Concerns about COVID-19 were high as schools reopened across Canada two months ago, but mass school shutdowns have been largely avoided. Some provinces are faring better than others though in controlling the spread of the virus between students.
Concerns about COVID-19 were high as schools reopened across Canada two months ago, but mass school shutdowns have been largely avoided. Some provinces are faring better than others though in controlling the spread of the virus between students.
HALIFAX – Boylston residents won’t be rocking Netflix around-the-clock anytime soon, but they and about 1,000 other rural residents of Antigonish and Guysborough counties are set for unexpected upgrades to high-speed Internet by 2023 – adding to communities announced by Develop Nova Scotia in September. “They’re getting new coverage as a result of scope expansions,” Braedon Clark, a Develop Nova Scotia official, told the The Journal in an email last week. “The number of homes and businesses to be connected is 1,342.” The upgrades now include: Southside Antigonish Harbour, Monks Head, Kenzieville (Keppoch Mountain, Addington Forks, Ohio, Hillcrest, Ashdale, Pinevale, South Salt Springs, Beech Hill), Fairmont, Pleasant Valley, Caledonia Mills (Lower Springfield, Roman Valley), Brierly Brook (James River), Mulgrave (Aulds Cove, Pirate Harbour, Middle Melford, Hadleyville), and Guysborough (Boylston, North Riverside, Manchester, Glenkeen). Other rural communities scheduled for scope expansion along the Eastern Shore include: Musquodoboit Harbour (Lower West Jeddore, Quinlan Dr., Ostrea Lake Rd., Anderson Rd., Innis Cove, West Petpeswick), Lake Charlotte (Clam Bay, Upper Lakeville, Ship Harbour, DeBaies Cove, Southwest Cove, Little Harbour, Clam Harbour, Clam Bay), Goffs (Old Guysborough Rd., Devon), and Chezzetcook (Lawrencetown, Leslie Rd.). The new $24-million initiative through the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust (with an additional $9 million from other levels of government and the private sector) will connect 6,700 homes and businesses across the province with high-speed Internet at speeds higher than Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) targets by late 2023. “These scope expansions will reduce the number of remaining unserved or underserved homes and businesses by over half,” said a Develop Nova Scotia press release on Nov. 23. “Preparatory and engineering work will begin immediately on the contract extensions.” It’s not clear whether the scope expansions are part of a planned connection program or an ad hoc response to areas overlooked during the second round of high-speed rural Internet enhancements in the fall. “They (the communities) were identified as still needing connection after our Round 2 announcement in September,” Clark said. According to Develop Nova Scotia, since the first round began in February, more than 21,000 of a targeted 81,500 homes and businesses now have networks in place to provide new or improved high-speed Internet. It also says projects are being completed about 50 per cent faster than industry standards. So far, the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust, other levels of government and the private sector have invested about $263 million the initiative with a goal of hooking up 97 per cent of rural communities in the province with high-speed Internet by summer 2022.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
UNALASKA, Alaska — An Alaska city that is home to one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports has included wastewater testing among the mitigation efforts that could help maintain a low number of coronavirus infections.Unalaska began testing its wastewater in July for traces of COVID-19, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Monday.The island community of about 4,500 year-round residents located on Dutch Harbor, 800 miles (1,287 kilometres) from Anchorage, has recorded 107 coronavirus cases, including 85 from a single factory trawler.Despite the island’s first case of community spread two weeks ago, any virus in Unalaska’s waste remains below the detection level.“If somebody has COVID-19, they’re shedding this virus in fragments,” said Karie Holtermann, lab manager at Unalaska’s wastewater treatment plant. “It’s in their GI tract, they’re shedding it into their feces, into their urine. And so we’re trying to pick that up in our testing here.”The plant processes about 350,000 gallons (1,325 kilolitres) of waste and greywater daily, equating to about 70 gallons (265 litres) per Unalaska resident per day.Sewage testing has been successfully used as an early detection method for other diseases such as polio, Holtermann said.A Netherlands-based study concluded wastewater serves as an early warning system for coronavirus spread by detecting the virus in people who have not been tested or who have mild or no symptoms, Holtermann said.“What they’ve all seen is that wastewater monitoring can predict an outbreak a week before showing up at the clinic,” Holtermann said. “And once it is shown that COVID-19 is in a community, it’s able to show the beginning, the tapering and the resurgence of an outbreak.”If the virus levels increase with an influx of winter fishing season workers, the wastewater tests could pinpoint the part of town where the cases are focused, she said.Holtermann takes two to three wastewater samples during peak flow times, dipping a bucket hanging from a rope at some of the 10 lift stations on the island.“We go all around the clock,” she said. “So, at midnight, three o’clock in the morning — it’s a very interesting view of Unalaska.”For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The Associated Press
A Windsor elementary school outbreak with 49 cases set the "precedent" for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in the province, according to one expert.Biostatistician Ryan Imgrund, who is based in Newmarket, Ont., and works with a number of public health units across the province, told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning that the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public Elementary School set the example of what should be done. "At the time that they found those cases, Windsor was not one of those super danger zones like Toronto, Peel and some other areas like that," Imgrund said. "So I don't think it was expected by anyone that a school that is in a lower-risk area would find up to 50 cases ... I think Begley set the precedent for the whole entire province what we should be doing." After three staff members tested positive for the disease, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit dismissed the entire school on Nov. 17 and advised everyone to get tested. COVID-19 testing was prioritized for the entire school population, with a temporary testing site set up in the school's gymnasium. Overall, 40 students and nine staff members have tested positive. In the same week that Begley was declared an outbreak, W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School also went into outbreak and dismissed all students after two positive cases. Testing was prioritized for all members of this group, with a temporary testing site set up in the school, and seven people were confirmed positive. Despite this, and the fact that Begley is the largest school outbreak in the province, Windsor was not included in the launch of an asymptomatic testing pilot project announced last week. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday that the pilot is available for students and staff in the province's COVID-19 hotspots of Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa. "Right now, the next four weeks are targeting the highest-risk regions," he said at the time. "We're following the advice of public health. If they determine, they provide a recommendation it should be expanded or we should augment the list, of course we will continue to follow that direction and implement it swiftly."Lecce told reporters that 99.85 per cent of students in the Windsor-Essex region remain COVID-free, and he and his staff are in contact with school board and public health officials to keep transmission down.Though Begley remains closed, superintendent of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board Sharon Pyke told CBC News Wednesday that the board is working with the health unit and hopes to announce a reopening date this week. A letter sent out to parents in regards to the outbreak had asked them to have their child tested, even if they were asymptomatic. When asked whether she'd like to see asymptomatic testing in schools available in the region, Pyke said it might be best to spare our resources. "I think that if we can keep on top of doing our self-assessments, I think that we perhaps may be better served in terms of our resources in our area, we want to make sure that we're able to test the people that need to be tested," she said."So do I agree? Any kind of preventative measure is good for anyone so of course I want the best for students, I want the best for our staff. I just want to make sure that they're allocated in the right space and the right spot." An investigation by the local health unit is still ongoing to determine how COVID-19 transmission was so widespread in Begley.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Supreme Court of Slovakia on Wednesday increased the prison sentence of a former soldier convicted of killing an investigative journalist and his fiancée, a case that triggered a political crisis and brought down the country’s government. In April, a lower court gave Miroslav Marcek a 23-year prison term for the contract killings of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova in February 2018. The high court increased the sentence to 25 years. Marcek had pleaded guilty to fatally shooting the two but appealed as did the prosecutors. The verdict by the Supreme Court is final. In September, a court acquitted a businessman, Marian Kocner, who was accused of masterminding the slayings, and one of his co-defendants. Prosecutors appealed the verdicts but the Supreme Court has yet to rule on that. Kuciak, 27, was shot in the chest and Kusnirova, also 27, was shot in the head at their home in the town of Velka Maca, east of Bratislava, on Feb. 21, 2018. Kuciak had been investigating possible government corruption. The killings prompted major street protests and a political crisis that led to the government’s collapse. Two other defendants have been sentenced in the case. One received 25 years in prison in September for his role. The other, who had acted as a go-between, agreed to co-operate with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser sentence and received a 15-year prison term in December. The Associated Press
The images of Mississauga in years to come are stunning. The city’s waterfront has been opened up to the public and painted with modern architecture, while the wasteland of parking lots around Square One has spawned gleaming glass towers that rise to the sky. Hurontario Street boasts a sleek and modern LRT, while Dundas Street has its own rapid transit corridor shuttling residents from east to west and back again. The air is clean and Mississauga has become a destination for everyone. Those renderings of Mississauga in the next ten to twenty years are exhilerating, inspiring and creative, but they’re relatively easy to conjure. A talented graphic designer and an urban planner with half an imagination can easily create the beautiful mockups, specifically designed to draw pre-construction down payments and other investments into the projects. In the short term, there is a huge obstacle to this vision. Years of underinvestment in rapidly aging infrastructure have taken their toll and the city faces a laundry list of urgent problems it must tackle before it can really embrace its future. Nowhere is this neglect more apparent than the fire service. At $122 million, Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services (MFES) makes up 22 percent of the City’s net 2021 operating budget. The service is proposing a modest increase of two percent in its operating budget, driven largely by labour adjustments in its union contracts, which are already set. Despite its status as the single greatest expense Mississauga taxpayers bear, the service is woefully below its required response times and has buildings in a desperate state of repair. Difficulties as a result of COVID-19 mean education and enforcement plans designed to reduce call outs and offset terrible response times have also been delayed. Figures included in the 2021 budget refer to 2019, the last year for which a complete dataset is available. In 2019, the number of fires the City responded to grew, after falling slightly in 2018. Last year, there were 167 residential fires and 384 in buildings of all kinds. According to staff, a comparison of data from 2018 and 2019 shows a significant increase of 19 percent in unintentional fires related to mechanical or electrical failures. The risk of hard-to-fight fires will only increase in the years to come. Already, the city is home to 340 buildings exceeding a height of 18 metres, a point at which they are deemed “high risk” by firefighters. With massive high-rise projects on the planning horizon, such as Oxford Property’s 37-tower Square One development, that number is going to go up with every passing year. A risk assessment completed by MFES found industrial fires were another key worry for the city. Only 1.9 percent of property in Mississauga is industrial, yet 12 percent of fire loss takes place in these settings. “This is significantly higher than the provincial average and higher than expected given the actual number of industrial occupancies,” the budget says. Even with the increase in fires, the number of calls attended by the service was down in 2019. An unlabeled chart in the budget document shows calls significantly below 2018 levels, after years of consistent increases. Mississauga Fire’s central and well-documented failing is its response time. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets a target for the first vehicle to arrive at a fire within 384 seconds of a call coming in 90 percent of the time. To achieve this, the standard target is 240 seconds (four minutes) for travel time. For years, Mississauga has failed to hit this target. In 2019, the department admitted defeat and asked council to lower its target to 240 seconds 75 percent of the time instead of 90. On its internal metrics, MFES does better, but on both fronts 2019 saw travel times barely improved from the previous year and concerningly far from their targets. Mississauga’s plan to close the gap is two-fold. The first pillar is a capital program to add six stations over 12 years. The first of these was opened in 2019, with strategic locations identified to attempt to reduce callout times by targeting underserved areas and reducing how long trucks spend in traffic. The service’s 10-year capital plan includes $7.9 million to construct Fire Station 123 by 2023 and a further $14.9 million to build Station 124 by the same deadline. Further funds after 2023 will be set aside for Fire Stations 125, 126, 127 and 128. The Public Safety Reserve levy, designed to raise funds to buy land and build these new stations, was collected in 2020. For 2021, the City has put it on hold “to assist in managing the 2021 tax impact,” but says it will not have an effect on construction. A delay in acquiring land for Station 124 means the costs will fall into the 2022 budget instead. As The Pointer has previously reported in a three part investigation, the City’s problems go beyond its need for new infrastructure. Fourteen of Mississauga’s 21 fire stations are more than 20 years old and some are in desperate condition. Three cannot be upgraded to meet standards and will need to be rebuilt from scratch, while City documents also show at least nine stations have asbestos in them. The internal audit that informed The Pointer’s reporting estimated $31.4 million to get the 14 stations up to standard, excluding the cost of rebuilding the three unfixable stations. No money has been put into the 2021 budget for these projects, with promises to get to them eventually. The 10-year capital plan suggests funds will be put aside to renovate Fire Station 102, 108 and 115. However, Fire Station 108 is the only building included in the City’s damning audit slated for repair from 2022 onwards. Chief Nancy Macdonald-Duncan told The Pointer a plan to repair the other stations featured in the audit would be presented to council in January 2021. The move means funds can’t be set aside until at least 2022, when the City is already predicting a significant tax hike. “The plan is to return to Council in January on this topic,” Macdonald-Duncan told The Pointer by email. “The Fire Building Condition Audit study was completed in 2019, and with the disruption of COVID-19 in 2020, it was difficult to integrate the study’s recommendations into the capital plan in time for the budget presentation. This is still a work in progress.” The Pointer's Forgotten Fire Series: The second part of Mississauga Fire and Emergency’s plan is to increase targeted enforcement and education. The service hopes improved public awareness and safety can reduce the number of callouts, freeing up trucks and reducing response times as a result. This need for education and inspections is glaringly obvious. Data from the past four years show 62 percent of all fire calls are to locations that do not have a working fire alarm, despite it being a legal requirement to own one. Two elements are slated to make this change: a proactive fire inspection program and a public education program. The education program proposes 2 full time staff members for the 2022 budget, but does not draw on the 2021 finances. The proactive inspection element is set to hire seven staff in 2022 and have 13 in 2023. The Interim Chief says, while budget savings are a welcome bonus, the pandemic means the two programs would be difficult to deliver even if funds were flowing more freely. “COVID-19 closures and precautions did not allow for a normal public education program nor for the full implementation of proactive inspections,” she said. “Public education traditionally involves attending and hosting public events, meetings etc. Proactive inspections were difficult to conduct when businesses were closed or in the interest of limiting exposure between inspectors and the public. So this program would have been deferred or greatly reduced due to COVID19 anyway; the hiring deferral did help the City with its deficit situation, but the delays made sense from a program standpoint as well.” As strong as the pandemic justification may be, it doesn’t avoid the reality of the situation facing Mississauga fire. Response times remain well below their targets, fire stations are in desperate need of repair and inspections can’t yet take place. The plan? Wait until next year. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Nearly every segment of society in British Columbia is affected by food insecurity — including the province's youngest residents. One program at the Surrey Food Bank is trying to provide support for those infants and their parents. The program, called Tiny Bundles, is a lifeline for one single mom, Lindsay, whose last name CBC News has agreed to withhold. Lindsay has two children, one who is 3½ and one who is six months old."Unfortunately, I'm only on welfare so I have to go to the food bank to make sure both my young children have food every day and healthy stuff as well," she said. Every week, in addition to getting a full hamper of food for herself and her son, Lindsay gets specific items for her baby. "We get the formula. Every week we get one, and it lasts a week. So that's money I don't have to spend," she said, adding formula is "really expensive.""Now that she's six months, they're giving the jar food and the cereal, so she's set to go."Advocates across the country say children are increasingly at risk of food insecurity as parents who were already living paycheque-to-paycheque lost jobs, fell ill or had to self-isolate because of COVID-19. Many support services reported an increase in families accessing their services this year. Feezah Jaffer, the executive director of the Surrey Food Bank, says the Tiny Bundles program is unique as it is specifically tailored to pregnant moms and infant children. "We provide milk and eggs for pregnant and nursing moms, formula, diapers, baby items, food, wipes, things like that," said Jaffer.Jaffer says the program has run smoothly thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Society, who have worked with the program for 14 years. "They're so helpful. They're so accommodating," she said. "They go above and beyond. They have been instrumental in the success of the Tiny Bundles program."For Lindsay, the program has proven to be a lifeline during a difficult time. "[Without it] I would be struggling — very, very much so," she said.On Dec. 4, join us virtually for special broadcasts and digital meet-and-greets with your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts, and donate to Food Banks B.C. from the comfort of your own home. For more, visit cbc.ca/openhouse
Natalie Sideserf demonstrates how to make super cute and adorable cake balls inspired by the online mobile game 'Among Us'. Enjoy!
Two men who spent time at the Edmonton Convention Centre say it's a dangerous place to be. The facility has been operating as a shelter since late October. At times, more than 300 people have been staying at the facility that's being run by four organizations that work with homeless people. "No one feels safe there," Peter Noivo told CBC News. "There was constant fighting and screaming. It's a very bad place to be. " After spending four nights at ECC a couple of weeks ago, Noivo, 52, moved to a hotel with his partner. They're hoping to get into an apartment soon. He vows to never return to the convention centre shelter. Noivo said he concerned about widespread drug use inside the 24/7 facility, even though there is a safe consumption site. "When it gets to injection hour, you can't use the washroom," Noivo said. "There's needles all over. It's normal to get into a washroom and see blood and syringes on the floor." Ben Young agreed. He was staying at the convention centre for the past week and a half, but just tested positive for COVID-19 and he was transferred to a hotel to isolate. Young, 29, was alarmed by conditions at the shelter. He's been documenting his observations for the past two weeks on Reddit. "Something needs to change because people are dying, people are overdosing, people are getting sick," Young said. "If a light isn't shown on this, it's just going to get worse and worse and worse." Young said overdoses were a regular occurrence at the facility and said he personally administered Narcan three times. He also said he saw three people die inside the shelter. "Well, the first one that I saw was an older lady who I talked with a few nights," Young said. "When I walked into the food hall, she was on her back, dead, black in the face dead." He said nurses managed to revive the woman, but he found out she died later in hospital. "I freaked out the first few times," he said. "Now I see someone overdose, it's become regular. At one point there were five overdoses in seven minutes." When asked for comment the City of Edmonton referred CBC to contact one of the organizations operating the shelter. A spokesperson for the Boyle Street Community Services confirmed the overdose situation inside the convention centre mirrors what's happening in the inner city. Elliott Tanti said an overdose prevention site (OPS) wasn't in the original plan for the facility, but was opened after the first couple of weeks. "Certainly there were concerns in the first two weeks when we didn't have the OPS around the number of overdoses taking place in the building because there simply wasn't a safe place for people to go," Tanti said. "Since the OPS has opened, we've seen a dramatic reduction in the number of overdoses on site outside of the OPS and it's had a major impact." Tanti said security staff regularly check washrooms and there is a specialized team devoted to emergency overdose response on hand during the day and through the evening until 11 p.m. Outbreak at ECC Alberta Health Services confirmed there are 60 active COVID-19 cases at the convention centre linked to the current outbreak. Young is convinced he would not have contracted the virus if he had been staying somewhere other than ECC. His case has not been officially traced to the facility. "I would be shocked if everyone in that building didn't have it at one point or right now," Young said. "It's completely unsafe there. It's horrible." Young shared a picture of overflowing garbage cans inside the facility. He claimed he never saw any surfaces being sanitized. "There's no cleaning," Young said. "We take care of the cleaning ourselves. Like I mop, I clean the bathroom. I sanitize everything." Tanti disagreed with Young's assessment. "We had very stringent cleaning and hygiene standards when it first started, but we've increased the number of cleaning in public spaces to ensure the safety of the people that we serve," Tanti said. "Since the start, we've been conducting electrostatic decontamination every 24 hours of all the public shelter spaces." Tanti added that anytime that someone tests positive, the area they were in is also immediately decontaminated. "We're taking hygiene of the facility very seriously and working quite closely with our partners at the convention centre janitorial staff to make sure that the space is safe," Tanti said. Young believes there's a strong need for a 24/7 homeless shelter in the city and he applauded the work of the staff who are trying to help. But he thinks ECC needs to make dramatic changes in order to be safe for everyone who stays there. "We're struggling in the shadows out here," Young said. "We need help. We need a lot of help and we're not getting it.".
LOS ANGELES — People magazine has named George Clooney, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Selena Gomez and Regina King as the “2020 People of the Year.”The magazine revealed its list Wednesday morning as part of a year-end double issue with four covers. The four will be celebrated for their positive impact in the world during a challenging 2020.Clooney, Fauci, Gomez and King will be separately featured on the magazine covers of the issue, which is out Friday.Clooney has received some Oscar buzz for his upcoming film “The Midnight Sky,” but the actor was also in spotlight for his advocacy work. He donated $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative in wake of George Floyd’s death and $1 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in Italy, London and Los Angeles.As the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Fauci provided steady guidance during the turbulent pandemic. As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he has been one of the nation's leading sources of information about the fight against COVID-19.Gomez released her chart-topping album “Rare” and hosted the cooking show “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max. But the pop superstar also spread her message of inclusion through her makeup brand Rare Beauty, which set the goal of raising $100 million in 10 years to help give people access to mental health initiatives.King, who won an Emmy in September, used her voice to encourage people to vote. The actor also called for support of marginalized communities during the pandemic and end police brutality of unarmed Black people. Her directorial debut, “One Night in Miami,” has also been talked about as a possible Oscar contender.Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
A Peel police officer faces multiple charges after allegedly leaving three prohibited firearm magazines in the trunk of a police cruiser.Police announced the constable had been charged on Tuesday, but revealed few other details.They said the officer, an eight-year veteran, was investigated by the force's professional standards bureau for 14 months. "The officer reported off duty leaving behind three prohibited firearm magazines loaded with ammunition in the trunk of the police cruiser that he was operating," a news release said.The magazines were not work issued. The officer faces three counts of unauthorized possession of a prohibited device, three counts of careless storage of a prohibited device and one count of careless storage of ammunition.Police say the officer is set to answer to the criminal charges on Jan. 4, 2021, and that a Police Services Act investigation will follow that.
Calgarians with roots in India — and in some cases, land there, too — are supporting tens of thousands of farmers in that country involved in mass protests outside Delhi, fighting new laws that will change their industry and impact their livelihoods.The farmers have travelled to the Indian capital from rural regions like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, with many making the journey in tractors and on farm equipment.Watching from thousands of kilometres away, Calgarians with strong ties to Punjab and other parts of India are finding ways to support the farmers. That includes taking part in social media campaigns and a car rally, which attracted hundreds in northeast Calgary this past weekend. "These three new laws are against the farmers," said Sam Brar, who lives in Saddle Ridge."They're trying to bring in big corporations and kill all the smaller scale farming. The government won't even listen to them."In Delhi, there have been clashes with authorities, who turned water cannons and tear gas on protestors trying to enter the city.The new laws were introduced in September and change the rules around the sale, pricing and storage of produce.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the laws will let farmers set their own prices and allow them to sell crops to private businesses, ultimately giving them more freedom.But farmers are worried it will leave them open to being exploited by corporations and devastate them financially. Until now, farmers relied on selling crops direct to the government at guaranteed prices. They're also angry the changes are being made in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.To put the issue into context, more than half of India's 1.3 billion population is connected to agriculture and farming, so it's a huge issue for the country and involves a significant voter block.Modi says he hopes what he calls transformative changes will attract more private investment to the industry, but farmers and their unions say it will make life much tougher."Farmers don't want any dealings with these big corporates. They marched toward Delhi in huge numbers and now the government have used force to stop them," said Brar. "Some have been beaten like animals."Brar was one of many who attended at a socially distanced car rally that travelled in a convoy from the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary into downtown on Sunday, waving flags and blasting horns."We want to raise our voice and add some pressure from here," he said."It felt really good. We thought 100 cars might come but it was more than 500 or 600 cars that gathered."Some families in Calgary still own land in rural India and the change in laws has direct implications for them."The majority of people from Punjab, their background would be farming, and some people still have farming lands back home. They're worried in the future the corporations would take over the land and they would lose their land," said Harvinder Gill.Gill says the car rally and support being shown on social media in Calgary are an opportunity to pressure local politicians to raise awareness of the issue."They can talk to the Indian government," he said. "Help put pressure on them."On Facebook, many Indians in Calgary have changed their profiles in support of the protests and added the popular standwithfarmerschallenge hashtag to their social media accounts.The Indian government has denounced comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of the farmers on Monday.Trudeau called the Indian government response to the protests "concerning." Trudeau's comments were labelled as "ill-informed" by a foreign ministry spokesperson.
When the rain started to hit hard, Kelsey Richardson's main focus was to make sure her kids were safe. So, at around midnight, she packed them in the car and left her Sussex home. "We hoped to heck we were going to make it to the end of the street," she said, as she held two of her children, Abby, 8, and Bentley, 4.Richardson, her fiancé and her three children, including infant Cohen, live on Homan Avenue, one of the areas of Sussex hit hardest by Tuesday's rainstorm.As she was leaving her home, which she rents, the water was almost to the hood of her vehicle, she said."We were lucky to get out," she recalled as her kids played in the water left behind by the storm. "I thought we were going to float away."Richardson said she's distraught by the loss and didn't expect the water to ruin so many of her belongings.She lost her couches, her children's toys, window screens and her daughter's kindergarten materials. There's mud and sludge all over the house. The family was able to salvage a few teddy bears.She doesn't have insurance. And doesn't want to think about Christmas."Everything's gone," she said, hugging her daughter. Damages expected to be around $18MSussex Mayor Marc Thorne said people in the area were devastated by the downpourr, which he described as worse than the 2014 flood linked to a river ice jam that caused a state of emergency and forced neighbourhoods to evacuate from their homes."The water is a little dirtier and the damage a bit greater," Thorne said.He said the 2014 flood caused about $18 million in damage. "People are feeling heartbroken because they've been through this before."Thorne said he visited some of the homes in the area Wednesday morning, some of which have water all the way up to the first floor. He said flooding in the area has always been "one of intensity." "Many homes that had finished basements are destroyed."WATCH | Footage from the 2014 spring flood in Sussex At least 21 homes in the Sussex area have been evacuated as of 12 p.m. Tuesday because of the flooding caused by heavy rain Tuesday, according to Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization.Downey said a few of those families have been able to return home."There's certainly reports of up to several feet of water in some homes, including some sewage," he said. "So this is something that's going to be going on for a little while."This week, Downey said the weather is favourable for recovery efforts. Temperatures are above freezing in the south and there's not much rain in the forecast this week."There shouldn't be anything in terms of the water rising anymore," he said. "It should just be consistently going down." The Sussex area and Sussex Corner were the areas hit hardest by the prolonged heavy rain across the province."It's just like spring — there's not much you can do," he said Wednesday. "Once the water goes up, you just have to wait for it to go down."So far, Downey said, people in the Sussex area are the only residents to report damage. However, there are some road and school closures in other parts of the province. Downey said flooding can happen anytime of year, including early December."It just goes to show that people need to be ready for anything, essentially year-round," he said. "It's not just flood season anymore."Visitors becoming an issue Downey said municipalities are reporting disaster tourism in the area and he is encouraging people to stay home."Not only do they hamper any recovery efforts, they could end up causing problems where they need to be saved as well," he said.He said many people are showing up at closed roads and taking photos."That's just getting in the way."'It's getting so close to Christmas'Scott Hatcher, chief administrative officer with the Town of Sussex, said 14 families in the Sussex area were forced from their homes late Tuesday night.But he said hundreds of properties in the area were affected by the storm, and many had water in their basements.Local fire departments were able to retrieve the stranded families with boats and bring them to shelter."We're getting too used to flooding, which is not a good thing," Hatcher said.Trout Creek, which passes through the area, reached flood stage Tuesday night. Conditions didn't improve until about 4 a.m. "It's getting so close to Christmas and with all of the extra precautions ... with the pandemic, it's just added a bit of angst in the community," he said."That's really just piled on when you didn't need it to be piled on."Canadian Red Cross volunteers arranged emergency lodging for at least 16 residents from 11 houses in the Sussex area, said Dan Bedell, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross. Regional emergency management coordinators are also there to make sure any needs are met.Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning for most of the province on Tuesday. Central and southwestern parts of New Brunswick saw between 40 and 120 millimetres of rain Tuesday into Wednesday morning, and some southwestern regions were expecting up to 180 millimetres. Environment Canada showed 181 millimetres of rain in Mechanic Settlement, about 76 kilometres southwest of Moncton.Tina Simpkin, a CBC meteorologist said heavy rain is still expected in the Acadian Peninsula down through Moncton and into northern Nova Scotia on Wednesday. Power outages across the provinceNB Power said more than 4,000 NB Power customers are without electricity. That's after a peak of about 7,000 customers without power Tuesday afternoon.Marc Belliveau, a spokesperson for NB Power, said trees falling over power lines were the main problem. About 20 crews were working overnight to restore power.Belliveau said there was also a fire in a switch gear building in Bouctouche, probably because a piece of equipment failed.No one was hurt, but the damage is being assessed and repairs could take a bit of time.
A large number of Victoria residents looking to become patients at a new primary care clinic were disappointed Monday when the clinic's website crashed, preventing them from applying. Health Care on Yates opened in late September and is one of a handful of new clinics in the province staffed by nurse practitioners. The clinic has been slowly enrolling new patients in batches, taking applications online, in person and over the phone on the first Tuesday of every month."I was on the website at 8 a.m., and then at 8:01, everything went '503 Error-Service Unavailable,'" said Amber Marie Goss.Goss has fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that causes pain and fatigue. She's been looking for a primary health-care provider for three years and was excited at the potential of applying to the Yates clinic, but her hopes were quickly dashed."It crashed so quickly," she said. "Maybe they should get a ticketing company to do it for them because a clinic website isn't built for this kind of traffic."The next intake day isn't until Jan. 5. Even then, there won't be a guarantee patients get accepted.First-come, first-served doesn't work, says patientVem Stevens is another resident who was unable to apply because of the website crash. They are a non-binary transgender person and said finding health care that is safe is a challenge."It's definitely a danger for me to just walk into a walk-in clinic ... The way in which people treat non-binary people, it's very difficult to just go talk to a stranger about it," Stevens told CBC.Stevens said they're disappointed with the first-come, first-served application process at Health Care on Yates, and the clinic should consider screening applications based on need.In a written statement, officials from the Ministry of Health said the clinic was not prepared for the large demand for its services and will be rethinking how it takes on new patients in the future.In a post on its website, Health Care on Yates apologized for the crash and said it managed to enrol nearly 100 new patients who showed up in person.
Le Centre de ressources pour hommes Optimum annonce un partenariat avec le duo humoristique Nouveaux pères, afin de mieux faire connaître ses services et inciter davantage d’hommes dans la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean à demander l’aide dont ils ont besoin. Optimum espère avec ce nouveau partenariat fera rayonner davantage ses différents services offerts dans la région. Rappelons que l’on compte parmi ceux-ci le service Trajectoires, qui offre de l’entraide psychosociale, Maison Oxygène, qui propose de l’hébergement avec ou sans enfants pour les hommes, ainsi que Cran d’arrêt, qui aide les hommes à mettre un terme à leurs comportements violents ou impulsifs. Le duo d’humoristes de Dolbeau-Mistassini a été choisi puisqu’il rejoint un nombre important de parents dans la région. Samuel Tremblay et Maxime Pearson partagent sur les réseaux sociaux les anecdotes de leur quotidien depuis quelques années déjà pour valoriser le rôle des pères de la nouvelle génération. « Malheureusement, encore en 2020, trop peu d’hommes souffrant de détresse psychologique se tournent vers les services professionnels dont ils ont besoin. Nous croyons que les gars de Nouveaux pères — par leur approche humoristique et positive — contribuent à faire tomber les barrières. Nous sommes très fiers de pouvoir désormais les compter dans notre équipe », souligne Sébastien Ouellet, directeur général du Centre de ressources pour hommes Optimum, par voie de communiqué de presse. Samuel Tremblay et Maxime Pearson considèrent les services offerts par le Centre de ressources pour hommes Optimum comme essentiels, mais également méconnus et souhaitent les faire rayonner davantage. « Encore aujourd’hui, la demande d’aide chez les hommes représente un défi important. Avec ce partenariat, nous espérons convaincre davantage d’hommes à entrer en contact avec l’organisme. Les gars, ne traversez pas seuls les moments difficiles. Appelez ! », soutiennent les cofondateurs, dans un courriel envoyé au Quotidien. Les pères admettent que dès leur première discussion avec le directeur général de l’organisme, ils ont été témoins de l’importance que le Centre de ressources a dans la région. Ils sont fiers d’offrir un coup de main à cet organisme, et du même coup, avoir un impact positif sur leur communauté. Plusieurs actions de communication seront déployées, au cours des prochains mois, afin de faire la promotion des différents services reliés par Optimum. Une campagne de financement pour les différents services de l’organisme sera aussi organisée dès janvier.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
BURNABY, B.C. — The death of a teenager in Burnaby, B.C., is now being investigated as a homicide. A statement from the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says the 18-year-old woman was found in a Burnaby home on Sunday. She was suffering from critical injuries and died in hospital. Sgt. Frank Jang with the homicide team says one man was arrested at the scene but has been released without charges as the investigation continues. Jang says the woman knew her attacker, the case is considered isolated and there is no risk to the public. He urges anyone with information to contact investigators. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
VIENNA — Austria will allow skiing to start on Dec. 24, but will limit the capacity of ski lifts and keep restaurants, bars and hotels largely closed until early January, officials said Wednesday. It also will require many people entering the country over the Christmas period to go into quarantine.Tough lockdown measures took effect Nov. 17 and are due to expire on Sunday. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said a limited curfew that has applied around the clock will be eased, and from Monday will apply only between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.Schools will be reopened next week, except for older students, as will nonessential shops, museums, libraries and some other businesses. But restaurants will remain closed for all but takeout and deliveries, as will bars, and hotels will remain closed except to business travellers.Austria has been hard hit by the resurgence of coronavirus infections in Europe, though its infection rate has declined over recent weeks. It currently is recording 335 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days, down from around 600 last month — but still more than twice as many as in neighbouring Germany, which is in a milder partial shutdown.Kurz said that progress over recent weeks, and the expectation of more before Christmas, allows “cautious” reopening steps. But he said the tourism and catering sectors won’t start reopening until Jan. 7.That will effectively mean that, over the holiday season, skiing is possible in most cases only on day trips for those Austrian residents who live fairly close to the Alps. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said there will be mask-wearing and distancing requirements, and the capacity of cable cars will be limited.Kurz said that allowing skiing for locals but keeping the catering sector closed is “absolutely justified.”“Skiing is a sport that takes place in the open air, an individual sport, so epidemiologically it must be assessed differently from catering, where we know that there can time and again be infections,” he said.Kurz added that he, as a resident of eastern Austria, won't benefit but “for a large part of our population it will then be possible to go skiing at least for the day.”France and Germany, which has closed its ski resorts, are pushing for similar measures to be taken in other European countries, like Italy and Spain, for the Christmas season. Ski resorts are already open in neighbouring Switzerland, which has allowed skiing.Kurz rejected suggestions that Austria's limited reopening was a response to pressure from abroad.“We decide according to our infection situation, and our expectation is that we can push down our infections very, very strongly by Christmas,” he said.Austria also plans tougher border controls and quarantine rules in an effort to dissuade people from travelling abroad over the Christmas period. Austrian residents' summer trips to see relatives in the western Balkans, in particular, were blamed as a significant source of the resurgence of infections this fall.The quarantine rules will be imposed by mid-December and will apply “if you're coming from a country that exceeds a certain limit of infections,” Kurz said. He didn't specify that level.The requirement will be for new arrivals to go into quarantine for 10 days, which they can cut short by taking a test after five days, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.___Geir Moulson reported from Berlin.Geir Moulson And Philipp Jenne, The Associated Press
Lakefield resident Brant Dunford decided to paint a powerful image on a paddle because he wanted to contribute to the Burleigh Falls Beautification Project and to keep the conversation alive about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. “The idea to paint this portrait came to me when I was doing another drawing on the paddle. I changed my mind, basically erased what I had and got inspired to do the portrait. I’m happy with how it turned out,” said Dunford. The paddle depicts an Indigenous girl with a bloodied hand across her face. It’s a strong image that’s used to show the blood shed of Indigenous woman, while at the same time bringing awareness of MMIWG to the forefront. Dunford says the paddle was purchased at a local store. He says in order for him to paint the paddle he had to sand the surface. “From start to finish, it took me the better part of two days,” he says. Dunford, a father of two and the great-grandson of the late Chief Moses Marsden of Alderville First Nation, says he likes to paint as a hobby and says he has a lot of time to do other work. “During the pandemic I find myself doing more paintings,” he says. He said he has painted a few other paddles with different images and says he plans on doing another one to bring awareness to MMIWG. The auction to bid on the paddle began Dec 1 and continues to Dec. 3. Details about the auction are listed on the Burleigh Falls Beautification Project Facebook page. Stephanie Doughty, organizer, says the project is going strong. She expects there to be a large turnout to bid on the paddle as the art is very well done. She says there was a sneak peak on Nov. 15 where many posted comments on the beauty of the artwork and showed interest in bidding before the auction began.Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
This column is an opinion from Rebecca Haines-Saah, a health sociologist at the University of Calgary. Last week, I became someone I might study. My job is to research how health-related stigma affects people and communities. Yet, as I listened to my supportive, non-judgmental doctor confirm their diagnosis that I have high blood pressure, I felt deep shame and self-blame. I've been working too much. I don't manage my stressors. I fuss over my family. I should have been more active, cut out all alcohol and the late-night snacks. I should have said no to committees, working groups and new projects. I need to quit Twitter. I should really lose 10 pounds. I've written extensively about how health is not just shaped by individual actions and access to health care. It's promoted by communities that provide belonging, fairness, supports and safety for all their members. I know very well the evidence showing that health is socially and structurally determined, shaped by the society in which we work and live. Yet, in that moment in my doctor's office, I forgot everything I've learned about public health and attributed everything about the diagnosis to my behaviour. My failures. That's why the move this week to list the presence or absence of comorbidities for each COVID-19 death in Alberta was a punch to the gut for a newly diagnosed person like me, and for the many who've been living with pre-existing conditions throughout the pandemic. An incorrect message Intended or not, there's a loud and clear (and incorrect) message: Those who died from COVID-19 died because of their own risk factors; the "otherwise healthy" person is safe. The attention to comorbidities shifts focus from the fact that every death from COVID-19, including those among older people and those with chronic illnesses, is wholly preventable. Left ineffectively checked, Alberta's exponential growth in cases threatens everyone. Dangerously, people who are "otherwise healthy" (and those who assume they are) may be emboldened to ignore public health restrictions or take them less seriously, assuming death from COVID-19 is near impossible and that recovery from the virus would be without complications. It's easy to blame people for their "unhealthy lifestyles," but 800,000 Albertans — about one in five — have a chronic condition. We are not exactly a small minority. That the incidence of diagnoses like asthma, diabetes and heart disease are higher in Alberta than the national rates suggests there's something about living here, something Albertan, if you will, that is contributing to our ill health. After all, health is shaped by where we live. By including comorbidities with Alberta's reports on recent deaths from COVID-19, the province is weaponizing the idea of "protecting the most vulnerable among us," perversely assuring everyone else they're not at risk. This contributes to chronic disease stigma by inferring that the dead, to borrow a term from the premier, bear "personal responsibility" for their deaths. It also neglects how the government's inadequate policy response has failed to protect all people and communities. But maybe that's the whole point. This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please readour FAQ.
Big data is playing a prominent role in life insurance this year.Interest in coverage has surged during the pandemic, but for many people, social distancing mandates took the life insurance medical exam off the table. As consumers look for quick, noninvasive ways to buy policies, insurers have turned to accelerated underwriting, a process that uses algorithms instead of exams to evaluate applicants.While accelerated underwriting isn’t new, more than a third of life insurers have expanded it due to the pandemic, according to a study by the Society of Actuaries. And no-exam life insurance appeals to many people. “They want it to be fast and easy,” says Gina Birchall, chief operating officer for the life insurance trade group LIMRA.Accelerated underwriting can help you get life insurance quickly online, but there are caveats. What you gain in speed, you may lose in flexibility and price.HOW BIG DATA HAS CHANGED LIFE INSURANCETraditionally, buying life insurance was a lengthy process involving bloodwork, urine samples and long waits for approval. “It was probably the hardest or most difficult product to buy left in the modern economy,” says Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance.This changed as the world became steeped in big data. Insurers now typically check your prescription drug history and data from the MIB Group, an information-sharing service for insurers. Companies may also consider non-medical data, such as your credit history, driving record and shopping habits. Algorithms then combine these data points to quickly determine eligibility and cost of coverage.This data can be tricky to dissect, but industry experts expect the trend to grow.“The more information we have, the deeper the data that we have, the more capable we are of making sound decisions,” says Jackie Morales, chief insurance officer for Bestow, an insurer that uses accelerated underwriting.HOW ACCELERATED UNDERWRITING WORKSCompanies typically use accelerated underwriting techniques in two ways:1\. TO FAST-TRACK HEALTHY PEOPLE’S APPLICATIONS. Many major carriers approve low-risk applicants based on big data and then require medical exams for everyone else, says Jeremy Hallett, CEO of Quotacy, a life insurance broker. On average, it takes nine days for an insurer to reach a final decision using accelerated underwriting instead of the traditional 27, according to LIMRA. These policies are considered fully underwritten, even if you don’t take an exam.2\. TO PROVIDE INSTANT ANSWERS. Insurers like Bestow use information from your application and big data algorithms to assess risk, and never require a medical exam. Coverage is not guaranteed, but the application process is fast and you often get an answer within minutes.Accelerated underwriting is not to be confused with “simplified issue” life insurance, which considers the answers on your application but doesn’t tap into big data. These policies typically cost more and offer less coverage than standard policies because they rely on limited information.WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A POLICYWhen you shop for life insurance, be sure to ask how the policy is priced. Both instant-answer and fully underwritten policies have pros and cons, and your specific needs will dictate what is right for you.Before you apply, ask yourself these questions:HOW FAST DO YOU WANT COVERAGE?If speed is paramount, consider instant-answer policies that solely use big data and never require an exam. You will get an answer quickly, although the answer may be no.“What big data is providing people is speed,” says Bestow’s Morales. Nearly 85% of people who apply for a Bestow policy do so on a mobile device, she says.HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO PAY?A policy with full medical underwriting is likely to be the cheapest option. If the insurer chooses to use accelerated underwriting to fast-track your application, you are not penalized; your price and product will likely be the same as if you had taken the exam, Hallett says.Instant-answer policies may not offer rates in the cheapest brackets since the insurer doesn’t have the option of a medical exam to get more information. But Morales says, “Some people will trade off that ability to get a fast decision at a reasonable price.”DO YOU WANT FLEXIBILITY?Fully underwritten life insurance may offer more options, such as the ability to convert from term to permanent coverage. This is not always true of policies that rely solely on your application information and big data.“When you at least have that medical exam as a possibility,” Hallett says, “you get a more robust product.”___________________________________This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Georgia Rose is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated Links:NerdWallet: Options for No Medical Exam Life Insurance https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-medical-life-insuranceMIB Group: Request a copy of your report https://www.mib.com/request_your_record.htmlGeorgia Rose Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Peel Regional Police say one of their officers has been charged criminally for allegedly mishandling firearms. Const. Michael Konwerski was charged Tuesday on multiple firearm-related offences after a 14-month investigation. The police force says its professional standards bureau received a complaint last year that the officer left three loaded, prohibited firearm magazines in the trunk of a police car he had been using. None of the items were issued by the police service. Konwerski has a Brampton court date set for January. The force says a Police Services Act investigation will follow after criminal court proceedings wrap up. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press