Health-care workers in Saskatchewan are urging their government to impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge and hospitals fill up.
Health-care workers in Saskatchewan are urging their government to impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge and hospitals fill up.
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
The surge in overdose deaths in B.C. shows no sign of waning with an average of five people now dying every day, according to the latest figures from the BC Coroners Service.In the month of October alone, 162 fatalities were connected to illicit drug toxicity and fentanyl, making it the fifth month in 2020 where the death toll has exceeded 160, and the eighth straight month with over 100 dead.So far this year there have been 1,386 illicit drug deaths in the province. Males accounted for 80 per cent of the dead and 70 per cent were aged 30-59. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing people from accessing harm reduction services while also making the street drug supply more toxic than ever with "extreme concentration[s] of illicit fentanyl."Data taken from post-mortem toxicology testing suggests the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations has increased since April 2020. "Exacerbating this is the highly toxic drug supply that exists in our communities right now," said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry."Now more than ever, we must remove the stigma of drug use and remove the shame people feel, which keeps them from seeking help or telling friends and family."The effects of fentanyl are clear in data tracking back almost a decade.In 2012, fentanyl and analogues like carfentanil were seen in five per cent of illicit drug overdoses. In 2019 that number had risen to 88 per cent. The presence of methamphetamine in fatalities has also increased from 14 to 39 per cent over the same time period. Cocaine has steadily declined as a factor between 2012 and 2019, but it remains involved in 49 per cent of 2019 deaths.Lapointe is urging clinicians to support people at risk of overdose by prescribing safe pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street drugs through a provincial program that was expanded earlier this year. B.C. declared a public health emergency in April 2016 because of an increasing number of overdose deaths.
Despite a global pandemic that has made the public be warier of world travel, there is still a high degree of interest from abroad towards moving to Canada, states a survey published Friday by World Education Services (WES), a non-profit specializing in advocating for recognition of international qualification. The Government of Canada closed the border last March to all entrants except for essential travellers like those in food logistics. Since then, small corridors have been opened in order to allow some people to come to Canada. As of Oct. 20, international students were allowed to enter the country in order to attend classes at Canadian post-secondary institutions. The feds are also planning on leveraging increased immigration as part of the national post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan. All of these factors create an increased interest in coming to Canada. But the study draws attention towards a different factor behind the high level of interest. Just under 28,000 WES applicants with a foreign credential evaluation, who lived outside Canada were asked between 12 to 14 questions to understand their reasons for wanting to move to Canada. Overall, those questions showed that while only 38 per cent of respondents were interested in Canada in April, that number increased to 46 per cent by August, with an additional 48 per cent saying COVID-19 had no impact on their level of interest. One of the questions, “To what degree do you expect COVID-19 to positively or negatively impact economic conditions?” provides the reader with a clue into the level of interest in Canada. Between April and August of this year, 80 to 81 per cent of those surveyed expected economic conditions in their country to be worse than in Canada. Conversely, between 56 and 68 per cent of respondents expected conditions to be worse in Canada. It is a similar story with the perception of job availability in Canada versus their home countries. In August, 60 per cent of potential newcomers said that COVID-19 will impact the job market in their country of origin. This was a dramatic increase from April, 47 per cent, and June, 57 per cent. But the perception of Canada remained comparatively steady. There was only a slight increase in people saying the job market would be negatively affected in Canada, from 44 per cent in April to 47 per cent in August.Mansoor Tanweer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
TEMAGAMI – With COVID-19 not going away anytime soon, Temagami council has begun discussing some options when it comes to winter recreation opportunities at the Community Centre. With all the uncertainties surrounding COVID, and with current arena restrictions, the municipality had yet to determine if the ice plant would be operational for the 2020-21 winter season. Council looked at a pair of options at the November 19 regular meeting. The first option would be for the town to start up the ice plant and have the ice ready for the Christmas season. Staff would ensure that the municipality would continue to follow current health regulations while offering public skating, pick-up hockey, and other events for which revenue could be generated. “To proceed with this option we would need to develop health and safety protocols, cleaning protocols and purchase additional protective equipment,” recreation manager Kelly Hearn wrote in his report to council. “The start-up procedures for the ice plant would also need to be completed.” The second option would be that the municipality does not start up the ice plant this winter. Staff would consider other options for recreational programming for the community to stay active and healthy. “From the operational funds that are not utilized on the start-up, shut down and maintenance of the ice surface, staff would find alternate means of providing recreation to the community,” said Hearn. Hearn noted that staff are also considering the purchase of a made-to-measure, rubberized floor for the arena surface. “This would increase the options of non-ice arena use,” he reasoned. Councillor John Shymko was in favour of the second option, suggesting that the town “could plow a few rinks on Net Lake and Lake Temagami” so that they could still offer public skating. Treasurer-administrator Craig Davidson said he didn’t disagree with Shymko’s idea, but that it might not be something the municipality could do itself based on its insurance coverage. “It might need to be something that’s done at arm’s length (from council) volunteers,” he explained. Davidson added that he has always thought an outdoor rink, along with a bonfire, by the municipal office would be a good idea “as long as the fire doesn’t melt down into the lake.” Shymko then said he wouldn’t mind plowing the potential rink himself. Councillor Margaret Youngs was also in favour of the second option while Councillor Jamie Koistinen said she was leaning towards favouring the first option because of how “depressing” Northern Ontario winters can be. “If we’re removing any kind of recreation from the kids here in town, or even families to have some kind of outings that are safe within the community, then what does that do for the community members there?” she questioned. “Christmas is coming, there’s the two-week (school) break and possibly extensions beyond that. So I tend to think that some families might benefit from going to the arena, especially during a time where you’re not quite able yet to go ski-dooing, you can’t go ice fishing, there’s different things that can’t happen in the community at that time.” Councillor Barret Leudke stated that he didn’t feel the municipality should be encouraging group gatherings of any kind because of the increasing risks and uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. “We need to go into a full lockdown and other municipalities have suggested to stay directly home. I’m not in support of (group gatherings), I see this virus getting worse long before it gets better,” he said. “I want to encourage more distancing and no group gatherings.” Deputy Mayor Cathy Dwyer said she would be in favour of the second option as long as the municipality looks into other recreational possibilities for its residents. She said she has heard from some parents who understand the municipality might not put ice in the arena but were concerned about a lack of activities for their kids this winter. Council agreed on a motion to choose the second option and not start up the ice plant this winter. Hearn said that staff would work on seeking out other recreation opportunities to keep the community active this winter.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
NEW YORK — “No New ‘Movies’ Till Influenza Ends” blared a New York Times headline on Oct. 10, 1918, while the deadly second wave of the Spanish Flu was unfolding.A century later, during another pandemic, movies — quotes no longer necessary — are again facing a critical juncture. But it’s not because new films haven’t been coming out. By streaming service, video-on-demand, virtual theatre or actual theatre, a steady diet of films have been released under COVID-19. The Times has reviewed more than 460 new movies since mid-March.Yet until recently — with only a few exceptions — those haven’t been the big-budget spectacles Hollywood runs on. Eight months into the pandemic, that’s changing. Last month, the Walt Disney Co. experimented with the $200 million “Mulan” as a premium buy on its fast-growing streaming service, Disney+ — where the Pixar film “Soul” will also go on Dec. 25. WarnerMedia last week announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” — a movie that might have made $1 billion at the box office in a normal summer — will land in theatres and on HBO Max simultaneously next month.Much remains uncertain about how the movie business will survive the pandemic. But it’s increasingly clear that Hollywood won’t be the same. Just as the Spanish Flu, which weeded out smaller companies and contributed to the formation of the studio system, COVID is remaking Hollywood, accelerating a digital makeover and potentially reordering an industry that was already in flux.“I don’t think the genie will ever be back in the bottle,” says veteran producer Peter Guber, president of Mandalay Entertainment and former chief of Sony Pictures. “It will be a new studio system. Instead of MGM and Fox, they’re going to be Disney and Disney+, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, HBO Max and Peacock.”Many of the pivots in 2020 can be chalked up to the unusual circumstances. But several studios are making more long-term realignments around streaming. WarnerMedia, the AT&T conglomerate that owns Warner Bros. (founded in 1923), is now run by Jason Kilar, best known as the former chief executive of Hulu. Last month, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, the Robert Iger heir, announced a reorganization to emphasize streaming and “accelerate our direct-to-consumer business.”Universal Pictures, owned by Comcast, has pushed aggressively into video-on-demand. Its first major foray, “Trolls,” kicked up a feud with theatre owners. But as the pandemic wore on, Universal hatched unprecedented deals with AMC and Cinemark, the largest and third-largest chains, respectively, to dramatically shorten the traditional theatrical window (usually about three months) to just 17 days. After that time, Universal can move releases that don’t reach certain box-office thresholds to digital rental.There’s widespread acknowledgement that the days of 90-day theatrical runs are over.“Windows are clearly changing,” says Chris Aronson, distribution chief for Paramount Pictures. “All this stuff that’s going on now in the business was going to happen, the evolution is just happening faster than it would have. What would have taken three to five years is going to be done in a year, maybe a year and a half.”That condensed period of rapid change is happening at the same time as a land rush for streaming market share, as Disney+, HBO Max, Apple and Peacock try to wrestle for a piece of the home viewing audience dominated by Netflix and Amazon. With theme parks struggling and worldwide box office down tens of billions, streaming is a bright spot for media companies, and the pandemic may offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lure subscribers. “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Soul” are essentially very expensive advertisements for those streaming services.It can be easy to cheer such moves, even if their financial performance remain cloudy (no studio has been transparent about its viewership numbers or digital grosses) and their long-term viability uncertain. Can you replicate $1 billion in box office in new subscriptions? And for how long will the one-time bounce of a new movie (unlike a series staggered over weeks or months) drive subscribers once streaming services are closer to tapping as many homes as they can?“The whole thing is more complicated than people want it to be,” says Ira Deutchman, the veteran independent film producer and Columbia University professor.Deutchman considers the idea that people, after a year of quarantines and lockdowns, won’t want to leave their living room “ludicrous.” But he does imagine continued mergers and acquisitions, and “a new equilibrium” for distributors and theatre owners.“It could be about pricing," he says. "It could be about the way film rental is split between them. There are a lot of things that are potentially on the table.”So what could that mean on the other side of COVID, if moviegoers are once again comfortable sitting in packed theatres on opening weekend? It will almost certainly mean the months-long runs of films like “Titanic” or “Get Out” are a thing of the past. It could mean variable pricing on different nights. It could mean an even greater division between the franchise films of the multiplex and the boutique art house, with everything in between going straight to streaming.Some things, though, will stay the same.“If you’re going to be in this business, no matter what you do or where it plays, whether it’s streaming or in cinemas, you’re going to make hits and you’re going to make flops," says Guber. "The idea is to make more hits than flops.”Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
L’Alliance du corridor ferroviaire Estrie-Montérégie n’est pas inquiétée par l’augmentation de la vitesse des trains de Canadien Pacifique (CP) sur le réseau des Chemins de fer du centre du Maine et du Québec (CMQ) annoncée plus tôt cette semaine. L’entreprise a assuré à l’ACFEM et ses municipalités membres que la sécurité est au cœur de leurs préoccupations. «Je sais qu’ils ont mis beaucoup d’argent pour sécuriser les rails pour amener les trains à un niveau plus rapide, soit de 25 miles à l’heure à 40 miles à l’heure. Ils me l’ont garanti, qu’ils ont à cœur la sécurité», commente le président du sous-comité sur la sécurité ferroviaire de l’ACFEM, également préfet de Brome-Missisquoi et maire de Farnham, Patrick Melchior. Si Transport Canada a donné son accord à CP pour que la compagnie ferroviaire augmente la vitesse de ses trains, c’est que les rails sont sécuritaires, ajoute le président de l’ACFEM et maire de Bromont, Louis Villeneuve. Il souligne également que le train ne roulera pas toujours à 64 km/h, précisant qu’il y a des sections où le train devra ralentir. Par exemple, le train circulera toujours à 16 km/h dans le secteur de Lac-Mégantic. Plus de capacité La question qui turlupine davantage M. Melchior est le nombre de trains qui passeront chaque jour. L’achalandage augmentera-t-il au cours des mois à venir? C’est ce que laissait entendre l’entreprise dans un communiqué en parlant de capacité supplémentaire. «Comme maire de Farnham, s’il y a plus d’achalandage, ça veut dire plus de trains dans la gare de triage, plus de trains aux passages à niveau. Déjà, on passe beaucoup de temps en arrêt aux passages à niveau puisque le chemin de fer scinde la ville en deux. Des fois, on peut être arrêté pendant 12 à 15 minutes en attendant que le triage se fasse.» Il n’a pas obtenu de réponse claire à ce sujet de la part de CP jusqu’à présent, mais entend bien suivre le dossier de près.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Wednesday it will continue to hear arguments by telephone through at least January because of the coronavirus pandemic.The court’s announcement extended telephone arguments by a month.“The Court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans for the February argument session,” the court said in a statement.The justices last met in person to hear arguments in February of this year, but they closed the courthouse to the public in March because of the public health crisis and postponed arguments in March and April.The court first held arguments by telephone in May and made the audio available live, also a first for the tradition-bound court. After a summer break, the court resumed hearing arguments by phone and making the audio available live in October.The Associated Press
If you happen to pop by Ranchland Mall in Pincher Creek this Wednesday you’ll see a booth manned by purple-clad staff from the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter. On top of sporting purple fashion, the workers are handing out information and resources raising awareness for Family Violence Prevention Month, as well as recognizing Nov. 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Throughout November, family shelters and resource groups across the province have been participating in a public and social media campaign through gopurpleAlberta to help individuals and families feel safe in their homes and in their communities. The campaign is especially important as Alberta has the third-highest rate of self-reported spousal violence in Canada. Lori Van Ee, executive director for the shelter, says community members are asked to don purple throughout the day to help highlight efforts to prevent family violence. The shelter’s plans extend beyond the day of Nov. 25 and into the night as well. “We are encouraging community members to take part in our first-ever Shine Your Light Event,” says Lori. “This event will ask community members to shine their outside light, put a glow stick in their window, or turn on their holiday lights for the remainder of the night to help raise awareness.” The goal of Family Violence Prevention Month is twofold: help provide resources that prevent family circumstances from deteriorating, and ensure people in an unsafe domestic situation find the information and the help they need. Helping families through stress, says Kayla Strandquist, is the main focus for the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre. The centre provides counselling and support services for anyone who may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Though acknowledging that reaching out for help can be tough, Kayla emphasises the centre is a safe place to talk. “There’s always someone that will be willing to listen. Lots of times people don’t think that they can reach out for help, but there are people out there willing to help,” she says. “Sometimes people feel isolated or scared to ask for help, but just know that you’re not being judged.” Though the centre has shifted the majority of its counselling services to telephone or virtual sessions, people without access to technology are still welcome to come for conversations in person as long as they wear a mask. The centre is also running a Coats for Kids program and can provide free household items for families in need. A Christmas toy hamper will also be starting in December. Should anyone find themself in a situation where their safety is in danger, the centre can also provide same-day transportation from Crowsnest Pass to the shelter in Pincher Creek. The shelter, explains Lori, is more than a bed for women fleeing abuse. “Our residential program is a 21-day stay and assists women to assess their danger levels, create a safety plan, provide the necessities, and work with women to attain short-term goals such as finding housing independent from their abuser,” she says. “Women’s shelters remain the safest place for women fleeing violence. Our staff are trained to help women assess their danger levels and create a safety plan,” Lori continues. “We encourage anyone facing immediate danger to call 911. You are not alone.” The shelter also runs a support program to help moms meet the needs of their children, as well as facilitating age-appropriate activities for children staying in the shelter. Helping get women out of immediate danger is only one aspect of the shelter’s mandate. An outreach program also helps clients identify their needs, helping put women on a path to living independently and productively from abuse. The program lasts up to six months but can be extended as needed. Additionally, Lori says, women do not have to be living in the shelter to access the outreach program. “We can take referrals from community agencies and or community members themselves who see a need to access the supports that our outreach program can offer,” she says. A host of resources are available for anyone experiencing family violence. Any individual can contact the Pincher Creek crisis line at 403-627-4868 or 403-627-2114. In Crowsnest Pass, anyone in need of assistance can contact the resource centre at 403-563-9077. Provincially, a toll free crisis line is available at 1-888-354-4868. The Family Violence Info Line is also available in more than 170 languages at 310-1818. In case of immediate danger, people are encouraged to call 911. Online provincial resources can be found at www.alberta.ca/family-violence-find-supports.aspx. Provincial shelters can also be looked up at www.alberta.ca/find-shelters.aspx. Further information on the Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter can be found online at www.pcshelter.ca. Likewise, additional information on the Crowsnest Pass Women’s Resource and Crisis Centre is available at www.cnpwomensresourcecentre.ca.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
In the face of what advocates say is a growing housing crisis that includes ballooning rent costs forcing people out of their homes, the Nova Scotia government is stepping in with a cap on increases and a ban on so-called renovictions."Too many Nova Scotians are struggling to afford a place they call home," Housing Minister Chuck Porter said Wednesday."Now is not the time for people to be worrying about keeping a roof over their heads or being forced to find a new home for their family, but unfortunately that is exactly the situation many people are in."Effective immediately, rent increases are capped at two per cent per year without exception. The change is retroactive to September 2020 and will remain in place until Feb. 1, 2022, or whenever the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted. Porter said anyone whose rent has already gone up within the defined time period would receive the difference as a future credit.Landlords will be banned from evicting tenants for the purpose of renovating their buildings. Porter said unless an eviction order has been issued by the residential tenancy board, it will not be enforceable, and that includes notices already provided.Marites Sumat was thrilled by the news."I'm so thankful," she said.Sumat recently received six months notice that the Clayton Park apartment she shares with her husband, three children and mother was going to see the monthly rent go up from $850 to $1,250, a 47 per cent increase that would have priced the family out of their home.The new cap is "a big help for renters," she said.COVID-19 has exerted a major toll on many people, said Sumat. While she's been fortunate not to have her hours reduced at work, she said the pandemic has made what was an already difficult situation for many people all the more challenging.She's still waiting to speak with her landlord, but under the rules announced today the increase scheduled for March 2021 would not be permitted.Change in tuneThe rent cap is a stark departure from previous assertions by Premier Stephen McNeil and his government that rent control is not an effective tool for combating housing challenges.For months, there have been a litany of stories about people being forced from their homes due to renovictions or rent increases as high as 90 per cent. Porter acknowledged it took time to arrive at Wednesday's announcement, but said the government was trying to find the most effective way to deal with the situation.Although he said the main problem is one of supply, the minister noted that cannot be addressed quickly."It is incumbent on us as government to enact something in the interim," said Porter.Two of the candidates vying to be the new Liberal leader and premier recently proposed forms of rent control. Porter, who has endorsed candidate Iain Rankin, said those plans had no bearing on Wednesday's announcement.Affordable housing commission struckWednesday's announcement also included the creation of the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission, which is charged with making recommendations about affordable housing strategies and actions. Their first list of recommendations is due in six months.The commission includes: * Catherine Berliner, Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing (co-chair) * Ren Thomas, Dalhousie University (co-chair) * Chief Sidney Peters, Tawaak Housing Association * Karen Brodeur, Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada * Fred Deveaux, Cape Breton Community Housing Association * Jim Graham, Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia * Mike Dolter, Association of Municipal Administrators Nova Scotia * Jeremy Jackson, Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia * Alex Halef, Urban Development Institute * Gordon Laing, Southwest Properties * Kelly Denty, Halifax Regional Municipality * Michelle MacFarlane, Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services * Joy Knight, Department of Community ServicesRepresentation will also include people to be appointed from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the justice and health departments.Another measure Porter announced is $1.7 million to replace 30 beds removed from the homeless shelter system as a result of changes required by Public Health protocols for physical distancing.The minister said meetings are imminent with service providers to determine how to get as many people off the streets as soon as possible. Advocates estimate homelessness numbers in the Halifax Regional Municipality have more than doubled in the last year and Porter said the government is committed to finding ways to address the issue.Should have come soonerOfficials with the housing advocacy group ACORN issued a news release calling the government's decision "an overdue first step" that comes following prolonged lobbying."We would not have seen any movement on rent control if it were not for the tireless work of our members, tenants across Nova Scotia and activists who have been fighting for our communities for years — organizing works," said the release.NDP housing critic Lisa Roberts said her party has put forward multiple pieces of legislation in recent years intended to address the issue, none of which received support from the governing Liberals."This is good, but, frankly, it shouldn't have taken a global pandemic for us to recognize the housing crisis," she said.Roberts said she hopes the new commission spends time looking at rent control on a longer-term basis and helps bring in some kind of permanent check, be it through new legislation proposals or use of the existing Rent Control Act, which was passed in the 1990s.Industry concernsKevin Russell, executive director of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia, said the size of the cap is a concern because it falls "well under" the operational cost of rental buildings.He predicted it would have the biggest effect on people who rent in older buildings, which make up the majority of housing stock in Halifax and are nearing "the end of their life cycle.""It will have an impact on operations," he said. "To what degree, that will be up to each individual landlord. It may put off some repairs and maintenance, it may affect other areas of operation."Russell said he's optimistic about the affordable housing commission and what it could do. Whatever changes come must be long term, he said."We've been trying to talk [about] affordable housing with the government for over 10 years and now it takes a crisis for everybody to come to the table. I guess that's how it works."MORE TOP STORIES
The Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association is a not-for-profit registered charity that provides therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults with diverse abilities, while also working with at-risk youth. The association is one of five organizations being helped this year by the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund. The association works with riders from throughout the Thompson-Nicola region, with some riders coming as far as from Lillooet to participate. As a social enterprise, the association also provides a community riding program for Kamloopsians interested in getting on a horse. In a normal year, there would be between 80 and 100 participants per session, with a 12-week session in the spring and an eight-week session in the fall. But 2020 has not been a normal year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We were unable to do our 12-week spring session, so we did a small summer session for independent riders only,” said Ashley Sudds, executive director of the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association. But that meant numbers dropped to about 30 participants. The organization tried to offer a longer session in the fall — once again for independent riders — with a bit more success, managing close to 50 riders for those sessions. With lower numbers, and some of the horses nearing retirement, the therapy horse herd was downsized a bit. Sudds is hopeful the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund money can help improve the situation for the association in 2021, saying funds can go toward sponsoring a horse or perhaps sponsoring a rider or two who might have aged out of financial support for the program. but would still like to continue with it. The riding programs are tailored for each individual according to their diagnosis and the association is able to work with a variety of different individuals, including those who are in wheelchairs. “We have an electric lift,” Sudds said. “It can lift them out of their wheelchair.” Information on volunteering with the association, as well as rider information and information on the Parent A Horse program can be found on their website at www.ktra.ca People can also take a virtual tour of the facility online and get a chance to see what the location is all about. It’s also where people can go to find out how to support the group directly or to find out more about volunteering. For more information on the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association, go online to ktra.ca.Todd Sullivan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
OTTAWA — The Canada Emergency Response Benefit was a financial lifeline for many when COVID-19 forced businesses to shutter and brought the economy to a screeching halt in the spring.And while the $500-a-week cheques helped millions of Canadians to continue paying their bills and buying groceries, many likely didn't give much thought to how the benefit would affect their taxes. But as 2020 comes to a close, tax experts say now is the time to check and see if you might owe any income tax on the emergency benefit money you received this year or face an unpleasant surprise come tax time.John Waters, director of tax consulting services at BMO Private Wealth, says it is important for people to understand that the CERB payments will have to be included in your taxable income."The critical thing here is of course, what is your marginal tax rate and what other sources of income do you have and that'll dictate what tax will be owing," Waters says.CERB was designed to help those who lost work, got sick or were forced to quarantine or stay home to care for children.If you received CERB benefits, the government will be issuing you a tax slip outlining the amount that you'll need to include as income for your 2020 tax return.The plan pays $500 a week for up to 28 weeks for a maximum amount of $14,000. The amount you received is considered taxable income, but Ottawa did not deduct any tax when they sent the money out to Canadians.The federal basic personal amount — the amount you can earn before you start paying federal income tax — is $13,229 for 2020.Waters said that means if you received the maximum CERB benefit and had no other income and no other tax credits, you will end up owing Ottawa a small amount."The main thing is probably to do some sort of a pro forma or estimate of your tax situation for 2020 ... and get a ballpark idea of what type of tax that you might owe based on all of the income sources that you've got and maybe some deductions or credits," he said.Waters also said it would be a good idea to look back and check that you were entitled to all of the CERB payments that you did receive.Jamie Golombek, managing director, tax and estate planning with CIBC, says the amount you might owe depends on how much other income you earned this year before or after you received CERB payments and what other deductions and tax credits you might have."If you had any other income in January, February or early March or you got back to work or worked part-time or you had some bit of income on the side, then you're going to owe some money," he says.Golombek says it is better to find out now if you might owe money so you have time to set aside the cash rather than be scrambling come April when your tax return is due."Now you really have a good sense of where you are going to end up," he said. "If you are short, now could be a time to set aside an extra $25, $30, $40 a week to be able to pay those taxes come next spring."Golombek noted the government is withholding tax on the new benefit programs that replaced the CERB program this fall, but added even then it might not be enough."The withholding on those is only 10 per cent, so again that might not be sufficient for many Canadians so they may want to plan for that as well so it is not a surprise," he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.Craig Wong, The Canadian Press
If there’s one place outside Argentina that will likely match — or possibly even exceed — the outpouring of mourning for Diego Maradona, it’s in Naples.While Maradona was revered around the world as perhaps the greatest soccer player ever, in Naples he was more than that.Maradona was treated as a deity for the way he led Napoli to its only two Serie A titles — in 1987 and 1990 — and raised the spirits of the southern Italian city, which remains far removed both geographically and socio-economically from the country’s soccer capitals of Milan and Turin.“Maradona wasn’t just a player. He represented the spirit of Napoli for years,” said former Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino, who owned the club when Maradona played there.A person close to Maradona said he died Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 60. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.Upon hearing the news, Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris immediately proposed that the city’s San Paolo Stadium be renamed for Maradona — and ordered the stadium's lights be turned on all night even though there was no game being played there.“Maradona is Napoli. The passion for him here is known to everyone,” De Magistris said. “Maradona united Neapolitans all over the world — as well as fans of other squads.“Today all Neapolitans embrace his family, with the awareness that this embrace will never end,” the mayor added. “Because it was real love. A great love.”Maradona also led Napoli to the 1989 UEFA Cup title during his seven-season stay. He also allegedly became a regular cocaine addict in the city — a dependence that eventually led to his downfall from soccer.“Yes, he was also a controversial man,” De Magistris said. “But for us Maradona is the one who made Naples and Neapolitans dream — with his genius, his uniqueness, he gave us happiness. Many have named their sons Diego, for he was able to redeem a city that was often the target of prejudices and discrimination.”In a sign of mourning, Napoli changed its usual blue logo on its Twitter account to black.“Everyone is awaiting our words,” the club tweeted in Italian. “But what words can we use for the pain that we are experiencing? Now is the moment for tears. Then will come the time for words.”Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora, who is from Naples, said: “He was more than a champion. He was a soccer genius, an absolute star. He represented unrepeatable dreams and hopes for the people of my city. Naples cries tonight.”___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports___Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampfAndrew Dampf, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — In a global push to end violence against women, activists held rallies Wednesday and world leaders called for action to stop the abuse, which has worsened because of the coronavirus pandemic this year.Protests from France to Ukraine were held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to draw attention to domestic violence in what is an uphill struggle to protect millions of women killed or abused every year by their partners and close relatives.In Rome, the office of the prime minister was being lit in red and red banners tumbled from trade union offices in Florence to demand an end to violence against women. Italy was a hotbed for COVID-19 infections this year, forcing the government to impose lockdowns to keep the virus out. In an unintended consequence, domestic violence cases began to grow.“Because of the restrictions, we involuntarily created profound distress,” that led to increased episodes of domestic violence and femicide, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told a parliamentary discussion on Italy’s long-standing problem with violence against women.The Italian Health Ministry, citing data from national statistics agency ISTAT, said calls to domestic violence hotlines shot up during the lockdown, registering a 75% increase compared to the same period in 2019. Between March and June, calls and text messages to the anti-violence number more than doubled during the same period, to 119.6%Together with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Conte signed a joint declaration vowing to accelerate measures to stamp out violence against women, which they called “an invisible pandemic.”Even if detailed statistics were hard to come by, organizations and countries, from the United Nations to the European Union, France and Britain, all said that the pandemic had so far been an additional source for men to mistreat women.In Ukraine, the Femen feminist activist group staged a protest outside the president’s office with a brief topless protest.“We want to illustrate the situation with women’s rights in Ukrainian society — unprotected from any violence. We think the violence against women is a human rights violation, Femen activist Anya Alian said.U.N. agency UNAIDS said that “evidence shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant increases in gender-based violence in nearly all countries," especially for women trapped at home with their abuser.“Men’s violence against women is also a pandemic — one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the U.N. Women agency. “Last year alone, 243 million women and girls experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner. This year, reports of increased domestic violence, cyberbullying, child marriages, sexual harassment and sexual violence have flooded in,” she said.In Turkey, where at least 234 women were killed since the start of the year, according to government figures, riot police in Istanbul blocked a small group of demonstrators from marching to the city’s iconic Taksim Square to denounce violence against women. The government has declared the square off-bounds for demonstrations.Elsewhere in Istanbul, some 2,000 other women staged a peaceful demonstration calling on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to remain committed to a European treaty on combatting violence against women. Earlier this year, some officials from Erdogan’s Islam-oriented party had spoken in favour of reviewing the agreement to adapt it to Turkey's more conservative family values.Pope Francis marked the day by tweeting: “Too often women are offended, mistreated, raped and forced to prostitute themselves ... If we want a better world, a home of peace and not a courtyard of war, we all must do much more for the dignity of each woman.”France’s government sealed a deal with TikTok to encourage young people to report abuse through the social network. World soccer governing body FIFA announced an awareness campaign.France’s deal with TikTok is among multiple measures it has taken since a national reckoning over domestic violence last year prompted by an unusually high number of women killed by their husbands, boyfriends or former partners. Activists say more needs to be done.France’s minister for equal rights, Elisabeth Moreno, said that reports of domestic violence registered with the government rose 42% during France’s first virus lockdown in the spring, and have risen 15% since a new lockdown was imposed nearly a month ago. Given that most people don’t report such abuse, the real rise is believed to be higher.In Britain, The Office for National Statistics said police recorded 259,324 domestic abuse offences between March and June, an increase of 18% compared to the same period in 2018. The charity Refuge said the number of people calling its domestic abuse hotline were 65% higher between April and June than in the first three months of the year, before lockdown.“These appalling statistics show endemic levels of domestic abuse,” Labour Party crime spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said. “The COVID crisis didn’t create this scar on our society, but it has made the situation even worse."Europe largest human rights organization, the 47-nation Council of Europe, called on legislators throughout Europe to better protect women and girls.“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile the protective safety-net for victims of violence really is, especially when it comes to domestic violence,” said Petra Bayr (SOC, Austria), Chair of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE). “The increase in violence during lockdown has been a shocking revelation in almost all our societies; it has put a magnifying glass on the harmful mindsets that still prevail.”___Angela Charlton reported from Paris. Nicole Winfield in Rome, Jill Lawless and Sylvia Hui in London, Barry Hatton in Lisbon and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.Raf Casert And Angela Charlton, The Associated Press
The Town of Bay Bulls has applied for provincial funding for a number of road upgrades, but Mayor Harold Mullowney is cautioning council not to get its hopes up. “The odds of getting funding are low. I’ve attended the MNL (Municipalities Newfoundland) conference, by Zoom, over the last few days, and the Minister (Municipal Affairs) said they were prioritizing urgent situations requiring water and sewer for the most part,” said Mullowney during the November 1o meeting of council. “They also said they were not funding a huge wish list. They were trying to keep their funding down to amounts below a million dollars, so that they could spread the money further among communities.” Nevertheless, Bay Bulls applied for funding for three different projects. The first was for completion of the Irishtown Road upgrade at a total cost estimate of $955,000, with the province and the town splitting the cost 50/50. A portion of the road is already being upgraded from surplus funds for the St. John's Road project, which was funded under a 90/10 cost share formula with the province paying the bigger share. Next up, was upgrades on Winnonish Drive at a cost of $371,000, at a 50/50 cost share rate. The third and final application was for upgrades to Northside Road and Bread and Cheese at a cost estimate of $1.5 million. The proposed cost sharing formula on that would be 40/50/10 for the federal, provincial, and municipal governments respectively. Mullowney did hold out some hope for the applications for Irish Town Road and Northside Road. “I’m hopeful that we might have a shot at the roadwork we already have under construction, because there are serious water issues on Irish Town Road, and the Northside has some serious issues with the possibility of erosion along that coast there,” he said. Mullowney had introduced the funding request as “probably the most important piece of work on the agenda tonight.”Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Mayor John Tory urged Torontonians to avoid big box store shopping on Black Friday as Dr. Eileen de Villa warned that everyone in the city remains at risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.Toronto is now in day three of a 28-day lockdown intended to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The city recorded 481 new cases on Wednesday.Tory said stamping out the virus hinges in part on people not gathering at large stores and GTA shopping centres that have been allowed to stay open under the provincial lockdown. Instead, Tory said, shop local and shop online where possible.De Villa, the city's medical officer of health, warned COVID-19 is still spreading in the community. You can watch her comments in the video below:Earlier Wednesday, de Villa showed city council a map that showed all but a handful of Toronto's neighbourhoods meet at least the criteria for the province's red zone restrictions — the second highest level of restriction. De Villa has repeatedly said that there are COVID-19 cases across the city, even though some areas of Etobicoke and Scarborough have been the major hot spots. Today, she said there's little stopping the entire city from reaching the red zone thresholds."The fact is, rates are alarmingly high in Toronto," she said.Mayor muses about blocking off BBQ restaurant that keeps reopeningTory also urged Torontonians who can to order takeout from a local restaurant to support those businesses amid the lockdown.However, Tory said the book should be thrown at the owner of an Etobicoke barbecue restaurant that defied city and provincial rules and reopened again Wednesday for indoor dining. You can read more about that story here.Tory said he hopes if the restaurant opens again at 11 a.m. on Thursday, it's shut down by 11:01 a.m, but noted he doesn't direct police. Tory also suggested he's open to the idea of putting concrete blocks in front of the business, like the city recently did with illegal cannabis dispensaries. The mayor also announced a number of initiatives to make it easier for people to enjoy the outdoors this winter, including everything from toboggan hills and "snow loops" for walking to disc golf courses.Skating rinks are set to open as soon as this weekend, but they will operate with a cap of 25 due to provincial rules. Many Torontonians had been calling on the city to ensure there are safe spaces to get outside during the second wave of the pandemic. You can read more about that here. For more news about Ontario's COVID-19 situation and how the pandemic is being handled, check out these CBC News stories:
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would not be allowed to visit the country until he apologized for “genocide” against Kosovo's population.Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla also posted on Twitter that no entry permission would be granted for Serb officials until Serbians are held accountable for “genocide” in an international court.“I repeat once again the only and permanent response to all future demands from Vucic and others: there is no permission for you to visit Kosovo if you do not apologize for the genocide committed on our people and until responsible persons of this genocide are held accountable,” she said.Vucic and other Serb officials have to ask Kosovo's permission before visiting ethnic Serb minority areas in the former Serbian province.Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, which ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign, left more than 10,000 people dead, mostly ethnic Albanians.Haradinaj-Stublla reacted following Vucic' presence at the inauguration of a hospital in Belgrade where a mass grave of 744 ethnic Albanians killed in 1999 has been found.Several mass graves with the bodies of Kosovo Albanians killed by Serb troops during the 1998-99 war have been discovered in various parts of Serbia. Moving victims from Kosovo to Serbia was part of a coverup operation by Serbian authorities at the time to try to hide evidence of war crimes.Last week the European Union’s mission to ensure the rule of law in Kosovo said human remains that appear to be a mass grave of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo have been found in a disused coal mine in Kizevak in southern Serbia.Vucic said on Tuesday that Haradinaj-Stublla had asked to be present at the Kizevak works “in order to create a political show.”Although several of its top military officers have been sentenced by a UN court for war crimes during the 1998-99 war, Serbia has never admitted committing atrocities in its former province.Meanwhile, an international court based in The Hague, Netherlands has indicted and arrested on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity the former Kosovo president and four other top ex-commanders of ethnic Albanian guerillas who fought for independence from Serbia.Last week Vucic asked to visit Kosovo but was denied permission by Pristina.Kosovo-Serbia relations remain tense despite EU-mediated talks on normalization of their ties and efforts from the United States too.Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not recognized that.——-Semini reported from Tirana, Albania; Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade.Zenel Zhinipotoku And Llazar Semini, The Associated Press
A snowmobiler got more than he bargained for when he ventured away from his friends in search of new terrain while out in the Yanks Peak area two Sundays ago. He took the detour without telling anyone and without a shovel. He paid for it by spending the night and much of the next day out in the wilderness. "He got really stuck," said Dave Merritt of Prince George Search and Rescue. "He got stuck multiple times, he just couldn't get himself out without a shovel." Merritt said search and rescue volunteers were originally called out to look for another member of the party of about 15-20 enthusiasts. By the time the searchers had shown up, that subject had made his way back to the parking lot at the entrance to the popular snowmobiling area south of Wells after spending a few hours extracting his sled from a tree well. But by then, the party had realized one other person remained unaccounted for. Volunteers from three search and rescue organizations plus members of the Wells Snowmobile Club and a couple of the missing man's friends participated in the search. Prince George SAR was called in because it has the skills to search in avalanche terrain. The second man was "cold and tired" but otherwise OK when he was spotted by a helicopter shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday. "We probably would've found him another hour and a half later by sled but the weather had lifted enough that we were able to spot him a little faster and get him home a little quicker," Merritt said. "We had maybe another 20 minutes and the helicopter would've had to go back to Prince George because of the darkness." Cell service in the area is spotty and neither snowmobiler had radios or satellite communication devices, Merritt said. The one who spent the night outside was also without fire starter and material to build a shelter. Merritt urged outdoor enthusiasts to check the AdventureSmart website for advice on being prepared in case something goes wrong. "The group did everything right once they realized somebody was missing," Merritt added. "They initiated all the proper procedures."Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Brexit: Irish Prime Minister "hopeful" of deal but says "trust has eroded" - Euronews speaks to Taoiseach Micheál Martin in this week's Global Conversation.View on euronews
As Alberta grapples with the second wave in the COVID-19 pandemic, Sexsmith reduced the number of staff working at its town office last week. Five staff members at the Sexsmith town office are working remotely but there have been no layoffs, said Rachel Wueschner, chief administrative officer (CAO). “This will have no effect on town services,” Wueschner said. Residents frequently access the office for development and building permit applications and bill payments and these services will continue to be provided, she said. There are still two full-time staff at the office with others coming in as needed, she said. Wueschner consulted council about her plans to reduce in-person staff at the office during the meeting last week. Meanwhile in Beaverlodge, Nichole Young, an executive assistant in administration, said on Monday night no staff have been sent home so far. There are eight staff at the town office, including two in Family and Community Support Services, Young said. The Beaverlodge office continues to provide all services, she added. Hythe’s village office remains open and typically has two to three staff at a time, said CAO Leona Hanson. There have been no layoffs in village operations, Hanson added. In Wembley, all four staff members continue to work at the town office but have the option to work at home if they feel it’s necessary, said CAO Noreen Zhang. “We have taken steps such as mask wearing in common spaces and sanitizing stations throughout the office to ensure that we curve the spread of the virus,” Zhang said. County of Grande Prairie administration has also made working from home an option for staff, said CAO Joulia Whittleton. County administration also recently implemented a strategy to have masks in common areas and meeting rooms when physical distancing can’t be followed, she said. Whittleton said county administration remains “committed to providing essential municipal services.” Under the state of public health emergency declared Tuesday office workers are encouraged to work at home if possible. Masks in indoor working places are only mandatory in the Edmonton and Calgary zones.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A mine in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia's coast near Yemen exploded and damaged an oil tanker Wednesday, authorities said, the latest incident targeting the kingdom amid its long war against Yemen's Houthi rebels. The blast happened before dawn and struck the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed oil tanker near Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia. “Their vessel was attacked by an unknown source,” a statement from the Agrari's operator, TMS Tankers Ltd., said. “The Agrari was struck about 1 metre above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries.” The ship was still floating off the coast and had been boarded by Saudi officials, the company said. Shuqaiq is some 160 kilometres (100 miles) north by sea from the Yemeni border. Ambrey, a British security firm, reported the blast and attributed it to a mine. It said the Agrari had cargo from Rotterdam, Netherlands, that it had discharged at the Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant. “The explosion took place in port limits and punctured the hull of the vessel,” Ambrey said. The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an information exchange overseen by the British royal navy in the region, acknowledged a ship had “experienced an explosion,” without elaborating. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, responsible for patrolling the waterways of the Mideast, said it was aware of the incident. Saudi state television later aired a report claiming a military coalition led by the kingdom destroyed a bomb-laden Houthi drone boat and that a merchant ship sustained light damage. The report offered no details and it wasn't immediately clear if the report was the same incident at Shuqaiq. Saudi-owned channels later aired reports about Houthi mining in the Red Sea. The explosion comes after a cruise missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels struck an oil facility early Monday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition reported Tuesday that it removed and destroyed five Iranian-made naval mines planted by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea, condemning the attempted attacks as posing “a serious threat to maritime security in the Bab al-Mandab strait.” The strait is some 585 kilometres (363 miles) south of Shuqaiq. The Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iranian-backed Houthis since March 2015. Houthi military officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they've been blamed for other mining incidents during the course of the war. A United Nations panel in 2018 found the Houthis used both improvised and what appear to be Iranian-manufactured “bottom” mines, explosives that could be live in the water for as a long as a decade. “Sea mines are low cost, easy to deploy, tactically very effective, difficult to detect and thus are a potent threat to both naval and commercial vessels,” that report warned. "Relatively small quantities present a threat out of proportion to their numbers." Iran repeatedly has denied arming the Houthis, though experts say Iranian weapons ranging from small arms to missiles have been smuggled to the rebels. The Red Sea is a vital shipping lane for both cargo and the global energy supplies, making any mining of the area a danger not only to Saudi Arabia but to the rest of the world. Mines can enter the water and then be carried away by the currents, which changed by the season in the Red Sea. The Red Sea has been mined previously. In 1984, some 19 ships reported striking mines there, with only one ever being recovered and disarmed, the U.N. panel said. ___ Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre contributed to this report. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press