a higher volume of online orders, though all its stores ship e-commerce packages. Its goal: to have the 340 stores ship more than 70% of its ship-from-store units during the holiday quarter.And then there are many small-to-medium sized businesses increasingly turning to operators of micro-warehouses — mini-shipping hubs that are located in urban areas — to help pack and delivery goods. Ben Jones is the CEO and founder of Ohi, which operates five micro-warehouses for various brands like sparkling tonic Olipop, or provides software for third parties at 115 locations for e-commerce fulfilment across the U.S. He says he’s seen more brands using his software because many aren't able to guarantee delivery by Christmas via standard shipping if items are ordered after the first week of December.___GIFTS FOR THE POOCHMore people adopted puppies and kittens during the pandemic, and stores are pouncing to cash in. Petco is selling matching pyjamas for dogs and their humans with snow flakes and Christmas trees. And Chewy, the online pet store, is getting more personal, inscribing pets names into bandanas, bowls or beds.Consulting firm Deloitte expects half of shoppers to spend some of their money on pet treats and other supplies this holiday season.___FORGET ABOUT IMPULSE SHOPPINGIt’s not just frenzied crowds that will be absent this holiday season. So will impulse shopping — the practice of throwing in extra items like toys or bath balms as shoppers go in and out of the aisles.Typically, 25% of holiday shopping is based on impulse, according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at NPD Group, a market research firm. This year, Cohen said he expects that figure to drop to about 10% as shoppers dramatically shift their buying online to avoid physical stores. And when they do go to stores, customers will be buying with a purpose, picking up things they need as they try to minimize exposure to COVID-19“Impulse shopping is the icing on the cake,“ Cohen said. “It is the difference between a successful profitable holiday and a ho hum holiday.” ___This story has been updated to correct that Petco is offering matching pyjamas for owners and dogs, not matching sweaters.Joseph Pisani And Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press
Le Comité de la commémoration du 50e anniversaire de l’expropriation de Mirabel invite les personnes intéressées à une activité qui a pour but de rendre hommage aux femmes ayant lutté pour que les terres expropriées soient rétrocédées, alors que l’on inaugurera, par le fait même, une plaque commémorative installée à la Maison Jean-Paul-Raymond, dans le secteur de Sainte-Scholastique. Le tout se déroulera le vendredi 11 décembre prochain de manière virtuelle. L’événement, qui prendra la forme de conférence, mettra en lumière le rôle joué par toutes ces femmes auprès de leurs familles et de leur communauté pendant une période difficile. Des personnes impliquées dans le dossier de l’expropriation de Mirabel livreront des témoignages et permettront de faire le point sur le vécu et la contribution des femmes lors des événements qui se sont déroulés des décennies auparavant, mais qui laissent toujours ses traces. Rappelons qu’à la fin des années 1960, le gouvernement fédéral s’était approprié 97 000 acres, parmi les terres agricoles les plus riches du Québec, afin de construire le nouvel aéroport de Montréal, à Mirabel. La nouvelle touche alors plus de 3 000 familles, ainsi que 14 villages et municipalités des Basses-Laurentides. Des citoyens impliqués Rita Léonard-Lafond sera l’une des personnes qui témoigneront, elle qui a été elle-même délogée de sa maison. Ceux qui suivent le dossier de près se rappellent que Mme Léonard-Lafond a été impliquée activement à titre de porte-parole pour les gens expropriés, au sein du Comité d’information et d’animation communautaire (CIAC). Elle est aussi membre du Comité de commémoration du 50e anniversaire. D’autres acteurs prendront la parole au cours de l’événement. Ils seront disponibles afin d’échanger après la conférence. Considérants les mesures liées à la pandémie, l’activité se tiendra virtuellement, sur la plateforme Zoom, le 11 décembre, dès 14 h. À noter que l’on doit absolument confirmer sa présence d’ici le 30 novembre prochain. Seules les personnes ayant confirmé leur présence recevront le lien Web qui permettra de se connecter sur la plateforme. D’ailleurs, une assemblée générale suivra, sur le coup de 15 h, à nouveau sur la plateforme Zoom. Pour confirmer sa présence aux deux événements, vous devez écrire au Comité de commémoration du 50e anniversaire de l’expropriation de Mirabel, via le firstname.lastname@example.org. Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil
Prince George, B.C., resident Judy Howard recently shelled out $50 for a six-pack of soy sauce after a family Facebook bidding war, and she feels like she got a pretty sweet deal — or salty, to be more accurate.A single bottle of Canadian-made China Lily Soya Sauce usually runs about $3 and is a staple in many kitchens in northern B.C., primarily in Indigenous households where it is often used liberally in traditional dishes and everyday dinner prep.Currently, it is incredibly hard to come by, and that's causing a bit of a panic among regular purchasers.The sauce is crafted by Lee Foods in Toronto. False rumours the factory is closing could be behind why grocery stores in B.C.'s north have been cleaned out, Amazon has nothing to offer, and prices on eBay keep climbing.Prince Rupert, B.C., resident Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North, caught the concerned chatter of locals on social media and contacted Lee Foods to find out why people were fearful their favourite brand was on the brink. A woman at Lee Foods who took de Ryk's call said there are no plans to shut down the family-run business.Her explanation for the shortage was simple: "China Lily Soya Sauce is the next toilet paper in the COVID-19 pandemic."While hearing the company is still open may be a relief for some, the current situation remains dire for die-hard fans. So much so that Tahltan President Chad Day released a tongue-in cheek-warning on Facebook that soy sauce bootlegging would not be tolerated. Annita Macphee, who is Tahltan and lives in Vancouver, said she remembers rice with China Lily being a component of many childhood meals. She told de Ryk its popularity in many Indigenous kitchens could be because so many Indigenous and Chinese people worked together at one time in coastal canneries."I've heard of people buying 16 bottles," she said, adding she currently has a line on some bottles that surfaced in Powell River, B.C., so she should be supplied for the time being.Howard, meanwhile, is likely being hailed as a hero by her immediate family for the six-pack she scored after her nephew, Sheldon Howard, Jr., a Prince George resident originally from the Gitxsan community of Gitsegukla in northwestern B.C., auctioned it off."I don't think it was extortion," said Howard, who uses the sauce to flavour much of her cooking, especially salmon and herring roe dishes.This year, said Howard, a bottle or two from Santa would be a coveted Christmas gift for many in Gitsegukla.To really dive down into the cultural significance of China Lily, De Ryk also spoke with Jeremy Pahl, also known as Saltwater Hank, a Tsimshian First Nation member and Prince Rupert resident.He was plum out at the start of the week but, while it was weighing heavy, he said he was staying strong."We are going to get through it, and future generations are going to look back and say my ancestors survived the great China Lily shortage of 2020," Pahl said with a chuckle.Pahl later got lucky when some employees at Coast Mountain College called up de Ryk to let her know they had a bottle and it was Pahl's if he wanted it. You can bet he did.But if you're not one of the lucky Howards, don't know about a stash out of town, and no kindly neighbour has tracked you down via the national broadcaster to offer you a spare bottle, don't despair — Lee Foods is still in full swing.In a statement, company president Christopher Wong said while there have been some supply, shipping and staffing hiccups due to the pandemic, customers can expect to see China Lily Soya Sauce back on the shelves within the coming weeks.To hear Judy Howard talk about her Facebook auction score on CBC's Daybreak North, tap the link below:
4915 tests de dépistage à la COVID-19 ont été effectués sur le territoire lavallois au cours de la semaine du 16 au 22 novembre selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Bien que cela représente une chute de 1165 tests par rapport à la semaine précédente, il s'agit du deuxième plus haut total hebdomadaire du mois de novembre. Un sommet de 966 personnes dépistées a été atteint le lundi 16 novembre. À l'inverse, seulement 449 et 459 tests ont été effectués les 21 et 22 novembre. Ces deux totaux sont les pires de la dernière semaine. Lors d'un point de presse tenu jeudi, le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé la nomination de Jérôme Gagnon et du Dr Richard Massé pour coordonner l'opération québécoise de vaccination contre la COVID-19 lorsque l'arrivée des vaccins sera confirmée. Les listes de priorité sont d'ailleurs déjà établies. Les résidents en CHSLD, travailleurs de la santé et personnes plus âgées seront les premières personnes visées par la vaccination. François Legault a aussi profité de l'occasion pour apporter davantage de précisions sur les quatre jours de rassemblements familiaux autorisés du 24 au 27 décembre. Un maximum de deux soupers entre membres de foyers différents seront autorisés. «La période de quatre jours que nous avions annoncé servait à donner de la flexibilité, a précisé le Dr Horacio Arruda, directeur national de santé publique. [...] Les gens ont pu interpréter qu'il était possible de faire un nombre illimité de rassemblements lors des quatre jours. Avec deux rassemblements, on diminue le risque de contact.» Avec un bilan de 11 083 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 103 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès depuis le début de la pandémie est en augmentation à 725. Le CISSS de Laval cumule également 9818 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 540 cas actifs confirmés (-27) sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 28 sont hospitalisées, dont 5 aux soins intensifs. 22 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Six résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Par ailleurs, le Jardin des Saules a été placé dans la catégorie des RPA en situation critique en raison du taux d'infection. Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 136 894 cas et 6947 décès. Au total, 675 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 90 aux soins intensifs.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Art has been part of Lucy Kerr's life as far back as she can remember. One of nine students (along with a 10th collaborative piece by a Grade 6/7 class) whose piece has been tagged for a set of greeting cards produced by the district, the Grade 11 student at McMath says art is a way for her to unwind. “Art is really relaxing for me, and just a creative outlet that is really a big part of my life,” she says. “My family has always been really appreciative of art—I’ve been going to art galleries and and talking about that for my whole life as well.” Kerr’s piece “Sunny Day” was inspired by the work of acclaimed Canadian artist Ted Harrison, whose style Kerr says she has “always loved.” She adds that the process of looking at different artists’ styles has helped her to create her own: she prefers to paint portraits, which recently she has been doing by commission. “I want to make something that moves people, and I like getting the emotional reaction when someone sees the art I created for them,” she says. “It’s different than a photograph—there’s so much more meaning that you can draw from (a painting), and it gives a lot more dimension.” Emi Fairchild, a Grade 4 student at Homma elementary, echoes Kerr’s love of art. “Art is a great way to express yourself, and it takes your mind off things that you don’t want,” she says. Her piece “Trumpet of the Swan” was part of a school project inspired by the book of the same name. The artwork mostly uses oil pastels, but Fairchild also chose to add Sharpie to her piece at the end “to make it stand out from all the details.” She also creates art in her spare time, mostly using pencil and paper. Recently, she’s started weaving, which she says is “easy and fun.” Kerr and Fairchild are two of the student artists chosen for the Richmond School District’s art card project. Spearheaded by district fine arts administrator (and Blair elementary principal) Catherine Ludwig, the project aims to highlight the work done by students and art teachers across the city, as well as circulating student art broadly. Ten selections—which reflect a balance of different schools, ages, and genres of art—were printed on greeting cards. Packages of cards were initially given to district administrators for their correspondence, but they will also be available in the near future to members of the school community who want to place an order. Ludwig says the arts educators in the district started making plans for the project in February, along with trustees and other stakeholder groups. “One of the goals that came forward, as we imagined a vibrant place for arts education in the district, was creating opportunities for our learners beyond the four walls of our school,” she explains. “(Art) speaks loudly and it amplifies who you are, and ultimately it helps with that uncharted territory of who you are as the self.” With a desire to make Richmond learners feel supported and part of a larger community, Ludwig and her team asked teachers to submit students’ works for the project. The selections were professionally scanned and a graphic designer in the district ensured they were uniform with things like backdrops, while staying true to the original works. And each student submitted an artist statement, reflecting on their piece, that appears on the back of the card. By chance, two of the selected works were self-portraits: one by a Kindergarten student from Blair and one from a Grade 12 student at MacNeill. Ludwig has copies of those two pieces displayed in her office. “It gave the direction of why we’re doing this—look at what happens when we dedicate arts education with passionate arts educators teaching our young ones,” she says. Ludwig adds that she hopes to repeat the project every two years to represent the changing students within the Richmond school system. And next time, she wants to make a call out for other mediums, too—including sculpture, photography and textiles. “Connecting with others, having your masterpiece or your image experienced by another is so powerful,” says Ludwig. “It propels you and inspires you to grow and learn and it also encourages you. You get that feedback from others and get a sense of your legacy as an artist.” She says the kids have recently been picking up their sets of cards from Blair, and their excitement is visible. “This project had a hand in helping them feel something beyond themselves—that their art had a bigger impact beyond the page,” says Ludwig. “You can just sense how powerful this is for them. I’m so proud of them.” The students whose art is featured on the cards are equally as enthused. When she found out her piece would be featured on one of the school district’s art cards, Fairchild was “really excited.” And while Kerr doesn’t see art as a future career, she expects to never give it up completely regardless of where she ends up in the future. “I know that art will always be a part of my life, and it will always be a very strong hobby of mine,” she says.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Members of a Six Nations land reclamation camp have appealed two court injunctions ordering them to vacate a housing development in Caledonia, Ont.Skyler Williams, a spokesperson for the group and defendant in the case, said Thursday that he filed an appeal in Ontario Superior Court to fight the injunctions."We chose to engage in a process, a process that is not our own, to try and move it forward," said Williams during a media update Thursday. "For us the issue of the land here is still before the courts and certainly needs to come to a nation-to-nation discussion."The occupation of the McKenzie Meadows development, dubbed 1492 Land Back Lane by demonstrators, has stretched on for months, and has included blockades across area roads, court orders to remove people staying there, and dozens of arrests.Last month, Justice John Harper ruled that the activists had to vacate the land where Foxgate Developments planned a housing complex. The Six Nations group says the property is unceded Indigenous land and has been occupying it for 131 days. Harper ordered the Six Nations members to vacate on Oct. 22.Williams said Thursday that he's retained lawyers Barry Yellin and Wade Poziomka from the Hamilton firm Ross & McBride LLP. If the appeal is successful, he said, Foxgate Developments and Haldimand County will have to restart the permanent injunction proceedings."The filing by Ross & McBride LLP focuses on the failure of the court to distinguish between contempt and abuse of process, a procedural issue," the 1492 Land Back Lane group said in a media release. "The issue is that Williams's pleadings and evidence were thrown out by Justice Harper in error contrary to the law, procedural fairness, and the rules of civil procedure. If successful in the appeal, the matter would be returned to superior court before a different judge, and all of Williams's pleadings would be reinstated in his defence."The appeal, Williams said, is "an honest effort to engage in the legal system at a time that I was unrepresented in the court process."Harper said last month that Williams has shown "contempt" for the court by refusing to obey previous, temporary injunctions, and by insisting the Cayuga, Ont., courtroom was part of the "colonial" court system.Harper said the court must acknowledge the "abuses that have been put upon the Aboriginal community," but "claims and grievances in our society … must be done respectfully, must be done in compliance with the orders."The Six Nations Elected Council signed a deal in 2019 with the developers for $352,000 and 17 hectares of land in exchange for support of the two housing projects. Williams said Thursday that the elected council has expressed "tentative" support for 1492 Land Back Lane. Six Nations' traditional government, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council of Chiefs, supports the reclamation camp.The group has been calling on the federal and provincial governments to step in and work with their representatives toward a peaceful resolution.Despite a pledge from the office of Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, that government officials "look forward to meeting with the community at the earliest opportunity" and are "committed" to addressing longstanding land claim issues, Williams said negotiations have yet to begin."They've said over and over again that they want to be at the table, that they're working on it … and here we are. This is three-and-a-half months later," said Williams. "Apparently it takes a long time to get here from Ottawa."
Health Canada had said previously that an approval would likely come early in the first quarter, under a new accelerated review process very similar to that in place in the United States. Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine is most advanced in Health Canada's reviews, Supriya Sharma, senior medical adviser at Health Canada, said at a media briefing in Ottawa.
Team Halo is hoping to answer questions from those sceptical or hesitant about COVID vaccines. View on euronews
OTTAWA — Provincial finance ministers have quietly prodded Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to pause planned increases in premiums workers and businesses pay into the Canada Pension Plan.The planned increase on Jan. 1 is part of a multi-year plan approved by provinces and the federal government four years ago to boost retirement benefits through the public plan by increasing contributions over time.The first premium bump was in 2019, another was earlier this year and the next is due at the beginning of 2021.A number of provincial finance ministers on a recent call with Freeland asked her to put a pause on next year's automatic increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic.They argued it isn't a wise economic decision to take more off workers' paycheques and to charge businesses more when many are still struggling.The details are in a letter Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer sent Freeland two days ago, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.Harpauer's office confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and that her provincial counterparts raised the issue during a Nov. 20 teleconference with Freeland.Any changes to contribution rates or the earnings ceiling at which point contributions top-out would need the approval of Parliament and seven provinces representing at least two-thirds of the national population — a higher bar than what's required to amend the Constitution.Freeland is to deliver an economic update on Monday that should provide a full accounting of all federal spending on the COVID-19 pandemic to date.The document will also detail the depth of the deficit this year, last estimated in July at $343.2 billion, and is expected to outline some new spending.In her letter, Harpauer asked Freeland to use the document to announce a delay in any CPP contribution increases until at least 2022, when the country hopes to see "a recovery from our current economic difficulties.""Our governments have provided a number of direct and indirect supports to businesses and workers to help sustain them through the current COVID-based economic downturn," Harpauer wrote."I believe that increasing CPP contribution rates at this time would be counterproductive to our many efforts over the past eight months."A spokeswoman for Freeland said freezing the increases negotiated in 2016 would mean reducing future benefits for Canada's current workers.“The federal government’s top priority is supporting Canadians and businesses, very much including in Saskatchewan, as the country weathers the COVID-19 pandemic," Katherine Cuplinskas said. "With a second wave underway, many people in Saskatchewan and across Canada continue to face immense uncertainty."Groups representing businesses big and large, and the workers they employ, say they are looking for some reshaping of federal aid programs.Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the government needs to put sectors that rely on a physical presence for their operations at the centre of any economic plan, through targeted emergency supports.The National Airlines Council of Canada made a plea for aid on Thursday, noting newly released figures from Statistics Canada showing passenger counts continue to be down by more than 80 per cent.Robert Asselin, senior vice-present for policy at the Business Council of Canada, said targeted aid for airlines has been slow to land compared to in other countries. The council, which represents large employers in the country, will be looking for clarity on targeted aid in Monday's update, he said.Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said many workers using emergency benefits are worried about maxing out early in 2021. He said the government may want to use Monday's update to signal an extension, beyond 26 weeks, of how long someone can claim the new benefits."There is going to be a need for them to look at extending the benefit period because I think Canadians are going to need it for a little longer until we can start getting a (COVID-19) vaccine," Yussuff said.Small businesses are also looking for any extra help the government can provide beyond a reprieve from CPP premium increases.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said about one-third of small businesses are losing money even though they're open."The government does need to keep its focus very squarely on getting us through COVID and ensuring that there are sufficient economic supports in place," he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Hamilton police have charged three men in the stabbing death of 20-year-old Brock Beck, the same week the young man's family offered a $20,000 reward in the case. Police say Beck was found suffering from stab wounds following an attack at about 2 a.m. on July 26 in which a 16-year-old was also injured. They've said his death was the result of a "road rage incident gone wrong." Police say they don't believe Beck's killers knew him, making the investigation tricky. They say three suspects, ranging in age from 18 to 22, have been charged with second-degree murder in Beck's death. Two of the suspects are also charged with assault causing bodily harm in relation to the teen's injuries. Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk says a fourth suspect has also been arrested, but did not specify what charges he faces. He said police had already gathered significant evidence in the case when the family announced it was offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his son's killers. "It was of limited impact in this case," he said of the reward. Bereziuk said the family had raised the money for the express purpose of offering as a reward, so the police service wanted to help them publicize it, even as investigators were closing in on their suspects. He said the family will have "some options" in terms of who gets the reward if the suspects are convicted. Beck is the son of former NHL player Barry Beck, who is currently the head coach of the Hong Kong national hockey team. "We pray every night that our son receives justice," Barry Beck said in a recorded video message when the reward money was announced. Police said 18-year-old Cam-Thai Khath, 19-year-old Petar Kunic and 22-year-old Thomas Vasquez, who are all from the Hamilton area, were due to appear in court to face the murder charge on Thursday. The two younger accused are also charged with assault. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
November 26, 2020 - Jeremy Prete (pictured above) began Epic Youth Services because of a moment in his childhood when someone reached out to mentor him and changed the course of his life. Prete moved to Cardston shortly after his parents divorced when he was 12 years old, and he remembers vividly the moment he walked past some kids from the football team who told him he didn’t belong. He believed them -- he hated his life, hated the town, and had no friends. One day he was walking up the hill with a slurpee in hand when the coach of the football team drove up, a stranger to Prete, and asked him to try out for the team because he was the right size for football. Walking up to tryouts Jeremy recognized the same boys he had seen earlier that year and he almost turned around, but coach Floyd Baxter saw him coming and told him he was where he needed to be. Baxter and other coaches became mentors to Prete and changed the course of his life by finding him a place to belong. Football became Prete’s family and saved him in a time when he needed connection. Mentoring became a strong principle for Prete who has since coached football, basketball, and baseball and also been a mentor to kids he was teaching in his church’s seminary program. Working on the FCSS board and as president for Cardston Victims services Prete noticed that he couldn’t reach all the kids that needed mentoring through his sports and church circles, and he dreamed up the youth centre as a solution. On completion of his degree in clinical counselling he and his wife shut down their carpet cleaning business to fund the purchase of the building where Epic Youth Services was born. Epic Youth services is a social and recreational centre intended primarily for use by youth by Junior and Senior High school students. The groups website states “Epic supports opportunities for youth to develop their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive abilities and to experience achievement, leadership, enjoyment, friendship, and recognition.” The building is strategically located near the middle school and High School so the services can be easily accessed by youth in the area. Prete has created many strategic partnerships with other stakeholders in the area such as Family and Community Support Services, Bridges of Hope, and Alberta Mentoring. With these allies he has many resources at his fingertips including some funding, help with legalese, and the ability to operate under charitable status. Epic Youth services is indeed a not-for-profit service, meaning it is not run for personal gain. Prete is employed by Bridges of Hope as the director of services and makes a small salary in compensation for the long hours he puts in, but the job satisfaction is what keeps him coming back. Running his own company previously was more financially successful, but he says “it feels better at the end of the day even though my bank account is tiny. I don’t want to go home and feel like my day was a waste and I’ve squandered my existence. The connection with the kids is more impactful than a paycheque has ever been.” Prete also has been able to keep up a counselling business on the side called Foundations Family Counselling so that he can continue his important work at the youth centre and still provide for his family. Running the youth centre is a big undertaking that Prete has taken on. It looks like arranging programming, counselling and connecting with youth, and also significant hours pouring over grant applications and fundraising efforts. Two major community fundraisers are the Home Run Derby and community discount cards. Only two days into the week and Prete has already applied for two grants on behalf of the centre. Resident grant-writer and in house counsellor, Prete is certified in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, sexual trauma, suicide risk assessment, anxiety and depression disorders, and more. Prete describes what the programs at the centre were like pre-COVID, with food, art therapy, open stage, karaoke night, jam sessions, mini and big concerts, slam poetry, joke offs, movie nights, video game tournaments, table game tournaments, knitting club, board and card game tournaments, relationship success courses, introduction to finance, a resource centre for homework help, resume writing aids, assistance with university applications, hygiene skills programs, teen tech awareness nights, and parent support groups. The programs, counselling services, and mentoring led to group dynamics that Prete says “had an energy and a pulse -- it was alive and every station was being used in the intended way. There were no cultural lines, no race or religion divisions, no kids at the top of the hill saying you don’t belong here”. Running the youth centre during a pandemic has not been an easy task, and the youth centre has danced the pandemic pivot like all businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The children that had been accessing the centre are in more need of help now than ever, but only 15 at a time could sign up to participate in any given program prior to further restrictions this week. There are still about 500 kids registered at the centre, but recruitment is down because of school closures last year. Further restrictions put in place by the government this week will cause even more disruption of services to the youth needing connection in the Cardston community. Prete is continually adjusting as new government regulations emerge, but has been able to start new programs to keep EPIC alive and well in the community. Pandemic Epic is running a food hamper program along with FCSS through which they provide food to families in the area, the youth centre also arranged for a free back to school shopping day where youth could choose new to them clothes from a couple thousand pieces that had been donated, and they have created a 24-hour local help phone/text line so community members can access free counselling, food hampers, and hygiene products. Prete is constantly envisioning and creating an adaptable path through the pandemic to reach the youth who need this community program most. He is connecting with individual kids and groups on zoom and he has purchased over 200 stockings that he has stuffed with goodies he can drop off door to door while doing mental health check-ins with kids who haven’t been able to spend as much time at the centre recently. Covid has caused an uproar in many people’s lives, leaving them with the feeling that they are hanging on to the edge of a cliff with their fingernails. Jeremy Prete and Epic youth services, however, are still around trying to catch people before they fall, Empowering People and Inspiring Change -- keeping the heart of Epic alive no matter what 2020 throws at them.Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star