Tech expert Kris Abel joins Global News’ Liem Vu on new products with cool features for the tech geeks.
Tech expert Kris Abel joins Global News’ Liem Vu on new products with cool features for the tech geeks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
Health officials in Alberta have begun hunting around for specialized freezers, one of the first steps in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines which could begin arriving within the next few months. Earlier this month, the province began the procurement process for freezers able to meet COVID-19 vaccine storage requirements. Initially, the government proposed the sole-source purchase of five freezers from Fisher Scientific, according to procurement documents, although Alberta Health said there is now an open competition between potential suppliers. Alberta is looking to purchase four ultra-low units needed for the Pfizer vaccine and two laboratory freezer units for the Moderna vaccine. The six units will have about 23 cubic feet of capacity, which would be about the same size as a large refrigerator. The storage units will be held at the provincial vaccine depot located in Fort Saskatchewan. Ultracold temperature freezers are in high demand and typically cost about $15,000. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-low temperature storage requirements have sent some health authorities and hospitals scrambling to find special freezers. "We don't know which vaccines we're going to get so the government is really preparing for every eventuality," said Shannon MacDonald, a registered nurse and a professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. MacDonald and her team are currently researching who should be prioritized to receive the vaccine, which is part of a COVID-19 rapid response research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is intended to guide public health officials in how they dole out the first rounds of immunizations when they become available in Canada. Alberta expects to receive 465,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine for a total of 686,000 doses, earlier in the new year. Being able to receive the doses and store them properly is just one part of the process to disburse the vaccines. "The process is not linear. [The government] has to do a whole bunch of things at once," said Dr. Margaret Russell, an associate professor and researcher at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, who specializes in public health preventive medicine. WATCH | Why infectious disease experts are encouraged, cautious about Pfizer vaccine: Health officials will have to create a distribution plan and decide who will deliver the vaccine, where it will go in the province and how it will be stored, she said. At the same time, officials have to decide how many people will be needed to help at clinics where the vaccine will be administered. "They have to think about the human resources, the training and skills set. Of course, right now, during COVID, people have to self isolate, we're hearing a lot about health-care workers having to self isolate," Dr. Russell said. Vaccine recipients will need to be monitored for any adverse effects and to ensure they receive the second dose of the vaccination. Besides the logistical considerations, a communications plan will also be key, said MacDonald, with the University of Alberta. Health officials will have to preach patience, while also providing encouragement, she said. "We need to reassure people that all the usual processes have been followed [in developing the vaccines], but much more quickly through a massive injection of funds, so that people are reassured, so that when it's their turn and they are eligible for the vaccine, they're prepared to get the vaccine," said Macdonald. Pfizer has begun "rolling submissions" for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, the company said. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.
HONG KONG — Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two other activists were taken into custody Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year. Wong, together with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, pleaded guilty to charges related to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last June. The trio were members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party. They were remanded in custody at a court hearing Monday, and the three are expected to be sentenced on Dec. 2. Those found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly could face as long as five years in prison depending on the severity of the offence. “I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said, ahead of the court hearing. “What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the thin chance of walking free.” Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests and is among a growing number of activists being charged with relatively minor offences since Beijing in June imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech. Pro-democracy supporters have said the legal charges are part of a campaign to harass and intimidate them. Lam, who also spoke ahead of the court hearing, said he too was prepared to be jailed. Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he and Lam had decided to plead guilty after consulting with their lawyers. The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. Chow had already pleaded guilty to charges of inciting others and taking part in the protest. “If I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I have been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday. “Although I am mentally prepared, I still feel a little bit scared. However, compared to many friends, I have suffered very little. When I think of this, I will try my best to face it bravely,” she wrote. On June 21 last year, thousands rallied outside the police headquarters to protest what they said was excessive police force against demonstrators Zen Soo, The Associated Press
The pandemic has been challenging for local businesses, but the Grand Falls-Windsor Farmers' Market is discovering there are some unexpected benefits as well."We're still seeing growth. If you look at our numbers from last year to this year, we're still growing, the pandemic hasn't put us back any," says Codylynn Smith, a member of the market's board of directors.She said while there are obviously challenges in the age of COVID-19, they have been doing great."For us, it's almost been beneficial in a way, because there hasn't really been anything else happening," Smith said."Our vendors are doing a lot better because people are coming to the market, and they're ending up with new customers that they didn't have before, because it's one of the only outlets right now for local shopping."Looking to expandThe market started less than a decade ago with just a few produce vendors, but business has been so good of late, the market is looking at expanding into its own space."Last season we operated out of a large event tent and that worked really great for us because the outdoor setting really gave you the farmers' market experience," Smith said."We actually met with the town council a couple of months ago and [made] a proposal to them. What we were looking for is for them to be an applicant to ACOA for some funding because we were looking at moving into a permanent structure and getting a building of our own. She said because the farmers' market has only been an independent incorporated enterprise for just over a year, the town wasn't 100 percent ready to move forward on applying for such a large amount of funding, however.But the town is working closely with the market. Smith said they've been temporarily operating from the Legion in Grand Falls-Windsor."It's been easier to navigate the distancing and keeping the traffic in one direction. And there was access to bathroom facilities, things like that."More distancing, concentrated customersStill, the public health regulations haven't been without some challenges, according to Smith."Trying to navigate all the guidelines and regulations has definitely been tricky for us and for our vendors because people get accustomed to a certain way of things. It has been a transition for us and out vendors," she said.But after everyone got used to the now-standard precautions like masks and physical distancing, Smith said some definite benefits came to light."We can't have as many vendors as we would normally have in the space that we're currently in, but that's kind of benefited our vendors, too, because people come to the market and they only have a certain amount of disposable income that they're going to spend," she said."If there was a little bit less vendors, then more of the vendors get to reap the benefits of that."She gives credit for their success to the community for supporting them through both good times and bad."The community has been really supportive to us, and they are really accepting of us as well," Smith said."The more people that find out about us, they're like 'oh, this is so great.' It's such a great thing for our community, a great place for our local entrepreneurs to showcase their products and showcase them to a large audience at one time." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
High stress, exhaustion, heartbreak: that is how some high school teachers describe working through the second wave of COVID-19. High school teacher Courtney Scratch worries that the current system isn't working for students or parents, and might be doing them a great disservice."To try to keep up with the expectations that were put both on students and on teachers has just been, honestly impossible," Scratch said. The new quadmester system used by the Greater Essex County District School Board splits the school year into four periods, to allow students to be split into two groups — or cohorts. It makes for longer classes and condensed curriculum. Courses that used to be taught over the course of five months are now being taught in eight weeks."It's virtually impossible in certain cases for the students to keep up," Scratch said. "And the feedback that we're getting from them is that they're just getting through it. They're just scraping by. They're not really retaining anything. It just feels like one hurdle after another."Scratch was assigned to teach mathematics completely online for her first quadmester. She was responsible for two classes and a total of 60 students.'Equity issues'A key challenge for teachers, Scratch explained, is lack of preparation time. She explained that the way the school year is split up, teachers get prep time for only two of the four quadmesters. She said, for her first quadmester, she got none. To make up for that, Scratch said she would wake up every morning at about 4 a.m. to prepare her lessons in time for the start of the school day. She would teach throughout the day, taking her lunch hour to meet with students and speak with parents. Once she got home, she would continue marking assignments and preparing lessons into the evening. "Eventually I would just work until I had to fall asleep and then I'd set an early alarm to get up and do it all again," she said. She said students were asking for more review, more assessments, one-on-one time, and so on, which she often wasn't able to accommodate because there simply wasn't enough time. "One of the things I think is not being discussed enough is the equity issues that arise because of this," Scratch said. "Imagine if these students had a teacher who was only working with 30 students and had prep time during the day. The experience of those students would be getting would be absolutely night and day. So it's really not fair to them that this is what they're getting because of the expectations that were piled up on their teachers."'Breaks my heart'Feeling like she's been unable to give her students everything they need has been "heartbreaking," Scratch said. "I just think about what could I have done differently had I had more time during the day to work with them in small groups, to work with them individually, how much more dynamic my lessons could have been had I been able to plan them," she said. "To think that in any way I have failed to equip them for the next steps of their mathematical journey — it breaks my heart in more ways than I can say."New challengesThat heartbreak and sadness is not unique. Erin Roy, the district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says she's heard hearing similar stories from many teachers. "We put our a survey to our members and some of the comments were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes," said Roy. In addition to the difficulties around the curriculum, Roy added that teachers are missing the connections and interactions that come during a typical school year, even though they understand the restrictions are to keep everyone safe. "Even our most seasoned teachers, they're somewhat broken because they're not able to do those things."Further to that, Roy explained that teachers are dealing with challenges like never before, "stress on top of stress," from struggles with technology, to dealing with parents who are angered by the challenges the school year has presented for their kids."It's typically the front line worker that's getting that frustration taken out on them. And I feel like that's happening with our teachers a lot," Roy said. Union asking for changesRoy said the union is working to make improvements moving forward. She's calling for better technology for teachers, more technical support for students and parents, more training for virtual delivery of curriculum, and additional attendance counsellors to assist with disengaged virtual learners. She said she's also advocating for the board to reconsider the quadmester teaching model, and to look at other models being used in other parts of the province that might be more successful.For Scratch's next quadmester, she's shifted to in-person teaching, and her schedule now includes preparation time. Having more time to plan "feels almost surreal to feel such euphoria over something that should be an expectation," she said. She's grateful for the time, but also worried for her colleagues who are now in her shoes, experiencing the burden of not having any prep time for the first time.Scratch said she feels the Ministry of Education put the school boards and staff in an impossible situation but said she's hopeful for a solution that can still keep schools safe, while creating a better learning environment. Neither the Greater Essex County District School Board or the Ministry of Education responded CBC's request for comment by deadline.
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said. O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election. Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said. O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam. In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines. “President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.” He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien. He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China. “They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said. He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty. In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
In 1993, Snoop Dogg released his debut solo album, “Doggystyle,” under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg. (Nov. 23)
As the price of bitcoin soars, Chinese cryptocurrency asset managers are looking to expand in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, skirting an intensified crackdown at home. Cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have grown assets under management and registered hefty gains this year thanks to bitcoin's recent surge to over $18,000, close to its 2017 high. At the same time, Beijing has been tightening already strict scrutiny over cryptocurrencies as the People's Bank of China (PBOC) prepares to launch its own digital currency, partly a response to the threat from currencies like bitcoin, officials say.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Two people died and multiple others were injured in a stabbing Sunday night at a church in California where homeless people had been brought to shelter from the cold weather, police said. The stabbing happened at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, where police said on Twitter that no services were taking place. “Unhoused individuals were brought into the church to get them out of the cold,” the department tweeted. It was unclear exactly how many people were wounded, but some of the injuries were life-threatening, police said. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo initially tweeted that a suspect had been arrested, but police later said no arrest could be confirmed. KTVU-TV reported that a 22-year-old man was apprehended in the stabbing. Video shown by news outlets near the church showed several ambulances and police cars, and police tape and traffic cones cordoning off the road. The Associated Press
With many Quebecers cooped up at home, some are channeling their energy by getting into the festive spirit a little early.Interest in natural Christmas trees has been rising steadily in the last few years and the Quebec Association of Christmas Tree Producers is predicting a record season."People are ready to buy local, support their neighbours and buy green," said Charles Vaillancourt, president of the association.Last weekend, dozens of families showed up at Sapinière Saint-Jean for the first day of the U-pick season. "The big advantage of U-pick is freshness as well as choice," said co-owner Michel Gravel.Like the boom for Quebec apple producers in the fall, some Christmas tree producers are expecting an influx of people looking for a festive outdoor activity.While some farms are offering U-pick services, others are adapting to try and serve shoppers from afar.Les Sapins de Clericy in Rouyn-Noranda is offering to deliver farm fresh Christmas tree to local clients who order online or by phone.Co-owner Mary-Lou de Denus said that they cancelled their U-pick season because it's impossible to maintain distancing between clients.She said that normally the farm welcomes visitors not just to buy but to gather, have a snack or a drink, and chat. This year, that tradition can't happen, so the farm is closed to the public."Of course, we are going to reduce our service a little bit because it's more complex to deliver. But we will try to respect as much as possible the customers' choice of height and width," she said.When it comes to artificial trees and other holiday decorations, some stores reported crowds of shoppers buying up their stock earlier than normal."People are buying Christmas decorations at a never-before-seen rate," said François Gendron, manager at a Canac hardware store in Quebec City.Gendron said he's never seen such a craze for Christmas decorations at the beginning of November."We have a lot of inventory, but it is starting to decrease," he said. "So, eventually we will run out of stock."He suggested that one reason for the increased demand is that everyone is stuck at home this year, including snowbirds and others who travel around the holidays."They have to equip themselves from A to Z because they have no tree and no decorations," he said.
A row over a Thai woman who held up a placard alleging sexual abuse in schools has put a spotlight on harassment in the education system even as she draws threats of legal action for misrepresentation and attacks for soiling Thailand's image. The issue is the latest on which discussion has become more vocal as an anti-government protest movement seeking reform of the monarchy also emboldens people in a society where conservatism has often constrained criticism of the powerful. "I hope my case will raise awareness for people in society, for students in schools, for adults who send children to schools, for teachers and for the Ministry of Education," Nalinrat Tuthubthim, 20, told Reuters.
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa has just 40 of Ontario's record 1,589 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday.Western Quebec has 48 more cases Monday and is averaging more new cases a day than Ottawa, despite having about one-third the population. The region also has more patients being treated in hospital for COVID-19.Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for the long-awaited federal commercial rent relief program, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.The Ontario government is bringing in the former head of the Canadian Armed Forces, Rick Hillier, to oversee distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The province also wants to extend the term of chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams until September.How many cases are there?As of Monday, 8,212 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 347 known active cases, 7,498 cases now considered resolved and 367 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 11,800 resolved cases.Eighty-eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 71 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Travel from one region to another discouraged throughout the Outaouais. Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of the provincial pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has said Ottawa's situation is stable and people should focus on managing risks and taking precautions, such as seeing a few friends outside at a distance, to bring the spread down further.Communities in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) and Eastern Ontario health units have been moved to yellow. The rest of eastern Ontario remains in the province's green zone.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.Indoor dining at restaurants remains prohibited and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — with more in seated venues.Last week, Quebec announced what it will take to have a small holiday gathering next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.WATCH | Third major drug company gives late-stage vaccine trial update:Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has eight permanent test sites, with additional mobile sites deployed wherever demand is particularly high. A test site should open at the McNabb Community Centre tomorrow.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other test site is in Napanee.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools are temporarily closed to in-person learning and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre has also closed. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
Three more houses on May Street in north-end Halifax may soon be torn down.In 2016, 17 properties were demolished on Fern Lane, May, McCully and Robie streets to make way for an expansion of the Colonial Honda car dealership. That sparked a "Homes not Hondas" protest group.Dynamic Properties owns 5792, 5796 and 5800 May Street, which are three attached buildings. The director for the company is Rob Steele, who is also the CEO of the Steele Auto Group, which includes Colonial Honda.Initially Halifax Regional Municipality officials said there was an application for a demolition permit of one of the properties. They have since confirmed that the application is to tear down all three addresses, although the permit has not yet been issued. 'We could use that housing'The move dismayed Jim Graham, the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia."Could we use that housing? Yeah, we could use that housing," said Graham. "It is discouraging."Graham said landlords are telling him that they are getting 12 calls for even bed-sitting units."The vacancy rate [for affordable housing] is not one per cent, it's zero," said Graham.Lisa Roberts, the MLA who represents the May Street area, agreed that affordable housing units are not being replaced at the same rate they are disappearing."We don't need another lot in Halifax-Needham," said Roberts, "We have a whole lot of them."A spokesperson for Colonial Honda said the company has purchased a two-storey, three-unit residential condominium building on May Street."The condo units involved were housed in a single building on the south side of May Street, adjacent to the Colonial Honda parking lot," the spokesperson said."Colonial plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot, which fronts on the Robie Street commercial corridor. This part of Robie is home to several auto dealership, service and repair centres."City can't stop demolitionsAn HRM planner wrote a report in 2016 that said council "does not have the ability to prohibit demolition."HRM councillors are meeting Tuesday to discuss which affordable housing projects are eligible for the $8.7 million from Ottawa under the Rapid Housing Initiative.Lindell Smith, the councillor for the area, said the zoning is also a factor."A lot of the residential properties and areas in the north end are actually zoned commercial," said Smith. "So I wish there were ways to protect it, but they own it and unfortunately they're deciding to take houses and put them into parking lots." MORE TOP STORIES
A perfect storm is brewing for the homeless in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, advocates fear, one that threatens to leave people alone and wandering during the cold winter days.The informal network of daytime supports — a drop-in warming room, the library, the once-monthly soup kitchen — have been cut back or cut entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.It's left homeless men and women with few options for basic needs and a growing fear of the cold Labrador winter that's on the way."It's really scary, I'm frightened for this year's people," said Amos Semigak.At 8 a.m. each morning, the town's only emergency shelter closes its doors and sends its clients outside. They're let back in for what the shelter calls "purpose-driven" visits — to access particular services, drink water or use the washroom. But beyond that, the clients are on the street — and in the woods — until 8 p.m., when they can get back into the shelter.On weekends, the Housing Hub is completely closed, and there's no staff to answer the door.Last year, many of those daytime hours could be spent watching TV at the Labrador Friendship Centre's common room, or on the computer in the public library. While some of those services are slowly resuming, others — like the Labrador Friendship Centre — see no easy return until the pandemic has ended.The common room at the Centre has been transformed into a COVID-19 screening area. It's a necessity, according to executive director Jennifer Hefler-Elson, for them to continue safely operating the medical hostel on-site."It was a very difficult decision," she said."We have to have that space to be able to get people to come here, to stay here, and know that they are protected as well, because the people that are coming here are vulnerable as well."Anyone who wanted to operate a warm room this winter would need a properly equipped space and properly trained staff — probably more that usual, due to COVID-19, she said. That's a set of conditions that wouldn't just appear overnight.So instead, many homeless men and women walk along the town's trails, Semigak said, where drinking is a common way to keep warm and pass the time.The remnants of make-shift camps can be seen throughout town, and they've drawn the ire of the municipal government — which wrote to the provincial government last year to complain about a growing homeless and transient population."As a council, we have received complaints of indecent exposure and acts," wrote Mayor Wally Andersen in 2019."Many consume alcohol in public at all hours of the day, and it's common to see an individual passed out on the side of the road or along trails within the community."For the past few months, Semigak has been living in a room in the Labrador Inn, a motel in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is being used as overflow space for the town's shelter.For him, that means he has somewhere to stay during the cold days. And, he says, he's been able to avoid the campsites along the trail where drinking is common — a fact he's proud of.But he knows what it's like to be there.Semigak is facing two charges in provincial court, relating to a fire he set in July. Court documents allege he set a fire too close to a forested area within the fire season.Semigak said he set the fire because he had been drinking and had just fallen into water. It was cold outside and was too late for him to access the homeless shelter."I could have perished that night," he said. "What could I do about this? There's nowhere I could go, there's no heat or nothing."He said he was forced into an impossible situation and fears others in the community will face those same pressures this winter."What else is there to do? There's nothing else to do here but [drink]," he said."There's no programs or anything for us people to be doing here." Staff at the Housing Hub shelter in Happy Valley-Goose Bay say they're doing everything they can to accommodate and help the homeless population, but are still struggling with a growing issue.Krystal Saunders, a coordinator and housing liaison worker at the shelter, said it seems like the need exploded earlier this year."We definitely had a rough summer in trying to provide … quality support to the clients," she said. "We didn't want to leave balls hanging in the air, but we were being forced to because we were ran so short staffed, the volume just blew up overnight."Its numbers have fallen — as some people move to other rural areas in the winter — but the shelter is still full, stretched beyond its COVID-19 capacity, and filling rooms at the Labrador Inn."This should be a temporary place for people to stay when they have no housing, and then they should be moving on," added Michelle Kinney, the deputy minister of health and social development for the Nunatsiavut Government. "At the moment, there's very little moving on."Kinney and Saunders said even as clients are making progress, there's limited spaces, long wait lists, not enough funding and not enough options for people trying to leave the shelter's care.It's all adding up to an ongoing cycle: homeless men and women shuffling into the shelter at 8 p.m., and shuffling out at 8 a.m."If there's a snowstorm at 8 o'clock in the morning, you feel really guilty about putting them out through the door," Kinney said. "But we don't have the staffing or capacity from this perspective to do any more about it.""It's a huge issue."It's an issue Dawn Crocker knows all too well.Crocker is a bartender at the Sandbar Lounge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She was working the night she last saw her friend, Susanna Rich."I asked her if she had a place to go, she told me she had a place, she was going to a friend's,"Rich was at the bar, but not drinking, Crocker said."She was just a kind soul, she was a peaceful lady. She just wanted to be somewhere where she felt she could be, and be herself."That was Friday night. Monday morning, police found Rich's body on the trail."It still hurts me yet to think about how she died," she said, fighting back tears. "Cold, and alone, and froze to death in a trail. And she was sober that night. She just had no place to go."The RCMP say they can't release Rich's cause of death — and the province's Chief Medical Examiner said there were no instances where hypothermia or exposure was formally registered as a cause of death in the town last winter.But Crocker believes the extreme temperatures caused — or at least contributed to — the death of her friend, and others in the community last year. And so do some of the men who stay at the emergency shelter."I'm hurt about those people that perished here due to the winter cold," said Semigak. "It wasn't right for those people to pass away. We need a proper shelter, we need the Newfoundland government to listen to us people, because we matter too, we matter as human beings.'"People keep freezing outside and dying," added Tobey Noah, a homeless man in the community.Noah's welcome to stay at the shelter, but said he doesn't feel comfortable there because of trauma he's felt over the death of his girlfriend and child, and ensuing struggles with alcoholism.The COVID-19 pandemic has scared him too. In the shelter, he'd have to sleep in a room with three or four other people."I usually just get a tarp and blankets, they usually give me blankets here to sleep outside," he said. "I make a little house, and take boughs and put them inside, and sleep in there."He could stay with family and friends, but he decided to give up his home and move to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to escape some of the demons.Crocker is terrified at the thought of another person dying alone on the trails and has started a project to help people like Noah.She's distributing sleeping bags all across Labrador, in hopes of getting them to people suffering in the cold, but said the issue needs serious attention."It's going so slowly," she said. "It's like staring into the [barrel] of a gun, knowing it's going to go off, but not knowing when…. We need to put things in place now. It should not be this way, it should never be this way."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Jeffrey Freedman is a COVID-19 "long-hauler" — one of many Canadians left with lingering health issues after getting sick from the virus. He says he now regrets going into work during the early days of the pandemic after falling ill in early April.Freedman worked at a tile company supplying Toronto's busy residential construction industry, which was deemed an essential service and remained open as other businesses were ordered to shut. He says he felt he had no choice but to report to work, despite risks of infection."I was in a bind. But because we needed the money and my feelings about my customers, I kept going and going and going and working my eight hours a day."CBC News reached out to provincial workers' compensation boards across the country and found that more than 26,000 claims have been filed by people who contracted COVID-19 at work. Freedman is one of more than 20,000 people whose claims have been approved.Thousands file claims across CanadaStatistics on workplace compensation claims are the first concrete indication of how many people are getting COVID-19 at work in Canada, but it's an incomplete picture.There is no standard accounting of how many people have fallen sick while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking.What's more, the system does not capture COVID-19 cases among workers who are ineligible or simply don't submit claims.Freedman developed COVID-19 symptoms in April and went to the hospital, where he was told he was a presumptive case and had to go home and isolate. A few days later, he was struggling to breathe and was rushed to hospital by paramedics. He spent 44 days there, most of them on a ventilator as he fought off the infection."I have brain fog. I have permanent damage to my vocal cords from the ICU and tubing for 33 days. I have constant neck and bicep pains," he said.Freedman, now 65, said instead of enjoying his retirement and his dreams of travel, he'll never be able to drive again and still struggles to get through each day."I have a major, major pressure wound on my butt from being in the ICU that is recovered to the point where I can at least sit, but I cannot sleep properly except more than 10 minutes at a time. And I'm very weak and tired, usually by 3 o'clock every day."Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) accepted Freedman's claim and has since helped him and his wife, Lori, by replacing Freedman's lost wages and helping to retrofit their bathroom to accommodate his injuries.WATCH | What it's like to be a COVID 'long-hauler':Claims by front-line workers rejectedIn Ontario and British Columbia, the data shows that most claims have come from workers in health-care facilities and agriculture. However, a quarter of workers in Ontario are not covered at all by the workers' compensation system, compared with B.C., where all workers have coverage.Ontario workers not covered include a large number in such industries as privately run care homes, social assistance services and the tech and banking sectors."It really highlights the absurdity of having a compensation system that just cuts out whole swaths of industries and says you're not entitled to coverage, and it's very difficult to track those people down because when they go to the hospital, their claim doesn't get billed through a WSIB number," said David Newberry, a community legal worker at the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic in Toronto. About 1,425 claims have been disallowed in Ontario as of Nov. 13, including hundreds in front-line industries such as health care.Newberry said the disallowed claims — along with the fact that the WSIB pays only 85 per cent of a worker's full salary — don't fit with declarations that these workers are "heroes" keeping the economy running during a pandemic."While companies are spending millions of dollars putting up billboards and bus ads thanking our front-line workers to be heroes — when people are actually getting sick within these workplaces, whether stocking our shelves or looking after our grandparents — what they're getting is ... a 15 per cent pay cut."Jennifer Collins worked as a nurse at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont, the site of a major outbreak that killed 29 residents in the spring. She said she didn't have adequate access to personal protective equipment and got sick with COVID-19 in March, leaving her with lingering health problems.Collins was not hospitalized, and she said a lack of medical records chronicling her illness hurt her claim for workers' compensation."I got a phone call from [WSIB], and they said that they realized with COVID that it was a special case," she said, "but because they didn't have any medical data or documentation to back up what I was telling them that I wasn't eligible."Collins said she still suffers from exhaustion and can only walk about two blocks before her hips act up. "Everyday I try to push myself more, but it is difficult, and it's frustrating," she said.After being turned down, Collins instead applied for the Canada emergency response benefit and was approved.Even with approval, fight isn't always overIn Ontario, the WSIB has disallowed 302 claims from workers in nursing and residential care facilities.Ultimately, many people getting sick at work are those who don't have the option of working from home. Newberry, of the injured workers legal clinic, said these workers may not even know they can access workers' compensation — in particular new Canadians who may not be familiar with the language or workplace laws."Those who are most vulnerable are the ones who are generally least likely to know that these things are available," he said.But even for those whose claims are approved, the fight isn't always over.Jeffrey Freedman received notice on Friday that his employer is appealing his workers' compensation claim, insisting that it took all necessary precautions and there's no proof he got COVID-19 at work.As workers' compensation claim costs rise, so too do the premiums that employers have to pay. Newberry said that the system gives employers an incentive to appeal approved claims."Workers' compensation systems in Canada are set up in a model that is similar to private insurance," he said."Even if ... the injured worker is successful in proving their claim is valid, that process can take years, and it can be really stressful."
On a calm day off the shores of Folkestone, a port town in southeast England, the waves slowly lap against the pebble shore. But there is a false sense of peace because of the danger a drastically growing number of migrants are putting themselves in to get here.Nearly 8,000 people have arrived on Britain's shores this year, crossing the English Channel by boat from northern France — four times the number in 2019."I think the busiest day, 400 made the crossing," said Tony Smith, a former head of the U.K. Border Force, which carries out immigration and customs controls.A large number of the people arriving have travelled from conflict zones such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Some travel via Libya to Italy and then on to such countries as France or Germany, while others travel through Turkey to Greece and then on to France.For some, once they arrive in northern France, the final leg of their journey involves crossing the water that separates it from the United Kingdom.In previous years, the crossing was often made hiding in the back of trucks that were loaded onto ferries or in shipping containers, but Smith said that method is becoming difficult."We've introduced a lot more security in the ports. It's much harder now for illegal or irregular migrants to get on board vessels," he said, which is why they are using dinghies and kayaks organized by smugglers in France.The crossing by boat has been deadly this year. In late October, a Kurdish family of five, fleeing Iran, lost their lives when the boat they were in capsized two kilometres off the coast of France. In all, about 10 people died last year making the crossing.Following that tragedy, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to crack down on smugglers.Earlier this year, the government even suggested stopping boats mid-crossing and returning them to France to limit the number of people making it to the U.K.Reaching Britain is a goal for a number of different reasons, including reuniting with family already there and the belief that the U.K. will offer them a better future. As well, it's not uncommon for migrants to have at least a basic grasp of the English language.WATCH | UN urges safe harbour for Banksy-funded migrant rescue boat, other vessels:Supporters call for compassion, better housingThe increased numbers have created issues for housing while the migrants wait for their asylum claims to be processed.Some are now being housed in former military barracks, including the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, a town of about 46,000 people. The barracks were home to Canadian troops during the First World War, where soldiers were staged before heading off to fight on the Western Front."We would like to see people moved to appropriate accommodation, and we would like to see claims processed really quick," said Bridget Chapman, who is with the advocacy group Kent Refugee Action Network. The barracks, she said, are not suitable accommodation, have been empty for years and were earmarked for demolition. Chapman said the situation for the migrants is made worse by tough talk from the government about cracking down on illegal migration. Instead, she would like to focus on providing safe ways for people to claim asylum."It adds to the hostile environment and a very unpleasant atmosphere for people, and I think it's shameful, frankly," Chapman said, pointing out that protesters regularly harass migrants in the community by videotaping their every move.To counter that reception, hundreds of people showed up outside the barracks on a Saturday afternoon in October to give the migrants a warm welcome.With the song We Are Family blaring, supporters waved and cheered at the men through the fence. A group gathered in the compound waved back.Folkestone resident Liberty Carre made a cardboard sign that read "Welcome" in Kurdish."I feel it's important to welcome people coming to this country, to make them feel safe," Carre said.That's what Peter Carroll says his community has been doing for generations, and he doesn't see why this current situation is any different."Folkestone is an area that is usually supportive of people who have come here in the past," he said. "Before the First World War, we welcomed 40 to 50 thousand Belgians. It has a long history of supporting refugees." Migrants bring out protestersBut not long after the friendly crowd left, a smaller group of protesters arrived outside the barracks.One man wearing a red "Make Britain Great Again" hat shouted "go home" at the men, while a woman in the crowd yelled to the media, "These barracks should be housing our homeless veterans, not illegal immigrants."When asked for comment, no one in the group would speak directly with CBC News.In town, that sentiment was echoed by some, though drastically toned down."I just feel like we should look after our own first," said pub owner Steve Barrett. It is a topic that comes up often with customers over a pint, he said, noting that while people feel sorry for the migrants, communities are struggling with COVID-19."I think they should be looked after — everyone deserves a home and somewhere to live — but the country is in a bit of a state at the moment.""We really need to have an open discussion and acknowledge people's concerns from both sides," refugee Ahmad al-Rashid said when asked about the tension over migrants in Folkestone.He left his wife and children in Syria when he came to Britain in 2015. He said the journey was difficult, and he relied on smugglers to get passage on boats and space to hide in the back of trucks.At multiple points, al-Rashid said, he feared for his life and was duped by smugglers, but staying in war-torn Syria wasn't an option for him.Al-Rashid, whose wife and daughters have now joined him in England, said part of the reason he chose the U.K. was because family reunification happens quickly once refugee status is granted."I wanted a place for my children to grow up where I don't have to worry about them being bombed or shelled or killed or kidnapped — or raped," he said, referring to his young daughters.
During Nova Scotia's fall municipal elections, two mayoral candidates said Cape Breton Regional Municipality was either bankrupt or nearly so.That's not the case, say others."We're a bankrupt municipality. People know. This whole island knows that," mayoral candidate Archie MacKinnon said during one of the election debates.Chris Abbass said during a debate that CBRM is "on the verge of financial collapse." In another, he said the municipality is not sustainable."We're slowly going bankrupt and if we don't do something about our cost-effectiveness and our efficiency in government, we're going to become ... a ward of the province or something, but we won't be anymore."But Mark Gilbert, a retired finance expert who was with the Department of Municipal Affairs and is a retired local government professor at Dalhousie University, said CBRM's financial statements show otherwise.The municipality does have net debt of roughly $145 million, but Gilbert said if you add in non-financial assets, it is more than $300 million in the black."This doesn't look like a municipality that doesn't have the wherewithal to continue operating," he said.With that much debt, a big question is future infrastructure needs and the municipality's ability to pay for the cost of borrowing through taxes or user fees, Gilbert said.However, CBRM's debt-service ratio is just over 10 per cent and the province doesn't red flag that until it hits 15 per cent or more.Gilbert said that means the municipality could borrow if it needed to finance large projects."If they were interested in borrowing, the capacity would certainly be there," he said."The thing that most municipalities are concerned about, and I did some research in this area for Infrastructure Canada, is not so much being able to borrow, but it's being able to service the debt."Jennifer Campbell, CBRM's chief financial officer, said the municipality would only be in trouble under extraordinary circumstances."For example, all of our long-term debt would have to be called at once, resulting in an immediate financial obligation of over $80 million and … that is not going to happen," she said.CBRM has long-term debt financing through the province's Municipal Finance Corporation that spread payments out over 10 years, Campbell said."If you're going to look at our net debt through the lens of immediate pressure, that's going to overinflate that and make it look like we aren't solvent, when, in reality, that obligation is due over a long period of time and we're well positioned to meet those obligations over that term."We have not defaulted on those terms, nor are we even close to defaulting on those terms."Municipality a going concernIt would be a struggle if all the debt came due in one year, because non-financial assets can't be easily liquidated, she said.Vehicles and buildings could be sold, but some non-financial assets would be more difficult to convert into cash."How do you sell a used municipal road or used municipal sewer pipes? There's simply no market for that," Campbell said.Last year's audited financial statement shows the municipality is a going concern. CBRM ended the year with a slight surplus of $12,000.It's not yet clear what the pandemic's impact will be on this year's finances, but a current statement is due to be unveiled at Tuesday's council meeting.MORE TOP STORIES
Justin Smith has been hit with a one-two punch of bad luck. First, the Toronto man was duped by a job scam that made off with $3,000. Then his longtime bank, Tangerine, helped itself to money Smith had in his tax-free savings account to recoup what it had lost in the scam."You keep your money in the bank because you think it's safe," he said. "And they treat the money like it's theirs, and they just move it around to protect themselves. That's not fair."Tangerine is an online subsidiary of Scotiabank that offers no-fee savings and chequing accounts.Here's how the double episode of misfortune unfolded: Smith, who works as a delivery person, had applied to work from home as a data entry clerk for the grocery chain Sobeys. He was offered the job, and was excited to receive an employment contract along with a cheque from his new employer for $3,495 to purchase a laptop, phone system, headphones and various other office equipment."It all looked totally authentic and real," he said. Smith had checked out the names of the people who handled his hiring, and reviewed their profiles on LinkedIn to confirm they worked at Sobeys. So when he received an invoice from a firm called Tech Insight Services for the office equipment, and was instructed by the Sobeys hiring manager to make a $3,000 payment right away, he promptly sent an e-transfer."I only had $800 or so in my chequing account at the time, but after depositing the Sobeys cheque, I had over $4,000," he said. What Smith didn't know was that the entire process was a sophisticated scam. The website where he'd applied, the supposed hiring managers, the cheque — all were fakes. His job application hadn't been sent to Sobeys at all. He had fallen into a snare set to swindle eager job seekers. The cheque even fooled Tangerine; the bank instantly deposited it to Smith's account.Alarm bells didn't start ringing until the next day, when Smith's supposedly new employer told him he should send another $3,500 for a new desk. "At this point, I became suspicious because no one spends that kind of money on a desk," he said. "I called up Tangerine and I said 'OK, I deposited a cheque yesterday, you guys let me send the money. I'm concerned that this cheque is going to bounce.'" WATCH | Bank raids fraud victim's account:Deep in the fine printSmith learned quickly that the scammers had already accepted his e-transfer, and a Tangerine representative said that meant it was too late to cancel it. "He asked 'Do you have money in your other accounts to make up for that?' and I told him I didn't want the bank to take money from those other accounts."Because his tax-fee savings account was registered with the federal government, Smith believed the money in it was untouchable. He was wrong. Deep in the fine print of the agreements many customers receive when they open a bank account is a clause known as the "right of setoff," also sometimes referred to as the right of "offset." It states that the bank has the legal power to seize funds from a debtor or guarantor of a debt. Although that right may vary depending on the product or plan, it's in most agreements; RRSPs and registered retirement income funds are typically exempt. This means if the bank accepts a cheque or another type of deposit that doesn't go through as expected, and a customer withdraws or transfers the funds, the bank has effectively made a bad loan. It then has the right to access money in other accounts it holds for that customer, in order to recover its loss. There is no need to get authorization, or even alert the customer beforehand.Shortly after the fake Sobeys cheque bounced, Tangerine took just over $3,000 from Smith's account. Smith sent two letters of complaint to the bank, asking to be compensated, but was told each time that the bank is not liable for his loss, and that he should report the scam to police. Job scams have become common during the pandemic, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. CBC News reported on a similar scam that involved Sobeys in June. In that case, the victim's bank, the Bank of Montreal, spotted the fraud and didn't send the payment.Sobeys is aware of the fake websites bearing its name, and said it is monitoring the web 24/7 to try to have them shut down. In a statement the company said anyone "looking to join the team or confirm the legitimacy of a job posting," should check jobs.sobeyscareers.com.Some good newsAfter being contacted by CBC's Go Public team, Tangerine said it will refund the $3,000 to Smith, and also pay $250 for a credit monitoring service for him.In an email sent to Smith that was shared with CBC News, the head of the bank's client response group, Emery Sziraky, said: "We have conducted a comprehensive review of your recent experience with Tangerine and we deeply regret that we did not meet your expectations."The bank also emailed a statement to Go Public, saying it was "pleased" to have resolved the matter to Smith's satisfaction. The statement included a warning about fraud, and said Tangerine "work[s] closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Canadian Bankers Association, law enforcement, and counterparts at other financial institutions," to ensure clients are protected.But Doug Hoyes, an insolvency trustee in Kitchener, Ont., said all Canadians should be aware how common it is for banks to access customer accounts to recover their own losses. "It blindsides people," Hoyes said. "I've seen it happen thousands of times."Hoyes said banks typically put a hold on large cheques deposited to the accounts of new customers; they are unable to access the funds until the cheque clears. But for longstanding, trusted customers, banks will often extend a form of credit and make funds available immediately. Hoyes said that most customers appreciate the ability to access deposits right away. "In most cases what the bank did is very helpful; 'Hey, you put the money in, you can use it.' But in this case, it backfired," he said. A five- or even three-day hold on the cheque Smith had received would have stymied the scammers, but he was a longtime Tangerine client. He opened an account in the late '90s when the bank was still called ING Direct, prior to a rebranding. So he was given instant access to funds.Hoyes added that he often tells his own clients, all of whom have money problems, to set up bank accounts at two different financial institutions. "It is wise to have your assets at a different bank than your debts, if it's possible," he said. That way if a payment goes wrong in any way, the bank isn't able to dip into other accounts on file, he explained.As for Smith, he's still eager to find a new job, and is grateful that Tangerine decided to do "the right thing.""I don't want to make myself out to be a victim here," Smith said. "I'm just trying to help other people not become a victim of these scammers or, quite frankly, become the victim of their bank."
Abolition is a vision that aims to eliminate imprisonment, policing and surveillance, and pushes for the creation of vital systems of care that many of our communities lack. For some, prison abolition and feminism do not go together. As a Black feminist, I believe otherwise. My years of organizing within the Quebec feminist movement, specifically the movement to end sexual violence, have convinced me that abolition is feminist at its core.My experience as a survivor of intimate partner and gender-based violence, moreover, has taught me that the police cannot protect us and that the struggle to end violence cannot be found within punitive and carceral systems.But what does abolition mean for feminist struggles? For starters, it helps to distinguish between abolitionist feminism and carceral feminism. Carceral feminists rely on increased punitive state power in the fight to end violence against women (VAW). They believe that we can stop gender-based violence by putting perpetrators in prisons and imposing harsher sentences.One problem with this position is that it ignores and leaves unchallenged the ways patriarchal and racialized violence is exercised through policing and prisons. This position is also based on the false assumption that the threat of punishment will stop violence from occurring. Whereas abolitionists within the feminist movement centre non-punitive, transformative community-based responses rooted in care, such as investing in life-affirming social services.They call for equipping communities with the tools they need to disrupt and intervene in patterns of harm, but also developing accountability processes for those who enact it.But if we defund the police, who will protect us?One of the most common questions I get as an anti-carceral feminist is "what will we do with rapists?" and "how will we keep each other safe?" After working with survivors and hearing testimonies from women who have been victims of gender-based violence, my answer is simple and straightforward. The police have proven their inability to protect us, which explains why an overwhelming majority of victims do not report their assault to the police.Recognizing the violence and re-victimization survivors face when they report their assault and considering the number of police officers accused and convicted of intimate partner and gender-based violence, many victims believe that reparation cannot be obtained through the criminal justice system.On the other hand, divesting from the police and carceral systems and investing in transformative community-based strategies can create innumerable possibilities for obtaining reparation and healing. Imagine investing in mental health services, shelters and sexual assault centres that are accessible and where Black, Indigenous, Trans, Disabled and other survivors of gender-based violence that face systemic discrimination can seek support.Imagine investing in education, social housing and the creation of unarmed service teams outside the police to address mental health, drug-related crises and gender-based violence. All these efforts would address the root of systemic violence.Alliances between anti-prison and VAW movement?Working for rape crisis centres, along with my own personal experiences with the justice system, have led me to explore abolitionist frameworks within feminist organizing. Unfortunately, there isn't much collaboration between anti-prison and feminist anti-violence movements here in Quebec. Considering the ways in which these two struggles intersect and how sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence are reproduced by the carceral state, convergence seems necessary.Over time, the Quebec VAW movement has grown through state funding, becoming institutionalized, increasing professionalization and undermining its capacity to effectively address gender-based violence. In the process, there has also been a strong shift toward dependence on punitive responses.These groups also pushed forward governmental agendas that conceptualized sexual violence within a framework of criminal law reinforcing broader trends erasing the systemic nature of gender-based violence. Grassroots movements such as INCITE in the United States, have tied the rise of carceral feminisms to the state's co-optation of women's anti-violence movement by attaching funding to collaboration with law enforcement.Healing through transformative justiceAs a movement, where do we go from here? If we are to move forward, we must start acknowledging how gender-based violence is situated within structures of state violence. Our social movements can't claim to be intersectional and support institutions that enact and uphold racism, sexism, colonialism and violence.We need to mobilize and switch responses to gender-based violence from the carceral state to community-based responses rooted in care. We must invest in transformative approaches to gender-based violence prevention that not only help us heal, but prevent further harm.This is our moment. Black Lives Matter, alongside other racial justice movements have pushed abolition out of the margins. Movements to defund the police have gained unprecedented support across North America. Through abolitionist frameworks, the possibilities for ending gender-based violence are endless.On Nov. 26, Marlihan Lopez is organizing an online event tracing how violence against women movements in Quebec have come to rely exclusively on the criminal punishment system to respond to gender-based violence, thus perpetuating a racist, sexist and violent system. Lopez will present an overview of this history and the impact of carceral feminisms in Quebec, Nneka MacGregor will discuss transformative justice as a tool to address violence and Nathalie Batraville will give an introduction to prison abolition. ASL interpretation and translation provided. Please register here.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ. CBC Quebec welcomes your pitches for point-of-view essays. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES