Ice plates make a unique sound as the waves from Lake Simcoe push them onto the shore.
Ice plates make a unique sound as the waves from Lake Simcoe push them onto the shore.
Toronto police arrested three people amid anti-lockdown protests in the city on Saturday, including two people who allegedly organized the demonstrations and a protester who allegedly assaulted a police officer. Toronto police also laid 18 charges of failure to comply with the provincial stay-at-home order that's currently in effect. A Toronto Police Service spokesperson said they were unable to say if it was 18 individuals who were charged or if some individuals are facing multiple charges. No further information has been released on the exact offences A large group flouted the province's stay-at-home order by staging an anti-mask protest in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square before marching down Yonge Street. Toronto police later reported there were two large gatherings in the core. Video shared on social media showed a line of police officers in the square, with one warning people to disperse. There was also at least one video of an apparent arrest. Toronto police said two people, a 49-year-old man and 38-year-old woman, were arrested and each face a criminal nuisance charge. Police allege they were the event organizers. Police later said they arrested a 22-year-old man who allegedly assaulted a police officer. The man is also facing criminal charges including assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer. "The Toronto Police Service continues to respond to calls to attend large gatherings and will take steps to disperse. Police will issue tickets and summonses to individuals when there is evidence of non-compliance of the provincial order," police said in a news release. Police said more details about tickets and fines could be released in the coming days. Another video shows Henry Hildebrandt, a pastor from Aylmer, Ont., who has been critical of the province's lockdown orders, hanging out of an SUV window to hug and high-five maskless demonstrators. This is the first weekend the order has been in place, and questions continue to swirl about how it will go — including how police will enforce the rules. Others are worried about people who aren't protesting but who could be the target of a crackdown during the stay-at-home order. Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician, told CBC News Network he's concerned people of colour or those dealing with poverty will be the target of law enforcement. WATCH | Policing Ontario's lockdown order will hurt racialized communities, doctor says: Health Minister Christine Elliott continued to urge people to stay inside and away from others as much as possible. "Stay home, stay safe, save lives," she said on Twitter. Record-high number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs Earlier, Ontario announced 3,056 new COVID-19 cases and 51 more deaths — as well as a record-high number of coronavirus patients in intensive care. The province is also tweaking its vaccination plan to deal with a looming shortage of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. There are now a record 420 COVID-19 patients in the province's intensive care units, new data from Critical Care Services Ontario shows. Provincial data is slightly behind but shows 1,632 people are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus and at least 281 of those patients require a ventilator. The province also recorded 51 more deaths, a day after reporting a record 100 deaths on Friday. In total, 5,340 Ontarians with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic early last year. At least 27 of those deaths took place in long-term care homes. Currently, 246 long-term care homes in the province are dealing with an outbreak — nearly 40 per cent of all facilities. The seven-day average of new cases declined to 3,218, and the provincewide test positivity rate was 4.9 per cent, with 73,875 tests completed. A further 3,212 cases were marked resolved. There are 903 new COVID-19 cases in Toronto, 629 in Peel Region, 283 in York Region, 162 in Durham Region and 152 in Ottawa. 2nd vaccine dose delayed Elliott said the province has now administered 189,090 vaccines in the province. However, the vaccine rollout will soon face another hurdle. The federal government announced Friday that Pfizer-BioNTech will deliver fewer vaccines to Canada in the near future as it reworks some of its production lines. In Ontario, provincial health officials say the first phase of the vaccination plan will continue, but the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will now be pushed back from 21 to 27 days for those in long-term care or retirement homes, or for those caring for seniors. Other recipients, such as health-care workers, will see their second dose pushed back to between 21 and 42 days after the first jab. Those who received the Moderna vaccine will see no change, as the second dose of that vaccine is delivered 28 days after the first. Enforcement blitz at big box stores Shoppers stocking up at big box stores in the Greater Toronto Area could see provincial inspectors this weekend. The government said earlier this week that 50 inspectors will be out to ensure big box stores are complying with the province's new rules. Walmart and Costco, for example, have been able to stay open during Ontario's lockdown, while most small stores have been reduced to curbside pickup. The inspectors, who will be joined by local bylaw and police officers, have recently been invested with the authority to fine individuals — both employees and customers — up to $750 for failing to wear masks properly and to physically distance. Inspectors will also be checking to ensure that big box retailers are actively maintaining in-store capacity at a maximum of 25 per cent, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said. "If these conditions are not met, I will not hesitate to shut down any big box store anywhere in this province," McNaughton said earlier this week. The enforcement is taking place primarily in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region.
Beset by political infighting, split between three territories and distrustful of their institutions, many Palestinians are sceptical that their first national elections in 15 years will bring change - or even happen at all. President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held later this year in a bid to heal long-standing divisions. The announcement is widely seen as a gesture aimed at pleasing U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with whom the Palestinians want to reset relations after they reached a low under Donald Trump.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021, Mayor Stasiuk called the Town of Langenburg council meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. with all members present. The council reviewed the agenda before Councillor Sicinski made a motion to accept; the motion carried. Next, the council reviewed the minutes from the last council meeting. Following a short discussion, Councillor Popp made a motion to accept the minutes as amended; motion carried. With no business arising from the minutes, the council reviewed the town’s accounts next. Administrator Lemcke explained a few of the charges to the council before Councillor Hunt made a motion to accept the town’s accounts; motion carried. Bank reconciliation was next to be reviewed. Councillor Popp explained the bank reconciliation to the council before making a motion to accept; the motion carried. Councillor Popp explained the financial summary to the rest of the council. Councillor Hunt made a motion to accept the summary which was carried. The council next heard Town of Langenburg Foreman Dave Tucker give his report regarding the happening of the town maintenance staff. Councillor Hunt made a motion to purchase $1500 of hand tools; motion carried. Councillor Farmer made a motion to accept the report which was carried. Economic Development Officer (EDO) Lina Petkeviciene was next to give her report to the council. She discussed the construction of the proposed washroom at the rest stop as well as the banners being looked at by the EDO and council. Administrator Lemcke was next to give her report, starting with Councillor emails to be assigned to the tablet used by the councillors. Councillor Hunt made a motion to go to a town domain for council and town employees; motion carried. Councillor Hunt made a motion to pay Karlis VanCaeseele’s certification to run the water plant in case of an emergency basis; motion carried. The council next reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. Councillor Sicinski made a motion to file the correspondence which was carried. The meeting was adjourned by Councillor Sicinski. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier this week, tinting the sky pink and the snow a purple hue. The sun washed over the frozen tundra and sparkling sea ice for an hour — and was gone. Monday marked the return of the sun in the Arctic community of about 1,700 after six weeks of darkness, but an overcast sky that day meant the light couldn't get through. Pamela Gross, Cambridge Bay's mayor, said the town gathered two days later, on a clear day, to celebrate. Gross, along with elders and residents, rushed down to the shore as the darkness broke around 10 a.m. "It was joyous. It's such a special feeling to see it come back," Gross said. Elders Mary Akariuk Kaotalok and Bessie Pihoak Omilgoetok, both in their 80s, were there. As Omilgoetok saw the sun rise, she was reminded of a tradition her grandparents taught her. Each person takes a drink of water to welcome and honour the sun, then throws the water toward it to ensure it returns the following year. Gross filled some Styrofoam cups with water and, after taking a sip, tossed the rest at the orange sky behind her. "I didn’t know about that tradition before. We learned about it through her memory being sparked through watching the sun rise." Although the sun's return was a happy moment, the past year was especially difficult for the community, Gross said. She wouldn't elaborate. "Being such a small community, people really know each other, so we feel community tragedies together. There were a few that we’ve gone though this year," she said. Gross said restrictions on gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant losses in the community felt even more heavy. "It made it extra challenging to be close as a community ... and for your loves ones if they’re going through a hard time." Getting the sun back helps. "It's hard mentally to have a lack of sun, but the feeling of not having it for so long and seeing it return is so special. You can tell it uplifts everyone." The return of the sun is celebrated in communities across Nunavut. Igloolik, off northern Baffin Island, will see the sun return this weekend. But the community of about 1,600 postponed its annual return ceremony to March because of limits on gathering sizes during the pandemic. In the territory's more northern areas, the sun slips away day by day in the fall, then disappears for months at a time. Grise Fiord, the most northern community in Nunavut, loses sun from November to mid-February. But in the summer, the sun stays up 24 hours a day. Now that the sun has returned in Cambridge Bay, the community will gain 20 more minutes of light as each day passes. “The seasons are so drastic. It really gives you a sense of endurance knowing that you can get through challenging times," Gross said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
Prince Rupert resident Sharlene Wilson was in her early 60s when she lost her job of more than 30 years in October 2019. A month later, legal advocate Paul Lagace with the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre filed a complaint with the B.C. Employment Standards Branch on her behalf, arguing she should be entitled to eight weeks' severance. More than a year later, Wilson is dead, and the branch has yet to look at her case. Lagace is now acting on behalf of her estate. "I'm so frustrated and I'm tired of the runaround," Lagace said. 'Severe stress' on workers The Employment Standards Branch is the service that oversees B.C.'s Employment Standards Act. It deals with complaints like severance, working conditions and lost wages. Legal advocates like Lagace say wait times at the branch have become unacceptable, especially given that many of the people who file complaints are low-wage workers with no other recourse. David Madiros, a lawyer with Kent Employment Law, says his clients have had to wait 10 months or longer before the branch will even touch their case. "It puts a severe stress on people," Madiros said. "Many people who are in the service industry or who are hourly wage workers don't have a lot of a cushion to fall back on." Madiros says he advises his clients to take their matters to B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal for small claims when possible. But he says some cases have to be filed through the Employment Standards Branch. Backlog due to pandemic, increased services Lagace says even trying to just call the branch for an update has become unbearable, with wait times of two hours or more. In a written statement, B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains admits there is a backlog of complaints. Although it's been more than three years since they were in power, Bains blames it on the previous Liberal government. "In 2017, our government inherited a system that was failing to serve workers," Bains said in the statement. Other reasons the ministry gave for the backlog include the elimination of the branch's self-help kits in 2019, doubling the time to submit a complaint to a year, the new inclusion of temporary foreign workers and, of course, the pandemic. "I think everyone understands that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on British Columbians," Bains said. "The pandemic has certainly contributed to the increase in worker complaints coming into the branch." Complaints nearly double in 4 years The ministry says the Employment Standards Branch received about 7,700 complaints in 2020, compared to 4,260 complaints in 2016. But legal advocate Lagace says Wilson's case was filed months before the pandemic was declared. Regardless of what's causing the problem, Lagace says, wait times of more than a year to even get a case started, let alone resolved, is unacceptable for the people who rely on the Employment Standards Branch for lost wages. 'It was very difficult' Wilson's husband, Henry Richard Wilson, says waiting to find out about her severance put a lot of stress on his wife, who died in June from heart surgery complications. "Just seeing her reaction to her job was extremely devastating," Wilson said. "It was very difficult." Wilson, a stroke survivor, says waiting to hear about his wife's case has been frustrating, and a resolution would help put him and his two daughters at ease. Lagace wants the Labour Ministry to apologize to Wilson, and make significant changes at the branch so cases like hers can be expedited. Bains says in 2019 the ministry did invest an additional $14 million in the branch over three years, including hiring 35 more staff, streamlining processes and triaging cases.
TORONTO — Ontario Provincial Police say they've charged three of their own veteran officers and suspended four others over allegations of corruption related to the province's tow truck industry. The force alleges the accused officers provided preferential treatment to towing companies within the Greater Toronto Area. The charges and suspensions stemmed from an investigation first launched in October 2019. The officers facing charges all have at least 20 years of service with the OPP and served with either its Highway Safety Division or the Toronto detachment. Const. Simon Bridle and Const. Mohammed Ali Hussain were both arrested this past week, while a warrant is out for the arrest of Const. Bindo Showan who is believed to be out of the province. All three are charged with secret commissions and breach of trust, while Bridle faces an additional charge of obtaining sexual services for consideration. OPP says the four other officers remain under investigation, but are not currently facing any criminal charges. The Canadian Press
The public won’t see President Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there’s growing concern that the collection won’t be complete, leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies. Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House staffers to spend hours taping them back together. “They told him to stop doing it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records analyst who spent hours taping documents back together well into 2018. The president also confiscated an interpreter’s notes after Trump had a chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump scolded his White House counsel for taking notes at a meeting. Top executive branch officials had to be reminded more than once not to conduct official business on private email or encrypted text messaging systems and to preserve it if they did. Trump’s baseless claim of widespread voter fraud, which postponed for weeks an acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, is delaying the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, further heightening concern about the integrity of the records. “Historians are likely to suffer from far more holes than has been the norm,” said Richard Immerman at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In the Trump White House, “not only has record-keeping not been a priority, but we have multiple examples of it seeking to conceal or destroy that record.” But even with requests by lawmakers and lawsuits by government transparency groups, there is an acknowledgment that noncompliance with the Presidential Records Act carries little consequence for Trump. The Presidential Records Act states that a president cannot destroy records until he seeks the advice of the national archivist and notifies Congress. But the law doesn’t require him to heed the archivist’s advice. Most presidential records today are electronic, and records experts estimate that automatic backup computer systems capture a vast majority of them, but cannot capture records that a White House chooses not to create or log into those systems. THE MOVE Moving a president’s trail of paper and electronic records is a laborious task. President Barack Obama left about 30 million pages of paper documents and some 250 terabytes of electronic records, including the equivalent of about 1.5 billion pages of emails. When Trump lost the November election, records staffers were in position to transfer electronic records, pack up the paper ones and move them to the National Archives by Jan. 20 as required by law. But Trump’s reluctance to concede has meant they will miss the deadline. “Necessary funding from the (White House) Office of Management and Budget was delayed for many weeks after the election, which has caused delays in arranging for the transfer of the Trump presidential records into the National Archives’ custody,” the National Archives said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Even though the transfer of these records will not be completed until after Jan. 20, the National Archives will assume legal custody of them on Jan. 20 in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment about preserving Trump’s records. One person familiar with the transition said guidance typically emailed to executive branch employees, explaining how to turn in equipment and pack up their offices, was sent out in December, but quickly rescinded because Trump insisted on contesting the election. With little guidance, some staffers in the White House started quietly calling records workers to find out what to do. Departing employees are instructed to create a list of folders in each box and make a spreadsheet to give the National Archives a way to track and retrieve the information for the incoming Biden team. The public must wait five years before submitting Freedom of Information Act requests to see the Trump material. Even then, Trump — like other presidents before him — is invoking six specific restrictions to public access of his records for up to 12 years. RECORD-KEEPING PRACTICES On impeachment and other sensitive issues, some normal workflow practices were bypassed, a second person familiar with the process said. Higher-ups and White House lawyers became more involved in deciding which materials were catalogued and scanned into White House computer networks where they are automatically saved, the person said. The individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the White House, said that if uncatalogued materials ended up in an office safe, for instance, they would at least be temporarily preserved. But if they were never catalogued in the first place, staffers wouldn’t know they existed, making them untraceable. Trump’s staff also engaged in questionable practices by using private emails and messaging apps. Former White House counsel Don McGahn in February 2017 sent a memo that instructed employees not to use nonofficial text messaging apps or private email accounts. If they did, he said, they had to take screenshots of the material and copy it into official email accounts, which are preserved. He sent the memo back out in September 2017. Government transparency groups say the screenshots are not adequate because they do not capture attachments or information such as who contacted whom, phone identifiers and other online information. “It’s an open question to me about how serious or conscientious any of those people have been about moving them over,” said Tom Blanton, who directs the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which was founded in 1985 to combat government secrecy. Trump was criticized for confiscating the notes of an interpreter who was with him in 2017 when Trump talked with Putin in Hamburg, Germany. Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to obtain the notes of another interpreter who was with Trump in 2018 when he met with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. Several weeks ago, the National Security Archive, two historical associations and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued to prevent the Trump White House from destroying any electronic communications or records sent or received on nonofficial accounts, such as personal email or WhatsApp. The court refused to issue a temporary restraining order after government lawyers told the judge that they had instructed the White House to notify all employees to preserve all electronic communications in their original format until the lawsuit was settled. Anne Weismann, one of the lawyers representing the groups in their lawsuit, suspects “serious noncompliance” of the Presidential Records Act. “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president," Weismann said. Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
TRANSPORT. Avec 15 à 30 centimètres de neige accompagnés de fortes rafales de vent qui pourraient toucher plusieurs secteurs du Québec, le ministère des Transports invite les usagers de la route à être prudents. «Le Ministère tient d'ailleurs à rassurer tous les usagers de la route dont les déplacements essentiels sont autorisés en fonction des règles imposées par le couvre-feu en vigueur : les opérations de déneigement seront effectuées normalement, et ce, de jour comme de nuit. Toutefois, il est possible que le faible achalandage sur les routes puisse diminuer l'efficacité des sels de déglaçage, d'où l'importance de redoubler de prudence lors des déplacements essentiels effectués», indique-t-on en précisant que certaines ressources d'hébergement temporaires pourraient ne pas être disponibles en raison de la pandémie. Le Ministère suggère donc de planifier ses déplacements en conséquence. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Pavel Zelensky, a member of the Anti-Corruption Foundation team of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, was jailed by a Moscow court on Saturday until Feb. 28 on charges of inciting extremism on the internet, according to a court statement. His detention by the Presnensky District Court comes a day before Navalny's planned return to Russia since being poisoned in August and evacuated to Germany where he has been recuperating. Zelensky is a camera operator for the opposition leader's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which specialises in publishing high-impact investigations into what it says is official graft.
A study in Janvier, Alta., is trying to find out what happened to the local population of Arctic grayling, a once prominent freshwater fish. Arctic grayling, a member of the salmon family, is classified as a species of special concern with the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee, meaning without human intervention, the species may be under the threat of extinction. Chief Vern Janvier of Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, 400 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, said when he was a growing up in the 1970s, he would fish in a local creek for Arctic grayling, considered a delicacy. A few years later those fishing trips stopped, because the fish were no longer around, Janvier said. "We really wanted to know if there was any fish left," Janvier said. "It's a fish that we used to eat that we haven't had for a long time. We haven't been able to catch them." He'd like to see the population bounce back, as "it'd be a good thing for my grandchildren to experience the fish." Water samples show evidence of fish Now the First Nation has teamed up with a consultant to study the over-winter habitat of the Arctic grayling, to see where they live, and what could be behind the population's decline. The study uses eDNA, which is DNA collected from environmental samples like water. It's a process that can tell researchers where the fish is found, without having to use potentially harmful practices like electrofishing. The researchers take water samples and get them tested to see if Arctic grayling are present in the water body. Last winter, samples of eDNA were collected from locations identified by elders. The fish were found in three out of four of the areas. Janvier said he was excited by the discovery and the research. "For me, as a chief, it shows ... you can put some basis on scientific knowledge. But the ability to mix the Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge is probably the biggest success and we need to do more of that," he said. Study in 3rd year Lead researcher Sarah Hechtenthal, owner of Owl Feather Consulting, said she used western science and traditional knowledge to craft the study. The project is in its third year of funding, having received a total of $228,600 since 2018 from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Researchers will be back out this winter to sample other potential habitat locations, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. The study is now using data loggers in the water, to help Hechtenthal understand what made the rivers and creeks in the area ideal habitat for Arctic grayling in the first place. Stuart Janvier, industry relations coordinator for the First Nation, said this information will be helpful for future industrial development in the area such as oilsands projects. "We want to make sure our traditional lands and the wildlife and the environment it's going to remain intact," he said. "We are the protectors of the environment."
Thousands of genomic sequences have been identified from the original strain of the novel coronavirus. Depending on the rate of transmission and efforts to curb infections, the variant will either die out or dominate. Crystal Goomansingh explains how researchers are tracking the virus as it evolves.
The second batch of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine arrived in Argentina on Saturday, allowing the South American country to apply the second part of the two-dose program aimed at inoculating front-line health workers. More doses are expected to arrive in Argentina later this month and in February. Paraguay this week became the eighth country outside Russia to approve the Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute.
'Significant growth' in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) could help keep taxes down while increasing the cash available for the town to spend in 2021. TBM will be finalizing its 2021 budget in early February, which currently proposes a 1.3 per cent tax rate increase. “The actual tax levy is increasing by 5.2 per cent. However, because we've seen significant growth, we are going to receive an extra $635,988 in tax revenue. So, the end result is that there's a 1.3 per cent tax rate increase,” stated Ruth Prince, director of finance and IT for TBM. “The town has been in a very fortunate position.” The proposed budget outlines an average residential property tax bill of $5,466 based on an assessment of $620,000. Of the $5,466, 17.4 per cent or $949 would be filtered to the education tax; 41.3 per cent or $2,256 is allocated to Grey County and $2,256 or 41.4 per cent remains in TBM. Assessments for 2021 have been frozen at the 2020 assessment rate level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So, what does that mean for an average town tax bill? If your assessment is that $620,000, you may see the town portion increased [from 2020] by $31,” Prince said. In the proposed budget, the town’s capital budget totals $23.6 million with 13 per cent of the funding coming from development charges and the remaining funds being drawn from long-term debt, property owners and reserves. Capital projects outlined for 2021 include the Camperdown Wastewater Extension, upgrades to Jozo Weider Boulevard, replacement of two bridges, as well as replacing an aerial pumper in the fire department's fleet. “We are being prudent, but we are trying to do a lot,” stated TBM Mayor, Alar Soever. TBM has outlined four studies that are expected to be completed in 2021 – the town’s density/intensification study, the Leisure Activity Plan, a compensation review and the Fire Master Plan. Town staff and council have also suggested additions to the base budget, including several new staff positions: an administrative assistant to committees; a communications assistant; a communications coordinator; a fire prevention inspector; an additional landfill operator; a contract building inspector; permit and inspection assistant; lot development technologist; and a development reviewer. In addition, TBM has outlined plans to pursue the creation of a dog park in Craigleith, installation of EV charging stations, adding a parks vehicle to its fleet and has also diverted funds into the communications department for additional advertising. The base budget additions total $917,550, with $496,680 being drawn from taxation. Four departments in TBM – water, wastewater, harbour and building departments – are funded through user fees, not taxation. “In terms of water and wastewater rates, there is no change to the water consumption, but there is a two per cent proposed increase to the wastewater consumption charge, and that would see an increase of approximately $6 a year,” Prince said. The draft budget also proposes several changes to the fee structure at the Thornbury Harbour, including a $2-per-foot increase to the Seasonal Mooring fees. Town staff have been actively working on the draft budget since June and TBM council held budget deliberation meetings on Dec. 2, 7 and 9, as well as a public meeting on Jan. 11. Comments received at the public meeting included concerns around the Camperdown Wastewater Extension project, affordability for seniors on a fixed income, and housing concerns. “Young families are effectively being precluded from living in the area as they simply cannot afford to live here. Home prices [are] rising at an alarming rate and [there is] alack of housing inventory available,” stated Katie Bell, in a letter to council. “The town deferred 2020 tax bill payment by one month in an effort to help residents meet the payment indicating the council acknowledges the difficult economic environment. Now, instead of continued support to the constituents, council will introduce a tax hike,” Bell continued. The Blue Mountain Ratepayers Association (BMRA), which has its own budget review committee, performed an analysis of the TBM draft budget and presented a deputation to TBM council on Dec. 8. In its deputation to council, the BMRA applauded the town for their continued efforts in remaining fiscally responsible while addressing the needs of the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the group drew some concerns around the town’s ability to complete capital projects in a timely manner. “Depreciation is greater than new capital builds and has been for some time,” stated Brian Harkness, chair of BMRA's budget review committee in the deputation to council. The BMRA is also continuing its efforts in trying to find justification in the large percentage of tax dollars that is allocated to the county, in comparison to other lower-tier municipalities in the region. “BMRA is concerned about the increasing amount of municipal tax assessment dollars directed to the county and not available for the town to spend on needed capital projects, such as a modern community centre,” Harkness continued. Currently, 41.3 per cent of the tax dollars collected from TBM residents is allocated to Grey County. In 2020, the average TBM resident paid $2,268 in tax dollars to Grey County, which is the highest paid by any resident of all nine Grey County municipalities. The Municipality of Grey Highlands held the second-highest contribution rate in 2020, contributing, on average, $1,483 per resident. Comments from the public meeting will be presented to council in a staff report on Jan. 26, where council members will take one final look at the proposed draft budget. “We're now at 1.37 [per cent increase], but we're going to be meeting to fine tune things once a public meeting where everybody will have a chance to provide some more comments,” Soever said, adding that council members hope to reduce expenditures further to reach a zero per cent tax increase. The budget bylaw will appear before council for final approval on Feb. 8. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Brazil's government will not seek to bar Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from 5G network auctions slated for June this year, newspaper Estado de S. Paulo reported on Saturday, citing government and industry sources. Financial costs potentially worth billions of dollars and the exit of ally President Donald Trump from the White House are forcing President Jair Bolsonaro to backtrack on his opposition to Huawei bidding to provide the next generation cellular network for carriers in Brazil, the paper said.
If you’re slicing into a sizzling steak for dinner tonight, or getting a spoonful of lamb stew, then you have a farmer and butcher to thank. They are the silent, often underappreciated heroes of the food industry, and they are facing massive challenges amid the pandemic. “We feel that people don’t understand us,” said Craig McLaughlin, owner of a medium-sized beef farm in Renfrew County. “It would be so helpful if people understand what we are up against,” echoed Angie Hoysted, co-owner of Valley Custom Cutting, a provincial free-standing meat plant and full-service butcher shop in Smiths Falls. So what exactly are they up against? Bill Dobson, who owns an organic beef farm in Smiths Falls, said one of the biggest challenges local producers have is a lack of infrastructure for processing. “There’s not enough abattoirs (slaughterhouse for livestock),” Dobson said. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website listed a total of 115 abattoirs in the province, and 360 free-standing meat processing plants (FSMP). FSMPs do not slaughter animals. They conduct further processing activities such as the aging, boning, cutting, slicing, smoking, curing and fermenting of meat. Once the animal carcass has been brought back from the abattoirs, the challenge is that there aren’t enough butchers (or FSMPs) to cut and process the meat. “There’s just not enough people getting into that business. We have to encourage (the) government to open up spaces in community colleges and encourage people to go into that field,” Dobson said. Hoysted’s husband Dan was head butcher at an abattoir when it closed unexpectedly. The beef producers in the area – who knew him and trusted his skills – expressed their need for a reliable butcher, so Dan and Angie opened a shop in 2016. Hoysted said farmers invest two years of raising and taking care of livestock, so they’re not just “going take it to a random butcher to cut it. You don’t get a good yield, the cuts you want or your packages professionally done.” Not only do farmers book months in advance for an abattoir, they also have to schedule for butchers, typically a six-month wait. “Once the pandemic hit, spaces booked up at the abattoir. I used to be able to book slaughter space in a month or two; now it’s at least six months,” said Tyler Armstrong, a sheep farmer who owns Pinnacle Haven Farm in Renfrew. “Now I book before the lamb’s even born,” Armstrong said, adding that this issue is not unique to this area – it’s an Ontario-wide issue. McLaughlin said this poses a huge problem: “If I have cattle ready (for the abattoir), and they have no place to go, you have to maintain them. You can’t put them in a storage locker. They require daily care and (it) costs me more.” Another challenge is labour shortage. If a farmer or a butcher gets sick, there’s not a ready source of labour they can avail themselves of quickly. “You might find an able body, but they’ve never worked with livestock before, or trained in specific skills to operate specific equipment,” McLaughlin said. “If we got sick, we have to go home, and everything in our cooler will be garbage by the time we reopen,” Hoysted said about the meat products they sell. “We’re one of the youngest people owning a provincial processing plant in this part of Ontario. Everyone else is older. What’s going to happen in five to 10 years when they retire? You’re going to have a major, major issue,” Hoysted said. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
Toronto Mayor John Tory has congratulated Nick Mantas on winning the Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt byelection. Preliminary results show Mantas won a narrow victory Friday night to replace former Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis in Ward 22. Tory said the byelection happened at a crucial time for the city. "As mayor, it is my job to work with every member of city council," Tory said in a statement. "I look forward to working with councillor-elect Mantas on the issues that are important to him and the residents of Ward 22. "This is a crucial time for our city as we continue to face the challenge of COVID-19. I know councillor-elect mantas is committed to helping our efforts as a city government to confront this virus and make the residents and businesses of Scarborough-Agincourt get through these extremely tough times," Tory added. Tory said he also looks forward to working with Mantas on the prudent management of the city's finances and on the maintenance of strong partnerships with the other governments. He thanked voters who cast their ballot in the byelection either by mail or in person. "Your commitment to making sure your voice is heard as part of our democratic process is so important and has helped make sure Ward 22 will continue to be represented at Toronto City Hall," he said. Mantas, who was the former chief of staff to Karygiannis, was considered one of the more high-profile candidates among the 28 running in the byelection for Scarborough-Agincourt. According to the city's unofficial results, Mantas had a total of 3,261 votes with all 41 polls reporting. He won by a margin of just 223 votes over his nearest rival, Manna Wong, who garnered 3,038 votes. The results are deemed unofficial until the city clerk can declare a winner, according to a tweet from Toronto Elections. Karygiannis was removed as city councillor in September 2020 due to a campaign spending violation in the 2018 municipal election.
BERLIN — The German soccer federation is investigating whether Union Berlin player Florian Hübner used a xenophobic slur against Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Nadiem Amiri when the Bundesliga teams played Friday. The federation said Saturday that there was a “suspicion” that Hübner racially insulted Amiri, whose parents are from Afghanistan, at the end of Union’s 1-0 win. “We will take on this initial suspicion and initiate appropriate investigations at the start of the new week,” said Anton Nachreiner, chairman of the federation’s control committee. “For the first step, we will write to everyone involved and ask them to comment. We will also evaluate the available material up to then.” Nachreiner said the federation “fundamentally does not tolerate any racism or discrimination.” Friday’s game ended with Amiri angrily approaching Hübner and pointing his finger in the Union defender’s face after the final whistle. Amiri also had heated words with other Union players. Union coach Urs Fischer tried without success to console the furious midfielder. Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah told broadcaster DAZN that Amiri was abused by an opponent who used a racially charged term referring to the Germany midfielder’s Afghan background. “It doesn’t belong on the football pitch, no matter how emotional things get,” Tah said. “It’s the most bitter part of the evening. I hope there are consequences.” Amiri said Saturday that he accepted an apology from the player involved. “He came to me in the changing room after the game,” Amiri told Leverkusen’s website. “There were ugly words on the pitch said in the heat of the moment that he’s very sorry for. He credibly assured me of that and therefore the matter is now settled for me.” Neither Amiri nor Tah referred to the Union player by name. Fischer missed the incident. “I heard there were words on the pitch that have no place on the pitch,” Fischer said after the game, before calling for an investigation. Union welcomed the federation’s investigation. “Union Berlin completely distances itself from racism and discrimination in football and in our society. To be clear: it’s not acceptable in any form,” the club said on Twitter. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
TRAVAIL. Selon la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), après la gestion de la pandémie en 2020, les négociations dans le secteur public seront le gros défi que le gouvernement devra relever en 2021. «La Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) compte d'ailleurs rappeler au premier ministre, François Legault, qu'il est maintenant plus que temps qu'il fasse un choix pour le Québec, le choix de bien traiter celles et ceux qui préparent l'avenir des élèves et des étudiants et qui prennent soin des personnes malades et souffrantes», a déclaré Sonia Ethier, la présidente de l’organisation syndicale qui représente plus de 200 000 membres, dont environ 125 000 font partie du personnel de l'éducation. «La pandémie a mis en lumière l'état important de désorganisation dans lequel se trouve notre réseau de santé à la suite des coupes et des compressions des dernières années. La situation n'est guère mieux dans les réseaux de l'éducation et de l'enseignement supérieur où les mauvaises conditions de travail mettent en péril la capacité de l'État à garantir les services à la population. Après la crise sanitaire, il y a une véritable crise des conditions de travail que le gouvernement ne pourra régler qu'en mettant fin à l'exploitation éhontée des travailleuses et travailleurs du secteur public, qui a trop duré», explique Sonia Ethier. La CSQ poursuivra d'ailleurs la mobilisation de ses membres, enclenchée en 2020, qui devrait se traduire par l'adoption de mandats de grève dans l'ensemble des syndicats d'ici la fin du mois de janvier. «Le ras-le-bol et la colère sont généralisés chez nos 125 000 membres du secteur public, et cela se traduit par d'importants appuis à la grève», ajoute-t-elle. Qualité de l'air et vaccination À l’occasion d’une conférence de presse virtuelle tenue le 10 janvier, la présidente de la CSQ est également revenue sur la question de la qualité de l’air dans les écoles. Ayant écouté attentivement les propos du ministre Jean-François Roberge à ce sujet, Sonia Ethier l'invite à ne pas écarter trop rapidement le recours à des purificateurs d'air dans les classes où les normes ne sont pas satisfaisantes. «Le ministre semble dire que leur présence dans les classes et le bruit que ces appareils produisent seraient dérangeants pour la concentration des élèves. Je pense qu'il saute un peu trop vite aux conclusions et qu'il met en doute trop facilement le bon jugement du personnel pour ce qui est de choisir le meilleur emplacement pour ces purificateurs. Rappelons-nous qu'il n'y a pas si longtemps, le ministre doutait de la nécessité de porter des masques en classe, alors que son point de vue a changé depuis. La question des purificateurs d'air mérite sans nul doute d'être plus réfléchie également», met en garde la leader syndicale. Pour ce qui est de la question de la vaccination du personnel du réseau scolaire et du réseau de l'enseignement supérieur, la décision d'inclure les enseignants ainsi que les éducatrices des services à la petite enfance parmi les groupes prioritaires pour la vaccination est une bonne nouvelle pour la CSQ. «Cependant, nous pressons le gouvernement et l'Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) d'inclure tous les personnels de l'éducation dans ces groupes prioritaires, c'est-à-dire d'ajouter aussi le personnel de soutien ainsi que le personnel professionnel. En effet, ces travailleuses et ces travailleurs ne sont pas moins à risque que leurs collègues de l'enseignement», indique Sonia Ethier. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Brazilian jungle state of Amazonas received more emergency supplies of oxygen and respirators on Saturday, as the military and neighboring Venezuela scrambled to alleviate an unfolding humanitarian crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Air Force also said it had evacuated 12 patients from hospitals in the state capital Manaus to the northern city of Sao Luis overnight, with hospitals at breaking point with no oxygen supplies and overflowing intensive care wards. Mass graves were dug in Manaus during the first wave of the pandemic last year.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is filling out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signalling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump. A transition official said Biden intends to nominate Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs — the second- and third-highest ranking posts, respectively. They were expected to be the 11 department appointees that Biden was announcing Saturday to serve under his pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, the official said. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the appointments before the announcements and spoke on condition of anonymity. Among the others joining the Biden team are: —longtime Biden Senate aide Brian McKeon, to be deputy secretary of state for management. —former senior diplomats Bonnie Jenkins and Uzra Zeya, to be under secretary of state for arms control and undersecretary of state of democracy and human rights, respectively. —Derek Chollet, a familiar Democratic foreign policy hand, to be State Department counsellor. —former U.N. official Salman Ahmed, as director of policy planning. —Suzy George, who was a senior aide to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, will be Blinken's chief of staff. —Ned Price, a former Obama administration National Security Council staffer and career CIA official who resigned in protest in the early days of the Trump administration, will serve as the public face of the department, taking on the role of spokesman. —Jalina Porter, communications director for Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who is leaving Congress to work in the White House, will be Price's deputy. Price and Porter intend to return to the practice of holding daily State Department press briefings, officials said. Those briefings had been eliminated under the Trump administration. Jeffrey Prescott, a former national security aide when Biden was vice-president, is Biden's pick to be deputy ambassador to the United Nations, He would serve under U.N. envoy-designate Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Five of the 11 are either people of colour or LGBTQ. Although most are not household names, all are advocates of multilateralism and many are familiar in Washington and overseas foreign policy circles. Their selections are a reflection of Biden's intent to turn away from Trump's transactional and often unilateral “America First” approach to international relations. “These leaders are trusted at home and respected around the world, and their nominations signal that America is back and ready to lead the world, not retreat from it," Biden said in a statement. “They also reflect the idea that we cannot meet this new moment with unchanged thinking or habits, and that we need diverse officials who look like America at the table. They will not only repair but also reimagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation.” Sherman led the Obama administration’s negotiations leading to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, from which Trump withdrew, and had engaged in talks over ballistic missiles with North Korea during President Bill Clinton's second term. Nuland served as assistant secretary of state for European Affairs during the Ukraine crisis.. Sherman, McKeon, Nuland, Jenkins and Zeya will require Senate confirmation to their posts while the others will not. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press