TORONTO — Eighteen students and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at an east-end Toronto elementary school. A spokesman for the Toronto District School Board says the staff and students at Thorncliffe Park Public School were tested for the virus as part of a new pilot project. Ryan Bird says 14 classes have been asked to self-isolate, but the school will remain open. In a letter to parents sent Sunday night, the school principal says that's because four per cent of the school tested positive, compared to a 16 per cent positivity rate in the broader Thorncliffe Park community.He says he understands the cases are worrisome, but notes the school is actively monitoring the situation and communicating with Toronto Public Health. The Ontario government announced Thursday that it was introducing voluntary testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff at schools in regions with high infection rates. The expanded testing will be provided for four weeks in schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Ottawa. Those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.“That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.“Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said.The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort.“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency.“That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.”Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required.Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans.Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views.Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from breaking his right foot while playing with one of his dogs, his doctor said.Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said.“Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle of his right foot, O’Connor said.“It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Connor said.Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment. At 78 he will become the oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January; he often dismissed questions about his age during the campaign.Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor's office Sunday, despite multiple requests. Leaving the doctor's office to head to an imaging centre for his CT scan, Biden was visibly limping, though he walked without a crutch or other aid.Biden sustained the injury playing with Major, one of the Bidens’ two dogs. They adopted Major in 2018, and acquired their first dog, Champ, after the 2008 election. The Bidens have said they’ll be bringing their dogs to the White House and also plan to get a cat.Last December he released a doctor's report that disclosed he takes a statin to keep his cholesterol at healthy levels, but his doctor described him as “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”___Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Tougher COVID-19 restrictions are taking effect today in five Ontario regions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. The provincial government announced last week it would move Windsor-Essex into the red alert level of its tiered framework, the strictest level short of a lockdown. In that level, indoor dining at restaurants and bars is capped at 10 customers, while social gatherings must have fewer than five people indoors and 25 outdoors. Meanwhile, Halidimand-Norfolk is shifting to the orange level, and three other regions -- Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern -- are going into the yellow level. The province says the regions will stay in their new categories for at least 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, before a change is considered. Officials say they continue to monitor public health data weekly to see if any other regions require additional intervention. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A new report on food bank use across Ontario shows there was a surge in demand for those services when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the province over the winter. The latest study released today by Feed Ontario says the number of people accessing food banks had already gone up over the previous year when the global health crisis began, which exacerbated existing issues. The organization included a special analysis of the impact of the pandemic alongside its usual report on annual food bank use, which gathers data from 130 member food banks and 1,100 affiliate agencies. The annual report looks at data from April 2019 to this April, while the pandemic analysis covers data from 71 members and 339 affiliates between March 17 — when Ontario declared a health emergency — and September. It says all food banks reported a significant increase in the number of first-time users in the first four months of the pandemic. And 20 per cent of food banks surveyed reported seeing a "continued surge" in the number of people accessing their services on an ongoing basis — an increase of five to 54 per cent — even beyond that period. Government intervention in the form of income support programs or eviction bans helped reduce the demand for food banks in many regions later in the pandemic, the report says, as did the emergence of community initiatives such as meal programs. "What this means is that lowered numbers are not always representative of a decrease in need, but rather a redistribution of community support services that fall outside of our network’s data collection and surveying," the organization says in the report. It also notes that some people, notably seniors, were too afraid to leave their homes to access community services, which may have contributed to the decrease in demand. Food banks in Burlington, Cornwall, Kanata, Orillia and Windsor surveyed close to 200 or their visitors in September and found each said the pandemic had made the challenges they already faced much more difficult, the report says. "Many survey respondents reported incurring increased debt to help pay for monthly necessities, as well as choosing to go without food in order to pay the bills," the document says. "Perhaps most staggering is that one out of two survey respondents reported that they are worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the coming months." The number of people accessing Ontario's food banks between April 1, 2019 and March 31st of this year went up more than five per cent compared with the previous year, to 537,575, according to the report. Feed Ontario says its data shows the primary drivers of continued growth in food bank use are inadequate social supports, precarious employment and a lack of affordable housing. More than 65 per cent of food bank users in the last year listed social assistance programs such as Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program as their primary source of income, the report says. Food banks continued to see a rise in the number of employed adults using their services, with an eight per cent increase in the last year and a 44 per cent increase over the last four, it says. "This continuing trend is largely the result of a rise in casual, contract, and part-time employment, which makes it difficult for wageworkers to secure sufficient income each month, changes to Ontario’s labour laws, including the removal of paid sick days, and the inadequate support and accessibility of worker support programs," the document says. The report says more than 86 per cent of food bank users in the last year were living in rental units or social housing and spent most of their income on rent. What's more, food banks have seen a 27 per cent increase in the last year in the number of users living in precarious housing such as emergency shelters or staying with friends and family, the report says. The organization does not collect data on race but acknowledged racialized communities face systemic hurdles as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Kawartha Dairy announced on Sunday that it is recalling some of its ice cream products due to the possible presence of pieces of metal, a release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said.The recalled products from the Ontario dairy include the company's chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chip ice cream, flavours sold in 1.5-litre and 11.4-litre containers.People who purchased these products should throw them out or return them to where they were purchased, the CFIA release said. The company, which is based out of Bobcaygeon, Ont., triggered the recall, the agency added.The products are sold in Ontario.The CFIA also announced that it is conducting a food safety investigation into the dairy. "If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings," it said in the release. "The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace."There have been no reported injuries associated with consuming these products, the agency said.
VICTORIA — The British Columbia cabinet minister appointed to lead the province's COVID-19 pandemic recovery says he plans to mount a large team effort from inside and outside of government to spur economic success. Ravi Kahlon, a former Canadian Olympian in field hockey, said he will look to involve ministries, businesses, communities and workers in an effort to provide immediate help to struggling businesses and steer towards a post-pandemic future focused on innovation. "We have to have everyone working together," he said in a recent interview. "You look at how businesses have worked together with government to deliver pieces during the pandemic," said Kahlon. "That's the same mentality we're going to need when we get out. We can put critical pieces in place, incentives and supports, so that we can bounce back at a rate which most people in B.C. expect." Premier John Horgan appointed Kahlon as jobs, economic recovery and innovation minister last week, saying he piled enormous responsibilities onto the two-term New Democrat from suburban Vancouver and expected results. Horgan appointed his cabinet following last month's election where the NDP won a majority government, capturing 57 of 87 seats. Kahlon, 41, who previously served as a parliamentary secretary in the forests ministry and led the reintroduction of B.C.'s Human Rights Commission, said he will consult broadly on the recovery. "My view with everything is the government doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas," he said. "There are good ideas in the community. There are good ideas in the business community, good ideas from local elected officials." Horgan issued mandate letters to the ministers and parliamentary secretaries stating the government's overall goals: people first, clean environment, Indigenous reconciliation, equity and anti-racism, health and strong economy. He also provided each of the 37 ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries with individual mandate goals. Among the goals for ministers are: free transit for children 12 years old and younger, drop the seven per cent provincial sales tax on e-bikes and consider public condominium insurance if the issue of skyrocketing rates is not resolved by 2021. Horgan asked Kahlon to "deliver initiatives that will directly support small businesses and build an inclusive economic recovery across B.C." Prof. Tom Koch, a medical geographer at the University of B.C. who specializes in mapping diseases, said Horgan's cabinet should spend more time fighting today's pandemic than looking to a recovery. "The priority of looking forward to me is a little premature," he said. "It has to be done ... but the question immediately is what are we doing about hospitals and about hospital capacity and what are we doing about trying to rein in those areas where accelerators are occurring." B.C.'s most recent COVID-19 infection report saw a record daily high of 911 cases Friday, while the death toll is nearing 400 people. Koch said economic recovery should play a part in Horgan's cabinet and government direction, but at this time when cases are surging, the premier appears to be saying, "do we basically want to start planning the victory parade in the second quarter." Kahlon said he expects businesses, communities, governments and people to work together to battle the pandemic. "I think the pandemic is going to push societies to a place where innovation will be critical and I think we're well-positioned in B.C. to be not only leaders in Canada but I think world leaders." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A Montreal long-term care home transferred 20 residents to local hospitals on Sunday after a COVID-19 took hold in the last week, concerning officials and terrifying families.Francine Dupuis, associate president and director general of the local health agency, said 18 residents of Maimonides Geriatric Centre who tested positive for COVID-19 were sent to Hotel Dieu Hospital.Two other residents were sent to Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, while 10 residents were sent back to their rooms at the facility after being checked by a physician."What we want is the safety of our residents, which is why we made this decision," Dupuis said in an interview.The transfers came a day after the health agency announced plans to close a COVID-19 hot zone at Maimonides -- which had 30 COVID-positive residents -- to try to stem the spread of the virus.Dupuis said the outbreak began after an asymptomatic caregiver entered the facility and later tested positive for COVID-19. "Once there’s one person, it’s like a fire; it goes very fast. People get infected very fast," she said.The situation has raised concerns among residents' relatives and loved-ones, who staged a protest outside the centre on Thursday to demand more support.Joyce Shanks' 81-year-old father, Harvey Stoliar, has been at Maimonides for the past five years, since suffering a brain injury.She said that while moving residents who tested positive for COVID-19 to hospitals is a good first step, the facility needs more staff and safety protocols in place to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.“It’s a nightmare and we’re scared. A lot of us are angry, as well… We’ve been trying to be part of the solution and we’ve been kind of ignored and so have our loved ones," Shanks said in an interview.As of Nov. 28, 10 residents had died at Maimonides during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Health Department data.Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday that he had asked for a report on the situation and on whether additional staff is needed.Quebec long-term care homes were hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic last spring. Many facilities were under-staffed and in some cases, personnel moved between centres -- allowing the virus to spread more easily.The province reported 1,395 new infections and 12 additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 141,038 cases and 7,033 deaths.Canada's top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has raised concerns about a surge in COVID-19 infection rates among older Canadians.In a statement on Sunday, Tam said people "aged 80 years and older currently (have) the highest incidence rate" across the country. She also said more and larger outbreaks are happening in long-term care homes, among other places, and urged people to reduce their contacts with others to prevent the virus from spreading further.In Montreal, Dupuis said the health agency now intends to make it mandatory for caregivers to have a negative COVID-19 test result before they enter long-term care homes."The government is also allowing us now to make it compulsory for the staff, which was not the case before," she said, adding that gaps are still inevitable."But at least we'll be tougher in our control system."That was welcome news for Shanks, who said she hoped public health and Maimonides officials would better communicate with families moving forward, too."Let us work with you," she said. "We just want a healthy, safe population."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version carried an incorrect quote.
ÉCONOMIE. Malgré le ralentissement économique occasionné par la pandémie, les entreprises manufacturières qui transforment le métal font encore face à des problèmes de pénurie de main-d'œuvre révèle un sondage. Une problématique bien réelle pour le secteur manufacturier qui a un impact sur les capacités de production des entreprises. Plus spécifiquement, trois quarts de la centaine d’entreprises sondées par les organismes PERFORM, le Comité sectoriel de la main-d'oeuvre dans la fabrication métallique industrielle, le Réseau de la Transformation Métallique du Québec (RTMQ) et Sous-Traitance Industrielle Québec (STIQ) indiquent rencontrer des difficultés de recrutement de main-d'oeuvre et près de la moitié considèrent qu'elles sont plus fréquentes depuis le début de la pandémie. Les soudeurs, soudeurs-assembleurs ainsi que les journaliers sont des perles rares recherchées par près de 50% des répondants. Pour plus des trois quarts d'entre eux, la requalification de travailleurs provenant d'autres secteurs d'activité pourrait être une solution à envisager ainsi que le recours à la formation. Également, la majorité de ces entreprises ont vu leur production diminuer depuis le début de la pandémie. Plus du quart affirment avoir enregistré une baisse de production supérieure à 25 %. Quelques-unes associent cette baisse aux difficultés économiques que traverse actuellement l'industrie aérospatiale alors que d'autres l'attribuent au manque criant de la main-d'oeuvre. Les deux tiers des entreprises déclarent enregistrer une baisse de leur carnet de commandes, dont le tiers l'estime supérieure à 20 %. En contrepartie, 15 % d'entre elles constatent une hausse de leur volume de production, imputée à la forte demande pour les produits du domaine de la construction, ainsi que pour les équipements médicaux et le matériel lié à l'horticulture. Pour faire face à la crise sanitaire, le gouvernement du Québec a mentionné à quelques reprises sa volonté d'encourager la fabrication au Québec. Plus de la moitié des entreprises considèrent avoir la capacité de réaliser ce défi dès maintenant, alors que seulement un tiers estiment que cela sera possible d'ici les cinq prochaines années. Pour ce faire, elles affirment qu'il est impératif de trouver des solutions à la problématique liée à la rareté de la main-d'oeuvre. Pour plusieurs, des investissements en capitaux seront requis afin d'augmenter la productivité de leurs installations en investissant dans des équipements de pointe. Par ailleurs, la pandémie risque de compromettre la pérennité d'environ 30 % des entreprises répondantes. Ce pourcentage est identique à celui obtenu lors d'une enquête similaire menée en mai dernier. Note encourageante, un transfert de 5 % a eu lieu de la catégorie « risque très élevé/élevé » à celle « risque moyennement élevé ». Enfin, les deux tiers des répondants demeurent « optimistes ou très optimistes » en ce qui concerne la relance de l'économie au cours des six prochains mois. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Sherbrooke - Grande nouvelle pour les serriculteurs : le gouvernement investit 112 M$ pour doubler ce type de productions d’ici 2025, à condition qu’elles servent l’autonomie alimentaire du Québec. Mais qu’arrivera-t-il du côté biologique, où on se tourne déjà en grande partie vers les États-Unis, faute de pouvoir percer le marché québécois? Russell Pocock, copropriétaire de la Ferme Sanders à Compton, s’est tourné il y a déjà 25 ans vers le marché américain, qui reçoit aujourd’hui 80 % de ses légumes biologiques. Ce n’était pas à l’image de son rêve, mais c’était l’unique solution rentable vu la faible demande québécoise, confie-t-il. Encore aujourd’hui, lui et les quatre autres maraîchers estriens membres de la coopérative Deep Root reposent donc en grande partie sur nos voisins du sud pour faire prospérer leurs fermes, tout en fournissant quelques points de vente estriens. « Je trouve qu’encore aujourd’hui, il y a peu de produits biologiques disponibles dans les épiceries et les grandes surfaces, note M. Pocock. C’est parce qu’il n’y a pas de demande. Pourtant, aujourd’hui, aux États-Unis, les plus grands vendeurs de fruits et légumes biologiques sont Walmart et Costco. Quand on parle de politiques gouvernementales pour encourager la production locale, il faut que ça passe surtout par la demande du consommateur. On peut encourager beaucoup la production, mais si on ne crée pas en même temps des incitatifs du côté de la consommation, on crée des problèmes. » Coup de pouce Avec les annonces de vendredi, les propriétaires de l’Abri Végétal à Compton pourront certainement aller de l’avant avec leur projet d’expansion, qui vise à nourrir un rayon de 50 km autour de la ferme à l’année. Il ne reste qu’à attendre l’imminente décision de la Régie de l’énergie en ce qui a trait au tarif préférentiel d’électricité pour les plus petits producteurs. Ils se réjouissent tout autant du programme d’expansion du réseau triphasé, qui pourrait leur faire économiser plus de 180 000 $, incluant les équipements électriques. Leur projet de quatre nouvelles serres dernier cri, qui représente un investissement de 500 000 $, est bel et bien conçu pour accroître l’autonomie alimentaire de la région pour la période plus morte de l’année, mais l’exportation via Deep Root devra toujours demeurer dans les cartons en été. « Il y a une demande de notre clientèle pour plus de produits en hiver, ça c’est clair et 100 % de notre agrandissement y sera consacré. En été, il y a déjà une offre avec le maraîchage. Il faut être conscient que si on double tous, il n’y aura pas de place pour tout le monde sur les marchés locaux. En exportant l’été, on évite le gaspillage et la compétition sur les marchés locaux et ça nous permet d’avoir une industrie qui est bien équipée pour soutenir l’autonomie, si jamais on a des problèmes de frontières », partage l’un des copropriétaires, Frédéric Jobin-Lawler, qui a même diversifié sa production pour pouvoir mieux fournir des détaillants. Actuellement, ce sont 55 à 60 % de ses légumes qui sont exportés. Même si le créneau biologique gagne en popularité, le défi est trop grand pour compétitionner avec l’agriculture locale conventionnelle, explique-t-il. M. Jobin-Lawler cite en exemple des épiceries de Sherbrooke qui ont cessé de s’approvisionner chez lui après plusieurs années, parce qu’elles avaient atteint leur « pourcentage d’achats directs. » « Dans le local, il y avait tellement une forte demande qu’ils ont décidé d’acheter de la production conventionnelle, avec laquelle ils pouvaient faire une plus grande marge de profit qu’avec nous. Il faudra toujours se battre pour notre place tablette, et ça va rester tant qu’il n’y aura pas une intention d’acheter locale, autre que marketing, des grandes chaînes. » En 2016, l’Estrie comptait 38 producteurs de fruits et légumes biologiques, au champ ou en serre. 10 % de plus pour le bio Interrogé par La Tribune, le cabinet du ministre André Lamontagne a annoncé une bonification de 10 % de l’aide accordée aux entreprises biologiques dans le cadre des mesures annoncées vendredi en faveur des productions en serre. Il a également rappelé que « le MAPAQ a investi une somme totalisant près de 5 M$ pour soutenir spécifiquement le développement des entreprises et l’ensemble du secteur biologique au cours de l’année 2019-2020. » Parmi les initiatives citées, on mentionne également que « pour accroître la demande des consommateurs et assurer un arrimage avec la croissance de l’offre, le gouvernement a investi 950 000 $ au cours de la dernière année en soutenant les activités de valorisation et de promotion des aliments biologiques québécois réalisées par la Filière biologique du Québec. » Doubler la production en serre d’ici 2025 Vendredi, le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation André Lamontagne a dévoilé ses mesures phares pour doubler la culture en serre au Québec d’ici 2025 et qui entreront en vigueur le 1er décembre. – Pour les entreprises qui désirent prendre de l’expansion sur le marché local : 50 % des dépenses admissibles, jusqu’à concurrence de 50 000 $. – Pour les entreprises qui alimentent les marchés régionaux ou nationaux et qui désirent augmenter leurs volumes ou diversifier leur offre : 50 % des dépenses admissibles, jusqu’à concurrence de 600 000 $ (projet d’au minimum 100 000 $). – Pour les entreprises serricoles qui sont en mesure de prendre de l’expansion dans les grandes chaînes d’alimentation : passage de 20 à 40 % de remboursement des factures mensuelles d’électricité. – Le ministre de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, a également dévoilé un programme qui permettra l’extension du réseau triphasé dans les régions non desservies par ce type de courant. Les demandeurs pourront se faire rembourser 75 % des dépenses admissibles jusqu’à concurrence de 250 000 $. – Rappelons que la Régie de l’énergie doit bientôt rendre sa décision quant au tarif préférentiel d’électricité de 5,59 cents du kW/h (environ 50 % de rabais) pour les producteurs en serre utilisant une puissance de 50 kW minimum. Actuellement, ce tarif n’est réservé qu’aux plus grands producteurs utilisant 300 kW et plus. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Steeles Avenue is the border between Toronto and York Region, two communities under different COVID-19 restrictions — including non-essential, in-store shopping.
WASHINGTON — She's fended off protesters who made a run at her husband. She's moved him farther from reporters during the coronavirus pandemic. She's supported his presidential ambitions again and again — except in 2004, when she deployed a novel messaging technique to keep Joe Biden from running.“No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush.Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden's many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband's career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama's vice-president. She's a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster.Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example.She intends to keep working as a college professor, which would make her the only first lady to keep her day job outside the home. And if four decades in the public eye are any indication, she'll continue being Biden's chief protector.The role isn't completely unfamiliar territory for Jill Biden. She's been a political wife the entire time she's been married to Joe Biden. Plus, she had a bird's-eye view of what a first lady does during Obama's two terms.But the scrutiny level will change. And all eyes are on the incoming Biden administration to deliver what both Joe and Jill have promised — getting the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country under control.Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and the author of several books about first ladies, recalled Barbara Bush telling her: “You know, when I was second lady, I could say anything I wanted, and no one really paid much attention. But the minute I became first lady, everything became newsworthy.”Still, Jill Biden won’t have the learning curve most other new first ladies faced. “She’s been in the public eye for a long time," Gutin said. “She’s going in eyes wide open.”The coronavirus has killed more than 260,000 Americans and upended much of daily life. The Bidens offered themselves as agents of comfort at a time of loss and grief, experiences they know well particularly after their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.From the start, she brought comfort to the Biden family.Joe Biden's first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Jill Biden helped raise his surviving young sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to their daughter, Ashley, in 1981. She refers to all of them as her children.As Joe Biden commuted from Delaware to Washington while serving as a senator, Jill Biden built a career as a teacher, ultimately earning two master’s degrees and then a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.Throughout, Jill Biden's protective streak was notable. There she stood at his side, when Joe Biden withdrew from his first presidential bid under accusations of plagiarism. She says she emulated her mother's stoic style. Jill Biden's mother, she said, didn't even cry when her own parents died. She saw that as strength. “I decided early that I would never let my emotions rule me,” she wrote in her memoir, ”Where the Light Enters.”“As a political spouse, I’ve found that my stoicism often serves me well,” Jill Biden wrote. “In 1988, when Joe’s first presidential campaign started to look bleak, people were constantly looking for cracks in our team. We all felt scrutinized, but I refused to show weakness.”It showed early in the 2020 race when several women accused Biden of inappropriate touching. The candidate denied acting inappropriately but acknowledged that social norms had changed. He pledged that he would change, too.Jill Biden defended him.“I think what you don’t realize is how many people approach Joe — men and women, looking for comfort or empathy,” she told ABC’s ”Good Morning America." “But going forward, I think he’s gonna have to judge — be a better judge — of when people approach him, how he’s going to react. That he maybe shouldn’t approach them.”She recalled a time in her life when she had been treated inappropriately and didn't speak up.“I can remember specifically — it was in a job interview," Jill Biden said. "If that same thing happened today, I’d turn around and say, ‘What do you think you’re doin’?”She's quick to rally to her husband's side, sometimes physically.In New Hampshire in February, a man tried to cross into the roped-off area near Joe Biden. In a flash, Jill Biden crossed behind her husband and put her arms around the man, turned him around and helped push him away.A month later in Los Angeles, she similarly blocked one protester, then a second one, who had stormed the stage while Joe Biden was delivering his Super Tuesday victory speech.When the first one approached waving an anti-dairy sign and yelling, Jill Biden stepped between the protester and her husband. She did the same with the second one, this time putting her arms up to block the intrusion.Both were removed without coming in contact with the candidate. After the 27-second confrontation, Jill turned around saying, “We're okay,” and encouraged Joe to keep the event going. The Bidens then said it might be time for Secret Service protection, and they got it soon after.“I worry about Jill,” Joe Biden said.She's been protective during the pandemic.On Oct. 5 at New Castle Airport in Delaware, she moved her husband back from members of the media as he spoke outside his campaign plane before a trip to Miami.Like many American families, the Bidens spent Thanksgiving differently this year. They stayed at their house in Rehoboth, Delaware, rather than their usual “Nana-tucket,” as her grandchildren have called the Massachusetts island where the Bidens started going early in their marriage to establish a new holiday tradition.In 2020, instead of the usual sprawling family tableau, their daughter and her husband were the only Biden visitors to the house in Delaware. A Zoom call with the larger group was on the evening's agenda.Look, too, for Jill Biden to try to keep things light.“She's not your average grandmother,” granddaughter Naomi said on a video shown at the Democratic National Convention, recalling that Jill Biden once woke her up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning to go “soul cycling.”“She’s a prankster, she’s very mischievous,” Naomi added with a grin. “When she goes on a run, sometimes she'll find, like, a dead snake and she’ll pick it up and put it in a bag and use it to scare someone.”—-Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellmanLaurie Kellman, The Associated Press
BANGKOK — Thailand’s indefatigable pro-democracy activists took to Bangkok's streets again Sunday, this time to protest the army as they push forward with their campaign for sweeping reforms, including to the nation's monarchy.Around 800 protesters marched to the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment, which is closely associated with the country’s royal palace. Their number grew to well over 1,000 as they settled in for speeches by protest leaders.An advance group of protesters had already pulled away two decrepit buses that had been used to block the entrance to the base and removed strands of razor wire. A large contingent of riot police, several rows deep, stood their ground in front of the gate but no violence was reported by the end of the rally.The protesters believe that the army undermines democracy in Thailand, and that King Maha Vajiralongkorn wields too much power and influence in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.The student-led protesters for months now have been demanding reforms to make the monarchy more accountable, even though criticism of the institution has long been considered taboo and comments judged defamatory of the king and key royals are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.“People should be able to criticize the king. People should be able to inspect what he does. In this way, people will respect and love him more,” said activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who served seven years in prison for defaming the monarchy and is facing criminal charges in connection with this year’s protests.The protesters also want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down and the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic.As the army chief in 2014, Prayuth led a coup ousting an elected government. His military junta oversaw the rewriting of the constitution, which shifted power from elected politicians to unelected bodies, and he was returned to power after elections held under the new rules last year.Prayuth faces a legal challenge on Wednesday, when the constitutional Court is to rule on whether he illegally stayed in army housing after he retired from the military at the end of September 2014. If found guilty, he could be forced out of the prime minister's post. Protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak urged the crowd to rally outside the court on the day of the verdict.The site of Sunday's protest was symbolic for several reasons.Last year, the 11th Infantry Regiment was shifted from the army’s chain of command and made part of the Royal Security Command, answerable directly to the king. The action was one of several denounced by protesters as an example of the palace taking powers that should not be allowed under constitutional rule.Although it was a bloodless army revolt in 1932 that ended the absolute monarchy and installed constitutional rule, the military and the palace have been closely allied for decades. By promoting and defending the royal institution, the army lays claim to being the protector of the nation, while the palace can count on the army to put down any threats to its position of privilege.There have been 20 military coups since 1932, the most recent ones in 2006 and 2014. Because it is based in Bangkok, the 11th Infantry Regiment has been a key player in coups, or opposing them, according to the prevailing political climate.While most coups are bloodless, the army has not hesitated to use force to crush threats to the established order.In 2010, more than 90 people were killed and almost 2,000 injured during nine weeks of protests that saw part of central Bangkok occupied by protesters who were eventually cleared out by the army. Prayuth, then a senior army general, was involved in the crackdown.In announcing plans for Sunday’s protest, a group from Bangkok’s Thammasat University explained on Twitter that the regiment was targeted “because this unit suppressed people in 2010 and it was the main force for the previous coups.”Near the end of the rally, protesters threw red paint in the direction of the army base — some splattering on shields held by the police — to symbolize the 2010 bloodshed.___Associated Press journalist Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul contributed to this report.Grant Peck, The Associated Press
A slew of travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be extended into January, the federal government said Sunday, as case counts continued to rise steadily across the country.In a statement, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the measures would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021 for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States.The rules were first imposed near the start of the global outbreak."We have introduced a number of policies to keep Canadians safe but must remain flexible and adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation," Blair said in a statement.The ministers said restrictions for visitors crossing the border from the U.S. are currently in place until Dec. 21, but may be extended. Among the new rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.But the ministers also said they're looking to make it possible for "high-performance, amateur sporting organizations" to hold major international events on Canadian soil.They said the successful applicants would need to present a public health plan as well as show they've secured the support of provincial and territorial governments and health authorities.The Department of Canadian Heritage will issue authorizations in consultation with the Health Agency of Canada, the ministers said.The announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts continued to mount, though at levels slightly below the record-setting daily tallies seen in several regions in recent weeks.Public health officials in Quebec reported 1,395 new cases on Sunday, while Ontario recorded 1,708 new infections -- pushing the provincial totals since the pandemic began to 141,038 and 114,746, respectively.Cases also have gone up steadily in Atlantic Canada, with New Brunswick reporting 14 new diagnoses on Sunday and Newfoundland and Labrador recording four additional infections.Public health officials in Nova Scotia logged 10 new cases, all in the province's central zone, which includes Halifax.Manitoba reported 365 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 11 new deaths -- almost all of which were linked to outbreaks in care homes. Health officials said nine of the 11 deaths were people in their 80s and 90s, one was a man in his 60s and one was a man in his 70s.The case count in Nunavut also rose by 13, while Saskatchewan reported 351 new infections. Alberta reported its second highest number of new COVID-19 cases, logging 1,608, with nine more deaths. Canada's top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the highest rate of infection is among people aged 80 and over, while more outbreaks are happening in long-term care homes."Cases are increasing among older adults," Tam said in a statement.Both Quebec and Manitoba reported new, significant outbreaks at such facilities.A Montreal public health agency on Sunday transferred 20 residents of a long-term care home to two local hospitals after a COVID-19 outbreak drew widespread concern this week.Officials said 30 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at Maimonides Geriatric Centre. Ten residents there have died during the pandemic’s second wave, according to the latest Quebec Health Department data.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A mysterious silver monolith that was placed in the Utah desert has disappeared less than 10 days after it was spotted by wildlife biologists performing a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep, federal officials and witnesses said. “We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’ has been removed from Bureau of Land Management public lands by an unknown party,” on Nov. 27, BLM spokesperson Kimberly Finch said in a statement. The agency did not remove the structure, she said. The Utah Department of Public Safety said biologists spotted the monolith on Nov. 18, a report that garnered international attention. It was about 11 feet (3.4 metres) tall with sides that appeared to be made of stainless steel. While Utah officials did not say specifically where the monolith was located, people soon found it on satellite images dating back to 2016 and determined its GPS co-ordinates, prompting people to hike into the area. Reporters with The Salt Lake Tribune hiked to the spot on Saturday and confirmed that it was gone. Spencer Owen of Salt Lake City said he saw the monolith Friday afternoon and camped in the region overnight, but as he hiked to the area again on Saturday people passing him on the trail warned him it was gone, the Tribune reported. When he arrived at the spot, all that was left was a triangular piece of metal covering a triangular-shaped hole in the rocks. “I was really bummed,” said Owen, who posted a video on his Instagram. “It was so pretty and shiny. I wanted to go see it again.” Riccardo Marino and his girlfriend Sierra Van Meter were travelling from Colorado to California on Friday and decided to stop and see the object after finding the GPS co-ordinates online. “This was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we couldn't miss out,” Marino told KUTV. On the way, they passed a long-bed truck with a large object in the back and he said he joked “oh look, there's the Utah monolith right there,” he said. When they arrived at the spot, it was gone. Steve Adams said he left Helper, in central Utah, at 7 a.m. Saturday to drive to the area. When he arrived and asked someone for directions he was told the tower was gone. He and some friends made the hike anyway. “It was pretty disappointing,” he told the Tribune. “We were really excited to go down and have an adventure to see it. It feels like it was everybody’s and then it was nobody’s. It’s gone.” Riccardo Marino The Associated Press
A church in Langley B.C., just east of Vancouver has been fined $2,300 for contravening a recent provincial health order that prohibits in-person, faith-related gatherings, which was aimed at limiting the spread of COVID19.On Sunday, Langley RCMP said they asked congregants at the small church in a strip mall to disperse. When they didn't, police issued the fine.Congregants Tanya Gaw and Kari Simpson said bylaw officers issued the fine at the 8:30 a.m. PT service.The bylaw officers returned later accompanied by three RCMP officers. There, the officers were confronted by churchgoers, but police didn't issue another fine.Earlier this month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry suspended all in-person faith-related gatherings as part of a wider effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.Worshippers were told not to attend services at their gurdwara, synagogue, church, mosque or temple. Simpson said many churchgoers disagree with the health directive."This is probably ground zero for the churches standing up," Simpson said, from the parking lot in front of the church. "There is a movement afoot to ensure that more churches also start to defy Bonnie Henry's orders."Simpson and Gaw said they doubt the validity of Henry's orders, and question why liquor stores should remain open as an essential service, but not churches. Gaw said rising levels of depression and anxiety are signs that people need places like churches to remain open. "The church is the community for many people," she said. Gaw said she thinks the rising number of COVID-19 cases is due to faulty testing, which is causing false positives. "The deception to the public is instilling this unbelievable fear," she said. "All of it needs to stop. And we're pleading with the government to to just stop the whole thing." The province's latest report on test positivity shows that 8.5 per cent of tests performed through its Medical Services Plan— B.C.'s medical insurance plan — across the province were positive, a figure that rose to 11 per cent in the Fraser Health region.The provincial health order suspending faith-related gatherings has drawn criticism from faith leaders, including Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver J. Michael Miller, who said the move was "puzzling" considering parishes like those under his leadership have not been vectors of transmission.But Henry said on Friday that transmissions were happening at places of worship.Meantime, two other churches in the Fraser Valley also said they're continuing to offer in-person services despite the health order.2 Chilliwack churches also gatheringThe Free Grace Baptist Church and Free Reformed Church in Chilliwack both held services last week. On Sunday, the Free Grace Baptist Church again held a service.Lindsay Britton lives across the street from the Baptist church. Britton said he phoned police Sunday morning because people were gathering there. He was concerned they would spread more of the coronavirus into his community"I think we have to take a firmer stand," he said. The two churches' leaders argue that restricting the gatherings violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Both said they consider in-person worship an essential service and that, as commanded by God, they are required to attend public worship.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars fired general manager Dave Caldwell on Sunday after the team’s 10th consecutive loss and sending a clear message that the small-market franchise is headed in a new direction.It was a move many thought owner Shad Khan should have made at the end of last season. But Khan gave Caldwell another chance to make Jacksonville a playoff contender for just the second time in his eight-year tenure.Caldwell came up well short of the owner’s winning expectations, making Khan’s decision an easy and somewhat expected one.Khan will keep coach Doug Marrone and his staff in place to finish out the season and likely let the next general manager decide his fate. It would be stunning to see Marrone return in 2021.“I’ve met with Dave Caldwell to express my appreciation for his service to the Jacksonville Jaguars as our general manager," Khan said in a statement that followed the team's 27-25 loss to Cleveland. "Dave was exceptionally committed and determined to bring a winner to Jacksonville, but unfortunately his efforts were not rewarded with the results our fans deserve and our organization expects."Our football operation needs new leadership, and we will have it with a new general manager in 2021.”The Jaguars are 39-87 since Khan gave Caldwell his first GM job in 2013, falling a few plays shy of the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2018 and miring mostly in mediocrity since. The Jaguars (1-10) have dropped 16 of their last 19 games, including 11 by double digits.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLMark Long, The Associated Press
The Trump administration is poised to add China's top chipmaker SMIC and national offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC to a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies, according to a document and sources, curbing their access to U.S. investors and escalating tensions with Beijing weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Reuters reported earlier this month that the Department of Defense (DOD) was planning to designate four more Chinese companies as owned or controlled by the Chinese military, bringing the number of Chinese companies affected to 35.
Deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Monday. More than 409,000 people globally - most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa - were killed by malaria last year, the WHO said in its latest global malaria report, and COVID-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020. "Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to COVID-19) ... there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children," Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO's malaria programme, told reporters.
Kirkland Lake Gold views Timmins as an integral part of the company’s future according to its president and chief executive officer Tony Makuch. Makuch, a native of Timmins, has more than 30 years of experience as a mining engineer. He joined KL Gold in July 2016. Before that, he was the CEO of Lake Shore Gold from 2008 until 2016, when it was acquired by Tahoe Resources. This past week, he was the guest speaker for the latest edition of The State of Mining — a series of discussions hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce over the video conferencing platform Zoom. Makuch covered many topics throughout his presentation. He said the company is “industry leading” in terms of financial strength. “We are the only gold company with no debt whatsoever on the balance sheet. Very clean company. Three very strong, profitable mines that we’re investing strongly in.” KL Gold’s three operating mines are the Macassa Mine near Kirkland Lake, Detour Lake Mine near Cochrane, and the Fosterville Mine in southeastern Australia. Makuch said there is much excitement about the company right now, and that they are continuing strong work in development and exploration. “We’ve had a lot of success at Fosterville since 2016 to 2020; a lot of success at Macassa from 2016 to 2020. I think over the next few years, we’re really going to see how we can take Detour from something that nobody wanted to buy, nobody thought was any good and turn it into something that is really a cornerstone asset.” Makuch referenced some “negative views” by some in the mining world on KL Gold’s acquisition of Detour Lake, which was completed in January, but stated he and his team are very confident in the future of that project. Regarding how these projects could benefit Timmins, Makuch was asked by a Chamber member about KL Gold’s investment in the city, in particular a regional office. “We want to take a lot of the jobs that were done in Toronto and move them closer to site,” said Makuch. “Certainly there are a lot of jobs that were happening at the site that we see we don’t always need them at site. They’d actually be better, more comfortable, management and such, at a central location. “Timmins fits for us for a number of reasons. It is the regional centre. You have a lot of services, especially air services in Timmins, so the logistics of bringing people in and out helps. We’re looking at it from that perspective.” Makuch talked about running Detour Lake differently, and that they genuinely want to grow the local and regional economy as much as possible. “We’re trying to recruit from Northeastern Ontario, from the region, as much as possible, as opposed to across Canada.” Another exciting development mentioned by Makuch was the goal of building an airstrip near the Detour Lake site. “We want to start flying people in and out to the mine site, as opposed to busing. Combined travel time to the workplace currently sits around 3½ hours. By the time people show up at the Cochrane bus terminal and get bused up to site, it’s a significant amount of time. We’re trying to improve the logistics on that. Trying to be more centralized,” he said. “People come to work at Detour; they’re already going to be 14 days away from home. Then I’m asking you to take a half a day, or a day, to get to work, and then a half a day, or a day, to get home. I think that’s not really proper.” Makuch made an interesting point about the overall picture for the average worker, as it relates to home and family life. “Work is a necessary evil that we have to do, to do what we really want to do.” He then elaborated on the plans for the regional office in Timmins. “The concept is, there’s a lot of our G&A; staff (general and administrative), payroll, human resources, benefits, management, engineering, technical services, even our exploration group, are sort of working in a variety of different areas.” The idea is for the company to consolidate those jobs into one area, and felt Timmins would be the right fit. “We had satellite offices in a few areas in the region, we had some people in Kirkland Lake travelling back and forth from Timmins, or flying in from Toronto, we had people up at Detour and in Cochrane,” he said. “Our goal is to build a regional office in Timmins. We need that continuity in management.” In the meantime, they have been renting several smaller office spaces throughout the city and region, including one on Birch Street South. Residents shouldn’t expect to see a shiny downtown office building, however. “We’ve purchased a piece of land we want to build on at the corner of Highway 655 and Laforest Road. It’s very central for us. Logistically, it’s not far from the airport, and it’s on direct road access through to Cochrane. That’s the goal.” When and if that office does come to fruition, it will be a big boost for the city, he said. “We can see somewhere between 120 to 175 people working over there,” said Makuch. “We want to build the region, and we want to grow here and encourage people to come.” Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press