WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald Despite more COVID-19 crackdowns in the past week, local vendors were still able to showcase their wares Friday and Saturday at the Lethbridge Exhibition Pavilion. And this year’s Big Christmas Farmers’ Market was for the little guy as local businesses did their part to keep the local economy pumping despite a year hindered by the pandemic. “It’s tremendous to be out here today,” said Dylan Lowry of Beyond Hot, a local business that gave shoppers an impressive array of hot sauces. “It’s very important because what gives Lethbridge a lot of uniqueness is the small mom-and-pop shops. We don’t have a lot of big-box, corporate stores. They don’t really care about local, they care about the bottom line. When you look around here, everybody is an independent vendor and we count on those smaller sales to get our families through those months. So for us it’s very important and we look forward to being social with the people out here. It gives them something to shop for and just to talk and be friendly.” Lowry noted the importance of getting out, but still being safe and following all protocols strictly set out for vendors and shoppers alike for the two-day market. “Everybody is cautious because of COVID,” said Lowry. “We’re going to have the attitude of don’t be a hermit, don’t stay at home, be protective, be cautious, but still enjoy your life. So I’m glad the market was still able to be held. Obviously, all of us are going to have lower sales and lower numbers, but that’s OK. It still gives us something to do. A lot of us are local, so we do count on this to pay some bills.” Over the course of the weekend, all attendees, families and cohorts were required to fill out a COVID-19 screening form within 24 hours prior to attending the event. Those who couldn’t complete the form online prior to arrival were required to complete a screening form before entering the venue. “We have approximately 180 local businesses, artisans and entrepreneurs that are showcasing their goods here at Exhibition Park,” said Mike Warkentin, chief operating officer at the Lethbridge and District Exhibition. “They’re from all over southern Alberta. It’s kind of a unique mix and we’re happy to support them here.” Warkentin said their farmers’ markets — both at the Exhibition Pavilion and downtown — are Alberta Agriculture and Forestry approved. “The other caveat is that we are at the maximum of 25 per cent of our posted Alberta fire code and we are well below that because we are maintaining an occupancy of 500 guests between all of our pavilions,” he said. “So 500 is the occupancy we are allowing in at any given time. Beyond that, people are being screened as they drive into the parking lot and are being temperature checked and screened as they come into the building. We are maintaining social distancing and, lastly, (have) masks or face shields for people who can’t necessarily wear masks.” Lowry said sales have actually been better this year. “Because everybody is forced to be at home and spend more family time at home, I think they’ve taken more notice to what the family enjoys. For us being a hot sauce retailer, a lot of people have started to explore that option. Could sales be better? One hundred per cent they could be better. But I’m just thankful for what we have and thankful to be a part of it.” Like each vendor, Beyond Hot came equipped to operate under COVID rules. “We have our masks and we also have face shields depending on the different clientele,” said Lowry. “We have hand sanitizer that anybody can use and we also have Lysol wipes. We have a display we’ve had to change. Usually, we have bottles and samples and everything else. Unfortunately, that is no longer. So clients, if they touch a bottle, that’s the one they buy. If not, I grab one from behind the table. It’s just some precautionary items.” The market followed a smaller Christmas Market Nov. 13-14. “A couple of weeks ago we did the pre-event in conjunction with the other market that was going on here,” said Warkentin. “This weekend, the attendance is actually up. People are coming out and we obviously didn’t know what to expect with last week’s (provincial) announcement. But the consumer confidence we’ve seen is still very strong and supportive of local businesses. “Obviously, it’s been a tough year for everybody. Small businesses in particular. When everything happened on Tuesday we wanted to make sure we were following all the guidelines and could prove that and, secondly, that we could still provide this opportunity. So many of our vendors depend on our markets to be able to showcase their products and actually sell their goods.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
MADISON, Wis. — President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in a battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state's 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Evers until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit, an unusually tight deadline that speaks to how quickly the court is likely to decide the case.The state's highest court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, also is considering whether to hear two other lawsuits filed by conservatives seeking to invalidate ballots cast during the presidential election. Separately, two Wisconsin Republicans filed a new federal lawsuit Tuesday that mirrors some of Trump's claims and asks a judge to declare him the winner in Wisconsin.Trump's lawsuit repeats many claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties that large swaths of absentee votes were illegally cast. Local officials rejected his claims during the recount, and Trump is challenging procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won.Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans called the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground." Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was “without merit.”Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, noted that the lawsuit doesn't allege that anyone was ineligible to vote, but instead seeks to create a two-tiered election system where voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties are disenfranchised “under much stricter rules than citizens in the rest of the state.”Trump's Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, said in a statement that voters "deserve election processes with uniform enforcement of the law, plain and simple.”Similar Trump campaign lawsuits have failed in other battleground states.In Phoenix, a judge has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state. A judge is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office, which certified Arizona’s election results on Monday, said there was no factual basis for conducting such a review.Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.Trump's Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to discard 170,140 absentee ballots where there was not a written application on file and all absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day.People who vote in person early fill out a certification envelope for their ballot that serves as the written record. But the vast majority of absentee requests these days are made online, with a voter’s name entered into an electronic log with no paper record.Trump wants to toss 5,517 ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted. The practice has been in place for at least the past 11 elections, and the state elections commission told clerks it was OK.Trump also challenges 28,395 absentee ballots where a voter declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined” under the law. Such a declaration exempts voters from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it is up to individual voters to determine whether they are indefinitely confined, a designation used by nearly four times as many voters this year than in 2016 due to the coronavirus pandemic.Trump also alleges that Madison opened illegal voting sites when the city held events at parks where election workers accepted 17,271 completed absentee ballots from voters looking to avoid crowds and mail delays. City officials said the poll workers at the 220 parks served the same purpose as ballot drop boxes.The federal lawsuit came from Bill Feehan, the La Crosse County Republican Party chairman, and Derrick Van Orden, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress this year in western Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a firebrand conservative attorney who was removed from Trump's legal team, is among the lawyers.Van Orden said after the lawsuit was filed that he had spoken with someone in Powell's office about the case but had not given permission to be named as a litigant. Van Orden said he tried calling Powell to ask that his name be removed but could not get through. Powell did not immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment.“Why they would want me on there, I'm not quite sure,” Van Orden said.The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit, not in Wisconsin.Also Tuesday, Republicans on the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the Democratic chairwoman to resign after she finalized election results on Monday. They argued the commission should have been involved with that process, while the chair, who refused to resign, said she was following state law and precedent.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
People returning from non-essential travel outside the N.W.T. will soon be required to pay for their own stay at one of the territory's isolation centres, Premier Caroline Cochrane announced in a press conference Tuesday.All travellers and returning residents are currently required to immediately self-isolate for 14 days. Following an outbreak of COVID-19 in Nunavut, this month a new public health order also required residents of the same household to self-isolate for the same period.Residents and travellers who have a private home where they can isolate in either Hay River, Fort Smith, Inuvik, or Yellowknife are allowed to isolate at home.Those who don't, end up at one of the territory's isolation centres — hotels in each of those four communities — where the bill for a 14-day stay can reach up to $4,000 per person, according to the territory.Until now, that bill has usually been footed by the territorial government, which says isolation centre costs account for more than half of the territory's COVID-19 spending to date.But starting Jan. 5, 2021, only certain essential travellers will have that cost covered. That includes people travelling for medical or compassionate reasons, like visiting a terminally ill relative or travelling for a funeral.Cochrane also said "anyone who is required to stay at an isolation centre because of the government of the Northwest Territories' policies" will have their stay paid, though it was not immediately clear who that would cover.Other exemptions will be determined by the chief public health officer, Cochrane said Tuesday."Many of us miss the opportunities to go south in the winter," she said — but "we need residents to consider whether their trips out of the territory are really necessary." Calls to replace surveys for isolation plan check-insFollowing Cochrane's announcement, Health Minister Julie Green emphasized the importance of sticking to self-isolation plans, which require that households in isolation maintain strict distance from others for 14 full days.Currently, individuals self-isolating report possible symptoms of COVID-19 mostly via an online form. Green said that process would be changing, with government staff calling isolating people directly to check-in.Green said the change would help "encourage compliance" and "follow up on wellness checks during the isolation period."Green said the change is expected to happen in the next two weeks.At Tuesday's press conference, Green, Cochrane and the chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, all spoke to the dangers of "pandemic fatigue," which has left fewer people taking public health measures seriously."As we head toward the season of celebration, pandemic fatigue is real," said Kandola. "But … right now, we have a choice to make — we can give into the fatigue and risk the sacrifices we've made so far to keep our territory strong, or we can commit ourselves to the healthy habits we know work, and together we can stop COVID-19 in its tracks."Changes prompted by surveyCochrane said the changes were tied directly to engagement sessions held on the government's COVID-19 response to date.Last week, the government published results from those sessions which showed that most Indigenous, business and community leaders wanted to see reduced spending on isolation centres.Those responses included calls for the territory to stop covering isolation centre stays for elective travel and allow residents to self-isolate at home outside of the four "hubs" designated by the government.While those communities will still be the only place where travellers can isolate, Cochrane did say the government would be spreading the wealth by putting more pandemic services out to tender.Cochrane said local bed-and-breakfasts could bid on contracts to provide accommodation, and other requests for proposals had been posted seeking providers for catering, security and transportation.Missed the live update? Watch it here:Tuesday's announcement came just hours after federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the Canadian government has given the territory $30 million for its isolation hubs, calling it "money well spent."In Tuesday's news conference, Cochrane said that money would not necessarily be spent by the COVID-19 secretariat, which manages the isolation hubs, though she said "health is the first priority" for that spending.Speaking on CBC's The Trailbreaker Tuesday morning, Freeland said, "I think those isolation hubs, while obviously causing a lot of difficulty in people's lives, are keeping people alive and healthy and safe."The N.W.T.'s review of its approach to isolation centres also comes as Nunavut recovers from an outbreak of COVID-19 that appeared to originate in an isolation centre in Winnipeg. Unlike Nunavut, the N.W.T. requires travellers to isolate after travel, not before.
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled their annual gala back in April, but that’s not going to stop Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre from celebrating its 40th birthday. The drop-in centre on the northside is making the festivities virtual with its Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction, which launches Monday at noon and goes to Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. “We’re making the best of it and this online auction is just one way we want to get back some fundraising dollars we’ve lost so much on,” said Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre executive director David Ng. “Right now, we have 32 items and we’re going to be adding about three or four more. It ranges from eight or nine designer purses and some men’s fashion attire like wallets and some sunglasses. Most of it was donated through our sponsors. “We have some great items such as some outdoor furniture and local businesses donated some gift cards. We have something for everybody and we’re hoping to supplement some Christmas shopping. Most of the stuff came local. A lot of the businesses that sponsored us are supporting local and when you support local you’re supporting Lethbridge and seniors in our community.” Due to COVID-19 restrictions Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre had to cancel its third annual Under Northern Lights Gala and live and silent auction to raise funds for programming. “It was scheduled for April 25 and our 40th anniversary was April 22,” said Ng. “That’s where we really wanted to highlight where we came from and all the people who made it who we are. The gala was going to be big this year, but COVID came. We were forced to close our doors to the public. We still had some staff here and we started rolling out some modified, limited programming around August. But we’re still not fully operational.” Ng said Nord-Bridge has lost $15,000 to $20,000 in fundraising revenue and is losing more revenue by not being fully open. They hope to raise around $10,000 with the auction. “COVID has impacted everyone in different ways and we’ve definitely felt it quite a bit,” said Ng. “We’re really trying to make the best of the situation and we’re hoping we can come out of COVID with the same type of programming. We just want to be able to offer seniors a place to come and socialize. That’s one of the biggest things, because being locked in or isolated is one of the key things even before COVID happened. An isolated senior is probably the most detrimental thing that can happen to a person.” The online link for the Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction can be found at https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/UnderNorthernLights2020OnlineAuction-17182. For more information, visit the Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nordbridgeseniorslethbridge or their website at http://nordbridgeseniors.com/. Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
The federal government wants to hear from you on temporary foreign worker accommodations. The window to provide comments and have your voice heard will close on Dec. 22, 2020. In consultation with provincial governments, employers, workers and foreign partner countries, the federal government announced this past summer that it would develop minimum mandatory requirements for housing under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), under which upwards of 60,000 foreign workers come to Canada each year to ensure our agricultural sector continues to function. “The intent is not to pursue short-term changes … but to develop a lasting approach to improve living conditions for workers while considering elements that would make accommodations more adaptable to addressing any communicable disease outbreaks in the future,” read a document provided to Niagara This Week by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). To that end, the feds want to reduce overcrowding to bring about five outcomes: personal space and privacy; adaptability to public health measures to prevent virus spread; more amenities; heating, cooling and air quality; and internet access. The current open consultation process requires those wanting to participate to send an email to NC-TFWP-APT-PTET-EPA-GD@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca requesting to take part. Through the public consultation period, the government wants feedback on “impacts and considerations for transitioning to new requirements,” and “approaches to strengthen oversight of worker accommodations.” New requirements under consideration for the TFWP include: ensuring workers have freedom of movement and can receive guests without restrictions; having proper heating and cooling equipment to maintain temperature range of 20 to 25.5 C; a maximum of four workers per bedroom with a minimum distance of two metres between all beds; washrooms being within work accommodations; and access to phones and free internet where available. The requirements under consideration can be viewed in their entirety by clicking here. “The consultations will inform the development of a lasting approach to improve living conditions for workers. Creating clear and consistent standards will also ensure employers fully understand their obligations and can better adhere to them,” an Oct. 27 press release read. The release also announced that the federal government will survey those employing agricultural temporary foreign workers so government can better understand current accommodation arrangements. Niagara This Week was provided a survey sample, which revealed questions about housing types like bunkhouses and mobile homes, square footage of common areas and sleeping spaces, amenities, and whether cooling/heating systems are controllable by workers — to name some. Another document provided to Niagara This Week from ESDC read that housing provided to workers “who may be vulnerable to exploitation due to their immigration status and other factors” is inconsistent. Common complaints, the document listed, are “overcrowding and lack of privacy, an inadequate number of washrooms and kitchen facilities per worker, lack of adequate heating/cooling” and deficiencies like leaks, mould and poor plumbing. “The increased attention on employer-provided accommodations through COVID-19 has highlighted several other common deficiencies in the quality of housing and living conditions for workers, including that group accommodations provided on many farms may increase the risk of communicable disease transmission, potentially putting the health of TFWs and the community at large at risk,” another paragraph read. Of the foreign workers who come to Canada each year, approximately 3,000 men and women come to work at Niagara’s farms; two of which experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks so far this year.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
There’s a $600,000 hole in Au Chateau’s annual budget West Nipissing may have to help plug with municipal tax dollars. It’s one of several issues coming up on tonight’s council agenda, which includes a general government discussion about ‘ward boundaries’ for the 2022 election. Au Chateau, which has 102 long-term care beds, serves West Nipissing and Temagami, and it can levy their taxpayers to make up any shortfalls. Au Chateau’s funding shortfall is being caused by the Jan. 31, 2021 end of 35-year funding agreement with the federal and provincial government. The issue is critical for both communities as they look at COVID-19 impacted revenue and expenses heading into the 2021 budget deliberations. It was briefly mentioned at the last council meeting with the municipality hoping to set up meetings with representatives of higher levels of government for assistance. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is live-streamed using Zoom on the West Nipissing YouTube channel. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Students across Alberta started learning from home again Monday and will continue to do so until Jan. 11. In an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the province forced all students in Grades 7-12 to go back to at-home learning. All students will go on winter break on Dec. 18. In January, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 11 after a week of online learning to begin the New Year. Grade 8 St. Mary’s student Bethany Taylor says online learning is naturally different than in-class learning, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. “I’m still able to communicate with my friends and have a good time,” she said. “Learning online is good for me and I’m able to learn new things and communicate with everyone I need to.” When schools shifted online in March, they did not have much time to plan for the online aspect of learning. Taylor says things seem more structured this time around. “We have to be at a specific meeting at a specific time,” she said. “We have a schedule every day and it’s pretty similar to a normal day at school.” Alexandra Middle School student Rowan Hughson says online learning has its ups and downs. “It’s alright learning online and I don’t mind being at home,” Hughson said. “It’s just confusing sometimes trying to figure out what is going on. “I really like being around other people, so that is really hard at times, too.” The Grade 9 student says things seem much smoother this time around. “This seems much better than the emergency learning we had in March,” Hughson said. “I think they’ve had a lot more time to plan this time around and to listen to feedback from parents and students.” Jackson Harnett is a Grade 8 student at Notre Dame says online learning is a good experience. “I actually do like it – it’s really good,” he said. “I like that you get to work at your own pace and there aren’t as many distractions this way.” Harnett agrees that things are going better this time. “Everyone is showing up to class,” he said. “Things seem a lot more organized.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
MONTREAL — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom.The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021.Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29.The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC.Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
A fourth route for the Town of Orangeville’s transit system will be delayed thanks to a decision to nix the transfer hub plans on Broadway. The route was set to be established in order to serve an area of town that currently does not have transit service. “(It’s) so frustrating,” Coun. Todd Taylor told the Orangeville Banner. “We are losing precious time to serve all of our community.” He added that Veteran’s Way and the west end of town are two examples. “We currently have entire neighbourhoods not served by transit,” said Taylor. The fourth route would allow the transit service to operate on a four-quad system. Each quad would serve a different area of the town and meet with the rest at a central location, allowing riders to transfer to reach their destination. Council reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from businesses in the downtown core and the BIA. Taylor, along with Councillors Lisa Post and Grant Peters, felt that sufficient work had been completed to prove the safety and benefits of a Broadway transfer point, which would have been located between First and John Street. Instead, several members of council would like to see staff investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre, an idea which was favoured until more recently. “I am disappointed in the decision,” said Taylor. “The Edelbrock site will cost over $300k to implement, while downtown was minimal.” Until council settles on a location, any work on the transit project, which includes the fourth route, has been put on hold. Taylor added that part of the reasoning behind a centralized station is to improve challenges deterring ridership, such as reliability and access to certain parts of town. “Our buses are underutilized today; this is a fact,” said Taylor. “Why would anyone want to ride a bus that is frequently late and does not get you close to a desired location?” Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to revisit the idea of using the Edelbrock Centre at its Dec. 14 meeting.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
It's been 25 years since the doors of Canuck Place Children's Hospice first opened and, even while COVID-19 causes global chaos, staff at the pediatric palliative care facility are dedicated to keeping their world as peaceful as possible.In 1995, the first of two facilities opened in a 16,000-square-foot mansion in Vancouver, and a second location opened in Abbotsford in 2009. At both homes, a clinical team provides medical respite, therapy, end-of-life care and grief counselling for terminally ill children at no cost to families."The pandemic doesn't stop serious illness in children," said nurse practitioner Camara Van Breemen, who has worked for Canuck Place since Day 1.She said staff have found creative ways for families to be together during the pandemic.This, she said, includes keeping children in their family homes with supports in place rather than moving them into hospice, and arranging outdoor visits for those who are residents."Grandparents coming over to hold their grandchild who is dying — we might be doing that in the garden," said Van Breemen, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition.During her 25 years on the job, Van Breemen says she has witnessed incredibly rewarding moments, such as helping a sick child check something off their bucket list, or watching a family find some solace in the midst of their sorrow.Recently, she said, she worked with a family who wanted to care for their nine-year-old son in their own home. When he took his last breath, he was lying in bed with his parents and the rest of his loved ones in the room.After he passed, his mom told Van Breeman how important it had been for him to be home."His spirit is very much there and that's been a comfort," said Van Breeman.On Nov. 30, coinciding with the 25th anniversary and the beginning of the holiday season, Canuck Place locations sparkled with Christmas lights for the annual Lighting of the House celebration.To hear the complete interview with Camara Van Breemen on CBC's The Early Edition, tap the audio link below: