Several clinical trials are trying to determine whether vitamin D could be effective in helping to treat or prevent COVID-19, while a new study shows many patients in a Spanish hospital had a vitamin D deficiency.
Several clinical trials are trying to determine whether vitamin D could be effective in helping to treat or prevent COVID-19, while a new study shows many patients in a Spanish hospital had a vitamin D deficiency.
JUNEAU, Alaska — A recount Friday affirmed a win by Democrat Liz Snyder over Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt for an Anchorage House seat, though her margin of victory narrowed slightly.Results certified Monday showed Snyder had defeated Pruitt by 13 votes. But Friday’s recount showed an 11-vote margin of victory, with 4,574 for Snyder and 4,563 for Pruitt. This year’s election was a rematch from 2018, when Snyder lost to Pruitt.The recount was not requested by Pruitt but by 11 others identified in their petition as voters in the Anchorage House district. State law allows a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake was made in the ballot count to request a recount.Pruitt by text message Friday said the encouragement he had received “led me to believe that there was no one better to request this recount than those who kept reaching out asking how they could help. I am humbled by their continued and unwavering support!”Two attorneys representing the recount request group, Joe Geldhof and Stacey Stone, attended the recount in Juneau, as did Snyder and Holly Wells, an attorney for Snyder. The hand count was conducted by members of a bipartisan review board, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections.More than 9,000 votes were cast in the race. Absentee ballots went through the recount process twice after the tallies during the initial recount were off from the certified results. Pruitt ultimately picked up an absentee vote and Snyder lost one in the final recount.Snyder said the goal “was making sure all valid votes got counted, and it feels like that was achieved.”Stone described the process as smooth and said she was pleased with it.She cited concern, however, with polling location changes ahead of the election, “which we believe may have impacted the vote, and we're investigating that now.” An issue of concern is whether there was any voter disenfranchisement, Stone said.Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director, said notice was given of polling location changes, including flagging changes on the division website.Neither the House nor the Senate has organized ahead of the next regular session, which starts in January. In Alaska, the chambers don’t necessarily organize along party lines. Personalities and policy positions can also factor in.Separately, Montemayor said an audit of a statewide ballot measure that narrowly passed last month would begin Monday. The audit was sought by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections. Meyer has said the audit is intended to help put to rest questions some have raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses.The measure, which would end party primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections, passed with 174,032 votes, compared to 170,251 no votes, according to the certified results. Meyer has said he believes the measure passed fairly.A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been filed.Cori Mills, a chief assistant attorney general with the Department of Law, said Friday's recount “verified that the voting equipment is accurate and the results, all the results, can be trusted.”Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Feist and a "Barenaked Ladies" member are also criticizing how homeless communities are being treated.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.There are 402,569 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 402,569 confirmed cases (69,977 active, 320,096 resolved, 12,496 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,300 new cases Friday from 86,410 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,505 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,215.There were 89 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 602 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 86. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,826,099 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 343 confirmed cases (27 active, 312 resolved, four deaths).There were three new cases Friday from 304 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.99 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,887 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Friday from 425 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 62,046 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,358 confirmed cases (117 active, 1,176 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 15 new cases Friday from 1,014 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 92 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 151,573 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 528 confirmed cases (111 active, 410 resolved, seven deaths).There were eight new cases Friday from 727 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 51 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 104,518 tests completed._ Quebec: 147,877 confirmed cases (13,145 active, 127,549 resolved, 7,183 deaths).There were 1,345 new cases Friday from 10,981 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,714 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,388.There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 199 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,226,791 tests completed._ Ontario: 123,526 confirmed cases (14,997 active, 104,792 resolved, 3,737 deaths).There were 1,780 new cases Friday from 54,170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,310 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,759.There were 25 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 142 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,251,327 tests completed._ Manitoba: 18,069 confirmed cases (9,172 active, 8,535 resolved, 362 deaths).There were 318 new cases Friday from 3,075 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,437 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348.There were nine new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.43 per 100,000 people. There have been 357,524 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,527 confirmed cases (4,116 active, 5,356 resolved, 55 deaths).There were 283 new cases Friday from 2,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,836 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.68 per 100,000 people. There have been 267,348 tests completed._ Alberta: 64,851 confirmed cases (18,243 active, 46,018 resolved, 590 deaths).There were 1,828 new cases Friday from 6,850 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 27 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,746 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,678.There were 15 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 71 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.5 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,502,472 tests completed._ British Columbia: 36,132 confirmed cases (9,982 active, 25,658 resolved, 492 deaths).There were 711 new cases Friday from 6,753 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,248 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 750.There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 822,120 tests completed._ Yukon: 51 confirmed cases (11 active, 39 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Friday from 34 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been nine new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,522 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Friday from 29 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,511 tests completed._ Nunavut: 206 confirmed cases (51 active, 155 resolved, zero deaths).There were eight new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
A West Coast MP wants the federal transport minister to ditch fines in the thousands of dollars and allow BC Ferries passengers to remain in their vehicles on enclosed car decks to protect themselves from COVID-19 despite regulations against the practice. Rachel Blaney, North Island-Powell River’s NDP MP, has written to Transport Minister Marc Garneau questioning the logic of potentially fining people up to $12,000 when they are heeding public health orders to keep their contact with other people to a minimum. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and case numbers are growing in B.C.,” Blaney said. “And obviously it’s a concern to the point that people are willing to be written up and risk fines on the ferries to prevent exposure to COVID-19.” In the initial wave of the pandemic, Transport Canada temporarily waived regulations requiring people in cars on closed decks to head up to passenger lounges. But the federal agency rescinded the exception granted to ferry operators at the end of September. Blaney said she has made her second appeal to Garneau after learning 1,000 people have defied the order and have been reported to Transport Canada. The risks of exposure to the virus are higher now than during the initial exemption, Blaney said, adding B.C. Premier John Horgan has also called on Ottawa to extend the exemption. “The minister previously paused that rule so that people could stay safe,” she said. “Now, when case numbers are growing, why won't he do it again?” Ferry workers have not been policing passengers who choose to remain in their cars, said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “We’re not an enforcement agency,” said Marshall. “We’re politely reminding customers of the Transport Canada regulations.” Staff has been handing out Transport Canada leaflets to passengers who don’t leave the decks that outline the regulations and potential penalties, she said. Those who elect to stay in their cars have their information forwarded to the transport ministry, she added. Marshall confirmed more than 1,000 incidents have been reported to Transport Canada, most often on the sailings between Horseshoe Bay on the mainland and Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. But the vast majority of passengers have been complying with the regulation, Marshall said. The rule is in effect again because Transport Canada believes that new distancing and cleaning protocols on the provincial ferry service mitigate the risk individuals face from COVID-19 exposure, she added. “We certainly understand people are concerned about COVID-19,” Marshall said, adding there a number of risks associated with staying on a car deck. Though it’s unlikely, a car fire could pose serious danger in an enclosed deck, she said. “A customer in their vehicle could be overcome by smoke inhalation or might not be able to find their way out of their vehicle or get through to a stairwell to get upstairs,” she said. Blaney feels the current risks from the virus are greater than those from remaining on closed decks. And she has asked for the risk assessment the transport ministry relied on to make its decision. Constituents in her riding, particularly those who are vulnerable to the virus but must travel to seek medical attention, are expressing grave concerns, Blaney said. “People are very scared,” she said. “They're already travelling to access the care that they need from bigger centres, asking them in their health conditions to risk exposure just adds to the tension.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A Vancouver home builder isn’t waiting for government regulations to change to demonstrate his idea for quickly offering emergency housing to homeless people. Bryn Davidson is putting the finishing touches on a prototype of what he calls a “tiny townhome,” a basic shed-like structure that Davidson has suggested could be an alternative for people who are homeless and live in a tent or without any shelter at all. “We’ve listened to people just talk, talk, talk for ages, and it seems like very little ever happens,” said Davidson, the owner of Lanefab Design/Build. “The ability to just jump in and do something is appealing.” Once the 100-square-foot prototype is finished Davidson hopes to put it up at a yet-to-be-determined location to give people a sense of how the idea could work. The prototype will meet the City of Vancouver’s current zoning rules for a shed, but Davidson said a bathroom and kitchen module could be added to the tiny dwelling. The basic unit Davidson is building costs around $15,000. Davidson posted a video tour of the under-construction tiny townhome on Twitter. Davidson first suggested his idea earlier this fall as the city was grappling with what to do about rising homelessness and a growing tent city at Strathcona Park. Out of several options — including trying out a tiny home village — city councillors opted to prioritize buying or leasing more hotels rooms and apartment buildings to provide housing for people who are homeless. That option provides the highest quality housing but takes time to put into place. Meanwhile, COVID-19 capacity restrictions mean Vancouver has 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter. Another city council motion from Coun. Pete Fry asked city staff to look at what zoning and building code regulations would have to change to allow tiny homes. But Davidson doesn’t expect to see any actual changes to the building code or zoning until summer 2021 at the earliest. “I feel like something needs to be done,” he said. “The city was analyzing all these options from the city’s point of view. The advantage of [the tiny homes] strategy is it’s something the private sector and private individuals can just jump in and contribute to.” Tiny home villages have sprung up in many North American cities, and range from prefabricated structures with power to very basic dwellings with no heat or electricity. City staff have expressed concerns about designs for tiny homes that don’t include heat and electricity or a private bathroom. Current zoning would also require dwellings to include a fire suppression system. But Davidson and other tiny home proponents say the idea is to provide a temporary solution that provides better shelter and security than a tent. People who store their belongings in tents often have their stuff stolen, and when tents leak in cold, wet weather it’s difficult or impossible to dry out bedding and clothing. The prototype is insulated but would need to be hooked up to electricity to allow heat and ventilation. Davidson said he’s currently talking with the city, church groups and non-profits about a location for the prototype. Davidson envisions small “villages” of 10 to 20 tiny townhomes across Vancouver, placed in vacant lots that are awaiting development, for instance. When the prototype is finished, Davidson plans to try sleeping inside with his family to see what it’s like. “I think that there should be one of these little villages in every neighbourhood in the city,” Davidson said. “It’s not just something where somebody in Dunbar thinks, ‘Oh, that’s just a Downtown Eastside problem.’ I’d like to see every neighbourhood contributing.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it.U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted.The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position.On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year.Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program.Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4.An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security.“Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration.DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew.The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court.In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so.About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program.The Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The island kingdom of Bahrain said it has become the second nation in the world to grant an emergency-use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.The state-run Bahrain News Agency made the announcement on Friday night, following an earlier announcement by the United Kingdom on Wednesday, making Britain the first in the world.“The confirmation of approval by the National Health Regulatory Authority of the kingdom of Bahrain followed thorough analysis and review undertaken by the authority of all available data,” the kingdom said.Bahrain did not say how may vaccines it has purchased, nor when vaccinations would begin. It did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. The Pfizer shots, a so-called “mRNA vaccine,” contain a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.Pfizer later told the AP that the details of its sales agreement with Bahrain, including the “timing of delivery and the volume of doses,” was confidential and declined to comment.“We have developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring," Pfizer said. “Our distribution is built on a flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials to the point of vaccination.”The immediate challenge for Bahrain would be the conditions in which the vaccine must be kept. It must be stored and shipped at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit). Bahrain is a Mideast nation that regularly sees temperatures in the summer of around 40 C (104 Fahrenheit) with high humidity.Bahrain operates a state-owned carrier, Gulf Air, that could be used to transport the vaccine. In the nearby United Arab Emirates, the Dubai-based long-haul carrier Emirates has already said it is preparing its facilities to distribute vaccines at ultra-cold temperatures.The vaccine also requires two doses be given three weeks apart.Bahrain had already granted emergency-use authorization for a Chinese vaccine made by Sinopharm and has inoculate some 6,000 people with it. That vaccine, an “inactivated” shot made by growing the whole virus in a lab and then killing it, also is in use in the UAE. Pfizer's vaccine does not contain the coronavirus itself.“The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will add a further important layer to the kingdom’s national COVID-19 response, which has strongly prioritized protecting the health of all citizens and residents during the pandemic," said Dr. Mariam al-Jalahma, the CEO of Bahrain's National Health Regulatory Authority.BioNTech, which owns the vaccine, said it has so far signed deals to supply 570 million doses worldwide in 2021, with options to deliver 600 million more. It hopes to supply at least 1.3 billion in 2021.Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf.With a population of 1.6 million, it has reported more than 87,000 cases and 341 deaths, according to the government. Over 85,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 illness that is caused by the virus.The country is also home to a large expatriate population, with many low-paid labourers from Asia living in tight housing. In July, authorities told the AP they had moved 8,000 labourers to new accommodations, disinfected housing and implemented a rule requiring no more than five labourers per room, with about 3 metres (10 feet) of space for each one.The Bahraini government says it has conducted over 2 million coronavirus tests across the island. It initially blamed its higher per-capita infection rate on that.___Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
Those most at risk will be getting the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — including health-care workers, seniors over 70 and adults in Indigenous communities. The process is expected to use all of the initial allotment and be finished by the end of March 2021.
Opponents of a planned correctional facility in Kemptville are organizing a Zoom meeting on Tuesday. "The recent public engagement session hosted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General provided one view of the issue; we think it is important for people to hear from other voices on this matter," said Victor Lachance, a member of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) and the evening's moderator. The province plans to locate a 235-bed correctional facility on agricultural land in the community. The online meeting, dubbed an information session, will be held on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to a press release issued by CAPP, participants at the event will hear from experts in the field of incarceration, prison reform, and construction, as well as an Indigenous political leader. Eight speakers are on the schedule, including: Kim Beaudin, Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; Bryonie Baxter, former executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa; Paul Cormier, chairman of RANA Development Inc.; Marie-Therese Voutsinos, who will talk about the importance of preserving agricultural land; Aaron Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University; Justin Piche, associate professor at the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa; and Kirk Albert, spokesperson for the local Jail Opposition Group. "Our goal is to emphasize a positive vision for the future of Kempville and North Grenville," said Lachance. CAPP is made up of a group of residents opposed to the planned construction of the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex on 182 acres of farmland that was previously part of the Kemptville agricultural college. "It’s an important piece of the agriculture and farming heritage of the area," said Colleen Lynas, spokesperson for CAPP. According to the press release there will be a "robust" question-and-answer period following the presentations and anyone interested in participating is invited to register at firstname.lastname@example.org.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
A new chamber of commerce partnership program designed to help businesses connect with new talent, and gain access to financial incentives, has just launched. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Magnet and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOP) to connect chamber of commerce members to the Magnet platform, a digital social enterprise out of Ryerson University. Through Magnet, businesses can get connected with new talent, and get access to business growth opportunities and tools to navigate the impacts of the changing labour market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to the partnership between Magnet and local chamber is access to wage subsidies through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Funded by the Government of Canada, SWPP lets employers tap into wage subsidies of up to $7,500 when they hire a Canadian post-secondary student, in a co-op style environment . "The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. This chamber partnership initiative brings together local chambers and boards of trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, job-seekers, and post-secondary institutions to support opportunities for student job seekers from coast to coast, across Canada, in an effort to boost economic recovery. "The initiative represents an innovative and necessary approach to helping small businesses grow, connecting early talent to new opportunities to emerge from this challenge stronger and better," said Kirkland. Creating an account with the Magnet Business Growth Portal is free for businesses of all sizes and industries. The Magnet Business Growth Portal helps small and medium enterprises strategize, adapt, and grow with notifications about funding, wage subsidies, training and hiring programs, market research, and COVID-19 support, according to the portal. "Ensuring a strong economic recovery depends on the success of our students and youth. Programs like the Student Work Placement Program exist to provide post-secondary students with the chance to grow professionally and develop new skills while working in sectors that are in line with their interests and field of study," Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement. The SWPP can help business, working towards recovery, offset the cost of hiring, while giving youth an opportunity to gain work experience. "Our government's investment in Magnet will go a long way in helping young Canadians gain meaningful placement opportunities in a variety of disciplines including health care and other high demand sectors, all of which play an especially important role in responding to the current pandemic," said Qualtrough.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The City of Vancouver now owns the Regent and Balmoral hotels, Downtown Eastside buildings the city had been trying to expropriate after years of neglect and decay, The Tyee has learned. Land title records list the city as the current owner of 159 E. Hastings — the Balmoral — and 160 E. Hastings — the Regent. The city confirmed to The Tyee that a settlement with the owners, the Sahota family, had been reached. But the city says the terms of the agreement prevent it from revealing how much was paid to purchase the properties, which have been assessed at a value of $1 each because of their extreme disrepair. Sam Dharmapala worked in the buildings as an employee of the former owners, the Sahota family. For a decade, Dharmapala said, he worked alongside tenants and advocates to raise the alarm about the dangerous living conditions at the hotels. “This is a very good fight in the history of the Downtown Eastside,” Dharmapala said. “We want to see [the hotels] go back to the residents of the Downtown Eastside, who have lived in those buildings.” Dharmapala said the city needs to ensure all the units in the two hotels are rented at the welfare shelter rate — $375 for a single person — to provide homes for Vancouver’s poorest residents. The hotels had provided more than 300 units. The records show the transfer happened Nov. 13, one year after Vancouver city council voted unanimously to expropriate the hotels in a groundbreaking decision. Council voted to expropriate after decades of repeated building code and bylaw violations and after taking the owners, the Sahota family, to court numerous times. It was the first time the city had ever attempted to expropriate residential buildings because of extreme neglect. The city started the court action with the intention of renovating or redeveloping the properties for low-income housing. Before the expropriation vote, council heard from dozens of tenants and former tenants who described living with no heat or hot water, constant bedbug, rat and cockroach infestations and the fear of what would happen if there were a fire. Tenants had lived in squalor in the two buildings for decades. City building inspectors ordered the Balmoral to be emptied in the summer of 2017 because it was in such poor condition. One year later, the Regent was also condemned. Tenants of both buildings were moved into other buildings by the City of Vancouver and BC Housing. Karen Ward, a Downtown Eastside resident who now works for the city as a drug policy advisor, said city building inspectors initially closed just the bathrooms of the Balmoral in June 2017 because they feared bathtubs could plunge through the rotten floors. Ward worked at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users at the time. “People were coming to me daily to say they were terrified to go into their own home,” Ward said. Ward called for the buildings to be torn down and for modular housing to be quickly built in their place. “We can build a six- to eight-story building and house 100 people by April,” Ward said. “It’s a desperate situation out here and we don’t need to do things the old way — we can use modular housing to build housing that decreases the chance of death for drug users. We can do this.” Overdose deaths have soared throughout 2020 and homelessness has increased as COVID-19 restrictions have made the drug supply more toxic and reduced the number of places people can go to find shelter. Vancouver’s mayor, Kennedy Stewart, said the city plans to work with BC Housing to turn the buildings into low-income housing. “Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of,” Stewart was quoted as saying in a press release. “Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community.” B.C.’s attorney general and minister responsible for housing, David Eby, also weighed in, saying: “For too long, people had to live in sub-standard living conditions in these buildings. The acquisition of these properties is welcome news.” The next steps will be to start community consultation sessions with the Downtown Eastside community, and city staff will report back to council on next steps and a timeline for renovating or redeveloping the properties in early 2021, according to the City of Vancouver. On Nov. 3, city communications staff told The Tyee court expropriation proceedings were paused while the city worked with “representatives of the owners of the Regent and the Balmoral to resolve the expropriation of the hotels.” The Tyee has reached out to the city for comment. In a statement emailed to The Tyee by lawyer Evan Cooke, the Sahota family confirmed they had come to an agreement with the city. “We have determined that the public sector is better equipped to respond to the acute needs of the area’s residents at this time; including their urgent need for housing, mental health and substance abuse support, and other critical programs.” The statement said the details of the transfer are confidential.Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
A palliative care facility in St. Albert met an act of vandalism with a renewed spirit of giving after Christmas trees and memorial plaques were damaged this week. On Sunday, the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) lit trees on the hillside outside of the the Foyer Lacombe palliative care facility. Community members were invited to tune in online or participate in a drive-by viewing. "We certainly had tears in our eyes and what a tender gentle moment ... to see all those lights coming on outside the room where my mother died," recalled donor Sharon Ryan, whose mom spent her final days there last summer. A day or two later, vandals struck — damaging memorial plaques and several trees while stripping lights off others. But Ryan said what should have felt like a punch in the gut sparked the opposite reaction. "We just rolled our eyes, and we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work immediately to rebuild those light displays," said Ryan, who has also founded an advocacy group for seniors. "It was just such an automatic reaction — nobody's going to hold us back." Joheanna Buisman, president of SASHA, said she was saddened by the incident — especially because the lights were meant to honour loved ones and caregivers. But she said the overwhelming support from the community, which included $25,000 in donations for end-of-life-care, only grew after the incident. "I can't believe the outpouring," said Buisman. "People reaching out and saying 'could we do something for you, can we help you, can we help pay for the lights, can we give you lights, can we help string lights'." Support has included donations from local business owners to buy new lights for the trees. RCMP have no leads but want to hear from anyone with information.
It appears the Vancouver Canucks have fired their longtime national anthem singer in response to reports he will be singing at a rally organized by COVID-19 deniers and anti-mask advocates.On Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Sun reported that Mark Donnelly had agreed to perform at a Saturday event in Vancouver protesting COVID-19 restrictions.Not long after, hockey team owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted at the newspaper to request a change in the headline from "Canucks anthem singer" to "former Canucks anthem singer."A Canucks spokesperson confirmed the news in an email to CBC, writing, "You are safe to say his days are over."Donnelly is a fixture at home games for the Canucks, but his political views have also attracted controversy in the past.In 2012, he sang the national anthem for an anti-abortion caravan as it passed through Vancouver.
The Ministry of Environment is asking hunters to submit the heads of deer, moose and elk harvested this hunting season for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing. CWD is a fatal, infectious central nervous system disease affecting mammals in the deer family that has no known cure. It may or may not be able to spread among humans. “It is possible and plausible although very low that CWD could transmit to humans. So far we have not seen that but of course we are taking precautionary measures to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Terrestrial Biologist Rick Espie told the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Although no human case of CWD has ever been identified, the province recommends that hunters avoid eating the meat until they receive their test results. “A good safe rule of thumb is to not consume an animal until you’ve had it tested and not to consume it until you get those test results back. If it turns out to be positive the best measure is to not consume that animal but to dispose of it at a landfill,” Espie said. He said despite the low risk at the moment, we can’t be too careful and compared the phenomenon to mad cow disease where a rare variant was able to infect humans. “Of the millions of people in the U.K. who ate potentially infected meat a very small number of them became infected with a form of mad cow disease,” Espie said. Hunters are strongly urged not to eat, or distribute for human consumption, the meat or other parts from animals that are found to be CWD-positive. “Even though the risks are very low, they’re probably not zero so you want to minimize that risk by not consuming positive animals,” Espie said. Hunters from anywhere in the province can submit heads for testing but specimens from along the edge of the boreal forest are of particular interest to scientists this year as the disease continues to spread among animals in the wild. The disease was first detected in Saskatchewan in 1996, among farmed elk in the southwest and made its way into the wild mule deer population around the year 2000. It is now found in deer, elk and moose in 55 of Saskatchewan’s 83 wildlife management zones (WMZ). “It has expanded out north and eastward from that year by year and so we’re trying to gauge exactly how far it’s gotten and at what level it’s at the forefront of its expansion,” Espie said. The disease can spread through animal contact or from contaminated feed, urine or feces and is able to exist in the environment for a long period of time. Espie said as the disease progresses and animals become more infected, it starts to manifest itself outwardly and you can see that there’s something wrong. But during the early incubation period they can still spread the disease. “It’s not very fast acting so it takes the disease quite a long time to incubate in the animal and you can’t really tell whether or not they’re infected in the early stages,” Espie said. “In the later stages they become quite run down, maybe lose their fear of humans, become emaciated and eventually die but earlier on they look very healthy and normal.” He said that for reasons as yet unknown, CWD hasn’t made it into the boreal forest itself, but that knowing if the disease is prevalent along the “boreal fringe” can help inform preventative measures that can be taken to stop it from spreading further. Submissions from WMZs 50 (around Meadow Lake) and 55 (north of Prince Albert) will help scientists evaluate risk in woodland caribou habitat in the boreal forest. Hunters in wildlife management zones near Yorkton in the east and Swift Current in the south are asked to submit mule deer and white-tailed deer heads for testing. “We’re looking to have hunters from those zones in particular submit deer, elk and moose heads for testing. We’re trying to get as many samples as we can from those areas,” Espie said. “Of course we’re trying to manage and monitor the disease. The only way we can do that is when hunters submit heads for testing. We can then determine whether an animal has CWD.” He noted that at this time, only Indigenous people can hunt woodland caribou, which are also eligible for testing. The ministry is hoping to collect at least 300 samples in each of these targeted zones but testing is available for all cervid species harvested in any WMZ in the province. “Last year, hunters submitted more than 3,300 heads for CWD testing,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “Their continued support of the CWD surveillance program is invaluable in helping us understand how this disease spreads, and for evaluating potential population impacts. This in turn will guide the province in developing disease management plans.” One way that hunters can help reduce the spread of CWD to new areas of the province is by properly disposing of animal carcass waste. “If you have an infected carcass with CWD by leaving that on the landscape or by moving it around between zones it could increase the spread of the disease,” Espie said. In areas where CWD has been detected, hunters are being asked to quarter the animal in the field instead of transporting it from the area where it was taken. “With the help of hunters, the ministry has been monitoring the spread and intensity of CWD for more than 20 years,” Duncan said. “We appreciate their support and want to continue working together to better understand and address this wildlife disease.” Prior to dropping off heads, you need to get your CWD Tracking Number from the cwdsk.ca website and keep that number with you. With hunting season winding down, hunters are reminded to get their animals tested. Heads can be submitted for testing at a number of designated drop-off locations across the province. The testing is free of charge and the ministry does not reimburse hunters on their licenses should the meat turn out to be contaminated. Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern AdvocateMichael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent annonce un ajout de 37 nouveaux cas au bilan régional, portant le total à 880 cas. Cas par MRC : Kamouraska79Rivière-du-Loup197 (+1)Témiscouata53Les Basques11Rimouski-Neigette292 (+22)La Mitis42 (+2)La Matanie173 (+6)La Matapédia27 (+1)Inconnu6 (+3)Bas-Saint-Laurent*880 (+37)Le CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent compte 670 cas rétablis au Bas-Saint-Laurent en date d’aujourd’hui. 1067 dépistages ont été réalisés pendant la journée de mardi. Un nouveau décès est enregistré, pour un total de 20 décès depuis le début de la pandémie. Une hospitalisation en lien avec la COVID-19 est actuellement en cours. La situation de l’éclosion du CHSLD de Matane s’est envenimée hier, avec six nouveaux cas déclarés ainsi qu’un nouveau décès. Au total, 28 infections ont été comptabilisées, dont 18 résidents et 10 travailleurs dont 4 décès. À la Résidence des Sages de Matane, un nouveau travailleur de la santé a reçu un résultat positif en lien avec l’éclosion. La majorité des résidences et des travailleurs ont contracté la COVID-19, précisément 31 cas, dont 15 résidents et 16 travailleurs. 4 travailleurs sont rétablis. La situation à la Résidence Les Bâtisseurs de Matane demeure toujours stable. La santé publique juge que 58 résidents et 19 travailleurs sont désormais rétablis.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Le 7 septembre dernier, un chauffard fauche une dame d’origine chinoise à Brossard. Même si le Service de police de Longueuil (SPVL) assure que l’homicide n’a aucun lien avec l’origine de la victime, le doute court parmi la communauté chinoise de la Rive-Sud. « Il y a une perte du sens de sécurité », confie la directrice générale du centre sino-Québec, Xixi Li. « Les enfants doivent faire attention quand ils marchent sur le trottoir, assure-t-elle. Les gens craignent de sortir durant la soirée. » D’habitude discrets, les membres de la communauté chinoise ne cherchent « pas de provocation avec les autres », mentionne pourtant Mme Li. « Je n’ai jamais vécu une situation comme ça. J’ai toujours pensé que j’étais une Québécoise ou une Canadienne, mais dans ce moment, je suis Chinoise. C’est plate. » Informé de ce sentiment, le relationniste du SPVL Ghislain Vallières se dit « surpris », car il indique n’avoir constaté aucune hausse d’agressions à caractère racial envers les Asiatiques. Il compte cependant « demander une plus grande vigilance » de la part du corps policier. Pourtant, depuis le début de la pandémie, la hausse d’agressions se constate bel et bien un peu partout au Québec, selon les administratrices du groupe d’entraide contre le racisme envers les Asiatiques au Québec. Julie Tran, l’une des fondatrices du groupe et résidente de l’Outaouais, dit avoir remarqué un « changement drastique » depuis le début de la crise de la COVID-19. « On ne se sent pas en sécurité d’aller dans une épicerie non asiatique, parce qu’on craint de subir des agressions verbales, soit en région, soit à Montréal. Donc il y a un changement flagrant dans nos vies quotidiennes pour éviter de vivre ces agressions-là, parce qu’on a des appréhensions. » Un chauffeur qui refuse l’entrée à bord à une dame asiatique, une autre femme qui dit avoir reçu des crachats aux visages, un citoyen qui pique une colère sans raison : les témoignages recueillis par le groupe d’entraide sont nombreux et variés. « Ça s’est calmé durant le déconfinement, mais on voit ça encore et encore », ajoute Sarah-Le Côté, une des gestionnaires du groupe fondé en mars dernier. Elle confie avoir reçu le témoignage d’une dame qui, tentant de vendre sa propriété en région, avait écrit une mise en garde aux potentiels acheteurs asiatiques en raison du mauvais traitement qu’elle subissait autour d’elle. « Mon frère travaille à l’hôpital. Quand il entrait dans la chambre des patients, on demandait : “Êtes-vous le coronavirus ?” » raconte une autre membre du groupe, Laura Luu. Selon elle, il ne s’agit que de la « pointe de l’iceberg », car les personnes d’origine asiatique ne sont « pas du tout du genre à rapporter à la police ». Encourager la dénonciation « [Les générations précédentes] ne croient pas qu’on peut combattre le racisme, explique Mme Luu. C’est vraiment une façon de penser de nos parents, une génération qui dit que non, on ne peut rien faire, que ce n’est pas grave alors, qu’il faut laisser passer. Mais notre génération, parce qu’on est nés et élevés ici avec la culture québécoise, croit qu’on a des droits et qu’on pourrait être un peu plus vocaux. On est québécois aussi. » Elle espère que la pandémie saura déclencher une prise de conscience chez la nouvelle génération de Québécois d’origine asiatique. « On essaye de défaire ce mauvais apprentissage, parce que ça nous blesse. Il y a les micro-agressions, on peut l’endurer, mais avec la pandémie, il y a des agressions physiques. C’est devenu plus violent, il faut qu’on réagisse. On ne peut pas laisser passer ça. » Porter plainte à la police constitue une solution, mais Laura Luu invite aussi les parents à discuter de racisme avec leurs enfants, à la manière de la communauté noire dans laquelle « tes parents t’apprennent à dire que si jamais on t’agresse, si on te dit quoique ce soit, ce n’est pas correct, tu réponds ». À Brossard, même si « la solidarité manque », Xixi Li confie avoir reçu des appels et des messages de soutien de la part d’autres Québécois. « Ça nous fait très chaud au cœur. C’est très important pour nous d’avoir une vie harmonieuse avec les autres communautés. » Ces agressions ne semblent d’ailleurs pas généralisées au Québec. Jen Yang, résidente de Québec, indique n’avoir jamais ressenti de discrimination de la part d’autres Québécois. « Je n’ai jamais entendu mes amis chinois parler de ça. Les problèmes de la communauté chinoise sont les mêmes que les autres personnes. » À Drummondville également, dans la « très petite communauté » chinoise, le principal problème vient de la chute des revenus pour les petites entreprises, dit Diane Huang, propriétaire d’un motel. « On va passer à travers », souffle-t-elle. L’organisme Project 1907, qui collige les cas de racisme anti-asiatique partout au Canada, rapporte plus de 600 incidents durant les six premiers mois de la pandémie, dont le tiers impliquant de la violence physique.Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
A bill that will criminalize international doping conspiracies became law Friday with President Donald Trump's signature, closing out a two-year legislative process during which the only true opposition to the bill came from outside the United States.The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act had earlier passed both houses of Congress on voice votes. It passed despite lobbying efforts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said it will “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework.”The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are involved as athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. It is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who helped uncover widespread cheating directed by the Russian government to help the country's athletes at the Sochi Olympics and other major events.It was the response to the Russian scandal from WADA, the IOC and other international sports federations that led the U.S. to pursue the law. Representatives from the U.S. drug-control office bristled at WADA's efforts to lobby for extensive changes in the bill.Rodchenkov's attorney, Jim Walden, said the law gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”The law is in line with others that have helped U.S. authorities crack down on international corruption in different areas. It calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.It is not designed to go after individual athletes.Among WADA's concerns is that this law will tempt other countries to consider similar legislation that could undermine the harmonization of the global anti-doping rules.Eddie Pells, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — It appears the Vancouver Canucks have cut ties with anthem singer Mark Donnelly over his plan to sing at a rally to protest COVID-19 restrictions.Donnelly confirmed to the Vancouver Sun that he planned to sing "O Canada" Saturday at the downtown Vancouver protest.That caused the Canucks to issue a statement distancing the NHL team from Donnelly.Team owner Franceso Aquilini took it a step further, tweeting: “Hey Vancouver Sun change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer,'" followed by the hashtag wearamask.Donnelly has been performing the anthem at Canucks games since 2001. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
Alberta's United Conservative Party government denied the chief electoral officer's request for a four-month extension in a complex investigation into alleged election wrongdoing, the officer said. Glen Resler told an all-party legislative committee Friday the COVID-19 pandemic and other complications were interfering with his office's ability to finish some investigations within the required three-year time limit. Worried about one case in particular, which Resler did not identify, he sought a 120-day extension from the government, and was denied. The Opposition NDP said the timelines and details of the case line up with the investigation into the 2017 UCP leadership race. NDP democracy and ethics critic Heather Sweet said the government should acknowledge if it interfered with the investigation into its own party. "I think the government should get out of the way and they should allow the elections officer to do the investigation," Sweet said in an interview. Staff for the justice minister did not respond to emails and calls Friday afternoon. Steve Kaye, Elections Alberta's director of compliance and investigations, told the legislative committee the pandemic was one of several factors hampering the investigation. He said the complaint came 15 months after the alleged misdeed, and people didn't co-operate. "We then encountered challenging subjects and complainants that we personally served notices to attend and notices to appear before the commissioner," Kaye said. "We had to apply to the courts at one point to seek a court order compelling someone to appear before the [former election] commissioner." When the request for an extension was denied, the office shuffled around duties so more people could focus on completing the work in time, he said. The NDP believes the case in question is the alleged "kamikaze" campaign inside the UCP's 2017 leadership race. Now-Premier Jason Kenney and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean were considered front runners to take the help of the newly united party. Allegations from insiders and leaked records suggest money improperly flowed to leadership candidate Jeff Callaway, who would attack Brian Jean before abandoning the race. Alberta's former election commissioner had levied more than $200,000 in fines in relation to the leadership race for improper campaign donations, collusion and obstructing investigations. Several parties have appealed those fines to the courts. Leaked documents also suggest the Kenney and Callaway campaigns shared information and strategies. Last year, the UCP government fired the election commissioner and merged his office with the chief electoral officer, arguing it would save money on administration. Approval of auditor's budget delayed Also at Friday's meeting, the government member-dominated committee voted to stall approval of the budget of the province's auditor general. Auditor Doug Wylie had requested $26.3 million for the 2021-22 year, which is $2.5 million less than his budget this year. UCP MLA Brad Rutherford made the request to delay approval, saying he had more questions for the auditor. Rutherford could not be reached Friday afternoon. "This did come as a surprise," auditor spokesperson Val Mellesmoen said Friday afternoon. "It is unusual." Sweet said the government is playing politics with the auditor, who last month identified $1.7 billion in accounting errors in the government's 2019-20 financial statements. The committee approved the budgets of six other independent officers of the legislature, including the chief electoral officer. Resler asked for, and received, a 28 per cent budget increase for next year. About 12 per cent of his 2021-22 budget will be spent preparing for and running provincial senate elections and referendums promised by the UCP government. His office needs about $1.4 million to create and distribute election supplies, such as ballots and signs, advertise the elections, educate municipalities on running the votes in conjunction with civic elections and to operate a call centre, Resler said. Fulfilling a campaign promise, the government passed legislation in 2019 allowing Albertans to elect the people they'd like to serve as senators in Ottawa. A national selection committee is not obligated to choose candidates Alberta elects. Kenney has also proposed several referendums be held in 2021, including a vote on whether Albertans wish to continue participating in the federal equalization program. Creating a provincial pension plan and abandoning twice-yearly clock changes could also be on the ballot. Resler said the budget does not include money for other democratic measures the government is considering, including promised recall legislation, or democratic initiatives such as citizen-led referendums.
An Edmonton man who was convicted for manslaughter in the deaths of an elderly couple has had his sentence increased by five years. Edward Roberts, 35, was serving a 15-year sentence for the deaths of Joao Nascimento, 93, and Maria Nascimento, 81 after he admitted to stabbing them to death in a random attack in September 2016. Roberts was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but he instead pleaded guilty in November 2018 to two counts of manslaughter and break and enter. Last year, Roberts was sentenced to 15 years in jail for each manslaughter count and 10 years for break and enter to be served concurrently. On Friday, a three-judge panel ordered the 15-year sentence to increase on each count of manslaughter to 20 years, which was the sentence length the Crown asked for during the trial. "We are of the view an increase in sentence is warranted to properly serve the aims of deterrence and denunciation and to reflect Roberts' moral culpability," the Court of Appeal of Alberta's decision said on Friday. "We are limited to the sentence sought by the Crown below. The appeal is allowed and the sentences on each count of manslaughter are increased to 20 years, to be served concurrently." The Crown appealed the original sentence, arguing that the sentencing judge characterized the crimes as a single event and that a 20-year sentence would better reflect the loss of two lives. Roberts had confessed to breaking into Nascimentos' Queen Mary Park home and stabbing the couple while in a psychotic state. He was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol, and had binged on crystal meth in the week leading up to the killings. At the time of the Nascimentos' death, Roberts thought he was destined to become a king and believed he had to kill everyone in a house to achieve that goal. Expert consensus diagnosed Roberts with amphetamine, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine use disorders, according to the decision. They also confirmed a history of substance-induced psychosis from cannabis and methamphetamine. During the Court of Appeal hearing in September, Roberts said he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he was in a psychotic state at the time. "It wasn't exactly the drugs that led to that state of mind," Roberts said during the hearing. "It was more of an energy." Stacey Purser, Roberts' defence lawyer, argued at the Court of Appeal hearing that Roberts' psychosis lowered his moral culpability, and that he was acting under the direction of various voices telling him to kill or be killed.