As the pandemic worsens and people are being told to stay home, some small business owners say it would be better to be shut down, with government support, than be left hanging in limbo.
As the pandemic worsens and people are being told to stay home, some small business owners say it would be better to be shut down, with government support, than be left hanging in limbo.
Public health officials in Nova Scotia are asking anyone who was in a bar or restaurant in Halifax or surrounding metro area past 10 p.m. in the last two weeks — including staff — to get tested for COVID-19, regardless of if they are showing symptoms of the virus. That provincial government and its chief medical officer of health announced the measure on Tuesday as it broadens an asymptomatic testing strategy.Newfoundland and Labrador's health department followed suit, asking anyone who has returned to Newfoundland and Labrador from Nova Scotia in the last two weeks, and who visited bars in Halifax and the surrounding metro communities to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing, even if they aren't experiencing symptoms.The Department of Health said even in the event of a negative test result public health, it is encouraging these people to continue monitoring themselves for symptoms for a full 14 days from the time of their arrival in the province.Recently in Newfoundland and Labrador a man returned to the St. John's region from Nova Scotia and tested positive for COVID-19. Two more cases in the Eastern Health region came as a result, and are connected to that man. On Monday, Premier Andrew Furey announced a two-week suspension for the Atlantic Bubble as cases rise in the region. Prince Edward Island is doing the same.2 new cases on TuesdayNewfoundland and Labrador is reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, both in the Eastern Health region.With a new recovery in the Western Health region, the province's active caseload is now 24.Both new cases are connected to previous cases, the Department of Health said in a news release. The first is a woman between 60 and 69 years old, a resident of the province and a close contact of a previous travel-related case reported on Nov. 17.The second new case is a woman over 70 years old, and is connected to the recent cluster in Grand Bank, according to the news release. The release said the woman, a resident of the province, is not a tenant of the Blue Crest Cottages retirement facility in the community.Both people are self-isolating and contact tracing by public health officials is completed, said the release, with neither of Tuesday's cases connected to each other.The Department of Health is also advising rotational workers about a COVID-19 outbreak at the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat, B.C. The department said it was notified about the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada as people from this province work there. "Rotational workers with the project who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 14 days must self-isolate and physically distance away from household members, and call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing," reads the media release. These workers must now complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of test result.Tuesday saw no new cases connected to the Western Health region, where a cluster has emerged including the first positive case within a school, involving a student at Elwood Elementary in Deer Lake.On Monday, education officials announced the school would be closed for two days. On Tuesday a spokesperson for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District told CBC News in an emailed statement school administration has been advised that "staff can make preparations for classes to resume at Elwood Elementary tomorrow.""All of the current public health information indicates school operations can continue," the statement reads.In total, 59,741 people have been tested across the province as of Tuesday's update provided by the Department of Health in a media release. That's an increase of 471 since Monday's update. There have been 295 recoveries and four deaths related to COVID-19 in the province since March. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.
India's ruling Hindu nationalist party approved a decree in the country's most populous state on Tuesday laying out prison terms for anyone compelling others to convert their faith or luring them into these conversions through marriage, officials said. The move follows a campaign by hardline Hindu groups against some interfaith marriages that they describe as "love jihad", Muslim men engaging in a conspiracy to turn Hindu women away from their religion by seducing them. Critics said the unlawful conversion order approved by the cabinet of Uttar Pradesh state, run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, was aimed at further alienating India's 170 million Muslims by painting them as aggressors plotting to weaken Hindus.
Homeowners in Swan Hills began to receive telephone calls from the town last week regarding their water meters. The electronic water meter heads installed on the water meters in many of our homes have reached the end of their "shelf life" and need to be replaced. The electronic heads are able to read the water meters through a pre-programmed algorithm that detects the magnetic signatures of the mechanical water meter. The electronic heads can then connect to a receiver to transmit the data from the water meter. This setup allows a meter reader to take water meter readings without having to enter the home. The person taking the readings drives up and down the streets of Swan Hills with a receiver in their vehicle, picking up the readings as they go. According to the town office, many of the electronic water meter heads were installed roughly 8 – 10 years ago and are now starting to have performance issues. The town will be contacting the affected homeowners on an individual basis to arrange the replacement of the water meter heads. This whole process may take some time as these service calls will depend on coordinating with the homeowners' schedules, and the town has a limited number of technicians to perform these replacements. Please do not be alarmed if you receive a call from the town regarding your water meter in the near future. This is merely routine maintenance to keep our present system running smoothly.Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Originaire de Portneuf-sur-Mer, Alyson Desbiens est de retour au Québec, après quatre années passées en France, pour travailler dans un domaine qui la passionne : l’immigration. Technicienne juridique pour le moment, elle veut devenir consultante pour accompagner les immigrants. La firme Nadia Barrou Immigration de Montréal l’a repérée en mars dernier, alors qu’elle conseillait des immigrants sur des forums spécialisés. « Mme Barrou trouvait que mes commentaires étaient pertinents et que je connaissais bien les lois de l’immigration », affirme la jeune femme de 27 ans. Après plusieurs discussions, Alyson a finalement été embauchée, ce qui a devancé son retour au pays. « Mon mari et moi étions censés revenir au Québec en mars 2021, mais je ne voulais pas rater cette opportunité formidable pour moi. Je suis donc revenue seule pour le moment, mais il viendra me trouver quand il en aura fini avec la paperasse administrative », indique-t-elle. Ayant complété un baccalauréat en sociologie et développement social en France, la Portneuvoise exerce en tant que technicienne juridique puisqu’elle ne peut faire du conseil en immigration pour le moment. « Je dois terminer mon cours de consultante en immigration avant. Je le suis présentement en ligne et je dois passer l’examen de l’ordre en février prochain. Je suis assez confiante puisque jusqu’à maintenant, j’obtiens de très bonnes notes et j’adore ça », explique Alyson Desbiens. Hobby Pour la jeune femme, aider les gens qui immigrent était un « hobby » depuis longtemps. Elle participait à des forums de discussion et apportait son soutien régulièrement. « J’utilisais mon expérience et mes connaissances législatives. Ensuite, j’ai découvert que je pouvais être payée pour faire ça. C’est à ce moment que j’ai débuté mon cours », raconte-t-elle. Effectivement, en tant qu’immigrante en France avec son conjoint qu’elle a rencontré alors qu’il était en vacances à Québec, elle a vécu plusieurs problématiques pour obtenir et conserver son VISA. « C’est de cette façon que j’ai développé de l’expérience dans le domaine, dévoile Alyson Desbiens, nouvellement mariée cet été. Lire les petites lignes dans le bas des contrats, ça me connaît. » De plus, avec la pandémie qui sévit dans le monde en ce moment, l’immigration est rendue encore plus difficile, selon Mme Desbiens. « Il y a beaucoup de choses qui ont changé, ce n’est pas évident de s’y retrouver quand on n’a pas les connaissances pour le faire. Les démarches sont plus longues et coûteuses et seulement les membres de la famille immédiate peuvent venir au Québec depuis la pandémie. » Coup de foudre Alyson Desbiens fait partie de celles qui ont vécu deux coups de foudre dans leur vie, soit amoureux et professionnel. Ses trois premières semaines de travail pour Nadia Barrou Immigration l’ont enchantée. « Il y a vraiment un climat de confiance et d’entraide dans l’équipe, confirme-t-elle. C’est super comme ambiance ». Aider sa région natale La future consultante en immigration aura peut-être même l’opportunité d’aider les entreprises de la Côte-Nord qui souhaitent faire appel à la main-d’œuvre immigrante. « C’est un défi qu’est prête à m’offrir Nadia Barrou. J’en serais très heureuse puisque j’ai une bonne connaissance de la région », conclut Alyson qui peut être jointe à firstname.lastname@example.org ou au 514-286-1613.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
LEBEL-SUR-QUÉVILLON-Québec et Ottawa, via divers ministères, ont annoncé mardi matin des investissements totalisant 16,5 M$ pour amener la technologie Internet à haut débit dans la région du Nord-du-Québec. C’est Eeyou Communications, une entreprise sans but lucratif reliée à la communauté crie, qui est responsable du projet. «Dans le contexte de pandémie actuel, Internet à haut débit dans une région comme la nôtre, ce n’est plus un luxe, c’est une nécessité, a déclaré le député caquiste d’Ungava, Denis Lamothe. Déjà 5826 nouveaux foyers ont pu être branchés dans des villes comme Matagami, Chibougamau, Lebel-sur-Quévillon et Chapais.» M. Lamothe ajoute que plus de 500 entreprises vont aussi bénéficier de ce nouveau service. «L’achat en ligne et le télétravail, c’est une réalité pour nous aussi, souligne-t-il. En 2020, c’est rendu nécessaire pour nos entreprises, si elles veulent continuer de croître, d’avoir accès aux nouvelles technologies. Ces entreprises veulent être sur un pied d’égalité avec leurs concurrentes du sud.» Un exploit technique Le projet utilise la fibre optique pour mettre sur pied un réseau de base de qui fournira un accès Internet haut débit fiable à 16 collectivités, ainsi que l’infrastructure du dernier kilomètre pour atteindre les foyers non desservis dans trois de ces collectivités du Nord-du-Québec et de la Mauricie. Également, des réseaux de dernier kilomètre permettront d’améliorer la capacité à large bande pour 6 176 foyers mal desservis dans ces régions. Au total, Eeyou Communications a dû dérouler et enfouir 366 km de fibre optique jusqu’ici pour son projet. «Nous avons surmonté plusieurs obstacles, a indiqué le directeur général, Alfred Loon. C’était important pour les communautés du secteur Eeyou-Itschee (les communautés cries du Nord-du-Québec) et pour leur gouvernement d’être à jour. J’ai eu plusieurs demandes de la part du secteur de l’éducation et du Cree Health Board, pour qui cette technologie était aussi devenue nécessaire.» Le secteur minier Les secteurs d’Eeyou-Itschee et de la Jamésie vivent actuellement un boom de leur secteur minier. Des projets comme Nemaska Lithium, situé à 300 km au nord de Chibougamau, ou le projet Windfall, d’Osisko Mining, situé à 100 km à l’est de Lebel-sur-Quévillon, sont en pourparlers avec Eeyou Communications. «Les discussions avancent bien aussi avec Goldcorp, souligne M. Loon. Ces entreprises travaillent maintenant avec la haute technologie pour analyser les gisements, et internet haute vitesse est devenu important pour elles aussi. Dans le cas de Goldcorp, ça devrait déboucher dans les prochains jours.» Ruralité et internet Présent lors du point de presse, le député de Pontiac, William Amos, a souligné l’importance d’amener internet haute vitesse dans les zones isolées. «Je suis dans un comté rural et isolé, en Outaouais, dit-il. . La crise de la COVID-19 nous a fait réaliser plus que jamais auparavant l’importance cruciale d’un accès au monde numérique. En investissant dans ce nouveau projet dans le cadre du programme Brancher pour innover, nous continuons de combler le fossé numérique afin que les Canadiennes et Canadiens des régions rurales du Québec puissent profiter eux aussi de tous les avantages qu’offre le numérique.» Le député caquiste d’Orford, Gilles Bélanger, a souligné le travail d’Eeyou Communications, en ajoutant que grâce à cette annonce, l’objectif de brancher tous les foyers québécois à la haute vitesse est maintenant en vue. «Cette annonce vient confirmer que notre programme a atteint sa vitesse de croisière, a-t-il déclaré. Je pense que dans les 22 prochains mois, nous pourrons dire mission accomplie.»Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
A decade long dream of a year-round mental health and addictions recovery center serving multiple First Nations in northern B.C. could soon be fulfilled. Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) is seeking approval of a community care facility at the recently purchased Tachick Lake Resort located within the traditional territory of the Saik’uz First Nation southwest of Vanderhoof. “COVID-19 has brought challenges in itself, but there have been many social issues in terms of substance and alcohol use affecting community members’ wellbeing,” Saik’uz First Nation councilor Jasmine Thomas said. Due to a lack of local health and wellness services, members often have to leave their homes for Vancouver Island or the Lower Mainland. “That doesn’t help support our healing journey,” Thomas added. Echoing those similar concerns is Saik’uz elder Marilyn Vickers. At a Nov. 9 Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako public hearing, Vickers confirmed the community had recently lost several members due to the proliferation of illicit drugs amid the pandemic, helping fuel it. “A year-round facility in Saik’uz traditional territory would be a huge gift to our people,” she said, where elders could teach the Carrier language, culture, customs and traditions to individuals hoping to heal and have a healthy, stable life. CSFS director of health and wellness Marilyn Janzen said it has been a vision for the past 12 years to have such a facility. An addiction recovery program at the Nadleh Whut’en fishing camp on the shores of Ormond Lake is only operational during the spring and summer months. Over the last 27 years, the program has used “on the land” cultural philosophy combining cultural practice with modern-day counseling in the natural setting to support wellness and recovery from addiction. “The proposed facility would allow for a six-week treatment program resulting in little traffic most days,” Janzen said. A rezoning bylaw to allow a community care facility to operate on the property passed third reading by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako on Nov. 19. Because the subject property is in the agricultural land reserve, the zoning bylaw must be amended to add “community care facility” as a permitted use. CSFS also needs the approval of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), to which the regional district agreed it would then consider adopting the rezoning bylaw. If the rezoning amendment and ALC approval are successful, CSFS will engage Unison Architecture in Vancouver to design and construct the 25,000 square foot facility. CSFS will likely retain the existing lodge for staff quarters. Consisting of a lodge, nine cabins and 33 campsites, the Tachick Lake Resort was initially constructed in 1969.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
The executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Northeastern Ontario can’t understand why organizations that actually work with the city’s marginalized downtown population would be excluded from the downtown task team set up to address the issue facing Sudbury’s core, since so many of those issues have to do with homelessness. On Oct. 20, Cory Roslyn, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Northeastern Ontario (EFSNEO) and a key member of the city’s Homelessness Network, found out that Mayor Bigger had formed and held a meeting for a task team to help in the downtown, a place where the EFSNEO and the Homelessness Network does a great deal of their outreach work and have for many years. She found out about it from a Sudbury.com article, the day after the meeting. That didn’t sit right with Roslyn, she said in an interview. Why would organizations that actually work with the downtown population not know about such a meeting, she wondered. So, she wrote a detailed letter and emailed it to Mayor Brian Bigger’s office. “Our intentions were to secure a seat at the table in hopes that the mayor would reconsider the approach of the task team from that of enforcement and criminalization, to an approach that considers real solutions to the social issues contributing to the problems downtown,” Roslyn said. She received no reply. The EFSNEO is one of many frontline, charitable, social service organizations whose mandate it is to provide services to the populations at the centre of the task team’s focus: the marginalized and homeless men and women, many of whom suffer from addiction and mental illness, and who are often criminalized rather than treated. “We know these individuals by name, we hear their stories, we witness their suffering and we are their resource for support when they need it. Our successes come from never forgetting the humanity in each person who walks through our doors,” said Roslyn. She notes that the majority of those individuals and groups asked by the mayor to sit on the downtown task team do not have regular, direct contact with those who are at the centre of the issues. “As individuals in leadership roles, no matter what organization or business we represent, it is important we recognize the privilege we hold, that creates our worldview, allows us to ‘other’ those whom we don’t understand and restricts our capacity for empathy and compassion,” Roslyn said. And this is why, in her opinion, the downtown task team is focussed in one direction, instead of looking at the issues downtown more holistically. “When you have 22 seats at a virtual table, and nine of those are taken by high-level employees of the City of Greater Sudbury, three by police, three from the (Downtown Sudbury) BIA, two from NOSM, and only two voices from frontline service organizations, it is not surprising that the outcome of the meeting does not adequately consider the social issues,” she said. When the downtown task team gathered on Oct. 30, it made some decisions as to first steps. Those steps included a plan to add LED street-lighting to downtown as a security measure. “Lighting may add a layer of perceived safety, but does very little — if nothing — to assist the homeless population,” said Roslyn. “Our organization sees little value for dollars spent in LED lighting and enforcement-based police approaches; lighting dark corners and policing those struggling with mental illness and addictions serves to displace already marginalized populations out of the public view. These tools only hide the problem; they do not address the root causes, or provide meaningful solutions.” When asked whether there were organizations that requested a place on the downtown task team that were denied, Bigger acknowledged that there were requests that he was forced to turn down, but defended the decision. “It is, admittedly, tough drawing a line,” he said. “But you know, many of these organizations are all interrelated.” As for Roslyn’s criticism that the team isn’t addressing the root problem, the mayor agreed there are certain aspects of the planning that address only symptoms, not causes. “What we've done is we have stepped up and increased the amount of garbage collection, we're in the process of cleaning up graffiti,” he said. “We've added some additional security in the downtown. We've enhanced the lighting in downtown and there's more work to be done to further enhance the lighting. “But all of that is addressing what you would call more symptomatic elements of the challenges that people are feeling and seeing in the downtown.” Despite the lack of representation from groups that actually work with the homeless, Bigger said he feels “we have representation from the core groups.” With so many community organizations in the city, he said the task team could find ways for the groups to communicate better. Bigger, however, also said the task team’s goals aren't solely related to the issues faced by the homeless and marginalized people in the downtown core, but also the needs of downtown business owners, residents who journey downtown to work, shop and for appointments, and visitors to the city. “The challenges we're dealing with, from the businesses, from the people living downtown, the people working downtown and the general public, who might be going downtown for different services, a lot of people were talking about the amount of garbage on the streets, the graffiti, (and) the gatherings of people in the downtown and the general sense and feeling of insecurity by people who are going downtown for very various reasons. “And so, that's one element that we've tried to address, and (we) know many of those issues can be dealt with fairly (and) fairly quickly.” Bigger also defended his decision not to have a representative agency from the Homelessness Network take part in the Oct. 30 task team meeting, saying it was a question of numbers and logistics. “I think the last meeting we had (Oct. 30) we had 30 people on one Zoom call. And so it gets challenging when you start getting into large numbers.” Roslyn doesn’t buy it. She said rather than using the limits of Zoom meetings as an excuse to exclude certain community groups, she said the mayor should make more thoughtful choices about who to invite. “There are at least a dozen organizations who are actively involved with the populations downtown who would have valuable input and contributions to make,” she said. It isn’t about Elizabeth Fry or another Homelessness Network member being invited, she added, but about “including the voices of the organizations who work with the population involved.” And despite the mayor’s argument that the task team’s focus has to be broader than simply the issues facing homeless or nearly homeless people downtown, Roslyn said the lack of social services, addiction services and mental health services available to marginalized people is the crux of the issue in the city’s core. “Ultimately the issues boil down to a lack of safe, affordable housing, and the lack of free, accessible addiction and mental health care. Punitive approaches have done nothing to solve their problems, and in fact, have furthered the cycle of addiction, incarceration and homelessness.” Curious who participated in the latest task team meeting? Sudbury.com was able to secure the list. City of Greater Sudbury: Mayor Brian Bigger; Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier; Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland: Ward 12 Coun. Landry-Altmann: Melissa Zanette, Chief of Staff: Ed Archer CAO: Steve Jacques, General Manager; Brendan Adair, Manager of Security & By-Law Services; Tony Cecutti, General Manager of Infrastructure Services. Greater Sudbury Police Services: Chief Paul Pedersen; Inspector Sara Cunningham; Deputy Chief Sheilah Weber. Healthcare organizations: Dr. Penny Sutcliffe and Sandra Laclé, Director Health Promotion from Public Health Sudbury and Districts; Angela Recollet, Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre; Patty MacDonald, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association; Dr. David Marsh, Associate Dean of Research, and Dr. Mike Franklyn, Faculty, both from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine; Maureen McLelland, Regional Vice-President, Cancer Care and Vice-President, Social Accountability at Health Sciences North. Downtown BIA: Maureen Luoma, Executive Director; Kendra MacIsaac, Co-chair; Brian McCullach, Co-chair.Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Here's the latest for Tuesday, Nov. 24: Joe Biden unveils his national security team; Restaurant workers lose jobs again as virus surges anew; Dow crests a historic 30,000 points; Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys.
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald With the winter months closing in, a pair of groups were at Galt Gardens to raise awareness for the homeless situation in Lethbridge on Saturday afternoon. Members of Kindness To Others and Community Giving Back To Community were at Galt Gardens handing out sandwiches to the homeless and raising awareness for a drop-in centre for those in need. “Today we are with some members of the community,” said Alvin Mills, a peer support worker with Bringing Home The Spirit in Standoff. “We want to feed the at-risk and vulnerable who struggle here in the city. We also want to bring to light what they go through and what they are going to be going through when the weather gets cold. I do see a real need for a drop-in facility here in the city. During the day they have nowhere to go and a lot of them are getting sick being out in the elements. “Then with the opioid crisis it enhances things. With the outreach service we started with Bringing Home The Spirit, we have been able to work in partnership with Alpha House, Alberta Health Services, Streets Alive and the Watch Program.” Mills said Saturday’s initiative was a street-level approach to reaching those who need help. “This is just the first step and sometimes they’ll follow through. Sometimes you just have to show that you care and you have to have that feeling of empathy regardless of the choices that they make. They should still be afforded that same dignity.” Mills said a shelter has been opened in Standoff. “They’ve stepped up in a big way opening up that shelter. So that’s another way of how we can get the ones struggling here in Lethbridge back out there.” In July, the Province of Alberta announced a capital investment to support the construction of two recovery communities in southern Alberta, one of them a 75-bed recovery community on the Blood Reserve in Standoff. “We have to fill those beds, especially with the weather getting colder,” said Mills. “This is the first step in recovery and we have to start filling up those beds.” On the Blood Reserve, Kainai Wellness manager Roger Prairie Chicken noted some concerning numbers. “What is happening within the reserve is basically the opiate process is still creating a lot of problems and deaths within the families on the reserve,” he said. “We are averaging about 12 DOAs a month and I would say 70 or 80 per cent of that is drug-related deaths and the age process is roughly 30 years and up. If you go back in time when this started, I would say, in 2018 and 2019, I believe we’ve had 46 or 47 each year, average DOAs. In 2019 and 2020 we went up to 118 deaths. That was when opioids really peaked out. “Now we are at a stage where we have had 99 deaths in the last fiscal year, but again the numbers are still really high. I would say almost 85 per cent of that is alcohol- and prescription-related DOAs.” Prairie Chicken said the numbers need to be shared by the public. “It has to start from the grassroots in the family situations, educating them and moving them forward,” he said. “You can’t resolve it with Band-Aid solutions and Band-Ad processes. These people are humans and they need help with their addictions. It’s an illness and it must be understood that way.” Over the weekend, Blood Tribe Police Service issued a warning about of a highly concentrated batch of drugs. BTPS and Blood Tribe EMS responded to an alarming amount of overdoses over 24 hours. Since noon Friday there were 15 overdoses that police and EMS have attended. There was been one death that is not considered suspicious, an autopsy will determine cause of death. On Saturday afternoon Prairie Chicken commended Mills for his work with the street people. “These are our people from the Blood Tribe and different areas and our hearts and our prayers go out to the families.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
A Halifax councillor says three houses that a car dealership recently bought on May Street cannot be replaced with a parking lot."When I went back and talked to [HRM] staff, we realized that was one of things that was changed under the new Centre Plan," said Coun. Lindell Smith. "So they can still demolish them if they want, but it would be great if they didn't."In 2016, the Steele Auto Group tore down 17 properties to expand the Colonial Honda car dealership along Robie Street. The move sparked a protest called Homes not Hondas.Since then, new development rules have been adopted under the Centre Plan Package A that limit what can be done along May Street. Pages 50 and 51 lay out the rules: "Most car-oriented land uses that are not compatible with the intent of this plan to create a safe and human scale pedestrian-oriented environment in the centres shall not be permitted in the CEN zones, such as auto repair uses and dealerships.""It says within the regulations that dealership uses are not allowed," said Smith. "So they couldn't put a service centre, a reception area or a parking lot."In an email sent to CBC last Friday, the Steele Auto Group said it had "plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot." The company also said that "this part of Robie Street is home to several auto dealerships, service and repair centres."Smith said while the expansion of the car dealership is not permitted, the houses could be replaced with another commercial business that is allowed, such as a hair salon. He added that because the rules are fairly new, the company may not have realized there were changes.CBC has contacted the Steele Auto Group for a new comment but has not yet had a response.MORE TOP STORIES
WINDSOR, Ont. — The mayor of Windsor, Ont., has apologized for breaking COVID-19 rules when dining out with seven other people last week. Mayor Drew Dilkens made a statement to Windsor city council on Monday, saying he made an "unfortunate error" that should not have occurred.Windsor was in the yellow tier of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions system last week. That tier permits only six people to dine together while inside a restaurant. “As mayor, there is responsibility for me to lead by example and showcase to all in our region that we need to follow all restrictions and guidelines to the letter," Dilkens said. Dilkens noted to city council that although he was not fined or issued a bylaw ticket, he will donate $750 – the typical fine for such an infraction – to the Windsor Goodfellows.The Windsor Goodfellows provides local families with assistance and support, including through a food bank, school breakfast programs, and a children’s footwear program.Dilkens also said that Gordon Orr, the chief executive officer of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, will be making an equivalent donation to an organization that works with children and youth facing mental health concerns. Windsor-Essex Region moved to the heightened orange zone of Ontario's COVID-19 restriction system on Monday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
Deborah Robinson has retained her long-standing position as chief of the Acadia First Nation in the election held November 21. Contender Todd Labrador, a member of the Wildcat First Nation Reserve in Queens County, fell short in his bid for the role, garnering 283 votes, 48 votes shy of incumbent Robinson’s 331 votes. Robinson, who resides on the Yarmouth Reserve, has been chief since June 1987. Acadia First Nation is a multi-generational Mi’kmaw Nation encompassing the southwestern regions of Nova Scotia and spanning counties from Yarmouth to Halifax. Included are six reserves – Yarmouth, Ponhook, Medway, Wildcat, Gold River, and Hammonds Plains. Additionally, Acadia First Nation has separate land holdings in Gardner’s Mill and Shelburne. Nineteen candidates vied for the eight seats on the council during the election. Wildcat representative Melissa Labrador, Labrador’s daughter, garnered 194 total votes, just short of earning a spot. Seven of eight incumbent councilors were re-elected: Avis Johnson (352 votes); Rachael Falls (290 votes); Jeff Purdy (259 votes); Michael Paul (251 votes); Charmaine Stevens (245 votes); Andrew Francis (244 votes) and Tom Pictou (225 votes). One new councilor joined the ranks - Natteal Battiste, who had 252 votes. Polling stations were held in Yarmouth, Shelburne, Wildcat, Liverpool, Gold River and Halifax.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
ARTHUR – A large housing subdivision planned in Arthur raised some concerns from residents and councillors at a Wellington North public meeting on Monday night. The developer, Cachet Homes, is proposing to build a 240-home subdivision in Arthur’s west end bordered by Preston Street North, Domville Street, Smith Street and Conestoga Street North. This will consist of 141 single detached and 99 townhouses as well as five new internal streets, a stormwater management pond and upgrading Preston Street to asphalt with a sidewalk. The report to council noted a large portion of the land was approved for a subdivision back in 1993. A similar development was proposed of single and townhouse units, about half the number currently proposed, but also included a large school block and park area. The school block is no longer required by the school board. Mayor Andy Lennox clarified that there was no decision being made and ultimately the County of Wellington is the authority on approving subdivision plans. The purpose of the meeting, he explained, was to collect information for the county and to consider zoning changes to setbacks and frontage which would fall on the township. Stephen Closs, a planning consultant for the developer, said that Arthur is intended to grow by nearly 1,000 people within 20 years and this development is an opportunity to reach this growth target. A common theme among delegates, particularly those who live on Conestoga Street, at the public meeting was a concern over stormwater management. Many mentioned concerns they have about their property flooding on occasion already and wanted clarification that things would not get worse with a new development where the water drains. Marcus Gagliardi, Cachet Homes development planner, stressed that they are up to the challenge of working on this issue with township engineers and other organizations. “We’re going to make sure the situation post-development is a much better situation than what currently exists,” Gagliardi said at the meeting. Two delegates, Mike DeWitt and Brent McKee, were both troubled about wildlife that inhabits the field and forested area where the subdivision will go up. They noted that there was no green space incorporated into the plan. “Why do we always have to destroy everything for the sake of a couple extra houses?” DeWitt asked. “I think development is going to come regardless but could we not set something aside for the wildlife as well?” Closs said ecological impacts will be mitigated but the land is already zoned as residential and is therefore intended to be developed. Some councillors agreed that parkland should be considered as part of a subdivision this size. The development as it stands is proposing cash-in-lieu of parkland but Gagliardi said they aren’t opposed to taking another look at it. “The comments about park space are valid and we’ll have to take it back and look at it as we look at the overall plan,” Gagliardi said. Some other councillor concerns were around the density of the development and if it would truly fit into the character of the small town. The mayor finished the meeting by bringing up how they’re going to manage an increase in sewage. “We’ve seen a number of development applications come forward and if it all comes to fruition we probably have a sewage capacity problem,” Lennox said, noting that the town has a sewage allocation policy that manages the rate of growth. Gagliardi said they will work with the township on a phased approach to not overwhelm their wastewater system as it works on growth and reiterated their stance of wanting to work with the township as best they can. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
PARIS — Restorers at Paris’ fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral have completed key preliminary work by successfully removing all the perilous roof scaffolding, officials said Tuesday.The removal of the 200 tons of scaffolding was considered dangerous, with some experts fearing that it could cause more of the Gothic monument to fall down. It was thought that the scaffolding might have melded to the cathedral in the blaze, and be keeping it in place.When the Notre Dame fire broke out on April 15 last year destroying the spire, the cathedral was already under restoration.The scaffolding previously installed resisted collapse, “but was deformed by the heat of the fire” Notre Dame restoration officials said in a communique.The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Supreme Court made Joe Biden’s win in the state official on Tuesday, approving the state's final canvass of the Nov. 3 election.The unanimous action by the seven nonpartisan justices sends to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak results that will deliver six electoral votes from the western U.S. battleground state to Biden.The court action drew extra scrutiny amid legal efforts by the state GOP and Trump campaign to prevent sending vote-by-mail ballots to all 1.82 million active registered voters and then to stop the counting of the 1.4 million votes that were cast.Nevada’s six Democratic presidential electors are scheduled to meet Dec. 14 in the state capital of Carson City.Biden won Nevada by 33,596 votes, according to results approved by elected officials in Nevada’s 17 counties — including Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which includes Reno.Biden got 50.06% of the vote and Trump 47.67%.Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican who has avoided the public eye in recent weeks, presented the results to the court.She noted the first-ever use of all-mail balloting statewide in a general election, same-day voter registration and early voting.“The result was more of a hybrid model where voters had a choice of how to participate,” she said, adding that a record number of voters participated.Certification of the vote does not stop several lawsuits pending in state and federal courts.They include bids by two Republican congressional candidates and a state Senate challenger to obtain re-votes in those races, an open-records case by the state GOP, and a U.S. District Court action alleging that thousands of ineligible people voted.A federal judge in that case declined a bid for an immediate injunction that would have stopped the use of a signature verification scanner during the vote count.Jesse Binnall, an attorney for the Trump campaign who is handling an election challenge pending before a state court judge, said Tuesday he intends to prove that so many fraudulent votes were cast statewide that Trump won Nevada.Turnout among the state’s more than 1.8 million active registered voters was almost 77.3%, including mail, early voting and Election Day ballots cast amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to secretary of state data.That was up from a turnout of 76.8% during the presidential election in 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton carried Nevada by a little under 2.5% over Trump.Nevada was one of several states due to certify the election on Tuesday.Ken Ritter, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Anxiety-ridden and overworked health-care workers say they feel abandoned in their increasingly desperate struggle to cope with COVID-19, a new small-scale study suggests.Interviews with nurses, personal support workers and others in hospitals and long-term care homes suggest chronic stress and burnout are common, but fear of reprisals is stopping them from speaking out."The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications," the paper states.The study, in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, was done by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, academic researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor and noted occupational hygienists.Health-care workers in Canada have contracted the novel coronavirus in far higher numbers relative to the general public, comprising almost one-in-five confirmed cases, according to a previous study. To date, COVID-19 has sickened close to 9,000 front-line health-care workers and killed 16.Only 10 workers — nurses, personal support workers and other staff — agreed to be interviewed for the qualitative study. Others refused to take part for fear of being disciplined or fired, they said.Despite the handful of interview subjects, the authors said their peer-reviewed findings reflect other larger-scale research and surveys, and its findings are valid.Those interviewed said they still lack personal protective equipment despite the very real risks of contracting COVID or spreading it — risks apparent from the early days of the pandemic. Some said they were warned by supervisors not to wear N95 protection, even if they had their own, Keith said.Others spoke of the constant grief and trauma they endure when patients or residents die, a situation only getting worse as new cases soar."Words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of the health-care workers we interviewed," Brophy said. "We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out."The vast majority of the front-line health-care workers are women, many racialized, Keith said. Many are part-time and vulnerable to job loss."Health-care workers are desperately in need of protection from COVID and from their often back-breaking and soul-crushing working conditions," Keith said. "But the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of health-care work contributes to (their) risks and adverse mental-health impacts."Despite the issues, the workers said the provincial government had let them down by failing to take action to deal with their health or labour concerns. Chronic understaffing and failing to keep them safe, the authors said, means the workers can't do their jobs effectively, putting everyone at risk."Health-care workers health and well-being are being sacrificed," Keith said. "We all need to pay attention to their pleas."There was no immediate response to the qualitative study from the provincial government, but Health Minister Christine Elliott praised the "tireless efforts" of front-line health-care workers during an announcement on Tuesday about the roll-out of rapid tests.Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said front-line staff in close contact with COVID-infected people still have no ready access to proper respirators. The Ministry of Labour has also rejected all 253 work refusals as valid. "This explains why people feel sacrificed and why they feel exploited and violated," Hurley said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
There is still a chance the Powassan Voodoos could see some NOJHL playoff action this season, confirms NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca. As was reported last week, the Voodoos were left off the regular season schedule because of COVID-19 restrictions at the Powassan Sportsplex. At the time, Powassan Mayor Peter McIsaac indicated the arena restrictions could be re-visited in January. But, he admitted, given that Ontario is seeing a rise in COVID cases, it is difficult to say what January may bring. “In the event the arena restrictions are removed, absolutely there is a pathway for the Powassan Voodoos to be part of the season,” Mazzuca stated via email. The restrictions would need to come down within a reasonable time, according to the commissioner, but “there are various definitions for a reasonable time. “We will evaluate and be as flexible as possible” to accommodate the Voodoos. Mazzuca said it also could be possible for the Voodoos to make the playoffs even after playing fewer fames than the eight teams which started the regular season. This could be done, he explained, by ranking the teams based on “winning percentage or some other formula. “What everyone needs to keep in mind is this is not a traditional hockey season and flexibility is critical going forward.” Mazzuca said the rules currently in place at the Powassan Sportsplex “are more stringent than at other facilities,” but the league is working with all public health units and municipalities to “ensure all protocols are followed.” Meanwhile, he said, the players themselves continue to belong to the Voodoos unless they are released by the club. The Nugget contacted Voodoos general manager Chris Dawson for comment but did not receive a response. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Any way you look at it, 2020 has been a challenging year all around, but it has impacted some families harder than others. With many businesses having been forced to close their doors and shut down for extended periods this year due to public health restrictions, affected business owners and the people that they employ have been among the hardest hit. Some people have seen their wages rolled back so that their employers can remain in business. There have been layoffs across the province as companies have had to reduce their operations. And too many businesses have had to close down entirely. While our economy has picked up from where we were in the spring, jobs still are not as plentiful as they were. The Swan Hills Food Bank has certainly seen an increase in requests this year compared to past years. Christmas is often a time when many of us look for ways to give back to our community, to try to offer a helping hand to those around us who may be having a hard time of things. This year there is an increased need for helping hands. The Food Bank and Santa’s Elves are doing things a little differently this year in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To reduce the number of items being directly handled by multiple people, Santa’s Elves is only able to accept monetary donations this year. Monetary donations can be made at the Alberta Treasury Branch downtown (4914 Plaza Ave). A food donation bin will be available at Super A, as there has been in previous years, but there will not be a toy donation bin for Santa’s Elves this year. Instead of delivering food hampers and toys this year, the families receiving support will be given gift cards to local businesses. This will reduce the chance for the transmission of COVID-19 by cutting down on the need for items to be directly handled by multiple people. This step will also allow the families receiving support to choose which groceries and gifts would benefit them the most. Please contact the Swan Hills Food Bank and Santa’s Elves at (780) 333-3442 if you have any questions.Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
MONTREAL — Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group says it has completed the sale company to a group of its creditors led by Catalyst Capital GroupThe company announced the closing of the transaction with its secured lenders and its emergence from court protection from creditors today. Cirque was forced to cancel its shows earlier this year and cut nearly 3,500 employees due to the pandemic.As part of the transaction, former MGM Resorts International chief executive Jim Murren and Catalyst Capital managing director Gabriel de Alba were named as co-chairmen of the company's board of directors.Daniel Lamarre will remain as president and chief executive, as well as continue to sit on the company's board. The new owners have also agreed to keep the company's headquarters in Montreal.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press