Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
A perfect storm is brewing for the homeless in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, advocates fear, one that threatens to leave people alone and wandering during the cold winter days.The informal network of daytime supports — a drop-in warming room, the library, the once-monthly soup kitchen — have been cut back or cut entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.It's left homeless men and women with few options for basic needs and a growing fear of the cold Labrador winter that's on the way."It's really scary, I'm frightened for this year's people," said Amos Semigak.At 8 a.m. each morning, the town's only emergency shelter closes its doors and sends its clients outside. They're let back in for what the shelter calls "purpose-driven" visits — to access particular services, drink water or use the washroom. But beyond that, the clients are on the street — and in the woods — until 8 p.m., when they can get back into the shelter.On weekends, the Housing Hub is completely closed, and there's no staff to answer the door.Last year, many of those daytime hours could be spent watching TV at the Labrador Friendship Centre's common room, or on the computer in the public library. While some of those services are slowly resuming, others — like the Labrador Friendship Centre — see no easy return until the pandemic has ended.The common room at the Centre has been transformed into a COVID-19 screening area. It's a necessity, according to executive director Jennifer Hefler-Elson, for them to continue safely operating the medical hostel on-site."It was a very difficult decision," she said."We have to have that space to be able to get people to come here, to stay here, and know that they are protected as well, because the people that are coming here are vulnerable as well."Anyone who wanted to operate a warm room this winter would need a properly equipped space and properly trained staff — probably more that usual, due to COVID-19, she said. That's a set of conditions that wouldn't just appear overnight.So instead, many homeless men and women walk along the town's trails, Semigak said, where drinking is a common way to keep warm and pass the time.The remnants of make-shift camps can be seen throughout town, and they've drawn the ire of the municipal government — which wrote to the provincial government last year to complain about a growing homeless and transient population."As a council, we have received complaints of indecent exposure and acts," wrote Mayor Wally Andersen in 2019."Many consume alcohol in public at all hours of the day, and it's common to see an individual passed out on the side of the road or along trails within the community."For the past few months, Semigak has been living in a room in the Labrador Inn, a motel in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is being used as overflow space for the town's shelter.For him, that means he has somewhere to stay during the cold days. And, he says, he's been able to avoid the campsites along the trail where drinking is common — a fact he's proud of.But he knows what it's like to be there.Semigak is facing two charges in provincial court, relating to a fire he set in July. Court documents allege he set a fire too close to a forested area within the fire season.Semigak said he set the fire because he had been drinking and had just fallen into water. It was cold outside and was too late for him to access the homeless shelter."I could have perished that night," he said. "What could I do about this? There's nowhere I could go, there's no heat or nothing."He said he was forced into an impossible situation and fears others in the community will face those same pressures this winter."What else is there to do? There's nothing else to do here but [drink]," he said."There's no programs or anything for us people to be doing here." Staff at the Housing Hub shelter in Happy Valley-Goose Bay say they're doing everything they can to accommodate and help the homeless population, but are still struggling with a growing issue.Krystal Saunders, a coordinator and housing liaison worker at the shelter, said it seems like the need exploded earlier this year."We definitely had a rough summer in trying to provide … quality support to the clients," she said. "We didn't want to leave balls hanging in the air, but we were being forced to because we were ran so short staffed, the volume just blew up overnight."Its numbers have fallen — as some people move to other rural areas in the winter — but the shelter is still full, stretched beyond its COVID-19 capacity, and filling rooms at the Labrador Inn."This should be a temporary place for people to stay when they have no housing, and then they should be moving on," added Michelle Kinney, the deputy minister of health and social development for the Nunatsiavut Government. "At the moment, there's very little moving on."Kinney and Saunders said even as clients are making progress, there's limited spaces, long wait lists, not enough funding and not enough options for people trying to leave the shelter's care.It's all adding up to an ongoing cycle: homeless men and women shuffling into the shelter at 8 p.m., and shuffling out at 8 a.m."If there's a snowstorm at 8 o'clock in the morning, you feel really guilty about putting them out through the door," Kinney said. "But we don't have the staffing or capacity from this perspective to do any more about it.""It's a huge issue."It's an issue Dawn Crocker knows all too well.Crocker is a bartender at the Sandbar Lounge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She was working the night she last saw her friend, Susanna Rich."I asked her if she had a place to go, she told me she had a place, she was going to a friend's,"Rich was at the bar, but not drinking, Crocker said."She was just a kind soul, she was a peaceful lady. She just wanted to be somewhere where she felt she could be, and be herself."That was Friday night. Monday morning, police found Rich's body on the trail."It still hurts me yet to think about how she died," she said, fighting back tears. "Cold, and alone, and froze to death in a trail. And she was sober that night. She just had no place to go."The RCMP say they can't release Rich's cause of death — and the province's Chief Medical Examiner said there were no instances where hypothermia or exposure was formally registered as a cause of death in the town last winter.But Crocker believes the extreme temperatures caused — or at least contributed to — the death of her friend, and others in the community last year. And so do some of the men who stay at the emergency shelter."I'm hurt about those people that perished here due to the winter cold," said Semigak. "It wasn't right for those people to pass away. We need a proper shelter, we need the Newfoundland government to listen to us people, because we matter too, we matter as human beings.'"People keep freezing outside and dying," added Tobey Noah, a homeless man in the community.Noah's welcome to stay at the shelter, but said he doesn't feel comfortable there because of trauma he's felt over the death of his girlfriend and child, and ensuing struggles with alcoholism.The COVID-19 pandemic has scared him too. In the shelter, he'd have to sleep in a room with three or four other people."I usually just get a tarp and blankets, they usually give me blankets here to sleep outside," he said. "I make a little house, and take boughs and put them inside, and sleep in there."He could stay with family and friends, but he decided to give up his home and move to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to escape some of the demons.Crocker is terrified at the thought of another person dying alone on the trails and has started a project to help people like Noah.She's distributing sleeping bags all across Labrador, in hopes of getting them to people suffering in the cold, but said the issue needs serious attention."It's going so slowly," she said. "It's like staring into the [barrel] of a gun, knowing it's going to go off, but not knowing when…. We need to put things in place now. It should not be this way, it should never be this way."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A Halifax dance studio hopes that temporarily closing its doors might slow the city's recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and keep it alive in the long run.Some businesses outside the food industry are changing how they operate. This follows the lead of some restaurants and bars who have closed their doors temporarily, without being asked to do so by public health.Haliente Creative Studio on Barrington Street offers salsa, bachata and other styles of classes, as well as social nights for people to practise their moves.But owner Moses Diallo said that even while wearing a mask, physical closeness and the nature of touching hands while dancing increases their risk.On Saturday evening, the day 22 exposure notices were issued by authorities, Diallo announced Haliente would close for the next two weeks.He said even though staff and clients were following public health rules, it felt like a matter of time before someone contracted the coronavirus."It's not an easy decision, but it's one that makes sense and it's better we do this than have an exposure," Diallo said Sunday."Myself, along with many people, have vulnerable individuals in their families and … the risks are just too high at this point."As of Sunday, there were 44 known active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil has singled out young people as driving the recent exposures. He said there are 18- to 35-year-olds going out when they feel sick, and in large groups without distancing.New restrictions also start Monday, where residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality are limited to only five people gathering in a social group without physical distancing, down from 10.Closing down 'is a sacrifice,' says business ownerWhen asked whether the government should mandate that businesses close for a short time to get a handle on COVID-19, Diallo said he's "all for it," since short-term pain is bearable if it brings a long-term gain of keeping the economy open over the next few months.Diallo said they nearly didn't survive the last shutdown, when their studio was closed for nearly five months."The two weeks is a sacrifice that we made in order not to close down forever," Diallo said. "I can't afford to close down for more than a month."The Freedom Kitchen & Closet in Lower Sackville has decided to stop clothing donations for now due to the community spread, while the Fall River Animal Hospital has returned to curbside appointments.Many restaurants and cafés in the Halifax area have either closed entirely or announced over the weekend they are now only offering takeout and delivery. People are advised to check with restaurants before visiting.Paul MacKinnon, CEO of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said Sunday he's heard a broad mix of feedback from members about how to navigate the current spike in cases.He said his organization won't weigh in on whether certain sectors should shut down again. But, MacKinnon predicted many owners will close on their own to protect staff and patrons over the next few days, just like in the spring."It's a business decision that the owner has to make. And if they think they're not going to get a lot of business anyway, in some cases, it may actually save some money," MacKinnon said.Although it's a tough situation coming into the holiday season, MacKinnon said the timing actually puts businesses at an advantage because people will be stocking up on presents and gift cards no matter how high the case numbers climb.Also, MacKinnon said most shops and eateries have active online stores or delivery models that they put in place during the first shutdown earlier this year."Hopefully it won't be as big of an impact as it was before. But of course, it's unchartered territory," MacKinnon said.He said there's some "light at the end of the tunnel" with the recent news that vaccines are close to being ready.MORE TOP STORIES
Two health-care workers from the labour and delivery unit at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary are now in isolation after a visitor did not disclose their COVID-19 status during the on-site screening process, AHS has confirmed. Dr. Fiona Mattatall, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the hospital, says she now has colleagues in isolation. "I just hope to God, that out of this one case, that everything is OK, and that all of the PPE worked, and that we don't have to declare an outbreak on our unit," Mattatall said. "Because I really worry about the secondary anxiety to my patients, and them worrying about coming in and having their baby." Alberta Health Services recently has had to deal with several situations where designated family or support people of patients intentionally didn't disclose their COVID-19 symptom status, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. "While the vast majority of Albertans understand that doing this puts loved ones and the teams caring for their loved ones at even greater risk of illness, the few who choose to do this are impacting us all," Hinshaw said Friday during a media availability. "Please be honest. We are dealing with a multiplier effect in Alberta. We cannot afford that in our health-care facilities." WATCH | Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, tells Albertans to be honest about their COVID-19 symptoms when visiting health-care facilities: Hinshaw warned Albertans not to attend health-care facilities if they are feeling sick, unless they themselves need care. Visitors should also answer screening questions at health-care facilities honestly and fully, Hinshaw said, disclosing all symptoms and contacts to site screeners. Should providers or members of health-care teams get sick, it would mean they are unavailable to treat patients for at least two weeks — which would impact staffing levels. "Ultimately, if this behaviour continues, Alberta Health Services will have to consider limiting designated family and support and visitation even further," Hinshaw said. "That is not something we want AHS to have to do." Larger implications on health-care In an email, a spokesperson for AHS said that to protect confidentiality, no further information about the individual involved will be disclosed. "There are no known positive patients or health-care workers on the unit and it is not on outbreak or on watch at this time," the spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, the exposure is believed to be related to a confirmed positive case in a visitor who did not disclose their COVID-19 status during the on-site screening process." When someone is not upfront with their symptoms, Mattatall said the first feeling health-care professionals experience is that of frustration. "Then the reality of the snowballing implications from that one action goes from frustration to full-out anger," she said. "And it's tough, because we don't want to be angry at people. I mean, we're all in this together with the virus that we should be angry at. "But it's frustrating when someone just isn't thinking beyond their own self to realize, because this is a team, this is teamwork that is going to get us through this." Direct and indirect impacts The implications of visitors not being truthful about their COVID-19 status is larger than people realize, Mattatall said. The immediate impacts are more obvious — in delivering health-care, workers enter inside an unsafe two-metres with a patient, meaning those carrying the virus can put health-care workers at risk. Without contact tracing being as robust as it was, health-care workers may be unaware they have been exposed, and could proceed to spread it to their families or their patients. ... the actions of a few people might ruin it for everybody. - Dr. Fiona Mattatall, obstetrician-gynecologist at the Rockyview Hospital Mattatall said an indirect impact is that if a health-care worker is isolating, their team is down a member. "Coming into the pandemic, we didn't have wiggle room in terms of extra staffing. Health-care works pretty close to the line," she said. "We don't have extra bodies at Rockyview to be able to accommodate a number of people off on isolation." But further to that, Mattatall said the health-care system has worked hard to allow support people and partners into labour and delivery rooms during the pandemic, which she said is important for the experience and safety of having a baby. "When we see behaviour like support people not disclosing their risk of having COVID or having COVID, it could have the ripple effect of public health then saying it's not worth the risk to the health-care teams and other patients," Mattatall said. "I'm very grateful that we have been able to maintain support people in labour throughout the pandemic here, but the actions of a few people might ruin it for everybody."
Health officials in Alberta have begun hunting around for specialized freezers, one of the first steps in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines which could begin arriving within the next few months. Earlier this month, the province began the procurement process for freezers able to meet COVID-19 vaccine storage requirements. Initially, the government proposed the sole-source purchase of five freezers from Fisher Scientific, according to procurement documents, although Alberta Health said there is now an open competition between potential suppliers. Alberta is looking to purchase four ultra-low units needed for the Pfizer vaccine and two laboratory freezer units for the Moderna vaccine. The six units will have about 23 cubic feet of capacity, which would be about the same size as a large refrigerator. The storage units will be held at the provincial vaccine depot located in Fort Saskatchewan. Ultracold temperature freezers are in high demand and typically cost about $15,000. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-low temperature storage requirements have sent some health authorities and hospitals scrambling to find special freezers. "We don't know which vaccines we're going to get so the government is really preparing for every eventuality," said Shannon MacDonald, a registered nurse and a professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. MacDonald and her team are currently researching who should be prioritized to receive the vaccine, which is part of a COVID-19 rapid response research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is intended to guide public health officials in how they dole out the first rounds of immunizations when they become available in Canada. Alberta expects to receive 465,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine for a total of 686,000 doses, earlier in the new year. Being able to receive the doses and store them properly is just one part of the process to disburse the vaccines. "The process is not linear. [The government] has to do a whole bunch of things at once," said Dr. Margaret Russell, an associate professor and researcher at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, who specializes in public health preventive medicine. WATCH | Why infectious disease experts are encouraged, cautious about Pfizer vaccine: Health officials will have to create a distribution plan and decide who will deliver the vaccine, where it will go in the province and how it will be stored, she said. At the same time, officials have to decide how many people will be needed to help at clinics where the vaccine will be administered. "They have to think about the human resources, the training and skills set. Of course, right now, during COVID, people have to self isolate, we're hearing a lot about health-care workers having to self isolate," Dr. Russell said. Vaccine recipients will need to be monitored for any adverse effects and to ensure they receive the second dose of the vaccination. Besides the logistical considerations, a communications plan will also be key, said MacDonald, with the University of Alberta. Health officials will have to preach patience, while also providing encouragement, she said. "We need to reassure people that all the usual processes have been followed [in developing the vaccines], but much more quickly through a massive injection of funds, so that people are reassured, so that when it's their turn and they are eligible for the vaccine, they're prepared to get the vaccine," said Macdonald. Pfizer has begun "rolling submissions" for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, the company said. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.
This column is an opinion from Adam Legge, the president of the Business Council of Alberta.The recent news of the Cenovus/Husky merger, the Tourmaline purchases of Modern and Jupiter Resources, and the relocation of Suncor's downstream office function to Calgary have generated mixed feelings.Mergers of Canadian oil and gas companies are a sign of the times, as they need scale to compete in an ever more challenging market.Consolidation brings with it the good news that the merged firms will have a new ability to compete in a low-cost, low-carbon world; over the long term, the consolidation leads to scale and financial resilience. Relocations generate the potential for new jobs to be created here in Calgary. More announcements are coming. But the net result of these trends overall will be to the downside for both near-term jobs and office vacancy rates in Calgary.These impacts are real. My heart goes out to those who will not find a place in the newly constituted firms. And it goes out to those whose businesses — like restaurants, dry cleaners, coffee shops, etc. — need a flow of customers in the downtown to survive.Reality is hitting homeCalgary is now fully realizing the impacts and consequences of decisions that created hiring and office space numbers that were unsustainable.We built up for an oil price environment in the $100/barrel range. With $40-50/barrel oil, a global pandemic and long-term trends toward decarbonization and an increased use of automation and technology, the reality is it's highly unlikely the jobs being shed now will come back. It's equally unlikely the empty office space will be filled any time soon.But neither of those facts need define us. In fact, we must make sure that they don't.We must do two things: We must build on all our strengths; and we must take care of each other. Our strengths are our people, our location and our vast landscape and resource base. We have natural strengths in energy, agriculture, tourism, transportation and logistics. We have a dynamic and growing technology sector, our financial services expertise is world class, and we have niche strengths in areas of manufacturing and medical sciences.In my role, I live at the intersection of all these strengths. I say that we don't have the luxury of chasing rainbows, but we also don't have the luxury of dividing our community by pitting one sector or strength against another.I am a firm believer in the "and," not the "either/or." As a city, we can do oil and gas, and agriculture, and technology, and renewables, and more. We build on our strengths and assets.What's hard for us all to manage is that these changes don't happen quickly. We have to put the right building blocks in place now, that will pay dividends as the economic environment continues to evolve.Calgary Economic Development's Calgary In the New Economy provides an excellent roadmap and plan for Calgary to build on its strengths.It will take time. The strength of the oil and gas sector took decades to develop in Alberta and Calgary. Like reputations, economic sectors take time to build, but can shift very quickly. As a result of these shifts, tens of thousands of Calgarians and Albertans over the past five years have lost their jobs. Thousands of our neighbours have found themselves without a future in the sector they have spent years being educated about, building skills for and working hard to succeed in.Thousands more have built businesses to serve our growing population and workforce, only to see their dreams fall apart. Our people are our strength, and we must take care of them.A callousness has set inI am sad to say I find that there has been a callousness in our public discussion toward the jobs and livelihoods lost. Many suggest that Calgary and Alberta stop crying over spilled milk and move on.For those whose jobs have been lost, and can't easily transition to something else, this is just plain inconsiderate. I worry some of the rhetoric has lost sight of the impacts to real people and families.The attitude of "serves you right, you had it good for a long time, and this is just the way the world is going" is divisive, unhelpful and wrong. I ask us all to stop, and to work at helping, rather than critiquing.We cannot afford to discount the impacts on people. We must continue to invest in and support our community institutions that help those in need, like food banks, mental health services and counselling centres, as well as the programs, like post-secondary education and career transitioning, that will enable people to adapt their skills for the future.Whether it is someone who moves from oil and gas to a geothermal or hydrogen opportunity, or turns their passion for something into an innovative business venture, these investments in people are the most important ones we can make. Too often we are talking about this issue but not doing enough.What we need are purposeful investments in our people for the future, particularly those whose jobs are unlikely to come back, or whose businesses have been destroyed due to shifting economic sands. This is not a response driven just by COVID-19. This is a fundamental change in our economy and the nature of work. What particularly frustrates me is the lack of federal government support to help those whose jobs will be lost as our nation pursues its Paris climate commitments.In Ottawa's efforts to reduce emissions in Canada — a goal that should not be debated and is highly necessary — policy is being shaped and investments made in things like electric vehicles and hydrogen. Those are essential, but they are not reflective of the people-side of the equation.With each policy decision and each investment come job and employment related consequences that I fear have not been truly calculated. Nor has there been sufficient study done to determine how we help those displaced either transition into this new opportunity or find something else.More transition programs neededDespite recently adding $1.5 billion for workforce development agreements, I believe that employment transition policy and programs need to take up a greater amount of time in Ottawa.Some great work is being done in the community, such as the EDGE UP program at Calgary Economic Development, which works to retrain people displaced from the oil and gas sector into high growth digital technology opportunities. Demand is strong for this program — 1,300 applications for 100 spots — which means many people are thinking of their next chapter and trying to make a transition.The new AltaML program Applied AI Lab saw 500-plus applications for its first cohort of eight participants, many of them retraining from other careers. And the SAIT Polytechnic Digital Hub downtown will create opportunities for more people to look at alternative skills and career paths. For those who are critiquing government support or investment in oil and gas, or encouraging government to accelerate activity in new or emerging sectors, I ask you to turn your focus to calls for government to work with industry and invest in people who find themselves without a job and limited prospects for the future — to help them build opportunity and security.We can do both. Let's build up, not tear down. We must take care of each other.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 ...What we are watching in Canada ...OTTAWA -- Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.\---Also this ... OTTAWA -- N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.\---ICYMI ...OTTAWA -- Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada's current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries. Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1 But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud. The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote. A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...LONDON -- AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine. “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.\---In entertainment ...LOS ANGELES -- Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night's American Music Awards. She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist. Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins. The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours" and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless. The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night's three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet "Monster."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020The Canadian Press
With many Quebecers cooped up at home, some are channeling their energy by getting into the festive spirit a little early.Interest in natural Christmas trees has been rising steadily in the last few years and the Quebec Association of Christmas Tree Producers is predicting a record season."People are ready to buy local, support their neighbours and buy green," said Charles Vaillancourt, president of the association.Last weekend, dozens of families showed up at Sapinière Saint-Jean for the first day of the U-pick season. "The big advantage of U-pick is freshness as well as choice," said co-owner Michel Gravel.Like the boom for Quebec apple producers in the fall, some Christmas tree producers are expecting an influx of people looking for a festive outdoor activity.While some farms are offering U-pick services, others are adapting to try and serve shoppers from afar.Les Sapins de Clericy in Rouyn-Noranda is offering to deliver farm fresh Christmas tree to local clients who order online or by phone.Co-owner Mary-Lou de Denus said that they cancelled their U-pick season because it's impossible to maintain distancing between clients.She said that normally the farm welcomes visitors not just to buy but to gather, have a snack or a drink, and chat. This year, that tradition can't happen, so the farm is closed to the public."Of course, we are going to reduce our service a little bit because it's more complex to deliver. But we will try to respect as much as possible the customers' choice of height and width," she said.When it comes to artificial trees and other holiday decorations, some stores reported crowds of shoppers buying up their stock earlier than normal."People are buying Christmas decorations at a never-before-seen rate," said François Gendron, manager at a Canac hardware store in Quebec City.Gendron said he's never seen such a craze for Christmas decorations at the beginning of November."We have a lot of inventory, but it is starting to decrease," he said. "So, eventually we will run out of stock."He suggested that one reason for the increased demand is that everyone is stuck at home this year, including snowbirds and others who travel around the holidays."They have to equip themselves from A to Z because they have no tree and no decorations," he said.
Angelique Kidjo and Skip Marley are among several global artists performing social justice anthems for an online fundraising concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The Dec. 1 event on Facebook Live is called Peace Through Music: A Global Event for Social Justice. (Nov. 23)
A P.E.I. teen's concern for the Island's bat population has turned into a small online business building and selling bat houses, called Beddy Bye Bats. The idea started with a Grade 8 science project by Dominik Davis, 14, about the little brown bat."When we were at school, we did the science fair and I didn't get to move on to provincials because it got cancelled, because of COVID," Davis said."And when I brought it home, we got it out, and my mom thought it would be a great idea to start building bat houses." Davis said they found a pattern online and started building their bat houses, in a small barn next to the family home in Riverton, P.E.I.His mother posted the first bat houses on social media, and Davis quickly had his first 12 orders. 'Amazing creatures'Davis said he has been interested in bats as long as he can remember. "They're just amazing creatures, like when they fly around, and they're not blind, there's a lot of misconceptions about bats," Davis said."They eat a lot of insects and they're really cool mammals. When they are around your area, the amount of bugs will be reduced and for us, we live in the country, so it's a big help."Davis also gives customers an information sheet about bats with every purchase."You want to put the bat house up 12 to 20 feet in the air, and they're made so they have a spot on the bottom which the bats can land on," Davis said. "They use their claws to hook on, and then they crawl up through a half inch gap into the bat house, and they're at home."Davis said the houses provide a safe place, away from predators such as hawks and other large birds."It's quite a tiny little space, bats like very tiny spaces because they like to keep warmth in, and they like to be squished together," Davis said."And since they're not territorial, you could have 10 different bat species in your one bat house."Importance of batsDavis said he hopes what he's doing will help P.E.I.'s bat population, which has struggled for more than a decade because of white-nose syndrome. "The main thing I want to get people to know from this company is that bats are important," Davis said. "Every time I build a bat house, it's a bat sanctuary, because when you put it up bats are safe from almost all predators." Davis said he also hopes that his interest in bats will help change the minds of some people who don't like bats."I am hoping that too, because a lot of people may fear bats or may not like bats," Davis said. "Bats are not blind and they will stay away from you. They won't fly into your hair and they're the best thing to have around."Bringing back the batsJoe Rooney bought five of the bat houses for his home in Mount Mellick, P.E.I., and four of his friends have now ordered them as well."He's showing his entrepreneurial spirit, that he's making these bat houses, he's making himself a few dollars," Rooney said. "But he's also educating people about the bats and hopefully bring them back, because we had a place that we owned before, we had bats there and they ate lot of mosquitoes. I'd like to have the bats back."Clint Davis, Dominik's father, said he was surprised at how quickly the bat houses started to sell. "It's a great project for him to do and keep him busy and active," Davis said. "He's always in the nature and he's planning on being a marine biologist when he grows up."Dominik Davis has donated a couple of bat houses to the Native Council of P.E.I. for their bat project in Victoria West, as well as some fundraisers. Davis said Beddy Bye Bats has now sold more than 60 bat houses.He said a couple of businesses in the area are now selling the bat houses for him which, along with online sales, will keep the teenager busy for a while. "As long as it lasts," Davis said. "As long as there's people out there that want bat houses, I'm willing to make them."More from CBC P.E.I.
A Chinese woman with aspirations of becoming a permanent Canadian resident and opening a high-end gift shop in Yellowknife was awarded $185,000 in damages by a Northwest Territories judge on Friday.Supreme Court Justice Karan Shaner ordered Liang Chen, a Yellowknife businessman and immigration consultant, to pay Jie Qiao $130,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 in aggravated damages and $5,523.29 in damages for breach of contract after Qiao filed a lawsuit.Qiao claims she was forced to withdraw from the N.W.T.'s nominee program after Chen withdrew $160,000 without her permission from a joint bank account they shared in part to purchase a lodge near Yellowknife, which advertises luxurious lakeside rentals.Chen did not appear in court on Friday and did not file a statement of defence, so the court order was made without a trial. In an interview with CBC News last week, he refuted many of Qiao's claims but admitted to using the money to buy the lodge.Qiao, who speaks limited English, moved to Yellowknife from China in early 2019 to seek permanent residency. She hired Chen to help her immigrate and set up a business in Yellowknife.Chen owns C.L. Pacific Immigration Consulting Ltd., based in Burnaby, B.C., and is listed as an immigration consultant on the website of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.Permanent residency was goalIn mid-January 2019, Qiao was accepted into the business stream of the territory's nominee program, which requires an investment of $300,000, which in turn leads to support for a permanent residency application.Chen helped to set up the business and found a rental unit in Centre Square Mall in Yellowknife. The two opened a joint bank account and she deposited $300,000, as required by the nominee program.At least two local companies were hired to carry out renovation work to the rental unit and, according to court documents, all seemed to be going fine until the summer of 2019. That's when Chen withdrew $50,000 from the bank account without Qiao's knowledge or consent, followed by $110,000 a few months later.Qiao claims that Chen told her he needed the money to get a personal bank loan approved. But in her lawsuit, she alleged he used the $110,000 on a down payment to purchase a property on Madeline Lake, now home to 7th Aurora Lodge Yellowknife.When reached by phone last week, Chen said he regrets using the money to purchase the lodge, but he promised to return the funds, and Qiao eventually got her money back.But according to court documents, Chen did not immediately pay her back, despite promising to do so.In turn, it caused a ripple effect — Qiao said she was no longer able to operate the company, which meant she was in breach of her agreement with the territory and therefore forced to withdraw from the nominee program. As a result, she may have to move back to China.Qiao hired a B.C.-based law firm, which sent letters to the federal and territorial governments outlining what Chen had done. When he found out, Qiao said, he intimidated and pressured her to withdraw them.She eventually fired her lawyer and sent an email to the territory, saying her previous letter did not reflect her intentions. Qiao also said she would withdraw from the nominee program and no longer wished to seek permanent residency because Chen had taken her money.She hired a Yellowknife law firm to demand payment from him. Chen then offered to settle the matter by purchasing the company from her for $160,000. She decided she would rather cut her losses in exchange for a quick resolution and take the deal — a move her lawyer, Christopher Buchanan, described on Friday over the phone in court as essentially Chen strong-arming her into a settlement for far less than what she initially invested.Parties enter agreementIn February, the two entered into a settlement agreement that required Chen to pay Qiao the $160,000 within seven days. But it wasn't until April 27 that he did so, and on Friday, Chen was ordered to pay her $5,523.29 in interest for breaching the agreement, on top of the damages.The judge also ordered that all of the company's liabilities be transferred to Chen as of Feb. 27, 2020. He was also ordered to indemnify Qiao for all amounts owed to the landlord as of Sept. 30, 2019. According to court documents, as far as Qiao knows, the company owes the landlord nearly $15,000 in rent arrears, but the figure may be much higher.Court documents prepared by Qiao's lawyer argue she was in a vulnerable position — she did not speak English and was completely dependent on Chen to deal with her immigration and business matters. The documents went on to say that his conduct had greatly affected her mental health and caused her to suffer from insomnia and severe anxiety.Qiao is also unable to recover a $75,000 deposit to the territory, as was required by the business stream of the nominee program.Her lawyer, Buchanan, said in an email she's asked for privacy and would not be available for an interview.Chen did not respond to a request for comment following Friday's judgment.In an interview with CBC News last Tuesday, Chen said the gift store was once a viable business, but because the pandemic virtually paused tourism in the territory since the spring, it can't survive."The business is probably going into insolvency," he said, adding he takes "full responsibility" for his actions."I think my motto has always been, you know, if you get it wrong, admit it and move forward."
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea.National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic.The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election.Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said.O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam.In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines.“President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.”He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien.He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China.“They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said.He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty.In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states.Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
High stress, exhaustion, heartbreak: that is how some high school teachers describe working through the second wave of COVID-19. High school teacher Courtney Scratch worries that the current system isn't working for students or parents, and might be doing them a great disservice."To try to keep up with the expectations that were put both on students and on teachers has just been, honestly impossible," Scratch said. The new quadmester system used by the Greater Essex County District School Board splits the school year into four periods, to allow students to be split into two groups — or cohorts. It makes for longer classes and condensed curriculum. Courses that used to be taught over the course of five months are now being taught in eight weeks."It's virtually impossible in certain cases for the students to keep up," Scratch said. "And the feedback that we're getting from them is that they're just getting through it. They're just scraping by. They're not really retaining anything. It just feels like one hurdle after another."Scratch was assigned to teach mathematics completely online for her first quadmester. She was responsible for two classes and a total of 60 students.'Equity issues'A key challenge for teachers, Scratch explained, is lack of preparation time. She explained that the way the school year is split up, teachers get prep time for only two of the four quadmesters. She said, for her first quadmester, she got none. To make up for that, Scratch said she would wake up every morning at about 4 a.m. to prepare her lessons in time for the start of the school day. She would teach throughout the day, taking her lunch hour to meet with students and speak with parents. Once she got home, she would continue marking assignments and preparing lessons into the evening. "Eventually I would just work until I had to fall asleep and then I'd set an early alarm to get up and do it all again," she said. She said students were asking for more review, more assessments, one-on-one time, and so on, which she often wasn't able to accommodate because there simply wasn't enough time. "One of the things I think is not being discussed enough is the equity issues that arise because of this," Scratch said. "Imagine if these students had a teacher who was only working with 30 students and had prep time during the day. The experience of those students would be getting would be absolutely night and day. So it's really not fair to them that this is what they're getting because of the expectations that were piled up on their teachers."'Breaks my heart'Feeling like she's been unable to give her students everything they need has been "heartbreaking," Scratch said. "I just think about what could I have done differently had I had more time during the day to work with them in small groups, to work with them individually, how much more dynamic my lessons could have been had I been able to plan them," she said. "To think that in any way I have failed to equip them for the next steps of their mathematical journey — it breaks my heart in more ways than I can say."New challengesThat heartbreak and sadness is not unique. Erin Roy, the district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says she's heard hearing similar stories from many teachers. "We put our a survey to our members and some of the comments were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes," said Roy. In addition to the difficulties around the curriculum, Roy added that teachers are missing the connections and interactions that come during a typical school year, even though they understand the restrictions are to keep everyone safe. "Even our most seasoned teachers, they're somewhat broken because they're not able to do those things."Further to that, Roy explained that teachers are dealing with challenges like never before, "stress on top of stress," from struggles with technology, to dealing with parents who are angered by the challenges the school year has presented for their kids."It's typically the front line worker that's getting that frustration taken out on them. And I feel like that's happening with our teachers a lot," Roy said. Union asking for changesRoy said the union is working to make improvements moving forward. She's calling for better technology for teachers, more technical support for students and parents, more training for virtual delivery of curriculum, and additional attendance counsellors to assist with disengaged virtual learners. She said she's also advocating for the board to reconsider the quadmester teaching model, and to look at other models being used in other parts of the province that might be more successful.For Scratch's next quadmester, she's shifted to in-person teaching, and her schedule now includes preparation time. Having more time to plan "feels almost surreal to feel such euphoria over something that should be an expectation," she said. She's grateful for the time, but also worried for her colleagues who are now in her shoes, experiencing the burden of not having any prep time for the first time.Scratch said she feels the Ministry of Education put the school boards and staff in an impossible situation but said she's hopeful for a solution that can still keep schools safe, while creating a better learning environment. Neither the Greater Essex County District School Board or the Ministry of Education responded CBC's request for comment by deadline.
Jeffrey Freedman is a COVID-19 "long-hauler" — one of many Canadians left with lingering health issues after getting sick from the virus. He says he now regrets going into work during the early days of the pandemic after falling ill in early April.Freedman worked at a tile company supplying Toronto's busy residential construction industry, which was deemed an essential service and remained open as other businesses were ordered to shut. He says he felt he had no choice but to report to work, despite risks of infection."I was in a bind. But because we needed the money and my feelings about my customers, I kept going and going and going and working my eight hours a day."CBC News reached out to provincial workers' compensation boards across the country and found that more than 26,000 claims have been filed by people who contracted COVID-19 at work. Freedman is one of more than 20,000 people whose claims have been approved.Thousands file claims across CanadaStatistics on workplace compensation claims are the first concrete indication of how many people are getting COVID-19 at work in Canada, but it's an incomplete picture.There is no standard accounting of how many people have fallen sick while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking.What's more, the system does not capture COVID-19 cases among workers who are ineligible or simply don't submit claims.Freedman developed COVID-19 symptoms in April and went to the hospital, where he was told he was a presumptive case and had to go home and isolate. A few days later, he was struggling to breathe and was rushed to hospital by paramedics. He spent 44 days there, most of them on a ventilator as he fought off the infection."I have brain fog. I have permanent damage to my vocal cords from the ICU and tubing for 33 days. I have constant neck and bicep pains," he said.Freedman, now 65, said instead of enjoying his retirement and his dreams of travel, he'll never be able to drive again and still struggles to get through each day."I have a major, major pressure wound on my butt from being in the ICU that is recovered to the point where I can at least sit, but I cannot sleep properly except more than 10 minutes at a time. And I'm very weak and tired, usually by 3 o'clock every day."Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) accepted Freedman's claim and has since helped him and his wife, Lori, by replacing Freedman's lost wages and helping to retrofit their bathroom to accommodate his injuries.WATCH | What it's like to be a COVID 'long-hauler':Claims by front-line workers rejectedIn Ontario and British Columbia, the data shows that most claims have come from workers in health-care facilities and agriculture. However, a quarter of workers in Ontario are not covered at all by the workers' compensation system, compared with B.C., where all workers have coverage.Ontario workers not covered include a large number in such industries as privately run care homes, social assistance services and the tech and banking sectors."It really highlights the absurdity of having a compensation system that just cuts out whole swaths of industries and says you're not entitled to coverage, and it's very difficult to track those people down because when they go to the hospital, their claim doesn't get billed through a WSIB number," said David Newberry, a community legal worker at the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic in Toronto. About 1,425 claims have been disallowed in Ontario as of Nov. 13, including hundreds in front-line industries such as health care.Newberry said the disallowed claims — along with the fact that the WSIB pays only 85 per cent of a worker's full salary — don't fit with declarations that these workers are "heroes" keeping the economy running during a pandemic."While companies are spending millions of dollars putting up billboards and bus ads thanking our front-line workers to be heroes — when people are actually getting sick within these workplaces, whether stocking our shelves or looking after our grandparents — what they're getting is ... a 15 per cent pay cut."Jennifer Collins worked as a nurse at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont, the site of a major outbreak that killed 29 residents in the spring. She said she didn't have adequate access to personal protective equipment and got sick with COVID-19 in March, leaving her with lingering health problems.Collins was not hospitalized, and she said a lack of medical records chronicling her illness hurt her claim for workers' compensation."I got a phone call from [WSIB], and they said that they realized with COVID that it was a special case," she said, "but because they didn't have any medical data or documentation to back up what I was telling them that I wasn't eligible."Collins said she still suffers from exhaustion and can only walk about two blocks before her hips act up. "Everyday I try to push myself more, but it is difficult, and it's frustrating," she said.After being turned down, Collins instead applied for the Canada emergency response benefit and was approved.Even with approval, fight isn't always overIn Ontario, the WSIB has disallowed 302 claims from workers in nursing and residential care facilities.Ultimately, many people getting sick at work are those who don't have the option of working from home. Newberry, of the injured workers legal clinic, said these workers may not even know they can access workers' compensation — in particular new Canadians who may not be familiar with the language or workplace laws."Those who are most vulnerable are the ones who are generally least likely to know that these things are available," he said.But even for those whose claims are approved, the fight isn't always over.Jeffrey Freedman received notice on Friday that his employer is appealing his workers' compensation claim, insisting that it took all necessary precautions and there's no proof he got COVID-19 at work.As workers' compensation claim costs rise, so too do the premiums that employers have to pay. Newberry said that the system gives employers an incentive to appeal approved claims."Workers' compensation systems in Canada are set up in a model that is similar to private insurance," he said."Even if ... the injured worker is successful in proving their claim is valid, that process can take years, and it can be really stressful."
Justin Smith has been hit with a one-two punch of bad luck. First, the Toronto man was duped by a job scam that made off with $3,000. Then his longtime bank, Tangerine, helped itself to money Smith had in his tax-free savings account to recoup what it had lost in the scam."You keep your money in the bank because you think it's safe," he said. "And they treat the money like it's theirs, and they just move it around to protect themselves. That's not fair."Tangerine is an online subsidiary of Scotiabank that offers no-fee savings and chequing accounts.Here's how the double episode of misfortune unfolded: Smith, who works as a delivery person, had applied to work from home as a data entry clerk for the grocery chain Sobeys. He was offered the job, and was excited to receive an employment contract along with a cheque from his new employer for $3,495 to purchase a laptop, phone system, headphones and various other office equipment."It all looked totally authentic and real," he said. Smith had checked out the names of the people who handled his hiring, and reviewed their profiles on LinkedIn to confirm they worked at Sobeys. So when he received an invoice from a firm called Tech Insight Services for the office equipment, and was instructed by the Sobeys hiring manager to make a $3,000 payment right away, he promptly sent an e-transfer."I only had $800 or so in my chequing account at the time, but after depositing the Sobeys cheque, I had over $4,000," he said. What Smith didn't know was that the entire process was a sophisticated scam. The website where he'd applied, the supposed hiring managers, the cheque — all were fakes. His job application hadn't been sent to Sobeys at all. He had fallen into a snare set to swindle eager job seekers. The cheque even fooled Tangerine; the bank instantly deposited it to Smith's account.Alarm bells didn't start ringing until the next day, when Smith's supposedly new employer told him he should send another $3,500 for a new desk. "At this point, I became suspicious because no one spends that kind of money on a desk," he said. "I called up Tangerine and I said 'OK, I deposited a cheque yesterday, you guys let me send the money. I'm concerned that this cheque is going to bounce.'" WATCH | Bank raids fraud victim's account:Deep in the fine printSmith learned quickly that the scammers had already accepted his e-transfer, and a Tangerine representative said that meant it was too late to cancel it. "He asked 'Do you have money in your other accounts to make up for that?' and I told him I didn't want the bank to take money from those other accounts."Because his tax-fee savings account was registered with the federal government, Smith believed the money in it was untouchable. He was wrong. Deep in the fine print of the agreements many customers receive when they open a bank account is a clause known as the "right of setoff," also sometimes referred to as the right of "offset." It states that the bank has the legal power to seize funds from a debtor or guarantor of a debt. Although that right may vary depending on the product or plan, it's in most agreements; RRSPs and registered retirement income funds are typically exempt. This means if the bank accepts a cheque or another type of deposit that doesn't go through as expected, and a customer withdraws or transfers the funds, the bank has effectively made a bad loan. It then has the right to access money in other accounts it holds for that customer, in order to recover its loss. There is no need to get authorization, or even alert the customer beforehand.Shortly after the fake Sobeys cheque bounced, Tangerine took just over $3,000 from Smith's account. Smith sent two letters of complaint to the bank, asking to be compensated, but was told each time that the bank is not liable for his loss, and that he should report the scam to police. Job scams have become common during the pandemic, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. CBC News reported on a similar scam that involved Sobeys in June. In that case, the victim's bank, the Bank of Montreal, spotted the fraud and didn't send the payment.Sobeys is aware of the fake websites bearing its name, and said it is monitoring the web 24/7 to try to have them shut down. In a statement the company said anyone "looking to join the team or confirm the legitimacy of a job posting," should check jobs.sobeyscareers.com.Some good newsAfter being contacted by CBC's Go Public team, Tangerine said it will refund the $3,000 to Smith, and also pay $250 for a credit monitoring service for him.In an email sent to Smith that was shared with CBC News, the head of the bank's client response group, Emery Sziraky, said: "We have conducted a comprehensive review of your recent experience with Tangerine and we deeply regret that we did not meet your expectations."The bank also emailed a statement to Go Public, saying it was "pleased" to have resolved the matter to Smith's satisfaction. The statement included a warning about fraud, and said Tangerine "work[s] closely with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Canadian Bankers Association, law enforcement, and counterparts at other financial institutions," to ensure clients are protected.But Doug Hoyes, an insolvency trustee in Kitchener, Ont., said all Canadians should be aware how common it is for banks to access customer accounts to recover their own losses. "It blindsides people," Hoyes said. "I've seen it happen thousands of times."Hoyes said banks typically put a hold on large cheques deposited to the accounts of new customers; they are unable to access the funds until the cheque clears. But for longstanding, trusted customers, banks will often extend a form of credit and make funds available immediately. Hoyes said that most customers appreciate the ability to access deposits right away. "In most cases what the bank did is very helpful; 'Hey, you put the money in, you can use it.' But in this case, it backfired," he said. A five- or even three-day hold on the cheque Smith had received would have stymied the scammers, but he was a longtime Tangerine client. He opened an account in the late '90s when the bank was still called ING Direct, prior to a rebranding. So he was given instant access to funds.Hoyes added that he often tells his own clients, all of whom have money problems, to set up bank accounts at two different financial institutions. "It is wise to have your assets at a different bank than your debts, if it's possible," he said. That way if a payment goes wrong in any way, the bank isn't able to dip into other accounts on file, he explained.As for Smith, he's still eager to find a new job, and is grateful that Tangerine decided to do "the right thing.""I don't want to make myself out to be a victim here," Smith said. "I'm just trying to help other people not become a victim of these scammers or, quite frankly, become the victim of their bank."
New Brunswick's four ski hills are busy making snow following growing interest in outdoor sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.Pass sales at Crabbe Mountain near Fredericton have increased 15 per cent over last year."General demand with equipment stores is high and people can't keep product on the shelf, so I think there's a big demand for outdoor space, winter activity," said general manager Jordan Cheney.Skiers can expect some changes to the overall experience, including physical distancing at lift lines and limited lodge access for warming up.While face coverings will be mandatory at most times, it's nothing new for skiers already accustomed to keeping their faces warm."We've all bundled up in the cold and worn goggles and face masks," Cheney said. "So with outdoor stuff, it should be very similar to what people have been used to."Early end to seasonThe last ski season came to an early end when the pandemic hit in mid-March. Crabbe Mountain lost about 15 days of operations after New Brunswick shut down all non-essential business to stop the spread of COVID-19.Cheney said the ski hill was still operating with picnic tables outdoors at the end."We were on track to have a record season, so it was unfortunate that it got cut short," he said. "But we were fortunate in that it was at the tail end of the season."With uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, ski areas are rolling out refund and credit policies to assure season pass holders in the event of an unexpected shutdown due to the coronavirus.Mont Farlagne near Edmundston rolled out a guarantee for season pass holders.> "We were on track to have a record season, so it was unfortunate that it got cut short." \- Jordan Cheney, Crabbe Mountain If the Campbellton region moves into the red phase, Sugarloaf Provincial Park will offer prorated refunds based on ski days missed.Poley Mountain in Sussex will offer a prorated pass that will carry over into next season.At Crabbe Mountain, pass holders will have the choice between a prorated refund or credit toward next season.Bubble lifts, lessonsOther New Brunswick ski hills have created similar COVID-19 operational plans, focusing on physical distancing and preventing large gatherings in lines and lodges.Chairs will be loaded within bubbles, instead of loading four people per chair.Danielle Gagné, vice-president at Mont Farlagne, said masks will be required at all times, including on lifts. The one exception will be when going down the hill."When we have a bubble or a family, we go up like normal," she said.Gagné said two people from different bubbles can ride the lift together, provided they wear masks and sit at the opposite ends of the quad chair.At Sugarloaf and Crabbe Mountain, face coverings are recommended but not required while riding the lift. Poley requires them at all times, except when heading downhill.Ski hills are also reducing some group lessons to bubbles.Crabbe Mountain is allowing people to pre-purchase lift tickets online to cut back on lines.Skiers will be able to scan a code on their phones that can be printed outdoors when they arrive. Reduced lodge accessAll four mountains are limiting the amount of space indoors for skiers and snowboarders to get ready and warm up."Space will be made available in our lodge or in our buildings for booting up, but we're just asking that folks don't store their equipment," Cheney said.Crabbe Mountain has purchased a 2,600 square-foot greenhouse with picnic tables for skiers to warm up, since space indoors will be mostly occupied by the ski school and seating for the restaurant.At Mont Farlagne, Gagné said dining will still be offered at seated tables limited to groups of four people.With temperatures dipping below freezing, snowmaking is underway as ski hills prepare to open in early December.Sugarloaf and Crabbe Mountain are both aiming to open for the first full weekend of December.Poley Mountain and Mont Farlagne plan to open a week later on Dec. 11.
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES
Abolition is a vision that aims to eliminate imprisonment, policing and surveillance, and pushes for the creation of vital systems of care that many of our communities lack. For some, prison abolition and feminism do not go together. As a Black feminist, I believe otherwise. My years of organizing within the Quebec feminist movement, specifically the movement to end sexual violence, have convinced me that abolition is feminist at its core.My experience as a survivor of intimate partner and gender-based violence, moreover, has taught me that the police cannot protect us and that the struggle to end violence cannot be found within punitive and carceral systems.But what does abolition mean for feminist struggles? For starters, it helps to distinguish between abolitionist feminism and carceral feminism. Carceral feminists rely on increased punitive state power in the fight to end violence against women (VAW). They believe that we can stop gender-based violence by putting perpetrators in prisons and imposing harsher sentences.One problem with this position is that it ignores and leaves unchallenged the ways patriarchal and racialized violence is exercised through policing and prisons. This position is also based on the false assumption that the threat of punishment will stop violence from occurring. Whereas abolitionists within the feminist movement centre non-punitive, transformative community-based responses rooted in care, such as investing in life-affirming social services.They call for equipping communities with the tools they need to disrupt and intervene in patterns of harm, but also developing accountability processes for those who enact it.But if we defund the police, who will protect us?One of the most common questions I get as an anti-carceral feminist is "what will we do with rapists?" and "how will we keep each other safe?" After working with survivors and hearing testimonies from women who have been victims of gender-based violence, my answer is simple and straightforward. The police have proven their inability to protect us, which explains why an overwhelming majority of victims do not report their assault to the police.Recognizing the violence and re-victimization survivors face when they report their assault and considering the number of police officers accused and convicted of intimate partner and gender-based violence, many victims believe that reparation cannot be obtained through the criminal justice system.On the other hand, divesting from the police and carceral systems and investing in transformative community-based strategies can create innumerable possibilities for obtaining reparation and healing. Imagine investing in mental health services, shelters and sexual assault centres that are accessible and where Black, Indigenous, Trans, Disabled and other survivors of gender-based violence that face systemic discrimination can seek support.Imagine investing in education, social housing and the creation of unarmed service teams outside the police to address mental health, drug-related crises and gender-based violence. All these efforts would address the root of systemic violence.Alliances between anti-prison and VAW movement?Working for rape crisis centres, along with my own personal experiences with the justice system, have led me to explore abolitionist frameworks within feminist organizing. Unfortunately, there isn't much collaboration between anti-prison and feminist anti-violence movements here in Quebec. Considering the ways in which these two struggles intersect and how sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence are reproduced by the carceral state, convergence seems necessary.Over time, the Quebec VAW movement has grown through state funding, becoming institutionalized, increasing professionalization and undermining its capacity to effectively address gender-based violence. In the process, there has also been a strong shift toward dependence on punitive responses.These groups also pushed forward governmental agendas that conceptualized sexual violence within a framework of criminal law reinforcing broader trends erasing the systemic nature of gender-based violence. Grassroots movements such as INCITE in the United States, have tied the rise of carceral feminisms to the state's co-optation of women's anti-violence movement by attaching funding to collaboration with law enforcement.Healing through transformative justiceAs a movement, where do we go from here? If we are to move forward, we must start acknowledging how gender-based violence is situated within structures of state violence. Our social movements can't claim to be intersectional and support institutions that enact and uphold racism, sexism, colonialism and violence.We need to mobilize and switch responses to gender-based violence from the carceral state to community-based responses rooted in care. We must invest in transformative approaches to gender-based violence prevention that not only help us heal, but prevent further harm.This is our moment. Black Lives Matter, alongside other racial justice movements have pushed abolition out of the margins. Movements to defund the police have gained unprecedented support across North America. Through abolitionist frameworks, the possibilities for ending gender-based violence are endless.On Nov. 26, Marlihan Lopez is organizing an online event tracing how violence against women movements in Quebec have come to rely exclusively on the criminal punishment system to respond to gender-based violence, thus perpetuating a racist, sexist and violent system. Lopez will present an overview of this history and the impact of carceral feminisms in Quebec, Nneka MacGregor will discuss transformative justice as a tool to address violence and Nathalie Batraville will give an introduction to prison abolition. ASL interpretation and translation provided. Please register here.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ. CBC Quebec welcomes your pitches for point-of-view essays. Please email email@example.com for details.
For many of them, it was the defining professional experience of their lives.But Canada's legacy in Afghanistan is also something deeply personal for the more than 140 Canadian former diplomats, aid workers and police officers who have signed an open letter urging the international community — Canada included — not to abandon Afghanistan as its tentative peace process drags on.Among the signatories is former Conservative cabinet minister Chris Alexander, who was also the country's ambassador in Afghanistan and a UN representative in the war-weary nation. He was joined by another former ambassador, William Crosbie, and Canada's former head of aid and development Nipa Banerjee."This letter's signatories wish to remind Canadians that Afghanistan's absence in the recent past from our news headlines should not mean its absence from our hearts," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News."Afghanistan is no longer a topic of political debate in Canada. Yet, we think it is essential to remind our fellow citizens and our political representatives that our continuing engagement does not go unnoticed, and we should remain engaged."'We mustn't give up'Alexander said the plight of the war torn country is "intimate and personal" for many who served there because, in the beginning, it represented much of what the world wanted to accomplish — peace, equality and the elimination of poverty."We mustn't give up. These are the kinds of things we set out to do in the 21st century," said Alexander, who served as Canada's ambassador in Kabul between 2003 and 2005 before becoming the United Nations deputy special representative in the country."I think it is personal for many of us who gave a good portion of our professional lives to it. It is certainly personal for the Afghans."The letter, which was presented last week to the prime minister's office, is seeking the wider "endorsement" of the Canadian public."We are not an organized, registered group, but [we] are bound by our common interest to see the Afghan people achieve peace," Banerjee told CBC News."To some extent, it is an issue of passion. I am not able to explain to you why, as opposed to working in other countries, there is a special passion that grows about Afghanistan."Although the letter has been in the planning stages since the late summer, the plea comes in the immediate wake of a Trump administration decision last week to further draw down U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the cusp of a major aid donor conference in Geneva this week.The letter also released as other countries, notably Australia, grappled with the bloody legacy of the intractable guerilla war that has dragged on for almost two decades.Peace negotiations, now taking place in Doha, Qatar between the Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban, have stalled and violence is raging across the country."Our specific objective is to endorse an inclusive peace process," said the letter, which went on to state that it is critical for "the international community to not abandon Afghans as they navigate the difficult path to a better future."Alexander said that's a crucial point, because "the peace talks are not succeeding."And while the problems of Afghanistan may seem to pale in comparison with the worldwide pandemic and the political fissures in the United States, he said, Canada put "an enormous of energy into stabilizing the country" and it should not be forgotten.Canadian troops spent over a dozen years in the country, fighting a brutal guerrilla war with Taliban extremists. The combat operations, and subsequent training mission, cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers.Among the civilian casualties was Glynn Berry, a seasoned diplomat who was killed in a suicide bombing in Kandadar in 2006.
It's been said the COVID-19 pandemic has lifted the veil to reveal some of the horrors that have existed at many of Canada's long-term care facilities.Advocates for improved care and standards — and a shift away from institutional care for seniors — believe now is the time to demand change."This generation deserves way more than they're getting," said Leslie Peers, who says her mother, Marilyn Hindmarch, received substandard care during a five-week stay at a long-term care facility in Edmonton. The stay was brief but fraught with fear, anger and regret for the family.Peers has joined a new group calling itself FACE, which stands for Families Advocating for Compassionate Eldercare. The group is urging the provincial government to make a series of changes at privately run seniors homes that receive public funding, including improved staffing models with a set ratio of one health-care aide for every five residents.Peers believes the ratio at her mother's former care home was one health-care aide for every 15 residents.FACE is also calling for more accountability and enforcement for care-home operators who violate provincial standards and regulations that govern long-term care and supportive living facilities.Two days after her arrival at the publicly funded, privately run facility in March 2019, Hindmarch fell and broke three ribs. Less than two weeks later, another fall left her with a fractured pelvis. Hindmarch, who was 84, was dealing with several medical conditions including dementia when she moved into the facility and was separated from her husband of 67 years.Peers brought her mother's situation to the attention of Health Minister Tyler Shandro, who met with the family in September 2019.The matter was also raised in the legislature by the Official Opposition.The family filed a complaint with the Protection of Persons in Care, which found in a preliminary report that staff failed to properly document the injuries and notify senior staff about Hindmarch's injuries and symptoms.An X-ray was ordered for Hindmarch 26 hours after her first fall, when she suffered broken ribs, even though she said she had pain on the left side of her torso, that it hurt when she breathed. The report stated health-care aides did not report those symptoms to Hindmarch's physician and no one offered to call 911. The incident was not reported to Alberta Health as required.The preliminary investigation recommended the facility update its fall prevention strategies and post-fall policies.Twelve days later, Hindmarch fell again and fractured her pelvis. A preliminary investigation revealed staff didn't document the incident properly or relay Hindmarch's report of pain and evidence of bruising to a physician. A third investigation revealed several pressure sores on Hindmarch that were not documented, assessed or monitored.Peers says the family made the decision to move her mother out of the facility and she stayed with her mom for five days before the move to another centre was finalized because she felt her mother was not safe. They transferred her to a private facility where she was reunited with her husband. Their final stay together was brief as Hindmarch died three months later. 'I want it out there for everybody to see'Crystal McAteer says 2019 was also a year filled with anxiety, fear, anger and personal loss.As mayor of the Town of High Level, Alta., she led her community through a state of emergency when it was threatened by the Chuckegg Creek wildfire.The fire forced the evacuation of a number of areas, including a long-term care home in Manning, where her father, Henry Lawrence, was a resident. He was airlifted to an acute care facility in Fairview. McAteer says her father's condition rapidly deteriorated after he developed a bed sore that became infected. He was eventually returned to his care home in Manning, where a doctor told McAteer the infection may have been the result of lengthy exposure to soiled adult diapers, she says.Lawrence stayed in Fairview for about four weeks before he was transferred back to the long-term care home in Manning. He died five days later at the age of 88.She believes her father's death is the result of the poor care that he received. McAteer says the staff at the acute care hospital may have been overwhelmed following the arrival of seven high need patients who were transferred to the facility. An investigation by Protection of Persons in Care found in a preliminary report that Lawrence did not receive adequate nutrition or medical attention during his stay at the acute care facility, which resulted in "serious bodily injury."McAteer, as one of the founders of FACE, is imploring the government to improve seniors' care in Alberta."We want compassionate care and we want accountability," McAteer said from her home in High Level. McAteer says she has several questions, including how often her father was changed, how his bedsore was treated, how often he was bathed and how long did he have to sit in dirty adult diapers. "My dad must have laid in his Depends for over 12 hours at a time. That's just not humane," she said.Improved seniors' careIn addition to improved staffing at continuing care facilities, FACE wants to see "strengthened legislated penalties" for service providers who fail to meet care and accommodation standards. It would also like to see unannounced inspections of facilities and steep fines for operators who are found to be non-compliant, and it wants those inspection reports made public.It's also pushing for a shift away from institutional care and wants the government to fund personal care homes at the same per-resident level as long-term care facilities. It wants the government to "immediately implement innovative pilot projects through the province to move beyond the one-model system of institutional care for seniors."Personal care homesEdmonton-based ExquisiCare is an example of a privately run facility where residents receive no government funding. The company offers assisted living, long-term and palliative care in "purpose built" homes for up to 10 people in a residential setting.The company's president and CEO says the government should put the needs of seniors first by allowing continuing care subsidies to follow the person, not the facility. "Right now, unfortunately, we don't fit into the government-funded system," said Dawn Harsch."For people who want to live in a smaller, more home-like environment, they should still be supported by their government to live where they want to live," said Harsch.But at $8,000 per month, it's an expensive option.Lorie Grundy knows firsthand what it's like for her family to lose government funding for her mother, but it was a decision they took on their own after her 100-year-old mother suffered physical abuse at a publicly funded long-term care home in Edmonton. Dorothy Forbes's arms were bruised and cut from her wrists to her shoulders during an incident with a health-care aide in February. Grundy believes it happened at bed time when Forbes was being asked to get changed into her pyjamas."I wheeled mum up to the desk on the unit and asked the nurse, 'what happened?' "And she looked at them [her mother's arms] and she was quite taken aback and she said, 'I don't know,'" said Grundy.The family moved Forbes to a private facility operated by ExquisiCare nine days later. The $5,700 monthly government subsidy was discontinued and the family is now paying $7,900 per month. Grundy would like the government to make the subsidy available for everyone regardless of whether they choose publicly funded, privately run facilities or fully private personal care homes."The government subsidy should be provided to every Alberta citizen who needs long-term care," she said.FACE launched its website this month and is hoping people sign the petition that demands the government make changes to improve patient care. In an email to the CBC, a spokesperson for Alberta Health says the government is reviewing continuing care legislation "to ensure we have the framework in place to protect those in care."The spokesperson said other work includes a separate review "of the facility-based continuing care system" in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has "disproportionally impacted continuing care facilities."Leslie Peers knows her group faces a monumental challenge trying to convince the government to make changes. "I think we just said, 'we have to do this,'" she said."A lot of us are doing it in honour of our parents who have passed away.""They cared about their communities. They cared about others. And so, in my particular case, my father advocated all the time for people who needed support, needed a voice, for they didn't have it. So, in some ways, it's his legacy that I am following through on," said Peers.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.