Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
A Halifax dance studio hopes that temporarily closing its doors might slow the city's recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and keep it alive in the long run.Some businesses outside the food industry are changing how they operate. This follows the lead of some restaurants and bars who have closed their doors temporarily, without being asked to do so by public health.Haliente Creative Studio on Barrington Street offers salsa, bachata and other styles of classes, as well as social nights for people to practise their moves.But owner Moses Diallo said that even while wearing a mask, physical closeness and the nature of touching hands while dancing increases their risk.On Saturday evening, the day 22 exposure notices were issued by authorities, Diallo announced Haliente would close for the next two weeks.He said even though staff and clients were following public health rules, it felt like a matter of time before someone contracted the coronavirus."It's not an easy decision, but it's one that makes sense and it's better we do this than have an exposure," Diallo said Sunday."Myself, along with many people, have vulnerable individuals in their families and … the risks are just too high at this point."As of Sunday, there were 44 known active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil has singled out young people as driving the recent exposures. He said there are 18- to 35-year-olds going out when they feel sick, and in large groups without distancing.New restrictions also start Monday, where residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality are limited to only five people gathering in a social group without physical distancing, down from 10.Closing down 'is a sacrifice,' says business ownerWhen asked whether the government should mandate that businesses close for a short time to get a handle on COVID-19, Diallo said he's "all for it," since short-term pain is bearable if it brings a long-term gain of keeping the economy open over the next few months.Diallo said they nearly didn't survive the last shutdown, when their studio was closed for nearly five months."The two weeks is a sacrifice that we made in order not to close down forever," Diallo said. "I can't afford to close down for more than a month."The Freedom Kitchen & Closet in Lower Sackville has decided to stop clothing donations for now due to the community spread, while the Fall River Animal Hospital has returned to curbside appointments.Many restaurants and cafés in the Halifax area have either closed entirely or announced over the weekend they are now only offering takeout and delivery. People are advised to check with restaurants before visiting.Paul MacKinnon, CEO of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said Sunday he's heard a broad mix of feedback from members about how to navigate the current spike in cases.He said his organization won't weigh in on whether certain sectors should shut down again. But, MacKinnon predicted many owners will close on their own to protect staff and patrons over the next few days, just like in the spring."It's a business decision that the owner has to make. And if they think they're not going to get a lot of business anyway, in some cases, it may actually save some money," MacKinnon said.Although it's a tough situation coming into the holiday season, MacKinnon said the timing actually puts businesses at an advantage because people will be stocking up on presents and gift cards no matter how high the case numbers climb.Also, MacKinnon said most shops and eateries have active online stores or delivery models that they put in place during the first shutdown earlier this year."Hopefully it won't be as big of an impact as it was before. But of course, it's unchartered territory," MacKinnon said.He said there's some "light at the end of the tunnel" with the recent news that vaccines are close to being ready.MORE TOP STORIES
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation.The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m.Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home. He recommend churches convert to online worship services only.Earlier on Monday, the country reported 271 new cases of the coronavirus.South Korea has saw the virus spread faster after authorities eased social distancing restrictions to the lowest level in October amid concerns about a weak economy.Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said tightening guidelines was inevitable as a failure to slow transmissions now could “break the dam” in anti-virus efforts and result in a surge in infections nationwide that may overwhelm hospital systems.“We need to reduce people-to-people contact,” she said during a briefing Monday, pleading with people to cancel year-end meetings and other gatherings.In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:— Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week. As temperatures drop, large-scale measures are being enacted in the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli. Many experts and government officials have warned that the chance of the virus spreading will be greater during the cold weather. On Monday, the National Health Commission reported two new locally transmitted cases in Shanghai over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to seven since Friday.— Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed half a million as the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation scrambles to procure vaccines to help it win the fight against the pandemic. The Health Ministry reported 4,442 new cases on Monday to bring the country’s total to 502,110, the highest toll in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s more than 9.1 million confirmed cases. The ministry said that the death toll from the virus is 16,002, and that it has been adding 3,000-5,000 daily cases since mid-September. President Joko Widodo said his administration is working on a mass vaccination program for the vast archipelago nation, home to more than 270 million people.— Sri Lanka has reopened some of the thousands of schools that have been closed for more than a month due to a surge of the coronavirus. Schools will remain closed in Colombo and it’s suburbs as the number of cases is still climbing in those parts. According to the government’s decision, schools were re-opened only for students in grades 6 to 13. The Education Ministry said there are 10,165 state-run schools in the country and arrangements were made to open 5,100 schools on Monday. Sri Lanka closed schools last month when two new clusters emerged in Colombo and it’s suburbs. The confirmed cases from the two clusters had grown to 16,639 by Monday.— India has registered 44,059 another new cases of the coronavirus and 511 deaths in the past 24 hours. New Delhi on Monday added 5,879 new cases 111 deaths and its rate of positive testing is more than three times the national average, authorities said. India has reported more than 9 million cases since the pandemic began, second behind the United States.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
Colourful cockatoos, amazons, and macaws in dozens of cages line the walls in each room of a rental house in Delta. A skeleton crew of workers and volunteers tend to the birds, unencumbered by the constant cacophony of chirps, songs and screeches."It's a lot of work," said Jan Robson, a spokesperson for the Greyhaven Bird Sanctuary. "We have 60 birds in there, and they have big cages — and big poop."And now, big problems. Greyhaven is among a long list of non-profits and registered charities in B.C. that are grappling with revenue losses due to COVID-19 and rethinking the traditional fundraising model.Greyhaven has been a refuge for exotic birds for decades. It runs shelters out of two homes and operates entirely on donations, fundraising, and adoption fees to find homes for countless birds, many of whom have been abandoned by past owners.This year, revenues have dropped, making it a challenge to operate on what had already been a tight budget. Marquee fundraising events like its biannual open house have been cancelled, in favour of virtual alternatives.There's been about a 15 per cent decrease in funding, Robson said. "We're trying to raise funds for six months rent for this particular facility," she added. "That's one of those things where we're like, 'How can we make this work?'""When you're caring for over 100 birds, and your money is 15 per cent down, it's a punch in the gut, for sure," she said.'These organizations touch all of our lives'There are more than a thousand non-profits and charities in B.C., a diverse sector that generates billions of dollars in GDP annually. They often fill gaps in under-served communities, providing services for the elderly, people with disabilities, and vulnerable animals.But many are feeling the squeeze. In May, a survey of more than 1,000 organizations found that 23 per cent of operators feared they wouldn't last six months."A lot of non-profits and charities have had to close their doors," said Alison Brewin, executive director of the non-profit Vantage Point."Across the board, for all organizations, they're seeing decreases in their earned incomes, their donations, and their other funding sources."A notable example is the Vancouver Aquarium, which is currently fighting bankruptcy."These organizations touch all of our lives," Brewin said. "We all connect with non-profits and charities across the province, and the vulnerability that's shown up is quite scary."Virtual events not as effective as in-person fundraisersIn the time since Vantage Point conducted the survey, Brewin said many organizations continue to rely on emergency measures, including the federal wage subsidy.Groups like Greyhaven have switched to virtual events to raise funding, but the events typically don't generate the same amount of money.It's a similar trend for larger organizations. The BC Cancer Foundation is down tens of millions of dollars in revenue this year, according to president and CEO Sarah Roth.The foundation's yeatrly headline event, the Ride to Conquer Cancer, would typically generate about $8 to 10 million. This year, the virtual event generated about $2 million.COVID-19 restrictions have also forced the foundation to stop door-to-door fundraising efforts as well, although it says its number of monthly donors has remained consistent.In all, it expects to end the year with about $40 million in revenue, compared to previous highs of around $70 million."Cancer doesn't stop, and neither can we," Roth said. "We just need to adjust, we're being very mindful of our costs."With a vaccine on the horizon, there's hope that traditional revenue streams could be restored. But mounting cases in B.C. means most groups aren't holding their breath quite yet.And with COVID-19 restrictions tightening, the sector isn't expected to rebound anytime soon.The BC Cancer Foundation is anticipating at least another year of its remote model."It's just changed," Roth said."I think there will be a huge appetite to go back to more in-person experiences for sure, and we'll get ready for that."
Premier Dennis King has announced that P.E.I. is leaving the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks. Starting on Tuesday, those arriving on the Island from the other Atlantic provinces will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.Many Islanders reacted to news by echoing King's sentiments — it's unfortunate but necessary.The Chief Public Health Office is warning about possible coronavirus exposure involving a New Glasgow, P.E.I., funeral home. One new case of COVID-19 has also been confirmed in the province. Dr. Heather Morrison said the new case is a woman in her 40s that travelled outside Atlantic Canada. On Twitter, the Government of P.E.I. issued a new directive Sunday advising anyone who has travelled to Halifax, Moncton or Saint John in the last week to: * Closely monitor for symptoms * Wear a mask at all times, including outdoors * Limit contacts * Hand wash regularly * Physically distance when possible * Download the COVID Alert AppIn other COVID-19 developments, a one-day COVID-19 testing clinic was held at Lennox Island Friday out of precaution. There are no known cases of COVID-19 on Lennox Island, said Chief Darlene Bernard.A P.E.I. teen has turned his science fair project into a business building and selling bat houses after the pandemic cancelled the provincial science fair.Santa Claus will be at the Charlottetown Mall beginning Dec. 4, but children won't be able to sit on his knee. Instead, they'll be telling him their Christmas wish lists though a Plexiglas divider. Mall officials said their plan was approved Friday by the Chief Public Health Office.P.E.I.'s new mandatory mask rule meant some changes for entertainment venues. Audience members, unless exempt, are required to wear masks throughout the activity, even if physical distancing can be maintained. People can remove their mask while eating or drinking.There are two active COVID-19 case in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 69 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.New Brunswick announced 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the province Monday, bringing its total active cases to 89.Eleven new cases of COVID-19 were reported Monday in Nova Scotia. It now has 51 active cases.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
Calgarians will have a chance Monday to speak their minds on the city's plan to cut $90 million in spending in order to bring in a tax freeze for 2021.Council has set aside a week for its annual budget debate and that includes a public hearing which allows residents to weigh in.The property tax picture for year three of the current four-year budget cycle is actually broken down by city officials this year in a somewhat complicated way.Administration is proposing an overall tax reduction of 1.66 per cent.That translates into an increase of 0.67 per cent for residential properties and a 0.55 per cent decrease for non-residential properties.To eliminate that small tax hike for homeowners, the city is asking council to approve a one-time rebate to bring about a tax freeze.Freeze means cutsMayor Naheed Nenshi said administration has followed council's direction to not raise taxes for 2021 instead of going with a previously approved 3.23 per cent increase.But that freeze would be achieved through $90 million in spending cuts.About $46.8 million in spending cuts are landing in administration, primarily by finding savings through more efficient ways of carrying out the business of government.But the cuts are also about axing the annual civic census (saving $1 million annually).The next biggest single savings will be to claw back a $10 million increase in the Calgary police budget for 2021. That money was to be used to hire 60 new officers.If the budget adjustments are approved, they would result in the loss of 162 city jobs. That would mean 574 city jobs will have been cut from the payroll since 2019.Nenshi said this would bring city staffing down to 2013 levels."Since 2013, we've added 200,000 people to Calgary. We've added two Red Deers and we are still having the same number of civil servants as we had then," said Nenshi."We have increased taxes by less than inflation plus growth in every year since the economic downturn and looking at a freeze this year."Some want to cut deeperSome councillors said in tough times, they want to cut deeper.Coun. Jeromy Farkas said Calgarians expect city hall to find more reductions."While this is a start, I think we need to be much, much more aggressive in terms of our spending reductions, to be able to respond to what every Calgary family and business has had to do: tighten their belts," said Farkas.He wants another $90 million cut from the budget and that could happen in what he calls non-essential areas that wouldn't affect Calgarians. He points to arts spending and communications as possible areas for further reductions.Coun. Ward Sutherland is also looking for additional cuts. But he said it is getting challenging to find significant areas to cut.The city has reduced spending by nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in recent years so the low-hanging fruit has already been picked."People need to be reminded that between police, fire, transit and roads, it's basically over 83 per cent of our entire operating budget. So the ability to cut big numbers is diminishing every year," said Sutherland.Balancing actNenshi is more blunt about the prospect of finding big cuts without affecting the services Calgarians expect from the city."We're already seeing concerns about roads maintenance, about parks maintenance," said Nenshi."You want the bigger cut to even below the lowest taxes in the country? Tell us where to cut and see if you can get eight votes."In past years, councillors have offered few specific ideas for additional reductions except for across the board cuts that administration would be forced to implement.Council has typically rejected those because of the impacts that would be felt in areas like transit, the police and the fire department.More rebates possibleOnce council settles the municipal tax rate and budget for 2021, it is expected to turn its attention to finding money for rebates to help property owners who will be adversely impacted by this year's land reassessments.Some downtown properties are expecting to see small drops in value while hotels and motels are projected to see a 30 per cent drop.Administration said those reductions will result in property taxes going up significantly for properties that have seen increases in values. These include some types of retail properties. Large warehouses are looking at a potential 25 per cent tax increase next year due to their higher assessments and that shift in the non-residential tax burden."I think that we're going to have to look at some sort of a rebate for those businesses in this year because you don't want to just pile on with what a difficult year they've had," said Nenshi. "But at some point, we actually have to let the market work."It's a line that's been used by several council members in recent years as one tax rebate after another have been handed out to blunt the impacts of what they call a broken tax and assessment system.The mayor said any changes to that system can only be made by the provincial government.
A P.E.I. teen's concern for the Island's bat population has turned into a small online business building and selling bat houses, called Beddy Bye Bats. The idea started with a Grade 8 science project by Dominik Davis, 14, about the little brown bat."When we were at school, we did the science fair and I didn't get to move on to provincials because it got cancelled, because of COVID," Davis said."And when I brought it home, we got it out, and my mom thought it would be a great idea to start building bat houses." Davis said they found a pattern online and started building their bat houses, in a small barn next to the family home in Riverton, P.E.I.His mother posted the first bat houses on social media, and Davis quickly had his first 12 orders. 'Amazing creatures'Davis said he has been interested in bats as long as he can remember. "They're just amazing creatures, like when they fly around, and they're not blind, there's a lot of misconceptions about bats," Davis said."They eat a lot of insects and they're really cool mammals. When they are around your area, the amount of bugs will be reduced and for us, we live in the country, so it's a big help."Davis also gives customers an information sheet about bats with every purchase."You want to put the bat house up 12 to 20 feet in the air, and they're made so they have a spot on the bottom which the bats can land on," Davis said. "They use their claws to hook on, and then they crawl up through a half inch gap into the bat house, and they're at home."Davis said the houses provide a safe place, away from predators such as hawks and other large birds."It's quite a tiny little space, bats like very tiny spaces because they like to keep warmth in, and they like to be squished together," Davis said."And since they're not territorial, you could have 10 different bat species in your one bat house."Importance of batsDavis said he hopes what he's doing will help P.E.I.'s bat population, which has struggled for more than a decade because of white-nose syndrome. "The main thing I want to get people to know from this company is that bats are important," Davis said. "Every time I build a bat house, it's a bat sanctuary, because when you put it up bats are safe from almost all predators." Davis said he also hopes that his interest in bats will help change the minds of some people who don't like bats."I am hoping that too, because a lot of people may fear bats or may not like bats," Davis said. "Bats are not blind and they will stay away from you. They won't fly into your hair and they're the best thing to have around."Bringing back the batsJoe Rooney bought five of the bat houses for his home in Mount Mellick, P.E.I., and four of his friends have now ordered them as well."He's showing his entrepreneurial spirit, that he's making these bat houses, he's making himself a few dollars," Rooney said. "But he's also educating people about the bats and hopefully bring them back, because we had a place that we owned before, we had bats there and they ate lot of mosquitoes. I'd like to have the bats back."Clint Davis, Dominik's father, said he was surprised at how quickly the bat houses started to sell. "It's a great project for him to do and keep him busy and active," Davis said. "He's always in the nature and he's planning on being a marine biologist when he grows up."Dominik Davis has donated a couple of bat houses to the Native Council of P.E.I. for their bat project in Victoria West, as well as some fundraisers. Davis said Beddy Bye Bats has now sold more than 60 bat houses.He said a couple of businesses in the area are now selling the bat houses for him which, along with online sales, will keep the teenager busy for a while. "As long as it lasts," Davis said. "As long as there's people out there that want bat houses, I'm willing to make them."More from CBC P.E.I.
In May, the City of Mississauga gnashed its teeth. At the time, it was knee-deep in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of long-term care homes in the city were in outbreak, with dozens of deaths recorded. Business owners were also hurting, their shuttered bars, restaurants and gyms collecting dust and debt. Inside City Hall, losses were mounting daily. Reluctantly, the City had been forced to let roughly 2,000 staff, mostly part-time, seasonal employees, go from its empty recreation facilities. Help eventually offered by the federal and provincial governments was still months away from materializing. Quietly, while the world was distracted, the Doug Ford PC government was forging ahead with its plans to seismically shift how developers pay for growth. Under the area of development subsidies known as a Community Benefits Charge (CBC), the Province was toying with new rules for planning. These fees are often paid by builders to create enhanced features such as green spaces or other amenities that are built using additional money charged to developers in exchange for project changes that generally create more profit, such as adding additional floors to a condo building. Changes were introduced as one of many initiatives in Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice) — legislation that was almost universally decried around municipal council tables when it received royal assent in 2019. The Province allowed consultation in May (when Mississauga was preoccupied with its pandemic response) which revolved around parks. Just how much greenspace developers needed to provide for even more new residents that would eventually be housed in expanded projects, was a question that created tension. According to staff reports in Brampton and Mississauga at the time, the proposed changes meant developers would pay less to cities, for the features they have for decades been expected to provide when building large residential projects. Municipalities, under the PC government’s plan, would be worse off, while developers would be further ahead. “At a time when we are grappling with the unprecedented financial impacts of COVID-19, the proposed Community Benefits Charge will leave Council [with] even more difficult decisions,” then City Manager, Janice Baker, told Mississauga Council. Under the current rules, developers have to offer a certain amount of parkland to cities and, if they want to reduce that amount, they have to pay a fee. The CBC proposals limited parkland related contributions to 10 percent of the land’s value for high-rise buildings, meaning the projects with the most residents would offer the least public space per capita. “The proposed CBC weakens the link between population growth and the increased need for services,” a Mississauga staff report earlier in the year stated. In Mississauga, under the current system, high and medium-density developments contribute 74 percent of parkland (either physically or in payments). The CBC proposals meant dense developments would cough up just 31 percent of the funding for the city’s new greenspace, with non-residential and low-density homes (which already have backyards) making up the difference. It seemed illogical. After a passionate response from Mississauga and other cities angered by the prospect of a revenue hit while they are reeling financially because of the pandemic, the PC government has rolled back its proposed changes. Under Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act) Queen’s Park rapidly back-peddled, returning parkland contributions by developers to the pre-pandemic levels. “The new community benefits charge authority provides local governments with the flexibility to collect funds for any growth-related services required due to higher density residential development, as long as those costs are not being recovered under other tools,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipalities and Housing explained to The Pointer. “A community benefits charge may enable municipalities to recover the capital costs of any service, as long as it is needed to support new growth … the types of services funded through community benefits charges could include parks, recreation centres, affordable housing, child care, cycling infrastructure and others.” “We were very pleased the Province listened to the feedback from municipalities and rolled back many of the proposed Bill 108 provisions around the Community Benefits Charge,” Jason Bevan, director, city planning strategies, told The Pointer. “We look forward to seeing the final CBC regulations on the percentage of land value cap.” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) which advocates for the lowest tier of government, said it was “pleased to see the addition of eligible services for development charge recovery being restored” alongside “maintaining existing parkland provisions and the flexibility of CBCs as a tool to recover additional costs”. After a year of consternation for cities, the Province has largely walked back its plans for the CBC. The legislation, initially blasted as a developer freebie, has gradually been softened. Originally, the new legislative changes impacted a range of community features that municipalities have to provide for residents under the development proposals submitted by builders after assembling land for growth. Municipalities were concerned they would have to stretch the funds from the charge to cover features such as libraries, community centres, parks and playgrounds. Responding to feedback, the Province changed tack and protected a range of community features that will continue to be covered by development charges. Specific infrastructure, including libraries and other “soft” services, are covered under the Development Charges Act. Developers will continue to pay for the costs associated with growth. But, realistically, these charges are generally covered by buyers who pay for them through increased unit costs that developers charge when setting their sale prices. It seems much more fair to have the people in a particular new development pay for the surrounding features and services they will enjoy, rather than having property tax payers in general cover the expenses when municipalities have to fund them. At the beginning of October, further regulations were released which made the CBC picture a little clearer still. While the charge is designed to capture certain soft community services not always covered by traditional development charges, there are several areas explicitly excluded. Long-term care, universities, clubhouses or retirement homes cannot be funded using the latest form of CBCs. The new CBC mechanism, brought in to codify an element of development which previously operated as more of a negotiation, comes with strict rules. Cities are tasked, over the next two years, with creating a CBC strategy and bylaw to estimate the amount and type of development where the charge may be used. The strategy should also estimate the increased need for facilities and services as a direct result of developments and the associated growth-related costs. It must acknowledge any grants or subsidies made to help with such projects. A potential sticking point for municipal councils is a cap on the CBC, meaning the charge cannot exceed 4 percent of the value of the lands being developed. If developers disagree with the land valuation, they can dispute it. The likely outcome will see buyers cover any increased costs, as developers across the province won’t have to worry about unfair pricing competition because all builders will have to raise prices. In the end, it will be mostly young buyers who will absorb the additional financial burden for creating enhanced community features they will benefit from. Moving forward, municipalities will also produce an annual report showing how much money is in their CBC and parkland reserves. The reports will detail where money is spent and how projects not using CBC charges were funded. The concept behind the strategy and bylaw is to make costs more predictable for developers and reduce negotiations between individual builders and local politicians. Exactly what community features Mississauga will prioritize under the new CBC system will become clearer over the next two years, as the City draws together its bylaw for the charge. These community standards will best serve the public if they are directly involved and make clear what they want in their neighbourhoods. In essence, as long as cities don’t double charge through other parkland contributions or development charges, they can hit developers with a bill for any growth costs, other than the small list of features that are exempt. The amount is capped under the 4 percent limit, based on the land value. But it still gives high-growth municipalities such as Mississauga and Brampton welcome breathing room as they no longer have to worry about paying for a range of new community features while struggling with the financial damage caused by the pandemic. Smart decision making around the bylaw, with some elements still emerging, should help ensure that as new developments keep springing up across the city, growth will pay for growth in Mississauga. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
A Saskatoon woman who arranged a performance art piece across the globe has decided to share her story through a unique art exhibit in the city.It's called To Whom It May Concern and features a collection of photographs and letters which address the rise of domestic violence during COVID-19.The project was started by Natalie Feheregyhazi in Toronto a few years ago.Feheregyhazi dressed up in a wedding dress with a white mask covering her entire face. She would sit in various places in the city and write letters to be left where she was sitting.She was given the nickname 'Toronto's Masked Bride' as her identity remained anonymous.Feheregyhazi said the idea to do an art project about a bride had been in her mind for several years prior to the performance art piece but some experiences in 2015 and 2016 inspired the final project.She said one of the experiences happened after a brief conversation with a local artist, Daniel O'Shea, in a shop in Saskatoon."[He] showed me a painting he had done for a friend of his who had recently been murdered in a domestic violence situation," Feheregyhazi said.The woman in question was Beverly Littlecrow, a 36-year-old woman who the Crown prosecutor argued had been a victim of manslaughter at the hands of her spouse Gabriel Faucher in 2016.In 2018, Faucher was found not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Littlecrow as the judges could not rule out the possibility of Littlecrow's injuries having been accidental. The appeal of Faucher's acquittal was dismissed earlier this year."We talked about this painting and he ended up gifting it to me because he said he didn't know what to do with it," Feheregyhazi said. "He felt it was meant to go to me."I really feel like Beverly's spirit has been with this project since that moment."Leaving a dangerous relationshipFeheregyhazi said getting the painting coincided with her leaving a dangerous relationship after she had found out "all sorts of kind of terrifying things" about her partner who she had been with for eight years."It was a whole host of things that had happened kind of simultaneously and when it came to that summer and that spring, I didn't know how to process all of this," Feheregyhazi said. "And that's when all of the pieces kind of came together."She said she knew the bride in the project had to be masked, and had to be voiceless, because she didn't know how to express it otherwise.Feheregyhazi said she didn't want people to know who she was since the project involved her leaving notes around Toronto with real life stories, and she did not want the stories to be brought back to the people they involved.She described the letters she left around the city as love letters, as the experiences she was trying to express in the art piece had to do with abusers being loved by the people they abuse."That conflict, that love is really what keeps us kind of caught in these cycles and I mean it's complicated," Feheregyhazi said. "There are a lot of elements to it and sometimes it's fear and sometimes it's unfortunate conditioning but it's also love."She said she hoped that through writing in this uncensored and spontaneous manner it would bring to light the positive feelings often felt in abusive relationships which make it harder for victims to leave."One day and one moment you're remembering the beautiful anniversary you had or that time when it was snowing, like it currently is in Saskatoon, and you decided to cuddle up and watch five movies in a row and just be loving," Feheregyhazi said."Versus being assaulted, being yelled at, being sexually violated, those are the things that don't get addressed nearly often enough when we talk about domestic or intimate forms of violence."The performance art project took Feheregyhazi to many places including Europe and Africa. She said she met many people, including men and people with mental illnesses, who shared their stories with her."What strikes me is how deep our collective longing for kindness and connection and love is," She said. "Sometimes I didn't catch everything but they would come and identify with the vulnerability of the figure that was just there to kind of listen, it wasn't speaking it created the space for them to share."She said many people came up to her to share intimate and painful parts of their lived experiences with her and she just listened."There was kind of a silent agreement of trust [and] these stories are confessed and shared because no one knew who I was."Taking the mask offFeheregyhazi said the reason she now decided to take the mask off and attach her name to the project has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic."We're living in a situation where since the quarantine went into effect domestic violence has been on the rise," she said. "And this is all happening in very confined, restricted basis."People who are already isolated are even more isolated and have less easy access to help."She said the exhibit in Saskatoon, which runs until Nov. 29, touches on some young women who died in the spring and summer of this year due to alleged domestic violence.One of those women is Tina Tingley-McAleer who was killed in her home in Hillsborough, N.B., in May. Police arrested her partner, Calvin Andrew Lewis, and charged him with first-degree murder.Feheregyhazi said the exhibit also includes on Darian Hailey Henderson-Bellman, a 25-year-old woman from Brampton, Ont., who was allegedly shot to death by her boyfriend Darnell Reid in August.The last woman who is honoured in the art exhibit is Brittney Ann Meszaros. The 24-year-old Calgary woman was found dead in her home in April, and her common-law boyfriend, Alexander Moskaluk, was charged with manslaughter."I really hope [the exhibit] will bring to surface a reminder of who these people were like these aren't just statistics they're mothers, they're sisters, they're friends and they got caught in a situation that for some reason socially we still tolerate to some degree," Feheregyhazi said."I don't know why we mind our own business when we hear something going on or how we've been conditioned to kind of just accept that there's a certain level of violence that women and girls may encounter." The To Whom It May Concern art exhibit is in Saskatoon at 20th Street West at Avenue E and is free to view."I hope people will be moved to ask and demand that these kinds of violences come to an end once and for all."If you need help and are in immediate danger, call 911. To find assistance in your area, visit sheltersafe.ca or endingviolencecanada.org/getting-help. In Saskatchewan, pathssk.org has listings of available services across the province.
Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after a man was hit during "an exchange of gunfire" with officers in Vaughan on Monday.The incident happened around 12:30 a.m. in a parking lot near Creditstone Road and Highway 7. The lot is shared by a banquet hall and an adjacent apartment building. According to a York Regional Police news release, the incident happened after an officer tried to stop a vehicle for a Highway Traffic Act offence. Police say "an interaction" occurred between officers and the driver of the vehicle, but makes no mention of any shooting.But a news release from the provincial police watchdog Special Investigations Unit (SIU) gives more details.According to the SIU, after police first tried to stop the vehicle, officers later spotted it, and saw a man get out near a condo building. Officers followed the man, and soon after there was "an exchange of gunfire" between five officers and the man, the SIU says.The man then ran off and the officers pursued him. That's when a second exchange of gunfire happened, according to the news release. The man was hit multiple times and subsequently taken to hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The man's injuries are "suspected to be non-life-threatening," according to the SIU. Police say he is in stable condition.Police taped off a large area of several city blocks around the scene overnight. A stretch of Highway 7 was also closed for a time.The SIU says five officers are subject to the investigation, with two witness officers also designated.The SIU is asking anyone with information about what happened to call its lead investigator at 1-800-787-8529. The unit is also urging anyone who video related to the incident to upload it through the agency's website.
During Nova Scotia's fall municipal elections, two mayoral candidates said Cape Breton Regional Municipality was either bankrupt or nearly so.That's not the case, say others."We're a bankrupt municipality. People know. This whole island knows that," mayoral candidate Archie MacKinnon said during one of the election debates.Chris Abbass said during a debate that CBRM is "on the verge of financial collapse." In another, he said the municipality is not sustainable."We're slowly going bankrupt and if we don't do something about our cost-effectiveness and our efficiency in government, we're going to become ... a ward of the province or something, but we won't be anymore."But Mark Gilbert, a retired finance expert who was with the Department of Municipal Affairs and is a retired local government professor at Dalhousie University, said CBRM's financial statements show otherwise.The municipality does have net debt of roughly $145 million, but Gilbert said if you add in non-financial assets, it is more than $300 million in the black."This doesn't look like a municipality that doesn't have the wherewithal to continue operating," he said.With that much debt, a big question is future infrastructure needs and the municipality's ability to pay for the cost of borrowing through taxes or user fees, Gilbert said.However, CBRM's debt-service ratio is just over 10 per cent and the province doesn't red flag that until it hits 15 per cent or more.Gilbert said that means the municipality could borrow if it needed to finance large projects."If they were interested in borrowing, the capacity would certainly be there," he said."The thing that most municipalities are concerned about, and I did some research in this area for Infrastructure Canada, is not so much being able to borrow, but it's being able to service the debt."Jennifer Campbell, CBRM's chief financial officer, said the municipality would only be in trouble under extraordinary circumstances."For example, all of our long-term debt would have to be called at once, resulting in an immediate financial obligation of over $80 million and … that is not going to happen," she said.CBRM has long-term debt financing through the province's Municipal Finance Corporation that spread payments out over 10 years, Campbell said."If you're going to look at our net debt through the lens of immediate pressure, that's going to overinflate that and make it look like we aren't solvent, when, in reality, that obligation is due over a long period of time and we're well positioned to meet those obligations over that term."We have not defaulted on those terms, nor are we even close to defaulting on those terms."Municipality a going concernIt would be a struggle if all the debt came due in one year, because non-financial assets can't be easily liquidated, she said.Vehicles and buildings could be sold, but some non-financial assets would be more difficult to convert into cash."How do you sell a used municipal road or used municipal sewer pipes? There's simply no market for that," Campbell said.Last year's audited financial statement shows the municipality is a going concern. CBRM ended the year with a slight surplus of $12,000.It's not yet clear what the pandemic's impact will be on this year's finances, but a current statement is due to be unveiled at Tuesday's council meeting.MORE TOP STORIES
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 ...What we are watching in Canada ...OTTAWA -- Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.\---Also this ... OTTAWA -- N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.\---ICYMI ...OTTAWA -- Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada's current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries. Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1 But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud. The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote. A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...LONDON -- AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine. “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.\---In entertainment ...LOS ANGELES -- Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night's American Music Awards. She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist. Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins. The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours" and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless. The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night's three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet "Monster."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020The Canadian Press
The Big Land is set to see some big snowfall amounts, with parts of Labrador under weather warnings as a snowy storm system moves into the region beginning Monday in some areas.Central Labrador is under a blizzard warning, with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area expected to see the most snow, totalling between 50 to 70 centimetres, to possibly 80 centimetres, falling between Monday to Tuesday evening.Environment Canada also expects wind gusts up to 90 kilometres an hour in the central region.The blizzard warnings extend north through to Hopedale, with those winds persisting and between 25 to 40 centimetres of snow expected, beginning Monday evening. Snowfall warnings for lesser amounts reach up to Nain as well as through to Cartwright and Black Tickle.Much of Newfoundland is under a wind warning for Tuesday, from the Avalon Peninsula, all along the south and southwest coasts, western Newfoundland and areas along the northeast coast bracing for gusts of around 80 km/hr, with stronger gusts up to 110 km/hr expected.The Wreckhouse area can expect gusts up to 140 km/hr overnight into Tuesday.That weather system has prompted Marine Atlantic to delay its Monday day crossings until the evening, but the ferry also advises its evening crossings as well as those on Tuesday could be impacted.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
New Brunswick's four ski hills are busy making snow following growing interest in outdoor sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.Pass sales at Crabbe Mountain near Fredericton have increased 15 per cent over last year."General demand with equipment stores is high and people can't keep product on the shelf, so I think there's a big demand for outdoor space, winter activity," said general manager Jordan Cheney.Skiers can expect some changes to the overall experience, including physical distancing at lift lines and limited lodge access for warming up.While face coverings will be mandatory at most times, it's nothing new for skiers already accustomed to keeping their faces warm."We've all bundled up in the cold and worn goggles and face masks," Cheney said. "So with outdoor stuff, it should be very similar to what people have been used to."Early end to seasonThe last ski season came to an early end when the pandemic hit in mid-March. Crabbe Mountain lost about 15 days of operations after New Brunswick shut down all non-essential business to stop the spread of COVID-19.Cheney said the ski hill was still operating with picnic tables outdoors at the end."We were on track to have a record season, so it was unfortunate that it got cut short," he said. "But we were fortunate in that it was at the tail end of the season."With uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, ski areas are rolling out refund and credit policies to assure season pass holders in the event of an unexpected shutdown due to the coronavirus.Mont Farlagne near Edmundston rolled out a guarantee for season pass holders.> "We were on track to have a record season, so it was unfortunate that it got cut short." \- Jordan Cheney, Crabbe Mountain If the Campbellton region moves into the red phase, Sugarloaf Provincial Park will offer prorated refunds based on ski days missed.Poley Mountain in Sussex will offer a prorated pass that will carry over into next season.At Crabbe Mountain, pass holders will have the choice between a prorated refund or credit toward next season.Bubble lifts, lessonsOther New Brunswick ski hills have created similar COVID-19 operational plans, focusing on physical distancing and preventing large gatherings in lines and lodges.Chairs will be loaded within bubbles, instead of loading four people per chair.Danielle Gagné, vice-president at Mont Farlagne, said masks will be required at all times, including on lifts. The one exception will be when going down the hill."When we have a bubble or a family, we go up like normal," she said.Gagné said two people from different bubbles can ride the lift together, provided they wear masks and sit at the opposite ends of the quad chair.At Sugarloaf and Crabbe Mountain, face coverings are recommended but not required while riding the lift. Poley requires them at all times, except when heading downhill.Ski hills are also reducing some group lessons to bubbles.Crabbe Mountain is allowing people to pre-purchase lift tickets online to cut back on lines.Skiers will be able to scan a code on their phones that can be printed outdoors when they arrive. Reduced lodge accessAll four mountains are limiting the amount of space indoors for skiers and snowboarders to get ready and warm up."Space will be made available in our lodge or in our buildings for booting up, but we're just asking that folks don't store their equipment," Cheney said.Crabbe Mountain has purchased a 2,600 square-foot greenhouse with picnic tables for skiers to warm up, since space indoors will be mostly occupied by the ski school and seating for the restaurant.At Mont Farlagne, Gagné said dining will still be offered at seated tables limited to groups of four people.With temperatures dipping below freezing, snowmaking is underway as ski hills prepare to open in early December.Sugarloaf and Crabbe Mountain are both aiming to open for the first full weekend of December.Poley Mountain and Mont Farlagne plan to open a week later on Dec. 11.
In 1993, Snoop Dogg released his debut solo album, “Doggystyle,” under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg. (Nov. 23)
There could be a stand-off at a Whitehorse construction site this week over the issue of outside workers.A contractor building a downtown mixed-use apartment building for the Challenge Disability Resource Group plans to bring in workers from Manitoba.Under a Yukon government program the workers will self-isolate while they're on the job. Rob Babcock, who works as a site supervisor for a Whitehorse electrical sub-contractor at the Challenge building, said he's sceptical the outside workers and local crews will be able to completely avoid each other on the project."You know, from my perspective, I just don't see how having people on site with us accounts as self isolation," Babcock said."It goes against everything that we've been doing and I don't know how it's fair if I were to leave the territory to come back. I would have to self isolate, not work for 14 days."The outside workers are coming from Manitoba, a COVID-19 hotspot, he said, and he wonders who will enforce their self-isolation on the job and during their off hours.He said other contractors have told him they won't stay on the site if the Manitobans show up."I myself have told my boss that I will probably do the same, and I imagine most of my guys will also follow me on that, you know, the risk is too much," Babcock said.The executive director of Challenge, Jillian Hardie, said she's confident the self-isolation plan can protect the workers."We're all responsible during this pandemic for ourselves. So with these crews that are coming in on the alternative self-isolation plan, they are responsible to maintain this plan," Hardie said.She said they will not be working in the same areas of the building and will have their own lunchroom and washroom.The out-of-town workers will wear armbands to identify themselves, she said.Hardie said the local sub-contractors also have the right to work elsewhere for the two week self-isolation period.The contractor, Edmonton-based Johnston Builders, asked the Yukon government for permission to use the alternative self-isolation plan at the site and it was approved by Community Services Minister John Streicker, she said.Streicker was questioned by Yukon NDP leader MLA Kate White about that decision in the legislature Thursday."Can the minister explain why he would allow a company to bring in workers from Manitoba with the highest Covid[-19] rate per capita in the country to fly into Whitehorse to work on a construction project?" White asked.Streicker said there have been about 400 applications in Yukon so far this year for the alternative self-isolation plan, but not all have been approved."They can apply for an alternative self-isolation, indicating that they self-isolate, but they can do so on the job site if they prove and can carry that out in such a way as to keep it safe and separate," Streicker said.The government gets an opinion from the chief medical officer of health before the plans are approved, he added.
A Windsor family is facing the stark possibility of homelessness at the end of the month, as their search for a place to live becomes increasingly desperate. Jennifer and Daniel Adeogun have been looking for a place to live ever since their apartment building went up in flames on Halloween. An electrical wire failure on a third floor balcony caused $1.5 million in damage and displaced nearly 100 tenants, including the Adeoguns. Property management told them the building will reopen within six months to a year, and advised tenants to look for a month-to-month rental in the meantime, but the task has been proven difficult. "Everybody wants us to sign a one-year lease. So, that's a very big challenge," said Jennifer. In October, Windsor's housing market was the hottest in Canada, with home sale prices up 17 per cent in the third quarter. Rent has increased in turn, say relators. "Where we find the places, like just say for month-to-month, places are like $2,600 a month," said Jennifer. "We're practically days from being homeless by the end of this month," Daniel said. "Even if you tell them the story, they don't seem to be sympathetic to that. You know, they just want that one-year lease signed."The couple, who are both personal support workers, say of the places they have found that offer month-to-month rentals, the cost is either too high, or aren't suitable for their children, who are 14 and 12 and sometimes spend time alone at home. Help from colleaguesUntil now, the Adeoguns had been staying with relatives. That's no longer an option; before the apartment fire, the relative gave notice that they'd be moving out at the end of November. Now, they're looking at moving into a motel for a few days or weeks until a suitable short-term rental becomes available. Katie Dennison, Jennifer's direct supervisor at Oak Park LaSalle Retirement Residence, set up a GoFundMe page for the family to help pay for moving costs and storage of their belongings."We want to take care of all of our employees and we're all like a second family here," she said. "[Jennifer] is so great with her residents and she just gives them her all. And she comes to work every day and she's a hard worker. So I think just coming together to help out one of our own family is just so important."She's hoping to raise $5,000 and is nearly halfway there.Dennison says most of the donations are from staff from the couple's workplaces, but she is "pretty impressed" with how far it's gone."Just seeing everyone coming together and giving donations is pretty remarkable."The Adeoguns say they feel "beat down" and "overwhelmed" with the whole process, despite the help they've been getting from their workplaces.'We want to go back'They say they work full-time and try to hide their struggle searching for a place to live from their children; they are dealing with enough with school during a pandemic, said Daniel. "How do you tell kids that you're homeless?" Daniel said, adding that normally during this time, the family would be decorating and getting ready for Christmas, but are now left wondering where they're going to live next,"We want to go back to where we lived. That's where our whole life is," he said.
High stress, exhaustion, heartbreak: that is how some high school teachers describe working through the second wave of COVID-19. High school teacher Courtney Scratch worries that the current system isn't working for students or parents, and might be doing them a great disservice."To try to keep up with the expectations that were put both on students and on teachers has just been, honestly impossible," Scratch said. The new quadmester system used by the Greater Essex County District School Board splits the school year into four periods, to allow students to be split into two groups — or cohorts. It makes for longer classes and condensed curriculum. Courses that used to be taught over the course of five months are now being taught in eight weeks."It's virtually impossible in certain cases for the students to keep up," Scratch said. "And the feedback that we're getting from them is that they're just getting through it. They're just scraping by. They're not really retaining anything. It just feels like one hurdle after another."Scratch was assigned to teach mathematics completely online for her first quadmester. She was responsible for two classes and a total of 60 students.'Equity issues'A key challenge for teachers, Scratch explained, is lack of preparation time. She explained that the way the school year is split up, teachers get prep time for only two of the four quadmesters. She said, for her first quadmester, she got none. To make up for that, Scratch said she would wake up every morning at about 4 a.m. to prepare her lessons in time for the start of the school day. She would teach throughout the day, taking her lunch hour to meet with students and speak with parents. Once she got home, she would continue marking assignments and preparing lessons into the evening. "Eventually I would just work until I had to fall asleep and then I'd set an early alarm to get up and do it all again," she said. She said students were asking for more review, more assessments, one-on-one time, and so on, which she often wasn't able to accommodate because there simply wasn't enough time. "One of the things I think is not being discussed enough is the equity issues that arise because of this," Scratch said. "Imagine if these students had a teacher who was only working with 30 students and had prep time during the day. The experience of those students would be getting would be absolutely night and day. So it's really not fair to them that this is what they're getting because of the expectations that were piled up on their teachers."'Breaks my heart'Feeling like she's been unable to give her students everything they need has been "heartbreaking," Scratch said. "I just think about what could I have done differently had I had more time during the day to work with them in small groups, to work with them individually, how much more dynamic my lessons could have been had I been able to plan them," she said. "To think that in any way I have failed to equip them for the next steps of their mathematical journey — it breaks my heart in more ways than I can say."New challengesThat heartbreak and sadness is not unique. Erin Roy, the district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says she's heard hearing similar stories from many teachers. "We put our a survey to our members and some of the comments were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes," said Roy. In addition to the difficulties around the curriculum, Roy added that teachers are missing the connections and interactions that come during a typical school year, even though they understand the restrictions are to keep everyone safe. "Even our most seasoned teachers, they're somewhat broken because they're not able to do those things."Further to that, Roy explained that teachers are dealing with challenges like never before, "stress on top of stress," from struggles with technology, to dealing with parents who are angered by the challenges the school year has presented for their kids."It's typically the front line worker that's getting that frustration taken out on them. And I feel like that's happening with our teachers a lot," Roy said. Union asking for changesRoy said the union is working to make improvements moving forward. She's calling for better technology for teachers, more technical support for students and parents, more training for virtual delivery of curriculum, and additional attendance counsellors to assist with disengaged virtual learners. She said she's also advocating for the board to reconsider the quadmester teaching model, and to look at other models being used in other parts of the province that might be more successful.For Scratch's next quadmester, she's shifted to in-person teaching, and her schedule now includes preparation time. Having more time to plan "feels almost surreal to feel such euphoria over something that should be an expectation," she said. She's grateful for the time, but also worried for her colleagues who are now in her shoes, experiencing the burden of not having any prep time for the first time.Scratch said she feels the Ministry of Education put the school boards and staff in an impossible situation but said she's hopeful for a solution that can still keep schools safe, while creating a better learning environment. Neither the Greater Essex County District School Board or the Ministry of Education responded CBC's request for comment by deadline.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a lot of additional stress — whether it's financial strain, loneliness and isolation, or concern about the future — and a mental-health expert on P.E.I. says taking care of yourself is especially important to getting through it.Tayte Willows with the Canadian Mental Health Association, P.E.I. division says she likes to describe self-care as "the things that you do to find balance in your life, to maintain a good sense of well-being.""Some of these practices that we can do that are proactive and give us the ability to take control of our our mental well-being have been really crucial for folks," she says.1\. Follow your passionsWillows says a good place to start is with what you're passionate about."If you're really into sport or into art or into reading, taking time to do those things," she says.2\. Find ways to connectPhysical connection can be difficult in the pandemic, but Willows says connecting with those around you is still important."So finding ways to connect with the people who we care about and who make us feel like we're part of a community."3\. Step back from the chaosThe pandemic means a lot of unknowns and a lot that is out of our control.Willows says it's important to make "space for mindfulness and for gratitude, to be able to take a step back from the chaos that sometimes surrounds us and really ground ourselves in the present moment."4\. Keep a routineWillows says this one is the hardest for her to stick to, but it is really important.She says it can sometimes seem daunting to complete tasks such as doing the laundry or brushing your teeth, but once you get into the habit of them, they do help you feel like you're more in control of your life."When we hit a big point of stress or when something goes sideways in our lives, knowing that those things are done helps to reduce the stress that we might be feeling," she says."So if you've had a really hard day at work, going home and knowing that whatever choice you made for supper in the morning is actually already almost ready in the crockpot can be really helpful."5\. Start smallWillows acknowledges it can be daunting to make time for self-care so she recommends starting small.> "Sometimes those little things can also be indulgences that are necessary when we're going through stressful situations." — Tayte Willows"Sometimes it can be as much as saying, 'You know what? Three times a week I want to make sure that at lunch I go for a little walk around the block just to get some fresh air, give myself a break, some new scenery,'" she says. "Coming home at the end of the day and having a really nice warm bubble bath or having a really difficult conversation and then soothing that anxiety with a full tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream…. Sometimes those little things can also be indulgences that are necessary when we're going through stressful situations."6\. Stick with itWillows says it takes almost of month of daily practice to form a new habit."Within, you know, the first two or three days of trying something new and practising that new habit, it can be uncomfortable fitting into those new shoes. But we start to feel the effects pretty quickly," she says.She says people often know it's benefiting them when they're better able to deal with stressful situations."They're feeling more at ease and there's less stress that they're physically carrying in their body. So they might feel more relaxed in their shoulders, their jaw and their temple area," she says."Also when something does come up — they get a stressful phone call or they have a difficult encounter with someone who they work with — they feel like they're better able to navigate that because they're already taking care of themselves."7\. Get help when you need itA long walk or a bubble bath can go only so far and Willows says there are situations where additional mental-health care is needed."When we feel like we're having more bad days than good ones, when we're feeling like things are going wrong more frequently than they are going right, that's usually a time to reach out and talk to someone," she says.Another thing to look for, Willows says, is when self-soothing behaviours start to take over. She gave the example of drugs or alcohol. She said if that's numbing out the good things as well as the bad things, it may be time to reach out for help.Willows says another sign it's time to reach out is if you're doing self-care activities and still feeling overwhelmed and stressed.Anyone needing emotional support, crisis intervention or help with problem solving in P.E.I. can contact The Island Helpline at 1-800-218-2885, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information about mental-health services on P.E.I., find resources from Health PEI here, or from the Canadian Mental Health Association P.E.I. Division here.Island Morning will be drawing three names to win a $50 Canada's Food Island gift card. To enter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our talkback line at 1-800-680-1898 and tell us what you're doing for self-care.
MONROE, Iowa — This swath of southeast Iowa isn't supposed to be a nailbiter for Democrats.For more than a decade, voters in the college town of Iowa City powered Democratic candidates to Congress. But that changed this month when conservatives who dominate the more rural parts of the district turned out in droves, eager to support President Donald Trump and other Republicans on the ballot.Nearly three weeks after Election Day, a winner hasn't been declared in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. That's a sign of the unexpected strength Republicans demonstrated in House races across the country, taking down at least 10 Democratic incumbents and dashing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bold prediction of expanding her majority by double digits.Instead, it appears Democrats made a serious miscalculation in assuming their antipathy toward Trump would fuel victories across the country. They failed to anticipate that Trump's supporters would show up, too, with even greater force than before in rural areas.“It’s the Trump factor,” Jasper County Republican Chairman Thad Nearmyer said on his farm outside Monroe. “People were super excited to vote for the president.”Of course, Trump lost the presidency and Democrat Joe Biden will move into the White House in January after winning nearly 80 million votes nationwide, a historic high. But the enthusiasm for Biden — or for defeating Trump — didn't trickle to other Democrats down ballot.That leaves the party confronting a reckoning over how to move forward. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports the party's House candidates, is beginning a “deep dive” examination into what happened.Early interpretations blame a series of missteps. Chief among them was allowing Republicans to portray Democrats as radical, which overtook the party's messaging in some cases on guaranteeing health insurance during a pandemic and rebuilding the economy. Democrats also failed to grow their appeal among some Latinos, particularly Cuban Americans in south Florida.Other strategic decisions are coming under scrutiny. Democrats scaled back in-person campaigning and canvassing because of the novel coronavirus, seeking to protect their candidates and staff, and to model good behaviour during a public health crisis.But that gave Trump an opportunity to rally his supporters. The president's nearly 74 million votes is the second-highest in history and fed massive turnout that helped reshape House races, especially in rural areas.In the final stretch of the campaign, Iowa was seen as competitive. But Trump's visit to the capital of Des Moines two weeks before the election is credited with helping him build momentum to carry the state by 9 percentage points.That dominance lifted downballot Republicans, including Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the 2nd Congressional District. Miller-Meeks' vote total was 15 percentage points higher than the Republican who ran for the seat in 2016, when Trump also won Iowa.The same dynamic helped Republican Ashley Hinson beat first-term Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer in northeast Iowa and, perhaps most notably, lifted Republican Michelle Fischbach to unseat 30-year Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in rural southern Minnesota.“The poison of Trump was deeper into the bloodstream of the electorate than anyone noticed,” said Bradley Beychok, who ran an advertising program for the Democratic super PAC American Bridge targeting Trump in northern swing states.There were few bright Democratic spots beyond rural areas, as the party's congressional candidates around the country fell short.Democrats gave up seats in south Florida and California, and failed to gain any in Texas, despite targeting 10. Rep. Max Rose lost on New York's Staten Island and Rep. Joe Cunningham couldn't win reelection in South Carolina territory that includes Charleston, nor did Utah's only congressional Democrat, Rep. Ben McAdams.That's fueling an intense round of finger-pointing among Democrats. Some say the enthusiasm for Trump was compounded by unease among voters about some of the most progressive ideas that were debated during the Democratic presidential primary, including the Medicare for All health care plan and the Green New Deal to combat climate change.When demonstrations over institutional racism swept the country, many Democrats also struggled to respond to false Republican attacks that they supported “defunding” the police. Voters for months watched Republican ads featuring unrest with narrators ominously attacking Democrats as anti-police, often with little response.“The defund-the-police thing was not helpful at all,” said Democratic strategist James Carville, an architect of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, countered “there is just no way forward” for Democrats unless they confront the central challenges in American life, including systemic racism and inequity. She urged the party to embrace a national truth commission to probe racism in the U.S. along with a group to study reparations.“Running away from these things is never going to work. We have to actually do bold things, brave things,” Jayapal said. “Anybody who thinks that elected officials at any level, especially the congressional level, can or should control the messages and the demands and the urgency of movements that erupt on the street for justice are really fooling themselves about their power and their role."Still, Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from the Texas-Mexico border city of Laredo, said the combination of suggestions that his party opposed police, embraced socialized medicine and would sacrifice jobs in key industries like oil and gas to combat climate change gelled into a narrative that doomed candidates.“The progressives, I admire their passion, their commitment, their energy,” said Cuellar, who beat back a primary challenger from the left. “Nobody’s trying to silence anybody. All we’re saying is, within the Democratic Party, there will be different thoughts on ways of doing things.”Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, one of the House’s more conservative Democrats, was more blunt. He called the debate over defunding the police “toxic.”“Our national brand, with the exception of the president-elect, is in really tough shape,” Schrader said.The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC which spent $140 million promoting general election Republican House candidates, claimed success tailoring broader attacks on Democrats on issues like defunding the police to individual races.In Rose’s Staten Island district, for instance, ads focused on how his support for demonstrations against systemic racism insulted local police.To help defeat Democratic challenger Christina Finello in suburban Bucks County, Pennsylvania, meanwhile, an ad featured a mom speaking about how funding cuts to police could jeopardize her ability to “pick up the phone and know that a police officer could be there at a moment’s notice.”“We needed to move out of the national, charged language and make this about peoples’ individual lives and how this would affect them,” said CLF President Dan Conston, who also praised GOP efforts to recruit more women and people of colour to run.Ads criticizing the Green New Deal warned of tax increases in many areas, but highlighted the potential impact on the oil and gas industry in energy-rich places where Republicans ousted Democratic House incumbents, including New Mexico and Oklahoma.By contrast, Democrats' focus on health care proved less influential than during the 2018 midterms, after Republicans had unsuccessfully sought the repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act. According to the AP's VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, voters' top concern was the pandemic, followed closely by the economy, which favoured Republicans.Democrats needed to further embrace major reforms and “counter messages from the opposition," said Wendell Potter, a former health care industry executive who leads the progressive Center for Health and Democracy, which supports Medicare for All.“You’ve got to make sure people understand that what we’re talking about here ain’t anywhere close to socialism," Potter said.Though Democrats have soul searching ahead, Jasper County Republican Nearmyer notes one GOP advantage will be gone in 2022 — Trump's name on the ballot.“That's one thing that makes me nervous," he said.___Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.Will Weissert And Thomas Beaumont, The Associated Press