Getting power from trash. Making homemade batteries with soda cans and copper wire. Provides useful power. Enjoy!
Getting power from trash. Making homemade batteries with soda cans and copper wire. Provides useful power. Enjoy!
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The federal government wants to hear from you on temporary foreign worker accommodations. The window to provide comments and have your voice heard will close on Dec. 22, 2020. In consultation with provincial governments, employers, workers and foreign partner countries, the federal government announced this past summer that it would develop minimum mandatory requirements for housing under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), under which upwards of 60,000 foreign workers come to Canada each year to ensure our agricultural sector continues to function. “The intent is not to pursue short-term changes … but to develop a lasting approach to improve living conditions for workers while considering elements that would make accommodations more adaptable to addressing any communicable disease outbreaks in the future,” read a document provided to Niagara This Week by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). To that end, the feds want to reduce overcrowding to bring about five outcomes: personal space and privacy; adaptability to public health measures to prevent virus spread; more amenities; heating, cooling and air quality; and internet access. The current open consultation process requires those wanting to participate to send an email to NC-TFWP-APT-PTET-EPA-GD@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca requesting to take part. Through the public consultation period, the government wants feedback on “impacts and considerations for transitioning to new requirements,” and “approaches to strengthen oversight of worker accommodations.” New requirements under consideration for the TFWP include: ensuring workers have freedom of movement and can receive guests without restrictions; having proper heating and cooling equipment to maintain temperature range of 20 to 25.5 C; a maximum of four workers per bedroom with a minimum distance of two metres between all beds; washrooms being within work accommodations; and access to phones and free internet where available. The requirements under consideration can be viewed in their entirety by clicking here. “The consultations will inform the development of a lasting approach to improve living conditions for workers. Creating clear and consistent standards will also ensure employers fully understand their obligations and can better adhere to them,” an Oct. 27 press release read. The release also announced that the federal government will survey those employing agricultural temporary foreign workers so government can better understand current accommodation arrangements. Niagara This Week was provided a survey sample, which revealed questions about housing types like bunkhouses and mobile homes, square footage of common areas and sleeping spaces, amenities, and whether cooling/heating systems are controllable by workers — to name some. Another document provided to Niagara This Week from ESDC read that housing provided to workers “who may be vulnerable to exploitation due to their immigration status and other factors” is inconsistent. Common complaints, the document listed, are “overcrowding and lack of privacy, an inadequate number of washrooms and kitchen facilities per worker, lack of adequate heating/cooling” and deficiencies like leaks, mould and poor plumbing. “The increased attention on employer-provided accommodations through COVID-19 has highlighted several other common deficiencies in the quality of housing and living conditions for workers, including that group accommodations provided on many farms may increase the risk of communicable disease transmission, potentially putting the health of TFWs and the community at large at risk,” another paragraph read. Of the foreign workers who come to Canada each year, approximately 3,000 men and women come to work at Niagara’s farms; two of which experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks so far this year.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
A fourth route for the Town of Orangeville’s transit system will be delayed thanks to a decision to nix the transfer hub plans on Broadway. The route was set to be established in order to serve an area of town that currently does not have transit service. “(It’s) so frustrating,” Coun. Todd Taylor told the Orangeville Banner. “We are losing precious time to serve all of our community.” He added that Veteran’s Way and the west end of town are two examples. “We currently have entire neighbourhoods not served by transit,” said Taylor. The fourth route would allow the transit service to operate on a four-quad system. Each quad would serve a different area of the town and meet with the rest at a central location, allowing riders to transfer to reach their destination. Council reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from businesses in the downtown core and the BIA. Taylor, along with Councillors Lisa Post and Grant Peters, felt that sufficient work had been completed to prove the safety and benefits of a Broadway transfer point, which would have been located between First and John Street. Instead, several members of council would like to see staff investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre, an idea which was favoured until more recently. “I am disappointed in the decision,” said Taylor. “The Edelbrock site will cost over $300k to implement, while downtown was minimal.” Until council settles on a location, any work on the transit project, which includes the fourth route, has been put on hold. Taylor added that part of the reasoning behind a centralized station is to improve challenges deterring ridership, such as reliability and access to certain parts of town. “Our buses are underutilized today; this is a fact,” said Taylor. “Why would anyone want to ride a bus that is frequently late and does not get you close to a desired location?” Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to revisit the idea of using the Edelbrock Centre at its Dec. 14 meeting.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La ministre de la Santé Christine Elliott a affirmé en conférence de presse, mardi, que la province de l’Ontario sera équipée de l’un des meilleurs plans de vaccination contre la COVID-19 au pays. La vice-première ministre de l’Ontario a pris la place du premier ministre Doug Ford durant la conférence de presse quotidienne, mardi, pour répondre aux questions des journalistes. Elle a notamment fait savoir qu’un bioéthicien fera partie de l’équipe tactique dirigée par l’ancien chef d’état-major des Forces armées canadiennes Rick Hillier, responsable de coordonner le plan de distribution du vaccin contre la COVID-19 en Ontario. Ce bioéthicien sera embauché pour déterminer qui en province recevra le vaccin en premier. M. Hillier a soutenu que ce seront les membres les plus vulnérables de la communauté et les travailleurs de la santé qui seront considérés comme prioritaires. Plusieurs questions règnent actuellement autour de l’arrivée des doses du vaccin au pays, mais l’ancien général Hillier a indiqué qu’il n’a « plus d’inquiétudes à propos de la distribution ». La ministre de la Santé a indiqué que son gouvernement croira « sur parole le premier ministre du Canada Justin Trudeau et que ces vaccins arriveront dès janvier ». La ministre de la Santé de l'Ontario, Christine Elliott Christine Elliott a confirmé que la province s’appuiera notamment sur les compagnies privées pour rendre plus efficace la distribution des vaccins. Le secteur privé jouera un rôle essentiel dans ce processus de vaccination, selon la ministre Elliott, qui a noté que l’Ontario s’entretient déjà avec des entreprises comme Shoppers Drug Mart et Purolator. Près de 200 patients aux soins intensifs Le plus récent bilan de la santé publique de l’Ontario, publié mardi matin, révèle que 193 Ontariens atteints de la COVID-19 sont actuellement en unités de soins intensifs. Les modélisations des experts sanitaires de l’Ontario prévoyaient que ce nombre serait de 200 d’ici le début du mois de décembre. Rappelons que le seuil où les hôpitaux doivent commencer à annuler des chirurgies est de 150 en province. Parmi les personnes aux soins intensifs lundi, 112 d’entre elles étaient sous respirateur. En tout, la même journée, 645 personnes atteintes de la COVID-19 étaient hospitalisées. Au cours des 24 dernières heures, 1 707 nouveaux cas de la COVID-19 ont été répertoriés, portant le total du nombre de cas depuis le début de la pandémie à 118 199 en Ontario. Par ailleurs, la santé publique de l’Ontario déplore sept nouveaux décès liés au virus survenus au cours de la dernière journée. En tout, 3 663 personnes ont perdu la vie en raison du coronavirus, dont 2 309 résidents de foyers de soins de longue durée et huit employés de ces établissements.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
Yellowknife city council met on Monday to discuss how to allocate $1.469 million worth of federal funding they received last month to address homelessness during the pandemic.In April, the city received $500,000 from the Reaching Home initiative, which is a part of Canada's national strategy to reduce chronic homelessness. Most of that money went toward programs offered by non-governmental organizations, like the Women's Society, the Salvation Army and Side Door.Of that funding, they have just under $200,000 remaining. Now, the nearly $1.5 million of federal funds from October — secured on the condition it's spent before March 31, 2021 — needs to be allocated.During a special meeting, city council debated whether to approve the spending recommendations made by the community advisory board on homelessness.Rental arrears, shelter spaceThe first recommendation made by board is to allocate $300,000 to address rental arrears and to provide temporary rental support for those that are experiencing homelessness or may be at imminent risk.That amount was determined by landlords in Yellowknife who told the city the number of outstanding rental arrears they have. Around $800,000 is suggested to support 20 shelter beds for individuals and 10 shelter rooms for families which would be done using hotel rooms, says Grant White, the director of community services with the city.However, councillors called for longer term solutions and asked whether the funding could be used toward securing a permanent location for transitional or affordable housing.Coun. Shauna Morgan said that renting hotels seemed like an "inefficient way to use the funding."Although she says she is happy that there is a significant amount of funding available, she wanted to see that turned into more "sustainable solutions." Other councillors agreed.Coun. Steve Payne noted that homelessness was a "chronic problem" and was sceptical that a "temporary fix" would be the best route for addressing the housing issues that the city faces.Permanent housing optionsMayor Rebecca Alty made an alternative recommendation and suggested that the community advisory board look for more permanent housing options.In the meantime, Alty says she will request an extension on the March 31 expenditure deadline, or request that the funding be committed before that date, but spent after. She also plans to ask the federal government to review their residential assets in Yellowknife to see if any locations could be used for affordable housing.Alty said she made this alternative recommendation because she doesn't want to leave "any stone unturned.""If no permanent affordable housing can be found then I would be happy to consider this recommendation in the future," said Alty.She says she hopes the federal and territorial governments, along with local NGOs and businesses, will partner with the city to find a location to secure the transitional housing that the city needs.Council will hold a special meeting to move a motion in early December before they conclude for the year.
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Canada's decision to block American imports of certain prescription drugs from north of the border is getting stony silence from the Trump administration — a sign, one expert says, that the U.S. proposal is "dead in the water." The measure, first floated by Donald Trump a year ago as a strategy to help reduce America's staggering drug costs, took effect Monday after the president signed a pre-election executive order in September. On Saturday, however, Health Minister Patty Hajdu parried the effort with just days to spare, prohibiting bulk drug exports if they pose a risk of creating or worsening drug shortages in the Canadian market. The White House referred questions about the new limits to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has yet to respond to repeated media queries about where Canada's move leaves Trump's plan. That plan was "a desperate act by desperate people at a desperate time," said Dr. Allen Zagoren, a policy administration professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Canada represents only two per cent of global drug sales, and gets 68 per cent of its drugs from outside the country, Health Canada said in a news release announcing the export prohibitions. The U.S. market, on the other hand, comprises 44 per cent of pharmaceutical sales around the world. Buying drugs in Canada "was never realistic, ever," Zagoren said. "Even if Canada said, 'Sure,' there's no way — Canada doesn't have enough drugs. But it allowed them to make a promise. And then they could argue, 'Well, Canada won't let us. So it's them, not us.'" Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said the two countries have been discussing the issue of drug imports for more than a year. In those meetings, Canada has made it clear that given the relatively tiny size of the Canadian market, bulk imports from north of the border simply wouldn’t have the desired effect. "We've been saying to them all along: one, we sympathize with your policy concern; two, buying bulk drugs from Canada isn't the solution to your policy concern; and three, above all else, we will always protect the supply of drugs to Canadians," Hillman said. Canada's response is not a blanket export ban, but a "narrow and tailored" measure that applies only to those drugs meant for domestic consumption that are already in short supply or at risk at becoming scarce, she added. Zagoren, who called Trump's proposal "dead in the water," said its failure could prove useful for president-elect Joe Biden's own efforts to address drug costs once he takes over the White House in January. Biden has promised to reduce drug costs, including through imports, and to give the U.S. government insurance program known as Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices — a plan that has the blessing of congressional Democrats. The fact that Trump's proposed solution has failed could provide Biden with helpful leverage in discussions with the all-powerful pharmaceutical industry, which has spent aggressively in its lobbying efforts to head off pricing reforms. "I think it helps the Biden administration, because it sets the stage. The Canadian argument signals to the Biden administration, 'Don't come here for this.' But Biden being the internationalist he is, and a very good friend of Canada, that's not going to happen in the Biden administration anyway." Biden has also promised to expand health insurance coverage to include more Americans, a move that has the potential to broaden the existing U.S. drug market. Much will depend on the outcome of a pair of Senate run-off elections next month in Georgia, where Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are seeking to unseat Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Should they both succeed, the 100-seat Senate will find itself in an even 50-50 split, giving the tiebreaking vote to Biden's vice-president, Kamala Harris. "It really hinges on the Georgia election as to how far the U.S. government will go with regard to drug prices, and especially on Medicare," Zagoren said. "There'll be a lot of negotiation in the backrooms with regard to pharmaceutical prices going forward. I do think there's going to be an attempt to bring them down, but I don't think it will be on the backs of the Canadians." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
A delegate to the recent Nipawin council meeting is requesting work be done to improve the tennis courts in Nipawin. Craig Decker with the Nimbledon Tennis Club presented to the Nipawin council during their meeting on Nov. 30 about the state of the two tennis courts at LP Miller Comprehensive. According to the report presented by Decker, the club is borderline unplayable. “Despite the poor condition of the courts, the courts are frequently used. However, it is our position that usage would significantly increase were the courts to be refurbished,” reported Decker. The club has about 20 active members and has been doing as much maintenance themselves as they are able, including the cleaning and weed removal on the court and painting the tennis lines onto the court. “The Nimbledon TC is passionate about tennis, and they have not shied away from spending both their time and money on prepping the courts for the summer season,” reported Decker during the meeting. Looking into some of the larger expenses and more in depth repairs to the court, Decker has received a quote for $60,000 for the asphalt and resurfacing and about $7,000 for a new net. To rebuild the court entirely would be around $250,000 to $300,000. Chelsea Corrigan, the parks and recreation director, said the town contributed to cleaning and weed removal in the past few years and replacing the courts, including finding a more suitable location, has been on the town’s radar for a number of years. While she rarely sees the courts in use, she does admit that that could be because of the current state of the courts. “That's not new to us, [the courts] definitely are in bad condition. (The Parks and Rec department) has been looking into new courts for a number of years and looking at a multi-sport court. It is great that a group of individuals are interested in a new court in Nipawin.” The club would like to expand its programming to youth and junior programs and singles and double leagues, Decker said, and recruitment for these programs would be made much easier with upgrades to the courts.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
An Indigenous woman wakes up in a hospital far from her rural community in 2018 and again in 2019, dry heaving after both of her surgeries. She thinks she could be allergic to the sedative, but the nurse assumes she is going through withdrawal, despite the fact she hadn’t been drinking before either surgery. “You people drink too much,” the nurse says, and moves the woman to a bed where she doesn’t get further care for three days. A health-care worker witnesses an Indigenous patient go untreated for days against medical advice. The patient eventually had a stroke that could have been prevented. An Elder described how her teeth were forcibly and improperly removed when she was at a residential school. Her mother was held for nearly two decades in the Nanaimo Indian Hospital. The woman now avoids the hospital and the dentist out of fear, and is assumed to be drug-seeking when she seeks care for lifelong tooth infections. “We don’t give drugs,” the staff say. And she describes how, while still a teen, a urologist performed a rough examination, and said “Come on, you know you native women like it rough,” when she cried out in pain. A first-of-its-kind report into anti-Indigenous racism in B.C. health care has found these and hundreds more horrific stories of racism against Indigenous peoples seeking care. Racism is “widespread and insidious” in every corner of the health system, according to the report, titled “In Plain Sight.” After surveying and interviewing almost 9,000 patients and health-care workers about decades and generations of their experiences, the investigation found that 84 per cent of Indigenous patients had experienced racism in health care. More than 50 per cent of Indigenous health care workers reported experiencing racism on the job, mostly from their own colleagues. The disturbing findings led investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to call today for drastic changes in the beliefs, behaviours and structures of health care in the province and new accountability measures. A startling 13 per cent of surveyed health-care workers of all races also made racist comments in their responses to the survey itself. Turpel-Lafond said that showed the degree of racism in the system and health-care workers’ comfort in expressing it. The report noted racist acts not only harm a patient’s dignity but also reduce the quality of care of Indigenous patients and increase their likelihood of chronic illness, poor health outcomes and self-harm. “At the point of care, there is direct prejudice and racism touching all points of care and impact Indigenous people in B.C.,” said the former provincial representative for children and youth, who is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. “Any Indigenous person could face it because it is pervasive and entrenched in the system.” The independent probe was commissioned by Health Minister Adrian Dix in June after allegations of racist games in emergency rooms, alleging health-care workers were guessing the blood alcohol contents of Indigenous patients in the style of “The Price Is Right.” Turpel-Lafond said her investigation “found no evidence of an organized game as originally depicted,” but its results were much more alarming. Harmful stereotypes that Indigenous people drink alcohol in excess, are drug-seeking, less worthy, poor parents, get things for free, or that Indigenous women are sexually promiscuous or involved in the sex trade permeated the comments from patients and health-care workers alike. Those surveyed reported experiencing and witnessing everything from outright denial of care to physical or emotional abuse to medical mistakes because concerns were not heard or respected. “Often these kinds of stereotypes lead to poor care and services,” said Turpel-Lafond. “These actions begin a cycle of poorer outcomes.” The investigation’s analysis of patient data on 185,000 Indigenous people found they go to emergency rooms at nearly twice the rate of non-Indigenous peoples, due to poor access to primary care services or because they avoid care due to past traumatic experiences. Hospitalization rates are three times higher for Indigenous peoples with preventable conditions and Indigenous women are 11 times more likely to leave the hospital against medical advice than non-Indigenous patients due to mistreatment and concerns for their safety. Sexism and misogyny directed at Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people means they are more severely impacted by racism in health care and half as likely to feel safe in health-care settings as Indigenous men. They are more likely to be in poor health, the report found. The impacts of the current pandemic and overdose crises in B.C. disproportionately harm Indigenous women, Turpel-Lafond said. Turpel-Lafond said the rampant problems stem from a lack of accountability and respect and protection for patients and health-care workers who blow the whistle on racism. She wants to see commitments to improving access to care and increasing Indigenous-led services that include cultural healing and traditional practices. And the responsibility to bring change must rest on the health-care sector and government, not Indigenous peoples. “Racism isn’t an Indigenous person’s problem,” said Turpel-Lafond. In her 24 recommendations, Turpel-Lafond says changing systems, beliefs and behaviours is required to address these problems. She wants to see whistleblower protection legislation extended to health-care workers, and new senior positions in government working specifically on anti-racism in health care. Anti-racism policies should be required in all colleges, regulatory bodies and post-secondary training institutions for health-care providers and leaders, she said. Dix offered an apology to all Indigenous people who experienced racism when seeking care and vowed to formulate a cross-government plan to implement the recommendations rooted “in anti-racism and cultural humility.” “My apology today is an acknowledgement of the pain that Indigenous people have borne from racism,” he said today. “Racism will have no place here.” The province has already directed each health authority to hire five new Indigenous health liaisons and has seconded Dawn Thomas, a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and a vice-president of Island Health, to serve as associate deputy minister of Indigenous health in Dix’s portfolio. Turpel-Lafond thanked the people who came forward to tell their stories and urged Indigenous peoples to seek care for themselves and support one another in light of the disturbing report. “It’s up to Indigenous people whether they can accept that apology today,” she said. “And today is a very important beginning, so I do feel comfort in that.”Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Tout au long de l’année 2020, les organismes communautaires lavallois ont dû s’adapter en raison du contexte de pandémie de la COVID-19. La situation ne sera pas différente à l’approche des Fêtes. «La demande d’aide et les besoins des citoyens et familles auprès des organismes sont à la hausse, précise Marc Longchamps, directeur général de la Corporation de développement communautaire (CDC) de Laval. Alors que la capacité de recevoir des groupes est à la baisse à cause des différentes mesures d’adaptation sanitaire qu’ils doivent mettre en place. Les organismes ont beaucoup de pression pour répondre à ces demandes.» M. Longchamps ajoute que plusieurs organismes ne pourront tenir leurs activités de financement, ce qui réduira leurs fonds pour 2020. «Cela change la donne pour nombre d’entre eux qui comptaient sur ces revenus pour financer leurs activités, parfois même pour rémunérer leur personnel.» À titre d’exemple, l’Association lavalloise des parents et amis pour le bien-être mental (ALPABEM) ne pourra tenir sa collecte annuelle de biens pour les personnes hospitalisées en psychiatrie qui existe depuis près de 20 ans. L’organisme tentera plutôt d’amasser des fonds qui seront remis aux groupes habituels. De son côté, le Centre de bénévolat et moisson Laval a modifié sa traditionnelle campagne de paniers de Noël. La livraison des denrées se déroulera sur cinq jours, soit du 18 au 22 décembre. Il s’agira d’une méthode de cueillette sans contact pour respecter les règles sanitaires. «Depuis le début de la campagne, on note un taux de participation plus faible que les années précédentes, note Wazna Azem, directrice aux communications et marketing de l’organisme. Plusieurs organisations et compagnies qui nous appuient optent pour le télétravail et, du coup, cela réduit le nombre de participants à la collecte de denrées.» Mme Azem confirme aussi que la demande d’aide alimentaire est à la hausse et que Moisson Laval mise sur les dons en ligne pour combler le manque actuel. Malgré la crise sanitaire, les organismes communautaires ont continué d’offrir leurs services habituels. Les pratiques ont été adaptées et ils ont travaillé en coopération pour poursuivre leur mission. «Nous nous sommes rapidement mobilisés pour assurer un suivi psychosocial auprès des familles qui fréquentent notre organisation, explique Nancy Champagne, directrice générale de la Maison de quartier de Vimont. Nous avons été créatifs avec des plateformes comme Facebook et Zoom pour développer une offre virtuelle.» «Dès la deuxième semaine, nous sommes revenus pratiquement à un état normal, mais cette fois en virtuel, confirme aussi Patrick Machabée, directeur général de l’ALPABEM. On était technologiquement prêt à le faire en vidéo. À partir de juin, on a recommencé à accueillir des familles en personne.» M. Machabée précise toutefois que cette façon de faire n’était pas possible pour tous. «Certains organismes ne sont plus en mesure d’offrir leurs groupes d’entraide, car l’espace ne leur permet pas de respecter la distanciation sociale. Les gens qui utilisaient ces services se retrouvent encore plus isolés.» Cette situation exceptionnelle a d’ailleurs permis de reconnaître l’importance du milieu communautaire. «S’il y avait des préjugés sur la pertinence des organismes, maintenant, la crise a démontré qu’ils étaient essentiels, assure M. Machabée. Nous avions maintenant les leviers nécessaires pour répondre à des besoins que nous avions depuis plusieurs années.» Il précise que la crise a permis à son organisation d’être approchée pour mettre en place un programme de soutien psychologique pour leurs collègues du monde communautaire de partout au Québec. Marc Longchamps croit quant à lui que beaucoup peut être encore fait pour soutenir les organismes bien que les fonds d’urgence offerts ont servi pendant la crise. «On parle davantage des organismes et de leur apport, mais le gouvernement a été très peu aidant par les longs processus demandant des redditions de comptes complexes pour obtenir des fonds. Les directions étaient déjà débordées pour répondre aux besoins de la population. Une réelle reconnaissance des organismes passe par un financement décent et récurrent.»Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
À la suite de la publication d'un article sur le site de Radio-Canada portant sur les relations de travail et un climat toxique à Hockey Québec, l'organisation a mis en place un comité indépendant qui sera chargé d'enquêter sur la situation. Celui-ci sera dirigé par Michel B. Fournier, un avocat retraité expérimenté en relations de travail. «Dès que l’information m’a été communiquée, j’ai informé mon conseil d’administration de cette situation que nous prenons très au sérieux, a mentionné Yve Sigouin, président du conseil d'administration, par voie de communiqué. C’est pour cela que nous avons immédiatement décidé de la mise en place de ce comité qui aura toute la latitude pour rencontrer confidentiellement les employés, faire la lumière sur la situation et effectuer des recommandations.» Le texte publié dans le média national rapportait des «directives contradictoires, réprimandes écrites pour des peccadilles, employés subrepticement délestés de leurs dossiers, microgestion de vétérans en poste depuis plusieurs décennies, absence de communication, climat de suspicion et conflits entre la direction et des partenaires de longue date de la fédération». Au total, une quinzaine d'entrevues ont été réalisées par le journaliste Martin Leclerc auprès de membres actifs ou démissionnaires du personnel de Hockey Québec. Par ailleurs, l'organisation a précisé, par voie de communiqué, qu'aucune plainte formelle provenant du syndicat des employés ne lui a été adressée depuis l'arrivée en poste de Paul Ménard à titre de directeur général. Deux directeurs auraient quant à eux rencontré le conseil d'administration pour émettre certains désaccords. Selon l'instance provinciale, la situation aurait ensuite été réglée.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
The pandemic hasn't seemed to have hurt bank profits, yet thanks to consumer spending on credit, experts warn a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies may still be coming once the post-pandemic recovery is underway.
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (17,296.93, up 106.68 points.)BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB). Technology. Up $1.43, or 18.69 per cent, to $9.08 on 40.4 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Down 3.5 cents, or 6.6 per cent, to 49.5 cents on 20.8 million shares.Hexo Corp. (TSX:HEXO). Health care. Down five cents, or 3.5 per cent, to $1.38 on 18.3 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Down $2.63, or 17.25 per cent, to $12.62 on 15.1 million shares.Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Down 13 cents, or 0.63 per cent, to $20.64 on 15.1 million shares. Aphria Inc. (TSX:APHA). Health care. Down $1, or 9.17 per cent, to $9.91 on 8.4 million shares.Companies in the news: BlackBerry Ltd. — Shares in BlackBerry Ltd. gained as much as 63.9 per cent in intraday trading on Tuesday following news of a deal with Amazon Web Services to develop and market BlackBerry's intelligent vehicle data platform, called IVY. The companies said they had settled on a multi-year, global agreement to develop and market IVY, a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that will give automakers a new way to read vehicle sensor data. They said automakers will be able to use that information to create responsive in-vehicle services that enhance driver and passenger experiences. Financial terms of the agreement were not immediately available. Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of internet giant Amazon.com Inc. that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms.Bombardier Inc. — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom. The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021. Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29. The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC. Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO). Up 42 cents or 1.9 per cent to $22.90. Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. rose after it announced late Monday it would write down up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop. In a brief news release, it said it has reassessed the long-term development plans of its unconventional natural gas portfolio in Alberta and no longer plans to develop a "significant potion" of those assets. It says that will result in a non-cash writedown of between $900 million and $1.2 billion in the current quarter. Imperial said the exploration lands it is shelving haven't been developed and aren't producing, adding the move doesn't include natural gas prospects that are also rich in petroleum liquids. Last week, the Calgary-based company said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees across Canada as part of a cost-cutting initiative due to low oil prices, adding it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year.Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO). Up $3.19 or 3.4 per cent to $96.52. Canadian bank executives say an economic rebound is on its way after months of governments and financial institutions working to offset turmoil with loans, deferrals, interest rate cuts and subsidies. The chief executives of Bank of Nova Scotia and BMO Financial Group said Tuesday that they are starting to see signs of improvement and are feeling reassured by countries like Canada, the U.S., Chile and Peru, which have spent on average 17 per cent of their gross domestic product on relief measures. Scotiabank's provisions for credit losses in its latest quarter totalled $1.1 billion, up from $753 million a year ago, but down from nearly $2.2 billion in the third quarter. BMO's amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Down 13 cents to $20.64. Suncor Energy Inc. is forecasting higher spending and production in 2021 based on benchmark U.S. oil prices staying near their current levels of around US$45 per barrel. It says it predicts daily oil and gas production between 740,000 and 780,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, an increase of about 10 per cent compared with this year, driven by higher bitumen output from its oilsands operations. It expects capital spending of between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, including sustaining capital of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion, an increase of about nine per cent over 2020's expected spending of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion. The Calgary-based company forecasts refinery throughput of 415,000 to 445,000 barrels per day based on a utilization rate of between 90 and 96 per cent.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The civilian official overseeing the Pentagon's campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in the Middle East was forced to resign in the latest jolt to Pentagon leadership in the waning weeks of the Trump administration. The Pentagon said in a written statement that the acting defence secretary, Christopher Miller, on Monday accepted the resignation of Christopher Maier, who had provided policy oversight of the military's counter-IS effort since March 2017. A defence official familiar with the matter said Maier was told Monday that since President Donald Trump had long ago declared the IS militant group defeated, his office was being disbanded and he was abruptly “terminated.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal personnel matter. Maier, a career counterterrorism official, was director of the Defeat-ISIS Task Force, whose responsibilities are to be absorbed by counterterrorism staffs headed by appointees who President Donald Trump placed in senior Pentagon positions in a shakeup that included his firing of Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Nov. 9. Maier's departure was first reported by CNN. The New York Times was first to report that Maier had been forced out. In its statement, the Pentagon gave no reason for Maier's departure but said the decision to disband the task force he led was a recognition of the “success of the military fight to destroy” the Islamic State's grip on territory in Iraq and Syria. Critics say that while the militant group has lost its physical empire, it remains a threat and has been biding its time in search of ways to regroup and re-emerge. “The Department of Defence will continue to engage with our partners and allies to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and encourage the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters for prosecution,” the Pentagon said. Nearly 900 U.S. troops are still in Syria to work with local groups aiming to prevent an IS resurgence. The U.S. also has about 3,000 troops in neighbouring Iraq working with local security forces toward the same goal. The counter-IS campaign began during the Obama administration and in some respects was accelerated by Trump. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) opened its doors last week to a new primary care clinic located on reserve at the OKIB Health Centre. The new clinic is a partnership between Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Interior Health. The primary care clinic, which is open to OKIB members living both on and off-reserve, is an expansion to the existing facility but now providing patients with access to doctors. “There has been a need for a long time for these types of services,” says Chief Byron Louis of Okanagan Indian Band. “The idea has always been there, it’s based upon community growth.” OKIB, which is located at Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake), near Vernon, B.C., currently has 2030 members, with half of its members living on reserve. It’s the growing population that has fueled discussions of the need for a new primary care clinic. “We also have a growing need when we start looking at that,” says Louis. “Even with half of our population being non-reserve, but band members, you’re starting to get into the size of a small community.” The clinic is now open and accepting new patients via appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. The services available range from medical assessments, to diagnosis and treatment plans, diabetes and physical exams for newborns, seniors and elderly care. (See the full list here.) “It represents a new approach to providing health care services and access to doctors on OKIB reserve land. Now, OKIB members can receive care at all stages of life, right here in community,” Louis says. A healthcare system right at home in the community builds on pre-existing programs and services, but meets the needs of “the ageing population,” he explains. “It’s good that you’re able to provide a home base for your health care.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Charges of first and second-degree murder have been laid against three men in connection with the 2017 shooting death of 24-year old Alexander Blanarou in Abbotsford.Islam Nagem and Edrick Raju are both charged with first-degree murder, while Michael Schweiger is charged with second-degree murder. According to Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesman Sgt. Frank Jang, Blanarou was shot multiple times in what is believed to be a targeted killing related to drugs but stopped short of identifying it as a gang hit."Those details will come in court," said Jang. "Including our victim ... all the men are known to police."Blanarou was killed on Dec. 28, 2017 while out on bail on two drug charges he was facing in the Yukon.His body was found in a blueberry field in the 5200-block of Bates Road in rural Abbotsford. The three accused remain in custody. Blanarou's parents are suing ICBC over an insurance claim related to their son's truck which was stolen shortly before he was killed.
Volunteers with the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) gave a virtual presentation of projects they completed while working alongside the Flood Mitigation Office on Thursday, November 26. Longtime Drumheller resident Stan Solberg played a key role in bringing the program, and the volunteers, to the Drumheller Valley. Chief Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Officer Darwin Durnie told the Mail, “Stan pulled together this entire program with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, allowing them to get here.” Mr. Solberg also garnered the participation of the Flood Mitigation Office, and also Mayor Heather Colberg and Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Drohomerski. The presentation showcased three projects the volunteers worked on throughout their time with the Flood Mitigation Office, with the main focus of each project being on conservation. While conservation was the main focus of the projects, the findings will provide the Flood Mitigation Office with invaluable information. “The Flood Mitigation Office was pleased with the work that the CCC volunteers performed,” Durnie said. “The activities, research, and energy they created will surely continue in the coming years.” Patrick Crowchild Jr. presented Conservation Through Art, a series of paintings inspired by the landscape and his time in the Drumheller Valley. Crowchild’s artwork is part of an art installation at the Flood Mitigation Office and challenges the definition of conservation while showcasing its many facets. Crowchild also completed sketches and drawings of local, native plants, though these were not included in the presentation. CCC volunteers, Megan Davies, Victoria Choi, and Kelsey White journeyed down the Red Deer River with Andy Neuman, former executive director of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. They discovered several river islands along the Red Deer River, which are Crown Land, are already being used as camping areas. The group surveyed the river and adjacent riparian areas, using GPS and geographic information systems (GIS) to map areas on these river islands which could be sustainably used for both day-use and overnight camping. They also proposed semi-permanent structures to help educate campers to “Leave no trace” after discovering litter, including discarded diapers, beer cans, and fish hooks in the areas. These proposed sites could target tourism from canoers and kayakers in otherwise undevelopable areas, while also promoting conservation of these areas, without compromising structural developments in the floodplains. The final project by Heather Blanchette and Ryan Wilkes, Birding in the Badlands, showcased the wildlife, particularly avians, found naturally within the Drumheller Valley. Volunteers undertook six road trips to survey wildlife from Orkney Viewpoint to Dorothy and Oyen. They discovered Orkney Viewpoint offers a unique vantage where bird watchers can look down upon raptors, such as hawks and eagles, as they soar above the valley. Mr. Solberg said, “There are more and more people coming to Drumheller, very wildlife conscious.” While some of the expeditions were not suited for casual bird and wildlife watchers, Mr. Solberg added, “Always be camera-ready when you come to Drumheller.”Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
VICTORIA — Insurance companies in British Columbia have agreed to end a pricing practice that has been identified as one of the key factors in skyrocketing property insurance premiums for condominiums. Earlier this year, the B.C. Financial Services Authority said premiums have gone up by 40 per cent on average for a number of reasons. Finance Minister Selina Robinson says an agreement to end so-called best terms pricing on Jan. 1 is a positive step. Insuring multi-unit properties in B.C. often sees many insurers submit bids.Under best terms pricing, the final premium paid by owners is usually based on the highest bid, even if most quotes were lower. Blair Morrison, CEO of the financial services authority, says the change is an important step for long-term stability in the property insurance market. Robinson was the housing minister in June when she introduced legislation to change the Strata Property Act and the Financial Institutions Act to bring more transparency to the insurance market. The Insurance Council of B.C., the regulatory body for insurance agents in the province, says it will work with the industry to address the practice. Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility.A financial authority report released in June says price pressures will continue on buildings considered to be higher risk and the insurance market for so-called strata properties was "unhealthy."It says insurers were accumulating losses mostly from minor claims, especially for water damage due to poor building maintenance and initial construction. It says new building construction, building material changes and rising replacement costs have put added strain on the industry's profitability. Insurers are also reducing the amount of insurance they offer in B.C. because of excessive exposure to earthquake risk, it says. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press