As "Jeopardy" fans come to grips with the loss of beloved host Alex Trebek, many are left wondering who will replace the game show host?
As "Jeopardy" fans come to grips with the loss of beloved host Alex Trebek, many are left wondering who will replace the game show host?
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
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
Toronto FC is looking for a new designated player, opting not to pick up the option on Pablo Piatti.GM Ali Curtis said while TFC will talk to the 31-year-old Argentine midfielder and his representative about returning next season, it is not interested in having him back as a DP. Piatti joined Toronto in February from Spain's Espanyol on a one-year contract plus an option. Piatti, who will be eligible for the MLS re-entry draft, had four goals and four assists in 17 league games. When healthy and at his best, he made a difference — but apparently not big enough.“The year did not end how we wanted it to, but I am very proud of what the team accomplished under unique and difficult circumstances," Curtis said in a statement detailing Toronto's end-of-season moves."We’ll be able to return a core part of the group, including some young, exciting and hungry homegrown players, but also, we’ll look to make some important decisions that add to the quality of the team. In a lot of ways, the (salary) cap next year will be less than it was this year, so we’ll have to be creative."Toronto's other designated players are Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo and striker Jozy Altidore. Only a portion of their salaries count against Toronto's cap.When available, Piatti forged an effective partnership with Pozuelo on the right side of the Toronto attack. The two also became close off the field."I hope he can stay here because he does a lot for the team, … … A big professional," Pozuelo said in his end-of-season meeting with the media last week.Piatti, who suffered right knee ligament damage in February 2019, missed the opening two games of the season before the league shut down due to the pandemic and did not see action until the MLS is Back Tournament in July. Toronto medical staff were careful not to rush Piatti, who had played just seven games since his knee surgery.The five-foot-four 139-pounder missed the last four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury, during which time TFC went 1-3-0 and missed out on the Supporters' Shield. He returned for Toronto's season-ending 1-0 loss to Nashville SC in the first round of the playoffs.Piatti opened his MLS account in mid-August with two goals, including a 25-foot long-range rocket, in a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in his BMO Field debut.Defenders Laurent Ciman, Justin Morrow and Eriq Zavaleta will be out of contract at the end of the year. The loan deal for defender Tony Gallacher also expires at the end of the year.The 35-year-old Ciman saw action in 12 games this season, including five starts. The 28-year-old Zavaleta was restricted to five games (three starts).The 33-year-old Morrow, who has played more than 200 games in Toronto colours, was limited to 15 games (11 starts) and missed much of the regular-season stretch drive through injury. Off the field, he is the executive director of Black Players for Change.Curtis said the club will talk to Morrow and its other free agents about returning.Toronto exercised contract options on goalkeeper Kevin Silva, defender Julian Dunn, midfielders Nick DeLeon, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, forwards Ifunanyachi Achara and Ayo Akinola. Twenty-one players are already under contract for the 2021 season: goalkeepers Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg; defenders Auro, Omar Gonzalez, Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Rocco Romeo (currently away on loan); midfielders Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Griffin Dorsey, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello (currently away on loan), Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg and forwards Altidore, Patrick Mullins, Jayden Nelson and Jordan Perruzza. Toronto FC’s 2021 Current RosterGoalkeepers (3): Alex Bono, Kevin Silva, Quentin Westberg.Defenders (6): Auro, Julian Dunn, Omar Gonzalez, Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Rocco Romeo.Midfielders (13): Michael Bradley, Nick DeLeon, Marky Delgado, Griffin Dorsey, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg.Forwards (6): Ifunanyachi Achara, Ayo Akinola, Jozy Altidore, Jayden Nelson, Patrick Mullins, Jordan Perruzza.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Victoria, BC - An independent review into the discrimination of Indigenous people in B.C.’s health-care system has found “widespread” and “insidious” problems touching all points of care. The report, In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care, was prompted by allegations about an organized “Price is Right” game involving guessing the blood alcohol contents of Aboriginal patients in B.C. emergency rooms. On June 19, Health Minister Adrian Dix appointed former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to investigate the allegations and recommend actions. While Turpel-Lafond found no evidence of an organized game, she did find anecdotal signs of multiple activities that resembled the allegations, she said. "Indigenous people and health-care workers have spoken clearly - racism is an ugly and undeniable problem in B.C. health care that must be urgently addressed," Turpel-Lafond said in a release. "This report provides a blueprint for fundamental changes to beliefs, behaviours and systems that are necessary in order for us to root out racism and discrimination and ensure that the basic human rights of Indigenous people to respect, dignity and equitable health care are upheld." Collecting the voices of nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health care workers, the review found that “pervasive, interpersonal systemic racism” adversely affects not only patient and family experiences, but also long-term health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in B.C. “I am afraid to go to any hospital,” said one Indigenous respondent in the review. “When I do have to, I dress up like I’m going to church.” More than two-thirds of Indigenous respondents reported having experienced discrimination based on their ancestry and more than one-third of non-Indigenous respondents reported witnessing interpersonal racism or discrimination against Indigenous patients, their family or friends. Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in B.C.’s health care system is the idea that Indigenous patients are less worthy, that they’re alcoholics, that they’re drug seeking and that they are incapable of adhering to treatment and medical advice, Turpel-Lafond said during a telephone press conference. The review has made 24 recommendations, including the need for having a greater degree of accountability within the system. “At this point, I’m not confident that we have a systemic approach to tackling racism against Indigenous people in B.C.,” said Turpel-Lafond. “I can say though, that it’s important that the government of British Columbia – minister Dix – sets a tone for how we respond to this at the point of care.” Around one year ago, the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act was passed.Turpel-Lafond said that shifts are starting to be made within the health care system, which she can see through this report. “There is a greater degree of openness and willingness to shift at the point of care in all the various partners in the health care system, but it is right to make those changes,” she said. The independent reviewer said she is calling on minister Dix to consider creating the role of a new B.C. Indigenous health officer – “a B.C. Indigenous health representative and advocate that can ensure the complaints and concerns of Indigenous people are processed through the quality review process and are heard.” As an immediate step, Dix said that five new Indigenous health liaison positions are being added in each health authority within the province. He extended an “unequivocal” apology to those who have experienced racism while accessing health care services in B.C. “now, and in the past.” The health minster said that the report gives the provincial health care system the opportunity to accelerate a “comprehensive approach to address long-standing challenges of racism and the legacy of colonialism rooted in principles of human rights.” “We all need to recognize and re-commit to eradicating racism from our health system,” said Dix, “to ensure that our beliefs and behaviours are anti-racist and based in cultural humility.”Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
For a 76-year-old Nova Scotia man, Lear is king.The two-year-old German shepherd, the latest recruit for Kings District RCMP, helped find the man reported missing from his home in the Sunken Lake area late on Nov. 26.A search was started near the missing man's home. Lear and his handler eventually found the man safe in the woods several hours later after a four-kilometre search. Lear only started working in Nova Scotia this September after being trained in Alberta. RCMP Cpl. Jeff Wall, Lear's handler, said the dog has police work in his genes. "He comes from quite literally a long line of police dogs," he said. "His dad was a police dog as well. His mother was part of our breeding program, but not a police dog."Longest search so farWall said the rescue of the missing man was Lear's longest effort so far in his two months with the force. Before Lear arrived in the province, he and Wall worked together at the police dog training centre in Innisfail, Alta.The time together helped them bond."That's probably the most important part of our training," he said. "Our training centre really looks at the whole team, the handler and the dog as a package and how they work together."It's pairing the right dog with the right handler to get the just the absolute best result we can make for a team."General duty tandemLear and Wall were trained as a general duty police dog service team.It means they can track suspects, find lost people and help front-line investigators find clues. They can also take down a suspect, if necessary. It's all based on the dog's ability to track a fresh human scent, but Wall said environment factors can sometimes present challenges.Extreme, heat or cold and high winds can affect the dog's ability to pick up a scent, as can too many other scents in the area.This often happens when family members and other well-intentioned people are also looking for a missing person, as was the case with the Sunken Lake search.Just a little praise"The big challenge that night was kind of breaking away from that and locating a track, and kind of departing the general area," Wall said. "Once we established that, it was kind of obvious that no other person would be in this part of the forest at this time of night other than our missing male."Wall said, like people, Lear just wants a little praise after he does a good job. Unlike his human counterparts though, Lear got to play ball after finding the missing man, and he got a treat.Wall thanked Kings County and West Hants ground search teams for allowing the story to end happily."This doesn't happen this way all the time," he said. "Conditions were in our favour."I've got a really strong tracking dog and I'm just super happy that it worked out the way it did."MORE TOP STORIES
More than a year after Derek and Emilie Muth left Calgary to adopt their daughter Zoe in Nigeria, they're finally returning home. But the couple says their ordeal contains lessons for the federal government on how it could improve its citizenship process for those in urgent need."We feel an obligation to take ownership over what we've seen with systemic prejudices and systemic injustices … Because we're citizens of Canada who've gone through immigration, which is pretty rare, we feel an obligation to effect change somehow," Derek Muth said. "This whole story is already not private because we were forced to go to the media. So we might as well use it the best we can … and hopefully something policy-wise changes."The Muths' adoption of their two-and-a-half year-old daughter was finalized in October 2019, but her citizenship was delayed when Canadian immigration staff were repatriated, because of the pandemic, from the only government office in West Africa that could finish processing their paperwork. Zoe has sickle cell anemia, and had contracted a life-threatening infection while in hospital in Nigeria, leading to sepsis and severe anemia requiring a blood transfusion.> If this is the treatment of Canadian citizens, then I can't imagine what refugees go through. — Derek and Emilie MuthShe and the Muths relocated to Barbados — one of the few countries that allows Canadian and Nigerian visitors to stay for months without visas — so they could receive better medical care. When the pandemic hit, all three were stranded in the Caribbean.There, the family say they went months with government officials seemingly not even opening their documents, according to an access-to-information request filed by their lawyer, and, until CBC News reached out, no reply from the immigration minister to their urgent requests for repatriation.But they said after news stories were published in September, there was suddenly a flurry of activity.Earlier this month, Zoe's citizenship application was finally approved. The Muths say they were told by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that's because an official was flown from Canada to Ghana to review their electronic file, which could have been viewed remotely. The official then interviewed the family over the phone."They ended up doing the interview over the phone, which is a massive head-scratcher, because back in March when … we were begging for repatriation, the answer from [IRCC] was that an interview might be required and [the Ghana office was] not doing interviews … and fast-forward eight months later and they do the whole thing over the phone anyways," Derek said."They had all the digital copies of our application, all the files."Emilie says, during that interview, the officer also accused the couple of breaking a Nigerian adoption law, based on the wait period before adoption finalization.But the law in question had been changed years ago and the couple was in compliance — something they knew but the Canadian officer seemingly did not.The official requested more paperwork via the family's lawyer and the matter was cleared up in a week or two. "Afterwards, I sent [IRCC and the Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino] a letter saying 'Your officer is making life-changing decisions for our family based on a misunderstanding of the law.' So it's just, it was really concerning and troubling for us," Emilie said.Their 13-page letter sent to the minister recommends changes they say the government should make to prevent other families from facing a similar situation. The recommendations focus on how to streamline the process for those in urgent need. "Without intervention from your office, ill treatment and undue hardship will continue for families who are opening their homes, hearts and finances to provide a Canadian future for a child in need. After going through this, I'm pondering — if this is the treatment of Canadian citizens, then I can't imagine what refugees go through," the letter reads.An IRCC spokesperson confirmed that Zoe's citizenship was approved after an officer went to the Ghana office to review their application, but would not provide more details. The IRCC also said, without addressing the Muths' specific complaints, that sometimes additional steps in the citizenship process are required to ensure adoptions meet the requirements of international conventions, and that time frames can vary even from case to case within a country."While IRCC officers have encountered some challenges in processing applications during the pandemic, officers continue to assess applications for adoption to ensure the adoption meets the requirements of the Citizenship Act, before recognizing a child as a presumptive Canadian," the IRCC said in a statement.MP Raquel Dancho, the Opposition critic for immigration, spoke with the Muths and on Wednesday asked the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration if IRCC would be doing a comprehensive review."International adoptions are a complicated business because so much depends on the host country," deputy immigration minister Catrina Tapley responded — without addressing that the delays were on the Canadian side. Dancho says the government has struggled to effectively manage immigration during the pandemic. "The Muth family's heartbreaking story is a clear indication that Canada's immigration system is failing to treat newcomers with dignity, compassion or respect," she said in a statement.The Muths arrived in Calgary on Monday afternoon.Emilie says, despite the problems they faced, she doesn't want to discourage others from adoption."It's hard, but it's worth it," she said. "The meaningful things in life are rarely easy."Now, they say their focus is on helping Zoe adjust to life in Calgary and, once it's safe, catching up with their loved ones."We would love to come back and have everybody at the airport and give big hugs to grandma and have a nice, really emotional time … but I mean, we've been isolated for 13 months, so it's still going to be way better [to be back,]" Emilie said.
The latest updates from around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
The government unveiled a record deficit of $381 billion in its fiscal update, along with spending plans for more pandemic relief and a huge stimulus plan to jolt the economy post-pandemic.
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
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are proposing $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID-19 winter and vowing tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.The government's fall economic update proposes to send extra child-benefit payments to families next year as well as to put cash into skills training and to create new jobs.For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of business payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March.There is also money for long-term care facilities and the stock of the nation's personal protective equipment, while dropping federal sales tax on face masks and shields.Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's update makes clear the measures will be removed once the economy improves, although the timing is tied to the path of the pandemic.The cost to date has the federal deficit reaching $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Freeland's update largely adds cash to existing programs, but tees up work already underway to craft a spring budget. She said it will focus on an economic recovery that will include a three-year stimulus plan worth up to $100 billion, depending on the twin paths of the economy and the pandemic."If it's pre-committed and locked in, the risk is you overstimulate the economy, whereas this seems more that if things go the other way, there's more to come, which will support growth," said RBC chief economist Craig Wright.While the details have yet to be worked out, Freeland said the stimulus plan will include time-limited spending on things like a green economy bio-manufacturing — the industry that makes vaccines and medication.Freeland argued some of the down-payments on that plan are in Monday's update, including proposed grants for homeowners to make energy-efficiency upgrades. Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the economic statement provides some short-term help, but it still "presents a plan to create a plan" for recovery.There is no specific "fiscal anchor," a measurement to moor government spending to keep it from drifting off target, guiding the plan. In its place are economic indicators like the unemployment rate and hours worked that the Liberals will use to decide when spending can ease off or when the taps need to be opened wider."As we build our growth plan, and as we deploy it, the measure we're going to be looking at to see if we've got the job done is really around jobs," Freeland told reporters.Rebekah Young, director of fiscal and provincial economics with Scotiabank, said the scant details about long-term plans will likely create unease in financial markets."The creation of vaguely defined guardrails with no real line of sight on the end of stimulus spending, let alone its composition, has arguably added more uncertainties to the fiscal outlook rather than less," she said.The country has recovered about three-quarters of the three million jobs lost during spring lockdowns. The Finance Department estimates the unprecedented spending to date prevented a further loss of about 1.2 million jobs.The document Monday updates the accounting on many programs, showing under-spending on some that the Liberals now want to top up, such as the wage-subsidy program that is now supposed to cost over $83.5 billion. A revamped commercial rent-relief program will cost $2.18 billion this fiscal year. The two programs are, combined, estimated to cost about $16.2 billion next year.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, noted the changes to business aid will help small businesses plan for an uncertain foreseeable future."Still, it is disappointing that government has not announced further fixes for new businesses and self-employed Canadians, who remain ineligible for nearly all of the key support programs," he said.Spending next year on extra child benefits will send $1,200 tax-free to families with net incomes up to $120,000, and $600 for families that make more than that.The cost will be about $2.4 billion, a little more than the $2 billion for extra Canada Child Benefit payments this year, bringing the total cost for the program next year to $27.9 billion.And while the document includes money for long-term care facilities, there is no specific bump planned in health transfers for the provinces. What the Liberals are proposing is to provide more money to provinces that see sudden drops in revenues through an existing fiscal-stabilization program, an increase provinces asked for last year.To pay for some of it, the Liberals are proposing to make digital companies like Netflix and Airbnb collect and remit sales tax on their products.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 46 more deaths over the last three days, its highest number of fatalities for that time period.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional Monday as she expressed her condolences to families and thanked caregivers for their dedication.Henry says 80 per cent of the deaths were in long-term care homes, and 441 people have now died of COVID-19 in the province.She says 2,364 new infections were diagnosed between Friday and Monday, for a total of 33,238 cases since the pandemic began.Henry says the rise in deaths reflects the challenge of dealing with the virus in communities, and the impact on seniors when it gets into care homes.There are outbreaks in 57 long-term care and assisted living facilities as well as in five in acute-care units in British Columbia."Health-care workers have been at the front lines, or maybe the last line of defence right now," she says. "I know how challenging it is and I'm with you every single day, supporting you in admiration for the work that you're doing."Henry says most faith leaders are supporting her order banning religious services and understand that faith can be practised outside of buildings.The RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to a church in Langley after it held a service on the weekend."We are putting in the measures that we believe are the best we can do to protect communities, to protect our health and to protect us from transmission of this virus," Henry says.She says there's always an ethical dilemma when it comes to balancing the unintended consequences of her orders and how they affect people."How do you do just the right amount to try and keep this virus from spreading rapidly and causing so much suffering? There's no right answer to this, there's no perfect way of doing it and I will always be accused of doing too much or not enough."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
A medical response team has been dispatched to a remote Vancouver Island First Nation community to help guide it through a serious COVID-19 outbreak. On Monday morning the team that arrived in Ehatis reserve to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak within the Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation community near Zeballos provided a live update from the reserve. As of Nov. 30, 17 cases had been identified through testing of which eight have recovered said Dr. Charmaine Enns, North Island’s medical health officer who addressed community members and answered their questions and concerns through Facebook live. Enns was joined by Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s (NTC) nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, and First Nation Health Authority’s (FNHA) regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Ehattesaht chief Simon John. The team is expected to be in the community for the next three days. No case required hospitalization, said Enns, who added that the First Nation community did a remarkable job at containing the situation by isolating and following protocols. “We’re not at the other end as yet, but we’ll get there,” said Enns, who added that if no new cases are identified within the next two weeks, it will be safe to say that the community is out of the woods. On Nov. 20, community members of Ehattesaht and Nuchtlaht community of Oclujce were notified about a visitor who spent time at Zeballos Elementary Secondary School testing positive for the virus. Contact tracing by BC Centre for Disease Control began on Nov. 21 after members were told to self-isolate. Enns said that cases and close contacts are being monitored on a daily basis and community members are being asked to get tested if they display any symptoms. At the same time, residents are being told to avoid face-to-face interactions with other community members and “stay close to home.” Island Health and NTC nurses will be conducting testing in the Ehattesaht reserve and Zeballos Health Centre until Dec.4. NTC nurses have been going door-to-door over the weekend, testing and interacting with community residents to address health concerns. READ ALSO: Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
Ottawa is rolling out a wave of new funding for pandemic-battered industries including tourism, the arts and regional aviation, with smaller companies top of mind — and large airlines notably absent.The Liberal government's fiscal update sketches out a program that will provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million for badly hurt entrepreneurs.The aid, dubbed the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), comes on top of a newly expanded emergency loan program already in place for small businesses, and technically is not limited to certain industries.Meanwhile the devastated tourism sector will have access to one-quarter of the more than $2 billion that Ottawa is doling out to regional development agencies through June 2021, including a $500-million top-up announced Monday.The move aims to bolster an industry made up largely of small and medium-sized businesses and that accounts for roughly 750,000 jobs and two per cent of GDP, according to the government.Another $181.5 million will flow to show business and performers via the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, the fall economic statement says.Rent relief and nearly $700 million in capital investments are en route to airports over six years. About $206 million in further support is bound for regional aviation, including smaller airlines, via a new "regional air transportation initiative" overseen by development agencies.But an aid package targeting big players such as Air Canada and WestJet Airlines remains in the works as talks with Ottawa drag on, with the lack of specifics in the fiscal update frustrating industry leaders.“We had hoped to get a better sense of where the government was going. Instead they repeated the line that they've repeated several times over the past several months — that they’re ‘establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance,’ ” said Mike McNaney, head of the National Airlines Council of Canada.Countries around the world have given carriers US$173 billion in support, he said. Many have also required airlines to offer refunds for cancelled flights, something Ottawa says will be a condition of any bailout."We are very much a global outlier and are ostensibly stuck at Stage Zero on the government planning process," McNaney — whose industry group represents Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Jazz Aviation — said in a phone interview.The regional aviation support comes with question marks, as well."A regional initiative, what’s that?" asked John McKenna, CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, which represents some 30 regional airlines. "We have no idea. We have not been consulted," he said in a phone interview. "Never mind new initiatives, try to support the existing services so they survive."In a speech to the House of Commons, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the benefits of the broader government-backed loan program for smaller companies."We know that businesses in tourism, hospitality, travel, arts and culture have been particularly hard-hit," Freeland said."So we’re creating a new stream of support for those businesses that need it most — a credit availability program with 100 per cent government-backed loan support and favourable terms for businesses that have lost revenue as people stay home to fight the spread of the virus."The HASCAP credit program will offer interest rates below the market average, according to the fiscal update, with more details coming "soon."It also said the government is "exploring options to enhance" a federal loan program for big companies, little-loved by industry since its inception in the spring.The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) offers loans of $60 million or more to large businesses facing cash problems, but comes with an interest rate that jumps to eight per cent from five per cent after the first year — far above typical private-sector lending rates.Only two firms have been approved for LEEFF loans since the Liberals announced the program on May 11, according to the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation: a casino company and a producer of metallurgical coal.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the government for failing to offer industry aid that includes explicit job protections."They have not rolled out any sector-specific supports, meaningfully, that are tied to jobs," he said.Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet slammed the lack of "precision" in the fiscal snapshot."They basically say that there is no limit to what they will spend, without saying or without admitting how badly you spend it," he said.The $686 million in airport aid includes $500 million over six years, starting this year, to back infrastructure spending at large airports that would include massive transit projects, such as the new light-rail station at the Montreal airport.The government is also proposing to extend $229 million in additional rent relief to the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to Ottawa, with "comparable treatment" for Ports Toronto, which operates Billy Bishop airport in downtown Toronto.The supports unveiled Monday come on top of Ottawa's pan-sectoral announcement to raise the wage subsidy to 75 per cent of company payroll costs — it was reduced to a maximum of 65 per cent in October — as well as an extension of the rent subsidy to mid-March from the end of 2020.David Chartrand, Quebec coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, applauded the wage subsidy, but lamented the radio silence on large airlines."After almost 10 months of crisis, still nothing," he said in a release in French.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business. COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office. The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others. McConnell is focusing on confirming Trump's remaining judicial nominations, including a vote Monday on a district judge in Mississippi and at least one additional appeals court vacancy. Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet. Top items for December's lame-duck session: ___ KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPEN At a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year. That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding. Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much. At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program. ___ COVID-19 RELIEF Democrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice. The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits. Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments. Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic. At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year. ___ Defence POLICY A spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure. Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Two Halifax Transit bus drivers refused to work last week after multiple passengers entered their buses without wearing masks, renewing union calls to enforce Nova Scotia's mandatory mask rule."Both operators refused," Ken Wilson, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 which represents Halifax Transit workers, said in an interview with CBC's Mainstreet Monday. "One refused Thursday evening and another operator refused Friday evening."It was about passengers not wearing masks and so under the [Occupational Health Safety] Act, the operators have the right to refuse unsafe work." Masks became mandatory on all transit buses and ferries in July, but there are no penalties in place for not complying.Individuals don't have to wear a mask if they have a medical condition that keeps them from doing so."There are very few valid medical reasons to not wear a mask," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in July when masks were made mandatory.Wilson said about 90 per cent of passengers wear masks, but it's the others who concern drivers."We're not allowed to enforce or to advise — we're to take everybody at face value that if they say they have a medical condition, they do," he said.He says the municipality should start enforcing mask use on public transit to protect drivers and passengers."The confusing part is that we can deny entry to someone not wearing a pair of shoes or not wearing a shirt but when you don't have a mask, you have to take a seat and that doesn't make sense and that's the problem," he said.Wilson said the transit drivers refused to operate their buses because they felt unsafe amid a resurgence of COVID-19, which has brought on community spread."My operators, my members are stressed. They've been on the front lines for over 10 months. I don't think anybody thought this is going to go this long. Now it could be almost another year before we get a vaccine in this part of the region," Wilson said."People are COVID-fatigued. They're stressed. They're worried about bringing this home to their families ... and it's really opened my eyes to the way we're being treated as workers for the transit agency."A spokesperson with Halifax Transit said "the obligation to wear a mask rests with the individual" and there are no plans to change the current protocol."Halifax Transit will continue to adhere to public health guidelines regarding education and enforcement of the use of masks," Erin DiCarlo, a spokesperson for Halifax Transit, said in an emailed statement Monday."Operators may remind passengers of the requirement to wear a mask, but passengers who are not wearing a mask will not be denied entry, as some passengers may have medical reasons that prevent them from wearing one."MORE TOP STORIES
WINDSOR, Ont. — Public health officials have declared COVID-19 outbreaks at two hospitals in Windsor, Ont.Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette Campus has confirmed four cases of infection in staff on its 7th floor.The hospital says patients and other staff on the floor have tested negative.Meanwhile, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare has reported three staff and two patients in its rehabilitation unit have COVID-19.The hospital has closed new admissions on the third floor of the unit and has temporarily suspended non-essential staff from entering.Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says it is working with hospital administrators to determine the outbreaks' source of transmission and risk to staff and patients.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press