Quebec registers more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 which could soon mean more strain on an already faltering health-care system, experts fear.
Quebec registers more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 which could soon mean more strain on an already faltering health-care system, experts fear.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League says it will not hold any games until early January because of COVID-19 issues.The major junior league announced Monday it will suspend all activities from Tuesday through Jan. 3.The 18-team league league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions in the four provinces where it operates.Several teams in Quebec relocated to Quebec City for multiple games because of restrictions earlier in November.The temporarily dismantling of the so-called Atlantic bubble last week also prevented games from being played in the six-team Maritimes Division. The league has three teams in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island.The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open play around its normal start date.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.“The current situation with the pandemic in the regions in which we operate makes it extremely difficult to play games,” QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau said in a statement. “With the holidays just around the corner, the provinces in the Maritimes have restricted access and travel, while red zone restrictions in Quebec do not permit us to play.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
What happens when you’ve just returned to your remote community with your newborn? Or if something comes up during your pregnancy and it’s the middle of the night? Where do you go for support? To help answer some of those very questions, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) launched a ‘Maternity and Babies Advice Line’ for Indigenous families in B.C., available 24-7. “With babies and moms, things can happen anytime,” says Dr. Unjali Malhotra, medical director for women’s health at FNHA. FNHA worked with Rural Community Coordination to provide a service to help pregnant and new parents, guardians, and caregivers of newborns. Both family members and health care providers can receive support via the advice line. Doctors will provide advice on urgent and non-urgent maternal and child health topics, Malhotra says, which can include pregnancy, birth, newborn, and postpartum care. The doctors can also arrange referrals to obstetricians or pediatricians, if needed. “I come from a rural community,” says Malhotra, who grew up in Cree/Dene territory, in Northern Saskatchewan. “It's really near and dear to my heart that rural remote communities have equitable access to care, and that’s often not the case, particularly with COVID-19.” Approximately 30 per cent of Indigenous people in B.C. live in rural areas, according to 2016 census highlights, and while Zoom may be popular during this pandemic, 75 per cent of Indigenous communities in B.C. do not have the basic standards of the internet, according to First Nations Technology Council. “It can be very scary for moms and families and communities to have pregnancy concerns or newborn concerns, and potentially no services available to them,” Malhotra adds. The goal was an advice line that offered exceptional service, which includes making it accessible and culturally-safe, she says. “We spoke to as many providers that we knew that offer culturally-safe care, and that were also experts in primary care and obstetrics. We have family doctors who are also obstetricians, and midwives answering the phones,” she explains. The advice line is set up as a triad delivery service, which means people access it with their care provider. The primary care provider sets up an appointment with the advice-line doctor, and attends the appointment with the patient.” “The provider in the community can be your midwife, your doula, your family, doctor, or a traditional healer, whoever is important to you and leading within your community,” says Malhotra. “We would, of course take any call, because the number is publicly available through phone or zoom, but we prefer to have a provider with that patient. What if someone doesn’t have the internet, or a device? “We also have a phone number,” says Malhotra. “So if someone doesn't have wifi or connectivity, they can certainly phone in.” And what if someone doesn’t have minutes on their phone? “That’s our next step,” says Malhotra. She explains the idea was planted in May, funding came quickly, and the team were able to get the advice line up and running by August, but there’s room for growth. “Our next steps, I don’t know in what order yet, would be text and patient direct contact,” she adds. The majority of the providers that participants would connect with work in rural and remote communities, says Malhotra. “Many we have are in First Nations communities and we deliberately invited the providers one by one that we knew are currently offering culturally safe care within their communities,” she explains. “We spoke to as many providers that we knew that offer culturally-safe care, that were also experts in primary care and obstetrics.” Most providers have more than 10 years experience within their communities, and are beloved in their communities, she explains, which is an important aspect of meaningful support. \----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced.Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec recommended on Monday the appointment of a youth-protection director to oversee the entire provincial system.The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, initially due today, until April 2021.The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a "guardian angel" and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.The commission found that the proportion of youth protection cases that are before the courts can vary from 30 per cent to 70 per cent from one region to another, suggesting the interpretation of the law needs to be clarified.Having a director in place would mean they'd be better able to act on the numerous recommendations expected in her report due next year, said Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission.The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection. Laurent says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.However, Laurent's mandate was open-ended, casting a wide net on the system and how users navigate it.Among the recommendations outlined Monday was that youth protection do better in dealing with Black and Indigenous youth, with services better adapted to the realities of those communities. Laurent deplored the over-representation of these families in the youth protection system.She also had positive words for those in the network who are overworked and under tremendous pressure.“The workers are also in distress. They believe that the conditions of practice do not allow them to provide quality services, at the right time and in line with needs," Laurent said.Hearings began in October 2019, and the commission said it has heard from more than 300 witnesses.The commission also held 42 “regional forums” where it heard from more than 2,000 citizens and other stakeholders from across Quebec.In a statement, junior health minister Lionel Carmant said the Coalition Avenir Quebec government intends to act swiftly on the recommendation of a director."The safety and well-being of every child is a top priority for the government," Carmant said. "The creation of a position of national director of youth protection is very interesting and goes in the direction of my reflection."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (17,205.43, down 191.13 points.)Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Down $1.64, or 7.32 per cent, to $20.77 on 26.1 million shares. Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up 3.5 cents, or 7.07 per cent, to 53 cents on 24.4 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Up $1.51, or 10.99 per cent, to $15.25 on 21.5 million shares.Hexo Corp. (TSX:HEXO). Health care. Up 29 cents, or 25.44 per cent, to $1.43 on 15.5 million shares.Score Media and Gaming Inc. (TSX:SCR). Telecommunications. Up 26 cents, or 18.31 per cent, to $1.68 on 14.6 million shares.Northland Power Inc. (TSX:NPI). Utilities. Down $1.80, or 3.89 per cent, to $44.51 on 13.6 million shares.Companies in the news: Nutrien Ltd. (TSX:NTR). Down 20 cents to $64.10. Nutrien Ltd. is calling on other members of the fertilizer industry to join its fight against climate change as it launches an agriculture carbon program to drive improved environmental sustainability and boost profits for farmers. The Saskatoon-based company said Monday it plans to use its role as the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services to help growers plan, plant and track practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, trap and store carbon and measure the resulting improvements. It will then help farmers make money from their environmental efforts by facilitating the purchase and sale of carbon credits used by industries to offset their emissions and reduce carbon taxes. Nutrien is to pilot its new carbon program in certain regions across North America in 2021 and plans to later take it to South America and Australia.Bombardier Inc. — Bombardier has named veteran executive Bart Demosky as chief financial officer effective immediately. The company says Demosky replaces John Di Bert, who will be leaving the company. Demosky joins Bombardier after serving in senior roles at some of the biggest names in corporate Canada. He has served as the chief executive of Universal Rail Systems Inc., chief financial officer for Canadian Pacific Railway and chief financial officer for Suncor Energy. Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. The company is expected to complete the sale of its railway division to French company Alstom early next year.Artis Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:AX.UN). Down 10 cents to $10.72. Artis Real Estate Investment Trust says four trustees have tendered their resignations and both its chief executive officer and chief financial officer will retire as part of a deal reached with private equity firm Sandpiper Group which sought changes at the trust. Under the terms of the agreement, Artis chief executive Armin Martens will retire effective Dec. 31 and chief financial officer Jim Green will retire after the trust's 2021 annual meeting of the unitholders. Sandpiper's slate of five nominees, including Sandpiper chief executive Samir Manji, will join two of the existing trustees — Ben Rodney and Lauren Zucker — to make up the new board. Artis proposed a plan in September that would see it spinoff its retail portfolio into a new real estate trust and focus on its North American industrial and office businesses. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue.Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation."We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay."The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student.The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported.The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban.Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms.“There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election."PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden.But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays.His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away."The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded.Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to:— Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do;— Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners;— End the importation and manufacture of handguns.The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns.PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows.According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018.Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns."It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the third Georgia congressman to contract the virus.Scott's chief of staff Jason Lawrence confirmed the positive test result in a statement on Monday and said the Republican is “following guidance from the House Attending Physician as well as his personal physician.”Scott represents Georgia's 8th District, which stretches through the interior of south Georgia. The statement from Lawrence did not say if Scott was experiencing symptoms.All three Georgia congressman who've tested positive for the virus have been Republicans.Rep. Rick Allen announced last week that he had tested positive for the virus.Rep. Drew Ferguson tested positive in October after experiencing mild symptoms. He had appeared at an indoor rally with Gov. Brian Kemp days before the November election, sending the Republican governor into quarantine. Kemp never tested positive.U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler had isolated after she got a positive COVID-19 test earlier this month, but later received two negative tests and quickly returned to public campaigning ahead of her Jan. 5 runoff against Democrat Raphael Warnock.The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's first fall mini-budget finds new funds for families and businesses and scratches a longtime provincial itch over transfer payments as she tries to find a delicate balance between pandemic anxiety and political prudence.Freeland defended the federal government's record deficit of more than $381 billion as affordable — given low interest rates — and necessary and accused the former Conservative government of withdrawing stimulus too quickly after the last recession 12 years ago. “As we have learned from previous recessions, the risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much,” Freeland said. “We will not repeat the mistakes of the years following the Great Recession of 2008.”However Freeland responded to calls for some sense of when the federal largesse will end only by promising what she calls "fiscal guardrails" based on employment numbers, to guide when post-pandemic federal stimulus will start to be phased out.“These data-driven triggers will tell us when the job of building back from the COVID-19 recession is accomplished, and we can bring one-off stimulus spending to an end,” Freeland said.But as far as opposition parties are concerned, Freeland's plan is a pie-in-the-sky effort that does not answer the main concern Canadians have about ending the pandemic: when and how they will be getting a COVID-19 vaccine."Canadians want their lives back," said Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said almost a week ago that while Canada has contracts for more than $1 billion in vaccines for COVID-19, because we aren't producing any of the front runners here, we won't be first in line to get them. Opposition parties have pounced on the revelation. The Conservatives have gone as far as to suggest Canadians could be waiting until 2023, though the first vaccines are expected to arrive in Canada in January.The government has been trying hard to repair the damage from Trudeau's statement and fend off the opposition attack, prompting Freeland to mention vaccines no fewer than nine times in her speech Monday. "Safe, effective and plentiful vaccines are on the way," Freeland said.The 223-page fiscal update plan includes not just once, but twice, a chart that shows Canada has procured more doses per person (nearly 11, if every vaccine on the list is approved) than any other country in the world. But there was no new information in the economic update on when or how those doses will be available to Canadians.O'Toole said without a plan for a vaccine there is no plan to save the economy. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the plan provides too little to directly help people, and without a solid plan for a vaccine rollout, that kind of help is even more critical."That light at the end of the tunnel now feels like a longer, darker tunnel," he said.Freeland's plan does include billions in new spending to try to bridge people and companies through until vaccines can end the pandemic. That includes some new aid for hard-hit sectors like tourism and entertainment, a simplified tax credit for Canadians now working at home, and another $1 billion to help provinces with the long-term care homes that have left our oldest citizens tragically vulnerable to COVID-19.Opposition parties were quick to take credit for some of it. O'Toole said a $1,200 payment next year for parents with kids under six was taken right out of his leadership campaign platform. Singh said the Liberals have added many measures because of his party's efforts, including paid sick leave. While the plan promises to cancel interest payments on federal student loans next year, Singh said that stops short of the NDP motion all parties backed last week to restore the moratorium on all loan repayments until May. The Liberals had stopped requiring Canada Student Loans to be repaid in April but that holiday ended Oct. 1.Freeland also threw out another olive branch in Ottawa's often difficult relationship with provincial premiers by promising to answer their years-long call to overhaul the fiscal stabilization fund that sends federal cash to provinces facing serious drops in revenue. The premiers joined forces to demand the fund be overhauled a year ago, and Freeland has now complied, nearly tripling the amount of money available, and pledging some changes to how much provincial revenues must fall before they can be eligible for it.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version suggested an NDP motion on student loans only asked for interest payments to be deferred until May. The motion wanted all loan repayments, including interest, to be deferred.
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it's too early to say whether COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened in time to allow families to gather for the holidays. Moe said residents can expect to see high COVID-19 case numbers for the next few weeks, as officials wait to see if the latest public-health measures have been effective. The province reported 325 new infections on Monday and said there are 123 people in hospital, 23 of whom are receiving intensive care. The premier noted that the new rules, which include suspending all team sports and a 30-person cap on indoor venues such as churches and bingo halls, have only been in place for a few days. The restrictions are to continue until Dec. 17, when the premier said his Saskatchewan Party government and the chief medical health officer will decide what to do next. Moe said they could choose to extend existing measures, bring in added ones or loosen the restriction that limits household gatherings "just a little bit so that we can have a few people in our home for Christmas." The limit now is five people. "It's too early for us to say which of those three options would occur," Moe said. "We need a little bit of time. We've had three, four days since these … additional measures have come into play, and we need to have a few days to see if they're actually going to make any impact on the numbers that we have." Moe wouldn't say how long his government will wait to see if the restrictions plateau the number of new infections. "We're continuously adjusting and finding that balance of what we need to do and what we have to do," said Health Minister Paul Merrimen. "We're looking at what we have to do with our hospitals to be able to adjust to the influx of patients … we're making adjustments in rural Saskatchewan to see if we can cover off nurses who have become sick." Merriman said the government's response to COVID-19 is a balancing act that juggles the needs of the health-care system with the economy and people's mental health. Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the novel coronavirus doesn't care about the holidays and Moe is playing politics by suggesting more people might be able to gather at Christmas. "We're not going to see my folks at Christmas. Most families aren't and that's the wise thing to do. I hope that the premier is going to make sure that any decision he makes is based on the data," said Meili. "The only thing that matters is whether those (case) numbers have come down. We aren't seeing that now. We'll see what happens in the weeks ahead." Meili said if Moe's government was serious about curbing community transmission of COVID-19 in time for Christmas, he should have closed down non-essential businesses several weeks ago to give the health system a break. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps are keeping much of their roster in tact next season, but are still working to secure the services of two veterans long term. The 'Caps announced Monday that the club has picked up options on seven young players, including forward Theo Bair, midfielders Michael Baldisimo and Patrick Metcalfe, centre back Derek Cornelius, right back Jake Nerwinski, and goalkeepers Isaac Boehmer and Thomas Hasal.“We see for all of those players next steps and development in the future that makes us believe that they can be an important part of our MLS team, maybe not at the starting point of next season but in the long term," sporting director Axel Schuster said on a video call Monday.The 'Caps opted not to pick up an option for veteran midfielder Andy Rose. Schuster said both Rose and the club agreed the contract that the option would trigger wasn't the best fit. “We are now in an ongoing process to find a better deal or better construction of a contract for him in our club. But there’s no question that we would like to keep him," Schuster said, noting that Rose has been key helping to develop the club's young talent. Discussions also continue with forward Fredy Montero, whose contract runs out at the end of December. Schuster said he was in contact with Montero's agent on Monday morning. “I can tell you that our first idea of a new contract was not exactly the idea Fredy and his agent had. So that’s part of negotiations," Schuster said. "Everyone is a little bit fighting for his position. But I can tell you that the communication is very open.” Whitecaps staff are also working with David Milinkovic to try and find the winger a new team. If they can't find the 26-year-old French winger a new home, he will remain with the club, Schuster said. “He’s showed that he can help this team," he said. "If it ends in another way, this is nothing that concerns us or would be a bad scenario for us.”Milinkovic had a goal and four assists in 16 appearances for the Whitecaps last season. Vancouver has opted not to exercise its option on academy product Georges Mukumbilwa, and 'keeper Bryan Meredith has not been offered a new contract.The Whitecaps finished the season with a 9-14-0 record, missing the playoffs for the third year in a row. Schuster said he's happy that the club isn't overhauling the roster this off-season.“We are confident with this squad that we are able to make next steps," he said, adding that the 'Caps are still looking to bring in a few key pieces. “For this quality that we want to add, you are never alone in the market and it costs always a little bit more.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining “extraordinarily uncertain.”In remarks released by the Fed on Monday, Powell said that the increase in new COVID-19 cases both in the United States and abroad was “concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months. A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.”Powell said while progress on developing vaccines had been “very positive,” significant challenges remained regarding the timing, production and distribution of the vaccines, and it remained difficult to assess the economic implications of this process with any degree of confidence.Powell's remarks were prepared for a joint appearance he will make on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the Senate Banking Committee. The hearing is part of the panel's oversight responsibilities required under the multi-trillion economic support legislation Congress passed in the spring..Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama; Former communist official Sergei Kirov is assassinated in Leningrad; Beatlemania arrives in America; Actor and director Woody Allen is born. (Dec. 1)
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:40 p.m. British Columbia health officials say 46 people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, the highest number they have yet reported. The figure brings the total number of deaths in B.C. to 441 and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says about 80 per cent died in long-term care facilities. She says the deaths reflect the challenges COVID-19 is creating and, as we face a “significant storm surge” in cases, she says we need to push back against the virus by continuing to reduce our contacts and stick with our households. Henry also announced a total of 2,364 new cases, including all those diagnosed between Friday and Monday and another 277 historical cases added in a data correction. --- 5:45 p.m. Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Health Canada's approval. It's the fourth potential vaccine sent for assessment in Canada and the first that would require one dose to confer immunity instead of two. Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what's called a "rolling review." If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada's standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option on up to 28 million more. --- 5:45 p.m. Alberta is reporting a new record of daily COVID-19 cases. The province says there are 1,733 new infections — 13 fewer than Ontario announced today. Alberta’s previous high was 1,731 new cases on Saturday. The province says there have also been eight new deaths and 453 people are in hospital, with 96 of those in intensive care. --- 3:20 p.m. Health Canada has confirmed that it should be ready to approve another vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of December. Last week, Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said the emergency review of Pfizer's vaccine was the most advanced and that Canada should be ready to greenlight it when the U.S. does. That is expected to happen around Dec. 10. Today, a spokesman said other vaccines should also be approved at the same time they are given emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moderna today applied for that U.S. approval and the FDA will meet Dec. 17 to consider it, a time frame Health Canada said Canada will also be on track to meet. --- 2:10 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138. Fifteen of the cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and the other is a school-based case connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, N.S., that was reported on Sunday. Premier Stephen McNeil says there continues to be strong public interest in the asymptomatic pop-up rapid-testing locations around the province. Health officials say 628 tests were administered at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Dartmouth yesterday with six positive results. --- 2:05 p.m. Manitoba health officials are reporting 342 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. The government enacted strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, yet the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent. The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says people have to reduce the number of contacts they have if the numbers are to come down. --- 1:25 p.m. The Northwest Territories has confirmed one new case of COVID-19. But the new case will not be included in the territory's tally of infections because the individual contracted the virus before arriving. Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says one close contact of the non-resident worker, who entered the territory on an exemption, has been identified and is in isolation. Kandola says all high-risk essential workers are now being tested for COVID-19 upon entry to the territory. --- 1:20 p.m. Nunavut will start lifting lockdown measures on Wednesday as more people recover from COVID-19. The territory reported four new cases today, bringing the total to 181, and the chief public health officer says 73 people have recovered. Dr. Michael Patterson says only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks and travel to the community will still be restricted. The territory-wide lockdown was put in place on Nov. 18 and Patterson says restrictions will be reintroduced if another outbreak occurs. --- 1:10 p.m. Yukon is offering extra help to tourism-dependent businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean says $1 million will go to tourism operators and food and beverage businesses that rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their revenues. McLean also announced a total of $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations. She says the two newly created programs are part of a broader funding package for the Yukon tourism industry that will roll out over three years. --- 12:52 p.m. Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 today. The woman is a close contact of a previously identified travel-related case. Another infection announced Sunday has been found to be travel-related. Newfoundland and Labrador now has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic. --- 12:44 p.m. Public Heath officials in New Brunswick are reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today. There are two cases in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Bathurst region and one in the Fredericton region. The total number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 501, including 374 recoveries and seven deaths. The number of active cases is 120 with no one currently hospitalized due to the virus. --- 12:12 p.m. The COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting drop in commuter traffic is prompting another refund for Manitoba drivers. The province says it plans to offer rebates of an average of $100 per policy-holder by early in the new year, subject to approval from the Public Utilities Board. Another refund worth an average of $150 was offered earlier this year. The province says a sharp drop in traffic has resulted in fewer collision claims to Crown-owned Manitoba Public Insurance. --- 11:10 a.m. Quebec is reporting 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The province's Health Department says there are 693 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 28 more than the previous day. Ninety-four people are in intensive care, an increase of two. Officials say eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours, 14 others were from the last week and one occurred on an unknown date. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more people have died due to the virus in the province. Tougher public health restrictions under the provincial framework take effect in five regions today, with Windsor-Essex moving to the strictest level short of a lockdown. Haldimand-Norfolk is moving to the orange level, while Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern are going into the yellow level. --- 10:30 a.m. A spokeswoman for the American biotech company Moderna says the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month. Global deliveries, including to Canada, to begin in the first quarter of 2021. It applied to Health Canada for approval in October. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven death on Monday.
Beginning Dec. 14, if you are not wearing a face covering in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM), you could receive a fine. Council has approved its proposed face-covering bylaw at a meeting held Monday. The bylaw will require mandatory face coverings in all indoor and enclosed spaces accessible to the public in TBM. The face-covering bylaw will mimic the provincial face-covering mandate and is expected to be enacted and come into effect on Dec. 14. “Particularly in things like the exemptions, we have mirrored the provincial language,” said Will Thomson, director of legal services for the town. The provincial legislation states businesses and organizations must ensure anyone located in an indoor area on their premises or in a work vehicle must wear a mask that covers their mouth, nose, and chin. The intent of TBM’s municipal bylaw is to shift the obligation from the business owner to enforce wearing a face covering, to every individual person to the greatest extent possible. Under the bylaw, municipal officers will be able to issue a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum fine not exceeding $10,000. TBM council held a special committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 25, which allowed for public and council discussion. Ultimately, the bylaw was carried unanimously at today's council meeting. Council members also unanimously approved the hiring of two, six-month contract bylaw officers with an upper limit of $75,000, which was not included in the current budget. “2020 has been a year unlike any other, in addition to the above responsibilities, our officers have taken on regulating and enforcing business closures during the first wave of the COVID-19; they have enforced crowds, social gatherings and large groups in our public spaces; they have been a constant presence on our beaches during the busy summer months; and have had an active role in ensuring responsible parking and use of our rural recreational resources,” state Thomson in a staff report. TBM currently has four full-time municipal bylaw officers. Through the summer months, the bylaw department had been supplemented with five additional contract staff. “Our officers have been an invaluable resource to our local and business community and have been a calming and reassuring presence as the face of the town since the start of the pandemic,” added Thomson. The two new bylaw officers will be tasked with educating and enforcing all of the town’s bylaws, including but not limited to the new face-covering bylaw. “It only takes one person to not follow the laws to create chaos,” said Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. “Sometimes we can't get an emergency vehicle or a snow plow through and so on. So, we need to be ahead of that game. We can't wait for the problems to happen.” The TBM face-covering bylaw, including exemption and penalties, can be found in staff report FAF.20.201.Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
TORONTO, S.D. — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment says it is cutting the salaries of up to one quarter of its full-time staff, and extending salary reductions for senior management and executives to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19.The company that owns Toronto professional sports teams including the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Argonauts as well as sports venues, says up to 25 per cent of full-time staff will be moved to temporary inactive status.Extended management and executive salary reductions will be effective Jan. 1.Affected employees will remain on MLSE payroll at a reduced salary, retain their benefits and pension and maintain their access to all corporate communication tools to remain current on MLSE’s operations. MLSE says the length of time employees will remain inactive will be based on its ability to return to normal business operations.Professional sports has been disrupted by the pandemic with hockey games played in empty arenas, football matches cancelled altogether and NBA games having been played in Florida.“These past nine months have been the most challenging we have ever experienced, and while we had hoped to see signs of a return to a more normal business operations by now, the effects of the second wave of the pandemic have forced us to brace for further uncertainty,” stated president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta’s largest hospitals are at 91 per cent capacity due to COVID-19 cases and widespread cancellation of more non-urgent surgeries may be necessary.“Our top 15 hospitals are increasingly under stress,” Kenney told NewsTalk 770 radio in an interview Monday.“Ultimately, if we get more and more COVID patients in hospital, the response to open up (COVID) capacity will be widespread surgical cancellation.”He said Alberta has 8,500 hospital beds. Some 2,400 are being set aside for pandemic patients and one-quarter of those beds will be in intensive care.“We have a plan to get back to that level of availably given the current surge that we see,” said Kenney.He said the crucial question is staffing.“You can’t just snap your fingers and suddenly train and certify hundreds of additional nurses for intensive care, for example. We only have a finite number of anesthesiologists who can assist with intubation for COVID patients."In October, the Edmonton area began cancelling 30 per cent of non-urgent surgeries to deal with mounting COVID-19 caseloads.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, reported 1,733 new cases Monday — a one-day record — to go with 453 patients in hospital, 96 of them in intensive care. There were eight more deaths, bringing that total to 541. Last week, Kenney announced a new round of health restrictions designed to address COVID-19 hot spots while keeping the majority of businesses and the economy going.Among the changes, the six diners allowed per table in restaurants now have to be from the same household. Retailers have to limit capacity to 25 per cent.The key change is that people are not supposed to hold gatherings in their homes under penalty of fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.Also Monday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro responded to the release of an Alberta Health Services internal memo sent out last Friday. It urged staff in Calgary hospitals to reduce use of bulk oxygen where possible due to expected constraints caused by the pandemic.“Even as our hospitals are packed full of the critically sick, AHS is running short on oxygen,” NDP Opposition health critic David Shepherd told the house.Not true, said Shandro. “This is a contingency plan of AHS, as they do throughout the year,” he said.Dr. David Zygun, Edmonton zone medical director for Alberta Health Services, said the memo was part of an “anticipatory” plan to make sure there are ample resources.“We do have an adequate oxygen supply,” he said.The NDP also criticized Kenney for urging members of the South Asian community in Calgary to avoid extended gatherings. He said some of the highest case rates are in that community, but stayed silent on large weekend rallies protesting mandatory mask rules.“These marches are super-spreader events,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley told Kenney. “Will you condemn these marches and the Albertans who so irresponsibly organized them?”Kenney said it’s up to local law enforcement to hand out tickets to anyone breaking public health orders and said: “We ask Albertans to be responsible in their actions.” Calgary police Supt. Ryan Ayliffe said there were a number of officers, wearing body cameras and taking notes to lay charges later, present during the anti-mask rallies. “It’s my understanding some of those charges were going to be laid this morning,” said Ayliffe, who added that the focus is on organizers and flagrant rule-breakers.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— With files from Colette Derworiz in EdmontonDean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville held a silent auction to raise money for Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It was Jac’s Boutique employee, McCall Laframboise, who came up with the idea for the auction. Big Sky Ranch is in desperate in need of support, because they had to close their doors to the public due to the pandemic. This meant that many of their programs, which usually help with fundraising throughout the year, had to be cancelled. “They do great things at Big Sky Ranch,” McCall says. “This way I could support them and support Jac’s Boutique.” Big Sky Ranch’s Office Manager, Pauline Lafleur, says they were thrilled when McCall reached out to them to offer their support. “We were very happy and grateful that the animals were remembered, even though we have been closed since March because of COVID-19,” she says. “The animals are still in people’s hearts!” Jac’s Boutique ran the auction through their Facebook page and raised $655, with everything going for above the starting bid. Owner, Jackie Taylor, decided to match the dollars raised, bringing the grand total to $1,310. “It feels amazing, especially around the holidays,” McCall says about the success of the auction. “I know they need food for the animals, and it’s great that we were able to help out in this way.” This time of year is difficult for the sanctuary, because of higher costs. They also have to keep in mind that hay will have to be ordered for the spring, so this auction couldn’t have come at a better time. “We are humbled and amazed by the dedication, generous hearts, kindness, and community spirit of everyone in Kemptville, and all the surrounding communities,” Pauline says. Big Sky Ranch is still open for adoptions and surrenders, and they currently have about 119 animals at the sanctuary, most of whom are now in the barns for the winter. The ranch has been in operation for 15 years and has found forever homes for over 3,500 animals, and housed many others who needed a safe, comfortable place to spend the rest of their lives. They are currently in need of Lysol wipes, Clorox bleach spray, and bleach, as well as feed for the animals, which can be purchased at Willows Agriservices in the South Gower Business Park. Monetary donations can also be made through their website www.bigskyranch.ca.Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
VICTORIA — A former judge says she found widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system where extensive negative profiling of Indigenous patients affects treatment and care.Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Monday she could not confirm allegations of an organized game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients in B.C. emergency departments, but found extensive harmful profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions and parenting. The former Saskatchewan provincial court judge and one-time children's advocate in B.C. was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix in June to investigate the guessing-game allegations and conduct a broader examination of Indigenous racism in provincial health care."Indigenous people consistently told us, and this was confirmed by the health-care workers who responded and the cases, that they are subjected to negative assumptions, negative assumptions based on prejudice, based on racism, based on beliefs that should not exist in our health-care system," Turpel-Lafond said at a news conference.She said 84 per cent of the review's Indigenous respondents reported some form of discrimination in health care and 52 per cent of Indigenous health-care workers said they experienced racial prejudice at work, mostly in the form of comments."Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in our health-care system today is that Indigenous patients and people are less worthy," Turpel-Lafond said. "That they are alcoholics. That they're drug seeking."These negative assumptions lead to the denial and delay of patient services, and cause some people to stay away from hospitals to avoid further incidents of discriminatory treatment, she said.Indigenous people told the review they feared hospitals and would rather face uncertain health than return to get care, said Turpel-Lafond.The review heard from nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health-care workers. It also examined the health-care data of about 185,000 First Nations and Metis patients.Turpel-Lafond's report makes 24 recommendations. They include bringing in measures and legislation to change behaviour and the appointment of three new positions to focus on the problem, including an Indigenous health officer and an associate deputy minister of Indigenous health.The report also said the government should work with Indigenous organizations to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic racism specifically experienced by Indigenous people, as well as create a new school of Indigenous medicine at the University of British Columbia.Dix said B.C. will work to implement the recommendations and the review's findings will be felt across the country."Racism is toxic for people and it's toxic for care," he said. "I want to make an unequivocal apology as the minister of health to those who have experienced racism in accessing health-care services in B.C., now and in the past."The First Nations Leadership Council, comprising several B.C. Indigenous organizations and Metis Nation B.C., called on the government to act."These are the voices of our families and our relatives and they have to be heard," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said in a statement. "They can no longer be silenced by a narrative of indifference and negligence and a culture of low expectations."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review