Miss K is very strict when it comes to Oliver the dog finishing his food. Priceless!
Miss K is very strict when it comes to Oliver the dog finishing his food. Priceless!
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
On Wednesday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at John Diefenbaker Public School. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, this case was not school-acquired. The division was informed on Wednesday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classroom/cohort, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. John Diefenbaker will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Urban design guidelines to help steer new builds in long-established local communities were formally endorsed by Council last week. The extensive list of guidelines provides parameters on everything from size to materials in order to ensure the new builds fit into what is already in the Regency Acres and Aurora Heights communities, as well as neighbourhoods on Temperance Street and around Town Park. Along with the guidelines, Council approved a semi-annual report that will outline to lawmakers the variance applications that have come forward and what has been approved. “The report will allow staff to identify trends and allow Council to better understand what development activity is taking place within the established Stable Neighbourhoods,” said the Town in a statement. “Under the Official Plan, stable neighbourhoods are protected from incompatible forms of development, and new development in these areas must respect and reinforce the area’s existing physical character and uses.” While a semi-annual update to Council was a request made by residents, particularly those in the Regency Acres neighbourhood, the report process as approved did not go far enough. They requested the semi-annual updates include a list of what applications were denied and why, a process which staff said would be too “onerous” to compile. Council agreed while sitting at the Committee level the previous week and when their decision came up for ratification on November 24, Councillor Wendy Gartner renewed the call. The main concerns of residents, she said, stemmed from privacy, particularly concerning rear yards, and the maintaining of the existing streetscape. Privacy concerns included minimizing the location of second floor balconies on rear side elevations. Additional issues ranged from the protection of trees to setting a maximum of three entrance steps to “encourage low profile entrance features close to the ground.” “The residents have requested reporting when consistency with the design guidelines is not adhered to by the developer,” said Councillor Gaertner, making a motion that the report “include instances where staff-approved variances regarding front and side yard setbacks, privacy and streetscapes are not consistent with the stable neighbourhood guidelines.” “Staff should be keeping a record of what they recommend to developers, that the developers aren’t interested in following,” she continued. “I think it is information Council should know and the residents want to have.” But this motion was ultimately unsuccessful with other lawmakers stating they were unsure what was hoped to be achieved by the report. “I am always happy to provide the residents with more information [but] I just fail to see the value it will get by doing this,” said Councillor John Gallo. Also casting doubt on including that in the report was Councillor Michael Thompson, who said as what was being recommended were guidelines for developers, the ultimate tools for compliance are the Town’s zoning bylaws. “The guidelines [are] meant to be able to shape the design, but there is a degree of flexibility in it,” he said. “If we want compliance in these areas, let’s reopen the zoning bylaw and put it back in the zoning bylaw and go down that road. Guidelines are just a tool and what Councillor Gaertner refers to in all those [areas] are subjective terms and they are open to interpretation. “The design guidelines are not meant for that kind of compliance. They are just meant to shape it and that is why producing this report would be so onerous because then it becomes a question of debating the subjective determination of what each term means and whether it was correct or incorrect. I don’t want to go down that road at all.” Councillor Harold Kim agreed, noting that the motion would take these guidelines in the direction of a bylaw. “I want to keep it high level and even if we went to that level of detail, what are we going to do with that information? I suspect we’re going to try and create bylaws out of that and we go back to Square 1 where we started two or three years ago. It is for those reasons as well intended as the amendment is, I cannot support that,” he said. Keeping an eye on how the guidelines go was something Councillor Rachel Gilliland said she supported, and that she understood what the residents were looking for, but what was being asked was too broad. “I feel if they came with their Top 2 or Top 3 concrete things that were the most important [and] relevant, maybe we can have a conversation, but it is almost the entire urban design guidelines that are being asked here,” she said. “It is so subjective and it is so many topics. I would think it would be very a very onerous thing for our staff to be reporting back on. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here with some subjective opinions, but it is not really going to do us any service.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays. Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear. Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus. “In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government. The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S. Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday. Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas. Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus. Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.” The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044. The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge. Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases. Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations. The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone. "If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said. Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization. Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week. Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available. "We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. — With files from Mia Rabson Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
No matter how you look at it, Christmas 2020 is not going to be one you will soon forget. But, as the holidays get ever-closer, Aurora is looking to sprinkle a little extra magic with the annual Aurora’s Christmas Market – re-imagined to reflect our new reality. This year’s free Christmas Market, which will be held at Town Park for the first time, will be spread over six nights, featuring dozens of vendors, artisans and activities both in-person and virtually. Festive vendors, artisans and chefs from across York Region will showcase holiday décor, toys, jewellery and clothes, art, baked goods and more during this physically-distant experience, open to no more than 25 Market-goers in any one time slot between 5 – 9.30 p.m. “The planning for the Market has taken on many different layouts, as well as locations,” says Shelley Ware, Special Events Coordinator for the Town of Aurora. “Due to the ongoing changes within our circumstances, which are beyond our control, the Market has been scaled down from what the original version was. The objective of the Market, for those who are able to register and attend, is to be able to provide an experience that enables people to get lost in the magic of the environment and just take 45 minutes to forget what we’re dealing with on the bigger picture and to actually feel the spirit of the season.” Imparting that spirit of the season will be a number of holiday-themed huts which will house each vendor, with thousands of Christmas lights strung from hut to hut across the pathway bisecting Town Park, which will make for an impressive sight. Organizers are aiming to have 40 different in-person vendors throughout the course of the multi-evening Market, with new vendors each Market day. In addition to the complement of in-person vendors, a total of 70 vendors will also be participating in the virtual market, which will be organized by product and service. Each in-person market will offer 12 or 13 vendors at a time, but all 70 vendors will be online for a full seven days. “I have to say our online components are pretty cool,” says Ms. Ware. “One of the event plans was to house the activities in the park. Those activities we have put online and the park activities are going to be showcasing the vendors that we have, which I have got to say are such high quality this year. Some of our virtual programming, we have Mrs. Claus doing some baking demos so kids can learn how to make Santa’s favourite cookies. We actually have a D-I-Y festive gnome that you can make for your own front porch. We have a full kit prepared with greenery and everything of that nature, as well as a step by step guide for making it. We’re even going to have a workshop on how to make the most of this holiday season and still make it a memorable one. This is in addition to online children’s games and activities. “Whether they come in-person or take part online, we want people to leave with a re-set of their personal energy and a re-set in their ability to look for the blessings that are still around us. Obviously, the holidays are going to look very different, but that just means we have to look at the holidays differently because there are still ways of making them special and memorable – mind you, no one is going to forget the Christmas of 2020. “While they walk through the Market, they get to take a time out of worry or whatever they’re focusing with and be able to literally feel what those lights give them and the atmosphere. Just that Hallmark feeling that Aurora’s small-town charm can deliver, especially at an event like this. Whether it is virtual or in person, is really supporting our local small businesses and the entrepreneurs [and] this is a time for them to shine.” For more information on the Aurora Christmas Market, which runs from Friday, December 4 – Sunday, December 6, from 5 – 9.30 p.m., and again from Friday, December 11 to Sunday, December 13 at the same time, visit aurora.ca/Christmasmarket. There, you can register for your preferred time slots and learn more about how to access the online market and roster of activities.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — As Alberta recorded another daily record of COVID-19 cases Thursday, its chief medical officer of health warned that rural areas are feeling the effects.“While infection rates in Edmonton and Calgary make up the majority of cases in the province, we’re seeing increased spread in many rural communities,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw Hinshaw said.“COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within the context of a global problem.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is.“It only takes one case entering a community to cause significant spread.”Alberta has been straining under soaring numbers of COVID-19 and currently leads the country in per-capita case rates.It set a single-day record Thursday with 1,854 new cases, even more than in Ontario.There were 511 Albertans in hospital, 97 of them in intensive care. A total of 575 Albertans have died.The case surge has overwhelmed the contact tracing system and strained the health system. The province is now reassigning staff, space and patients to cope and has begun making contingency plans to bring in field hospitals if necessary.Last week, Premier Jason Kenney introduced new health restrictions.However, some of the key restrictions on businesses and attendance at worship services don’t apply to some rural and remote areas with low infection rates.Also, while Calgary, Edmonton and other municipalities have mandated masks in indoor public spaces, Kenney has refused to follow the lead of all other Canadian provinces to make it provincewide.About 16 per cent of the 17,743 active cases are outside the Calgary and Edmonton health zones.Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said if COVID does not respect postal codes, why has the United Conservative government issued half-hearted and varying levels of health restrictions based on geography while refusing to impose a provincewide mask mandate?Shepherd said Kenney is playing politics with the health rules and Albertans are suffering as a result.“Jason Kenney is more concerned about his own political fortunes and concerned about the anti-mask fringe extremists that we know exist in his own caucus and in his own political party and political base,” Shepherd said in an interview.“He is more concerned about satisfying them and losing political capital than he is about showing leadership to protect Albertans.”Kenney has said a provincewide mask bylaw is unnecessary and the health rules are a measured and targeted way to keep Albertans safe while keeping jobs and the economy going.He has also said 90 per cent of Albertans are already under some kind of municipal mask bylaw. During a Nov. 26 Facebook town hall discussion he questioned whether rural residents working and living remotely would even follow it.“Imagine you got a couple of guys working in a big barn way up in the M.D. of Opportunity, hundreds of kilometres away from the closest COVID hot zone,” said Kenney. “Do you really think those guys are going to put on a mask because I ask them to or tell them to?”Kenney said one of his rural caucus members told him some of his constituents would be reflexively rebellious if told to mask up: “He said, ‘You know a lot of these folks who are (masking up) now, they would take it off the moment the government tells them to wear it.’”Provincewide there is a ban on gatherings in homes beyond those who live under the same roof. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. And students in grades 7 through 12 are learning virtually at home through the Christmas holidays.In areas with high caseloads, there are new restrictions on retailers, businesses, restaurants and entertainment options like casinos.Those restrictions don’t apply to low-case areas, which include some rural regions in north and central Alberta.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver's transit authority is confirming that it was the target of a ransomware attack on part of its information technology systems. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables part of a computer system or access to data until a ransom is paid. TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says in a statement that the transit authority is conducting a comprehensive forensic investigation to determine how the incident occurred and what information may have been affected. Desmond offers assurance to customers that TransLink does not store fare payment data and uses a secure third-party payment processor for all fare transactions, so TransLink doesn't have access to that information. He says the transit authority took immediate steps to isolate and shut down key software and systems to contain the threat upon detection and is now working to resume normal operations. Customers can once again use credit and debit cards at Compass vending machines and tap-to-pay fare gates, features that were put on hold for several days. Customers who recently purchased monthly passes or stored value will soon see the credit loaded on their Compass Card, the statement says. It says all transit services continue to operate regularly and no transit safety systems are affected. "We are sharing as much as we can at this point considering this is an active investigation," Desmond says in the statement. "We will provide further updates as more information becomes available." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
On Wednesday the Government of Saskatchewan announced a $400,000 commitment to provide mental health first aid training to at least one staff member in each Saskatchewan school. This would make mental health first aid available to students, when needed, similar to physical first aid. The intention to launch such a program was announced earlier this year, but Wednesday’s amount is the first time the project has had a dollar figure attached to it. “Our goal is to have at least one staff member in each school receive mental health first aid training by the end of 2021,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a release from the province. “We are excited to support schools in ensuring students have access to mental health resources, and I encourage all provincial school divisions to take part to help remove the stigma around mental health.” Since 2017-18, the government has offered up to $9,000 in grants to school divisions for training to build capacity in their schools related to mental health and student safety and they say this new funding builds on that commitment. Mental health first aid is a training program developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). The in-person training is currently being transitioned to be available online in 2021. The Ministry of Education will work with Saskatchewan school divisions to coordinate the training sessions, with little disruptions to the school day. Online delivery will help keep the sessions safe for staff in these uncertain times. “We commend the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education for its timely investment and commitment to providing Mental Health First Aid training for each of the province’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools,” MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley said. “We are delighted to hear that the ministry intends to create an online option for school division staff to take mental health first aid training.” The mental health first aid training was a recommendation from the Minister’s 2019-20 Youth Council. “The mental well-being of students is a crucial part of positive and effective learning environments,” 2019-20 Youth Council member Sandra LeBlanc said. “The new mental health first aid initiative will be a good first step in ensuring that all Saskatchewan students have access to the support they need, one of the priorities of the 2019-20 Youth Council.” Mental health first aid can be provided to a person who is developing a mental health concern or who is in a mental health crisis. The training teaches individuals to recognize the symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help and guide a person toward appropriate professional help. Studies show that mental health first aid training results in improved mental health literacy and decreased stigmatization toward mental health concerns.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Police in Abbotsford, B.C., say a federal inmate is back in custody following a brief escape. They say in a statement that they responded to a report of shots fired Thursday just before 3 p.m. Police say Correctional Service Canada officers were escorting a federal offender to a medical appointment when he escaped. Police say that while officers tried to apprehend the offender, a correctional officer shot a gun but no one was injured. They say the inmate, who was not identified, was found with the help of police, police dogs and an RCMP helicopter. Police say the public is not at risk and major crime detectives are investigating. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
York Region residents will not get to vote for who leads Regional Council in the next municipal election. Regional Council, on a vote of 14 – 6, rejected a motion tabled this past February which would have seen the Regional Chair, a position currently occupied by former Whitchurch-Stouffville mayor Wayne Emmerson, directly elected by residents. Instead, the position will continue to be filled through a vote around the Regional Council table, around which Mayor Tom Mrakas is Aurora’s sole representative. Mayor Mrakas was joined by Newmarket Mayor John Taylor in voting in favour of change, alongside Regional Councillors Don Hamilton (Markham), Jim Jones (Markham), Joe Li (Markham), and Joe DiPaola (Richmond Hill). The question, as posed at Aurora Council last week, is now what? York Region has a long history of considering how the Chair should be elected. The most recent series of proposed changes stemmed from a Private Member’s Bill brought forward at Queen’s Park in 2016 from Newmarket-Aurora’s then-MPP Chris Ballard which, following its passage, would have mandated a direct election for York Region. This directive, however, was struck down by the incumbent Provincial government in 2018, leaving Regional Council to decide its own path forward. “Regional Council can, after holding at least one public meeting, pass a bylaw to change the manner of electing the Regional Chair to a Region-wide election,” said Bruce Macgregor, CAO of the Region of York, in a memo to members when they last looked at this matter in February. “Before the bylaw comes into effect it must receive a ‘triple majority’ which occurs when: the bylaw receives the support of the majority of votes on Regional Council; a majority of the councils of all local municipalities pass resolutions consenting to the bylaw; and the total number of electors in the local municipalities that have passed resolutions consenting to the bylaw form a majority of all the electors in York Region.” Aurora Council previously voiced its support of electing the Regional Chair in both 2016 and 2018. Had any change been in the air at the Region, a decision would have needed to be confirmed by December 21, 2021 in order for it to be part of the 2022 Municipal Election. Since its establishment in 1970, the Regional Chair was been appointed in different ways. In the beginning, the Province of Ontario appointed the Chair for two two-year terms. This method changed at the inaugural meeting of Regional Council where the Chair was elected by members around the table. “Four of the six Chairs of York Region were members of a lower-tier council at the time of their appointment,” noted Mr. Macgregor. “The other two Chairs had recently completed terms on the council of a lower-tier municipality.” “Council had the authority to determine whether or not the appointed Chair must also hold office on a local municipal Council. Through inherited provisions from the long ago repealed Regional Municipality of York Act, it has been the practice in York Region for the appointed Chair to resign their seat at the local level. However, Council can enact a requirement for the Chair to retain their local office. This change can be implemented without a ‘triple majority.’” As Aurora Council previously signalled its support for electing the Regional chair, the matter was raised at last week’s meeting. “Which way do you think I voted?” asked Mayor Tom Mrakas when pressed by Councillor Michael Thompson whether he voted the same way as he did when the matter was last up for debate at Town Hall. “I believe the Regional Chair should be an elected position. I voted in favour of having it become an elected position. It is unfortunate it didn’t happen that way. “We’ll see if the Province decides to put it in place for the next election on their own.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
EDMONTON — The three Prairie provinces have become the epicentre of COVID-19's second wave in Canada — surpassing Ontario and Quebec, the two most populous provinces that were initially the hardest hit. Some infectious disease experts say the exponential growth in cases on the Prairies can be linked to pandemic fatigue and a reluctance by politicians to impose stricter health measures in the fall. "Ten infections in Manitoba means something completely different than 10 infections in Toronto or New York City," said Dr. Kelly MacDonald, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. "Our rates didn't look like a problem for quite a long time when they probably were," said MacDonald, who added that there has been "a complete lack of appreciation for the case per unit of population." Since the fall, the spread of COVID-19 has increased everywhere, but daily case numbers on the Prairies have been matching areas with about double the population. The three provinces have about 6.7 million residents combined and reported a total of 2,480 new cases on Thursday. Alberta alone reported 1,854 new infections. Ontario, with a population of about 14.5 million, reported 1,824 cases. Quebec, which has almost two million more people than all three Prairie provinces, had 1,470 new infections. When the first wave of the pandemic hit Canada in the spring, Ontario and Quebec were particularly affected. Now, the infection rate per capita is highest in Alberta, followed by Manitoba and Saskatchewan. On Wednesday, Ontario's health minister singled out Alberta. "You want to speak about who is in crisis. Have you taken a look at Alberta, where they're doubling up patients in intensive care units? We're not doing that in Ontario," said Christine Elliot. A spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said she spoke Wednesday night with Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro about the surge in cases and offered federal resources. It's a major turnaround since April when Premier Jason Kenney, standing in front of a wall of personal protective equipment, touted the success of his province's COVID-19 response and announced Alberta was sending supplies to Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Last week, Kenney announced tighter restrictions after mounting pressure from public health experts. The measures ban indoor social gatherings and some students are back at home learning online. Bars, restaurants and places of worship remain open. Dr. James Talbot, a professor of public health at the University of Alberta, said there is a reluctance by the United Conservative government to impose another lockdown, even though contact tracing has become impossible with the jump in infections. "There are a number of things that interfere with our ability to bring this under control," said Talbot, who is also a former chief medical health officer in the province. COVID-19 fatigue has descended along with colder weather preventing people from meeting outside as much, he said. "Another part of it is we have inconsistent regulations," said Talbot, pointing to bars and restaurants being open, while people cannot have guests over. "When people think something is unfair or illogical, then they just make decisions not to follow the rules that are out there," he said. "Until you regain their confidence, the situation is going to continue to get worse." In Saskatchewan, team sports are suspended and home gatherings are limited to five people. Manitoba was the first Prairie province to impose stricter health measures two weeks ago when it had the highest per capita infection rate in the country. Businesses can't sell non-essential items and gatherings in homes are banned. MacDonald said those restrictions were brought in when case rates were expanding exponentially, so "you can slightly level them off, but you are not going to drop the rate of infection very rapidly." Talbot suggested it's not too late to turn the numbers around and save as many lives as possible. But he added restrictions need to stay in place until Canada distributes a COVID-19 vaccine in the new year. "This isn't personal. This isn't about criticizing anyone," he said. "If we all do our part and if we are effective, the virus will let us know by infecting fewer people two weeks from now." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press
Clayton Dixon has always had a sweet tooth – with a particular penchant for the sometimes creamy, sometimes dark, always satisfying confections that come out of traditional chocolateries. It was a love he balanced for many years with a career in finance, but, as he approached his 50th birthday, he decided it was now or never to live his dream and bring his sugary vision to the masses, starting in Aurora. Mr. Dixon, a resident of Whitchurch-Stouffville recently opened Chocolate & Company, a chocolate and gelato shop on Yonge Street and Brookland, which operates on the simple philosophy of “quality, decadence, all made on site.” “We wanted something better than what we could find,” says Dixon. “After doing cooking classes in my early 20s, I started playing around about 12 years ago, taking what I thought I could do a bit more seriously. I started practicing, built a little hobby kitchen in the basement and went from there.” From the basement, he decided he wanted to build something for the ground-up. But what? He knew what he had in mind: a chocolate that was more than a chocolate; a chocolate that was a dessert unto itself. At first, he envisioned an industrial kitchen to make his hand-made chocolate which would then, in turn, be sold to restaurants and retail shops. But, as he approached his milestone birthday, he decided he wanted to bring his dream confections directly to customers. “Welcome to my midlife crisis,” he joked, opening his door to The Auroran on Friday morning. “I wanted to sell to restaurants, but it just didn’t fit with what I wanted. I wanted a retail storefront because it would give me much more feedback from customers on what they really want. I take the approach almost like a two-bite brownie; two bites for a really luxurious dessert, something you can have with coffee or a glass of wine. It is not a pastry, but pure chocolate.” The ingredients, he says, are the best of the best. Although he does not roast his cocoa beans himself, he sources his chocolate – the obvious starting point – from Belgium and France. Then come the flourishes: pure hazelnut paste for the nutty confections, real raspberries, mango and more if you like your chocolate on the fruiter side of things, and hand-blended milk and dark chocolates for the perfect flavour balance. “I strive for something different, that extra level of decadence,” he says, noting that he and his daughter are often engaged in a battle over milk and dark chocolate, with his daughter a big fan of the former and dad veering more towards the dark side. “Now that I have opened to the retail market, I am bringing more milk chocolate into my recipes, so my daughter is happier!” As we get closer and closer to the holiday season, particularly during this challenging time, businesses and advocates are doubling down on their efforts to underscore the importance of shopping local. Chocolate & Company is no exception as they offer an array of flavours to suit every taste, with boxes of as few as two treats to as many as 27. “There’s a very strong Support Local base now because of COVID, but I think Support Local has been going on for quite some time, just extra-focused right now,” says Dixon. “People have [asked me] about starting a business at a tough time, but it is the whole Magic 8-Ball thing. I’m not really reinventing the wheel here, but I just figure the first six months are going to be tough anyway, and I am focused…on the store. It was meant to be and I kept being pulled in this direction. “I want to take the level of quality as high as I can take it. That is very important to me.” For more information, visit www.chocolateandcompany.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday most of the state will likely be under a new stay-at-home order within a day or two. Newsom said the new rules will trigger when a region’s intensive care unit capacity falls below 15%. (Dec. 3)
If you live in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood, you've probably crossed paths with Annie. She's the elderly Chinese woman who has a big smile glued to her face and is quick to pick up your empties. "She was always walking around with a smile on her face ... I enjoyed her being in the neighborhood," said studio owner and resident Valerie Arntzen about the area just east of Chinatown. Annie, whose real name is Anhi Sy, doesn't speak much English. The 82-year-old moved to Canada in the 1970s and lives in social housing on Hastings Street. She was known for working hard to pick up cans and even leaving candies behind for people.But just a short while ago, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and is undergoing radiation treatment. When the community found out the news, it began rallying around her to raise money to support her during this difficult time. Andrew Dadson, a Vancouver-artist who has lived in Strathcona for nearly two decades, started an online fundraiser. He was hoping to raise $1,000, but so far more than $12,000 has come in. But in true Annie-fashion, she's doesn't want any of the fuss or the attention. But her impact on the community has everyone wanting to show their appreciation for her. "She is just really sweet about it. We knew she didn't have a ton of family so Strathcona became her family and social life and everything," said Dadson. He first met Sy 18 years ago, when he and friends would play soccer at MacLean Park every Sunday. "She has watched us have families and grow up and have children ... she has been a part of our lives for a while," said Dadson. After a while she would learn when the games were and would show up to collect the cans, then she would even come to people's homes after parties to collect the empties. Sometimes helping clean up while the party was going on. "She was just really sweet, bringing you candies, she never wanted anything but was always working hard collecting cans, she was just a real sweet lady around the neighbourhood," he said. He said she would refer to everyone as "handsome boy" and "beautiful lady" — even leaving notes at their doorsteps after collecting cans.Dadson would often help fix her cart. "She put so many miles on it, the wagon would break down. After a while, I bought her a new cart ... but she didn't want it. She said my cart is fine. So a new cart sat in my studio for a month, before her other cart was stolen and finally she came and said okay, I'll take your cart," he said. He says that cart, too, was worn down from Sy working so hard.
When Alaina Tom became pregnant with her first child at 19 years old, it lit a passion within her for birthing. Initially, she thought she would go to the hospital to give birth. But after a negative experience with a doctor, she began talking with Elders who told her that they gave birth at home. “I began talking to Elders in the area and heard that we’re the first generation to go to the hospital,” she says. She was also told that her grandmother gave birth at home, she says that is when, “Something clicked.” She decided to birth at home in her community of Tsalalh, just outside of Lillooet, B.C. She’s been an advocate for traditional birthing ever since. “Ever since then, it just lit that light inside of me to learn more. And so I did everything I could to do it traditionally,” Tom says. After her first birth, she began researching everything she could by talking with Elders, women and midwifery training for home birth and unassisted birth. She went on to have three more children at home without the presence of midwives or doctors and says all of her children were “born free.” “I just started this love for birth,” says Tom. While unassisted or ‘free births,’ where children are born at home without the presence of a medical professional, can be controversial, Tom wants birthing parents to know that they have options. After having her first unassisted birth of her first child, in 2001, Tom says that other women started reaching out to her. “Women just started coming to me after they heard that,” says Tom, women told her “I heard you gave birth at home, I need your help.” Now with 20 years of supporting women giving birth, she says there have been challenges and hurdles. Many women have expressed to her that they felt the Western hospital approach to birthing was scary or intimidating. “You know so many women have come to me saying it was scary. It was painful, I felt rushed. I didn’t feel special and it just breaks my heart,” she says. She says that in the beginning, she would just talk to women, creating relationships, and then she did an online training, three professional trainings, and in-person training to build her “confidence in the medical environment.” While she says that the medical community is more open now, 20 years ago she received more backlash. Before she says she was told that birthing at home was, “very unsafe” and that she was putting her baby in danger. “I felt really unsafe and unsupported,” Tom says. Despite the obstacles, she continued to study and believes that home birth can be safe, powerful, peaceful and loving. She has spent these years working with women to instill confidence in them. Her focus is on letting women know that traditional birthing is another option. Rather than calling herself a doula, she prefers to call herself a traditional birth keeper. “I just say traditional birth keeper,” says Tom. “It’s more like a support person, a knowledge keeper, I don’t do anything medical. I’ve attended several unassisted home births where I just educate the mom on how to take care of her placenta and how to tie her own cord.” Through Tom’s lifelong work she shares the juxtaposition between traditional birth and a Western approach in hospital. She is referring to the organized chaos in many hospitals, where many doctors and nurses, bring intensity and speed into the birth experience. “I find that so many times when I go to a hospital birth, there’s a whole lot of bright lights and panic and nurses walking around quickly and even yelling….’Breathe, get up, put your chin to your chest, and push, push!’” she explains. According to a recent study published in the journal Reproductive Health, in the U.S. one in six women experienced, “being shouted at, scolded, or threatened; and being ignored, refused, or receiving no response to requests for help.” The rates were higher for women of colour. In a Feb. 2019 study, Changing Childbirth in B.C., by The Birthplace Lab at the University of British Columbia found that “18 per cent of women reported that their care provider did not tell them about different options for care (46 per cent of OB patients and 5 per cent of midwifery clients).” It also found that “one in seven women were not given enough time to thoroughly consider their options (37 per cent of OB patients and 4 per cent of midwifery clients).” Tom explains that many people first experience trauma when they are born. “Birthing doesn’t have to be heavy breathing and screaming at mothers in the hospitals,” she says. “Birth can be beautiful, and birth can be gentle, and birth can be very loving and calm and peaceful.” One of the cultural components that Tom shares is the interweaving ceremony throughout the birthing process. “That’s the main thing is that it can be a beautiful, peaceful ceremony,” she says. “I really want to empower women about home birth as well, that it’s safe and it’s beautiful and it’s not as scary as people make it seem.” Even just to bring a braid of sweetgrass or just to have some drumming playing.” As Tom, a mother of four raises her children traditionally in St’át’imc Territory she hopes to see more people coming together, and uplifting each other. “I would like all of the birthing people and all the families to unite and to come together and to support one another in a positive, uplifting way and to go back to treating birth as a ceremony,” she says. For expecting mothers Tom encourages women to talk to their Elders just like she did when she first started on her birthing journey. “Encourage them to talk to their Elders and to sing their songs and to use their medicines and to know that they aren’t alone and that our ancestors survived for…hundreds of thousands of years without the aid of a doctor,” she says, “You can have the birth you dream of,” says Tom. “When we just surround each other with love then birth doesn’t have to be a scary thing because it works. We know that because we’re here and our ancestors knew what they were doing.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With coronavirus cases surging at a record pace, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stay-at-home order Thursday and said if people don't comply the state's hospitals will be overwhelmed with infected patients.Newsom's latest effort to keep people from gathering with others from outside their households divides the state into five regions and links business closures and travel restrictions to hospital ICU capacity. When a region has fewer than 15% of its ICU beds available, new restrictions are imposed.Newsom said four regions — all but the San Francisco Bay area — could meet that threshold “within a day or two." A litany of changes would take effect, including closing hair salons, barber shops and movie theatres. Restaurants may only serve takeout and delivery, and playgrounds will be off-limits.Retailers and shopping centres would have to limit stores to 20% capacity during the busy holiday shopping season.The order takes effect Saturday and, once triggered, regions would have 24 hours to implement the rules, which stay in effect at least three weeks. The rules don't apply to public schools with in-person learning.“The bottom line is if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said during an online news conference from his home, where he has quarantined with his family for the past two weeks after his children were exposed to the virus. “This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic.”The announcement was a gut punch for retailers and restaurants counting on the shopping season to boost a dismal year.“The loss of revenue many small businesses will experience as a result of this latest shutdown could be catastrophic,” said Allan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.The new rules are the Newsom administration's latest attempt to control a virus that is spreading at rates that astonished health experts. In the last month, the state has pulled the “emergency brake” by imposing restrictions in 52 of the state's 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew.The curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. had little impact, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's top public health officer, acknowledged Thursday. He said data shows people have not curtailed trips outside their homes during the period that is only supposed to be for essential trips.“We of course had hoped and wanted to see more from that already, but we haven't,” he said.Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, said such a broad shutdown wouldn’t be necessary if the state had better data on where people are contracting the virus.“We do not have adequate data to know where transmissions are occurring and that reflects a failure of public health,” he said.Better understanding the data could, for example, show the state if transmissions are occurring at grocery stores, barber shops or restaurants and better target interventions. Klausner likened the current approach to shutting down food production, restaurants and grocery stores because of a salmonella outbreak.“That’s not the way we traditionally work in public health,” he said.California imposed the nation's first statewide stay-at-home order in March. It was open-ended and much more aggressive — all but essential businesses were closed.The order was widely praised by public health experts, but it came with a heavy cost: California lost 2.6 million jobs in March and April, overwhelming the state with claims for unemployment benefits.Since then, California has gotten 44% of those jobs back in a modest recovery as new cases fell dramatically after large gatherings ceased, and people wore masks and distanced in public.But by fall people were congregating more as cooler weather drove them inside, where the virus flourishes. A new wave of cases that began in late October has dwarfed anything the state had seen. California is now averaging nearly 15,000 newly reported cases daily.Unlike in March, when the pandemic was in its infancy and people were more willing to follow rules, the latest mandate will be met by a frustrated population entering its 10th month of restrictions. Some counties have bucked the rules, following cues from state and local elected officials who have criticized the governor for going too far.Shannon Grove, Republican leader in the state Senate, criticized Newsom on Thursday for continuing “to disrupt life as we know it without releasing the full data behind his decisions.”“And to be clear, it’s not just about the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations he runs through in his almost-daily press conferences, but the data and facts about the toll his shutdown orders are taking on Californians’ mental health, on our children’s education, including the achievement gap, on domestic violence and child abuse rates,” she said.In San Luis Obispo, hairstylist Amy Lovece said she was angry because “salons are not the problem.”“I just go between home and work. I don’t go to parties or bars and I just want to keep working,” she said.California’s virus hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled since mid-October and now stand at 8,240, including 1,890 in intensive care units. California Hospital Association President and CEO Carmela Coyle said 80% of ICU beds in the state are occupied.“Hospitals are doing everything possible to address this crush of acute care needs but are challenged by a lack of needed critical care nurses, worldwide shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies,” Coyle said, adding hospitals support the governor's new restrictionsNewsom acknowledged the difficulty in following the rules. But he urged people to stay vigilant, promising the worst is almost over.“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away form truly seeing real progress with the vaccine,” Newsom said. “We do not anticipate having to do this again but we really all need to step up. We need to meet this moment head on.”Adam Beam And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
When a COVID-19 vaccine is approved by Health Canada and becomes available, Dr. Lorne Tyrrell plans to be first in line when it's his turn to get it.But the virologist says data about the vaccine must be transparent to the public, so that enough people can also feel they can safely trust it.Tyrrell, founding director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the University of Alberta, is a core member of Canada's COVID-19 task force."We need to be very transparent, very clear with the science and clear with the data so people can have trust in science in this area, and that these vaccines, when they go into people, will be very safe and very effective," he said in an interview Thursday with CBC's Edmonton AM.Premier Jason Kenney unveiled part of Alberta's vaccine distribution plan Wednesday. Paul Wynnyk, deputy minister of municipal affairs, is leading the provincial task force.Phase 1 of Alberta's vaccine rollout is projected to happen in the first three months of 2021. Phase 1 will focus on the province's most at-risk populations including long-term care home residents, staff in these facilities, on-reserve First Nations people and other health-care workers.Phase 1 will focus on the province's most at-risk populations including long-term care home residents and staff, on-reserve First Nations people over age 65, seniors age 75 and older, and health-care workers most needed to ensure workforce capacity and who are most likely to transmit the disease to those at greatest risk.Phase 2 will run from April to June, the province projects, with the goal of getting 30 per cent of the population immunized by the end of that period. The province said on Thursday the specific groups immunized during this phase will be determined after Phase 1 has begun."Clinics will be set up by AHS across the province where people who are in one of the identified priority groups can go to get their immunization," Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said in emailed statement."Long-term care and designated supportive living residents will be immunized in their facilities and will not need to travel. More information will be shared once vaccines are ready to be distributed."Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population. It's expected to start by fall 2021.Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Files, said the province's Phase 1 timeline is realistic.Once the vaccine is approved by Health Canada, Tetro expects a rapid rollout where the most vulnerable people will be immunized within a couple of months.Vaccine development often takes years to complete. So the availability next year of COVID-19 vaccine is quicker than some expected, which Tetro attributes to improving technology.He and Tyrrell both said they trust any vaccine approved by Health Canada will have undergone enough scrutiny to be effective and safeBut Tetro said he'd still like to see more public information about the vaccine."At the moment, we are running off of very limited data in the public," he said. "We hear about the regulators going line by line or case by case to better understand how these vaccines work. I, personally, would like to see those."Tetro said the distribution timeline is dependent on pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna not experiencing any setbacks.On Thursday, Pfizer lowered the number of doses it expects to produce this year, days after it was approved for use in the United Kingdom.Kenney said Wednesday any COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory. Because of the pushback against mandatory measures like masking, Tetro said governments would be best served to not worry about that, and focus effort instead on getting the vaccine to the people who want it."As soon as you bring up mandatory, you're going to immediately annoy probably 20 to 30 per cent of the population who believe it's their right to do what they want," Tetro said."We can start talking about mandatory vaccinations and other things like that when we're at a point that we're not worried about our ICUs being double-bunked, and the elderly all of a sudden dying simply because of inadvertent infections because somebody went to a house party. It's prioritizing."Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta, agreed the vaccine and the provincial government's plans for distribution look promising. On the point of mandatory vaccination, he emphasized it doesn't need to be discussed because nobody is calling for the measure."This isn't on the table, nobody has suggested it, nobody supports it," Schwartz said."The most important thing to emphasize is this is a safe and remarkably effective vaccine, and it's potentially getting us back to a point where life can return to normal."
The Liberal government tabled a bill on Thursday that it says will help bring federal law into alignment with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “I’m really pleased that we’ve gotten to this point,” said Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, about the first reading of Bill C-15, an Act Respecting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A previous version of legislation to recognize the declaration, introduced as a private member’s bill by NDP MP Romeo Saganash in 2016, died on the Senate order paper in 2019 because it was not passed through Parliament before the election that year. The Government of Canada used this previous bill as a base to build the new legislation, in consultation with “Indigenous rights holders and organizations,” according to an overview of the bill provided by the federal government. The overview states that the purpose of the act is to affirm the declaration as a “universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law.” The bill would require legislators to create an action plan, in consultation with Indigenous groups, to ensure federal laws align with the declaration. The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the UN in 2007 as a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, the UN’s website states. The action plan would have to be developed within three years of the bill coming into effect. The action plan would also have to be tabled in Parliament and made public. Nunavut’s senator, Dennis Patterson, said he’s cautiously optimistic about Bill C-15. “It’s certainly a very important bill for Nunavut,” he said. Having had a chance to glance at the bill after it was tabled, Patterson said he already sees improvements to the last bill, C-262. The three-year timeline is one thing he noted. He wants clarification on what will prevail — decisions reached in the Supreme Court of Canada, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, or Bill C-15. “I hope Senator Patterson will support this bill,” Obed said. He said that the senator’s concerns with the previous proposed legislation led to delays that caused it to die on the order paper. “There are many things that the land claims are silent on,” Obed said. Obed said that Bill C-15 will allow “existing human rights to be implemented in this country in a more exhaustive way.” For example, one part would allow a group or individual to bring human rights violations forward to an entity that would have the power to resolve these disputes. This would be like a general human rights tribunal, specifically for Indigenous people. Obed wants the bill to move through the House of Commons and Senate quickly, before a federal election is called. He said his work now is to lobby parliamentarians and senators to support it.Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News