Stacey Abrams on translating the energy from protests into institutions of policy
Stacey Abrams on translating the energy from protests into institutions of policy
A historic meeting between Israel's prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince has sent a strong signal to allies and enemies alike that the two countries remain deeply committed to containing their common foe Iran. Last Sunday's covert meeting in the Saudi city of Neom, confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh, conveyed a coordinated message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that Washington's main allies in the region are closing ranks. It was the first publicly confirmed visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader and a meeting that was unthinkable until recently as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.
Executive government ministries, agencies and CIC Crown corporations in Saskatchewan are moving toward more employees working from home.A statement from the province said management teams are planning to reduce the number of employees in offices while ensuring services can still be offered to Saskatchewan residents. The statement said not all positions will be able to work from home or remotely. "As each organization has its own operational needs and service continuity plans and the numbers are changing on an ongoing basis, we don't have an estimate of what per cent of employees will be rotating or working from home," the province said.Last week, the union representing some government employees called on the province to let people work from home.Following complaints from Crown employees, Premier Scott Moe last week said he would revisit the possibility of Crown employees working from home.Barry Nowoselsky, a Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) chairperson, said the union has been expecting the province to move toward work from home for a long time. He said he'd seen numerous news conferences where Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab recommended people work from home where possible."It's late and quite frankly … they've dropped the ball on some of these things," Nowoselsky said. "If they're going to have people start to work from home again, it's a step in the right direction."He said he felt delays from the province in both mandating mask-use and getting employees back to working from home was dangerous, caused avoidable cases of COVID-19 and was ultimately disappointing.Nowoselsky said he wasn't aware of a percentage of employees who were currently working from home, or who would be allowed to work from home with the change, but hoped those numbers would be provided by the government in the near future.
Premier Stephen McNeil continues to refuse calls to release details about how $228 million in unbudgeted COVID-19 stimulus money is being spent. The funding is being used for a variety of infrastructure projects across the province, in part to drive employment during the pandemic.After government officials initially pledged to make the list available, a spokesperson for the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department said last month that it wouldn't happen after all. At the time, McNeil told reporters that all the information about the more than 200 projects was available by cross referencing capital plan documents with the government tender website.The premier suggested the government isn't a research department for reporters and that they do the work themselves.Several reporters at AllNovaScotia.com recently tried to do that work, but fell well short of being able to assemble a complete list using the method suggested by the premier. When that was pointed out to him Thursday, McNeil stuck to his guns about the availability of the information.'It should be available to taxpayers'"I don't know how much more transparent I can be, other than unless you want me to go down and identify every program that the money has come out of," he said Thursday following a cabinet meeting."I don't think Nova Scotians think that's the best use of the premier's time."Part of the challenge assembling the information is that some stimulus work wasn't actually tendered, but rather tacked on to projects that had previously been approved, something Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines confirmed last month.A few of the projects have yet to be announced, said McNeil, and so would not have been posted yet. AllNovaScotia's reporting showed that the projects they could locate did not appear to be disproportionately awarded to Liberal-held districts.Tory Leader Tim Houston said the public has a right to know how the government is spending its money.Houston said he was initially willing to give the premier the benefit of the doubt, but now that reporters have demonstrated just how difficult it is to account for the money, the premier should just call for a list to be produced."There's no reason to hide it," Houston told reporters. "It should be available to taxpayers."'Deliberately and willfully obtuse'NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the premier is being "deliberately and willfully obtuse in obscuring a very simple request" in a way that is consistent with his government's general approach to transparency."I can't imagine why, but it's quite plain that the obtuseness and the obscurity is deliberate on their part," Burrill told reporters."The question is as straightforward as it could possibly be."McNeil told reporters that asking for the details to be provided was a case of "people looking for something to complain about.""I don't know what more you want," he said."You're like every other Nova Scotian. [The projects] are on the website. Go look at them."MORE TOP STORIES
If you're venturing into the world of Black Friday sales — whether online or in-store — the owner of one e-commerce business in Port aux Basques says there are some things to be on the lookout for, as some deals aren't all they appear to be.Jay Mathur says some retailers use limited quantity or 'buy now' campaigns to keep people's shopping impulse high.Some products, such as televisions, even have specific models that are rolled out during Black Friday events, he said, but may have less functions than other models. He said most lower-end models, specifically in televisions, will be the ones on sale with dramatic price reductions. "Those TV models are actually very limited. They have a limited number of [outputs]. Maybe they'll only have one HDMI port, no ethernet port, it won't have any smart features, the processor may be very slow, it may not have a lot of memory," Mathur told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show."So the door-buster model that you're actually buying, it may actually be one of the worst TVs for sale."Mathur said looking at the fine print on products, especially in electronics, will tell shoppers everything they need to know, and people should balance that against the "non-holiday" model.Most products sold online will have a reviews section, written by happy or disappointed shoppers which should be used to help in decision making, according to Marthur.But it's important to remember that some product reviews are compensated, he said, meaning the company paid for the review. "That doesn't mean that it's fake, it just means that the retailer provided the product for free or maybe gave some additional incentive, but consider maybe the reviews you're reading may not all be 100 per cent factual," he said. American tradition comes to CanadaBlack Friday means deep price cuts for shoppers looking to save a little extra on holiday gifts for friends and family as December draws nearer. The annual savings event that has become a staple across the United States has quickly become a save-the-date for many Canadian consumers' calendars.Tom Cooper, an associate professor in the Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University, said the event became popular first within border provinces who would make the journey to the United States to save on gifts, well before the boom in online shopping. "Now it's almost become part of the culture whereby people start to prepare their Christmas shopping and start to think about, 'Is this a good time to go out, is this a good time to get the best deals of the season?'" Cooper told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. Cooper said the event has eclipsed Boxing Day sales events, in which companies are pivoting to have their stock out ahead of Christmas rather than after. Now in the middle of a pandemic, and the current state of COVID-19 surges in pockets across Canada, Cooper said he believes most shoppers will now hold out until Cyber Monday — a similar concept to Black Friday but with a focus on online shopping. Shopping localCooper said he would like to see a local Saturday event rather than Black Friday, where people flock to their local retail stores to buy gifts. For small businesses, especially after a year in which many have closed and many more have struggled due to the pandemic, Cooper said the holiday season is going to be important for them."The benefits stay in the community, the benefits stay locally, both in terms of jobs but also in terms of making this a better place to live," he said. "Although chains are great, and I'll still continue to shop at Sportchek and all those other great chains that provide really good products that you can't necessarily get locally, if there is a choice then I think, once again, this is a great time to help local retailers," he said.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Dix ans après l’incendie qui a complètement détruit leur salle communautaire, les citoyens de Saint-Charles-de-Bourget doivent patienter encore un peu avant de pouvoir la fréquenter. La construction du nouvel édifice de 108 par 60 pieds, réalisée par l’entrepreneur général Isofor d’Alma, a pris un retard de trois mois, explique le maire de la municipalité, Bernard St-Gelais, en raison de l’arrêt de production de certaines usines, au printemps dernier, provoqué par la pandémie de COVID-19. « En mars, il y a eu un arrêt de production dans les usines. Chantiers Chibougamau, le fournisseur des poutres lamellées collées, les a fait traiter chez Boréale à Jonquière », explique M. St-Gelais. La rareté de la main-d’oeuvre explique également le retard. Lundi, des travailleurs s’affairaient à installer une section de la toiture malgré la première tempête qui faisait rage. Une visite autorisée à l’intérieur a permis de constater que les utilisateurs disposeront d’un immeuble somptueux, en mars prochain, moment prévu pour la livraison. La présence de poutres de bois aux teintes foncées au plafond intérieur était visible. En raison du retard dans les travaux, l’entrepreneur procédera à l’asphaltage du stationnement et à la finition des travaux de maçonnerie au retour des beaux jours. Le nouveau centre est construit à proximité de la patinoire extérieure et du terrain de balle. M. St-Gelais a mentionné que la grande salle aménagée pourra accueillir 200 personnes. Des locaux pour le Cercle des fermières ainsi que la Maison des jeunes seront aménagés, mais rien n’est prévu pour l’accueil d’un service de restauration, a mentionné le maire. L’investissement nécessaire à la construction du centre s’élève à 2,1 M$, dont 1,4 M$ proviennent du ministère des Affaires municipales via le programme Réfection et construction des infrastructures municipales. La MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay, via le Fonds de développement des territoires, y a contribué pour une part de 232 000 $, tandis que la Caisse Desjardins d’Arvida-Kénogami y est allée d’une somme de 50 000 $. Le trésor municipal assume une part de 300 000 $.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The protesters demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader who seized power in the last coup in 2014, but say they do not want him replaced by another general. Prayuth's putsch was the 13th successful coup since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932. "The 14th coup will not happen because the people will come out and resist," one of the protest leaders, Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, told the crowd.
Tracy Cloud can still remember the eruption on social media in response to the behaviour of a high-ranking Edmundston police officer who appeared to laugh when a reporter asked him a question about the shooting death of Chantel Moore. "It was shared many times over and over within our communities," said Cloud, a member of Metepenagiag First Nation. "There was just an explosion of many comments and of course, none of them were positive."Cloud says she's puzzled as to why the officer wasn't directed to participate in a localized cultural training program in response to a complaint filed against him by TJ Burke, the lawyer who represents Chantel Moore's estate. According to Burke, Insp. Steve Robinson has been ordered by the Edmundston police chief to take the Indigenous Canada course available online through the University of Alberta.Cloud is puzzled as to why the police are not using resources closer to home. She says the nine Mi'kmaw communities of New Brunswick, under the non-profit umbrella organization Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Inc., or MTI, do have programs that explain treaty principles and their historical context."In fact, this afternoon, we have a treaty session with about 85 people that will be happening through one of the federal government departments," said Cloud.The MTI also offers a regional variation of a teaching tool known as the blanket exercise. That's when a group of people, for example, a class of high school students, would gather in one room and stand in a space where the floor is covered with blankets that represent the land inhabited by Indigenous people that eventually became Canada.Participants read about chapters of Indigenous history, including the impact of disease, poverty, residential schools and the Indian Act. Progressively, they themselves are increasingly confined to fewer blankets and less space or rejected altogether from the circle. "We have people walking away in tears," said Cloud. "People who say, 'Had I known, I could have done better."Cloud says the cost to facilitate a program depends on factors such as preparation time, staff time and travel expenses. "The exercise is just a couple of hours long. People are able to put their feet in our moccasins for that brief moment and reflect on generations and hundreds of years of history and what Indigenous people have gone through."Cloud says MTI has been trying to get more people involved, including non-governmental agencies. "Really, anyone who's willing to have us in, we're happy to provide the discussion."Education shouldn't be discipline Lawyer Derek Simon, who works as legal counsel for MTI, says education shouldn't be used as a sanction. "I work for the Mi'kmaw chiefs in New Brunswick and they've been advocating for some time now for cultural awareness and treaty training and treaty education for all police officers in New Brunswick. They feel that's something that all officers should be receiving as a matter of course and not as discipline for bad behaviour," said Simon.In addition to completing the online course, Burke says Robinson must also meet with a Wolostoqi elder to discuss what he discovered on his journey for knowledge. Simon says it's a good idea but "sits wrong as a sanction.""It's something that should be a standardized part of the police experience," he said.Simon says the Mi'kmaw chiefs want to see Indigenous representation on the New Brunswick police commission.They also want every police department to have an elder they can turn to, who can provide guidance. "So instead of this one officer being singled out and told, 'You've done a bad thing, go speak to an elder about it,' this is something that should be provided as a cultural resource on an ongoing basis," said Simon.CBC News did ask to speak to Edmundston police Chief Alain Lang but he declined to be interviewed. A spokesperson for his office explained that Lang would not comment because under the New Brunswick Police Act (NBPA), disciplinary and corrective measures are confidential.
Ontario resident Madelyn MacNeill considered herself healthy and didn't expect to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery while visiting her parents in Nova Scotia this past summer.Nor did she expect the almost $13,000 bill for ground and air ambulance transportation that arrived weeks after she returned to Ontario."When I opened up the bill and saw it was $12,800, my jaw dropped. I was in quite a bit of shock," the 27-year-old said. "I can't afford to pay that amount of money all upfront. It boggles my mind."MacNeill has been offered an interest-free payment plan of $50 a month. She figures it will take her 21 years to pay off the bill.Back in June, MacNeill, who lives in Toronto, was working from home and hadn't seen her family for a while. She figured she'd drive home to Nova Scotia, self-isolate for 14 days and continue to work out there, while also enjoying some family time.However, on the last day of isolation, MacNeill experienced back problems. Days later, an ambulance was required to take her to the hospital in New Glasgow.Once there, it was determined she had herniated two discs and needed emergency surgery in Halifax, about 150 kilometres away. MacNeill was told there were no ground ambulances available, so she was transported by air and underwent surgery right away. Although she expected a bill for the ground ambulance, she said, "at no time was I told I would be footing the bill for the air ambulance or any sort of cost associated with the inter-hospital transfer."It's a cautionary tale for anyone travelling between provinces, especially during COVID-19. MacNeill said she has Ontario provincial health coverage as well as insurance through her work, and never imagined she would need travel health insurance while in another part of Canada."Every time I travel out of the country, I always purchase traveller's insurance, but I honestly never thought that I would need travel insurance for inter-provincial travel. I always thought in Canada we had universal health care," she said.Out-of-province visitors pay moreAmbulance travel within a province can be pricey and cause financial hardship, a situation highlighted by CBC's Marketplace in 2015.Fees for ground ambulance for provincial residents vary from a low of $45 in Ontario to a high of $385 in Alberta. Manitoba, which in 2015 had the highest ground ambulance fees in the country, has lowered its fee to no more than $250. Some provinces, such as Alberta, provide free ground ambulance service for seniors.All provinces charge non-residents more for ambulance services, though not all provinces post the fees online. Despite numerous requests, some did not provide CBC News with this information.Of those that did, Nova Scotia had the highest fee: $732.95 for ground ambulance for people from other provinces. (The fee for residents is $146.55.)Air ambulance fees are even costlier for out-of-province residents. Of those provinces that post fees or provided information, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia do not charge residents for air ambulance service, but people from other provinces who require it are billed $12,000. Both provinces, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, say the fees cover the cost of providing the service.Health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton said ambulances are not part of the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation that sets out what is universally covered. "It's a complicated business, but when the Canada Health Act was written, the only things that were covered in that legislation that would be insured were things that happened inside a hospital and services that are performed by a doctor," Hampton said.She notes that ambulances in Nova Scotia used to be based at funeral homes and were used for basic transportation in a medical emergency. Today, they are staffed by highly qualified paramedics. "I'm not suggesting that it's an easy issue to fix, but from a public point of view and from a patient point of view, it would make a great deal of sense to me for us to figure out how to get the [ambulance] user fees off the table and come up with a different funding model altogether," Hampton said.She urged people to contact their member of Parliament about rewriting legislation to make ambulances an essential service.Chris Hood, the former president of the Paramedics Association of Canada, agrees. Back in 2015, he told CBC's Marketplace, "You don't pay for a police officer to come to your house when you've got somebody breaking into it. You don't pay for the fire department to come and put your fire out. Why is paramedic service or ambulance service any different? It's the same thing." In an interview last week, Hood said that question remains valid today.Are fees a deterrent to use?Michael Nickerson, president of the union that represents Nova Scotia paramedics, said he hopes fees don't deter anyone from calling an ambulance if they need one."Anecdotally, we've heard from paramedics and patients alike that have concerns around the cost of an ambulance, and that some people have waited and not called at all or drove themselves to the hospital while experiencing a medical emergency," Nickerson said.He worries someone driving to hospital while having a heart attack, for example, could have an accident, injuring themselves further and perhaps others on the road — or worse."There's a danger of losing your life if you're having a heart attack and you're not being treated promptly," Nickerson said. He noted Nova Scotia paramedics are highly trained and the province is one of the few jurisdictions that allows paramedics to administer a medication specifically for heart attacks.The Nova Scotia government said in 2018 there were 1,649 ambulance bills, for a total of about $1.2 million. It said 44 bills were written off, for a total amount of $31,554.80.In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the province said the government has no immediate plans to review the fees.Will McAleer, executive director of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, said travel health insurance is easy to purchase and affordable, but many people don't realize they need it until they have an out-of-province emergency and are facing a big bill. "When you're looking at an interprovincial or within-Canada policy, you can purchase that for a dollar, maybe two dollars, a day," McAleer said. He emphasized the importance of discussing your needs with the insurance provider and identifying any pre-existing conditions prior to buying insurance to ensure you get the coverage you need. Payment options availableAs for MacNeill and her $12,800 ambulance bill, a small portion of it is covered by her work insurance.Most provinces offer an appeal process for those who feel they are unable to pay their ambulance bills, but it varies from province to province. According to government information online, the Nova Scotia Ambulance Fee Assistance Program will use your net household income as the primary eligibility test to determine whether you qualify to have the debt written off. MacNeill said she's been told the appeal criteria in Nova Scotia are very limited and that fees would only be waived if there's a paramedic error. In this case, there was not."The paramedics were very kind and helpful," MacNeill said.
The Nature Trust of New Brunswick is warning that an amphibian reserve in Fredericton has high levels of heavy metal contaminants in the sediment, which could be affecting the frogs. A 2016 Nature Trust report showed levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc all above the probable effect level value set out by the Canadian Sediment Quality guidelines. "We found that there were high levels, especially of lead, arsenic and other elements that are usually found naturally in areas. But unfortunately, the levels that we found in Hyla Park are way above the normal levels that are recommended," said Nature Trust CEO Renata Woodward. Before Hyla Park became a nature reserve, it was a Race Track in the 60s and a dumping ground for years after that.The Nature Trust began leasing the 8.77 hectare park from the city in 1995 and has been working to clean up the site. Adjacent to the wetland, American Iron and Metal has a metal recycling facility. Some lead concentrations were more than 600 times above the national guidelines. Those high concentrations can be damaging to frogs. "The wetland connecting to Hyla Park... those concentrations are extremely high where it would be very likely these amphibians are being exposed to extremely high levels of lead or other metals," said the Nature Trust's stewardship technician Shaylyn Wallace. "It could cause deformities in any of the tadpoles that are hatched out, they could have slowed growth if they're exposed to high metal contaminations."The Trust took its findings to the City. The City hired Stantec to review the findings in 2017."It identified that further assessment was required and it also noted that the source of the pollution was not fully defined, so that's when the city referred the report to the Department of Environment," said Coun. Stephen Chase, chair of the public safety and environment committee. But three years on, the Trust says nothing has happened. "We have made multiple requests," said Woodward, "but because we are dealing with private landowners outside of the Hyla Park, it is bound by confidentiality so (the government) cannot give us any information. "Just getting updates and directions, what we can do, and information -- how the provincially significant wetland will be protected better than it is right now, would be welcome."CBC asked the Department of Environment for an interview, but no one was made available.
The P.E.I. government should place a moratorium on all new high-capacity wells that are not for residential use. That's one of the recommendations from a legislative standing committee examining the Water Act. The moratorium on high-capacity wells on the Island currently only applies to the agriculture sector, and has been in place since 2002.The standing committee on natural resources and environmental sustainability says the moratorium needs to be expanded "until research is available to make evidence-based decisions."PC MLA Cory Deagle, who chairs the legislative committee, said expanding the moratorium would mean the province may not approve things like new car washes, golf courses or food processing facilities — anything that might need high-capacity wells — outside of urban centres served by central water systems. "Our recommendation was that it be extended to all those other sectors to ensure fairness because right now the agriculture sector is singled out," Deagle said in an interview with CBC News. 'Fear that is out in the public'"Our committee is whole-heartedly in agreement that we need to look at the science. And whether that takes three, four, five years to look at the science and make an evidence-based decision on what are the facts in front of us and not really the fear that is out in the public on high-capacity wells," said Deagle.The legislative committee is also calling on the province to immediately proclaim the Water Act. Legislation creating the act passed in the P.E.I. Legislature in December 2017, but the regulations were never finalized which means the act is still not law.Environment Minister Natalie Jameson said she'd like to see the Water Act proclaimed "as soon as possible."The minister said the act will go into effect 90 days after the regulations are approved. That will happen early in the new year, she added. 'Human needs and ecological considerations'But the environment minister is less clear on what will happen to the call for the inclusion of all high-capacity wells in the moratorium."I don't necessarily know if there's been enough consultation around it," Jameson said."I firmly believe that current and future policy decisions need to be science-based. They need to be informed by results of local research and certainly strike a balance between human needs and ecological considerations."When asked where that leaves farmers, some of whom say they desperately need access to high-capacity wells to deal with increasingly dry summers, Jameson said, "My heart goes out to farmers, this year especially, it was an extremely dry year."Jameson said she wants to work with farmers to find a solution.In a statement to CBC News, Jameson's department said expanding the moratorium "may have an additional unintended consequence of encouraging commercial and industrial users to try to set up in cities/towns where there is more of a concern on water use."'Agricultural sector is feeling singled out'The Environment Department statement went on to say expanding the moratorium on high-capacity wells would prevent the province from approving wells for a number of other sectors including aquaculture, food processing, firefighting, fun parks and some larger geothermal heating units. The legislative committee is also recommending government refer all future research proposals on the impacts of high-capacity wells to the legislative committee. Lynne Lund, Opposition environment critic, said while some scientists told the committee that additional high-capacity wells would not impact the province's water supply the issue is "massively more complicated" than that. She wants to see a wider discussion on what sustainable agriculture is going to look like.Until then, Lund said she supports expanding the moratorium on high-capacity wells. "A clear theme that we heard is that the agricultural sector is feeling singled out, that use for high-capacity wells for agriculture doesn't have a different impact on an aquifer than, let's say a high-capacity well for a car wash," said Lund. More from CBC P.E.I.
An Iranian diplomat and three other Iranians went on trial in Belgium on Friday accused of planning to bomb a meeting of an exiled opposition group in France in 2018, the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism. Belgian prosecutors charged Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and the three others with plotting an attack on a rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The rally's keynote address was given by U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police have moved a female transgender Instagram celebrity, Millen Cyrus, to a special cell following public outrage over her initial placement in a male detention cell after she was arrested as a suspect in a drug case.“As for her status on her ID, she is a male, and we do not have a transgender status here. So to avoid something we do not want, we placed her in a special cell by herself. That is our policy on it,” Jakarta Police spokesperson Yusri Yunus said Friday.Cyrus, 21, whose birth name is Muhammad Millendaru Prakasa, has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Her account of her experiences as a transgender woman on YouTube has been viewed more than 6 million times.She was arrested on Sunday in a police raid on a hotel room in which 0.36 grams of crystal methamphetamine was found. Police announced then that she had been placed in the men’s detention cell at Tanjung Priok Port Police Station, following her identity on her ID card.That triggered criticism from rights groups and on social media in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.Yunus said police are still determining whether she was a drug user or dealer.The group Human Rights Watch said moving Cyrus to a special cell was a good decision by police.“Most trans women are imprisoned in male prisons, so they experience sexual harassment there,” said Andreas Harsono, the group's senior researcher in Indonesia.“The simplest one is verbal abuse. Some physical abuse happens too. It is not in the cell at the prison but in closed areas,” Harsono said.He said more than 2,000 LGBT people have been arrested in Indonesia because of their sexual orientation since 2014.LGBT communities have recently come under siege, although homosexuality is not illegal, except in conservative Aceh province.In February, some members of the House of Representatives proposed a bill that would define homosexuality as deviant and require lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to report to authorities for rehabilitation.Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press
After spending nine months and counting doing health outreach work in his home community of Thorncliffe Park, Aamir Sukhera fears that slowing the spread of COVID-19 has become a nearly impossible task."It's a 1.5-kilometre radius of just giant towers with thousands of people," said Sekhra, who is with the local non-profit The Neighbourhood Organization."So we did anticipate having a lot of cases, we just didn't think it would be this high."Like many of Toronto's high-density, low-income neighbourhoods, COVID-19 rates in Thorncliffe Park have outpaced other areas of the city for much of the pandemic.According to data from Toronto Public Health, the area is logging 649 cases per 100,000 residents, nearly three times higher than neighbouring Leaside.Those figures are the result of a combination of deep-rooted systemic issues and a lack of support for low-income residents, according to several community health organizations across Toronto. Tackling those challenges is becoming an increasingly urgent task, they say, as the city enters another lockdown and looks to fend off the second wave of the pandemic."We don't want to be a burden for the rest of our city," Sukhera said. "But the circumstances here prevent people from doing the right thing for the greater community."He said dense high-rises, multi-generational homes and a workforce dominated by front-line essential workers have made it difficult to slow the novel coronavirus."This is the time to just get resources into the hands of those that need it the most," added Cheryl Prescod, executive director of the Black Creek Community Health Centre, where local COVID-19 cases have reached 773 per 100,000 residents.Toronto to roll out 'enhanced' supportsThe City of Toronto on Monday announced what it calls enhanced COVID-19 supports for communities in the city's northwest and northeast corners.Those enhancements include initiatives around testing, including the introduction of some mobile testing and transportation to other testing sites, as well as an education and outreach program that will lean on local agencies."We owe it to the most vulnerable to make sure that extra measures are provided, extra supports are provided in their fight against COVID-19," Mayor John Tory said.The province has also noted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities like Thorncliffe Park and Black Creek. In a COVID-19 modelling update Thursday afternoon, provincial public health officials said "long-standing structural factors" have been shown to increase risk for the disease.But despite those acknowledgements of inequity and expressions of support, community outreach workers say the authorities aren't doing enough to help residents living in the city's pandemic hot spots.Sukhera said programs to assist COVID-19 patients with rent payments and food are a must. Without them, he said people cannot be reasonably expected to strictly follow public health recommendations, since being tested or self-isolating could mean losing a paycheque."There's the right thing to do, and everyone sort of knows what that is," Sukhera said. "But in their defence, they've still got to pay rent and not get their families kicked out of their homes."Despite those obstacles, Prescod of the Black Creek Community Health Centre said her organization will continue its outreach work throughout the winter. She said she's hopeful that gains can be made, but not without more help for communities like hers."Without proper resources and sufficient funds to address some of our broken systems, we cannot hold on to that hope for very long."
Around 2,500 Amazon workers across the country are predicted to take part in walkouts, according to the union Ver.di.View on euronews
Pascale Annoual believes there is healing in quilting. She is spearheading an initiative in collaboration with the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiohtià:ke and Arts Racines & Therapies Montreal to bring comfort and community — through quilting — to the seven children of Joyce Echaquan. Echaquan was an Atikamekw woman from Manawan who died two months ago, shortly after recording herself as staff at Joliette Hospital hurled racist insults at her.Now, Annoual is inviting people to make squares for seven quilts that will be gifted to each of Echaquan's children. "We get into this sense of not knowing what to do or how to respond," Annoual said. "Quilting, sewing and doing something like this turns into a meditative time, so we're active, but at the same time we're reflecting and sharing our thoughts and feelings.""We're able to translate that in a sense into an object that offers that comfort, and that reassurance, and that presence, to say 'we're here with you, and we're here as long as you need us to be'," she added. As an art therapist, Annoual says coming together for a collaborative project like this one can help people address their grief, especially when the grief is collective, and the death had significant public attention.She hopes the initiative will show Echaquan's children they're not alone, and they have a community to support them for the long haul. "We can't go back and change the past, but we can certainly signify to the children to whom we're going to be offering this comfort quilt that we're there and we're present," she said, adding it's a way for people to share the burden. Annoual said whereas buying something is a quick gesture, slowing down to create a gift for someone — and imbuing it with the symbolism of a warm, comforting blanket — is more meaningful. She explained that with each mindful stitch, the quilt, made together as a collective, has as great an impact on the volunteers as on the project's recipients. She hopes the quilters can also find ways to integrate Echaquan's favourite colour, purple, to be a "positive, strong and courageous reminder of her life.""We hope it will have all the effects of comforting," she said. Annoual has been in touch with Echaquan's uncle, to make sure the gift would be well received, and so as not to impose on Echaquan's husband and children. Anyone looking to get involved can visit the 7 quilts for Joyce Echaquan Children Facebook page. Calls for government to adopt Joyce's PrincipleThe quilting initiative comes as Indigenous leaders renew their calls on the government to adopt Joyce's Principle. Joyce's Principle, named after Echaquan, is a document created by the council of the Atikamekw Nation and the Atikamekw Council of Manawan, which aims to guarantee that Indigenous people have equitable access to health and social services without discrimination.The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador stated the province needs to move beyond "petty politics" and adopt Joyce's Principle. "Today I appeal to all political parties in the National Assembly to join forces to adopt and rapidly implement Joyce's Principle," wrote Picard."What is at stake here, on a human, social and political level, must leave no room for partisan pettiness."
Canada Post is promising changes at Iqaluit's post office, but Iqalummiut can forget about home mail delivery or a single, larger post office facility coming any time soon.The corporation, facing mounting pressure as wait times grow and winter sets in, says it isn't just delivering "lip service" this holiday season. And Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell — a longtime critic of Canada Post — is optimistic the community should start seeing a difference very soon.Along with the extended hours and additional staff customers expect around Christmas, the corporation's general manager of government and community affairs says, fundamentally, they're trying to find a solution to systematically change how mail is delivered in Iqaluit.In the short term, Chad Schella says Canada Post is looking at how it can make it easier for post office staff to find parcels, thereby reducing the wait times — in which customers are sometimes waiting up to an hour in line to pick up mail.> If all the things we're working on don't result in a better experience for our customers, don't result in better service, then we would have failed. - Chad Schella, Canada Post's general manager of government and community affairs"It's just doing it differently than the way we've done it and the way we do it in other communities. Because everything is flown in, we're looking at how we can pre-sort a lot of this stuff so that it then doesn't have to be resorted when it gets to Iqaluit," said Schella."He's been very good," Bell said of Schella, noting a stark difference in the level of communication between Canada Post and the city than in previous years. "He told us a bunch of things, and then things were changing. I do feel like they're trying."The situation at Iqaluit's post office — namely long lines, staff shortages and parcel backlogs — became so dire that Canada Post brought together a special team from different departments specifically dedicated to coming up with solutions for Iqaluit. The group was formed this summer and has been "meeting weekly to help solve problems in the short term," Schella said."It's like putting together a puzzle. Every change you want to make has implications on four or five other pieces of our operation," Schella said.'Nothing is off the table'In the long term, Schella says the organization is trying to redesign a system — and facility — to replace a network the city has long outgrown.Schella says Canada Post knows there aren't enough PO boxes (there are roughly 400 people on the wait list right now); it knows the demand on general delivery has "gone through the roof"; it knows going to two places to pick up mail is brutal; and it knows it doesn't have enough space and storage.The trouble is trying to find a facility, and a mail-delivery system, that not only fits today's needs, but also anticipates future growth."We don't want to move into a facility that we're going to outgrow in a year or two from now, and we're back in the exact same situation," Schella said."So we are looking at the projections for not only the growth of Iqaluit, but for our own e-commerce volume growth and what patterns and projections we have.""We understand how hard it is to find a location," Bell said, adding the city has "demanded" Canada Post operate in one location in order to improve service."We fought for and finally got our new city hall. It's not easy to have to get a new location."Home delivery 'not an easy or simple fix'While Schella says "nothing is off the table," home delivery is not an option under the current system.Although the idea has been an opportunity private businesses in the city have jumped on, Schella said Iqaluit's civic addressing system makes it impossible for Canada Post to pursue."We'd have to ensure that there was municipal addressing in place so that every building had a designated physical address as well as a mailing address. And then that would have to match up with all of our systems and address management systems and everything that goes with it," Schella said."I don't know if I'm giving it justice or not, but that would not be an easy or simple fix to this solution."Also at play is the fact Canada Post home delivery workers are represented by a different union than the workers at Iqaluit's post office. Although Schella said bringing in "parcel lockers" is also an idea being floated."I guess what I would ask for the community is for them to judge us by their experience, and that experience will hopefully improve," Schella said"Because at the end of the day, if all the things we're working on don't result in a better experience for our customers, don't result in better service, then we would have failed. There's no question about it."
BRUSSELS — Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny urged the European Union to reject the results of Russia's parliamentary election next year if any candidates are blocked from taking part and he called Friday on the EU to impose sanctions on oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.Navalny, a corruption investigator and longtime foe of Putin's, has been recovering in Germany from a poisoning attack with what experts have said was a Soviet-era nerve agent. He told EU lawmakers he thinks it’s “important that Europe not remain silent” on conditions in Russia.Navalny described next September’s election for Russia’s lower house of parliament as “an absolutely crucial event.” He said that while he and other opposition politicians expect some vote-rigging, what “is most important is the right to participate.”Navalny, who has been blocked several times from registering as a candidate, said the EU’s approach should simply be: “If everyone is allowed to participate, we can discuss it further. But if some are not allowed to participate, the results of such an election will never be recognized.”He urged the 27-nation bloc to change its approach to sanctions, saying there is little point in slapping travel bans or asset freezes over poisonings or election irregularities on military officers because they generally don’t move much outside of Russia, own real estate or hold bank accounts in Europe.Navalny said the EU should ask itself why these alleged crimes are happening.“The answer is very, very simple: money," he told EU lawmakers via video-link. "So, the European Union should target the money, and Russian oligarchs” notably the new circle of the ultra-rich business people around Putin.Navalny said most Russian citizens would support such an approach.Last month, EU foreign ministers imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over Navalny’s poisoning. Russia announced retaliatory action, saying that it would target French and German officials close to the leaders of France and Germany.Vladimir Kara-Murza, head of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation in Russia, urged the EU to stay true to its values.“Stop enabling those corrupt, abusive officials and oligarchs who want to steal from our people in Russia and enjoy their loot in European Union countries by spending their holidays, sending their wives and their mistresses on shopping trips, buying up yachts and real estate properties and so on,” he said.Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
WinSport is opening its season on Friday for a year unlike any other — but for now, only pass holders will be allowed to participate."No walk-up or day tickets will be available, at least for the foreseeable future," said Dale Oviatt, senior manager of communications for WinSport. "[At least] until we can get a start on things and see how our processes are working."Pass holders are required to book times online with WinSport's reservation system as the organization seeks to control the capacity on the hill.The organization is also seeking to keep numbers down in indoor spaces. When guests arrive, they are asked to put their masks and equipment on and proceed directly to the hill."If you've decided to bring your own lunch, or you just want to warm up, just pop back out to your car, and use that for your items as well," Oviatt said.WATCH | Learn how venues like WinSport's Canada Olympic Park keeps ski runs open and in tip-top shape, even during iffy weather conditions:With the new restrictions announced this week by the Alberta government, Oviatt said WinSport is not allowed to operate warming areas.The hill's food court area will be open, but will follow restaurant guidelines."So, not a lot of indoor space," Oviatt said. "That's why we want you to use your car as your day lodge."Increased security will be onsite, but Oviatt suggested guests not bring valuables to the hill. In a typical season, WinSport sees families come out to watch kids participate in lessons. That will be changed due to the pandemic."We're not allowing any foot traffic or spectators anywhere on snow," Oviatt said. "That's just to keep the physical numbers down on the hill."The organization is requesting guests review all of the hill's COVID-19 protocols before visiting.The tube park at the facility is scheduled to open Dec. 19.
Some property management companies in Windsor-Essex advertise rental properties by marketing them specifically to students even though the Ontario Human Rights Commission makes clear that language which shows a landlord's preference for some people over others should not be used in a rental advertisement.Danielle Gilliard spent months trying to find a place to rent, calling the search "frustrating." She found herself scrolling through multiple rental advertisements, including ones by property management companies.She says if those companies were to stop allowing student-preferential language to be posted in rental advertisements, it may influence individual landlords from doing the same — eliminating any hesitancy that non-students may have from renting out whatever home or unit they like."It discourages you because you're looking for a home for your family — and these people are looking for students."The mother of four said that on multiple occasions, she would be discouraged from applying to rent certain properties since many of them contained language like "great for students.""It makes you feel almost belittled in a way," said Gilliard, who receives government assistance. "I've been denied because I'm not a student and I'm thinking — I have a guaranteed income every month."The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that indicating a rental unit as being "great" or "perfect for students" is the wrong way of writing a rental advertisement since this wording suggests that "the landlord prefers some people over others.,"There's a bit of a grey area and the issue is more about what happens after the advertisement. Students aren't listed as a ground under the Ontario human rights code, meaning that distinguishing between students and non-students in a rental advertisement isn't directly prohibited by the code as long as no subsequent discrimination takes place.But problems can lie with the wording of the ad itself. That's according to Matthew Horner, a senior lawyer with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who says marketing rentals to students can be deemed "contrary to the code" if a family — or other code-protected groups — can demonstrate they have been pushed out of the opportunity to rent a desired unit."If it turns out that you don't rent to families, you don't rent potentially to racialized people, you don't rent to anybody with a disability, then that would raise the concern of ... [the] seemingly-neutral rule of renting to students, in fact, having an effect on on other code-protected groups."Moreover, if a rental advertisement indicates an "intention to only rent to students," the party responsible for posting the ad runs the risk of having a claim to the human rights tribunal brought against them."[They could] argue that what you are effectively doing is excluding other groups ... and thereby discriminating against them," he said.Company pegs student-preferential language on 'transparency'CBC News reached out to three property management companies in Windsor operating websites which contain student-preferential rental advertisements. Property Hunters refused to comment and Maximum Property Solutions did not respond to email requests.Marda Management, however, did agree to speak with CBC News. When asked if she's aware that the use of student-preferential language in rental advertisements is discouraged by the human rights commission, company CEO Marla Coffin said "we welcome 100 per cent of clientele in 100 per cent of our units.""We absolutely do not discriminate and we are grateful and welcome any and all clientele across the board to all of our units, because our number one goal is to find a great home for each and every individual that looks to live within our system while simultaneously working diligently to achieve the goals of our property owners, which is to avoid vacancies," she said.Coffin pointed to "transparency" regarding the presence of ads for "student rentals" and "student rooms" on Marda Management's website, adding it's all about "being honest and open about the clientele" with whom renters may share space."We do try to be clear with people about what an ideal clientele can be," said Coffin, adding rentals that are advertised as "great for students" don't necessarily mean that they're "only for students."Coffin said she has not received feedback to suggest that non-students have been discouraged about inquiring about a house on Marda's website that's been marketed to students.She added her company would never deny housing to a non-student who could afford to rent a room or home — even if an advertisement indicated preference toward students.Gilliard says whenever she came across a home described as a "student rental," it usually meant there was no way her family would be able to occupy it. She recalled one instance when she attended a home to inquire about renting it only to find out that the bottom floor was already being occupied by students.> It discourages you because you're looking for a home for your family — and these people are looking for students." \- Danielle Gilliard Gilliard finally secured a place to rent after eight months of searching.
Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get worse, it turns out southern Saskatchewan's mouse population is exploding.The phones at Poulin's Pest Control in Regina have been ringing off the hook, said general manager Shawn Sherwood.He said this has been the busiest year for mice complaints that he has seen in two decades.That goes for residential calls and insurance claims."We clean trailers and cars that have had mice in them," Sherwood said. "Normally we will see them starting in March or April, and we'll be done by July. We're doing one tomorrow."And the problem isn't localized to just the Queen City.Sherwood said the company's Saskatoon office is seeing similar infestations.Jan Shadick, who runs Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon, said one way youu can tell there's been a bounty of mice is that last spring, birds who feed on the rodents had a large brood."When they're struggling to feed themselves, they're not going to have a whole bunch of babies that they know that they can't feed," Shadick said.On the downside, she says her research shows while bird numbers went up this year, so did the number of birds injured in traps. "We went from sort of one sticky trap last year to seven this year, so it's a huge increase," Shadick said. "We had four snap-trapped birds last year and seven this year. "We had one that came in, and [the trap] had actually caught on the beak of the bird and just broken it."That being said, when it comes to getting rid of mice, Shadick prefers people use snap traps."When they work, they're incredibly effective and quick and humane."But why are there are so many mice this year? That's hard to explain, but both Shadick and Sherwood said the increase is abnormal. Spikes like this usually happen when there's been a lot of snow the winter before — but that isn't the case this year in Saskatchewan. Sherwood has a simpler explanation. "People ask me, 'Why are we seeing so many mice?' It's 2020, man. What do you expect?"