An F/A-18 jet takes off from the Naval Air Facility El Centro in California, and luckily we have front row seats!
An F/A-18 jet takes off from the Naval Air Facility El Centro in California, and luckily we have front row seats!
Canada's main share index is set to extend its rally over the coming year as the likely rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine bolsters prospects for the economically sensitive financial and resource stocks that dominate the index, a Reuters poll found. "The run-up in stocks will likely not end in 2021 as (U.S.) stimulus likely comes early in the new year, vaccines start to get distributed in the second half of the year and most companies go back to normal in the latter part of 2021," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. A vaccine rollout would "benefit Canada more than most countries because of the large proportion of value and cyclical stocks on the TSX," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
Vendredi dernier, le quotidien Le Journal de Québec a publié l’annonce du retour de l’éolien dans la ligne de mire d’Hydro-Québec pour 2021. Le député de Matane-Matapédia Pascal Bérubé a réagi à cette nouvelle, qu’il définit de majeure pour la région dans un contexte de relance économique du Québec. Le chef parlementaire du Parti québécois a d’ailleurs validé l’article journalistique auprès du gouvernement, dont le ministre des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, qui lui a confirmé l’intérêt renouvelé de New York pour l’électricité verte du Québec. « Cette nouvelle est importante pour nous, alors qu’elle tend à démontrer un virage du gouvernement de la CAQ sur le développement de l’éolien », a répété Pascal Bérubé. Il réitère que cette relance ouvrira des portes pour le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie. « Il y a également la possibilité d’exploiter d’autres filières pour s’assurer de notre sécurité énergétique », a-t-il rappelé. Des négociations sont en cours pour remettre le projet d’Apuiat sur les rails, ce même projet sur lesquels les élus régionaux misaient pour la survie de Marmen dans l’Est. Pascal Bérubé a doublement confirmé que le premier projet serait Apuiat. « Nous n’avons pas d’échéancier évidemment, mais le gouvernement du Québec me confirme qu’il y a une volonté d’aller de l’avant avec l’éolien, ce qui est majeur dans les circonstances. » Et pour le Parti québécois, cela se traduirait en un éventuel appel d’offres pour un projet de l’Alliance de l’Est. Selon le Parti québécois, l’Alliance de L’Est rapporterait pour l’ensemble des communautés de la région et permettrait la consolidation d’emplois chez Marmen, entre autres. « On ne sait pas si ce sera suffisant à court terme pour relancer Marmen », a toutefois précisé M. Bérubé. « D’autant plus que le coût a considérablement diminué ces dernières années, mais ça on le savait déjà. C’est le gouvernement de la CAQ qui a tardé à le réaliser. » Selon lui, les communautés locales pourraient bénéficier de retombées sur plusieurs décennies. « C’est l’ensemble des communautés de notre territoire qui vont chercher des revenus supplémentaires. De plus, le couplage de l’éolien et de l’hydroélectricité est une bonne combinaison d’énergies vertes », a-t-il lancé. Le Parti québécois suivra le dossier de près. Les députés péquistes continuent d’espérer un appui formel de la part du gouvernement québécois. Ils ont publiquement demandé à la ministre responsable du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie, Marie-Eve Proulx, de porter ce projet au conseil des ministres, qui pourrait apporter une fortune à ces régions et étant « très faisable », a noté Pascal Bérubé. « Ce serait une des plus belles annonces qu’on pourrait faire dans les prochaines années », a-t-il affirmé.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Pour arriver à la Côte-Nord, il faut rouler des heures et des heures vers l’est. Ensuite, un contrôle routier nous attend. Avant d’embarquer sur le traversier direction Tadoussac, deux policiers s’arrêtent à chaque véhicule. « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire sur la Côte-Nord ? » demandent-ils à chaque automobiliste, décourageant ceux qui s’y rendraient par plaisir. La mesure n’est que préventive, mais elle fait partie du plan que chapeaute le médecin-conseil de la Direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord, le Dr Richard Fachehoun. Visage des conférences de presse pandémiques nord-côtières, Richard Fachehoun peut aujourd’hui se réjouir du bilan provisoire de sa région. À ce jour, pour 90 000 Nord-Côtiers, les autorités ne recensent que 200 cas de COVID-19 et 2 décès. La région est une des seules régions du Québec, avec l’Abitibi, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Nunavik et une partie de la Baie-James, à demeurer une « zone jaune ». Le chapelet de villages étendu sur plus de 1300 kilomètres de côte offre un avantage certain, admet le Dr Fachehoun. « La densité de la population est faible. Mais, le principal, c’est vraiment le rôle que joue la population. Si on veut contrôler la situation, c’est la population qui va la contrôler. » Originaire du Bénin, l’homme à l’œil vif a dû longtemps cheminer avant d’en arriver à ce poste stratégique. D’abord médecin généraliste en Afrique de l’Ouest, à « [prendre] en charge des patients atteints de VIH », il arrive dans la belle province en 2008. Entre Montréal et Québec en passant par Gatineau, il obtient ses équivalences québécoises avant de s’établir sur la Côte-Nord, il y a trois ans. La neige « qui fait disparaître les maisons » n’a pas manqué de le surprendre, ni les innombrables sentiers pour combler son besoin de course à pied. « Courir, c’est passionnant. Quoique ces derniers mois, non, parce que les gens parlent beaucoup des ours qui se retrouvent sur la piste cyclable… mais c’est passionnant ! » « Passionnant » aussi que de travailler avec les Autochtones, dit-il. Une passion qui s’est transformée en défi lorsque la COVID-19 a forcé la mise en place d’une « cellule innue ». En début de crise, la haute direction du CISSS s’est réunie avec les élus locaux pour protéger ces milieux tissés serrés. « [Les élus innus] avaient des réponses à tout. Ils étaient proactifs », salue le Dr Fachehoun. Rapidement, des points de contrôle bloquent l’entrée de villages à tous les non-résidents. Puis, des enquêtes épidémiologiques « faites en collaboration avec les services de santé des communautés autochtones » tiennent la pandémie en échec chez les quelque 15 000 Innus de la région. Autre défi pour l’équipe du Dr Richard Fachehoun : le fly in fly out ou, autrement dit, le navettage des travailleurs dans les mines dispersées sur le territoire. Pour assurer le contrôle sanitaire de ces industries jugées essentielles par Québec, les minières ont établi des plans : des cycles de travail plus longs, un nettoyage des navettes aériennes et des mesures d’isolement. « Toutes les minières ont été visitées », assure le Dr Fachehoun. Pour les autres recoins d’autant plus isolés, comme Schefferville, Anticosti ou la Basse-Côte-Nord, l’absence de lien terrestre avec le Québec complique l’offre de soins. Pour prévenir toute éclosion, un isolement est imposé aux voyageurs, doublé d’un test de dépistage au premier et au septième jour après leur arrivée sur place. La logistique du dépistage sur ce territoire de 236 000 kilomètres carrés n’a pas non plus été de tout repos. « Au départ, toutes les analyses étaient faites à Rimouski », explique Richard Fachehoun. Avant que l’échantillon ne traverse le fleuve et que le patient connaisse le résultat, cinq jours pouvaient alors s’écouler. Après avoir mis au point un protocole d’analyse sur place, les résultats sont maintenant connus dans un délai de 24 heures, se félicite le médecin. N’empêche, il encense surtout son équipe pour avoir convaincu les Nord-Côtiers de l’importance des gestes barrières, comme la distanciation physique. « C’est la population qui a le rôle déterminant. Si la population respecte les mesures, on n’aura pas de cas », rappelle-t-il, bien au fait que « les gens sont habitués à faire des “collures” ». Cette « chaleur humaine », qu’il tente à regret de dissoudre chez ses concitoyens, l’avait pourtant bien charmé lors de sa première visite sur la Côte-Nord. À l’époque, il se souvient s’être fait interroger en pleine rue par une citoyenne, curieuse de voir un nouveau visage. « Automatiquement, j’ai fait le parallèle », raconte-t-il. « À Montréal, tout le monde se dépasse. À Québec, sur la piste cyclable ou bien quand on fait de la course, on se salue. Mais ce qui frappe sur la Côte-Nord, les gens t’arrêtent pour te parler. C’est plus inclusif. C’est un petit milieu. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Le 29 octobre dernier, un étudiant de Techniques d’animation 3D et de synthèse d’images du Cégep de Matane, Anthony Técher, a eu l’honneur de recevoir une mention spéciale pour sa bande dessinée « Monsieur H » à l’occasion de l’édition 2020 du concours CégepBD, réunissant près d’une centaine d’inscriptions cette année. En 3e année au Cégep de Matane et originaire de l’île de la Réunion, Anthony Técher a été félicité pour son oeuvre intitulée « Monsieur H », une bande dessinée de quatre planches traitant de la mélancolie moderne et de la sensation de perdre pied, une œuvre ayant vu le jour à l’occasion du confinement du printemps dernier. Malgré le contexte de l’édition 2020, 94 inscriptions ont été enregistrées au concours, qui est organisé par le Collège de Valleyfield depuis 1996. Les planches soumises ont été évaluées selon différents critères comme la qualité technique, les illustrations, la composition des éléments narratifs et l’originalité du scénario. Si Anthony Técher n’a pas figuré sur le podium, il est parvenu à recevoir l’une des six mentions spéciales accordées par le jury. En effet, le jury a souligné le « récit simple » du bédéiste ainsi qu’un « ton mélancolique soutenu par un dessin efficace et un design des personnages réussi ». L’illustrateur Mathieu Benoit, responsable de l’activité, a félicité M. Técher pour son « utilisation imaginative de la typographie et les couleurs choisies qui appuient l’ambiance claustrophobe » dans le récit. M. Técher a eu l’occasion de développer ses compétences artistiques lors de ses études au Cégep de Matane. « Cela fait longtemps que je dessine, mais jusqu’ici c’était surtout sur du papier. Pour ce projet-là, j’ai pu me mettre à fond dans le dessin numérique et développer de nouvelles compétences acquises au cégep. Sans ma formation au cégep, je n’aurais jamais pu me sentir assez à l’aise en digital painting pour participer au concours », a expliqué l’étudiant. Sa copine, Zoé Marchal, qui étudie en Techniques d’intégration multimédia, l’a notamment beaucoup aidé au niveau de l’histoire de la bande dessinée. « Le confinement du printemps m’a permis d’avoir plus de temps pour me pencher sur ce projet. Avant le confinement du printemps, la réalisation de la première planche, entre les heures de cours et les travaux à rendre, m’avait pris environ deux semaines. Après ça, j’étais capable d’en terminer une en trois jours », a commenté le bédéiste, qui avait accès à des tablettes graphiques pour l’aider.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Despite a global pandemic, Victoria, B.C., is still one of the best "small cities" in the world, according to UK-based magazine Monocle.The magazine, which explores urban culture around the world, looked at cities with fewer than 250,000 people for their second annual Small Cities Index. The cities chosen were described as "well-connected cities that offer great business opportunities, a welcoming culture and access to nature."According to the index, Victoria placed No. 5, making a significant jump from 16 just a year ago. Porto, Portugal, took top honours followed by Leuven, Belgium; Itoshima, Japan; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Tomos Lewis, the Toronto bureau chief for Monocle, says the charm of a small city is not feeling lost in an anonymous metropolis."From having spoken to people from a variety of sectors who have lived in Victoria either for a long time or just moved there, that kind of intimacy comes part and parcel with moving to a city like Victoria," said Lewis to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.Cities were graded according to accessibility to international travellers, having "a good, progressive mayor," access to nature and for being warm and welcoming. Ratings also incorporated sustainability, environmentally conscious planning and opportunities for business. The magazine had compliments for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who it said "introduced initiatives to encourage young Canadians and foreigners to relocate here" such as free bus passes for children and bike lanes across the city. It also praised the city's diversifying economy, specifically noting its financial-services and ocean-research sectors, and its literary and food scene.Victoria has seen its fair share of challenges during the global pandemic including increased homelessness, a devastating shut-down of its tourism sector and rising housing costs."We do feel that all cities have their challenges that are particular to that place in question. But we don't think that those should always totally overshadow the other things a city has going for it," said Lewis.He said Victoria's civic attempts to address these issues is what earned it a top spot."This idea of the community first stepping in to try and solve, address and shine a spotlight on what those issues are and try to solve them I think is what gives a place its magic and that's certainly what we found having reported on Victoria for so many years from our vantage point."
Older students will be sent home from school at the end of the month, indoor social gatherings are banned and businesses will face restrictions after COVID-19 cases have surged in Alberta. On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney introduced “bold and targeted new measures to protect lives and livelihoods,” which bans indoor social gatherings, ends in-person learning at the end of the month for kids in Grades 7 to 12 and places limits on some businesses. Kenney declared a state of public emergency. On Nov. 30 all students from Grades 7 to 12 will be learning online from home for the rest of 2021. They'll return to in-person classes Jan. 11, after the winter break. Diploma exams are optional for rest of the school year – students and families can choose to write an exam or receive an exemption for the April, June and August 2021 exams. Younger students and early childhood services will stay in schools until Dec. 18. Between Dec. 18 and Jan. 11, aside from the time they spend on their winter break, they will do at-home learning. “These steps are not being taken lightly,” Kenney said. “These are the minimum restrictions needed now to minimize the damage to the healthcare system.” Indoor social gatherings are now banned across Alberta, a rule that will stay in place until further notice. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Funerals and weddings will be restricted to 10 people with no receptions. “Social gatherings are the biggest problem,” Kenney said. “(Social gatherings are) the key reason why COVID-19 is winning.” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said breaking the rules can result in up to $1,000 for a ticket offence and $100,000 through the courts. Alberta peace officers will be able to deliver fines to anyone violating the limits. The Alberta emergency alert system will send out a notice to all Albertans through their cell phones to ensure all residents know of these changes. All places of worship across the province will need to cap their attendance to one-third of their fire code capacity with everyone inside wearing a mask, sitting with their cohort and social distancing. Kenney said while almost all places of worship are following the current rules around COVID-19, a select few have been not complying, resulting in outbreaks. The premier said most have worked hard to limit the spread and recognizes these institutions are vital part of peoples emotion, mental and spiritual health. These new rules will be in place for three weeks. Many businesses will now be either closed for in-person shopping, open with restricted capacity or open by appointment only. Banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, non-approved/licenced markets and community centres are closed. Children's play places, indoor playgrounds and all levels of sport (professional, semi-professional, junior, collegiate/universities and amateur) are also banned from in-person activities. Sports leagues may apply for exemptions. Kenney said while many are following the rules, there have been nine outbreaks traced back to amateur hockey games in the province. Most retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25 per cent of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code, including retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and technology stores, hardware, automotive, farmers markets and outdoor seasonal markets. Some entertainment services fall under the 25 per cent threshold as well, like movie theatres, museums, libraries, casinos, indoor entertainment centres, indoor fitness, recreation sports and physical activity centres, including dance and yoga studios, martial arts, gymnastics and private or public swimming pools. Other businesses open by appointment only are not permitted to offer walk-in services. Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services. These businesses include personal services such as hair salons and barbershops, esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing and make-up, piercing and tattoo services; wellness services including acupuncture, massage and reflexology; professional services such as lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers; private one-on-one lessons (no private group lessons permitted); hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges. Bars and restaurants can continue in-person dining but must comply with guidelines and those seated at tables together must be part of same household. Masks are now mandatory inside all workplaces Edmonton, Calgary and their surrounding areas. The premier said much of the COVID-19 spread is happening inside workplaces. A full list of public health measures can be found on Alberta's website. On Tuesday, Alberta reported an additional 1,115 cases of COVID-19. That's lower than the past few days, but Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that was because there were fewer tests, some 13,500, with a provincial positivity rate of 8.3 per cent. Sixteen deaths were announced on Tuesday from COVID-19, and over the past two weeks 103 people died from the virus. There are currently 348 hospitalizations with 66 people in ICU. The province has lost 492 residents in total to COVID-19. The average age of death is 82 years. There are currently 13,349 active cases in the province, the most in the country, with the bulk of them being in the Edmonton (6,128 cases) zone. The premier said continuing care cases have quadrupled since Oct. 1. “My heart goes out to their loved ones and all those grieving."Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
Tudor and Cashel Township has a new Finance and Asset Management Committee. During their council meeting on Oct. 6, a motion was brought forth by Councillor Bob Bridger and seconded by Councillor Roy Reeds to direct Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, to draft a procedural bylaw to create this committee, and in another motion, also brought forth by Bridger and Reeds, directed Carrol to advertise for volunteers to participate in this new committee. Council sees the move as a cost saving measure, which would also draw upon the financial acumen of some of its residents to move forward with its financial and asset management plans. Carrol foresees the first meeting to take place in January 2021. On Oct. 6, during their council meeting, council directed Carrol to draft a procedural bylaw for the creation of a Finance and Asset Management Committee. They also directed Carrol to advertise for volunteers to participate in this new committee. At their next council meeting on Nov. 3, a bylaw to establish the new committee and the procedures governing the committee proceedings were passed with motion 2020-293, brought forward by Reeds and seconded by Bridger. Mayor Libby Clarke says that council felt that having an asset management and financial committee would save money for the township. “Considering we pay approximately $30,000 to have an asset management study done for the township and the firm that does it uses information gathered and provided to them by the township. Because the township has this information first hand, it was felt that if we had an asset management committee this could be done internally and along with other obvious benefits it would definitely be a cost saving factor,” she says. Clarke stresses that council wants to ensure that they have the finances to continue to provide the services that they provide now to their ratepayers and that these services will continue into the future. Carrol explains that finance management and asset management are two processes that are quite connected. She says that the province approved a regulation on municipal asset management planning in late 2017 that set timeframes for adapting the municipalities asset management plan to meet these regulations, and that the township continues to meet them. “The council understands the benefits of a strong asset management and financial plan and they realize that they need to use their asset management plan to ensure that they have the finances to continue to provide the level of services that they do at this time going into the future. Council recognizes that there areratepayers that have a strong background in this field and that their input and assistance through the formation of a committee may help develop the policies and procedures that will guide council in their decision making in the future,” she says. Councillor Noreen Reilly sees the new committee as a value to taxpayers, as it can maintain and update the plan and identify and include all township assets and make it their own. “The township also has a modest surplus that has been built over the last decade. We have buildings, bridges and roads that need investment sooner rather than later and the committee will be key in identifying, prioritizing and presenting the findings to council. One expectation we have for the committee is designating the surplus into categories such as capital, operations, infrastructure, etc.,” she says. Reilly feels that with a township-built Asset Management Plan and a working committee of surplus allocation, the township will remain in good financial health. “I often resist the formation of new committees until it is proven that taxpayers will benefit. I believe this committee will do just that,” she says. Bridger is cautiously optimistic about the new committee, and feels that if it is composed of the right people, it will provide council with options on how best to use township resources to maintain and grow their assets going into the future. “I believe the major impetus in the formation of this committee was due to the growing unrest from a great number of people on how the township spends the tax dollars we receive from our residents,” he says. He mentions two people who have come to council and asked these questions about how their tax dollars are being spent, Pat Schad on Steenburg Lake and Dave Hederson on Jordan Lake. He also mentions that he is friends with both Schad and Hederson. Specifically, he says that Schad’s concerns are with the amount of taxes collected from the residents of South Steenburg Lake Road and what they feel are the lack of services provided in return. Hederson, a retired CFO with McDonald’s Canada, also has those concerns as well as questions about the amount of money Tudor and Cashel has in its reserves and what it is for. Going forward, Bridger would like the township to explore what it would take to encourage people to become full time residents of Tudor and Cashel, to spend their money locally, and perhaps spend some of the township’s reserves to upgrade services to encourage that future growth. “These are just a few of the issues I would hope that this committee could help give council some learned direction going forward, especially if it’s composed of people with a greater knowledge of financial matters than our current council has,” he says. Carrol says that she will be advertising through social media and the township newsletter to assemble the new committee, and she foresees the first meeting being held in January. “If things go very smoothly, we may be able to have an introductory meeting in December, but it would be more so to allow members the opportunity to meet each other and give some input as to where they would like to begin. There have been members of the community reaching out with an interest in the committee and I find this very exciting and hopeful,” she says. “I can see this being a very beneficial committee, with members that are working together for the municipality as a whole.”Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
More community drop-in spaces, places to make and see art or learn something new, could be coming to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside if council approves a proposal to loosen zoning restrictions on storefronts in the neighbourhoods. Current city rules require storefront spaces be used for retail, health care or law office use. But many storefronts on East Hastings and other streets are sitting empty, even as homelessness has grown and many non-profits have had to limit the number of people allowed inside because of COVID-19 precautions. In May, the Army and Navy department store announced it would be closing after decades of operating in the neighbourhood. Owner Jacqui Cohen said the decision to close came after “insurmountable” losses caused by COVID-19. Tom Wanklin, a city planner who focuses on the Downtown Eastside, said there’s an opportunity to make better use of the closed storefronts. “What we are going to be doing is asking council to see if they would be willing to put it out to a public hearing to allow community-serving uses, including social uses, educational uses, local employment creation,” he said. Arts and cultural space is another potential use. “We’re working... to be able to know how many affordable spaces might be available, what is lying vacant, and talking to interested landlords as to freeing up some of those spaces,” Wanklin said. The request from the city planners is on the agenda for today’s council meeting. If council approves the idea, it will go to public hearing sometime in January, a process that lets people sign up to speak to city council about whether they support or oppose the proposal. The zoning changes are proposed for East Hastings between Carrall Street and Heatley Street; for Main Street between East Hastings and Alexander Street; and Powell Street between Main Street and Jackson Avenue. Organizations like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre have been calling on the city to fast-track safe outdoor spaces, like patios, to help residents continue to access services in a physically distant way. Wanklin said city staff are now close to approving a patio space for the women’s centre, but many other organizations in the neighbourhood have the same need for more space. “With trying to create distancing, non-profits need more space in order to do that and bring people in,” said Mary Clare Zak, a social planner who has been working with Wanklin on the idea. They probably need twice as much space to do the same programming, she said. While some neighbourhood advocates have questioned whether the Army and Navy storefront could be put to some other use, Zak said city staff have not had any recent talks with Cohen. Zoning for most of Vancouver’s main shopping areas is designed to encourage streets full of retail shops open to the public. But COVID-19 has shown there needs to be more flexibility in how storefronts are used, city planners say. Zak said changes to storefront zoning in the Downtown Eastside could be a model for other areas of the city. “Non-profits, it doesn’t matter where you are, they’re all struggling with space capacity right now,” Zak said. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:21 p.m. EST on Nov. 24, 2020:There are 341,503 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 134,330 confirmed (including 6,887 deaths, 116,624 resolved) _ Ontario: 106,510 confirmed (including 3,519 deaths, 90,074 resolved) _ Alberta: 49,536 confirmed (including 492 deaths, 35,695 resolved) _ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved) _ Manitoba: 14,558 confirmed (including 248 deaths, 5,633 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 6,883 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,919 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,227 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,075 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 450 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 350 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 323 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 295 resolved) _ Nunavut: 144 confirmed (including 2 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved) _ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 24 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 341,503 (0 presumptive, 341,503 confirmed including 11,608 deaths, 272,850 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said New Brunswick has had 451 cases.
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy.The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement Tuesday that the decision from special prosecutor Peter Wilson brings the matter to a close after years of investigations and charge assessments.Wilson's mandate included considering the possible prosecution of people accused of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors, as well as polygamy-related offences, the prosecution service said. In assessing charges, Wilson said he considered relevant case law and followed the test set out by the prosecution service, which states Crown counsel must measure all the available evidence against two factors: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires prosecution.The exploitation charges recommended by investigators were, with one exception, the same as those submitted to his predecessor Richard Peck in 2006, Wilson said in a statement."In addition, the complainant statements relied upon were, for the most part, taken during a 2005 RCMP investigation and are, therefore, exactly the same statements considered by Mr. Peck."Wilson was appointed as a special prosecutor in 2012 after Peck decided not to continue his mandate.There was some new evidence relating to allegations of sexual exploitation involving one person, which Wilson said he considered but ultimately found many of the same problems that previous prosecutors had identified with the proposed charges."A significant problem common to all of the proposed sexual exploitation counts is that they would have to be prosecuted with unco-operative witnesses," he said.The complainants, according to their statements and police reports, "seem content with their situation as plural wives," he said, adding the result is a case that would "turn entirely on circumstantial evidence."Wilson said the proposed charges also didn't meet the public interest test."In many instances, the alleged sexual exploitation occurred years if not decades ago. A prosecution would likely cause significant emotional distress to complainants who have emphatically rejected any notion that they are now or were ever victims."James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two rival leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were convicted in a B.C. court of practising polygamy in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and probation.Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail last year for taking a 15-year-old girl into the United States to be married.Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for removing a 13-year-old girl across the border.In his statement, Wilson said investigators recommended the prosecution of three suspects and submitted new information earlier this year in relation to the alleged removal of two other children who subsequently married members of the same sect in the United States. In each case, Wilson said, there was no substantial likelihood of conviction, so he declined to approve the charges.Insp. Brent Novakoski, the senior investigating officer for the RCMP’s southeast district in B.C., said the announcement "concludes a lengthy, extensive and complex investigation that has spanned two decades, two countries and involved a number of legal firsts."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:38 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 941 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with 10 deaths.Health officials say there are 7,732 active cases along with 248 hospitalizations.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are reiterating their plea for residents to avoid social gatherings.The province is also asking indoor physical activity sites, such as yoga studios and gymnastics centres, to suspend operations as health officials work to establish new guidelines.\---7:37 p.m.Alberta is bringing in tougher COVID-19 restrictions that include limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.Premier Jason Kenney says there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.He says students in Grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.Kenney adds that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas.The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.The province reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday and 16 more deaths.\---3:10 p.m.New Brunswick has revised the number of new COVID-19 cases it is reporting today.It now says it has five new cases, three in the Saint John region and two in the Moncton region.\---3 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting 175 new cases of COVID-19 for a seven-day average of 209.Health officials say 105 people are in hospital, with 20 receiving intensive care.Opposition leader Ryan Meili says because of the rising spread of the virus, Premier Scott Moe should convene a task force to develop a more co-ordinated approach to handling the pandemic.Moe had been scheduled to provide an update Tuesday afternoon, but it was postponed until Wednesday.His office says further public health measures are being developed which will be announced tomorrow.\---2:20 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 37 new cases of COVID-19 today, for a total of 87 active access across the province.Premier Stephen McNeil said during an update the majority of cases were identified in the Greater Halifax Area.The province is also announcing new restrictions in the Halifax Regional Municipality starting this Thursday at midnight.The new restrictions include the closure of in-person dining for restaurants in the HRM as well as the closure of public libraries, museums and First Nation gaming establishments.\---1:42 p.m.Manitoba health officials have announced 471 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the health-care system is near its capacity and the numbers must come down. He is urging people to stay home as much as possible.\---1:40 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19, most involving people under 30.Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region, including two people under 20 and one person in their 30s.The other two cases are in the Moncton region and both are people in their 20s.New Brunswick now has 93 active infections, with 450 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---1:10 p.m.Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is working on an "end-to-end" chain for handling new COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they're delivered to Canada.That includes buying 126 freezers, including 26 ultra-cold ones, to hold millions of doses of vaccines that need to be kept at extraordinarily low temperatures.The government is also seeking private bidders to run the logistics, and determining whether the military has a role to play.Anand says storing and transporting vaccines safely is a top priority, especially when they have short shelf lives.Government officials say manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates are emphatic that their products not go to waste, which also means deliveries won't start until Health Canada has approved them for use.\---1 p.m.Yukon is imposing a mandatory mask order, effective Dec. 1, as it tries to control the spread of COVID-19.Premier Sandy Silver says the order will cover everyone using public indoor spaces, although children younger than two and people with certain medical conditions will be exempt.The territory has had no new cases of the virus since announcing Monday that it had reached 38 total cases, with 14 considered active.The territory's chief medical health officer has told residents to prepare to see more cases in the coming weeks, although he says there is no plan for any sort of lockdown restricting movement within Yukon.\---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.One is a woman in her 60s in the eastern region who is a close contact of a previously known case.The other is a woman over 70, also in the eastern region, who is connected to a cluster of cases in the town of Grand Bank on the Burin Peninsula.Health officials are also warning rotational workers of an outbreak at the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat, B.C.Newfoundland and Labrador has 24 active cases of COVID-19, with 323 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Dr. Theresa Tam says wrestling COVID-19 back under control depends heavily on individual Canadians restricting their activities.Canada's chief public health officer says the country is facing outbreaks in places that didn't have them during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.And after the current second wave hit younger adults first, more and more cases are being reported in older, more vulnerable people.The Public Health Agency of Canada says on an average day in the past week, more than 2,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 70 people died.Tam says we know more now about the virus that causes the illness, and especially how it spreads, but Canadians have to put that knowledge to use by running only essential errands and restricting their social interactions to their own households.\---11:55 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is acknowledging countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany could have some of their citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 before Canadians can get their own shots.He says that's because those countries have their own vaccine-production facilities and Canada doesn't.Rebuilding that capacity will take years, but Trudeau says the federal government has started the work.He says having pre-bought an array of vaccine candidates from foreign manufacturers will help get Canadians effective doses as soon as possible.But he adds it's premature to start circling dates on calendars for when the first doses will arrive.\---11:45 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has bought 26,000 doses of a treatment for COVID-19 from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.At a news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau didn't name the drug but said it had been co-developed with Vancouver's AbCellera Biologics.The two companies announced last March they were co-operating on developing a treatment using antibodies from a patient who had already had the illness.Trudeau says the government has an option to buy thousands more doses.He says vaccines against COVID-19 are on the way but until they're widely available, Canadians need to do everything they can to avoid catching the novel coronavirus.\---11:40 a.m.The Manitoba government says it has issued one ticket and more are expected in connection with a church service on Sunday for allegedly violating the province's ban on public gatherings.The RCMP say they attended the church, in a rural area near Steinbach, and found more than 100 people inside.The government also says 16 tickets have been issued to people who attended an anti-mask rally in Steinbach earlier this month, and more are expected.\---11:15 a.m.The Ontario government is reporting 1,009 new cases of COVID-19 today but a technical issue means the figure is an underestimate. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the issue also means Monday's case numbers were an overestimate. Today's figures include 497 new cases in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The province also reported 14 new deaths related to the virus.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 45 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 1,124 new infections.Health officials said today nine of the 45 deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.Hospitalizations jumped by 21, to 655, and 96 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.The province has reported a total of 134,330 cases and 6,887 deaths since the pandemic began.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. In previous versions, it was reported that hospitalizations in Quebec increased to 665 and that New Brunswick had six new COVID-19 cases.
The province has put Grey-Bruce into the “yellow” stage of its framework, based on the numbers and trends in COVID-19 cases. There were 47 confirmed active case in the two counties as of Nov. 24, with about 250 “close contacts.” “We have been seeing a deeply concerning trend of a significant increase in the number of cases locally, and in the number of close contacts of these cases.,” the press release said. “These findings are indicative of fatigue related to following public health measures.” The shift came into effect Monday. The following are the provincial restrictions in the yellow zones, provided for information for the general public. Those operating in each sector should seek guidance directly from Public Health. The limits in numbers for private gatherings, organized public events and religious services, weddings and funerals remain the same. Among changes are more restrictions on bars and restaurants, sports and rec facilities, personal care services, retail spaces and other businesses private gatherings. Bars and restaurants must only sell liquor from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and must close between midnight and 5 a.m. A limit of six people may be seated together. Limits to the numbers in sports and rec classes are lower: 10 instead of 50 indoors, with spacing increased to three metres. The description of league play remains the same – modified to avoid contact, 50 people per league. In retail, the change is that a mall must have a safety plan, as do personal care service providers, who must take contact-tracing information. “Collectively, it is in our control to change our designation back to Green as soon as we can – but it will take an effort from all of us,” the media release from the Grey-Bruce Health Unit said. The release also reinforced the following: Wash your hands frequently; Watch your distance (ideally 2 m); Wear your face covering correctly; Avoid Crowds; Arrange for outdoor activities instead of indoors whenever possible; Stay home if you are sick. Avoid close contact (unprotected contact within 6ft of each other) with those from outside your household; Avoid travel to areas with higher transmission and minimize non-essential travel. “Be kind, be calm, be safe,” the press release said.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
TORONTO — The thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack might end next month after all.Woodbine Entertainment said Tuesday it continues to have "productive conversations with senior levels" of the provincial government about being able to complete its revamped 2020 thoroughbred racing schedule."We are continuing to have discussions with the government of Ontario about our request to safely complete the balance of the season ending Dec. 13," Woodbine Entertainment said in a statement issued on its Twitter account. "We will provide an update as soon as we can."Based upon the timing of these conversations, Woodbine stated that racing Thursday and Friday nights would be cancelled. If the government decided to permit live racing, the earliest it could resume would be Saturday, which would require entries to be submitted Thursday morning.And if racing is allowed, Woodbine said it will attempt to reschedule the cancelled events.On Sunday, Woodbine Entertainment announced that would be the final day of the '20 season. Several races that were planned for then were cancelled due to weather, including snow, fluctuating temperatures and mixed precipitation.News of the truncated season came two days after the Ontario government revealed its new COVID-19 measures.On Friday, the government moved Toronto and Peel Region -- two COVID-19 hot spots -- into lockdown. That means the shutdown of businesses such as salons and gyms, while restaurants would move to takeout only and retail to curbside pickup.The new restrictions came into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday.Woodbine Entertainment has said it has about 1,300 employees either temporarily or permanently laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It added this shutdown would also negatively impact the about 2,000 horsepeople on the Woodbine backstretch, putting many of them out of work.Under the new restrictions, horses could train only without spectators and not run in actual races. While there's been racing at Woodbine since June, all events have been conducted without fans in the stands.The start of Woodbine's 2020 racing seasons -- standardbred and thoroughbred -- were delayed for several weeks due to the global pandemic before being allowed to begin June 5 with harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park.The '20 thoroughbred card began June 6 at Woodbine.Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbelleville, Ont., will continue. That track is located roughly 64 kilometres west of Toronto and outside of the lockdown boundaries.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A funeral service is to be held on Saturday for an Ontario Provincial Police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Const. Marc Hovingh died Thursday in a shooting on Manitoulin Island that also resulted in the death of a civilian. The Ontario Provincial Police Association says the private service is to be livestreamed. Hovingh, a 28-year veteran of the force, is survived by his wife Lianne and children Laura, Nathan, Elena and Sarah. Hovingh, who was 52, was one of the officers who responded to a call Thursday regarding an "unwanted man'' on a property in Gore Bay, Ont., on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit -- Ontario's police watchdog -- Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after an exchange of gunfire. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's system for paying unemployment benefits is so dysfunctional that the state approved more than $140 million for at least 20,000 prisoners, local and federal prosecutors said Tuesday, detailing a scheme that resulted in claims filed in the names of well-known convicted murderers like Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner.From March to August, more than 35,000 inmates were named in claims filed with the California Employment Development Department, with more than 20,000 being paid, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. At least 158 claims were filed for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits paid“It involves rapists and child molesters, human traffickers and other violent criminals in our state prisons,” Schubert said.The list includes Peterson, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his pregnant wife following a trial that riveted the nation. The California Supreme Court recently overturned Peterson’s death sentence and has ordered a lower court to review his murder conviction.Schubert confirmed there was a claim made in the name of Scott Peterson, but declined to provide further details.Peterson's attorney, Pat Harris, said while Peterson's name surfaced during the investigation, there is no evidence Peterson received unemployment aid from the state.“This investigation, when it's completed, will show that he had not a thing to do with any kind of scheme to get fraudulent benefits,” Harris said.Schubert listed a number of inmates there who had claims filed in their names, including Stayner, convicted of killing four people in or near Yosemite National Park in 1999; Susan Eubanks, a San Diego woman convicted of shooting her four sons to death in 1997; Isauro Aguirre, who was sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in Los Angeles; and Wesley Shermantine, part of the duo dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” for their meth-induced killing rampage in the 1980s and ’90s.Prosecutors said they learned of the scheme from listening in on recorded prison phone calls, where inmates would talk about how easy it was for everyone to get paid. They said the scheme always involved someone on the outside — usually friends or family members of the inmates, who would then receive the benefits.In Kern County, home to five state prisons, one address was used to receive benefits for 16 inmates.“In my nearly four decades as a prosecutor in this state, I have never seen fraud of this magnitude,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.In some cases, inmates used their real names. In others, they used fake names and even fake Social Security numbers. In one instance, an inmate used the name: “poopy britches," Schubert said.“Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” Schubert said.So far, 22 people have been charged in San Mateo County, including six people who were not in prison. Prosecutors said dozens of other investigations across the state are continuing.Prosecutors blamed the Employment Development Department, which has been overwhelmed by more than 16.4 million benefit claims since the pandemic began in March, resulting in a backlog that at one time totalled more than 1.6 million people.But prosecutors said in its haste to approve benefits, the department did not check unemployment claims against a list of prisoners, as many other states do. San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said that when he notified the department about inmates fraudulently receiving benefits, they told him they could not cut off the payments until they were formally charged with a crime.The problem was so bad that on Monday, nine county district attorneys sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for him to intervene.“We face a manifest problem that requires action, not talk,” said McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.Employment Development Department spokeswoman Loree Levy said the agency has been working with the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General on cross-checking claims with inmates, saying they are “pursuing how to integrate such cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country.”In an email to the AP, Newsom called the fraud “absolutely unacceptable.” He said he first learned of the fraud earlier this year, which prompted him to order the department to “review its practices and take immediate actions to prevent fraud and to hold people accountable.”Newsom said he has ordered the Office of Emergency Services to set up a task force to assist prosecutors with their investigation.“While we have made improvements, we need to do more,” Newsom said.___This story has been corrected to say that Cary Stayner killed four people in or near Yosemite National Park; to show 20,000 of 35,000 claims were paid; and to accurately spell the last name of convicted killer Wesley Shermantine.Adam Beam, The Associated Press
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) is once again among the sector’s highest environmental performers, significantly exceeding jurisdictional regulations in North America established by the Green Marine environmental certification program. The port’s performance report reached the highest mark available (5) in environmental criteria related to community impacts, spill prevention, aquatic invasive species, waste management and environmental leadership. It achieved above-average results for greenhouse gas emissions (4) and underwater noise (3). PRPA’s average score was 4.5/5, compared to the North American average of 2.8/5. All of the port’s main clients also performed above average: DP World Prince Rupert achieved 4.2; Ridley Terminals 4.6; and AltaGas 3.0. “The Prince Rupert Port Authority takes immense pride in demonstrating our commitment to environmental stewardship by going above and beyond our regulatory obligations to ensure our operations and practices are sustainable in the decades to come,” Shaun Stevenson, PRPA president and CEO said in a statement. “We are grateful for the guidance and inspiration Green Marine has provided to our Port over the past ten years as we work together to mitigate the impacts of shipping on our environment.” The Green Marine certification program encourages participants to reduce their environmental foot print with concrete actions. The program uses targeted performance indicators for what’s touted as a rigorous, transparent and inclusive way to address key environmental issues. The results are verified and published every two years by third-party auditors. Green Marine’s executive director, David Bolduc, said PRPA was a catalyst for expanding the program outside of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. “It led to many participants joining from all coasts – Pacific North West, Gulf Coast, Atlantic – and this more diversified membership strengthened and added value to the program,” Bolduc said. Full results can be found here on Green Marine’s website. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, his province bending precariously under the weight of record COVID-19 cases, imposed new sweeping public health restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people’s homes.Kenney also announced changes to schools, churches, restaurants and retailers, and banned sports teams from playing and sharply curtailed attendance at weddings and funerals.He said the goal is to slash the rate of infections and keep people alive while preventing the loss of jobs and livelihoods that threaten to make an already dire situation even worse.“This whole thing is just incredibly tough for everyone,” Kenney said Tuesday.“I just never imagined I’d be in this place in public life where I was telling people who could come visit them at home.“We really just felt we had no option given that 40 per cent of traceable cases connect back to private social activity.”Indoor gatherings are banned immediately, but people who live alone can have two personal contacts they are allowed to meet up with.Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people, as are funerals and weddings.Kenney said the government is still working out how officers will enforce the gathering ban, but said there will be not be a “snitch line” for people to report on their neighbours.“(Officers) will be able to write tickets for fines of up to $1,000 per individual who is violating these rules against indoor social activities."He added that police and peace officers will have latitude on enforcement "They will be able to see if there are obvious signs of a large gathering, a lot of cars parked outside somebody’s house, for example," Kenney said. Starting Friday, businesses will remain open at reduced capacity or by appointment only.Places of worship must operate at one-third capacity. Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.And children in grades 7 through 12 will move to at-home learning at the end of the month and other students will follow after Dec. 18.The orders will be reviewed in three weeks.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 of them in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, bringing that total to 492.A day earlier, Hinshaw compared the COVID-19 situation in Alberta to a snowball rolling down a hill, growing in size and speed.Lives and livelihoods have been the crux of the debate in Alberta. Kenney has maintained that the best approach is targeted health restrictions to keep COVID-19 from overrunning the health-care system while keeping the economy from collapsing.Others, including many physicians, infectious disease specialists and the Opposition NDP, have called for sharp, short economic lockdowns, arguing that if the COVID-19 wave isn't stopped, there won’t be an economy left to save.Kenney’s decisions were made after Hinshaw made new undisclosed recommendations Monday to the cabinet subcommittee directing COVID-19 decisions.NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the new restrictions “half-measures” and said they were likely the result of political bargaining instead of advice from public health officials.“We cannot know, unfortunately, exactly what Dr. Hinshaw recommended to this UCP cabinet. But I do not for one second believe it was this,” she said.Mike Parker, head of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, a union representing paramedics and other health professionals, said Kenney tried to find the middle ground and failed.“The measures announced today are inadequate,” Parker said. “(Kenney) continues to put business interests ahead of the well-being of Albertans.”Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the groups supports the move "to move to a combination of in-school and at-home learning that will allow schooling to continue in a safer environment."This is the second time Kenney's government has imposed sweeping rules to combat COVID-19.The province shut down many retail businesses, restaurants, recreation centres and schools during the first wave in March. Most were allowed to reopen in May and June with restrictions. Schools opened again in the fall.In recent weeks, the province has limited public gatherings in areas including Edmonton and Calgary and forced bars and restaurants to stop serving booze by 10 p.m. and to close by 11 p.m.Indoor group fitness and team sports, along with group singing and arts performances, are also banned in several large cities.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — State health officials are asking Alaskans who test positive for COVID-19 to notify people they have been in close contact with because a surge in cases has strained public health resources and created a backlog in contact tracing investigations.Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, said contact tracers “have been forced to triage cases to ensure they are reaching the people most at risk for severe symptoms and those most likely to spread the disease.”“For newly reported cases, contact tracers try to make first contact the day the cases are reported, as well as provide monitoring calls to some of the highest risk individuals,” he said in a statement. “However, due to the delays in the process and some calls that can’t be initiated that first day, we recommend Alaskans call their own close contacts.”A state health department spokesperson did not immediately answer questions about the backlog, including whether additional resources announced in late October were in place. At that time, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state health department said they planned to expand contact tracing using the National Guard and University of Alaska Anchorage staff.The state health department reported 578 new COVID-19 cases among residents, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to nearly 27,670. There have been 115 deaths among residents, including 13 announced Tuesday. Of the newly announced deaths, the department described five as recent and eight as being reported following death certificate reviews.All regions of Alaska are under what the health department refers to as high alert, with widespread community transmission.Health officials previously urged residents to help contact tracers by answering their phones and providing accurate information. Some people don’t want to participate in contact tracing, McLaughlin has said, possibly because of job-related pressures or COVID-19 “fatigue” — being tired of dealing with the pandemic.Anyone can get COVID-19, and there “should be no stigma associated with this highly infectious disease,” Alaska’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said in a news release.The health department said other states also are facing contact tracing challenges.Health officials are urging Alaskans with a new symptom, such as fatigue, fever or shortness of breath, even if mild, to get tested and stay home while awaiting results. If someone tests positive, they are encouraged to contact those they have been within 6 feet of for longer than 15 minutes so those people can quarantine and get tested.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
A woman from Georgia says her family's reunion was saved by a man from British Columbia who drove them to the Alaskan border after they got stranded in a snowstorm and appealed for help.Lynn Marchessault began her trip with her two children, two dogs and a cat on Nov. 10 from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in the U.S. military."I had never driven in the snow," she said in an interview on Monday. "It was like a whiteout kind of snowstorm. I wasn't really familiar with that, or even knew what it was called until this day."The family's pickup truck was pulling a U-Haul and did not have the appropriate winter tires to get through the winding, mountainous roads when they stopped at a highway lodge for temporary workers in Pink Mountain, B.C., on Nov. 17.She began looking for someone passing through the area who could drive them when Gary Bath, a Canadian ranger and military veteran, stepped up to the wheel.Marchessault said she and her husband talked to Bath and his family on the phone before they embarked on the rest of their trip."I felt good about it from the beginning, like I knew these were good people and that it was a good choice to make," she said.Marchessault said her trip was supposed to have taken place about two months ago but it got delayed by COVID-19, adding that she was "naive" about the road conditions.Bath, who lives in Fort St. John, said he wanted to help the family be together for Christmas, and he was doing something nice for fellow service members."A little bit like Santa Claus in this case," he said with a chuckle.Marchessault said the 1,700-kilometre drive to the Alaskan border near Beaver Creek, Yukon, is "not a road for the faint of heart.""Oh my goodness, beautiful views, amazing views, but some of those parts of the road were a little bit scary for me," she said laughing."I mean, Gary's just over there driving like a champ, you know, been doing it his whole life. But for me, I was like 'Oh my goodness.' Sometimes I would tell him I have enough anxiety and sweaty palms over here in this seat for the both of us and then he would just kind of chuckle." Bath said the two-day trip was "quite windy and really bumpy" but "not too bad."The two families hope to meet up soon."I'm so glad that the whole thing was over, but it was so hard to say goodbye to Gary and leave him," Marchessault said."We really bonded. I think we've become good friends. He's a great and grand guy and his wife is pretty awesome."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press