WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
CANOE COVE – For three-year-old Jake Kislingbury, it sure is good to be home from the hospital. "He was just petrified for such a long time," his mother Verity said. The Canoe Cove boy started having bad headaches in May. He was soon airlifted to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, which had spread so rapidly from his sinuses it's left him permanently blind. Jake, the son of Verity and Dave Kislingbury, had to stay at the hospital from May to October, and he and his family still have a long road ahead. So, in support of the Kislingburys, the community is using its annual Christmas event to raise funds for their neighbours this December. "That's what the community is here for," neighbour Chrys Jenkins said. This marks Chrys and Doreen Jenkins' 10th year hosting the Drive-Thru Living Nativity at their farmhouse in Canoe Cove. Organizers welcome everyone to witness the Jenkins' Christmas light display and nativity scene – complete with farm animals and in-character volunteers – from the comfort of their vehicles Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Plans for the drive-thru nativity started in September and there will be a few differences from past years, such as the addition of Santa and his sleigh. "Instead of the (usual) choir," Doreen said, "because of COVID." Jake and Verity got to check out the sleigh in advance of the event. Jake would often hold his mother's hand while walking around, and he had a fun time meeting the Jenkins' animals, playing with his toys and chatting it up as any three-year-old would. "He's gained his character back," Verity said. "We lost that for a while." During his time in the hospital, there were many nights where she would have to sleep in his bed to help comfort him. He clutched to his parents' promise that they would get him and his brother, William, a dog after treatment, which they'd train as a service dog, Verity said. "That's what got him through," she said. "It was tough." "But we got through," Jake said, unprompted, in response to his mother. The Kislingburys had volunteered with the drive-thru nativity for several years before and are grateful for the Jenkins' generosity in hosting it. All freewill donations will go toward general expenses incurred from Jake's treatment, and possibly toward a trust fund for his future. "It's a whole life change for all of us, really," Verity said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, at Strathmore High School, the show must go on. The school’s students are putting on a production of A Miracle Worker, a three-act play by William Gibson based on the autobiography of Hellen Keller, a deaf-blind author, activist and lecturer. The production started in September, but rehearsals did not start until October, explained teacher Deanne Bertsch. “It’s been a pretty fast rehearsal process for these guys, especially because it’s a double cast,” said Bertsch, referring to how two groups of actors are each performing separate shows for the production. “So, we’re double rehearsing everything, just to give more students a chance to be in the play.” A Miracle Worker is a personal story for Bertsch, as her grandfather, an ophthalmologist, was once Keller’s eye doctor in New York. “She (Keller) was always a huge hero for him,” said Bertsch. “He had all her books beside his bed, and he loves telling his grandkids that story of how he knew Helen Keller. “I just think this is a wonderful story about love, and because I’m a teacher, I love the story of Annie Sullivan and how she never gave up on Helen – it’s inspiring.” Last semester, the school’s performance of High School Musical was shut down due to COVID-19, so the students have been happy and grateful to be back on and around the stage, said Bertsch. “We’re really excited to be able to do this.” The rehearsals are being filmed in case the production is shut down again. But for now, they are planning five performances, nightly from Dec. 6 to 9 at 7 p.m., and a daytime performance for the school on Dec. 9, with the two casts alternating performances. Some of the students are jumping between roles in each production, such as Elise Marleau, who is playing Keller in one of the shows, during which she said she gets to act “absolutely insane,” and multiple minor characters in the other. “It’s really hectic,” said Marleau. “But I really like playing Helen, especially during the table scene because you throw food at people. It’s so weird to be playing someone with no lines, yet I’m acting their life.” As one of the stage managers, Sara Morse has quite a few tasks at hand. “Usually we just go over the blocking and make sure the actors are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and their movements are correct (and) making sure that their lines are good,” she said. While it is Morse’s first time as manager, she is no stranger to the stage, having played the witch in last year’s production of A Witch in the Wardrobe. “It’s cool to be stage manager to see other aspects of how theatre works,” she added. The main difference brought by the pandemic is the students having to wear masks, clear plastic coverings that sit over the students’ mouths. Wearing masks through the production has brought some difficulties, said Morse. “It’s been tough – when it comes to food, we can’t really feed them and it messes with the sound of your voice a bit,” she said. Playing the characters gave the students perspective into the life of Keller and the others in her story. “Anne Sullivan is really stubborn,” said Jordyn Shawcross, who plays the teacher instrumental in developing Keller’s ability to communicate. “She really had to be with Keller and all of these people telling her couldn’t do it – but she taught the unteachable.” Shawcross is “incredibly grateful” to participate in the play despite the pandemic. “I’ve always wanted to be in a play and COVID took a lot from me, so it was the one thing we still got to do,” she said. “Despite everything, we still get to do it, and I’m thankful for Miss Bertsch trudging through all of this and still doing it with us.”Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama; Former communist official Sergei Kirov is assassinated in Leningrad; Beatlemania arrives in America; Actor and director Woody Allen is born. (Dec. 1)
VICTORIA — A former judge says she found widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system where extensive negative profiling of Indigenous patients affects treatment and care.Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Monday she could not confirm allegations of an organized game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients in B.C. emergency departments, but found extensive harmful profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions and parenting. The former Saskatchewan provincial court judge and one-time children's advocate in B.C. was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix in June to investigate the guessing-game allegations and conduct a broader examination of Indigenous racism in provincial health care."Indigenous people consistently told us, and this was confirmed by the health-care workers who responded and the cases, that they are subjected to negative assumptions, negative assumptions based on prejudice, based on racism, based on beliefs that should not exist in our health-care system," Turpel-Lafond said at a news conference.She said 84 per cent of the review's Indigenous respondents reported some form of discrimination in health care and 52 per cent of Indigenous health-care workers said they experienced racial prejudice at work, mostly in the form of comments."Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in our health-care system today is that Indigenous patients and people are less worthy," Turpel-Lafond said. "That they are alcoholics. That they're drug seeking."These negative assumptions lead to the denial and delay of patient services, and cause some people to stay away from hospitals to avoid further incidents of discriminatory treatment, she said.Indigenous people told the review they feared hospitals and would rather face uncertain health than return to get care, said Turpel-Lafond.The review heard from nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health-care workers. It also examined the health-care data of about 185,000 First Nations and Metis patients.Turpel-Lafond's report makes 24 recommendations. They include bringing in measures and legislation to change behaviour and the appointment of three new positions to focus on the problem, including an Indigenous health officer and an associate deputy minister of Indigenous health.The report also said the government should work with Indigenous organizations to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic racism specifically experienced by Indigenous people, as well as create a new school of Indigenous medicine at the University of British Columbia.Dix said B.C. will work to implement the recommendations and the review's findings will be felt across the country."Racism is toxic for people and it's toxic for care," he said. "I want to make an unequivocal apology as the minister of health to those who have experienced racism in accessing health-care services in B.C., now and in the past."The First Nations Leadership Council, comprising several B.C. Indigenous organizations and Metis Nation B.C., called on the government to act."These are the voices of our families and our relatives and they have to be heard," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said in a statement. "They can no longer be silenced by a narrative of indifference and negligence and a culture of low expectations."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
A Nova Scotia man is in custody after five years of avoiding authorities over unpaid child support. Joseph Patrick Power was arrested on Nov. 20 in Montreal. He was transported to Nova Scotia where he's still in custody."I'm sure that's not very comfortable for him," ex-spouse Angela Power told CBC News. "Raising our children on my own with not enough money was not very comfortable for me."Tracked down for lawsuitJoseph Power is subject to three arrest warrants issued by Nova Scotia courts since 2015. That was for failing to attend court hearings related to his refusal to pay more than $500,000 in child support and interest to his children and ex-spouse. A judge eventually sentenced Power in absentia to 60 days in jail. Meanwhile, Angela Power is suing the province's maintenance enforcement unit for not collecting the money Joseph Power was supposed to pay. In October, the province successfully applied to add Joseph Power to that lawsuit as a third-party defendant. Ten days ago, Angela Power received email confirmation Joseph Power had been served legal notice of the lawsuit at an address in Montreal."I do have questions as to why they were able to so quickly find him when they wanted to, as opposed to when I wanted them to," she said. She called Halifax Regional Police to report Joseph Power's whereabouts.She says the arrest later that night did not go smoothly."A man was picked up at that residence who would not tell the police who he was. And I was asked to give the description, which I did, and also referred them to [CBC] news article for pictures," she said. Power said she's hopeful this development will bring her fight for compensation closer to a resolution. "Well, I'm hoping that it means the beginning of the end of this, I mean, some form of justice is being served right now," she said. Release hearing TuesdayJoseph Power appeared Friday by video link at a hearing of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Family Division, represented by Halifax lawyer Brian Bailey. Bailey told the judge he's been retained by Joseph Power's parents. Bailey said he'd like his client released from jail pending his sentencing for failure to pay child support. He cited unspecified health conditions and the risk of COVID-19 as the reasons.Joseph Power will propose his parents as a surety, and will offer to wear a tracking bracelet on his ankle while under house arrest. Angela Power told the judge she's worried her ex-spouse will abscond a second time. A two-hour hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.MORE TOP STORIES
The P.E.I. government has set aside $100,000 over the next two years to develop a public art policy for the province.Michelle MacCallum, director of cultural development with Innovation PEI, says it will enable the province to commission and acquire public art for government sites such as hospitals, schools and parks."I love seeing artwork all over our province," she said. "I think about how much it delights and engages and sometimes challenges people when they come upon public art."Different than art bankMacCallum said it will also be another opportunity for Island artists to display their work and earn money from it.She said it will be different from the provincial art bank."This is more specific to sites. So if we were building a new school or some kind of provincial government office building, if you think about it, the building in and of itself is a public entity. But there's nothing, there's no art around it. It doesn't say anything about it, about the people that use it, about what it's for," MacCallum said."So public art is there to augment the site specifically rather than just acquiring a catalog of the best of art, which is what the art bank does."Selected by juryMacCallum said they will consult with architects and developers of potential sites, then put out request for proposals. The art will be selected by a jury.She said there are a few sites being considered, but it's too soon to disclose the locations.More from CBC P.E.I.
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
TORONTO — The province's plan to test asymptomatic students and staff for COVID-19 has uncovered an outbreak in the first school where it was deployed, raising concerns about the spread of the virus in classrooms around the province. Ontario's health minister downplayed concerns about the findings at the elementary Thorncliffe Park Public School in east Toronto over the weekend, where 270 students and 17 staff are self-isolating as public health investigates the outbreak. The Toronto District School Board said 21 people - 19 students and two staff - have tested positive for the virus since the provincial pilot started at the school on Thursday. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the virus is spreading from the community into the schools, and not within the classrooms themselves. "It wasn't a huge surprise because there is significant community spread in that area," Elliott said of the test results. "But it does tell us that we need to be careful to keep the children safe, that teachers stay safe and the staff are safe." The school was the first tested under a new provincial plan to target classrooms in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa announced last week. The expanded voluntary testing will be provided for four weeks and those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said. The province first announced the program this summer but it had not yet taken effect. NDP deputy leader Sara Singh said the results from Thorncliffe Park are just the "tip of the iceberg" of what the province will find in hot spot region schools. "This is why New Democrats have been calling on this government ... to cap our class sizes to get the outbreaks under control in our schools," she said. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the results should motivate the government to take additional measures to keep schools safe, including cutting class size. The tests show Ontario may not actually know what virus rates look like in its schools, he added. "I think it's a scary number that we saw," he said. "And I think as this continues to get rolled out ... we are going to see numbers that will give parents a lot of anxiety." Ontario began the testing at Thorncliffe Park on Thursday - with 433 tests completed last week - and work was expected to continue Monday. Elementary schools in Toronto require staff and students to be screened daily for the virus, wear masks, practice physical distancing and practice proper hand hygiene. Toronto Public Health said it is also now requiring siblings to stay home if there is one child in the household with symptoms of COVID-19. Staff said the positivity rate within the school was approximately four per cent. Associate medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that local data shows positivity rates in the community around the school are approximately 16 per cent. "We're working very closely with Toronto Public Health on what measures need to be done to reduce the transmission and to reduce the infection rate in schools," she said. "It's concerning but it's not surprising." The province said Monday it has begun testing in some schools in Peel Region and Ottawa and is expecting results back in the coming days. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the findings at Thorncliffe Park are a sign the program is doing what it's supposed to. "I think it underscores that a plan is in place trying to work hard to mitigate any further spread," he said. Lecce said the province will bolster its COVID-19 safety programming when all children return to school after the Christmas break. It will ensure students receive a refresher on pandemic safety measures after the pause in class, he said. "I accept that we still have work to do in the context of countering COVID-19 in our community," he said. The province reported 102 new COVID-19 cases related to schools on Monday, including at least 86 among students. Those brought the number of schools with a reported case to 670 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools. Ontario reported 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and eight new deaths due to the virus. Elliott said 390 cases in Peel Region and 217 in York Region. Toronto reported 622 new cases, its highest ever single-day total. In the province's long-term care homes, 710 residents currently have COVID-19 and two new deaths were reported Monday. The province said 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven new deaths on Monday.
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining “extraordinarily uncertain.”In remarks released by the Fed on Monday, Powell said that the increase in new COVID-19 cases both in the United States and abroad was “concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months. A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.”Powell said while progress on developing vaccines had been “very positive,” significant challenges remained regarding the timing, production and distribution of the vaccines, and it remained difficult to assess the economic implications of this process with any degree of confidence.Powell's remarks were prepared for a joint appearance he will make on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the Senate Banking Committee. The hearing is part of the panel's oversight responsibilities required under the multi-trillion economic support legislation Congress passed in the spring..Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
Hamilton may be eligible for a new program to support patients on the wait list for long-term care and their caregivers, the province announced Friday. The community paramedicine program launched by the Ministry of Long-Term Care last month involves paramedics working outside their traditional roles to help seniors on long-term care wait lists stay at home longer. They can provide assessments and referrals, wellness clinics, home visits and remote monitoring. “Paramedics can mobilize very quickly ... you have this skilled profession that can provide the services that people need especially on the medical side,” said Russell King, chief of paramedic services for Brantford-Brant, one of the first five communities to participate in the program when it launched. On Oct. 30, the province announced up to $5 million to expand existing community paramedicine programs to provide at-home care to patients on long-term care wait lists. On Nov. 27, the province named 29 additional communities that could be eligible, including Hamilton, Halton Region, Norfolk County and Niagara Region. Brantford-Brant is in the process of launching the program. Glen Cunnane, community paramedic supervisor, said the program will also support patients and families who decide not to pursue long-term care due to the spread of COVID-19 in facilities. “There may be a little bit of hesitation there that may lead to more people staying at home,” he said, adding the program is expected to reduce emergency room visits by offering 24-7 access to care. The program is fully funded by the province and will also offer home visits, ongoing monitoring, and referrals to home care and community resources. To be eligible, the City of Hamilton must express interest to the ministry and meet other criteria. That includes the ability for the city’s existing community paramedic program to expand “quickly” to support its target population, having enough advanced care paramedics without compromising emergency services and the support of the LHIN. “The long-term setting right now, there just quite simply is not enough beds for the demand,” said Cunnane. “That demand for admission into long-term care is going to continue to grow at a rate quicker than they’re going to be able to build capacity into the system.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
You should expect to see a lot fewer people gathered around the tree this Christmas. According to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, celebrating the holidays with people outside your household is a recipe for disaster. “I know many people are looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We’re asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.” Those who live alone are encouraged to celebrate the holidays with only one additional household. As well, any post-secondary students living away from home are asked to consider a self-quarantine for 10 to 14 days before returning home. Dr. David Colby echoed Ford’s message, adding he doesn’t want people looking for loopholes in COVID-19 rules. The 10-person limit isn’t an excuse to invite over friends or relatives if you have a small household. Colby said a household and family members are two separate things. He defined a household as the people you live with. They are the ones who reside at the same address. They are your household and within your own living space. “I think it’s time to get away from rules. I mean, rules are helpful, but whenever there are rules, people are sort of saying, ‘Well, if I do this, can I circumvent the rules?’” said Colby. He added you not only have to look at the letter of the law but the spirit of the rule. “The spirit of the rule is to keep everybody safe,” said Colby. “Rather than worrying about whether the rules are being followed, we all have to ask ourselves, ‘What is the safest course of action for all concerned in this particular scenario?’ We’ve talked about that endlessly.” Additionally, Colby said people travelling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction is a big problem. He said when he does contact tracing, the trails always lead outside of Chatham-Kent. According to Chatham-Kent’s top doctor, smaller household parties mean less risk of catching and spreading the virus. Colby said this is something he has been “hammering away at for the last few weeks”. “There is clear evidence that the more people that you assemble, the higher the risk,” said Colby. “Indoor gatherings are riskier than outdoor gatherings, so having a large number of people, especially people who have travelled from a higher-prevalence jurisdiction, this is potentially a recipe for disaster.”Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec recommended on Monday the appointment of a youth-protection director to oversee the entire provincial system.The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, initially due today, until April 2021.The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a "guardian angel" and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.The commission found that the proportion of youth protection cases that are before the courts can vary from 30 per cent to 70 per cent from one region to another, suggesting the interpretation of the law needs to be clarified.Having a director in place would mean they'd be better able to act on the numerous recommendations expected in her report due next year, said Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission.The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection. Laurent says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.However, Laurent's mandate was open-ended, casting a wide net on the system and how users navigate it.Among the recommendations outlined Monday was that youth protection do better in dealing with Black and Indigenous youth, with services better adapted to the realities of those communities. Laurent deplored the over-representation of these families in the youth protection system.She also had positive words for those in the network who are overworked and under tremendous pressure.“The workers are also in distress. They believe that the conditions of practice do not allow them to provide quality services, at the right time and in line with needs," Laurent said.Hearings began in October 2019, and the commission said it has heard from more than 300 witnesses.The commission also held 42 “regional forums” where it heard from more than 2,000 citizens and other stakeholders from across Quebec.In a statement, junior health minister Lionel Carmant said the Coalition Avenir Quebec government intends to act swiftly on the recommendation of a director."The safety and well-being of every child is a top priority for the government," Carmant said. "The creation of a position of national director of youth protection is very interesting and goes in the direction of my reflection."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press
Regina– The Nov. 30 Saskatchewan Speech from the Throne reads like a checklist, ticking off the boxes of the re-elected Saskatchewan Party’s campaign platform in addition to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The 17-page Throne Speech was read by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty after the election earlier in the morning of Biggar-Sask. Valley MLA Randy Weekes as speaker. Premier Scott Moe said in a release, “Our first two bills will be to create a new Home Renovation Tax Credit and reduce small business taxes, as promised in the recent election campaign.” “We will also be moving quickly to cut everyone’s power bill by 10 per cent starting tomorrow, reduce ambulance charges for seniors and reinstate the Community Rink Affordability grant, as promised in the election campaign.” The speech comes at a time when daily government press releases detail the continuing spread of COVID-19. Just minutes before the speech began, 325 new cases, 49 recoveries, and two deaths were announced for Nov. 30. The speech noted, “Today, Saskatchewan is facing the most difficult moment of the pandemic to date.” “My government’s top priority during this session and in the coming weeks will continue to be working to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In recent days, new public health orders have come into effect, and more will be added if required. But throughout the pandemic, our best defense has been the selflessness and the vigilance of Saskatchewan people in following the good practices that protect themselves and others. “I am confident that will continue in the weeks ahead as we all work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At the same time as we are working to protect lives, my government is also taking steps to protect livelihoods. “We can, and will, do both.” It spoke of distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021 and the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program to top-up the wages of workers in long-term care facilities, personal care homes, integrated health care facilities and to home care workers. SaskPower rebate Key among the commitments is the promised 10 per cent SaskPower rebate. Beginning Dec. 1, SaskPower will reduce electricity charges by 10 per cent for one year. The speech said, “Everyone will benefit, including residential customers, farms, industry and businesses, and institutions such as schools, hospitals and universities. The rebate will save the people of Saskatchewan $260 million – money that can be reinvested into the economy to help drive the recovery. “The government, not SaskPower, will bear the cost of the program.” The new Saskatchewan Home Renovation Tax Credit will see homeowners able to claim a 10.5 per cent tax credit on up to $20,000 of eligible home renovation expenses incurred between Oct. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2022. Homeowners will save up to $2,100 on the cost of their home improvements. “This new tax credit will save Saskatchewan homeowners about $124 million and provide a significant boost to the province’s construction sector,” the speech said. The largest change within government announced in this Throne Speech is the creation of a new Ministry of SaskBuilds and Procurement, which will be charged “to manage infrastructure projects and assets more effectively.” “The new ministry will oversee the development and implementation of standardized government procurement processes and information technology infrastructure, ensuring that Saskatchewan tax dollars go further in providing the best possible value for the lowest possible cost,” it said. The government will temporarily reduce the small business tax rate from two per cent to zero. The change will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2020. By July 2023, the small business tax rate will be restored to two per cent. The reduction means the government will forego $189 million in revenue that would have otherwise been collected from the tax. The idea is that small business will invest that money back into the economy “to further drive a strong recovery.” The province has spent $6 million in marketing campaigns to encourage Saskatchewan residents to shop local, including a $1 million “Together We Stand Saskatchewan” campaign sponsored by local chambers of commerce and other business organizations. Other campaign promises The Throne Speech spoke of increased support for persons living with diabetes by covering the cost of insulin pumps and covering the cost of Continuing Glucose Monitoring up to age 18. The government will extend individualized funding for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder up to age 12, doubling the number of children who are funded from the roughly 500 that receive support now. Children under 12 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder will receive $6,000 a year to cover the cost of individualized therapeutic supports. Deafblind individuals will receive increased supports, with close to 150 people benefitting from enhanced services. The government is hiring 300 new continuing care aides to work in long-term care homes and home care, of which 180 will work in long-term care homes, 63 will go to existing home care services, and 57 will support expanded home care services in rural and remote areas. Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship from $500 to $750 a year, reducing tuition costs for those who qualify. The government will increase funding to the Saskatchewan Veterans Service Club Support Program to $1.5 million a year. It will add 750 new childcare spaces over the next four years. The government will also restart the Active Families Benefit to help families with incomes under $60,00 per year with the cost of children’s sports and cultural activities. Qualifying seniors will benefit from increases to the Seniors Income Plan benefit to $360 a year over the next three years. The maximum ambulance charge for seniors will be reduced from $275 per call to $135. On the legislative agenda, the government also committed to make amendments to The Residential Tenancies Act. Those amendments will allow those who have been sexually assaulted in their rental accommodation to unilaterally break a long-term lease. The Protection From Human Trafficking Act will enable victims to obtain expedited protection orders, allow for the tough enforcement of those orders, and provide civil remedies including the seizure of property and bank accounts and the suspension of driver’s licenses. The speech emphasizes the Saskatchewan Growth Plan which targets by 2030 growing the population to 1.4 million, creating 100,000 new jobs, increasing exports by 50 per cent and investing $350 billion in infrastructure. “This month, the Premier appointed a Legislative Secretary with the job of examining how Saskatchewan can exercise and strengthen its autonomy within the federation,” the speech noted. It highlighted the court case against the federal carbon tax, the appointment of Saskatchewan’s own chief firearms officer, and the future opening of new trade offices in Japan, India and Singapore. Saskatchewan would also discuss “the possibility of assuming greater control over immigration in Saskatchewan,” it said. The fall sitting is expected to last two weeks. There will be a longer legislative sitting in the spring, when the government will present the 2021-22 provincial budget.Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Montreal police say they'll step up their presence in the northeast of the city after four shootings in a five-hour span Sunday that left at least three people injured."Police officers from different units will be more visible on the ground to reassure the population while others carry out priority investigations to identify those responsible," the force said in a statement Monday. "These events underscore the importance of continuing to work on the gun violence that troubles our communities and undermines our sense of security."Police said no arrests had been made in connection with the attacks, which spanned roughly five hours beginning with a report of gunshots in Montreal North on Sunday evening around 5:30 p.m.Police found no victim but there was evidence of gunfire and shell casings near a parked car, and shortly afterwards a man in his 20s showed up in a hospital in serious condition requiring emergency surgery.About 9:30 p.m., first responders found a man in his 50s who was shot while parking his car at his home in the Riviere-des-Prairies district and was rushed to hospital.Just 10 minutes later, shots rang out in the parking lot of an apartment in the same neighbourhood, with a bullet striking a car that had at least one person in it before a suspect fled the scene.And at about 10:20 p.m., a man on his balcony was struck by bullet fired from ground level, leading to a man in his 20s being transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.Police said they would meet with residents in the area soon to discuss measures to better secure neighbourhoods.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
Local businesses are frustrated and exhausted as they weather the storm in Toronto’s second lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The province announced Nov. 20 that Toronto and Peel were going into its Lockdown/Grey level of its pandemic response framework as of Nov. 23. The regions had seen continuous spikes of cases of COVID-19 since the end of summer, and hospitalizations and ICU admittance had drastically increased. But as the lockdown aims to reduce the spread of the virus, business owners in East Toronto are asking why big box stores are still permitted to remain open. “It’s just another hammer on the head,” Skaut Design owner Inese Korbs said. Her store on Kingston Road sells home decor, furniture, and other design products. Korbs doesn’t have the staff to move her inventory online for customers as a lot of her products are vintage pieces. “It’s another full-time job,” she said. Instead Korbs relies on “virtual visits” where people can phone in via video conference and she’ll walk them through the store. She said before the lockdown, while there were fewer visitors than normal years, individuals were buying more per visit. That came to a grinding halt last week. “The most difficult part is knowing that big box stores are allowed to operate,” Korbs said. “It’s kind of like they have different rules.” Walmart and Costco are some of the bigger chains permitted to open, while Amazon still remains ever popular for online shopping. It’s difficult to compete with bigger chains as it is, let alone if you can’t even stay open, Korbs said. Lita Yiu owns and operates the clothing store Set Me Free on Queen Street East. She expressed the same frustration that Korbs did about big box stores staying open. “If you really want to control the spread, shut down big box stores,” Yiu said. “I’m happy to have one or two customers allowed in the store at a time, we don’t have the same clout as big businesses, we can’t absorb the shock.” Yiu said she and her staff are uploading their inventory on e-commerce platforms online, but between all the clothing, accessories, and gifts, it’s a lot of work. “It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and you don’t make much money. It’s not the same as walk-in.” However, Yiu and Korbs have been overjoyed by the local community’s support of their businesses. Before the lockdown, both business owners were receiving many local customers who were eager to support their neighbourhood businesses. “People came in, they expressed condolences, supported our store,” Korbs said of the weekend before the lockdown began. “The people in this neighbourhood are very supportive, and they’re going out of their way to help us.” It’s been the case throughout the pandemic, Yiu said. From the beginning to now, local customers have supported her. “They’re amazing,” she said. “They always try to shop local, especially after the first lockdown.” Like many small businesses across Canada, Yiu and Korbs have taken advantage of the federal government COVID-19 supports for businesses. It’s helped them with expenses such as rent and wages, but nothing will recover the loss of revenue in December and the anticipated holiday shopping seasons that so many retail businesses rely on. “The vast majority of small businesses adhere to the restrictions equally if not better than large chains,” Beach Village BIA executive director Anna Sebert said. “Most of the businesses on Queen Street can make a go of it with one or two people in the store at a time.” “Just because there are some bad apples, doesn’t mean all businesses should suffer,” she added. Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford agrees the “rules around some of the closures haven’t always made sense” regarding big box stores, but warns that the virus remains a threat. “There’s no doubt about it, the lockdown is taking a toll on all of us but we have to push through. It’s the only way out of this,” he said. “We’re all seeing the news of the businesses staying open in protest and people rallying against the closures. That’s concerning as it puts us all at risk, especially gathering in the way we’ve seen.” Bradford has received calls from local businesses asking if it is possible to ease up bylaw enforcement to allow some businesses to remain open. “I can understand the way they’re feeling,” he said. “We’re all tired, we’re hurting, but we have to follow the guidelines.” Cases have been among the lowest in the city for the Beach area, an achievement Bradford applauded as the community “is looking out for each other.” He said he’s making efforts to get relief for businesses from the federal and provincial governments. “What we need to focus on is getting the full weight of financial support possible for local businesses,” he said. “We also need clearer, fairer and more evenly applied rules if and when closures continue. City council doesn’t get to make these decisions – but we can elevate the voice of the impact they’re having on our communities and main streets.” Business owners say they understand the severity of the pandemic, and agree with most public health measures, but worry about local businesses in the community – especially restaurants, bars, and cafes. “I feel horrible for the restaurants,” Korbs said. “If they all survive that would be a miracle, their hands and feet are tied.”Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News